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How I Use Buffer App to Maintain My Social Media Presence

Published October 12, 2014 - 0 Comments

bufferI’ve had a few people ask recently whether I sleep.  Of course I sleep!  Sometimes I sleep too much.  But it’s easy to see why someone might think that.  If you see a tweet from me at 2am or 4:30am chances are that you’re going to assume that I’m awake and tweeting for some particular reason.  While it might be a correct assumption on any particular day, it’s probably more likely that what you are seeing is my use of the web service Buffer to schedule my tweets and posts throughout the day and night.  Why would I want to schedule my tweets?  Sometimes my brain is full of silly little things that I’d like to share.  It doesn’t make sense to send them all out in one big bunch.  Better to spread them out.  Twitter is chaotic and most of us follow too many people.  It’s easy to miss something.  Using Buffer I can spread my thoughts out, and schedule them for the times suited for reading.  Notice how those after hours ones generate questions?  People are reading those.  🙂

Another great use of Buffer is the built-in analytics that quickly shows me which tweets were replied to, favourited, or re-tweeted.  It’s nice to see which ones are successful… although the downside is that some tweets don’t quite measure up in the real world as they did in my head  🙂

Buffer isn’t just for Twitter either.  You can link your Facebook, Google+, or Linked In accounts as well.  It’s great for staggering posts across different social media networks, and really allows me to be much more productive.

I’ve put together a short Buffer tutorial.  I’m trying to get more used to speaking during these tutorials, and it’s not as easy as some people make it seem.  Trust me.  The end gets a little rocky, but after no fewer than 10 attempts, this was as good as this one was gonna get!  I’m striving for improvement, not perfection.  So go easy on me if you decide to leave a comment.  🙂

Thanks for reading!

Star Tours – Darth Vader Goes to Disneyland

Published August 10, 2011 - 5 Comments

I saw this posted recently on Google+  (you know… the other social media network that you should be using) and loved it so much that I tweeted (yes, yet another social network that is better than what you’re probably using) it… but to those people who are stuck in the Facebook era… assuming that you haven’t already seen this (and really.. there’s a good chance that you already have) I thought that I would dedicate a quick post to it here.

Say what you will about Darth Vader… the guy looks great in black!

Blog Monetization Strategies

Published August 8, 2011 - 1 Comment

I’ve recently stepped up my efforts to earn a little money from my online efforts.  You’ve probably noticed some changes on this blog, as well as a couple of the others that I’m working on.  Things are going well…  At this rate, I’ve calculated my retirement year to be 2158.  No, that’s not a typo.  So let’s take a closer look at what’s working… and what isn’t.

  • Amazon Associates Amazon is infamous for having a very low pay-out for affiliate referrals.  4% (6% if you’re a high-end affiliate) is pretty low, but what makes Amazon a profitable venture for many people is their built-in up-sell program.  If you’ve ever been on Amazon.com you’re probably familiar with their “Other buyer were also interested in this…”  and they list a few things that are somehow related to what you’re looking for on Amazon’s website.  The beauty of their affiliate program is that you get credit for any sales that someone follows your link from.  So if you review a book and place an affiliate link at the bottom, the person who clicks on that link and then decides to buy something else while they’re in there will also add to your affiliate sale.  Good news!  So I decided to try it out and make sure that it worked.  I bought a Starfrit MightiCanand had it shipped to one of my readers as a surprise.  I’ve been watching to see how long it took the referral fee to show up.  And I’m still waiting.  So I did a little digging, and discovered this statement, which explains why I haven’t received anything.  Hmm… understandable, but I still wish that I could have seen the process in action.

    What is Amazon’s policy for Associates placing orders for themselves?

    You may not purchase products during sessions initiated through your own Associates links and will not receive referral fees for such orders. This includes orders for customers, orders on behalf of customers, and orders for products to be used by you, your friends, your relatives, or your associates in any manner

  • Infolinks I implemented Infolinks in-text advertising on all my blogs, and of everything that generates money, this is the one that seems to be working the best.  Every day I log into my status page and check the reports.  Some days I show no clicks.  Some days I show a couple.  I’m currently averaging $0.02/day and that’s across all blogs.  Now you see why the retirement date is pushed out a little bit.  But that’s fine.  These things take time, and the more content that is delivered, the bigger and more well-known the blogs get, the more people who start to come to them… it will get better.  What is encouraging to see if that the clicks actually come from an even spread across the different blogs, so it appears to be natural traffic, rather than someone just clicking on one site.  You would think that a blog like this one would have more readers and more people clicking, simply because it’s been around longer, but it fares no better or worse than The Unfriendly Giant or Lady Ashburnham Pickles.  
  • Chitika Then we come to the Chitika ads.  These are the little ones with some sort of picture.  I decided to implement these more strategically… you only see one at a time, so they’re not peppering the site.  I also placed them only in posts, and sort of integrated a little more than just a side bar or banner.  As of now, I’m still showing NOTHING in my reports, even though I asked someone to perform a test click for me a couple of days ago.  Chitika says that it will take 3 days for your first click to show up if you are a new advertiser, and then it should be daily after that… but I still am not registering a single click.  I don’t want to click them myself because they’re pretty good at detecting those sorts of things, and I’m pretty sure that’s what Google thought I was doing when they banned me from AdSense.  Thanks Google….  bite me. Anyway, if someone wants to click a Chitika add and let me know how it works on your end, I’d be curious.
That’s pretty much it.  I’m not quite ready to quit my day job… yet..  🙂
PS:  I want my can opener back!

 

Social Network Showdown: MySpace, Facebook, Google+

Published July 13, 2011 - 4 Comments

Somehow I completely missed the announcement that Justin Timberlake had purchased a majority stake in MySpace, the all but forgotten social network of yesteryear.  I guess that I must have been more interested in planning my Canada Day weekend, because I was shocked to find out that news very recently.  So shocked that I wasn’t sure if I even believed it at first.  Sure enough… Mr Sexy Back is determined to bring life back to MySpace.  And all for the incredibly low price of $35 million, which is a bargain considering the initial selling price was supposedly $100 million!  And even that was much lower than what it had originally been purchased for.  Yes… there was a time when MySpace attracted a lot of eyeballs, and in turn, that attracted a lot of advertising dollars.  It’s been quite a few years since MySpace has wielded any clout in the world of social networking, outside of musicians who continued to cling to it to help build an audience.  I’ll be curious to see whether Justin and gang can turn the sinking ship around, and bring any of the former glory back to MySpace.  Curious indeed.

As curious as I am about the MySpace purchase, the really interesting stuff is what’s happening with Facebook and Google.  Everyone’s known that Google was going to make another attempt to push into the social networking space.  Google Buzz was more of a bust than anything else, but if Google has proven anything, it’s that they do not take “no” for an answer.  So when Google was preparing to make their announcement, the world was ready.  For what, exactly?  We didn’t know.  But we knew that Google was rolling out something big.  That something is called Google+ (how original) and today I read that Google+ surpassed the 10 million user mark, which is incredible considering that it was launched only 2 weeks ago!

I’m a big fan of Gmail, and Google Calendar, so I already have a Google account.  I also regularly use Google Docs, and Google Analytics.  I may not have swallowed the Google Kool-aid, but I’m certainly sipping at it.  And seeing as I’m not a fan of Facebook in the least, I was itching to get my hands on a Google+ invite and test it out.  I had envisioned writing a long post about how great Google+ is, and how Facebook should be running scared.  If anyone can produce a real, sustained threat to Facebook, it’s Google.  After dabbling with it for a short time, I suddenly remembered why I don’t like Facebook.  To me, there’s no difference between the two in premise.  I am absolutely positive that for people who are more familiar with Facebook, they can point out a dozen major differences between the two social networks without even breaking a sweat.  There are plenty of blogs that outline the pros and cons of each, and if you are looking for a serious discussion of that topic… I suggest that you look elsewhere.  I just couldn’t get excited about Google+.  I thought that I would be.  I really did!  I wanted to be blown away… unfortunately, I grew bored with it and went on to something else.

As for Facebook, they’ve stepped up their own game by announcing a partnership with Skype to provide video calling to your Facebook friends from within the Facebook site.  This is a pretty smart move, and it’s surprising that it’s taken this long to come around.  By integrating Skype within Facebook it brings VoIP calling to a huge audience whose technical skills may not extend much past sharing pictures with friends, and planting a turnip garden in Farmville.  After all, who cares what Voice over IP is… or even what Skype is!  All they  know is that they can now see their niece holding up the latest addition to the family, and make cutsie gaga noises into the camera… all in real time!  The user experience is more important than the link that makes this all possible.  And all of this is accomplished without ever leaving the familiar Facebook environment.  Bonus!

I do wonder how much of that deal was already in the works prior to Microsoft making their play to purchase Skype.  It’s a strange world we live in.

I think that it will be interesting to see how these three fare in the boxing ring where I don’t see much growth opportunity for the market as a whole.  Are people willing to switch from one network to another if their friends don’t come with them?  Are people willing to add another one (or two) social networks to their existing mix?    Each of them have something to prove, and I think that anything’s possible at this point.

Should be fun!

Google+: A Quick Look

Published June 25, 2011 - 2 Comments

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I’m a Published Article Writer!

Published April 9, 2011 - 3 Comments

When I created my niche site for overcoming relationship difficulties, one of the things that I learned was to focus on natural search engine rankings by creating quality back-links to the site.  This will help push your site further up the listing in a search engine query, and greatly increase the chances of someone clicking your link for their keyword search. You can create back-links by a few different methods: posting on forums which allow website addresses to be included in author signatures, getting other bloggers to link to your site, and through article marketing which creates articles that can then be picked up by other authors and provide links back to you.

I’ve tried the forums.  I’ve joined different ones, and commented on other people’s posts.  I even got sucked into telling my own story.  It’s definitely a place to go to generate traffic, but I grew a little tired of it.

Getting other bloggers to link to the site isn’t as easy as it sounds either.  And the way that Google ranks websites, chances are I wouldn’t benefit a whole lot from the links that I might receive.  I can whine to some friends to include a link, but we’re all running PR1 sites, so it’s really not very effective.

I have had a little success with a Twitter account that I created specifically for that niche site.  I’ve gained a couple of followers, and had some hits on the site because of that.  I think I need to work the social networking angle more.  I actually enjoy social networking very much, although it can be quite time consuming.

The most recent arrow in my SEO back-link quiver is article marketing.  Basically you write an original article on a niche topic, and submit it to an article directory.  If approved, your article becomes part of their giant database, allowing other people to use that article on their site or newsletter, with credit given to you.  You gain links directly from being in the article directory, and from every website or newsletter that publishes your article.  I’ve heard quite a bit about article marketing in podcasts.  “Article marketing isn’t sexy… but it works!” is the line that I remember most.

EzineArticles is supposed to be the best place to get started.  After that you can spin your article using software that will re-work your original article to make it look slightly different and allow you to submit it to other article directories.  I don’t know if I’m sold on that concept or not, but it’s something to keep in the back of my mind.

When I read through EzineArticle’s article submission guidelines, I almost gave up without finishing them!  They are quite lengthy, and very specific.  You can use this particular type of punctuation in your title, but not that.  You must include this in the body of your article, but definitely not that.  Some of the things are common sense… keep self promotion to a minimum…  but then there are other things that I had to be careful of.  Don’t end your title with a period.  Umm.. ok.. why not?  Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t do it.  I started to wonder whether article marketing was right for me.  What if I wasn’t good enough to get an article approved?  There was only one way to find out.

I wanted to write something brand new, but the more I kept thinking about it, the more daunting the prospect became.  So I reached into my bag of tricks, and pulled out an article that I had written last year for another project I had been working on.  The Hapless Romantic.  It was still original.  It was still mine.  I didn’t consider it to be “published” because I think only 3 people other than myself even knew that it existed.  So I polished it up a little, and changed the title to conform to EzineArticle’s submission guidelines.  After I submitted my article I was informed that it would take a week or so before it was reviewed and then I would receive notification as to its acceptance or not.

Last night I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email informing me that my article was accepted, published, and that I was now an “expert author” on their site.  I assume that expert author is given to anyone who has an article published, and not necessarily an indication of my writing skills being any more or less superior to other authors.  Still, it has a nice ring to it.  Expert author.  Expert author.  Expert author.  OK, OK… I’ll try not to let it go to my head.  🙂

One of the things that came as a shock was that EzineArticles automatically posted a link through my Twitter account to the article!  That reminds me… I really need to go see if I can find that setting in their preferences, because I am not comfortable with every article that I write being broadcast under my Twitter account.  There are projects that I would like to dabble in that may or may not work out for me, and I don’t want to publicly advertise to everyone when I am doing something off the wall.

Will this one article really make a big difference in the amount of traffic driven to my niche site?  Probably not.  It’s part of a broader strategy that includes more articles, and some of the other points that I mentioned earlier.  But it certainly has given me a much needed boost of confidence!

And yes, in case you’re wondering what the article is, you can read it here.  Just remember, I wasn’t planning on making the article public because it’s one of those touchy feely subjects that no one wants to read unless they’re experiencing it.  Had EzineArticles not broadcast it to the world (or the people following me on Twitter) you probably wouldn’t even know that it existed.  🙂

I realize that this post is a little long… so if you’ve made it to the bottom…

Thanks for reading!

What Happened to All My Gmail Emails??? Oopps…

Published February 28, 2011 - 0 Comments

That’s what 150,000 Gmail users are saying… thankfully I’m not one of them! Mashable reports that 150,000 Gmail accounts were accidentally reset, wiping out all the email, attachments, and chat logs associated with those accounts, and replacing them with the friendly “Welcome to Gmail” screen you see when you open a new account…

Oopps…

We’re so used to being told that the “cloud” is the answer to everything now… save your information in the cloud, and access it from anywhere…  Yes, this does work extremely well.  Gmail is a perfect example of that.  You can check your email from home, at work, at a friend’s place, in an internet cafe while on vacation… with your PC, laptop, smartphone… everything is stored in a centralised location, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection…

Until something goes wrong.

Presumably everything is backed up to the nth degree, so Google engineers will no doubt be able to recover these accounts, and the information associated with them.  It’s an inconvenience at most, and one that will probably be repeated again at some point in the future. This isn’t the first time that cloud computing has failed.  It won’t be the last. The more we rely on the cloud, the more we accept the inherent risk that our data may not be there when we need it.

The Mashable post points out that there is a Gmail Backup program that can be used to perform one-click backups of your Gmail account.  I’ve never used this before, but it’s probably not a bad idea.  Then again, most people only give real consideration to proper backups after being forced to do so.

By then, it’s usually too late…

Build It And They Will (not) Come…

Published February 19, 2011 - 2 Comments

Rather than go completely stir-crazy in bed, I’ve been spending some of my time working on Write-Click projects.  Seems like a better use of my time than watching episode after episode of TV shows.  Don’t get me wrong… I’m still watching some (when my roomie isn’t hogging the TV for his Football game… zzzzzzzzzzzz) but I’m fine with working on some of the projects that have been building up.

So last week I completed work on my first micro-niche site CureBrokenHeart.com.  Since then, I’ve watched the page tumble from Page 2 on Google search results to Page 7.  I’m not really sure what happened, but that’s fine.  I’m working on it.  But I thought that I would try something a little different, and turned to Google AdWords.

Google AdWords is the opposite of Google AdSense.  AdWords are the advertisers who buy space from Google that gets displayed as AdSense ads on websites and search results.  I’ve never worked with AdWords before, but I thought that I wanted to give it a try.  At some point I’m going to have to figure it out, because I can’t be successful online without a mixed strategy.. and advertising is obviously part of it.

So I purchased $50 worth of advertising, and set up my daily limit to be $10.  I realize that’s peanuts, but this was essentially a homework assignment.  I fully realized that my $50 was probably going to be lost, and I was right.

It didn’t take long for my $10 daily limit to reach its cap.  With thousands of impressions over the Google network, the clicks came in.  Unfortunately, when I looked at the traffic patterns, as far as I can tell, the majority of people did not stick on the website and explore what was there.  There were a few that did.  But not many.  And I suppose that is normal.  As they say, you have only seconds to gain someone’s attention, and just because they came to the site doesn’t mean that they saw anything there that interested them in those few seconds.  Of the ones who did look around, there were no sales.  I expected that as well.  Certainly would have been nice, but the numbers were too low to really warrant a sale.  The idea of the micro-niche site is to draw the user from organic search traffic, not PPC advertising.  So someone who saw the website in Google after typing “Cure Broken Heart” is more likely to buy the product than someone who was on another website and saw a Google AdSense ad saying “Broken Heart?  Click here to cure it!”.

It’s all about marketing, and it’s something that I have to get better at.  Building a site isn’t good enough… you have to get it out there, and in such a way that it gains the attention of the target audience… or else it’s just useless…

I have to get better.

Google Strikes Again

Published September 15, 2010 - 4 Comments

Google Adsense does not like small blogs!  Plain and simple.  It amazes me that there is no real alternative to Adsense.  Yes, if you search for alternatives, you will find some… but none of these are as good as Google claims to be (on paper).  I dabbled with AdBrite last year, and I might end up using it again if Google bites me in the ass like it did recently to a friend who runs a small gaming website.

It’s probably taken him over a year to get the click-throughs to finally reach the minimum $100 payment level that Google Adsense demands.  But that’s not a guarantee that they’re going to pay you anything.  No… in his case (as in another that I’m all too familiar with from last year) Google has deemed that his site posed a significant risk to [their] AdWords advertisers.

Now I completely understand that Google has to protect the integrity of its program, and that click fraud is a problem… but I think that when you run ads on your website for over a year and then only just barely manage to reach the minimum payout amount… that chances are you’re not running a click fraud scam.  Sure, you may have people occasionally click an ad who really don’t have any intention of purchasing the product, but in the grand scheme of things, whether you make a purchase at that time or not… the advertising value should not be arbitrarily negated by Google’s heavy-handed policies. If I sit down to watch a new episode of House, I generally have to suffer through 4 separate commercial breaks, running 3-5 advertisements each.  Many times that ads are repeated… sometimes back to back!  Do advertisers expect me to stop what I’m doing and run out and buy their product? No.  But the impression has been made.  They are getting some measure of value just from presenting me with their message.  I don’t see how that differs from online advertising.  If I click a link that takes me to the latest Thesis WordPress premium theme, yet I don’t make the purchase.. does that necessarily mean that I won’t do it later?

And why does it take Google so long to assess whether your site is complying with their terms of service?  I’m sure that my friend was quite excited as he approached the $100 point after such a lengthy period of time.  Surely Google has the ability to do periodic assessments of sites displaying their ads.  It just doesn’t make any sense!

I’m quite skeptical whether I will ever see a dime from Google from the ads on my blogs.  It’s taught me another valuable lesson… don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  I already knew that, but it certainly reinforces that lesson.

[Update:  Yup! Google did kick me out of their Adsense program for supposedly violating their policies.  Not impressed.]

Talk Talk (Google vs Skype)

Published September 11, 2010 - 2 Comments

So Google now allows you to make voice calls through Gmail… putting it in direct competition with Skype. That’s not exactly news, but I’ve been slow getting around to writing about it. Some people may have noticed the inclusion of Skype buttons along the side of the blog. They don’t seem to be accurately showing my online status, but I’m working on it.

I’ve been using Skype for years… way before most people had even heard of it. I actually did a presentation in my Management Information Systems class on Skype. That was in 2004. No one had a clue what Skype or VoIP was, but my group allowed me to run with it, and we got an A. The professor was quite amazed when I demonstrated how I could call people’s cellphones from my laptop. Magic!

I really haven’t used Skype too much, though. Skype is only good if there’s someone to talk to, and getting my friends to use it hasn’t been easy. But with the new push into a more business-orientated mindset, I’m going to make Skype a bigger part of my life. It’s installed on my laptop, and my iPhone. I have a business contact in the States that I’m looking quite forward to testing it out with. And maybe I can even get my kids using it with their netbooks.

So which is the better service, though? Google or Skype? I honestly have no idea. I have not tested Google Talk yet, but I’m curious about it.

Then again… if no one else uses it, there’s really not much of a point, is there?

So if you’re interested in chatting sometime, let me know!