Review: The Adsense Code, by Joel Comm

Are you hunting for advice on how to make money with your blog or website using Google’s Adsense advertising program? You may need this book!

The very first piece of advice that Joel Comm gives in his new book, The Adsense Code, is to make sure your Google Adsense ads do not look like ads. It should not surprise you that his book doesn’t look like a book about Adsense either – The cover is a spoof on the Da Vinci Code design.

While browsing through the business section of my local bookstore the cover caught my eye. I wondered what a Da Vinci Code book was doing in the business section and then realized it was Joel’s book. The gimmick made me smile and I grabbed it to see what tips I could get for free by reading it in the store. After skimming through chapters and having a few aha! moments, I realized I was going to need my own copy to study and broke down and bought a one.

I was first introduced to Joel Comm’s work through one of his Dr. Adsense podcasts. I had been toying with a niche topic website and Adsense to see if it was possible for me to make a little money online. His podcast was helpful and I was soon looking for more Adsense advice from him. That was another reason I was so quick to buy this book.

Joel is not an advocate of slapping up hundreds of software generated garbage sites with ads stuffed in them. There are hundreds of “gurus” out there who promote this type of approach. Google is getting wise to their tricks and the profits made from those types of websites is evaporating quickly. It has a number of folks claiming that Adsense is Dead, but the techniques and strategies that are taught in The Adsense Code will keep you on Google’s good side and keep you making money.

The book spends a few pages giving a brief overview of setting up a site and an Adsense account, then jumps into explaining how to use Adsense on your site. Joel shares his years of experience giving advice on the best formats and placements to use for your ads. He explains ways to influence the ads you get on your site without violating Google’s terms of service. He gives suggestions for gathering and generating content for your site and how to track your ads and analyze your visitor stats.

What impresses me most with this book is that Joel encourages and demonstrates tracking and testing strategies to help you evaluate the impact of the changes you make to your ads. Without tracking and analysis, you are just groping in the dark. Joel recommends keeping an Adsense Journal to track your changes and their impact on your earnings. A wise recommendation!

If you are trying to get a handle on how to use Adsense for your website or blog, this book is a must have. If you have been working with Adsense for a while you may have heard of many of these ideas before, but you will still learn a few new tricks to try (I know I did!)

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

Social Proof, Feeding Frenzy, Or The Mysterious X Factor

If you have spent more than 5 minutes exploring the world of Internet marketing someone has told you how important your ‘list’ is. This ‘list,’ of course, is your list of email addresses for people who have opted-in and given permission for you to send them emails.

You may also have heard that the majority of sales come from the 6th or 7th email you send to someone. It can be difficult, expensive, and nearly impossible to get someone to visit your site 7 times but, if you have their email, it is easy to send follow-up emails.

This article is not about email marketing strategies. (I have several e-books on the subject that you can download for free by signing up for my newsletter mailing list.) This article is about my recent experience trying to get people to sign-up for my list.

I Can’t Even Give Away Free E-Books!

I spend a lot of time and energy hunting down useful resources on the web. I have built up a collection of e-books that I think have valuable information in them and also give me resale/giveaway rights. All of the ‘Build Your List’ gurus tell you to create a squeeze page (a webpage whose sole purpose is to get visitors to give you their email address and sign-up for your mailing list.) They encourage giving away a free gift (like an e-book) as a thank-you for signing up. It is essentially a legal bribe! I decided to put my collection to work.
My squeeze page promised more than just one e-book, I opened the vault and gave access to everything I had. (See my sign-up page.) I promoted it through a Pay-Per-Click campaign and also through some traffic exchanges and other sources. The results, 1 sign-up – not very encouraging.

I tweaked the page, updating the copy and polishing up the graphics. I took advice from a couple of the advertising and copywriting e-books in my library and revised the body copy before trying another promotional run. Results – 3 sign-ups.

20 New Sign-ups In Less Than 7 Days

After a couple attempts, I let this whole idea slide for a while. And then I came across a promotion for the Viral Marketing Giveaway 2. The concept is simple, you sign-up as a Joint Venture partner and offer a free giveaway item to the effort. All of the partners then promote the giveaway and, as new members join and download the freebies, you get to gather new people for your mailing list. They land on your squeeze page and then sign-up. I joined the fun and sent people to exact same old squeeze page to get my freebies. There are over 35 pages of offers in the giveaway and mine landed near the end.

Within days I had added 20 new names to my list. Same squeeze page, but now they were signing up (and they had probably signed up for dozens of other offers before getting to mine.)

These giveaways seem to be popular right now. I have received invitations for 3 more in the past week:

I signed up for all of them and connected to the same squeeze page. The first went public last week (the other two are still gathering JV Partners as I write this.) My list has added more than 30 new subscribers.

Why All The New Mailing List Subscribers?

My offer, and the content of the squeeze page, has not changed. Why are people signing up now? I have a couple of guesses why this is happening.

Trusted Referrers – The giveaways are promoted by all of the JV partners sending messages to their lists. A known person is making the recommendation and essentially endorsing the whole thing. This kind of social proof that the operation is legitimate puts visitors in a trusting frame of mind before they get to my page. The copy on my site does not have to convince them to trust me, only that I have content they want.

Momentum – Once visitors start getting some free stuff they get into a feeding frenzy. They start siging up and downloading everything – my stuff is just in the pile with all of the others and the giveaway has created the momentum.

The X-Factor – Maybe there is some other factor that is motivating folks to sign up. If you have other ideas why people are more willing to sign up when my squeeze page is promoted through one of these giveaway sites, leave a comment with your ideas.

What Is The Quality Of The List?

So far the emails and names I have gathered seem okay. Very few people are giving obviously junkmail addresses and bogus names (there have been a few – ‘Pho Nee.’) I’ll have to make a few mailings to the list before I can determine how responsive it is, but my list is growing.

This list is made up of folks looking for online business and marketing opportunities. My current plans are to use it to recruit affiliates for some of the info products I am developing.

Andrew Seltz
The GoTo Guy!

Book Author Marketing Strategies

I have a friend who is a fiction writer. We were talking today about ideas for promoting a book she is writing. She writes in a variety of genres, but the book in question is in the ‘chick-lit’ category – at least that’s what she calls it. I came up with these suggestions:

Blog – This one is pretty obvious. She already bought her name as a domain and I’m setting her up with a WordPress blog. The focus of her blog will be on the world of a fiction writer, with news about her projects and signings, etc. I recommend she actively write about the book and drop hints and teasers about the story to build interest.

Book Website – She is also buying the name of her main character as a domain. These types of books tend to result in a series of novels, with fans of the character becoming built-in audiences. For starters I recommended she make this a sales site and offer free advance chapters to people who sign-up for her mailing list. Later she can make it more of a fan site with a discussion forum and ancillary products and content.

Forum and Group Recruiting – I recommended that she start looking for forums and discussion groups with fans of this genre as well as fans of similar books. I told her to offer a sample chapter for people who join her mailing list and to mine that list for possible advance readers who would help generate buzz for the official release.

Blog Recruiting – My suggestion here is to find a number of bloggers who write about the genre (or even specific book series that have a similar tone) and recruit them to become advance readers. Feeding them advance copies of chapters and checking out how often (and what) they write about the book. Following up with those who are vocal fans will help with generating buzz for the release.

Those were some strategies that came to me today. If you have done this type of marketing before, leave a comment and tell me what’s wrong or missing from my list.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Carnival Barkers, and You!

“Step Right Up and See the Snake-Girl!”

Every year there is a state fair near where I live. They have a good old fashioned midway. Huge colorful signs and a fast talking man with bad teeth promise to show you amazing wonders and human oddities if only you will pay a little money and step inside the tent.

I’ve paid once or twice to see inside the tent and it is usually not amazing or wonderful. It is usually just a gimmick – a fake. The Carny Folk conned me out of a little money.

You wouldn’t trust these people to help you with anything important and if you came across a business in your town using similar advertising it would probably make you suspicious.

There are a lot of people on the Internet who would say or do anything to get you to ‘step inside their tent.’ They don’t really care what you think about what you see inside. Their sites are full of keyword loaded gibberish and articles that have been duplicated a thousand times on a thousand websites. They use software that automatically generates hundreds and thousands of these useless webpages and then litter the Internet with them.

They just hope to get a lot of folks to step inside and maybe a few will click on an ad or one of their affiliate links – a nickle here and a dollar there.

What Do Search Engines Want?

Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines are in a constant struggle to weed these sideshow sites out of their results and push the most relevant results to the top of the list. Your goal with search engine optimization (SEO) is to get to the top of the results for the keywords that are relevant to your site and not get swept away with the Carny Folk.

Your primary focus should be on making your content relevant to other human beings. Then, use the tools and techniques of SEO to help the search engines better understand what your pages are about.

You don’t have to resort to trickery to improve the search engine placement of your site’s pages. If you keep the topic of each page of your focussed and use good basic SEO techniques, your search engine rankings will improve and you won’t have to worry about being mistaken for Carnie Folk the next time Google upgrades its filtering algorithms!

SEO 101

Keyword Focused Pages: Each page on your website should be focussed on a small set of keywords. Don’t try to cover everything on one page. Break up your topic into focussed sub-topics and then create seperate pages for each one.

Create Internal Links: When you break your website up into keyword focussed pages, there will be natural overlaps in the subject matter on each page. Readers will be interested in these other pages too. When appropriate, direct readers to these relevant pages and use keywords in the links. This has the effect of encouraging users (and, by extension, search engine spiders) to explore all of your content.

Use Keywords in Links: Search engines value links. They also look for keywords in the link text. Don’t use ‘Click Here’ as your link text. If you are recommending another article, link on the article’s title (or relevant keywords you use to describe the article – ‘Learn Search Engine Optimization’…)

Title Tags: Make sure that every page on your site has a unique title with relevant keywords at the beginning that relate to keywords in the content of the page. Your site ‘s name should go at the end of the title because the words at the beginning are valued more than those at the end when the serch engines rank your page.

Use H1, H2, H3… Tags: These tags identify headlines and search engines expect headlines to describe content (so do humans.) Keywords here have higher weight. (make sure the same keywords are also present in the text that follows.)

Emphasize Important Words: Bold and Italicized words stand out to the search engines as well as your visitors.

Use Keywords in 1st Paragraph: Get to the point quickly when writing your content. Readers and search engines will make a lot of assumptions about your article in the first paragraph, so make sure you give a quick overview at the top that uses your keywords.

Image Alt Tags: Always include descriptive text in the alt tags for your images. This helps people who can’t see your images make sense out of why they are there, and they give more content to the search engines. Do not simply stuff the alt tags with keywords – this is a Carny Folk move and search engines are wary of it. But, use relevant keywords when describing your images.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Cramming keywords into every search engine hotspot is a surefire way to get the search engines to dump or devalue your site. Remember, a search engine’s primary goal is to get relevant results to customers. Trying to trick them into showing a site that isn’t relevant will eventually get you delisted or demoted.

Avoid Duplication: Another search engine no-no is repetition of the same keyword or phrase throughout a page. This sort of repetition tells the search engines that you are stuffing the page with keywords (or worse, the page was created by a program designed to stuff keywords into it) and that they are not a natural part of your page’s content. Use a little variety in your content to avoid repetition – your human visitors will appreciate it too!

Benefits of ‘Honest’ SEO

Honest search engine optimization has the side effect of making your content more readable to human beings. Since the search engines’ primary goal is to deliver the most relevant results to the human beings who use them, anything you do that enhances the user experience will make them happy too. Stay focussed on providing quality content to your visitors and then optimize the way you present it so that the search engines can understand it too, your site will perform better in the rankings.

When you provide value, other website creators will send traffic to your site to give value to their visitors. The links they create to your site will add value to your site in the eyes of the search engines. They are voting for you every time they create a link.

These SEO techniques and strategies will get your pages high in the search rankings. From there it becomes a game of inches where you will focus your attention on your best performing pages and make subtle changes to try and push them closer and closer to the top. When you get to that level you will have left the Carny Folk far behind you.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

Review: The One Month Magnate – 30 Days to Your Own Profitable Online Business

Tired of Internet marketers promising a ‘secret technique’ for making money online? How about marketing manuals that tell you to make marketing manuals to sell to people like you? It’s like a dog chasing its tail.

You won’t find any of that junk in “The One Month Magnate“, by Tony Shepherd. The system he lays out is filled with gimmick-free practical techniques presented in a logical (and profitable) sequence. He chose a real world example to demonstrate his process and leads you through it from beginning until almost the end (he stops detailing his project at the 30 day mark giving an overview of what he planned to do next.)

The sales page for Shepherd’s e-book grabbed my interest and tempted me to risk $27US to find out more. He promised a blueprint for creating a profitable online business that puts money in the bank in 30 days – starting from nothing. I pulled out my Amex card, payed my money and downloaded the e-book. I got my money’s worth.

If you are a seasoned information marketer, or have already consumed as many e-books, websites, and podcasts on creating and marketing information products online as I have, you will find no surprises in Shepherd’s book. I had heard every technique before, but I also spent a lot of time gathering that information. Plus, I still learned something new.

What I found is exactly what Shepherd promised: a sound blueprint for applying reliable techniques to take you from nothing to profitability. He talks about market research techniques, techniques to establish yourself as an expert and build an audience using free reports, how to create an info product, how and where to set up the accounts required to collect orders and deliver products, and how to do it all in 30 days or less.

The book is arranged to take you day-by-day through the process as Shepherd relates what happened with his sample project. By the end of the story he claims to have earned more than $3000US. (You have to take Shepherd’s word on his earnings because he offers no evidence to support his claims. However, the earnings he states seem entirely reasonable.) By day 30 he hadn’t yet created a website or affiliate program (those cost a little money to start and he stuck to his promise of showing how to make money without spending it first.)

The One Month Magnate” isn’t likely to be the last e-book you ever buy on the subject, but the quality of the information it contains improves the odds that you will buy the next one with the profits from your new business. You will also know what you need to learn next.

On a scale of 1 to 10, “The One Month Magnate” is a solid 7. I would have appreciated more samples of the sales letters he created and the free report he used to build his customer base. I also wanted to see some documentation for his earnings claims. However, I got my money’s worth and recommend the e-book to beginning information marketers looking for a clear path through the woods.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

Market Testing – The Price of Failure: $4.46

My most recent failure cost me $4.46. I couldn’t be happier. For the price of a Venti Latte at Starbucks I was able to market test a book idea and drop the project before investing major time or money in its development. There just wasn’t enough interest in the product to turn a profit – I discovered this BEFORE I had even written one word.

Market Testing Before Product Development

Split Test Accelerator
Improve your Landing Page results every single time you test!

Rapid Keyword
Target the right keywords and get the conversion rates you dream of.

Have you ever worked for a company that was trying to market solutions in search of a problem? These types of products are usually created by teams of people who brainstorm ideas, pick the one they like best and start creating it. They miss an important step: Finding out if anyone wants or needs their product! Welcome to the realm of market testing.

I’m full of ideas. A lot of them are brilliant – in my mind! Even if I can persuade a few people to agree with me, it’s still a shot in the dark trying to pick a project worth of investing time and money in without market testing.

I do not have a background in product development or marketing – I went to film school! My strengths are coming up with ideas and making stuff. But, I want to create successful projects. I want people to fund my film ideas. I want to be successful – not just busy. The big question, when assessing my book idea, was how to test the concept without going broke or earning a marketing degree first?

Market Testing With Google and a Little PHP

While scouring every book and website I could find on building online busnesses and making money online, I came across an e-book on making money building niche content websites with Adsense ads. It is not an earth shattering subject, the author explained a very practical process for identifying target niches and building sites to draw traffic. In the middle of explaining how the Google Adwords and Adsense programs work he mentioned, as an aside, that running and Adwords campaign would be an excellent and cost effective way to market test an idea! Bells started going off in my head. I made a note to use this idea.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself listening to a 2-part podcast by one of my favorite bloggers, Yaro Starak. The topic was developing and selling e-books for big profits. The guest, Daryl Grant, spoke in great detail about the system that she and her husband were using to develop and market profitable e-books. One of the steps was to conduct a market test using Google Adwords and what she called a ‘survey site.’ The familiar sound of bells started ringing!

I examined Daryl’s sample survey site and set about designing a template for testing my own ideas using a similar process.

The Adwords Market Testing Process – 8 Steps to Success

The process itself is very straight forward:

  1. Pick a product concept to test
  2. Create a survey page that promotes your proposed product and has feedback mechanisms
  3. Write several ads for your product idea
  4. Start a new Adwords campaign
  5. Select relevant keywords and set prices
  6. Upload your ads
  7. Run a 3 day test of your ad campaign
  8. Evaluate your results

Picking your product. This is where your personal genius comes in. You have to think of some product (e-books are my initial target) that you think others would want. This is a whole seperate discussion. As an independant filmmaker I thought it would be great to have access to interviews with 10 filmmakers, like me, who had created profitable movies. I’m always interested in these types of interviews in magazines and thought that a book focussed on this topic would interest others. 10 filmmakers spilling all their secrets.

Creating a survey page. The survey page is version 1.0 of what will later become your product’s sale page (if it is successful, that is!) Let people know that the product is not available yet, but sell them on it. Write copy designed to excite them and motivate them to purchase. If you are grammer challenged, get someone to edit your copy for you (if you don’t know any editors, consider a service like Now, make sure there is a feedback form for them to send you comments and suggestions, and a way for them to join a mailing list to get updates.

The first part is just copywriting and basic web design. The feedback form and email sign-up will require a bit more work. I used a basic HTML form on the survey page with a little Javascript to validate the email address. I then created a second PHP page that processed the form data, sent an email to me with the users name, email, and comments and, if they requested updates, submitted their information to my email list management software.

Now that I’ve created this survey site, I can just tweak the copy for each product I want to test. I’m not much of a programmer, but I got it all setup in about 2 days.

Write ads for your product. Sell your product. Write your ads as though the product is available today. Don’t say you are conducting a test, sell! visitors will find out about the test once they click over to your survey page. You want at least 2 or 3 different ads with slightly different editorial approaches. Adwords will tell you which ads generated the most response, so this is a way to start testing your ad campaign while testing your product. Knowing what people respond to may also help you shape the editorial slant of your product. Here is a sample of two of my ads:

Produce Profitable Films
10 Indie filmmakers tell exactly
how they made successful movies.
Make Movies Make Money
10 Indie filmmakers tell exactly
how they produced profitable films.

Resist the temptation to just write something fast, but try not to over think things either. If the idea is viable, you will spend a lot of time later optimizing and testing your ads for maximum response rates. The goal here is only to get a fair assesment of the products viability.

Start a new Adwords campaign. If you don’t already have an Adwords account, now is the tie to sign up. It will cost a few dollars to get your account activated. Start a new campaign and follow the prompts to set all of the main parameters. Set the campaign to run for 3 days. This should be enough time to gauge performance. If your test is on the borderline of success, you might extend the test a few more days to get a larger sample of responses. But, remember, the goal is spend only as much as you need to to validate the concept.

Select keywords and prices for your campaign. There are several books on my free e-book page that discuss how to select and test lists of keywords. The Adsense Mint gives an excellent tutorial on the subject (it is focussed on finding high cost keywords for Adsense websites, but the techniques and tools discussed work for this purpose.) Coming up with a good list of keywords will improve your chances of success. You want to identify what topics your potential customers might be searching for and you do not always want to use the obvious approach. Sometimes a group tangential topics will connect with the right people, and cost you less money.

For my campaign I did not just try keywords focussed on things like “filmmaking book” or “interviews with successful filmmakers.” I looked for “film festival listings” and “independant film distribution.” Filmmakers trying to sell a film would be looking for those keywords and might be very interested to read how others found success.

Upload your ads. Enter your ads into your campaign. Google has hard limits to the number of characters per line, so you might have to make some adjustments if you have to much text. Once your ads are in the system, Google will take care of dividing up the visibility of each one.

Run your test. This step is the easiest. There is nothing to do but wait – and repeatedly check your campaign statistics every 5 seconds!!! Try to find something else to distract yourself (am I the only one with this problem?)

Evaluate your results. When your campaign ends, look at the number of clicks you got. Total up the number of email responses you received. Check them against your targets. If you are close, you might want to test a little longer (or wait a few days and conduct a second test.) If you exceeded your numbers, start creating that product now! If you missed, test the next idea and be grateful that you didn’t waste any time creating a product that isn’t profitable. Notice I didn’t say it was a bad idea – just not profitable. It might be the perfect hobby project to work on after you start raking in the money with your profitable projects.

What are good targets? Daryl Grant says that she looks for an overall response of 500 clicks per day. She also looks for 5% of the visitors to be motivated enough to leave feedback or sign up for more information. If you reach or exceed these numbers, you have a winner.

Pay careful attention to how much it costs you to get clicks. You should plan for 1% of your visitors to make a purchase. That means you have to pay for 100 visitors before you find 1 customer. If it costs more reach those 100 people that you expect to earn on each sale, you have a problem. Daryl recommends that your costs for each customer should not exceed 1/3 of the income from your sale. For an e-book selling for $34.95 that means the total marketing cost should not exceed $11.65. Divide that number by 100 clicks and your top cost-per-click comes to $0.11.

$0.11 is not a lot of money, so you need to check your keywords carefully and study the market to determine how much you can charge for your product. You may need to bundle in other items to increase the value of the package and get your income per sale high enough to make the numbers work. Throw in plenty of bonuses too so your customer feels they’ve truly gotten their money’s worth.

Bonus Tip Always try to capture the email address of the people who click through to your sales page. Give them a free taste of your product or offer them a special report in exchange for their email.

Every time you get permission to add someone’s name to your list, you reduce the cost to market to them again. Over time you will have a large collection of people who will grow to trust your advice and recommendations and who you will not have to buy access too.

My Test Results – A Hidden Bonus

My idea is a big dud! I got a dismal response of 25 clicks and 0 comments over the run of my ad. There does not seem to be much pent-up demand for my filmmaker interview book (and I really wanted to do this project!) But, the price of my failure reveals a hidden bonus in this product market testing strategy.

The beauty of the Adwords pay-per-click system is you only pay when people click on your ad – no clicks, no charge! I only had to pay $4.46 to find out that this idea wasn’t going to work. The worse your failure, the less money it costs you. (Conversely, if you spend a lot of money on the test you have got a moneymaking idea on your hands.)

Traditionally, if you took an ad out in a magazine or newspaper it would cost you the same regardless of your results. Joseph Sugerman, direct response genius and author of the book Triggers: 30 Sales Tools you can use to Control the Mind of your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade, writes about how he used to roll out his ads in regional publications first before buying space in more expensive ones. He would even run 2 or 3 different versions to test refinements in the ad copy. The concept explained here is exactly the same, but much faster and more affordable.

Even if you are planning to market products in the offline world, use this system to run preliminary tests to weed out the lowest performing ideas before you put big money behind them.

I might go back to do some keyword research and see if I can find another angle on this book idea that might test a little better – maybe I should just let it go!

Let me know how testing works for you,

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy

Product Marketing and Analysis Resources

I recently wrote about a podcast I had heard that discussed a method for developing and selling e-books. This was not the ‘download my e-book, rebrand it, and sell it’ get rich quick approach. They focussed on identifying potential products, evaluating the potential market, market testing, and then producing and selling. It is a very systematic process.

Product evaluation and market testing has been high on my mind since I heard that podcast, so I started doing some research on the subject. I found a few very interesting resources. Links to them are at the end of this article.

I came across one great website called There were two really interesting articles there: ‘Due Diligence For New Product Ideas, and ‘Seven Things You Can Do To Improve Your Credibility On The Web‘. Very solid information with little hype.

They also have a free newsletter and magazine. I signed up for both on the basis of these two articles – they were both features in an earlier edition of the magazine.

The other resources I found were mostly from college course materials posted online. Some deal with traditional physical product design and some with the conceptual framework for doing analysis. They all looked interesting to me and I plan to go back and spend more time studying them. They are:

If you know of other resources for devising a method of evaluating the profitability of a potential new product, let me know. I will be testing a few ideas for online information products soon and will be writing about the different methods I used.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy

Increase Your Website Traffic By Joining The Conversation

When was the last time you had to join a new group? Maybe you started a new job or school. Maybe you joined a club or church. If you are anything like me, the process of getting to know people probably went something like this:

You showed up and talked with a small number of people at first – the boss, a greeter, the person sitting next to you. You talked about common interests and started the process of getting to know more about each other. At the same time, you started to listen to what the people around you were talking about. You gravitated toward the people you found interesting and eventually found an opportunity to contribute to the group conversations.

As people got to know more about you, they began to see the unique insights, experiences, and skills you had to offer and started to come to you with questions. Eventually, people started to refer others to you because they thought you could help them.

Over time you became an established part of the group with a history of involvement and a level of respect earned by the quality of that involvement.

This is a very common path to establishing yourself in a community. It is also an excellent process to model for generating website traffic on the Internet. The Internet is really just a great big community and you have to establish yourself there just like anywhere else.

So, How Do You Establish Yourself On The Internet?

The short answer – Join the Conversation! Seek out the places and people who are talking about things that interest you. Over time you will learn who the trusted voices are and discover where they hang out. When you feel like you have something to say that will add to the discussion, make comments. Blogs, user forums, and newsgroups are designed to encourage this. When you add value to the conversation, people will want to know more about you and what else you have to say.

Make sure people can find you. Whenever allowed, include a link back to your website or blog so that people can find you. Then, make sure you have good stuff waiting for them when they do.

Impress people with the quality of your comments and they will come find you. Impress them with what they find and they will bookmark your site or feed. Eventually, they will start recommending you to others.

Before you know it, a community will develop around your conversations.

How Powerful Is This Approach?

I will give you one quick example to show you the power of joining the conversation. On June 20, 2006 (3 days ago as I’m writing this) I left a short comment on an interesting article at Brad Isaac’s website. The article is called Work for Yourself First. I felt that my experiences with the subject were relevant and that others might find them interesting. Read the article and see what I had to say in response (it’s also a great article – so read it for that reason too!)

I was a little surprised today when I checked my site’s traffic stats and discovered that 21 people had already visited by following the link to homepage that is included in the comment. They came from all around the world. That is more traffic referrals than from any other single source over the same 3 days. And, these visitors also spent more time exploring my site and reading my articles than most others.

The same thing happens when you include trackback links to relevant articles in your own blog posts. An exerpt from your article will show up as a comment attached to the article you are referencing. This comment will link back to your blog entry. As you add to the conversation the community grows around it. It is powerful stuff.

Don’t Pee in the Pool

Before you run out and start flooding the Internet with comments, remember that your reputation is at stake.

Do not post scores of ‘me too’ comments, or worse, irrelevant comments intended only to get a link back to your site (this heinous practice is called comment spamming. Many website resources have been created whose sole task is weeding this junk out and throwing it away.) You will not get traffic to your site if you are known as a ‘comment spammer.’ What you are likely to get are piles of angry comments on your own site from people who are upset about what you are doing.

Another downside to comment spam is that it fills the Internet with so much garbage that nobody wants to wade through it to find the good stuff. The people who create good content must spend their time taking out the trash and are not generating new content.

Once somebody pees in the pool, nobody wants to go swimming and somebody has to clean it up!

Go Out and Join the Conversation

Go, be sociable. Talk to others and add your insights to the conversation. Build your reputation on the Internet and before long, people will come looking for you. The traffic you get will not be subject to the whims of any search engine’s latest algorithms, and the visitors you get will be more likely to become regulars.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy

Email Autoresponders and Sequential Email

Email autoreponder software is a powerful lever to move your online business ahead.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

Leverage. Using a tool to magnify a small effort into a large result. The Internet is a powerful leveraging tool. One person can spend a few hours creating a webpage and find hundreds or thousands of people around the world to read it and be influenced by it. And, as long as the page is online, it can continue to be discovered and read by new audiences – month after month, year after year.

Another powerful tool of the Internet age is the email auto-responder (also known as a sequential emailer.) With one, you can leverage the direct communication power of email with the set-it-and-forget-it cababilities of a webpage. You can use auto-responders to deliver a carefully constructed sequence of emails at precisely controlled intervals, with no human intervention.

Why Would You Want to Send Automated Sequential Emails?

There are a number of reasons to send out emails in this fashion.

Auto-Responders for Sales and Marketing

If you are marketing a product or service, you may already be aware that it can take 6 or 7 contacts with a potential customer before they make a purchase. It’s not easy to get someone to visit your website 6 or 7 times and you never know what pages they’ll choose to look at.

What if you could persuade this same visitor to sign-up for your 5 part email course or a series of special reports? These emails would teach them a little information aimed at answering the need that brought them to your site. But, in this case, you decide what messages they receive, what order they are delivered in, and how much time will pass between each email.

Step-by-step you will be demonstrating your expertise, building a relationship with your visitor, and creating the trust required to convert them from lookers to buyers. It’s like having an automated salesperson greeting everyone who expresses an interest in what you have to offer.

One well written sequence of emails can be leveraged, using an auto-responder, into hundreds or thousands of sales.

Auto-Responders for Content Delivery

Selling is not the only use for an auto-responder. It can also be the delivery mechanism for content you sell or give away. If you offer your visitors a daily inspirational message, or a reminder service, your auto-responder will deliver the goods. It is also an excellent way to deliver an educational course.

Other Uses for Auto-Responders

Another creative use that occurred to me is using your auto-responder to send blog updates when you are on vacation. Instead of posting the usual ‘on vacation’ message, letting the site go idle, or finding a guest blogger to fill in, write a special series of posts and load them into your auto-responder. Set the responder to deliver messages every day and then, when you get ready to leave, add your blog’s email posting address into the subscriber list. (Many blog software packages, like WordPress, allow you to submit posts via email.) Everyday a new entry will be posted to the site and your readers (and the search engines) will keep checking in for the latest updates.

You might also set one up to email your mother every year on her birthday, anniversary, and Mother’s Day! (Or at least email yourself a reminder to buy a card.) The Journal of Medical Internet Research even has the results posted about a study to “assess the feasibility of using sequential email messages to promote physical activity and increase fruit and vegetable intake among employed adults.”

I’m sure there are other creative ways to use an auto-responder. If you’ve got a clever one, leave a comment and share it.

Where Can You Get an Auto-Responder?

There are 3 ways to get an auto-responder. You can pay to use an auto responder service provided by a 3rd party, you can license a commercial software package and load it (or have it loaded) onto your server, or you can scour the open source community looking for free stuff and then tweak and customize it – guess which route I’ve chosen?

There are a number of companies who provide subscription based auto-responder services. They usually have a very rich set of features and are simple to use. GetResponse is one such company. Aweber and Intellicontact are 2 others. These companies often offer extended features like list splitting, campaign tracking, and click-through tracking. If you are looking to do sophisticated online marketing, the extra features and reduced technical maintenance requirements may be worth the monthly fees. GetResponse and Aweber both offer a free 30 day trial to let you test out the service before subscribing.
My Autoresponder Pro, SendStudio, and Follow-Up Mailing List Processor, all offer commercially licensed software that you can load onto your server and run yourself. Most of these packages offer plenty of features and are reasonably priced. If you have trouble with the installation, you can expect some level of technical support. The costs are usually pretty low and, if you know your way around your server, installation isn’t usually very tough.

Being the Go-To Guy, I like to hunt down open source solutions and customize them to my needs and whims (I’m even thinking about making my own software as a PHP/MySQL learning project!)

Open source means no fees, but also no guarantees and no tech support. I’ve found an open source package that I like called Infinite Responder! The interface isn’t beautiful to look at (it was designed by a programmer!!!) but it handles double opt-in sign-ups and unsubscribes, HTML and plain text email options, and multiple lists.

Installation was pretty simple (the developer will install it for you cheap if you need help.) I’m working on customizing the look of the interface to my liking and will post an video installation tutorial soon to guide folks through the installation process.

Want to see how Infinite Responder! works? Sign-up for my Web Business Building series and see it in action!

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy

The 3 F’s of Advertising Copywriting

I’ll bet you understand my frustrations with online advertising. When writing advertising copy for the web you have to address the same concerns that a salesperson deals with face-to-face, but without the direct feedback or ability to adapt your words to new questions or objections. You have to anticipate everything before you start writing your advertising copy.Master copywriter and direct marketing entrepreneur Joseph Sugarman, in his 1999 book Triggers, discussed and illustrated 30 different ways to motivate, influence, and persuade people when writing. It was an inspiring read. But, I had trouble getting all of those great ideas into my copy. Whenever I started getting traffic to a salespage I wrote, my results were zero. I couldn’t translate my knowledge into effect sales copy.

I felt like all of my promotional efforts were wasted because I couldn’t write copy that people responded to. I was stuck. I needed some framework to build on that would get me consistent results. Then, I discovered the 3 F’s of Advertising Copywriting.

Feel, Felt, Found (Discover)

While reading an e-book on email ad campaigns, I discovered the 3 F’s. I had found the structure I needed to build effective sales copy for my web pages. Once I learned to recognize this pattern I began to see it everywhere.

The 3 F’s are feel, felt, and found (or discover.)

You start off by letting your reader know that you understand how they feel – you’ve felt it yourself! Then you let them know that you felt the same way until you found whatever secret, product, or service you are trying to persuade them to accept. What you found changed everything and now you want to share it with the whole world.

You understand how they feel, because you felt the same way until you found the thing that changed everything.

This is a very powerful technique you can use to gain the trust of your audience and lead them to your product or service. Look for it on other websites you visit and work it into your writing.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy

P.S. I hope it was pretty obvious that I was trying to use the 3 F pattern to structure this article. It was a fun excercise. Let me know how well I did and share your results using the 3 F’s in your copywriting.