Archive forGeneral Web Publishing

Book Review: Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin

Free Prize Inside by Set Godin is subtitled “How to Make a Purple Cow”. If you’re familiar with Seth Godin’s ideas, you know that a Purple Cow is his term for a remarkable product. He has another book entitled Purple Cow that shows the “what” of Purple Cow’s, and this book shows the “how”.

The book has three main section

1) The Premise
Seth talks about how the two traditional ways corporations make sales, advertising and big innovation, aren’t reliable. Advertising used to work, but media spends these days are getting more unreliable and difficult (he only mentions TV and print advertising and doesn’t really touch on online ads much). Big innovation – making large investments in creating an innovative new product – is very risky. He advocates a new way of doing things – soft innovation. Soft innovation causes the product to be the marketing. Create something that people want to share and talk about and you don’t need to advertise.

2) Being a Champion for Soft Innovations
Here Seth talks about how to take an idea and actually get it implemented in an organization. I wasn’t very interested in this section since I work in a two person company, so championing an idea isn’t that difficult for me :) He talks about how to get people to believe in you and get people to get on board with an idea. A soft innovation without a person to champion in it from idea to implementation won’t survive in a company.

3) How to Find Soft Innovations
Seth introduces something called “Edgecraft” in which you take a single dimension of a product and push it to the limit. For example, take the way you treat customers at a restaurant. You can eliminate all reservations and treat everyone equally – first come first served. Or you can make reservations very difficult to get and not allow anyone without an reservation through the door. Either one may get people talking about your restaurant and suddenly you have a Free Prize that makes your business grow.

I do like the idea of Edgecraft. It seems like a fairly good alternative to traditional brainstorming for easily come up with some new ideas. I was able to think of a few neat alternatives to some of the websites I run pretty quickly. Most of the ideas in the book talked about retail stores and physical products, so most of them are not directly applicable to websites, but the framework still works.

This is a fairly short book (185 pages without the extensive notes) and not very dense, so it was a very quick read. It is good for getting some ideas for products and how to push them, particularly if you are working at a large corporation. Unfortunately, though, I don’t think I would recommend this book for most web publishers.

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Google Apps Dropping Support for Older Browsers

Google just announced that it is dropping support for older browsers across a large number of their service starting August 1st. Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Sites users will need to be on the latest or next-to-latest major versions of browsers, or risk not getting the full functionality of these services. The only supported browsers will be Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Explorer.

I think this is great news. Developing web sites that look good in older versions of browsers is a major pain in the butt, and anything that encourages people to upgrade gets the thumbs up from me. Looking at my stats, currently just over 10% of all visitors to one of my non-techie sites use Internet Explorer 7 and about 2.7% still use Explorer 6. Considering IE7 was released in 2006, it is ridiculous that so many people are still using IE6. Since IE7 is one of the browsers Google is dropping support for, I hope it gets people upgrading their browsers.

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Why Poker is Like the Internet Business

Because of DK’s SEO Poker Tournament during PubCon next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about poker. And, as always, I’ve been thinking about making money online. Since I’ve been thinking about these things at the same time, I’ve realized that there are some real similarities.

There are a Lot of Dreamers
There are a ton of people who dream about being a professional poker player. A lot of people play a little bit in home poker games, but few ever manage to make a living off of it. It’s the same for internet businesses, a lot of people dream about it and dabble in it, but very few people make a living from it, and even fewer become superstars.

Calculated Risks
Poker is a game of calculated risks. When you start betting, you are never sure that you are going to win a hand. Even if you are holding a pair of aces, someone could easily bet you with a set, straight or flush. However, if you start betting hard every time you have a 2-7 off-suit, you’re not going to make money in the long run. It’s the same with the internet business, most people have a lot of ideas for various sites, however, it’s always best to go with ideas that have the best money-making potential. Try and start with the odds stacked in your favor.

Long Term Strategies are the Best
Every poker player loses a hand every now and then. Everyone in the internet business has an idea that doesn’t work out for the best. The idea is to make money over the long haul. If you keep betting with the right ideas, eventually you come out a winner.

Alway Keep Improving
Poker is a game that you can never be perfect at. Even the best players in the world are constantly changing their strategies and trying out new tactics. The same goes for any Internet business.

Learn From Others
Poker players are constantly studying the competition to find out what the other top players are doing. The same strategy is also very useful in the Internet world. You can study other successful sites and figure out what they are doing right.

Knowing When to Fold ‘Em
Sometimes when playing poker you realize you have been beat and you just have to lay down your cards. The same things applies on the Internet, even though you’ve put time in some project you thought would work, you have to know when to just shut it down and move onto other things.

The Stars do it Over and Over Again
There are alway people in poker who have beginners luck and end up winning some big tournament never to be heard from again. But then there are players like Daniel Negreanu and Scotty Nguyen who keep making money year after year. The same is true of the Internet, you look at people like Jeremy Schoemaker and John Chow who seem to keep raking in the big buck for many years.

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Getting Related Terms from Google

One of the most important activities to undertake when starting to think about SEO or PPC is keyword research. One important step to do is coming up with a list of related keywords. If you start a site about mortgages, what other related keywords are there? Wouldn’t it be nice to know what keywords Google’s algorithm’s thought were related? I went to a Google AdWords Seminar last week (taught by Brad Geddes from bgTheory) where I learned a cool new technique for this.

Do a search for anything related to your keyword in Google (using the ~ operator) while also using the keyword as a negative term in the search (using the – operator). Then look for any bolded words in the results. These bolded words are what Google considers related. To get even more words, run the search again using all of the words you found as negative keywords.

So for example, if you want to find any words related to “mortgage” use the following search:

~mortgage -mortgage

When you run this you will notice that the words “finance”, “refinance”, “lending” and “bank” are are bolded. So Google considers these words related to “mortgage”. Now run the search again using the new words as negative keywords, like this:

~mortgage -mortgage -finance -refinance -lending -bank

This results in some new related words: “financial”, “interest” and “corp”. You can keep adding these to the negative keyword list until Google stops finding words.

You now have a new list of words that you might consider as keywords in a PPC campaign or for using as keywords in SEO.

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A New Way to Deal with Duplicate Content

One of the biggest worries of a lot of webmasters is duplicate content issues. On-site duplicate content issues occur when there are two URLs on a site that show the same (or very similar) content. This always brings up a lot of questions for webmasters: How will the search engines know which page on my site is the “right” version; Will I get penalized for having two pages with the same content?

Today Google, Yahoo and Microsoft announced a solution to this problem: a new way to use the HTML link element. The link element is used to specify a relationship between two pages. It can be used to specify things like a stylesheet or rss feed for a page.

Now there is a new standard “canonical” value for the rel attribute of the tag. The HTML will look something like this:

<a rel=”canonical” href=””/>

Place this tag in the head section of the HTML of any of the pages that have duplicate content and your done.

For example, all of these following pages might have the same content:

If all three of these pages have the same content then the same canonical link tag should be on each of them.

This should be a good way to ease webmasters worry about duplicate content issues. You can get more information from Yahoo’s announcement,d Google’s announcement and Microsoft’s announcement.

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Switching Web Hosts For WordPress and Other Sites

Over the course of many years I have gone through quite a few different web hosts, and was never very happy with any of them. About two and a half years ago I switched my main sites to DreamHost, and I finally found a host I was happy with. I have never noticed any downtime, and I get a ton of disk space and bandwidth for a very reasonable price. Right now I get an unlimited number of domains hosted, 378.18 GB of disk space and 7.33 TB of bandwidth for less than $100 a year. I highly recommend them. (Use coupon code ADMOOLAH50 to save $50 if you sign up.)

So now I am in the process of moving all the rest of my websites to my DreamHost account. This is something I should have done a long time ago, but never got around to. Since I’m repeating the same steps over and over, I thought I’d come up with a check list of steps to do when switching hosts to make sure I don’t forget things as I go along. Here is that list, with some comments.

Most of the sites I have are WordPress sites, so I have some specific details about that, but these steps can be generalized for any type of site. Obviously, if you don’t have a database, some of the steps don’t apply.

1. Download all files from old server via FTP

2. Export Database(s) in SQL format using PHP Admin

  • It is a good idea to delete spam using the WordPress admin console before exporting to reduce the file size.
  • Do not use the WordPress export feature to transfer your database. If you do, then you won’t be able to import the new files until your Name Servers have properly switched, and your users may experience downtime.

3. Create domain on new host

4. Create database on new host

5. Import the SQL data from step 2 using PHP Admin of the new host

6 Change the information in configuration files to match the new DB setting

  • For WordPress make sure you change wp-config.php

7. Upload (via FTP) the WordPress files from step 1

8. Set up any required mailboxes at the new domain

  • Lately I’ve been setting up GMail for all my domain, which Dreamhost provides automatically

9. Switch Name Servers at domain registrar

10. Wait for the change to take place

  • This could take anywhere from an hour to a day
  • To check when the switch has happened, look at your access logs. When you see activity, some traffic is reaching the new server, however, you may not yet be able to get to your new server using the domain name, it just depends how the domain name information propagates.

Hopefully it can save you some headaches if you decide to switch hosts in the future.

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There’s More To Making Money Online Than AdSense – Diversify You Income Streams

AdSense is a great way for beginning Webmasters to make some revenue. There is a lot to like about AdSense – it’s easy to set up, it can display ads in almost any niche, once you have it set you can just forget about it and watch the money build up in your account. A lot of publishers seem to get overly focused on AdSense, and forget that there might be other options out there. But that’s a mistake.

It seems like most people I know who make good money from Websites tend to use more than just AdSense. AdSense may be a good default, but there are so many different ways to make money, people usually diversify and find a lot of different programs that bring in some good income. I do pretty well with AdSense, but a few months ago I tried an affiliate program on my top AdSense site. It ended up paying out more than AdSense does, and my AdSense income hasn’t dropped at all. I’ve also gotten checks from Amazon, Text Link Ads, direct sales, ReviewMe, affiliate programs, and other sources. And I still experiment with different programs all the time.

Look at Darren Rowse, his number one money maker is Chitika, AdSense is #2 on the list. And he lists six other revenue streams.

Look at John Chow, he makes more money from various affiliates, ReviewMe, Direct Sales and Text-Link-Ads than he does with AdSense.

Every webmaster should experiment with different programs for two reasons:

  1. It’s good to have diversified income streams – never put all your eggs in one basket.
  2. You never know which program or combination of programs will make you the most money. Try lots and lots of affiliate and advertising programs. Some will make you nothing, some will do OK, and then you might hit on one that will make more for you than AdSense ever did. You never know until you try what will make you the most money.

Don’t get me wrong, AdSense is a great advertising network, and should be in the mix of every publisher’s revenue stream, but don’t limit yourself. If AdSense is the only thing you’ve ever tried, go ahead and do yourself a favor and try something new. Here are a few (affiliate) links to try out:

Text Link Ads

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Started Using Feedburner

I’ve always been interested in using Feedburner for my RSS subscriptions, but I always thought it would be a pain to switch all my existing subscribers to the new feed. Then, a week or so ago I saw a post by Shoemoney, saying that he had switched to Feedburner. I realized that I didn’t was still subscribed to his old feed, but was getting new updates. I did some investigation and found that Feedburner has a cool WordPress plugin that redirects the existing feed URLs to a new Feedburner link.

So I am now using Feedburner for this blog, and I think I’ll start switching some of my other blogs over too. I like the tracking that they give you, and there are a lot of features I think I’ll experiment with too. I never knew how many subscribers I had to this blog. Now, as can be seen from the widget below, I know I have a little over 200 subscribers.

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Top 5 Autopilot Moneymakers for Your Website or Blog

Autopilot Moneymakers are programs that make it very easy to earn money on your website. Sign up for the program – cut and paste some code, and your done. Sure, there are sometimes ways to make more money – direct sales and affiliate programs, for example – but they take significant effort to sell properly. Webmasters and bloggers love autopilot moneymakers because they don’t have to put a lot of effort into getting revenue, they can concentrate on making better websites.

The five programs listed below are among the favorites of bloggers and webmasters, they are the proven money makers. (Most of the links are affiliate links.)


This is the best known program of its type. It’s ubiquitous on the web and is often the first program considered for new sites. It works well on a large variety of sites. AdSense has options for CPM (payment per impression), PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and PPA (Pay-Per-Action).

Yahoo! Publisher Network

Yahoo! Publisher Network is Yahoo’s attempt to catch up to Google in advertising on third party websites. it is currently in beta and limited to US publishers. Many webmasters report targeting issues, but many also report earning that are far better than they got with AdSense. It is worth giving a try to see if it works in your niche. YPN uses PPC ads.

Check out Yahoo! Publisher Network


Chitika ads are interactive widgets that display keyword targeted merchandise for sale. They work very well for websites that are geared toward some specific consumer product. Chitika uses the PPC method for payouts.

Chitika Overview


AuctionAds is a relatively new network, but there have been a lot of good reports about them. They display EBay ads that are targeted to the content on your website. Like Chitika, they are good for websites focus on consumer goods. Auction ads uses CPA.

AuctionAds Homepage

Text Link Ads

Text Link Ads are a little different from the other programs on this list in that they don’t display full ads that pay per impression, click or action. You insert Javascript on your site and advertisers can purchase a simple text link on a monthly basis. This makes Text Link Ads a good compliment to other ad programs.

Go to Text Link Ads

This post is part of ProBlogger’s Top 5 Group Writing Project

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John Chow’s Blog

One of the more interesting blogs I have been reading lately is John Chow’s. He has a blog to teach people to make money online. He has an interesting arrangement with his readers where if they do a review of his blog, he will link back to you.

One of my favorite things about his blog is that he is very upfront about how he makes his money. His figures for April are very impressive, his blog pulled in $11,702.66 in revenue. His biggest earner was ReviewMe, at $4,500. He spent about $566 in ads, so his profit is over $11,000. I think that’s pretty good for a single blog.

Sometimes I find the large number of his ReviewMe postings a little annoying, but he always mentions the fact that a posting is a ReviewMe blog at the top of the post, so it’s pretty easy to skim past it if you want to. I also usually skim past the posting about cars (I am much more interested in motorcycles, particularly MotoGP), but overall I find most of his posting interesting to anyone who is a web publisher.

I am thinking of trying to start a similar, “review my blog and I’ll link to yours” here.

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