29
Feb

Living Debt Free And With $3,000 Less In Expenses

Living Debt FreeThis month marks a significant milestone in the financial part of married life with my wife Jean. For the second time in our 14 years of being together, we are again debt free. We paid off our 0% loan on our 2005 Toyota 4 Runner at the beginning of the month and combined with finally selling our investment home this past September, that was a poor investment, we now have approximately $3,000 less per month in expenses.

The expenses on our real estate investment were staggering just knowing we were literally throwing that money away every month. By the time we accounted for the house payment, taxes, utilities, insurance, home owner’s association fees and other fees and maintenance, it was costing us around $2,100 per month for the home. Fortunately we formed an LLC a couple of years ago to handle our real estate ventures (and now will be handling my web businesses) so our taxes will very low because of the losses.

Our 4 Runner payments were around $800 per month and that was paid off in January and we received the title about a week ago or so. It’s a great feeling to know that you actually own, free and clear, the first brand new vehicle you’ve ever had. This vehicle could have been paid off much earlier or we probably could have paid cash for it, but during our real estate dealings we wanted to use that money for a down payment on a third spec home, which we never bought. The thought was that we could get a 0% loan and use someone else’s money, while using our money for a down payment.

All in all it turned out to be a good thing we made payments on the 4 Runner. Since we sold the investment house last September in a short sale (not a foreclosure, but it does hurt your credit some) hopefully making a few payments on the vehicle will help to recover our good credit score. However, the most important thing is that we now have a little extra money every month. Even though we have almost $3,000 less in expenses, it doesn’t mean we have that much more to spend every month because $2,000 of that was money we really couldn’t afford to waste in the first place. I’m glad that little rabbit trail in life is now in the past.

Some of the extra money will be spent on advertising for this blog and having our back porch enclosed which Jean is dillegently saving for. We’re not in any rush however to start racking up expenses again. it will be nice living on the debt free side of life for a season.

I fee like I can relax and breathe again…

Alan

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28
Feb

How To Tell Exactly What You Sold As An eBay Affiliate

One of the things that frustrates many Build A Niche Store users and eBay affiliates in general is that they can’t figure out what specific items they’re earning commissions on. I see this question, or rather frustration, expressed in many forums, blog comments and many other places on the net. This would be valuable information for the affiliate marketer because you could then target this info better on your site if you knew what your hot selling items were.

So you can’t know for sure what you sold through the eBay affiliate program, that’s a bummer. Oh, but you can, and it’s not all that difficult. All you need is Microsoft Excel or any program that opens Excel documents or tab separated files and access to your CJ account.

Here’s how you do it:

Log into CJ and click on Run Reports in the top left tabs. Next, right below where it says Run Reports – Transaction Reports, click on Report Options and you will get a box that looks like this:

Commissions Summary

Once you do that, click on the drop down box under Select Report Type and select Commission Detail. When you do that, the next box below will change to say Advertisers: All. Click on that drop down box and select eBay from your list of advertisers. Go to the next section down labeled Filter Results By and in the box labeled Web site: All, select your web site that you want to see eBay stats on.

Next, go over to the right a little and under Select Time Frame, click the radio button that says Date Range and select the date or dates that you want to find specific transactions for. Your screen should now look like the one below:

eBay Commission Details

Click on Generate Report and you will then be taken to a screen that looks similar to the one below. You could have either more or less transactions depending on how many sales you had that day for that site.

Download eBay Commission Report

Once you are there, scroll down to the bottom of the report where it says Download Report and select Excel from the drop down box and then click Submit. You will then get a dialog box that asks you if you want to open or save the file, click Open and Excel will open with your details. With my example there will be only three lines in the spreadsheet, one is an Advanced Lead and the other 2 will say Winning Bid under the Auction Name column. Follow the Winning Bid row and scroll over the the far right of your spreadsheet and look for a column that says Order ID. If you followed everything correctly you will now see a cell full of numbers like the one below:

eBay Order ID Cell

BAM! You now have exactly what you’re looking for. Highlight the second number in the cell and copy it to your clipboard. Now go over to eBay and plug it in to the main search box and see what comes up. Item number 310023014821 on eBay is a Romanian 500 Lei silver coin that earned me a $1.66 .83 commission.

eBay Item Sold

Pretty cool, huh? You can do that with any item sold on eBay and you never have to wonder again what you’ve sold through the their affiliate program.

But wait, there’s more…

What if you want to check out all the items you sold in a particular day or period of time? It would be a drag to have to plug in every number one at a time to find out which items you sold if you had several. Today is your lucky day because there’s a way to list all your items at once. On the right hand side of the main search box on eBay click on Advanced Search and you will get a screen like below. Make sure you click on the box that says Completed listings only and put in all your numbers either space or comma separated. You do have to sign in to eBay to use this feature. If you don’t already have one, you can get an eBay account here.

eBay Completed Listings

Click on Search and see what you get:

eBay All Items Sold

As you can see, I sold the coin mentioned above and a Dell keyboard through the same site. That’s the beauty of the eBay affiliate program. You can earn commissions on two completely unrelated items because you get credit for whatever purchases someone makes within a 7 day period.

Use this valuable information to target your visitors with the most popular items you’re selling or just to see what’s bringing in the big commissions. Have fun and earn some bucks with the eBay affiliate program.

Cheers,

Alan

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28
Feb

The Designer Behind My New Custom Blog Theme

Several days ago I wrote a guest post for John Chow about some basic things you can do to improve your blogging and earnings online. One of those things was to leave comments on other blogs. If you don’t think that works, you should probably talk to Tom Ross of Push Standards, because that’s exactly how Tom got my attention and more importantly, my business.

Tom At Push StandardsTom left a comment on a post here at Affiliate Confession and as I do to many who leave comments, I visited his blog and was really impressed with what I saw. I had been semi-actively looking for a designer or company to give Affiliate Confession a custom look and the web sites Tom features in his online design portfolio caught my eye. Tom’s work is uncluttered, pleasing to the eye and being that I spent 7 years designing Yellow Pages advertising, his designs just made me want to hang out and study them for awhile. I love to look at nice work and think, ‘I wonder how he did that?’ or ‘Hmm, how many Photoshop layers did he use on that one?’

Since Tom is an independent “Young entrepreneur and web designer” as he states in his blog header, I thought I’d shoot him an email through his Hire Me page and see what we could work out. Now, if you’ve seen the prices that some of the larger design companies like Unique Blog Designs have been charging, you know getting a custom WordPress theme is an expensive endeavor. But after sending a few emails back and forth to confirm what I wanted and the look I was trying to achieve, Tom’s rates were very affordable. I can’t give you an exact quote because there are specific things that you have to work out with Tom, or any designer. However, the level of complexity in a blog design has a lot to do with the price.

Not knowing what to expect when dealing with a designer completely online, I was very impressed with Tom’s professionalism, enthusiasm and patience. The whole process from my initial contact to finished project and getting the theme implemented, took about 20 days and Tom was incredibly helpful in working with me to get the design online and in working order. He researched problems, emailed me code a couple of times and patiently explained some issues to get things working just as I wanted.

When you are ready to get a custom design for your blog or want to put together a nice, clean looking web site, I highly recommend Tom at Push Standards. I know you will be pleased with his work.

Now, if you already have a cool looking web site that’s CSS based and not full of tables, Tom has another interesting project he’s recently completed. CssGalleryList.com promises to be a constantly updated list of sites that accept nicely designed CSS sites. I guess a problem with many of these gallery sites is that they come and go and Tom wants to help out designers and owners of custom designed sites by keeping his gallery list updated.

Tom has already compiled a list of nearly 50 galleries to submit your site to and links directly to their submission page for your convenience. It only takes about 30 minutes to submit to all of these sites if you don’t get stuck like I did, looking at cool designs. Some of these galleries have nice PR4 and PR5 rankings and would be a great asset to get an incoming link from. However, don’t think you can just submit a Blogger.com site, a standard WordPress template site or just try to spam these galleries. They are looking for high quality, customed designed sites.

Many thanks goes out to Tom Ross for helping me brand Affiliate Confession and giving me the custom look I wanted. If you need a designer for your blog or web site please contact him and remember, keep commenting because you never know how it will turn out.

Alan

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27
Feb

A Record Day For Google Adsense Earnings

Google Adsense EarningsThis past Thursday was a pretty exciting day when I checked my Google Adsense earnings and found out it was my second highest day in revenue, coming in at $69.05. It was pretty significant because Thursday’s are not usually high earnings days or high traffic days on the net, at least not for me. I had planned to blog about it over the weekend, but just didn’t get around to it.

It was nice to see that much for a single day in revenue and it was encouraging because of it being a low traffic day. I thought, it can only get better from here. Well, today I woke up and logged into Adsense to see that yesterday was my number one earnings day with Google. The previous best day had been more than 2 years ago on Tuesday January 17, 2006 when the total was $72.77. Yesterday’s Adsense earnings came in at $74.38.

It’s hard to believe that it has taken more than 2 years to top my earnings, but if you’ve read lesson 4 in perseverance you’ll see that at one point Adsense revenue dropped by 50% over a 6 month period. I’ve been able to slowly build that back up again and I’m hoping this is a trend in the right direction. Since the past day of record earnings, it has been 2 years of not being able to average much more than about $40 a day with Adsense, no matter what I did. However, having my third best and first best day for revenue in the same week definitely signals an upward trend.

The biggest earning sites for me are in the travel niche and more specifically for vacation rentals. Of the 16 sites that earned me Adsense income yesterday, just 2 sites brought in more than 60% of the $74.38 total. And the great thing about that is, those two sites had combined total page views of just over 525 and unique visitors of just over 300 for both. Now, if I could just get 1,000 visitors every day to each of those sites, I could live off of that income alone. Extrapolated out, that’s over $300 a day from 2 sites. I need to put some extra time into getting more traffic to these sites.

I’m not going to reveal those two url’s, but making money in the travel niche isn’t all that difficult. One site just lists vacation rentals and the other site is a blog where I just write about rentals, attractions and stuff to do in a popular vacation area in the southeast. Beyond fairly good content, the trick is well placed Adsense units. I am also partial to a particular size of ads as well. I like the wide 336 x 280 unit. They make all the difference.

One last thing, I talk about Build A Niche Store a lot, but it’s probably not the best thing for a travel site unless it is just a small part of an overall larger site. Travel just doesn’t seem to do that well on eBay.

The next milestone for Adsense earnings is the magic $100 per day. I’m hoping to get there sometime next month.

Alan

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26
Feb

New Theme At Affiliate Confession

I’ve been tweaking all day and adding stuff here and there and as you can see, there’s a new design to Affiliate Confession. I probably shouldn’t be messing with some of the stuff I’ve have been because I know just enough php and CSS to destroy a nice work of art. There are just a couple things more that need to be fixed and all should be well.

Some notable changes, other than the cool design, are the Most Popular Posts and the Most Commented Posts sections at the top. These sections were previously at the bottom, but how often do you scroll to the bottom of a blog? Hopefully this will make visitors more aware of the most important posts and to see what everyone else is commenting on and reading. I’ve also installed a Feedburner stats box on the upper right so you can see how many people are subscribed to Affiliate Confession.

A new Archives Page has been added as well and the monthly listed archives on the sidebar that you see on most blogs has been removed. You can now see every post on Affiliate Confession from that page and have a look at each post title to see if something catches your attention rather than having to scroll through page after page of monthly posts.

You will also notice that there are 2 more 125 x 125 advertising spots available on the sidebar and a 468 x 60 banner spot in the header. As soon as I figure out how to get the sidebar banners to rotate so you don’t always see that same ad in the same position, 3 of those spots will go up for sale as well as the top banner. The initial cost will be $25 per month for the 125’s and $50 per month for the top banner. If you are interested in advertising on Affiliate Confession, you can contact me here.

I’ll be running a contest starting sometime this week, maybe tomorrow, to officially introduce the new theme and later this week I’ll also let you know who designed the theme as well.

Sorry for the late and short post, but I’ve been at it all day trying to get it just right and it’s time to take a rest.

Please let me know what you think of the new theme.

Alan

Popularity: 8% [?]

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