Checking Stats – Like Watching Concrete Dry

When it comes to checking stats too much, (Adsense, Adwords spend, eBay, Neverblue, etc.) I’m probably the worst offender. I usually check them early in the morning for the previous day, some stats after lunch and then do the rounds again before I go to bed.

That’s what I plan to do, but it rarely is limited to only those 3 times per day. You might know what I mean. You go to check email and while you’re waiting for it to download, you’ll just run over to your Google account and see how Adsense is doing or how much you’ve spent so far today with Adwords. I do that a lot and then I see something and decide to delve a little deeper and find that one of my sites isn’t giving me the usual Adsense revenue I’m accustomed to, or I see lots of clicks on one of my Adwords campaigns, better check the CPA company to see if I’m earning more than I’m spending.

Pretty soon I’ve spent the last hour over-analyzing everything, stressing out about some little anomaly I’ve run across and I’ve forgotten I just wanted to check email. Funny thing is, my stats will be the same at the end of the day whether or not I check them every time I download email, wait for a Photoshop file to save, wait for a browser reload after leaving a comment on someone’s blog or anyone of a hundred other things where I think I can just “check this one stat here.”

Pouring, then watching concrete dry

It’s kind of like waiting for concrete to dry. We had our slab poured early this morning for the extension on our home and it was kind of cool to watch the whole process take place. The concrete came out of the pump looking kind of thin but I was assured that it would set properly, it’s just a little thinner than normal so it can be pumped through a hose from the front yard to the back yard.

Even though we have thinner than normal concrete setting right now, no matter how many times I walk out of the home office and go watch it dry, it’s still going to cure at the same pace and at the end of the day we’ll be able to walk on it. There might even be some weird kind of mental-wave-mind-meld sort of thing going on that actually causes it to cure slower when watched. You know that creepy feeling when someone is watching you.

Maybe this will be a good reminder not to log into my Adsense account 10 times a day.

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Financing Your PPC Campaigns

Getting into pay per click marketing can be expensive because unless you really know what you’re doing, most everyone tends to lose money in the beginning. There are those that have the golden touch and are profitable with PPC right away, but for most of us, including myself, you end up spending a lot of money with Adwords long before you see profit.

So what can you do if you want to get started, but don’t want to risk the money initially? Try financing your PPC campaigns. I’m not talking about taking out a loan and risking money you don’t have, we already have a huge problem with that in the world today, what I’m talking about is to finance your paid marketing with other present or newly created revenue from your affiliate business.

If you want to get into PPC and have little money to do so, determine right now to either use a specific amount of money (a budget), a specific CPA offer that’s generating x amount of cash or build a new stream of revenue with your blog, a new site or sell some stuff on eBay just to get going. You are essentially borrowing money from one part of your business to finance another part of your business. The only way you are going to be truly profitable in the long run as an affiliate is to put those profits back into your business on an ongoing basis.

Initially I sold some things on eBay to have some seed money when I decided to get into PPC again. And when I reached a level of income over $2,500 per month, my wife and I decided I could spend anything over that amount on PPC. I’m also profiting from a PPC offer that’s making more money per day than all my other campaigns are costing.

If you are successful with this method of financing your PPC efforts this way, be careful not to overlook your campaigns that are losing money just because you are making more in the long run than the losers are costing you. You still have to weed out and either delete or heavily tweak your campaigns that aren’t making you any money if you want to build a good income. I have to stay diligent and check my campaigns every day to find the ones that aren’t doing well.

This may be done fairly quickly for some or may take some time to implement for others depending on how profitable you are or how quickly you can start to be profitable with various affiliate offers. Once you budget the amount you’re going to spend or are going to finance your campaigns with a changing amount of revenue from one of your best affiliate offers, then don’t exceed the amount you are making for that day. If you keep working at it and are smart about your cash flow when just staring out, you will eventually be making enough that you can try bigger and more riskier PPC campaigns and hopefully make even more profit.

You should know by now that I’m not about get-rich-quick, so if you thought that was what this was about, head over to ClickBank and get one of those kind of ebooks. If you want to learn how to do PPC the right way, check out PPC Coach.

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MySpace Ads Review And Tutorial

Just yesterday I picked up on a tweet from lenstrom that MySpace Ads went live, at least in the beta version, so I though I’d head over there, sign up and throw $50 their way to see if I could get some action. As of this post unfortunately my ads haven’t been approved yet, even though they’ve been sitting in the que for about 22 hours. So, even though I don’t have any conversion or money making data yet, I can give you a walk through of the system and offer some opinions.

When I get my ads approved and get some data I’ll report back to let you know how it went.

It’s pretty easy to sign up with MySpace ads and you don’t even have to have a MySpace account to do so. Just put in all your personal data, a valid credit card and then you go and set up your ads. MySpace is different than Facebook Ads in that you have 2 choices of ad sizes, either a 300 x 250 block or a large 728 x 90 pixel banner of which you can either design right in the MySpace interface (you can add text and your own images), make your own or do what I did and just use creatives from whatever offer you are promoting.

Create A MySpace Ad

If you’d like, you can target your ad before or after you actually create it. At this point the demographic data available to do your targeting is very limited. As you can see below they’ve left out at least one important choice in the game console category. They’ve included everything but the Wii (I forgot Wii was a Nintendo product. However, you can select it seperately on Facebook. Thanks to WordVixen for pointing out the mistake):

No Wii?

Also lacking in some demographic areas I was exploring were only 8 brand name video games to choose from, no Christian category under music, only 29 authors listed in the book category and the health & fitness category only has 2 options – working out and yoga, lame. Hopefully this is just what they’re offering during beta and the category choices will be expanded. Right now Facebook Ads offers much better targeting.

Also, you will definitely want to set your age demographic appropriately to avoid maybe trying to sell car parts to 13-year-old-girls or some such market that will waste your ad budget since MySpace is notorious for worthless ad traffic. How many 13-year-old have credit cards?

After you create your ad, target it and add your destination url, you then set your campaign budget and it looks like you can set a total amount to spend on a campaign (hopefully you can change that if your campaign is doing well) and choose your bid amount, as long as it’s 25 cents or above.

MySpace Ads minimum bids

That’s another flub with MySpace Ads here is the 25 cent minimum bid. Come on guys, you can’t expect that to fly very long on an unproven ad platform with no conversion data yet. It remains to be seen if actual cost per click will be at 25 cents or lower, but that’s ridiculous, not being able to lower bids to 10 or 15 cents to get a better ROI is just crazy. This is basically a content platform and if I were paying 25 cents per click with some of my Adwords content campaigns, I’d be broke. Time to re-think that one.

Next you want to set the time frame or dates your campaign will run. Make sure you choose a campaign end date as people have left comments on other blogs doing MySpace Ads reviews that they’ve accepted the default setting which ends your campaign the day it starts. It might be a good thing if MySpace tweaks that to be out a least a couple of months.

The bottom line is that MySpace has more users than Facebook and could bring many more impressions to your ad. In picking some of the same type demographic as on Facebook Ads, MySpace is showing me millions of potential users vs Facebook’s hundreds of thousands.  However, it’s hard to tell how many clicks you’ll get or what the conversions will be like. The 25 cent minimum bid has to go and demographic targeting has to be expanded. MySpace has tons of data on its users and putting out an ad platform without including better targeting is extremely shortsighted. It’s almost as if they though maybe they’d see how much money advertisers are willing to spend before they roll out the whole package. Not good.

One other minor tweak I’d like to see MySpace make is to allow your session time to be a little longer. It must only be about 2 minutes or less because almost every time I refresh the browser, I get kicked back to the login screen.

Anyway, I though I’d at least give it a shot to see if it would produce a little income here. If you want, you can sign up for MySpace Ads here.

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Harsh Reality 5 – No Risk Equals No Reward

Big RiskAffiliate marketing is somewhat like investing in that you have to decide what you are willing to risk to ultimately succeed. Be it time, money, a regular work schedule or the comforts of a nice car and other material things until you reach a livable level of income, all these things will factor into your risk tolerance.

Time is not always thought of as being risky to spend, but it is because we only have one time bank account and when it’s gone, it’s gone, no earning it back. That’s why it’s important to put your time into something that has the potential to earn you an income for a long time.

Working on spammy techniques or purposely going against search engine webmaster guidelines that put your business at risk may earn you some money up front, but they will seriously hamper your venture for the long run. There’s a difference in using a loophole in the system, that when it’s closed will only cause you a loss of traffic from one source versus risking your entire site or network of sites being deindexed from the major search engines. Loopholes are meant to be exploited, clear policy violations will eventually kill your business.

You can also spend time on building what you thought was a wonderful idea for a site only to have it fail and not really be able to figure out why. I put many hours into a work at home site a few years ago and even though the site has been up for about 4 years, it may get 30 visitors on a good day. The site used to get 200 or 300 people a day, but it eventually died a slow death as page after page lost rankings and traffic plummeted. Maybe it was too may affiliate links, maybe the site was too broad in scope, probably it was the domain name with 6 dashes in it (stupid!), I might never know. But I do know I put a lot of work into something that didn’t pay off. At least one thing I learned from building that site was to never get a domain name with dashes in it.

Money is a harder commodity to be risked because we can see the immediate results of losing it and racking up big debts through PPC or other advertising. But that’s what any advertising is really all about, getting your product or service in front of the right customer in the hopes you’ll make some sales, eventually making a profit. You do that by risking money up front and there are no guarantees.

That’s why it’s important to set a budget that you can afford to spend (risk) on advertising. My wife is the accountant in our home and we determined that any earnings my affiliate business generated over $2,500 per month could be spent on advertising and more specifically PPC. Through reading the adventures of PPC masters and thoughtful consideration of several offers, I am now earning some money with PPC.

I was also fortunate enough to get $250 in Facebook ads coupons and even thought I didn’t do so well with them and ended up spending more money after those coupons ran out, I’m now turning a pretty good profit with FB ads because I just felt there was a way to make them work. Despite losing money up front, despite the ridiculous hoops they make you jump through at FB to advertise, if I would have given up I wouldn’t be realizing almost $100 a day profit now. The risk in time and money has definitely been worth it.

And that’s the lesson to be learned. If you are reading what the experts in PPC have to say, learning from your mistakes, willing to risk time and money and are dilligent in your efforts, more than likely they will eventually pay off. The reason I was willing to risk more time and effort with FB is because for the people who are succeeding, they are succeeding wildly and I just though, ‘I don’t care if I have to spend $2,000 or $3,000, I’m going to make this work.’ Something just happens when you have an attitude adjustment like that. The trick now is to transfer my Facebook success over to PPC with Adwords. Maybe a bit more difficult task, but the truth is, it does work for some, why not for me or you?

Educate, calculate, risk, and earn the reward.

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Profiting With Facebook Ads

I’m taking a break today from the Harsh Reality series to report on some success with Facebook Ads, finally. Over the last 3 days I’ve found out that yes, you can actually make some money with Facebook. It does take quite a bit of trial and error to find an offer that works and to be able to write your ads in a way that will please the ad editors, but when you finally get everything right, Facebook converts like crazy.

Over the last 4 days starting with Saturday evening I’ve earned a little more than $300 by running several niche offers. The best ones are a niche within a larger niche and I have one in particular that’s earning about $3 for every $1 I put into it. I’ve never even come close to anything like that with Adwords so this one is doing exceptionally well.

Facebook SpendI’ve found the trick with making a profit on Facebook is finding an offer that obviously appeals to the college and career minded individual, of which there are millions on FB, and it has to be easy and, even better, free to join, something that doesn’t require a credit card, at least initially and requires not more than about 8 fields to fill out.

One thing that has come as a surprise to me only in the last month or so, is that you can make money with cheap leads where you only earn $1.50 to $4 or so. In my previous experience with driving traffic via Adwords, it took lots of traffic to even get one conversion, but as the payoff per lead goes down, they will generally be easier and less costly to convert.

Spending stats for Facebook are above and here’s my earnings stats from AzoogleAds over the last 4 days or so:

Azoogle Earnings

The Facebook campaigns were started sometime on Saturday afternoon so they’re for a little less than 4 – 24 days. Total revenue for the 4 day period is $548.10 with spending at $233.57 resulting in a profit of $314.53. Not bad for a few hours worth of work over not quite 4 days.

To get profitable I started out the campaigns at around 35 cents a click and pared some down to 21 cents per click trying to keep my CTR consistent. Even if you can get your clicks down by 5 cents and it takes you 6 clicks to get a lead, as it did with my top earner, you can earn 30 cents more per lead which translates out to $30 extra profit per 100 leads.

Now for a little rant. You can make a profit with Facebook ads if you don’t give up and just keep looking for an offer that converts, but it can be difficult because of the utter incompetence of the Facebook Ads department. It is a complete joke what’s going on there. Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 tries to get your ads approved and I even had one ad that took me 4 times to come into compliance with one rule only to be disapproved for a completely different rule on try number 5. All the while my best performing ad is apparently in violation of both rules, yet they’re letting it run.

I’ve had ads approved and run for 1 hour and then turned off because they’re violating some insane policy. The Excel downloadable reports are absolutely worthless because they aren’t divided by campaign or date, just a single row of info (why even bother making an .xls file?). There isn’t any way to get a monthly report by campaign or day, you must go into each individual campaign and get reports by the week which will make for complicated accounting at the end of the month and there’s even more.

The incredible shortsightedness on the part of the developers of the ad system at Facebook is mind-boggling and then to top it off by staffing it with people that must have zero experience in advertising or making money online is truly astonishing. Facebook could probably be making billions with their ads, but because they are so user unfriendly and must employ people like the soup Nazi on Seinfeld to approve ads, they’re probably bleeding advertisers, and more importantly revenue, by the dump truck loads. End rant.

The best way to get your ads approved seems to be to get them in early in the morning before 10 am Eastern time. I’m guessing there are thousands of ads to approve from the night before and they are probably spending less time looking at your ads and are less alert because their Starbucks buzz hasn’t kicked in yet. I’ve had the exact same ad, only targeted differently, approved in the morning and not approved in the afternoon or evening multiple times, so they may be spending more time looking at things after the workload dwindles throughout the day.

If you’re going to make money with Facebook ads just decide right now to suck it up, bring a pick axe and keep chipping away at the rock because there are little gems to be had in there somewhere. Just keep looking.

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