Time for a New Experiment… 20 Ways to Make $100 a Day Online

ExperimentHi all!

Yes, it’s time for a new experiment. I’m letting my affiliate sites + Adsense percolate a bit to see how it goes. I’m getting roughly 2 sales a month from one site and just started another one a week ago, so we’ll see how things progress.

So I saw this post on “20 Ways to Make $100 Per Day Online” from  The Internet Marketing Inner Circle (sounds ominous).

If you want to check it out yourself, click here.

The idea is that an average person can build sustainable incomes working part time from home. It’s a collection of articles written by people who made this work in the real world, so hopefully the BS quotient will be low and the ability to actually apply these techniques will be high.

So I’m going to start working through this book a little at a time and I’ll share my results. For only $27, you get a nearly 250 page book documenting 20 different techniques to try, so I’m going to mine it for all its worth.

Keep your fingers crossed! Anybody out there already gone through this particular book?

–FItz

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What I learned from the Blue Man Group…

Hey all…

I had an opportunity to go see the Blue Man Group in concert this weekend at the Pepsi Center in Denver. What an amazing show! (You can see my review at my other blog here.)

Blue Man Group

But I learned a few things from them that I thought I’d share. Though an oddball way to cover the topics of marketing and publishing, it’s applicable to many disciplines, hobbies, and jobs, so I thought I’d see where it led…

  1. Don’t JUST think outside the box… Think WAY outside the box.What do I mean by that? Take what we know from simply living in a media age. How do we make music? How do we behave if we’re rock stars? Turn that on its head… Approach it like you’ve never heard music before. Take what’s in front of you and make it yours – beat on it – experiment – have fun – and see where it leads. Or take the behavior you know you SHOULD do (like if you’re a rock star, you have to be on stage jumping around, singing, and playing music) – and break it down to its component parts, then look at each of those like you’ve never seen them before.Try it… You might come up with something new and unique. I’m working on some new ideas now for the game to see what shakes out. I’ll let you know how the experiment goes.
  2. Take an established idea (like writing a roleplaying game) and turn it inside out.What do I mean? Well, in the game case, traditionally roleplaying games are like Dungeons and Dragons or Vampire – you have a character, the character interacts with the world and changes as a result. But what if the character maybe… creates the world? Or perhaps the experience for the players becomes more interactive — there IS no game master maybe. Perhaps there’s a set of ground rules, a character for each player, and an idea and each player runs with it for a while.The same applies to blogging or writing. Take an established idea and turn it inside out. So we need to do SEO and marketing. Why? Break it down. Build it back up again. Maybe we’ll come up with a totally new paradigm that will change life as we know it!?
  3. Have fun!This applies to the Blue Man as well as the rest of us. We can’t just go through the motions. If we don’t enjoy what we do, something’s wrong and we need to fix it, change it, or at least figure out WHAT’s wrong. We spend too much time in our lives working to not enjoy it. Maybe find the one aspect of your job that you want to have fun with or find a hobby to enjoy — but we MUST find something to squeeze some enjoyment out of life or it gets very gray very fast.

So that’s it. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say. How will YOU become a Blue Man and turn life upside down?

Let me know!

–Fitz

List of Free Internet Marketing Books from Caroline

Hi all!

I don’t know if you know who Caroline Middlebrook is, but she’s been on this road of monetizing a blog for longer than many of us just starting out and seems to have her act together. Hers is one of those blogs I check out regularly!

Anyway… She posted a great article on Tuesday this week providing a list of 20 free e-Books covering internet marketing and monetizing blogs in preparation for putting out her own e-Book. This is a great list that includes some of the big names in the blogosphere, including Yaro Starak (another blog I check out regularly) and Jack Humphrey (yet another great blog).

You can check out her list here. I will certainly be working my way through the list.

Caroline also noted that she’s actually starting to see some income from her efforts now, which is great. I wish her the best of luck. Maybe some of it will rub off on the rest of us. 🙂

Happy reading this holiday weekend!

–Fitz

DiscountClick Services for your Blog or Website

(Brought to you by your friends at http://www.discountclick.com)

Hi all!

The great folks at DiscountClick.com have a great suite of Internet Marketing services to help out your website or blog. By providing an array of services aimed at improving your SEO and increase traffic (and therefore hopefully sales) to your site, DiscountClick is there to help you make sure your links are targeted to the right folks in the right places to get you (and them) more money down the line.

They do this by handling several key areas of SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

Cost-wise, they have a variety of entry points for their services also, starting from a flat $50 per link for one way links back to your website from a variety of sources – page rank, domain age, domains, and IP addresses. They state that each of these premium links is worth about 100 links from other SEO consulting companies.

Up from there is the entry level SEO website service, which is a $500 fee. It’s difficult to discern from the text on their pricing page whether this is $500 a month or a flat $500 fee. But they will help out small businesses get started in the SEO marketing space.

They offer many other services, including a Pay Per Click (PPC) starter service, self service tracking and tools, ultra ranking & promotion, and so on, ranging from a low $50 fee up to $3000 for companies with custom high marketing budgets who want to see a good return for their money.

For those folks using their services, they also provide an affiliate program to help spread the word and gain a little additional $$.

Visibility wise, they have a number of high profile clients that use their marketing services including Phillips Lighting, Blogsvertise, and The Stevens Institute of Technology.

So check out DiscountClick if you’re looking for dedicated folks for your SEO!

–Fitz

Help picking profitable markets for beginners…

Hi there…

I just today decided to spend $7 on an online resource for choosing a profitable market… This program was produced by Terry Dean and Glenn Livingston and I’m going to give it a shot. These guys are so confident that we will make money using their system that they’re going to give 100% commission to anyone else who sells their program.

So if you’re interested in this kind of thing, click here and see what it’s all about. When you buy the program, you also get four free reports on various aspects of internet marketing.

I’ll let you know how the process goes for me over the next few weeks.

–Fitz

Writing a good Press Release in 5 easy steps…

Hey there…

I’m starting to write some press releases announcing the release of the roleplaying game I’ve been working on and have come across some great sites with advice for creating great press releases that I will try and distill down to five easy steps… (I’ll provide links to the other resources I found also at the bottom of the article.)

So the five easy steps…

  1. I’ve seen the acronym AIDA several places while figuring out a strategy for press releases. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The Attention part is that you need to grab your reader at the headline. Catchy headlines are tough to come by sometimes, but you want to grab your reader and make them read the rest of the article. All too often, editors and writers will look at press releases and dismiss them due to poor headlines. Too many releases cross their desks every day to read something boring.So to create a catchy headline, you have to appeal to your reader’s emotions and use trigger words. Find examples of press releases written for your field. Analyze their headlines for key phrases or words. Perhaps even go so far as to come up with a variety of different options and test them on coworkers, friends, and family to see what they like or don’t like.In my case, I’m writing a press release for roleplaying gamers. A couple of places I’ve looked for press releases is at GamingReport.com and RPG.net’s press page.In these cases, most releases seem to have pretty mundane titles announcing product availability or sales. These are important topics obviously, but may not get a reader’s attention quickly. What I want to get across is three main ideas: the name of the game system, the name of the book, and what it will bring to you as a gamer.So some options I’ve come up with are:
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Opens New Doorways to Adventure!
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Released Into The Wild!
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Book Available – Start Adventuring Infinite Paths!

    I’ll probably go with the first one. The others seem pretty corny.

  2. Now that you have your readers, you need to give them the facts. The first sentence or two of the first paragraph of the release needs to tell the reader what the press release is about. This is where you go with the traditional journalistic five words — who, what, where, when, and why. Think of this as continuing the “tease” for the rest of the release and as the first few sentences of a news cast or newspaper story summarizing the main points of your release succinctly.In my case, I’m publicizing that the Moebius Adventures game is being released for sale. The first release will be to describe the eBook distribution via RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. So my first paragraph will look something like this:

    “On November 12, 2007, Moebius Adventures releases the Core Rules book for the Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game in PDF (eBook) format for $10.95 on RPGNow.com (http://www.rpgnow.com) and Drive Thru RPG (http://www.drivethrurpg.com). The Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game is a universal, cross-genre rule system that will enable you and your gaming group the ability to explore multiple worlds. The Core Rules book starts the trip by providing all the basic rules for the system. Here you’ll learn about character creation, general gameplay, combat rules, and possibly even save the village of Domerre from some men with a monster.”

  3. So now you have the basics out of the way and you can focus on the other aspects, key selling points, of your product or service that customers would be interested in.In my case, I plan on providing a simple bulleted list of features for my game:
    • Open character generation system
    • Random character generation offers crunch for characters, or can use point-based system to choose skills and characteristic values
    • Simple rule mechanic for skill resolution
    • Simple, effective combat rules that take strike effectiveness into account when determining damage to combatants
    • Sample Characters and Adventure to get you started
  4. This is an optional step, but it can be very useful to include a quote from a customer about your product or service to show other customers that this new release does work for someone and isn’t just marketing fluff.In my case, I have a brand new game and very little exposure as yet. I hope to be able to use quotes in follow-on releases.
  5. Lastly, you need to talk about product availability. If you’re releasing the product, when are you releasing it? Where can they learn more? Where can the find your product? Who can they talk to for more details? Contact information is very important.

The key point here is to focus most on content, not layout or formatting. Make sure that the press release says what you want it to say clearly and concisely so that your customers can find you and your product easily and quickly!

Once you have your press release written, you can submit it via a number of free distribution websites, including:

Here are some other resources on the web for helping create great press releases:

I hope this has helped you get some ideas on your own press releases. I’ll be honing my own skills as I write some for my own products!

Have a great day!

–Fitz

Now that I have a book… How do I market it?

Hi all…

So now that you have a book published… How do you get it to your audience?

Here’s the cover for my book by the way. I think it turned out great. The artist, Jason Adams, did an amazing job.

Moebius Adventures Core Rules Cover

Well… I’m still working on that little issue myself, but my plan goes like this and I’ll keep writing articles documenting my progress as I go through the steps.

  1. Publish the book. (Done)
  2. Publish the eBook. (Done)
  3. Make the book available via the Lulu.com store. (Done)
  4. Make the eBook available via a roleplaying game eBook distribution site such as RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, or Indie Press Revolution. (Done via RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, waiting on IPR)
  5. Make the book available via my website. (Done as soon as I validate an issue with the cover one more time in a printed copy I ordered yesterday.)
  6. Get into the Barnes & Noble distribution system. They have a form and process to go through to get this started.
  7. Purchase a set of books (perhaps 10 or 20) at cost from Lulu.com to sell via local game stores.
  8. Get into the Amazon.com distribution system. This process appears less than straightforward, but I will get back to you with my thoughts as soon as I dive in more thoroughly.
  9. Send out Press Releases. Lulu.com helps some with this (offers some ideas for where to submit a press release) but get one written and ready to send out. I’ll provide some good resources about writing press releases in a separate article.

Wow. That’s all. Nine easy steps. I’m about halfway done and will get the rest kicked off as soon as I make sure the book looks better (had to correct an issue with the cover, since the spine was out of whack).

If you’ve gone through the process of marketing your books, I’d love to hear from you. What worked? What didn’t? What recommendations would you make for other independent authors?

Thanks for your time. Have a great day!

–Fitz

Upcoming articles about publishing and marketing…

Hi all…

I thought I’d share my plan going forward for a series of articles about my experiences publishing and marketing a roleplaying game. Though the market may not be what folks in the industry are used to, there will be many lessons that can be generalized and tips that can be shared and used across other areas of product development, publishing, and marketing.

I’ve briefly touched on a few topics already, such as using Lulu and CafePress to produce your products and merchandise to help get your products or website or blog noticed.

But now I hope to go a little deeper into the process and my experiences along the way as I learn new techniques and meet other folks trying to do similar things…

My article on Monday will be about using Lulu to create a book and the process you must go through for that. From there we’ll look at producing eBooks (content, layout, graphics) and marketing.

So stay tuned!

Until next time…

–Fitz

Roleplaying for shortening the Product Development cycle, part 3

Hi there!

So if you’ve read the first couple of articles in this series, which you can read here for part 1 and here for part 2, you should have the start of the process down… We’re basically enhancing the standard product process by adding a little additional testing before it gets to your customers.

So with our two characters, Cathy (the homemaker and mother trying to use her blog to generate some revenue) and Bob (the professional writer who wants to use the internet and blogs to further his business).

Let’s say we have a few people in our product development team. Mary, George, and Tom. Mary and George are the writers for the book and Tom is the manager. All three can get involved in this process.

At a minimum it helps to have two people involved in the interaction. One to be the character interacting with the product, and the other as an observer, noting anything that comes up during the session. But with two or more characters, you definitely need the observer role to try and document the results of the experiment.

So George is going to be Cathy and Mary is going to be Bob. Both take a look at their characters and try to get into the mindset of that fictitious individual. They will try very hard to think how they think that character would perceive the product.

George goes first. He takes a look at the Table of Contents first, thinking that Cathy would probably want a bit of an overview. And then he goes to the Introduction, but doesn’t find much of an overview. That will need to get fixed. And as he goes through the book, chapter by chapter, he notes little things like the need for summaries at the end of a chapter, or perhaps they should add more examples, or even go so far as to write a series of tutorials to help beginners out.

Mary on the other hand, goes straight to the back of the book. Bob knows what he’s looking for and will mine the book for specific tidbits about blogging, about banner ads, social networking sites, search engines, and the like. He’s more interested in the down and dirty approach and wants lots of good examples that he can pillage and make his own going forward.

Do you see how each “player” in this session came up with different types of feedback for the book, all without actually talking to customers. Now, it may turn out that they were off base. But more often than not, if you’ve done your research and have developed characters that reflect the traits and attitudes of real customers, you will come up with some surprising results.

Once you go through this process once or twice, perhaps switching roles, and maybe even getting other people involved, you’ll feel more comfortable with the state of the product and can THEN start approaching customers to see what they think and take their feedback.

So this process is very flexible. It can be used during the development cycle at any point as a checkpoint to make sure things are progressing as planned and the product developers haven’t gone too far off track.

Let me know if you try this process and how it goes. I’d love to get some feedback to see how it works for folks.

Thanks for your time! Hopefully this series has been helpful and you have a new tool in your arsenal for product planning and development.

Until next time…

–Fitz

Roleplaying for shortening the Product Development cycle, part 2

Hi all!

As promised, here’s the second in this series of articles. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to digest the last article in this series (which you can find here), which served as an introduction to a process you might use to develop products for your markets and customers. It’s a pretty traditional approach, but one that works in a variety of industries.

This article will focus on how to use roleplaying techniques to develop personas or “characters” with which you can help test your products before they get to the customer for their review and input.

So what is a persona or “character”? Think of a movie, television show, or book you like. Each of these mediums has a set of “characters” that interact among themselves and with their environment. Each character has a few basic qualities:

  • a name
  • a description (what do they look like? where are they from? what do they wear? and so on)
  • a set of skills (what can they do? what are they good at?)
  • a set of companions/friends/coworkers (who do they hang out with? where do they spend their time? and so on)

So how does this help you? Take a common customer. Let’s say we’re writing a book about internet marketing techniques. You might ask a few questions about your target audience or customer:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • What do they already know?
  • Who do they know?
  • What internet sites do they visit regularly?
  • What do they spend on advertising?
  • What would they be willing to spend on your book?
  • What other products could they buy that would have a similar effect to your book?

Now most of these are common questions… But let’s take a look at what you do with the answers…

Let’s create a couple of characters from the information you might gather from the above questions:

  • Cathy
    • Cathy is a homemaker and mother with a computer just getting started on the internet with blogging
    • She wants to make some money with her blog to help with her bills and maybe give her some spending money
    • She’s not the most technically adept individual, but can follow instructions
  • Bob
    • Bob is a professional writer who is trying to move to the internet to help with marketing his products
    • He wants some ways to market his work via banner advertisements and possibly do some work for hire for other blogs/websites
    • He is willing to learn some of the technical aspects of the web, but isn’t a programmer

In the next article, we’ll take these characters and do some roleplaying with them to help work the kinks out of the book you’re developing.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next time!

–Fitz