Sunday, June 19, 2011

Money For Nothing ...

I'm not an Internet Marketer. I've never been willing to work hard enough at it to try to make any real money.

That being said, I do end up earning $3-$6 a day, on a pretty consistent basis, for doing pretty much nothing ... or at least nothing new .. today.

I know all about choosing keywords, optimizing my sites, building backlinks, etc., etc., etc.,

But really, I don't do any of it.

The little bit of passive income that I earn from Internet marketing is pretty much a combination of two things:

  1. Luck - The majority of the posts and/or websites that I have which, actually earn any money on a consistent basis were total accidents. They were/are domain names I found while searching for something else. Random pictures I took, and decided to write posts about. Or posts that I wrote mainly for information purposes (in many cases, so that I would have an easy way to reference something I wanted to remember how to do). For the most part, websites that I've set up, or posts that I've written, which were researched (chose "good" keywords) and promoted (built backlinks) with the Intention of trying to earn money, have failed miserably ... at least from a time spent vs. money earned, ROI perspective.

  2. Experience, Knowledge & Judgment - Those "miserable failures" weren't necessarily totally useless though; because of the time I spent "failing", at least I'm now able to recognize a post or domain that has the potential to make money .. and have some ideas about how to actually monetize it in ways that people might respond to.

Ok, so what exactly do I do to earn that "massively impressive" couple of dollars a day?

Here's the Most Important thing ...

Monitor your traffic - watch the analytics for your websites, and individual posts. If you see something that is consistently getting Organic Search Engine Traffic it may be a post that you want to consider trying to monetize.

Personally, I don't try to monetize anything until I see evidence that search engines are sending traffic.

Two reasons ...

  1. Search engine visitors are significantly more likely to click on ads than my friends who subscribed to the feed, or clicked through from Facebook (or some other social networking site).

  2. Because of #1 above, I don't see any good reason to purposely show ads to people who aren't likely to click on them anyway. Not only that, but I don't want my friends who read my articles to think my purpose in writing them was/is primarily just to make money .. because for the most part it's not.

So once I've decided to put advertising on site or post, what works "best"?

Although there are a myriad of monetization options out there, I'm going to suggest two that have worked for me.

  1. Ebay Partner Network - I was fortunate to join EPN several years ago, when it was much easier to get accepted. That said, it's not impossible today. I use a tool called phpBay to place the ads on my sites. In the past, I've earned hundreds of dollars a month from EPN, but alas, many of those sites died with Google algorithm changes. Today, I only have ebay ads on a few sites, but the returns vs. the work are pretty nice. For example, I have sites that I haven't updated in 6 months, that get 30-40 visitors a day. Those 30 visitors usually click on 15-25 ads .. at an average of .13 a pop. $2 a day, for doing Nothing.

  2. Adsense - I'm not a big proponent of adsense .. mainly because I've never really had significant success with it. That said, I've got a dozen or so posts on this very blog which are monetized with Google ads ... it's inconsistent, but these posts earn anywhere from as low as a quarter, to as much as $5 or $6 a day. It's probably tempered by the fact that I'm not at all aggressive with my ad placement .. ie, you'll never see a big 336 ad block, above the fold, on my blog. I'd probably get more clicks with these, but I just don't like the way they look; or what they'd "say" about me, and this blog. I prefer to just put one 468 link block at the top of the post (usually resting on the top edge of a picture), and then sometimes (depending on how long the article is) one other 300x300 block within the post .. floating either left or right, with the text wrapped around it. Silly as it sounds, one of my goals is aesthetic .. if an ad doesn't look like it "belongs" in a post, I'm not gonna put it there .. if that makes any sense.

Well, we've established that I do know how to make some money via Internet Marketing, with relatively little effort.

You might be asking yourself, why don't I just put a bit more time/effort into scaling what works, and trying to earn a more significant income?

Glad you asked, here's why ...

Internet Marketing income, especially when it's based on search engine traffic is just too Inconsistent, and Unreliable ... at least in relation to my goals

You see, I'm going to be retiring from the Air Force in a couple of years, and I'd really like to not have to look for another job. I need to turn my extra income streams, into my primary income. I'm just not comfortable with the idea that my bills could get paid every month with my adsense and ebay checks.

So, what do I do with this extra money?

Easy ... any money that I earn from my Internet Marketing "efforts" goes into the local advertising budget for our home business. Basically, I take my online money, and use it to purchase offline ads in the newspaper; so that I can meet people here in the Fort Hood, Texas area, with the goal of continuing to build the business that I consider to be a more reliable long term source of passive /leveraged income.

In other words, instead of spending the extra money, I'm reinvesting it, and putting it to work.

What do you do with your extra Internet income?


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Throw Away Clothes?

Wouldn't it be cool if clothes shopping was more like grocery shopping? We'd make a weekly list of what we need, check the sales pages of the local paper, then head off to our favorite stores to stock up on the "ingredients" for our upcoming "wardrobe menu".

Now I'm sure there are several potential drawbacks to my plan .. I can think of a few right now .. but we're not gonna go there .. because that's not what this post is about. ;-)

You see, for me, the major upside of "throw away clothes" drowns out any drawbacks; big time ... No Laundry!!!

Yes, I'm not a fan of Ye Olde washer and dryer .. or more specifically what comes out of the washer and dryer ... namely clothes that needs to be folded and put away .. blah.

Yea, yea, I know I could just take our clothes to a laundry service, and pay someone else to wash and fold our stuff. But why ruin a good old fashioned irrational fantasy with common sense alternative solutions?

LOL, wow, reading that sentence again, boy am I one old boring guy ... to publicly call the idea of having no laundry a "fantasy"

Anyhow, moving on ...

This is actually something that I've thought about for quite a while now. It's one of my super silly measuring sticks for determining how far down the road to financial freedom I have traveled. I don't need fancy cars, big screen TVs, or a swimming pool in the back yard to feel relatively "rich" (although, all of those things would be nice).

Nope, I'll know for sure that my bank account is in good shape when these three things can happen any time I want them to:

  1. Throw away clothes - as discussed above.

  2. Eat Out for Every Meal - and not fast food either. I'm talking sit down, healthy food, that's cooked and served by someone else .. and when we're done, the dishes are taken away and washed.

  3. and last, but not least ...

  4. "Real" Furniture - I'll truly know that my ship has arrived when every new piece of furniture that enters my house has already been put together by SOMEONE ELSE!

So now you know about me. What are some of your silly criteria for knowing when you're doing well financially?

Keep havin FuN!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Time To Buy A House?

Sonoma house drawing I can't really say whether or not now is a great time for everybody to buy a new house. But for us, the timing is good enough, that it looks like we're going to be staying in Texas after I retire from the Air Force in a couple of years. The image to the left is an artist rendition of the home we are having built in the House Creek North subdivision of Copperas Cove.

The question of whether or not to buy a house has been popping in and out of my head from time to time, ever since we left Hawaii .. where buying a house wasn't even an option. The biggest obstacle for me was always whether or not we would want to stay here in Texas. As recently as last fall, I was still pretty set on moving to Florida after I retire. But then again, I not a big fan of moving (even though I've done it every couple of years, for my whole life) ... so, there was always a fairly decent chance that we would choose the "path of least resistance" and stay in this area.

Well a couple of weeks ago, that path was followed.

Here's a youtube video of a speech I had to do for a class; which coincidentally talks about my decision making process when it came to buying the house:

I'm not going to retype all of the reasons I gave in the video. But here's a basic summary of why Now was a good time for me to buy a house:

  1. Good Credit - I'm still not sure how exactly this happened (to me), but apparently if you pay your bills on time, it's possible to build your credit score up into the "very low risk" range .. even if you've had some "issues" in the past.

  2. Inexpensive Houses - While I do have empathy for those who already owned homes; and sympathy for those who bought at the peak of the bubble; I can't honestly say that I've been terribly unhappy about the falling home prices over the past couple of years. From the reading that I've done, prices may or may not continue to go lower. But for us, the 5 bedroom house that we want/need has already come down into the "easily affordable" range. Of course, it probably doesn't hurt that this part of Central Texas has always been one of the most affordable housing markets in the U.S. anyway.

  3. Low Interest Rates - Whether or not prices continue to drop, I can't imagine many plausible scenarios where interest rates will ever be much lower than they are today. Depending on where they sit in a couple of months, when we close, we're expecting to lock in a 30 year loan for somewhere between 4.2 to 4.7 %. You can't beat that with a big stick.

We chose to live in Copperas Cove for a number or reasons, but probably the most important was the schools. Ana had already been trying to get a geographical exception to send the kids there next school year anyway ... especially Johnathan, who will be starting High School. Then, when we took the drive out to House Creek North, fact that they're building a brand new elementary school, a couple of blocks down from our lot, kind of sealed the deal for us:

House Creek Elementary School
3 of my girls will be attending this school.

Finally, I mentioned in the video, that we are having our house built. While I'm sure there are some great bargains out there, if I had the patience to look, in the end building a brand new house was actually less expensive than many of the similarly sized pre-owned houses that I'd looked at. We chose D.R. Horton as our builder, and needless to say, we've been quite happy with the process so far.

Here's our floorplan:

It may still be a bit early in the process to give the builder a plug, but hey I'm an optimist, so I'm not expecting any issues. If you think you might want to consider being our neighbor, here's the link that I found on the Internet:

And if you do go out there ... tell Amber that I sent you. ;-)

Hope you have a FuN weekend!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Should I Put Personal Posts On Facebook Instead Of My Blog?

I've been blogging for 4 years now. During that time, I've had "several" blogs, on a few different domain names, covering a variety of subjects. Most of the posts I've ever written, are now right here on this blog ... after moving them over, and redirecting the domain names. I've got marketing stuff, I've got travel stuff, I've got Hawaii posts, Military posts, personal growth advice, and plenty of pictures, etc., etc,.

What I don't have is one main topic, or theme.

I post what I feel like posting. And lately, that seems to be mainly pictures of my kids.

Here's the thing though ...

Looking back through my traffic stats, nobody actually looks at the majority of my personal, "picture" posts. Well, I can't really say "nobody" .. the traffic that does come to look at posts containing pictures of my little girls, overwhelmingly consists of my Facebook friends.

Which leads me to the thought:

Why not just put these type of posts/pictures straight to Facebook in the first place?

Because ...

You know what type of posts do continue to get traffic, even months or years after they were written? Articles that provide information. Imagine that?

A couple of the most popular posts on this blog, day-in and day-out are also some of the longer articles, that I actually took a bit of time to work on:

Military PT Workout - I wrote this post so that I could actually remember all of the exercises that we did at Wheeler AAF as part of our Thursday "Knipe PT" sessions. Apparently quite a few other people have found it useful too.

Welcome to COB Adder, Iraq - Last time I was in Iraq, I had to put together a welcome letter for some of our new people that would be arriving in a couple of months. Since I was doing the work anyway, I decided to also write an article for the blog. I still get emails about, and comments on that post .. and I haven't even been there in well over a year.

How to take Fireworks Pictures - This one gets popular about twice a year ... and one of those times is coming up again soon. When I wrote this, my goal was genuinely to give people ideas that might help them to take better fireworks pictures. Apparently that sort of thing is appreciated.

So what lesson do I take away from this?

Although I'm quite sure that my friends and family really do enjoy seeing pictures of my kids, it's quite apparent that what readers of this blog Really Want is information that helps them do or know something.

I suspect that people will be happier to subscribe to this blog if they can expect to get a couple of these type of informative articles every week.

While those that want to see my pictures, or hear about what my kids are up to, can just find me on Facebook ... because that's where this stuff really belongs.

What do you think ... how "personal" should a blog be?