Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Digg you you Digg me? allows users to share interesting articles, blog entries, webpages with other people. Just visit the site and you will see newly dugg articles. If other people like the item you dugg they can digg it too.

How does that benefit a person who is blogging for money?

The quick answer is it can generate traffic. As a matter of fact it can generate a lot of traffic. My "Pay yourself first....and last" post from last week was dugg just four times but it was the highest traffic day so far for this blog. As a matter of fact it was a 41.6% over the next highest day's traffic. Ok my numbers aren't very big but to me it is still exciting.

I use FeedBurner's feedflare in my blog to make it easy for people to share my posts. Adding the feedflare code to my blog creates a set of links at the bottom of each post. The links are customizable and I picked four that I think will get a good marketing spread. Digg has been the most effective so far, although the FaceBook link has given a nice amount of traffic as well. Not as much as Digg but the traffic is all free.

Success is slow to come

My first post on this blog was October 1st so I have been at this for a little over a month. During this time I have had 102 visits. Of that 102 visits there have been 42 unique visitors. So I am getting repeat visitors which is great. In those 102 visits the average number of page views is 2.28. Not bad considering a visitor can read several articles from the main page. The average time spent on the site has been four minutes and forty-three seconds. That average is kinda skewed because one visitor on November 13th spent nearly forty minutes reading my blog. Now that is GREAT news!!!! Thanks to whomever enjoyed my blog that much!

Now you might be wondering where these statistics came from. Well I have to admit to using yet another Google product. This time it is Google Analytics. If you have an existing Google account you can easily activate this service. You then add a snippet of code to your websites and the next day log back in and you will see all kinds of traffic data for your site. Personally I love the map overlay so I can see where my visitors are coming from. Another report that I like is the traffic source detail report. This report tells me that in the last 30 days 37 of my visits came from and 8 visits came form Those were my top two sources.

For those of you who are trying to blog for dollars like me a little encouragement. It takes time to reach critical mass and start earning real money[I'm not there yet]. If you have a good subject and a writing style that people enjoy you can make money through blogging. It may take time and some creative marketing though.

So now my offer. My assistance in the form of links to your site. The first 5 [maybe more] people who leave a comment or email me and are willing to throw up a link to one of my sites I will put links on 2 of my sites back to yours. That's a 2 for 1 deal. I have six sites that I am semi-actively working right now. Links can be important to Google's PageRank system if done right.
An up coming post topic will be about the PageRank system. I just need to do some more research first.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pay yourself first....and last

Of course most of us have heard the advice to pay yourself first by either investing in a retirement plan like a 401K or depositing into a savings account. Obviously this is great advice. Putting aside money for retirement is important to everyone because God willing most of us will have the opportunity to retire and it would be nice to have enough money set aside to enjoy that time of our lives.

Setting money aside in a rainy day fund can help you avoid overusing credit cards or other types of debt. Recently I received an email from Discount Tire offering a free tire rotation which seemed like a good idea as to not over wear the tires on the minivan. While waiting for the rotation to be completed I was called to the counter and the young man working on my van asked me to follow him into the bay where the van was hoisted up. He showed me where two of the tires had worn enough that portions of the steel belts could be seen poking through the rubber. Not good. And not cheap. Three of the four tires had more wear than what was safe. And with the van safety is a big concern because it is the only vehicle we allow my daughter to drive. So I reluctantly purchased a new set of tires. My reluctance earned me a lower price by about $70.00 but even so my bill was just over $400.00. Fortunately my rainy day fund was ready for this down pour and I won't be paying a bank interest for this purchase.

A special savings account for larger purchases can save you interest payments. But in America most people have a propensity to use credit, they want that instantaneous gratification of purchasing that new gadget, house or car. I have wanted a new TV for the rec room in the basement. You know the one: 40 inches, LCD, HDTV, incredibly crisp resolution, connected to the newest components. I have been wanting one since the new couch for the rec room arrived. I have the money in my rainy day fund so I wouldn't even have to pay interest. But I won't raid that fund. I have set a goal instead to save enough to purchase the TV. It will take a little while more but that's OK with me.

Now on to paying myself last. On payday I receive my direct deposit into my checking account. I then make a transfer from my checking account to my money market account leaving a set amount in the checking. What this does is it sweeps both the portion of my pay that I'm saving and the remains of the prior two weeks set amount. So if I have $50.00 left over from the prior payday that $50.00 goes with the amount that I normally save. There are times that I have not balanced my checkbook and need to transfer money back into the checking but overall it accelerates my savings process.

Video & Adsense

I was logged into my Adsense account and was disappointed with the results so far. I'm not earning much at all. Probably because the visits to my sites have not exploded yet. One day they will. At least I hope that they will.

While I was logged into Adsense I was browsing the different options and saw an option to include video units as part of my advertising mix. Clicking on the video units option I discovered that you need to have a YouTube account. Fortunately I already had one and so I linked it to my Adsense account. The linking included me typing in my Adsense account email address, part of my phone number and my zip code.

I was then taken to an options page in YouTube. It was a pretty seamless hand off from Google to YouTube, no user name and password to type in. And I can hop back and forth between the two accounts pretty easily.

On the edit Adsense player page [on the YouTube site] I entered the player name [America's Beach Bum], selected a color scheme, and entered some content keywords and voila! HTML code is created that you can cut and paste into a web page.

You can see an example at America's Beach Bum.

My assumption is that a visitor must click on one of the ads on the player for you to earn anything. Initially I thought that I might earn $$$ if someone played a video but I don't think that is true. If you know otherwise post a comment.

I'm missing $5.00

I was looking at my MTurk account [See this post for info on MTurk] and discovered that the dashboard's total of $40.13 did not match the current balance under my account. I believe the difference which is an even $5.00 is from a single HIT that I had completed. I was kinda wondering if I would actually get paid for it.

I thought all was fine with it when the dashboard total increased by $5.00. But now I discover that I am $5.00 behind where I thought that I was. Disappointing.

My next step is to contact MTurk support to see what the deal is. I don't have much hope for reclaiming the $5.00 but it is worth the effort of trying by typing an email to them.
My goals are still being missed. Although last week I was stuck in the quagmire that is Blogger I was able to get some work done.

I am restating the MTurk goal to $40.00 by the end of November due to my little set back.

I only posted twice to this blog last week. 50% of goal

No posts to Albatross on the Horizon. 0% of goal

New goal to track.
I have been sending a "word of the day" email to a small email list. Within the email I have been referencing at least two of my web sites. One is a sponsor site and the other is a site where I have used the word of the day. My goal for this task is four per week. If you would like be included in this list email me.

Burn your RSS feed

Q: What is a RSS feed?
A: RSS = Real Simple Syndication. It is a format to publish content that updates on a regular basis.

Clear as mud? RSS essentially allows readers of blogs to get automated updates from their favorite blogs.

I use to expand the reach of my RSS feed. Yes it is yet another service tied into Google but it can potentially become a revenue stream by adding advertising to your RSS feeds. They recently added the ability to add Google Adsense advertising to your feeds. I have linked my Adsense account to my FeedBurner account and now my feeds include advertising. Very cool!

FeedBurner is bifurcated into two important tool sets that allow bloggers to expand the reach of their blog. FeedBurner also has tools that allow you to optimize and publicize your RSS feed. I'm using the FeedFlare optimization tool that inserts a footer at the bottom of my posts that allow my readers to email or share my posts.I am also using three of the FeedBurner publicize tools to expand the reach of my blogs. The Headline Animator allows me to create animated banner that loops through my five most recent posts. The Email Subscription tools allows visitors to my site to sign up to receive my posts in email. And Ping Shot notifies various feed reading services that I have posted an article.Of course FeedBurner includes lots of reporting both for feed subscriptions, blog visits and advertising statistics.

So far I have been very happy with FeedBurner.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Trials & Tribulations

I had been planning on posting some information about FeedBurner and how I use it with this blog to monetize my RSS feeds. However that blog post created a situation that I felt was important to fix before continuing my posting ways.

The sidebar was being forced to the bottom of my blog. BAD!!! Two of my Adsense ads were pushed out of view not to mention the links to my other sites. I tried to delete and repost. No luck. I tried a couple of other Blogger templates. Still no luck. I looked at the code for the template and searched online for help. I discovered that my new posts were a little bit wider than my older posts and this will force the sidebar down the page. There were a lot of similar issues but none of the suggestions were able to fix my problem.

At this point I decided to try some of the other templates. This one works for now. Perhaps soon I will try to fix the problem again but for now I'm happy to have my sidebar back and can post new entries. Yeah!!!

Next time I'll repost my FeedBurner entry.

Non-cyber Marketing

Here is an idea to market your website off-line.
I created a flyer to post on physical bulletin boards at the local Community College. It has tabs that have web addresses that people can rip off and take with them. The thought is that the flyer will ensorcell students to visit my sites and then click on the Adsense ads generating income for me. I plan on making another set for one of the Universities in town.

Some totals:
Visitors to the two blogs: 31 in the last 30 days according to
This blog is averaging 2 subscribers per day with a high of 6 on a single day.
Visitors to this site are mainly from the US but I have had visitors from Norway, Malaysia, and Belgium.

FYI: Last night the blogger website added a small-but-crazy-useful new feature for all Blogger blogs: subscribing to comments via email. This makes it a lot easier to stay in the conversational loop after you’ve commented on a post somewhere.

up coming post topic:

No goals met last week

No posts for last week. Goal was 2 posts.

1 post for this site last week. Goal was 4 posts.

No updates for The goal is 2 by month end.

Obviously no posts from Orlando. I did visit Downtown Disney a couple of times and purchased some souvenirs. I also visited the Orlando Ale House and had the Jambalaya...very good!
The training was pretty intense down there. Learned a lot.

The flight was on Spirit Air and the "premium" seats were very nice. The seats were a bit wider than normal seats and I had plenty of space to stretch out. The Spirit terminals were smallish and the one in Orlando was being renovated.

All in all a good trip. But always good to be home.

I'm not an expert in Linux as all my pre-Ubuntu attempts at using Linux were doomed to failure. My initial efforts using Ubuntu have been successful. I created a boot CD and can boot into Linux from the CD. I can also browse my network via wireless. That is as far as I've had time to achieve. The over all plan is to install a copy on my server and host some of my websites from there. I'll update as I go through the process.

Paradise Lost....actually just data lost.

No post yesterday due to a very busy/hectic day. First and biggest problem was I lost my homework for my Java Programming class. I had spent close to 5 hours on Sunday working on 4 programs that were due Monday. The programs were worth 25 points each so losing them would devastate my grade. I was crushed and very unhappy.

How did I lose these files? I don't know...I had been saving them to a USB thumb drive so I could transport the program files back and forth to class. And now the thumb drive won't work.
In addition to losing these program files I also lost the files I use to work on various web sites. This only hurts a little bit because I can always download the current files from the web host.
I wasn't able to spend much time trying to recover the files first thing because I had to visit a branch office to do some training so I took the thumb drive with me. The training ended up being held in a storage room because the PC that the branch manager was planning on me using would not boot. I think his hard drive failed. Not a good day for computer equipment.

After work I headed to the computer lab at school to try recreating my programs. I was able to finish 3 of the 4 before the end of class. I expected the instructor to be inimical but he was super cool and gave me until Saturday to turn in the last program. I lucked out because I am not going to be in class Wednesday due to a business trip to Orlando. Not only am I missing class but I'm missing a test as well. I will have to make up the test next Monday night but I get a few extra days to study.

A few updates...
MTurk is still less than $40.00
I missed my 2 post goal for the site
I made my 4 post goal for this site!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday - The day of Ubuntu

When you are a one man shop doing everything from business strategy to direct marketing to writing the blog posts and web site articles you are the de facto factotum. Do you like the little play on words. :-)

Why the day of Ubuntu and what is it? Well, as Chief Information Officer of WISPCity I decided to put my "hand me down server" into service. I originally was going to use the Microsoft 2008 Server Beta that I had downloaded but yesterday I had a change of heart and decided to use Ubuntu instead. So today after my "real" job I'm going to download it and install the desktop edition on one of my laptops [the one from my former has a weird problem that I have not been able to fix, so it will be my Ubuntu test machine.] So what is Ubuntu??? It is a distribution of Linux, an alternative to Windows, that has been gaining popularity.

Earlier this year in my role as IT Specialist [remember I am a one man show] I installed the Fedora version of Linux on one of my desktop PCs but was unable to get the wireless networking to work the way I wanted it to. According to an article on Ubuntu is pretty easy to configure. So I decided to give it a try.

So wish this factotum good luck and I will update you with my results after I have succeeded. Do you like my confidence?

Worky work, busy bee

Nothing of note to report today. I attempted to add Amazon mp3 sales to one of my web sites. The web site promptly crashed. My current theory is the iframe tag used by Amazon does not work with my hosting company. Of course being the small player that I am neither company will make an effort to assist my dilemma. I can't really blame them, after all fixing my little problem could wreck other users.

I have restored the web site to its prior glory. However I have elected to NOT include music sales at this time. Bummer.

In one of my prior posts I indicated that my goal is to write 4 posts per week. I'm still on track for that weekly goal. I have not given up and absconded with the loot. Loot???? ok no loot to abscond with...darn!!!

My newest goal is to help Surfin' Sid expand by posting two new articles by the end of the month.

Has anyone talked to Sn ack er recently?

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

- Ben Franklin

Okay I'm taking Mr. Franklin's "theory" and using money saved as a type of alternative income. So I am going to occasionally discuss ways to save money or make lists to web sites that give money saving ideas.

Over at Surfin Sid posted a short article on September 19th about green ways to save money.

Look here for the article:

Do you have a site that relates to saving or making money let me know. If I think it fits I may mention it and link to it in future posts. After all links mean money!!!

Mechanical Turk update:
Still have not reached $40.00 I've been slacking off due to working my two blogs and my "real" job and taking a class at the local community college. I hope to reach $40.00 before the end of next week though. WooHoo!

Monetize your web presence - part 4

Driving traffic to your site

1. Submit your site to the major search engines.

2. Tell your friends and family about your site. Make it easy for them by writing an email with the web address included. I use a word of the day email that is "sponsored" by one or two of my web pages.

3.Link and be linked. It is commonly held that linking to popular sites can increase your Google page rank. Getting linked can be a bit tougher. Many sites recommend commenting on blogs while leaving your web address. I've just started trying this...I'll let you know my thoughts if and when I see some results.

I wish I could say that now you sit back and wait for the checks to arrive...but I have not cashed a check yet, although I am slowly earning and hope to have at least one check by I keep researching and looking for a better way.

Don't worry when I come up with a better way I will share it right here.

Monetize your web presence - part 3

Producing content and advertising

Now that you have secured a domain name and you know where your site will be hosted the next step is to create content. You know what your topic is so start writing. I recommend setting a goal for yourself. I have set a goal of at least 4 posts on this blog and 2 for site. I also try to make some head way on the site.

Once you have some content it is time to sign up for some advertising. Right now my two primary advertisers are Google's Adsense and Amazon's Affiliate programs. So far no sales on Amazon but it is still early. I have not earned to much more than that through Google's Adsense, but it is starting to pick up.

Every time someone clicks on one of the "ads by Google" links I earn a little bit of money. The amount varies depending on how much the advertiser bid to get listed. As I start using other advertising programs I'll keep everyone informed as to the success of each one.With Google I just pick the type of ad I want, select the formatting, and copy the code to paste into my website. Pretty easy.

Up next: Driving traffic to your site.

Monetize your web presence - part 2

Domains & Hosting

Typically the cost of a domain will run between $8.00 and $10.00 for registration.
I have used Microsoft’s Office Live where you can get a single domain and the hosting for that domain for free. Of course you have limited capabilities but can upgrade your account to include some of the capabilities for a monthly fee.

My second foray into domain ownership was with Google. You can either look at it that I am paying $10.00 per year for the domain and get the hosting for free or the domain was free and the hosting is $10.00 per year. Once again I have limited control over the web site. However I like the controls much better.

My third domain purchase was from GoDaddy. I paid $8.95 per domain. I’m hosting and for free at leadhost. is hosted at home using my existing ISP. Right now the home site is not accessible because of my ISP’s port blocking. I have quite a bit of control with the leadhost sites and have absolute control of the site at home, which I love.
The fourth web presence management move is with Blogger. I have two Blogger subdomains that I manage. I have a fair amount of control with these two sites…much better than what I was expecting going in.

So do your research and choose the solution that works best for you. I hope these ideas give you a good start.

Coming up: Part 3 Producing content and advertising.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Monetize your web presence - part 1

Of course you need a web presence before you can monetize it. So lets start there.
First you will need to select a topic, a focus if you will, of your web presence. Obviously the focus of this blog is making "money" [ok, sometimes it isn't money]. Once you have a topic you will need to decide if you will purchase your own domain like or use a blogging website like I'm using both right now. Right now I have six working web sites that are generating a little bit of income.

After you have decided if you want your own domain or not you will then select a web address. This can be troublesome because the address you might like may not be available. I wanted and when that wasn't available I tried to get which wasn't available either. So I settled with Also I originally wanted but once again I was denied. That lead me to select which I like just as well as the other one.

Tomorrow: part 2 acquiring a domain and hosting.

Get rewarded with rewards programs

Ok, I'm pushing the envelope by applying the income definition to rewards programs, but hear me out.

When you use a rewards program and actually receive cash or merchandise without modifying your behavior so that you spend more money than you would have spent otherwise, that is "earnings."

One of the easiest rewards programs that I use is SpeedyRewards at Speedway gas stations. I need gas for my car once a week or so and the closest gas station to my house is a Speedway so I whip out my rewards card and swipe it before pumping gas and I earn points for every gallon I pump. I resist their sales ploys of offering bonus points for buying certain items. And occasionally they offer 2-5 cents off a gallon of gas when you use your rewards card. I do make other purchases from Speedway but I make an effort not to overpay for merchandise and not to buy anything that I wasn't planning on purchasing. Reward points to date: Close to 33,000. No actual rewards paid out so far.

Best Buy also has a rewards program that I've been using since Christmas 2006. I've made some smaller purchases for work & Christmas and one larger purchase and have received $35.00 worth of "coupons" for purchases at Best Buy. I was planning on purchasing a new LCD TV and using the coupons to reduce my expenditure, due to a possible outlay the TV is on hold.

I like Mexican food so the Q-card from Qdoba is perfect for me. So far I have received 2 free burritos. Free meals!!! Not bad.

My Carpet Arbitrage

Please be careful with the information in this post, errors in timing could be costly.

Definition of Arbitrage: The activity of investing in order to profit from a difference in market prices.

My "Carpet Arbitrage" started in January 2007. I was remodeling the basement and it was time to get new carpet for the rec room. After weeks of getting prices from various companies to carpet the basement I found both the carpet I liked and a price I was comfortable paying. I had enough for the carpet, padding and installation saved up. So I was ready to get the carpet.
"That's nice, but so what?" you think. Well this particular purveyor of Persians [I didn't purchase a Persian rug, I just liked the alliteration] was offering 15 months of no interest financing. So being the financially astute individual that I am I accepted the offer.

This is where the arbitrage begins. By leveraging the cost of the carpet, [$3,500 - its a big area] which I was prepared to pay that moment, with the zero interest financing. I was going to be able to use that money for the next 14 months. Since it is such a short period of time, my aversion to risk led me to opening a 6 month certificate of deposit at my favorite credit union. The reason for the 6 month CD was due to the flat yield curve for interest rates. The rate on the CD was 5.25%. That nets me $91.88 for the first 6 months. The rate that the credit was offering didn't change during the term of the original CD so the rate for the second CD will be the same. I will be up to $186.17 at the end of 12 months.

Even though no payment are required by the terms of the no interest loan I have been putting a little bit towards the balance each pay period. The hope with this part of the plan is to have very little to pay back at the end of the 15 months. An I'm not losing that much in interest because the checking account that I'm using is not interest bearing. I suppose I could be setting this money aside in a money market account but my plan caters to my risk aversion. Maybe next time an arbitrage opportunity arises I'll take that path.

The plan for the final 2 months is to move the balance to my eTrade savings account which is currently earning 5.05% this will bring me to a grand total of $218.43. Not to bad for a little bit of money management.

The reason for the warning is if you don't payoff the loan before the end of the no interest period they sock you with the interest that you would have paid for the 15 months. This is typically the case with no or low interest structured retail loans.

Amazon's Mechanical Turk part 2

More information on what Turking is all about.

There are a variety of HITs available ranging from deciding if two items match to taking surveys to writing reviews to market research. Granted the amount paid for most HITs is in the $.01 to $.05 range I have seen HITs out there for $15.00. Obviously those HITs require more time and thought. They also may require a qualification [more on qualifications later.] The most I have been paid for a HIT is $5.00 but I had to wait 30 days for the payment to be approved.
Some HIT developers want to know that their HITs are done by someone who is "qualified" so they develop a test or some other structure to weed out people they believe won't complete the HIT properly. These tests or agreements are called qualifications and can be setup in a variety of formats.

MTurking is an easy way to make some cash. Just don't expect a fortune.

Would you like to learn more about AMT? Let me know.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Today's topic is Amazon's Mechanical Turk [AMT].

AMT allows developers to create Human Intelligence Tasks or HITs that are essentially requests for work to be done for them. These HITS allow potential workers and developers to find each other. The worker, commonly called either a Turker or MTurker, can pick from any HIT that they are qualified to complete. As a Turker you must have Internet access, an Amazon account and be at least 18 years old. Well, that's a very brief summary of AMT. I'll expand on it in my next post.

I have worked since August as a Turker in my spare time. Usually sitting in front of the TV while surfing the Internet I'll work some easy HITs in the evening. Some are kind of funny and I can get my family involved. You probably won't make a fortune with AMT. My plan right now is to earn enough for a nice scanner.

Current results: $35.21

Thursday, February 14, 2008

1st Post

This blog will discuss different ways to "earn income." The phrase "earn income" will be used very loosely. I will discuss a variety of ways to improve your personal wealth.