Thursday, May 03, 2007

This Blog Has Moved!

The Marketing Sparks blog is no longer being maintained at this location.

It has taken up residence in its WordPress new home at:

And, even better - it's being regularly updated!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Why I've Been So Busy Recently

Here's the background..

I'm a great believer in generating income from Google AdSense. I've been using it for 3 years now, and it's a great source of "passive" income for me.. set it up, do nothing more - and rake it in! OK, I keep updating the content on my AdSense sites from time to time, but it doesn't take me much time to do that.

AdSense website building has been a hot internet marketing topic over the past year, with numerous "systems" aimed at generating websites very rapidly.

Apart from writing content yourself (or paying someone else to write it), there's been two main content sources:

1) "Private Label Rights" ("PLR") articles
Some marketers have paid "ghost writers" to churn out articles on niche topics, and then have sold these articles to thousands of other people.

The problem here is that you have to modify each article to make it "unique" or the search engines will ban your website because the content is duplicated all over the net. So even more convoluted automated methods have been sold to automatically modify PLR articles in an attempt to make them unique.

I've tried many, many of these systems, and usually the result is garbage. No-one is going to read them, let alone hand around to look at the AdSense a.ds. Just look at this example. What an appalling mess!! And that's not the worst I've seen.

I set up an AdSense site system for owners of my Newbies Starter Kit. But, not only is the content fresh and readable, but I've also encouraged my newbies to manually modify each article. I've also told them to drip feed one or two articles per week into their websites, rather than upload all the content at one. Google gets suspicious if huge websites appear overnight!

So I'm less enthusiastic about PLR articles than I was a few months ago.

2) Articles From Article Directories
There's some great directories of articles on the web, with thousands of articles carefully categorised. The authors of these articles want people to take them and put them on other websites, as long as their name and links to their own websites remain intact.

So software started to emerge which automatically scoured these directories quite aggressively, lifting articles and building websites with them. Then, after a while, the article directories got fed up with these high-pressure raids on their servers, and most of these software programs stopped working.

This was a pity, because using other people's articles is a great way to build a themed website - and the search engines don't treat such articles as duplicate content.

I needed a solution - so I started to come up with one..

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on a system which is friendly to the article directories, and yet allows you rapidly to generate themed websites with content that is highly readable. The software and the sales system have been finished a while back, and you can see a video of the software in action here. I hope it whets your appetite :-)

So why haven't I released it yet? Well, what I've been working on for the past week is the User Manual. It's not that the software is hard to use. Quite the opposite. The software instructions take up just a small part of the Manual.

But I wanted anyone who has this software to be able to use it even if they know nothing about website building or graphic design. So in the Manual, I've been developing a highly-detailed step-by-step tutorial covering subjects such as:

  • How to use f'ree graphics software to create stunning banner headers
  • "Easy HTML" for complete novices
  • A little-known "sec'ret" way of getting an AdSense account quickly - even if you don't have a website

Owners of my Newbies Starter Kit know that I take very little knowledge for granted!
I've also been assembling a powerful set of AdSense-related resources - not the usual bundle of worthless "bonuses"!

I'm nearly finished. Watch out for its release!

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Power Of The Upsell

OK, so just where IS your market? Who are the people who are going to buy from you?

I've just spent this Easter weekend being 'dragged around' visitor attractions by my family. Yes, I went around with a smile :-)

And whilst I was smiling, I was also watching how other people were selling to me.

To start with, they got me and my extended family onto their "site" - a stately home, a nature reserve, a roadside cafe - anything. They got me there through conventional advertising in the press, by "word of mouth" (other members of my family knew of the site), and by roadside advertising.

But, once we were on their site, what else did they do?

They went for the "upsell" - i.e. 'now that you've bought, what else can I sell you?'

The "upsell" can double your profits. Once someone has bought from you, once they are on your site (physical or virtual) they are more inclined to buy from you than at any other time. These hooked customers are the easiest to sell to.

Never neglect the power of the "upsell"!

Friday, April 14, 2006

I've Been Beaten To It!

For some time now I've wanted to write an eBook about my marketing techniques. I wrote the outline of the eBook months ago. I even registered a domain name for it. But it didn't get off the ground. Now someone's beaten me to it.

A few days ago I came across six short "fluff-free" reports, written for "newbies" and covering the main areas of internet marketing. These were just the type of reports that I would have written had I got round to it.

I didn't have to think twice. I dug (quite deep) into my pocket, "flashed the plastic" and bought the Master Resale Rights to the collection. Such reports are like gold dust - maybe even nuggets! And only a few Master Resale Rights were being sold.

I've decided to make these reports available to you. I'm going to have to make a small charge, not just to cover my costs, but also to comply with the terms of the Master Resale Rights. But I've brought the price right down to a very affordable level - and even sweetened the deal with three great bonuses, all of them educational, and all of them designed for "newbies".

Here's where you can get them

If you are a battle-hardened internet marketing veteran these are probably not for you. But you might be interested in another angle.

I'm making available a small number of Resale Rights Licenses. I'm restricting the numbers so that the market won't get flooded and that the people who purchase these licenses won't face excessive competition.

Check out the Resale Rights deal here

Note: Don't delay. I'm expecting these few licenses to sell out quickly.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"AdSense Websites" - Do They Work?

Google's "AdSense" contextual advertising system enables owners of content-rich websites to generate income from their websites. I've had AdSense on my "Marketing Magic" and "City Of York" websites since July 2003 and it's been highly profitable for me.

But you will have noticed in recent months a huge push to sell various systems which generate content-rich websites very quickly with the sole purpose of bringing in cash from AdSense ads. I've tested about eight such systems in the past few months. Some work well - as far as building the sites is concerned. Some were terrible!

However, I have reservations about the whole concept of building large numbers of such sites:

  • Duplicate content: If you just upload these sites "as is", your sites will be identical to hundreds, maybe thousands of other sites. And the search engines are weeding out such duplicates. I'm not talking about the content of the articles - the search engines are fine with the same article appearing on many different sites. But if the same article collections appear in the same order, then those are duplicate sites.
  • Competition: If you target content niches which are known to having high-paying AdSense advertisers you'll face huge competition from other sites. This means that it will be more difficult to be found on the search engines (even when your site is in the indexes). Consequently, the number of visitors to your site - and your AdSense income - will be low.
  • Time: Generating websites from these systems doesn't take long - except that you'll need to tweak many of them. But, as I showed in my marketing experiment, generating traffic to a website can be time consuming. One guy selling one of these systems said "It doesn't matter if you only make a dollar per day from each site - set up a hundred sites!". Oh yes, and how long will you have to spend driving traffic to each site just to make a dollar a day?

OK, here's my conclusions - and remember, they are only personal opinions.

Maybe, just maybe, some people are making the multiple-site systems work.. for the time being. But they are probably spending a lot of time on them - and using techniques that most people would struggle with - interlinking sites, blogs, RSS and maybe "AdSense arbitrage" ("Google" it if you don't know what it means!).

I don't think that it's a method for "newbies", despite the attraction of having large numbers of "ready-to-go" websites.

Then there's the grey area of ethics. I personally don't feel comfortable having a website which deals with a topic that I don't understand or have any enthusiasm for. That's the reason why I put a month of work into developing a content-rich, customisable website for owners of my Newbies Starter Kit around a topic which most people have some understanding of and feeling for - "self improvement".

I have five websites aimed at generating AdSense income - apart from my two main sites that I mentioned earlier. But they all deal with topics which I have some understanding of - and enthusiasm for. And that's the way I'm going to continue. It's a personal decision.

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Neat Webmaster Trick For You

You've probably seen it before - you mouse-over a link on a web page, and up pops a coloured box with some information. No, I'm not talking about the standard pale yellow box. That's achieved by adding the 'title' attribute to a link.

No, these little fellers are coloured usually to match the website. Just have a look at the demo page I've put up here.

As I said on that page, there's some very fancy scripting stuff going on behid the scenes. Fortunately, there's a handy f'ree online service that does all the grunt work for you. Just fill in the form with your desired colours and fonts, and it generates all the code for you to copy and paste into your web page.

This was something completely new to me. I've often wondered how it was done!

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

IMP x CTR x EPC = $

Catchy headline, eh! What does it mean? What's it all about?

Last one first. I'm talking about Google AdSense. This program displays "contextual" adverts that you can insert on any content-rich website (i.e. an info site rather than a selling site). The ads which are displayed are supposed to be related (it isn't 100% accurate) to the content of the page. If / when it works, the chances of a website visitor clicking through to the ad are much better than a blatent banner ad.

Banner ads aren't really effective. The "468 x 60" format is tired. We all suffer from "banner blindness"; we ignore them. The Click Through Rate ("CTR" - remember this acronym) is usually less than 1 per cent. A lot less. Because they are indiscriminate. Usually, they don't relate to the content of the page. So, apart from "banner blindness", our visitors have no reason to be interested in the ad.

Let's face it, if you bought a magazine devoted to "ice skating", would you be interested in the slightest in adverts for "baby care" products? I don't think so!

"Contextual ads", where the content of the ads is related to the content of the web page, is far more powerful. And that's what the Google AdSense system does. It allows any webmaster (or webmistress) with a content-filled website to use its contextual ads on their pages.
You might have noticed lately a spate of new products aimed at building a mass of content-filled websites very quickly. The reason? To generate income from AdSense. OK, back to that mysterious formula:

IMP x CTR x EPC = $

Just how successful you'll be in generating income from your AdSense websites depends on these three factors:

IMP = Page Impressions
That's the number of times that your pages are viewed. So, the more visitors you drive to your site, the higher your AdSense income is likely to be. This is one of the factors which is under your control.

CTR = Click Through Rate
That's the percentage of visitors who click on the AdSense ads. That's a crucial factor in increasing your AdSense income. Again, it's something over which you have some measure of control.

EPC = Earnings Per Click
That's really dependent on the subject matter of your web pages and how many advertisers are competing with each other. Your EPC is likely to be lower on a page about, say, philosophy, than on a page about marketing.

I decided to write about this topic today because a year ago I made a small but very significant change to my AdSense ads. I've charted the impact it made on this web page. Powerful stuff, eh?

The turning point was a report that I bought - "AdSense Secrets" by Joel Comm. I've read a lot of reports about AdSense but Joel really lives up to his reputation as "Mr AdSense". He lives and breathes it! What impresses me even more is that Joel updates his report regularly, and he's just issued version 3.

If you use, or are planning to use, AdSense on your website, you really ought to get Joel's report. But if you do, not only must you read it, but you should act on it. You've seen the difference that just one of Joel's tips made to my income.

(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)