Fancy Joining Us in San Diego? - Think Tank 2010


Last year I travelled loads and did more conferences than I care to remember (I was out of the country for over 3 months in total). This year, I’ve been a lot more choosy about which which events I’ve attended based on the benefit (and enjoyment) I’d get from them.

So far I’ve done both Think Visibilities, Dom sure knows how to organise awesome events (Jason wrote a cool review about it here, I should do the same but I’ll outsource his instead). And in the summer my daughter and I went to the Existem AM Summer BBQ.

Out of these 3 events I didn’t attend a single complete session! The reason for this is I use events and conferences to network, form relationships and learn and share knowledge with like minded people (your learn a lot more from folk in the after hours than you ever will in a conference session).

So the reason for this post is that next event I’m off to (and likely my last one of the year), is Think Tank in Del Mar, San Diego. This is, and will be my third Think Tank, which I hope shows how important I feel it is. Cost of entry is high at $3,000 for 3 days but every attendee I’ve known has made that back and often many fold over.

I’ve chatted with Doctor David Klein (aka DK) who organises it and we both feel it would benefit from more than one Brit in attendance (I get lonely and home sick), so even tho it’s sold out (think it sold out in the first week it was announced) a few more folk from this side of the pond are welcome. DK has offered an amazing discount to compensate for the cost of having to travel across the pond (he’s asked me not to say how much it is publicly but it’s awesome).

This is an invitation only event so you will need to know me either on or offline as I’ll have to vouch for you. I’m gaining nothing out of promoting this other than hopefully having a fellow countryman to share an awesome experience with. Leave a comment below or drop me a message if interested and I’ll do the introductions.

I could explain what Think Tank is all about but if you’re serious about it I’m sure Google will do a better job 🙂

How you can become a Million Dollar Blogger

This is a write up by Martijn Beijk of the presentation I did at a4uExpo last year. It was originally posted on SearchEngineCowboys but has for various reasons has been lost so Martijn gave me permission to share it here.


At the A4U Expo in the Amsterdam RAI there was a session by Al Carlton, a Selfmade millionaire by just blogging and smart thinking. Al Carlton (Coolest Media Ltd. , has started blogging not too long ago - he told us with his lips still a bit dry from the party the night before.

He is convinced you can basically sell anything to people and shows some examples of stormtrooper outfits ( ! ), electronic bikes which were sold for a couple of thousand pounds and ‘the ultimate guide to anal sex for women’ which was doing particularly good.

He describes the approaches he used to generate traffic. Lots of traffic.

Traffic generation (social):

Use social bookmarking websites and convert social traffic from digg, reddit, etc to regular readers and vice versa. Use other blogs and comments. Engange in forums, directories and place articles on news websites. make sure you get those links out there.

Blogs want free content. So write articles for other blogs to increase your own traffic! But be careful. Don’t push yourself to another blog. Be useful to the specific niche/blog/site.

Traffic generation (search):

Al cannot stress enough that you need quality content. Write good articles that people find (trust)worthy and optimize. To Al, SEO is providing information the visitor wants. Simple as that.

Traffic generation (buy/trade):

network with other bloggers, write articles, attend conferences (like A4UExpo! ), use free coupons (for facebook, adwords, MSN, etc!)

and use PPC to convert for short or long term profit

Traffic generation (direct):

Regular readers, bookmarks, RSS subscribers, Email subscribers. Quote:”RSS is for techies. Email is for all other people!”

Now that we have discussed traffic sources, what about our revenue streams?

Use CPM, CPC, affiliate sales, direct sales, paid reviews, or even sell out your blog (partially). But there were some more good tips from Al here; hide adsense from your social readers! They know what adsense looks like and it doesn’t work for them. Another good tip: when younotice an advertiser targeting your website via adsense (content network) - Contact them directly! Cut out Google and get some good deals with the advertiser directly.

Contextual adverts:

· Adsense
· Chitika
· Kontera

The Pro’s:
· east to implement
· targeting

The Con’s:
· you are paid to lose visitors.
· can deter visitors.
· you are not in control of what is being shown.

Affiliate revenue:

You are in total control of how you link, make sure you find a profitable offer and PUSH.

Al warns us about link sales or paid reviews -be very careful. Google is watching and doesn’t like it, so don’t get caught…)


A day has only hot 24 hours and you need to spend at least a few of them in the pub - the message here is that you need to outsource as much as you can. Al himself does some research and comes up with a business plan for a hopefully succesful idea and outsources everything, from design to coding and even content creation (but don’t cut corners and make sure it is unique and of high quality!). Webmaster Tools, Social sites, long tail traffic and related posts are ways to optimise your traffic stream. To get the best revenue available he says you really need to make deals with the merchants and make direct deals. Use different ads on different content and push those appropriate affiliate offers. Target your visitors geographically. Review your old posts and find new ways to monetize them. Another free tip: after a month, remove the date from your articles, it will make your content look fresh.

The million dollar blogging session at the underestimated A4U expo was well worth visiting and had some really good tips and Al sure knew how to make people laugh.

Sort of a guest post by Martijn Beijk.

Trialling A New Automated Revenue Stream - Skimlinks

I’ve written before about using a custom plugin to automatically convert links to affiliate links when an appropriate scheme is available and it has certainly boosted my revenue over the years. So I was very interested to hear from Skimlinks who offer a product that does the job for you. 

Skimlinks uses Javascript to automatically redirect appropriate links (redirection can be done via your own subdomain which makes it much more integrated to your site). You don’t need to be a member of any specific affiliate scheme, Skimlinks receives the commission, takes their slice and pays you directly. In theory they should be able earn a higher percentage from merchants thus absorbing their percentage however from my tests I’ve not seen this.

Reports show have many clicks and sales you are generating each day and also to which merchants. I find the merchant report really useful as it shows you affiliate programs You may previously of missed and should consider joining. It honours any affiliate links you already so won’t reduce existing affiliate revenue.

- Another revenue stream with minimal time investment
- Cloaks affiliate links 
- Reporting
- New merchants are continually being added (8,000+ so far)

- pages load another external JS file
- Lose a percentage of commission

I already do a fair amount of affiliate sales on CG so wasn’t expecting to find many programs that I’m not yet a member. However after 10 days of testing reports showed nearly 2,000 clicks from 138 different merchants, wow. Revenue was somewhat disappointing at £61, though for the amount of effort involved and just redoing existing links you can’t really grumble.

I’d certainly recommend giving Skimlinks a try, for both the revenue and reports which could highlight an attractive scheme that you’ve missed. If you implement it please let us know how you get on.

Creating and Promoting a Facebook Page

There are currently over 400 million active users on Facebook, which is somewhat insane. Last month Facebook became my 4th largest traffic source (admittedly it is ‘currently’ quite away behind the top 3). Before reading on I suggest becoming a fan here so you can see what I’m writing about.

I’ve always been a huge fan of building lists and subscribers to my various sites, it removes some of the reliance on search engines and gives you a bit more stability. Using my site coolest gadgets as an example we currently have around ~69K RSS and 10K email subscribers. When speaking to people outside of the industry, only a small percentage know what RSS actually is never mind using it, however even my technophobic father has heard of Facebook, so around 9 months ago I started looking at building a list on Facebook.

Creating a FaceBook Page
Make sure you’re logged into Facebook, go here, click “Create Page” and follow then follow the simple wizard. You’ll need to create a logo, add links in to your site and write a simple description but nothing too challenging. Next up we need to populate your page, you can either make daily posts yourself, pay somebody to do it or if your site has an RSS feed you can automate.

I’m currently using RSS Graffitti (thank you Zath, Clarke and Keith for the recommendation). This will automatically post a thumbnail and excerpt on your pages wall whenever a new post is published on your site. This will then link to the relevent page on your site, like so
graffitti example
You now have a fully automated page and source of traffic on one of the most popular sites on the web, cool.

Promoting Your Fan Page
The first thing you need to do is get 25 fans so that you can claim your vanity URL, I’d suggest manually mailing friends to become a fan, explaining why and personalise your messages a bit. Once you have 25 fans head here and claim a more human friendly URL for your fan page.

I’ve tried a few different methods promoting Coolest Gadgets fan page, the following graph shows how it’s grown since inception

1 - Did a blog post saying we are now on Facebook
2 - LG kindly donated a LCD TV as a competition prize, to enter the contest readers had to become a fan or tweet about it (hence promoting the competition more).
3 - Did another blog post about the contest, this time keeping it really simple: Fan on Facebook? Then Stand A Chance to Win 42″ LG LCD TV
4 - We announced the winner
5 - The site was redesigned with much more prominence on becoming a facebook fan, including a banner advertising the page and a widget showing current fans (see right).

If you have the funds you can also promote the page using Facebook ads, as you can target based on peoples interests this can be highly effective.

My aim is to build the fan base up to 6,000+ by Christmas and promote various offers and discounts when available. If you’re not a fan (or friend) yet feel free to add me.

If you don’t have a fan page yet I’d suggest investing an hour of your time and creating yourself a new traffic source, let us know if you do and we’ll link them from here.

Outsourcing and Automation Presentation

Hi all, it’s been a while since I posted, basically been crazily busy with both business and life in general. I enjoyed and spoke at another Think Visibility conference at the weekend, awesome group of people with some great speakers.

I spoke on outsourcing and automation, a subject I’m pretty passionate about and I think it went okay, so I’ve shared the slides above, any questions at all post in the comments and I’ll go into more detail. I’ve also done a round up of what other people have posted and some of the most important links:

Any others please let me know and I’ll add links to them here

Think Visibility Conference Ticket Winner(S) Are…

Last week I announced that my lastest site will be sponsoring next weekends Think Visibility conference, and as the primary sponsor we receive 4 free tickets. Thanks everybody that left a comment saying why they would like to attend, it was a totally tough to choose a single winner so we’ll be giving away 3 free tickets:

Matt: As reading his comments I think he’d really benefit from attending

Richard: Comment made me laugh and I’ve met Richard before and I’m sure he’ll make the most of the opportunity

Abdul: Another gentleman I’ve known online for a long time that and who I think needs to talk and listen to people that are already somewhat successful in the industry

I’ll also be providing tickets to two of my business partners (as I’m a speaker I get an extra free ticket):

Scott Jones: If you don’t know who Scott is you’re on the wrong site, totally awesome smartest somewhat technophobe I know in the industry and have the pleasure to work with.

Marc Evans: I run the Coolest Gadgets UK site with Marc, he’s a expert .Net coder (I don’t know if that’s what he’d call himself) and a total brainiac on gadgets and technology.

If for any reason anybody listed cannot make it (you’ll need to sort out your own travel and accommodation), please let me know and I’ll give the ticket to somebody else.

If you weren’t lucky enough to win a ticket I would strongly advise taking advantage of the 30% discount code confcal, even before the discount it’s one of the most best value and friendliest conferences in town.

Finally the first 5 people at Think Visibility that tell me in person they read Self Made Minds and use Conference Calendar I’ll buy a beer on the Saturday evening (and I’m sure Scott will match that 🙂 ).

Win a Ticket to Think Visibility (or at least get a 30% discount)

Think Visibility Conference - Saturday 12 September 2009

I was speaking to my friend Dom AKA @TheHodge a few days ago about the next Think Visibility conference that he’s organising. I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the first one and for the one next month I am lined up on some mystery panel alongside Chris Garrett, Patrick Altoft and Kieron Donoghue (I’ve no idea what the panel is about but knowing Hodge it will be fun).

Anyway it turned out that Think Visibilty still didn’t have a primary sponsor and as it’s pretty related to my latest site Conference Calendar, I thought it would be a good marketing experiment to offer sponsorship, so that’s what we’ve done (I will report back after the event about the ROI).

I was able to talk Dom into giving our readers an awesome discount code of 30% (details on the Conference Calendar Think Visibility page), so if you haven’t booked your ticket yet now is the time (it was good value before, now it’s a must see).

I’ve also got a few tickets I can give away, the first of which will be to a SMM reader. Simply leave a comment on this post explaining why you would like to attend and we’ll choose a winner that we think has the best reason.

Good luck and if you don’t win at least you’ll be able to benefit from the 30% discount.

Back with a few Friday Links

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Friday round-up and as I’ve seen a few interesting things this week I thought I’d care to share, so here goes:

Analytics360 - This nifty little WordPress plugin lets you view your Google Analytics data in your WP dashboard (found via BlogStorm).

Introducing Rich Snippets - Google are rolling out some changes to how certain SERPS are displayed (namely reviews and people). If you have a review site, you can now provide Google with extra information to display in the snippet. (via Rishil on twitter).

Sometimes Quitting Is The Only Way to Win - Interesting read on why it may be a smart move to quit.

Think Visibility - Tickets are now on sale for this excellent mini conference and I am certain it’ll sell out. If you can get to Leeds on September 12th I’d strongly recommend it.

Bing using DMOZ Description - For those of you living under a rock Bing is Microsoft’s new(ish) search offering. This article demonstrates how the SERP snippets are extracted from DMOZ and more importantly how to ensure they are not.

Call to action experiment - Great post showing the results on how changing the wording on a call to action statement increased actions from 4.7 to 12.81%, nice (via ChrisG).

Even found a game for you to waste a few minutes with, Neon Maze.

Elite Retreat New York

This is just a heads up that tickets for Elite Retreat New York are now available. It’s on 1-2nd October 2009 and if you’re in the position where you can afford the $5,000 admission fee it is well worth attending.

It is aimed at entrepreneurs that are already successful and to help them take their business to the next level. I attended last year and gained heaps from the experience. Due to a packed schedule I won’t be attending this one unfortunately.

As a side note there’s is a good chance of there being one in London next year, so if you’re in the UK and not quite at that level yet make it something to aim for.

More info over on Conference Calendar (Yeah yeah I’m plugging CC).

Cloud Living Review

My friend Glen Allsopp contacted me last week about a product he was working on and asked if I’d review it for him. I get a lot of requests like this and generally turn them down as I simply don’t have the time, however Glen is a friend and we’ve been in touch a few times in the past via blog comments, email and twitter so I’m happy to help out. This is one of the big reasons why it’s beneficial to attend conferences and interact with people online.

The product that he’s been working on is called Cloud living:

Which is basically my way of saying ‘making money online.’ Cloud being the term people
are using more and more these days to reference the internet. I also believe it invokes images of freedom and that kind of thing.

Anyways, the product is:

* A 177 page eBook
* 6 Tutorial Videos
* Free Affiliate Site Template
* 8 Page eBook on How to Tweak the Theme

The eBook is pretty meaty and Glen goes into details on exactly what he has done to achieve 5 figures of revenue per month. He uses two different approaches, blogs and mini affiliate sites and the eBook is split between the two methods (there is a bit of duplication between the 2 parts). It makes an interesting read and is aimed at people just starting their online careers.

One of the features I particularly like is there are check lists of actions to take and the tools to use. Glen managed to create his business in the space of 12 months so he certainly knows what he’s doing and the examples he gives are what has worked for him. Oh and he’s only 20 years old, the young git.

The book is also jam packed full of screen shots and accompanying videos which really help spell out the exact actions that you need to take.

You can buy Cloud Living from eJunkies for $37, to be totally open this is an affiliate link. I lose trust in a lot of blogs (often very popular ones) that purely promote review products for the commissions, this is not the case here I think the book is worthwhile to people starting out and I also want to help Glen out (I ‘may’ have other sites where I do review products purely for commissions).

Congratulations Glen on a good product and I wish you the best of luck with sales.

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