Saturday, June 28, 2008

Affiliate Programs for stay-at-home Moms (and Dads)

In recent weeks I have been particularly searching for some good, safe, genuine sites for affiliate programs which would especially appeal to stay-at-home Moms. I have been really and pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of programs that are available. Most do not come with the sometimes questionable 75% commission tags of so many of the over-the-top hyped up sites which seem to abound in the GPT arena, but nevertheless, there are some very nice commissions to be earned, which can give you anything from $300-$1,000 extra income a month, depending upon how much work you want to put in.

As we all know, so many of us are overweight, but I didn’t want to go for the so-called weight loss programs, as frankly, I think only someone with the medical qualifications can sensibly advise on this. But what I did feel was missing, especially for the ladies, was a good site for plus sizes, where the designs didn’t look more like a tent we could all camp out in. So, naturally as a good internet marketer, I Googled “plus size dresses” to see who was at the top or near it.

Sure enough I found one, Igigi, where the designs were feminine, sensuous even, but also practical, and at prices which would not break the bank.

Their Affiliate Program was also a pretty attractive offering . It was an easy choice and soon had me looking for the next one, which I wanted to also appeal to stay-at-home Dads.

I recalled seeing something about US Government Car Auctions, where cars, SUVs and trucks that have been seized by various Government agencies (FBI, DEA, IRS etc) are put up for auction at very low prices. Discounts are substantial as reserve prices are low or even non-existent. Storage of vehicles is an expensive business, so again, with prices kept low, turnover is quick, and storage costs are minimized. Clearly this was an attractive proposition, even more so if there was a good Affiliate Program, and sure enough, there was.

My wife asked me if I had looked for anything under ‘handicrafts’ – I had not, and boy, was this a great area in which to search. I found a website called Associate Programs which was a goldmine of information. It wasn’t hard to find programs covering:

* Scrapbooks
* Quilting
* Jewelry making
* Soft-toy making
* Pottery
* Soap making
* Candle making
* Spa quality products

Just about all also had an Affiliate Program, so it was great to be able to offer, once more, the choice to visitors to either invest in the product, if they were interested, or join the Affiliate Program if that was a fit to their plans.

I don’t know about you, but one thing that has always fascinated me has been turning a drawing or a plan into reality. OK, I’m no architect or designer, far from it, but like most of us I do know what I like, even if I’m not great at visually recreating it.

I found something that I’d been looking for all my life, even if I didn’t know it! Having the nicest house in the world, is not going to look it, if your garden/yard looks more like a tip with a few haphazard flower beds. The site I found was all about landscaping, and it was really fascinating. The site’s owner, a landscaping pro has put together a few thousand photographs and a further thousand or two ideas, in a very reasonably priced e-book. And yes, he also had a neat Affiliate Program. This was an immediate buy for me personally, and also a very easy decision to sign up for the AP.

Another area I wanted to cover, was something I knew would appeal to a large number of women of all ages, whether as a grandma, a mom or a mom-to-be and even a good few sisters and aunts too! I was looking for good online mom & baby boutiques, where style and good value were the watch-words, and where the opportunities for reselling as an Affiliate were attractive. Sure enough there were quite a few to choose from, all of which, I think, carry great appeal for my target audience.

This was a fun few days, putting together details on a lot of topics that I’d previously known very little about. While I may not be an expert, I like to think that I can usually discern the good value from the over-priced and over-hyped. I leave it to you to see if you think I’ve got it right.

Letting the world know about your new website

Of course the first thing you will have to do is optimize your site for the major search engines. It is not hard, but it is very time consuming, and very essential that you follow all the recommended steps! But I’ve covered this topic in an earlier article on SEO Optimization, which you can also find on this site.

This time, I’d like to concentrate on some of the more creative and less common ways in which we can make our site more visible, in order to drive traffic to the site, and give ourselves a far better chance of increasing sales volume.

One that I have found very useful is through some of the main forums, such as those at Yahoo, MSN or Delphi. These sites usually frown upon direct advertising, so we have to be more subtle. For example, in my signature, automatically appended to each post I write, I use a simple text link to the article blog I run at my site. It is usually where I try out my articles first, before submitting them to Ezines like this one.

If you’re like me and are a regular poster on one of the more popular forums, then you should get quite a considerable increase in traffic. Since I added the text link to my signature on my main Delphi forum, my traffic has increased by almost 15%. If I recall correctly, Delphi has around 100,000 members, so that is a heck of a lot of potential traffic! As my site is pretty much aimed at an international audience, I naturally chose a Delphi forum with an international membership. That was you do not exclude any potential visitor, but certainly do include far more than if you participated in a more domestic forum.

Another is the use of signatures, on your emails. Whether you use a free email provider, such as Yahoo!, Hotmail or Gmail, or a POP3 account connected to your web/email host, setting up your signature should be a breeze. Mine looks something like this:

Michael DaviesTel: (603) 7725 NNNN
Mobile: (6012) 337NNNN
Skype: mikedavieskl

For your FREE COPY of an e-book on Search Engine Optimization (worth USD89), by Brad Callen, one of the Net's leading Internet Marketing exponents, please email me with "SEO e-book" in the subject line. If you're interested in Search Engine Optimization software, from Brad Callen's company, click HERE.

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: If you have received this email in error, please immediately delete it from your system and notify the sender at the email address given. This email may contain confidential information meant only for the intended recipient. Your compliance is most appreciated. This email is scanned for viruses, trojans and other malware, prior to dispatch, using Norton Internet Security 2008 which is updated at least weekly for optimum protection.

This too can be very effective in helping to drive traffic to your site. Obviously if your email contacts are few, the impact also will be less.

You’ll notice that I also have a Skype account, and I use that too, for simple promotions of my site. I have personalised my account with a simple statement: “Please visit my website at “ appended immediately after my account name. This is shown in the Skype directory and is therefore visible to a potential eleven million visitors! If you are serious about doing business with me, I would welcome contact through Skype. If, however, I receive spam/trash, having made this address public, please be advised that you will be reported to Skype officials to have your Skype account banned.

If you are not yet a member of one or more of the social networking sites, like My Space or Facebook, I strongly suggest you join. This is a very easy, very effective way to promote your site. Another is the business networking website, Linked-In, where you can reach many decision-makers, aswell as increase traffic to your site.

Taking out simple text ads on appropriate, high traffic sites, is an effective, and relatively cheap way of traffic generation. I recently placed a simple text ad on the website of one of the top PR (page rank) sites for my business; it cost me only $19 for seven days, and the increase in traffic was pretty significant. Effectively even cheaper, at just $25 for insertion in two monthly email newsletters to 25,000 subscribers, also within my business area, was the ad I just placed through a friendly site.

So, in a few paragraphs I hope I’ve shown you a number of (perhaps new) ways in which you can increase traffic to your site. One I’ve not yet mentioned, is of course, this one, via online ezines and blogs. Article Marketing is now regarded as one of the most important traffic generation mediums we have, but you do need to find the best of the hundreds of article directories you can find on the web, and of course ensure that your blog is as well optimized as the rest of your site. A good way to find out which might be the best directories is to enter firstly “Article Directories” in a Google search, and then “Ezines” and see which are on the first page for both of these. The two searches will catch all you need, and certainly the major directories that I use. You can of course find some excellent Article Submission software, both free and paid, but be aware that some directories do not accept submissions via this software. Take a look at the banner for Article Submission software on my home page.

I hope this is a help to those just starting out with their own website, or indeed to the more experienced who may be looking for ways to generate more traffic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nice little earner – making money working from home

  • There are, of course, many reasons why people work from home. Some are by personal choice, others by personal necessity. Many parents (single or not) just want to spend as much time as possible with their child or children, but need the income that jobs from home can provide. Some may be going through a period where employment is more difficult to secure, while many others (perhaps even the majority) seek the extra income which working from home can provide, while still maintaining their day job. The working from home page on my site, is specifically aimed at all of these very deserving groups.

    There are many different types of work offered, some of which seems extremely attractive, but may not be what it seems, and a very good yardstick to adopt is:

    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

    While the free to join schemes might sound attractive, and many are, there are a growing number where real caution is needed. This is particularly true of the data-entry jobs. You get free membership of the initial site, one where they introduce you to the companies requiring the data entry (typically filling in the details for ad sites, although not including the reputable like Google, Yahoo etc). However, before getting the work itself, and therefore the opportunity to earn, they require you to pay, often as much as $49.95. And it doesn’t stop there. Some of these scams actually require you to pay this sum for each and every opportunity they offer. Do not touch these offers. Please.

    The only paid sites I support as an affiliate, are those where unconditional money back guarantees are not only given, but they have been tested out aswell, to ensure that they live up to the promise of the guarantee. These sites are totally upfront about being a members’ site, with fee payment, one-time-only, and experienced users have said that they are usually able to recoup the membership outlay within the first job and certainly by the second. A typical one-time-only membership fee is around $24-$39. In fact the main home job site you’ll find on my site, HERE, is only asking $18 right now. This company has been around since 1999, which in itself is a great recommendation. Scammers tend to come and go after a few weeks or maybe a month or two.

    One of the reasons these sites are genuine in their requiring fee payment is that they incur fairly substantial costs by employing staff to maintain and very regularly update the directories of jobs on offer. The majority of the free sites cannot do this.

    Ok, so what types of jobs are offered? Well, there really are many, too many to mention here, but here are what I believe to be some of the most popular:

  • Taking online surveys
  • Telecommuting
  • Typing
  • Surfing the Net to review websites
  • Reading emails
  • Freelance photography
  • Website designers
  • Translators
  • Internet shopping
  • Writing articles
  • Data entry
  • Testing games
  • Online tutors
  • Software developers
  • Telemarketers
  • Financial services sales

    Currently, it has to be said that the greatest choice or work-from-home jobs is within the USA, but the internet has few borders, and some jobs will be open to people from just about anywhere, as long as they have a computer and an internet connection.

    Opportunities abound too in the UK, and although right now I’m not promoting any particular affiliates from the UK, it is only because I’ve not yet found one which is a good match to my own objectives. I am also aware of good opportunities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and throughout much of Asia. As I find the right affiliates in these locations, I will promote these too, so please do bookmark my website and return regularly.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Get paid to take online surveys – and avoid the scams

It is undoubtedly true, that the one area of the GPT (get paid to) online market place, which seems to be most vulnerable to scammers is that of online surveys.

The scams generally work like this: they offer you “magnificent income potential”, “more money than you’ve ever earned before”, “the chance to give up your boring day-time job” and so on, with equally outrageous claims. They state eg: “for just $29.95” they will provide you with directories of companies wanting your opinions, with nothing more to pay.

What they neglect to tell you is that the fee they charge is non-refundable, and the charge is often per directory, so the “nothing more to pay” only applied to the one directory they sent. You could end up paying a small fortune, also often to find that the directories are out of date.

So, how to find a good, members, fee paying, paid survey site, and one which will not fleece you? One method that my research found to be very useful was to find one or two of the excellent GPT website online review sites, and to see if:

* they have actually checked out if the site offers money back guarantees

* checked that the money back guarantees are actually given (tried it out)

* they have spoken to a human voice at a given telephone number (even if they had to go through an email first)

* they assessed the response to the reviewers enquiry, ie were they hostile or did they welcome the questioning as an opportunity to show their honesty.

All of the affiliates relating to online surveys that I have joined have been checked out by Top Site Reviews, which I personally confirmed direct with the owner of that site.

I would suggest that anyone interested in joining an online survey program checks out the points I mention above, as a minimum. In addition, I would counsel against the free-to-join programs, as a bit of a waste of time. I say this not only because they will pay you less (typically $10 or less), but mainly because they cannot possibly have the same resources as the subscription driven members sites. The resources enable directories to be maintained that are as up to date as possible, as it is a labor intensive activity.

Using one or other of the top three paid survey sites, you can get a pretty good, regular income, although I doubt you’ll get rich, not even slowly. Don’t be put off by the scams you will hear about, especially through online ezines, such as this one. It is more than possible to find good sites, and to make a decent living, even if it is extra-income, over and above that from your regular job.

Please visit where you can look into the options offered by my impressions of the top three sites.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Is this every woman’s dream?

Get paid to shop and you get to keep what you have bought!

OK, perhaps not every woman, nor indeed every man, but it is undoubted that such a prospect would appeal to a great number of people.

In many parts of the developed world, especially places like US, Canada, UK, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, market research companies, working on behalf of their clients, recruit people who want to earn some extra money. They will pay them to shop at department stores, at grocery stores, at certain Malls, at certain markets. They’ll also pay them to dine out at particular restaurants.

Just imagine: you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop, it has not cost you a single penny, and now you can go and have a free dinner too, in a really nice restaurant. Too good to be true? Nope, not at all.

A good question to ask is of course, why would companies pay you to shop or dine? The answer is very simple. It is the best way for them to get independent opinions on a range of matters that will always concern the enlightened retailer or indeed any service provider:

* The overall quality of their customer service
* Friendliness and efficiency of the staff
* Products and procedures knowledge of the staff
* Procedures for handling complaints
* Store or restaurant layout
* Cleanliness, including of rest rooms
* Value for money

There are a number of ways in which you can join one of these market research teams as a mystery shopper.

* By going direct to the market research company, many of whom advertise on the Net or might be listed by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, a globally respected professional body
* By visiting the web site of a members only service provider, one that maintains directories of the market research companies and will provide the directories to you after payment of a fee
* By going to the website of one of the service providers who claim to provide directories to you for free. Take great care before using this route, as many of the scammers come under this heading, as although you get the directories free, you often have to pay multiple times to actually get selected by one of these (usually unregistered) mystery shopping companies.
* By visiting the web site of an independent information provider, one that, typically, has researched the services offered by many of the so-called GPT (Get Paid To) companies that provide the directories, and has discounted the possible scammers

Mystery shoppers are required not just at retail stores, but also restaurants, fast food outlets, golf courses, bars, movie houses, and a lot, lot more. Naturally, arising from this huge demand, many companies are prepared to pay pretty well for people to visit the establishments of those who are paying them to carry out the mystery shopping. At the very top end you could be paid as much as $125 per shop, although for some simple shops it may be only $10. It stands to reason that payment will be lower when the work required is less. Typically though, you would be offered between $10 to $40 per hour.

What I would certainly advise is that if you go through an independent information provider, look for those companies they might be recommending where there is a guarantee that fee payment (for the directories) is not only one-time-only, but also comes with a money back guarantee in the event that you are dissatisfied with what was offered.
I am firmly of the opinion that there are many genuine mystery shopping opportunities available, where you ought to be able to recoup your outlay, and be in profit, within two shops at most. Good luck and if you really are the "worlds greatest shopper" according to your best friend, you are going to be successful, you will get paid and you will thoroughly enjoy yourself in the process!

Michael is a British citizen, but long term resident of Asia (Hong Kong and now Malaysia).
After 25 years with a global banking leader, he began to head up his own Management consulting company, and today this successful business has branched out to include database/direct marketing aswell as Internet and Affiliate Marketing. Michael may be contacted through his web site or directly via email

Internet Marketing - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips for success

To be perfectly frank, without SEO, you will not create the essential building blocks to enable the search engines to find and check out your site and the number of potential clients or customers who will never find your site, could be catastrophic for your online business.

If the search engines cannot find and index your site, your traffic will be insignificant, probably limited to a small number of your friends and family and their personal contacts. If your website is selling a product or service, that really would be an absolute disaster.

What SEO does is to enable you to lift the chances of your website being indexed by the search engines. But when done really effectively it also gives you a chance of having your URL on Google’s first page, when a potential visitor enters one of your keywords into their search bar. Your aim should be to get to number one – to be at the top of the first Google results page.

When first beginning to consider SEO for your website, you have to consider the two separate, but essential elements of the optimization process.

- Onpage optimization
- Offpage optimization (this is rated as slightly more important by the major search engines)

Onpage covers the following:

* A well constructed sitemap (this really helps in getting a good ranking)

* Your page title which must reflect the page content – three titles separated by a straight line are a good idea (the key is on your keyboard below the backspace, but it won't show here)

* Anchor texts not only in your first headline, but throughout your pages

* Your keywords, which are vital and should also be reflected in your page title

* Well thought out ‘h1’ and ‘h2’ html tags, again probably closely reflecting your keywords

* Outbound links to high ranking sites (this is gaining strongly in importance, especially with Google, who are also beginning to value one-way links far more than reciprocal links – because of recent growth of automatic reciprocal link builders)

* Videos (most of the major search engines value relevant video imaging and audio links quite highly)

* images ie alternative descriptions of images

Offpage covers these facets:

* The number of website pages which link to your site (on a one way basis, ie not requiring a reciprocal link – see above)

* The Google page rank (PR) of the website linking to you

* The page title of the website linking to your site

* The anchor text used in the link to your site

* The number and type of links on the website linking to yours (so-called authority sites are especially important, if you can get them – eg those with .edu / .ac / or .gov in their domain name

* Which websites link to yours (those with a high Google page ranking are the most desirable)

* The number of outbound links on the website linking to yours (if they already have a high Google PR, the fact of this will reflect very well on the website at the outbound links)

* The total number of links on the website linking to yours

* Whether or not Google regards the websites linking to yours as being “authority sites” eg those with a .gov or .edu extension.

Obviously you can see that links are extremely important. This will involve you trying to contact the owners of the highest ranking websites, with the aim of persuading them to have a backlink, on their site, to yours. You can actually influence the success of this, by ensuring that you already get plenty of backlinks from other sources. There is no doubt that the higher PR Google ranks are the best places to get links if you can, but try to get as many links as possible from other sites, before you even approach them.

If you were wondering how on earth are you supposed to do this, it is actually surprisingly easy. It is all about writing (relevant) articles and then submitting them to as many article directories as you can. Again, start by sending to the most popular, like Ezines, Article Dashboard or Amazines, but at least try to find 20 or 30 article directories with a Google PR of 5 or 6 (or better) and submit to these sites. There is some good article submitting software available, and I’m sure you can find it with a simple Google search.

At the end of each article is an author’s resource box, where you can promote yourself. This is where the article publishers allow you to quote the URL of your website and your email address, and these URL quotes will be the backlinks to your site for which the search engines will be looking. You should note, by the way, that most article publishers disallow any self-promotion in the body of your article, so make very good use of the Resource Box, it is the only chance you have got.

Many people don’t feel too confident about writing articles, which is understandable, but you can fairly easily find article writers who will pen original, never before published articles for you, at pretty low prices (eg typically you can get a single 500 word article for just $10). And guess what? You've just found one! Email me with your requirements and I'll be happy to write something exclusively for you. I have quite a number of articles out there on e-zine sites, and elsewhere in cyberspace because of readers at these e-zines who have copied my article for their own use (allowed).

I would certainly advocate trying to get some sort of SEO textbook, and I know just the thing for you! Email me at, with SEO e-Book in the subject line, and I will send you a free copy of Brad Callen's excellent SEO e-Book. He gave it to me for free, and encouraged all his friends to send on to others for free too.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this, and I wish you all the very best with your online business, post Search Engine Optimization.

Michael is a British citizen, but long term resident of Asia (Hong Kong and now Malaysia).
After 25 years with a global banking leader, he began to head up his own Management consulting company, and today this successful business has branched out to include database/direct marketing aswell as Internet and Affiliate Marketing. Michael may be contacted through his web site or directly via email