How to Build a Rock Solid Internet Business

This guest post was provided by Michael Wittmeyer, a longtime Internet marketer and co-founder of www.jmbullion.com.

With over five years in the online gambling affiliate space, I know all too well the risks of running a business that relies heavily on third parties. After going through several Google penalties, having affiliate programs cut my rates or go out of business entirely, and constantly worrying about the USA cracking down on the industry itself, I decided enough was enough.

My main focus moving forward is to build a business that is as independent as possible, so that I can worry less about what others are doing and worry more about what I’m doing.

This article is going to discuss some of the main areas of dependence in the Internet marketing world, and explain how you can reduce this reliance to become as independent and rock solid as possible.

Relying Too Much on One Traffic Stream

One of the most common dependences in the Internet marketing world is having a business or offer that relies entirely on one traffic stream. Some examples of this includes an affiliate who runs PPC on only one network (Facebook, Adwords, etc), an Internet retailer who receives all of their traffic from one specific media buy, or a content provider who receives all of their traffic from one search engine.

Although running a profitable business with only one traffic stream to maintain seems very simple and desirable, it really isn’t. One traffic stream can be wiped out overnight, leaving your business in shambles. If you don’t believe me, look at the following examples that I’ve personally witnessed:

Example #1

In the early 2000s, gambling affiliates were raking in boatloads of money by running PPC ads (on Google) that were simple affiliate links leading directly to online poker websites or online casino websites. Affiliates with literally zero experience in the online poker world or even the Internet marketing world were making unbelievable amounts of cash, as all they had to do was run ads for the poker website’s name (think “Party Poker” for a key phrase), type a simple ad title and description, and put their affiliate link in as the destination URL. A $0.25 or less click would often result in a $200+ CPA.

Then, Google decided to change their policy so that PPC ads had to link to a landing page as opposed to directly to the affiliate’s tracking link. Any PPC affiliates that lacked experience in HTML or web design were instantly wiped out, as they lacked the ability to create a website to which they could send their PPC traffic.

Later, buckling to pressure from the USA government, Google decided to shut down Adwords for gambling terms entirely. Affiliates who never bothered to learn SEO or other ways to drive traffic were out of business overnight.

Example #2

A few years ago during the “acai berry” rush, affiliates who were ranking near the top of Google for terms like “buy acai berries” or “acai berry supplements” were doing extremely well by driving their traffic through affiliate links to retailers who actually sold the product.

Since these were such competitive search terms, affiliates would have to put up lots of cash and work long hours to get their websites ranking near the top. The rewards were certainly worth it, as you could make $XX,XXX/month once you reached the top for the better search terms.

However, Google kept a close eye on this market, and several of the more aggressive affiliates ended up receiving harsh Google penalties shortly after reaching the top, thus moving their websites way down in the rankings and cutting off their revenue stream.

Hypothetical Example #3

I haven’t done too many media buys throughout my career, but that is another situation where Internet marketers can get too reliant on a single traffic source. For example, imagine you were running a retail website and purchased advertising on a high-traffic website with visitors who perfectly fit your target demographic. Imagine that this media buy worked out extremely well, and ended up driving tons of traffic and sales to your retail website.

Many Internet marketers would become complacent in this situation and fail to seek out new traffic sources, as they have a proven stream of traffic with a relatively fixed month-to-month cost. However, what if any of the following happens?

- The advertiser realizes how important they are to you, and decides to raise their rates considerably, knowing that you have no choice but to pay them whatever they wish.
- The advertiser receives a Google penalty or loses a key stream of traffic, thus sending significantly less traffic and sales to your website.
- The advertiser’s traffic base is largely composed of repeat visitors, thus reducing your click-throughs each month as more and more of their visitors have already been exposed to your advertisement.

As all of the above examples prove, one traffic stream (no matter how profitable or seemingly “safe”) can be wiped out extremely quickly. As a result, any Internet marketer who relies too much on any given traffic stream is overly dependent on a third party.

How to Become Independent:

Ensure you never rely on any one traffic stream for 50%+ of your business. If you do, immediately focus more of your efforts on building new traffic streams. Even if you have relatively diverse sources of traffic, always seek out new traffic streams both to increase your revenue as well as to protect yourself from the loss of any one traffic stream.

Relying on Organic Search

Although I already touched on this a little bit, I wanted to talk more about Internet businesses that rely entirely on Google, Yahoo, or Bing organic search traffic. Having an organic, free, and targeted traffic stream is about as good as it gets, but unfortunately, relying entirely on organic search does have its concerns – namely penalties, injections, masked keyword info, and ever-changing algorithms.

Penalties

Between algorithmic filters and manual penalties, you always run the risk of losing a sizable portion of your organic search traffic overnight, even if your site follows the search engine’s guidelines to a T. This isn’t a common occurrence, but I have personally had three or four (very good) sites that were hit by filters, which cost me a lot of money, as I didn’t have any other traffic streams in place.

Search Injections

Even if you do sidestep penalties and maintain your rankings, most organic rankings are becoming less and less valuable as Google pushes their own agenda with bigger (and more) PPC ads, comparison ads, local injections, news injections, video injections, image injections, and social injections.

I have personally seen several search queries where the first organic listing was actually below the fold, as it was pushed down by expanded PPC ads and a Google comparison ad. I expect this to only get worse as Google adds more and more features and continues to meddle with their search results.

Masked Keyword Info

Another detriment to running a strictly SEO-focused business is that Google no longer allows you to see the search keywords that many visitors used to find your website. When you are reviewing your analytics, analyzing visitors who searched “Not Provided” doesn’t really tell you much about where to focus or reduce your efforts.

Changing Algorithms

Even if your site is doing great today, who knows what the next Panda update or other major algorithmic update might bring? You could go from hero to zero overnight, and if you don’t have any other traffic streams in place, you are in a lot of trouble.

How to Become Independent:

Make SEO a piece of your marketing strategy, not the entire strategy.
Include PPC, which is more stable and provides more keyword information.
Focus on user experience first, and SEO second. This will improve your on-site metrics, increase your repeat visitors, and increase your natural mentions, all of which will lead to better search rankings as well.

Relying on Partners

As an affiliate or online retailer, you are almost always relying on several partners to keep your business running smoothly and profitably.

Examples of an affiliate’s necessary partners might be: your affiliate programs, your ad networks, and your link partners.

Examples of a retailer’s necessary partners might be: your affiliates, your wholesalers, your payment gateway, and your merchant account provider.

The risk of relying too heavily on any single partner is that they could go out of business, change their terms and conditions, decide not to work with you anymore, etc. A perfect example of this is as follows:

I was a partner in a precious metals affiliate website, and we were doing well promoting APMEX.com through their very favorable affiliate program. There weren’t really any other viable precious metals affiliate programs at the time, but we weren’t concerned with this as we were making good money with APMEX.

We decided to buy a few more expensive precious metals domains to build out and expand our traffic base. Shortly after we had put a lot of time and money into these new affiliate sites, APMEX abruptly shut down their affiliate program for reasons we never really understood.

We scrambled for a bit to find a new retailer we could work with, but there were very few options, and none of them came close to converting like APMEX. Had we not decided to start our own precious metals retail site, we would have been totally out of luck.

How to Become Independent:

As an affiliate, make sure your traffic stream is general, as opposed to partner-specific (think ranking for “bonus code” or “promotional code” terms), and work with several partners to ensure that if one stream of revenue disappears, you’re still ok.
Consider starting your own retail site to avoid relying on affiliate programs.
As a retailer, make sure you have backup plans in place in case your payment processor changes their terms or closes your account. Also, don’t rely too heavily on any one affiliate or search term, as it could go away quickly.

Relying on New Customers

Affiliates that earn all of their revenue from one-time CPA payments, or businesses that earn all of their revenue from purchases by new customers, both run the risk of losing their traffic/new customer stream and thus, losing a huge chunk of their forward revenue.

How to Become Independent:

Focus on visitor/customer retention – capture visitor names/emails by offering a “freebie” or giveaway, send automated “reminders” to customers who haven’t visited your site or made a purchase in XX days, push your RSS subscription, offer coupons to existing customers, keep newsletter subscribers updated on the happenings at your website, etc.
Utilize ad retargeting to pull back customers or visitors who have been to your site before. This makes your new customer marketing go much further at minimal expense.
For affiliates, consider negotiating for a recurring % of revenue instead of a one-off CPA payment. This ensures that even if you lose your traffic stream, you will still be paid for your old referrals’ new purchases.
For retailers, consider adding a membership sort of service or product that produces recurring revenue every month or year. This ensures that even if you lose your traffic stream, you will still have forward revenue.

I hope I’ve convinced you by now that dependency on any specific partner, traffic stream, or revenue stream is less than ideal for an Internet business. If you felt any pangs of worry as you read this article, focus more of your efforts this year on spreading your dependencies to ensure your business can survive losing any individual traffic source, partner, or revenue stream.

Understanding Twitter (For Personal Use)

Like many people, I originally signed up for a Twitter account back in 2009 when everyone started to say it was going to be the next big thing. Like many of these people I also used my account a few times, didn’t really “get it” and basically gave up on it. About a year ago I noticed that it was still sticking around and figured I must have missed something. For the longest time I really didn’t “get it” so I decided to spend a large amount of time understanding Twitter better to see where the value really lied in the service. I am very glad I did as it has become a huge part of my life, allowed me to meet many awesome people, attend really great events, and get lots of free stuff plus much more. If you are one of those people that don’t get it either, hopefully my experiences will help you “get Twitter” as well.

I Have Facebook, Why Do I Need Twitter

The first big question many people (including myself) have when looking at Twitter is why do I want to use a service that restricts you to 140 characters when you can use Facebook that allows much more? This was one of the things I struggled with the most about Twitter and to really answer this question I need to explain how I view both Twitter and Facebook differently. For me, Facebook is a much more private social network that allows you to keep in touch with people you know and people you don’t mind having access to things like personal pictures, life events and more. Twitter on the other hand is something I use more to connect with people that I don’t necessarily know but share similar interests with without giving them too much access to my personal information.

What is Twitter Good For?

When I started using Twitter I used it primarily to follow what was going on with one of my favourite sports teams, Toronto FC. I could follow soccer reporters that focussed on the team, other Toronto FC fans, players and even the team itself to keep up to date with what was going on at the club. Finding out who these people are is relatively easy because whenever there is a Toronto FC game on, these people are the most actively talking about the team using hashtags like #TFC & #TorontoFC. Since this probably has you thinking, what is a “hashtag”, it is essentially any word with a “#” symbol in front of it used to group together tweets about a particular subject making them easy to find. They are clickable so when you see one you can find all the other people talking about the same thing. You can also search them in the search box and then follow the people who you find to be informative about the subject that interests you. With Facebook it would be next to impossible to find all of these individuals and likely the only way to follow along would be by liking the team’s page or joining a Facebook group (which are often inactive anyway). When people are tweeting about a subject it is typically LIVE as the event is happening and the information is available at your fingertips instantaneously. Other than sports teams many people like to follow along for information about their favourite TV shows, movies, actors/actresses, people with similar interests, people in your area, news and industry specific information (ie. SEO, Social Media, PR, etc.).

What To Do Now That You Are Following People

Now that you have found the people you want to follow its time to strike up a conversation. Since you have similar interests if you have questions about something you can message anyone you want on Twitter to either say thanks for sharing their content, ask questions or anything else you want and a lot of the time people will answer (unless of course it is some celebrity with millions of followers). This is one of the best things about Twitter as you can easily connect with people anywhere in the world and unless they are blocking you or have a private profile (very few do) they will get your message by just typing with a “@” symbol before there username in a message to them.

How To Get Followers

Now that I’ve covered basics of following people and talking to them, it’s time to get some followers of your own. The best way to do this is to share information. Ideally you will get more followers if you are an expert about something in particular or have a blog that you link to your Twitter account. If you don’t want to go this route just share information about topics that interest you and other people with common interests might follow along to see what you have to say. For example, I love food so I follow many foodies and restaurants and post pictures from places I am eating to let other people know how they are. The higher the quality of the information that you share is, the more likely you will be to attract new followers. Once you build up a good following you will be able to do a lot more and even ask questions and get answers from your following.

Taking Your Twitter Relationships Offline

The next step, if you are comfortable of course, would be to take some of these online relationships that you have made offline. Many of the active users in the Twitter community meet up on a regular basis. Some events are organized by Twitter users themselves (typically called Tweetups which can be found on sites like Twtvite.com just search your city for events that interest you) while others are organized by businesses. Attending these events is a great way to get more followers and meet new people that have similar interests as you. Also occasionally companies or organizations organize events for their Twitter followers as well which you can attend. For example, I am heading to an event shortly for Toronto FC being held at a sports bar in Toronto where there are tons of free giveaways for their Twitter followers and everyone is getting together to watch one of their games. I have attended around 10 or so different events and have met many awesome people doing so.

Tweetup Example

Example of a Tweetup Search Result

I Want FREE Stuff

If you have done all of the above you should be pretty comfortable at using Twitter by this point, but there are many other great things to be found. Many companies do giveaways on Twitter and quite often they are pretty easy to win. Some of the things I have won include restaurant gift cards, tickets to a premier movie screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, a tequila prize pack worth around $250, VIP tickets to sporting events, free items at restaurants and much more. I even joined a softball team that I found through Twitter after trying to get more active and made some great friends in the process. I also use Twitter quite a lot to find out what is going on in my city and find many events that I would never have found if I just stuck to hanging around on Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have my Facebook account which I use to keep in contact with close friends and post pictures, and it is great for that, but Twitter is a much better tool to meet new people that share common interests, network with people in your industry and keep up to date on things and places that interest you. I will eventually try to write an article on using Twitter as a business (ie. as a gambling affiliate, or small business owner) but this will take much more investigation to put together.

If this article does encourage you to sign-up be sure to create a profile listing your interests and ensure you add an image of yourself. Otherwise people might think you are a spammer. Also check out this Newbies Guide to Twitter before getting started:.

Follow me on Twitter @beachrockinc, tell me that you read this article and I will be your first follower if you are new to Twitter. Also don’t be afraid to ask me any questions about my experiences on Twitter. Have fun!

One Easy Way to Diversify

After Black Friday, almost everyone in our industry is getting more serious about diversifying and getting some eggs out of the online gambling basket. One hiccup that gambling affiliates have had with diversifying is finding an idea that is not only interesting, but profitable. This post is going to give you one easy way to find new, profitable niches outside of gambling.

Flippa.com

Flippa.com is one of the most popular marketplaces for buying and selling premium domains as well as existing, profitable websites. One of my favorite ways to find new website ideas is to check out Flippa.com once a week and see what is up for sale.

When I arrive at Flippa, I like to look at High End Websites (this is a preset search that shows websites priced at $5,000+) that have a profit of at least $500 per month. This weeds out all of the ridiculous domain auctions that are listed at a high price but have no profit or potential.

From here, I will take a look at the ongoing auctions as well as the recently ended auctions. Whenever I see something that catches my eye, I open up the auction in a new tab to review it later. When I am searching through the auctions, I am usually looking for affiliate-type businesses that have at least $500/month in revenues (so I know the market actually has some financial potential).

Once you have a few promising auctions opened up in new tabs, start looking through them to see what you’ve got. A quick way to whittle down the auctions are to close any auctions that are for websites that require a live presence, inventory, credit card processing, shipping, customer support, etc (unless you actually are interested in/capable of handling those tasks).

Once I find something that seems promising, rarely do I actually buy the website that is listed for auction. If I can get a good price on it, I will go ahead and buy it, but oftentimes I would rather seek out a good domain to go after a larger segment of the specific market.

For example, if I found an auction for an affiliate site selling candles that ranked in the top ten for “large scented candle” and was making $500 a month, I would try to find a good domain to purchase, such as scentedcandles.com. Then, I would start my own affiliate website on the exact match domain with a much higher ceiling than the smaller, non-exact match website.

The Flippa auctions often include the dropshipper’s or affiliate network’s contact information, so you don’t have to look too far for someone to work with. Also, the

Google Analytics are often right there for you to look at and gauge the market potential.

Sometimes you may determine that it makes more sense to buy the existing website and improve it than to start fresh, but oftentimes you are going to want to go after a larger segment of the market than the site for sale originally did.

A lot of the stuff on Flippa is not going to be relevant, but if you keep monitoring it for a couple weeks you may just find a great new niche with available exact match domains.

This article was provided by Michael Wittmeyer of BusinessCards.org, a business card print shop.

London Affiliate Conference 2011 (Part 1)

2008 was the last time I had a chance to make it out to the London Affiliate Conference where I had a lot of fun, so I decided it was time to head back, even though the idea of being in London in January didn’t appeal to me that much. Regardless, I had always wanted to go back to the iGB Awards, so decided to make the trip this year to catch up with some old friends and meet some new people.

Wednesday

I flew out on Tuesday night and arrived in London at 9am Wednesday morning. Since my hotel would not be ready for several hours I decided to head over to the main hotel (as I stayed at the Shaftesbury Notting Hill Hotel the first night, which probably had the world’s smallest hotel room) to meet up with Nick (from Casino Coins) and his girlfriend Jenna for lunch. Upon arrival to the hotel there were many familiar faces in the lobby. I ran into Riyaz from Bodog Affiliates, Mike Wittmeyer and Roger (2 PAL members) and we hung out for a bit, and grabbed Nick from upstairs. After lunch we Nick, Jenna and I decided to head over to ICE (another big more land based focussed casino conference) that was going on just before the LAC event. It was pretty cool to see some the “future of games” in land based casinos. I saw some of the coolest slot machines that I have ever seen, with a lot more focus on electronic chip management for table games. Still running on no sleep from the morning before, I had to head out as I had dinner plans with Odette from PKR. Odette took me on a tour of the offices at PKR which have apparently been expanding like crazy over the past few years. It was pretty cool to see what happens behind the scenes at an online gaming company. After the tour, we headed for dinner at Shaka Zulu, which was a really cool South African restaurant at the same venue as where the Fire and Ice party was being held that night. We tried some Biltong (a South African cured meat), had some curried shrimp, fish as the main course and of course some delicious cocktails. Odette ordered an Ostrich dish which she let me try, which was also really delicious! After dinner we headed upstairs to the Fire and Ice party where PKR had a table right in the best location of the club. The rest of the evening involved lots of champagne, vodka, and all sorts of mystery shots plus some excellent entertainment involving many painted naked ladies, midgets, performers and much more. All in all, it was a great night and I got to party with many other affiliates and affiliate managers (too many to list everyone). One nice parts of the night was I managed to work out some differences with Nick K., an affiliate who I had some issues with in the past but I think he might have finally started to see my side to the problem from the past ;)

Here is a picture of our table with some other affiliates (borrowed from Odette’s pics):


Thursday

After getting home late from the night before I managed to get a few hours sleep before getting told that I needed to check out by the Shaftesbury hotel, so I headed over to the Grange St. Pauls, and checked into my room there. I had always wanted to stay at the main conference hotel, as there is where most people usually congregate but in the past I typically booked my hotel last minute and it was always sold out, fortunately I did this time, as this hotel was quite amazing! The rooms were really nicely done and had tons of space (even though I hardly spent any time in there). Most of Thursday during the day was spent hanging out in the hotel Lobby with Nick and Jenna. I met lots of different people (affiliates and affiliate managers) and had a couple of beers to help overcome the hangover from the night before.

Thursday evening I was invited to the iGB Affiliate Awards with Martyn from Affiliate Edge (formerly CWC Affiliates). Martyn is highly regarded as one of the best AM’s in the industry, so this was an excellent opportunity to hang out with his team and meet some new casino affiliates since I am trying to learn more about the casino side of the industry. Affiliate Edge had 2 tables and I got to have dinner with several casino affiliates that I had seen on the forums such as CasinoMeister, Simmo (Ian), Christine (Streak Gaming / Affiliate Guard Dog), as well as several others. After dinner I decided I was going to call it a night and ran into Tony (belgamo on the forums) and hitched a ride back to the hotel with him and his wife. Right as I entered the hotel lobby I ran into Troy from Bodog who was with Dana Workman (the new CalvinAyre.com reporter) and said they were heading to Chyna White to meet some affiliates and asked me to join, so I decided sleep could wait for a bit. At the club Nick and Andreas were partying with a few other affiliates and balling out of control on several massive bottles of vodka. I only had a couple of drinks though but it was still lots of fun and finally around 2:30 or 3 Troy, Dana and I decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel (our oringinal plan to only stay an hour quickly went out the window).

Here is a picture from the Awards (photo credit to the iGB Events Facebook Group):

Continued in Part 2

Top things I hate about drivers in Toronto

Well, I was originally going to do this as a facebook status update, but I was limited to something like 450 characters. Anyway, I don’t know what it is about Toronto but people suck at driving. I have travelled to lots of different places and I think we probably have some of the worst drivers in the world. After another fun night of driving (and bear in mind I was out for only about 20 minutes yet most of these things happened) I have compiled together a list of things I hate about drivers in Toronto:

- People who don’t signal – they put that thing in your car for a reason
- People who break for no apparent reason
- People driving slow or not letting other cars pass when they are in the fast lane
- People who can’t figure out what lane they are in and sway from one to another (even though their may be another car in the lane beside them
- People who block traffic in other lanes because they don’t know how to merge
- People who enter an intersection late to try and make a light only to block traffic in another direction
- People who rush off a light to get in front or just to block someone else from getting into their lane, but slow right down after
- People who can’t adjust their driving to the weather conditions

I could probably go on, but thats enough ranting for one day.

For those going to London for LAC see you next week! Drop me a line if you will be there.

Winter is Coming

So, its starting to get much colder out and lately I have been losing a lot of motivation to go out so I am trying to focus on getting a lot more work done.  I guess that is one of the nice things about winter, you can just hibernate and work on things you have been putting off forever.

Work wise things have been pretty slow so there isn’t much to report on.  I bought a couple of smaller sites that I am hoping to fix up and make more profitable, I guess time will tell.  The men’s magazine type site that I have been working on for a while now is finally coming along and is almost ready for me to keep adding content to on a more regular basis.

I have spent the last few months in chef school (night courses) which has been a lot of fun.  I have improved my chef skills quite a bit and am hoping I can use the knowledge I have learned to eventually open some kind of food related business offline.  I love cooking, and good food so it is something I have always wanted to do.

I am probably planning to attend the London affiliate conference in January.  Anyone else planning to go?  I’ve missed the London one for a few years now as I haven’t had much desire to go to London in January (would be nice if they did this in the summer), but everyone who goes always seems to say its a great event and it would be nice to go to the iGaming Awards again.

Anyway, that is all for now… wanted to update this blog as it has been a while since I made my last post.

Summer Is Almost Over… That’s Probably A Good Thing

Every now and then I click the link I have to my blog and keep thinking I gotta update this thing, so I figured tonight that I would write about what I have been up to lately.

Right now it feels like summer is drawing to a close. It is getting cooler at night, kids are heading back to school and the non-stop patio nights have drastically reduced. I think this summer has probably been one of my laziest ones yet. I keep pushing projects back, find it hard to get work done, and am spending far too much time going out. Fortunately as it gets cooler this means that I will be able to turn my focus back to work and start working on getting some sites up and running. It’s tough sometimes to keep yourself motivated when the weather is nice and you have sites generating you enough income to get by on (even though you know that well could eventually dry up).

Earlier in the Summer I decided to go visit a friend out in Nova Scotia for a week extremely last minute. Basically we were chatting on facebook on Thursday night and I jokingly said I wish I could come out there and before you knew it I was booking my flight about an hour after and leaving the very next morning. This was a really chilled out trip which involved a lot of drinking when we were in Antigonish staying with his cousin, and laid back reading time when out where his dad lived (out in the middle of nowhere). His dad had a Celtic monk staying with him and we spent a lot of time chatting on the porch to pass the time.

A few weeks ago I made it out to the CBG Affiliate Weekend. This is a great smaller event targeted more at the North American affiliates (even though a lot come over from all over the world). The event is put on by Judy, Dean and the rest of the crew from CasinoBonusGuy.com. Like last year, this event was a ton of fun and definitely one of my favorite events to attend (as I don’t have to get on a plane for 9+ hours to get there). They brought in some great speakers (I caught a bit of the SEO session), hosted some great dinners and of course you can’t go wrong with an open bar. I caught up with some old friends as well as met a few new people so all in all it was a great time. The weekend included the typical conference debauchery of strip clubs, gambling, excessive drinking, and partying till all hours of the night.

The week after the CBG weekend, I headed down to the Bahamas on a cruise with my friend John for a few days to relax, though it turned into more partying. The theme song of the cruise was David Guetta’s “Getting Over You”, which constantly repeats “we gonna party, and party and party… etc” so I knew it was going to be a long week. During the days we would get off the boat and explore wherever we were. Day 1 was Freeport where we went swimming, lied on the beach and I hopped on a jet ski for a bit. Day 2 was Nassau where John and I lived like we were kids again and hit their outrageously priced water slides ($110/day) at Atlantis. It was well worth it though as the slides were a ton of fun and the coolest was the one where you slide through a pool filled with sharks. Fortunately after returning from the slides John hit his first pull on a slot machine and covered the cost of the slides – thank you sir! Day 3 we went to Great Stirrup Cay, which was a beach owned by the cruise line and just laid in the sun drinking some tropical drinks and went swimming. On board the boat we typically went for dinner at one of the restaurants and like some kind of weird ritual would head down to the casino with our wine glasses and whatever wine was left in the bottle from dinner. This usually resulted in about a 4-5 hour session after which we would head to the bar or club. By the end of the first day I think pretty much everyone in the casino knew John and I by names and we had a drink guy that would check on us every 5 minutes or so. It was pretty fun! This was definitely one of my favorite trips I have been on and can’t wait to do it again sometime. Shout out to Norwegian Cruise Lines for doing an awesome job!

So that’s about all I can think of for now and I promise I will try to make a better blog post next time!

Life Update

It’s been a while since I posted here so I figured I would give a bit of an update on what’s going on in my life.

About a month ago I sold off a large majority of my poker websites.  I kept a handful to keep me with a bit of an income stream, but for the most part I am pretty much out of the poker game.  The main reason I did this is because I was getting fed up with the constant stories of affiliate programs changing their terms and screwing over their affiliates plus I really wanted to try and start expanding into other industries.

At the time I was selling everything I was working on a project to build a casino site about the best casinos online.  Since I already started with that project I figure I will continue building the site (which is almost done) then start focusing more on my plans to do things in other industries.  I am really happy with this site so far, and think the design is incredible (thanks Will!).

Recently I made it out to Prague for the iGaming Super Show which was a lot of fun.  There I caught up with some old friends and got to meet some people that I had spoken to many times online but never met such as Roger (congrats on finally making it out to an event ;)).  The highlight of the trip was definitely the CalvinAyre.com party which consisted of an old sewage plant that was still active, many midgets, beautiful women, all sorts of Mad Max characters, overhead jousting, a drum band, unlimited booze, pyrotechnics and much more!  Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera, but you can see a bunch of the pictures from that party here.

While over there I also managed to get down to Vienna for a couple of days, which was a very beautiful city (I added a pic of Belvedere Palace which is now a Museum to this post).

Once I finish up with the casino site my next plan is to build a kind of Men’s Online Magazine which will be sort of a cross between Askmen.com and Forbes.com.  I really don’t know how it will do but it is more something I want to do for fun and think that it could have great potential.  Also I am kinda new to other types of online marketing so it will be a bit of a learning experience.

Anyway, that is all for now, and I will try and get some more interesting posts up soon.

Real Estate Negotiations vs. Website Purchase Negotiations

After spending the last 2 or so years trying to buy a condo which I finally found a couple months ago I learned a lot about the negotiation process (after many failed offers).  Here are a couple things that I think could be used to negotiating the purchase of a website or domain (if you aren’t already using them).

Time Sensitive Offers (BUYING) – One of the things that I picked up that I thought could be applied to the affiliate industry is the use of time sensitive offers. Basically what I mean by this is putting in an offer, but telling the person your offer expires in X # of hours. This way you put the pressure back on the seller to either accept your offer (if it is the highest at the time there is a good possibility this will happen) and risk losing it, or holding out for a better one. Typically if you come in around the amount they are looking to get, but a bit lower usually you will get the site you want and save some money doing it. I find that far too many people on PAL and other forums have the worst approaches to both buying and selling their sites. People post offers in a thread (which is now visible to any other potential buyers) and give the seller an endless amount of time to make a decision. For me personally if I am going to commit to a purchase I want to know if I have it almost immediately, which is why I like using this approach.

Offer Conditions (BUYING) – Another thing that could work with purchasing websites (like they do in Real Estate) is putting restrictions or conditions on your offer. Almost every real estate deal will have some kind of condition on the offer, so why not do the same with virtual real estate (or domains). This way you can come in with a good offer and ask the seller to take the site off the market if he accepts, but also give yourself some time to do some due diligence on the property you are buying to make sure there is nothing funny about it.

Holding Back Offers (SELLING) – One common tactic used in the real estate market is to hold back offers. Basically this means you set a sell date, and allow everyone to present their best offer anonymously. This can create bidding wars back and forth as the seller will then usually try to work with the top 2 offers on price. Sure, its annoying as hell from a buyers standpoint and it might discourage some, but this could also lead you to making a lot more on the sale of your property than you had planned.

Anyway, I am sure there are some other things and I didn’t really plan to write this post so most of this is off the top of my head.

Life Update… Well I have spent the last month or so getting settled into the new condo. It has been a ton of work, but its pretty close to done now. Just need a couple more small things. Other than that I have been trying to get some other projects going that I have been working on for a long time. One is a men’s magazine kind of site that is a cross between Forbes and AskMen.com. Another one is a Casino Site that I will post more about once it is complete. Then I have a few more sites that I will be developing further down the road which include a real estate site, a local furniture store site and a site about local restaurants. I am really just trying to dabble in a bunch of different industries to see what works and what doesn’t. I also hired a writer that is helping me get many of these sites ready.

Here are a couple of pics of the condo that I think I promised in the last post:

The View:

My Workcenter / Dining Room

Guest Bathroom:

View of most of the place (there is a new sofa now and the dining table is now white glass):

Kitchen:

Affiliate Tip: I don’t think I have ever really posted many good tips on how to make money for a while so, here is an easy one. Scour around for domains that have some good keywords in them (I know all the really good ones are gone, but if you look for ones with lower search volumes or find dropped ones its possible – preferably generic with things like “online” “poker” “review” “code” “bonus”, etc. in them). If you have to spend $50-$100 to get a pretty decent domain. Then get someone to build you a decent template that you can reuse for several sites (this will be the most expensive part but it is a one time cost and the more you spend the more you will get in return). You should be able to get something decent for around $400.  Write around 25 pages of good content (the more the better) and add it to the site.  You should instantly be able to flip that site for around $2000 or more depending how much content is there on your $500 investment.

Bought a Condo!

After looking for the past 2 years (pretty much) for a place to live I finally found a pretty nice condo that will do the job. It is right downtown in Toronto and for a downtown condo has a decent amount of space. The building it is in is pretty sick and has all sorts of cool ammenities including a pool, bbq area, gym, rock climbing wall, spin class / yoga studio, movie theather, business center and many more! I move in in just 3 weeks so will probably be scrambling to get a lot of things ready for the move.

Work has been getting pretty busy lately too. I am trying to develop a lot of the domains I have just sitting around with nothing on them. The biggest one that I am building is a casino site, which I will post more about when its closer to completion (just in case any of you readers have similar domains that you are building on ;))

Other than that, not a lot else going on in my life. Will try and write some better posts on this blog soon.