Plan Review

2012 Goals – Introduction

As I mentioned in passing in my last post 2011 – wasn’t the most exciting year of my life

Personal Goals 

Gonna hit big 50 this year, which is cool because it means we can dance in the next age grade in Dancesport ie instead of competing against 35 year olds, we are the youngest couple again (well I am, partner’s 10 years older!).  HOWEVER, we want to compete in Latin again, so I need to look good wearing this: 

Dancing Latin, Australian Nationals, 2005

Let’s face it, I probably won’t be going back to looking like this: 

Jan 1988, when I was 25, and on a diet!

 – but it’s got to better than this!: 

Ugly photo! December 2011 - though they did send me a medium when I asked for an XL!

As of today I’m 108kg, in the 1988 photo I was probably about 70kg (and yes over-weight according to the  wisdom of the day – trying to get to 65kg from memory). Now apparently 75kg is OK weight for my height (180cm) – you see why I have a problem with the weight loss industry!

Frankly if I got down to 90kg that would be a) record-breaking low for the last 20 odd years for me, and b) still “obese” by the stupid “one size fits all charts” , and frankly – I’d look pretty hot in my latin dress (skinny girls got nothing to shake!).  

So goal is to get fit and trimmer by the time we hit the big 50 – April 2012. Oh and to be able to dance 5 dances @ 1.5 minutes/dance without dying. The 90kg  goal would probably take all year. 

Income Goals

I have had a consistent goal of US$5000/month for years, I just sometimes wonder why every time I take one step forward, two go backwards! 

Luckily though I do keep consistent income records – I know how dire doing a tax return is otherwise! I wrote about my simple spreadsheet approach back in January – and its remarkably flexible – as I add or delete new income streams I add, or hid rows as I need to.  

My income hasn’t been so consistent – in January I hit over US$4200, including $2600 in advertising income (the stuff I laughably call passive). That figure was the record for the year, though in November I did at least, finally best the advertising income, coming in at $2700. 

What happened? Panda? No, not really, I still haven’t had a single website Pandalized, most of income issues stream from three issues: 

  • Dropping a client who started having onerous requirements, in response to Panda;
  • Hubpages – reaction to Panda; 
  • Keyword Academy’s slow decline with long-term members. 

The client had already squeezed the price so I’d gone from clearing $1500 a month to $1000, for more work. Their new set of requirements would have seen at least a doubling of my time required. It wasn’t worth it, so I fired them in August.

Hubpages: I’ve written previously about the HubPages trainwreck – that was July, by November they’d announced that as of 1 January we wouldn’t be able to use your own Amazon ID on HubPages and my secondary, mainly Amazon account, had been pandalized (finally in October). Could I have got it back – probably? Did I try, no.  Now  the ONLY program I have the option of direct payment with is Adsense: eBay and Amazon are both via their obscure “HPAds” program. Why is this a bad idea? 

  • they get access to all my sales data; 
  • they pay by Paypal which has a very bad exchange rate, and has its own issues; 
  • I drop at least a tier of my Amazon sales percentage because of the loss of the HubPage’s Amazon sales.  

Do I have a plan? Hell yes – but I can’t write about it here – sign up for the newsletter below – if you haven’t already – all will be revealed. 

The Keyword Academy: From an affiliate point of view its not been good – my best month was March, but my commissions have been is slow decline since then. Why? Because people who have been members for years have quit, and although I still get new sign-ups they haven’t compensated for the losses. Why? I think two reasons:

  1. Panda has worked very well for Google’s actual intention – which was to scare the crap out of would-be Internet Marketers.  There has been massive change, and there have been casualties. 
  2. TKA has moved away from the “recipe approach” of do this, do this, wait this long, this will happen, to a much more robust method of actually training people how to build a business online. That’s scary for many people, and although TKA was never a quick fix – its now an even more scary proposition of work and effort, and engagement, which send some people running for the hills.   

Income Goals 2012. 

Well having just read The 10X Rule I had to cross out my $5000/month income goal- and ended up with a $50,000/month income goal!  OK let’s revise that a bit – what I am able to make (on a good month) is $2500/month – so lets aim for $25,000/month! 

Gulp! – I guess that’s what’s called massive action!? And that in essence is what I need to do. After watching other people succeed at making more money than I do. I’ve figured it out.  My problem isn’t the writing, or the keyword research, hell I seem even to be able to sell the odd item. 

My issue is that I’m a dilettante – I’m an amateur, I’m doing the right thing, but not enough, I still keep on chasing after shiny stuff. I’m over it. I feel great when I focus and actually achieve something. So that’s what I’m going to be doing! 

2012 is gonna rock! 

And its all gonna start here – because I have finally decided that if I’m getting serious about this business, this girl needs a business plan!  So keep an eye out – because if any of you are struggling with the same stuff as I am – you probably need one too (and you can steal mine for free!) . 

Plan Review

2011 Review Looking Back

Hmm, looks like although I’ve used Chris Guillebeau’s approach to planning before, I’ve not actually blogged about it!  I don’t have a lot of time for most “self improvement” blogs, and I first noted Chris’s site because he has, what I still think is, a stupid idea of visiting every country in the world. Really, I love to travel, but there are number of countries that I’ve never wanted to visit, so why spend money going there?  Anyway I like his writing and his goal setting is quite unusual. This is part 1 – looking back, check back in a few days for when I’ve actually figured out my New Year’s goals! 

Anyway – this is the easy part of the process: looking back:  Pretty much I’m looking at health, travel, business,  in that order, because that’s probably what matters. 

looking back
East Harbour Regional Park, near Wellington, New Zealand


 What Went Well in 2011 

  1. Frankly I was kinda worried about reaching that “certain age” that women get to.  I had heard so many bad things about menopause. Well I’ve reached it, and what happened? For the first time since I was 20 I’m not popping a daily pill, had the odd weird dream, woke up hot a couple of times. End of story. Really.  Sorry guys, but the girls need to know, it doesn’t have to be bad! 
  2. We started off the year enjoying the snow in Europe, and coming back via KL for a few days of heat.  Later, we had a great three week break in Phuket and Koh Samui, Thailand in August. The low-cost airline war has finally hotted up big time for New Zealand with heavy airfare discounting  to South-East Asia. 
  3. I bought a Kindle and discovered Indie Non Fiction.
  4. I published my first book: Vacation Packing List: Save Your Back, Time and Money. 
  5. I became a Z-List Blogger, complete with a Manifesto and decided to lose my insecurities and to  start chasing my winners as far as making money is concerned. 

What Did Not Go Well in 2011 

  1. My partner had on-going knee issues for the most of the year, which meant, for the first, time we had to pull out 1/2 way through a competition we’d entered in September.  The net result was predictable: my weight went up – by how much I don’t really want to know. I don’t have any other exercise that I really enjoy – so when we are not dancing the weight goes on! 
  2. I have seen more of South America than I have of New Zealand. We decided to go to Northland before Christmas, I’d never been there, and my partner taught there a long, long time ago. It started off OK, but then the rain set in. If it rains in most parts of the world, there are alternatives. With due regard to the NZ tourism industry- you don’t go to Northland for the museuems! We came home early. And about it being the tropical north ? No, its not, if you can’t swim without a wetsuit in December, its not tropical, its a marketing lie! 
  3. Hubpages – I think I’ve said enough on that topic! 
  4. Partly because of HubPages and partly because I lack focus and am the Queen of Procrastination, my advertising income has basically flat-lined this year.  As I fired my last freelance client in August – that means that I am currently sat looking at my lowest bank account balance for years! 

Overall its been a frustrating year – financially I’m looking at a hole in April unless I can up my income quickly to pay my taxes.  I have some hope with that as several of my Adsense niches are strongly seasonal, I think, as this is the first year I get to see the pattern! 

Looking forward? Well that’s my next post!  Haven’t figured out the details yet – but I’m reading, or re-reading these books which I’m finding helpful: 

Paid Tools Product Reviews Tools

All I Want for Christmas Are Long Tail Keywords – Keyword Researcher Review

Yeah Christmas or whatever you choose to celebrate or not in this happy/stressful/profitable time of the year!  I think its fair to say that 2011 has been a bit of an up and down year in terms of Internet Marketing, maybe I’m just bloody lucky, but really all the bad stuff that’s happened to me has been thanks to the TOS changes with HubPages plus nervous clients. 

Google has been, interesting, but the most interesting thing, and totally bloody irritating part, are their continuing moves to restrict access to their goldmine of data known as the Google keywords tool.

For a long time using the tool direct doesn’t give you real long tail keywords – you only get to about 3 or 4 words: a real long term is longer than that. Its very, very focussed, its not in Google’s best interest to reveal those because a) PPC advertisers would save a fortune only bidding on very specific terms and b) evil affiliate marketers would make way too much money. 

Google’s changes to their API TOS has meant than some previously good tools have gone away – and I am sure I’m not the only one who has found I miss my long-tail search tools 🙁  

But nature abhorrs a vacuum – well Internet Marketers do anyways – so when a tool is lost, and the whinging is loud-  something else pops up to fill its place! 

However because its Christmas – here are three two (third one coming in a day or so – the developer is just sorting out his landing page, and this is getting too long anyways) rather cool ways to work around Grumpy Google: 

Tony’s Keyword Researcher Review 

Easily get all the long-tails that Google provides through “auto-suggest” – really quick way to build out a site or an article.

This cool little tool is based on Google suggest – you know the annoying pop-up that you get when you start typing a query into Google. Its not the only tool that does this – ( is the common one) – but I like this tool a lot more: very, very easy to use, just watch the videos at Keyword Researcher and get on with it! I’ve been doing this for a while and Tony has some different wrinkles I’d not thought of… 

Google doesn’t say how many searchers need to be looking for a phrase before it pops up into auto-suggest, but we can all assume its probably more than a few. 

Now this tool won’t give you the competition figures, but it will give you a pretty long list of suggestions – and you can continue your investigations from there.  

Nice Features: 

  • easy and intuitive to use – doesn’t try to be overly fancy;
  • free download and trial (does everything the paid version does but only on the first 1/2 of the alphabet) 
  • one-time cost and cheap! 

Watch Out For: 

  • the tool is installed on your PC and its scrapping Google results – you’ll get banned (plus anyone else using the same IP) – its not big deal – the tool will point this out to you – wait 15 minutes – try again. 
  • this won’t give you competition or difficulty for your keyword phrase – doesn’t pretend to.  To get these you will need to put the terms through another tool: Google Adwords, Keyword Strategy, or Neale’s No Results Report (review coming this week) – would all work! 

Good For: 

Want some variation on your core keyword – for sub-headings? Want to build out a site? Looking for a few easy pages to rank on Wizzley?  

That evil, self-serving affiliate link again: Keyword Researcher – even if you don’t buy – check out the vids they are worth listening to! 

Tool number two for today (hell a girl’s gotta get her commissions up you know!) is 

Amazon Gold Mine Review 

Provides new lists each week of Amazon products based on their price/popularity/discount/top ratings and lots of reviews. In other words – the products you want to the affiliate for! Also provides a “bargain basement bin” for very cheap products – which I don’t use – but might even save you the fee if you are in the US! 

Lets be upfront – I’m not the world’s most successful Amazon affiliate, I’ve only recently started focussing on it, but I’ve sold enough random products over the years to be constantly amazed at what does actually sell on there (thank you whoever you are who decided to buy $300 worth of textbook and maths teaching guides, and the guy who bought not one, but two $500+ woodworking tools!) And no I am in neither of those niches! That’s the power of amazon-  get the customer to click through on your 99c e-book and suddenly they will remember they need to do thousands of dollars of Xmas shopping – all on your commission! 

Nice Features:

  • the last six week’s reports are available in the membership area – you don’t have to rush to download them. In fact maybe its all the reports since you became a member? Anyways I’m pretty sure on subscription you get the last 3! 
  • sorted by department – so its easy to find your niche. 

Watch Out For

  • to be up front – you can do this yourself – at least the basic query – by using some clever stuff in Google – for me – I can’t be arsed  the easy format and the tagging of which products are “NEW” on the list each week – is worth it for me! 
  • its a monthly subscription – not a huge amount of money – but yeah its money- a pain. Take a note of the sub date and remember to cancel in Paypal if you are not using it – or you have enough results for now. 
  • there’s an up-sell of some AMAZING affiliate system on the front page – I know nothing about it and don’t recommend it – all I know about Amazon I’ve learned from Dave from ZenDuck

Good For 

The criteria for product selection means that its easy for anyone to write a review – so I’m using the list to develop ideas for Wizzley for a new niche. Basically I can try a product related niche out – see if it ranks easily in Wizzley and build out a site later if it works out (and use Wizzley for the backlinks). 

Yeah and here’s that evil self-serving link again: Amazing Gold Mine – or take the criteria they use and develop your own queries! 


I’ve found a cool wrinkle on the hubpages fiasco – but I don’t want to shoot my foot here – I will be saying something to subscribers later this week – so sign up OK – that’s the honking bit form just below here – that one -the big one you can’t miss! 

Marketing Online Business Passive Income Tools

I See Video In My Future – And Its Very, Very Scary!

Let’s face it – I am scared of the camera – well one that takes moving pictures anyways! I don’t really have an issue with photos of me per se, particularly if they are stored on my computer so  I can delete at will. But video has always made me nervous. 

I’ve tried it a couple of times – and I dislike the sound of my own voice. A lot.  Talking the camera is also perilously close to talking to an audience which is alive. And that gives me stage fright. 

The Dog's Keen - Me Not So Much!

But the case for audio and video is becoming a bit overwhelming. For example. No prizes for figuring out that both this blog and Pat’s over at go after the same main keyword. There’s not much in it – at the moment he’s #2 and I’m #4 in the SERPs. But I’ve never been able to figure out one little thing – why the hell does he have so much more traffic than I do? According to SEMRush he doesn’t rank for another huge keyword in this niche – so WTF was going on? 

Now there are a dozen ways to game social media figures and subscription numbers, but Pat doesn’t do any of them – his subscription numbers are genuine, you can tell by the genuine conversations going on in his comments.  Those numbers are real, and impressive. 

Then finally I noticed Pat pointing out that- its his podcasts which bring he traffic from iTunes and videos which bring him traffic from all over including YouTube. 

At the same time I have Mark from SEOCobra bending my ear, that he doesn’t get why more people aren’t adding Youtube videos to their posts in the system. Mark has a tendency to call late at night, after I’ve had a gin or two, or early in the morning when I haven’t had enough tea (its a time zone thing) – but finally, today,  once the coffee kicked in, I went oh duh! 

Its because most of us are idiots and don’t haven’t made  youtube videos promoting our sites, or demonstrating the products we are flogging.

How stupid is that? 

And its across everything – non-fiction indie  writers do book trailers. 

Wizzley allows you to add videos so you can demonstrate what you are talking about. 

If you do it right – you can submit the audio to iTunes – in fact get yourself an iTunes channel – and the video goes on Youtube.  

Do You Do Podcasts / Video – What Tools Do You Use? 

I’ve used video once to sell something. I used Picasa to string a bunch of photos together to help sell our previous house. It was a lot quicker than learning how to edit video, and I was running out of time after days spent cleaning! It worked pretty well: 

I’ve played a little with Jing – which I quite like. I’m perfectly willing to procrastinate over the technology for a while – so what are you guys using – and please,  I’m not buying a Mac – it has to work on Windows!  

Have You Signed Up Yet? 

Did you sign up for the newsletter yet? If you don’t you’ll miss out on all the inside Z-Blogger tips! And how much money I did or did not make this month.  

If you keen to check out SEO Cobra when it re-opens – remember lists are awfully good place to make announcements! 

Article Marketing Back Links Free Tools Lis Recommmends

Wizzley Review: The Answer to the Hubpages Scam?

Are Lissie and her scams right? Well its hardly my fault that scam is a the word Google likes to give this blog authority on. Well OK maybe it is my fault! And so yes I can use it to my own benefit as in HubPages Scam, SEO Scribe Scam, Keyword Academy Scam, and of course the one that started it all SiteSell Scam

What is Wizzley?

Wizzley is a place to write articles and get paid via affiliate programs plus get backlinks to your sites. It has a nice set of tools which are drag drop to build your “wizzes” (yeah really that’s what an article is called, where I come from is what a little boy does when he stands up to go to the loo – but whatever!). You have to have at least 400 words, the usual topics (porn, guns, drugs) are banned as are some other rather commonly over-used topics including acne, credit card debt, forex and weight loss. 

What does Wizzley offer? 

  • revenue share starts at 50% – goes to 55% after 50 articles and 60% after 100 articles; 
  • revenue is from Adsense, Amazon, Zazzle and AllPosters – and you are paid direct by those advertisers – you know like hubpages used to be. You get paid for referrals too 10% of impressions from referral’s articles – paid from Wizzley’s share. 
  • instant indexing – I created a new user on Wizzley – added an article I’d been forced to remove from HubPages – and it was indexed within the hour! 
Stuff you should know: 
  • they have human editors, don’t submit crap – they will reject it.  
  • don’t submit duplicate content – they will reject it. 
  • minimum article length: 400 words. 
  • its a new site – it opened to the public about June 2011, therefore its not huge, and it doesn’t have the internal traffic hubpages has. 
  • you can control the urls (the default is the same as the page’s title), as the site is new, you can probably get your URL of choice. 

Wizzley Compared to HubPages

  • if you want to use the site for backlinks you have to have some advertising enabled, if you don’t want Adsense on the article, turn advertising off and then add an Amazon (or Zazzle, Allposters) module somewhere. They won’t accept articles solely for the purpose of backlinks
  • unlike HubPages you don’t have to run Adsense – turn off “advertising” on the right side of the edit page if you just want to use the other modules
  • unlike HubPages Wizzley has a nice little contents module
  • unlike HubPages there are quite a number of different ways to use the Amazon module – examples  here 
  • a brand new identity of mine on Wizzley had my first article indexed in Google inside an hour. With my 4-year old ID on hubpages recent hubs have taken days to be indexed
  • others are reporting getting keyword targeted articles on the 1st or 2nd page with little backlinking. I’ll comment when I have tried myself. 
  • Wizzley has partner sites which accept German and French articles! 

If You Make Money With HubPages You Might Want to Move to Wizzley ASAP

As of 2012 – HubPages’s Amazon modules will be paid via the HPAds programs, NOT via your own Amazon affiliate ID. If you are making good money with Amazon I shouldn’t have to explain to you why this is a terribly bad idea, and why, I have spend hours today un-publishing hubs on one of my accounts so I can move them over to  Wizzley. 

If you want to know the details of why this is a bad idea: check out my Move Amazon Earning Hub to Wizzley

Ideally of course if your articles are making money, they should be on your own sites. But I haven’t time to create a bunch of sites, so in the meantime I am moving them to Wizzley. 

On the face of it I like the layout of Wizzley and think I can use it to create a good CTR to Amazon. If the site stays in Google’s good books and pages rank easily – then as they say YAH CHING! 



NZ Electoral Law is an Ass – I Will Comment Today!

Yeah this is my first and probably last political post on this blog! Yeah I don’t mean the politics of A-List and Z-List bloggers I mean genuine NZ politics. Yeah NZ is having an election and from middnight to 7pm on 26 November 2011 – I am supposed not to:

to publish any statement intended or likely to influence any elector’s candidate, party or referendum vote.

So WTF you might say? Yeah me too. This is a particularly stupid piece of legislation which was last updated in 1993 which was put in place to stop candidates and parties trying to influence voters on the day of voting. All very reasonable you might say. But now they’ve extended it to social media. And it covers everyone – well all NZers anyways – like who the else would care about NZ politics after all! According to The Aucklander

The current New Zealand Electoral Act (which prohibits any form of campaigning on polling day) means that if you type, text, televise or tweet your support for a party or person, on any public online platform (be it a blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any of the other thousands of social media platforms available), before 7pm on Saturday 26th November, you could face a fine of up to $20,000.

Yeah well this is up there with the stupid law of the year award as far as I can see. In fact I think its just about as dumb as the Australian law that says as an Australian citizen I am REQUIRED to vote in every local, state and Federal election – of course I’ve never got around to registering so still waiting for the summons on that one too! 

So here for the record is my views on current NZ politicians: 

my local clown MP is one Peter Dunne who has fallen out with both Labour and National and had to form his own party – he takes the electrate for granted – and on hearing he’d won, by a 1000 odd votes last time said, said words to the effect of, “of course”.  He’s been in parliament for 24 years – time to get a real job mate – bye-bye! 

I’ll be voting for the Labour guy Charles Chauvel – who came a very close second, seems to be able to string coherent sentences together and is a gay.  On the other hand, for the first time in my life, I’m not voting Labour party vote – they don’t seem to be able to figure out an economic policy that doesn’t involve more debt, and really lack any concept about how to make this country more productive, which is hardly surprising because most of their leadership are ex-teachers, or public servants who have never really worked for a day in their lives. 

So yeah I am going to vote for National – sorry mum! Most of the policies make at least some sense. 

So feel free to leave a comment about the NZ elections – just be aware that you are breaking NZ law if you do it before 7pm 26 November NZDT! 

Oh yeah the referendum – might as well cover all illegalities in one post – we are voting on whether to keep the current system -the mainly proportional MMP system. The people behind this read like a bunch of old fogies from the 1980’s e.g. Ruth Richardson – they obvously want first-past-the-post again. But those of us who lived through the “excitement” of radical shifts of policy from one parliament to the next aren’t quite dead or all suffering from alzheimers yet – so I don’t think MMP will be going anywhere! 

Mt Egmont, Taranaki, New Zealand
Catalyst Paid Tools WordPress

Catalyst as a Post Page Associator Alternative

I’ve used Post page associator plugin for a while. Its a handy plugin which allowed you to do what it says on the pack; add a list of your posts in a certain category, at the bottom of the page. I used it here for example

However the developer has been under criticism for included a “please donate”  large ad on your main dashboard if you hadn’t paid – in fact I had give a donation – but I was buggered if I was going to donate for EACH blog I used it on – so I found the advertising a little annoying.  There was toys tossed in the WordPress forums though, some users found the nag VERY annoying,- and the developer has taken his toys home – or in this case made the plugin paid only (and quite expensive at that).

Free Option: List Category Posts Plugin 

You’ll find this plugin if you search on the install plugins page. It works – you add a short code somewhere in a page where you want the listing of posts to occur – and it does. Now there are a bunch of options, but making it look pretty involved php and css and stuff – so I ran screaming… 

Paid Option: Using Catalyst Theme As An Alternative to Post Page Associator Plugin

This really was quite simple – no scary TLAs involved! 

  1. Create a new page layout – I called mine indienonfiction.
  2. Decide on the layout of said page – I decided it would have a single right sidebar. 
  3. Added a new widget to the bottom of the content on the indienonfiction page layout. 
  4. Went over to the widgets area – used the Catalyst Excerpts widget to display the 100 posts in the category of non-fiction. 
  5. Added some relevant content to the new custom sidebar 
  6. Voila – a New Indie Non Fiction page – with all my posts from the Indie Non Fiction category displayed at the bottom. 

 Of course its not a free option, unless you already own Catalyst Theme, but really I wouldn’t be paying $30 PLUS $9/month for support  for a plugin when I can pay once for an entire theme framework for under $1o0. 

Oh and in case you do want to buy Catalyst: 


Catalyst Theme - WordPress Accelerated


I Am A Z-List Blogger!

Jeesus – two non-keyword optimized posts in a row – what’s this blog coming to!  

Some History 

For you old timers – you can skip this bit. 

A long-long time ago – there was a girl who wanted to just stay at home and make money in her sleep. She wanted to do keyword research, set up niche blogs, make money.  She didn’t want to sell shit because she felt she had nothing to sell – but worse than that she HATED sales. 

She feared the pushy salesman – she had walked away from cars and houses she genuinely interested in buying – because of she didn’t like being manipulated and pushed by the salesperson. 

She just about failed a  business marketing course because she had huge arguments with the course organiser. 

She absolutely and definitely knew that: 

  1. She couldn’t sell anything; 
  2. She didn’t want to sell anything. 

The interesting thing was she found she wasn’t the only one.  In fact, it seems that most people agree, if they are being honest. Its just the ones that don’t are noisy, very, very noisy – particularly on the Internet, when you are trying to make money…..

A-Listers are what I do not like about the “noisy face” of blogging. 

What the A-Listers taught me  was particuarly ugly. I discovered that you had to develop a following and promote to them. I discovered it was important to write something on my blog (what like a schedule shite…), and that I although I should first attract followers I should really being looking at joint ventures with the others and getting out my own products as soon as possible. 

There was however a major, major issue, that was always glossed over :

But I was a beginner, I didn’t have anything to offer – I was a student, not a teacher. 

No problem – says the A-Listers: fake it until you make it, get some nice business cards and a pretty blog design. Act like you know what you are doing. Have a Plan! 

That’s why I adopted Search Engine Optimisation and niche websites: joined The Keyword Academy and fled screaming from the A-List blogging shit. 

But this blog didn’t die – and it made me money, without very much effort from me. 

I’m a bit slow – but bugger it – maybe its time to launch: 

Z-List Blogging Launch (canoe free courtesy of the "resort"), hat by SunSmart, top by no-name @ under $3, lake courtesy of Khao Sak National Park, Thailand

The Z-List Bloggers – Blogging For the Rest Of Us (with a New Zealand accent)

Z-Bloggers – those of us who think you should actually only sell what you use and believe in.  

For those of us who  actually think you can just be real and sell – you don’t need need develop a bloody persona to do so. 

Maybe its a New Zealand thing? We tend not to be too pushy, and we don’t like pushy.   As a culture we are a mix of English reticience and Pacifica laid-backness:

Classic New Zealand clip (1971 I think) featuring John Clarke as a used car salesman and Temuera Morrison, before Star Wars, and a car that was old even in 1971.  

So because I couldn’t be bothered doing any real work this week, I pleased to announce the launch of: 



beginners Passive Income Plan Review Rants

An Apology – I Need To Come Clean – A Z-List Blogger Is Born

This stupid MMO blog is a curious thing. It started as my online learning journal/personal diary thing.  But its become something a lot more than that. 

You see, while publicly, calling out the A-List bloggers –  I have somehow become one:  a C-lister anyways, woops  no, now a Z-List Blogger! I am making money from you guys, that’s the truth of it.  Its not what  I set out to do – but over the years – its just kinda happened – and an incident over the weekend really highlighted it to me.

I’m sorry – that’s my dirty little secret, it would have been obvious to some of you for some time, but not to others and its always made me feel apologetic and uncomfortable. 

I have probably been reading way to much personal devlopement stuff recently – but I’m not happy with my record here – so I’m putting that record straight. 

It Started With A Cashflow Crises

My cash flow was ugly in October, and not looking much better for November – HubPages is not playing nicely, and come the new year will be screwing  me out of significant Amazon earnings. Late on Friday night I did the Oct figures – and there were as bad as I thought they would be.

I needed cash, not today, but it was getting borderline as to whether my income covered my living expenses.  A few years ago I would have checked the job sites.

Now that’s not an even an option for me now – instead I looked a minimizing expenses in my business, sent out some over-due invoices, they all paid within hours. Wow that was easy! I felt a bit better – why the heck do I find it hard to ask for money I’m owed?

By 10pm I was surfing Facebook – I noticed that a new backlinking service that I hadn’t been using much, and that I nearly cancelled last month (but missed the date), opened up for affiliates, several days earlier. 

Hmmm – I make $300 or so dollars a month selling Build My Rank – might try promoting the new service a go. By 1am the review was up (including typos in the title and url LMAO – I am too old for late night stuff). I promoted it here, the Pond, Facebook and TKA. Within 48 hours I had signups – by the time the initial offering was sold-out (genuinely – not bullshit false shortage BTW) – I had sold the majority of the memberships available. I had made a lot of money. 

I’m ranked  #1, 2, 3 AND 4 for “seo cobra review” and similar terms in the search engines. I don’t think I’ve had a single visitor or sign-up from that though (yet – SEO is the long game). 

Hmm looks like I’ve turned into one of those scammer A-list bloggers,  ie one who make a living selling  stuff to their followers. Its hard to ignore the fact that if I recommend stuff on this blog – you guys buy it- and thank me for it…  

Shit – I make money from selling make money online services (albeit good ones) to people who follow me online and think that I’m knowledgeable, helpful and probably think I’m successful!  Well two outta three ain’t bad, as the old song says.  

  • Knowledgeable: I’ve been doing this since 2007,  I’ve been making my income entirely online since March 2009, I’ve followed lots of gurus, several of whom no longer post at all (or rarely) – yes I have some knowledge – I’m the personality type that likes finding out stuff – there’s some Myers-Briggs label for it – I call it analysis paralysis; 
  • Helpful: yeah – I am, its innate, happens in real life too, having found all that information, I like sharing it, I quite like writing  too -hence the blog keeps on getting updated (but don’t hold me to a schedule!). 
  • Successful: – now that’s the bit I’m not sure on – that’s what I want to fix up 

Is Lis Successful At Online Marketing?

I made a profit of  NZ$37,900  in the last 12 months, in the same time the US/NZ exchange rate varied from 74c to 88c in those same 12 months – so in US$ that’s an income of : US$28,000 or US$33,300 depending on the rate on the day (you understand the nightmare then?). 

That’s not gross sales – its income less expenses – I claim all the obvious expenses – hosting, domains, memberships, but also my home office (power, rates, ISP) – this is the real money I earn – its what I have to pay tax on. 

Is this a successful income? For me its a start – my aim has always been around US$5000/month. At my current earnings level I can pay 1/2 our household expenses, but we own our home (no mortgage), and I only doing minimal retirement savings, we do do a lot of travel and dancing, but we have no children to support, nor an expensive shopping habit; your mileage may vary.  

For comparison purposes: 

  •  NZ average wage March 2011 NZ$49,00;
  •  US Average Wage 20101 was  US$41,000 .  
Picture of this C-List Blogger Living The High Life, Chaweng Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand

So if you thought I was making 6-figures and throwing the cash around – if you didn’t realise that rather nice lunch we had just after that photo was taken, cost about $10 and we took a $2 tuk-tuk to get there, not a $25 taxi ride – sorry. Genuinely.  

So What the Heck Is Lis’s Problem? That’s Not a Bad Income and She Never Said She Drove a Porsche! 

I make about half my income from this site. That’s my issue. I do make money from other sites as well – but this one site is my solid month in, month out,  pay-the-bills website.   Over the years, through a bit of luck, some great friends, and the fact that I didn’t give up on it, Passive Income Online  now makes me half of my income, and the stable 1/2 at that. 

I make half  of my money from selling stuff to others who are trying for the same lifestyle as I am.  Inadvertantly I’m doing what the A-Listers do all too deliberately.  

There’s another reason why I have been coy about putting out my detailed income figures recently. I don’t want to encourage the rest of you, particularly the beginners into thinking that THIS is the way to make money, particularly not short-term. 

It doesn’t work like that. I’ve developed an online reputation over four years, for longer even than I’ve had this blog. Most of the time I wasn’t doing it deliberately, its sure as hell evolved.  In fact until very recently (hmm like this month) – this site has been deliberately only focussed on search traffic, because I was so bloody uncomfortable about the fact that some of you think I know something useful, and I was selling to you

What’s happened – well basically I’ve playing the old – go with your strengths card – I didn’t expect to make serious money with a MMO blog,  its happened despite me.  So now I’m going to develop it – it appears this personal relationship stuff works – and I want to develop that – so I can apply it to my other, non-MMO, niches. 

But you guys don’t go away – you keep emailing me with nice comments and intelligent questions, you seem to appreciate what I am doing!  So really in short – my readers have driven me to it and its not my fault – you asked for it and now:

That’s Me Out in the Open – Welcome to Lissie: the World’s Only C-List Blogger! 

 Lis Is Embracing Her Spammy C-List Blogger Status – Passive Income Has An E-Mail List!

See you can sign up just below. I’ve always resisted email lists – its the A-listers weapon of choice – but a list will allow me to do what I can’t do with just the blog. 

I will use the list to publish my regular monthly income reports. The monthly reports will NOT go on this site . To see them  – you will need to sign up, plain up and simple.  The WHY – that’s for the list too LOL. 

Also the list will allow me to give you heads up on stuff that is happening – but is not worth a post.

Hey I might even throw in a summary of posts – but if that’s all you want – then the feedburner service already does that (email or RSS reader options).

So yeah that’s more than enough soul searching for the day I think!  Leave a comment, sign up, or unsubscribe, sorry if you feel pissed off or misled by my little corner of the Interwebs – feel free to leave – and apologies I annoyed. 

For the rest of you – well – normal service (or lack thereof) is probably going to be resumed. 

And the question on the form? I’m curious as to whether I should be reusing some of my basic stuff and putting it out onto the list on a regular basis? 

Self Publishing

Non Fiction Sales Month 4: How to Publish in iTunes

Hmm – interesting morning. Tracey Edwards, author, was chatting and said she was surprised how well she was doing with her books on iTunes. I said I’d noticed a couple of sales (Smashwords – tells you when you’ve sold through their distribution partners, but it takes a few months), but I didn’t know how to even find my book on iTunes she told me to google itunes “book title” – and hey presto – but it wasn’t my book 🙁 Some arsehole had stolen the hub the book was based on and had it in the app store since January.

My book is there – but appears to be only showing up in the UK store – or maybe that’s because I’m in NZ? And my book shows as a book – no shite Lis – but the stolen hub is an app? WTF is that about – I thought an App had to DO something – not just be content? UPDATE: Tracey emailed to say she could see my book on the iPad in the bookstore – cool!

Meanwhile I was asking around on how to submit a DMCA complaint to Apple – I couldn’t find a specific page had to just contact iTunes support. Meanwhile someone asked:

Hitting the Big Time in the Sexy iTunes Store! Roxy Theatre, Miramar, Wellington

How Do You Publish a Book or Article in iTunes

Well I don’t really know to be honest – except I believe it involves being American and running some crappy hardware that starts with i… (yeah really!) . I use Smashwords – so long as you get the formatting right they will distribute to a long list including Barnes&Noble and Apple. Now from my sales – I’m starting to think I quite like Apple LOL

Amazon is still the biggie – but I’ve seen more than one person saying that smashwords suck as a place to sell books – they are missing the point of Smashwords does two things that I think are absolutely critical:

  • the distribute – here’s the complete list. I’ve heard if you are American you are better off distributing direct to B&N – but that’s not an option for me.
  • they allow you to create coupons to give your book away at a discount (say to a list) – or for free to reviewers etc. You can’t do that with Amazon.

What Happens When Amazon “Price Matches” By Mistake 

Amazon’s TOS says that they will price match any book that you offer in the Kindle Store. As the minimum price at Amazon is 99c – this is the only way to get your book listed there for free (drop the price at Smashwords, wait for the price to filter through the distribution channels, and then for Amazon to notice and price drop).

Writer James Crawford had an issue when he issued an except from his novel on B&N for free – Amazon noticed and price matches and his sales went from 6 and day to over 600! Unfortunately, in my opinion, James didn’t react well – he unpublished his book and threatened to sue Amazon.

I haven’t read all the TOS of Amazon – but I sure they have covered their arse from mistakes like this.

James could have used the boost of traffic to promote his brand – get his name out there, and if he’d left his book published – he would have rocketed up the best seller lists on Amazon – thereby getting him more sales, brand awareness, and reviews.

Also I am really wondering while B&N allow teasers to be published – Amazon doesn’t and that is a good protection for readers as far as I am concerned.

So if it happens to you – make the most of the attention! For the rest of us – thinking about how powerful free can be …

October Update on eBook Sales

Its quite a pain reporting figures by the month – compared to affiliate companies-  book published are pre-historic when it comes to reporting sales to the author – comes of being a monolithic gate-keeper for too long in my opinion. So I’ve moved sales across to a single page reporting on non-fiction eBook sales figures.

Actually once I’d add up, what some of you am sure think are piddling tiny amounts and a pathetic failure – I smiled -I’m getting close to breaking even. With very little promotion on my part except a bit of SEO…

Back Links Rants Search Engines

Travel Bloggers Selling Links and Making Money – Should You To?

For fucks sake – I am over this whole  -“Google hates me”, “I must please Google”, “is this OK with Google” shite going down in certain circles.

Google is a company.

Google is a search engine that using a superbly complex algorithm.

Google doesn’t give a shite about you – because you are not Google’s customer.

I think a lot of people need to get over this unhealthy relationship with Google. Because as it is now Google appears to be winning the war – which war? The propaganda war.

You know spreading mis-information and fear – the oldest propaganda trick in the book. And its working.  Take for example the bullshite about buying and selling links. Google hates it. Of course Google hates it – links are what their search engine algorithms are still (mainly) based on. The reality is though, its pretty darn difficult for Google to know when a link is – well just a link – and when a link is a paid endorsement.

So often times you can get away with lots of paid links. But even more importantly:

If you are not ranking in the search rankings anyway why the hell wouldn’t you sell links – it could be a nice little earner! 

Selling links is gaming the system, well that’s true.  Selling links will get you thrown out of  Google’s index, it will get you sent to the pergatory of the 999th page, your site will be deindexed and your sins will never leave you!  Selling links is immoral!

Google doesn’t want you to sell links, or buy links. However that’s just a preference they have, because it helps their business model if you don’t. Selling links is bad for Google’s business model: selling your kid sister is immoral – see the difference?

I call bullshit on the rest of it. Lets start with the immoral bit first. This would frankly perplexes me. Google’s algorithm depends in part of counting the links to the page the more likely Google is to rank that page near page 1 (gross simplification there). So people who want their site on page 1, will acquire links to get them to page 1.

  1. by social media linking to them
  2. by guest posting;
  3. by links from other places  they control.
None of those links are paid for though – so they are OK. But if I take money  for a link on my site – then its immoral and wicked and polluting the electrons of the Internet ??? Pleeeese. It sounds like a business proposition to me.
Google is Part of the Competitive Environment - Not a Moral Authority - or Your Friend

Selling Links in 2011 

The link selling industry is alive and well. Most of us who have active blogs, particularly a site which is anywhere on the first couple of the pages of the search engine results will be familar with the email:

“Dear webmaster I love your site – I would love to provide some free content to it – the content is very well written and highly relevant to your readers. In return we will want just one tiny, little link.”

That’s the first offer – they want their link for free. You could try saying yes – and then no-following the link 🙂 Always amusing that one! Better yet – negotiate a decent rate – and then make sure the post doesn’t annoy your readers.

Decide on a Business Model 

You either want to sell links or you want to rank in the search engines – I suggest you don’t want to do both on the same blog. You also want to pick your niche. For example, there is no point selling links in the Internet Marketing niche.  Anyway there are plenty of affiliate programs which readers are interested in, and which pay me  commission.

Other niches are different. Take, for example travel. The affiliate programs in travel don’t seem to convert well – who goes to a blog to book a flight or a hotel – most travellers know how to spell expedia or hotelclub – and they go there direct. Travel on the other hand is an enormous global industry. An industry which is going more and more on-line. Having your travel site on page 1 of a search listing is very, very worthwhile.

And so travel blogs can do very well from: sponsored posts and paid links.

Now there are lots of business reasons to NOT do sponsored posts – You might want to check out this interview with Gary Arndt from  But that’s for you to decide.

Paid Links and Sponsorship and Advertising – Same, Same – Not Different

Apparently advertising is OK but paid links aren’t – well that’s what some in the travel community seem to think. I call bullshite on this one -plus a pile of mis-information in the post and the comments which caused me to write this.

Not one of the sites I reviewed for this post no-followed any of their paid links: sidebar, footer, links under “Advertising” headers, widgets, or in-content links – either declared or not. As far as Google is concerned – if they want to come the heavy – they are all paid links unless you no-follow them.

In practice – if they are actually links to affiliate programs – then Google will probably not care.  If they are links to landing or home pages of the advertiser – for which you are not getting a commission for – Google’s reviewers are going to assume you are being paid.

After all why the heck would anyone want to go to any of these advertisers – when they are on a travel blog?  Yeah I outed the guys buying the links – not the bloggers being paid – rather see the pimps in jail not the pros if you see what I mean?

So if you are going to do paid links –

Do Paid Links Smart

Here’s how. You  need to put all the paid links posts in new category – I suggest that you don’t call it “Paid Links” – maybe “Guest Posts” or “Miscellaneous” might be less obvious.

Make sure that category doesn’t appear on your front page, and remove it from your RSS feed. So now you have money in the bank and you haven’t annoyed your readers – that’s a start.

I would seriously consider re-writing any “Advertising/Press” page you might have to include that you always “no follow” paid links, whether you do or not. Yeah take the moral high-ground if you want – but really Google is in the habit of shooting first and asking questions later. You can always negotiate the deal with the advertiser in private.

If you are caught up in a manual review – then you need to appear to be doing the right thing.

Also putting links in older posts – is far less likely to be annoying to readers, particularly if they aren’t posts which show up in your “greatest hits” list.

Don’t even think about doing paid links on a blog which also uses Adsense – “Don’t make Google Look Stupid” is the appropriate mantra here.

Google Hates Paid Links But Seems To Be Ignoring All But the Most Blatent Sellers Currently 

I’ve been watching the most blatant sellers of links in the travel niche for a few months, including a page rank update last month. The worst I’ve seen is a drop from 4 to 2 for someone who has a paid link at the bottom of almost every post. I’ve seen no reports of deindexing.

Google really doesn’t seem to care about the travel blogger’s selling links – at the moment. Whether the little furore I linked to above, will make a difference, its hard to know, but bets would be on not, but this is game not without risks, make your judgement.

The reality is – why you can get away with selling links, you are getting cash in hand, real cash, real return. If it all goes to custard and you get penalised – the worst thing that will probably happen is that you will lose your Page Rank. Page rank and search engine rankings are not related. PR is certainly not related to social media – your community won’t notice.  Yes it may affect your future earnings – but at least you still have the cash.

My cynical take is that the people buying the links are also big Adwords advertisers – they are Google’s customers and Google doesn’t want to piss them off.

If you do get done for selling links – here’s what to do:

  1. delete the offending posts or add the “no follow” attribute to the links; and
  2. ask for reinclusion by Google.

In fact there have been some pretty high profile cases of sites like selling links – seems like they recovered from it.