Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Monetizing your website with Amazon Products

“Content is king!” We’ve heard that a million times.  I’ve probably said it myself about a thousand of that. It’s what brings people to your site. It’s what makes Google sit up and take notice of you and value your site with good rankings. And we all know that good Google rankings mean good traffic.

So, if content is the king, then the ads are the queen. At first glance she may seem to be less important, but don’t run your kingdom without! The ads are what bring in money.  The ads are what changes your website to a cute little hobby to an actual money-producing business.

There are many places you can set up your website, and many ways to get ads established. Most of my current students are using a very common combination, that of a WordPress blog/site and Amazon product ads.

With that in mind, here’s how to get that set up!  First, you’ll set up your affiliate account with Amazon.com. Then, you’ll set up a plugin in WordPress to facilitate the affiliate linking process.  Finally, you’ll set up product links on your posts and pages.

Getting set up with Amazon.com

  1. Go to Amazon.com, and scroll down to the bottom. Under “Make Money With Us”, click “Become an Affiliate”. You can also get to this page by clicking here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
  2. Click “Join Now for Free”
  3. Fill in your email address, and click “I am a new customer.” Then click “Sign in using our secure server”
  4. Fill in the form, creating a password. Write your password down. Click “Create Account”
  5. Fill in the next form, with your contact information.  Click “Next - Your Website Profile”
  6. It might make suggestions for a better way to format your address.  If it does, choose the best format and click “Save This Address”.
  7. Fill out the information about your website.  When it asks, “What type of site is your website(s)?” select “Blog” or “Content/Niche Website”.  Click “Next” at the bottom.
  8. Next, they’ll want to verify your identity.  Enter your phone number.  They’ll display a 4 digit PIN on the screen, and an automated system will call you.  You can type in the PIN or just say the digits. The screen will change to say, “Congratulations, your Identity Verification is complete.”.  Check the box to accept the terms and conditions, and click “Finish”.
  9. Your account is set up.  Click “Specify Payment Method Now”.
  10. Fill in your tax ID information, and choose how you’d like to be paid. The simplest method to get started is to choose the Amazon Gift Card. It’s not necessarily the best way to be paid, but for now, it’s quick, simple, and it can be changed later. Click “Continue”.
  11. Now you’re at the Amazon Affiliate’s Main Page.  In the upper left, under the “AmazonAssociates” logo, you’ll see your Amazon Tracking ID.  It will look something like: “sohmabl-20”.  Write it down so that you can access it another day. Your Amazon affiliate account is now set up. Write down your UN and PW for later use, too.

Setting up the Amazon Link plugin in your WordPress Website.

  1. Go to your WordPress website login URL, and login with your UN and PW.
  2. On the left-handed nav bar, mouse over “Plugins” and click on “Installed Plugins”.
  3. Look through the list of plugins for one named “Amazon Link”.  If you don’t find it, go ahead with the instructions for installing it, below.  If you do find it, click where it says, “Setup”.
  4. Choose your country, and enter your Amazon Tracking ID (Affiliate ID) next to that flag. Other things on this page are technical and not necessary at this point. Click “Update Options”.  It’s now configured.
  5. If you didn’t find “Amazon Link” in your list of plugins, at the top of the page, click “Add New”.
  6. In the search bar, type “Amazon Link” and do a search.
  7. Locate “Amazon Link” in the search results and click “Install Now”.  When it’s done installing, you can click into the setup, as above, and configure it.

Adding an Amazon Affiliate Link to your website Using the Amazon Link WordPress Plugin

  1. In your web browser, set up two tabs.  This can be done by holding down the “Ctrl” key and tapping the letter “T” key.  
  2. In one tab, go to your website dashboard and login.
  3. Navigate to the editing screen of one of your blog posts, or one of your pages.  This is done by mousing over “Posts” on the left nav bar, and clicking on “All Posts”.
  4. Mouse over the title of the post where you want to place the ad.  Click “Edit”, when it appears.
  5. Scroll through your content to the point in the article where you want the ad to appear. Two good places are: 1 - at the top, and 2 - at the very bottom. Click in the content to place the courser/insertion point.
  6. In the other tab, go to Amazon.com.  Browse until you find a product you want to promote from that post.  It should be a product that you talked about in the post, or one that relates in some way.
  7. Scroll down the page, until you see “Product Details”.  In that section, you’ll see either the “ASIN” or the “ISBN”.  Copy that number.
  8. Go back to the WordPress tab, and scroll down past the text of your post.  You’ll see a section labeled: “Add Amazon Link”.  Where it says “ASIN”, type or paste either the ASIN or the ISBN that you got from the Amazon page.  Select a template/layout for your ad from the “Template” dropdown menu. Click "Insert Link". This will put the link in place where you left the courser. In the upper right, click “Update” to save the changes and make them live.

From this point on, when you post a new blog post or content page, you can find a relevant product and put an Amazon ad for it on that page. There are many other ways to set up Amazon links, and many ways to set up other affiliate links, too.  But for now, this process will get your website started on the path to money.


Mark is currently employed as an Internet Business Coach.

Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting a Good Domain Name

Getting a good domain name can be a bit of a challenge.  Back in the day, before the internet - You remember the Jurassic Period, right? - when you wanted to start a business, you might have to check if anyone else in your city or state had the same business name.  Now, you have to make sure that nobody else in the whole world is using your name!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding and registering a good domain, so that you can use it to brand your company forever!


It’s a good idea to start with a lot of ideas.  When I say a lot, I mean at least 15-20 possibilities. When you start testing your ideas, you’ll find that at least half of them are already taken. So, the more you start with, the more you’ll have as options at the other end.

Start with some keywords that relate to your niche or your topic. If someone does a search for that keyword, you’ll rank a little bit higher.


Then, go to a domain name registration site (like http://www.securepaynet.net/?prog_id=500694) and test each one. Test the “.com” version of the domain. There are lots of others, but “.com” is so branded in people’s minds, that they’ll often type “something.com”, without realizing that it actually should have been “something.net”

If the test comes back as “available”, then check the price. If the price is around $10-$15, then keep it on your list. If the price is any higher than that, like, $200 or even more, then it’s a “premium” domain, which is one that someone else owns and is trying to resell. Don’t bother with those. Unless, of course, you have a lot of extra money sitting around and you’ve gotten bored with just throwing it out the window.

Of course, if the domain test comes back as “unavailable” or “already taken”, then just cross it off your list.

In either case, the registrar will probably suggest some similar names. If any of them look good to you, add them to your list. Be careful, some of them in the suggestions might also be premium domains, costing lots of money.

Winnowing, Choosing

So, if you started with about 20 possible names, then you might have about 15 after the testing.  Maybe you added 2 or 3 of the suggestions.  So, you’ll still have a pretty good list.  Now you get to narrow it down.

First, let’s weed out the problem ideas.  Take out any that have strange or ambiguous spellings.  Don’t do cutesy things like spell “Quick” as “Kwick”. “Something4u.com” is full of problems. If someone just hears it, how will they spell it?  If they spell it wrong, they’ll end up at your competitor’s website.  These things look great on a road sign in front of a brick and mortar store, but on the web, they just mess you up.

For the same reason, I don’t like to use dashes or underlines to separate words, like this: “heres-my-web-site.com”. It might look better, but it’s clumsier to speak and harder to remember.

A short domain is good, but don’t chop it up and abbreviate it just to make it shorter.  That can make it harder to spell and harder to remember. Sometimes it’s best to just spell the words out.

Also, avoid using someone else’s name or trademark in your domain, even if you’re promoting their products. It can still get you into trouble.

Once you’ve removed the ones that are unavailable, and the ones that are bad, you’re left with a few good ideas.  At this point, since there’s not problems, you could simply use the one you like the best.


Once you’ve chosen your domain, then simply go back to the registrar (http://www.securepaynet.net/?prog_id=500694) and buy it.  Here are some things to consider.

You’ll have the option to get what’s called a “Private Registration”.  This is to protect your personal contact information from being made public in the vast domain name database known to techies and spammers as “Whois”.  All domains are listed in this database, but you can keep your email address and phone number out of it. It costs extra each year, but it’s worth it.

Also, most domain name registrars have the option to “Autorenew”.  This means that they keep your credit card info on file and ping it for payment each year.  If you’re not creeped out by the thought of your info on their secured servers, I strongly recommend doing this. Then, you won’t be surprised to find out that your domain name accidentally lapsed, and was snapped up by someone else.  This actually happened to a friend of mine.  They were nice, though, and offered to sell it back to her for only hundreds of dollars...

Following these steps will help you to establish a good, brandable, usable domain name for your website that will continue to help you get customers for years to come!


Mark is currently employed as an Internet Business Coach.

Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

The Four Components of a Successful Website

There are, really, lots of things that can make or break a website.  This guru and that sage will talk, talk, talk about their particular angle and their particular strategy and charge you anywhere from $49.99 to $49,999.99 to teach it to you.  Each of these things being taught can be sifted down into four basic components: Content, Optimization, Monetization, and Promotion.


This really is the core.  Everyone may say that “Content is King”, but few understand why, and there are several reasons.  The easiest reason to understand is simple:  That’s what Google looks for. Google values good content, good information, and it’s ranking calculations are set up to reward that.

Another very important reason is that it’s what people are mostly searching for.  Yes, it’s true that people are shopping online, but before they shop, they look for information.

Finally, it’s what gives your website substance. That’s kind of intangible, but it’s what makes people value your site.  It gives you authority. And that helps people when they want to buy.

Additionally, your site’s content has to be focused.  It has to have a good clear topic.  A blog that rants about politics, and then about religion, and reviews movies, and then gripes about the price of groceries might well be a good creative outlet for the author, but it’s not going to build an audience.


Of course, if people can’t find your information, it doesn’t much matter, does it?  Your content and your pages have to be set up to contain good keywords, in the proper locations, with the right kind of interlinking.  In other words, even if you have a great hand of cards, you still have to play the game right.  With each of those things in place, your site will be easy to find, and people will come to know it as the place to go for your topic.


That’s a newly coined word (pardon the pun) for “how to make this website pay off!”  There has to be some connection to making money, or it’s just a hobby.  There are lots of ways to do this, and they all have advantages and disadvantages.  You can sell products directly from your website, processing credit cards and fulfilling orders.  You can promote the products of other websites through an affiliate program, receiving a percentage of each sale. You can host ads on your site.  A single site can often employ many different streams of income.


Finally, the site is ready, so now all it needs is traffic.  Good optimization will be valuable in this process, but there are more ways to make it work, too. Social networking is one way that’s both growing and practical. Paid internet advertising is now more affordable than ever, and it’s the most trackable methods of all. Site owners can be very strategic and get the most impact for their investment.

Over the course of the next few posts, I’ll be covering each of these in more detail. With this overview, however, you can either plan your upcoming website, or you can see which component needs the most work!


Mark is currently employed as an Internet Business Coach.

Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Net Neutrality! ...Again

When I heard the fuss about neutrality being raised up again, I thought to myself, “This issue has been around a while, hasn’t it?”  In fact, I remembered having written about it some time ago.  It turns out that was back in 2006.  I looked it up: http://sohoman.blogspot.com/2006/08/net-neutrality-and-you.html  I guess the wheels of regulation turn slowly.

Not that it’s an invalid concern.  Far from it.  It’s very important that the Internet, which has a long, tested, and sometimes sordid history of unregulated freedom, be kept free for all.

Here’s the deal:  There’s a lot of content on the ‘net, not just websites and silly blogs like this one.  There’s TV shows, and movies, and streaming music and talk, and all kinds of media and information flowing through these wires, fibers, and waves.  Much of that content is being provided by some pretty big corporations.  They feel that they should be able to have better service, with faster connections, and better stability than little mom & pop web shops or bloggers.

Others, mostly mom & pop webstore owners and bloggers, as well as a lot of folks that work on the ‘net daily, feel that the same wires, fibers and waves should carry everything.  Equally.  Neutrally.  Hence, “net neutrality”.

What they’re afraid of is that these powerful and wealthy companies will end up being able to restrict the usage of the network of their smaller competitors, or even of those that speak in ways that they don’t like. And in order to preserve that equality that has existed for so long, in order to keep it a free and open forum of ideas, they’re asking for some regulation.

Yes, you heard that right.  They’re wanting regulation, rules, in order to keep things fair and free.  Oh, the irony.

If you’re reading this, it’s very likely that you’re one of the smaller website owners.  It’s likely that you’re not a major, multinational corporation.  So, this is something that you should be concerned about.  Is it possible that they’ll end up squeezing you out of the picture?  Net Neutrality, then, becomes not so much a techie-sounding buzzword, and turns into a real-life concern.

The FCC recently presented some proposed rules changes.  These are not yet fixed, and there well be legislation that could come down as well.  It would be wise for all of us to contact our representatives and let them know how we feel.  To access your representatives, look to http://www.house.gov/ and http://www.senate.gov/


Mark is currently employed as an Internet Business Coach.

Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.