Ask Kirsty – Pinging Services & Affiliate Performance Evaluation

Ask Kirsty 2 Comments »

Fellow Australian affiliate Zane McIntyre has a couple of questions about making sure he’s doing the most he can to maximise his opportunities for exposure and revenue maximisation:-

Dear Kirsty,

I have a few things that I wanted to clarify. Generally information where I cannot seem to find a definitive answer on the www and would love to have your thoughts.

Question 1: To Ping or Not to Ping?

I have read alot about WordPress guru’s using a wordpress approved ping list. By default pingomatic is used by wordpress, is this sufficient or should we expand our ping lists to ensure all the blog catalogs and news sites out there are being notified of updates to our sites? I attempt at all times to stay within the realms of legitimacy for my sites and my only concern is if I am pinging a plethora of sites out there will I be classified as ping spamming?

When it comes to promoting your site and increasing your visits there is no golden button that says “Click this to increase your traffic” but I have heard that traffic can be increased by pinging a wider variety of sites.

Below is a list I found and was contemplating using.

Question 2: Sitting back and evaluating the true performance of your site.

Recently I have had a slump in sales to my sites and believe this is only a sign of the times as my hits have not decreased and my content is increasing every day. So I am using this time to sit back and evaluate all of my sites and have them well positioned for when the economy picks up again.

I am evaluating my sites with the use of pretty excel spreadsheets to get a very clear overview of my monthly profits. I start by noting the site, monthly visits, monthly profit and dividing the profit by the visits to get an idea of how much each visitor as an average is spending. This gives me an idea each month to see if I have performed better than the last and use the hits divided by profit to see where I stand. If nothing changes or the profit per visitor is not increasing even though my hits are increasing I know I need to see where my performance is lacking. I do this by checking Google Analytics to see my top 25-50 pages or posts and go through them to see why they may not be converting. With this information I can then edit those pages to have more calls to action or clearly define what I want the visitor to do next.

Am I doing this correctly or do you have any suggestions to how I can better evaluate my sites performance? All of my traffic is purely organic and I do not run any PPC campaigns at this time, this is simply because of the uncertainty of PPC as of late with Google getting sand in their cracks and banning accounts etc so I don’t want PPC to be my be all and end all.

Can’t wait to hear from you.


Zane McIntyre

Good questions Zane, and thanks for the list of pinging services too!

Question 1. I must confess that with my own sites I simply let pingomatic do it’s stuff. I therefore have absolutely no idea how much traffic value one might expect to get from pinging such services.  However I have no doubt that there will be absolutely no issue with you using as many of those services as you desire as using them seems to be included in just about every “increasing your blog traffic 101″ type post out there.

Speaking of distributing content, if you are investing a lot in adding lovely unique content to your site don’t forget to set your feed settings to “summary” under your reading settings in the WordPress control panel.  This will help prevent nasty old spammy content robbers from purloining your content for evil purposes. Not that Google is usually fooled by this sort of carry on, but its blasted well irritating.  I can also heartily recommend using the RSS Footer Plugin which will mean any posts reproduced from your feed will include a link back to your site.

Question 2.

It already sounds like you are doing a pretty good job of analysing your traffic and ensuring that you are keeping an eye firmly on the bottom line. It’s also a good idea to constantly look at your top pages.

I’m not clear from your question how much you are focusing upon which of those top 25 to 50 pages are actually creating your profit? It sounds as if you may just be focusing on the pages generating the most traffic. If your merchant or network doesn’t have a service in place where you can put a unique identifier into your URLs so you can see which links are bringing in the bacon, this may be the only avenue open to you.

However, if you are able to identify which pages are generating lots of conversions this will be incredibly valuable information to pass back into your campaigns.  Things are rarely spread evenly over every page on your site. Usually the 80:2o rule or something close to that will be at play. Therefore it’s immensely beneficial to be able to look at those pages and the products on them and have a think about why they are converting. Then you can see if you’re able increase what you are doing by creating more pages for similar products or items with similar selling points.

Another thing I tend to do is make sure I’m aware of how different blocks of traffic are performing as well as taking a view of site performance as a whole.  Often a particular type of traffic may not perform as well with a merchant whilst other traffic is a-ok. It is important for me to be able to switch the traffic elsewhere to see if I can better the EPC and conversion rate. I’ve recently done this for some of my underwear related traffic and increased profits by £300. Pretty good for an hours work updating my link file and a few minutes with a calculator!

I hope this has helped, and if anyone knows more about traffic from pinging services please do post in the comments section – I’d value the additional input!


Recognising When Your Work System Is No Longer Efficient

General 5 Comments »

Today I realised it has been just over a year since I cut my working hours and implemented a new work structure.  It has been a pleasing success and it has been a massive help in me pushing on my business to new heights and really forging ahead with a series of new sites which I’ve launched over the last 12 months.  Taking a structured approach has really been hugely beneficial for me. Until Now.

Scale and Replicate? Well, Up To A Point…

The issue I’m currently having is that a formulaic approach lacks imagination.  I have my daily set tasks but I’m starting to lose faith at the moment that they are actually the right ones, or even a good use of time relative to the results that they are producing now I’m entering a “maintenance phase”. By that I mean I’ve set up lots of sites and am now concentrating upon building up the income I get from them.

The truth is, my scheduled 2 hours per day of content writing has started to bore me dreadfully.  And so dreadfully that once I’ve done my allocated slog I’ve lost the passion and imagination to do very much else. I think it was workable before because I could focus on the end result – a series of sites to diversify my income. However, now I think I need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.

Much Like Breaking Up… Letting Go is Never Easy

It’s a bit like splitting up with someone. You get that uneasy feeling that being with them just isn’t working out as well any more. Writing all those blog posts myself enabled me to really boost up the content and traffic on my sites as well as keeping an eye on longtail traffic opportunities.  However I’m increasingly not getting all the content I have scheduled for myself done. Because I simply don’t want to write it.  Even worse, my avoidance strategy (busying myself with some largely irrelevant bit of analysis or research) then extends beyond the blogging and starts to drag the rest of the day down.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

The thing is I’ve increasingly been realising recently that I need to take a dose of my own advice. Is that two hours every day being spent “working smarter” or am I just doing it because it’s permanently written into my daily action sheets? In the last couple of weeks I’ve realised the following: –

  • My many daily blog posts contribute to site traffic, but are less likely to generate sales than other more highly targeted pages.
  • It probably doesn’t matter any more whether its me writing the posts or someone else. Despite knowing hee haw about affiliate marketing my mother is managing to do a beautiful job of writing content for my sites. She’s even posting it up into HTML templates with extreme ease despite having no web design skills whatsoever. It takes me about 30 mins a week to create a work list for her detailing which articles I want done.
  • Continuing to write my own content of this nature is probably not the most efficient application of my skills.
  • If I outsource some or all of my daily blogging I will instantly have 2 hours free each day to use in other ways.

In Other Words… It’s Just Not Worth Me Doing It Any More!

I’ve already got some fledgling ideas about how I’m going to free myself from this task. Getting bestseller lists from merchants to create the areas to write posts about, creating structured spreadsheets for content writers to work from. However I shall consider them more carefully and perhaps do another post when I have it all worked out.

My aim now is to reduce my time spent writing from around 30 hours per month, to just 3 or 4 hours spent managing the writing process whilst I get other people to do it for me.  If I can concentrate for long enough in the building site that is laughingly known as my home at the moment I may just be able to come up with something.

I’m off to the mountains today for 2 nights to celebrate my birthday. Perhaps it’ll all become clear then 😉


Thanks For The Nomination Everyone

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Just a quickie to say thanks very much to everyone who nominated me for the Best Affiliate Blog category at the A4U Awards.

It’s a real honour and pleasure that my thoughts and general affiliate meanderings are continuing to amuse and inform enough people that I’ve made the shortlist once again.  The entire list of nominees is as follows: – (that’s me – yayy!!)

eBay Partner Network Blog

Good to see so many of my affiliate friends nominated!  You can register your votes for the awards from today on.


Once again I will not be able to attend the awards.  I had to make a choice between the awards and the A4U Expo in October.  I eventually decided that the Expo was probably going to be more beneficial as well as coinciding with an excellent time of year for a holiday in Thailand on the way home. Needless to say I shall be very depressed on the evening of the awards at the thought of missing out on such a great night with all my affiliate friends.

You can book a table here, and book me a business class flight from Australia to London here if you need a date. I can promise witty affiliate conversation at the start of the evening and a load of old nonsense and giggles by about midnight 😉

Enjoy the shindig everyone!


Quick! Call Norris McWhirter! World Procrastination Record Smashed!

Affiliate Annoyances 2 Comments »

Woohoo!  What a proud day it is for me today guys and gals. I’ve just smashed my own (very impressive) procrastination record by taking a whopping 518 days to take a simple yet effective piece of advice that would take just 10 minutes to implement.  One of the agonising things about being me is that sometimes I’ll just know I should do something, it keeps popping into my mind… and I promptly do nothing about it.

At 518 Days This is a Personal Best

Behold my shiny new RSS subscription button. Revel in its sleek design, prominent position, squeal with unbridled delight as you make use of it, and gasp with joy as you realise I’ve finally made heavy use of the CTRL+C button and provided an e-mail subscription box. (Look, when it takes you this long to do something it needs a bit of fanfare OK?).

Where did I get this advice? Slides 33 &34 of Joost De Valk’s very useful WordPress optimisation session at the 2008 A4U Expo. So I’d like to thank him for the past 518 days of unadulterated procrastination, the odd 3am “oh my god I’ve still not done that” moment, and several brain freeze type episodes. I don’t know why it’s his fault. Maybe his “get a big subscription button” button on slide 33 wasn’t quite big enough 😉

In My Defense Though…

I did take lots of advice from that session and implement it to great effect. Promptly even.  If you have a WordPress blog and are still getting to grips with SEO I’d urge you to visit the above link and take good note of slides 12, 15, 18, 20 & 21. I’ve used all of these in the last 18 months to powerful effect on my WordPress sites.

See you all at the 2010 A4U Expo and I hope to be a little quicker off the mark with taking good advice this time!

Affiliate Quick Tips – Google Ad Planner For Niche & Competitor Research

Quick Tips 2 Comments »

Google Adplanner has been around for a little while now, but I don’t see it widely spoken about in forums as a niche research tool so I thought it was worth flagging here as a Quick Tip.

If you’re researching a new niche this interesting tool can tell you how much traffic a top ranked site is getting as well as key visitor demographics, other sites visited, and keyword data.  Definately handy if you are interested in ascertaining just how much traffic volume there might be around your chosen niche area and perhaps also a way to ascertain potential earning power if you use it in combination with network EPC data.  Great to have a wee nosey at how your competitors are doing too 😉

As for how accurate the data is?   This blog post by Kevin Hague, who co-owns and gives insight into how he rates it in comparison to the Hitwise data and his thoughts on its accuracy levels (quite good to be succinct!).

Check out the Google Ad Planner here and do post back comments re: what you think of it. Interested to hear other people’s experiences and how the data can be used by affiliates!


8 Reasons Why Your “Hard Work” Isn’t Paying Off in Affiliate Marketing

General 22 Comments »

Gosh darn it’s frustrating isn’t it?  You’ve been working soooo hard on your affiliate sites, often staying up till 2am on a work night to try and make your big break into affiliate marketing or push your affiliate business on to new heights.

Or have you?

Here’s my top 8 reasons why those hours spent industriously in front of your computer screen might not be as industrious as you thought.

1. Twitter and Facebook. Great places to network with other affiliates and get all important industry contacts.  However, Mafia Wars and Farmville do not count as networking, and nor does spending hours pointlessly retweeting articles you’ve never read in the hope of ingratiating yourself to Jeremy Schoemaker and Shawn Collins so they will DM you everything you need to know about dominating the affiliate world in 140 characters or less.

2. Online Forums. Yes,  A4U is spiffing in every way and is jam packed with useful information (alternatively insert forum name of your choice).  However if you’re spending all your time on there starting (or answering) threads about just about every possible problem you might come up against in affiliate marketing over the span of your career you’re going to start to notice that your business has completely failed to grow despite you asking questions about it till you’re blue in the face.

3. Spending Hours Working Out What Other People Are Doing Isn’t Work! Every single day I have searches to all of my sites from people searching on my company name having a good nosey.  Completely understandable of course, everyone has a wee internet nosey every now and again… but looking at what other people do isn’t going to help you work out what you need to do for yourself to make you some cash.  Take a look around, say “my that’s cool”, and then get on with creating some genius ideas to revolutionise your own business.  Oh, and whilst I’m on don’t use the CTRL+C button to do this.  Particularly if you’ve been looking at one of my sites 😉

4. Does This Sound Familiar? “I was up till 5am last night looking at super affiliates.  I reckon that Amit Mehta must be on at least $30,000 per second or part thereof. Did I tell you he has an American Express Black Card?  It’s so cool.  Oh, oh!  and I read on Twitter that John Chow went out for dinner and had made $9,000 by the time he got back.  Oh man!”  If you have found yourself in possession of lots of facts and figures of this nature recently I have some ill tidings about your career.  You’ve been titting about and not working!!!

5. You Have a Portfolio of 743 Red Hot Niche Domains. How Many Websites? If the number is between zero and none, or you have 7 half finished designs lurking around the internet looking sorry for themselves, guess what?  You haven’t been working at all.  If you’ve been an “affiliate marketer” for 6 months or more and think that’s a good achievement I have some bad news.  You’re not an affiliate marketer, you’re Walter Mitty.

6. Similarly, You Have 10 Websites but every time you start one you get bored after two weeks and start another one before you’ve even given it a chance to work.  You’re always seeking the pot of gold at the end of the affiliate rainbow but you’re not looking at your own two feet which is often where the rainbow starts. Dig for the pot of gold in what you’ve already achieved. You might be surprised at what you find there. The money in this game is in consistency and measured application of your skills.  Put that scattergun away!

7. You’re Not Doing Anything At All… Despite knowing that you should be.  Now this may be obvious but it’s more common than you think.   Suddenly your affiliate mojo has deserted you, shot the craw as we say in Scotland.  It often happens to people who have worked long and hard to go full time.  They achieve their goal and suddenly discover that David Dickenson is their idol and they can’t rip eyes off him on his many daytime TV shows. Solution?  Personally, I usually stop staring at the computer screen blankly alternately stressing  and contemplating my navel, step back for a day or three, have a think about it all, and take another run up to see if I can get back on the work train.  Works about 7 times out of 10.

8. The People Around You Don’t Think AM is a “Real” Job (one for the full timers here) You will therefore be more than happy to be volunteered for all duties at your kids’ school.  Furthermore you don’t mind at all when people call round for coffee unannounced or ring you up to help them solve the trivial emergency of the day.  I’m not sure why people do this.  I’m assuming they think that because it involves computers the process of making money is fully automated and requires no human intervention. Solving this requires assertiveness and in some cases downright rudeness.  This can be fun if you’re not particularly fond of the offender.

And Finally…

I’ve devoted lots of words to describing the many ways you can waste your time as an affiliate and I’m sure there are many more I could have used.  However the solution is way more succinct. Honesty.  Be honest with yourself  about what you’re supposed to be doing  and what constitutes a good day of progress – you’ll be amazed how much more productive you can be.


Ask Kirsty – How To Work Out Which Domain To Develop First?

Ask Kirsty 5 Comments »

Hi Kirsty,

Been following u on twitter and this site for a while, and you certainly know your stuff! I have a number of great domains, and wish to turn them all into affiliate sites. However, I want to start on the most profitable one first.. so do you know, anywhere, where i can get a list of the potential income by affiliate sector at all??

i.e. music, gaming, news, lighting, etc etc .. i thought it would be easy to find, but it certainly isnt !

many thanks,


Hi Nigel,

Sorry to say that such a resource does not exist! Affiliates are notoriously cagey about such things and besides I think such numbers would be very difficult to accurately measure. The only thing I can suggest is to try to do a bit of research in a few different ways.

  • Check out EPCs of merchants in the sectors you are thinking of working in on the main networks. These are of course averages and can be skewed by the presence of things such as incentive sites so it is important to have a really good look at any merchants you think could be decent performers and try to see how you think you will perform. Place yourself in the shoes of a consumer interested in your niche products. Would you buy from them? It may even pay to go as far as placing a few test orders to see who you really rate. After all, it’s a small investment compared to the time you will spend building your site!
  • Don’t get distracted by considerations of product values when considering the performance of potential merchants. The main thing you are interested in is getting the most amount of profit from the least amount of clicks, thus making your progress towards a nice profit much quicker. Sometimes lower value products will convert better. I’ve found lots of affiliates get distracted by dreams of wild riches from selling thousands of high end products every month. Focus on conversions and how much you think every click through to a merchant can earn you.
  • Check out the competition. One factor I’d consider if I had lots of domains to choose from would be which one I’d be able to get ranking most quickly. With that in mind I’d test a few key terms around each of my domains and see if there was lots of authority sites competing for positions. Also, if any of your domains are keyword based and might attract a good search volume I’d bump them towards the top of your priority list as you will rank them much more easily.
  • If you really want to try and come up with a concrete figure I suggest you try to work out what EPC you would achieve sending traffic to the merchants you think you’d work with. Use a combination of the network figures and your own gut feeling, and then look at how much you’d earn from 1,000 visitors sent to them. You also could attempt to work out how much traffic your various sites would get using the monthly search data on a range of keywords from Google and a reasonable CTR based on top ten positions, but I really feel there are too many “what ifs” in this kind of analysis for an affiliate. However it might help you work out potential for growth and longer term profits that you can feed into your considerations.

Finally, my best suggestion for you is that you get at least a mini site up for each and every one of the domains you are considering developing. That way the ones you aren’t working on can be in the index and ageing. This will also allow you to keep an eye out for any link opportunities that may come up. This is advice I really also need to take myself, LOL.

Finally finally, all the above bits of advice are great. But really you shouldn’t spend too long on them or asking yourself lots of questions. Just do it as the clever people at Nike would say. Advice that Tiger Woods really took a step too far 😉


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