Category Archives: Making Money from the Web

Urgent information for those seeking Financial Assistance for Website Development in Waterford

If you are interested in getting financial grant assistance to help you do business online then then you need to book a place at the information morning being held in Dungarvan on Thursday the 26th of June. As part of the National Digital Strategy the Local Enterprise Office are hosting a Digital Voucher Information morning in Dungarvan Enterprise Centre, from 8am to 1pm (free of charge).

The Digital voucher process is competitive and there are €62,500 worth of vouchers available in Waterford for this Pilot phase. In order to be eligible to apply for a voucher, you need to book a place on the Digital Voucher Information Morning in Dungarvan, Waterford.  Places are limited to 50 so book now.

Why the Initiative?

According to the LEO, there is an “ever increasing towards online spending it is estimated that only 23% of small Irish businesses are engaged in any meaningful way in eCommerce sales… It is now believed that of online purchases made in Ireland that 70% of these are done in overseas markets.”

With this in mind, The National Digital Strategy aims to get a further 2,000 businesses trading online by the end of 2015. The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) has launched an Online Trading Voucher Programme and has teamed up with the Local Enterprise Offices to deliver this to Irish business. Following a successful first pilot phase in Dublin City, a wider pilot will now take place and businesses from Waterford can now apply.

Who can Apply?

Businesses in Waterford that wish to trade online or uprgrade their existing online presence are encouraged to attend the information morning to learn more about the scheme and to become eligible to apply for the voucher.

According to the LEO: “There is now an urgency to ensure that businesses recognise that this is happening and that they are encouraged and supported to correctly respond to this digital reality.”

What can the vouchers be used for?

  • IT consultation;
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website;
  • Implementing Online payments or booking systems;
  • Purchase of Internet related software;
  • Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase);
  • Developing an app (or multiplatform webpages);
  • Implementing a digital marketing strategy i.e. Social media marketing;
  • Consultation with ICT experts for early stage adopters of online strategy;
  • Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an on-line trading activity.

What Assistance is Available

  • Vouchers will be available to a maximum value of €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure (Net of VAT), whichever is the lesser;
  • Voucher approval must be gained prior to incurring any expense;
  • Own labour is not an eligible expense;
  • Third party costs only will be considered;
  • All third party/supplier invoices must contain proper business details (e.g. Tax and Business Registration details).

Conclusion

If you are a local business and have an eCommerce/Booking/Sales element to your web site, you need to attend this information morning.  Book your place at the Digital Voucher Information Morning in Dungarvan, Waterford, today.

Please share/pass on this post to anybody you know that is thinking of building a site urgently as places are limited.  If you’re not in you can’t win.

Top 10 Tips for Self Publishing a Book

10-tips-self-publishingI was asked recently on Linked In some questions about publishing a book. Maybe you’ve made a resolution to publish the book that you’ve always had at the back of your mind?

The biggest decision you have to make when you wish to publish a book is whether to self-publish or not.  If you decide to go with a publishing company, and your book gets accepted by them a lot of the work is taken off your hands but so too is a lot of the profit, and rightly so because work should be rewarded through sharing profit fairly.

As a self published author of several irish slang books, I wanted to share my experience of writing and publishing my own books. The first book that I published back in 2007 was a book entitled “The Deise Dictionary of Waterford Slang.”

Here is the list of steps that I went through to get the book published and my tips for each stage:

  1. Research with Passion: Before writing a book you must research the topic adequately and become passionate about it, otherwise the book will not be written because the effort required is far more than you initially realise.
  2. Make a Plan:  You’ve got to have a plan for the book, content, chapters etc. etc.  In order to formulate a plan you should talk to others too.  I had great help from Tom Fewer of Ballylough Books to help me plan my first book.
  3. Write it:  Open up your word processor and begin writing.  It probably helps at this point if you format the page size of your word processor to match the dimensions of the book you want to write.  There will be less fiddling about at the end if you do.  Consider margins etc.  Perhaps even talking to a printing company at this point might be a good idea!  They will provide you with exact page dimensions and optimum margin widths.
  4. Review it:  You should get several third parties to go through the book to help correct grammar and other mistakes.  If it’s a novel you’re writing, this is especially important.  For me the most important thing was consistency.
  5. Design it:  Once you have the content written you need to design a cover, and maybe get some graphic design work done on the inside pages too. It’s probably best to employ a freelance designer for this or perhaps your printing company will have someone that can do this for you at a good rate.
  6. Get an ISBN number:  You need to apply to Nielson to get yourself an ISBN number. When I bought them I received a block of 10 that I can still use.  You then need to convert the ISBN number to a barcode.  Generally you can employ a company to do this for you, they will charge maybe €50 and you can pass it on to your printing company.  There are free tools online to create bar codes such as: http://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/
  7. Print It: You then need to go to a printing company and get the book printed and bound. Go to several as prices vary quite a bit.  They will help you choose the right format, paper quality and will give you a price. Normally the more you print the cheaper it gets per unit.   Before you print the final copy you will need to go through a proof of the book and fix any last minute mistakes.  If you’re sending physical copies of the book across the globe, consider the weight of the paper too.
  8. Publicise it: Once the book is printed you need to publicise it.  Create a buzz on social media, send copies to local media, papers, get a celebrity to champion it. I asked my school friend and magician Keith Barry (host of Tv3 show Brainhacker) to launch my book, which he graciously did for me.  In my case it was picked up by local and national media, including Ryan Tubridy, which was fantastic for sales.  The Deise Dictionary created such a buzz it actually sold out locally that Christmas (2000 copies). I managed to get a second batch printed quickly, and it kept selling well into January which is highly unusual.
  9. Get it on Shelves: I suppose publicity and placement in shops are a bit “chicken and eggish”  it needs to be in the shops before you publicise but it also needs to be publicised before shops will take it.  When it is in the shop, try and ask the shop nicely to position it well.  It will sell far more if it is more visible.
  10. Sell it online.  There are lots of opportunities to get your book promoted online via blogs, news sites, social media, youtube, discusssion forums and so on.  Consider your target market and where they are.  This is where you need to be.  You could create a site to sell the book via PayPal or get it on Amazon and other book selling sites.

Generating Profit

To make profit from a self-published book is difficult.  In order to get it printed you are looking at a cost of maybe 20% of the sale price.  Then you will need a distributor.  Argosy and Eason charged me in the region of 50+%, which included the shops commission.  If you are distributing yourself, typically, a shop will charge 20%-40% commission to sell your creation.

My advice on publishing therefore, is:

  • If you are exclusively selling locally and you can distribute yourself, then if you sell all of your books you can expect to earn potentially 40-50% of the the sale price.  If you go through
  • If you are selling nationally you will need a distributor, in this case if you sell all of your books you can expect to earn potentially 30% of the sale price.
  • If you go international, through a publisher, a lot of work will be taken off your hands in terms of publishing, printing, distribution, but you can expect a lot less than 30%. You will still need to do a lot of the promotion yourself.

Some more tips on selling your book online:

for-focal-sake-thumbThese days you can sell your book online also.  Consider creating a web page or blog to go along with your book and selling it online via PayPal.  For one of my books “For Focal Sake-A 32 County Guide to Irish Slang” I created a website to collect Irish slang from across the country.  I then published the book on the site and it’s promoted to this day via search engine optimisation.  If someone searches for a slang term and finds slang.ie, they are possibly someone in my target market.  Through this I have managed to sell this and my other slang books quite successfully.  Of course paypal take a small cut of the sale price and you have to add on shipping costs, but generally you can absorb these costs a bit better for your customer because you are not paying a large comission to get the book onto a shelve and you don’t have to worry about distributing, besides sending the items at your local post office.

If your book is something that people can relate to and you can provide extra information on a blog, some of your content could potentially go viral through social sharing (like button, pinterest pin, linkedin share, google+ etc).  This is a really good way of getting the word out there, but it isn’t easy to be successful.  You have got to find a niche and it has to be sharable, and you need to find a way to get the sharing process kickstarted. Also, once your book becomes popular, don’t forget channels such as Amazon for selling and getting reviews.  Send your book to popular blogs in your target market for review.

Happy writing and best of luck!

What is Internet Marketing?

Internet Marketing is a buzzword thrown around today like an old basket ball. It’s important if you have a business website to understand the basics so that you can score three pointers on your competitors.

Essentially it is any activity performed online that promote your product or service.

Here is a list of the top most critical Internet Marketing Activities:

  1. Search Engine Optimisation: You have to ensure that your website has the correct keywords embedded within it to have a chance of being shown on the search engine results page.
  2. Google Pay Per Click Advertising or Google Adwords: Using Google Keyword Research you can pay for your site to appear on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Be careful here as you can pay a fortune for ads that aren’t optimised and remember to ditch terms that aren’t giving you a return. These ads can also appear on websites that use Google Adsense.
  3. Facebook Pay Per Click Advertising: Facebook advertising is very exciting for certain businesses as you can target customers by age, location, sex etc. It can be expensive but if you get a customer to join your facebook page you have access to them potentially indefinitely.
  4. Affiliate Marketing: Often there’s a website out there that provides information to your target market. It might be worth offering them a percentage of your profit if they can generate significant sales for you. There are many third party services that link affiliates with merchants such as TradeDoubler. If it’s a niche you could update your site to track who has generated sales for you.
  5. Social Media interaction: It is important to engage with your consumers in a non-salesy way so that they learn to trust you. Building up this kind of relationsip will influence a customer when it comes to future purchase decisions.
  6. Add facebook like button to your site: If people like what you’re offering they may well share it on facebook if you make it easy for them to do it.
  7. Google Places: Don’t forget to add your site to Google Places otherwise know as Google Local Business Centre. When people do local searches these results often do better than regular SERP entries.

There are lots more things that you can do to market your product or service online. This is just a taster of some of the more important Internet Marketing techniques that I use on a daily basis.

 

Why should I set up a Blog?

There are various reasons why you should set up a blog, maybe you have thoughts in your head that you just want to share with the world, maybe you  are the public relations officer for a group and you want to disseminate information, maybe you are a story teller or an amateur reporter who wants to comment on topics relevant to the world today.  These are all valid reasons for setting up a blog but the no 1 reason people should set up blogs in the business community is to help them generate revenue, be it directly through advertising products on the blog itself or by indirectly advertising their own products or services through friendly advice. For example this blog, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that this blog was set up to help me promote my business.

So how can blogs help you earn money?

A regularly updated, well constructed blog will be monitored by Google and other search engines, therefore every blog entry you write has the opportunity to capture more visitors to your site. It is therefore important that the title of your blog and the content in the first paragraph and throughout the entry targets the keyphrase that you know users are searching for.  For example this particular blog entry is called “Why should I set up a blog?” If we look at the Google Keyword tool, 18,100 people each month search for “set up a blog” which is contained within the title of this blog.  This means that if someone types in “Set up a blog” into google it could potentially match this page.  Of course other factors such as page popularity, region etc. come into play but the potential is there.

The great thing about blogs is that you can endlessly post pages to your site, unlike on your business website, which displays your products and services.  There’s no way that you can cover every topic that someone might type in to search for your products and services on your business website, it would just get too messy and customers would not enjoy the experience.  Your company site is about converting traffic into business. Your blog on the other hand and delve down into very specific issues and can have a personal touch.  People reading blogs are looking for the solution to a problem or a author’s opinion on something so when you are constructing your blog think firstly, what would a user search for and then solve or comment on that problem. You should look at the Google Keyword tool to help you make that judgement.  Once you have your topic and the correct keywords write your blog naturally and just make sure you mention your key phrase once or twice throughout. Your new blog entry then essentially becomes a lead for your business.

What you are trying to achieve is to get new visitors to your site based on long tail key phrases.  These are key phrases that consist of several words that further qualify a key phrase e.g. “Cars in Waterford” could be a considered a relatively generic search term, whereas “Honda Civic Cars Waterford” is much more specific or long tail.  Long tail phrases may get you less traffic on their own but combined over time they will lead to significant, and more importantly, more focused traffic to your site. In other words, if a potential lead is typing in a very specific search phrase and their search turns up your site, they are likely to have found what they are looking for. It’s about casting your fishing net further, wider and more accurately than your company website ever can.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding long tail keywords:

” These phrases individually are unlikely to account for a great deal of searches, but when taken as a whole, can provide significant traffic. The long-tail is unlikely ever to exceed searches for a brand name if the brand name is reasonably well established, but the volume of converting traffic these terms can generate by nature of their specificity and relevance is worth investigating.

“Comprehensive long-tail keyword research can be a highly effective strategy, since people making long-tail searches are arguably further along in the buying cycle, so conversion rates can be higher. Recent long-tail keyword research has found that long-tail searches often exhibit a higher conversion rate by up to 200% compared to short-tail keywords, and can be extremely profitable for search engine marketers in terms of a lower cost per action and higher return on investment.”

If a blog entry is good it may be linked to or tracked by the blog community or commented on which is the ideal situation (this means it is being read).  Sometimes you will hit the jackpot and get tonnes of visits, other times you will see nothing but tumbleweed blow across the screen.  Over time if you consistently blog, it will average out as more visits to your site each month so once you start blogging, make sure you keep blogging!!!

How do I set up a blog?

There are a number of ways of doing this. You can host the blog on your own server or you can use an online blog service.  WordPress is probably the best known blog software in the world and you have both options here.  You can set up a blog on their server and you might get a domain such as yourbusiness.wordpress.com or you can download wordpress from wordpress.org and install it on your own server (you might need a web developer/designer to help you with this).  There are other online blog solutions such as blogger and livejournal. One advantage of using a hosted service is that you get a free link back to your main domain which will help your SEO.

So that’s pretty much it really, set up that business blog and start telling your customers what they want to hear through sensible advice and providing potential solutions to problems they might have. Oh and at the bottom of each blog entry you could also end with a gentle ad for your business.

E.g. for more information on setting up blogs or if you need a blog set up and managed for you please contact info@utdwebdesign.com

😉

Should I use Multivariate testing?

Short answer is yes!

Google provides the facility to test the conversion rates of more than one version of a homepage, however I needed something more specific for a particular client.

Basically the site was getting a large amount of relevant traffic through organic search and google adwords but the coversion rate could be higher. The site has a predominantly red design and we had the apply button in the same colour which meant that it did not stand out as much as it should. However it was very prominent so we didn’t think it the colour would have much impact.

We were very wrong.

What we did was created a simple cookie system generating a random number for individual visits to the site.  The system generats a number between 1 and 6 and assigns it to a visitor.  The system then selects a variant of the button based on this number.  We chose 6 very different colours that contrasted with the overall red colour of the site and also left the existing button in place as 1 of the 6 random numbers.

After a few hours there were around 100 instances of each random number recorded and there were no conversions on the existing red button.  However, there were 10 conversions on a yellow version of the button.  This is a truly staggering increase and shows the value of trying out various options on a site in a controlled way.

I look forward to seeing a larger sample set over the coming weeks so that we can extrapolate further findings and further increase the conversion rate.

The New Google Keyword Tool

Last week I tried using the Google Keyword tool and it wasn’t working the way I expected it to and I thought to myself that this was the end of an era.

How could I survive without the trusted Google Keyword Tool?

Thankfully, when I logged in today it seemed to be back to normal with an improved interface.

For anyone that doesn’t know at this stage, the Google Keyword tool is an indispensable application for anyone who wishes to do keyword research on-line.  The tool allows you to put in a keyword or phrase and it will show you how many people search for this word/phrase and variants of it worldwide and also locally (i.e. your target area) for the previous month.  It also gives an indication of how many advertisers are paying for advertising off the back of these key words and phrases.

This information is critical to anyone who wishes to promote their site online.

From a Search Engine Optimisation point of view it facilitates decision making on what names to give pages on a website, what keywords and phrases to put on them etc.  I mean there’s no point in creating a page with a certain title if nobody is ever going to search for it.

It now also asks for a website address as well as a key phrase, which can be very handy to see what your competitors are up to as regards keyword targeting.

It is an invaluable tool for anyone who takes their on-line presences seriously.

Making Money from Google Ads

I know it is easier said than done but there are some steps you can take to make significant earnings from the Google Ads system known as Google Adsense.

Advertisers who pay money for click throughs Google adwords are happy to pay you (via Google Adsense) if your site directs relevant traffic to theirs. So why not take advantage of this.

Firstly, what you need to do is create a site that will receive heavy visitor traffic for a given niche.  You can do this by identifying search topics for which there are relatively few websites returned by the search engine.

This alone isn’t enough however, as the search topic has to be one that advertisers are interested in advertising on e.g. a website about shoe lace ends (otherwise known as aglets, did you know that?) might not have as much advertising potential as hotels for example.

So, with that in mind open up the google keyword tool to find out what people are searching for now (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal).

Enter in a search term in the box and take a look at the results. The green bar on the left shows you what the advertiser competition is like for related search terms.  This is important to show you how many people are paying for ads. The greener the better from your perspective.

The next thing you need to look at is the monthly search volumes for the search terms… the higher the better!

Finally you need to do a standard search on google for those search terms to see if there are huge numbers of websites with that exact key phrase.

If the number is relatively low (in the thousands) and the results back don’t show an exact match in the heading and description you could be on to a winner.

To convert this new knowledge into money, you need to create a site to cater for this niche.

Try and get a domain name with this keyphrase in it… also think about whether or not someone might buy this domain off you at a  later date as you may be able to sell it on later even if you don’t make a success out of it with google ads.

Once the site is created and up and running use our SEO article to make sure the content is right.  Once that’s done you must get the site indexed by search engines. Again follow the instructions in the SEO article and submit the site to directories, blogs, boards and other social media sites and install analytics on the site so you can track your traffic.

Finally, add google adsense code to your site and if you’ve done everything right the cheques should start rolling in.

Repeat this process indefinitely!

OK, the above is a little over simplistic but it does work.

Your earnings are a function of your site traffic, the number of click throughs of your ads and how much an advertiser is willing to pay for these clicks (as shown by the keyword tool).

Get these parameters right and you will make money from Google Ads.