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Honest Make Money Online Programs

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The focus of this blog has recently changed from investing for beginners to trying to make money on the Internet.  Frankly, there is some similarity in the two endeavors.  You have to sort out the winners from the losers.

In investing, there is a lot of hype that surrounds some companies but they don’t have the financial statements to back it up.  The same is true for a lot of people who claim to make money online.  They don’t have the paycheck to prove it.  So really, who has the goods to back it up and which stock/blogger should you follow?

I must admit for investing, I didn’t have the time to put into the analysis of long term stock picks so I went to a financial advisor.  However, in hindsight my financial advisor wasn’t helping my cause out either by suggesting mutual funds with high MERs and then switching them out so they could get a commission.  Again, is there a parallel to the world of making money online?  You bet.  You see, most people who make money online can be considered scam artists.  They recommend products which they don’t use or they create hype around a product with flashy sales copy and an urgent need to buy it now before the offer ends!  I have fallen for those gimmicks before but thankfully my making money online tuition fee was not too steep.  In fact, I probably would have been still stumbling if it had not been for Vic from Bloggerunleashed that opened my eyes to how internet marketing really works.  I don’t follow Vic anymore because although he is a reformed blackhat artist, his methods are still riskier than what I’m used to.   However, it truly was one of the turning points in my web business endeavors.

Another turning point for me was the Keyword Academy which built on what I learned from Vic but in a more organized manner.  If there was ever an honest make money program this would be it.  They have step by step videos that show you how to choose the right keywords for your websites, how to monetize the websites, how to create content, and how to get these sites ranked.  All this is reinforced by weekly webinars and you can also ask questions on their forum as well.  However, the same messages and questions can get repetitive so what made me stay in the program was their suite of tools to help you connect with other webmasters for link building.  Compared to other programs, this is a steal at $33 a month but don’t take my word for it.  See for yourself for the first month at $1.  The founders are that confident about the value of their program that you will stay.  However, if you truly do not benefit from the program, you can quit anytime you want by cancelling the subscription through Paypal.  No haggling to get your refund.

Now that I am a bit wiser in my web education, I can appreciate what a good program this is.   They give you concrete steps instead of vague notions.

When I had first begun this personal finance blog, I had followed the advice of Darren Rowse from Problogger to grow my blog, to develop a relationship with my readers, to create good content, etc.  I really don’t know what my goal was but I think it was monetization as an end result.  However, that never really came because the steps were not concrete.  For some unknown reason, sometimes I still read Problogger because I am still amazed that he can push out that much content on the same blogging about blogging subject every day.  That’s a lot of creative writing right there so I give him props.  However, what inspired me to write this post was the fact that he wrote a post to promote his new online membership site of Third Tribe.  It’s based on the notion that in one camp there are Internet Marketers who receive lots of hype and make lots of money online sand on the other side there are ethical bloggers who struggle to make money.   So to fill in the space between this great divide, Darren Rowse and Brian Clark from Copyblogger fame (and other people) got together to create this new site that will serve the needs of those who find themselves somewhere in between.  Now, the reason I’ve singled out Brian Clark is because I was actually in another of his membership site called Teaching Sells awhile back.  I paid 3 months for at an introductory offer for $97 and I even wrote a Teaching Sells review before they jacked up the price.  I can’t remember much about it only that it wasn’t for me.  It was geared towards building membership sites but there is no way as a newbie I could have pulled that off.  I really had no marketable knowledge at that time and I still don’t to this day so a program like that did not keep my interest in the Teaching Sells membership for long.  And this is my problem with the new Third Tribe program.  Reading Problogger’s sales pitch, there really doesn’t seem to be a course outline or any webmaster tools that would keep me coming back.  There’s some mention about a forum, advice from the founders and other A-list bloggers (from the comments section mind you).  But call me skeptical but how much do you want to bet that it’s about creating a relationship with your readers, creating great content and all that other drivel.  How many ways can you say it and make it still sound fresh?  That was my problem with Problogger before but now he’s teamed up with Copyblogger to charge for it.  Oh, and you have to hurry to lock in the price of $27 before they up it in a few days to $47.  For what?!  What exactly are they selling?  At least with the Teaching Sells program I could tell they were selling information but I can’t tell how it will benefit me to join this Third Tribe program.  If you compare what I have listed with the Keyword Academy, I’m sure you would be able to say that that program was more transparent and an honest make money online program.   All I know is that I’m not taking the bait of joining the Third Tribe despite A list bloggers being involved (funny about what they say about the first group being hyped up Internet Marketers) but you can read it from someone who has joined the program to provide a Third Tribe review.

Making Money Online in 2010

Well, well, well. It’s a new year and by the look of things, it’s been awhile since I updated my blog. While the personal finance blog was woefully neglected, my other ventures on the Internet were rounding into shape quite nicely by the end of 2009.

If my readers are still around, you’d have known that I always had a fascination with internet marketing (that’s making money online). It’s only natural given the financial nature of this blog. Well, I started getting more serious about it and I have to say that I’m getting the hang of it. Within a year, I hope to equal my real life job income and following that, who knows. Maybe an early retirement is in the near future? I’d have to make 5 times more than my current salary to even contemplate quitting my regular job given the security that it gives me but I see a possibility of escaping the daily grind. I just have to have the discipline to go through with it. Yes, it’s another type of grind but on the bright side, I am my own boss and I control my earning potential. I have my goals and all I have to do is create enough sites that meet my income targets. It sounds simple enough, right? Yes and no. Once you truly grasp how IM works, it’s a repeatable formula – sorta. The Internet is constantly evolving and you’ll have to make minor adjustments along the way. That being said, you’ll need to dissect the extraneous and erroneous information that other internet marketers provide.

There is a LOT of people who want to make money online but don’t know how. Unfortunately, they are looking at the wrong type of “celebrity” make money online bloggers for guidance. These gurus are only there to pad their own wallets by selling you their products. Basically, they tell you to keep on writing to become an authority in your area of expertise. If you write it, they will come and so will the advertisers. You can also leverage your credibility to recommend products. I never truly believed this method of monetization (for me) because it seemed like a whole heck of a lot of work to blog and to keep up the constant traffic. Actually, I don’t mind the work, but I just don’t like being tied down to anything. Sure, with this blog I actually had quite a few visitors judging by the analytics and some even bothered to comment. But it is damn hard to sustain the momentum for a long time. Oprah has her research team for topics but on my blog, it’s only me. It is also difficult to sell to your readers without losing a lot of integrity. A regular blog gig wasn’t the business model for me. Also, this ain’t broadcast TV, and we know how well commercials are tanking because of PVR. Take this to the online world and the equivalent is ad blindness.

So, I turned to little niche sites that were search engine targeted. These sites talked about mundane stuff – like household products and stuff. People who want solutions to their problems looked for these items and were already interested buyers before even landing on your site. That’s practically a guaranteed sale.

You might be thinking that search engine traffic is a little old school compared to the new social networking phenomena. And I do admit some apprehension in not embracing Twitter and Facebook, etc. I have ranted before about my dislike of social networking given the fact that they can’t turn a profit because social traffic is not interested buyers traffic. If they can’t turn a profit, how am I expected to create a long term business plan? However, Facebook is seeing a positive cash flow for the first time and foresee profits sometime in 2010. Well, it’s about time. Perhaps I will regret in the future for not jumping on the bandwagon when I had the chance (I had some interesting comments about Google and Twitter in my previous post). Things are constantly evolving online. I love it and yet I hate it because of its unpredictable nature. And yet, this is my ticket to early retirement? That’s a scary thought. Even though this is not an MMO blog per se, I’ll keep you posted in how I make out in the new year. I promise.

Would Google Acquiring Twitter Be a Bad Move?

Being in the technology field and trying to learn finance, anytime a news story comes out that marries the two, I’m interested.  This time, it’s about Google possibly acquiring Twitter, the microblogging platform.  Perhaps I’m one of the few in the blogging scene who doesn’t understand the appeal of Twitter.  Then again, since my posts have been few and far between, maybe I just don’t crave the social media attention.  What interests me more, if this deal comes into fruition, is  how Google plans to monetize the acquisition.

Time and time again, we have heard how hard it is to monetize social media for an online income.  Facebook still hasn’t made a go at it.  Last I heard, Google is pulling off Adsense for videos.  And now they want to buy Twitter?  Don’t get me wrong, I can see a use for Twitter as a communications tool for breaking news media.  But following people I barely know, a cat, a dog, a pet ferret?  Who cares?

The general masses are polluting Twitter with nonsense blatherings.  How will Google slap Adsense on pointless 140 character tweets?  How will Google handle real time search on the bastardization of shortened words and get them in the correct context?  Obvioiusly, the Google braintrust is much smarter than I.  However, have they made Youtube profitable yet?  Youtube, Twitter, Facebook are great applications but without a sustainable business model or a definable revenue stream, being cool and the latest craze just doesn’t cut it for the investment pocket book.

Using Economics to Predict the Olympic Medal Count

The Olympic Games are upon us and I for one am excited. Go Canada, go… even though by all expert accounts, we’re pretty much going to suck. If sports were like fashion, then summer just isn’t our colour. We’re way too cool and we’ll do our thing in Vancouver 2010 :)

So I’m flipping through my local paper and chanced upon an article involving economics and the Olympics. Now, I’ve always liked my financial information served with a twist – for economists to get freaky like Stephen Levitt or to go undercover like Tim Harford. They are capable of finding interesting nuggets of information like why drug dealers still live with their mothers or why you can never buy a decent used car… Intelligence mixed with the inane. I like it.

Anyways, an economist by the name Dan Johnson was making Beijing Olympics medal count predictions for countries based on:

  • income per capita
  • population
  • climate
  • political structure
  • home field advantage

Interestingly enough, how much a nation spends on the athletic program is not a factor since it’s difficult to obtain internationally comparable data but Johnson has been pretty spot on so far. He started predicting in Sydney 2000 and continued for the following Winter and Summer Olympics. He’s running at a 93-96% accuracy.

So what are his medal predictions for the Beijing Olympics? Here’s the breakdown of your home and native land.

  • United States: 103 medals total; 33 gold
  • Russia: 95 medals total; 28 gold
  • China: 89 medals total; 44 gold
  • Germany: 66 medals total; 18 gold
  • Japan: 37 medals total; 16 gold
  • Hungry: 31 medals total; 10 gold
  • Italy: 29 medals total; 8 gold
  • Great Britain: 28 medals total, 3 gold
  • France: 27 medals total, 5 gold
  • Australia: 26 medals total, 2 gold
  • South Korea: 24 medals total, 6 gold
  • Poland: 24 medals total, 6 gold
  • Bulgaria: 23 medals total, 6 gold
  • Netherlands: 22 medals total, 4 gold
  • Sweden: 19 medals total, 2 gold
  • Canada: 17 medals total, 0 gold

Not surprisingly, Canada comes in at 0 gold medals. Call me cynical but I believe the countries who have the best steroid masking agents or the best cover up teams will triumph.

I’m clearly still bitter from the Ben Johnson fiasco as a kid twenty years ago.

One of the mottos of the Olympic Games is: “The most important thing is not to win but to take part”. Yeah, so even though we suck, we’re clean! Yaaaay! Go Canada, go!

Alaska ho! And back again

Something that might not come across well in my blog is that I have a very high threshold for the spectacular. This means that it takes a lot to impress me ;)

Last week, I found myself sitting at the dining room table of a cruise ship with complete strangers who were trying to one-up each other. The alpha female dinner companions were comparing the sizes of their kitchens back home.

Right…

Ironic that these same people complain how they don’t have enough time to plan for meals, cook and do the dishes and yet they boast about the size of their kitchens. Thank goodness for Ma Bell and delivery service because I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their kitchens (or mine for that matter).

Flickr: Star Princess

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself so let me rewind and explain a bit. I was on a cruise to Alaska with my family for the last week. It had been planned for awhile so luckily for me, everything was already taken care of by the more anal responsible members of my family. All I had to do was pack and show up with my passport.

We sailed out of Seattle for a 7-day cruise on the Star Princess to Alaska along the inner passage with stops at Ketchikan and Juneau. We sailed through Tracy Arm and made another stop at Skagway before turning around for Victoria and back to Seattle.

To be perfectly honest, I was really blasé at the beginning of the whole trip. Like I said, it takes a lot to impress me. We got plenty of snow and ice this winter in my part of Canada. And if I needed a reminder, I could always open up the fridge for ice.

Flickr: White Pass & Yukon Trail

Okay, so not to be a total party pooper, the glaciers and mountains were kinda majestic.

But since this is a finance blog, let’s talk about money.

For my floating hotel, it was a little less than $100 per night. This included meals, cruise entertainment and tips which they tack onto your stateroom bill anyways. The truth is, I don’t know the complete cost of my trip along with plane tickets, 3 night hotel accommodations in Seattle, transportation, food and admission fees to tourist traps destinations.

Yeah, this is a finance blog but I never promised to be a good one ;)

Since the trip was booked by family members who have a way more dominant DNA gene for being cheap, I knew that I was in good hands. I’m figuring less than $1500 for a 10 day vacation which I don’t consider to be that expensive for where we were and all that we did.

We saved a lot of money by booking our own shore excursion in Alaska. We’d look at excursions that the cruise provided and tried to mimic the itinery. For example, a trip to Mendenhall Glacier and a salmon hatchery in Juneau cost $39 per person through the cruise ship. Finding your own transportation via shuttle would run about $7, and admission to the Mendenhall Glacier was $3.00 and $3.25 for the salmon hatchery. That’s a total of $13.25 vs $39. Another example of saving costs was when we took a train ride in Skagway through the White Pass & Yukon Route. On our own, it was $103 but through the cruise, I think the same thing cost $112 with the only difference being a 10 minute walk to the train station. This all can add up. We also went back to the ship for all meals as well. Heck, why not? We paid for it.

I can’t take credit for all these savings as they do take some preliminary research but it is a way to stretch your dollar if you’re budget conscious. If I had organized the trip myself, I probably wouldn’t have bothered and paid through the nose for not doing the research. That’s only fair for being a dumbass and I expect it. This brings me full circle to the story I began this post about – the traveling mates I met while on board the ship. It’s really interesting to get a glimpse of people’s expectation of money.

I don’t know what it is about cruise ships that bring out lofty ideals in people’s minds. I admit that after hearing about “formal” dining nights, I expected food to be superb. This wasn’t always the case. I mean, the food was okay but it wasn’t top quality and I’m not that much of a connoisseur. I do know presentation and having soup drip on the outside of your bowl is what I consider a no-no for quality dining. And this happened on more than a few occasions with plates as well. But seeing as it was all inclusive meals with the stateroom for less than $100 a night, it was a bargain.

Flickr: Snail

So here I am sitting at the dining room table with others while they bluster about how wonderful the gourmet food has been. And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, dude, you can’t even pronounce escargots correctly. Just say snails for cripes sake like it says in the description. And it’s not pronounced minesTROAN soup, it’s minestronKNEE. Also, it’s not sockKEY salmon but sockEYE salmon. I get the fact that we want to present our best to the outside world but when you’re so out of your league, stop the ruse of pretending to be the upper crust of society.

My dinner companions also compared the locations of their staterooms – if they had a suite or an outer stateroom with a window and at which level. Mine was at the lowest passenger deck and in dead center of the ship. I get motion sickness quite easily so I was popping dramamine pills daily. A stateroom in the middle of the ship with little turbulence suited me just fine thanks but you can tell that it was looked down upon. Now why would I pay more for discomfort for the sake of appearances when I could see the telltale sign of a motion sickness patch on the back of ears?

And yes, the women really did compare the sizes of their kitchens. I’ve only witnessed this in males before by overcompensating with their cars. I wonder if their bras were padded…

But the biggest kicker was when these “high rollers” objected to being charged with a liqueur they thought were samples. It’s funny to see how people gravitate towards “free”. Since I don’t drink I had declined. And I had a suspicion that it wasn’t free but people were too polite to ask the question and they got caught. Then talks of the waiter misrepresenting and seeing the captain were discussed. I mean come on… After all that talk of staterooms, kitchens and gourmet food they were complaining about a $4.00 drink? So much for appearances.

At the end of the vacation, I bet I had as good a time as they did at the fraction of the price. I can’t claim credit for the savings because I’m not your typical frugal finance blogger. But I also don’t consider it a badge of honor for being stupid. And trying to be something you’re not, especially for strangers is just that.

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