Munich a4uExpo 2010 Memories


There have been some great blog posts about what people learnt at the a4u Expo Munich, this is not one of them.

I do learn stuff at the a4u Expos but I attend so I can see what’s happening in our industry and to touch base with networks, agencies and other affiliates and to reconnect with friends, meet new people and put faces to people I’ve chatted with by MSN and email.

On this occasion my wife, Deb, accompanied me because we’d been visiting family in Frankfurt the week before so we were both up to speed drinking beer and mumbling a few German phrases. We avoided the ashcloud by chilling on the ICE train down to Munich. At one point we were travelling at 236km/h and it still took several hours to get to Munich which reminded me Germany really is a big country.

We arrived in good time to settle into the Munich Park Hilton Hotel which is one of the better conference hotels I’ve stayed in with the exception of WiFi access which was taking the piss at 18 euros for a 24 hour pass. Internet access is not an optional extra for affiliate marketeers so 18 euros later my mobile office was up and running.
The hotel breakfast offered everything anyone could possibly want for breakfast from a full English breakfast, a bowl of cornflakes or a continental style breakfast.

The Sessions
Having attended all the a4u Expos I’d seen quite a few of the presentations before and some of the rooms were too hot and too overcrowded but the content was generally good and all in English, which surprised me. The European audience wasn’t as quick to jump in on panel discussions as UK audiences so it was up to the moderator and twitter input to keep things moving – which worked well.
The lunchtime food was provided by the Hilton and was the best at any Expo offering something for everybody with a choice of nibbles, a bowl of soup or even a full meal.

The Germans
I wasn’t very proactive touring the stands in the main hall because I already work with most of the networks which have UK operations and I didn’t want to get into any long boring conversations with German specific networks and merchants I can’t work with at the moment but it was good to touch base with Karel Ellis-Gray who we also met in Barbados. Karel is affiliate marketing manager at belboon-adbutler GmbH who have some UK clients so check them out.

The a4u Munich Parties
The pre-show Ignite Party was held at the Vice Bar which is located just off one of Munich’s main shopping streets where we picked up our conference badges and wristbands before getting stuck into networking, the free bar and some tasty Bavarian nibbles. It was good to catch up with Ray Theakston, who I hadn’t seen since Barbados, and Bruce Clayton who I’d seen a few weeks earlier at a Linkshare event in London and apologies again to Hero for not recognising her straight away, it had been a while and I’m useless with names. The sound level was perfect, plenty of atmosphere and I didn’t wake up with a sore throat or ringing ears.

The Break Out Party on the middle night was held in, what looked like, a barn at the Munich Racecourse which sounds like an unlikely setting for what turned out to be an awesome party – undoubtedly the best a4u evening out ever.
The venue was really well organised with the BBQ outside, delivered with stereotypical German efficiency, no one was left hungry and I discovered, much to my surprise, that I like Sauer Kraut.
There was a raised back-lit music stage with an excellent DJ who really did build the atmosphere with the help of four great dancers and J’Lil who took over from the girls when he got into the groove.
For anyone wanting to chat there was plenty of space and seating away from the action but Deb and I were both enjoying the music and, despite being the oldest clubbers in town, wiggled our hips on the edge of the dance floor while admiring Duncan Popham throwing some classy moves on the dance floor – which I enjoyed a lot more than his click attribution presentation, Hi Duncan!

The After Show Party was held at the 089 bar in Munich (which coincidentally cost €8.90 to get to by taxi) and this evening wins my awkwardly titled “Best evening out from such an unpromising start award“.
We arrived around 9.30pm to a half empty Bavarian style bar which didn’t even sell Hefe Weissen – which is a bit like visiting an English country pub which doesn’t sell real ale as far as I am concerned.
Deb and I sat down with our complimentary drinks on an a4u reserved table on our own with just a sprinkling of a4u attendees mixed in with the locals. Not much happened so we bought a couple more beers and mooched around until Matt arrived and told us the last time he visited this bar it was shoulder to shoulder and a great evening out. Frankly I didn’t believe him and I was ready to leave but Deb persuaded me to give it a bit longer and I’m glad we did. Ray, J’Lil and a few other familiar faces turned up and that got the party started. Matt invited us to join the Existem gang and it got messy, needless to say I didn’t eat breakfast the next day and the flight home was an unwelcome intrusion into my hangover recovery regime.

Deb and I thoroughly enjoyed Munich and I’d like to thank Matt and the Existem team for a great conference and three great a4u parties and for their hospitality. I look forward to a4u Expo Munich June 2011 – I’ve just booked my tickets, why don’t you join me?

CantBarsed.com 10th Anniversary Year!

CantBarsed.com was launched with no fanfare early in 2000 with no commercial ambition and no real direction.

The only thing I had in place was free cantBarsed.com webmail accounts which I thought were great fun and they remain popular today.

It was a chance email exchange with Dan Mountain (MD, Buyagift) that changed the direction of the website and led to my career in affiliate marketing.

Having quit my design job in London and retired over a decade earlier to become one of the first house husbands in the playground I was living the cantBarsed lifestyle and tinkering around online in my spare time as the World Wide Web stumbled into existence and the dot.com boom became the next big thing.

We heard a comedian using “dot com” as a punchline which stuck in my mind. One of Deb’s favourite expressions back then, and even now, remains: “I can’t be arsed” and I started chiming in with “dot com” every time she said it. At some point I casually checked whether cantBEarsed.com had been registered – and it had, which could easily have been the end of the story.

However, lying in bed, late one night, the image of a bumble bee between the words can’t and arsed popped into to my head (yeah I know it’s stupid but stick with me) and the idea for a domain named cantBarsed.com was born. I registered the domain and it was only when I was playing with logo designs I realised the letter B turned sideways made a bum shape and the original cantBarsed logo was born. The logo was subsequently animated and tipped up at an angle so it’s easier to read and the design is now protected as a registered TradeMark.

I also registered cantBarsed.co.uk and several years ago I finally managed to get my hands on CantBEarsed.com for £3700 – which is most I have paid for a domain name so far and a sizable company expense at the time. I remember Nadeem Azam telling me it was news in the domain name industry and I also remember Nadeem making himself ill during the .eu domain sunrise period trying to buy them ALL(!) which prompted me to pre-register cantBEarsed.eu and cantBarsed.eu and those, along with a bunch of other variations, all end up at cantBarsed.com website.

The cantBarsed.com screenshot is dated 14th August 2000 and, from memory, I’d just revamped the site with the idea of making money aiming for an Austin Powers multicolored blocks feel – I still like it!

Keen affiliate marketeers will notice I was already up and running as an Amazon affiliate and the Firebox.com and Cheeky Monkey banners were running via UKaffiliates – which later transmoglified into Deal Group Media. I think the mp3.com banner is an early Commission Junction program.

After several years of trial and error, learning from my mistakes along the way, cantBarsed.com eventually started to make money and went on to establish itself as one of the first popular UK affiliate marketing portal style websites in the UK.

The peak year for CantBarsed.com was around 2007, before dedicated code sites dominated affiliate marketing, but even now, in CantBarsed.com’s 10th Anniversary year, the site still makes money from over 700 hand-crafted static HTML pages which continue to rank well in search engines for many popular search keyword terms.

Future CantBarsed.com Plans
We continue to add content and keep CantBarsed.com up to date and during 2009 we finally managed to automate the promotional code handling to comply with IAB regulations. During 2010 we’re planning to move away from static hand crafted HTML pages using Adobe Dreamweaver to an online Content Management System which should free up more time to add more original and useful content.

I find the continued existence of CantBarsed.com, in today’s über-corporate world, purely as a result of a string of co-incidences, remarkable and I’m looking forward to working on the site to secure it’s future well into the teenies.

Apple Black Friday Event

The Apple Black Friday Event is the only day each year Apple discounts it’s own products so if you’re planning to buy anything Apple for yourself or as Christmas gifts you can save yourself a few quid by ordering it online today. There’s up to 6.5% discount off an iPod nano, up to 8% off an iPod touch, up to 8% off an iMac, and up to 8.5% off MacBook Pro laptops – which are all pretty good discounts. There’s also discount off Apple TV, Time Capsule, Mac software and loads of iPod docks and accessories so it’s well worth a look.
You can also add a free laser-engraved personalised message to personalise all iPod models which make great Christmas gifts and there’s free delivery store-wide on all orders over £76.

How To Encourage Affiliates to Update Creatives…

Because we work with hundreds (thousands?) of merchants all competing for our atttention we have to make choices about which merchants to update first in our ongoing mission to keep everything up to date across our websites.

We’re more likely to update merchants that work best for us so we don’t miss out on future sales and we’re always responsive to requests from staff at networks, agencies and merchants with whom we have built-up a personal relationship.

We also keep an eye out for any threatening emails we get from merchants who may remove us from their programs if we don’t comply with their requests at which point we make a judgement call about how to promote them in the future – working with merchants who make unreasonable requests and threats, especially at short notice, often results in us promoting their competitors ahead of them.

Today we got this email from Boden, via Affiliate Window:

Dear Boden Affiliates,

Boden are encouraging all affiliates to remove any stale promotions and to update their sites with the new 10% off, plus free delivery and returns, Autumn promotion. For affiliates doing this, Boden are offering 3 x £100 gift vouchers to 3 lucky entrants.

Now that is a simple and effective way to get affiliates working with you that demonstrates an understanding of how most affiliates work and I’d like to see more of this carrot instead of stick approach in the future.

Update…
Boden have also put up a further 3 x £100 gift vouchers to encourage affiliates to add Boden home page links and feature Boden in newsletters.

Well done Boden.

Google Slap and Back In Less Than A Week

I was checking my stats late one night when my eyes beheld a heart stopping sight – google had stopped sending cantBarsed.com any traffic and the PR for most of the popular pages had dropped from PR4 down to PR0 and were missing from the SERPs – eek!

Because the site has been online since before the millennium we’ve seen some dramatic spikes and depressing slaps before but we’ve never experienced PR0 pages and NO traffic at all so something was clearly wrong.

My first instinct is always to do nothing but after asking a few affiliate chums if I had missed anything obvious the consensus was it was most likely we had tripped an automatic penalty or perhaps a manual penalty – eek2! I had a look around for news about Google algorithm changes and nothing set any alarm bells ringing – the site hadn’t changed before/after the slap so I feared the worst.

Apparently a manual Google penalty will be displayed in your Google Webmaster tools account so I nervously logged in and was relieved to see I had not upset the google traffic gods so WTF was the problem?

I took a good look around GWT and the only thing flagged up was errors in the sitemap.xml file. I manually created and update that file so I knew I hadn’t made any recent changes and that left me puzzled how that could suddenly cause errors. I re-uploaded my local copy, validated it then resubmitted it to Google and within 24 hours most of the pages were showing up in the SERPs and the PR had returned – phew!

We’re still well down on traffic but I’m sure that will improve as we add new content which will get crawled.

I was surprised that fixed the problem but it does leave me wondering whether to remove the sitemap.xml file altogether and let google make its own way around the site – or maybe it was just a google blip, either way it was a bad day SEO day in Joe World!

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Is Skiing Skiving? Affiliate Marketing Jollies…

Skiing in Austria
In my ongoing quest enjoy life more I’ve come to realise affiliate jollies are vital research.

My latest jaunt was a week in Austria with Prezzybox organised by Barney Edwards. Barney is Zak “The Mighty Box” Edwards’ younger brother and shares the same “Joie de vivre” and easy going nature which immediately put us all at ease. I was chuffed to learn Gulshan, my roomie from last summer’s Barbados trip, was also coming along so we shared a room again and picked up the banter and drinking where we left off! It was also great to meet Luke, Ben (The Ginger Ninja) and Andy (The Machine) who keep us amused with CB radio chat.

The skiing and boarding worked out well because Barney and Luke were both good skiers, Gulshan and I signed ourselves into ski-school and Ben and Andy hung onto the slopes as best they could.

After my ski-trip to Whistler last year I knew I needed more lessons so ski-school was perfect for me and Gulshan and I joined an intermediate group and as we worked our way up the slopes our gang developed a great team spirit – it turned out most of us were staying at the same hotel, Hi to Helen and Pete, Andrea and Hennrik and top ski instructor Stefan.

By the fourth day we skied from the top to the bottom of the HartKaiser mountain on blue and red ski runs which was an achievement I’m really proud of but the highlight of the trip was stopping for lunch up a mountain at a tiny place run by an elderly couple who still cook traditional Austrian food on a wood fired stove right next to our table. I think we all really enjoyed the food, drink, each others company, ambiance and exhilarating (OK, scary) ski trip back to basecamp through whiteout conditions on the mountains.

As the feelgood factor wears off I think I’ve cracked a rib which is a souvenir I could have done without BUT I’ve just found out Barney broke his wrist on the trip so respect to him for carrying on – he’s hardcore! I suspect we’d both still do it all over again though so no complaints from me.

So What Have I Learnt About Affiliate Marketing From This Trip?

Affiliate jollies throw into sharp relief the difference between working from home and my working life in general. I always find sitting at my desk after affiliate trips and get2gethers a real struggle. I’m pretty sure it’s the routine rather than the tasks themselves and sitting at my desk does focus my mind so perhaps it’s a necessary evil – I’m still having an internal dialogue about it and I’d be interested to learn whether other affiliates can get by without a desk.

I’ve learnt I can run my business from a laptop in a bar with a beer in well under an hour a day. For a business that’s paid me a decent salary for years I’m still impressed by that. However affiliate marketing is a fast moving industry so to maintain a decent income going forwards it’s important to spend, at least, some of my “free time” working – doh!

Research and creative thinking are both things I’ve always done, paid or not, so from my perspective I’m just playing at work which means I don’t really have a life-work balance as such – there’s just life and striving to live it the way you want to live it.

I’ve proven to myself again that all I need is a laptop, an internet connection, something to play with – snowy mountains or waves preferred – and some company to share the experience with.

Living life the way you want to live it sounds a bit selfish on the face of it because we all have responsibilities and I’m mindful and content with mine but I do wonder where the person that owns a house full of possessions and craved all the latest gadgets went?

My “tai chi journey” is part of the answer. Tai Chi has improved my health and spiritual well being, it’s something I do together with my wife, Deb, and it’s given me the inspiration to take on new challenges, appreciate my family and friends and be open to new possibilities.

Several months on from the blog post where I talked about “letting small bad things happen” here’s an example which also ties in nicely with my “black box approach to affiliate marketing” blog post. Before I set off for Austria I turned off my last remaining Adwords campaign so I didn’t have to worry about site downtime while I was away and of course, me being me, I forgot to turn it on again until I had a site outage a few days ago and went to turn my Adwords off and they were already off. Great, I thought – I’d been meaning to black box experiment whether Adwords was adding anything to my profit margin but I couldn’t bring myself to turn them off for an extended period to find out.

The black box result is I’m leaving my PPC ads off – for now. I could analyse the stats and improve the campaign but black box me says put it on the back burner and if times get hard then will be the time to take another look at it.

I appreciate this laissez-faire approach wouldn’t be possible if I was starting my affiliate business today but for now I’m content to settle for a little less money, a little less hassle and have some built-in slack to fall back on.

So where next? I’m off body boarding the week Existem have organised their beach party which is bad planning but I am meeting up with the IWOOT guys later this month so the next affiliate jolly is just around the corner.

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How to Break the Research then Failure Cycle or …

Research then failure cycle… Joe’s Black Box Approach To Affiliate Marketing Success.

So there I was posting to Kirsty’s (excellent) blog mentioning my binge personality and how I try to ride my positive waves of enthusiasm and resist those pesky stat checking urges when I realised I’d made my own personal breakthrough in time management and that inspired me to put this blog post together.

Back in the day I was a product designer. Coming up with designs for complex products on demand for products we could never hope to fully understand is a creative process punctuated with dry spells and brain freeze. To work around problems I used to “black box” them which basically means leaving what goes on inside the box to take care of itself and moving onwards towards your final design.

I’ve just realised I’ve been using this same black box technique to work smarter as an affiliate, except the ultimate goal is to make more money in less time.

If you have to “think inside the box” get someone in to help – in affiliate marketing projects that could be a coder, graphic designer, SEO service, PR agency, etc. The benchmarks I use to gauge my success are the output from three black boxes:

  1. The PPC black box: How much I’ve spent on PPC (if any) in a month.
  2. The Commission black box: How much income I’ve made in the same period.
  3. The Bank account black box: The bottom line in the bank account.

So long as I’ve spent (a lot) less on PPC than I’ve earned in commission and the bank account shows a general upward trend that’s usually enough analysis for me so while I’m moving on with my global domination plan hopefully you’re all trying to work out the answer to affiliate marketing success (which, to save you wondering, is 42) buried deep inside those black boxes.

As Kirsty points out in her 13 Reasons You’ll Fail At Affiliate Marketing in 2009 blog post this is where many people fail.

I used to carefully research niches but using my black box approach, which appears to be the exact opposite approach to Smingle’s (also excellent) help and advice for newbies and people who need a kick up the backside in 2009 forum thread, I can get something online within minutes of coming up with a new idea without doing ANY research.

Sometimes it’s a blog or a simple website but so long as it’s live you can jump straight to measuring whether the idea works or not and come back to it on the next wave of enthusiasm – or not. As a wise man once said “There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

Go On, Open The (Black) Box!

I remember being unemployed during the 80’s recession so it was easy for the credit crunch to infect my thinking and I’m prepared to admit there are times when more detail is useful.
I’ve opened the Bank account black box, analysed my outgoings, and cut costs.
I’ve also opened the PPC black box, chopping some PPC networks altogether, and reduced the cost per click and squeezed some extra traffic out of the same budget on others.
I’m still keeping the lid firmly shut on the Commission black box because I can be really anal about stats and I’ll get very cross if I start looking too closely in there!

Instead I’m going to keep my SAD symptoms at bay by pushing ahead with all my projects and coming up with new ideas – failure is not an option.

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Only Send Me Junk Mail From Now On!

I was having one of those days where whatever I started went wrong or led to three other things that needed doing more urgently so when Hannah Swift popped up on MSN asking why I hadn’t replied to her recent email about a bean bag I’d won courtesy of Bean Bag Bazaar and I had to confess it was just one more thing which went wrong – I hadn’t seen the email.

Like many affiliates I get hundreds of emails to multiple email accounts every day from networks, agencies, friends, ads, spam and other nasties. I use the excellent Mailwasher Pro (exclusive promotional code) to monitor email live on my mail servers which makes it easy to react in near real-time to any incoming mail needing urgent attention BUT only if I’m at my desk and on the case. When I’m out of the office or not paying attention and I run a send/receive/delete email cycle without checking for urgent emails first everything ends up in Outlook where mail rules organise them neatly into black holes and hyperspace folders containing in excess of 35 THOUSAND unread emails.

The only way I can find emails in Outlook now is to do a google desktop search and frankly things are so bad I’m giving up on email.

I’ve been trying to improve my workflow and productivity and have been inching ever-closer to a paperless office. As part of that process I’ve been using online services like Google Apps, Evernote and Mobile Me so I can work online anywhere and still have access to my resources from anywhere on a laptop – which in itself is part of a longer term plan to be entirely mobile at around the same time my kids all leave home.

Tim Ferriss’ inspirational blog includes a similar tale of email woe. Tim’s solution is to “accept that small bad things will happen” and not to worry about it. That’s certainly an interesting approach but what about the small good things? If two wrongs don’t make a right surely ignoring bad emails risks the wrath of the karma gods and the good emails will dry up too?

So my new cunning plan is to tell everyone NOT to send me important emails any more which just leaves unimportant emails and spam which I can safely ignore – tada!

I must admit I’m feeling quite pleased with myself so please don’t go picking holes in my plan.

Getting rid of email is just the latest in a long line of hermit-like strategies I’ve deployed to free up more “me time.” My fax machine ran out of paper years ago so I put it in the loft, feel free to try and communicate with it if you like.

The telephone is another comms device I’ve mentally consigned to history. I do still have one, but I generally don’t answer it unless I know who’s calling (of course I have caller ID enabled and an answerphone) and I do sometimes have a weak moment listening to anyone brave enough to leave an answerphone message and pick up but it’s usually just to abuse and taunt hapless callers.

The answerphone message relayed by digital Dorothy says I’ll get back to you but she’s telling porkies. After several attempts at recording my own message inviting people to leave a message I decided she/it strikes just the right blend of FOAD I was looking for.

If you REALLY need to tell me to do something or NOT to do something I’d like to encourage you to chat with me by MSN, it’s immediate, I usually reply if I’m about or later when I have time – it’s a virtual post-it slapped on my monitor so there’s no better way to grab my attention. MSN also keeps a record of conversations so there’s every opportunity to incriminate or contradict yourself and my blackmail folder is growing steadily! My MSN address is joe(at)cantbarsed.com.

I also like to communicate sporadically on the a4u forum where I post as renegade, on Twitter and on Facebook so there are still plenty of ways to get hold of me pretty much anytime.

I believe Howard Hughes became a recluse suffering from OCD after accumulating his millions so now I’m washing my hands even more often and restricting myself to virtual human contact it’s surely only a matter of time before I accumulate some millions too?

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CSS – Oh No I’ve Got Can’t Shop Syndrome!

Looking after mega shopping directory (CantBarsed.com) and monster discount codes website (DiscountCodes.tv) means I always know which stores are holding Events, Mega days and Spectaculars and where to look for pretty much anything from LCD TVs to pants – which is how I feel about online shopping at the moment!

Even my wife consults me for shopping advice – that’s just WRONG! I’m suffering shoppers burnout and there’s still another couple of juicy shopping weeks to go before I can get off to sleep without seeing my christmas list, promo codes and catwalk models wearing lingerie before my eyes – oops did I write that last bit out loud?

CSS, aggrevated by post traumatic shopping stress disorder, has rendered me incapable of making a purchasing decision – even after doing my due diligence comparison shopping on my own sites, and Froogle, and BillyBargain (shameless plug) when I get to the store checkout I come over all rabbity-headlighty when I see that field where you can enter a promotional code or discount voucher.

Yeah, I know it’s my business to know all about codes but even when I’m sure there isn’t a code I can’t bring myself to complete the purchase so I waste hours looking around other code sites and forums just to make sure I haven’t missed the bargain shopping saving opportunity of the century and the end result is another abandoned basket, yep, I’ve definitely got CSS.

Then there’s trigger levels. It all seems innocent enough with teasers like “get an extra 10% discount when spending over £50” so there I am working out whether to split my order into two, maybe across 2 or more stores, and before you know it I’ve got half a dozen store checkouts open and another bunch of abadoned baskets and every day is one less shopping day and if I don’t get help soon I’m going to have to head into town and shop in person!

I could start a victim support group “CantBarsed to Research All Purchases”, CRAP for short. Then when I get to the checkout and think “Oh CRAP” I’ll know who to call. CRAP advocates an alternative take on the IAB best practice:

When there really, really, really isn’t a promo code, freebie or deal just plainly state:

There are NO codes today. Don’t waste your time looking elsewhere. Don’t Worry, Be happy!

The CantBarsed Affiliate Marketing Lifestyle Experiment…

lifestyle experimentI’ve been around the UK affiliate marketing industry since the early days and there are so many great things about the industry every now and then I take time out to have a look around and see what other affiliates are up to and to remind myself not to take anything for granted because standing still really is going backwards in this industry.

Learning new stuff and trying out new ways of making money are two of my favourite things and two of the most important qualities anyone interested in making a living from affiliate marketing will need along with determination – lots of determination.

It’s not easy to think outside the box, especially on demand, but my background as a product designer means I’m adept at coming up with alternative ways of achieving the same result and when I suffer from designers block I buy other websites and take a look under the bonnet which gives me an insight into someone else’s mindset. Because they’re selling up there’s every chance it turns out to be a cul-de-sac but nevertheless it’s always fascinating.

My fascination with websites extends to domain names and I’m always on the lookout for new domains to support existing projects and inspire new ones so feel free to pitch yours to to me!

I’m not a domainer but I can spot a good deal when I see one. I recently enquired about a domain which the current owner thinks is worth a lot more than I do – nothing new there if you read my earlier post about domain name haggling. I asked one of my favourite web developers with domain name expertise Paul Lasikiewicz for his opinion and he reckoned the asking price was about double what I felt the domain was worth. The owner isn’t budging so I’m content to let the credit crunch bite and have another go later. Learning to play the long game is another essential skill affiliate marketeers need to learn.

Affiliate Marketing feels like a game of Monopoly to me. On the roll of the dice (my google rankings) I cruise the board buying web properties which I develop adding houses and hotels on them in the hope that people will eventually land on them I and make money.

I got chatting with Paul (this means typing in MSN in JoeSpeak) and it turned out he has been busily developing his own web properties including a nice discount code related domain Discount.org.uk and we struck a deal and now I have another code site to look after – it’s good to type!

I tend to look for domains with two keywords or something catchy that’s brandable and I’ve never been a fan of generic domains. I also hadn’t really considered org.uk domains as worthwhile properties until that purchase but Paul explained the site could rank well for searches like “[retailer] discount” and “discount for [retailer] and I can see his point so I learned another important affiliate marketing skill – listen to what other people have to say and adapt to prosper and stay in the game. I’ve since registered a few org.uk domains including billybargains.org.uk, renegade.org.uk etc.

We chatted about SEO and I realised not being a domainer isn’t my only lack of expertise – I’m no SEO expert either! It just goes to show that however much you learn about affiliate marketing (and I’ve learnt a helluva lot) you must never stop learning. I make a decent living as a jack of all trades but the challenge is to do even better. I love being my own boss, I get to choose when I work and I’m a tough taskmaster.

My conversations with Paul really inspired me and I’m working on new projects and looking forward to battling with my fellow affiliates for those top slots on all the search engines.

It’s the a4u Expo this week so I’ve been working flat out to get things done before my head explodes to free up some headspace for new stuff at the Expo sessions. I’ve already picked the sessions I want to attend and have added them to Evernote so I can read or change my itinerary from any machine or my beloved iPhone. It all depends how quickly my cold clears up, how much beer I drink and whether I’ll be able to get in or stay awake to all those sessions! I managed to soak up some useful stuff last year without any planning or effort, doffs hat to Mr Lee Mccoy, so my plan is to be just a little bit more professional this year.

For starters I’ve got some shiny new business cards to give out, assuming I remember to carry them with me, and the in/famous cantBarsed booby lady remains a key feature – after seeing her traded for poker chips at a previous a4u event I know she has legs! However, in my quest for professionalism on these overly PC times I’ve cut up some post-its and censored the sensitive areas by hand so peel to reveal or not – the choice is yours! I’ll cover them with a scratch panel next time. If you do see me wandering the Expo or asleep in the sessions do say Hi and ask me for a card.

Affiliate marketing CantBarsed style really does suit me and, like the best experiments, it’s much more exciting when you don’t know the final outcome.

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