Don’t Write an e-Book

No matter what I told you, or you heard from John Saddington at Savvy, or you read online somewhere. . . take “write an e-book” off your list of things to do.

No matter what I told you, or you heard from John Saddington at Savvy, or you read online somewhere. . . take “write an e-book” for your email optin off your list of things to do.

The truth is no one has e-book on their Christmas List. No one.

Are you sure?

But don’t think that means you shouldn’t be list building. Driving traffic to a list you own is very important. Imagine the few months before Facebook became big. . . there were people who had amassed quite a following on MySpace. Thousands of friends who commented on their posts and followed their advice. And then –poof– they were all gone.

When MySpace effectively died, a lot of people learned a lesson. If you don’t move your fans to your list, they’ll one day disappear.

Now Facebook’s value is starting to falter and fewer are using Twitter as a resource. With the advent of and CraftGawker, even Pinterest is facing competition. Don’t get me wrong, all of these places are great except they’re not yours. That community belongs to someone else.

So you need to move them to a property you own, and the most effective way yet it so move them to an email list.

Then how do you get them on your email list?

That was your next question I bet. People don’t just randomly sign up for an email lists They need a reason and it’s not a reason to just get on the list. No one has “email subscription” on their Christmas Wishlist either.

People like getting something of value. They’re willing to opt-in to an email list if it has value to them. And most of the time people want immediate value. That’s why people say “write an e-book”. But that’s just wrong.

The e-book is not the answer

If you march into this task trying to write an e-book, you start with “you” in mind and not your customer. And that’s just bass ackwards.

Instead, think through what your audience wants and needs. If they want and need a coupon calculator, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t try to turn a coupon calculator into an e-book. If you think your audience would love some inspirational quotes to hang on their wall, make a printable .pdf poster and have them opt-in to get that. Don’t force them to read the quotes in an e-book.

If your audience wants a saving money checklist, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t make it a 13 chapter read if they just want the checklist.

BUT if you think they could use 7 concrete reasons why they shouldn’t do x, y or z . . . then by all means create an e-book. But don’t make the e-book the goal, just be happy if that’s the solution.

Just to get you thinking, here’s a bunch of things you could create for your customers (other than an e-book):

  • create an ecourse. . .
  • use Kunaki to send an audio cd. . .
  • host a teleseminar. . .
  • write a manual. . .
  • offer a downloadable mp3. . .
  • design a nice pdf. . .
  • create a printable. . .
  • do a giveaway. . .
  • jot down some eNotes. . .
  • offer 1 on 1 consulting. . .
  • provide a homestudy course. . .
  • proctor a membership site. . .
  • invite personal mentoring. . .
  • pack and send a thumbdrive. . .
  • design a poster . . .
  • mail them a dvd. . .
  • show them it’s easy with a mini guide. . .
  • compile technical information in a special report . . .
  • update them with a bulletin. . .
  • tease with an informational pamphlet . . .
  • help them organize with a checklist or comparison chart. . .
  • wow them with a handy excel calculator. . . .

That’s not your job

It’s not your job to cram a square peg into a round hole. It’s your job to find the shape of your customers’ void and fill that with the perfect solution.

Dan R Morris is the founder of, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Choosing a Monetization Model

Big companies have entire departments dedicated to their monetization model and regularly discuss pricing strategies, cost cutting measures, and increasing the number of income opportunities. How much time have you spent on your monetization model? Have you ever pushed the computer away, sat down with 5 friends you trust and really talked through the different ways to drive income?

One of the most important parts about choosing a monetization model is understanding your role in the world. What purpose do you serve to your followers, to your customers? Then in what ways can you be a better steward to them and can you monetize that value?

For instance, have you considered a membership site?

I am a customer of Rick Radditz. He’s always created great tools to make me a more efficient business owner. From him I learn business strategies and appreciate getting his opinion on my business decisions. Well a couple years ago he thought another way to serve his audience would be to provide recommendations on business books.

But instead of just writing business book reviews, he wanted to add value – add his own thoughts on the book and provide insights in how to apply the books’ main points to your business. So he created a membership site called where he does just that. For me it is a logical progression working with Rick and for him a new monetization model and opportunity.

A friend of mine in Houston, Texas maintains a Youth Ministry membership website that provides sermons and Sunday School ideas to its 30,000 members on a weekly basis. Because it is a $3.99 monthly micro-continuity plan, it is easily affordable to many. From a monetization standpoint micro-continuity requires big numbers but has the benefit of a very low cancel rate. is a one-time fee membership, different than the monthly subscription in the other. Sometimes membership sites are free to join but have paid higher benefits. And others are fixed-term membership sites like 90-day weightloss challenges and 6-month book clubs. There are lots of different ways to configure a membership plan. In the end that depends on how you want to meet your audiences goals.

What are some other monetization models?

Advertisements are typically the first on everyone’s mind, but there are many different kinds of advertising you can do. Here are some of the examples we’ve explained recently:

  • Earn money by selling space for Private Ads on your site.
  • Monetizing with in-line, in-text ads
  • Becoming a part of an visual display network
  • Google Adsense is a great way to monetize traffic. It doesn’t typically make your audience smarter but a certain percentage click on ads for revenue.

For the most part 3rd party ads are based on the content of your page and try to be relevant to your audience – but not typically directed by you. You do have the option of providing ads specific to your audience in an effort to serve their needs. Some of those include:

  • Writing book reviews and recommending products is a great way to use affiliate marketingas a monetization tool.
  • Similar to affiliate marketing, ads like are often the reason your customers come to your site.

Finally, some companies actually pay for content to be placed on your blog. Some want you to include it at no charge and thus writing sponsor posts means you have to make a decision. Should I charge or do it free?. That’s up to you.

In coming months we’ll talk more about different monetization models to help you expand your opportunities and give you new ways to serve your community. What monetization models would you like us to explore deeper?

Dan R Morris is the founder of, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Your Website Conversion Rate is Meaningless. Period.

People often ask me what my website conversion rate is, which I think is an absolutely ridiculous question. But before we continue, let’s assume you don’t know what a conversion rate is OR let’s define it so the rest of this post is based on a mutual understanding of conversion rate.

Here it is: Number of Visitors ÷ Number of people who perform the task you want them to perform = Conversion rate (as a percentage).
Example: 100 people visit the site, 10 people buy. Conversion rate is 10%

Easy enough, right?

Let’s start with a real life example, let’s use, which is the masked url of an antioxidant nutritional supplement that advertises heavily on TV and Radio – but no advertising on the internet.

95% of their web traffic is derived from folks who heard the 30 minute radio infomercial or saw the 30 minute TV infomercial then went to the website to buy the product. What do you think their conversion rate is? Well, it just so happens that the conversion rate is 30%. That means 3 out of every 10 visitors buys the product.

Website Conversion Rates are Meaningless

For a while the company advertised using Google’s AdWords, which means they bid on ad space on the Google Search Results pages. When they did that they drove thousands of people to the site who were searching for “antioxidants” and “antioxidant nutritional supplements”. But the conversion rate of these ads were only .7%, which totally didn’t match the conversion rate of the customers who came to the site from the TV show.

Same website. No changes.

The only thing that did change was the quality of the person that arrived at the site. From infomercials the prospect had 30 minutes of explanation and product examples, before they searched to buy the product, But with Google Adwords they only saw a banner ad. That means most of the people were just curious. The conversion rate of the website dropped substantially.

So the website conversion rate is bunk. In fact, if anyone asks how well your site converts, just tell them that question makes no sense.

Rephrase the question for them. Let them know that they really asked the wrong question. What is important to know is the conversion rate of the traffic that comes from the TV show. It’s good to know the conversion rate of the traffic that comes from banner ads. 95% of the time that conversion rate will differ among sources.

Your website conversion rate is meaningless. The conversion rate of your source’s web traffic, on the other hand, is like spun gold. Knowing what converts well and what doesn’t is the first step in testing, revising and optimization. And hopefully it isn’t the last.

The hyphenated domain name dilemma

It seems the hyphenated domain dilemma is rearing its head again.  However this time I’m hearing from SEO guys that hyphenated domain names actually hurt your search engine rankings.  I’ve found no evidence that this is the case but I do have plenty of evidence to the contrary. Not only that, hyphens can increase the number of  visitors you get once your site shows up in the rankings.

Let’s start with some hyphenated domain names that are #1 in Google for their search terms. For those people who think you can’t get to the top, this should dispel that myth:

Website Keyword Front porch ideas Dog Obedience Training Windows vista update Home theater guide Digital Photography Tips Digital Photography Tips Digital Photography Tips

So if you’re at all concerned about hyphenated domain names, you can clearly search for any of these terms and find these domains at the top of the list. Most of them are in the #1 position. And the digital photography tips page is dominated by hyphenated domain names. Dominated.

It’s clear from these domain names that the site owners are likely adept at using SEO techniques to help their domain names climb the ladder. Perhaps they are so adept they can overcome the fact that they have hyphenated domain names.  And perhaps a search for sites with lesser skilled developers would prove the point better. But since these are more skilled developers AND they still chose the hyphenated domain name  -wouldn’t that further indicate hyphens aren’t bad.

In fact, check out SiteBuildIt’s Results Page to see a list of sites in the top 1% of Alexa’s rankings built mainly by people who’d never built a site before. Notice that most of them are hyphenated. Hyphens are one of the notions Site Build It teaches in their course (the best website building course on the net, in my opinion).

As I further explain in this YouTube Video (Does a Hyphenated Domain Name Make Sense?), hyphens can often increase the number of visitors, reduce confusion and quickly show visitors what your site is about. Suppose you were searching for “money making ideas from home” and you saw these two websites pop up in Google’s results: or

Which one draws your attention the fastest?

Some domain names should be hyphenated whether it hurts your rankings or not. Check out this domain for a popular restaurant in Philadelphia:

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.55.27 AM

It’s clear from a marketing perspective that would have made better sense.

If you still believe hyphenated domain names will hurt your search engine results , I invite you to help sway my thoughts. What makes you believe this to be true? When asked if hyphens or underscores would be better, Matt Cutts of Google himself said hyphens would be better than underscores. While not totally related, he did not say that you should avoid using both.  Please leave your thoughts, I look forward to a different opinion.

(Also check out what Google prefers: hyphens or underscores)

How can your site generate $2,000/month?

OK. Let’s talk through what we would need to do to make $2,000/month. Looking at the ‘choosing a monetization model” post, there are several ways income can flow to you from your site. How can we make $2,000 per month from each of those sources?

Amazon Affiliate Income

Everything on Amazon is available to affiliates. Many do product reviews and link to Amazon for the sale because of the trust buyers put into the checkout process. But making great money with Amazon isn’t easy.

To make $2,000, we would need to sell $28,571 worth of merchandise (at an average 7% commission). If the products we sold were $50 each, we would need to sell 571 products. Conservatively it would take $57,142 people converting at 1% to accomplish that.

If we were to do that in one month, we would need 2,200 people per day to the page featuring the affiliate link. That’s if the post was a review or recommendation post. A sidebar, banner or footer ad would likely take more people to convert at 1% unless the products has tremendous relevance to the site.

Taming the AdSense Beast

AdSense is a fantastic way to make money, for some sites. I’ve worked with sites that bring in $2,000/month in AdSense revenue with as little as 1,400 visitors per day (averaging $.42/click). But not every site is designed to generate a good income with Adsense. A well optimized AdSense monetized site has all the right ad sizes, colors, fonts and placement.

Typically the goal of a high paying AdSense site is information. Posts are written to provide the reader with information on the topic, not deals, product reviews, recommendations or squeeze pages. When the only goal is information the reader is not “asked” to take an action but is free to click the links on the page that look interesting.

Compared to the information sites I mentioned above, deal sites that get 1,400 visitors per day may only bring in about $300/month in AdSense revenue (with a $.38/click average). And there’s nothing wrong with that. Deal, product review and affiliate sites may employ AdSense but primarily push their audiences to coupons, affiliate links and other monetization sources. They do fine overall, but their AdSense income doesn’t compare to that of information sites.

In either case, AdSense income requires traffic and a good cost per click. is a great place to determine which keywords generate high paying AdSense ads. For instance “Los Angeles Personal Injury” ads pay $2.60/click. Create a site about California personal injury attorneys and you’d only need 25 clicks/day to make $2,000. That sounds much easier doesn’t it?

Micro Continuity Membership

Ever think about starting a membership site? There are some fantastic money makers out there. At a mere $2.99/month, you’d need 668 members to clear $2,000. Ramping up from scratch, you would need to add 66 new people per month to get there in one year or 33 to get there in two years. But the nice thing about low-price continuity is that few people cancel – which means growth today is growth tomorrow.

There are a great deal of “super advanced training” membership sites that charge $299, $499 and upwards of $1,999/month. Can you move your audience to that level of expertise? People pay a lot more than that for college – so it’s not unreasonable. The question is do you have an audience willing to pay for that level of personalized knowledge?

The good thing about high ticket membership programs is that you don’t need many to make money. In fact, you may need only one per month to achieve $2,000.

Corporate Sponsorship

Corporate sponsors come in many forms. I learned last year at the Savvying Blogging Summit that companies will pay $250 – $300 for Sponsored Blog Posts (not every company of course), but if you can land those deals you would only need to write eight per month (obviously not the traditional route). Some sites have Sponsors that pay a monthly fee for a set scope of work. Often times that exceeds $2,000/month – thus it is worth looking into for sure.

Private Banner Ads

This is the most ambiguous of the lot. I’ve seen monthly banner ads ranging from $35/month to $19,500. This method of monetization is totally dependent on the site traffic, influence, target demographic and overall value in the niche. A site seeing 500 visitors per day could easily sell a banner ad for $50/month. Doing the extra work to include tracking so you could prove your worth to the advertiser in months 2, 3 and 4 is an important component of the long term success. Otherwise, you spend a good deal of time trying to find sponsors each month.

Finally, the Combination

No one hoping to make $2,000 in extra income should put all their eggs in one basket. Similar to relying on Google for traffic, anytime a source goes away your income is at great risk. So here’s a combination of revenue streams that could easily produce $2,000/month for a site getting 500 visitors per day.

Source Income
Adsense Income**($.40/click) $210
Sponsored Blog Post $250
Amazon Affiliate Sales $120
3 Private Banner Ads $150
10 Ebook Sales $90
Amazon Kindle sales of Ebook ($9.99) $49.95
Amazon Ebook Sales ($7.99) $39.95
Coupon Banner Ad Commissions $250
In-text ads $30
Advanced information membership site 40 members $160
“How To” Webinar 30 people $22/each $660

There’s no getting around the “business side” of blogging. If you’re hoping to make $2,000/month there’s little chance you’re going to do so by luck. Putting together a plan like this means you’ll be able to see the growth each month till you get there.

Viral Marketing Examples: The Piano Guys Case Study

I’m always looking for unbelievable viral marketing examples, and recently came upon what ThePianoGuys are doing with their CelloWars video. You’re going to love it.

There is an enormous difference between viral video examples and viral marketing examples. Tons of videos go viral, most of them that have done so weren’t because they were planned that way.  And 99% of them are just a flash in the pan with no way to turn that audience into future fans.

In this viral marketing example you’re going to see how ThePianoGuys are using their videos to create fans, generate revenue, grow their list and become pop icons. You don’t see this kind of thing everyday.

They start with YouTube, but these guys aren’t using a Flip Camera in their car on the way to work. Their videos are stunning, done with impeccable editing and amazing musicians. They are so well done, you want to share them. But again – that’s not viral marketing. Great editing, amazing music and stunning video by themselves are a hallmark of great movies like Shindler’s List, K2 and Empire of the Sun but that doesn’t make them instant viral marketing examples. Continue reading “Viral Marketing Examples: The Piano Guys Case Study”

Should you start another site?

How many times have you gotten an idea and thought you should take what knowledge you’ve gained and start another site? If you’re like me and you continually renew domain names just because you have a good idea for them, you know what I’m talking about. So many ideas, so little time.

The question is should you start a second site?  I believe the answer can be derived quite easily.  So let’s talk about the pro’s and con’s as it pertains to branching out and starting anew.

Another Fork in the Road

Work Load

It’s not easy building a website that makes money and is profitable. It’s not hard to drive traffic to one coupon, one affiliate deal, one promotion or even a monetized lead capture page.  In fact there have been cases where people made money on their very first tweet.  But that’s not a business.

A profitable website is one where you’re making more money than if you were to have spent your time working elsewhere. If you would make more money as a clerk at Walgreens,  I would submit that  you’re losing money working online.

But that’s not necessarily bad.

The question is how long must you be “building” your business before you reach the profitable point? And what amount of content, links, pins, videos and tweets will get you there the quickest?

Let’s use some math as an example (oh no! not Math!!!):

For the purpose of this example, let’s say it takes 500 hours of work to make a profitable website from scratch. If you have 20 hours/week to work on your site it would take approximately 25 weeks of work to get there. Make sense?

What happens to that time if you add a second site? Even if it is in the same general niche, you become less efficient. If you divide your time up evenly, it now takes at least 50 hours of work to get there. But being less efficient, I would say that it will take a bit longer.

Can you afford to not be profitable for that period of time? Do you have the stamina to continually be encouraged throughout the duration? And will you get burnt out without seeing the joys of good income sooner?

Family Sacrifices

Do you consider your family’s sacrifice when you’re spending time on your business? Every moment you toil away is a moment away from helping your kids with flash cards, spending time with your spouse, or making your home a more wonderful place. And every moment they spend without you, they are agreeing to the sacrifice and are equally dependent on its rewards.

Think of them when you’re considering starting a second site. Will you and your family’s sacrifice be better spent on a new idea or diligently working to make your current site profitable?

Expert Status

Much of what you bring to the table is bound up in your expert status. Some would call it your brand, others your reputation. But it all boils down to whether people perceive you as the expert or not.

Once your expert status is known around the world, doors open up. Rarely do large organizations hire non-experts to speak. Rarely does CNN interview generalists on a topic. And rarely do the big brands ask weekend hobbyists to be their spokespersons.

Are you that expert now? If not, can you afford to divert your attention to something else while you become that?

If your new idea doesn’t directly tie to your current site, enhance your brand or reputation in your field, should you really take on the burden? Think of Bob Villa, the home repair expert. If Bob Villa were to start something new, should he take on the role of Dancing with the Stars host? Or do you think his empire would benefit by becoming the host of Extreme Home Makeover?

Empire Building

That leads me to the overall empire. If you currently run a wedding site and are thinking about starting a Bahamas Travel site, will you be building an empire?  Will you be able to cross sell the two sites? If you develop a good relationship in the wedding niche, will you be able to email that to your Bahamas list?

This idea you have should both support and be supported by your current site. In building your list, your relationships and your cheerleaders do you really want to start from scratch on idea #2?

Remember Grey’s Anatomy and the TV spinoff Private Practice? Can you sense the synergy that came from moving one audience to the next?  Do you think they would have received funding if they had proposed a car racing spinoff show? Probably not – the built in synergistic empire is not there.

Some people suggest that once your site has become profitable that you first clone yourself in that niche before branching out. That idea makes a lot of sense but for me doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. However there is definitely rewards to be reaped when you rank #1 and #2  for your keywords with two different sites.  You truly do have an empire then.

If you’re at the  point where you really just want to start something new, write a book. There’s a ton of credibility provided by a book. Your audience will love you. You’ll have a new product from which to derive income and you’ll have reached a new rung on your Empire ladder.

Podcasters will tell you differently as I learned at BlogWorldExpo. If you’re interested in their opinion, read this post.

Dan R Morris is the founder of, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

(Photo Credit: Ali Shevlin)

Increase Your Page Views

If you want to increase your readership, increase your page views, increase your RSS subscriptions and Facebook likes, your brand has to demand it.  Think about the dictionary, when was the last time you were “inspired” to look up the definition of another word because Merriam Webster suggested you do so?

The answer is “never” because Webster’s Dictionary isn’t there to make you better, it’s not there to help you expand your world. Merriam serves up definitions and doesn’t even say “thanks for stopping by”.

The quick and dirty way to increase your page views is by adding links to related posts. No doubt about it. But that turns readers into readers. To increase likes and joy and community, you’ve got to turn readers into fans.

And fans follow personalities, not headlines.

That means you’ve got to be the voice that tickles your readers’ souls.

Think about the sites you frequent, the ones you spend time on and read more than one page. Is it because you like the facts, or might it be the angle, the opinion, and the voice of the author? Most of the time it’s because our desires are reflected by the author’s tone, motive, experience and goals for us.

“Do your readers know you have goals for them?”

It’s easy to spend your time looking for deals, researching information, and writing great bullet points. In fact, 95% of websites are chock full of that. Keywords and facts, how-to’s and “7 ways to do this and that”, they’re the basis of good content. But without a point of view that permeates your site, why does a reader go beyond the information they arrived to get?

Sometimes information by itself just isn’t enough. Ever ask your waiter what he recommends? Do you think people listen to Rush Limbaugh for the facts? Ever look for a magazine that just had tables and graphs, no commentary?

Deep down inside we want both information AND the opinion of someone we trust.

So let’s talk about what you need to become the voice  people trust. Let’s talk about what’s necessary to increase your page views.

Why do you exist?

The most important part of your voice needs to be why you exist in the first place. Posting deals, writing about gardening, or hosting “how to write calligraphy” webinars is just the medium. There’s got to be a reason you’re doing these things. What is it you want your audience to accomplish?

  • Do you want them to garden because they’ll be eating healthier? saving money? improving the environment? or relieving stress?
  • Is your goal that they are able to calligraph their name when they sign checks or that they truly master the beautiful art of Calligraphy?
  • Are you posting coupon offers because you want your readers to fall in love with coupons , as a way to save enough money to go to Disney or because you want to empower them with the tools to change their family’s financial situation?

Sometimes you have to really step back from the content to dig deep and understand what you really want your audience to achieve.  And then that reason must be clear to your readers.

When you do know your purpose, your readers will hear it. And they’ll expect you to tell them when not to do things, when not to follow ideas, when not to get sucked into promotions. You will increase your page views when you make them feel safe, empower them to learn more and love them like family.

Show them they’re one of the team.

People read your content because they want to achieve something and your information is helping them get there. They’ve identified themselves as being on the team, what they really need is validation that they belong. (Sounds a bit like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, doesn’t it?).

The easiest way to validate someone’s belonging is to label them. Start your emails off with Dear Fellow Train Enthusiast, write “for train enthusiasts only” in your letterhead. Make them belong by treating them like they belong. And don’t be afraid to use the “us vs them” approach in a blog post or two. Let them know that being on the team is something special.

Simple things like speaking the language others won’t understand allows a reader to separate themselves from the dreaded “general public”. Knowing the “infield fly rule” is what separates baseball fans from baseball fanatics and is what binds them. Couponers know what BOGO, stacking and match-ups are, so use the terms without explaining them. Weavers know what ends-per-inch refers to and golfers know what a “2-3 club wind” means. Feel free to make up a term that only your audience will understand.

“Live long and Prosper”, ever hear that community building phrase?

Finally, give them a community forum to speak with others like them. Whether that’s Facebook, a forum on your site or in a webinar chat room – give them an opportunity to not only be on the team, but to converse with the team. Once you’re “on the team and you know it”, many will make you their home page or daily destination.

There’s no doubt that this sense of belonging is the most important step to increasing your page views.

Be transparent.

Since you’re leading your audience to their success, make sure they understand your path to success. We’re all suspect of salesman and never want to be sold. However, we also appreciate that our coaches must be paid to continue providing such value.

Be extremely open when using revenue generating methods. Let them know why you choose the products you make money from, and also why you choose the ones you do. That makes good sense anyway.

One thing people love about transparency. . . they can rave about you without fearing social backlash. Transparency makes it easy to love you.

The best way to improve your page views is to turn your readers into fans by providing them a Voice they will know, like and trust.

Dan R Morris is the founder of, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.