Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008.........Hello 2009!

Although the end of one year and the beginning of the next is an entirely arbitrary point in time, it is customary at this time to look back on the year that has past and to look forward to the coming year. And, indeed, why should I be any different! So I thought I would look at my last year of trying to make extra money and to think about what I hope to achieve in 2009.

Goodbye 2008........

Well, at the beginning of 2008 the only knowledge and experience of making money online was selling on Ebay. Over the course of the year I gradually gained knowledge and experience of a number of ways of making money online, as well as generally establishing an online presence. I began with online surveys and have signed up with pretty much every survey panel I could find. This was followed by cashback shopping and paid to click sites.

I did attempt to expand my Ebay activities to include buying stuff wholesale, then selling it on, but I was barely covering my costs. Poor choices of items may well have been the cause of this. Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion that I do not have the money available to risk losing it, so I abandoned this plan and decided to concentrate on selling stuff I find in the house.

I then decided that I would put together a website with the hope that this might make me a little extra money. I used Google Page Creator and created Extra Cash Review which gives information on making money online. Over the year my site has grown as my knowledge has grown. Since then Google have announced that they are winding up Page Creator so that they can concentrate on Google Sites - existing sites created and hosted through Page Creator will be migrated to Sites. So I have put my plans for updates to the site on hold for now.

I then went on to establish 2 blogs - this one was originally intended to be just a means to promote the website, but has taken on a life of its own.

Since then, amid a global financial crisis, I have been experimenting with various means of making money on the net including Squidoo, Hub Pages, Helium, Zlio shops and affiliate marketing.

Over the course of the year I have made approximately £700 - most of this has been from Ebay and surveys.

.........Hello 2009!!

So what will the coming year bring? Well in terms of making money online, here are some of my aims:

  • To be more focused and to organize my time more effectively - I will actively seek out methods to achieve this. Regular readers of this blog will know that finding that finding enough time to do everything that I want to do is a constant challenge for me!
  • To increase my online earnings to an average of £300 per month by July 2009.
  • To promote my blogs with a view to increase the Google Page Rank to PR2 at least by the end of 2009 and the Alexa Rank to above (or below, depending on your point of view) 100,000.
  • Once Google finally get around to migrating my site to Google Sites, then I will update it, expand some sections, reduce the size of others (that are of limited interest outside the UK) and radically change the advertising banners/links so that they fit better with the site. I will then embark on a campaign of shameless self-promotion to increase traffic.
  • I am now up to 3 Zlio shops, although 2 are still very much work in progress. I have not made any money from these as yet, so intend to promote these to increase traffic substantially and hopefully get some sales. I am hopeful that these will provide some sort of on-going income.
  • Put more time into writing articles on Helium, including writing for the marketplace and competitions to see if I can actually make some money out of it.
  • I intend to start a third blog, this time on a paid blog network - more about this on a future post.
  • Although I have very little money as an affiliate as yet, I intend to pursue this further - I will put more effort into researching products to sell before I do any more.
Well, let's see how many of these I have achieved by December 2009. Whatever your ambitions are for 2009, I hope that it is a prosperous and successful year for you.

Total for December

Here is my final monthly total of 2008. December has been a little better month for making extra money.

Ebay - £27.46
Surveys - £39 (£25 - Pure Profile, £10 - Lightspeed, £4 - another survey panel that I can't mention here!)
Cashback from car purchase - £50
Squidoo - £0.71

Total = £117.71

Much improved from November, but still quite a bit less than what I would like it to be.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Resurrecting my Zlio Shop

I put together my first Zlio shop, The Earth Store some time ago, but then have done nothing with it. I went to have a look at it a couple of weeks ago and found that more than half my selected items were now out of stock! I have now updated the shop so all items are now in stock. Because I have not put a great deal of effort into promoting the shop, I have not had a great deal of traffic and no sales. My plan then is to concentrate my efforts over the next couple of weeks on promoting the shop and making sure I have plenty of good backlinks to it. A bit late for Christmas this year, but this is more of long term strategy. My first task in this respect has been to write a HubPage on constructing and promoting a Zlio shop.

In the meantime, I have made a tentative start on 2 more shops and I have ideas for another 4!! Just where will I find the time to get these together??

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Squidoo Alternatives #1 - HubPages

This is the first of a series of reviews of what I have described as "Squidoo Alternatives", basically because I can't think of another description. In order to qualify for these reviews the sites must allow for people to post their own content, there must be some opportunity for making money, and there should be some opportunity to link back to own site or blog (if you want to). Once I have completed these reviews I will post a comprehensive list.

HubPages is the main competitor to Squidoo, so this seems a good place to start. As with Squidoo, HubPages provides a place for you to post your content about pretty much anything - here they are known as Hubs. You are provided with a number of modules including text, photos, video, links, news, rss feeds, comments and poll.

Unlike Squidoo, in order for you to make money from your Hubs you will need to sign up with Adsense and sign up as an affiliate with Amazon, Ebay and/or Kontera. HubPages rank well on search engines so putting links to your website or blog (if you have one) will certainly help it get found. Nevertheless, you still need to put in a certain amount of work to get your Hubs found. HubPages has a lively community element including a forum and fan club.

HubPages does have certain rules which if you breach you will find your Hubs banned. The main issues are that your Hubs should not contain adult material, and your Hubs should be spam. What constitutes spam is, I guess, somewhat subjective, but basically your Hub should contain some sort of useful content. Also, if your Hub contains more than 2 links to the same destination then your Hub is likely to be flagged as spam. Also, if your Hub contains content that is duplicated elsewhere on the internet then your Hub will be flagged as duplicate content and will affect its scoring, meaning that it is less likely to be found.

In some corners of the internet, debates rage about which is better, Squidoo or Hubpages. For me, there are pros and cons to each, and which you use can depend on what you want to do. Squidoo contains more modules and gives you more options in terms of layout. But the interface for HubPages (I think) is easier to use. There are no restrictions on what you post on Squidoo (provided it's legal!), but the restrictions in HubPages means there are fewer Hubs and it is more likely that your Hub will be found. I tend to find that the community element on Squidoo is stronger and the forums on HubPages have a reputation for being a little unfriendly.

I haven't decided yet whether HubPages or Squidoo has the best revenue model - with your earnings being lumped together with Squidoo, you get to see your money much sooner. But having another opportunity to add to my Adsense total means that maybe I might actually see a payout some day.

So, in my view, Squidoo and HubPages are as good as each other, but the two formats lend themselves to a different style of content, so it depends on what you want to do.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Review of Panelbase Surveys research community

Panelbase is a UK based survey panel, although they are looking to expand their activities to the U.S., Canada and beyond. Just for signing up you will receive £3. Surveys are not that frequent - expect 1 to 2 per month, although they are reasonably well paid (usually between £1 to £2, sometimes more). You are also able to opt-in to receiving surveys by phone and SMS, and also receive invitations to focus groups. I personally have only received one phone survey, and no SMS surveys or focus groups yet. You can cash out when your account reaches £10.00 and it is paid directly into your bank account. I have cashed out twice and both times I received my payment within 7 days. The surveys are the usual consumer stuff; most of the ones I have had recently have been giving my views about radio adverts. The screen out is low and you are entered into a prize draw if you are screened out.

Overall, I would say that Panelbase are worth signing up with - although not as frequent as many others, they pay well and are reliable.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Total Earnings for November

This has been a particularly poor month for earning extra money, despite diversifying my activities. Here are the totals anyway:

Surveys - £11.70 (Clear Voice - £5.50, Ciao £5.20)
Ebay - £17.97

Total = £29.17!!!

So that makes November the worst month so far! No affiliate income yet. Frustration is starting to set in.....