Thursday, December 31, 2009

Total Earnings for December

December is a strange month in that it is well and truly dominated by Christmas and New Year. Had I been properly thinking ahead I would have been looking to capitalize on all the extra shopping activity around this time, but this did not really occur to me until it was too late. There were a number of opportunities I could have taken here; put up more Squidoo lenses promoting gifts for suitable for Christmas, put together a niche site promoting gifts and sold more stuff on Ebay that would appeal to the Christmas shopper. A good learning point for next year though.

This month has brought about a number of firsts for me in my online money making efforts:

My first payout from Clickbank!
My first sales as an Amazon affiliate - two sales in fact (last month's sale sadly did not materialize)
My first sale on Amazon Marketplace

Anyway here are the totals for this month:

Affiliate earnings (Clickbank): £87.28 ($141.18)
Surveys: £14.50 ($16.98) (£10.50 Panelbase, £4 from another survey panel I can't name)
Ebay: £7.56 ($12.23)
Swagbucks:£3.09 ($5)
Squidoo: £0.76 ($1.23)
Amazon Marketplace £3.88 ($6.27)

Total = £117.07 ($189.33)

Not bad really, although quite a bit short of where I am aiming for. I am particularly pleased to have received my first Clickbank payout and I have made a couple more sales this month as well so I will receive this money next month.

How was December for you?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recognizing the Value of Christmas for Internet Marketing

Being still quite new to this internet marketing stuff, the significance of Christmas in a business sense has never really struck me before. After all, it feels a bit cynical to think of this time of year as a time to make money. Surely it should be about the Christmas story, being with family, tradition, cheesy music, too much food and drink.... Shouldn't it?........

Well, however you think of it, Christmas is a time when consumers are consuming at their most voracious. People are buying lots of stuff for their nearest and dearest, and in large quantities. Even in these tough economic times, overall spending at Christmas time is huge. As each year passes, more and more money is spent online rather than at traditional bricks and mortar stores. It makes sense, therefore, that those of us trying to make some money through internet marketing should try and capitalize on this.

There are a couple of points that I have learned about this over the past few weeks. Firstly, Christmas spending is on actual physical things - not on informational products, digital products and health products which tend to be what many internet marketers tend to focus on due to the high commissions. There is a huge range of items to focus your efforts on, some with very little competition. Amazon is the obvious affiliate program to choose for this strategy, but there are plenty of others to consider.

Secondly, you need to start early. Unlike other campaigns, you are focusing primarily on a fixed point in time, so if you are not prepared you will miss out on a time when you could see the greatest volume of sales. Christmas always seems to creep up on you quicker than you think.

I have to admit that I have not put sufficient effort into capturing the Christmas market this year. I did put together a few Squidoo lenses promoting some products through Amazon, and I have even made a couple of sales. But that was it. And now as we enter the last few shopping days before the big day itself I realize that there was so much more that I could have done.

I intend to move into putting together some niche sites early next year and my intention is that some of these will focus on physical products (probably through Amazon), so that when next year's Christmas shopping period reaches its height, I will be ready!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Squander Your Time and NOT Make Any Money Online

I have been reading quite a few blog posts recently about how to organize your limited time and making sure that your time can be focused and maximising your online income from the little time you have available. If I have learned nothing else in my time blogging and generally writing online is to make sure that you write about what you know. I certainly cannot claim to be a guru in terms of making money online and my time management skills are spectacularly poor. So, it surely makes sense to share my knowledge in this respect.

Here are my top tips on how to squander your time and not to make any money online:

  1. Make sure that you do not have a plan. In order for you not to make any money your actions should be as unfocused and as impulsive possible. Make sure that you chase every new and interesting opportunity that comes your way.
  2. Believe that you will fail. This way you will not see through your projects to their completion - after all what's the point, they are only going to fail anyway! 
  3. Try and do more than is humanly possible. Start a large number of projects similtaneously and flit from one to another so that you do not actually achieve anything.
  4. Don't check your affiliate links - that way if anyone clicks on them and buys anything you won't make any money.
  5. Try and sell products that are already dominated by a few super affiliates. You know the ones - make money online products, slimming, etc. There is a high demand for these products, but loads of competition. Unless you have time available and a different angle to your competitors, the chances are that you will not make a cent with these.
  6. Become obsessed with your stats. Check them minute by minute. Scrutinize every single visit to your website/blog/Squidoo page.
  7. Obsess over your Clickbank balance. If you are trying to make money with Clickbank, then checking your balance every few minutes, willing it to increase, occasionally shouting obscenities and poking the screen in frustration just does not bring you any sales. Yes, I have tried this strategy on several occasions.
  8. Allow yourself to become easily distracted. Here are a few ways of becoming distracted on the internet and idling away your time - search Wikipedia for some useless facts you have mused over, search Youtube for videos of that band you used to like but not heard from in ages, search for more ways to make money online that don't require time and discipline........etc, etc.
Follow these and I can absolutely guarantee that your time will fly by and you will not make any money whatsoever!!

So, what's your top tip for wasting time and not making money online?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monthly Total for November

Well it's that time again to reflect upon how I have been doing over the previous month. This has been a very mixed month with some definite positives and negatives in terms of my making money online efforts. Let's start with the positives shall we........

The Positives
In terms of affiliate sales this has been my best month so far having made 4 Clickbank sales (5 if you include one that was returned) and I have made my first Amazon sale. My Clickbank sales this month have brought in a total of $72.90/£44.30. This means that I have easily satisfied the payout criteria so I should receive my first payment soon. My Amazon sale was for $900, so my 4% commission will be $36/£21.88. Yay!! This Amazon sale has given me some ideas for niche sites that I want to explore in the near future - I don't want to limit myself to promoting informational products at Clickbank.

The Negatives
I had wanted to get at least two more campaigns through Squidoo up an running, but I have failed due to a loss of momentum and enthusiasm. I have in fact started three campaigns, identified keywords and created the Squidoo lenses for one of them, so I have made a start at least. My recent sales have spurred me on and I feel more motivated now than I have done for a while.

My total actual earnings this month are down somewhat from last month, but at least I know I should be receiving a decent payout next month.

Monthly Total
Surveys: £18/$29.62 (£10 - Ipsos, £18 -Another survey panel I can't mention)
Ebay: £3.19/$5.25
Swagbucks: £3.04/$5
Squidoo: £0.65/$1.07

Total = £24.88/$40.94

Quite a disappointing total, but I feel spurred on by my recent sales. The next couple of weeks will be busy coming up to Christmas so I don't know how much time I will have to put into my internet marketing efforts, so I may concentrate on listing some stuff on Ebay to capitalize on Christmas shoppers. I will then start afresh in the New Year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Making Money With Twitter: Review of Tweet Tank

 In the last couple weeks, as a result of boredom with what I was doing, I have been experimenting with making money from Twitter. This led to me purchasing Tweet Tank. I did this after vowing to myself that I would not buy any more make money online products for the time being.

What is Tweet Tank?
Tweet Tank is a system for adding more followers on Twitter and making money through selling products as an affiliate. Basically, your one off payment buys you access to the website where you can manage your Twitter activities. Unlike other membership sites you are not expected to pay month after month - just one payment buys you lifetime membership.

How Does Tweet Tank Work?
There are eight videos for you to watch which walk you through the process (you can watch six of these without actually making a purchase) and do really help in understanding how it all works.

Firstly, you need to add your Twitter account to Tweet Tank and select keywords. It will then go off and find people to follow based on your keywords. You can set how many people to follow per day - it is best to start with a fairly low number so as to avoid getting your Twitter account suspended. You need to check on your followers regularly and use the Friend Follower screen to unfollow people who are not following you.

You can then set up a number of automated updates with links to your affiliate link. You can set up to 24 per day and use different affiliate links per update if you like. It is a good idea to change these from time to time to give a bit of variety.

So as to avoid posting solely updates that are selling stuff you need to add some useful content as well. You can do this automatically with Tweet Tank by giving it some keywords and it finds some related stories to post. However, I find it more effective to use Twitterfeed and add various related news feeds. I personally get my news feeds from Moreover.

Is it Right to Have an Automated Twitter Account?
This is something that I wrestled with for a little while before paying my money. However, how I rationalise it is that most of us are subscribed to e-mail lists that provide us with a mixture of useful content and selling messages. If we want to stop receiving these then we just have to unsubscribe. Twitter accounts are no different. People have a choice as to whether to follow you or not. I personally throw in some manual updates, some retweets and generally respond to whatever going on at the time.

Can You Make Any Money With Tweet Tank?
The pitch page suggests that you could be making $500 per day. You can set up as many Twitter accounts as you like and link them to your Tweet Tank account, and I guess you would have to have a large number of accounts with a large number of followers to make that kind of money. However, I can see that it is entirely possible. My own experience is that I have been using it for three weeks and set up five accounts (just added another today), one of which has already passed the 1,000 followers mark. And, most importantly, I have already made four sales!!

I am also using it to increase my followers for the @XCashChallenge Twitter account and I have seen a marked increase in traffic as a result.

I think that Tweet Tank is well worth it and has shown that it works well for increasing Twitter followers and making money.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paid Surveys: Survey Panels to Avoid

To round off my look at paid surveys I thought I would talk about some survey panels that I think are best avoided. These are my opinions and I am sure there are other people who have differing views.

Vindale Research
Vindale advertise themselves as being a genuine market research company, but there are not entirely upfront about how they work. They claim to offer a high reward for many of their surveys, but what they don't tell you is that to participate in many of the surveys involves paying a fee to sign up with a company that you are giving your views on. The reward quoted includes the refund for the fee that you signed up with, which is why the figures are so high. I am not saying that you cannot make money with Vindale, because you clearly can, but I object to the fact that they are not entirely honest about what they do and how much money you can make. My personal view - avoid!!

Cashcrate is possibly a rather contraversial inclusion as many people speak highly of them. However, I am not one of them. This is a site that is often described as being a survey site, but actually is about being paid to complete offers. For example, sign up for a free trial of X company a receive a reward. Of course, you have to remember to unsubscribe when the free trial period ends. There are also some "surveys" to take, but these seem to be about giving your e-mail address to various companies, so you can expect your spam count in your inbox to increase if you do any of these. Again, I personally would avoid!

A. W. Surveys
At this point I find myself breaking one of my golden rules by talking about a site I have never actually tried myself. However, a quick search on Google and browsing various forums and you will find that the word "scam" is frequently used in connection with A. W. Surveys. The consensus seems to be that after the welcome surveys, you don't receive many more. And of those people who do manage to reach the $75 payout, very few are actually paid. As I have said, I have never tried this site, but given their reputation I don't intend to!

Do you have any bad experiences with any survey sites? Leave your comments to share.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paying Post is Now Blogadvertisingstore

Review us

The paid to blog site, Paying Post has now become Blogadvertisingstore. I can't see anything else that has particularly changed; the layout appears to be pretty much the same as it was previously and features similar opportunities. The sponsored posts tend to be reasonably well rewarded ($10 is fairly typical for low PR ranked such as this one).

The whole issue of being paid to write blog posts can evoke strong reactions from bloggers and others alike. The main benefit of writing such posts is the money of course, but there are hazards - in particular that writing such sponsored posts can affect you PR as Google may penalize you. Some people tend to feel that writing such posts only damage reputation of blogging as medium and can have the affect of skewing the content.

I personally thought long and hard before signing up with paid to blog sites I came to the conclusion that it is an income stream that is worth pursuing, although it at first feel like I was selling my soul. I have decided on my own particular moral code in that I will only write paid posts about stuff that is relevant to my blogs and that I am comfortable about supporting. Most opportunities do not expect you to write a positive review about a product you have not tried, and I would not write these type of posts anyway. I have been offered all sorts of opportunities that have no relevance to my blogs whatsoever. Some paid to blog sites are offer lots of opportunities for gambling and adults which are not things I wish to promote - I feel you have to draw a line somewhere otherwise you start losing readers pretty quickly. I tend to find that Blogadvertisingstore offers a range of opportunities that I am happy to take and fit well with my blogs.

What do you think about being paid to write blog posts? Is it a good opportunity for bloggers to make a bit of extra cash, or is it a case of bloggers selling their soul and compromising the medium?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reviews of the Best Survey Panels - The Best of The Rest

Now that I have reviewed my top five survey panels, I thought I would give a mention to a few others that I like. I apologize for the UK bias to this, but this is where I live and I can only review from my own experience: research community    

Panelbase offer a consumer related surveys for which you are rewarded in cash. Payout is at £10 which is paid directly into your bank account. The only downside is that surveys are not that frequent (monthly on average). They are one of quickest panels to payout - you will receive your money within 7 days of requesting it.

YouGov is an international survey panel who offer surveys based on political opinions, social attitudes and views on various brands. Rewards are in the form of cash, although some are for an entry into a prize draw. Surveys are rather infrequent (monthly on average).

Opinium is a UK based survey panel that offers short surveys on politics and social issues. Surveys are usually monthly on average.

One Poll
One Poll is UK based panel and is quite unlike any other survey panel that I have ever come across. The surveys are very short - they are always on a single page so you can see how long they are before you start. The rewards are in cash, although very small for each survey. Having said that there are new surveys daily and it only takes a couple of minutes per survey. They are generally based on a variety of social attitude type topics, so more interesting than the usual consumer related ones.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monthly Total for October

This month has been considerably better than the previous few months, although I am still not making as much progress as I would like. I feel that I have lost a little momentum with my internet marketing efforts - I had hoped to get another couple of campaigns up and running, but I have not achieved this. I started one; I identified my niche, found some great keywords, but then realised that I know nothing whatsoever about the subject. I am happy to learn, but in my present stlightly de-motivated state the learning curve is just too big. I will come back to it I think but I need to do some serious reading first. I have now identified another niche which I feel more comfortable with and made a tentative start.

It is frustrating that I have not yet had a payout from Clickbank as I have not satisfied the payout criteria - you have to make at least five sales with at least five different credit cards. I have made the required number of sales but some of these have been paid with Paypal which they don't count for meeting payout criteria.

Also I have managed to be distracted by (a) changing the template of this blog (which did need to be done) and (b) playing with Twitter and exploring money making opportunities there - not made anything yet!

I have also got back to selling a few things on Ebay which has boosted my total - not great timing though with the postal strike!

So, here are the totals for October:

Private advertising: £40.86/$67.50
Quickpenny: £26.23/$43.33
Squidoo: £2.94/$4.93
Ebay: £30.55/$50.47

Total = £100.58/$166.23

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Reviews of the Best Survey Panels #5 - Ipsos

Ipsos is another of my favourite survey panels. Ipsos Mori are a respected and well established consumer research company so you can be sure that the survey invites that you participate in are genuine market research. Invites are sent by e-mail and, as you have the opportunity to sign up all members of your household, will be targetted towards the most appropriate person to complete. They tend to focus on consumer issues, so they are generally seeking your views on a particular brand, or on a new product, or an advertising campaign, and so on.

The surveys are generally well put together and, unlike most other panels, if you lose interest in the survey, or your PC crashes mid survey, you can usually come back later and complete it where you left off.

In return for completing the surveys you are rewarded with points which you can then trade in for gift vouchers. The only down side is that real money is not an option for your rewards, but there are wide range of vouchers available.

Ipsos is an international panel and available in many countries around the world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reviews of the Best Survey Panels #4 - Toluna

Toluna is different from most other survey panels in that the site allows you to register to test products at home. Once you have tested the product you are invited to give your opinion. The site also has a community element to it in that there are polls you can vote on and submit your own polls if you want to.

But, as for the surveys, I receive these almost daily, although I do get screened out of many of these. For each survey you will receive points which you can ultimately trade in for a range of shopping vouchers. The surveys are varied, but usually consumer related but cover a wide range of topics from movies to toothpaste! The main downside is that you do not have any option to receive cash. I personally trade my points in for Amazon e-vouchers which I then put towards our Christmas fund.

Toluna is available to residents of the US, Canada, the UK and most of Europe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Extra Cash Challenge Twitter Identity


I have been using Twitter for a while and I am only really just getting the hang of it. However, it has occurred to me recently that my tweets appear somewhat random as I dabble in various areas and have several RSS feeds automatically sending tweets for me. So as a part of my current re-development of Extra Cash Challenge I have decided to create a separate Twitter identity dedicated entirely to making money online and to this blog.

This new identity is @XCashChallenge. By following me on Twitter you will catch the very latest in what I am up to. Anyone following me, I will follow back!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reviews of the Best Survey Panels #3 - New Vista

New Vista, formerly known as It's Your View, is a UK based survey panel. They offer a variety of consumer market research and lifestyle surveys which are easy to complete. Sign up is easy, but restricted to residents of the UK. Although they are not an international panel I have included them in this series because they are one of the best paying - they say that they pay £1 per approximately five minutes spent. This better than most other panels, although the down side is that the payment threshold is £50, so it takes a little while before you see any of your money. Surveys are also not as frequent as many other panels (I receive around two surveys per month), but the rate of screen out is much lower.

With all surveys you need to exercise care in completing them. However, with New Vista you need to be particularly careful as they include some questions to check out just how much care you are taking. If your answers conflict with each other then you will not receive your reward.

I think that New Vista are well worth doing surveys with as the rewards are that much higher than other panels.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reviews of the Best Survey Panels #2 - Global Test Market

Global Test Market are an international survey panel who offer regular market research surveys for which you are rewarded with Marketpoints. Once you reach 1000 points you can trade them in for cash - each point is worth $0.05, so 1000 point is $50. The surveys are mixture of views on products, advertising and movies. Like most survey panels you can expect to be screened out of many of the surveys you are offered, the difference here is that you will still receive 5 points if you are not eligible - not much, but it all counts.

Signing up is easy. There are a number of short profiling surveys on the site which they say helps match you with surveys. To be honest, I don't know how much difference these make, but I try and keep mine up to date anyway.

You will be sent your survey invitation by e-mail and it is just a case of clicking on the link. Alternatively you can log into the site and access them from there. When you redeem your points you will receive your payment by cheque converted into your local currency, although it this can take several weeks to arrive.

I have found Global Test Market to be one of the most reliable survey panels around and survey invitations are very regular.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Working on a New Look for Extra Cash Challenge

I have come to radical decision that I no longer like the template that I did have. The reasons for this are:
  1. It takes too long to load
  2. Too many other people have the same template
  3. I didn't like the look of the sidebars.
I wanted something that is clean and simple, and much easier to navigate. I couldn't find anything that I liked to download, so I have been trying to make one myself. I am not nearly clever enough to make one from scratch so I have taken the Blogger Minima template and have been modifying it with the help of template hacks that I have found on various blogs. I am still playing with it at the moment so at the time of writing you will see that most of the links across the top don't go anywhere and the sidebars are a bit empty. I am trying to avoid unnecessary clutter so I will thinking through carefully what will be going in.

You can see what I have been playing with on my experimental blog.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reviews of the Best Survey Panels #1 - Review of Lightspeed Surveys

I thought I would start my series of reviews of the best survey panels with Lightspeed. OK, so I have reviewed them here before, but it makes sense to cover them within this series as I have found them to be one of the best. Signing up is straightforward, and then you will soon start receiving surveys. The surveys you receive are genuine market research, generally asking your opinions on existing products, new product ideas or on advertising.

You will be informed of new surveys by e-mail, but you can also log into the website to see what surveys are available. On the website you will also see minipolls for which you are entered into prize draws (no, I have never won anything!) and short match surveys which help to match you with future surveys.

For each surveys you will be rewarded with points - unlike most other survey panels you are credited with these points instantly. You can then trade in the points for gifts or cash via Paypal. If you choose to take the cash option, there is a very low payment threshold (here in the UK you can cash your points at just £1) and you will receive your cash within 7 days.

Lightspeed is an international panel and is open to participants from many parts of the world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Can You Really Make Any Money From Suveys? The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Paid Surveys

For many people, taking online paid surveys is their first step into the world of making money online. Well that's how it was for me anyway. It has to be said that people have a range of experiences with survey panels, some good, some bad, and some positively ugly! So, what does doing paid surveys involve anyway? Well, in order for companies to understand what the views of consumers (that's you and me!) are, what they want, how they might view a particular new product idea, how they view particular advertising, etc. they need to go out and ask them. If they fail to do this and try and guess what the consumer wants, then there is a good chance their product will fail. Paid surveys are one way thay these companies can achieve this, and achieve it quickly.

The good thing for us is that it gives us the opportunity to make a little extra money, although often the rewards are not paid in cash but in vouchers or gifts. However, you should not expect to make vast sums from these surveys - most pay between $1 to $5 per survey. You may see ads suggesting you can make a living from doing surveys - all I can say is that this has not been my experience. And I belong to a lot of survey panels!

Most survey panels are about legitimate market research. These panels operate strict privacy policies and will not share your details with anyone and are not concerned with selling you anything. Some survey companies are actually more concerned with selling your details on to fill your inbox up with spam. There are also a few companies that present themselves as legitimate market research, but are actually about selling you stuff.

My Tips for Checking Out a Survey Panel
  • Read through all the information on the website to check whether they are actually concerned with market research.
  • Read the Terms and Conditions carefully
  • Carefully read the Privacy Policy - if you see the phrase "we may share your details with trusted partners" (or somthing similar), then avoid.
  • Read reviews of survey panels.
 Although I am not doing as many surveys as I used to due to lack of time, I still do them and they still bring in some useful extra cash. Personally, I think that it is certainly worth doing surveys for bringing some extra money, just don't give up the day job!!

I am intending to review the best survey panels (and couple of the worst) that I have used over the coming weeks. The experiences that I will describe will be mine and mine alone, so if you have a different experience then please leave a comment to let me know.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monthly Total for September

September has been another pretty poor month in terms of what I have actually received. I have made a couple of affiliate sales, but have not yet met the payout criteria for Clickbank or other affiliate programs that I registered with. Here are the totals anyway:

Surveys: £5 (Just the Answer)
Squidoo: £0.90
Private Advertising: £4.87

Total = £10.77 (or $17.19)

Pretty disappointing really. I am still working to my plan and I am hoping it will start to pay off soon. At least I know I will beat that total in October - I have made more than double the September figure today!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Formulating A Plan: Working Towards Niche Sites

If I have learned anything about Internet Marketing it is that it is important to have a plan. That's all very well of course, but what plan?! I have been using One Week Marketing as a starting point over the last couple of months, but I have been thinking about where to go from here. I am keen to move on to putting together some Wordpress niche sites and was considering using my existing One Week Marketing campaigns as a launchpad for these sites. However, my existing campaigns are fairly undeveloped so I don't really know what will convert and what won't at this point, so there is a danger of devoting a lot of time developing a niche site only to find that I cannot attract sufficient visitors, or I get visitors, but no buying visitors. So I have decided to develop my campaigns further on Squidoo etc to really test them out before moving on to niche sites.

So, here is my 3 step plan:
  1. Set up 10 One Week Marketing campaigns.
  2. Go back and improve on each campaign - improve my Squidoo lenses, write more articles, increase monetisation options if appropriate, get in more backlinks, etc.
  3. See which campaigns are converting and set up Wordpress niche sites using the OWM campaigns as a launchpad.
Between improving campaigns I will be seeking out more potentially lucrative niches to start more campaigns. I am currently up to my 7th campaign so I am looking forward to moving on to stage 2 soon!

So, what's your plan?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Have You Been Trying to Contact Me?

I have noticed in recent weeks when checking my stats that a number of people have clicked on my "Contact Me" tab, but nothing has been arriving in me e-mail inbox. So I thought I had better check that it was actually working - and I discovered that it was not!! So I have now changed my provider and the new link does now actually work. In case you are interested my new provider for the Contact Me form is FormSpring who offer free forms or you can upgrade to a paid version for additional features.

So, if you have tried to contact me within the last four weeks or so and had no response, if you would like to propose a link exchange, if you want to buy advertising on Extra Cash Challenge, if you want to request to write a guest post.......or if you just want to so say hi, then click on the Contact Me tab at the top and fill in the form.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Get Paid to Search the Internet: Goodbye Scour, Hello Swagbucks!

Search & Win

For the last few months I have been using Scour to search the internet. The deal was for every search you did you earned points. You could also earn extra points for voting and commenting. And then, without any warning, the points system has been abandoned this month. There is no option for cashing in the points that I had earned so far, which is really quite annoying. They say that this is so that they can concentrate on improving the search experience.

As a result of this I have abandoned Scour in favour of Swagbucks. The way Swagbucks works is that every time you search the internet you have a chance or winning points, known as Swag Bucks. These can be traded in for various prizes (including vouchers). I have to say that it is much quicker and results are more relevant than Scour anyway, so Swagbucks is definitely my search engine of choice. After all, what can be easier than getting paid for doing what you do anyway!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How Changes to the Ebay Partner Network Policy May Affect You

There have been a number of changes at the Ebay Partner Network recently, but the particular change that I am concentrating on here is that you are no longer able to display Ebay ads on websites that are not your own. This change actually took place a few months ago, but I have to admit it passed me by. I did read something about it on an e-mail from HubPages, but didn't really take much notice. Then after doing a bit of research at Squidoo I realised there was a problem.

So here are few examples of sites that are affected:

Squidoo - you should no longer put your own Ebay affiliate RSS feed onto your lenses.
Qondio - you should no longer add Ebay ads
Infobarrel - the site have already removed Ebay ads

If you have your own Ebay ads on Squidoo or Qondio, or any other site that is not yours, then you need to remove them now. If you don't then you risk being removed from the Ebay Partner Network!

These are not affected:

Squidoo - Squidoo's own Ebay affiliate module is not affected and you should continue using these.
HubPages - The Ebay affiliate module is not affected.

So far I have not made any money at all from being with EPN, but this is basically because I have not yet utlised it much yet. However, I plan to incorporate these ads to a greater extent as I expand my affiliate empire. But more about that on another post...........

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monthly Total for August

It has become a tradition at Extra Cash Challenge at the beginning of each month for me to review my online earnings over the previous month and to look at my mission to create on-going online earnings. My self-imposed rules are that I only post the earnings I have actually received - this is as a result of the fact that I have learned that there are occasions that I have "earned" money never to actually receive it. Likewise, due to thresholds for payment, there are some earnings that it may well be some time before I actually get to see any of it. Adsense is a good case in point where at my current rate it will take me another 3 year before I will see any of this! I am working on increasing my Adsense income, but you get my point.

Anyway, to this month's earnings. This month's earnings have been.......(drumroll please).....ZERO!! That's right, nothing, zilch, nada, zip, nowt!!!!

This makes this month officially my worst month since I started posting my online earnings!

This does not mean I haven't earned anything. On the contrary, I have continued to earn from Adsense, I have done a few surveys, continued to get decent traffic to my Squidoo lenses and Bukisa pages, I have clicked on some paid e-mails and (most importantly) made a few affiliate sales. Unfortunately, only one of my affiliate sales gave me a decent commission, the others were really very small. But, nevertheless, this is the most sales I have made in a single month. There are also a few payments pending which I hope to receive shortly.

So, (working on the "glass half full" principle) not all bad news then!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Can Web Directories Help Me?

The primary purpose of the internet is to provide information, but it has become an increasingly crowded place where both finding the right information and content providers ensuring that they are found by the right people has become an industry in itself. Whether you are someone looking for information or providing it, web directories can help you. If you are a provider of content by having your own website or blog then a business web directory provide all important links. Many directories can provide you with good quality links, substantially improving your visibility to search engines. Not only that though, they provide another means by which you can be found.

If you are searching for information then a web directory provides a good alternative to search engines. Of course, unlike search engines, you will not be searching the entire web to find what you want, but this may be a good thing. Also, unlike search engines, web directories are hand edited so this can lead more focused results.

The number of directories has expanded enormously over recent years, and it is true that they vary enormously in quality. Some directories will simply list sites according to category, whereas others will provide more information to assist you in finding what you want. The most well known and most established are Yahoo Directory and DMOZ. Getting you site listed in DMOZ (which is free) can be notoriously tricky as each submission is hand edited and the editors are quite picky about which sites are included. However, the value of the link is very high when seen by search engines, so inclusion is invaluable. Some other directories may be less choosy, but the value of the link is substantially less.

So, if you have a website it is likely that you will be looking to increase traffic and visibility then web directories could part of the solution to this particular problem. After all, without traffic, what's the point?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Squidoo Alternatives #10 - Xomba Review

Continuing my series of alternatives to Squidoo (i.e. sites where you get paid to write your own content and where you have the opportunity to link to your own site) brings me to Xomba. I signed up with Xomba months ago, but never got around to doing anything with it. So I thought it was about time that I checked it out. There are 2 types of content that you can post. The first they call a Xombyte, which is an article about anything you want to write about. The second is a Xomblurb, which is a review about other sites, much like social bookmarking sites except that you are expected to write at least 50 words.

The interface is straightforward enough - basically just a blank box to type into. There are no fancy modules or anything here. The earning ability from Xomba comes from Adsense which you share with the site - 50% of the impressions are yours. The good news, however, is that you can use affiliate links on Xomba so there is some potential to use Xombytes for internet marketing. The downside is that links are nofollow so will not be of great value to you if you are looking for get more links to your blog/website to increase Page Rank.

Overall, Xomba is worth putting some effort into as an opportunity to gain a bit more Adsense income (although the 50% revenue share is a bit low) and their pages rank very well. The fact that you can use affiliate links is a definite bonus.

Here is the definitive list of alternatives to Squidoo

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Earnings for July

This month has been pretty poor again really. Remember though that I only count what I have actually received, so I have continued earning over the month, but this won't show up in the way that I count it. Here are the figures anyway:

Surveys: £6 (£1 - Opinion World, £5 - That's What I Think)
Blogrolled: £2.96
Blogsvertise: £2.96
Private Advertising: £3.27
Ebay: £6.96

Total = £22.15 (or $37.02)

I am not expecting August's earnings to be any better really, especially as I am away for the next week. However, I am working to a longer term plan that I really hope to start paying off in 2 to 3 months when I hope to be earning a reasonable amount in affiliate income. The challenge, as ever, is how to use my limited time effectively. All suggestions welcome!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Qassia is Dead! Long Live Qondio! - With Even Better Revenue Sharing

The revenue sharing site, Qassia, has been going through some changes recently. Most notably its name - it is now Qondio. Why the name change? Well who knows! I have reviewed Qassia previously, but just to remind you what it is about, it is (yet another) site where you can add your own content and you can earn from a share of the advertising revenue generated by your content.

It has a slightly different look about it now - the rather dodgy washed out pink has been replaced with a rather more tasteful olive green. As a result the site just looks that much better.

The real change though is in the revenue sharing model. It has always been the case that 100% of the revenue generated by the ads on your Intels (the name they give for your content pages) and on your profile page is yours. However, now you can specify which ads you want to display - so you are not limited to Adsense, you can put in the codes for whatever ad network you like! Setting it up is a little bit fiddly to begin with (it is all done via uniQlicks) but once this is done you don't need to touch it again. The only downside is that you can't seem specify different ads for different Intels - or not as far as I can tell anyway. So you will need to find ads that work with any content rather then being content specific.

So far I have only briefly dabbled with Qondio, but with these changes I definitely intend to put more effort into creating more Intels and hopefully making some money from them!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Squidoo Alternatives #9 - Infobarrel

With the changes in Squidoo's policies this seems like a good time to have another look at what alternatives are out there. I signed up with Infobarrel several months ago, but never got around to doing anything with it. So, mostly with a view to getting more links to various projects I thought I would look at it again. The site allows you submit your own content (it has to be original content) in one of four formats:

  1. Blank article template - basically a blank page to fill as you like
  2. Video article - page that contains a video. This can contain several videos
  3. How-to article - step-by-step article describing how to do something (much like e-How)
  4. Review Article - review of product, service, movie, etc.
If you are stuck for something to write about there is a long list available of suggested titles, although it has to be said that some of these are quite obscure.

The money making aspect of Infobarrel is from Adsense and Ebay's partner program - basically 75% of the impressions are yours.

You can include include links within your articles and it would appear that these links are do-follow, so valuable for promoting your website, blog, etc.

But...... you cannot include affiliate links within your articles. Or that is how I read the terms of service anyway. This is what is says:

"........InfoBarrel will remove from the Materials any links that link/refer to advertisements or any other content of promotional/advertising nature. "

This obviously limits its usefulness in terms of internet marketing - it may provide useful links into a Squidoo lens, or to a niche site, but no opportunity to directly market products.

Overall, I like Infobarrel. It has a good look to it and the templates give a range of options, and the "How-to" template is a particularly good one for quickly writing a structured article. I am intending to use it more to gain more links to my blogs and maybe to some of my Squidoo lenses, and to niche sites when I get to the stage of constructing them. And, of course, to boost my Adsense and Ebay Partner income!

Here is the definitive list of alternatives to Squidoo.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Internet Marketing in a Recession

With few signs of the current recession coming to an immediate end, inevitably sales to internet marketers will be hit. But does this mean that we should shut up shop and wait for things to get better? Or do we just carry on as if nothing has changed?

Market trends show that people are still spending money, but instead consumers are more interested in getting back to living a more basic and frugal lifestyle and, ironically, are willing to spend money to help them achieve this. People are also looking to decrease their impact upon the environment, whether this should be reducing their energy usage (and cost) or through buying products that are more environmentally friendly.

Clearly then, there are opportunities here for the savvy internet marketer to capitalize on these changing trends. So in order to maintain sales there needs to be a change of emphasis.

A further trend is in relation to those people who suddenly find themselves out of work and looking for ways to generate an income. The make money online niche is severely overcrowded already, so to try and gain a foothold here is somewhat challenging. However, there are various other work from home type niches and product that have less competition and could meet the needs of people in this situation.

So, the recession doesn’t mean the end of internet marketing. It means that you need to adapt.

Interestingly, I heard the other day that the sales of champagne are on the increase! I have no idea what that means.....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Total Earnings for June

Earnings for June have been a little disappointing, mainly because I have been focusing on the longer term rather than grabbing quick cash. Here are the figures (only including money I have actually received):

Surveys - £20 (Home of Research)
Blogsvertise - £5.94
Squidoo - £0.61
Ebay - £16.62

Total = £43.17 (or $70.55)

Not great really. I don't expect July to be too much better as the kind of activity I am focusing on should gradually increase income over time and unlikely to produce quick results.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Thoughts on Squidoo Policy Changes: How They Affect You!

If you are a Squidoo member then you will probably aware of the impending policy changes due to take place in July. If you haven't read them then you can find them here.

This a very brief summary of the changes are as follows:

  • No porn.
  • Limit of 9 outbound links to a single domain.
  • No lenses on junk topics.

I have no problem with the no porn rule - not that I am prudish in any way, I just don't feel that it is good for the site's credibility.

Also the new outbound link rule I don't see as a problem - I think that 9 links to a single destination is enough for any page.

Where I struggle is the junk topics issue. I can see that there is a need to clean up Squidoo and that lenses that are nothing but sales pages with no useful content do nothing for the site, and probably don't help Squidoo's rankings with the search engines. I tend to work on the principle that if you are using Squidoo for affiliate marketing then you need to provide useful and entertaining information, after all people do not search for sales pages. It is about "pre-selling" - i.e. giving people some of the information that they are looking for, and then pointing them in the direction of where they can find more, or buy a product in keeping with the subject that you have been talking about.

However, the policy changes refer to junk topics and lists the following as examples:

  • Free movie downloads.
  • Hoodia Gordoni.
  • Acai berry reviews.
  • Toenail fungus sales.
  • LoseBellyFat!
  • Pharmaceuticals.
  • WoW gold farming.
  • Forex reports.
  • Adult content.
  • And on and on.

To me, this list is somewhat ill-defined. How do we know what is, or will become a junk topic? I would imagine most of our lenses will be just fine, but I know that a few of mine may just fall into the junk category.

So, what should you do?

Well, here are my suggestions:

  1. Review your lenses
  2. Check your outbound links and amend as necessary
  3. Do your lenses lack original and useful content? - if so amend accordingly
  4. Does the subject of your lens fall into the "junk" category - consider amending, deleting or exporting your content elsewhere.

What are your options if you want to export my content elsewhere?

  • Consider one of the many alternatives to Squidoo, but bear in mind they all have their own policies, most of which are stricter than Squidoo's new policies, so check carefully.
  • Build your own niche website - your best option is build a site with Wordpress. There are, of course, cost implications for this in respect of web hosting and domain names. Alternatively, you could use one of the free website builders such as Google Sites or Yola - hosting for these sites is also FREE!

So are the changes a good thing or a bad thing?

I think that there is currently a lot of junk on Squidoo with little or no useful content, and this can only be harmful to the site's credibility and to its authority as seen by search engines. Overall, I think that the changes are a good thing. BUT, I for one would like more clarity over what constitutes "junk" subjects.

So, what do you think?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Account has Been Disabled

Back in January I started a blog on, thinking that blogging on a paid network might bring in some easy cash. I always fancied the idea of having a political and current affairs blog, so I thought this was an opportunity to do that and make some money along the way. And so, Comments of a Nobody was born. The first month I was to be paid $1 per post and then after that it would be adjusted according to how much traffic I was receiving. Unfortunately, because I submitted my blog feed to Zimbio, I was caught out by the duplicate content rule and therefore many of my early posts were not accepted for payment.

Then, as I was not attracting much traffic the payment rules were changed to $2 per 1000 visitors. As a result of these two factors I became rather less inclined to write posts. Also, another factor was the topic I had chosen - to write decent posts, even short ones, required a lot of research and thought, and consequently, a lot of time.

The e-mail I received does give me the option to resurrect my account, but after much thought I have decided to let it go. Comments of a Nobody is still there, I just can't add to it nor will I earn anything from it - although I will benefit from the backlinks to here and some of my other projects. The moral of this is that there are only so many hours in the day and you simply cannot do everything.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Get a Free Squidoo Guide

I have talked about Squidoo on Extra Cash Challenge before, but for those who are not familiar with this site, it basically allows to write a page (or a lens as they call it) about anything you like. Squidoo can be great place to promote your blog, website or anything for that matter.

You can earn money from Squidoo in three ways; you share a certain amount of revenue according to how many visitors your lens attracts, you can add affiliate modules (Amazon, Ebay, Cafepress) and you earn if anyone makes a purchase via your lens, or you can add your own affiliate link. You can join Squidoo here.

For those new to Squidoo, it can be quite confusing at first making your first few lenses. So to help you get a head-start, here is a FREE 50+ "How to Squidoo" guide. Readers are taken from the very beginning (setting up a new Squidoo account) all the way to lens creation steps to get their first lens live and online. Anyone who is confused by Squidoo or unsure of how to make an effective lens will really appreciate this free guide.

I know that when I first started with Squidoo, I really didn't understand how to make an effective lens, and the ever growing list of modules was really confusing. So, this Squidoo guide will really save you a great deal of time.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Extra Cash Challenge is One Year Old!!

Today Extra Cash Challenge is one year old. This is my first blog and looking back over the last year I have learned an incredible amount about blogging, internet marketing and about making money on the internet in general. When I first started this blog, I knew nothing about blogging and I did not even regularly read blogs myself, and looking back at my early posts, it shows! My early posts are very short and contain little useful content. I think it actually took me about 3 months to really start writing much that was of any interest to anyone else other than myself.

My original motivation for this blog was purely as a means to promote my website, Extra Cash Review, but Extra Cash Challenge took on a life of its own and I really now see them as entirely separate projects. (Incidentally, Extra Cash Review, is on hold - and in dire need of overhauling and updating - pending the migration of Google Page Creator to Google Sites.) It took me several months before it actually occurred to me that I could actually make some money from blogs and I have gradually built a small income from blogging, albeit rather less than I would like.

Over the last few months, Extra Cash Challenge rose to the dizzy heights of PR2, before plummeting back this week to PR0!

So, what are my plans for Extra Cash Challenge for the coming year? Well, a grand plan is somewhat lacking at the moment, particularly as main my focus has been on my One Week Marketing campaigns. However, I clearly could do with recovering my Page Rank through rebuilding links. But most importantly, I need to boost traffic as it feels as if I have plateaued at present.

So, that's it then - my grand plan is....... to come up with a grand plan! Hmmmm....... some thought needed to this I think....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Total Earnings for May

Well, it's that time again to review how I have done for the previous month. So here are the figures (only counting what I have actually received):

Ebay: £18.92
Surveys: £24 (Lightspeed = £10, Valued Opinions = £10, Another survey panel I can't mention = £4
Private Review: £16.43
Blogrolled: £3.04
Blogsvertise: £4.56
Bloggerwave: £0.12!!

Total = £67.07 (or $110.22)

Not too bad I guess, and quite a diversity in sources of income. I haven't really got my act together with my One Week Marketing efforts this month - I only managed to get one more campaign up and running, so hence no more sales. I have realized that for 2 of my 3 campaigns I am up against a lot of competition which explains why I am not getting as many hits as I would like. I am still really learning at this point, so I am trying to keep my expectations realistic. I have quite a busy month ahead of me - earning some extra money
offline - so my time will be squeezed more than ever. Nevertheless, I hope to get at least 2 more campaigns up before the end of June.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Alternatives to Ebay: More Places to Sell Your Stuff

While we all know Ebay and most of the world has either been a buyer or a seller on Ebay at some point, it is worth taking a look at some of its competitors. Why would you want to do this? Well, firstly some are cheaper, although some recent changes in Ebay's pricing policy that gap is narrowing. Secondly, some items are just better suited to a different marketplace. Finally, you may find that some your items just will not sell on Ebay, perhaps due to there being too much competition, so in these instances you may find that exposing your item to a different set of buyers increases your chance of success.

I have featured just three sites here; there are many many more, but the traffic for many of these is too low for you to make many sales. These three are the sites that I consider to be the main competitors to Ebay.

Amazon Marketplace

Amazon works in quite a different way to Ebay. Basically you can sell anything, as long as it is something that Amazon already sells. Listing is extremely easy in that you use the standard Amazon description and they also work out the postage and packing charges for you. Some people may find this restrictive and getting your listing stand out amongst the many others is tricky when the only variables available to you are price and condition. However, if you want fast and hassle free listing then Amazon could be for you. All sales are handled by Amazon's secure payment system and credited by Amazon to your bank account.

Another key consideration is that it costs absolutely nothing to list your items on Amazon - you pay nothing until your item sells. So if you have something that absolutely refuses to sell on Ebay, provided it is an item sold by Amazon, you can stick it on the Amazon Marketplace and leave it there until it finally sells!


Ebid is an auction site that has its similarities to Ebay. The key difference though is that the basic listing is completely free! You do, of course, have to pay a final sales fee. If you want to to upgrade your listing in any way (such as a gallery picture) then you do have to pay. However, what Ebid do offer is a subscription option, so you pay a fee and this covers all your auction costs for a given period, or for life if your prefer. So, potentially, the savings with eBid are huge. Payments for auctions are via Paypal, PPPay or Google Checkout.

eBid Online Auctions GBP

CQOut is another site that is similar to Ebay, but the fees for sellers are much more competitive. Firstly, it is free to list and many of the enhancements to your listings are also free. There is of course a final value fee, but this is cheaper than Ebay. Also the fees for a CQOut shop is cheaper than that of Ebay. There is a very small one-off registration fee, but what you save in sellers fees more than makes up for this. Payments for auctions are made via SecurePay escrow.

Do you know of any other alternatives to Ebay that are worth trying?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Making Money With Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates claims to be the world's most successful affiliate program. I have been signed up with them for some time and have I made any money from them? actually! But this is probably because I haven't utilized them to their fullest potential. I have recently started doing book reviews on one of my other blogs and potentially I could make sales there. However, it struck me the other day that these days Amazon sells pretty much everything! So, therefore, the potential for making money as an Amazon affiliate is huge. I can see all sorts of possibilities for product reviews on my blogs. They also have a huge range widgets and banners to include on your site/blog, as well as their "A Store" where you can construct your own store front to embed within your site.

I know this feels like yet something else to try, but actually it is quite painless to fit in product reviews into your blog, especially when you are stuck for content. The main thing to remember (as I have been learning recently), that you need to provide your readers with useful content - people do not visit blogs to read sales pages. Also don't flood your blogs with reviews (unless that is the stated purpose of your blog) and don't give everything rave reviews otherwise your readers will not trust your judgment.

I will be including the occasional review in my other blog as this is good fit for the particular niche (self-sufficiency/gardening) with well placed Amazon affiliate links to the product I am reviewing. Let's hope it pays off!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reclaim Your Articles!

If writing articles is part of your making money online activity then you will know that many of your articles that you submit to Ezine, Go Articles, or the various other article directories out there will probably turn up on other websites at some point. Every so often (just because my ego needs a bit of boost) I do a Google search for my articles (you need to use inverted commas - i.e. "My Article Title") just to see where they turn up.

Often I will find my articles on related sites complete with my name and the links intact. This is, most certainly, a good thing. It certainly helps to get more links to whatever it is I am trying to promote out there.

Sometimes, however, I will find my articles credited to me, but no links. This is obviously less good. Even worse I have sometimes found my articles not credited to me, no reference to the original source and no links!! This is very annoying!! On these occasions, I have left comments (if the site allows) giving the link to the original article and the links that were originally included. Sometimes, if the site allows, I will contact the site owner to request that they acknowledge the source of the article and to include links.

There are some people who will continue to pursue the matter after this if the article is not amended. However, I tend to think that the time you spend pursuing people further could actually be more usefully utilized to write more articles.

So, go reclaim your articles..... but just don't stress too much over it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Winners of Contest

There was a huge response to the business card and brochures giveaway, so thank you very much to all of you for your entries. This is now closed so any further entries will be rejected.

I have now drawn the two winners through and I can now announce that the winners are (drumroll please........):

FreeStuff and Mom2gabnnat

Congratulations to both of you!! I have passed the e-mail addresses of the 2 winners to to arrange for the making up and delivery of the business card and brochures.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Change of Direction and a Grand Plan for my Internet Earnings

In the past few months I have been following a journey to making money online. So far my earnings have been fairly modest, but I have ambitions to increase this substantially. My recent purchase of One Week Marketing has forced me to re-evaluate what I am doing and thinking whether I am actually using my time effectively. And it is time that has been a particular limiting factor in me earning more money. This had led me to adopt the mantra:

Don't Work Harder, Work Smarter!

These are my current sources of online income:

Paid to Click
Paid Blog Posts
Cashback Shopping
Affiliate income

The purchase of One Week Marketing has shown me what is possible with Internet Marketing, so I have decided that a change of emphasis is needed. I am intending to switch my focus to Internet Marketing following the One Week Marketing method which focuses on making use of free methods such as Squidoo for promoting your affiliate links.

I am intending to focus primarily on a few niches with a view to setting up my own sites at some point in the future with opt-ins. My theory is that I can use the campaigns that I launch now to link in to my own sites when I get to that stage.

In order to make sure I am using my time effectively I need to look at what I am doing and how it contributes to my plan. I am making One Week Marketing the focus of my efforts at the moment, so the majority of what I do needs to feed into this. Therefore any articles I write should link to my OWM campaigns, and if I write these articles for HubPages, Bukisa, Associated Content, etc., then I also have the potential to earn from these articles.

Surveys have formed a large part of my money making efforts. I am currently receiving between 15 to 20 survey invitations per day!! If I were to complete all of these then this would take me around 5 to 6 hours! I have decided to scale back my activities with surveys gradually, concentrating firstly on those that are close to payout. Once I have reached payout with all of them then I will stick with 3 or 4 panels and ditch the rest.

I have decided to ditch most of the paid to click sites - frankly, life is too short to spend my time clicking on ads for pennies. The only one I am keeping for the moment is Hits 4 Pay as I am not that far of the $25 payout. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never the small amount of cash I have accumulated with the others.

Likewise with cashback shopping - I used to diligently visit these sites and click on those advertisers that would give you pennies for visiting their site. Again, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never see this money, as it is really not a good use of my time.

Despite the fact that I have made only £0.80 so far with my Zlio shops I am sticking with them for now. I have some ideas for promoting them which I want to try out in the near future. If these don't pay off then I will let them go as well.

I am disappointed that have changed their rules so that I now receive $2 per 1000 visitors to my blog. They have now allowed some other options for making money, such as some limited affiliate opportunities. If this was the focus of my activities then I probably could make some money from it if I really put my mind to it. However, it isn't. I have decided just to put up some occasional posts, just to keep it ticking over.

There is Ebay of course - I keep finding stuff around the house to sell so it makes sense to continue with this.

There we are, that's the plan. Any thoughts anyone on how use time effectively when making money online?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Earnings for April

Well another month has passed already and the world waits with baited breath to see what Mark has earned on the internet during April. OK, maybe not! So, what has April brought? Well, I have been focusing on putting into practice the lessons I have learned from One Week Marketing, during which I have made some mistakes, but I have got some things right as well. And I did make a sale - only one, but it's a start.

Frustratingly I have only managed to get 2 campaigns up and running due in part to my lack of available time. The other issue is that I simply take too long writing articles and Squidoo lenses. I have read that around 15 minutes should be the norm for writing an article - it takes me about an hour! Maybe I will get quicker with practice?!

I started the month with a bit of an Ebay campaign, but I lost momentum after a week. I have loads of stuff to sell, so I must get more organised with this.

So, what did I actually make this month? Remember that I only count what I have actually received:

Surveys: £10 - Toluna
Ebay: £36.76
Blogsvertise : £7.44

Total = £54.20 (that's $80.35 in case you were wondering).

Perhaps a little disappointing, but I have just started changing emphasis in terms of how I earn money online, moving away from surveys towards internet marketing. Also I have a number of payments pending (including my Clickbank sale), so these should bump up my May total. I have started to consider the direction that I am going in and how best to use my time, but I haven't come to any real conclusions. I will ponder over the next few days and come up with a plan. Anyway, we are only 3 months away from July when my goal is to be earning £300 per month. This is looking a little remote at the moment.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Win FREE Business Cards or Brochures from

Would you like to win FREE 1000 Business Cards or 500 Brochures from to publicize your business? Well, you can right here at Extra Cash Challenge! But more of that in a moment. offer a huge range of printed products from Business Card Printing, to Brochures, to Letterheads, to Posters, to Menus, to..... well the list is huge! These are all printed to high quality to your custom design, although they do provide templates to help you, and are affordable. Not only that, is committed to eco-friendly printing using only environmentally friendly inks and recycling wherever possible.

At the moment they are offering 20% off Catalogs and also 20% off Labels and Stickers.

OK, so how do you get your hands on your freebies? Well, all you have to do is a leave a comment telling me how you would use either the business cards or the brochures. This will remain open until 9th May 2009 (if there are no entrants by this date, I may extend it). The 2 winners will be selected at random (by use of and will be announced on 10th May 2009. Postage for the Business Card and Brochures for the winners will be free to residents of the U.S. and Canada, but elsewhere there will be a charge.

Good luck!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Week Marketing Progress Report

I am two weeks into my One Week Marketing campaign and how am I doing? Well, as anticipated my "one week" took a little longer than 7 days (11 days in fact, which was not too bad) to set up my first campaign. I have now made a tentative start on my second campaign, and already behind schedule as I have a certain amount of research to do!

So, the big question... have I started making any money? To be honest I was treating the first couple of campaigns as a learning experience so I was not expecting to really make anything in the first few weeks. But.... after months of looking at my Clickbank account flatlining at zero I have finally made a sale! Only one, so I should not get too carried away, but it felt like my first "Yee-ha" moment as a novice internet marketer.

And here is my Clickbank sales snapshot:

I guess for some of you seasoned affiliate marketers this is probably pretty insignificant, but for me it is huge! It means that the work I have put in is starting to pay off and there hope of making significant money of One Week Marketing if I continue to apply the methods described.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Achieving Success with Affiliate Marketing

Despite my extensive research on making money as an affiliate, all my efforts have come to nothing. I have come to the conclusion that although I have amassed a great deal of knowledge around the subject, what I lack is a clear system. What I need is someone to tell in clear terms how it's done. I am not ready for trying to get together a list or for PPC ads. What I really need is someone to guide me through free methods of making money through affiliate marketing.

So..... the £37 that I have recently received from Global Test Market I have re-invested it in One Week Marketing. This is the first time I have spent money on a making money online guide but I feel that it is worth it. One Week Marketing is put together by Jennifer Ledbetter otherwise known as PotPieGirl who I have come across before on Squidoo and I have read her blog on a number of occasions so I felt reassured by this.

The system concentrates on setting up marketing campaigns using free methods such as Squidoo. The guide gives you a day by day account of what you should do over a 7 day period, after which you forget it and move on to the next campaign. I have started my first, although I am finding that my 7 days are more likely to take around 14 given that my time is split between my full-time job, my family, maintaining my blogs and my various self-sufficiency efforts. I have decided that I will use the first campaign as a learning process and come to a conclusion about what timescales are realistic for me.

I am really excited about One Week Marketing - it has been written in a way that is easily understandable to everyone and it just makes so much sense. I can also see how I could use elements of the system to promote other projects such as my blogs and my Zlio shops. But... as usual I am already thinking about running when I haven't yet learned to walk.

Has anyone else tried One Week Marketing? Has it been successful for you?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Earnings for March

Considering just how dismal my earnings have been over the last few months, March has been reasonably good in comparison. So here are my earnings for this month (bearing in mind I only count what I actually receive):

Surveys: £56.10 (£37 Global Test Market, £10 Valued Opinions, £5.10 Ciao, £4 from another survey panel I can't mention here!)
Ebay: £8.21
Blogrolled: £6.43

Total = £70.74

Now, regular readers will know that my target is £300 per month by July! Still a long way to go to achieve that, but heading in the right direction at least.

However, what I have done this month is get myself a number of free books from publishers for reviewing on A Smallholder's Diary - a neat trick I picked up from Problogger. The total value of these books is £74! Not bad at all I think!!

Looking forward to next month, I have a few payments pending, a large pile of stuff to sell on Ebay and I have a new project coming up................. But more about that next time. Bring on April!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Save Money by Cutting Your Credit Card Interest Charges

In these difficult financial times many of us are looking to cut down on our debts. One good way of doing this is to take a good look at what we are spending on interest on our credit cards. It is easy just to continue paying the bills and not to look at whether we could actually be getting a better deal elsewhere. Despite the credit crunch, there are still good deals out there and many companies continue to offer 0% introductory deals.

Applying online for credit card offers some considerable advantages. In particular this means that you can apply for instant decision credit cards and avoid waiting for several days like you would have to in the past with paper applications. Also searching online gives you the opportunity to compare a number of different cards ensuring that you get the very deal possible.

This post has been brought to you by your friends at

Friday, March 20, 2009

Things are Changing at Entrecard

I have been a member of Entrecard for a few months now and it has helped me "meet" other bloggers and has brought traffic to my blogs. I have been a little concerned about the bounce rate of visitors from Entrecard, but I have stuck with it because enough people have actually taken the time to read my blogs to make it worth my while. Previously the way it would work is that you could earn credits by visiting other blogs in the network and "dropping" on them and by "selling" an ad spot on your Entrecard widget. In turn you can redeem your credits for ads on other blogs in the network. However, it has been announced recently that changes are afoot. These will remain, but with a few changes.

The key changes are:

  1. Up to 50% of the ad impressions on Entrecard widgets will be 3rd party ads.
  2. The Entrecard widget has to be placed "above the fold" or within one keystroke of the page down key.
  3. You will be able to trade in your Entrecard credits for CASH!
These changes have brought a mixed response from the Entrecard community and there has been a bit of an exodus of some bloggers who are concerned that the ads they purchase with their credits will effectively be diminished in value. I have decided to stick with it for the moment and see how it works out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Make Money with Surveys at Ipsos


Ipsos surveys are a well respected and well established survey panel. They have separate panels for the UK, US and Germany. The surveys are on a range of consumer topics and are very regular - you can expect 2 to 3 per week. For each survey you earn points which can then be exchanged for vouchers at a good range of high street shops. They also have a low payout threshold (just £2 for the UK panel) so you can get your hands on your vouchers quickly. I have had a number of payouts from Ipsos and personally I put the vouchers towards our Christmas fund, but with such a large choice of vouchers to choose from you can spend them as you like!