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Preview : Buxr Shopping Comparison widget

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BuxrMichael Glozman, of Cheap Hosting Bargains fame contacted me this morning to give me a sneak preview of his new shopping comparison site Buxr.

Buxr is the latest shopping comparison site which is targeting bloggers to promote their website. If you signed up with WidgetBucks last month then you should be familiar with how this type of affiliate widget works. Basically, you place a javascript banner on your blog to display the latest products on your blog.

The Widget

Creating a widget with Buxr is very similar to creating a widget with WidgetBucks. Buxr does allow you to create a banner targeted to one merchant which I think is a nice touch however there are only 9 merchants to choose from (compare this with the hundreds Widgetbucks gives you with Mpire).

Below is a screenshot of the ‘create a widget’ page’. Those of you with a keen eye will notice how the javascript that Buxr generates looks identical to the javscript which google adsense uses.

The Buxr Widget Creation Screen

The actual banner that the javascript creates is quite basic looking compared to the fancy interactive widgets which you get with WidgetBucks. Infact, the banners look very similar to the adsense banners of a year or so ago – perhaps they hired a former Google employee to design the backend for this project.

I don’t think that a simple banner like this is necessarily a bad thing as you can change the colours of the banner to blend in with your blog.

So will I make money with Buxr?

I do not have a high traffic blog which is suitable for running Buxr banners so I am unable to test out how well the banners convert. Also, since Buxr has not been launched yet I’m sure what is scheduled to be improved and what is not. However, the preview I have been using suggests that Buxr is far from ready.

The commission that you receive per sale ranges from 0.5% to 10%, depending on the product sold. Put simply you get about half of the money they receive from the shopping site. A $10 sign up bonus, a 10% referral commission and a low payment threshold of $20 does not hide how poor the actual shopping service is. The fact remains, you can have the best affiliate program in the world with fantastic bonuses but if the actual service you are promoting is poor you aren’t going to make any money…and unfortunately this is the where Buxr is failing and failing quite badly in my opinion.

Again, I reiterate that the site is not launched yet so I don’t know what they are planning on improving but I suspect a launch is soon if they are contacting bloggers like myself to preview it and if that is the case then Buxr is going to be another site which was launched too early.

So what is wrong with the Buxr shopping service?

The first thing that you will notice is how basic the design is. Have a look at the screenprint below to see what I mean. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t fantastic either. You need to remember that this service is competiting with established USA comparison sites like PriceRunner and Mpire and a good design is a big part of branding and promoting a company.

Buxr Shopping Service

Although you can only target 9 merchants individually with your widget there are 21 merchants currently being listed, this still falls short of the hundreds if not thousands of merchants some competitors have. Surprisingly, this is not the biggest problem, the biggest problem is the fact that there are hardly any products being listed. Take the MP3 Player category. This is a category which you would expect to be busy with a lot of comparisons however you will be disappointed to find out that they only have 9 products and and apart from a Creative ZEN Vision, none of these products are from a major brand. It gets worse! 8 of these 9 products are out of date.

Expired Product

This brings me back to the point I raised earlier. The affiliate section is sufficient however you need to need to step back and ask who would actually use this service and honestly can’t think who would use this instead of another price comparison site. And if no one is using it, you are not going to make any money and as Steve Austin used to say, that’s the bottom line!

Also, it’s unfortunate that both the shopping service and the affiliate service is only for USA based shoppers and bloggers.

Summary

I spoke with Michael Glozman via email about Buxr and he seems like a stand up guy but I have to admit that I am fairly disappointed with what I have seen in so far. The affiliate area is fine however I just don’t see how this shopping comparison site is going to compete with the established competitors in this niche.

If the shopping comparison service is not improved then I would not encourage any bloggers to sign up as you would see a better return linking to related products individually yourself by signing up to the merchants affiliate program yourself.

Once again, I have only viewed the beta version of Buxr and they have given me no indication of when it will be launched officially so hopefully they will improve the service but if I’m brutally honest I can’t see the Buxr shopping site competiting with the major price comparison sites and if they can’t do that then you won’t make money 🙂

You can receive updates on Buxr here.

* Disclaimer : I have attached my Buxr referral link in this post 🙂

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Making Money

3 Steps to Remember Before Launching a Digital Product

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I used to work with a bootstrap startup that was launching a new dashboard that would be used for remote teams needing to coordinate across international lines. It was a solid final product, with great features and no noticeable bugs. It had been UX tested, AB tested and performance tested. Early release users had been thrilled with it and were already looking forward to the next version and what new features might be coming along in the future.

Everything sounds perfect, right? Sadly, no. It wasn’t the product itself that had a problem, it was the digital marketing strategy that was poorly planned and hence weakly executed. The result? Obviously, the launch went largely unnoticed and hence the tool enjoyed little to no attention and coverage.

It’s sad when a great product doesn’t get the exposure it truly deserves.

My client could have really benefited from double checking that particular step, but he was too focused on the primary product. Had he put more attention onto the digital marketing strategy he could have avoided a disaster.

Here are the steps to take prior to launching your digital product, be it an eBook, a course or an online tool:

1. Research Competitors and Their Weak Points

You may have already done this (prior to deciding to create the product), but don’t stop there. Monitor your competitors, identify their weak points and adjust your future marketing strategy based on that.

Use BrandMentions to get alerted whenever your competitor is mentioned on the web. It is an awesome tool that looks at every single corner of the web and pulls out even more obscure mentions that you might have missed the first time around with other tools. For small businesses that only need to mention a single brand they start at $49 per month. As you grow you can escalate to new plans with more features.

BrandMentions

Another great tool to use here is GoFish which is a custom Google Search Engine allowing to search 40 (and counting) complaint websites at a time. Run your major competitor’s name through the search and see if there’s a marketing opportunity for you. What problems does your future product solve that are being most actively discussed by your competitors’ customer?

MeWe is a great example of the launch with solving major competitor’s problem at the base of their marketing. Being launched right on the wave of Facebook privacy scandal, the startup talks about privacy on all their social media channels:

MeWe Instagram

2. Set up an Effective Landing Page

Set up your landing page in advance, prior to the actual launch. Think of how your best selling points will be clearly explained on it. Avoid the clutter but make sure you can answer the question: “Why would anyone want to download / give it a try?”

Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  1. A survey found that 92% of marketers asked found landing pages to be at least somewhat effective, and around half of those found them to be very effective.
  2. The Whole Brain Group has reported that they see sustained conversion rates of around 45% monthly from their landing pages.

Sadly, getting landing pages built is one of the top challenges faced by B2B marketers and most businesses are finding it hard to optimize their content on landing pages, which means most aren’t seeing the benefits they want to through these handy tools.

Get inspired by an example: Take a look at this landing page that is very minimal while bringing several important points across. It distinguishes between three actions very effectively:

Example of landing page

Further reading: Learn more about calls-to-action over at Digital Eagles blog

This site is a great example of a content-based landing page that does a good job engaging customers:

Coinflare

Note: While CTAs are important, don’t forget to optimize your landing page for search engine traffic!

One of the most effective ways to generate more leads from your landing page is to generate more search engine traffic to it.

You need to do a basic SEO inspection to make sure you are getting the most out of your optimization. Has it been created to really attract search engine results?

Keyword usage is especially important on landing pages because there is less content for it to attract people with. Just look at a blog with its constant update of new posts, each of which can be optimized to draw in traffic. A landing page is a single page that has to utilize fewer words that are updated far less often.

Get your SEO planned, then make sure your landing page is following it.

3. Plan Your Marketing Strategy after the Launch

All of the above is about that time just before launch. What happens after that has been done? These are the beginning and middle periods of your launch and they are just as important as the preparation for it. You could do everything perfectly and still fall flat if you don’t keep up your momentum.

You need to plan your budget, time investment, delegation tactics and overall team schedule before the launch, because after that you are hopefully going to be too busy for that!

Some tips for getting through those beginning and middle bits include:

Think which additional platforms you’ll be using to sell your digital product

Your own site must be all set at this point but how about additional channels that may bring in extra sales? There are platforms like E-junkie and ClickBank that aim at helping you reach wider audience.

Follow up with new customers

Your product has been bought and too often the buck stops there. You shouldn’t leave them alone… follow up! After a few days send an email (or provide an in-product message if you have a system in place) asking them to fill out a small survey of their experience so far.

Address concerns

Not everything will have run smooth for everyone. If your follow-up brings on concerns from the customer make sure you address them personally. That personal touch can make all the difference in how your brand is perceived and your ability to build loyalty from the very beginning.

Search social media for mentions of your product

Reputation management is crucial at this stage. You have been hyping up your product for weeks, you don’t want word of problems to get out. But beyond that, it is a chance to thank people for saying good things, as well as offer the curious a chance to try your product themselves (this is a great time to offer influencers free access).

Give them something unexpected

I knew a founder who had created fifty small gift baskets. After the launch he took the first fifty sign-ups and sent them a basket as a thank you. It didn’t cost that much, was full of promotional material and it got a fair bit of buzz on social media because the first twenty of those adopters had been individually invited influencers. No one expected the baskets so they had a real impact.

Have you ever launched a digital product? Share your experience in the comments!

Featured image source: Pixabay

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5 Ways to Improve Your Print-On-Demand T-Shirt Design

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As bloggers and content creators, we all have likely seen the massive growth in the world of online t-shirts, printing them, and also making some money in the process. It doesn’t matter if you are an affiliate marketer, a brand, or even someone who is considering the idea of printing and selling tshirts online, it’s a great business and market to be in.

However, just because you have an idea or concept of a few shirt designs, it most likely won’t be a straight line to success. Starting a business online is tough and more often than not, it’s harder than you thought it would be, right? There’s so much competition out there that you really have to stand out to get those sales.

You need to make sure that you have a top-notch product. Your t-shirt designs can’t be just okay, they have to be amazing. But how can you make people go “Wow!”?

#1 Know who your target audience is

You are an artist, but now you are running a business, and therefore you have to think as an entrepreneur.

Your first impulse probably is to create t-shirts that appeal to the broadest possible audience. That’s a big mistake. Things that are supposed to appeal to everyone usually appeal to no one.

That’s why it’s important to clearly define your target audience. What is their gender, age, and interests? What kind of a person would buy your T-shirt? How can you reach them? Knowing all these things is the key to selling a lot of t-shirts.

#2 Explore each t-shirt concept in-depth

Creating t-shirts that sell well is hard work. You might be tempted to just quickly sketch something, put it on your website, and call it a day. That is not the right way to approach it if you want to actually make money with this.

First, brainstorm potential t-shirt concepts, and write them all down. Then go through the list with your ideal customer in mind. Remember, you are not creating t-shirts for yourself, you are creating t-shirts for your customers, so you have to always ask: “Would my ideal customer like this?”

Then, once you narrow down to concepts that you think your ideal customer would like, start sketching them out. Don’t put too much thought into the first drafts, just get them out on paper or on the computer screen. Once that’s done, take a break, or even better, sleep on it.

Then, come back to your sketches with fresh eyes, and try to refine them. Are the colors right? What should you add and what should you remove? Is there a way to improve your concept? Don’t be half-hearted about this. Really push yourself to create the best t-shirt designs that you can. Treat it like art.

#3 Get feedback on your t-shirt concepts

You might guess what your customers want, but that is all that is, guesswork. In order to know for sure you must go to them and ask them what they think. You need to validate your concepts before you start selling the t-shirts.

So go where your customers hang out, show them your t-shirt concepts, and ask them what they think. Which one do they like the most? Which one do they like the least? Why? Really listen to their feedback. Only sell those t-shirts that got approval of your customers.

Keep in mind that it’s very important to collect the feedback from your customers, not just from friends and family. I know, you love your grandma, but her opinion on your black metal t-shirts is useless, unless she’s a metalhead herself. So don’t be shy, go out there, and ask questions. This will help you make t-shirts that people love!

#4 Follow the latest trends

T-shirts are often impulse buys. This means that they have to catch someone’s attention and be relevant to them somehow. The easiest way to do that is to ride a trend.

So observe your customers. What is popular among them right now? For example, if you are targeting atheists, then t-shirts with Christopher Hitchens’ quotes will never go out of fashion. However, at the moment Rick and Morty is a show that’s popular among them, so you can capitalize on that by creating some Rick and Morty t-shirts. Always keep your eyes open for the latest trends among your customers.

Keep in mind that trends fade away quickly, and if you are too late, it will be a waste of your resources. So once you have noticed a trend, act fast, and get few designs out there asap.

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

#5 Use a reliable print-on-demand service

There are a lot of print-on-demand services out there. However, not all of them are made equal, and some of them are better than others.

I recommend you to go with reputable companies like Printify that provide best print on demand services at reasonable prices.

Do your research on this, and find an option that works for you, because going with the wrong service might lead to low quality t-shirts which will cripple your business.

How to Create and Sell Your Own TShirts Online

Selling print-on-demand t-shirts is not as easy as it looks. You can’t just quickly sketch something out, slap it on your website, and expect the sales to roll in. It takes a lot of effort to get a business off the ground.

So be willing to put in the work. Take time to understand your customers, develop winning concepts, and market your t-shirts. Only then you can expect to make decent money.

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3 Efficient Steps to Multiply Affiliate Marketing Income

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Affiliate Marketing is the Internet’s gift to most of us in the blogging industry. Without investing in product creation and after-sales services, anyone blogging is able to generate quite exciting sums from a simple blog.

All you have to do is read around for a few tips and tricks to get started. For better results, you may want to invest in some courses (Like this affiliate marketing video course by Zac Johnson — link includes 7 coupons to save 90% off) to get yourself educated and join some niche communities to boost your income.

I have read quite much and written heavily on the subject. Along the line, I found out that connecting some dots could build up foolproof money making methods. In affiliate marketing, there is hardly anything very new. For the most part, you just have to tweak what already has been working for the past years.

If you read my 3-p method, you will find out that there is nothing very new in it. It’s simply about adding some freshness into what you may already know and this without doubt will push your earnings through the roof

Below, these are simple steps that will inject some magic into your money making affiliate marketing activities. Each step set apart is surely something you have been doing before.  But putting them together as a method spins things all around.

3 steps to earn more money with affiliate marketing

Step 1: Find a problem-solving product

As a matter of fact, there are different products/services in different niches out there. I have promoted entertainment and information based products. Consumers of such products may not really get a critical problem resolved with using them. There is a huge market in these industries though and many marketers are killing in it. But if you can help your readers solve a problem, they will pay you for it.

The kind of product you promote on your blog matters a lot. Being targeted is not the only measuring factor. In every industry, there is always need to solve problems. Identifying these pain points and bringing solutions will add a lot more value to your blog.

Here are two ways to see this point!

  1. Problems only faced by your readers: Sometimes you may want to promote a product that solves only your readers’ problems. That’s the way  most of us do it but we end up with little results because we are not helping our readers enough make a buy buying decision.
  2. Problems you and your readers face: This is where I have made most of my affiliate sales. If I face the same problem my readers are facing, I know it’s a money making opportunity. I will explain more of this in step #3 below.

Step 2: Own a copy of the product:

If you’ve found a product that can solve a common problem between you and your readers, I recommend you get your own copy of the product.

If you cannot get a free review copy from product authors, go ahead and buy. This helps the psychological value of your marketing.

I know some affiliate marketing teachers tell you there is no need to own the product but for the sake of this lesson, you will have to if you want to be real and more convincing.

Don’t just go to product sales page or review posts written by others. Don’t just rely on affiliate marketing materials made by product authors. Get direct contact with the product as that will help in step #3 below.

Step 3: Use the product and share your results

This is very crucial!

Now, you found a product that provides solutions to a common problem. You’ve gotten your own piece and you are using it (on yourself or your blog). If you are seeing positive results, that’s the thrilling spot.

When I moved my blog from http to https (adding security to the http protocol), I lost all social share counts on my blog.

Social share counts on social media buttons are a huge social proof factor so I became so worried that my blog has suddenly looked like a brand new website (from the Facebook or Twitter point of view).

All my readers who did the same move were in the same pot of soup. So I set looking for the solution. I soon found a WordPress plugin to resolve the problem. Good enough, there was an affiliate program tied to the plugin. So quickly, I bought a copy for my blog.

  • Now I have a problem faced by my readers and I
  • I have found a product (With an affiliate option) to solve the problem
  • I actually have bought a copy and it really works. My share counts are all back

What a money making opportunity!

I wrote this blog post with all necessary details linking to the product on my affiliate link. Of course, this resulted to affiliate sales and commissions on daily basis.

Why?

I have  a common problem with my readers. I got a solution to the problem with all face. Now, I’m showing my readers the exact steps I took to resolve the problem from my end. Because they badly need the solution and I’m able to convince them by showcasing my results, more than half of them will want to try out my solution. Now the sales are being triggered.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comment box

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