Article Submission

Business

I spent the better part of a couple days looking for article “engines”, places where I could submit articles. They had to meet one critical criteria. The publisher’s site must have a backlink from the article site. In other words, my sole purpose for article submission on this round is link honey. I want the links.

This was a tedious process. First, I went through this list of article directories. For each directory I picked a 2-3 month old article. I then checked the backlink of the site listed in the resource box. If the article directory was not listed in the backlinks, it did not make my list. Once I had the backlinks, I found other article directories in the list. I went to those directories, checked to see the submission criteria and ease of submission. I also checked an additional article from the new directory for backlinks. From this process I found these directories.

Of course, there are other reasons to do article submissions. For example, article sites often rank high for a given term given the content of the site. The articles get spidered faster giving you quicker visibility and higher traffic. Other webmasters and webnovices, look for information on article directories and either link to the article or reprint it with the live links in tact (more link honey). As a result I will also submit to Ezine Articles, perhaps the most popular article directory, and iSnare, a popular directory amongst affiliate marketers.

I want to do the first round of article submissions myself so that I learn firsthand what it entails. Next round I’ll use one of the submission services. Does anyone have any suggestions for those? What is your criteria for article submission? If you use a service, how do you verify that your criteria was met?

Far, Far Behind

Business

I feel so far behind. September is not as productive as I would like it to be and I am seriously contemplating stopping at 3 sites. I would have 5 in all, excluding the e-commerce site which is more like a business onto itself.

Here is my update for the month so far:

  • Do homepage template for e-commerce site. This is a seasonal template that needs to be swapped out. Immediately. Done today.
  • Do article submission for e-commerce site.
  • Commission 50 more articles for e-commerce site.
  • Complete April through August financials for e-commerce site.
  • Complete 30 articles for each of the affiliate sites. Update: 3 articles on site #3, 2 on site #2, and 1 on site #3.
  • Do 30 directory submissions and 20 feed submissions for affiliate sites.
  • Figure out optimal AdSense placement for site #1. Update: I’m going to have to re-theme the site.

Drudging Through

Business

Site #1: 2 articles
Site #2: 2 articles
Site #3: 1 article

[Before TV]
I am dragging. I just want to sleep, but I persevere. I cranked out one article per site today and did the same yesterday. I have not done anything about the homepage yet, nor have I written anything for site #3. It’s not for lack of interesting info swimming in my head. It’s the organization of said information in a cohesive manner so that I can write. I know, I know, I should just push through and do it. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do because I have to start somewhere. It’s not going to be perfect, but it has to get done. No articles today means an even tougher rest of the month. Can you tell that I’m giving myself a pep talk?

AdSense is doing remarkably well. I am over $17 for the month. Ironically, site #2, which is difficult to write for, is doing quite well.

[After TV]
Okay, I came upstairs after watching the Biggest Loser and did an article for site #3. I still can’t bring myself to post it, but at least it’s done. I just can’t go to an unthemed (my word) site.

First $5 Day

Business

Site #1: 3 articles
Site #2: 2 articles
Site #3: 1 article

I almost overlooked it completely. I did $5 yesterday. Sadly, I am not that enthused. I am so tired.

This brings to light a serious problem with Site #1. It’s not bringing in any money despite traffic. I’m going to have to change the theme in order to improve my ad placement. This is the reason why I don’t like right hand navigation: left or 3-column is the way to go. Once people read the content first, they only go to the right menu if they are purposely looking for something. On the other hand, novice web users still read the left column first. Despite the blatant block of content in the middle.

BTW, I tried in content, that did not work either. **Sigh**

My content girl has disappeared. I really hope I find someone else as good.

It Was A Day of Processing And Packing

Business

As I was lamenting today again on how laborious this shipping process is, I reminded myself that there was a time when we re-typed orders into Quickbooks and addresses into USPS. Imagine how much time that would take. I am grateful that that is no longer the case.

I’m beginning to isolate the problem areas. The biggest fat is in the number of times we touch the product. We unpack it and put it on the racks, then we check to see if it’s what we ordered, then we check to see if the stuff that we have to send out is there, then we pack it. Too many touch points for the products. I also think that we spend a lot of time walking around that tiny room. Clipboards will become a mainstay.

The next time consumer is the number of clicks that one order has to go through. For that, I think that order management software would help. Some central location that automatically interfaces to all the other apps we have to interface with, but we would only have to deal with it. We’ve been reading about Stone Edge to solve that problem.

Of course, this won’t be fixed overnight, but little by little we will become more efficient.

Operations Getting Better

Business

Today went much better. I am finally getting into a rhythm with the operations. It’s taken some effort to transition. I eliminated a touch by checking the shipping slip and inventorying items in one step, as oppose to checking them in, then putting them in inventory. Doing some clean up work on some items. Once I get into a groove with this I can concentrate on stuff I like, like marketing.

Under Pressure

Business

So we turned AdWords on full throttle at the beginning of the year. I spend my evenings tweaking the copy to test ads for double digit CTR. Since we’re spending this money on AdWords we expected our sales to increase proportionately. They have not.

Last Friday I was in full panic mode. Today I had a severe panic attack. Yesterday we talked about it in our weekly meeting to try to figure out what our action would be. The beginning of January is usually dead in terms of traffic and sales, so we decided to give it another week at least. This is the week that things have to turn around. We looked at our logs, turned out we’re losing 75% of the people who start the checkout. Upon further investigation there was an SQL error in the cart on step 2. My partner fixed that so we’ll see what happens. The next thing to do would be to change the layout of the site. I’m not looking forward to that solution. I’m almost certain that the conversion issue is because of the error in the cart. Our conversion should bounce back to what it was once the error is fixed.

The previous paragraph may be a little cryptic, but I wrote all that to say that I’m stressed. Still working on the chart of accounts and getting everything set up in QuickBooks for the new company. Nevermind closing out last year so that we could file our taxes. It’s hectic.

BTW, anyone interested in writing for a women’s clothing blog?

What I’ve Been Up To

Business

You might be wondering what I’ve been up to. That is if you’re at all interested in my life. How self involved :-( Anyway, I’m doing good. Here’s the rundown.

The shipping thing is under some control. I’m getting into a system with it. I’m doing shipping on Monday, Wednesday, Friday so that there’s a good flow of orders going out and customers don’t get too antsy. It’s still taking about 4 hours for as many as 18 orders. I haven’t gotten a max for the number of orders that can be done in 4 hours yet, but I don’t think that 18 is the ceiling. Looking into an order management system so that I can cut a significant amount of time down in the paper touches.

Fixing some conversion problems that we revealed with our site once we maxed out advertising. One whole in the checkout process and a site redesign.

Got a blogger for the commercial blog. I was getting too personal or too detached. This person is phenomenal. I knew her from the blogosphere and she’s very good at building rapport and readership.

Taking a sales class and getting a lot out of it. We had this extravagant plan for this year to meet our million dollar goal and it’s boiling down to 2 things: traffic and conversion. On the conversion side, we have the site redesign, but we also have the idea of making the site a place for people to visit for information. As a result, we’re posting more content around the store (blog, articles), and giving more robust product descriptions. Also starting to build the company name outside the site with article distribution and press releases. We’ll probably do some blog carnivals as well. Those things will help with traffic as well. The big thing with traffic is getting ranked and building real world visibility. For the real world stuff, I’ll be doing a lot more networking around town. Getting the word out.

The link builder was a bust. They just could not deliver with the stipulations that I had. Most of us have them as netrepreneurs.

Getting The Hang Of It

Business

Almost at the end of week 3 of January. Things are going considerably better as I get into the groove. The transition was a bit rough, but it’s almost over.

I am so realizing what Kiyosaki meant by the importance of a good team. I have a phenomenal lawyer, banker, accountant and coach. I always thought that these people were out of my league. I mean we’re not running a multi-million dollar company. YET. However, having those folks just take the edge of. This week I had to submit a credit app to our supplier to up our limit. Since we’re doing so much volume and all. The reason for the low limit was because no one at our previous bank would give any information. Truth be told there wasn’t really any one person that they could talk to. This week before I faxed the app, I called the banker to let him know that they were calling. No problem. That’s just one example.

Started coaching this week. Specifically to increase our sales. We’re going to do something radical for pure play online retailers. Start networking and reaching out offline. Radical for us anyway. The coaching, really training, is very insightful. The best part is that DH, my business partner gets to do it and I don’t have to flog him to do it.

AdWords CTR is in the double digits for all campaigns and we are working on fixing the problems with the site to get those high priced visitors to convert. I also put in some bids today for e-mail newsletters. The only thing, well maybe not the only, but the thing that concerns me now is the lack of response from the link builder.