Hunger Games Coming to Big Screen

I read a ton, unfortunately my wife would disagree.  If I don’t have my head stuck in a book, I’m not a reader.  It’s very convenient for her to ignore the countless hours spent reading blogs, forums, and online news articles.  So, to appease my wife I agreed to read some non-fiction last year, my first assignment was Hunger Games.

Hunger Games is a young adult book (YA), targeted at the same generation responsible for Twilight.  Thankfully, the quality of writing is far superior to anything vampiry and even as a 30 year old male I was entertained.  What’s not to enjoy?

Continue reading “Hunger Games Coming to Big Screen”

Niche Site Platform Coupon

September Coupon Code Update $20 Off: WIZARDSPECIAL

Simply enter ‘WIZARDSPECIAL‘ into the coupon code section at purchase to receive $20 Off.

Niche Site Platform Coupon Article

I’m a sucker for buying new tools to automate my affiliate marketing and site building, so you can see why Niche Site Platform appealed to me.  I just purchased the script today, but already I’m noticing how it can help diversify my affiliate earnings, at least from a phpBay and BANS perspective.  It has a lot of things in common, but it’s also providing me a new outlet to automate my CJ, Linkshare, and Amazon affiliate link building.

The normal price for Niche Site Platform is $79, which is supposedly marked down from over $100.  The Niche Site Platform just launched at the end of April, so I was surprised to find a working coupon code.  The coupon is good for $10 off the purchase price.

Niche Store Platform Coupon

$10 Off Niche Site Platform Coupon – A7BAA9090F

Those familiar with BANS will feel right at home using Niche Store Platform and for the price it’s hard to pass up.  Also, buying NSP now will allow you to get ahead of the curve of all the site spamming and the inevitable ding from Google in the upcoming year.  Be an early adopter and buy Niche Store Platform now, you won’t regret it.

As a reminder, I don’t promote any products that I don’t personally use.  Although I’ve just purchased it, I’m already pleasantly surprised with the possibilities.  Expect a full blown review of Niche Store Platform in the upcoming days.

[box type=”info”]New coupon code! $20 OFF Enter the coupon code WIZARDSPECIAL. Coupon code good only for a limited time, so buy now. I’ll update again when more or better coupons become available.[/box]

Scottrade 1 Week Review

I began March with a change in focus, from web development to the ever changing stock market.  However, so far I feel like I’ve only jumped from one sinking ship to another and my feet are still wet.  However, despite the market fluctuations, I signed up with Scottrade and feel it’s time for an early 1 week review of their website and service.

Signing Up

First of all, signing up to Scottrade.com can be a daunting experience.  Unlike most websites, this investment website requires sensitive information like Social Security numbers, which some people may not feel comfortable sending over the tubes.  Also, there are a number of forms that must be electronically signed and filled out, which were written by main street’s lawyers, meaning myself and others may not completely understand what we are agreeing to.

Luckily there is an answer to the above woes, Scottrade offers the assistance of local offices.  As a matter of fact there is a manned office less than 10 mins from my home.  The employees of Scottrade were more than willing to help me get signed up, answer my noob questions, and allow me to make a check deposit.  So, other than be daunting to sign up via the web, the initial ‘sign up’ process was a breeze, once the professionals were called in.

Deposit

It’s odd, but there is only one electronic option for placing funds into a general Scottrade account.  For example, my initial deposit could only be completed by Money Direct or by physically mailing or dropping off a personal check or money order.  I would have much rather preferred linking my PayPal account for transaction and purchase fees, oh well.

I opted to drop off a personal check, since Scottrade’s offices were so close.  The deposit showed up immediately, however the funds were not available for purchase until the next business day.  There were also restrictions on my funds for 2 additional days, stating that I could not purchase shares under $4 ea.  Therefore my penny stock trading had to wait until the full clear process, 3 days after my initial deposit.

Again, the employees of Scottrade were very helpful and explained the restriction process to me.  This also opened up the conversation to what will happen during my first trade.  Right inside the office the personnel walked me through a mock transaction, complete with commission fees and different purchase options.

First Stock Trade

Smooth.  It’s true, my first purchase within Scottrade was a smooth transaction that qued, completed, and showed in my account within 10 minutes of me left clicking confirm.  As a matter of fact the entire Trade tab is simplified and easy to understand your options.  Anything that might not be clear is explained in the right hand column or has a question mark link, to take you to an explanation.

A typical trade is done by selecting the stock symbol you wish to trade, amount of shares, type of order, and then the length of time you want the offer to be made.  I only purchase on limits, so a time frame is always required, which I typically set to expire at the end of the day.  After completing the fields you will be given with a review of your order and then a final confirmation.  It’s easy peezy, even for someone who has never traded stock before.  Furthermore, the employees at Scottrade are available to assist you over the phone, should you be nervous or have some questions.

Recent Scottrade Site Performance

I have not been satisfied with the Scottrade.com site performance.  I am consistently timing out when requesting a quote and the reports they provide usually never load.  I’ve bested the Scottrade.com site from 3 different computers on 3 different connections and the problem continues to persist.  In addition, I’ve tried using 3 different browsers, including FireFox, Chrome, and the latest release of Internet Explorer.  Unfortunately Internet Explorer appears to be the most stable when using Scottrade, go figure.

This morning I was in the process of purchasing some stock at market open, only to find that Scottrade had turned off online trading.  After calling my local office I was informed this is the first time this has ever happened that he can remember.  Lucky me, assuming he was telling the truth, which would also translate this article into an unfair review.  You be the judge and I’ll be back in another 30 days to fill you in on all the trades and money I’ve lost.

3 Day Chitika Review

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I know I promised my results of using Chikita 3 days after my first impression post, but I’ve been struggling on my approach.  See, there is one side of me that is extremely disappointed and some what frustrated, but another side that sees how Chitika can work and does fill the niche that Chitika is aiming for.  So, as a disclaimer, let me stress the following.

“Chitika is not a replacement for Google Adsense, nor is Chitika trying to compete with Google Adsense.”

After listening to Chitika’s sales pitch I would have thought that I would be receiving comparable CPC’s on my automotive blog.  However, that was not the case and averaging out it looks to be less than half.  Taking it a step further, after the auditing process it potentially could be lowered again, which is where the frustration comes from.

In all of my sites I try to monetize in a way that does not affect readership.  I view my sites more often than anyone, so I attempt to make them as void of Ads and marketing as possible.  So, Chitika just doesn’t seem to be fitting in with my own business model.  I have trouble justifying ad placement when it earns me less than half of the cost of a stamp per click.  Higher CPC’s may be found in different niches, I’m only comparing Adsense CPC’s in the automotive category to that from Chitika.

Chitika Shines

The CTR is of course much higher than Adsense, which is to be expected since they use the tried and true ‘image-next-to-ad’ technique.  Google banned this method over a year ago because it created less than optimal traffic for the advertisers.  Essentially, you are tricking visitors into clicking on a link, nothing more, nothing less.

A higher CTR would be super awesome, if only it paid out decent.  Where it stands right now, I would need 5-6 times the amount of clicks just to equal one click from my Adsense Ads.  So why even bother taking up valuable real estate on my site and just annoying my visitors?

I’m struggling with the answer to that last question.  Be damned if I’m going to sacrifice my Adsense earnings.  That’s why Chitika focuses on alerting Publishers that Chitika can be used alongside Adsense ads.  It doesn’t make sense for me, because I’m getting clicks, why would I want to sacrifice half my clicks for a lower paying ad?  I wouldn’t.

Chitika Customer Service

I had the opportunity to talk with Ryan Travis, Director of Client Services at Chitika.  My initial phone call was a service issue, dealing with accurate impressions, but all was working well(I’ll save info for another post).  Ryan and I ended up talking about optimization, where Chitika see’s itself in the marketplace, and where they hope to go.  Ryan was quick to respond to emails, a pleasure to talk with, and part of the reason why I will continue to use Chitika at some level.

Who Should Use Chitika

The only people who should be using Chitika are those who receive a lot of traffic from search engines.  Of those people, the only ones who should be using Chitika are those who can’t get Google Adsense to convert.  Chitika Premium ads are only shown to search engine traffic, so those of you getting traffic from other sites need not apply.  And as mentioned above, don’t risk losing higher paying Adsense traffic to get a few more clicks on your Chitika ads.

Conclusion

I will continue to use Chitika in hopes they will increase their Automotive inventory of ads and eventually increase CPC’s.  Ryan feels that the online marketing industry as a hole is trending toward higher search traffic CPC’s, rather than content related marketing like Adsense for content.  I hope he’s right and I wish Chitika luck in their niche.  We need options in the market place as both a publisher and advertiser.

In the not to distant future I will be publishing some more results from my Chitika ads.  The Chitika ‘auditing’ process could prove to be a deal breaker, but I will reserve judgement.

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Add Amazon Affiliate Links To Blog Posts

I’m always game for finding a way to simply my work and currently I’m using a number of helpful scripts to get my job done. Often times finding a script that makes adding affiliate links to Word Press blog posts is just what the Dr. ordered, which is why I utilize phpBay. I’ve also discussed the benefits of using phpBay, how it can also help with unique content and getting search traffic for long tail keywords.

Today I came across a new plugin that I’m hoping will make my life easier, WP-Amazon. This neat little plugin makes configuring my Amazon Associates ID and searching items to add to posts a breeze. WP-Amazon adds an Amazon search bar to the side of your ‘Write’ post screen, where you can find an item, select options and automatically add it to your posts. I’m eager to see how this will save me time and convert visitors to affiliate sales.

Perhaps the maker of WP-Amazon should look into creating a similar plugin for big CJ affiliates as well. There is no doubt I could find a use for a similar wp plugin for NewEgg and others.

See below for an example of what an Amazon product added to a blog post with WP-Amazon looks like.

The E-Code: 33 Internet Superstars Reveal 43 Ways to Make Money Online Almost Instantly---Using Only Email

The E-Code: 33 Internet Superstars Reveal 43 Ways to Make Money Online Almost Instantly—Using Only Email

I’ll be coming up with a full review of this plugin, along with other suggestions in the next few days.  After my first post I’m noticing a few bugs that screw with my display, but no big deal.  Furthermore, having a nice template print out instead of a drag and drop image and title would be beneficial as well.  I’ll do some searching and be back later.

Cloverfield Cloversucked

…if you get car sick, like I do. I loved the movie, I loved the way it was filmed, but christ I had to turn away more times than the first time I laid eyes on tubgirl or lemonparty. But, it was worth it.

I’m terrible at reviews and I know most people don’t care, but here is the jest, less the spoilers. The way the film was recorded and presented allowed me to get closer and feel more attached to the characters. Quite possibly one of the most intense military scenes in a movie I’ve seen, in terms of immersiveness(I don’t think this is a word).

I’d recommend this movie to anyone with an appreciation for non-traditional movies. Those of you looking for a man in a costume, ala Godzilla, need not apply. Also, don’t forget a dose of Dramamine before attending, there were literally dozens of people who left the theater, due to motion sickness. Again, worth it.

WidgetBucks WidgetSucks Review

My first impression of WidgetBucks was a positive one, especially considering everyone, including my grandma, was promoting it. However, I’m always suspicious of bloggers promoting a BRAND NEW company before any kind of real testing can be done. Although, since the dust has settled some new light has came into the dark closet of WidgetBucks ads.

For starters, Andy Beard first reported of hidden links within the code, although later it was fixed. So don’t forget, if you are using WidgetBucks, update your code, because otherwise you are unwittingly contributing to a massive link campaign for Mpire. This entire debacle was my first turn off.

Second, they promise the highest payouts and BETTER payouts than typical CPC programs. Which is fine and dandy, if they didn’t report clicks and revenue in a fashion that bloated the figures. They can get by with it, because they hide it in their terms and conditions, but they have a magic button that cuts your earnings by 50% or more. Be sure and keep track of not just your daily earnings, but weekly and even monthly, because they will change.

The statistics for one of my channels, for a single day, went from $1.80 to $.54. This is a sizable cut that is not clear to the common publisher, because of their intricate system to hide the facts. The change in earnings took a process of more than 24 hours, although they were merrily displaying $.10 per click during single day reporting. Am I being a bit melodramatic? Perhaps, but it still pisses me off and just another reason for me not to trust them.

But guess what, they know how to manipulate the blogosphere. You would have thought a week after launch that WidetBucks was the best thing to happen to the internet since broadband. I’m gonna keep my distance and for all you bloggers who jumped on the affiliate band wagon, why not take the time to consider what you are promoting before getting greedy for a few dollars.

And that reminds me, I need another post to bash AuctionAds, because I have yet to see my tiered payout. pfft.