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  1. #1
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    I had a birthday recently. I told someone that my birthday would truly be on the day that I no longer had to go to the "Rat Race".

    I have been using a computer for some time now. Since before the days of the local BBS and FidoNet. I have ended up here and am happy to have found this place! This is my first post. There has been a lot to take in while lurking over time. I have decided to finally post some questions and comments. Hopefully they will help others in their understanding, and this thread will become beneficial. I was drawn to ABestWeb. I feel like I have ended up here for a reason, so I've been trying to make sense of things. I have dove in, trying to break things up into sections in my mind while also taking action. Also, trying not to have "analysis paralysis". However, I want to do this right.

    I formed an LLC in my home state, or at least sent off the Articles of Org. last week. From what I've read, this is a good idea. It was cheap, and easy. Also, some people, I see, have formed S-Corps. Now, I have not made a dime yet from affiliate marketing and my website. However, I want to do this right. I want my business expenses to be able to be written off. I believe you can even gradually write off expenses that came up in the formation of the business. What I have seen posted is to seek professional advice of an accountant and/or tax advisor.

    1) I wonder - what kind of expense should I expect in seeking the help of these people - and where should I go to get the best "value" but quality service. Value important because of initial lack of $, of course - however, I know you dont want to skimp on these things. Any idea on the cost of this? Should I budget an hour with an accountant? Should I wait until a paycheck? What about the tax-advice - any idea of expense and/or where to look for the best place to go?


    2) Also, financial records for an LLC - any books anyone could recommend on the keeping of these things? I found a couple good ones on the easy proccess of forming an LLC at Borders. I am especially interested in exactly knowing what I can write off and how to keep all records, etc. This way I will feel secure and confident with running my own business. Would a session with an accountant also show me this? Or are there resources somewhere online? Or is it a matter of simply having records of money in and money out on a spreadsheet and keeping the records of the business checking account in my LLC Folder?

    3) I have read on here to open a business account at the bank with a Bank Debit card. I thought that was a great idea! However, I believe I must wait for my Articles of Org. to be approved and then get a EIN #. Any information on this proccess or people's experience with the LLC and Affiliate marketing.

    4) Also, do you have to file a form for an Assumed name with your state if your company is X LLC and your website is X.com - meaning .. you go also by "x.com" occasionally - or does the law consider it to be alright to have the .com and basically the same thing as doing business as X LLC.

    On to the issue of not actually getting your cash .. the BHO .. the parasites .. the cookies.

    I have been very interested to read about this part of Affiliate Marketing. Of course when one leaves their "job" they must realize there will be battles to fight still, and work to do. At least, I have decided, I will be fighting them for myself and for my business.

    It appears that almost half of your traffic to merchants can and is Hi-Jacked. This is except for the "trusted merchants". I believe ABestWeb is working on a list of these merchants - from some threads I have seen. However I have seen some people who have sites here with still select merchants from LinkShare - maybe CJ, etc.

    5) Do people just have to suck it up and take losses from these BHO's etc? What are your efforts to maybe inform customers on your sites to Enable the things Norton disables and to clear your computer of parasites. Do many of you believe this would only complicate the customers experience - or turn them off from your site? I have seen very recently a post about some utilities people can run to check for BHOs etc on the computer. I wonder if a standardized method could be incorprated to run on consumer's computers - to allow them to "purify" and free their system - and allow affiliates their profit.

    I am trying to figure out the best way to combat this. I know its not a new problem.

    6) However, I see the best way may be to scour different forums to see which merchants do or don't work with parasites? Or is it safe to say any merchant working with CJ for example, IS working with a parasite?? Also, I know along the lines I have seen websites with lists of tons of affiliate programs. I lost the URL - does anyone know of any 3rd party databases like this? It seems that ABestWeb is the place for all affiliate marketing information, so maybe I just keep looking here for good merchants? Or should I also join a network or two. And if I do, how do I find out who within the network are with a parasite? Right now I am under the assumption they all are if they are associated with a network. I want to find good programs to join and I am wondering if the threads on this are located randomly, or if this is something of course covered by affiliates - of course because if they find one, they want to keep it secret perhaps. I just want, of course, to keep the credit for what I deserve, from the get-go.

    7) Also, what exactly are the deal with cookies? Cookies, track people from your site to the merchants. So they identify your site and the transaction, of course, to give you credit. So when people talk about cookie length - it is good to have a affiliate program with a long cookie life because then your site is "locked in" to the merchant from someones browser for a set amount of time? Or until it is rewritten on another affiliate site or stolen from a coupon site, or ebates or something like that. Is this correct?

    I know cookies are also linked to user-bases on websites and this brings me to site design.

    There is php, xhtml, dhtml, css, javascript, mysql and much more. I have got bits and pieces over time here and there. I am interested in php and understand I really need to learn about all of them.

    8) With CJ and I think a lot of affiliate programs (correct me if I am wrong) - You can track sales. I understand on the websites you can also view the reports. CJ, for example, talks about this being useful for things like keeping track of what members have bought what, etc. I am wondering how I would display these results via a web browser. I assume I will have to use javascript or PHP to query the website where the report is and save it into a MYSQL database for example, and then use php to display the html of a webpage. Is this correct - at least in theory? Are there any tutorials anywhere talking about anything similar to this so I can see how someone would go about it? I also am wondering when things go through, about security. Meaning, if you do query the CJ report - or the report mechanism, etc, somewhere - do you use your CJ password, for example, in the php code. And if so, couldn't anyone viewing your website get ahold of that password? I know this may be elementary. But we all start somewhere. Also, could you theoretically - in a script - add up all of numbers of purchases from all of your members on all of the programs - BeFree, or CJ or Linkshare - offering a tracking program - into one report for your site some how? Any pointers on tutorials or Javascript sites or books to look at to get started towards this? I would like to do this, and track things and have programming knowledge to create my own reports.

    9) Also, I've seen talk about datafeeds. I understand these to be actual products displayed on the affiliate sites - and the feeds come from the merchants of course. I believe perhaps in the format of XML ? Although I am still trying to mentally connect the dots. Any tutorials linked on any php, xml, etc sites on datafeeds and how to implement them? Also, do people find any more success with a datafeed-based affiliate site then a site with content and either text links and/or banners to merchants without the specific products listed as in a datafeed? Any stats on this? Does the script on a site download a current "datafeed" somewhere from a URL on a merchant site and then follow like some sort of CSS on the affiliate site in order to format that "feed"? And is the feed automated and happen in a live manner, or only once in a while, as deemed by the affiliate webmaster? I suspect either case is possible. I am interested in finding out more about the dynamics of this.

    10) Of course a big part of this is also SEO. I have read a lot. It appears inktomi will be coming into the mix. It also appears a thing like dmoz.org can really raise your ranking in inktomi and/or google because of the power of the link. I know too that it is hard for affiliate sites to get into dmoz.org. I do, however, plan on having content in my site. I have read, and get the feeling, that people feel like content sites will be the future. Google perhaps, and others, will filter out the spam-type sites. However, perhaps the search engines can never catch up to the SEOers? In any case, my question is this: if I am not optimizing my site towards particular keywords on a search engine on the index (front page) - is it possible still for my site to be successful on search engines. For example, perhaps another page ends up being optimized for keywords within a certain niche. In my case, my site may appear a bit broad. However, I still plan on filling a niche. It is just a niche that is not very well populated or in high demand - yet (at least on word tracker, although I have seen discussion that word tracker may not be of course the final authority). What is the best way to find out keywords to go for? I am sure there are many ways. Also, does anyone out there have a broad site that they were able to escelate somehow up the ladder of a search engine through a variety of content and pages held within their site that focused on various keywords? Or do I have it all wrong. Also, I have seen in threads perhaps inktomi and the paid inclusion option will get you listed perhaps the quickest in search engines. Although, I think my site is already indexed in google - even before I have any real content. Should I still consider paid for inclusion on inktomi?

    I would like to say thank you to Haiko and the ABestWeb community. It is interesting because no one in my "real life" really knows anything about what I am doing on the computer or what I want to do. I don't talk about it. I mainly just read, and although I don't know anyone here in reality, I can tell there are some cool people out there that share my mindset. Thank you in advance for any help to my questions. I look forward to further communications as we continue to grow and are free because of this very cool business and its opportunities.

    Thanks in advance.

    Nuke.

  2. #2
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    For questions 1-4 get a good accountant, probably one of the best things an affiliate can do.

    "It appears that almost half of your traffic to merchants can and is Hi-Jacked."
    Old thread about it:
    http://abw.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&...1&m=3756065021

    I say maybe 5%.

    Also you can work with trusted merchants or parasite free merchants and still have your traffic hijacked.
    Good example:
    You can have 1800Contacts(parasite free) on your sites and a merchant like VisionDirect can use WhenU to pop all over them. Court case handled that.
    Reading the rest of your post.

    Any page of your site can be successful, an inner page can get more traffic than your index.
    I think Wordtracker is the final authority, one of the best affiliate tools out there.
    Google usually picks up everything, just need some links in. Inktomi could pick you up too, if not you can pay for inclusion for pages that you think can generate some money plus next month Yahoo will be using INK for their search results.

    [This message was edited by TrustNo1® on February 04, 2004 at 02:59 AM.]

  3. #3
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    Nuke,

    You have articulated an entourage of questions as well as synopsis’s from what you have read. Are you a writer and seeking a source?

    I am suspect!

    SandraR

  4. #4
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    Welp,

    I have been formulating my post for a long time SandraR. =)

    Trust - it appears that if you have a lot of pages , then % of traffic hijacked may not be as important to people - however from that thread you cited some people still seem quite upset.

    I guess it was a long post - tried to split it up however =)

    Nuke.

  5. #5
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    Yes, no one likes parasites but it's nowhere near 50% of traffic being hijacked. You have to realize there is a 95% failure rate with affiliate marketing and you'll find a lot of people thinking 50% of traffic is being hijacked in that group. Most affiliate traffic goes through just fine.

    I work in lounge pants

  6. #6
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    Nuke,

    HTML pages and dbase are things you need to research.

    SandraR

  7. #7
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by nuke:
    Welp, I guess it was a long post - tried to split it up however =)
    Nuke.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You did not try to split it up. You let out.

    SandraR

  8. #8
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    SandraR:

    Thanks for your replies.

    I have researched both html and dbases. However, I was seeking specifically information regarding integration of the reports and tracking programs of CJ, and BeFree - Linkshare signature, etc and what was required in order to display this in an html format - and pull it from the networks sites, for example - as I have searched the forums and not found any information on this.

    Nuke.

  9. #9
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    Nuke,

    You are not asking the right questions.

    SandraR

    Your a reporter.

  10. #10
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    Um .. a reporter?

    I am just a squirrel tryin to get a nut .. ya feel me. These were real questions and specific based on sh*t I've spent hours looking at.

    Maybe your a reporter and this is a set up and you've already traced my IP and know who I am. And have set me up.

    Its all coming together now. Apparently the parasites have breached the fortress walls.

    Damn its late.

  11. #11
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    lol Sandra

    I work in lounge pants

  12. #12
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    HI Nuke... welcome...

    YOur post asked many good questions....

    LIke trust 1 said get a good account for 1-4

    or do a lot of research..

    I have been self-employed for 30+ years..
    or most of my adult life

    since i have been here at ABW I dont remember anyone posting a post as well thought out in a long time...

    good job!!

    YOU can PM me anytime, I am glad to help if I can...

    Joe

    And, that's the bottom line because it's my2cents!

  13. #13
    affiliate emeritus missdonna's Avatar
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    Checking stats -

    You don't want or need to automate this. You just go to the merchant's stats page, login with your username and password, and they show you the stats. They are all different in the way they do it. Some show you the actual item(s) sold but most don't.

    If you automated your stats checking you wouldn't have the fun of going from one merchant site to the next, compulsively checking your stats.

    Good luck with your new adventure. As Trust says there is a 95% failure rate in this business, but if you keep trying and keep learning you should do well.

    I don't know any php, xhtml, dhtml, css, javascript, mysql. All I know is basic HTML and I do just fine.

  14. #14
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    Nuke ...

    Wow ... now that is a post my friend ;-)

    Like yourself my plan was to quite my day job as a chef some time ago. With that being said I will also say that when I got dead serious I decided to take the long road and did not even think about money or commissions.

    I simply started with a content site about cooking, mind you I still had goals... infact my goals were based on probibly the most important thing a good web marketer can have *traffic*.

    Each month I tried to up my traffic and search engine referrals. I learned to use tools like frontpage, worktracker and others.

    Once I saw that I could always increase my traffic and I had a very good content site I decided to start thinking about money ...

    * Show Me The Money *

    About 6 months after that point I quite my day job and was making two to three times what I made as a chef ;-)

    Last year I made over $210 thousand in commissions with less than 30 thousand in expenses. Not bad for a guy who can't sell worth sh&t ... and only used wordtracker and frontpage.

    Now for some of your questions:

    I would say start by keeping things as simple as possible, understand that it will be a journey... as you continue down the path of aff marketing you will get better and you will change the way you work.

    For keeping track of income or commissions and expenses I simply use excel ;-)

    I have a workbook set up with three sections:

    commission checks
    expenses
    yearly payable taxes

    When I get a commission check it gets recorded in the commission check seciton, when I pay for advertising, a new book, a couple of domains or any type of expense I record that as well "expenses".

    At the end of the month I simply add everything up and see how I did for the month.

    About getting started, spending your money... stuff like that...

    Again try to keep things as simple as possible as you start out. Understand the most important thing you can do each and everyday is to increase your web site traffic. You can buy it, or create pages and hope those pages are found in google. Personally I have choosen the second method. I have never really done ppc ... I messed with about $50 bucks last year and called it a day ....

    I studied SEO quite a bit when getting started, now I just try to stay up to speed with google, msn and the rest of them. Once you get a fair amount of knowledge about seo it will carry you for some time. SEO is really not rocket science ... just takes some reading online. There are a couple of good books as well look for a book called "search engine visablilty" or something like that.

    About parasites and what not ....

    There out there, they suck .... don't spend all your time worrying about them. Many people here might flame me for this but ... again I spend most of my time on new sites, differnet markets and try to spot "traffic patterns online" then I try to match merchants with that traffic pattern and cash in.

    Lots of people around here now I do the online pharmacy stuff, I make great money with that. However I also do other things as well ... understanding how poeple search, what they search for and how to take advantage of that is what you want to spend your time with ;-)

    Last year I spent about 20 hours working on a site that generated me about 25 grand ;-) Not bad for 20 hours work. This site was not a prescription drug site.

    My last word of advice ... start simple ... don't worry about all in in's and outs now. Keep it simple in the begining ...

    google loves static html pages, that is all you need ;-)

    Last year all I used was frontpage, day in... day out... while everyone else was thinking cgi, php, database ... ect ....

    I was cranking out 1997 type website and making nice sums of money. Mind you my sites look very nice ... but there just html.

    Good luck!

    Brian Johnson (Chef Brian)
    Seek and you shall find
    myrxforless.com | My Affiliate Programs

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by missdonna:
    If you automated your stats checking you wouldn't have the fun of going from one merchant site to the next, compulsively checking your stats.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> x2

    Checking your stats four to five times a day is like getting birthday presents four or five times a day! Why take that away from yourself?

    Brian has the right idea: keep it simple and make increasing traffic the main goal for a little while.

    You now have a "stream" to "pan for gold" in: scope out the search engine search terms that have been sending traffic your way. Look at the results pages at the search engine. Where do you rank? Who's your competition?

    More importantly: what can you sell to these people?

    Last bit of advice, and I wished I'da taken it two years before I started: invite the "this will never work" demons over for a warm cup of SHUT THE F--- UP!!!

    -----------------------------
    It's better to write something crappy that you can improve upon later than it is to write nothing. - Comedian Mike Myers

  16. #16
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TrustNo1®:
    lol Sandra <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Only Trust remembers I'm a butthead!

    SandraR

  17. #17
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    Wow.. that's a lot of interesting questions.

    My two cents worth:

    1-4. LLCs are not my bag, I'm not sure how many ABWers have formed businesses, I think there might be a poll on it somewhere. If not, it would be interesting one.

    5. The best thing to do is find networks and merchants that don't fall prey to BHOs and Norton. You *can* run a detection script on your web page but to be honest, I haven't found these scripts to me much use as they severely impact on page load times.

    6) Lots of good merchants here. Keep an eye on the threads. Of course (and I'll risk the ire of fellow members) not all merchants who have parasites are unprofitable. If they have a "trusted merchant" seal then they've been subject to pretty close scruting on their affiliate practices.

    7) That's a pretty good understanding of cookies, yes.

    8) Simply log into the site and use the on-screen tools. Most networks (and all are different) have some product tracking or allow you to add it.

    9) Datafeeds *tend* to be in a CSV (comma delimited) format, so that you can easily parse them with most applications.

    10) Lots of questions here. With DMOZ, a pure affiliate site won't be listed. The more unique content there is in proportion to affiliate stuff, then the more likely a listing is. [Note - mixing content and affiliate links doesn't generate a huge amount of revenue anyway]. With Inktomi, it's very easy to blow a lot of money away on pages that don't work. As a general rule if the page does well in Google it will do well in Inktomi. There's lots more that could be written, but there are plenty of threads that cover this already.


    A bit more on stats checking - even if it's possible to automate it, it's hardly worth it. If you're going to learn skills like that then apply them to processing datafeeds. Checking your stats 50 times a day does *not* generate more income.

    Some good questions, but I think you might be starting with too much. In this game you learn by doing and then building on it. Start off with something small, copy and paste the links in and keep it simple.

    Some general tips:

    Starting up is hard. Getting that first sale is hard. When you're starting off and there's no traffic or conversions, don't panic because this is perfectly normal.

    Keep your costs under control at all times. Don't commit large sums of money to projects that might never work, instead find out what does work and then invest in it.

    It is said that out of ten affiliate sites, eight will fail, one will about break even, and one will be a cash cow. In other words, 90% of all affiliate sites fail. Find what works, move on and let the other sites go.

    Finally, Google giveth and Google taketh away. That free traffic might dry up tomorrow. Can your business model afford paid traffic? For a lot of affiliates, this is the harsh situation they find themselves in after the latest Google update.

    You're probably the most clued up newbie I've seen But maybe just a bit *too* clued up.

    ________
    "All your commission are belong to us." - Slimeware Corporation

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    @Dynamoo

    That's is a DynaMOOOOic advice!

    This is what makes ABW rocks!

    You all give a great advice and always appreciated greatly!

    What does the COC stand for? Crooks Overwriting Commissions.
    Don't worry! Tracking is infected!
    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

  19. #19
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    Thank you everyone who chipped in very great advice!

    I actually have been thinking about this for over a year now. Ive always been thinking about ways to use my knowledge of computers - or my desire to learn more - as a launching point for a career. I've just been piecing it together for a long time, and it's coming together more and more every day. Definitely I am glad to be able to talk to so many knowledgable people like you guys.

    Ever seen the movie Office Space? Yeah.. that sucks. I hate it. And it's basically the type of movie that helps me think about how to be successful with this every day. I played football through college, and even tho I got good grades, I hated school because for me it was a scam, because I wasn't going into law or medicine. So now, I am in the real world, and I am getting out of it as soon as possible. Within a few months. And I love what you people are doing. I love the success stories, as I have seen in other threads. And there is potential. We all know online spending will double in 5 years.

    Missdonna and others concerning automation of stats:

    It is actually part of my site - where this would be beneficial to have these stats automated. I would be interested in finding out how to do this. I am wondering where to start, however. I will go ahead and say this could be a major part of what I am going to do, also. I know it is possible - and it looks like, from Dynathemufuginman's post, I would incorporate the same techniques doing this as I would using a datafeed.

    So I am wondering - where can I find out about those techniques? Basically I would need to somehow securely log in to each network/merchant and take the stats, throw it into a database (using php perhaps?) then display it somehow with html. However, although I have researched php a bit, I am wondering if anyone could link a tutorial or anything on the techniques, scripting, etc to get me going? Nothing has jumped out at me and I search on google etc quite a bit. The big thing is on CJ for example - they talk about how you can incorporate the reports into things on your site, but dont give you info on how to do that. I need to be able to automate the reports and use information from them. It will be essential for me for reasons other than just seeing what I have made that day. Any ideas?

    Yeah, I'm not going to blow money on anything - that is for sure. Got my domain at godaddy and actually free hosting at www.staghosting.com (check it out - no joke). And I am all for just "doing it". However, I want to be able to write off the max amount, and I want it to be organized from the start - if at all possible. Of course I will learn as I go.

    Any advice on how people located their accountants and about how much to budget for that?

    Thank you Brian for the example of the workbook, that was exactly what I was looking for. Makes sense. Do you take it to an accountant? Do you write off travel for travel addiliates? =)

    The thing about quiting the job for me is just to do whatever the hell I want, when I want - and have the chance at better money. I know it is work, but at least work I like to do. I understand, exactly.

    Any opinions on whether paying for the wordtracker deal is worth it as opposed to doing the free trial with altavista? I know that it gives you more thorough results when you pay - and I guess I could end up writing that off - however, from what I've read also they take the search info from metacrawlers and you may not get as accurate of recommendations for "google" anyways.

    Brian - 210k. You are the man. Thats me, chillin in a yacht also. That is the goal man - something along those lines. Great job, I am motivated just typing back to you and others! Very cool.

    I see, so it sounds like merchant wise - just watch different threads to see if people are or aren't associated with parasites?

    Any other way to find out initially? I am kind of on the dark on this still. I know Haiko is working on a database - only of ABW merchants - however, is there a list of merchants in the networks that are okay?

    Yes I don't listen to nay-sayers. People limit themselves. If others want to limit themselves, more opportunity for me.

    I agree about google drying up and changes in alog. and filters etc - I will not depend on that. I plan to make the site "bookmarkable" - although it is unpopular or even unneccessary to many people - that is what I am going for.

    Thank you Joe for the encouragement and I am impressed at the 30+ years! Awesome.

    Again - parasites are BS - I know they don't harm as much as maybe I thought but hey 5% is 5%. If I can avoid by looking at a list of non-parasite merchants or something of merchants here and on networks or somethind and choosing from them, then hell ya. I'll build from that.

    The norton thing - a work around I thought I saw by the butthead by running things on a server side- banner rotation, etc, cgi. And then someone named catalyst brought up something else dealing with encryption perhaps. Anyone experiment further? May not be a huge deal, of course, just wondering.

    #9 Dynamoo - "parse" datafeeds. Of course PHP does that. Any tutorial or anything leading to how to do that? Or to get started. As far as specifically with datafeeds. I really don't know what "application" to use. I assume you build the script and application with the datafeed. What is the datafeed? A file? Is there a list of which networks or merchants offer it? Also it would help in stats automation from networks, etc, which I need to do.

    Also .. anyone have any experience with keywords unique - but not very popular (yet). It would seem that this sucks. The sites focus is not one that there is already built up KEI for , (for example), on wordtracker - however it is unique. That is why I am thinking maybe some of the content on the different merchant links and/or product links will hopefully get indexed highly on google because of the different keywords that might exist on those separate pages of my site. Any thoughts or experience from the past?

    Thank you in advance. Great stories out there and great people. Peace be with.

    Nuke.

  20. #20
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    Automation of stats:

    I suggest starting on ground Zero to understand, your writings lead me to believe you are an individual that would be interested in how the ENTIRE PICTURE reads. So start from the bare bones and learn. Best program for that is xav primarily because the program is easy to learn and manipulate (moving you to scripting)

    http://www.xav.com/scripts/axs/

    Its FREE lets start you there, should only take you a couple of days to get into it. Next we can move on to the bigger pictures. Dbasing…

    If I am moving too fast Give me a shout I will do my best to assist. PM is OK

    SandraR

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Mike O's Avatar
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    Having access to your raw site logs is always useful, especially when you're starting out. If your host doesn't give you that, change hosts!

    If you have Cpanel stats available on your host, that usually lets you download the raw log file to examine.

    Being able to read your raw log files is definitely worth the time to learn-by-doing.

    As a help in figuring out what you're seeing in the logs, I recommend HappyLog -- it's the log-analyzer program (it runs on your PC) that I use. It's pretty simpleminded, but gives me a coherent overview of my traffic. It's a big step up from reading the raw logs. It's shareware, $30-$40 to register I think, with a month free trial.

    I agree with other posters, don't try to automate until you first understand what's happening at the detail level, through direct experience. Then build one more level on top of that. Don't try to plan it all out in advance, your view of what you need will change many times as you get into this business.

    -- Mike

    "Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things."
    -- Willa Cather

  22. #22
    Newbie
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    48
    Hello ...

    Just wanting to make sure I am on the right track. Learning to read the stats of my website - where users are coming from, etc, etc - and automate that (I do have Cpanel) will lead me to be able to do this:

    Use tracking from affiliate sales based on users shopping on my sites

    Extract the stats from CJ and other Tracking sites (Reports)

    Add the stats on who bought what or amount of items purchased, amount etc (my members) (also of course will vary by network/merchant, etc)

    Display it in html securely

    .. Just want to make sure I'm on the right track. Thanks for the link SandraR

  23. #23
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    Web site stats are vital, and the stats provided by your host will be the most accurate because they'll come straight off the server. However, not all my hosts give great stats, so I use Webtrends which is a javascript plugin for some of my sites. That *can* get expensive through. As for automating.. I'm not sure what you mean, but a decent stats package will tell you the most visited pages, referrers, search phrases and other stuff.

    As for datafeeds, you can parse them any way you like. The simplest, and most search engine friendly, way of doing this is to create a bunch of static pages and unpload them. Using PHP is a clever solution, but unless you can make the pages appear "static" then you might be losing out. All you really need to do with a downloaded datafeed is open the file and rearrange the stuff into product and index pages and you can do that in whatever programming language you prefer, even BASIC. Many merchants have datafeeds available on request. Shareasale (they have a forum here) makes them very easily accessible for downloas, others tend to be a little harder. If in doubt, contact the affiliate manager.

    About the transaction reporting.. honestly, I don't believe this is something you should be spending time on at present. It's complex stuff and won't bring you in any more sales, if you want to embark on a complex programming project, then put it somewhere that it will benefit your visitors.

    Now about hosting.. I haven't seen the Staghosting one before and frankly you get what you pay for, which is nothing much. At some point you will need to move to a decent web host.. this is one of those investments that will page you dividends in the long run. I'm sure everyone will have different recommendations. I actually use five web hosts. Oh yes, a golden rule is that you should never have your domain name registered or transferred to your web host - keep the domain name registrar and hosting accounts seperate. If you give 'em both, then *they* have the power over the domain and web site. If you split them up, then you can walk away from your host any time you like and they can't do a thing about it.

    ________
    "All your commission are belong to us." - Slimeware Corporation

  24. #24
    Newbie
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    48
    Thanks for the reply moo..

    Actually transaction reporting WILL benefit my visitors.

    Datafeeds are more secondary for me and are apart of me considering whether to use them and/or simply merchant links. It looks like, from reading your post - they are preset and not continually updated from the different merchants? They are "static" and you download them and then just incorp. them into html? I assume some are updated often - and there is a way to automate this. I have located this script:

    <?php
    $lines = file ('http://www.example.com/');
    foreach ($lines as $line_num => $line) {
    echo "Line #{$line_num} : " . htmlspecialchars($line) . "
    \n";
    }

    Very basic .. extracts data from a website I believe.

    I am seeking to find a way to extract from linkshare, cj reports, etc - securely - is this possible along these lines? i am sure it is. i will find the answer sooner or later.

    Would one recommend tophosts.com for lists of the best web hosts on the net for example?

    Nuke.

  25. #25
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    Most merchants present data feeds as a file which you can download and parse on a regular basis. A few use clever stuff like XML and other live data feeds (Amazon does this).

    What attracts visitors though (in my book) is themed collections of products, so the if the customer is interested in blue widgets, they land on your page which has a list of different blue widgets, description, prices etc. To search engines, this looks like useful content so you might find you're suddenly an authority on blue widgets according to Google.

    Then, you can add value by combining several different data feeds and becoming the most comprehensive source on all brands and types of widget sourced from multiple merchants.

    Datafeeds also aren't consistent, so you'll need to adjust your script for each one. However, once you have your datafeed, the way you use it is purely up to your imagination and capabilities.

    On reports - you could aggregate downloaded reports on transactions in the same way, really just treating them as a datafeed but the sales will still track (or not) if you do this or not. Unless you are going to be running some sort of eBates-style rebate scheme where it's important to link visitors with transactions I still think that you're barking up the wrong tree.

    Hosting - a tricky one. You'll need to appreciate that most comparison sites are actually affiliate sites, and that the affiliate might just be pushing the host that pays the biggest bounty per sale. A lot of ABWers use TH Media who understand the business (they had a serious glitch a few months ago but are normally reliable). In any case, best to research thoroughly. Google Groups is always a useful place for opinions on hosts.

    ________
    "All your commission are belong to us." - Slimeware Corporation

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