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6 Content Writing Rules You Don’t Know About

When it comes to creating content for your blog, there are always some tips you can use in order to create better content that will help you attract a bigger audience and create content that’s more representative of your brand.

Whether you’re just starting out or you just wish to improve your content writing skills, here are some tips that you might have not though of and that will truly help you out with writing your content, no matter the topic it’s on.

Don’t Overuse Keywords

Most writers believe that an article will only be successful online if it has an abundance of key words so that it will be easier for people to notice it on Google. To an extent, that is true, but the problems starts once you stuff so many keywords into your post that it just becomes hard to read.

Make sure that you always use a tool that will help you find out the best keywords to use for your copy. Use keywords that will not negatively impact your article and make people want to stop reading. The smarter you use keywords in a post, the more you will come to find that this is not about quantity but quality and smart use of them.

Stay Informal

When you’re creating content for your blog, it is important that you appear friendly and you make your readers feel like they personally know you. You can manage that by writing in a not too formal way.

Keep in mind what audience you’re trying to reach. If the people reading your posts are teenagers, you will want to write your content in a way that will be more attractive to their age group. Use plain English and try making your posts as understandable as possible by whoever might come across your blog.

Keep it Simple

One of the most important things you need to do when you’re creating content is to make sure that your post is straightforward and that you’re not beating around the bush when you want to say something. Many people might think “It would be easier to find someone to write my essay online, and it can honestly possibly help you put your writing in an order when you’re just starting out.

If you wish to keep your audience engaged, you should learn how to get your point across in as few words as possible. You can then use that to further expand your text and add more needed details, but always keeping in mind that the simpler it is, the easier it will be for a person to read and understand.

Always Hyperlink Your Sources

This is something that many people avoid doing for a number of reasons. Some actually don’t want to direct traffic to another website and others believe that it will seem as if their content is not original.

In any case, you should always cite your sources as it can really help you get backlinks when you acknowledge another person’s work. You can also link other posts from your blog and get even more traffic on your website.

Images are Always Useful

Images are a simple way of keeping your reader’s attention and helping them better understand what it is you’re showing. Do not be afraid that they will take up too much space in your text; use them sparingly when you want to show something and they will truly help your content start out even more.

Don’t Forget Your Conclusion

The conclusion is a very important part in any article. It is the last part your reader will see and it will probably help him shape his final opinion of your post.

Make sure that your conclusion in engaging and offers a tiny summary of the post you wrote. A good idea here is to add a Call to Action, which will help the reader interact with you and enjoy the experience even more.

Content is Key for a Brand. Don’t Forget About It!

Quality content is the most important thing you need in order for your website to be successful. You should take these tips into consideration and always make sure that you follow your audience’s preferences in order to have the best results with your content.

What are your favorite content writing tips?

WordPress Security for Dummies: 5 Easy Steps To Protect Your Site

Picture your house. Visualize all the things (and more importantly, the memories) you’ve  made in it.

Now imagine you leave your house to go somewhere but you leave the door unlocked and before you get in your car, you put a sign in your yard advertising the fact that your home is unlocked.

Think that’s crazy?

It is and yet millions of online platforms powered by WordPress do this every single day. Site owners spend their valuable time carefully cultivating their content and creating memories with their readers only to leave the doors to their sites wide open.

Securing your online platform is probably not your top priority. After all, we’re all busy trying to write great content and getting the word out via social media, guest posting, etc.  But if security is currently just an afterthought to you, I hope this article changes your mind to start taking it more seriously.

One of the most important things to understand about securing your site (or online security in general) is that there’s no such thing as total security. If someone wants your data or access to your site badly enough, they can probably get it.  That being said, online security is similar to offline security in that there’s common sense steps you can take to secure your site and make it not worth a casual hacker’s time to try and penetrate.

It’s ironic that many of us don’t pay more attention to protecting our sites since we spend so much time trying to build them. Fortunately, you don’t have to have an IT degree to safeguard your site.

So without further ado, I present WordPress Security for Dummies: 5 easy steps to protect your site.

1) Stay Up To Date

WordPress 3.7 (Basie), brought about several way overdue security enhancements for the world’s most popular content management system.  Security and maintenance updates occur automatically meaning if your site is running 3.7 or above, you no longer need to manually update the WordPress files which power your site.

That being said, you’ll still need to manually update your plugins to ensure they’re running the latest secure and stable builds.

In addition to automatically applying security and maintenance updates, 3.7 brought introduced better password standards and a new feature which shows you how strong your WordPress password is in real time. This new password strength meter (pictured above) detects weak and obvious password phrases (e.g. password1234) to show the strength of your password.

Which leads me to the next easy step you can take right now to protect your site…

2) Strong Username & Password

After you update your site, it’s time to a serious look at your usernames and passwords associated with it. This includes not only your WP admin credentials, but also supporting services such as any webmail, hosting, or 3rd party services like Gravatar. It’s all too easy to recycle passwords and if you’re even a moderate internet user, you likely have dozens, if not hundreds, of websites to remember for. Do yourself a favor and use a free password manager like LastPass or 1Password.

While we’re on the topic, remember that your user ID is another key piece of data that all too often is ignored from a security standpoint. Using obvious user ID’s like “admin” or “webmaster” is like giving a hacker half of your bank card PIN # and hoping they don’t figure out the other half.

3) Multi-Factor Authentication

Good (and hassle free) security doesn’t stop with a strong user ID and password. Now more than ever, it’s not just elite hackers that possess the capability to compromise your site’s security. Brute force password crackers can be easily purchased from black hat forums that are just a Google search away. Many of these tools can be utilized by simply following the instructions they come with.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another simple way of hardening your website without adding any complicated or time consuming steps to logging in. With MFA, you need to have something to know (like a pin or unique password) and something to have (like a mobile phone or computer to receive the “something to know”).

MFA’s  work like this:

  1. You set up an account with a MFA service (Google, Yubikey, etc). You can do this on your laptop, desktop, or mobile device (like an Android smartphone or iPhone).

  2. Next,install the MFA’s plugin on your WordPress site.

  3. That’s it! Now, every time you logon, you need to enter the MFA unique credential in addition to your user ID and password.

It’s that easy and will add another layer of protection to your online platform.

Some of the most widely used MFA services are Google Authenticator and YubiKey.

4) Security Plugins

So far, I’ve listed simple steps you can easily do yourself to greatly enhance the security of your online platform. Fortunately, with the popularity of WordPress, developers have already created some great (not to mention, free) plugins to take care of some of the more technical security enhancements.

To keep things simple, I’ve listed a few of my favorite WordPress security plugins with a brief summary and a link to learn more if you’re interested in learning more about the technical feature of each one.

Better WP Security – among the most widely used WP security plugins, Better WP Security takes a multifaceted approach to hardening your site. This is a free plugin that helps hide common backend functionality from nosy visitors, scans your site for possible vulnerabilities, and offers a free backup service.

Wordfence Security – another widely implemented security plugin, Wordfence Security primarily focuses on scanning the traffic on your site, enforcing better password strengths, and blocking known IP addresses that are associated with spammers and malware bots. There’s also a cool option to view information about the visitors on your site in real time if you like to micromanage.

BulletProof Security – out of the 3 security plugins I’ve listed, BulletProof is probably the least friendly in terms of user interface, but features a robust set of security features. This plugin does a solid job of protecting the core .htaccess file that can cause serious problems if left unsecured. There’s also free automated log reports that can be emailed at specified frequencies that list any possible issues.

5) Backing Up Your Site

Depending on which security plugin you go with, you should still consider backing up your site.

Backing up your site is one of those things that sounds like a good idea (because it is) but is easily overlooked until it’s too late.

The most common 3 ways you can backup your site are:

  1. Manually – if you have access to FTP and know (or want to learn how). This option puts the most control in your hands with regard to frequency and what exactly you want to backup, but is also the most cumbersome and time consuming of the 3 options.

  2. Through your host (a reputable host should backup your files on a regular basis) or paid resiliency service like VaultPress.

  3. Via a PHP based plugin – there are many backup plugins you can install via the admin panel that will backup your instance of WordPress. Two of the more highly rated (and actively updated) plugins are BackUpWordPress and BackWPup. Both are free of charge.

Overcoming Misconceptions

There’s several common misconceptions about why you care about the security of your site. This is especially true if your site is generating little to no revenue. Even if your online platform is just your personal blog to express yourself online, you wouldn’t want an enemy (or bored kid) to hack your site and replace your content with unflattering content.

This is a common type of petty hacking called hostile takeover in which someone gains access to your site and proceeds to try and wreck your reputation by posting porn, gorn, or politically incorrect material. It sounds petty (and it is), but it’s an unfortunate reality of being online.

If you have an ecommerce site or collect personal data from user registrations, you need to be even more vigilant about watching over the data your customers entrust you with.

Wrapping Things Up

So there you have it, WordPress Security for Dummies:5 easy steps to protect your site. Free of charge and hassle free. By following the 5 easy steps I’ve outlined in this article, you can harden your site and keep your hard work safe.

These 5 easy steps are just the basics of securing your WordPress site.

How about you? Have you taken any steps to making your site safer? If not, what’s holding you back? Drop me a comment below and share your thoughts so others can benefit from your knowledge!

The Lazy Webmaster’s Guide to 10 Popular Ad Networks: Part 2

In part 2 of The Lazy Webmaster’s Guide to 10 Popular Ad Networks, I’ll take a look at 5 additional ad networks you can use to monetize your online platform.

Most of the ad networks I’ve featured in this series have been geared towards publishers of all sizes although a few of them have specific traffic requirements (Casale Media is probably the most elite ad network featured in this series).

It’s important to keep in mind how ads impact your visitors. Sure, you may be able to squeeze slightly higher earnings with a lower quality ad network that allows spammy ads, but at what cost?

Your site’s reputation? The trust of your readers? 

My point is, there are plenty of ad networks you can choose from no matter what size your online platform is, but make sure you consider the less tangible aspects when making your choice.

  • What are the quality of the ads served on a particular network?
  • Do they permit video or audio to play without the visitor taking any type of action (like mouse rollover or clicking)?
  • Do they permit adult or more “risque” advertisers (such as alcohol, tobacco, and firearm manufacturers)?

Only you can truly understand how these factors could potentially impact your readers as you know them best :).

6. Technorati Media

Overview

Technorati got its start back in 2002 as the first blog search engine. Its core business was finding popular blogs and indexing them (similar to how Google indexes web sites for its search engines).  Through its expansion, Technorati started its own ad network – Technorati Media.

Their ad network has grown organically over the years in addition to the acquisition of AdEngage in 2008. I’ve used Technorati Media with mixed results.

Although I found their eCPM to be competitive (and often higher than AdSense), their load time was terrible… Technorati Media currently does not offer an asynchronous ad option (meaning ads are served independently of the page, so users can see your content even if the ad is having trouble loading). I eventually removed their ads from IncomeIdeas.org but will revisit them in the future to see if performance has improved or the ayncrhonous ad format is offered.

Eligibility

Technorati Media has the typical eligibility requirements that prohibit publishers with content that promote pornography, gambling, illegal MP3 downloads, illegal software, torrents, hate speech, terrorism, illegal content, etc.

All in all, it’s pretty easy to get accepted into their ad network and their weren’t any specific traffic requirements that I was able to find. If you’re interested in joining their network, just fill out your user profile and your site(s) will then be manually reviewed.

When I applied to the Technorati Media ad network, I received a response within a few days.

Ad Types

In addition to the basic banner sizes (160×600 skyscraper, 300×250 medium rectangle, & 728×90 leaderboard), Technorati Media also offers some unique ad types for approved publishers featuring interstitial, half page, video pre-roll, pushdown ads and more.

Earnings & Payment Details 

Publishers earn money whenever a visitor clicks an ad served by Technorati Media but can also earn money based off the number of impressions (number of times a visitor is exposed to an ad) which is expressed as cost per mille or CPM (Latin for every thousand). 

  • $50 minimum payout
  • Net60 (meaning the payment is sent 60 days after reaching the $50 minimum)
  • Payments are issued via PayPal or check

Apply to the Technorati Media network

7. Yahoo! Bing Network

Overview

Founded in The Yahoo! Bing Network (or simply YBN) Contextual Ads program enables web publishers to easily and effectively earn advertising revenue.

YBN is another contextual ad network (ads are driven based off the content on the page) and is a great alternative to AdSense.

The actual network is powered by Media.net with Yahoo! managing the business and Microsoft Bing helping pull in high quality advertisers.  I currently use ads served by the YBN and I’ve been pleased (so far :)) with the quality of ads and earnings. The YBN allows publishers to serve other ads so it can be used in conjunction with AdSense or other ad networks.

Eligibility

If you’re interested in monetizing your online platform with ads from the YBN, you’ll need to apply and go through the manual review process first. The criteria is similar to the other ad networks featured in this guide (no adult, hate, or offensive/illegal subject matter) and their focus seems to be more on the quality of the publisher’s site vs. the amount of traffic it has. Traffic sources need to come primarily from the United states, Canada or the United Kingdom.

When I applied, it took about 5 days from the time I submitted the application until I received approval could start displaying ads. If you’re accepted, you’ll be assigned a dedicated account manager which is a nice feature if you’re new to monetizing an online platform.

Ad Types

YBN features the standard assortment of ads and I think they have a great interface for customizing ads (colors, choices for layouts, etc). They also feature mobile ads which is a plus if you cater to a demographic that frequently accesses your site via mobile devices and tablets.

One feature currently lacking (when compared to AdSense) is the ability to choose whether an ad display will only display text or an image, or display both depending on available ads.

Earnings & Payment Details 

  • $100 minimum payout
  • Payments issued via bank wire transfer or PayPal
  • Earnings will vary based off the advertisement’s niche

Apply to the Yahoo!Bing ad network

8. ValueClick Media

 

Overview

ValueClick is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: VCLK) and has been in business since 1998. In addition to its own ad network, ValueClick also owns Commission Junction, which is a large affiliate marketplace.

Ads served through ValueClick Media are customized based on the visitor’s past activity. This is often called interest-based advertising or online behavioral advertising (OBA).

Eligibility

Standards are high at ValueClick Media but not impossibly high…

Publishers looking to get accepted into the ValueClick Media network need to high quality content, generate at least 3,000 monthly pageviews, and meet the usual criteria (no illegal/adult content, etc). ValueClick Media publishers are permitted to display ads served from other networks which is always a plus for split testing.

If you’re interested in learning more about publisher guidelines, visit the ValueClick Media’s official site spec’s page.

Ad Types

In addition to the usual suspects like banners, interstitial, and text based link ads, ValueClick Media offers pop-under ads (in case you’re rusty on different ad types, check out this article). Publishers earn money anytime a visitor clicks an advertisement served by ValueClick Media. Rates vary depending on the ad type and niche.

Earnings & Payment Details 

  • Minimum threshold of $25 for payments
  • Payments issued via PayPal or checks
  • Payments are issued 25-60 days after the end of the month when a publisher meets the minimum threshold

Apply to ValueClick Media

9. Epom Market

Overview

For publishers with more established sites generating >500,000 impressions each month, Epom Market is a solid ad work. Epom Market offers category-targeted, mobile, and local ads to best target visitors.

Eligibility

Although Epom Market is one of the more elite ad networks, its standards aren’t impossible. As mentioned above, to be considered for its network, the publisher’s site needs to generate >500,000 impressions each month. An impression is simply the measure of the number of times an ad is displayed, whether it’s clicked or not.

Beyond the traffic requirements, the standard criteria of no adult, illegal, or offensive content, holds true.

Ad Types

In addition to the standard ad types (banners, link based text ads, etc), Epom Market also features a variety of mobile device and app based advertisements which is great for publishers who have those unique needs.

Earnings & Payment Details 

  • $100 minimum threshold
  • Payments are made on a NET45 basis (45 days after you reach the minimum threshold)
  • Payments <$10,000 are issued via PayPal while anything above $10k is issued via wire transfer

Apply to Epom Market

10. Casale Media

Overview

Based out of  Toronto, Ontario, Casale Media has been serving ads since 2003 through its MediaNet ad network.

Eligibility

Casale Media has an excellent reputation for higher than average payouts. This is in part due to the exclusive nature of which publishers they accept into their network.

To gain access to their ads, publishers need to reach a minimum of 50,000 unique visitors each month. Content must be written in English or French only and can’t link to or contain questionable content of any kind (e.g. adult, illegal, considered offensive, etc).

Ad Types

All the usual ad types are offered plus video and mobile ads.

Earnings & Payment Details 

There are actually three ways to monetize your online platform with Casale Media. To find out the details of each method, I encourage you to check out the official Casale Media page as each program can change suddenly.

Publishers can choose to

  • Guaranteed NET30 payments
  • Payments issued via check or PayPal
  • Minimum threshold of $25

Apply to Casale Media

Wrapping Things Up

I don’t think there’s such a thing as “the perfect ad network”. While some ad networks feature better quality ads and higher earnings potential, it’s up to you to determine what kind of ads your visitors will derive value from (and tolerate).

Alright, now it’s your turn. If you have a blog, website, or your own online platform, what’s your favorite ad network and why? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

The Lazy Webmaster’s Guide to 10 Popular Ad Networks: Part 1

Do you have you a blog, website, or online platform that you want to monetize with ads? If so, I’m sure you’ve been overwhelmed and unsure of which ad network to use. There are hundreds of ad networks out there but many of them aren’t worth your time, are catered towards huge sites that receive millions of unique monthly visits, or they allow shady advertisements which can damage your credibility.

When I first set out to build an online platform, I struggled with picking an ad network that would balance earnings without compromising on the quality (or frequency) of ads that are shown to readers of my site. So I decided to to create this in-depth guide that explores 10 different ad networks for small to medium sized publishers. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with that term, a publisher is simply your blog, website, or online platform that displays (or publishes) ads from an ad networks.

So without further fanfare, I present The Lazy Webmaster’s Guide to 10 Popular Ad Networks: Part 1.

1. AdSense

Overview

AdSense has been around since 2003, after Google acquired Applied Semantics. AdSense made waves in its early years by serving ads based off keywords contained in a publisher’s content. Eventually, Google added contextually driven ads based off a users search history in addition to the keywords found in a publisher’s content.

Google AdSense is among the most recognizable, popular, and largest ad network out there, with over 1,000,000 publishers ranging from small bloggers to some of the largest web properties on the internet (like Drudge Report, New York Times, etc), AdSense is a big deal.

Eligibility

Publishers of all sizes are invited to join Google AdSense free of charge. To get started, you’ll need to create or use an existing Google account to sign up. AdSense does review all applications and won’t accept sites in certain niches (porn/hate groups/firearms/tobacco/drugs).

Ad Types

AdSense currently offers 5 different ad products :

  1. Content – Content ads are served as banners or text links and are driven by a user’s search history or keywords found in the content featured on every page of your site.
  2. Search – Google offers their widely used search feature for you to place on your site(s). You can control whether search results feature content from around the web or limit result to just your site. Ads are displayed next to search results just like a typical Google search results page. Whenever a visitor clicks one of these ads, you earn a cut.
  3. Games – For online platforms that offer games to their visitors, Google offers in-stream and overlay ad options. If you already have an AdSense account, you’ll need to apply specifically to get accepted in to the Games ad type program.
  4. Videos – If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video you’ve probably seen the video ads that play before the content you want to watch. These video ads are served by AdSense. Similar to game ads, you’ll need to apply specifically for the Videos ad product if you’re interested in using it.
  5. Mobile – With mobile ads, you can generate revenue by displaying targeted ads from Google on your mobile website. If you’re interested in this ad product, you’ll need to apply specifically for it.

Earnings & Payment Details 

The amount you can earn varies widely based off the keyword that’s being targeted. On average, the CPC (cost per click – the amount you earn when a visitor clicks on an AdSense ad) ranges from a few cents to a few dollars. You can maximize earnings by researching keywords in your niche and then targeting the ones with the highest CPC.

Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool for this, but you’ll need to sign up for a free AdWords account before you can use it.

For payments, you can choose to have a check mailed or have earnings wired directly to your bank accounts. The minimum threshold for receiving a payment is $100 and payments are sent a few days after the last day of each month. If you want, you can also choose to suspend payments from being sent after you reach the $100 threshold.

2) Infolinks

Overview

Infolinks offers primarily text based link ads.

It’s a large network spanning 128 different countries with over 100,000 publishers who generate over 1 trillion impressions per month. Although you might think of text links as boring, they do have their advantage.

Banner blindness (where visitors are so inundated with ads that they completely skip over them) is a real phenomenon. Infolinks’ angle is that visitor’s are less likely to ignore text based interactive link ads.

The logic that drives which ad should display works similarly to AdSense. The Infolinks algorithm was developed to look at context, determine the intent while constantly learning and then sell ad space to relevant advertisers in real time. It studies websites and learns how to match the best advertisement to each specific page on a site, based not on just keywords, but the intent of the content.

Eligibility

Infolinks has virtually no eligibility requirements. As long as your site isn’t an adult website or is promoting something that’s considered offensive, you’ll be able to use their ads to monetize your site.

Ad Types

There are 4 ad types to pick from.

  1. InSearch – This ad type only appears when needed, introducing visitors who’ve arrived via search to an unobtrusive overlay ad. After displaying for a 10-30 seconds, the overlay ad shrinks back down into a small headline near the bottom of the visitor’s screen.
  2. InText – InText ads scan your content in real-time and double underline your most valuable keywords. You’ve probably visited many sites that have used this ad type. Personally, I find these ads to be frustrating because unless the site owner makes an effort to distinguish between Infolinks hyperlinks and normal links on site.
  3. InTag – InTag draws on Infolinks’ proprietary algorithm to recognize the highest valuable keywords relevant to the publisher’s content and display them in a cool tag cloud format.
  4. InFrame – This ad types monetizes unused screen margins and frames on a publisher’s site with display vertical banner ad  relevant to their content on the sides of a site.

Earnings & Payment Details 

With Infolinks, you make money every time a visitor clicks an ad. Like AdSense, the amount you earn will vary based on keyword.

Infolinks offers multiple methods including PayPal, Bank Wire, eCheck, Western Union, ACH (only for U.S. bank accounts) or MasterCard’s Payoneer. Minimum payouts begin at $50 for all payment options except ACH transfer or Western Union in which case payouts begin at $100. You can also choose to set their payment thresholds higher if they desire.

Payments are issued no later than 45 days from the end of the month that you reach the minimum payment threshold for your preferred payment option (either $50 or $100).

Apply to the Infolinks network

Kontera

Overview

The Kontera Network is pretty similar to Infolinks. They network has over 15,000 publishers and features exclusive ads from companies like Microsoft, CBS, Bank of America and more. There’s not too much of a difference between the ad types featured between Kontera and Infolinks.

One aspect of either text link ad providers is the potential for sites using them to be negatively impacted in search engine results.

Rant incoming….

Although not made public, Google’s search engine ranking algorithm is thought by some (including myself) to penalize sites with link based advertisements. The logic behind this is that links are a way for Google to determine the relevance and success of a page by understanding the inbound links.

With link based ads, advertisers are essentially buying links from publishers through a middleman (Kontera, Infolinks, etc). This artificially manipulates the number of inbound links to the advertiser’s landing page. Keep in mind this is just theoretical, since Google doesn’t release specifics about their algorithm, it’s only one viewpoint about link based ads.

End rant!

Eligibility

Kontera accepts publishers of all sizes and uses similar criteria as Infolinks (no adult sites or niches that are generally considered offensive). The application process takes less than 5 minutes and ads can be used on all different types of online platforms including those powered by Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, etc.

Ad Types

Link based ads are the bread and butter of the Kontera Network. Kontera scans the content of your site and serves up link based ads based off targeted keywords. When a user rolls over a link ad, a pop up displays with more details about the ad. The user can then click through to the advertiser’s landing page.

Earnings & Payment Details 

With Kontera, publishers earn revenue anytime a visitor engages with an ad. The Kontera network uses a  Net40 $50 minimum payout. This means that Kontera will issue a payment 40 days after you reach the $50 payout threshold. Payment channels are PayPal, check, wire, or international wire transfer.

Clicksor

Overview

Based out of Canada, Clicksor is another alternative to AdSense. Founded in 2004, Clicksor has over 150,000 sites in its publisher network and is owned by Yesup, who is a major player in the ecommerce niche.

Eligibility

Clicksor doesn’t specify any traffic volume requirements but does require at least 50% of traffic should be coming from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. In addition to the traffic source requirements, Clicksor has the same basic standards as other ad networks (no illegal or offensive content).

Ad Types

There are a total of 5 ad types you can choose from with Clicksor:

  1. Inline Text Links – Inline text links ads appear as a brief text description in boxes with clear call-to-actions, prompting your visitors to learn more information from partners’ websites. These ads only appear when a user’s mouse pointer is moved over certain words and is relevant to the on page content.
  2. Text Banners – Similar to inline text links except these text ads appear in a variety of sizes and colors. Generally these banners are featured above the fold and in prominent areas like sidebars, or in a post.
  3. Graphic Banners – Graphic banners display images to convey an advertisement. They can be static or dynamic images. Similar to text based ads, graphic banners are served based off relevant on page keywords.
  4. Pop Unders – Pop unders are a form of online advertising on the Internet which emerged from the concept of pop ups. When a user visits a website with pop under advertisements, the pop under will open up in a new browser window hidden under the user’s current browser. When the user closes their current browser then they will noticed the pop under advertisement making them less intrusive, more acceptable to users and will not take visitors away from the publisher’s website.
  5. Interstitial – An interstitial ad (inter-ad) is an advertising page that is inserted in the normal flow of editorial content structure on a website for the purpose of advertising or promotion. Interstitial messages, like TV commercials, make viewers a captive of the message.

Earnings & Payment Details

Clicksor offers payments every 15 days with a $50 minimum payout. You can choose to get paid with PayPal, check or wire transfer. Earnings vary by keyword.

Apply to Clicksor

Dynamic Oxygen

Overview

A relatively new ad network, Dynamic Oxygen is another option to use when monetizing your online platform. Based out of New York and founded in 2007, Dynamic Oxygen is one of the few ad networks who accepts international publishers.

What makes this network stand out from the others is that ads are shown based off the search term used before a visitor lands on a publisher’s site.

For example, if I searched for “gardening supplies” and clicked through a search result to a website showing ads from the Dynamic Oxygen network, I would see an ad related to gardening supplies (a rake, spade, etc).

Eligibility

To be eligible, you must have an active site with a visible privacy policy page. Like all the ad networks featured in this guide, Dynamic Oxygen does not accept publishers with adult or questionable/illegal content. Other than that, Dynamic Oxygen doesn’t list any specific traffic criteria to be accepted.

Ad Types

One of the main advantages to Dynamic Oxygen are the many ad types they offer including:

  • Anchor ads
  • Cursor ads
  • Floating ads
  • Interstitial ads
  • Layer ads
  • Pop up/under ads
  • Sky ads

They also provide demos of each ad type which may be helpful if you’re not sure what it looks like.

Earnings & Payment Details

There’s a big difference between how publishers earn money with Dynamic Oxygen and the other ad networks listed in this guide…

You will only earn revenue from traffic that came from search engines. 

This means that if a visitor visits a site directly, or another site links in, ads will not be shown and you will not earn any revenue.

While great from a user experience (with regular visitors less likely to visit a publisher’s site by using a search engine) this method clearly limits the potential for earning revenue.

If you’re a publisher with tons of search engine traffic, this ad network may be worth considering on top of a contextually driven network (like AdSense).

Earnings will vary based on on the the country, search terms, and content category the ad falls under.

Apply to DynamicOxygen

Part 1 Summary

There are hundreds of ad networks that website owners (publishers) can choose from to monetize their online platforms. Many of these networks are a waste of your time with low quality ads, and even lower earnings.

When considering which ad network to choose, you should consider your goals and audience.

Here a few questions to get your started:

  1. Who is the primary audience for my site and what kind of ads would they get the most value out of? For example, would they prefer to see ads in an text or image format? Intrusive pop ups that demand their attention, or more subtle ads that display to the side of featured content.
  2. Where is your traffic coming from? Is your traffic coming primarily from search engines, social media platforms, or some combination of the two?
  3. How aggressive do you plan on being with your monetization goals? There’s no right or wrong answer to this one and as an online platform owner, only you can answer this question. Yes, greater ad profits can be found by filling pages with many ads from multiple ad networks and include more aggressive ad types like pop unders or cursor ads, but in the long run, will it damage your credibility?

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite ad network(s), if you choose to display ads? As a consumer, what ad types do you like/dislike the most? Drop me a comment below to let me know! 

3 Reasons To Build an Online Platform

Not too long ago, the internet was a place that offered the chance to make money exclusively to those with sufficient technical skills to build a website or virtual storefront. If  you didn’t have these skills, you could always use drag and drop template sites like GeoCities (RIP). But all that’s changed with free content management systems like WordPress that empowers anyone with little or no technical experience to build an effective online platform.

But what do I mean when I say online platform?

Simply put, an online platform is the holistic way of thinking about any online vehicle that’s used to build and engage with an online audience.

But Josiah, I already have a website! That’s terrific, but do you use it as an online platform or is it just another website?

Online platforms go far beyond just a blog, or just a simple Facebook fan page. An effective online platform is built by developing your personal story or brand and represents your personal endorsement to your audience that whatever product or service you’re offering is worth their time.

That’s the high-level concept of how I envision online platforms and how I use them to further my online income goals. For example, with this site, Income Ideas, I create value for my readers by writing unique and informative content about different ways one can make money online. I go beyond just having a website or blog by using Income Ideas as a platform to also offer my personal services of writing compelling content and developing web sites through Legion Web Design.

For you it might be putting your passion for digital photography to work by selling your images at one of many virtual photography marketplaces. Or if you’re good at playing an instrument, you can create online instructional courses and offer private lessons conducted via virtual sessions to generate income while doing something you enjoy.  With an ever expanding base of online users, there’s virtually no limits to making money off something you enjoy.

While there are plenty of sites that focus specifically on each one of these methods of making money online, I believe it’s best to create your own online platform to act as sort of a home base in addition to using 3rd party outposts (like Google + or ClickBank) to increase your reach.

I can think of at least three reasons why you need to have your own online platform instead of relying on someone else’s website or platform to promote yourself.

1. Take Charge of Your Visitor’s Experience

To me, the most important reason to have your own online platform is to take charge over your visitor’s experience. If you have a blog hosted by a 3rd party (like WordPress.org or Blogger), you’re limited by the terms of service of those services. In my opinion, a visitor’s experience is the 2nd most important aspect of your online platform (right behind having something valuable to offer, like content).

To get the most out of your online platform, you can either code your site from scratch (which is cumbersome and time consuming, assuming you know how) or use a self-hosted platform powered by the most powerful and popular content management system (CMS) of all time – WordPress.

Having your own self-hosted WordPress platform gives you the ability to sell goods and services, accept payments, have membership options, promote forum discussions, and much, much more. The best part of it is that you don’t need to have any technical skill to pull this off. Plugins and pre-coded scripts are readily available to accomplish just about anything you could possibly imagine, and many of them are free. If you run into an problem, you can just Google it and you’re bound to find a forum discussion or YouTube video about whatever it is you need to accomplish.

By having so many options and the ability to build out your platform to your hearts content, you’re able to have complete control of your visitor’s experiences from the time they arrive at your site to the time they become paying customers or raving fans!

2. Build and Engage Your Audience – On Your Terms

The second reason to develop your own online platform is to build and engage your audience on your own terms. Social channels like Facebook and Google + are great ways to drive traffic to your online platform, but having your own platform to grow and engage your audience will always beat using someone 3rd party platform.

 

Let’s say you exclusively use one or more Facebook fan pages to promote your product or service.

Plenty of people (successfully) use this strategy and are able to generate a good amount of income just from Facebook traffic. But what if, in the not too distant future, Facebook’s shareholders are dissatisfied with falling ad revenues and propose selling more private data to try and increase revenue. In response to this, there’s a public backlash and millions of people swear off Facebook and close their accounts.

The same marketers who were exclusively using Facebook to generate income would have to scramble to either 1) throw together a site to try and capture as much of that former Facebook traffic as possible, or 2) start over at another social platform. Both options require time and energy to get right and neither one guarantees success.

If, on the other hand these same marketers would have used Facebook while simultaneously driving traffic to their online platform, the Facebook backlash wouldn’t have nearly as much of an impact.

In short – you can only control your visitor’s experience if you own the platform they’re visiting.

3. Unlimited Opportunity for Growth

The final point looks to the future and is only limited by your imagination and ambition. An example of this concept is CopyBlogger.

In case you’re one of the few folks who’s not already a Copyblogger customer or visitor, Copyblogger is a content marketing company that started in 2006 as a blog and has grown from a $1,000 startup into a multi-million dollar software and training organization.

They help teach the ins and outs of crafting great content and have expanded into other niches.  Copyblogger created the highly successful Genesis framework (which also powers Income Ideas), as well as multiple ebooks and training courses.

My point is this amazing growth over the years would not have been possible if Copyblogger had limited themselves to just a blog. Instead, they carefully cultivated a complete online platform from which they were able to branch off and offer a number of valuable goods and services to their visitors.

Summary

I sincerely hope I’ve done a good enough job of explaining this valuable, yet abstract concept so that it impacts the way you think about your virtual platforms going forward.

It’s an exciting and huge step forward to stop limiting yourself to thinking about your “website” or “blog” and instead, realizing the unlimited potential for your online platform to build your reputation and sell your goods or services. This concept works across every possible niche and online money making idea out there. Whether you want to operate your own ecommerce store or promote a unique service that you’re able to offer, you need to have your own online platform. If you don’t know how to build one, check out Legion Web Design and I’d be happy to help get you started.

This post isn’t complete without your input – do you have an online platform of your own? Why or why not? Drop me a comment below to let me know what’s on your mind!