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PostJoint Review: Guest Blogging Platform

PostJoint ReviewThis is my PostJoint Review. PostJoint is a new platform that brings bloggers and promoters together through content marketing. I like the idea of the site – there are plenty of blogs that are looking for high quality content and plenty of bloggers/internet marketers/SEO consultants and other marketers looking to promote a business through guest blogging. PostJoint tries to bring these two parties together.

I can see the utility of such a tool. The site is still in beta, and it would be very interesting to follow the site through its evolution, which it seems to be doing fast. I don’t want to be too harsh with my PostJoint review at this point of time, because I want to give them the benefit of doubt when I find any feature lacking. That being said, it is all about providing value to both the parties – bloggers should be able to find great content and marketers should be able to find great blogs.

How PostJoint Works

Before delving into the full review, just a quick introduction about how PostJoint works. If you know it already, feel free to skip this section.

The way PostJoint works is that a marketer or anyone who wants to promote her website or even her brand creates a piece of content. She then posts it on PostJoint and waits for offers. Several bloggers who are ready to post this content, make an offer to publish the piece of content on their website. The site currently allows up to 5 offers. Once you get 5 offers, you can now choose which one to accept. Some are free and for some the marketer pays a fee to get the content published.

If the marketer doesn’t like the 5 offers she receives, she can go back to the drawing board and resubmit the article for new offers and also make any modifications she might like. The process repeats.

As of now, in beta, PostJoint is free to join for both bloggers and marketers. This might change in the near future though as the site gains more traction. If I had to give them one advice, it would be not to rush through the process of asking people for money to sign up and instead first make a good following of bloggers and marketers and then start charging for some premium service.

PostJoint Review: The Good

  • Ease and Convenience: Traditionally, finding guest posting opportunities is a lot of work. You need to do a lot of research and dig deep into several blogs to find an active blog that accepts guest posts. For the bloggers, they don’t have a very good way to get paid for guest posts on their blogs unless some advertiser contacts them directly. PostJoint solves both these problems through their platform. Granted, you still need to do your homework because not all blogs are on PostJoint, but it is a great place to start and I find it promising. Also, I am not aware of any other site with the same idea (if you do, please let me know in the comments).
  • Ability to Reach out to Multiple Blogs: PostJoint allows you to discover a number of blogs and create content for them. If you are willing to pay for your post to be published on another blog, as SEO marketers might be, then you have an ever wider array of options. In fact, you can create a lasting and working relationship with a blog in your niche through PostJoint. As a content marketer, you don’t need to worry about spending all your time on finding where to post and instead concentrate more on the content itself. That’s a big advantage.
  • Text and Signature Links: PostJoint allows for two links per article and they are not restricted in the signature. In fact, some of the posts that I have personally submitted don’t have a link in my signature but instead have both the links in the body of the article because that’s where I thought there would be maximum benefit for me. Obviously you want the links to be relevant but I like the fact that you have the ability to include links in the body of the post. Compare this to something like article marketing at EzineArticles where you are only allowed links in the signature (they sometimes allow no-follow links in the body).
  • Bloggers can Make Money: I think it is a very good avenue for bloggers to make money from their blogs and can help diversify online income streams. Don’t overlook this fact – so far, PostJoint has attracted blogs that aren’t “there yet” and don’t have tens of thousands of visitors a day. Through posting good content, they might be able to make some money off posting good content that they need for their blog anyway. Of course your blog should be good enough that the marketer would want to pay to be featured there, but you can always start off small. In addition, if you don’t mind guest posts, you can rinse and repeat and accept multiple guest posts for your blog and thus make a steady income stream (this will be the case if there are more marketers than bloggers).
  • Quick, Easy and Diverse Backlinks: What really attracts me to PostJoint is that it is really quick. You don’t have to craft weird search queries in Google to find blogs that accept guest posts (although the site is small now and doesn’t have too many bloggers in all different niches but I am hoping that will change in the future). Niches of internet marketing, blogging and SEO have a good number of blogs already. For marketers, they can get as diverse a set of backlinks as they like by publishing content relevant to any industry they like. They are also getting real backlinks from different sites which is always helpful for search engines.

 

PostJoint Review: The Bad

Let me start this section by saying that PostJoint has posted on their blog about improvements in the future and so some of these might be improved or fixed then. I don’t want to concentrate on minor details but on the bigger picture.

  • Quality of Participating Blogs: This is a serious problem, and I understand the site is relatively new and hopefully in the future the quality of participating blogs might improve. However, it is a serious impediment to real growth. I have had offers from publishers who want to publish my post for $50 and their website is, in all aspects of traffic and quality, far inferior to this blog. That doesn’t add up. I can provide really high quality content to the participating blogs (I’ve even published on ProBlogger, so I know my content). However, I don’t want to provide my best quality content to inferior blogs, even if for free. There are options, even though it could be harder work. Also, I found that blogs are very concentrated in the making money online category and not so many in other categories.
  • Lack of Control Over Offers: I don’t like the lack of control as to who I want to get offers from. For example, I might not be willing to pay more than $30 for publishing my post on a blog, or someone else might want it only for free because she believes her content is of very high quality. Also, they might want to limit the niches of blogs – I have gotten publishing offers from a cooking blog when I wrote about SEO!
  • Limited Scope: I don’t think PostJoint is still an open and fair marketplace for guest bloggers. This is because of several reasons. For instance, I, as a content provider, am not able to charge blogs for publishing my content. I think this sounded “wrong” to them, but as a writer, I can definitely provide something very unique to the participating blogs and if they are not popular enough or cannot benefit my blog enough, I want to be able to charge them. Also, content provides are not able to register as bloggers/publishers right now, which seems too restrictive because I would like to be able to both write for other blogs and get backlinks and also be able to feature some others’ work on my own blog.

I think it will be an interesting journey for PostJoint from here on. It is still new and there are issues to iron out and they are aware of it. However, if they can do it right, I believe they can be pretty successful. Post Google penguin (to some extent even panda), the importance and appeal of guest blogging is only going to increase. It is a nice void to fill. The only question is, can PostJoint do it right.

Have you joined PostJoint? What has your experience been with them so far?

Photo Credit: Tetra Pak

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Pros and Cons of Multiple Blogs

Pros and Cons of Multiple Blogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the pros and cons of having multiple blogs? As bloggers, we like to create. It is not unusual for bloggers to write in two or more completely different niches because they like both these areas. This is as true of small bloggers as the top names in the industry (Darren Rowse has two blogs, both one of the most popular ones in their niche: ProBlogger and Digital Photography School). There is no reason you can’t do the same. Besides, we all have varied interests and we like to blog about different things.

However, having multiple blogs obviously can spread you too thin – we have limited time and probably cannot do justice to all blogs if there are too many. Here are some pros and cons of having multiple blogs –

Pros of Multiple Blogs

1. Different Topics/Interests

We all have several interests that we would like to blog about. If you have just one blog about fashion and now want to write about cooking, chances are your audience will find the content being diluted because they are on your blog for fashion not cooking (not that this cannot be done, as Cupcakes and Cashmere has shown, but that’s how the blog started off).

When you have something to contribute in two dissimilar fields (think finance and gardening for instance), you’ll need multiple blogs. When you think you can be a pro-blogger in each field, there is all the more incentive to try to create multiple blogs that you can monetize, which can potentially increase your income.

2. Diversification of Income

When you have multiple blogs, it is easier to diversify your income. Investment 101 states that you should diversify. This is also true of your online income opportunities. When you diversify, there is a lower chance of you being affected. For example, one of your blogs could be a great success but most of the traffic is from Google. If Google changes their algorithm, you can literally lose half the traffic overnight. No, bigger sites are not immune to this either – just ask EzineArticles.Or one of the monetization methods might not work anymore (think Amazon affiliates in California) and might affect one blog disproportionately.

By having multiple blogs, you know that such impacts can be limited or minimized. Things that can adversely impact one blog might not do so to the other. You are not putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, you are relying on a bunch of blogs to provide you with smaller income streams, each of which can potentially be scaled up.

3. Numbers Game

A lot of success stories are numbers’ games. Yes, there is skill but there is also luck. If you have multiple blogs, then there is a higher probability of one of them taking off and becoming highly successful. However, even if you are an expert in one field and start to blog about it, that is no guarantee of success.

Several pro-bloggers manage more than one digital property. If your first blogging experience is a huge success, good for you. If not, you can always start another one and keep trying until one of the blogs becomes immensely popular.

It is always hard to predict success in blogging. The landscape is in a constant state of flux and easily keeps changing form. So if you have more blogs, that increases your odds of success.

4. Out-of-the-Box Problem Solving

As much as I would like to tell you that all blogging is essentially the same – you write something that provides value to readers – the truth is, every niche is very unique in its own way. Once you seriously blog in one niche, you’ll learn all the tricks and techniques that bloggers use to succeed. However, since you own multiple blogs, you can now learn about several different niches.

You can apply things you learn from one blog to another and keep experimenting. Your repertoire of tools to help you succeed have just multiplied. And indeed each niche is unique. Fashion blogs seldom have a lot of written content but are very beautifully created and contain a ton of photographs. The opposite is true for blogs in the niche of internet marketing.

You can learn from every niche and then experiment what might work in a different niche. Remember that you are an insider and outsider at the same time, which is a great position to be in.

5. Learning and Networking Opportunities

Never underestimate the chances of random connections. You might get an opportunity of a lifetime through a source that had nothing to do with your field. May be your travel reader is also a successful entrepreneur who wants to learn more about promoting his business online. You’ll never know.

When you blog in multiple niches, your circle of friends, connections and acquaintances increases and these circles can seem very disparate. However, you will be surprised by how connections are made. If you have your spheres of influence and can act to make connections among these circles, you are already on your way to forming greatly helpful relationships for the future.

Cons of Multiple Blogs

1. Limited Time

You have limited time to spend on your blogs. You probably have other engagements or a full-time job or school to attend. Time is always a constraining factor. If you have multiple blogs, then you get to spend smaller amounts of time on each. This could actually hamper the progress of your blog.

There are certain things you really need to do in order to promote your blog. For example, you might want to comment on similar blogs to gain some readers. However, if you have multiple blogs, then the time you can spend doing this decreases for each blog.

2. Not Taking Your Blog Seriously

It is human nature to look for escape routes. This is why cutting off escape routes can actually result in giving your 100% to a project. If you have multiple blogs, you can easily slack off, telling yourself “if this one fails, I have another one to work on”. However, if you don’t have that excuse, then you will spend all your creative energies into making your one blog successful.

—Slack off – if not this blog, then I have another blog that might succeed!

3. Thinking of Costs

Time is not the only cost associated with a blog. There are real costs of being successful as a blogger, depending on the niche. Domain, hosting, images, attending industry events, buying things to review, etc. are all potential costs that can add up based on which industries you blog in. Also, you might want to hire a (logo) designer, programmer or writer to further your blog as a business. All these are costs you should be aware of.

4. Losing Focus is Easy

When you have multiple blogs to write and worry about, you can easily lose focus. There are lots of little things a blog needs to grow beyond the initial cocoon and ultimately make a decent amount of money. It is hard to keep track of all this when you have several blogs. It does get easier with time though – you learn to chalk out a blueprint that works best for you.

Still, sometimes you just need to spend a substantial amount of time on blog, experiment, learn, rinse and repeat to truly make it successful and work.

5. Single Authority Blog is Powerful

Even though there is an advantage of having 10 blogs earning you $100/month instead of 1 blog earning you $1000/month, a bigger blog can have several advantages that a small blog just cannot have. A big, successful blog is a whole business of its own. It has authority. You can be quoted in newspapers and magazines about your blog. You are a brand in yourself. You can get speaking assignments in industry conventions. The potential to grow into something substantial is huge. There are real rewards for wanting to own a blog that is a pioneer in your industry. This is easier to do with one focused blog rather than several smaller blogs.

What are your thoughts on having multiple blogs? Do you have more than one active blog? How many? What was your experience managing them all?

Photo Credit: mosabua

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6 Point Guide to Diversifying your Online Income Streams

Online Income Streams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of online income streams that bloggers and webmasters employ. Some find great success with one method and stick with it. However, diversification is good. It means you won’t be at the mercy of one corporation or one law to make your living online. That’s not being paranoid though – look at what happened when Amazon closed its affiliate program in California. Thousands of bloggers who made almost all their income online from Amazon affiliates saw their incomes drop overnight from living income to pennies. That’s never a good thing and you ought to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen to you.

Another importance of diversifying your online income that is often overlooked is that you know what works and what doesn’t and you can direct your future efforts in that direction. It is alright to try a method of monetization and fail because that’s not what your readers want. That’s fine – it is always a good learning experience. You’ll realize that not all online income streams work for you, but you’ll get better at guessing which ones are worth the try.

So what are the different ways you can diversify your income online? Here are some ideas. Not all of them are passive, but every method can be lucrative depending on your online presence and your audience.
(write pros and cons below each)

1. Direct Advertising

Direct advertising is when you contact companies relevant to your website or blog directly and let them buy advertising space on your blog. In most cases, this is in the form of a banner, the size of which can vary greatly. Direct advertising gives advertisers a medium to reach out to your audience, and depending on how much value that can add, can be priced accordingly.

Pricing banners can be tricky and varies greatly (I wrote a post previously on how to price banners). In general, the more targeted your niche, the higher you can charge and the more engaged your audience with respect to social media shares and comments, the better you can expect to get paid. Obviously it also depends on how many impressions the banner gets – the higher the better.

Pros: Banners can be a great source of revenue and generally pays better than other advertising (e.g. see pay per click advertising below). Also, you get to form relationships in your industry that can be very useful in the long run.

Cons: Finding businesses that want to buy ad space on your digital property can be time consuming and you need to learn good negotiation skills. It is also a little more active than passive if the businesses don’t want to advertise on your blog for a long time, in which case you have to again go out and look for other businesses. Overall, this can be time consuming.

Example: If your blog is really popular, you can make a good amount of money by this method. Here is the banner pricing for Freelance Switch, the popular online blog and board for freelancers to give you an estimate. Here is John Chow, the famous dot-com blogger and his advertising rates for his blog.

2. Pay-per-click Advertising

In pay-per-click advertising, you get paid a certain amount of money every time someone clicks on a link. This means the pay is variable, unlike a banner ad. If a lot of your visitors click through to these ads, then you get paid more money.

Although there are alternatives, Google Adsense is the most popular option out there. The way it works it that you plug in a small code in your site and Google takes care of the rest – you don’t have to worry about issues like getting advertisers, pricing, etc. Ads can be configured to be text links, images, videos.

Pros: Very easy to set up and doesn’t require any work from you except the initial posting of the code on your blog. If your click through rate is high and you have a good amount of traffic, you can make good income through this method. It is one of the most passive online income streams you’ll find.

Cons: You don’t have control over what links are being displayed. Your pay is dependent on how your audience reacts to advertising – if less people click on ads, you get paid less. A lot of people use software to block ads in which case they won’t even see the advertising.

Example: Plenty of popular sites use Adsense to monetize their websites. Think of sites like EzineArticles that make hundreds of thousands of dollars through Adsense.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is both the blessing and scourge of the internet. You need to do this absolutely right to make it sustainable and for it to add any real value without driving away your visitors. Affiliate marketing is promoting products to your readers that might appeal to them. You get paid only when they complete a purchase and you get paid a certain percentage of the sale.

For digital products, ClickBank is one of the best sources of finding products to promote. Commission Junction has a lot of businesses in the online and offline world.

Amazon Affiliates is a special category in itself, being a program from Amazon, the largest online retailer. Amazon affiliates has the lowest percentage commissions per sale, but the conversions are usually very good owing to its brand popularity. Also, Amazon affiliates is a great way to promote a book you’ve been reading.

Before you involve yourself in affiliate marketing, it is absolutely necessary that you promote the right products. Since there can be a conflict of interest with your role as a blogger who wants to provide accurate information and the marketer who wants to complete a sale, you need to tread this area very carefully. Promote only the products that you have personally used and can vouch for. Never ever try to promote something that will turn out to be bad for your readers but gives you good commissions. Remember, it is all about building relationships with your readers. They need to find great value in what you promote.

Pros: Can be a potential goldmine depending on how well your recommendations work and how much your audience trusts you. Many bloggers make the major chunk of their income from affiliate marketing and can be far more effective than pay per click or banner advertising.

Cons: If you recommend bad products, you’ll lose your authority. Also, you don’t get paid until the sale is completed, which means you get nothing for impressions and clicks, which can be frustrating especially for beginners.

Example: Pat from Smart Passive Income shares his income reports every month. For October 2012, you can see his income report which shows affiliate sales at just under $39,000. Yes, that’s for one month alone. Yes, affiliate marketing can be lucrative. No, it isn’t typical (unfortunately!)

4. Freelancing on the Side

This isn’t passive income, but can be good income nevertheless. Generating significant passive income from your blog can take time and isn’t something everyone can do. However, taking your blog as a starting point, it is much easier to enter the freelancing world which can mean very lucrative assignments if you do it right.

You can work as a freelancer for specific skills, like a web-programmer, writer or graphic designer. However, don’t feel limited by these. If you are really good at something that doesn’t fit the traditional job routes, you can always consult for some of the bigger names in your industry and help them understand the market and position themselves better.

Pros: Higher pay for a lot of bloggers than waiting on passive income, immediate income stream. It is also a great way to brand yourself and your blog and get your name out there.

Cons: It isn’t passive and getting freelance assignments isn’t always trivial. Depending on what you do, it can be tough at times.

Example: Oni of YoungPrePro easily earns a 5 figure income just from freelance writing, mostly supported through his blog which is quite popular as well. It is a great way to leverage your skills.

5. Paid Social Media Campaigns

If you have a huge social media following, brands and businesses will be willing to spend money to promote to your list. It is not just about the numbers though, although numbers certainly help. If you write in a very targeted niche and your followers are passionate about what you write and show a level of engagement, you don’t need tens of thousands of followers to make a decent amount of money through this method. Twitter is the favored medium of social media advertising, although feel free to break such rules.

When you are doing this, be sure that you don’t alienate your audience and sound hypocritical. This is very important – there are enough such gaffes already in the celebrity world, the most recent being when Oprah pitched Microsoft Surface, tweeting from her iPad! Please avoid such blatant mishaps, else you’ll lose your credibility – that’s more important for bloggers than celebrities. This can be a good addition to your online income streams even if you don’t have a huge following like Oprah because it is so simple to do.

Pros: Once you have followers, you can promote multiple products without overdoing it.

Cons: You don’t want to lose your followers by pushing it too much and sounding like a salesman. It can also reduce your overall quality of engagement with your audience. You need a strong number of followers to really make decent money.

Example: Freelance Switch has about 40,000 Twitter followers and they charge $200 for a sponsored Tweet (http://buysellads.com/buy/detail/107/zone/1272970). My best guess is their followers are semi-targeted in the niche. If your blog is more targeted, you can get away with fewer followers.

6. Creating your own Product and Selling Online

Creating your own product that helps people solve their problems is a highly rewarding thing in itself. Every creator feels great when their brainchild is being used by people and provides them with helpful solutions. It isn’t easy to do though. However, if you can sell your own product to your audience who find value in it, that can be a source of great online passive income.

What you create will be up to you, but most people prefer a digital version of their knowledge and expertise. This can be in the form of an eBook that people can purchase or an online course or forum where you personally help people out. You can sweeten the deal by scheduling an online Skype call with your members for a set amount of time (though it isn’t completely passive again, but that shouldn’t deter you) where you can directly speak with them and help them out.

Pros: It is highly satisfying and something you create yourself and can be a nice source of passive income. It is also possible to let others promote this for you through affiliate marketing so you pay them a commission on every sale they make for you. Once you have enough engaged readers, this can scale up nicely.

Cons: Needs a lot of initial work and the quality needs to be top-notch. You need to genuinely know what you are talking about.

Example: Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing does this very well. She’s an expert in her field and has created digital properties that she sells through The Freelance Writers Den.

Update: Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has written a really nice article about whether it is practical/realistic to make money blogging and there are ideas about how others do it. Read it here.

Photo Credit: Newton Free Library

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5 Places to Find Freelance Writing Gigs

Freelance Writing GigsYou can find freelance writing gigs in a number of places that you wouldn’t normally suspect. Finding them is an art and a science, so follow these steps and you can find some really good freelance writing gigs. If you are serious about being a freelance writer, you should probably ‘graduate’ from these writing gigs soon. However, there is no harm looking for short-term gigs that provide you with an immediate income. You might just find this freelance writing gig turn into a long-term project or may be it improves your writing portfolio or simply gives you an income boost.

1. Freelance Marketplaces

These are the easiest places to find freelance writing gigs. They usually have a good selection of gigs, which means you have variety to choose from. The most popular freelance marketplaces are oDesk and Elance but there are also alternatives if you like.

Job boards essentially provide the same features except they usually have a one-time fee as opposed to a percentage of a project’s worth and don’t handle payment, so it can mean higher risk to the freelancer.

Pros: High number of gigs, easy to apply to, variety of jobs, based on feedback system so good for long-timers, flexibility with respect to working on a project on your own terms.

Cons: High competition, quality and pay of jobs can be lower, you need to pay commission to the marketplace, hard to enter into the system (due to feedback system).

2. Craigslist

Did you cringe already? Don’t! I’ve seen surprisingly good quality and genuine job posts on Craigslist and have personally worked on a few freelance writing gigs posted on Craigslist and had a great experience. Of course, you need to be aware of potential scams, so use your best judgement. Even though it doesn’t have the best reputation, give this a try. If you don’t live in a big city, you can certainly look for other places like New York that accept remote work. These will be fewer but definitely exist.

Look for these in two sections – writing/editing section under Jobs category and writing section under Gigs category. For example, if you’re from New York, these sections would be writing jobs and writing gigs.

Pros: Can be surprisingly good quality, immediate interaction with the person or team mostly being from the same city, localized writing gigs can be highly suited and pay better (jobs that cannot be outsourced, like attending a local event and writing about it), ability to form local connections for future work, higher degree of trust in a local business with direct interaction with the business.

Cons: Not the best reputation, higher probability of a spam posting, limited variety of jobs, smaller cities don’t have as many job postings (and not all jobs can be done remotely).

3. Paying Guest Blogging

There are quite a few blogs that pay for guest posts. You need to find one in your niche and then contribute to it. For example, I have written articles for Freelance Switch in the past which has a paid guest blogging program, paying $50 per post.

Pros: No research time needed for finding the freelance writing gig, easy to build a portfolio.

Cons: High quality and well researched articles required which can take time, limited in scope, finding the blogs can be an initial hurdle.

4. Regular Blogs you Read

Always look out for opportunities. If you have any favorite blogs and websites that you visit often, chances are, you already know the style and content they expect from their writers and therefore you can easily contribute your own article. Even if these sites are not explicitly looking for a guest blogger, many will accept if you pitch a good idea to them. This is quite an under-utilized method but works very well with several blogs.

Pros: Highly specialized articles and thus better paying (usually), can create a portfolio, can lead to longer and more interesting projects, networking and building relationships in your field.

Cons: Can be hit or miss, need time researching, limited in scope of blogs and websites that you regularly read.

5. Let Them Find You!

This is actually one of the best ways you can find some really great freelance writing gigs. Just get your name out there, produce high quality content, sit back, relax and wait for the emails to come pouring in. Well, that’s too optimistic, but you get the point. If you can get your work out there, through guest posting or through your own blog and let potential employers see your work, you may be contacted directly for some freelance work or gigs.

Guest blogging is quite a powerful technique here. It is also important to have your own freelance writer website so potential employers can contact you directly. Your website should contain some samples, portfolio, and contact information at the very least. You can make it as colorful as you like.

Pros: No direct work from your side, better bargaining position with respect to pay and other details.

Cons: Need a long term strategy, less control over types of gigs.

Photo Credit: koalazmonkey

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Solavei Review: Scam or Great Deal?

Solavei ReviewThis Solavei review isn’t written to try to convert you or win you over, but just an objective overview of what Solavei is, cutting through the marketing gimmicks and giving you the bare facts. I came across Solavei through a friend and it seemed like an interesting concept, so I thought I should write a Solavei review and share with my readers.

What is Solavei?

Solavei is a Seattle based start-up backed by some heavy names, led by former former Congressman Rick White and former Motricity CEO Ryan Wuerch. It counts several tech names as investors, including the former CEO of AOL and vice president of Kindle at Amazon.

Essentially, Solavei is a way for you to get mobile service for cheap in the United States (sorry other readers!) and probably soon in Canada. For $49/month, you get unlimited text, calls and data on T-mobile phone service. The best feature? No contract! This is huge for people in the US who know how annoying a two year contract can be. Also, at $49/mo, this is cheaper than most other services. For instance, I pay around $75/mo for my Verizon service.

So far so good. However, this is available as a regular deal on T-mobile as well. You have to pay a one-time fee of $49 if you go through Solavei and not through T-mobile directly. So why would you want to do that? Earning potential.

Solavei works on a multi-level marketing basis which means if you refer friends or others and they join your network, you get paid. This can be great, or at the same time, awful. Personally for me, $49/mo is a great deal for unlimited voice and data, but I don’t want to go out and shout about this to all my friends just yet simply because multi-level marketing has such a shady reputation. I don’t know which category you fall under. However, I don’t want to bias my Solavei review with a multi-level marketing review, so I’ll leave that up for discussion in the comments.

Is Solavei a Pyramid Scheme?

It is actually hard to tell, because the company is so new. However, it has already raised $3.6 million, so I don’t think it is going to the ground anytime soon. The business model actually (and surprisingly) seems pretty legit. $49/month for unlimited talk, text and data is a good deal no matter what. Even if you strip away all the other ‘make money referring your friends’ part of the business, this is still a good deal. Period.

Up to now, it doesn’t seem that Solavei is a pyramid scheme. The main problem with real pyramid schemes is that it is usually very hard to tell until it is too late. However, in this case, your downside risk is very limited – the most you can lose is getting a $49/mo phone connection which isn’t shabby at all. At this point, my Solavei review research doesn’t give me a strong reason to believe that this is a pyramid scheme. There aren’t any ‘obvious red flags’ in my eyes yet.

The above being said, I am not sure how the money is coming into Solavei. If T-mobile offers essentially the same deal directly, then they cannot be making a ton of money off of each deal. They are promising a generous payout for the members which seems to exceed the economic success. I don’t know if they are using the money they got from venture funding to provide this payout – in that case, it is definitely a pyramid scheme and you should steer clear. If you have more information about this, I would love to hear.

Is Solavei Scam?

Solavei doesn’t appear to be a scam. They have raised money and have some good entrepreneurs backing their venture. If this catches up, it can be huge. There is good potential in cheap phones without contracts in the United States and Solavei fills a nice gap that consumers have always wanted. Again, I don’t know how the payout is going to be sustainable – if it is not, then it is a very bad deal but if it is, I think that’s a sweet deal (read the paragraph above).

In my view, if you are serious about MLM or just want to save some money and probably think about referring friends and family in the future, Solavei can actually be a good deal. Remember that this is a T-mobile reseller, so it doesn’t matter if the company fails tomorrow (I hope it doesn’t, but I am just stating your downside risk) because you still have your phone connection (sans the promises of becoming a thousandaire!)

Again, you don’t have to join Solavei for making money. You can just join it to get a good deal on your phone, and if things work out, you might just make some passive income on the side when you refer friends. If not, you got your great bargain anyway. I want to base my Solavei review on the fact that there is limited downside risk and very good upside potential, which is always something to consider as good.

Solavei for Marketers

Like it or not, Solavei is an MLM which means if you are a member, you join under someone. Hopefully, that someone is co-operative and honest with you about the income potential of referring people. I won’t go into the details of the Solavei compensation plan, but you can get the details here. As they advertise, if you refer 3 members, you earn $20/month (this isn’t too hard if you think about the utility of cheap phones without contracts); if you refer 12, you earn $60/month (enough to cover your phone bill and save more). You don’t have to refer them all directly – your referrals can refer their friends and you still get full credit for them. This is just from your immediate network – you earn from your extended network as well. And there are bonuses for signing up people within 90 days.

I don’t want to dilute the Solavei review with details of Solavei compensation plan (May be I’ll it later on) but suffice to say that it is interesting because you get paid every month – it isn’t a one time payment.

Success in making money with Solavei should be interesting as the company grows because it genuinely addresses a problem that people have, which is getting rid of contracts on their phones and getting good deals for their talk, text and data. I think it is well positioned to capture a good segment of the market and seems promising. It is too early in the company’s history to tell, but for marketers, this is actually a perfect time to get started because the market is so open and far from saturated.

What are your thoughts about this? What do you think about this Solavei review and what do you think about Solavei as a company? Do you think it addresses real problems or do you think it is just another scam? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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Traffic Statistics for my Blog August 2012

I thought I should share more about how my blog is doing in terms of traffic, engagement, etc. Today, I want to share with you how my blog is doing in attracting readers and which are the top posts and my takeaways from this information.

I started this blog back in May 2011. This isn’t my first blog, but I wanted to document my blogging journey and share with everyone what I learned. I kept shifting between a blogger and freelance writer. As it turns out, the posts about freelancing are actually more popular today than the other posts.

I just use Google Analytics to track the traffic and other statistics on my blog. I find it adequate and easy to use. Above all, it is free.

Traffic Statistics
Here are the traffic statistics for my blog for the month of August 2012. I had 2,485 visits and 2,052 unique visits for the month.

Blog August 2012

The above is my daily traffic report. It shows the usual fluctuations in traffic. I would prefer a more uniform higher traffic. I crossed the 100 visits/day on quite a few days, but didn’t average those many visitors. In the next few months, I hope I can achieve that goal as well.

Top Posts
Here are the top 5 visited pages on my blog:
Blog August 2012

My reviews are popular among readers of this blog. Although technically there are two reviews in the top 5 posts, the top post, which is oDesk vs. Elance, is also a sort of review. The main lesson is that when you know what you are talking about, people will read. When you can write from a position of expertise, those posts become your pillar articles, just like they do for this blog. Same goes for tips – it provides value to those looking to work freelance at any online marketplace or without one.

For those interested, here are the top 5 posts so you can read them:

1. http://geeksmakemoney.com/odesk-vs-elance/

2. http://geeksmakemoney.com/odesk-review-good-and-bad/

3. http://geeksmakemoney.com/

4. http://geeksmakemoney.com/comprehensive-peopleperhour-review/

5. http://geeksmakemoney.com/odesk-tips-for-freelancers/

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What Small Businesses Don’t “Get” about SEO

Small Business SEOIt’s funny how many small businesses have heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) without really knowing what it entails or how it can help their business.

There is no magic bullet called SEO that will make your business an overnight success. Like any success, success in SEO is never overnight. It takes time, effort, patience, right strategy, ability to handle uncertainty, monitoring progress and making sure you follow the right path. Unfortunately, most small businesses want quick, instant results when it comes to SEO. They want to double their traffic in a month. Or triple.

No wonder so many SEO companies are nothing more than snake-oil salesmen. They sell what the customer wants to buy, no matter the risks. They can get paid to show higher search traffic, but one misstep and the business can literally be wiped off the internet (aka doesn’t show up in Google. Don’t mess with big G when you’re a small business).

If you are a small business that doesn’t know about SEO, here is a quick, dirty guide to follow:

  • Never, ever, go black hat. Sure, you’ll quadruple your traffic in a month, and then you’ll fall to zero next month. The risks are too high. Besides, trust me, Google has some smart engineers working for them. They tend to know more than your average SEO company or your “brilliant black hat SEO method that Google can never detect”. Cut the BS. Don’t risk your entire business on your “genius ideas”. Think ethical SEO.
  • If you’re hiring an SEO company, know what they do. Not just you, even big businesses have no clue what their SEO firms do, but they have leverage that you don’t. Look at JC Penney – the most famous SEO gone bad scandal for a big chain. Know what you’re paying for.
  • Give up on SEO right now if you want overnight success.
  • SEO, when done right, requires a lot of hard work. It means aligning the interests of the search engine, search users and your business. This isn’t easy. It means providing the highest quality content that appeals to people who don’t want to buy from you and hopefully convert them over time. Are you ready for that investment?
  • SEO can be highly rewarding. What’s better than getting highly targeted traffic to your business, every one of them a potential buyer, all for free? If you want to reach such a coveted position, however, you will need to think long-term. There is no overnight SEO success anymore.
  • Beware the snake oil salesman. Are you being “guaranteed” success in terms of first position in Google? Run, don’t look back.
  • SEO is just another tool in your toolkit. Even if you don’t land a top Google spot, the strategies behind SEO should promote your business and get interested buyers to you nevertheless. Think powerful and useful content that people like and would want to share. How could you go wrong, even if Google ceases to exist tomorrow?
  • Learn. Learn from the better sources on the internet. Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. Know what Google wants. Learn as much as you can. At least you’ll be in a position to know what is acceptable to you and what is not. Don’t build your business around fishy techniques and shady alliances.
  • Know your business. Know how SEO fits it. It isn’t the beginning and end of any business. Purely by itself, SEO is meaningless. You need a way to convert the people who come to your site. Have a plan in place. What should the reader do after reading your awesome post?

What am I missing? What else don’t businesses get about SEO? What tips do you have for them?

Photo Credit: San Diego Shooter

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