Saturday, November 26, 2011

Church Videos

I have temporary access to high speed internet and can stream YouTube and Vimeo videos; So, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the creations of the local community.

Local church groups and ministries have started streaming video. Some are highly polished works. For example, The River Church of Durango has hired two of the leading intellectuals of Southern Colorado to come out of the mountains and explain up the weekly events at the church, accompanied by banjo and guitar.

Not all churches have access to such gifted prowess, and are doing simple things like posting videos of sermons and church activities.
For the Christmas Season, I will concentrate on carols and church videos for the communities in community color.

I am listing videos at random. I hope no-one feels put off because I missed their church group or video stream.

hmmmm, It would be nice to make my temporary access to high speed internet permanent. On that note. Vann's is the best place to get consumer electronics ... like video equipment.

Yesterday, I was fortunate to be accepted in the affiliate program. I really like this site. They have a good price point and free shipping on three basic styles of earphones: earbuds, behind the ear and full headphones. It is a product that I am likely buy. Here is the link.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Back Up for Black Friday

The Community Color sites came back online at 2:00 AM. I've been checking things out and the sites appear stable.

I loaded coupons into the directory. The site lists all of the Black Friday coupons.

My webhost claimed there was a hard drive failure yesterday. So far, the cloud server has proven less stable than their standard discount hosting server.

I wish everyone a happy Black Friday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Open Technical Support?

Dang. My web sites are down again.

Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if a webhost tried to give technical support online?

The clients would be YELLING at the webhost while the marketers at the webhost would be doing all that they can to misdirect and spin the support calls to fit current marketing plans.

Opening a technical support call to public scrutiny would do nothing but destroy the ability of the people needing technical support to communicate with the support provider.

A technical support call is best performed in private. A frustrated client calls some poor stiff being forced to work Thanksgiving Night to complain about a web outage.

An open technical support call simply could not work.

I need to let people know that the cloud server hosting the Community Color sites crashed again today. They've been offline for the last six hours. The ETA is 3:00AM ... but is likely to be later.

An outage on Black Friday will be terrible for me. Because of all the previous outages, the income of the sites fell off the cliff. I made only $6 from Nov 1-Nov 24. I was really hoping to make something on Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

I had actually spent several hours loading the site with coupons and sale notices in a desparate attempt to save the sites.

When the sites went down, I thought about logging into a hosting forum and venting against my webhost.

But nothing good could possibly come from such a public train wreck.

My petty little complaint is that people won't see my listing of coupons on Black Friday. So What?

So instead of venting against the people forced to work Thanksgiving Day, I started to think about the absurd expectations we have about the word "open."

From the "open society" to "open source." "Open" is the buzzword of the day. Yet, excessive openess simply destroys the ability to communicate.

It my tech support call, I simply wished the workers a Happy Thanksgiving and asked for information on the outage.

There is no point in venting at a person who is working a really lousy shift.

I tried imagining the same communication on a public forum like Twitter .... it simply could not have worked.

An attempt to have "open" technical support would be absurd ... perhaps most of the ideas surrounding the buzzword "open" are absurd as well.

Anyway, Community Color is down again. I don't know when it will be back up.

The silly little coupons are also on the site  (which is hosted by a different company). I wish the world a Happy Thanksgiving. Let's hope I am back online tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Note on Affiliate Marketing

For the last several weeks, I've been working on my affiliate links while fretting about whether or not the web site will make ends meet this holiday season.

I've spent a great deal of time on affiliate marketing because I think it is an honorable form of income.

Affiliate marketing is a simple game played between web sites. In affiliate marketing, web sites with a product to sell pay a portion of the sale to an affiliate web site that refers traffic.

It is a simple structure that holds the promise of distributing money through our social networks and web development efforts.

The major affiliate networks list over 10,000 merchants actively engaged in mass affiliation. There are thousands more engaged in private deals.

There are millions of web sites engaged in the market. So, it is a big thing.

Sadly, the market has a dark side with slimy operators pulling every trick in the book to steal commissions and engage in anti-market activity.

For example, parasiteware is a class of computer programs designed to steal commissions. Most of the browser helper objects and toolbars you find in cyberspace were designed to get commissions on sales. There are hosts of adware programs that infect computers like viruses in order to grab commissions.

WARNING: Many of the "anti-adware" products on the market are, themselves, adware.

There is good and bad in every industry. The way to improve things is to openly promote the good things we find and to steer clear of the bad things.

This is what I've been trying to do with the Community Color project. I want to make a living by emphasizing the good side of things.

In the early days of the Internet, I feared that big national sites would dominate and effectively crowd out local web development.

So, I decided to combine affiliate marketing with tools to promote local web development.

I put a quarterly summary my affiliate stats on the page:

The Community Color sites have had tens of millions of page views. From 2002 to Q3 2011, I sent 587,000 hits to affiliated merchants and have a reported income of $53,000.

The report shows I make an average of $1500 a quarter. A full time job at minimum wage is over $3700 per quarter.

This year I made the foolish mistake of upgrading to a cloud hosting account. I also invested in a smartphone hoping to learn about the mobile market. I increased my expenses to $500 a quarter.

The cloud account crashed in August. I had 6 weeks of down time during which I lost most of my inbound links. My income fell to under a $100 a month. (gulp). From November 1 to November 21, I've sent 1856 hits to affiliated merchants, but only made $2.32 in commissions. (I made $3.84 today bringing my monthly income to $6.32. (gulp)

Because of the crash, I've been working furiously on trying to fix the income structure of the project. I've increase the number of affiliate links. The page shows the percent of affiliate to standard links. Yes, I call the page slime because my progressive friends consider any action that makes money to be slime.

The slime report shows that community directories tend to have a low ratio of affiliate to regular links. 4.2% of the links in Salt Lake Sites go to affiliated merchants.

Newer sites like have a higher percent of links because I decided to add the affiliate links first.

The bottom line of the report says the directory has 22525 links with 2747 going to merchant web sites. That's about 12% of the links.

This directory structure sends a ton of traffic to community services and small web sites. Close to 90% of the traffic goes to free stuff.

Community stuff is good, but I happen to believe that making money is a good as well.

Look at the chaos that ensued after the financial collapse. In many ways, I believe that the web sites that have viable business models and make money do more for the community than those that are simply excercises in free expression.

Because of the web site crash that took place in August, I've been burning the midnight oil working on affiliate links.
I believe that affiliate marketing is a good thing that could help provide additional income to people in the middle class.

I think that affiliate marketing is something that we should promote, and not shun.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Four Thousand Reviews

I temporarily have access to high speed internet; so I am taking full advantage of every megabyte per second and am rapidly expanding my sites. It used to take 20 minutes to download a 5 minute YouTube video. I can now stream most of the videos.

The goal of Community Color is to promote local web development in the Mountain West. A large number of people are creating and uploading videos.

So, i am scouring YouTube, WelcomeMatt and Vimeo for local videos and posting them in the Site Review section of my site. These reviews serve as the base for the site's RSS feeds.

I just looked at my stats which say that I currently have 3999 site reviews up. These reviews have received 2,533,845 page views. That's an average of 633 views per review.

For the most part the reviews are randomly selected web sites. Some of the reviews are for ecommerce sites with a local connection.

I tend to favor custom coded sites and those that have produced videos or social media content. I am concentrating on Utah, Colorado and Arizona. The mobi optimized page shows just the You Tube videos by community.

Youtube is overloaded with new videos about the Occupy movement. I've embedded a few dozen occupy videos on the site, but politics is not the primary focus of the community color project, and I apologize to those who think there should be more.

Anyway, the goal of this project is to create RSS feeds filled with a diversity of interesting local links. Currently, the project looks at 40 different communities. Each RSS feed shows a new link about once a week.

I am attempting to fund the project with the Store of the Day program on LinksAlive. This page shows a link to an ecommerce store. My hope is to create a financially viable structure that can help promote community centric web development. My long term hope is to some day make enough to hire a minimum wage clerk to write the reviews.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Site Reviews by Month

I added state level web sites to Community Color to help group the town sites, and things are working out well.

I wanted each site to have an RSS feed. RSS feeds are for periodical posts like newspaper articles and blog posts. So, I created a "Site of the Day" review program that would highlight one site a day. A site a day is too much work.

You can add the RSS feed for your town's directory and you will occasionally see a link to a local web (or local store). I just made calendars that show the reviews for an entire state. Here are the three pages:
I am essentially creating a system of nested and interconnected calendars. The site reviews connect with the primary event calendars for each town.

My hope is to fund the project with the Store of the Day which presents an affiliate site each day.

The reviews are pretty much random. Basically, if I feel like writing a review when I first find the site, I write a review.

I like to review sites that have YouTube or Vimeo videos because then I can embed the content in the reviews to make them more interesting. If I had time, I would end up making all sites a site of the day. But time is limited.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

User Experience v. SEO

I read a fun article on SEO Experts to Avoid.

The article criticizes conversion experts turned SEO.

Search Engine Optimization SEO is all about trying to get free traffic from search engines. We all love to play the system and get something for nothing, however, it is a market that can easily go away.

Search engines are still king, but are only one source of traffic. This is especially true with local marketing where local printed ads still bring more traffic than international search engines.

Everytime Google changes its algorithm, there is teeth nashing on WeberMaster World as the SEO experts find their page ranks change.

The web designer who concentrates on user experience first will create a design that is valuable to the user regardless of the source of the traffic.

IMHO, the best web designer is the person who designs for the web site users but who is attentative enough to SEO to avoid big SEO mistakes.

The biggest problems with "Conversion Experts" is that they often fail to give any due consideration to SEO. For example, a flash site might have no keywords and the search engines never index them. Having an HTML navigation structure that navigates to the flash pages solves this.

IMHO: Small sites going for competitive keywords are better off concentrating on usability, then using traditional advertising or buying online traffic than competing for an overcrowded keyword.

In conclusion, I would say the best approach for web design is to consider the Free Search Engine traffic to be just one element of advertising and to avoid any SEO expert that wants to make free search engine treffic the primary focus of a web site.