Note from Robb: A friend of mine, Mike Davenport, shot me an email the other day asking to write up a guest post for robbsutton.com to help promote his leadership survey for an upcoming launch. Like any good friend…I said “Sure! Send it over!” So here is Mike’s guest post for robbsutton.com and you can find his survey link at the bottom of the post.

Take a quick second out of your day to take a look. It will only take a minute to fill out (you are not signing up for anything if you don’t want to).

I took off this weekend and blasted up to NYC to visit family and see some sites. Part of what we did was to take the kids to Manhattan by Water Taxi.

It wasn’t my first time on the Taxis, but by far my longest trips. After about an hour touring around a few lessons leaped out, ones that I know can help me with my online biz.

Lesson 1: Be prepared, cause you never know . . .

Looking at the Ship's LayoutAs we sat on our Taxi I noticed a plaque in the corner, by one of the doors. My son wandered over to check it out (not many folks riding). As he started reading it he yelled over, “Dad check this out. These guys were involved in the plane crash rescue.”

Sure enough, the Taxi we were on was the first boat to respond to USAir Flight 1549 that had to ditch in the Hudson. I asked one of the dock hands and he told us about the crash, and how they were right there. The ins and outs.

He told us that they were ready for such events, had plenty of gear, and although it wasn’t part of the normal day by any means they were ready.

Crazy, ready for a plane ditching in front of you! But someone had thought that through.

My learning . . .be ready for what may be weird, but COULD happen (like Google hating you one morning)

Lesson 2: Perform a valuable service.

Walking Up the RampThis photo shows not only folks getting off the Taxi but folks glad that the Taxi got them were they wanted to go, for a decent price, and did it well.

What isn’t shown is the huge line of folks behind me waiting to get on. And they were not all tourists like me. I bet a bunch were locals who relied on the Taxi’s service for their daily routine.

My learning: give more than people pay for, and do it well, and they will line up for you.

Lesson 3: There will be businesses a lot bigger than me, so find a good niche.

Cruise ShipThe cruise liner behind the Water Taxi in the photo is fully loaded with tourists traveling probably to the Caribbean. The Taxi is traveling about 1/2 mile up the river.

The liners have their business, the Taxis have theirs. Both move people, both have a niche.

My learning . . . find a dang good niche, ace what the customer needs, and provide it well.

Mike Davenport is an educator focusing on helping emerging leaders thrive in today’s wild work place. Take a snap interview and sign up for a free mini report to learn how to quickly improving your leadership skills.

Link to survey: Lightning Blog Leading

As a blogger, you are constantly looking for ways to diversify your cash generating income streams. With all of the affiliate programs out there screaming for your business as they continue to increase their portfolios and profits, which ones are you going to run and why? I am about to show you why you need to start making money online with the Amazon Associates affiliate program.

Side note: I can’t believe I just used “Make Money Online” in my blog post title. How many times do I have to say “Make Money Online” in the article to be a true wannabe affiliate marketer? There’s two in just this side note! Make Money Online…make that 3 times! Sorry…where’s my coffee again?

Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

The Amazon Associates affiliate program is attached to the largest online shopping portal, Amazon.com. With commissions ranging from 4 to over 8+ percent per sale (depending on number of items shipped), the Amazon affiliate program runs in the same commission scale as most online retailers, so why should you run Amazon over other affiliate offers? I am going to illustrate why you should at least test (the key to all affiliate promotions/advertising) the Amazon Affiliate Program and see if it will work with the audience on your blog.

Amazon.com is arguably the largest shopping portal on the net. If you can not find a product that is related to your niche on Amazon, you probably need to rethink your strategy as you are blogging to a small audience. Once you create your Amazon affiliate account and start linking on your site to relevant products to your niche through reviews or in article links, your readers click on the link and are taken to Amazon.com. You then get a 24 hour cookie period, which is unfortunately shorter than most, for that consumer to purchase ANYTHING on Amazon.com and you receive a 4 – 8+ percent commission off that sale!

Why is this a good deal for the blogger looking to make some money?

I know…the commission rate seems low, the cookie duration is drastically shorter than other online retailers (average is around 30 days), so why is the Amazon Affiliate Program a must do for a lot of bloggers? The Amazon program is a good fit for a lot of bloggers simply because Amazon is the largest shopping portal on the net. If you look at the commission diagram below, you will notice items that have absolutely nothing to do with cycling, mountain biking or even the word bike! These commissions came off of a click from my cycling blog, Mountain Biking by 198, and I received a commission off the sale.

Amazon Affilliate Commissions that Make Money OnlineI don’t know about you, but I will take commissions off of Brita replacement filters and the lego version of Indiana Jones all day long. While $1.83 and $1.20 sound like a very small amount of money, you have to realize the long term affects as these small amounts add up exponentially over time. Yes, we would all like to get $30.00 commissions with every sale (or even the $6.60 commission you get for every sale you refer to this site for Ramped Reviews), but the idea is to diversify your income streams and what easier way to do that than inserting relevant affiliate links to Amazon.com? To make things really easy on yourself as the blogger, you can purchase the MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate plugin and have it search out the keyword phrases on your blog for you.

As we continually look for ways to increase our bottom line and make more money from our blogs online, we need to test out different avenues of revenue to realize the dream of the dot com lifestyle. Testing out affiliate programs like this one from Amazon and seeing if it works with your audience on your blog is the only way you are going to realize the dreams you have set out for yourself.

Check it out…try it out…and see if it works for you…

Labeled the iPhone killer from Palm…who just happens to be losing more and more marketshare by the day to Blackberry and Apple…the Pre is supposed to be the next level of technology advancements for smart phones through the use of numerous web based apps. Other than being tied to the worst carrier available in the US (Sprint), the Pre should show some sort of promise out of the ailing Palm lineup. To launch their latest technological wonder, Palm released a series of commercials in expensive time slots.

The Monk Commercial from Palm

I am sure most of you guys have seen this Palm Pre commercial before. Other than show us fantastic monk choreography…what on Earth does this commercial do to sell their phones? One of the beautifully fantastic features of Apple and Blackberry commercials is their ability to show you the phone functioning in a unique setting. In this commercial from Palm, we are far more interested in the monks than we are the phone! In this 1:00 minute slot, the phone is featured in about 10 seconds worth of footage. Now…I don’t know about you…but that does not make any sense.

This…among other things…is why the Palm Pre will never reach the Blackberry or iPhone level. Sad too…if you would have asked any smart phone user 5 years ago about Palm…they wouldn’t have forecasted this rapid loss of smart phone market share.

If you have not gotten a chance to check out the monk/Pre commerical…here is it for your viewing pleasure. Expensive and unique commercial…just doesn’t cell phones.

In today’s online arena, eBooks are a fantastic way to build lists, generate revenue and spread your words to a large audience. eBooks can gain you reputation in a niche and bring credibility to your site in ways you never though possible while at the same time generating affiliate and direct revenue for your business. By publishing eBooks on your blog or website, you are participating in the most popular form of making money online outside of pure affiliate marketing. When you look into publishing your first or 12th eBook on your website or blog, you have to look into the options and see what kind of eBook publishing method is going to best suit your needs and end goal. When you look closely at popular eBooks, online eBook publishing falls into two basic categories.

  1. Free eBooks for performing an action
  2. Purchased eBooks

Unfortunately, for many eBook publishers, the decision on free or paid for their latest eBook is not an easy decision. Before we jump into what you should do with your eBook as you prepare to publish it to the eagerly awaiting online world, lets take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each eBook publishing method. The following article weighs the benefits and drawbacks of paid vs. free eBook publishing. As I continue to dive into eBook subject matter, we will cover eBook content and subject matter in a later article. For the purposes of this article, assume great content on a particular subject matter.

Free eBooks for Performing an Action

In today’s online world, blog readers and search engine visitors have grown very accustomed to getting everything for free. First, I want to dispel the myth…nothing is free. While your reader did not shell out any cash to pick up this form of eBook, the end goal is revenue generation and list building. By giving away a free eBook on your site if your visitor signs up for your newsletter, you are putting off a small amount of money up front with the hope that the reader will perform another call to action in the future that generates revenue for your blog. In most cases, your free eBook also contains revenue generating links that further increases your bottom line. The term “free” is coined because no money changes hands at the time of download.

Benefits of free eBook publishing…

  • Drastically more downloads than paid eBooks.
  • Does not have to be as unique or in depth as a paid eBook, but if you want it to really be successful…the more in depth and unique…the better.
  • Generates email lists through newsletter subscription services like Aweber for further affiliate and direct sales opportunities.

Drawbacks of free eBook publishing…

  • No direct money through the sale. Reader could never generate revenue for your blog.
  • Highly specialized techniques can reach the wrong hands and diminish you brand name (more on this later).

When you look at your eBook and contemplate whether or not you need to give it away for free or charge money, you need to look at other sites and blogs in your niche. Are they giving away for free what you want to charge for? Are there other, more in depth and popular free versions out there already? As you consider the competition, you are going to have to follow their lead in some ways.

Let’s take a look at the Make Money Online niche. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of free eBooks on the net all promising to make you an online millionaire if you just follow the steps they did. Now…many of these eBook publishers have not made one dime online, but there are several highly successful online marketers that are giving away their information for free. If you expect to jump into this market with a paid eBook, you are going to watch the sales drop off the map if you sell even one. Since there is so much competition that is already free, you are going to have to follow suit unless you are immensely successful (and everyone knows it) or you are coming to the market with a completely unique idea.

Free eBooks are one of the best ways to grow your presence online. They increase your subscriber count and make you money down the long haul even if you don’t see the direct result right away. I highly recommend that everyone have at least one free eBook publication for that reason.

Paid eBooks- Publishing eBooks for Money

As you look around online, you will see numerous, highly successful paid eBooks that are published on blogs just like robbsutton.com. These eBooks have generated revenue for blogs and websites through the direct sale of online content. Successful eBooks with timeless information can bring in revenue for long periods of time with minimal work after the eBook is complete and published.

Benefits of paid eBook publishing…

  • Instant money generated from the sale.
  • Still builds credibility and lists for eBook publisher (just smaller numbers than free).
  • Your information is more protected by the money qualifier before download (relates to specialized techniques comment above).

Drawbacks of paid eBook publishing…

  • Smaller amount of downloads over free for obvious reasons.
  • Affiliate marketing is a great way to spread the news, but you have to give up profit to achieve true success.
  • Needs to be very in depth and sometimes highly unique in the marketplace to be successful.

Typically, paid eBooks are unique in the marketplace. Their content is not easily found anyone else’s blog for free and it is relevant to a large audience. Either someone else has not filled that gap in the industry, or you have found online success through a new resource that is unique and can be replicated through your instruction. When a reader pays and downloads a paid eBook, they need to feel like they received something of real value that will add value to whatever subject you are writing about. There are numerous, highly successful paid eBooks on blogging, health and wellness, money and other subjects that affect us in our daily lives. If you already have a strong name in the industry, a paid eBook can bring you another huge source of revenue that was previously untapped.

To better illustrate the thought process that goes into the paid eBook decision, I will outline why I went with the paid option on Ramped Reviews on robbsutton.com. In Ramped Reviews, you will find step by step instructions on how to start a review blog, deal with companies as you seek and receive free product to review on your blog and how to treat your blog like a company instead of a hobby that you just do on the side. The following list is why I went with a paid eBook.

  • Ramped Reviews is unique to the industry, so the competition is extremely low.
  • I have had published success on large blogs that gives credibility to the information.
  • Not everyone should have this information (protecting techniques comments above). I did not want bloggers that were not serious about review blogging using this information to bug companies online and then use my name to say why they did it. If you are not willing to shell out the $20.00 it takes to buy the eBook, then you are not serious enough to contact companies for free product.
  • The return on investment is HUGE. I have received over $70k in free product to review…so 20 bones is nothing in comparison.

As you can see…there are several different factors that I considered before deciding to publish a paid eBook. Most importantly, I did not want this highly successful information to get in the hands of bloggers that are not absolutely serious about writing reviews or running their blog as a business. I like to think of the $20.00 as a fee of entry into the world of review blogging.

Do I publish a free or paid eBook on my blog?

As you can see by the lists above, there are many different considerations you have to ponder in your quest to publish an eBook on your blog. In most cases, if there is a large amount of free competition in your market, you need to release a free eBook to help grow your list and your blog. If you are in a market with low competition and you have unique information that will really help other readers reach their goals, a paid eBook may be your ticket to another revenue source on your blog.

One thing is for certain, there is no one right way to publish an eBook and you need to weigh your individual needs against the positives and negatives of each method. I do recommend that you at least giveaway one eBook (or something else valuable to your readers) for free to continue list building and blog promotion. After that…it is up to you on paid or free.

Of course, all of this information assumes that you have quality content backing up your decision…

Free image by tonx