What I’ve Been Doing The Past Month

November 22, 2014 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Sorry for the lack of posting.

And sorry if the title of this blog post led you to believe that I had some juicy secret to reveal, because I don’t. In fact, I’ve been doing nothing extraordinary at all. I’ve simply been working as usual.

So why the lack of posts then? Well, my priority has been to focus on my campaigns and e-mail, and by the time I tend to those things I don’t feel like writing a blog post. If you go back a few years, my priority was 100% on my blog, and so I’d have great post frequency and content, but then my other projects were neglected as a result. I have a really hard time balancing things, as you can see.

Anyhow, I thought I’d provide a breakdown as to what I’ve been doing the past month since it’s been while since I last posted.

Server & Tracking Issues

I started experiencing severe server and tracking issues in late October. My server loads kept skyrocketing and I was having trouble viewing reports in CPVLab.

I spent a lot of time and effort trying to resolve this and communicating back and forth with CPVLab support and my hosting provider, but the problems still continue. I’m still investigating into this, but I believe the signs simply point to my server not being able to handle the amount of traffic I have been sending to it this month – arguably the most traffic I’ve ever run.

… Which leads me to…

Mobile Campaigns

I’ve really been focusing on mobile lately. Apart from a couple of small attempts here and there in the past, I’ve basically only run mobile for around 6 weeks now, so I’m still a n00b and have a ton to learn.

However, things have been going well. You’ll find out just how well when I post my November income report, but I’m very happy with the results so far.

I had been pushing a fair bit of volume through my mobile campaigns though, which, when coupled with my existing web traffic, may have stressed my server enough to the issues mentioned above.

I paused my mobile campaigns a few days ago while I "regroup", but hope to continue again soon.

E-Mail / Other Projects

Of course, I’m constantly dealing with e-mail and my other online projects.

I always have stuff going on the side, but have made a real effort to reduce side distractions. I’ve already sold off a good portion of my network of websites, and hope to sell the rest soon enough.

I’m also in the midst of researching, testing, and reviewing a bunch of cool services, tools, and websites which is always very time consuming.

Tiling & Home Projects

A big chunk of my time lately has been spent on various home improvement projects.

One year ago, when I still lived in my condo, I had absolutely zero handyman skills. The most I could do was change a light bulb.

Now, after a year of owning a house, I’ve already learned so much. I’m no Mike Holmes – I’m still mostly useless – but I’m far more confident in tackling new projects now and have already done a fair bit around the house such as drywall repairs, light fixture replacements, fixing the doorbell, fixing the gas fireplace, fixing the kitchen faucet, etc.

Again, all simple things so far, but seriously, all I could do 1 year ago was change a light bulb.

Anyhow, my latest project has been adding a kitchen backsplash. While relatively easy in theory, I’ve been having a hell of a time despite studying and researching how to do it properly for a very long time online beforehand.

It’s going a hell of a lot smoother now that I am 90% done setting the tile and bought a wet saw with a proper glass-cutting diamond blade, but I’ve already made countless mistakes Sad smile. In fact, the worse part is at the very beginning – you can see the progression of skill as you look from left to right, as the very beginning is pretty horrible and where I am now is pretty good.

Anyhow, while professionals can do a kitchen backsplash in like 2 days, it’s been taking me forever since it’s my first tiling job and I also don’t want to spend all day working on it, so I’ve been allocating a bit of time each day to work on it. I hope to be done within 3-4 days by now, all grouted and caulked.

Okay, so why did I bother with doing this myself instead of hiring Home Depot to do it for $500 labour costs? I’ve definitely wasted FAR more than that in tools and my own labour hours.

The main reason is so that I’d know what is exactly involved: the skill required, time investment, tile and tool costs, etc. for when I purchase my rental properties. Apart from learning a new skill, I am now in a much better position for when/if I decide to outsource the labour in the future.

Real Estate

I’ve been continuing to chug along with my real estate.

I had been waiting for my Corporate Notice of Assessments from the Canadian Revenue Agency for a while in order to give to my mortgage broker, and finally received them last week.

I am now on the verge of getting an official preapproval, but there has been another setback. Basically, I’ve learned that virtually all lenders here require a personal guarantee for corporate real estate investments. This is something I am not willing to do… at least not unless the terms are extremely tame.

I am 99.9% certain that my business would not default on the loan, but I am very adamant about separating business from personal.

So, I basically have 4 options:

  • Purchase a property with $200,000 in cash, which really limits my investment opportunities and will give me a low-end rental
  • Find a private lender willing to lend without a personal guarantee
  • Find a bank willing to lend without a personal guarantee, despite my broker telling me that this is not possible
  • Agree to the personal guarantee but don’t allow them to take my house or bank account

Health Issues

For those who care, the past few days I’ve been having some health issues. 2-3 days ago, I woke up with a plugged ear which continued off and on since. While annoying, it wasn’t too disruptive.

But then last night I started feeling really light-headed and dizzy, and this morning I woke up with a ringing in my right ear and still feel a little bit light-headed and dizzy. The ringing is still present as I write this.

I’m not sure what it’s from; when I use my wet saw I use ear protection (and eye protection and a mask), so I really hope it’s just temporary and will go away on its own soon.

Not feeling well really takes a toll on productivity!

Anyhow, there’s an overall update for you guys.

I think I’ll publish another affiliate marketing income report as my next post so that I can start to get a bit caught up with those again.

Posted: November 22nd, 2014 under Miscellaneous 2 Comments

Start a Logo Contest with LogoArena

October 27, 2014 Posted by Michael Kwan

The following is a paid review for TylerCruz.com written and reviewed by Michael Kwan. It is completely of Michael Kwan’s opinion and is not influenced by being paid. If you’re interested in having your site or product reviewed, please view my advertising page

The monumental importance of good branding cannot be understated. The huge success that companies like McDonald’s, Apple and Starbucks have been able to enjoy can be partly attributed to just how recognizable their brands are in the marketplace. When you see a couple of golden arches or a characteristic white and green coffee cup, you know exactly what you’re getting. And at the heart of good branding is a good logo.

This is true not only for massive multinational corporations, but also for small and medium-sized businesses both online and offline. The good news is that getting a fantastic logo for your website or company does not need to cost an arm and a leg, particularly when you take advantage of the logo contests powered by LogoArena. By taking this route, you can work with hundreds of designers and simply choose the logo concept that you like the best.

Crowdsourcing a Logo Design

The fundamental principles behind LogoArena aren’t exactly novel. When you are in search of a new logo for your company, you simply set up a logo contest through LogoArena, filling out a design brief to provide some direction in terms of what you want in your logo.

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From there, the community of graphic design specialists at LogoArena get to work, drumming up design concepts for your perusal. You can then provide feedback on these concepts, giving the logo designers an opportunity to revise their submissions to better align with what you want to have. At the end of the contest, you choose a winner and download the corresponding logo files in EPS format to use as you wish.

LogoArena says that you can request unlimited revisions (within the timeframe of the logo contest) and they guarantee that you will receive 100% original concepts. The logo designers are forbidden from using any clip art or image tracing. And once you accept the winning design, you receive a document confirming your full legal ownership of the chosen logo design.

The real value proposition here is that you are not tied down to the creative vision of a single designer. Instead of settling on a small handful of options that a traditional design firm would be able to provide, you can choose from an average of 50-200 designs possibilities from dozens of logo designers. And hosting a LogoArena contest can be even more cost-effective than hiring a single designer in many cases.

Setting Your Contest Parameters

The biggest key to getting the logo that you want is providing good instructions to the team of professional designers at LogoArena. There is a handy multi-step wizard to complete when you want to start a logo contest, ensuring that you provide the information that the designers would want to know.

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First, you’ll provide your business name, slogan and description. This way, the designers will have an idea about the kind of work that you do. The next step establishes the target market, so they’ll know the kinds of customers you want to attract. This also includes the industry type and the top three things you want to communicate through your logo.

The third step may be one of the most important. It establishes the style of logo that you prefer. You choose from the “abstract marks” of companies like Mercedes and Sprint, the “characters” of Michelin and Geico, the “web 2.0″ designs of YouTube and Blogger, and so on. There are also a number of sliders to indicate values you wish to communicate, like feminine/masculine, luxury/economical and playful/serious. Optionally, you can include additional documents that might be helpful to designers.

How Much Does a Logo Cost?

As a prospective customer of LogoArena, it is not immediately obvious how the fee structure works for running a logo contest. You need to navigate your way through the help section to learn a little, but it’s only when you go through the contest wizard that you get more of a breakdown.

Logo design contests have three recommended prize levels: $249, $349 and $499. Alternatively, you can set your own custom prize amount. LogoArena takes a 15% commission from the prize amount, so the winning designer would then receive $211.65, $296.65 and $424.15, respectively. In addition, LogoArena charges a $10 admin fee to the contest holder.

logoarena-pay

Two additional options can further increase the price. First, you can upgrade to a private contest–which hides your logo contest from the public, search engines and competitors–for $50. Second, you can add a 15% tip such that the second best designer gets 10% and the third best gets 5%. In a hypothetical example of a $349 contest with both upgrades, the total cost came to $461.35.

The contest length can be 5 days, 7 days (default) or 10 days. It is during that period that you can provide feedback and receive revisions from the entire community and then you have 7 days following the contest to choose a winning design.

The Winning Designs

To get a sense of the quality of submissions you can expect when you run a logo contest through LogoArena, have a look at the page with examples of logo designs. This page can be filtered based on industry, as well as displaying only winning designs or only top three designs.

logoarena-2

You’ll notice that the range of styles is quite diverse and the designers come from nearly every part of the world. There’s no denying that these are high quality, professional logos that can easily rival (or beat) what you’d get from expensive design firms.

100% Money Back Guarantee

LogoArena is so confident that you’ll get a logo you love that they offer a 100% money back guarantee. If you receive at least 50 entries in your contest, however, you are not eligible for the refund. That said, you can extend your contest for three more days at no extra charge.

Realistically, you probably don’t need to worry about that. LogoArena is proud that its satisfaction rate is around 98% and the customer testimonials can attest to just how happy people have been with the logos they received and with how easy it was to go through the process. Customer service is top notch and the logo quality is very high too.

Chances are that you’ll be very happy.

Posted: October 27th, 2014 under Paid Reviews 5 Comments

9 Things I’ve Learned About Mobile So Far

October 19, 2014 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I thought I’d take a break inbetween all my monthly income reports and real estate posts and actually write a blog post about what I’ve been doing in affiliate marketing lately (in more depth than the few paragraphs in my income reports).

I’m a very slow adopter. I didn’t get a car until I was around 19 or 20. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was around 21, and as recent as 2 years ago I was still using a Blackberry. And so, it shouldn’t surprise you when I say that I’ve basically done no mobile affiliate marketing until now.

I mean, I did try my hand at a bit of mobile traffic before, but we’re talking about maybe $500 worth of traffic total, with like a –95% ROI.

The main reason I’ve held off of mobile for so long is basically because I was intimidated. I heard that it is a whole different ballgame from web and that there is a ton to learn. I’ve been too preoccupied with other things that I didn’t have the time focus to sit down and properly learn mobile. I preferred instead to simply stick with web and grind away.

In any event, I decided to give mobile another shot about 2 weeks ago and have been scaling things up at a good pace ever since. Now, before I continue, please heed the following warnings:

  • My conclusions are based off of only 2 weeks of data so far
  • I’m currently only using 1 traffic source (but have used several others in the past for mobile)
  • I’ve spent $6,000 worth of mobile data so far

With that in mind, here are 9 things I’ve learned about mobile affiliate marketing so far:

1. As With Web, Only a Small Percentage of Offers are Any Good

This was to be expected, but only a handful of offers have been proven to be profitable for me in mobile, which is the same way it is with web.

This is another reason why it’s always helpful to ask your affiliate manager what offers are performing well. They may have 200 eligible offers for you to run, but out of those 200 offers, only 10 may be any good. You can save a lot of time and money by simply asking your affiliate manager which are doing the best.

Personally though, I am a real stickler for data. I prefer to gather my own data and make my own conclusions. It is never profitable right off the bat to do this, but it gives me very good data for the future.

Below is a screenshot showing one of my Android mobile campaigns:

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Here you can see I’ve split tested 18 different offers already, despite having only run traffic for just under 2 weeks. When you add in iOS, I’ve actually run traffic to about 50 mobile offers so far!

Out of the 50, only about 5 offers are any good, so 10%. However, when things are good, they’re great (where’s Tony the Tiger when you need him?). For example, my top offer is achieving a 200% ROI. If I had run all my traffic to that one offer, I would have made close to $9,000 profit (if the math doesn’t add up for you, that’s because I lowered my bids)

I will continue to test every single mobile offer I find. This is what I do with web. I test everything. Data is king.

2. There are Large Country/IP Discrepancies

I use CPVLab as my tracking platform of choice. I love it. However, it may have an issue with its mobile geo-tracking.

Overall for mobile it’s been great so far, but when I started to look at country data, I found that about 70% of the traffic was incorrect. At first I was concerned that the traffic source was sending in crap traffic, but upon investigating further, I matched up the exact conversion ID’s from CPVLab with the exact conversion ID’s within the networks and found that the IPs themselves differed! The ones on the network side resolved to the correct country, but the ones in CPVLab did not.

I am still investigating this (working with CPVLab directly to try to resolve this), and am not sure if it has to do with the tracking software, with my server, with the traffic network, or simply because mobile is different from web.

One thing is for sure though – I didn’t see this issue when I worked with web.

3. Tablets are Sucking so Far

This is such a blanket statement and with only 2 weeks of data, it is also premature to proclaim. But so far, my data shows that tablet traffic does not convert well.

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For me this is not a huge issue since phone traffic vastly outnumbers tablet traffic, but it’s important to note as excluding tablet traffic from campaigns can save me a lot of money.

4. More Data = More Optimization

Mobile offers arguably more data in both reporting and targeting than web (in the majority of sources). This is because you can see the carrier type, phone model, OS version, resolution, etc. and target most of these things depending on the traffic source as well.

As a result, you are gathering a lot more data than your typical web campaign. This is both good and bad.

It’s good because it allows you to isolate and discover your most profitable demographics and targets on a much more granular level (as well as target these exact targets as well).

It’s bad because this requires you to do a lot more testing and optimization, which can be both pricey and time-consuming. If you’re me and are just a one-man-band who does all the optimizing and analysis yourself, micromanaging campaigns like this can take up a lot of time.

5. ROI Can Be Far Higher Than Web

I’ve done web for a while now in a lot of different niches, traffic sources, and angles, and I can tell you that the ROI of profitable campaigns has never been as good as some of the ROI’s I’m seeing in mobile at the moment.

This isn’t to say that all ROI is higher, but for profitable targets in mobile, the ROI is definitely higher than the profitable targets in web.

But don’t just take my word for it (Hello Levar!), check this screenshot out:

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This is from my best mobile campaign. Each row is a different target within the campaign. I included the number of conversions to show you that these ROI’s weren’t just from 1 or 2 rogue conversions; you can see that I’m getting over 1,300% ROI on one target that received over 47 conversions, so the volume is there.

I even got up to 50,000% ROI on some targets… but there volume is NOT there Winking smile

6. Landing Pages Suck on Mobile

Okay, this one really shouldn’t be here as I’ve only tested one landing page on mobile so far Smile. But man, did it perform terrible. My LP was pretty generic, without much of an angle at all, but it was mobile optimized for sure. I ended up with a –90% ROI.

Of course I’d be silly if I gave up on landing pages on mobile after just trying one, but boy was that a bad ROI. I had tested it on my top converting offers too.

What are your guys’ experience with landing pages on mobile? Any tips other than loading time optimization and compatibility?

7. Conversion Delay

When I first started mobile, I ran some traffic and hated the results. ROI was in the negative 90’s, and so I paused traffic to rethink my strategy.

But then I noticed that conversions were still coming in even though I paused the traffic. I got a couple conversions a few hours later. Okay – browser session/cookie or something I guess, that’s not too unordinary. But then I’d still see conversions coming in the next day… and the next!

With mobile, conversions have quite a delay and half-life when it comes to showing up in your account; they can come in up to days later. With web this is very rare; 99.9% of conversions will come through no later than a minute of taking place.

So, you have to take this mobile delay into consideration whenever running (or more to the point, optimizing and analyzing) campaigns.

If anyone knows the technical details as to why this occurs, please feel free to share it in the comments.

8. Android > iOS

Again, a bit too early to call, but my affiliate manager and a couple different traffic sources have all told me that Android traffic tends to convert a fair bit better than iOS traffic.

I only recently started iOS traffic so I am hoping that it may have an even longer conversion propagation time than Android, but so far it is night and day when it comes to Android and iOS in terms of ROI.

Why is this the case? I have no idea. Perhaps it has to do with iTunes vs. the Google Play store. Perhaps it has to do with the average Apple user being less inclined to click on ads than the average Android user. I don’t know. All I know is that iOS traffic is making me lose a lot of money.

I’m talking about –85% ROI on all iOS traffic so far, with no light at the end of the tunnel (my best iOS target so far is still at –50% ROI).

9. Dayparting is Quite Different on Mobile than Web

Lastly, I’ve noticed that dayparting is quite different on mobile than on web.

For web traffic, no matter the niche, I’ve always found that both volume and conversion rate were best during the day and the worst during the night of the target country. The exact periods of time per day could vary depending on the niche, but things were always higher during the day than the night.

But with mobile, it’s almost the opposite! Check out the graph below, and keep in mind that these values are Central Daylight Time (UTC –500):35

Traffic levels are pretty even throughout the entire 24 hour period, except for a short spike around midnight.

Conversion rates are highest in early morning, right before people are going to work or school.

This actually makes a lot of sense, since people are generally too busy during the day to be signing up to or downloading anything. Most of that is done during "down" time, and the odd early hours could see an extra high conversion rate due to people not being able to sleep…

This is a fairly substantial amount of data too… $4,500 worth.

Anyhow, that’s my blog post. Hopefully it’s a nice change from all the income reports and updates on my real estate adventures.

I’d love to hear what you guys have to say about mobile affiliate marketing. How has it done for you? Share some tips and stories in the comments!

Posted: October 19th, 2014 under Affiliate Marketing 30 Comments

Affiliate Marketing Income Report: August 2014

October 14, 2014 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Okay, I realize that my blog is now starting to become like 50% of just monthly income reports, so I will leave this one as the latest one for a while, even if it means falling behind on them again.

Sadly, this income report won’t be very inspiring. In fact, it will be a little bit depressing, as I saw a big drop in profit in August – over half of what I did the previous month.

This is even more noticeable when you consider that the past 3 months collectively brought in just under $50,000 in profit ($48,997.44).

I feel really disappointed when I net under $10,000 in a month. After salary and taxes, I am not left with very much in company savings.

Anyway, enough moping, let’s see how August 2014 performed:

August 2014 Affiliate Campaign Income:

$27,317.35

Affiliate Network Breakdown:

  • Affiliate Network #1: $13,801.60
  • Affiliate Network #2: $43.75
  • Affiliate Network #3: $280.00
  • Affiliate Network #4: $13,192.00

(This includes conversion from foreign currencies to USD)

Expenses:

$21,291.31


Traffic Source Breakdown:

  • Traffic Source #1: $13,936.22
  • Traffic Source #2: $2,034.89
  • Traffic Source #3: $3,035.16
  • Traffic Source #4: $542.07
  • Traffic Source #4: $1,037.73
  • Traffic Source #5: $705.24   

Net Profit:

$6,026.04

Ugh… 4 figures. It could be worse though…

2014 Affiliate Marketing Results

First, here’s a recap of how 2013 fared for the entire year:

Year Gross Expense Net ROI
2013 $823,884.01 $555,024.33 $258,859.68 46%
Total: $823,884.01 $555,024.33 $258,859.68 46%
Monthly Average: $68,657.00 $47,085.36 $21,571.64 46%

And here’s a monthly breakdown of 2014 so far:

Month Gross Expense Net ROI
January 2014 $10,922.80 $8,908.47 $2,014.33 23%
February 2014 $25,941.97 $15,900.52 $10,041.45 63%
March 2014 $24,202.06 $15,408.95 $8,793.11 57%
April 2014 $3,486.55 $3,150.00 $336.55 11%
May 2014 $57,015.00 $38,765.01 $18,249.99 47%
June 2014 $60,753.58 $43,095.35 $17,658.23 41%
July 2014 $50,162.81 $37,073.59 $13,089.22 35%
August 2014 $27,317.35 $21,291.31 $6,026.04 28%
Total: $259,802.12 $183,593.20 $76,208.92 42%
Monthly Average: $32,475.27 $22,949.15 $9,526.12 42%

That puts my monthly average so far this year back down to 4 figures. I’m at $76K net profit so far this year after 8 months in. That puts me on pace to hit $114K profit this year – which may sound good, but would still only be half of what I pulled in last year.

Hmm… can’t be greedy though… $114K/year is still pretty good!

The Larger Picture: 20-Month Analysis

Below are my overall numbers from my campaigns since I started recording them in January 2013:

January 2013 to August 2014 Gross Expense Net ROI
20-Month Total: $1,083,686.13 $748,617.53 $335,068.60 45%
Monthly Average: $54,184.31 $37,430.88 $16,753.43 45%

Getting close to 2 years of recording my affiliate marketing stats, my monthly average sits at $16,750. I’m quite happy with that. It will be interesting to see what that number sits in in another 6 months from now.

August Recap

August was pretty stressful for me. The month started off strong, continuing off where July’s fairly strong month left off. Then, about a week in, one of the offers I was running went down and it didn’t look like it was going to come back. I focused on a couple of other offers instead which were doing quite well too, but then a couple weeks later, those went down as well.

I was actually at a higher profit earlier into the month but it quickly dwindled I kept spending more money testing new offers, targeting, LP’s, and traffic sources.

Also in August I had tried a new traffic network for the first time. A pretty popular one that a lot of you know. After a lot of delays and headaches (their billing department leaves a lot to be desired, plus I accidentally billed to my wrong credit card…) I finally tried them out with some small tests. Ouch – they were absolutely horrible. I normally don’t give up on a traffic source so quickly, but the results were just horrendous, and they were far too bureaucratic for a traffic source. I likely will never use them again.

I also tried another new source in August for the first time, this time a much smaller network. Results were pretty bad at first, but after a while I started to see some potential. I continued to use them for another couple months before deciding that it just wasn’t worth trying to make work anymore. It’s pretty bad but does show a little bit of potential for some small, select, profitable campaigns. I will likely try them again in the future, but only when I have some better offers running.

Overall, August was pretty busy for me. I was constantly analyzing and optimizing campaigns and trying new traffic sources and offers. I don’t feel like the end result ($6K) was quite worth the effort I put in.

September Plans and Predictions

Normally in this section I list the plans I have for the upcoming month as well as predict how I think the month will fare profit-wise. However, since September has already come and gone, I will be skipping this section in this report since I already know how it went.

Stay tuned to see for yourself!

Posted: October 14th, 2014 under Affiliate Marketing 14 Comments