Working on the Forums

June 10, 2008 Posted by Tyler Cruz
Paid Advertisement

I apologize for not posting in a few days. Contrary to how it may look, I’ve actually been doing a fair bit of work lately which is precisely why I haven’t posted in a while. You see, I decided to try out my hand at affiliate marketing again, and when I do affiliate marketing it always seems to usurp a lot of my time. I’ll be sharing in much more detail what exactly I’ve been doing and how I’ve made out income-wise with it in upcoming posts.

This post will instead give another update on what I had been working on during the past several days, before I plunged back into PPC marketing.

First, as usual, I’ve been working on the never-ending barrage of e-mails that come in. It was particularly bad a few days ago as I had finally finished getting up-to-date on those 70 e-mails I mentioned last time, when I woke up to find 130 more e-mails to take care of.

Fortunately, the e-mails were easy to address as around 80 of them were reported spam posts on my forums, mainly one of them in particular.

I have been so busy with my blog and PublisherSpot lately that I had completely neglected my forums. For the most part, forums are completely self-run, but that doesn’t mean you can just neglect them entirely.

So, I decided to work on two of my forums in particular (since it’s very difficult to work on 14 forums at once) to keep them running smoothly and to encourage growth. I did this by cleaning up a lot of spam (I don’t have any moderators on those forums yet as I am very particular about who I appoint moderator status) and going over suggestions and requests made by members over the past months, and implementing the ones that I agreed with. For example, I created a dedicated forum for Movie Games & Trivia on MovieForums.org after many members repeatedly requested one. It made sense, since movie game and trivia threads were sprouting around the forum and creating a bit of a mess.

I also upgraded the forums to 3.7.1 which was a pretty big release (From 3.6.*) and introduced a lot of new features. I hired a vBulletin skinner to update my skin for me since 3.7 required a lot of special changes for custom skins. I then set up a lot of the new features, and explained them all to my members.

I also installed a new plugin and sent out a “newsletter” to all my members on both the forums, telling them about all the new features and improvements. Simply upgrading a forum’s software sounds easy, and for the most part it is, but there were a lot of small things that slowed me down. For example, my server was giving me a lot of FTP connection problems, the skins had to have a lot of fixes/changes done, it takes time to set up new features, write long threads explaining them, newsletters, etc.

I also upgraded my vBSEO plugin, the footer to acknowledge my corporation, etc.

But one of the best improvements I made to the forums was creating dynamic sub-pages. You see, previously (as is still the case on my other 12 forums) when I wanted sub-pages on my forums such as a page for links or advertising, I actually crafted the page template out of the custom skin for my forum by hand. This took quite a while to do, but the real painful part was having to give up the dynamic features of the forum… and replace them with lame placeholders.

For example, the screenshot below shows how the Advertise page on MovieForums.org used to look. You’ll notice that, while it appears in my skin’s theme, that certain areas are missing.

19

In particular, the control panel on the side was removed and replaced with a “Return to forum… This part of the site is not part of the forum area…” text block since I couldn’t include the dynamic PHP/vBulletin information that is hard-coded into the forum. I only worked with CSS/HTML. The top menu bar, as another example, had to be modified to remove any links such as “Profile” as it would be confusing for visitors who weren’t logged in or weren’t members.

There are other reasons why static sub-pages were a bad idea. If I ever made a small change in my skin, I’d have to update the side pages as well. It also “disconnected” the user experience when visiting sub-pages as they wouldn’t have any signs of being logged-in anymore.

The way I have it set up now, everything is completely dynamic and taken directly from the skin. I basically have a PHP file that points to a template within my skin, and in that template is modified by me to make the page… it’s basically the main content of the page. The PHP file grabs all the dynamic/vBulletin/cookie data.

Now members will see a uniform navigation system and dynamic system throughout the site:

20

I managed to do this after help from the vBulletin coder I hired who told me how I could do this. Otherwise I had to update each of my side pages by hand to make them conform to the 3.7.1 update (the search box, for example, didn’t work because of new security tags in place). Just another reason why my new set up is much better than previous.

I added this set up to both my forums, and plan to convert my other forums later when I have the time.

Apart from my forums, I spent a fair bit of time managing advertisers as usual. Just organizing payment, reminding renewals, etc. I still do all of this by hand so it takes a lot of time. I’d like to move onto an automated solution, but it’s difficult since there is no automated solution (that I’m aware of) that will do this for payment methods other than PayPal, and since I collect gambling-related advertising for my poker site, I cannot accept PayPal due to their terms of service.

I’ve also been busy working with designers I hired for a couple projects. I ordered business cards for my blog TylerCruz.com, and unfortunately the results have been extremely disappointing so I’ve had to request for many revisions. Even so, the designers don’t appear to even be listening to my revision requests and are giving me back almost the exact same thing without even addressing the problem.

I hope to have a finished half-decent business card to show you within a few days. I won’t show you how it looks now since it’s almost finished except for a few stupid typo’s alignment issues.

I’ve also been working with the designer I commissioned to revamp Merendi.com, working on revisions and tweaks here and there. So far I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s looking, but the progress has been slow. I’ll share the design with you once it’s finished, as well as let you know who I used to design it.

On my blog, I wrote a paid review and added a new advertising slot, a 120×600 Skyscraper down the right side. I sold it within 30-seconds of putting it up. In fact, the waiting list for banner spots on my blog is around 10 now. I only wish I had that much demand for paid plugs or paid reviews… oh, and I added the payment details to grab the Peel Away Ad on the top right of my blog on my advertising page as well. The 120×600 Skyscraper is priced at $100 a month, so it should help bring in a bit of added revenue to my blog each month.

For PublisherSpot, I’ve mainly been waiting for all my paid reviews to finish getting published, and then I plan on getting a bunch of new features and improvements commissioned. I don’t want to start on them until I have all the feedback and suggestions from my paid reviews. I’m mainly waiting for John Chow and Joel Comm to post their reviews. I also added a review of ClickBank as well, making a total of 40 networks now listed and reviewed on PublisherSpot.

Lastly, I received my first cheque for Merendi Networks Inc.! While it’s not the first payment I’ve received for the corporation (I have PayPal set up and have got a couple bank wires), it’s the first cheque, which means that I’ll finally get to actually go to the bank, line up in the business line, and cash the corporation’s first cheque for the first time!

102

I hope to have cheques from NeverblueAds and MarketLeverage soon, from my affiliate marketing efforts… but we’ll see how that goes first…

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: June 10th, 2008 under My Websites  

22 Responses to “Working on the Forums”

  1. KushMoney says:

    You have been one busy person. I have been busy as well. Since I am taking blogging seriously and not just reporting my projects and income. I have been making a post every this month but not on the 8th. I spent time with the family.

  2. XLOR says:

    Tyler, what income do you have from your forum?

  3. Tyler so busy but still manages to update his sites and still get his checks keep it up bro cant wait till i get my motive check ~Nick~

  4. Wow! Looks like you’ve been busy these couple of days!

  5. Adnan says:

    Nice update Tyler – I can’t wait to hear about your forays into PPC > Affiliate Marketing, as that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the past few days, although I havn’t been that successful. It’s been a great learning experience though.

  6. Ah man…You are getting better, busier and more success day by day.

  7. I am looking forward to seeing your finalized card for tylercruz.com, it would be cool to see the transitions from first revision to final edition of the card when you do post it.

  8. Dave says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if Tyler Cruz is your real name and if you have encountered any problems using your real name on your blog and usernames? Good luck with the sites. Affiliates can be real moneymakers!

  9. team ray says:

    tyler i thought to be good at affliate marketing you had to use ppc

    i am surprise you do one but not both

  10. Nice workflow Tyler. It looks as though you’ve been really busy with THE corporation not “my” corporation. I hope the business cards turn out well since you wrote such a nice review of their service, prices, etc.

  11. Luke Smith says:

    Congrats on the new company and we are happy to send your first check !

    Luke Smith | Affiliate Manager
    Motive Interactive, Inc.
    6020 Cornerstone Court West Ste. 280 San Diego, CA 92121
    Office: 858.677.0792 ext. 120 / Mobile: 775.267.7697 / Fax: 858.677.1746
    luke@motiveinteractive.com / http://www.motiveinteractive.com / IM: LukeMotive

  12. DotDriven says:

    Nice to see you give affiliate marketing another shot Tyler. I honestly think you could do really well with it with your attention to detail and “need” to make things perfect. Those are good traits to have for marketing because of all the testing and tweaking needed to get the best returns. Keep in mind that it can take quite a bit of “losers” to finally get a good campaign so don’t get discourage too fast ;).

    Are you working with anyone at all with your marketing efforts? I’m still in the early stages of my own campaigns and wouldn’t mind bouncing ideas and tips off you if you were looking for the same.

    And you looking to add any more forums to your network lol? I’ve been trying to sell off a couple…actually to get more funds for my affiliate marketing lol. Both were dead, or very slow, when I bought them but I haven’t had time to work on them at all so now they are pretty much ghosttowns but ready for promotion. I have a sports forum (www.ProSportNow.com) and a smaller graphic designer forum (www.n2dsgn.com). Both with owned vb and vbseo license. Not sure if you are looking for even more forums or not but they are ready for someone to takeover and ready for promotion…I just don’t have the time.

    Grats on your first corp check. Don’t forget to pay yourself now ;)

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Regarding “Nice to see you give affiliate marketing another shot Tyler. I honestly think you could do really well with it with your attention to detail and “need” to make things perfect. Those are good traits to have for marketing because of all the testing and tweaking needed to get the best returns.” — I definitely agree, and I do think that those traits will help for sure.

      I am working with a couple others that have been helping me a bit and giving me a few tips. Jonathan Volk was kind enough to be one of those people. It’s sure nice to get help from somebody who went from 2-3k a month to $170,000+ a month in just one year!

      I’m not interested in the forums unfortunately… I’m very particular in which forums I acquire.

  13. Joe says:

    What made you decide to get back into am?

  14. Andreas says:

    Is that template script for vbulletin for sale or available somewhere?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Do not pay for it – it’s probably available on many sites.. just do a search for custom pages/side pages and templates and vbulletin and you should find it somewhere.

      It’s really only about 8 lines of code believe it or not!

  15. Congratulations on your first company check

  16. David Chew says:

    Congratulation for your success.

  17. Wow i really like that forum skin nice design and color

PeerFly

Leave a Reply