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.
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:
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!