Welcome to aaron chua make money blog

Hi, welcome to my blog. In this part of my world, I talked about how to achieve financial freedom by learning how to make money online through creating sites and earning from them.

Below are some current and past make money projects that details my learning journey.

My current experiment in making 50 amazon site niches. If you have not been following this challenge, best place to start is this resource page for the amazon challenge, that lists all the articles that I have written so far.

My experiment in making 1000 a month through adsense in 9 months.

If you came here looking for low cost startup ideas, here are 140 startup ideas that you can browse through.

Monday, 21 December 2009

How to select good keywords for niche blogs

To make money online, there is two main things you need to do: picking good keywords and using keyword anchored links to get your site rank high in Google. This is as basic as it gets and anybody that follows this strategy will be able to make money within 2 months.

As an illustration, let me show you a niche of mine that I started in November. Using the tip to get index fast, I manage to get the blog to be indexed within 1 day. After which, it is a matter of selecting long tail keywords that are contains your main keyword and getting them ranked by using keyword anchored backlinks. Because I was able to rank for long tails, traffic begin to come in after one week. I slapped on Adsense after 2 weeks and in the month of November, this is my income for this new blog.

Earning around $5 is no big deal. What I did then was to look at the keywords that were bringing me traffic. I then create a post that targets each of the long tail keyword and build a couple of backlinks to each post. After a month, these long tail keywords begin to rank and my traffic increase. As a result, my income for December for this blog increase as well.

The best thing about this niche is the CTR. I got around 20% , meaning out of every 10 visitors, 2 would click on an ad. The price of the ad is also high, ranging from 80 cents to over a dollar. I will definitely break the $15 a month while my main keywords is not even on page one on Google yet. I can imagine that if my main keyword goes on to page one, my income for this blog will across a hundred bucks a month. Not bad for a free hosted blog.

$15 a month of course is not something to brag about. However imagine if I multiple this blog by 100 or 200. That would bring me about $1500 to $3000 per month of passive income. That, my friend, is what making money online is all about. You pick niches that you can rank given your current resources and you duplicate your success by 100 or 200 blogs.

So, what kind of keywords are good for beginners? This is my general guideline. I pick buying keywords. These keywords contain buying intentions such as affordable, cheap, inexpensive. They signal a strong buying intend from the searcher. Next, I choose ncihes that don't have much competition. I pick niches that have less than 100,000 competing sites. I also look out for niches that have lots of ezine articles or other article directories in the top 10 results. This means you can easily take the page one position with a few anchored backlinks.

When I say anchored backlinks, I doesn't mean links from commenting or bookmarking. I mean links that are found within the content of an relevant article. This is the best form of backlinks and is the hardest to get. As a beginner, if you pick a low competition keyword, you can do the following:

- set up a few hosted blogs on blogger, wordpress, typepad, squidoo that are long tails of your your niche. Make sure they are indexed and then point a link back to your main site
- submit a few articles to high PR article directories such as Ezine, Info barrel, Hub pages etc again point a few links back to your site.

Make sure you vary your anchor text. For example, if you are trying to rank for the keyword: used electric wheelchairs, you should embed the following as your long tail keyword:
- where to buy used electric wheelchair
- used electric wheelchair under $500
- acorn used electric wheelstair

These will ensure that your long tails will start to rank and you will see long tail traffic coming in. From my experience, it is almost impossible to rank for your main keyword. It is the long tail keywords that will bring in traffic first. Also, ranking well for your long tails will help your main keywords to rank if your long tail contains your main keyword.

In summary, to make money online, you need to pick buying keywords for niches that have low competition. Then, source for some anchored backlinks using means that any beginner can get. Within a few weeks, you can start to see income coming in.

This is all I have for how to select good keywords for niche blogs.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Find good keywords from long niche articles

I have mentioned previously in my post on selecting keywords for online income that the best keywords are always 'hidden'. You cannot find them through keyword tools such as the latest Niche Horde or from any other tools. You need to fish them by writing long articles so that Google can show what these hidden keywords are.

Think about it for a moment. When you are looking at Google's search, you will realise it will combine words from your entire post to try and give users what they are looking for. So, it make sense that the more words you have, the more options you are giving the search engine to combine different keywords that will bring targeted traffic to your site. If you are lucky,one of these keywords will be something that very few have thought and it is all yours as these typically cannot be found using tools.

For a more detail and interested take on how this works, I refer you to the master of adsense, Griz, with this post on his making money blog. As an experiment, I will be post a long article here about grilling and see if I can pick out any keywords. I will let you know the results 2 weeks from now.


This is part one of how to grill for beginners. It is basically a step by step guide on how to grill some of my favourite food, especially grilled fish. If you are just learning how to grill, this is a good place to start.

For beginner, I suggest using an electric outdoor grills rather than setting out your own charcoal based grill. The latter requires some skills in getting up a fire, which is not easy and is difficult to set right. In a charcoal grill, if your fire is not right, your food will be cooked on the outside and still raw in the inside. This is what we want to avoid. Hence, for a beginner, I suggest using an electric grill to hone your grilling skills first before venturing out to learn how to set up a fire.

How to grill asparagus
I love eating asparagus since young and the best way to eat them is to grill them! Asparagus have a naturally crunchy taste and if you grilled it correctly, you get a slight burnt aftertaste which adds to its tastiness. So, if you want to learn how to grill asparagus, read on to find out more:

Well, you need to buy the materials first and here I will show you how to select the best asparagus for grilling. Like all vegetables, go for fresh ones if you can. Look for bright green, firm spears with closed tips. Generally, asparagus comes in either thick or thin form. The latter is much more easier to grill so this is what I will be recommending you to buy.

Once you have your asparagus, we need to prepare them for the grill. First you need to wash them thoroughly just like for any other vegetables. Once that is done, we need to cut off about ¼ to ½ inch off the bottom of the spears. That is all we need to do if you follow my advice and bought the thin asparagus. If you have bought the thicker one instead, you need to further slice them the outer skin using some form of peeler. The final step of the preparation is to season it with the right dose of favourings. What you need to do is just apply some olive oil, followed by a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Then you need to roll the spears around to even out the seasonings so they get evenly coated with the oil.

Now we can do the proper grilling. Take note that we don't need a lot of grilling time with asparagus. So, this can either be the first item to get everyone started or should be the last where most of the meat has been grilled. The average time you need to cook the asparagus is about 5 to 8 minutes. When grilling, remember to roll the asparagus around to achieve the evenness.

How to grill artichokes
Artichokes are a type of plants that is only available in the market during late spring and early summer. There are many ways to cook them but grilling is definitely one of best ways in my personal opinion. Artichokes are not too tough to work but you need to put in some preparation work. Here are a simple guide for you to follow:

You need to first prepare the artichokes after buying them from the market. Trim the leaves from the plant but cut the top as well as all the pointed leaves off. This will make handling the plant much easier. Then, you need to clean the artichokes. Simply cut them in half and remove the hairy part of the artichokes. If you want to preserve the colour of the plant, just apply lemon juice over its surface. Once that is done, the final preparation step is to drop the cleaned artichokes in boiling salted water so that they become nice and soft for the grills. Timing wise, soak the artichokes in the boiling water for about 7-10 minutes to achieve the desired results.

During the actual grilling, you need only about 1o minutes. Remember to roll them once every minute to achieve that balanced grill. You can also apply some lemon during this if you like the taste. Once done, simply serve with either butter or mustard.

How to drill boneless chicken meat
Chicken breast meat needs some efforts for it to taste well. Most of the time, I am sure you have chieck breast meat that is dry and tough. With some proper tips, you can actually grill a juicy and delicious breast meat. Here is how to do it.

The first step is to make sure you have plenty of time to defrost the chicken if you are buying fresh ones. If your chicken meat is not defrosted properly, that is already a step towards eating a tough chicken meat. The average length of time needed is around 45 mins to an hours, depending on the size of the chicken.

Once the meat is defrosted, you need to marinate it to achieve that great favor. We are going to create little slits in the chicken breast meant so that whatever we used as marinade can slip through the chicken and adds to its favor. You can accomplish this via cutting thin crosswise slits in the chicken breast of the entire length of the chicken.

How to grill catfish
Catfish is a health food. It contains high protein and many minerals and vitamins. Catfish get their name because the barbels, or whiskers, resemble cat whiskers. Grill catfish taste great. They don't lose their original favour and if you do the grilling right, it will retain the moisture as well.

When cooking any fish or meat in general, one good method is to wrap a tin foil around the fish and use that as a way to cook the fish. In this way, the meat will not stick to the grate and the tin foil also helps to lock in the favour. Before the actual grilling, you will want to marinate the fish first to boast its favour. Simply run the catfish with some seasoning. Personally, I used a bit of salt as well as some curry spices I bought from Chinatown. You will be creative in your seasoning. Just choose whatever you like and experiment.

When doing the actual grilling, just put the foil on the grilling set and set it cooked for about 8-10 minutes. You should constantly rotate the tin foil so that the fish will be cooked evenly. You might also consider oiling the tin foil when grilling to avoid it sticking onto the grates.

How to grill Tilapia
You might not heard of this fish before but it sure is delicious. Tilapia is a mild-flavored, fresh water fish. The meat is very tender and has a delicate flavor to it. Tilapia is great for grilling because it is thinner than other fish like tuna but it would nto fall apart on the grill plate, which is the important thing. This fish has a tender favour and goes well with other things. This means you can exercise some creativity to try out different ways to grilling Tilapia.

When grilling, you have the choice of using the tin foil method outlined above or you can grill the fish directly on the plate. To avoid any sticking, you need to grease the grill with a thin layer of oil. If you health conscious, choose either vegetable or corn oil. Once that is done, you can prepare the grill by firing it out to 300 degrees. If you like your fish to be darken and have a burnt taste, you can heat the grill up to 400 degrees.

One last step before grilling is to season the Tilapia. I recommend light seasoning like salt and pepper. Alternatively, you can use some lemon pepper or cayenne. My suggestion is to keep the seasoning to one type so that you can still taste the favour of the fish.

Finally, you can throw the fish onto the grill. The average time it needs to cook is about eight to ten minutes, depending on the strength of the flames. Usually, I placed the fish not in direct contact with the flame to avoid overcooking the skin. Instead, I let it sit just outside the flame so that it is cooked evenly.

How to grill salmon fillets
Salmon and salmon fillets are a common grilling item. They are easy to prepare and taste great. Salmon can be found in many supermarkets including Walmart so buying them would not be an issue at all.

You need to wash the salmon fillets, remove their mositure and seasoned them. In terms of seasoning, again I recommend something light such as pepper or salt. Then, wrapped the fish in a tin foil and let is marginate for a couple of hours. Salmon has thick meat so you need more time to let the favour of the seasoning slip through.

When it is time for the grilling, you need to first heat up the grills. The typical temperature you should is about 300 to 325 degrees. Once that is done, need to oil the tin foil to prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. You should coat the other side with some oil before turning.

When you are grilling the salmon fillet, you need to constantly turn over the salmon after three to five minutes. The thicker the fillet, the longer you need to cook. Once cooked on both sides, get ready to serve.

How to grill ribs
Ribs , along with steaks, are one of the most popular grilling item. The challenge in grilling ribs is to get the smoked taste, which can be obtained through a process of slow and careful grilling. Unlike fish, grilling ribs takes some practice before you get it right so don't be disappointed if your first bbq rib doesn't taste as good as you want it to be.

In terms of choosing the type of ribs, I typically go for baby spare ribs because the meat is more tender and juicer. They are easier to grill.After buying the ribs, you need to do some preparation work to make the ribs taste good. The first step is to remove the membrane from the rack because they will taste tough if you leave them there. Simply use a blunt knife and slip it under the membrane along the end bone. You need to first loosen the membrane with some slow knife movement before being able to cut if off in one single slice.

Next, you need to favoured the ribs. For this, I recommend buying some ribs rub to add more taste. You should prepare teh surface of the ribs so that after the bbq, it turns into a crispy light crust that taste great with the meat. When applying the ribs rub, take care to spread it out evenly, from the side to the front and the back. This will give it an even taste.

Now, onto the real grilling. This will be a bit complicated. What you will need is to first control your grill's temperature at around 225 degrees. In terms of cooking time, you need about 4 hours in total. During these two hours, you need to constantly rotate the ribs as they cook to keep the heat even. My advice is to continue flipping and switching them every 1 1/2 hours. The key here is slow and steady. Very often, people want fast results and cook their ribs in high temperature. Usually, the end result is not pleasant. The meat will typically be hard and the taste is flat.

One final note. As you are about to finish the grilling, you need to apply some bbq sauce to seal in the favour. Start by putting a layer on the ribs and turn the over and coat the other side. Let is seat for about 5 minutes and then repeat. Do this for about five times should give you a nice, juicer ribs at the end of 4 hours.

In my next post, I will talk about how to grill steak, tuna, corn and other unique food that you might not have heard of. Hope you like this part one on how to grill for beginners.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

SEO tips: selecting keywords for online income

Getting good keywords is the first step to generate online income. There have been many articles around the Web that teaches you how to do it. For me, I have developed my own system for gatehring these good keywords that are targeted at helping me earn a passive online income. These are my methods. They are not a sure fire way to get rich but they helped me a lot to spot keywords.

The common method people used is to go to places like Google keyword tool and type in a keyword like iphone for example. The tool will then give you a list of long tail keywords and their associated CPCs, search volume, etc. While useful, almost every internet marketing guy is using the same method so you can be assured that most of the good keywords are already saturated with competition. That is why I don't use this method solely.

Here is the one other method that I used. I will talk about the rest in future posts.

Letting Google tell you how to select keywords for your blog.

First, you need to select a keyword that has tons of traffic. Go to google keyword tool and just type in your keyword. Under the 'match type' category, go for 'broad'. This will tell you the total search volume that contains your keyword. Basically it is a sumed total of all phases that people search for that has the word iphone. People can type in iphone accessories, iphone jailbreak, iphone api, iphone games, etc. It doesn't really matter. Google will sum it all up and tell you the total if you used the 'board' category. For this, you are going for keywords with high search volume, preferably beyond a million.

Next, change your 'match type' settings to 'exact'. This will then give you the search volume for for that exact keyword. For example, if you use the 'exact' option on the keyword 'iphone', the search volume result that the tool gives you is only for searches that use the exact word 'iphone' and not other things like 'iphone API' etc. The nice thing about the Google keyword tool is that it will also give the exact search volume for the related keywords. Say, you type in iPhone into the Google keyword tool and choose the exact option. The result will not only show you the exact search volume for iPhone but also for related keyword like 'iPhone games', ' iPhone APIs', 'How to jailbreak iPhone' etc. What you need to do next is then sum up the exact search volume for your main keyword and all the related keywords that the tool is showing you. You can do this by importing the result page into an excel sheet. There is option at the end of the result page where you will see an import function.

So, what you have now are 2 things: (i) the broad search volume for your main keyword and (ii) the exact search volume for your main as well as related keywords. If there is a big difference between the 2, then it means there might be keywords which the tool is not giving you but has significant search volume. For example, let's say the broad search volume for iPhone is 20 million but the sum of all the exact search is only 18 million. That means there is about 2 million searches being done for iphone related keywords that the tool is not telling you. Among these, there might be gems that are bring in 10,000 or 20,000 unique searches per month. What you need to do is to fish them out. How?

This is can be accomplished by writing super long articles. They should be at least 4000-10,000 words. For example, in the iPhone example, I would write a long articles about iPhone that rambles about everything I could think of about the device. It can be iphone batteries, how to maintain iphone, how to clean iphone earplugs, where to buy iphone accessories, etc. The important thing is to keep it long and put in as many related iPhone keywords within the post as you can. I don't mean keyword stuffing until it becomes unreadable but do it in such a way that it is natural. In this article, I have already included so many iPhone related keywords, does it feel keyword stuffed to you?

Then you publish the blog post and wait for a few days (I assumed your site is already indexed). There should be long tail traffic that Google will start sending you. Keep an eye out for these long tail keywords because they will point you to those gem keyword that I talk about. This is how I discovered keywords. Typically these keywords will not have much competition because you cannot find them appearing in Google keyword tool when you do a broad category search like iPhone.

Once I have these keywords then the fun begins. I first decide on my monetisation methods to beginning making online income. Typically, I like Adsense but some keywords doesn't have advertisers (because the Google keyword tool doesn't show these advertisers what to bid for as well LOL). Then, I will look for affiliate products. If it is information based, you can try Clickbank where there are tons of information products (You can also create your own information product btw if it is not available in the market). If it is physical, then Amazon will be my first store. I then build my income generating site according to the type of monetisation method I used.

In summary, that is how I select keywords to make online income.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

SEO tips: money making gurus

In all my SEO tips posts, I had forgotten to pay my dues to these money making gurus. People who are masters of everything I have said including SEO, keyword research, building backlinks, the use of anchored text etc. I learn everything from these guys and I think a thank you post is needed. Below are the people who not only knows how to make money online, but are people who are helpful and have given me either direct advice or good lessons through their posts. In no particular order, here they are:

Gizz: The one who started me on this path. Ignore this 'ugly' blog at your peril. The articles he puts out and the free advices he gives are nuggets of wisdom that you can't get anywhere. He single handedly disapproves everything about making money online. It is not about pretty blogs, continuously posting, getting social traffic. It is all about finding the right keywords, writing relevant content and getting relevant backlinks. Here is a BIG thank you to his make money blog.

Working on the Go: Michael has been providing personal advices to me on how to write relevant content that targets keywords and how to take things slow and easy. He is also just starting out but is way more successful than what I have achieved in either money making or SEO. I wish him success in his working on the go venture.

Make money online with SEO: Ben has to be the most hardworking man in this business. He creates niches blogs as fast as a hot knife cuts through butter. His money making and SEO posts are relevant and provide a step by step guide for beginners. As a newcomer, I am not only learning his techniques but his work ethic as well. If you don't believe hard work can pay off in this online business, check out his make money with SEO blog. You will be amazed. (PS: Check out the forum there. The people there are all very helpful folks that I have greatly benefit from).

If you want to learn how to make money online and leave your day job, there are no better places than the site mentioned above. As a tip, don't just read what they say, watch what they do. I know I did and that is how I learning all the different SEO tips.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

SEO tips: select keywords for your blogs

In my last SEO tips, I have mentioned about the benefit of search traffic over social traffic. Basically, search traffic is more desirable because it (i) is more stable, (ii) increases over time and (iii) requires less efforts to maintain. However, many of you have blogs that are more social than search traffic driven. How do you turn the former into the later? It all starts with keyword research. I am going to talk about how to select good keywords for your blogs and using them to optimise your blogs so that they can benefit from some search traffic.

Before moving on, I want to say that this blog is a living example of how to turn a blog that used to get social traffic into one that has search traffic. Below is the traffic chart for the past 2 weeks.

Notice how with no posting, the traffic doesn't drop to zero? All these traffic came from search engines and in particular from longtail keywords that involves SEO, keyword research, how to index fast etc. All keywords that were missing before I started to SEO this blog. I haven't seen massive traffic because I didn't build any backlinks for these keywords yet. Once I do, the traffic will be much higher and more consistent.

Now, how can your blog benefit from search traffic as well. As I said, it all starts with doing the right keyword research and selecting the right keyword. As an example, I am going to use one of my favourite blogs, unstructured thoughts by Taylor Davidson, to show how this can be done.

Now, Taylor is one of the most gifted bloggers I have seen. He writes beautifully and his articles are full of insights that can really benefit the readers. That is why he has a PageRank 3 blog, backed by 2,ooo backlinks. For those of you unfamilar with SEO, 2000 backlinks is a LOT of linkjuice and his blog should be ranking well for his keywords. Unfortunately that is not so. The reason is because he has not optimised his site for the keywords relevant to this site.

First of all, what should be the keywords Taylor should be using? Based on his homepage, my guess would be the following:

landscape photography
documentary photography
financial modeling
business consulting

If all his 2,000 backlinks contain these words, his site would gain keyword authority and be ranked on page one of Google's results. Unfortunately, Taylor didn't do so. Instead, most of this backlinks either contain his name or the name of his blog or the article titles, of which none are optimised for his keywords. This is because most people don't know how to use the right keywords to link and simply use the author's name, the blog title or the article title. That is why it is important for us to make it easy for them by using our keywords in these areas.

The URL is hard for us to change so I don't recommend changing it. The blog title however can be changed. If you look at my blog title, I have changed it from "Wild Illusions" to "SEO tips for niche blogs". Just by simply doing that, the big G immediately ranks me for the former and start sending me traffic that is relevant for this keyword. I strengthen that by using keywords in all my articles titles. In addition, if anybody is to link me using my blog title or article title, these links will now contain the right keywords and I will be gaining keyword authority.

For Taylor, I can't imagine him changing his blog title but simply modifying the article titles would give him incredible keyword authority. In addition, he can also asked his readers who have linked to him to use the right keywords. Doing both things can immediately send him more search traffic.

How much traffic would that be? I did a simple keyword research and below are the monthly search volume for his keywords:

landscape photography - 27100
documentary photography - 8100
financial modeling - 8100
business consulting - 49500

Add together, there is quite a bit of search traffic there. Not only that, these are targeted traffic so the probability of engaging Taylor to do a bit of work in these areas is much higher than people like me, who reaches his blog through social means.

So, to summarise this post, what you need to do for your blog to tap into search traffic is the following:
- Do some keyword research and figure out the keywords you want to use
- Change your blog title to include your keywords
- Change your article title to include your keywords
- Ask your read to give you the right type of links i.e. those containing your keywords, rather than your name.

That is all the SEO you need.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

SEO tips: search traffic vs social traffic

The SEO tip for today will on why you want search traffic, rather than social traffic. I have intentionally stop posting to see what happens to this site, which is primarily based on social traffic. I used to get traffic from ycombinator, facebook, twitter, commenting etc. All these are social traffic. The diagram below shows the results.

From a daily visitorship of 100 readers, my blog went to almost zero when I stopped posting. That is the greatest disadvantage of social traffic. You need to post everyday just to keep the traffic coming.

Some of you might notice the spike I had experienced towards the past few days. This is because of the new posts I have created on SEO tips. That is when I started to SEO this blog. I begin to select the keywords I used very carefully (i.e SEO tips, keyword research, backlinks etc). All these are keywords that I am trying to rank for.

It has taken a couple of weeks but I think the big G has finally begin to recognise this shift and has begin ranking me for many of these new keywords. Here is a sample of the keywords that I am ranking for i.e. in the top page of Google. Just type these in to see if I am on the top page.

anchored keywords
percentage of traffic in top 3 of google pages
good keywords for seo
how to get new post indexed fast

These are the keywords that bought me traffic for the past few days even though I have not been posting. This is search traffic.

Finally, good to see that I am ranking for my blog's title as well. : )

seo for niche blogs

I have not been building backlinks so the ranking must come from the authority that this site has accrued over the years and the fact that I am doing on page SEO. However, if any of you wanted to help me rank higher, I will appreciate if you can linked to this blog using the following keywords, rather than my name : )

keyword research

Before I go, one last evidence to proof that search traffic is much more desirable than social traffic. The diagram below shows one of my niche blogs that I have not posted in months.

Even if no posting, the traffic is slowly but surely increasing. That is the power of search traffic. If you build enough backlinks, these backlinks will aged over time and give you more authority on the keyword you are trying to rank for. The older the site, the more search traffic you will get if you do your SEO right.

PS: I will not be showing my niche blogs in this site anymore. Some bastards have been flagging them and causing me headaches. My intention was to show how SEO can be done by examples but it is not worth the effort.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

SEO tips: anchored backlinks

There is a universal SEO tip for those who really understand what search engine optimisation is all about: it all about anchored backlinks. On-site optimization like including your keyword in your header, blog title, url etc accounts for maybe less than 20% of your ranking in Google's front page. The rest is dependent on anchored backlinks. That is the SEO tip.

What are anchored backlinks? They are like normal backlinks, but anchored with your keywords, like this:

baseball strength training

Notice how the keywords are used in the links and how it is related to the niche of strength training? That is a anchored backlink.

We all know that links are what drive Google's pagerank. The more links you have, the higher you will get in the Google's result page. You don't need SEO tips to know about this. (Note: this is a simplification of pagerank and there are more indepth articles elsewhere that talked about this_

What a lot of people don't know (and this is the SEO tip) is that Google will also associate the link with the keywords you used to anchor it. If there are many links pointing to my site using the words aaron chua wee nian, aaron chua, aaronchua etc, Google will know that this site is all about aaron chua. The next time somebody searches for aaron chua, my site will be among the top 10.

This is how I get keyword authority. My site is deem by Google to have authority in this keyword.

However, using names as anchor text is exactly what we want to avoid, if you want to get use SEO tip to make money. Would anybody want to advertise on the keyword 'aaronchua'? Of course not. This is the common mistake made by lots of bloggers. They don't understand the use of anchored text and therefore, they don't gain authority in any keyword except for their names, which are completely useless when it comes to advertising.

What you want is to use the proper anchored backlinks to give your niche blogs authority in the keywords you are targeting. Let's go back to the example of strength training for beginners. If I can get many backlinks to a site about strength training using the same or similar keywords, such as strength training, strength training for beginners etc, then this site would gain authority and rise in the Google search result. What happens next is the money making part and where the SEO tip is.

Now, if somebody is looking for information on strength training for beginners, and key in that keyword into the search box, my site will appear in the top 10 result and they will click on it. Because the traffic is so targeted, any relevant ads you show will get them clicking on it. That is why anchored keywords are important.

This applies to any niche you do. Be it cameras, food, shoes etc, you need anchored backlinks to get you to Google's top page and get targeted traffic and clicks. So, if you want to link back to this site, please use SEO tips or best SEO tips or something similar. Don't use aaronchua : )

My next SEO tip will be on how do you get those anchored backlinks without people actually linking to you.

Monday, 17 August 2009

SEO tips: "for beginner" keywords

The SEO tip I like a lot is choosing the keywords which contains "for beginners". Why is that important? Well, it is simple: beginners are ad clickers. That is the SEO tip.

When you are a beginner, you are open to learning things. Your mind is in state of search for information. I was in this state when I first began my niche blogging. I was always looking out to what SEO tips to learn. In fact, I often googled for these terms:

best seo tips
top seo tips etc

When I was in this state, anything I saw that was evenly remotely interesting, even if it is an ad, I would click it to find out more. That is how beginners are. This is why they make a great niche to target for ads.

However, I am not saying we should just focus on beginners only. In fact, the next SEO tip is this: use the "for beginners" term as a beachhead to start penetrating into other related terms. That is how you expand from a dominating a keyword to an entire niche.

Let me illustrate with an example. Let say I am interested in strength training. Rather than, focusing on strength training right from the start, I would use "for beginners" instead. That means my initial keyword would be:

strength training for beginners

Once I have managed to get into the first page for this term, I will start getting traffic from people who are ad clickers. Their volume might be low but boy, do they click. This is a good start to get your revenue going , right off the bat, rather than having to work on your niche blog for a few months without seeing any money. (consider this another SEO tip).

The next step is interesting. You can start to expand into other related terms by focusing on other similar keywords such as:

baseball strength training
for beginners or
soccer strength training for beginners

Doing so will immediate create additional targeted traffic for your niche, which in turn brings you more ad revenue. That is how to expand from a keyword to a niche.

Hope you find this particular SEO tip to be useful.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The new trick worked

My friends, the trick I pulled in my previous posts work. In less than 15 mins, my brand new blog has been indexed:


This just shows that knowing what works in terms of making money online is really important. Without this knowledge, you can on and on without truly achieving anything.

It will be damm interesting when I starting to apply these techniques to real startups. I would have solved the most difficult problem facing most of them: getting traffic.

I don't know whether any of this sounds interesting to you. If it is, just drop a comment. If not, I will just keep my mouth shut.

Take Care!

A new trick to get index fast

My plan of building a niche blog empire is going smoothly. Some of them have started making money, which is much earlier than I thought. Most of them are ranking well. My biggest gain from this exercise is learning all the wonderful SEO tricks that I never know.

One of the tricks I am trying now to get your site index fast by using long keywords that has no results. Example of such a keyword is:

ews modular office partitions

There are currently no exact google result for this keyword so it is likely to be indexed fast since Google is always looking for information it doesn't have. Through this link I have embedded above, Google can trace from this blog to this site I have just created 5 minutes ago and indexed it. I will be rank #1 since there is no other competing terms.

What is the point, you might ask since nobody will ever search for such a term? The point is not the traffic but the fact that it gets your site index fast. Once it is indexed, you can start putting in the real keywords that you want to rank for. You can do so by writing long posts that allows you to embed as many terms as you like. Using this approach, you can quickly build up a list of related keywords that you know Google is searching you for. That is how you can build keyword authority.

This is one of the neat tricks I have picked up and I will be sharing more tips like this.

Btw, I have changed my blog title in case you have not noticed. This better reflects the current direction I am heading in. So, to remind the Google crawler, here is the link again : )

ews modular office partitions

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Tools and tips for keyword research

I have been relatively quiet these part weeks, focusing on building my niche blogs and learning all the SEO tricks I can find. I am quite surprise at some of the creative ways and useful tools that one can use in their SEO. So, rather than keeping it to myself, I thought of sharing it here in case you are interested in such things.

Before moving to the tools and tips, I want to put on record saying my first niche blog is a complete failure. If you google for fish oil effects, you can see that one of my niche site for this keyword (fish oil effects) is on page one of Google. That might seem like something to celebrate, given my short stink at SEO but closer examinations reveal otherwise.

At first, it seems strange to me that after following the SEO techniques and achieving what I set out to do, the adsense revenue is not coming in. This prompted me to delve deeper, which is when I realise I made a fundamentally error in my understanding of keyword research.

I thought fish oil effects has a monthly search volume of 27,100 based on google keyword tool, until I realise Google sums all the relevant searches that contain these words. For example, keywords like fish oil side effects will also contribute to the search volume for fish oil effects, even though they are 2 separate keywords. The right approach is actually to view the 'exact' results, rather than the 'broad' results of the google keyword research tool. When I switch to the 'exact' mode, guess what? The monthly search volume of fish oil side effects is only 170. That explains my pathetic adsense revenue for this particular niche blog.

Anyway, to cut the long story short. I decided to relearn many things and that is how I discover these new tools and tips that I am to share right now for those that want to do more effective keyword research:

#Tip 1: Calculating your earnings potential
Beyond the low search volume, one other mistake I made in choosing keywords is not knowing their full earning potential. It is like a startup not doing his financial modeling before launching his business. Anyway, I now used a simple formula to calculate the earnings potential for a niche site, relying on adsense alone

Number of monthly EXACT search*
Probability of these searches coming to your site*
Probability of those coming to your side will click of your adsense*
Average CPC*
Your share of your CPC.

How you get these numbers? Here are the definitions:

Number of monthly EXACT search: these are numbers you can get from the Google keyword tool

Probability of these searches coming to your site: This will depend on your ranking on Google's first page. I have listed the percentages in my previous post

Probability of those coming to your side will click of your adsense: I assume 5%

Average CPC: Again, use google keyword to get the average CPC

Your share of your CPC: I assume Google takes 75% while I take 25%

#Tip 2: Know you competition well
I used a variety of tools to derive my competition levels.

I initially only use plain Google search to know the number of competing sites. After a while, I find that that is not really enough as I don't know the quality or pagerank for these sites. I then discover and use this free tool called SEO for firefox, which allows you to see the pr ranks of the Google result page. Using this, I then decided to only choose keywords if the top sites in the result page doesn't have any sites that are pr4 and above.

Finally, I used the following link to determine the number of backlinks each site on Google's result page has.
This helps me to know how many backlinks I need to build before being able to be rank #1 on the search result of the keyword that I desired. If the number of backlinks is too many, I will start all over again and choose another keyword to target.

All in all, these steps have helped me greatly in selecting good income potential keywords with minimal competition. So far, the results look promising. I will talk more about what exact sites am I working on if they turn out to be successful.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

How much traffic does each rank on Google's top page gives you?

I always wanted to know how much traffic does Google gives you if you are ranked on the first page on a certain keyword. While I couldn't find the exact percentage, I pull together information from different sites to derive a rough percentage.

The first piece of crucial information is what percentage of traffic does the top link on a Google page gives you. From different online marketers, the general assumption is that around 40-50% of the monthly traffic will click on the first link.

The second thing to know is the percentage differences between different rankings on the same top page. This article gives us exactly that information. It is found, for example, that the top link gets 3.5 times more clicks than the second link.

Based on these two pieces of information, I derive a rough estimate of the percentage of traffic you are likely to get based on your ranking:

Percentage of monthly traffic that goes to a keyword
if you are number 1 on your keyword, use 50%,
number 2, use 14%
number 3, use 10%
number 4, use 7%
number 5, use 6%
number 6, use 5%
number 7-10, use 3-4%

This squares well with my niche blog experience. If you targeting a keyword that has only 1000 monthly searches and you are ranked number 6, you are likely to get only 50 clicks per month, which is not going to make me any money. Hence, if you are into keyword research, do take the above into consideration.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

3 learning points from online marketing

As I continue to explore the 'underbelly' of the Internet, looking at both real and scam-like affiliate programmes, I realise these learning points are interesting (to me at least) and I want to share them here.

Demand driven
One of the traits of a great online marketer is a total focus on demand. When they talk about generating niche ideas or new affiliate products, they will scan and research on demand indicators like Amazon Best Seller, Ebay Pulse, Google Keywords and Trends, Yahoo Buzz etc. They want to create something that solves someone's pain. Compared that to most geeky 2.0 launches that are more on the cool factor, rather than genuinely solving the market's pain points.

The downside of such demand driven focus is of course foregoing the ability to create Twitter like success. Using the above demand indicators, it is virtually impossible to even imagine such a service from a demand point of view.

There is a market for digital products
There is a common belief that it is difficult to sell digital product online as most people will not pay for content. I even wrote about it a few times on this blog, contrasting that to how mobile enables content to be paid. However, looking at places like Clickbank, you can see that more than 1billion digital products have already been sold. Why the contrasting views?

The main reason I think boils downs to the act of selling. If you pop over to most popular content sites, you can see the selling process is acutally not there. There is no strong reason or value proposition of why you should folk out money and pay for the content. Compared to that to this sales letter, which is putting the value proposition front and center of the users. I do not endorse that product but I am learning from the way sales are done. I think in moving online, a lot of us have lost the art of selling. We focus on building products but forgot about communicating the value proposition clearly and attractively to the people who would benefit from the product

Innovations in copyright
Umair Haque talks about copyright innovations being key to discovering new strategies for digital media. We haven't seen much of that in main stream media but in Internet marketing, they have created all lots of new copyrights. Just google for master copyright or PLR and you will see what I mean. These guys understand that the key to profiting in the Web world is not by restricting your content. Rather, it is to enable other people to spread it for you by building incentives for them to do so, while at the same, embedding your own revenue streams within each copy.

Friday, 10 July 2009

SEO tips to select good keywords

SEO tips for selecting keywords is the topic for today's post. One of the starting points of any online marketing efforts is selecting good keywords. My venture into niche blogs is no different. As I tried different methodologies for selecting good keywords, I developed 4 SEO tips for doing so.

SEO tip 1: Pick keywords with desperate demand
Google Keyword Tools allow you to see monthly search volume for any keyword which is a good proxy for demand. I have learned however that high demand is not sufficient. The SEO tip is to pick what I called high desperate demand. This refers to people who needs a solution now, rather than just browsing for information. Such keywords will help you to convert users to sale much more effectively. We will take a look at an example in later paragraphs. They key thing is to select keywords that have some decent monthly search.

SEO Tip 2: Supply
Just key in your keyword into google search and you can see how many competing sites are there for your keyword. The lessor the number of competing sites, the lessor your potential competition will be. Beyond this, pay attention to the top page result. See whether these sites have been optimised and whether the content there is relevant. Keywords that give a less relevant top page implies you have a good chance to create relevant content and dominate the top page.

SEO Tip 3: Intention to purchase
A good keyword for niche blogs should have high buying intentions. I don't select keywords that are mostly for people looking for information. Rather, I tried to pick those where users are actually looking to purchase something.

For example, let's look at baby sleep, which is what I am currently working on right now. Some good keywords might be: baby sleep tips, baby sleep information, baby sleep facts etc. However, these are not desperate keywords. People using them are looking for information, rather than desperately trying to find a solution. For this category, desperate keywords might be things like: make baby sleep, putting baby to sleep, baby sleep solutions etc. If you compare the two lists, there is a subtle difference, which might explain why some sites convert better than others.

SEO Tip 4: High revenue keywords
Since the amount of traffic we are getting is defined by the monthly search volume, the only other way to improve revenue is to select keywords that have high CPC or affiliate products that have high payoffs. This is done by usually looking at Clickbank to see what products sell the most and whether they have high commissions. Alternatively, you can also skip over to Google keyword tool and see what is the average CPC.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

SEO Tips to create profitable niche blogs

I am going to talk about using SEO tips to build niche blogs. Each of these element has much more meat to it, which i will go into for my future posts on SEO tips. Now, I want to simply sketch out what I am doing to give you guys a broad picture first.

SEO tip 1: Keyword research
One of the most element in using SEO tips for niche blogs is in picking out a niche. Rather than thinking of random ideas, there is actually a well defined methodology using keyword analysis. To understand this, you can imagine the Web as a constant flow of information. People are always looking for something on the Web. These keywords not only help you identify what are people looking for, but also serve as funnels to channel these flows to you. A good keyword research is like building a blueprint for a good funnel system. You need it to build your niche blogs.

SEO tip 2: Finding the right domain
Related to keyword research is finding the right domain. Your domain should contain the keywords that you are targeting. That is a good way to increase your relevance in the niche. However, good domains are getting scare. You need to know how to efficiently search and get the domain you need.

SEO tips 3: Setting up the blog
This is the easy step. I am experimenting now with both Blogger and Wordpress to see which is more suitable. Currently, Wordpress seems to be the better choice. One thing worth noting is the theme to use. Keeping the theme simple and optimized for adsense or other affiliate products is important. We don't need flashy themes for niche blogs.

SEO tip 4: Getting your blog indexed
This is well you can really used for the SEO tips. I highlighted one here on using SEO tips to get you index within 2-3 hours. This is a critical step to begin directing traffic from Google to your site. You can wait for it to happen naturally if you desire but if you want quicker turnaround time, there are a couple of steps you need to do. More importantly, you must recognised that more and more content are getting created everyday so getting indexed will be much harder. I will share what I learn here for the following posts.

SEO tip 5: Creating the content
The key thing to note about creating content is this: posts must be keyword optimized. This does not mean spamming your posts with keywords. Rather, you must research on what are the second level keywords that will support your main keyword and build posts around them. Tags must also be optimized in this way.

SEO tip 6: Creating the revenue streams
There are numerous tools and affiliate programmes to give you revenue. I personally used Adsense, Amazon and Ebay as they are easy to work with. I am learning now not just to use them but to optimise their usage. Take adsense for example. There is a lot of research out there regarding their placement, their font size, the type of ad unit used etc.

Each of these elements has great depth in them and I will be covering them in future posts. If you find any of these interesting, do drop a note to indicate what you want to read more about SEO tips

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Starting from basic

I have been very quiet for the past week as I am embarking on something new. For the past 2 years, I have been talking about abstract concepts and new ideas that need lots of experiments to get right. After 2 such years, I feel that I am getting out of touch with what is real. It is easy to sit here and blog about wonderful opportunities but another thing to realise them. With that in mind, I decide to go back to basic.

The web has its own set of business rules and engagement. I want to do something simple that lets me relearn these rules, both in theory and in execution. I don't want to spend time developing technology or products. I want to go right into business. That is why I decided to go into niche marketing.

There is nothing breakthrough about this. It is simply discovering unique niches i.e. the Long Tail, that are looking for good information and fulfilling them through simple blog sites. Through this simple plan, I am relearning lots of stuff such as keyword research, affiliate marketing, effective outsourcing, and tons of other stuff. These are the nitty gritty of an online business and I am loving the fact that I am doing them all.

So, for those wondering what am I up to, that is what I have been busy with. I will posting about this more in the future. If you have no interest in that, I apologize for my shift in my content and thank you in advance for your past attention if you decide not to follow this blog anymore.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Can we use the GasBuddy model to create efficient economies for other industries?

I just finished reading "Content Nation" and it is a nice book that summarises a lot of what we know. I particularly like the rules that encapsulates the spirit of what each section is about. One such rule states that:

Empowering anyone to understand supply and demand builds efficient economies that benefit the most people

This is a thoughtful statement and the example given is GasBuddy, which is a website that enables users to learn about gas prices in US and Canada. It is a simple and powerful illustration of the kind of information that reveals demand and supply. Umair Haque talks about creating more markets. Revealing demand and supply is the perquisite to doing so.

Now, which industries do you think is in desparate need for a GasBuddy equvialent? On top of my head: Health Care services, Legal Services, Photography, Financial Products, Medicial drugs etc.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, 29 June 2009

The next generation of edge feeders

Fred Wilson talked about edge feeders in 2005:

Flickr is an edge feeder and the best one I know of. I could take my photos and simply post them to my blog. But I don't do that. I put them on Flickr and then from Flickr, I post them to my blog. Flickr makes that dead simple. But they also give me a badge to show aggregated photos. And they let me post other's photos to my blog. They are the photo feeder of the blog world.

Blip.tv, vimeo, and youtube are the video feeders. I could post a video directly to my blog, but I don't. I post it to vimeo, youtube, or blip.tv, and then from there I post it to my blog. These services are rolling out lots of video specific blog integration techniques that will make it even easier to be a video content creator living on the edge.

Delicious is a link feeder. I could post a linkroll to my blog, but I don't. I use delicious to host all of my links, and I use a tag (mine is linkroll) to feed my linkroll. Delicious makes it easier to be a link content creator living on the edge.

Add to these are newer services like slideshare, scribd, last.fm, zemanta etc. Edge feeders are very powerful businesses as they are viral in nature. If a blogger embeds one of these in his blog, and if his readers like it, they will also embed it in their blogs, spreading the service wide and fast.

To me however, these are first generation edge feeders. They feed the personalised media channels that services like blogger, tumblr and twitter have enabled. How they serve it is very similar to how traditional media is broadcasting its content: mostly one way and lack of real interactivity.

Now, we are seeing the next generation of edge feeder like prezi. It torn itself away from our accepted definition of how powerpoint should behave and adapt it for the Web world. It turn linear sequenced slides into notes that jumps around, back and forth, in and out. What this does is creating a fun product that is both entertaining to use as well as leveraging on the medium to which it is created for. To me, that is how the next generation of edge feeders should be.

Are there opportunities then to reinvent the current edge feeders? To have a prezi for each type of media?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Simple idea: A personalised techmeme based on blogrolls

As an fund administrator, I need to keep up with the latest developments in the industries that I am responsible for. Hence, I always on the lookout for good blogs to follow as well as new ways to keep myself updated. Recently, because of helping a team in the ebook sector, I have been following on the developments in the book publishing sector. Yesterday, I stumbled upon a book publicity blog that has these relevant links on its blogroll.

Currently, I need to read those links, one at a time, to assess whether I should follow them. There are a host of problems with this approach. Firstly, it is too time consuming. Imagine I have to repeat this process for every new industry I need to learn and the problem becomes magnified. Also, there are a lot of dead links. Finally, I don't know which one of these links are the most visited by the blog author.

There is service called blogrollr that I think solves part of these problems. What they do is to track your browsing activity and create a dynamic blogroll based on the most visited blogs for that day. Go to Fred Wilson's site if you want to see it in action. It elegantly solves the problem of dead links and lack of recommendations.

However, I still need to read the links one at a time. I need a service that takes all these links as inputs and create a personalised techmeme for me to read and browse. Maybe blogrollr will evolve that service or maybe they can have an API for others to build it.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The context for real time search

Vertical search used to be a hot topic in 2006-07, with search being applied to horizontal industries like travel, B2B (see this article for a big list of such search engines), products, health, people etc. Read this 2006 readwriteweb article for a good refresher. In 2009, many of these vertical search sites are still around and are in fact, prospering.

Now, with real time expanding the perimeters of search, will we see similar verticals being pop up?
That was the question I kept asking myself after talking to a couple of entrepreneurs who want to build alternatives to Twitter search. They argued that real time search shouldn't be confine to what Twitter provides. There is room for different forms of search that build on real time conversations.

This sounds reasonable to me and is worth supporting to explore how real time search will evolve. Currently in the real time search arena, we have general search companies like Topsy, Collecta, Crowdeye as well as vertical search like Twitseeker (for people search), TwitterJobSearch (for job serach), PicFog (for image search) etc. There is no clear winner yet but it is informative to watch how these services evolve.

The big challenge to me is to think about the context of which real time matters and therefore how real time search matters. Emergence plays a big part. When you want to know emerging thoughts, patterns, trends etc, real time search becomes critical. Think about reactions to product launches, about the spread of virus, about unfolding of events like sports, weddings, disasters etc. All these are context where real time matters.

I am sure there is more context surrounding real time search. What are your views?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Quick riches versus long term value

Creating real value for the long term has been the basis for the ideas I have talked about in this blog. This is of course large influenced by the likes of Umair Haque, Taylor Davidson etc. However, this post by one of our incubators has let me wondering about the merits of such thinking:
take a winning formula and adopt it to a new platform. Almost seems like a cookie cutter formula for success, provided you can execute well.

The key for me is the definition of success. If your business is solely in it for the purpose of making money, then I think what Kenneth is saying makes sense. Don't be too fanciful. Take something proven, adapt it for the new platform or markets, and launch it well. Scott Rafer (during his unconfernce speech in Singapore) mentions similar things as well. Don't try to innovate too much. Do something dumb like directory services, data collection etc but make sure the market is big enough.

On the other hand, trying to create real value seems to require more experiments and innovations. Daring to push the boundaris and test new forms of thinking are essential to reshape outdated economics. The end might not be clear but at least there is something worth fighting for in the things you do.

Of course, both might not be mutually exclusive. You can copy a model that creates lots of value, liking developing a Hello Health for Asia.

What is your view? Am I making any sense after the long break?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Thanks for all your comments

I am finally back home after a wonderful break. Lots of new perspectives and stuff to share. Greece is really a beautiful country. I intend to upload some of my photos here once I got them sorted.

I wanted to return back to blogging again but a bad news greeted my arrival yesterday. My wife's grandma just passed away yesterday morning so I had to rush back to Malaysia to settle the funeral arrangement. It wasn't a pleasant return but it did get me thinking about lots of stuff.

Before I end, just wanted to thank everyone for their comments on my last post. Wasn't really expecting so many responses but they made all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Taking a break from blogging and from everyday life

In recent weeks, I have found blogging to be quite tiring. I have not any new thoughts or inspirations to share and forcing myself to write for writing sake is quite painful. I have decided to take a 2 weeks break from blogging and spend them in the lovely country of Greece to reflect upon the future direction of this blog.

This is reflective of what I am experiencing from my everyday life as well. I felt that I have hit the limit of what I can learn and contribute in my current job. Maybe it is time to move on. Time to seek new learning experiences and to 'unlearn' what I have been thinking upon.

This blog hasn't got many readers but for those who bother to check it out regularly, I thank you for your attention. Your attention and your comments are what made blogging worth it. If you have ideas of what I can do in terms of blogging, do leave them in the comments although I would not be responding for the next 2 weeks.

It has been a fun ride so far but it is time to self reflect.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

6 examples of mobile applications to enhance reality

One of the exciting things about mobile is its ability to enhance our understanding of the physical world by drawing in information from the online space. We are now just beginning to explore the possibilities but the early signs are already encouraging. Here are some of these interesting applications:

Sky MapEkinWikiTude
Oedo YokdiTotal ImmersionInvizimals

Sky Map
A new program called Sky Map uses not only GPS signals to tell users what stars and planets are visible in the sky at their location, but actually shows what celestial objects the phone is pointed at. Because it doesn't need to see anything, the program works if you point your phone through the Earth, so you can see what people on the opposite hemisphere might be looking at. You can also search for objects of interest, like Mars, and Sky Map will show you where to look for them.

"Enkin" introduces a new handheld navigation concept. It displays location-based content in a unique way that bridges the gap between reality and classic map-like representations. It combines GPS, orientation sensors, 3D graphics, live video, several web services, and a novel user interface into an intuitive and light navigation system for mobile devices.

Wikitude is a mobile travel guide for the Android platform based on location-based Wikipedia and Qype content. It is a handy application for planning a trip or to find out about landmarks in your surroundings

Oedo Yokdi
"Oedo Yokai" is a book on the Japanese "Yokai" (Sprites and Spirits). It is a collection of "Yokai" stories associated with the areas near the subway stations of the Oedo Line in Tokyo, Japan. You can also summon Netsuke sculptures of each "Yokai" in the book and collect them at your leisure.

Total Immersion
Allows users to take images of cars and then manipulate the digital version of the cars including the ability to change colours and rotate the view.

This kid-targeted title uses the PSP Camera/Go!Cam (still unavailable in the U.S.) to find hidden monsters around their homes, which they can capture with real-life trap pieces, then trade or battle them against each other locally or online. The ability to cast spells like earthquakes by shaking the system, or lightning strikes from shadows players cast is particularly cool. It even has a very DS-like feature in which players blow into the system mic to create a snowstorm.

Thoughts on hacking finance (continued)

There is just such a HUGE opportunity to reinvent this stale, corrupt, end of empire business we call finance.

In response to the NYtimes article on the crooked behaviors of financial planners, Sean Park made this wonderful comment. He should know since he has been at the forefront of the financial sector for many years.

In the traditional of this blog, let me continue on my ideas of how to hack finance. If you have further ideas to add on, please leave them in the comments section. We all need better discussions and ideas on how to reinvent this industry.

Covestor for financial planning
Financial planning really isn't all that hard. We can make it easier through online tools. More importantly, if we allow people to start sharing their financial plans, there might be less need for the so call 'professional' planners. After all, if you have spoken with any of them,you know how 'sophisticated' they really are. What we need are just ways to surface the best among us so that we can depend on each other for sound financial advise, rather than some arbitrary third party.

Financial services for new kinds of markets (carbon, power, water etc)
Current financial services are build on thin value. However, the potential of finance is so much more. It can reallocate resources, through markets, to projects and companies that are bringing real value. Now, with the technology and economic infrastructure of the 21st century, it is entirely possible to implement a market-based pricing of intangible externalities. This means the real cost of our activities, including those on the environment, can be properly measured and evaluated. To do that, we need a whole new suite of financial services, from information tools, to risk management and trading.

Better risk assessment models for the so-called high risk groupsI have mentioned before in my first post on hacking finance that we need better ways to serve the under-served. That include groups such as students, low-income and creative folks. The key solution is to develop alternate risk assessment models that better understand the context of these groups and take into account factors that might otherwise be missing from traditional risk models.

Let's take students as an example. Interest rates for students loans are a bit out of whack:

Interest rates on student loans, including on popular federal programs like the unsubsidized Stafford (now nearly 7 percent) and Parent Plus (8.5 percent), are running several percentage points higher than the rates on secured loans, like home equity lines of credit.

One of reason for that is that the FICO model doesn't accurately measure the risk of student loans. Students have no credit history which leads to FICO producing unreasonable credit risk. A better model is to capture the human capital aspect of students' education. A startup called HumanCapitalScore is doing exactly that.

We can learn from that experience and develop better risk models for the rest of the under served groups. With that, we might reinvent how finance can be extended to them successfully without taking on huge amounts of risks.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Types of entrepreneurs I have met

Inspired by this story about how a cashier has written a book on her perspectives of the shoppers she serves, I decided to tell my perspective of the type of entrepreneurs I have met. As part of my job, I have met hundreds of entrepreneurs in Singapore and they are a mixed bunch. I thought it would be interesting to pick out a few categories and talk about them.

The Know-It-All
Hands down, the most irritating of the bunch. They assumed they know everything, even in the face of strong evidence. What are their characteristics? They counter every point you made, they interupt you even before you finish, their arguments are illogical, they are too absorbed in their views etc. When I encounter such people, I count that day as an unlucky one. Fortunately, they are not many of them around.

The Clueless
These types come in without knowing anything. They don't know their potential users, they don't understand the market, they seldom talk to real people. In order words, they live in their worlds. Unlike the first group however, they are open to listening. What I usually advise them is to be real. Get out of their heads and start talking to potential users. Gather real feedback rather than imagining everything in their minds.

The Money Minded
Everything is about $$ to these guys. There is nothing inherently wrong with this but you get the feeling you will not see anything special coming out from them. They might able to survive. Heck, they might even be doing well. However, they will not be the ones that create new markets or the next big thing. Those things are reserved for people who put value creation and their passionate ahead of money.

The Passionate
You can't help but to be touched by their passions. They may not have the most complete plans but they are willing to work at it and listen to all views. These types are typically a joy to work with. The only exception is when they are passionate about the wrong things. That is when they might become type one.

The Inspirational
They are the highlights of my job. Talking to them is like taking a live lesson. You get to hear deep insights about the markets they serve, the experimental models they are playing with, the lessons they have learned etc. They are what makes this job worth it. Every session with one of these type expands my horizon. You can't get better lessons than these.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Super distribution may be upon us

The concept of distribution has been around. Umair Haque termed it as viral revenue chains in 2005 and deem it as one of the important models for content distribution:

viral revenue streams are almost a foregone conclusion, because they are a dominant solution for the public goods problems the radically decentralized and open economics of the www creates. They're, pretty simply, the most rational and efficient solution to what people think is a messy problem - dealing with digital property rights.

This was echoed by Fred Wilson in 2007 when he wrote about how superdistribution will become a new model for content and revenue distribution:

Superdistribution means turning every consumer into a distribution partner. Every person who buys a record, a movie, reads a newspaper, a book, every person who buys a Sonos or a Vespa becomes a retailer of that item. It's word of mouth marketing, referral marketing, but with one important difference. The consumer is the retailer.

Superdistribution hence seem be an important mechanism/model for next generation marketing. At stake is a new ideology of how distribution in a networked economy will look like. But before we go deeper into the subject, let's get back to basic: what is superdistribution?

Clay Shirley has defined it well and also added in its importance to our connected culture:

This is superdistribution — content moving from friend to friend through the social network, far from the original source of the story. Superdistribution, despite its unweildy name, matters to users. It matters a lot. It matters so much, in fact, that we will routinely prefer a shareable amateur source to a professional source that requires us to keep the content a secret on pain of lawsuit. (Wikipedia’s historical advantage over Britannica in one sentence.)

Given how important superdistribution is, why are there so few real life examples? The answer is that it is tricky to operationlise these revenue chains. To make superdistribution a reality, we need (i) analytic services that can track beyond first level referrals and (ii) a payment infrastructure that is well embedded into our interactions such that we don't notice it at all. Both are difficult to achieve in critical mass on the Web.

Now however, there is an interesting device that has both of these characteristics: it is called the mobile. Mobile is our most personalised device and it knows information about us right down to the indiviudal. That can produce insightful analytics about who we share our content with and to what extend does that content gets filter through the social network. Mobile also comes with payment embedded, which is necessary to enable revenue sharing.

Hence, I was pretty excited when I read this article about Google and Apple enabling superdistribution-like features for their mobile stores:

Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone 3.0 software includes features that, if activated by Apple, may let users share software with one another, according to a person familiar with the technology. Eventually, iPhone users may even get a commission when they've induced someone else to make a purchase

If they get this right, we are going to see new models of distribution being created right before our eyes. The value this is going to release will be tremendous. I can't wait to see how this unfolds.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

4 rules I used in my startup to leverage on the networked economy

The new networked economy requires new rules. As a startup in this new economy, I constantly looking for ways for my company to be part of the network. Here are the 4 rules of thumbs I always used to ensure that what I do leverages fully on the networked economy

Many touch points
I want my service to touch as many networks as possible because the value increases exponentially by the number of networks the action flows through. In practice, this means open APIs and confirming to open standards such as microformats and Open ID/Facebook Connect. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for my service to get in and out.

Tapping/Coordinating existing networks
Rather than creating new networks, I am always on the lookout for ways to leverage on current networks. More significantly, if my service can help to coordinate or bridge different networks, the value is even greater . Take the simple example of commenting systems like Disqus. It rides on the blogging networks to scale its users. However, because it works across different blogging networks, from blogger to Wordpress, the value it creates becomes much more significant.

How to benefit others
Networks become more powerful when more value is flowing through them. Hence, I would want third party developers or suppliers to come aboard my service and create new things using it. Therefore, thinking about ways to create benefits for network members is actually very productive. This cannot be accomplish by simply having an open API. I need to consider pricing tools, ability to collect payment, how to surface and promote the best third party services etc. Such support structures must be there to truly benefit other members.

Feedback Loops
There is a viral effect for networks. I want to create high viral coefficients so that my service can spread itself faster. Conversely, I want to be aware of negative feedback loops as well so that it doesn't dampen my growth. One important factor here is the fees. Rather than charge as high as you can, Tom Evslin famously said that networks should charge as low as they can bear to maximise growth. Pricing in this case is an important viral factor.

These are my rules of thumbs. I watch for these in many of the startups we funded. Do you have any rules of thumbs to leverage on network growth?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]