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.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Is Jared Cooper from www.designbyhybrid.com a scamer

Ok folks, don't waste your time reading this post. It is meant for me to do some SEO work to some guy who has been very dishonest in his business dealing with me.

Jared copper (email: sales@designbyhybrid.com) of www.designbyhybrid.com first approach me with the desire to buy one of my domain names.

Frankly speaking, I wasn't expecting the sales as I bought the domain for development. However, I decided to sell it as I figured that my busy schedule might not allow me the time to fully develop this site. As a result of this thinking, the sale price was finalised fairly quickly.

I created the invoice and sent it to him June 16 2012. During this time, I also took the trouble to let me know that if he changes his mind about buying the domain, it is fine by me as long as he drops me a note.

After waiting for 7 days, the payment did not arrived and I wrote him an email saying how disappointed I am with his business courtesy. I also told him that I am going to write about this experience here to let people know how he treats his business contacts.

Immediately after this email,  Jared Cooper contacted me. He explains that he has been traveling and reinstated his interest to buy the domain. He even expressed clearly in a follow up email saying that he would pay on the same day. Note that at this point, he can still back out of the deal.

So I gave Jared Copper another chance. I resent my invoice and waited. Guess what, anotehr seven days passed and still no reply or payment. This is when I decided to write this.

What I am going to do is simply to rank for his name Jared Cooper, his email (sales@designbyhybrid.com), his telephone (310.491.6323) and his company's web address (www.designbyhybrid.com). I hope that if other domain investors or companies searcheed for Jared Cooper or any of his related information, they can read this post and see what kind of business courtesy he has.

The issue I have is not the money. It is a small amount (USD300 for the domain) but it is the way Jared Cooper lies to me and failed to meet the promises he made. I want to make sure that whoever deals with him in the future know the kind of person he is. In fact, now that he has aroused my interest, I am going to dig out as much as I can about him. It should be a fun investigation. 

Aaronchua.com has certain authority so let's see if this post is sufficient to rank for Jared Cooper. If not, I will start to add more content about him and to round up some links from my PR4 network. This should be enough.

For those who have read this post, a simple advice: never pissed off a SEO guy, especially one who has competed in some of the most competitive keywords. You never know what will appear in the search engines. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

How identifying new niche can create a real online business

One of the key strategies in my online business is to identify new niches that have just emerged. With a new niche, the leverage you can have from SEO traffic is much stronger because the cost of achieving the rankings and traffic is much lower. This is why I wanted to do a post for the 10 new niches or industries that I have identified because I think you can really benefit from them if you take action.

Before that list, let me take this post to give you a concrete example of how a startup has cleverly mined an emerging set of keywords to build up a really strong traffic funnels. The startup is called Zapier . You probably have never heard of it so allow me to explain what it does.

Basically, Zapier lays on a friendly user interface to let users integrate services between companies. For example, if you want to synch your gmail contacts with Mailchimp, Zapier allows yous to do that without any coding experience. It is a pretty useful service and its primary target audience is small businesses who want to make their operation more efficiently through the syching of these different services.

Given its product, Zapier has chosen a very new but emerging set of keywords to target. These keywords center around "how to" questions that people asked to when they want to connect one service to another. Examples include:

"mail to evernote"
"evernote gmail integration"
"aim on gmail" (aim is the messenger application from AOL)
"wufoo and aweber integration"
"dropbox gmail integration"
"yahoo messenger wordpress"
"does batchbook accept paypal"

This strategy is very clever because all these services are new and therefore any how to questions related to them are probably very underserved in the SERPs. By focusing on these emerging set of keywords, the startup probably don't need much backlinks to rank for the different how to permutations that peole will asked around the different services that they want to connect with.

In fact, this can be a very fertile ground for a new technical site to address the above questions and target the same keywords. Once this site has rankings and traffic, wait for Zapier to offer an affiliate programme and start earning money. This is why I loved the online business models. They are just so many niches and possibilities that one cannot help but to earn money if one is more observant on what is happening. 

What this example has shown is that there will be new keywords emerging. You need to keep an eye out for them if you want to avoid the backlinks war. As a SEO practioner, you have the choice of what kind of SEO tactics you want to engage in. Only want to compete in hyper competitive keywords? Then go ahead with the linking game.

For me, I prefer to stake my claims in the niche research part of the game. Less manipultive efforts that wouldn't get into trouble with Google. Remember, SEO has 4 parts:
  • Keyword research
  • Content production
  • Backlinks
  • Feedback and monitoring
Each individual area above has mulitple levels of depth.  If you can master a couple of SEO skills that are not related to links, you can still attract search engine traffic. In a future post, I will take more what are the different sub levels of SEO that you can do and how each of them can get you traffic.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Why the blogging niche sucks - a reply to Justin from adsenseflippers.com

I am really honored that Justin from adsenseflippers.com has left a comment on my previous post: "difference between fluff and quality content". I agree with this particular comment:

".but I also think it's important to remember that just because you get more value out of actionable content...not everyone's in the same position as you."

It is very true that different folks are looking for different stuff. So, this post is meant for me to clarify that, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, why I think most of the blogging/online marketing/making money crowd is fluff. 

I am a business guy from day one. When I was a fund manager with the government, I invested in nearly 200 real startups. The problems we are struggling with  always have to do with the business, not the motivation. Real issues such as how to ship products on time, what features to include, how to get the first 10 paying customers, how to work with PR etc were the topics for many of our discussions. It is the same thing now that I am focusing on KooBits, the educational startup I am heavily involved with.

When I got into the blogging a couple of years back, I realised that the online crowd is entirely different. Many would like their blogs to be successful, whether in terms of money or traffic. However, most didn't want to put serious work into their web properties. Instead, I saw many bloggers passing of reading as 'working'. These reading time was pursued in the name of doing research, networking or whatever reason they want to give it. The end result is that nothing gets done. No content was produced and no serious outreach programme was put into action.

Due to such mentality, many sites about blogging/making money/online marketing become a game of appealing to these 'reading' tendencies. Most did it with bullet point content. 5 ways to get more traffic through youtube, 10 blogs you should read, my ultimate secret to something something. It was all meant to feed the crowd who reads more than they do. The end game of course is sell them something that requires them to read even more stuff. Perfect plan!

The sad truth that I found out was that there was more people who wants to read about success than actually putting in the effort to reach them. This is why sites such as socialmediaexaminer.com are so popular. They will do very well but this is not what I want my blog to be.

So, this blog will not be about motivation. If you want such stuff, get off my blog! This blog is meant to provide useful and tactical information to those who really wants to do business and make money online. If you want to read fluff, go to problogger, thinktraffic and other content sites that you can easily find.

To Justin specially

I appreciate your comment. It is objective and I can see where you are coming from. I hope you can see where I am coming from as well. It is my blog and I felt I have an obligation to call out what I THINK is fluff according to my world view. Of course, you can feel free to say that people needs inspiration but I seriously don't buy that.

As to your specific comment about me attacking other bloggers to get traffic, I have to say that I am aware of such tactics and I am not using them here. I don't really care about aaronchua.com. Seriously, this is a personal space. It is not a business blog like your adsenseflippers.com where it serves as a sales funnel to your sites.

That being said, I do think your site has valuable content and that stems from the fact that you are writing from experience. The insights just come naturally. Many of the other blogs don't have real business experience so their main insights come from the blogging niche itself. That is not healthy and I don't recommend my readers to continue on a reading cycle.

In summary, this will be my last rant about this topic. Sorry about this folks because you might not have learn anything to advance your SEO or make money tips. Stay tune for the next post as I am finally ready to tell you the 10 viable niches you can get into. These niches are not your long tail type of niches (i.e. red microwave oven is NOT a niche). These niches are real industries that coming on their own and there are opportunities to established a foothold in the informational aspect of these industries.

Friday, 22 June 2012

DIfference between quality content and marketing fluff: a long reply to tom ewer of leavingworkbehind.com

This was intended to be a reply to Tom of leavingworkbehind.com, who took the trouble to leave a comment in previous post on marketing fluff.  It turned out to be a bit longer than I would have liked as a comment so I decided to flush out my thoughts a bit more and make it into a real post.

This was Tom's comment

"Hey Aaron,

Really disappointed to hear that you feel my blog is going the way of "fluff". I'd love to get some feedback from you on that front - I pour an enormous amount of effort in trying to produce valuable posts every single time, so I'd like to know where you think I'm going wrong.



Given Tom's recently surge in popularity, it was nice for him to even bother to comment on blogs like mine. Made no mistake, Tom is a NICE person. His comment is proof of that. However the realities of blogging in terms of generating traffic sometimes can steer you in the wrong direction.

His simple questions actually left me with a lot to think about. I had years in business development/marketing for both real companies and my own online properties. As a result, my bullshit filter is pretty much on most of the time. I can smell the bullshit from miles away but it takes a bit of effort to dig into the details of why I think they are bullshit. This post is my attempt to do so.

So, back to the question: what is the difference between quality content and fluff?

My answer: deep insights into execution

That is my guiding principle to tell me what is fluff and what isn't.

In the world of business and making money, execution is what separates ideas and dreams from reality. I have learnt long ago to look past the marketing bullshit and to see what really make things tick. It is these insights that will determine success or failure. If a piece content cannot bring out these insights, they have nothing to offer but fluff. Fluff makes you feel good as it tricks you into believing you are learning something. In reality, trying to execute on fluff will leave you with hundreds of burning questions.

An example to illustrate what I meant

If you have never heard of Khan Academy, it is one of the fastest growing platform for online video learning. I investigated deeply into why it grew so fast and where the growth is coming from, especially in the early stage where it has not received so much public recognition.

Fluff: "Great content that is easy to follow". "First of its kind". "Person in the video is really great". "Everybody is sharing these content with their friends" Blah blah blah.

Insight: The videos ranked for almost all the maths related queries in youtube search. In other words, SEO on the youtube platform bought tonnes of traffic to the videos. It is only after the initial exposure that people started to share and talk about the great content.

On the surface, the marketing fluff about Khan Academy is not wrong.
  • Building what the gurus liked to called "pillar content" forms a strong foundation. 
  • Referral traffic from sharing is a good source of growth
However, executing on these alone, as most bloggers do, will leave them cold. Why? The missing link is the initial pool of users. Your kickstart engine if you will. Most companies and blogs failed because they failed in this stage of their ventures. If you want to learn why something is generating lots of traffic online, always look for this kickstart engine. Don't be blinded by all the PR talks and useless commentary.

I loved this particular insight as it is something that anyone can duplicate. Anyone can learn how to do SEO on youtube seach. It doesn't require invisible handshaking which a lot of guru online marketers do that we can't see.

(A side note: this is why a real SEO doesn't focus on Google alone. Any platforms with a large traffic base and a search box can be optimised. If you are not experimenting in getting search traffic from forums, video sharing sites, twitter etc, you are missing out on a lot of traffic).

Other examples

Griz: One of my biggest hero. He taught me many things about SEO by conducting his experiments openly with the SERP results to show for it. I remembered one particular example where he showed the power and the ease of ranking of trend keywords by ranking for the names of American Idol contestants.

Griz created a new blog in front of us targeting one particular contestant and ranked it within days. He also showed the site's  traffic stats and how to make money off it. That one post opened up my eyes in terms of how to target new terms that are featured on TV and eventually lead to my success in creating a adsense site in one of the most competitive industry: cosmetic surgery. ( See this post on how I make 1k in adsense using this method of targeting emerging keywords).

Griz posts were insightful as the kickstart engine was open for anyone to see. Anyone can easily duplicate what he has done and have success. There is no fluff and no gaps in the most crucial part of your business. 

Michael Martinez: Micheal doesn't conduct these live experiments but his years of experience shine through in this SEO posts. I learnt many things from him including a concept called SERP saturation, which explains why it is tougher to ranked for established concepts and keywords. I am not going to explain it here but it is something that once again open my eyes to how search engines work.

Again, such information can be implementated and they have a real impact on your results because they focus on the kickstarted part of your project. 

Back to leavingworkbehind.com

This is the part where I address Tom's question. Let look at a recent post:

"22 Success Stories Reveal The Moment When They Knew They Were Capable Of More"

It is the type of post that most readers will love to read. It is inspirational especially to those who love to live in their heads. However to somebody like me, it is utterly useless. They don't reveal the crucial execution tips in the initial part of their business. As I said above, getting traction is the toughest part of any business. Your first customer, your first 100 readers, your first book deal. All these are the really hard to achieve. A insightful post will tell you exactly the process and the time and the effort you need to get the traction.

Another post: "http://www.leavingworkbehind.com/why-im-getting-naked-for-you-and-no-one-else/"

Seriously dude, you don't need such posts to create your unique selling point. This is again the type of marketing fluff that most online marketers encourage. Your true selling point will come from what you are saying and not telling your readers what you are going to say. Just walk the talk! Don't use this merry go round approach of content to sell your readers to more useless marketing manifestos. These other guys are using fluffy manifestos to establish themselves as the authority and not to provide anything useful.

In fact, most list type of articles fall into this catagory of content. You have nothing to say so you send your readers to a merry go round to other blogs and see if they have anything concrete or useful. Again, most social readers love this because they live in their heads. These folks like to read more than do.

Tom's earlier stuff was much better as it was his personal stories about his money making experiments. Personal storeis are powerful because they reveal insights. Insights about how a beginner can stumble, the kind of mistakes he made and the kind of solutions he thought of. The whole process, including how the initial traction can happen, is laid out in front of your eyes. This is powerful stuff.

Unfortunatley, personal stories don't work that well if you are not successful yet. Causal readers will somehow not share your content or even like your blog unless you have achieved some results. They are ok to missed out on the growin pains of a project which is where a lot of learnings can take place.

This is why most bloggers will go down the marketing fluff path. They can't wait for the day they will be successful. They need the traffic now so they resort to common tactics that I have described above.

My final feedback is this: You need to do things first before writing. Only after real stuff has been done will insights be born. Nobody can produce insightful posts everyday, especially if you don't have years of experiences backing up what you are saying.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Using marketing fluff to get more traffic for your blog

The online marketing blogs are just full of fluff and crap. Sites like thinktraffic.net and socialmediaexaminer.com gets to me because they don't really say anything useful. (I hope leavingworkbehind.com is not going that direction but it seems that way). They make for enjoyable readings but you can't take anything away from their content to use.

What you can learn from them is how they can produce marketing fluff that attracts readers and implement them on your non marketing blogs.

Most of these marketing or make money blogs succeed because they capitalise on one thing: most readers are lazy. Most readers rather spend time reading about stuff than actually doing it. This is why attractive headlines and the promise of more reading materials attracts these readers likes bees to honey. They made you feel good about reading but the reality is that they don't say anything much.

A good example is the type of post that lists other blogs you should read. This is not said by me but by what was written in a thinktraffic post called "One Blog Post Formula Proven to Get Traffic and Subscribers Time and Time Again". This proves that to grow your blog traffic, don't think so much in terms of usefulness. Think in terms of attractive headlines and content that promises more content.

What I have done is to copy these type of headlines and implementing it on my domain section of the early retirement blog. The content is not up yet but these are the article titles I have come up with. Do you feel like clicking on them to read more?
  • 10 reasons why you have lousy domains
  • Lessons from 10 rising domain superstars in 2011
  • The ultimate guide to valuating a domain name
  • How to double your domain sales with these 5 tips
  • 100 early retirement tips from twitter
  • Domaining tips from 10 female domainers
My advice is not to spending time reading the content on these online marketing blogs. Instead, use the time to copy their formula. See how they:
  • Use attractive headlines with so so content to attract readers
  • Popularise a couple of terms such as 'write epic shit' or 'pillar content' to create authority and a following
  • Reinforce authority with these readers using a nice design and what they called 'pillar content"
  • Funnel users to sign up for a course that cost at least USD100 and abve
That formula above is how to make money with your own bullshit product. The better you can do above, the more money you will make. As you can see from aaronchua.com, I suck at the above. 
  • I don't use headlines such as 10 of these, 8 of that blah blah blah
  • I don't use clever terms
  • I don't write often because I got real WORK to do
  • I don't funnel you guys to any mumbo jumbo product
This is why I am not making money with a blog.

That is going to change! I am selling out on my other blogs and I am going to make a ton of money. I advise you to do the same. Most niches are not filled with such marketing fluff sites yet. You definitely can make one and fake your way to celebrity kingdom. If anyone can do it in the marketing niche where there are so many savvy folks, I am sure you can do it in the gardening, fishing, automobile, decorating, food recipes, investments and many many other niches.

Readers, why not exercise your marketing fluff muscles and see if you can write some gorgeous headlines for your niche in the comments below?

Mid year review of my online business

Anybody out there? LOL

I have disappeared from this blogs for a couple of reasons, namely my Turkey Holiday, my grandma passing away and a couple of work distractions. I doubt anybody cares enough about this blog to want to know this but I thought no harm writing these excuses down for not blogging recently.

It is now the mid point of 2012. It is a appropriate time to review the progress of my online business. I hope you guys do the same because it is easy to be caught up in the day to day without taking the time off to reflect and to realign on what you are doing.

Update on old projects

Goal of earning an additional 5k per month: I would think this will be an epic failure on my part. I am nowhere near this goal as all the projects I have listed in my 'how to make money in 2012' post have stopped. The reason for stopping is to adapt to how has happened during these 6 months. More on that below

Amazon niche challenge: This project has been killed after I have given long thoughts about it. The SEO landscape has changed and the rate of change will get faster and faster. I am tired of building these niche sites that have very little change of surviving these algorithm changes such as Panda or Penguin.

I am NOT saying that you cannot make money with niche sites. You can still can if you watch the SERPs closely. For example, all the hosted platforms such as Squidoo are ranking well. You CAN make a quick buck throwing out a hundred or so of keyword targeted content. However, expect things to change. As long as you expect these changes and can roll with them, building niche sites is still a viable money making project.

However, I am tired of such changes. I want something more long lasting and sustainable. More importantly, I want to work on something that keeps my interests. With the Internet opening up more opportunities every single day, I want to work on something that is exciting and adds value to people.

Selling sites: With my amazon sites stopped, there are hardly any sites that I can sell. Most of the sites I have are meant to be kept, unless someone offers a really good price for them.

New projects

So, with these projects killed, what I am working on? Mostly on sites that I have an interest in but truth to be told, I am still finding my way as well. Below are some of the stuff that I am pursing currently:

Online magazine about small living spaces: I am developing an online magazine that attempts to help people get the best out of small spaces. I think this topic is becoming increasing relevant as apartments in big cities are getting smaller and smaller.

Structuring a real content is much tougher than I thought. Like in any physical magazine, I need to segment my site according to the different content types such as editorial, the regular stuff, the featured content, the gallery etc. That means drilling down and really understanding what your readers or potential readers might want. It is no longer enough to just lay everything in a blog site format.

Buying websites: I am still investing in websites to make money. I think this will be a very rich area in the coming years in terms of interest. Besides the actual buying and selling of websites, the content part of it will spark interest as well. In fact, I am writing a book right now about how to invest and run websites. This is from my personal experience of already spending more than 100k in this area. I think I am qualified enough to put a book on this subject.

Domain investing: I am finally starting to put in some real money in this game. Most people will think the domain investment game has dried up years ago but I beg to differ. Just like in real estates, the way to make money has changed but people can still earn amazing earnings buying and selling domains. It is of course no longer possible to buy single word domains are cheap prices but there are other ways to play this game now. I am going to write about domain investing in my early retire diary blog so you can take a look if you are interest.

So, back to you readers. How are your make money plans coming along in 2012?