Being drunk and being productive is not exactly the most fortunate pair, is it? But quite surprisingly the two have a lot in common.

For instance, when you’re drunk, you usually feel like the king of the world. You can do anything, achieve every goal, and so on … at least in your mind. The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite.

And that’s quite similar to what happens when you’re working and feeling really efficient. Efficiency is the holy grail of most employees, entrepreneurs, other business people, and essentially everyone who’s not unemployed. So what’s the problem with efficiency? Well, just like being drunk, it’s an illusion.

To find out what I’m on about, check out my guest post at The Productivity Pro Blog:

Being Drunk vs. Productivity

What’s your take on the concept of efficiency? Does my approach make any sense to you? Finally, do you think that being falsely efficient can kill your productivity?

 

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What Being Drunk and Productivity Have in Common | newInternetOrder.com

launchEvery online business owner in on a constant search for multiple income streams and different ways to make money in general. But selling something yourself is not the only way around…

In a series that’s been running on this blog lately I’m explaining some of the more popular business models for anyone who wishes to do business over the internet, so I’m not going to mention them here.

However, I will say right away that this post is about products, and different ways of marketing them. If you’ve read my post about products as one of online business models then you know what the biggest advantages of offering products are.

The only difficulty, however, is to actually sell those products. Or better yet, sell them successfully.

You can try different approaches here: advertising, social media, email marketing, SEO, and many many more. And this is also where affiliate programs come into play.

I have to say right away that affiliate marketing is not the most obvious technique out there. It doesn’t come to mind right away if you don’t have some online marketing experience under your belt.

Using affiliate programs to market your products is also a little intimidating at first because there are some mandatory steps you need to take before you can take part in it.

(Note. The online business models series also features an episode on affiliate income, but this is not the same thing as what I’m about to discuss here.)

What’s affiliate marketing

There are two sides to affiliate marketing:

  • You can be an affiliate – promoting other people’s products on a commission basis.
  • You can be the product owner – earning money because of the sales that other affiliates have generated.

Here I’m going to discuss the latter.

No matter what type of product you’re offering you can always create and launch an affiliate program of some kind.

The basic rules of an affiliate program are:

  • Affiliates can promote your products in exchange for a commission if they generate sales.
  • You provide the product.
  • You provide the marketing materials.
  • You take care of the payment processing.
  • You take care of paying your affiliates.

Sounds like a lot of work on your side, right?

But there’s one really big advantage for you here. If any of your affiliates manages to generate a sale this means free money for you.

Think about it. Even though you have to handle many things that can be considered the setup period, after that, every promotional task falls upon your affiliates, and you don’t have to pay for any promotional methods they use.

That means that the risk is all on them. If they manage to get a sale they get a commission, which will hopefully be bigger than the cost they had to take to get that sale. But you don’t have to take any preliminary costs. You’re paying only once you get a sale through one of your affiliates – hence the free money.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing can be explained like this:

  1. Someone promotes your products.
  2. Your products get sold.
  3. You get the money.
  4. You pay a percentage of this money to the affiliates who have brought the sales.

Who needs affiliate programs

In the online world, essentially no one needs anything. But if you just simply decide that launching an affiliate program is not for you then you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table.

First of all, try to think if you’re offering any product that can be easily multiplied or produced at really low costs.

Just a hint, if your product is digital then it most certainly fits the description perfectly.

Some examples of digital products just to refresh your memory:

  • E-books, reports, and all kinds of PDF and text content.
  • Membership sites.
  • Software, tools, and all kinds of apps.
  • Themes, scripts, and all kinds of programming related products.
  • Wallpapers, graphics, resource packages, and all kinds of visual stuff.

Also, many kinds of online services are great here too. If you’re offering a service then it means that some actual work has to be done, but if the service is easy to handle then it’s great as a base for an affiliate program too.

product

What if you don’t have such a product?

A fair question. There are different online businesses and not every one of them has to offer a product that’s easy to multiply.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t create it…

Having an entry level product is always good for a business. It’s simply something cheap that you as a business owner use to get a new customer through the door so you can market to those people later with your other more expensive products and services.

Such an entry level product is also great for using as a basis to creating an affiliate program.

The idea is that you start by coming up with an idea on what is the most basic area of your expertise (or your business focus) that you can use to create an entry level product around. This idea shouldn’t be simple just for the sake of it. You still need to make it attractive for the prospective customers, that’s the whole point.

Product development is a very large topic so I’m not going to focus on it here, and I welcome you to check out some blogs that talk about this primarily.

Once you have such a product created you can start crafting your affiliate program.

How to launch an affiliate program

There are two basic paths you can follow:

  • be the host of the affiliate program yourself, or
  • sign up to an affiliate network.

Being your own host is great if you have some big marketing power and can reach some top affiliates directly. Also, this approach creates a lot more costs on your part. Moreover, running an affiliate program yourself requires quite a serious tech backend.

What I mean is that the program has to run on a custom-made affiliate software. So you either have to get it created (on a contract basis with a programmer, for example … very expensive), or create it on your own if you happen to be a programmer yourself.

Either way, it will require much time, money, and dedication. That’s why I advise you to sign up to an affiliate network.

Affiliate networks take care of all the technical aspects of the thing, and sometimes also make the payments to your affiliates too (on your behalf, so you don’t have to do it by hand).

Some of the more popular affiliate networks are: Clickbank, Commission Junction, ShareASale. Depending on the kind of product you want to offer, some of them will work better for you than others.

I advise you to go to each of the above networks and carefully read the rules of signing up and doing business with them. Depending on the company there will be slight differences.

Where’s the kicker? There’s of course a modest payment you have to pay to the affiliate network in exchange for their platform. Depending on the network this amount can vary. But it’s usually in the range of 5% of your product’s price (plus an additional constant rate).

Since I’m talking about the percentages let’s take a minute to decide what commissions you should offer to your affiliates…

Commissions and affiliate tools

For digital products, the market-wide standard is between 50% and 90% (60%-75% is probably the best rate).

For physical products, the commissions are much lower (because of the big cost of creating such products) and they often end up in the range of 10%-20%.

Now the affiliate tools.

Chances are that your affiliates will already have a plan on how they want to promote your products, but you still need to make their lives as easy as you can. That’s why you should provide some quality affiliate resources and tools.

These are things like: banner ads, example e-books, email marketing copy, ad copy, samples of your products, product images, and everything else that your affiliates can find handy for promotion.

Depending on how you want to make it happen it can require some additional investments. But it usually pays off because affiliates are more likely to do business with product owners who treat them seriously. Providing a great affiliate package is the best indication of that.

There you go, we’ve reached the end of this post. Launching an affiliate program is not a one-evening task. It will take a while until you can start seeing some affiliate sales, but if you do it right you can make significantly more money than you are making now, without that much additional work after your program is launched. It’s the setup phase that’s the most time (and money) consuming.

What’s your opinion on all this? Do you find an affiliate program as a good addition to your online business?

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Why You Should Launch an Affiliate Program | newInternetOrder.com


So in my last post about Internationalization, I covered some non-obvious things that you should consider when adding translation capabilities to your code.

Today, let’s add to that by covering some non-obvious translation functions. You’re probably not using these, since they don’t get talked about as much. But there’s probably places where you should be using them, so knowing about them is the first step. And knowing is half the battle.

Basic functions, again

Last time I talked about these functions:

  • __()
  • _e()
  • _x()
  • _ex()
  • _n()

Let’s cover the ones I didn’t talk about.

Escaping output

In practice, you tend to use these mostly when outputting things onto the main page or in the admin. But, one thing you also use a lot when outputting text is the standard escaping functions. These are things like esc_html(), which outputs text in a way that makes it “safe” to go onto a webpage, without being interpreted as HTML. If the text comes from user input, then this is a good idea.

Now, if you think about it, then the text you have may be translated in some other file, which you don’t control either. So escaping that text might be a good idea too. If somebody snuck bad code into a translation file, a user might get bad things displayed without being able to easily find it.

So you could write something like echo esc_html(__('text','text-domain')), but that’s a bit wordy. Let’s talk about some shortcuts.

The esc_html__() function is the equivalent of esc_html(__(...)). It does the escaped html and the double-underscore translation all in one go. Similarly, the esc_html_e() function does the same thing, but it echoes the result, just like the _e() function would. And there’s also esc_html_x(), which is the equivalent of combining esc_html() and _x().

Along with those three are the three identical equivalents for attributes: esc_attr__(), esc_attr_e(), and esc_attr_x(). As the name implies, these combine the translation functions with esc_attr(), which is the escape function specifically intended when you’re outputting text into html attributes.

Also note there’s no shortcut for the equivalent of _ex(). It’s just not used that much, or at least not enough to need something special for it. Use an echo esc_html_x() instead.

There are no shortcuts for the other escaping functions as yet, but these can save a few keystrokes and make your code that much more readable.

The Numerical No-op

So we’ve got some shortcuts for escaping with those three functions, but where’s the love for _n()?

One of the problems with _n() is that it tends to require the strings to be in the same place that the PHP variable is. For all the other functions, you could have a big file of strings in an array, and then reference those strings by name or something elsewhere because they don’t require any PHP variables. Nothing about them is computed at the time of the output.

But not so with _n(), that $number to decide which string to use means that the strings have to be right there, they can’t be translated separately and referenced.

This is where _n_noop() comes in. The _n_noop() function basically takes the singular and plural strings for something, along with the text domain, and stores them in an array so that they can be referenced later by a function named translate_nooped_plural().

Perhaps an example is in order. Let’s go back to the tacos:

$string = sprintf( _n('You have %d taco.', 'You have %d tacos.', $number, 'plugin-domain'), $number );

What if we wanted those strings somewhere else? Like in a big file with all of our strings. Here’s a way to separate the strings from the _n() call:

$taco_plural = _n_noop('You have %d taco.', 'You have %d tacos.', 'plugin-domain');
$string = sprintf( translate_nooped_plural( $taco_plural, $number) , $number );

Now, that $taco_plural can be defined anywhere. Note that it contains no references to PHP variables. It’s basically static and unchanging. This allows us to separate it, then reference it elsewhere for the actual translation. The translate_nooped_plural() function performs the same job as _n() does, choosing which string to use based on the $number of tacos. The sprintf then pushes the $number into the chosen string, replacing the %d with the number.

Thus, that lets us extract the translatable strings out and put them anywhere we choose.

Also of note: The _nx_noop() function is a cross between _n_noop() and _x(). It takes a context for the translators as the third argument, and the domain becomes the fourth argument. Useful if you need to explain to the translators the context surrounding the pluralization choice.

Numbers and Dates

The number_format_i18n() function is functionally equivalent to the PHP number_format function. It lets you format numbers with commas at the thousands mark and so forth, except that it also takes localization into account. Not everybody uses commas for thousands and periods for decimals. This function will do the translation appropriately for that aspect.

The date_i18n() function is functionally equivalent to the PHP date function. It will handle all the same string formatting parameters as date() will, but it will cause output to be translated for month names, day-of-week names, and so forth. Of note is that it doesn’t change the format requested. If some places put days before months, for example, it won’t handle that. But it will output the month name in the native language (if the translation pack has the right month name in it). So you may want to run the date formatting string through __() as well, to let translators adjust the date format accordingly.

Wrap up

And that’s pretty much all the rest of the translation functions that I didn’t cover before. I may have forgotten a few useful ones here or there. Feel free to comment about anything I missed, or what you see most often, especially if you’re doing translations yourself.

This site is for a boutique Auckland designer, Kali Designs, and showcases the range of original products on offer.

It uses a customised version of the popular open-source shopping cart platform OpenCart to allow stockist to order via the website. It also allows the site owner to manage content, and products, behind the scenes, with minimal technical know-how.

Its design, by Urban Legend web and the owner, aims for elegant simplicity.

Products include jewellery boxes, money boxes, wallets, coin purses, bags and glasses case.

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Need a basic social media strategy involving Twitter? Here’s one: (1) create an account, (2) tweet, (3) get followers, (4) reap the benefits … The only problem is that it’s much easier said than done.

First of all, people are using Twitter for a variety of different things. Some of us simply want to connect with our real-life friends, let them know what’s going on, and what we’ve been up to.

Others want to make new friends, reach out to people (either just for fun, or for some business purposes).

Finally, there’s the last group of people, those who join Twitter because they have no other choice … we like to call them celebrities.

So unless you’re in the first group or in the last group, chances are that you want to attract some new followers, or simply let people know what you’re about, so they can make the decision whether to follow you or not.

There’s a small number of ways how you can do that:

  1. Post relevant (niche) tweets about a narrow range of topics.
  2. Get a quality avatar (profile picture).
  3. Craft a nice and attractive bio.

Let’s face it, everyone reads your bio before they follow you. Even your friends. The bio is your chance to say a couple of words about yourself and make it interesting enough to convince people to click the follow button.

There are several paths you can take while crafting your bio. In this post I’m going to give you 32 examples of great bios for your inspiration. Actually, I’m not going to do this here, you’ll have to go to my guest post at machoarts.com to get it:

32 Ridiculous Celebrity Twitter Bios

You might be wondering what’s the point of all this, and why should you be interested in other people’s bios, especially celebrities, right?

The fact is that celebrities are great for inspiration. Very often they have teams of people standing behind their social media profiles, so by paying attention to what they’re doing, you’re not actually paying attention to a single person, you’re paying attention to a whole group of professionals.

I invite you to read the post, and when you’re back don’t forget to let me know what’s your favorite bio from this list and why. Finally, I urge you to review your current Twitter bio and look for possible improvements you can make … there’s always something.

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What You Can Learn from Celebrity Twitter Bios | newInternetOrder.com

boredNot every day is mighty productive … I’m sure you can relate to this. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing anything valuable even though you know you should.

Being able to come to work with the same amount of productivity in you every day is next to impossible. And by coming to work I also mean working for yourself from your home office.

Thankfully, there are some things we can do to help us remain productive. Actually, there’s a massive amount of those things, which I’m sure you know if you’ve been on the internet for any amount of time. But today I just want to show one simple approach – the one I’m using for over two years now.

First of all, I don’t trust myself. I don’t believe that “me” is the best possible person to entrust my productivity to. That’s why I’m using a system – something that can’t possibly fail because there’s no human factor, just rules and guidelines.

So here’s what I do.

1. Warm up

The first thing I do in the morning (at least the first thing related to work) is warming up a little. I’ve been talking about warming up for quite a while now in a number of guest posts and also a couple of times on this blog, so let me just briefly sum up the whole thing.

A warm up is something that helps you to get going. Just like with physical exercise. You can’t go to the gym and start with heavy weights right from the get-go if you want to get out of the gym alive.

Here it’s not a matter of life and death, but not warming up can still cause some problems later on during your day.

A perfect warm up task is something you can do without any effort. Something that’s easy, can be done fast, and does not require any preparation, yet it is still related to what you’ll be doing throughout your workday.

For instance, something that works very good for me is writing an online journal. Each day I start my work by writing a 200-500 word entry about WHATEVER.

This sets my mind up in a certain direction and lets me switch to my main tasks more smoothly.

Of course, you can start with something else. As an online business owner you can probably do things such as: blog commenting, forum posting, checking your stats, and so on.

However, don’t start with email. Email is tricky and it can trap you in the inbox for long hours.

2. Review and plan

This is a good point to review what you did yesterday and plan your work for today.

Please, don’t make your to-do list too packed with tasks. There’s no point it completing half of your planned tasks, and then feeling bad that you didn’t handle the rest. There’s a simple solution to this – don’t plan to do too much stuff!

If you’ve been doing what you’re doing for more than two months then I’m sure you can estimate how much stuff you can handle in a day pretty accurately, so just stick to this.

Now, each day should have one (only one) critical task. A critical task is something that has to be done in a given day, or the day has to be considered a wasted one.

In plain English, this is a task you absolutely have to do.

3. Start with simple tasks

Your critical task is most likely something that requires a fair amount of work and might not be that easy. Therefore, it’s not the best thing to start your day with. Going with something simple is a lot better idea.

Go through your to-do list and find one or two tasks that won’t be that hard to handle and you’ll probably be done with them in half an hour.

This is just another form of warming up, but this time you’re doing a specific thing, not your general warm up task.

The point here is to get you going at full velocity. Remember, getting started is always the most difficult part. Once you get to your top speed of working, maintaining it is a lot easier.

4. Handling the critical task

Now is time to get your critical task done.

… Not much I can say about it, really. You’re the one doing the work, so you probably know best what you need in order to complete your critical task.

The only general advice I have for you here is to set your resources in place before you start working on your critical task. That way you won’t have to interrupt your work to find a given piece of information.

And let me say this again, having more than one critical task set for a day is too many. If at this point you still feel that you have at least 4-5 critical things to do in your every workday then they probably are not that critical after all… You should probably reevaluate what you’re doing.

5. Complete the rest of your tasks

Since you’re done with your critical task, now you can handle the rest of the items on your to-do list.

The advice I have here is not to overwork and spend the whole night up doing stuff just because it’s on your to-do list.

If you can’t finish your whole to-do list in 6-8 hours then you’re working too much. And I really mean it … 6-8 hours is enough. The point is not to work much, it is to work effectively.

The lesson here: Plan less stuff in the future.

Having frequent breaks

The final advice in this guide is about having frequent breaks, something I haven’t mentioned yet.

My perfect approach for working is to follow such a schedule (and again, this isn’t the first time I’m talking about it):

  • work for 50 minutes,
  • have a 10 minute break,
  • work for another 50 minutes,
  • have a 30 minute break,
  • repeat.

So there you go … my system of remaining productive for long periods of time. Even when I’m not feeling productive on certain days, I can usually get going anyway by following this system.

I hope this approach will turn out to be effective for you too. In the meantime, feel free to shoot me a comment and let me know what you think about this whole thing.

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Not Feeling Productive Today? Try This Simple Approach | newInternetOrder.com

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Buy buttons, or action point buttons are essential to every online business, e-commerce store, or even a simple affiliate site.

This may come as a surprise, but a quality buy button can make a huge difference in your profitability. If the button you’re using is not visible or simply not attractive enough to focus attention then you can’t expect any brilliant results.

And I know that there are many factors to a successful online offer, like the design, the copy, the offer itself, the price, and so on. But we can’t neglect the buttons, as they are the final place where we want our soon-to-be-customers to click.

Fortunately, getting something nice created won’t be that difficult, and you can even do it yourself. I mean, sure … some Photoshop fluency will come handy here, but it’s not a must. Most great buy buttons don’t have any fancy design because looks is not what makes them great.

If you want to learn how to create a great buy button, feel free to go over to my guest post at Hongkiat.com:

5 Tips to Designing a Winning “Buy Button”

Now, this is a design-focused post, but you can still use the advice in it to either create something of your own, or to describe what you want (exactly) to the designer you’re hiring.

And finally, how did you get your buy buttons? Did you think it through?

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How to Design a Proper “Buy Button” | newInternetOrder.com

boredProcrastination has quite a bad publicity online these days. People start to understand how dangerous it is and how bad it can get over time if you don’t do anything about it.

However, the thing is not nearly as dangerous as some people want us to believe it is. There’s actually a very simple way of using procrastination to your benefit and turning it into something positive.

But before I can tell you how to do it I need to make sure that we’re on the same page here… So what procrastination is actually?

As it turns out, Wikipedia has quite a good definition of procrastination, which isn’t the rule for every entry. Here goes:

In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.

This, in plain English means that you’re procrastinating when you’re doing something else than you should be doing.

But there’s still one subtle thing worth mentioning here. You are not procrastinating when you’re doing nothing, instead of doing what you should be doing. You are simply lazy.

The issues of procrastination

One of the main moments when you feel the need to procrastinate is when there’s just so much stuff to do that you don’t know where to begin.

Therefore, the first solution is:

Schedule less tasks for any given day

Yea, it really is that simple. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to reduce the amount of business you’re able to take care of every day. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t fool yourself and schedule tasks that won’t get done anyway because a day has only 24 hours.

Also, and I’ve been saying this in many of my other posts, schedule only one critical task per day.

A critical task is something you absolutely have to do in order to be able to say that your day was effective. Only one critical task really is enough.

So, what to do when procrastinating on the critical task?

This is the biggie here. I can’t just say “don’t procrastinate,” can I? This isn’t that simple.

No matter what you do, you will always find yourself procrastinating from time to time. You just have to deal with it.

BUT

This is the perfect chance to get some other stuff done. Just because you’re procrastinating, doesn’t mean that you have to spend your time on Facebook.

Doing simple things

Take a look at your to-do list or any other form of time management you use and look for other things you can do in the meantime.

Choose small tasks that are easy enough for you to do even if you’re right in the middle of your big procrastination session.

After a while, you should have some of those simple tasks done, and then you might be able to switch to the critical task – one you’ve been procrastinating on.

Now hear me out. The idea here is to simply get going. Getting started is always the most difficult part of work. Once you’re going, you’re going. Switching to your critical (and likely difficult) task should be a lot easier once you have some other work done.

The key to making procrastination your friend is to notice the moment when you start procrastinating. If you manage to do this, you’ll be able to seize it and put it to good use.

One final thing I want to share with you. And that’s one of the most undercover kinds of procrastination – procrastinating by consuming information.

Don’t procrastinate by reading stuff!

Whenever you start working on some task you’ll most likely need to have some resources set in place (information, tools, etc.). At some times, you’ll have to go online and learn a new thing or two.

This is the moment when procrastination usually kicks in. At some point, you’ll start fooling yourself and consuming more and more information, convincing yourself that you absolutely need it to get the task done.

No, you don’t! Remain careful, conscious, and consume only the bare minimum of information you need to complete a given task.

That’s pretty much it. Just by doing the above three things (scheduling less tasks, procrastinating by doing simple tasks, not procrastinating by consuming information) you will improve your productivity and effectiveness significantly … just like I did.

Of course, your mileage may vary, but I’m sure you get the idea. I encourage you to try it out for yourself.

Also, let me know what ways of fighting procrastination you’re using right now. I’m curious to know.

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Make Smart Procrastination Your BEST Friend | newInternetOrder.com

wdl1

What’s the deal with minimalist websites? It seems like everywhere you look there’s a site featuring just a handful of design elements and not even that much content.

People say that this minimalist style is classy and sometimes even beautiful. But is that true? Should a site really be minimalist?

This is something I try to explain in my guest post at Web Design Ledger. I’m taking a web design angle there. However, I invite you to read the post from a different perspective.

Try to look at it from an online business owner’s point of view. I encourage you to pay close attention to whether a minimalist site is something you can use for your own business.

Honestly speaking, there are businesses that go very well with minimalist websites, but at the same time there are some that don’t… Find out what I’m on about here:

Creating Minimalist Designs Makes You a Better Designer

So … what’s the verdict? Is a minimalist website right for you?

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Minimalist Websites … Are They of Good Quality? | newInternetOrder.com