Is Amazon Affiliate Program A Scam? (Here Is The Truth

eCommerce Entrepreneurs

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Case Study 1: Month 48. $4k/m.

Hi all,
Semi-regular commenter here: this has been a long time coming. I’ve been a 'Just Starter' for over 4 years. I figured it’s time to share my story, lessons learned, and try to open up some good discussion.
I know we've all been frustrated at the lack of original content on here (shout out to all the Case Study: Month 1 posts) so hopefully this gives you something to read. So, instead of Month 1, here's Month 48!

Background

I originally found Humble’s first case studies not long after he posted them. I was already looking at ways to make money online, and was instantly hooked.
With my web developer friend we made a broad home site, and I started writing. Basically just doing best of lists of blenders, ice cream makers, etc. I went through a summer of productivity: getting up at 5.45am before my office job and blasting out writing on the daily.
1 year later, with around 50 posts, two pages struck gold and we peaked at $2,700 in a month from US Amazon affiliate income. These were seasonal pages and a July heatwave helped a ton. It quickly died back off in the winter.
After that summer, productivity nosedived (I got a girlfriend). But sporadically kept building the site. Our income never got back to that peak, but the next summer saw a few $2k months. That's when I started to think doing this full time was possible. My job had become badly managed, and I wanted to move away from the city. So despite the site still making peanuts most months, I quit my full time job on July 1st, 2019.

1 Year Later

This year has flown by so quickly. I wondered so much about what it would be like to do this full time, and now here we are. Here’s the year in summary:

Traffic & Earnings

Traffic: https://imgur.com/ofnjfVa
The recent ‘explosion’ has been from the many informational posts I wrote after going full time. These are now finally maturing. Even with an established site it's still taking 3-6months for many of our posts to mature fully. Also we're still more summer focused than anything - still trying to get away from that.
Earnings: https://imgur.com/3Bfi5A0 (Amazon rate cut was April 21st). These don’t include UK/Canada which run at around 10% of US income. I couldn't get our earnings from the start - Amazon only goes back 2 years.
Until 2020, earnings were entirely from Amazon’s affiliate programs. Recently we signed up to Ezoic, though we were getting sweet f all ($6.5/1000 sessions). In the last month we switched to Mediavine and it’s changed everything. We’re seeing $25/1000 sessions, currently bringing $70+ a day. This alone has almost offset the Amazon cuts.

Our Strategy

I want to touch on how we’ve built the site, since that's always what I'm most interested in when reading other studies. Ours is about as simple a setup as you can imagine.
Until I went full time, 90% of our posts were simple ‘best of’ lists. These were lower competition keywords. We didn’t build a single backlink (mostly due to my lack of trying). Most of our success came from playing with the wording of semi-long tails. (For example instead of best blender, most reliable blender). Though this is getting harder with semantic search getting better.
Lately I’ve been doing more informational posts, with some level of link building to our top affiliate ones. These are 10x easier to rank for and, with a decent ad network, a good money maker.
Keyword Research
Nothing fancy here.
I’ve used a combination of Ahrefs (batching via their $7/7days trials) and Income School’s “alphabet soup” method to find keywords. Always manually checking the competition before committing to anything.
Article Setup
All on-page SEO is now covered in a publish checklist. Mostly watching out for:
I try to keep it up to date with the latest coming out of Authority Hacker, Backlinko, Ahrefs case studies.
Luckily my friend is a web dev wizard, so our theme is entirely custom with some slick formatting for product reviews, pros/cons, etc. This gives us a high authority look which I can only imagine helps.
Backlinks
Up until recently I hadn’t built a single backlink for the site.
We’d been pretty lucky with the keywords we went for – and mostly still are. There are very few posts I’ve actively built links to, and I’ve yet to deliberately win a medium/hard keyword with strategically built links.
That said, I’ve been trying to do much more in terms of link building. Especially now that I have the time. I’ve really noticed that it’s not about getting 400 money pages, but striking gold with 5-10 of them. We have 160 posts and the 80/20 principle definitely applies to the results we see from them.
Mostly the link building has been a case of shotgun skyscraper (Authority Hacker) and a few exchanges or paid links here and there. I’ve not had too much success, but I'm looking forward to sticking at it until we do. I’ve been inspired by the massive success jumstakl was sharing from this, and want to master it to his level. Though I do appreciate it's all pretty outdated now.
That said, our current top post (25% of all traffic) is a fairly random informational post that I’ve never built links to. For some reason it just topped a very nice SERP in Australia. Can't complain.
Content
One advantage we've had (imo) is in original, well researched content.
Having written over 150,000 words for this site I've gotten pretty quick at putting out articles. I typically take notes on every post in the top 10 results, collate that into one larger outline, and write. There's so many outsourced posts out there that sound like they were written using a Cambridge Thesaurus - so I try to keep things super conversational and easy to read.

The Future

The goal for this site is to keep maintaining what we have while continuing to build. I want minimal input for day-to-day writing, with my only involvement being keyword research, high quality posts, and outreach.
On top of that, I want us to hit a few ‘big’ keywords too. Topics with decent competition where our quality and real links get us to the top and blow up our income.
My ultimate goal is to hit $10k/month in income. This would be huge for me, give me friend some massive side income help (he gets 20%), and put us at a sale value that could buy an apartment.
Strategy
I desperately need to work with other affiliate programs away from Amazon. This has been something I thought would take days to fix, but I’ve spent ages analyzing potential affiliates and yet to make a sale with any. We’ve started on two silos built for new affiliate programs, so hopefully these will give some good returns.
From what I understand it’s going to be hitting huge success with smaller affiliate programs that will allow you to cruise past 5 figures a month in income. Though I'm a bit paralyzed because it feels like branching out into a new world – rather than the same old rinse and repeat I’m used to with Amazon.

Community Stuff

  1. I’d just like to shout out the mods for keeping this subreddit going. I literally wouldn’t be doing this without this sub (and Humble who started it). Thank you.*
  2. I’d like to agree with the recent sticky – there’s too much spam on here recently. I feel like Humble would lose his mind at the amount of shitposts. It’s up to all of us to report the dumb questions for the automod to remove, and to discourage the ‘Case Study: Month 1’ spam.*
  3. Are there any other communities you guys subscribe to for sites above the $1k/month mark? Speaking regularly to others with established sites would be a massive help - outside of this forum I don't really have anyone to talk to. Would love to become part of a community and make a few friends who also run sites like mine. If there’s anyone like that on here – particularly based in the UK – please hit me up!
Ask Me Anything
There’s obviously much more to our site than I can cover in one post. So AMA! It’s lockdown and I’m bored: if you want to know anything just ask. I may reply slowly, but I will reply.
Thanks for reading.
submitted by xferok to juststart [link] [comments]

Arbitrary list of popular lights - Summer Solstice 2020 edition

Happy Solstice!
In honor of Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere, I've made an updated list of popular lights. Today is a couple days after (sorry!) the day you're least likely to need a flashlight north of the equator, but it increases every day after so it's a good time to buy a flashlight.
Because a definitive buyer's guide is too hard, I've made an arbitrary list of popular lights you should consider if you're shopping for a light. There is no best flashlight, so this is not the last word in what's good, but a list of lights that are often bought or recommended here with a touch of my own opinion thrown in. Exclusion from this list doesn't mean a light isn't good. To search more lights by their attributes, try http://flashlights.parametrek.com/index.html
Where possible, official manufacturer URLs are linked here. Sometimes the manufacturer offers good deals through direct orders, sometimes vendors have the best prices. There are coupon codes available that apply to many of the lights listed. I'm hosting a version of this list on my own site with affiliate links because a few people have asked for a way to give me a kickback.
Shipping/availability may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, items shipped from China are often taking 2 months to arrive. Supply chains and warehouse stock also appear to be disrupted as well, so you may have to be more patient than usual if you want certain flashlights, chargers, and batteries.

For those in a hurry

If you don't want to learn much, just get one of these.

All of the lights in this section come with a rechargeable battery and have a charger built in to the light. The battery will be a standard size you can buy online from third parties, and the charger will use USB as its power source, though some options do use a special cable. Aside from the Catapult, all have very good color quality compared to the average LED flashlight, improving your ability to see details.
These are at the top of the list not because they're the best in some objective sense, but because they're easy to own and use, and easy to buy. They score well on most measure flashlight nerds care about while also being suitable for non-enthusiasts.

About specs and considerations

Moved to the wiki due to character limit

Mainstream lights

Everyday Carry Lights

These are selected for pocketability first and performance second, but most of the larger options are perfectly adequate for house/cacamping/etc... uses. This section excludes right-angle designs that double as headlamps, but many people do use those for pocket carry, so see that section as well.

Keychain

AAA battery

AA battery

CR123A/16340 battery

18350 battery

18650 battery

This category is so popular it gets subcategories. If you're looking for a lot of power and runtime that's still possible to carry in most pants pockets, this is your battery.

Dual-switch lights

A tailswitch controls power, a sideswitch changes brightness. The ease of explaning the UI makes these perfect to hand out to others.

E-switch lights

Electronic switches enable shortcuts from off to useful modes - usually lowest, highest, and last-used.

Other by use case

Right-angle lights and headlamps

If I could have only one portable light, it would be a right-angle light that functions as both an everyday carry light and a headlamp. Some lights in this form factor also offer a magnetic tailcap, allowing them to act as mountable area lights.

Small

Medium

All of these use one 18650 battery.

Large

Duty lights

These are suitable for first responders and possibly members of the military in combat roles. The focus is on simple operation, reliability and a good way to make sure the light starts on high.

High-performance lights

Most lights on the list are easy to carry, with performance constrained by size and thermal mass as a result. After all, the best light is the one you have. Here are lights to bring when you know you'll be using them.

Flooders

Turn night into day, but not necessarily very far away

Throwers

What's that over there? WAY over there? The hotspots of these lights tend to be too focused for comfortable use up close, though using a diffuser is an option. These tend to be most useful for search and rescue, boating, and the like.
FL1 throw is the distance at which large objects can be detected in clear air. At half that distance, there's usually enough illumination to see clearly, though with more extreme throwers, the distances may be so great as to require binoculars to see clearly even during the day. Throwers have visible backscatter from the atmosphere even in clear air, which may obstruct the user's view of the target. Warmer color temperatures tend to have less.

Hybrids

Some throw, some flood... probably a lot

Other lights

Stuff that doesn't fit somewhere else goes here.

Enthusiast lights

Enthusiast lights can be subject to a bit of a flavor of the month phenomenon, and this section isn't necessarily going to try to include them all. What you'll find here are enthusiast lights with some staying power. There will probably be an Emisar D4 of some description this time next year, but not necessarily the latest new FW variant or whatever's currently trendy from Nightwatch.

Everyday carry

Jacket pocket, maybe

Big

* BLF GT90 - the GT with a Luminus SBT-90.2 for over 7000 lumens and 2700m throw claimed, but that's going to be limited by heat and power. For sustainable performance, the original may have the advantage. For short bursts, this will be most impressive. 360, but look for discounts

Edit 20200624: added Tool AA, NU25, KR4, KR1
submitted by Zak to flashlight [link] [comments]

How you can buy & sell profitable digital assets

"The rich invest their money and spend what is left. The poor spend their money and invest what is left.”
This quote has stuck with me for years since I've read the Rich Dad book.
By 2020, it’s estimated that a staggering 27 million Americans will leave the traditional workplace in favor of full-time self-employment.
A large percentage of these new entrepreneurs will start an online business.
So, is there still room for you online?
The answer is a big “YES”.
Unlike real estate investment, digital assets can be built even if you have no money to invest. If you have the right skills and are ready to invest your time, you can still build a high-value portfolio of online assets.
The faster path, however, is the one in which you invest both money and time in acquiring promising online businesses, improving them, and selling them for a higher price (just like flipping real estate)
For example, one investor acquired an online business for $7,500 from Flippa, worked on it for a year and sold it for $550K. (1)
This is why flipping websites, and other forms of digital assets, is one of the fastest and most lucrative ways to grow your wealth.
And many smart investors, including Robert Kiyosaki, are already doing it.
In this detailed guide, we’ll tell you exactly how the business of buying and selling websites works, why investing in digital assets is a smart move, the risks involved in this business model, and how you can get started as a website investor.
Types of digital assets
Every online business can be called a digital asset if it’s making money and has the potential to grow. Below are some of the common types of digital assets that people invest in:
  1. Websites Affiliate sites, eCommerce stores, blogs, magazines, etc. are all different forms of websites that are frequently traded on the internet. There are dozens of examples of high profile website acquisitions that turned common people into multi-millionaires For example, Viral Nova, a viral news blog run by just one person, was acquired for $100 million in 2015.
  2. Domain names Domain names (website URLs) become more valuable as they age which is why they’re considered a popular digital asset that people frequently invest in. For example, CarInsurance.com, bought for $49.7 million, is the most expensive publicly sold domain name ever. Business.com was sold for $7.5 million. The original owner bought them for a fraction of that price but held on long enough to profit.
  3. Mobile apps Mobile applications are harder to create as compared to a website which is why you don’t hear as many common people making a fortune by investing in them. Example, Summly, an app that served customized news content, was acquired by Yahoo for $30 million.
  4. Digital products People also invest in acquiring digital and info products like video courses, training programs, and membership programs that have the potential to grow by making small improvements. Acquiring digital products is slightly trickier as compared to other digital assets since they are mostly sold because of the original owner’s credibility and brand image. Unlike real estate, the value of a digital asset does not depend on its location (or the location of its owner) which is a huge advantage as compared to physical property. For example, 10Beasts is a simple product review site, started from scratch, by a marketer in his 20s a few years ago. Within a year of its inception, the site started making nearly $80K/month from Amazon commissions and sponsored content. The owner eventually sold it for $600K+ after profiting from it for over 2 years. Overall, he made more than $2 million from the whole project. You need to be careful though with some marketplaces charge high brokerage fees. There are some that have no buyer fees, do the due diligence for you and provide the legal docs. (2)
1 https://blog.flippa.com/blush-and-bar-sold/
2 https://investors.club/
submitted by kensav to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

Month 4 Update - Tough Month

Hi everyone,
Just done with June and this was a tough month for sure. I did not manage to hit my writing goals and revenue took a massive dip too. Read on for more
 
Previous Updates
 
 
Current State of Website
I have about 80 published posts with a total of close to 200K words right now. Most of these are single product reviews with about 12 info articles.
In June, the site netted $74, massively down from $195 from May. More on this below
 
What I did this month
I kept grinding on my content. I had goals of hitting 100K but I got distracted and only hit close to 50K.
 
What were my stats
Month # Month Words Written
1 Feb-2020 16,129
2 Mar-2020 50,000
3 Apr-2020 67,354
4 May-2020 45,000
5 Jun-2020 50,000
 
GSC
GSC Impressions CTR Avg. Pos Pages Indexed
95 2.1% 104 16
4370 0.1% 81 40
3940 0.9% 74 59
4550 0.7% 66 73
10300 0.6% 44 89
 
Sales-Revenue
AMZ Clicks AMZ Ordered Items Earnings
0 0 0
0 0 0
24 4 14
657 101 194
324 29 75
 
Google Analytics Traffic
Traffic Sessions
Mar-2020 5
Apr-2020 85
May-2020 805
Jun-2020 529
 
Google Analytics + Search Console
 
Month Keywords in Top 5 Keywords in 5-10 Keywords in 10-20
June-2020 5 26 41
 
What did not go well this month
As you can see, my traffic and revenue took a big dip this month. I got a lot of traffic from Reddit in May since I was posting anywhere I saw a mention of the niche my website is in. I didnt do this for over half of June and paid for it. Lesson learned.
 
I also could not write as much content as I wanted to. This was mainly due to me getting distracted and trying to start other projects. I have now decided to pursue this website till it makes a revenue of $100/day.
 
What went well this month
I was pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of my keywords move up to Page 1 of Google SERPs. They have been creeping up steadily but at the end of June, I have 31 keywords on Page 1 with 5 in the top 5.
 
I also got contacted by a brand in my niche who paid me $100 for reviewing 2 of their products. A nice little bonus but I guess this means I am a sell-out now?
 
I also added two other Affiliate Programs so all my new posts now have 3 different CTAs. One of these programs has a 30 day cookie window and 7% commissions so I am hoping this can help diversify my income a bit.
 
I also overhauled the design of my individial review posts since I have to include 3 Affiliate CTAs. My best X for Y post design is also refreshed, and I have added in a lot of Google Sheets automation so my writing output should be faster. From what I see, these updates/refreshes are necessary every few months. The tough part is applying them to my older content.
 
I am also including multiple strips of Amazon Native Ads in my new posts now. I realized that since I write super long posts, there could be a wall-of-text effect and having ads also make the site look more 'legit' in a way. It also doesnt help that I have no sidebar and a very unprofessional looking footer right now. I am hoping to make all of these look more polished pretty soon.
 
Looking Ahead
I am swamped by the amount of content that is currently on my list to be written. I am able to comfortably write 2000 words a day so this month I am hoping to hit 75K or so. As I have updated my content formats, some of my older review posts need to be updated. I am guessing this will also boost their SERPs since Google likes updated content. I am also going to update content that is already ranking well to ensure that it stays there.
 
Reddit is a great source of targeted traffic for me so I plan to continue posting whenever I see an opportunity. I made a mistake of not doing this enough in June, never again!
 
My Stage 1 Goal for this website is to get to $100 a day at which point I will quit my job to focus on this full time. With my current trajectory, I think it will take me 6-12 months to get there. My philosophy of no keyword research, no paid tools, no outsourcing and no backlinking continues. I picked a niche and continue to slam out content. Excited about the next few months!
submitted by VladtheMystic to juststart [link] [comments]

My Journey to Purchasing and Flipping a Sports Affiliate Site - Update #3 (May 2020) - Quick Update + My Tips For Improved Rankings!

Hey Guys, I'm back for my 3rd update to my case study of purchasing an existing sports affiliate site and with the intent to flip it for $30k by the 12 months mark.
Last Updates:
1st Update: https://www.reddit.com/juststart/comments/gj2cvq/my_journey_to_purchasing_and_flipping_a_sports/
2nd Update: https://www.reddit.com/juststart/comments/gjrq2s/my_journey_to_purchasing_and_flipping_a_sports/
This will be a quick update due to the current nature of the niche which I'll explain below.
The industry that this site is in has been heavily by the Covid-19 outbreak which the Google Trends really shows:
https://imgur.com/a/die4aeE
Although this was something that no one could have predicted, it definitely was poor timing to purchase this site haha. The entire industry is hurting and I've had trouble with products not being stocked on Amazon and brands running out of funding on ShareASale/removing themselves from affiliate programs entirely.
That being said, to make up for this lack of a positive update I'm going to share some of my tips that have been working recently for me below!

Expenses For May 2020:

Content: $0
Link Building: $95 for one ~65 DA link insertion.

Revenue For May 2020:

Amazon: $7.74
ShareASale: $9.81
Total Revenue: $17.55

Profit:

Profit For May 2020: -$77.45
Total Profit of the Project: -$1066.64

What Was Done In May 2020:

Again, not too much. I purchased that one guest post to my main money page, which has improved to 6th which I'm pretty happy about (although traffic isn't necessarily reflecting that due to the current situation). As I mentioned above, a lot of my recommended products have been out of stock or I've even had entire companies remove themselves from ShareASale.
Traffic: Traffic was down slightly in May 2020, but as of June 23rd I'm seeing what will end up being around a ~10%-20% improvement. Below is an image of traffic since February where can you really see the impact of Covid (I've tracked keywords throughout this period and there have been no noticeable drops so this is pretty heavy on Covid).
https://imgur.com/JagDbDf

Steps Moving Forward:

I'll be honest, this site has been low on my priority list because of how negatively impacted it's been. I've recently started a new site in a different niche which has 10x the potential of this site so that's where my focus has been. That being said, I'll be keeping an eye on this site and still providing updates.
Below I'll be sharing a few of my tips that have been working on some of my other sites:

Tip 1: Improving Content With SurferSEO:

I'm in no way affiliated with Surfer, but I've been using them for the past six months - year and I've really seen some good movement.
https://imgur.com/goc2JiI
https://imgur.com/Xi2tXnM
https://imgur.com/MPq7EGQ (4 month old site)
I've been consistently able to see improvements like this with keywords on a handful of my sites. If you're expecting to go from 20th to #1 then Surfer isn't going to do that, but for top of page 2 to bottom of page 1 improvements are definitely do-able.
That being said, before you go all-in make sure you read up more in-depth on Surfer and how to set it up properly. You want to make sure you're omitting the right competitors from the analysis (like Amazon or e-commerce sites) so that you get an accurate analysis.

Tip 2: How to Get Cheap Guest Posts That Work:

Backlinks seem to be a common pain point for a lot of people, so here is what has been working for me, note you'll need Ahrefs for this or a tool that does similar functions.
  1. Identify your top 3-5 competitors for one of your primary keywords.
  2. Plug these competitors into Ahrefs and begin identifying do-follow these competitors have. But pay special attention to do-follow guest post backlinks that they have pointed directly to their money pages. Money page/review pages are often difficult to get natural links to, so when you see a competitor with high-quality links directly to their money pages, it's often a good indicator that these domains are willing to sell link insertions or guest posts to your money page. Example below:
  3. https://imgur.com/nlNgtQE (Not my site and I didn't look too deeply at these backlinks but just an example.) As you can see this site has these backlinks directly to its money page, which is a good indicator that these domains would also link to your money pages.
  4. Look at these domains and look for a contact or advertise email/contact form. Send them an email directly saying you're interested in purchasing a link insertion or guest post and give them an example of a page from their site you'd want a backlink on (for a link insertion). Wait for them to respond with a price and see if it's worth it from there. I've found that the conversion rate for this method is much much higher and generally just a much better use of your time.
  5. Note: You'll still have to do your due diligence to see if these are high-quality sites that you'd want a backlink from. Don't just go paying for links on any site that'll let you.

Tip 3: Look At Different Affiliate Programs Other Than Amazon!

Amazon does not have your best interest at heart as an affiliate. I know it's easy and I know they sell pretty much any physical product ever, but it's time to leave the pasture.
An example of another site I have in a sports niche:
Previous Amazon Affiliate Commission: 3%
The average customer bought between 1-5 of the products I was recommending which are about $15-$20 per item. This means the average cart was ~$50 which meant I earned $1.50 per order (50 x 3%).
So I went looking for additional affiliate programs and found an affiliate that specialized in the products I was recommending.
New Affiliate Structure: 25% of the profit this company made.
Revenue from a $50 order: $5.25 - They average around 40% profit from orders (changes based on the product since they manufacture some of their own products and source others) but I get 25% of that. That being said, I've been averaging around a 10% revenue commission with them for the past 3 months. I also get additional perks like the company sending me $500+ worth in products for me to test/take pictures of and use(This is a plus since I'm interested in this sport), provide me with special coupon codes, ect.
This easy switch resulted in a 3x+ in revenue and this company has a better reputation in this niche and provides better service than Amazon.
I hope you guys enjoyed this update, please let me know if you have any questions or have anything you'd like to know more about.
Thanks,
Brett
submitted by passiveniches to juststart [link] [comments]

Neumi BS5 Bookshelf Speaker Review

Neumi BS5 Bookshelf Speaker Review
First off, here's the link to the review via my site. There is additional information there that I am not including here. I am just covering the highlights here. If you want more details look at the review page here: https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/loudspeakers/neumi_bs5/
Intro
I stumbled on talk of the Neumi BS5 speaker recently in the context of a potential high-value speaker. Out of curiosity, I went to the product page on Amazon to check them out and liked what I saw. I then pulled up the Neumi’s BS5 manual here is the link where I saw placement recommendations, and some other bits of information which all gave me the impression the manufacturer cares about how the user listens to their product rather than the old “sink or swim” attitude low-cost products leave you with. Generally, when this information is laid out for the user it also implies the product is worthwhile. At least, that’s the impression I am left with in those cases.
At any rate, Amazon had them listed for $90/pair (at the time of purchase) and I figured they were worth buying to review and pass the information on to the audio community so you all could either avoid them or feel comfortable spending your hard earned money on. So, I did.
Ultimately, while these aren’t the best performing speakers I’ve tested or heard, I do believe these provide a good value to the budget-limited audiophile. And, with a few engineering alterations, could be made into an even better value. Read on for more detail.
Product Specs and Photos

https://preview.redd.it/uyp1gni4wp751.jpg?width=1504&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=436dbf77633f61c634c699ad633dd3a4ddc0747f
https://preview.redd.it/3ggnpri4wp751.jpg?width=1504&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=9d23636faf4fe4e4e3e46bbdc44bf1116e124c51
https://preview.redd.it/vn861ti4wp751.jpg?width=844&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=8a17ba643db055a2244390afecbf5dd8d154f228
Impedance Phase and Magnitude:
Impedance measurements are provided both at 0.10 volts RMS and 2.83 volts RMS. The low-level voltage version is standard because it ensures the speakedriver is in linear operating range. The higher voltage is to see what happens when the output voltage is increased to the 2.83vRMS speaker sensitivity test.

https://preview.redd.it/2t44fz36wp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=80db20356e272283aacef4d7a58c237c449e76ce
Frequency Response:
The measurement below provides the frequency response at the reference measurement axis - also known as the 0-degree axis or “on axis” plane - in this measurement condition was situated in-between with the woofer and the tweeter per the product manual. While the manual does do a good job of directing the user how to set up the speakers, I emailed Neumi to ask about listening angle and the grille use. I wanted to make sure I used the speakers the way they were designed to be used. Below is our email exchange:
I purchased your BS5 bookshelf speakers and was wondering:
Are these designed to be listened to on-axis (with the speaker aimed directly toward the listener) or at some angle off-axis? I assume the former.
Are these designed to be listened to with the grilles on or off? I assume off, as most speakers perform worse with the grilles on. Thank you.

Hi Erin, Thank you for your inquiry! The BS5 are designed to be listened to pointed straight forwards. If you like to have a slightly brighter response, you can point the speakers more towards the center position. We also tuned the BS5 without a grill. The grill was made afterwards to minimize its effect on the speaker output. It is fairly transparent but does change the response slightly.

If the speakers are to be aimed facing forward, that would be approximately 30-degrees off-axis in my room. I can toe them in or out if you recommend using a different positioning angle than this.

Hi Erin, Thanks for the additional information. I would start out pointing straight, then try it with 10-15 degree toe-in and see how that sounds to you, more than that, the toe-in would be pretty extreme and is not recommended.
So, per Neumi’s direction I listened to the speakers both on-axis (0°) and off-axis (≤30°) horizontally. I found the best angle to be directly on-axis. Otherwise, the treble was too subdued. When it came time to measure the speaker, I verified that 0° gave the most linear response and conducted the rest of my analysis with the reference axis being at 0° horizontally and between the mid/tweeter vertically.
Also, per Neumi’s direction, the grille was off for these measurements. I do have comparison data of the grille on vs off in my Miscellaneous section below.

https://preview.redd.it/tbf12uztwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=c403d03232c8937df57601230d91fc9e53172155
The mean SPL, approximately 84dB at 2.83v/1m, is calculated over the frequency range of 300Hz to 3,000Hz.
The blue shaded area represents the ±3dB response window from my calculated mean SPL value. As you can see in the blue window above, the Neumi BS5 has a ±3dB response from 64Hz - 20kHz but only if you ignore the dip in response around 800Hz. Neumi claims a ±3dB window of 50Hz - 20kHz (typical in-room). I don’t believe their spec is a reach but obviously the notch at ~800Hz throws things off. Unfortunately, this notch is pervasive and is brought on by the port, as far as I can tell (more discussion in the Near-Field measurements portion further down). A tighter window of linearity is provided in gray as ±1.5dB from the mean SPL and this speaker does a decent job of trying to stay within that range but the port noise at 800Hz and ~1600Hz make things fall out of that window fast. The treble above 8kHz also begins dipping/peaking enough to keep it out of the tighter window.
The speaker’s F3 point (the frequency at which the response has fallen 3dB relative to the mean SPL) is 64Hz and the F10 (the frequency at which the response has fallen by 10dB relative to the mean SPL) is 43Hz. For a small, and super light bookshelf speaker with a 5-inch woofer this is on par with what you would expect. You’re going to need a subwoofer if you want low bass and/or decent output below 100Hz.

https://preview.redd.it/wgsppcqhwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=098ed79ee00a07be00b08bc8e076587280edcd13
https://preview.redd.it/w7qq6bqhwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=6476c6d6a2d2f08a46d04cf6af250f067628ed6d
https://preview.redd.it/8cprzaqhwp751.png?width=3333&format=png&auto=webp&s=4de3016d81d8791c7bec880a7ba855e872d6b1e8
https://preview.redd.it/w5yb0dqhwp751.png?width=3333&format=png&auto=webp&s=e7011a9aa7bf059ddeaa221dbf03ed5459b145a5
https://preview.redd.it/nmqic8qhwp751.png?width=3333&format=png&auto=webp&s=69016a22d7cacadcc790395243c0d8d388f8c97a
https://preview.redd.it/4y5269qhwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=e2f551b06cb545d6067fd3a19cae5ecf31dec387
CEA-2034 (aka: Spinorama):

https://preview.redd.it/m9s6taujwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=a6914a5c1f86d2135f4a0315f9c82065998746f1
What we can learn from this data is that this speaker has significant directivity problems thanks to the deep nulls at ~800Hz and ~1600Hz. You can see it in the above spectrogram and globe plots as well as in all the measurements in the above graphic. The crossover is stated as 2.1kHz by Neumi and the nearfield data backs this up. Therefore, in this region you can see the directivity mismatch. Looking at 1kHz you see a rising DI until approximately 2.5kHz where the Early Reflections DI dips back down again. This is a sign the transition from mid to tweeter is occurring as the woofer is beginning to beam (radiate more forward than omnidirectional) and the tweeter is taking over, omnidirectional until approximately 6.5kHz (calculated based on dome size of 1 inch). The DI flattens out a bit through here but as the tweeter begins to radiate more directionally the DI increases again above ~7kHz. The tweeter rolls off sharply above 16kHz, causing directivity to increase further. What does this all mean to you? Well, mismatches in what is coming directly at you, on-axis, vs what is reflected around you can cause issues in stage and tonality cues.
Below is a breakout of the typical room’s Early Reflections contributors (floor bounce, ceiling, rear wall, front wall and side wall reflections). From this you can determine how much absorption you need and where to place it to help remedy strong dips from the reflection(s). Notice the strong dips again at 800Hz and 1600Hz.

https://preview.redd.it/dnr8dzomwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=2d9ed016da5220dbdbae7502739579014f5fa9b7
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and Compression:
Using the 93dB measurement tells you the measured low-frequency distortion at about 80Hz is near 3% THD and 6% at 40Hz. Will you hear that? Pure distortion is more subjective and depends not just on the listener but also no the program material.
I typically use distortion to tell me where mechanical failures are because the distortion I hear is typically either a rattle, buzz, plop from a woofer extending too far, or something along those lines. The bass is usually the problem. But in this speaker the midrange exhibits distortion at higher output levels and was also audible in my listening (primarily with male vocals).

https://preview.redd.it/wmgclbfwwp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=f8e6babdf1b88bb2af527783b9807f6023ad419a
The compression effects shown in the image below are a visual way of seeing just what happens as the volume is increased. This one is straight-forward. Take the legend’s SPL value and add or subtract the data from the graphic. This tells you if you’re losing or gaining output (yes, you can gain output from compression; as un-intuitive as that seems). Mostly, the compression results in a loss due to temperature increase in the voice coil of the drive unit. Let’s look at a specific example. Take the 90dB at 4 meters target listening volume provided above. Again, you need 93dB’s (7.62vRMS) data. At that volume, the highest amount of compression measured is about 1dB at 40Hz and about 0.25dB at 50Hz, decreasing until about 200Hz. At some points the speaker suffered >2dB compression at 40Hz with 14vRMS. Overall, the compression results tell you what common sense would tell you: don’t try to use this speaker in place of a subwoofer at anything other than lower volumes. Otherwise, at louder listening volumes you lose over 1dB of output. And it is audibly present as a very grainy and “limited” sound; there are no dynamics at this output and that’s exactly what I heard in my listening tests when I pushed the speaker to uncomfortable levels.

https://preview.redd.it/475o4icywp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=064fdedd9cfabeae16ba1861d2c5674092e84f4b
Extra Measurements:
These are just some extra sets of measurements I completed. Some, I didn’t process through my MATLAB scripts so they’re kind of raw. But I know some would like to see them so here you go.

Grille on vs Grille off at 0° and 45°.
The grille on case results in an increase in comb filtering (higher amplitude peaks/dips). Leave the grille off.

https://preview.redd.it/bbyxcf11xp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=696542e4958025335e1fa448c05ec815d6e19ae8


Nearfield measurements.
Mic placed about 0.50 inches from each drive unit and port. While I tried to make these as accurate in SPL as I could, I cannot guarantee the relative levels are absolutely correct so I caution you to use this data as a guide but not representative of actual levels (measuring in the nearfield makes this hard as a couple millimeters’ difference between measurements can alter the SPL level). Got it? Good.
There are a few noteworthy things here:
  • Port resonance is very, very strong and clearly contributes to the on-axis response dips at ~800Hz and ~1600Hz.
  • The area between 300Hz to 700Hz (just before the 800Hz dip) is elevated slightly. This area also lines up with the increased THD levels I discussed earlier. This could be coincidence. But I believe they are related. Maybe the port is having more of an effect in this region than it needs to?
  • Woofer break-up contributes to a few on-axis resonances we see. Particularly, 4.5kHz.
  • There are other things going on here but I don’t have the time to reverse engineer this speaker. Not that I could.

https://preview.redd.it/257wf855xp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=3c1722fa7d1d372bf5c34b96bd11c027a2c5b46a

Plugging the port (making the speaker sealed).
To test whether the ports were, indeed, the culprit of the deep nulls I took my socks off and plugged the ports. Don’t worry, I had only been wearing the socks for 3 days. Sure enough, plugging the ports filled in the nulls. But it also decreased the low frequency output by about 2dB below 300Hz.

https://preview.redd.it/sbuex7d8xp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=7f111cacbd0712f1ad8d13015549f490ff1d6dd4
Objective Evaluation:
Much of what I am about to say I have already touched on under the data. But to recap:
Impedance:
  • Minimum load of about 4.6 Ohms. But mostly > 6 Ohms. Check your receiver or amplifier’s spec to make sure it can drive a 6 Ohm load without issue.
  • Wiggles around 200Hz and 280Hz indicate resonance which also shows up in frequency response.
Frequency Response/Spectrograms/Globes/Spinorama:
  • I measured an average of 84.2dB @ 2.83v/1m.
  • I measured a ±3dB response from 64Hz - 20kHz but only if you ignore the dip in response around 800Hz. Neumi claims a ±3dB window of 50Hz - 20kHz (typical in-room). Buy a subwoofer if you want to listen loud and low.
  • Numerous resonances; most caused by the port. Woofer breakup shows up in a few places as well.
  • Directivity shifts caused by inadequate crossover order and resonances from the ports and woofer.
Distortion/Compression:
  • High distortion at 40Hz but understandable given woofer size.
  • High levels of compression at high output below 100Hz.
  • Elevated midrange distortion (audible at higher volumes).
  • These are both audible effects when listening full-range as I did.
  • Don’t expect much bass below 80Hz out of these speakers. Buy a subwoofer for that.
If more time/money were spent on taming the resonances and break-up modes I think this speaker could be markedly improved. But, for $90, you kind of expect these things. Namely because higher order crossovers are not cheap and take up real-estate.
Subjective Evaluation:

https://preview.redd.it/d41xvse9xp751.jpg?width=1504&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6dc14f40f174741d903189ec5eeaafe60f0bec51
Subjective Analysis Setup:
  • The speaker was aimed on-axis with the tweeter at ear level.
  • I used Room EQ Wizard (REW) and my calibrated MiniDSP UMIK-1 to get the volume on my AVR relative to what the actual measured SPL was in the MLP (~11 feet from the speakers). I varied it between 85-90dB, occasionally going up to the mid 90’s to see what the output capability was. In a poll I found most listen to music in this range. Realistically, 90dB is loud for long-term listening volume and I find most overestimate their listening volume until an SPL microphone is used to determine the actual level.
  • All speakers are provided a relatively high level of Pseudo Pink-Noise for a day or two - with breaks in between - in order to calm any “break-in” concerns.
  • I demoed these speakers without a crossover and without EQ.
I listened to these speakers and made my subjective notes before I started measuring objectively. I did not want my knowledge of the measurements to influence my subjective opinion. This is important because I want to try to correlate the objective data with what I hear in my listening space in order to determine the validity of the measurement process. I try to do a few listening sessions over a couple days so I can give my ears a break and come back “fresh”. I also want to be as transparent to you as I can be so below are my subjective evaluations made before I began any measurements.

https://preview.redd.it/vfe8iygdxp751.png?width=5000&format=png&auto=webp&s=98c08f0155dedaafcb2613b05dbe6b193ecf389f
Here’s the rundown of my subjective notes (in quotes) and where it fits with objective:
  • Overall, I found the max SPL I could drive the speakers to was around 90-92dB at my listening position, depending on the music. That’s loud. But once I got past this point the compression was very audible and all the dynamics went away. This was most evident on the opening bass notes of Lauryn Hill’s song. It was very evident that I had reached the “brick wall” output here, even though the woofers weren’t mechanically falling apart like I would have expected.
  • In my listening tests the main thing that stood out to me was the high-frequency balance being off. In some cases it sounded about 1-3dB too low. In a few cases I heard some ‘sizzle’ on instruments that I do not believe are correct (I didn’t make the album; I can’t know for sure). The data tends to agree with that in relation to the rest of the spectrum. There are some hot spots here and there discussed previously.
  • I felt room ambiance was lacking in some recordings. For example, I noted this in “Higher Love”.
  • I made a few notes about resonance in lower vocals and questioned if I could “hear cabinet ringing”. I noticed this primarily in “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Tell Yer Mama”.
  • I noted midrange distortion at ~ 90dB (at 11 feet) in both Jim Croce’s and John Mayer’s tracks. I wasn’t sure what this was when I listened the first time, but the data clearly shows an increased level of distortion smack in the middle of the midrange. I went back through a final round of listening after I saw the data and on the “He Mele No Lilo” track, at the end, I could hear distortion in the singer’s voice. It seems I noticed this distortion in male vocals.
  • I noted some things that I hadn’t heard or wasn’t used to hearing with other speakers. For example, Chaka Khan’s voice as background singer in Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” was more present. I don’t know what to attribute this to… is it a distortion in the midrange? Is it the breakup from the midwoofer at higher frequencies? Is it a relative thing; the dips at ~800Hz and ~1600Hz causing other areas to be more noticeable than a more flat speaker?
  • The bass was punchy; the harmonics of kickdrums and synth sounded good. But there was no weight to those because the speaker just doesn’t play that well below about 100Hz.
  • The stage width was a weird one. In some songs it didn’t seem wider than 10° outside the speakers (so, about 40° total) where with other songs it was wider than this. Each recording is different, and you do want a stereo system that expands and contracts proportionately with the music. But I believe the variance in this case is more attributable to the directivity changes caused by the crossover and resonances.
I also turned the speakers to be about 10 to 30° off-axis to see if I could get rid of the harsh treble. That didn’t help much at all and when you view the data you can see the off-axis response has low directivity around 4kHz (meaning, the sound is more omnidirectional at this frequency) which indicates the bright 4kHz region would be noticeable through a wider region of angles. I believe this explains the “biting” noise I was hearing as well.
I didn't have a chance to run Dirac Live so I can't speak to what the sound would be post room correction.

Bottom Line
This speaker doesn’t measure perfectly. And, for the most part, I was able to match areas of concern between my subjective listening session and my measurements. Though, I didn’t have any significant gripes about the sound. The one main dislike for me was the reduced treble compared to the midrange. The bass is pretty well blended to the midrange despite the moderate bump in response around 100Hz. There is not much output below this at higher levels, but I can forgive the shortcomings in the bass department because the BS5 isn’t trying to pretend that it can play like a subwoofer. I have seen other 5-inch woofers with higher linear excursion than what these woofers are seemingly capable of but just one of those drive-units alone costs more than this pair of speakers. The midrange distortion is an issue if you’re going to listen at high levels; for me being at 90dB at 11 feet (which is about 93dB at 8 feet per this awesome calculator). These aren’t reference level speakers. But I think anyone buying them understands the implicit output limitations. Under 90dB at 11 feet, the sound is more balanced and undistorted.
Personally, I think these speakers would be better suited as desktop/computer speakers sealed (stuff the ports) and against a wall. The wall would give you a +6dB increase on the lower end to help make up for the plugged ports but plugging the ports would get rid of the nasty resonances that plague this speaker. I would not place these in a corner in a small room, though. Doing so creates a combing effect you do not want. Alternatively, you can use these as small satellite speakers for a budget-minded home theater. However, if you want ultimate hi-fidelity at reference levels on a shoestring budget then these speakers are not it. The frequency response deviations and distortion keep it from that goal. But, when used within reasonable limits, this is a “fun” little speaker that is enjoyable and a great entry into the hi-fi realm at $90/pair. I hate using the “but it’s cheap” argument but, really, this is a $90 pair of bookshelf speakers. More than that, though, there’s no marketing language by Neumi to suggest they are the best speakers ever. Nothing that overstates their capabilities that I have seen. I think Neumi had a target in mind with this price and performance and I believe they hit it.
I’m going to plug my Amazon affiliate link one last time just in case you want to buy these. I know, I know… I’m a sellout.
https://amzn.to/2Abda9w
The End
If you like what you see here and want to help me keep it going, you can donate via the PayPal Contribute button at the bottom of each page. Testing and reporting the data and analysis takes me approximately 8-10 hours each. It’s definitely a labor of love. That said, there’s no fame or fortune in this and all my test speakers are typically purchased and paid for by myself with help from contributions or purchases made through my affiliate links (which is negligible). Your donations help me pay for new test items, shipping costs, hardware to build and test, etc. Even a few dollars is more helpful than nothing. If you don’t mind chipping in a few bucks now and again it would truly be appreciated.
Here's a direct link to contribute.
https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/contribute/
Again, any bit is really appreciated. I would love to be able to fund a remote controlled turntable for my measuring. As it is, I walk about 2 miles (literally) between my computer and the DUT to spin it about 150 or so times (ground plane measurement + free-field measurement) at a distance of 40+ feet one-way which adds up.




Edit: Neumi BS5 Bookshelf Speaker video review is now up! https://youtu.be/NnGbd9hxZe8
submitted by hardisj to BudgetAudiophile [link] [comments]

(Month 7) My First Steps in Amazon Affiliate - It Hurts!

Previous months:
What's up, juststarter family!
First I want to say that my previous update was removed by reddit's filters and even moderators could not help with this. I don't worry too much about this because mostly I write these updates for myself. Month6 was a good one because I god x3 clicks and x3 impressions that month. I think that the compound effect of internal and external links and a couple of huge HARO wins contributed to that. Also I made 16 sales and my site was approved on amazon affiliate program.
And how about this month? On one hand it sucked because of HARO. I tried outsourcing the HARO writing to a very good writer. However, only one pitch was successful out of eight written and sent. Maybe it's just the statistics or a seasonal trend. But now I think that I should return to writing the pitches myself because I have a gut feeling of how every pitch should be written, how every sentence should be built, which order of points would be optimal to get quoted. What do you think, should I test this out?
The traffic did not change too much but that's how it works: endless despair brightened up with short spikes of growth. (LOL, I actually compared the numbers and it grew significantly! I was so focused on other things that didn't notice that! Very pleasant feeling!)
I started receiving the clicks but had zero sales previous month.
There are two reasons:
  1. The guides that generate most of clicks lead to products that are currently unavailable :( This was partially resolved by using the links from alternative affiliate program. What do you guys think, maybe I should write that "you can read the review of this product but we strongly recommend checking the alternatives link1 link2 and link3? And lead the visitors to alternative products that are available?
  2. I don't know why but many visitors just will keep scrolling and then exit without clicking to products. I view the recordings from Hotjar and 80% of sessions are just monotonous scrolling of a page and then exit. That's weird. I think that I'm ranking too low and my visitors aren't actual people who are looking for products. I think, these are my 'colleagues' :D.
Also I had an interesting insight: Visitors who actually click the affiliate links almost do not scroll the page. They just land , spend a couple of seconds and then click the featured picks. Is this pattern common for your sites?

What was done:
The numbers:
At the end of the day:
I feel pretty happy, entertained and proud of myself for writing this report. It showed me that my progress does not stand still. Yeah, it would be even cooler if I had a couple of bucks from affiliate program. But I'm sure that this won't be a problem in future as long as my traffic keeps growing.
Also I have a very pleasant feeling that I'm the owner of that site: a couple of guys asked to write a guest post for me, some guys definitely would like to have the traffic I have...and even one person asked me if I would like to sell this site :D. I treat my site similarly to other guys who love their car or motorcycle lol (my total investment is also very close to Harley Davidson 883 Sportster).
That's it. See you next month!
submitted by l0v33 to juststart [link] [comments]

My Journey to Purchasing and Flipping a Sports Affiliate Site - Update #1

Update #2: https://www.reddit.com/juststart/comments/gjrq2s/my_journey_to_purchasing_and_flipping_a_sports/
Who Am I?
My name is Brett, and I'm a 24-year-old affiliate marketer from North Carolina. I have about 8 years (give or take) of affiliate SEO experience, with my journey starting with a pre-built micro-niche site from Blackhatworld.com. Over the years I've owned 20+ sites, with some being total busts and some leading to sales on EmpireFlippers and similar marketplaces. I have about a year and a half of agency experience (shout out to the CM fam), but I'm currently a full-time affiliate marketer with a huge focus on SEO. With these sites, I've focused mainly on the Amazon affiliate program, but recently I've been experimenting with private and third party affiliate programs and I'm starting to see the light and steering away from Amazon.
What Is This Case Study?:
The purpose of this case study is simple. I purchased an existing affiliate site to track my journey over the next year with the end goal of reaching $1,000 in recurring monthly revenue and eventually flipping the site for $30,000 (30x monthly profit is about the average sales multiple at the time of writing this). The purpose of this case study is to document as much as possible about this site's journey. I'll pretty much be sharing everything except for the URL of the site.
This case study is to help show people that flipping websites and affiliate websites in general, have huge financial potential, and this marketplace is only growing.
Let's just keep this simple and go ahead and get started.
Site Purchase Details + December - February 2020 Update
I officially purchased this site at the end of December 2019, but with a busy holiday season, I didn't really touch the site until 2020. Below I'll break down what was down each month, my expenses, any revenue, and a general overview of how the site is doing.
About The Site:
This site is in the Sports niche and monetized 100% by Amazon Affiliate (at the time of purchase). The site was created by the original owner in early 2018, so it's a little over 2 years old at the time of writing this post.
Purchase Facts:
Quick Wins:
During the sale process I identified quick wins I could implement to get a return on my investment as quickly as possible:
I had a good feeling that there was strong potential for revenue growth without evening improving organic traffic.
December 2019 Updates + Profit/LossExpenses:
Site Purchase: ($775)
Backlinks: ($68) - Purchased 1 guest post from a ~30 DA domain. This link was sent to my main money page.
Total: ($843)
Revenue:
Amazon Affiliate: $3.25 (Only had my links up the last week or 2 of December).
This puts the site at a net loss of $839.75.
Note: For anyone that is wondering, I'm fully expecting the first 3-6 months to be negative in terms of profit. It takes time and money to build up these types of sites, but once they're ranking higher then the revenue will drastically improve.
What Was Done in December 2019:
December I was quite busy with the holiday season so not much was done with this site. The only thing I really accomplished this month was changing the majority of the affiliate links on the site to my links. Along with this I also used Screaming Frog to fix any 404's and unnecessary 301s. I noticed the interlinking throughout the site was pretty wonky, but I dive deeper into that in January and February.
Main Keyword: This will be my highest focus, it's a keyword that gets around 2,200 searches per month with huge buyers intent, so getting this ranked in the top 3 will have a massive improvement on revenue and traffic.
Current Rank of Main Keyword: 17th
January 2020 Updates + Profit/LossExpenses:
Backlinks: ($80) - Purchased 2 guest posts from a DA 65 domain and a DA 51 domain in the sports niche. Both of these links were to my main money page.
Revenue:
Amazon Affiliate: $63.14 - Definitely a lucky month, someone purchased an ~$800 unrelated item through my link that accounted for about $36 of this, but I'll take it.
Net Profit for the Month: (16.86)
Net Profit Overall: (856.61)
What Was Done in January 2020:
In January my main focus was really on continuing to update affiliate links to my links and improving the internal linking structure of the site.
Internal Linking Structure: The site had quite a few orphan pages that weren't receiving any internal links so I included those in the main navigation while also compressing the main nav so it's more user friendly. Along with this, our main money pages were lacking in internal links as well so I included links to these posts on the homepage in the content, worked through all the content, and found relevant articles to link to these money pages.
When I'm doing internal links I like to be pretty aggressive with the internal anchor keywords. I tend to take a look at Ahrefs and look for keywords that the page is already ranking for, and use these as the internal anchors. I try not to repeat a keyword and just work my way down the list. In the past, I've seen some pretty massive jumps for the main keyword and also for these secondary keywords by doing this.
Current Rank of Main Keyword: 16th
February 2020 Updates + Profit/LossExpenses:
Backlinks: ($45) - Purchased a single backlink from a relevant sports site with a DA around 45. This link was also sent to my main money page.
Revenue:
Amazon Affiliate: $45.20 - All of this revenue came from relevant purchases so I'm happy with this!
Net Profit for the Month: $0.20 (Woo!)
Net Profit Overall: (856.41)
What Was Done in February 2020:
Surfer SEO Audits: I started to perform some Surfer SEO audits on my money pages and overall improving the content on these pages. I ended up writing a few hundred words of new content for each of my main money pages because of Surfer's suggestions.
Internal Linking Structure: I continued to identify opportunities to add internal links to my main money pages from relevant articles on the site.
Working With Individual Brands: I started reaching out to individual brands in this niche. My main focus was to ask if they had individual affiliate programs (either because they don't sell their product on Amazon, or to see if I could get a higher commission percentage), and also to open the door to future advertising deals. In the future, I'd like to incorporate selling banner ad space, and also featuring a recommended product of the month for a monthly fee.
Backlink Research: Used the Link Intersect tool on Ahrefs to identify some domains that a few of my competitors have links from. I then went ahead and sent these domains about either getting a guest post or purchasing a backlink. This will be an ongoing process.
Current Rank of Main Keyword: 11th (Getting closer)
Plans for March 2020:
In March 2020 I'll be looking to continue to optimize and improving some of my main money pages and continue running Surfer SEO audits. Along with this, I'm going to be looking for backlink opportunities for some of my secondary money pages to help diversify my backlink distribution a bit more.
Final Thoughts:
Overall I'm really happy with the improvements that have been made in the past 2 or 3 months, and I think this site has a lot of potential to pass my original goal of $1,000 per month. I'm going to try to leave updates monthly or bi-monthly, so check back to see the continued progress of this site.
Thanks for reading,
- Brett
submitted by passiveniches to juststart [link] [comments]

A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 2

This is part 2 of 5.
Part 1
LET'S DO THIS!
Big thank you to everyone that upvoted and commented on the last post.
I’m pumped, this is part 2 of 5 for those keeping track at home.
  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
  3. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
  4. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
  5. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Early traction, everyone wants it, very few people know how to do it effectively. Hell I’ve seen it all, run all the experiments, all the tests and I can tell you from experience if you have the patience, slow, steady, and surgical is the way to grow. Especially in the beginning.
In part one we spent a lot of time asking some basic fundamental business questions. Including, an exercise in the importance of being able to niche down.
We’re going to expand on the niching down because it’s how you gain clarity and find people to align yourself with early on.
The goal of this will be to understand:
  1. How to niche down
  2. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
  3. How to position within that market
  4. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
I’ve chosen to outline these in all our steps for niching down.
You’re going to see these steps move from research to market evaluation to list building stopping just short of outreach. We’ll touch on this in part 3.
Last week I took a call where someone told me their target market is males 25-45 that like sports.
This is the most important part of your entire business. I’m serious.
Let’s rock through this together so we can get you super focused and know where and how to spend your time and money.
(The below was laid out in part 1 and was the layered niching exercise)
LEVEL 1: We’re a helpdesk product.
How to niche down
The big question is “for who”?
So you’ve picked the type of product you are building and a use case, the problem is there are lots of people like you out there and this doesn’t tell me much about your market, it’s too broad.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Because this is so broad, it’s impossible to actually target a market and without being able to do that, it’s not possible to recognize opportunities, there’s just too many of them.
How to position within that market
Competition is good and bad, but it’s always better to be a big fish in a little pond, the best way to reduce the size of your pond is to niche down as much as possible while still understanding a large enough TAM (total addressable market).
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
No wasted effort. Every idea, concept, must have a small goal attached to it.
It’s too expensive to try to be everything for everyone and when you take this approach you end up failing at doing any one thing well enough for people to switch.
Let’s build on this.
LEVEL 2: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies.
How to niche down
Pick an industry or trend that is on the rise - look towards a shift or something that relates to changes people are making in their daily routine.
In this case we picked eCommerce because it’s on track to hit over $7 Trillion worldwide this year and has steadily been increasing across all brands. So we have an industry with a large enough economic driver to let us start niching down.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
We now buy things online that we never would have thought to do so even just a few years ago. Amazon is selling Tiny Homes now, seriously, if you can buy it, odds are you can do it online. There are massive opportunities to bring goods and services to people through convenient online shopping. And with that increase they will all need a help desk platform to provide the best experience for their customers.
Customers today don’t want to speak with people, they want answers quickly and easily. It’s all about reducing friction.
How to position within that market
Narrow down within the market. eCommerce is a good starting point, there are different industries, subsets, and categories. Go narrower. Start thinking about where the friction exists in the industry and for what subsets.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
In the beginning, it’s going to be an uphill battle, picking the right trending industry will give you the best chance of success. Something that is rising up to the right in popularity is way easier to sell into than a trend that is declining.
Know your competitive landscape.
Everyone has a competitor, whether direct, partial, or mildly related. Spend a lot of time on understanding this and knowing that your product is part of a very large landscape or landscape of potential competitors. Any one of the existing partial or mildly related competitors may be building something to more directly compete with you down the road.
Practical advice
Most companies stop here and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a go to market plan or a sustainable business model.
There’s an important bit worth mentioning here as it will become a theme of this entire post.
Great products enhance workflows through features, the focus isn’t on the product but what the product enables people to do. Success in the software business is all about understanding existing workflows and simplifying the experience.
As you do this exercise to niche down ask yourself:
What does the current workflow look like?
What are they currently using?
How are they currently using it?
Where are the gaps?
What are the best practices for creating workflows?
Always seek to understand how your product works in a workflow - what role it plays, how it best optimizes - this is the data play referred to in Part 1.
What are the things that matter most to people in the eCommerce space?
That’s a lot of questions with even more answers, when you peel everything back it becomes very clear that it’s not possible to answer all of them without going deeper.
Too many people to talk to, too many industries, too much everything.
Let’s take a different approach - how I got to Shopify in the next niche down.
No successful new SaaS company today launches without an integration.
So let’s find an eCommerce platform to integrate with.
We have to look for a stable player that has an app store and is a market leader.
As a starting point, my goal is to be a help desk for ecommerce companies.
  1. I need a list of all eCommerce platforms
  2. I need to understand which help desks they already integrate with
  3. I need to understand what people like and don’t like about them
  4. I need to find out which platform is going to be the best fit for my product
There are lots of sources for this and even more articles, google and read.
If you’re looking for numbers though and data, use BuiltWith and run a search on the platforms after you have your list to figure out which is the most popular.
Ok so we have our list of eCommerce platforms, we’ve analyzed the data, made sure they tick all the boxes and we’ve run our reports and found that Shopify powers 1.2 million stores.
Let’s lock it in as our next step in niching down.
LEVEL 3: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify.
How to niche down
It’s more than just market size. Going with a market leader is always a safe bet but it also provides the most competition. Sometimes going with a smaller platform that doesn’t get all the attention is a worthwhile research project.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
There are two sides of the opportunity and this is something that I didn’t touch on in the original niching down. Shopify and BuiltWith categorize the types of stores that are on the platform, so you can niche down to a certain type of store, for example just cosmetics or just apparel.
The other side of the opportunity is putting together your list of companies currently operating in the ecosystem.
How to position within that market
Smart people are really good at collecting data and interpreting it.
Let’s get some data.
  1. Go to the shopify app store
  2. Type in “Support”
  3. Click paid on the left margin and click the “Support Category”
  4. Use something like Simple Scraper ( a great chrome plugin, no affiliation)
  5. Get your scrape on, this shows 87
  6. Time to get busy - categorize them
  7. Pick the ones most similar to your offerings
  8. Click on them, look at their reviews - all of them on shopify Scrape them
  9. Go to G2 and Capterra and look through all those reviews as well
  10. Put them all in a spreadsheet, read them all, highlight those that stand out
  11. Find the ones that are popular, others that have features people like etc.
  12. Document, and integrate the baseline features into a trello board on your product roadmap
  13. Take all the bad reviews and complaints - look for gaps that you can fill
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
So take a look above, we went from a bunch of questions to being able to do a ton of market research to do product research and understand the current market offerings and where we might be able to gain some ground and offer something people might be interested in and ARE PAYING FOR.
How do you stand out?
You need to have a workflow that is 10x better than a current competitor in the market with a strong roadmap that lays out how you intend on optimizing this workflow. Features are built to augment the workflow and simplify the work of your clients employees, less work, more data, better understanding.
Ok so we’ve narrowed it down to eCommerce and Shopify and we have a list of other products that are currently playing in the space. We’re now looking at workflow - let’s figure this bit out.
LEVEL 4: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation.
How to niche down
Add another variable - it doesn’t have to be Shipstation, but it’s a good example as for eCommerce you’re likely shipping products places. By adding another variable, we’re shrinking our population to target.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
The biggest problem for all companies these days is combining different one off services and getting them to play nicely together. Stand alone products usually outclass all in one products as stated above because the focus is better. This is generally always going to be where you can find a gap in the market as the integrating of products is an afterthought rather than something contemplated in the very beginning.
How do you decide on the technologies you want to work with?
How to position within that market
Don’t guess. Understand the workflow of an eCommerce company and how it relates to support. For instance, most support tickets relate to order status, tracking, and returns. These all involve the store, transaction, the service desk, and the shipping carrier. Look for ways to streamline the experience for the service rep - for instance if refunds require approval, build a system that allows for all those tickets to be queued up with an easy interface for approvals or different color tagging to allow for them to be easily sorted by type.
By focusing on two technologies you can start by creating a better visual collaboration between tools to improve overall experience.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Stack the deck in your favor.
Focus on where you can drive early alignment between your product offering and the audiences of your now two products. When you reach out to both companies especially the smaller ones like a Shipstation, you can collect more information about who they are catering to, volumes etc.
Most companies have a partner program - look into connecting with the lead.
When the time is right you might even get a shoutout on their social or blog or you can decide to co-publish some research report together. Lots of options.
Let’s double down on what being niche allows us to do:
  1. Know our audience
  2. Research with purpose
  3. Personalize outreach with early feelers
  4. Better understand a realistic TAM (total addressable market)
  5. Understand overlap between products
  6. Early alignment with bigger names
This whole topic is about alignment, alignment with partners, customers, and your product.
We have a list of potential customers now, but we need to segment them down further.
LEVEL 5: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus.
How to niche down
Why less than 100 skus?
This means they are small enough to try a new product. It also means you can see what works and what doesn’t work on a potentially smaller store. When you’re managing a store with more than 100 skus, things get a little complicated, it’s an arbitrary number but changing internal processes and workflows when you get to that level means that your staff is coming from a place of having used a system before that could handle the volume and trying out something newer or unproven is a tall order.
This process can be applied to anything, if your product does better project management look for people that run less than 20 projects at a time or projects that are less than 6 months, whatever it may be. We’re starting small.
Always default to the path of least resistance. Work smarter, not harder.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
I’m sure this could be automated, but in lieu of it being automated, you should start by manually figuring this out for yourself.
That list you have from BuiltWith that has urls, yeah we’re going to use that one.
Put the websites in the spreadsheet you downloaded, then create a new column and add “products” to the url - so you have the website in cell A, the word “products” in cell B then in blank cell C write “=CONCATENATE(A:B)” congratulations now you have cell C that will take you straight to the product page to see how many skus they have.
Update this hack doesn’t work on all shopify websites like I had hoped and after some research it seems like this is a bit of a struggle point for others as well.
I’m sure someone could write a script to scrape this information.
Go find an intern or hire someone to do all the lookups for you or find someone to write a script to automate the results - remember always work smart.
Run this and you’ll come up with your go to target list.
How to position within that market
The best helpdesk for stores on Shopify using shipstation with less than 100 skus - all of a sudden this starts to sound like something someone would almost search for. That’s the point.
We’re working our way down where it becomes a simple checklist if someone was searching for things.
Shopify - check
Shipstation - check
Built for smaller stores - check
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Remember you’re not building a product for everyone yet, your goal is to dominate a niche. You can always expand from there.
So we’re about half way through and we have figured out our potential partners and now we’re working on narrowing down this customer list. Before we dive in and start reaching out we need to really understand who we’re targeting and we need to start small.
Let’s narrow this down even further.
LEVEL 6: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue.
How to niche down
Why the less than $10 million in annual revenue? The only reason I would say this in the beginning is that they won’t have as much traffic and ticket volume, they make for better early clients, you can learn a lot more from their use cases and improve the product without worrying about something going wrong and a larger client really getting mad and churning. You also usually have greater access to work with their staff to improve your product.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Unless you’re currently on the front lines, you need to find some early providers of feedback that are on the front lines. In essence, this is the starting point of a community and information play.
There aren’t a lot of data points available about companies in the early stages. People always have questions and there are limited resources in the early days, even across similar companies.
(Just look at reddit there are tons of repeat answers and questions.)
Someone answering tickets all day is the last person that wants to provide feedback, as much as they would like their job made easier, they don’t have the time.
How to position within that market
“But I need a big logo to let people know that I’m real.” You don’t, not in the beginning. All you need is a few good customers that are open to lending you the feedback you need to get better. A lot of smaller brands do a good job of branding, play the long game, find brands that are growing and try to get in early - grow with them.
Logo hunting has its place but you need to find product market fit before you can really make that happen.
By now you have probably figured out that whenever possible you should automate things. The way you do this is through data collection.
Using logic, math, and a spreadsheet you can do enough to be dangerous.
Use a service to figure out what their unique traffic is, take a look at their products and assume that their cart value is around 2-4 products per order then take the conversion rates by industry - you can find these online they are openly listed.
Your sheet will look something like this:
Company, Traffic, Conversion Percentage, Order Value, Sales Percentage, Revenue
eCommerce blended average is 2.2% - go use a spreadsheet and some formulas and bam you now have the revenue numbers. We’re not looking for exacts here, but more generally a good estimate.
I’ve actually run these numbers, if the products are sold through other channels, Amazon, retail, etc, then a rough estimate would be around ~33% of the revenue will come from the ecommerce store.
Factor in a range based on the size of the brand and it’s channels this should give you a rough estimate of the revenue even if they don’t publish it.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Provide value - the most overhyped phrase but still true - the question then becomes, with something as subjective as “value” rather than just create, instead ask and create. This part is coming up, we’re almost ready to turn this on.
We’ve started to move from who are partners are to who are our potential customers. This is on purpose - my stance is that your first customers are really your partners and you should work on aligning yourself with those that are the best fit for your product.
You want your first clients to buy into your vision and invest the time to help shape it.
Ok on to the next -
LEVEL 7: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people.
How to niche down
So now we’re getting into the easier stuff - this is just a simple LinkedIn Search - small teams are usually before the real deep process point, they are also really good at providing feedback on tools that can actually help them out.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
If you have less than 5 people on a team, it’s a small enough number to target the entire team - multi prong approach to product awareness.
For customer support they are often the least paid and they have the most stressful jobs - it’s an all around shitty position to be in, so if you can provide them joy, you’re going to make fans quick. Also, they aren’t usually sold into, they are rarely asked their opinion, etc.
How to position within that market
Give them a voice. The same goes for any lower level positions as well by the way. When people are getting started in their careers they are looking to hear about the jobs people have even at the lower levels but the resources just aren’t there. Even for more senior roles, it’s hard to get a beat on what the current status is of their projects, people don’t like sharing - I still don’t know why.
We’re seeing communities around Sales popup SalesHacker, sales, Bravado etc. We don’t see as many for other roles, there is a wide open space in this. I don’t see any places for people to better understand customer support/success which is THE ONLY INBOUND TOUCHPOINT WITH CUSTOMERS POST SALE.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
This is part of the philosophy and psychology of understanding human dynamics. Find a persona that you can relate to immediately and build your product around fixing their problems, be obsessed with this.
They get paid nothing, but they’d like less tickets, how do you reduce that ticket count, how do you bring other parts of the business that they may need to have access to more prominently in your support system so they don’t have to have multiple windows open. How do you build something to maximize their efficiency?
Better yet, how do you tag someone in the CRM and flag it over to the sales system to see if they purchase more product as a result of a good interaction with support - this is how you turn a cost center into a revenue generator. This is a killer feature that I’m not aware of out of the box.
This could unlock a commission structure and reward system for what is arguably becoming a dealbreaker for most companies.
Which is a great segway to the next drill down - you should be starting to see how this all really blends together if done correctly.
LEVEL 8: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes.
How to niche down
They have to be looking to automate their process or improve their workflow. When people find a tech stack that works, oftentimes new technology doesn’t stick around very long, we’re all creatures of habit.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
You’re only looking for people that are talking about processes or a company that has something related to the pride they take with their process - you can check out BuiltWith and see a list of products they have tried over the last 18 months.
When a company is testing a bunch of different products it means they are looking for a better process. This is your sweet spot.
How to position within that market
You’ve seen me sprinkle “workflow” into this post. This is pretty much a preview of Part 3 and the importance of product design.
Your product must improve someone’s existing workflow. If it doesn’t it’s not a viable product.
There are two parts to this, does your product improve an existing workflow AND how easy can your product be inserted into that workflow?
Remember, this is their business and they need to make a transition as smoothly as possible with as little disruption as possible. This goes for any product you’re selling. Change is hard.
Understanding a company’s process really is everything.
If people aren’t looking to automate or improve their process, there’s a good chance you should change your approach immediately and work towards more of an education campaign and double down on what it would take to let people quickly switch over from an existing platform. Focus on reducing friction.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Looking for people that are interested, not those we need to educate early on.
Data migration and implementation is one of the main reasons people don’t want to switch or entertain new products. There is always a fear of lost productivity.
Everyone is looking to automate right now, but the price has to be right, and that includes not the subscription amount, but the training, the migration, the new workflows, the time to adopt, the willingness to adopt, etc.
During almost any transition, the company will be paying for two systems at the same time during that handoff. This is rough, not enough companies actually address this in a meaningful way.
The argument is that a pure SaaS play doesn’t exist or shouldn’t exist for an early stage company, there should always be a service and consulting component. Hold everyone’s hand, understand their problems and make them feel like you’re building a product just for them.
Ok we’re almost there -
LEVEL 9: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk.
How to niche down
Let’s spearfish.
Zendesk - great platform - but has its limits that only show up based on workflows. Zendesk will work great until you have a workflow that incorporates other tools - then it starts to struggle.
This is true of most large legacy platforms. As legacy platforms moved up market to Enterprise for revenue reasons, they usually forget about smaller teams. Instead relying on dev house partners to do customizations.
This is where industry experience really comes into play - knowing the goals of a company or team, their workflows, and where you can create a better solution for those with those workflows for things that the legacy platforms prefer to source out to their dev house partners.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Your calls can now go from generic to focused with questions that can hone in on workflows and gaps. For example, Zendesk’s UX/UI sucks for partner integrations, we’ve seen companies like Kustomer, Gorgias, and others become more popular because of a better UX/UI that supports the whole customer experience and journey. This is a fundamental switch in approach.
From one of our earlier research steps we found 87 companies that people were using for support with shopify, we have them in a spreadsheet, we then could take those and put all the competitors in builtwith to run some reports to understand market penetration (you can do this with number of reviews as well by the way if you’re lazy - don’t be lazy).
Download your list - populate your CRM - you now know what people are using, how long they’ve been using them.
Narrow down your list to the top 20 clients - yes only 20.
Even if you have 100 clients or a thousand clients at this point, this process works for every single Sales rep you have - and I’m going on a 95% chance none of them are doing this stuff. And if you tell me they are, I know from the amount of generic ass emails I get regularly spewed out to me they aren’t doing it well and I guarantee you money is being left on the table. (Topic for another day)
How to position within that market
You know what software they are using, you know their tech stack, your goal is to figure out their workflow. If you don’t know, ask. You should understand the general business workflows for the industry - again industry knowledge is required.
Engage them with conversation and find out. Base your questions on conversations you’ve had with other people in the space and be a source of information about how other people are doing it.
The above is completely able to be put into a human measurable process, one based on quality over quantity, relationships over transactions, and geared towards long term growth.
Be about the things that other platforms are not. Focus on changing the narrative from cost center to revenue generator.
The helpdesk for Shopify and Shipstation customers looking to streamline their processes and free up their support teams to become revenue generators in an organic and measurable fashion.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
It’s all about workflows, data, and automation.
Niche down, learn from the inside out, follow the trends and work on being able to tie back data to creating more revenue no matter what your product does and you’ll be able to start conversations with people actively looking to create more optimized workflows.
Focusing on a legacy product and small businesses usually allows you to find a sweet spot, they don’t find value in all the features because they won’t use them all. But they do want the more advanced features like automation and workflow help. These are usually cost prohibitive in the platform.
This is why you focus on workflow over features, you’ll never catch up with the big guys in terms of features, but there are always ways to compete on workflows, because everyone has their own independent goals around them. There aren’t standards, only best practices.
Side note - there are entire companies that are hired to implement systems like Zendesk and build integrations on top of it and it’s a market leader. The same goes for any market leader.
LEVEL 10ish: You can add location to the end of our narrowing down. A company physically local to you (at least this was the case prior to COVID-19) can allow for an in person visit which has been massive in building trust with early clients. Makes it easier to have a conversation as well.
That’s it. Go through this process, substitute your values, keep drilling down and recognize opportunity along the way. When you do it correctly you’ll see massive improvements for your initial outreach.
Emails go from:
We’re a new helpdesk company.
To:
We’re a new helpdesk company for customers that use Shopify and Shipstation. We help agile support teams that are looking to better automate their workflows. Our integrations also allows your support team’s interactions to be directly tied into future revenue generation.
___________
I can tell you from experience I’m visiting the url for the second email even if I’m not looking to make a change.
This is a good place to stop, we hit question 2 of 5 and we’re almost at the halfway point.
If you have more specific questions about this part just drop them in the comments and I'll respond to them.
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A Beginner’s Guide to Improving Your Lawn This Spring & Summer

-- PLEASE NOTE: While questions are very welcome in the comments, be sure to check the two part FAQ below this post as it gets into many of them! --

Three points of orientation:

Make sure this guide pertains to you. This guide was written for those who are growing cool season grasses. What does that mean? Well, there are all sorts of different grasses grown on home lawns but they can generally be split into two camps: cool season and warm season. Cool season grasses include fescue, bluegrass and rye, and are most often grown in the central to northern parts of the USA or in milder parts of southern California. If you live in one of these places, you very likely have cool season turf. Warm season grasses include bermuda, centipede, zoysia, St. Augustine and bahiagrass, and are most often grown in the south and southwestern parts of the country. The differences between cool season and warm season grasses are significant and just like you can’t cook a strip steak and a beef shank in the same way, this cool season plan is simply not going to work if you have warm season turf.
Have reasonable expectations. Sadly we have to begin with what for some of you will be a bitter pill to swallow: if your lawn is in really bad shape, following the steps in this guide is not going to take it from a “2” to a “10” by the end of the summer. The reason for this is simple: the time to renovate and truly transform cool season lawns is in late summer and early fall. The goal here is to make big, noticeable improvements and get you ready for fall when you can truly take your lawn to the next level.
About me and about this guide. I am a lawncare DIYer. Like many of you I bought a house and then had a realization that I had to take care of a lawn and had no idea what I was doing. This guide contains many of the lessons I learned in figuring things out. It also contains lessons learned from watching Allyn Hane (Lawn Care Nut), Pete Denny - u/gciturf (GCI Turf), Matt Martin - u/thegrassfactor (The Grass Factor) and Ryan Knorr, along with reading this sub and thelawnforum.com and listening carefully to the golf course professionals I know. That said, all of the writing is my own though I owe a significant debt of gratitude to u/SirThomasFraterson and u/Unabomber007 who generously read a draft of this guide and offered thoughtful suggestions and critique.

Late Winter (aka Where to Begin):

This is where you start. While it is obviously intended for you to complete these steps in February or early March, if you have found this guide later in the season you still want to start here. Every other step will depend on these things being done.

Step #1 - Measure Your Lawn.

This step is not optional. If you don’t know how big your lawn is there is no way you can apply anything to it as you’ll have no idea how much to apply. There are online tools you can use to get a rough idea of your yard’s size, but I have found they can be off by as much as two hundred square feet. My recommendation is to buy an appropriately sized tape measure or measuring wheel and actually walk your lawn. Unless you have a truly tiny yard, you’ll probably want to divide it up into different areas. To do this take your measurements and draw a small map of your property and identify your particular zones. Treat each area separately.

Step #2 - Get a Soil Test.

Like the previous step, this is not optional. When you are ill and go to the doctor, he (or she) performs tests before he takes any action. He doesn't just cut you open or prescribe random medications hoping everything will work out. Before you add anything to your lawn or do any work to it, you have to test your soil. You can do this at any point, I usually do mine in February. MySoil is an easy, though very expensive source for soil testing. A much cheaper option is to use your County Extension Office, which is staffed by state university employees focused on local agriculture and gardening issues. Find their site and then look around for soil testing; it’ll be there. (Once you find your office's website, it is worth bookmarking it. It will offer a lot of advice for lawncare that is particular to your state. Some of the advice might be considered conservative by the standards of many in this sub, but it is worth having, nonetheless).

Step #3 - Buy a good-quality mower, sprinkler setup, broadcast spreader, backpack or pump sprayer and a scale.

Lawncare is an equipment-driven hobby and there are tons of things you can buy but these five are are the essentials. Of course if you already have one of these items, only upgrade if you feel that your current equipment isn't doing the job.

Step #4 - Fix your pH, if your soil test says you need to.

When you get your soil test back it is most likely going to indicate that you have too little of several things, and perhaps that you have too much of one or two. Ignore everything right now except for pH. This is crucial. If your pH is out of whack it is going to affect your grass' ability to make use of nutrients in your soil. If your pH is low you'll want to add lime; something like ‎Pennington Fast Acting Lime will work. Add it according to your soil test's recommendations and in the amounts specified on the product’s label using your broadcast spreader. If your pH is too high, you'll want to add sulphur. Southern Ag Pelletized Soil Acidifier is a good product. You can apply lime or sulphur any time of the year that the ground is not frozen.

Early Spring:

Step #5 - Aerate your lawn… but only if it is necessary.

Lawn aeration is the process of pulling soil cores out of the lawn in an effort to reduce soil compaction and allow air, water and nutrients to reach the root zone of your grass. Perhaps due to the strident marketing efforts of a couple large lawncare firms, beginners tend to think that they must aerate their lawns every spring and fall. This is not true. You should only aerate your lawn in the spring if it needs it. How do you know if it needs it? Do the screwdriver test. Any day that the ground is not frozen, take a flat-head screwdriver and attempt to push it into the soil in several places in your lawn. The screwdriver should easily be able to sink into the ground. It it cannot, water your lawn lightly and try again. If it still cannot, you should consider aeration.

Step #6 - Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide.

A pre-emergent herbicide is exactly what it sounds like: something you put down to prevent weeds from emerging. It differs from the more common post-emergent herbicides (discussed in Step #9) that attack weeds that have already sprouted. A pre-emergent won't prevent all weeds - or even most - but it will prevent one devastating one: crabgrass, and because it can do that it is an essential part of spring lawncare. The two main options for pre-emergents are Prodiamine and Dithiopyr. Both work well and both come in a dizzying array of formulations, both brand name and generic, liquid and granular, and mixed with fertilizer or without it. The differences matter to a certain extent - and if you are new and can’t decide, go with this easy to apply granular from Sunniland - but what matters much more is getting one of them down at as close to the right time as possible. What is that right time? When your soil temperatures are approaching 55°F. How do you know when that is? Use this website, going back to 2019 and clicking around looking at the 5 year averages for various spring dates. Doing this will give you a rough idea of the right time. As that time approaches, check the website daily. When soil temperatures are consistently around 52 or 53°F - according to the 24 hour average - go ahead and apply.

Mid to Late Spring:

Step #7 - Throw down some fertilizer!

About two to three weeks after your first pre-emergent goes down you’ll want to apply fertilizer. This can get very complicated very quickly but I am going to try to keep it as simple as I can via the following sub-steps:
  1. Figure out how much nitrogen your lawn needs. Grass requires a lot of things, but chief among them when it comes to nutrients is nitrogen. What you want to do is apply between .75 pound and 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet of grass this spring in two split doses. Lean towards somewhere between .75 to 1 pound if you fertilized heavily last fall. Go heavier if you didn’t - particularly if you have never applied fertilizer to your lawn - or if your lawn was seeded or sodded in the latter half of last year. Do not exceed 1.5 pounds of nitrogen. More will not equal better in this context.
  2. Choose a fertilizer. Like lawn mowers, there are nearly endless options when it comes to fertilizer. The generalized nature of this post precludes an in-depth discussion of fertilizer brands. That said, if you are a true beginner, it is hard to go wrong with Milorganite. It is easy to apply and its iron content will give your lawn an enviable dark green color. Yes, there are cheaper fertilizers, better fertilizers, liquid fertilizers, etc. but Milo is a good place to start and available pretty much everywhere in the country.
  1. Translate this “x pounds of nitrogen per thousand feet” (from sub-step #1) into actual pounds of fertilizer. To do this you’ll need to do some very simple, middle school-level math. Any fertilizer you buy will show its analysis on its label. The first number in the trio refers to the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer. (The second refers to phosphorus, the third to potassium). To get the “pounds on the ground,” use the following formula: the amount of nitrogen you want to apply ÷ the fertilizer’s nitrogen percentage in decimal form.
  1. Take this ‘x pounds fertilizer per thousand square feet’ information and apply it to the different areas of your property.
  1. Split up your total fertilizer amount into two applications. The first application, to be done two to three weeks after your first pre-emergent goes down, should amount to 2/3rds of your total fertilizer. Your second application which should go down three weeks later should consist of the remaining 1/3rd.
  1. Apply using the same technique discussed in Step #4. As discussed there, lower your spreader setting when you are first beginning so as to ensure an even application.

Step #8 - Apply some humic acid and sea kelp.

This step is optional but I wouldn’t skip it unless you lack the money or time. Humic acid is derived from compressed organic mattter mined from the earth and in that sense it can almost be thought of as like an essence of compost. Humic acid will help improve your soil chemistry and structure and allow your grass to better take up the nutrients you provided it in Step #7. It will also encourage positive microbial growth in your soil. Sea kelp contains two major plant growth hormones that are thought to encourage root growth. There are products like N-EXT RGS and this blend from Simple Lawn Solutions that combine both humic acid and sea kelp (both are liquid products and are best applied using a cheap hose-end sprayer attachment) but you could also buy them separately: The Andersons makes an easy to apply humic acid granular and kelp4less.com offers a variety of sea kelp products. The latter two suggestions offer great value.

Step #9 - Kill your weeds.

Your lawn probably has weeds and spring is going to be a time they are going to rapidly grow. Getting rid of them is important as many weeds will outcompete your grass if given the chance. There are thousands of herbicides available but you’ll need just a couple:
  1. An all-purpose. This will be what you will use on most of your broadleaf weeds like dandelions and plantains. Bayer Advanced makes a product that is effective and available basically everywhere. Compare-n-Save makes an incredibly cheap version that works about as well. SpeedZone is a step up, a “higher power” product used by many professionals, but is not something I would recommend if you have never sprayed weeds before as over-spraying it can do serious damage.
  2. Something for clover. The above products will damage clover, but with the possible exception of SpeedZone, probably won’t knock it out. If you want to kill it - along with its “cousins,” oxalis and chickweed - you’ll need something that contains triclopyr. Your best option is the easy to find Weed B Gon Chickweed, Clover, Oxalis Killer.
  3. Specialty items for grassy weeds and other hard to kill items. A favorite of this sub, Tenacity works great on things like crabgrass, annual bluegrass, nimblewill, and yellow nutsedge. Quinclorac also works on crabgrass but if you put down a pre-emergent (Step #6) you shouldn’t have much to deal with. I’d hold off on buying either of these until you see if you actually need them.
A few details to note regarding herbicides:
How to spray weeds: This video from the Lawn Care Nut covers the basics of spot spraying. A few additional points that Allyn didn’t cover: Avoid watering or mowing for at least 24 hours after spraying. The point is to let the herbicide get absorbed into the weed and work its way through it. Washing the herbicide off with water or cutting the sprayed parts off with a mower will obviously hinder that effort.

Step #10 - Treat your lawn for grubs (if they are an issue in your neighborhood) and, if needed, treat for other insects.

Grubs are the larvae of beetles, to the untrained eye they look almost like little white shrimp. They commonly feed on the roots of grass plants and in doing so can devastate a lawn. Grubs are not present in every lawn or even in every neighborhood. I obviously can’t tell you if they are present in yours. You can ask around in your local garden center or chat with a neighbor who is into lawncare and see if he or she is treating for them. If you think grubs might be an issue for you, I suggest a two-pronged attack:

Summer:

Cool season grass has the name it does for a good reason: it thrives during the cooler days of spring and fall. And it struggles in summer, at least in any place where daytime highs exceed 85°F with any regularity. Thus, the proper approach to summer is to hang on, keep the grass healthy and prepare for fall when it can be at its best again.

Step #11 - Mow your lawn!

While I put this step in this section as it is most relevant to summer, make no mistake about it, you should begin mowing as soon as your grass beings growing in the spring. A few tips to help you along:

Step #12 - Water effectively.

If you live in a cooler, rainier place you might be able to get away without watering much in the spring but virtually everyone is going to have to water in the summer. Here are some tips to water effectively:

Step #13 - Prevent fungal diseases if you live in an area where they might strike.

While humans and animals are most often stricken with viral or bacterial diseases, these almost never occur in cool season grasses grown for home lawns. What do occur are fungal diseases. Fungi, as you might have learned in high school science, are a separate kingdom of organisms apart from plants, animals and other tiny things. Fungi that affect lawns require two things in order to grow: heat and humidity. If you have conditions where the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) and the percent humidity added together equal 150 or higher, you are at risk for disease. Things you can do to lower your risk include:

Step #14 - Plan for fall.

Fall is the optimal time to seed cool season lawns. If your lawn is thin, you’ll want to overseed it. The best time for this is when your soil temperatures fall to about 70°F. (To find out when this is use the tool linked to in Step #6). If you didn’t aerate in the spring, doing so in the fall - and then seeding - is generally a good idea. Spend some time figuring out what type of seed to plant, what type of starter fertilizer you are going to use, how you are going to control weeds and how you will handle watering. The more detailed your plan going into fall, the better your chances for success.

Plan Review:

NOW
WHEN SOIL TEMPERATURES APPROACH 55°F:
TWO TO THREE WEEKS LATER:
WHEN SOIL TEMPERATURES APPROACH 70°F:
THREE WEEKS AFTER FIRST FERTILIZER APPLICATION:
THROUGHOUT SUMMER:
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