Sunday, June 27, 2010

Use StatCounter to Keep Track of Visitors logo

There’s so much value in knowing how much traffic your websites are experiencing and which online advertising efforts are working best. For some sites, like my WordPress blog, built-in stats are included that are relatively basic in what they tell me. For other sites, like my main site, I have terrific in-depth stats through cpanel, stats that show exact IP addresses of visitors, countries of origin, time spent at site, etc. And for the rest of my sites I have nothing and all, no built-in stat monitoring.  That’s when alternative means are needed to figure out how the traffic is doing.
In those cases, I use a free service called StatCounter. What is StatCounter? A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats. Insert a simple piece of code on your web page or blog and you will be able to analyze and monitor all the visitors to your website in real-time.
Most of my sites, this one too, have a little StatCounter icon somewhere on the page. That tells how many visitors per day/week/year are visiting. Then I can do experiments to see what helps boost traffic the most. Maybe one week it’s concentrating on promoting my books on Facebook. The next week utilizing Twitter or Ezine articles or forums on my subjects. Then it’s time to watch the response from traffic, whether it’s staying flat or experiencing sharp spikes, and I get a sense for which efforts are paying off with increased traffic.
For example, as soon as a blog post goes through with WordPress or Blogger, a quick rise in visits are almost guaranteed as people around the world get a glimpse of any post. Conversely, if I spend a bunch of time on Authonomy (a writer’s forum) and get little results at a webpage I’ve attempted to bring traffic to, then that says Authonomy forum isn’t a great place to spend time and effort.
How to use StatCounter? Visit the site and follow the prompts to create an icon widget for your desired URL. Also make sure to check the box that excludes your own IP address so it doesn’t count your own visits. Then insert the widget with its code somewhere on your desired webpage. You can make it invisible or visible, allow people to see your stats or not; all choices are up to you.
It’s also fun, especially when more people start showing up.
Click here for the home page of Jason Matthews, spiritual fiction author.

add me to your Google Plus circles.

+Jason Matthews

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Team USA Advances in World Cup in Breathtaking Style!

Landon Donovan and team USA advance in 2010 World Cup in dramatic style
Speechless. I'm utterly speechless after watching Landon Donovan's goal in stoppage time to propel team USA to win their group and advance to the knockout round of the 2010 World Cup.
Another controversy was brewing as the USA suffered another disallowed goal on the linesman's call against Clint Dempsey for being offside (as the replay showed he wasn't). That would have put the US up 1-0 in the first half.
Then came the entire 2nd half with chance after chance that had our boys constantly knocking on the Algerian goalie's door but unable to put the ball in the net.
After 90 minutes of play, team USA was 3 minutes away from being eliminated from the World Cup.
Finally, in the 91st minute, into stoppage time, our boys gave a great run and shot on goal which was blocked but not cleared... and Landon Donovan scored the biggest goal of his life!
Cardiac kids, last minute miracle makers, very very fortunate... call them what you will. I just know how much I love this team USA and wish them further success in this great World Cup of 2010.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Amazon, Barnes & Noble Slash Prices to Sell Ebooks

Barnes&Noble's Nook e-reader

Barnes & Noble has added a half-ounce, Wi-Fi only Nook and lowered the price of its e-reader by $50 in a move to encourage sales. The device will retail at stores like Best Buy for just $150. The world’s largest brick and mortar bookseller also dropped the price of its original 3G Nook from $259 to $199. Although ebooks themselves haven’t dropped much yet; Barnes & Noble still prices ebooks primarily in the $9.99 to $14.99 range which, to me, still seems pretty high. Both Sony and Kobo (Borders) have e-readers for $149 but neither currently has Wi-Fi capabilities.
So how did Amazon respond? The world’s largest online bookseller dropped the price of its basic Kindle from $259 to $189. The 3G enabled 10 ounce device has tremendous sales numbers and loyalty from consumers. Amazon still offers ebooks primarily in the $9.99 to $14.99 range though they have fiercely pressured the big six publishing houses to lower prices on all ebooks.
Obviously both of these moves are in response to Apple’s iPad, which retails for a starting price of $499 but does much more than just read books. Amazon and B&N are wisely doing whatever it takes to keep the book reading consumers in their camps while Apple easily runs off with the app-lovers.
What’s next on this front? Clearly the prices of ebooks will drop, and they’ll likely drop dramatically in just a few years. I can’t see how they can remain high for much longer, especially when more and more authors are willing to sell ebooks directly to customers without getting trapped by publishing house standards of old.
What’s the best way to sell ebooks? Drop the price of your e-reading device.
What’s the next best way to sell ebooks? Drop the price of the ebooks.
Another victory for Independent authors.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Uploadnsell for selling ebooks

One of my readers informed me about Uploadnsell, a website and program for selling electronic files (or to sell ebooks). Normally I’m a “more the better” fan for things like this, as in the more places to sell ebooks the better, but in this case I’m not convinced and have decided not to upload and sell my ebooks with them.
Definitely the strongest selling point they have is that there are no fees or commissions with Uploadnsell. They guarantee 100% of the profits (after PayPal’s cut) to the authors and claim to make their money entirely through advertising. That’s the good part.
The rest is what makes me not so interested. For starters, there is no bookstore for anyone browsing. A customer needs to already know about your ebook, want to purchase your ebook and have the direct link to buy your ebook, and that is information they’ll have to get from you. To sell an ebook this way, you will have to do all the marketing and get someone to want to buy your ebook, then they’ll click on the Uploadnsell link and the process goes through PayPal and then a download page. Well, that’s funny because that’s exactly what I recommend doing for the times that you sell from your own website and blog. You don’t need a third party to do this when it can easily be accomplished for free on your own.
Uploadnsell requires you to give your PayPal account information to them to handle transactions. Now even though they are likely ethical businesspeople, I really don’t enjoy giving out my banking information to anybody unless I have to. Especially considering that their website is somewhat basic, still in Beta mode without much evidence of customers, and it contains more typos than I’d like to see (feels as if English is a 2nd language). Currently it just doesn’t feel professional enough to make me want to do that.
So I’d love to hear from anyone who has experiences with them. I could be totally wrong (wouldn’t be the first time), but I’m presently more than a bit skeptical. Can you sell ebooks successfully with Uploadnsell? If so, please share with the rest of us.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Cup 2010 Maybe Best Ever for American Interest

You're probably well aware that World Cup 2010 in South Africa begins this Friday, June 11. ESPN and (partner) ABC will cover it, and they've blasted commercials for months now. I can't remember one event being hyped so much for so long. Clearly ESPN is working the advertising dollars to the max.

And my guess is... it's going to work. The Beckham Experiment (to raise soccer's popularity in the US) may not have done all it was meant to do, but this World Cup may come at just the right time and have just the right ingredients. Let's look at a few reasons why:

Placement. In 2002 the South Korea/Japan hosted World Cup was 13 to 16 hours time difference from the US and suffered limited viewership because most of the prime games started around 2am or 5am in the states. Even thought the US squad exceeded expectations by reaching the final eight teams left, it still was a huge challenge to watch live games. South Africa is a mere 6 to 9 hours difference for American viewers living between the East and West coasts. This means fairly reasonable hours for Easterners (10am and 2:30pm with a few games at 7:30am in the first round only) while people on PST are able to watch most games as well at 7am and 11:30am. This was also the time difference in 2006 with Germany as the host, although America didn't play well in a tough group and had no chance of advancing into the 2nd round. (The US squad did, however, nearly do the unprecedented by almost beating eventual champion Italy with only 9 American players and a late goal taken away from US for a controversial goalie interference along with 2 horrible red cards by poor reffing.) It's certain that more US viewers than ever before will watch these games. We watch March Madness during the workday, we can watch World Cup.

For 2010, a favorable US group draw means America's best chance to advance to the 2nd round. Although England is a heavy group favorite, the US should secure points against Slovenia and Algeria. Not to take them lightly, but we are predicted to advance and Americans have trouble supporting those who don't do well in sports. Let's hope we do advance where anything can happen in the single-elimination format of the 2nd round, and American sports fans can easily cheer for a squad with a chance to pull an upset over a team like (probably) Germany. And we all know how the US is genetically programmed to love a chance at beating not only England but Germany too.

Recent success in South Africa at the Confederations Cup 2009. The US had its most impressive performance last summer on the same soil with late heroics that enabled a left-for-dead squad to miraculously reach the 2nd round where we shocked the world by beating heavyweight Spain 3-2 to advance to the finals. The US then had a 2-0 lead over Brazil at the half but eventually gave up 3 goals and lost to the powerful Brazilians. The US did impress many last summer in South Africa, including building confidence for themselves. Let's hope our boys can run with that memory.

The popularity of soccer is rising here big time. It's estimated that 20 million youths play soccer in America, easily more than any sport. The professional league is also hugely successful as the MLS is now in its 15th season. It started at 10 teams in 1996 and has expanded to 16 current teams which will evolve to 18 teams in 2011. Attendance and money are good despite a troubled US economy that has many other sports teams suffering badly. The women's league, the WPS, is now into their 2nd season and hopes to continue with success where few professional leagues for women have found any. With the ever-growing rise in popularity, a good showing by the US squad under excellent ESPN coverage should do much to bolster new fans.

Since 1930 there have been 18 World Cups held (for men's teams). Like the Olympics it only comes every 4 years, but in contrast teams must qualify for a chance to play and it is viewed by a billion more people. This is the world's most popular sport by far and judging from youth participation, that's also true in the US. In 2018 the US is likely to host its 2nd World Cup. By then I believe we will not only have embraced the event but we may even have a chance at winning one.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Paperback Version Available with Amazon and CreateSpace

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE is now available as a paperback via Amazon and CreateSpace. Guess what it cost me to publish there? Nothing, not one penny, because it’s all free. Well, that’s not entirely true. CreateSpace does require that authors order a physical copy first, which they call a proof, and have it in their hands before they sign off and allow it to be live. Printing and shipping the proof cost 6 bucks. I also opted (optionally) to upgrade to the ProPlan for $39. That allows authors to get a better price on their own books as well as make a better royalty on any sales. However, I immediately ordered 15 copies for myself to give to reviewers and received them all delivered for just 46 bucks which is basically 3 bucks apiece. Nice.
Reminds me of the days I published with Authorhouse and literally spent thousands of dollars on editing and marketing bells and whistles, plus I had to pay about $9 for each book I ordered before shipping. What a waste of money that was. Never, never again.
The only complaint I’ve heard in the CreateSpace forums over product quality is occasionally large orders will have some scratches or flaws in the cover. Not to worry because I also hear CreateSpace will honor any rejects with replacement copies. So far my experience has been entirely positive with the minor exceptions of learning the ins and outs of interior book formatting and cover design. Since it’s a total do-it-yourself experience that’s what makes it free. Their forum help is really valuable and got me past my minor issues.
If you want to sell ebooks and if you want some physical copies on hand, then please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE to get some tips on doing this without breaking your piggy bank.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Apple Reports 2 Million iPads sold in just 2 Months

While some dispute the number, Apple claims to have sold 2 million iPads in less than two months as fans and critics alike weigh in on the pros and cons of iPad. If the sales figure is inaccurate, it’s still a safe bet they sold a boatload anyway for a tablet device that critics said nobody needed and doesn’t play flash. And if it is the right number, at a starting point of $500 apiece, over a billion dollars worth of sales in two months is good business by any standard. Remember sales were first introduced in the US while much of the world has just gotten their chance or are still waiting. Apple predicts over 7 million units will sell in the first year. And even though some competitors like Microsoft and HP are dragging feet to get their own products on the store shelves, it appears that room exists for everybody. Even though I’m stoked for this device and the ones to follow for what it means to self-publishing, I still have some questions that typically keep me holding out for several months before leaping in with a purchase. One question is how many first generation issues and/or bugs will need resolving? And while that happens, how will the updated versions of Google’s Android and other competitors evolve and lower prices even more?
What I don’t question is the giant step the iPad, Android and other devices are doing to help us Independent authors sell ebooks. Sure, most people prefer movies and music on their tablets but Apple has reported 1.5 million books sold in just the first month. I haven’t heard the recent tally but it should easily be over 2 mil.
While time will be the ultimate factor in the apparent success of the iPad, for now I’ll just focus on yet another platform to work from and sell ebooks. Thank you, Kindle, for getting this whole ball rolling.