Social Media Conversation with Two Successful Webmasters

Here Ron Kavanaugh, founder of Mosaicbooks.com and I, founder of AALBC.com, speak with Darryl J. Jenkins (my cousin) about our respective websites and how we stay current in a rapidly changing environment.

While social media is a big part of staying current, the real strategy for success is to stay on top of all of the changes taking place online and in your respective businesses.

I’ve been building websites since 1995. My first website was created to promote a sideline business I had selling custom built personal computers. Two years later, in 1997, I begin working on what would become AALBC.com.

In 2008, almost 3 years to the day, AALBC.com became my sole source of income. When I begin AALBC.com I never allowed myself to dream about it becoming my livelihood; today I can’t image it being any other way.

The first thing that made AALBC.com possible was the affiliate program. An affiliate program allows you to sell products on your website in return for commissions. The first affiliate program I signed up for was BarnesandNoble.com’s program. I earned my first dollar, for selling a book, in 1997 (I’m disappointed in myself that I do not recall the name of the title of that book).

Since then, I’ve signed up for dozens of affiliate programs, like Go Daddy for providing Domain Name Registration Services or affiliate networks like Commission Junction, with allow you to sign up for and manage many different affiliate programs.

Over the years many other services became available which not only made AALBC.com easier to run, but a viable business. Some of those tools include (in no particular order):

  • Google’s Adsense – Adsense provides you with banner advertisements that you can place you your website. You are paid based upon the number of times the banners are clicked or viewed.
    Adsense is my most consistent form of income. It took a couple of years to get to this point. While there are tons of books purporting to help you become rich with google; the surest way I’ve found to generate income with Adsense is to create good content — ideally something that people search for, but does not have a tremendous number of other websites with competing content.
    While you are at Google you may as well also sign up for; (1) Google Analytics which provides a tremendous amount of data about your website and works directly with Adsense; and (2) Youtube which allows you to easily provide video context on your website (the video below is an example).
  • PayPal - Allows me to accept credit card and other forms of payment online. I’ve been using PayPal for almost a decade — you even earn interest on the money in your account.
  • Madmimi - Since there is no email program that allows me to email more than a few hundred people at one time. I pay Madmini to manage my eNewsletter’s mailing list. I recently switched from the more popular Constant Contact because Madmini offered a better price for a similar level of service. As social media becomes more feature rich, I will continue to evaluate whether I will continue paying for this type of service.
  • WordPress – I’ve already blogged at great length about why I think WordPress is perhaps the best way for a non-technical people to create a website. The Blog portion of AALBC.com was developed from WordPress software.
  • Renegade Internet - This company provides the software that displays AALBC.com ads. The ability to manage ads is one thing that distinguishes AALBC.com from all of it competition. We really can’t sell advertising to sophisticated advertisers without the ability to report of impression, click through rates, etc.
  • Amazon.com – I use Amazon to sell virtually all of our books. I’ve tried fulfilling my own online book orders. But given the amount of labor, risk, overhead and price competition, I just made sense to become an Amazon affiliate and allow them to process my book orders.
    Amazon also offer programmers the ability to access Amazon’s product feed to create a customized website as with AALBC.com Book Search. Non-programmers can create an entire bookstore with a single line of code! Check out our bestsellers list for an example.
  • Invision Power Services – I’ve maintained a discussion board on AALBC.com since it was launched. I learn about new books, authors and get into so pretty heated discussion on a variety of topics. I actually enjoy my discussion boards a great deal. Over the years participation has waned, perhaps in favor of more popular ways of connecting with other on-line like Facebook and Twitter. I will however continue to maintain discussion boards because I have yet to see any social media platform provide the ability for many people exchange ideas at length, in depth, over a long period of time (perhaps it is a dying art).
  • AddThis – Addthis is a Bookmarking & Sharing Service. If you visit AALBC.com you’ll see a series of buttons at the top of every AALBC.com page that allow you to share it with a variety of social networks. AddThis also provides reports on the pages that have been shared.
  • Wildfire – This company provides a variety of tools. Most recently I used them top manage my Best Book Trailer of the Year contest. The contest was posted on my website, and Facebook and allowed me to do some pretty sophisticated things with minimal technical expertise required

Well that is just some of the things I’ve used to keep AALBC.com a viable business while keeping it fun and interesting for me.

Of course there are many ways to anything on-line. These are the things that have worked for me. Some of what I mentioned is fee based but most of it is not.

If you’ve run into any difficulties with the services or companies I’ve mentioned please share them in the comments section.

If you have a service you’ve found particularly useful for your website I encourage you to share it below as well.

Needless to say I’m a big user of Social Media. I’d encourage you to watch the video below to learn more about what I have to say on social media and visit AALBC.com’s new social media website: http://socialmedia101.biz

Social Media Conversation with Two Successful Webmasters

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About Troy

Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of AALBC.com, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, AALBC.com has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.
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