Do you use a stripe advert across the top of your site? I was sent a copy of MaxBlogPress Stripe Ad for review. This is a plugin for those ads you see at the top of the screen with a special offer or in my case an offer to subscribe to my email list. For a long time I’ve been using Hello Bar but the free version is limited and I’ve been looking for an alternative.
The plugin is easy to install and set up. It adds a menu option under Settings that has two sections as you can see from the screen shot above. “Home” is where you can see your ads and create new ones. “Analytics” shows a nice graph of impressions and clicks and also a table to show click through rate by day.
Adding a stripe ad is easy, just follow the wizard-like interface. You get a letter count to show you how many characters will fit on your ad and you can easily select the link text and if you want to open it in a new window.
The Formatting tab allows you to change fonts, sizes and colors for the text and button. You can then set where on your site you want to display the ad – so you can have different ads on specific pages if you want, or leave it to randomly show an ad on all pages.
If you have more than one stripe ad you can weight the advert to appear more frequently if you wish.
The final feature is great is you have a specific time relevant promotion – you can schedule the advert to only appear at a certain time.
Overall MaxBlogPress Stripe Ad is very nicely done, it does the simple things well, provides great control and covers all the features I think you need from an advert like this. Until midnight (EDT) May 24th 2013 there is 30% off MaxBlogPress Stripe Ad here. So it’s only $45 for lifetime on as many sites as you want, with a 60 day guarantee. Soon it will go up to $67.
In Part 1 I quickly talked about the problem I have had in the past with gathering data and the thought there must be a solution to the problem of too many data sources.
When I started blogging in 1999 (I think, it might have been 1998) measuring traffic was pretty important but a fairly simple process of measuring unique hits. These days it has all changed with bounce rates, comments, click through rates, RSS subscribers…
When I started working with paying clients for BTG back in early 2008 it became apparent a better way of getting all this data in one place was required. Yes, it’s taken three years to get to this point!
The First Version
Initially I started keeping track of things in Excel. Partly because I was very familiar with Excel and could write macros to produce reports from the data I gathered. However in the only screenshot I could find of it, you can see it looks a bit rough and ready.
However it did what it was supposed to do, but it was still taking me too much time to gather the data. At this time it was still an idea for me to produce reports for clients, so a matter of saving them and me time. So I decided to automate getting the data into Excel in a format then I could automatically create the report.
The Second Version
I hired a developer on RentACoder (now Vworker) to develop a piece of desktop software that when given the URLs will go out and gather the stats and save that as a .csv which I could then import into Excel and use to automatically generate my report.
The good news is that it worked brilliantly! The screenshot below shows how it looked in it’s basic format. Click for a larger version.
It didn’t take much for me to enter the URLs (it saved them) and bring down the data, then a few minutes later I had a report. However there were a few problems, with the main one being that a lot of services required the username and password of many sites in order to get access (just for the record the Pro Blog Stats plugin doesn’t require any usernames or passwords!). This became a pain and was a barrier to getting the information quickly.
Then I began thinking about making this a WordPress plugin. The two previous versions were really just proof of concepts. We could get the data directly into WordPress and the user could run reports themselves and pay for the plugin. Well that idea would take a years to come to fruition! I’ll talk more about that in part three.
Those of you read my site and emails regularly will probably have heard of Pro Blog Stats, a WordPress plugin created by myself and Andrew Rondeau that pulls in stats from multiple sources and reports them into your WordPress dashboard. It’s a massive time saver and allows you to easily and quickly see actionable data about your site performance without all the associated hassle.
Pro Blog Stats gives you over 50 different statistics about your blog or WordPress website – all on one page, within your WordPress dashboard. With Pro Blog Stats, you no longer have to log in to all your different accounts (like Google Analytics, Twitter, Facebook) to see your statistics. Enough of the sales pitch though, this is the story of how this came to be….
The Genesis of an idea
I used to work in the corporate world, for a couple of very large companies, which employed thousands (and even hundreds of thousands) of people. A lot of my job involved numbers and statistics. George Bernard Shaw once said:
It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.
Who am I to argue with him? I spent a lot of time analyzing those statistics and creating recommendations from them and implementing them. However I spent 10x that amount of time gathering the data.
Organizations large and small often have huge volumes of data. In one case I dealt with it came in on reams of dot matrix printer paper. This isn’t 30 years ago, less than 10.
Volume of data is not so much an issue with powerful computers and database tools, however what the biggest issue was, and still is, is the large number of different locations this data is held. In the blogging world you can have your traffic stats in Google Analytics, real-time stats in Clicky, RSS subscribers in Feedburner, Facebook and Twitter followers on their sites, StumbleUpon shares in your SU account, AWeber subscribers in your AWeber account, and so on for seemingly forever.
One day in my job, my boss asked me for a report. Several hours later he came over to ask whether the report was ready, and I replied that I was still working on it. His response? “Stop messing around and get me the report!”.
However I haven’t been messing around (in fact he didn’t say messing, it began with an F…), I had been trying to put together a report from 12 different sources with about 30 different pieces of data. It was actually 27 pieces of data. I remember because later on I had to do it two or three times a week.
The idea of a dashboard to report sales or display statistics is nothing new, however achieving this goal can be extremely difficult. We worked for weeks to produce a report that saved a large amount of time and hassle, not only for me, but my boss could not request report and have it in a few minutes instead of a few hours.
Pro Blog Stats was born of a similar frustration with the amount of effort and time it was taking me and my clients to monitor performance and progress of our WordPress websites and blogs.
The initial idea for the plugin came over three years ago now, and in the next part I’ll go through the process we’ve experienced with it.
In my Premium Series I’m taking a look at Premium WordPress plugins and WordPress themes that I personally use, either for myself and for others. All opinions are my own and not influenced by affiliate commissions or anyone connected to the product.
WP InstantPay is a WordPress plugin that combines an easy payment system for selling your own products and an affiliate system, right in WordPress.
Like most e-commerce systems, after installing the plugin you add your product and set how much you want to charge for it. You then enter your Paypal details, upload your product to a secure location and then create your sales page.
The plugin comes with templates for your thank you page(s) and download pages. Integrating with Paypal in the early versions was a little time consuming and while the help takes you through it step by step it could be daunting for the less technically minded. However, the latest version of the plugin streamlines that process and solves a lot of hassles.
You can also integrate the plugin with AWeber (at the time of reading GetResponse should be available too), so buyers and affiliates can automatically be added to (the same, or separate) email lists.
Just the above would be worth the $67 price (coupon code SUMMERTIME will get you 50% off until Monday 6th June 2011!).
However, it’s on the affiliate side that the product has a notable difference. It removes the need for you to do any work.
For those of you who had had affiliate systems know, there are two ways – a system that does commission payments for you (like Clickbank and Shareasale) and those where you have to make affiliate commission payments yourself, like iDevAffilliate. The former are expensive to set up and maintain, while the latter are cheaper but require more effort.
What WP InstantPay does is split the payment between you and the affiliate at the time of payment, so you never receive the money, the affiliate gets it instantly. The benefits of this are obvious, the affiliate gets paid instantly, and as you never receive the money you don’t need to pay affiliates.
You can see this process if you buy through my affiliate link and if the coupon code of SUMMERTIME is still valid you can see how that works too).
Refunds are even processed automatically, it is really hands off.
The plugin even allows you to split the payment further, with Equity Partners. So if you’ve developed a product with someone else you can have e.g 50% going to an affiliate, 25% to you and 25% to your partner who developed the product with you.
What I also like is the constant improvements. Recurring payments are coming soon (great for membership sites or subscriptions), along with integration for membership plugins, coupon codes (unlimited per product), and even support for physical products.
I have been impressed with their support after I messed something up in the database (hey, I like to play but even I ask for help when in trouble!), they were friendly, responsive, and very helpful.
Overall I’ve been very impressed with the plugin so far, it makes selling (at least digital) products easy, and takes the hassle out of creating all the necessary pages for thank you, affiliates, downloads, and sorts out payments before they get to you which is a great time and effort saver.
First, Scribe SEO is a brilliant tool. It’s a premium (aka paid-for) WordPress plugin that will help with SEO for your blog posts. It attempts to make SEO copywriting much more simple than it is now, and while you still need to pay attention to creating good headlines and interesting content, it may help with the final optimization steps that you’ve been missing.
One of my clients called it “one of the best tools I’ve ever bought” and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s not often something as easy and useful as Scribe SEO comes along. If you haven’t checked it out yet, there is a free trial on the website. Like with anything great out there, I think it could be even better, so there are a few things I would do to improve it.
1) Have the Review window open in a new browser window/tab. The hover over window is no good to anyone, it opens up over the content you’re editing and areas that you need to alter, so you need to close it to alter then go back to it for the next section and so on – I end up opening the post in another window so I can edit it there without switching back and forth. At least give me the option.
2) When it tells me I need my primary keyword near the start of the title, it should tell me what my primary keyword is and say “Move Primary Keyword Scribe SEO to the beginning of the Title”. Otherwise I have to look it up to see if it’s different to what I think it should be. Lazy of me I know, but it’d be a time-saver of at least 5 seconds.
3) The Tags page/tab of the Review window should allow me to edit tags right there with the list of suggested tags. Even an “Add all tags” button would be nice and handy.
4) The SEO Best Practices page is the same on every review. I know that’s not a criticism, it’s a comment, but it is. Why it bothers me I have no idea as it’s a gold mine of useful info, but perhaps it could be linked to and stored on the settings page or something. I won’t lose sleep if that one is never addressed though…
5) The Scribe Settings page tells me how many evaluations I have left as of today, but when do they expire? So having 20 evaluations left as of today is all very well and good, but will that need to last me 25 days or 5 days? [Side note: For those wondering if evaluations rollover to the next month, they don’t.]
Yes, some of them are picky and personal, but when a tool (and an SEO tool at that) is this great it’s the little things from using it that can make it that little bit greater.
There’s a new SEO plugin for WordPress called ScribeSEO by Brian Clark from Copyblogger. There are still a few bugs but looks like it could be brilliant and is already very useful. A free trial is available as the plugin is based on the number of times you use it, and at the moment you can get the first ten uses for free.
If you want more info on the factors that go into search rankings, take a look at the search engine ranking factors for 2009 from SEOmoz. I bet you’ll be surprised with what you read on there, and how little actual page content is thought to have to do with it.
Get the free trial from ScribeSEO and take it for a test run. It attempts to make SEO copywriting much more simple than it is now, and while you still need to pay attention to creating good headlines and interesting content, it may help with the final optimization steps that you’ve been missing.