Amazon.com No Longer Pays Affiliates In Illinois

Amazon.com sent us an email this week stating they are terminating the contracts of associates in Illinois.  The following is a copy of the email we received:

“Hello,

For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of Illinois residents. Unfortunately, a new state tax law signed by Governor Quinn compels us to terminate this program for Illinois-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers – including but not limited to those referred by Illinois-based affiliates like you – even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We had opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by national retailing chains, most of which are based outside Illinois, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that its enactment forces this action.

As a result of the new law, contracts with all Illinois affiliates of the Amazon Associates Program will be terminated and those Illinois residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to April 15, 2011 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. Based on your account closure date of April 15, 2011, any final payments will be paid by July 1, 2011.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Illinois. If you are not currently a permanent resident of Illinois, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state after April 15, please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To be clear, this development will only impact our ability to continue the Associates Program in Illinois, and will not affect the ability of Illinois residents to purchase online at www.amazon.com from Amazon’s retail business.

We have enjoyed working with you and other Illinois-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to Illinois residents.

Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team”

The Perils Of Technology

This article is not about some doomsday scenario, or perhaps how computers will take over the world, but is a little more pragmatic in its approach. Technology is wonderful and great, has helped us become more productive, helps us communicate more efficiently, and so on and so forth. However, as we become more and more dependent on technology, business risks increase. As a good for instance, my entire blog network went down the weekend of January 1st and 2nd because I accidentally maintained my web hosting away. Nothing told me that I was doing it, and I certainly didn’t intend it, but it was a consequence of something else I was doing. Boom, gone. Then my blog network was down for two days as I tried to restore it.

Many businesses are extremely dependent on computers and technology these days. If the power went out, most business could not happen. Even my little tiny consulting business would be suffering… I have not done anything on paper recently and it would be a major shock. However, I could ultimately do business without technology after significant adjustments. However, I do technology consulting so I could not do billable work. The companies that I work with are heavily dependent on technology so they literally could not do business if the power went out.

There are many, many risks to our technology infrastructure that could leave a business or businesses severely handicapped, even to the point of putting them out of business. If you manage technology risks, I am sure you know what I am talking about, so I will not go into detail. Many companies are prepared for disasters but it is often the devil you do not know that will really hurt you. In fact, I made a list of risks for a client and over the following three years, some happened and other problems not on my list happened. These problems can knock you out for hours or days. The complexity of understanding and fixing technology problems are well beyond most people as it often takes teams to resolve them.

Now I am not saying to do business without technology. You cannot. It would be too expensive and many of your competitors would run right over you. You have to use technology but you have to understand the risks. You have to be prepared for, and practice recovering from, problems that may never happen but could.

What kinds of technology problems have you encountered?

Where My Blog Traffic Comes From

I am going to tell you some secrets in this article.  Perhaps they are known by those of us who have had blogs for a while but may be new to new bloggers.

I have been writing articles for my blog for about 4 months now and have gotten about 1350 visitors in the past month based upon Google Analytics.  When I analyzed the sources of traffic, here is what I found:

Referred: 46.35%
Direct: 23.69%
Search: 12.8%
Other: 7.16%

Referred Traffic

Referred traffic is non-search traffic coming from other web sites.  Of the referred traffic, probably half is paid clicks from StumbleUpon or Google.  I pay about a nickel a click from both sites so I don’t spend a whole lot of money.  In fact, I now have Google Adwords set to 25 cents per day.  I think StumbleUpon is about the same.

The other half of this traffic comes from posting comments in other blogs, click throughs from feedburner (my rss feed), and links people give me from their websites out of the goodness of their own heart.  I probably get about 15 to 20 clicks per day from my twitter account also; I am not sure where these are accounted for, they may be in Other.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is when people enter your website name in their browser.  However, I cheat a bit.  I own about 100 web site names and get about 10 to 15 clicks on average per day from them.  That only accounts for half of the direct traffic though.  The other half is returning visitors and referrals from past visitors I believe.

Search Traffic

My search traffic is actually a bit misleading because the vast majority of searches that found my site in the past month are looking for my name, a specific article title, the web site name, or something else that looks specifically like the visitor is trying to find the site.  I do get a few new visitors a day from organic searches of non-specific search terms and hopefully they also become regular readers.

Other Traffic

It’s hard to tell what other traffic is in Google Analytics because it doesn’t really break it out for you to show you where other traffic comes from.  I was thinking it might be my twitter traffic from when I post an article or other referrals that it can’t classify.

Summary

Unlike what you might believe, generic, organic searches are only a very small part of my overall traffic; but the volume is growing quickly.  More important than getting on the search engines is giving your visitors something worthwhile to find.  Good content brings people back along with their friends.

I did buy some of my traffic but really I spend very little, maybe $100 per month total.  This is just my impatience because ultimately it will mean nothing.  The relationship I build with you, my reader, will mean the most.  Where do you get most of your traffic?

Using Sex To Sell – Do Nerds Really Love Hot Blondes?

I am a computer guy, so I’ll start there. I am not the nerd I used to be, but I still love a good technical solution. And I do love GoDaddy. They have been an excellent company to do business with, much better than the domain/hosting company we had in the past. Still, I have to wonder about their commercials… If you are selling domain names, hosting, and other online services, does using sex to sell them really leap out as a marketing ploy? Well… yes. I gotta admit, their commercials are goofy but entertaining.

Sex has been used to sell all kinds of products over the years from shaving cream to lingerie to Harley Davidson Motorcycles. Men often want to believe that using a certain product will make them the envy of cute girls, if even only subconsciously. So domains by GoDaddy are the envy of really cute girls, NOT. But hey, a guy can dream.

That’s what these commercials do, they put us in the middle of a really bad porno and make us expect that the rest of life is going to be similar. Even the mundane web site, domain name, hosting, etc. products are more exciting with sex. Does it really take much creativity to think these things up? Probably not, but putting them together, sex and technology, is really a stretch… that works. The commercials and controversy worked guys. So should we do the same?

I liked GoDaddy because of their business. But I noticed GoDaddy because of their commercials. You really do need a good business model or the marketing dollars really will not pay off. Sex or no sex. And could you get the attention without the sex? Probably not, but if you put some creativity into it, who knows?

Check out the following resources:

Why We Moved To GoDaddy

So far, I have only written one review about another website. This time I feel very strongly and I wanted to share my opinion with you. Once upon a time we used a web/hosting company that I’ll avoid using their name. They are somewhat popular as they are advertised quite a bit. I was getting into the habit of registering domain names and pointing them to my blog. One problem is that my web company charged me for the forwarding as well as registering the domain. I really didn’t think much about that as long as it worked.

I did start running into problem where I could not forward the domain on my own and I would have to call and wait on hold for someone to help me. I had written emails but they were completely unanswered. Finally, I would get somebody and they would be able to help me. Unfortunately this would go on for each domain I would register and I got completely tired of it. So I decided to make a move.

I registered a domain with GoDaddy and it went through great. I went to their web screens and did my forward to my main domain. They set up the DNS entry and the forward was set up in just a couple of hours with no fuss and no extra charge. I was so happy with this that I’ve started moving over my other domains using their transfer. No problem with that either, except for the other hosting company. I got it worked out and most of my existing domains are now taken care of by GoDaddy.

I was so impressed with all of this that I decided to go with their WordPress hosting, which is where my blog is right now. Everything was easy to set up and I didn’t have to contact anybody for help. It all just worked.

I did have a couple of minor problems that were easily solved or answered to my satisfaction by email. No need to call, they were quick, responsive, and accurate in their responses. GoDaddy has been the absolute best to work with.

You probably know GoDaddy as the company with the goofy Superbowl commercials. The commercials really do not do the company justice, as they are as top notch as you find. Excellent to work with, excellent everything. You really cannot go wrong working with them.

Websites You Must Know – Part 4

Special report: My last website, or websites as the case may be, are the online versions of Entrepreneur and Inc.  These websites have many useful articles, suggestions, and courses to help small businesses be more successful or help them find the right product.  I couldn’t choose just one of them so I am choosing both.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  I expect that I will be referencing websites of others in the future to support my own articles but I believe these are the most important to know.

Websites You Must Know – Part 3

Special report: The next website that you must know is findlaw.  They have a small business area of their website that is dedicated to every law that a small business must follow or that was passed to help small businesses out.

From FindLaw.com: FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business, is the world’s leading provider of online legal information and Internet marketing solutions for law firms. FindLaw’s roots go back to 1995, when two attorneys compiled a list of Internet resources for a group of law librarians in northern California. The response to the material was so positive they decided to post the information on the Internet.

Websites You Must Know – Part 2

Special report: The second website you must know as a small business person is the Small Business Administration website.

From SBA.gov: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America’s future, and to helping the United States compete in today’s global marketplace. Although SBA has grown and evolved in the years since it was established in 1953, the bottom line mission remains the same. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

Websites You Must Know – Part 1

Special report: I am away on a road trip February 18 through 21, so I have put together this four part series on websites that you must know as a small business person.  I will give just a small description and link to keep my writing time down this week…

The first website I would like to highlight is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  For those of us who live in the United States, this is the federal agency that we pay business and personal taxes to.  The IRS website has a ton of information about all kinds of tax situations.  It is the ultimate guide to what you can and cannot do for tax purposes.

It’s About Business

Back in the 1990’s when we were first starting our business, guys were starting “.com” businesses and investors were just throwing money at them.  Having an internet website meant money, sometime in the future, even if you didn’t know how you were going to get it.  Putting a great site on the internet meant a great future for the company, and investors were buying the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again.  Then, people came to the realization that these businesses they were investing in didn’t make any money, and they probably wouldn’t into the foreseeable future.

And that is the problem.  Doing business on the internet is still about doing business.  About selling a product.  About making a profit.  It’s business.  And being an entrepreneur is about starting and building a business.  It doesn’t matter whether that business is built on the internet, or if you’re building a business using a multi-level marketing plan.  It’s still business.

Starting a business is partially about motivation.  But it is not all about motivation.  Having a certain set of skills in your bag of tricks is important.  Knowing how to market and sell is exceptionally important early on.  Finding good information.  Executing your business plan.  These are all very important skills to learn.  They can all be learned “on the job”, so as you are starting your business you learn the skills you need at the time.  Sometimes, though, you don’t know what you need to know… so it is a good idea to study general business concepts.

You can do it.  You can start a business of your own and be successful.  Just remember that no matter what you do and how you do it, it is still a business.

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