Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Where do I Put My Adsense Adverts for Most Ad Clicks?

Write great articles with lots of traffic, yet your Adsense sucks. Why? You haven’t optimized your affiliate ads to the best effect. Who wants to look at a page that is cluttered with affiliate ads? The key to a money making article is to place your ads discreetly on your web page, yet entice the reader to click through. Here are some tips on how to get the most of your Adsense.

Adsense Heat Map. Hot is Good
Think of the visitor first. Make sure your webpage, whether hosted on a blog or other website offers something valuable the visitor is looking for. This might be vital information or advice on finding the best services. An example is how to format your own book or where to find the best formatting services for book design if you do not wish to do this yourself.

The image represents the general rule of thumb of Adsense hotspots. Hot is good, cool, not so much. But one size fits all is to be avoided. Experiment with your Google ad placements and shift your ads around to prevent 'ad blindness' of your visitors.

Good Keywords for Adverts

Using keywords in your article will trigger ads that contain these keywords, which might simply be ‘Book Formatting Services’ or ‘How to Format my ebook’. This is called contextual advertising.

Don’t worry if your article does not trigger contextual adverts, as some articles will not contain such keywords. However, people will stick with your interesting article for longer and possibly click on a non-contextual ad they find interesting whilst reading your post.

Ad types, sizes and placement on your page will have a huge effect upon your Adsense earnings. There are basically 2 types of ads: media rich, which comprise images and graphics, and text only links. Enabling both types will encourage more business to bid on your space, and encourage bigger clicks, so don’t block any ad type.

click to buy from Amazon
Remember the visitor to your page is also a human. Don’t bombard your page with huge ugly ads that compete for attention, pop ups and jazzy colors. Always ‘blend’ or ‘match template’ when adding your Adsense units.

People tend to read from left to right rather than vertically. This means that banner ads or horizontal link ads tend to perform a little better than skyscrapers. Square ads are good, as these will fit anywhere. I have used large rectangle (336x280) but you can also try square (250x250).

Best Place for Ad Placement

A good place for place Adsense is at the top of the page or ‘above the fold’ as a leaderboard or wide banner, as can be seen here. I have used large leaderboard (970x90). But you can also try half banner (468x60) to fit your page. Billboard (970x250) I think is ugly. I have tried it and it didn’t perform well.

Best Ad Placement for Blogger

A good place to put ads is within the article itself, but is not possible with Blogger, as can be seen on this page. However, I still manage to get good click through rate by smart art placement. For instance, you will find link units within links to my other articles which work in harmony with the look of the page. I have used 160x90 and 180x90 buttons but you can also try wide button or horizontal row.

Tips for Ad Placement on Blogger

Make sure your ads fit with the content of the page. Try out different sizes so the webpage looks smart and neat. Skyscrapers fit nicely within the navigation bar. 120x600 or 180x600 are most commonly used. The wide skyscraper will perform a little better, but don’t sacrifice the look of your page in favor of sticking so-called good performing ad units on your page. If it doesn’t fit or it looks horrible don’t use it.

Don’t use more than three ad units per webpage, or the excess will not display on your page, leaving ugly blank spaces. However, you are allowed three ad units and three link units per page. Something I didn’t know until recently.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Don’t Want to Make Money Blogging? Checklist of Mistakes to Avoid

I have been blogging for seven years and have seen many myths written on the internet about how to make money blogging. Here is my personal list of mistakes you cannot afford to make if you want to make cash blogging:

Don’t write about something you don’t care about. Your blog will fail after 3 months max, even if the subject purports to be lucrative.

Buy from Amazon
Don’t spend lots of time on social media and such stuff. Twitter, Facebook and Linkdin will not earn you cash directly, only bits of traffic now and again and will eat at your valuable writing time.

Don’t clutter your blog with gadgets that are going to slow you pages down. The reader will click away after getting bored. Attention span is microseconds on the Internet.

Don’t write about something timely such as SmartPhones and the latest gadgets. Such subject matter will be yesterday’s news before you know it and traffic to these pages will die before you know it.

Don’t write about something that is already covered by the big sites. For instance, film reviews or gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. I have written articles about these things and you can almost hear the bulrushes drift across these deserted pages. Write about something no one else is writing about.

Keep the design of you blog simple with obvious navigation. Don’t go too heavy with images and gizmos. Don’t get obsessive about how ‘pretty’ your blog is. It won’t earn you money. I detest pop ups and will immediately click off.

You don’t have to keep blogging every day. Your blog can be a sweatshop of hundreds of articles with little cash to show for. Look for questions that are constantly being asked on the Net. Carefully select the questions that fall within your expertise. Answer these questions to the best of your ability.

Don’t get obsessive over SEO. I have researched extensively on the money matrix, long tail keywords and high paying keywords, yet it is my articles that I have written in a rush without much thought for these things that seem to get the biggest traffic. Why? Because I have answered questions lots of people are asking. Listening is the key to a successful blog.

Making Cash Blogging
Make your blog interesting that will encourage visitors to engage. Have an email list, be friendly, polite and give things away. People will keep subscribing. BUT WATCH OUT. The mere numbers of subscribers will not necessarily earn you cash.

The bottom line? When it comes to earning clicks from Adsense, traffic is the key to getting clicks. The bigger the traffic, the more likely the clicks. Getting traffic to your blog is possible without making the mistakes outlined above.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Producing an Audio Book is Harder than Painting the Mona Lisa

In my experience, and I have done both. With audio book production, much can go wrong and often does. I shall relate to painting Da Vinci’s masterpiece at the foot of this article.

I started producing audio books in January 2015 knowing nothing about sound equipment and learned everything the hard way from scratch. Here’s what I learned:

Don’t Go Cheap on Audio Equipment

Sound Editing for Audio Books
Initially, I brought an off-the-shelf condenser mic that gave a tinny edge to my voice and recorded plosives no matter what I did (even with a pop filter and standing some feet away). I sent it back and went for the Rode which solved everything. It gives a warm, clear sound and it comes with its own pop filter – studio standard. You can’t go wrong with a Rode microphone.

My Scarlett Solo interface, PC and Audacity free sound editing software and my homemade recording booth (fashioned from a table stood on its side, covered with duvets and lined with acoustic foam) meant I was good to go

Or so I had thought.

I didn’t bank on the following:

Being Patient for the Quiet Moments

Few people can afford a soundproof room, so I had to sit for endless minutes waiting for aeroplanes to make their transits. And this includes tractors, lawnmowers, birds chirping and rush hour traffic. Sometimes you have to pack your gear away and wait for a quieter time or simply wait. In my case, I found myself recording in the evenings.

Be Careful with the Noise Removal

Noise removal is a handy tool on Audacity that enables you to remove unwanted background noises, such as fridges, traffic or rain. Going too heavy on the noise removal can ruin your vocal recording. Sometimes, background noises can sneak into your recording and noise removal can work wonders so long as the sound frequency does not overlap your vocal range, otherwise, it can make your voice sound weird – chirpy. It is better to record again when it is quieter than to overuse the noise removal. I wasted hours of recording time getting to grips with noise removal.

Atmospheric Conditions During Recording

The sensitive mic will be affected by atmospheric conditions, such as humidity and temperature. The Rode doesn’t not seem to like cool damp air. It prefers warm and dry. Atmospheric conditions will affect the recording in subtle but noticeable ways.

The mic also needs space! OK so you don’t want unwanted echoes that result from a large room with hard surfaces, but don’t place the mic in an overly-enclosed space, or the recording will sound ‘clothy’ or claustrophobic, losing some clarity. I place my mic at least a foot from any surface within my rather cramped acoustic booth. This lesson cost me hours of recording.

Vocal Techniques

Accents are hard to master. I had to listen to hours of YouTube clips and practicing sounding out the nuances of dialects. Don’t go heavy on the accent, or it will sound like a parody. Not every word has to illustrate the accent, only certain syllables.

The voice gets tired after an hour or so of recording. That’s it. You can’t force it, it’s not a machine. You have to rest it, show respect. Keep healthy, hydrated and rested. Again, put the gear away and start again tomorrow.

Time Consumption of Sound Editing

For every hour of recording, expect at least three hours of sound editing. You have to edit out outtakes (and there will be plenty), plosives, clicks, unwanted background noise and lots more. You also have to fine-tune the pauses between sentences to attain the desired pace of the audio book narration.

Editing the Book

Saying sentences aloud will expose issues with writing style. You have to cut long sentences to permit the breath, cut repetitive sentences that result in a monotonous passage, or stilted sounding dialogue. Read aloud before recording.

Is Narrating and Producing Audio Books Hard?

Mona Lisa in Progress
Things go wrong for no explainable reason. Sometimes the recording is awful and who knows why? You have to do it again another day.

Painting something as difficult as the Mona Lisa means you can paint over mistakes, build and improve the painting through layers. It is a skill that requires dexterity of hand and visual astuteness. Audiobook production requires a spectrum of skills. Editing skills, a good voice, the ability to tackle accents, to be a sound engineer, to have a keen ear, to troubleshoot, to have an instinct for pace. And what about audiobook cover design and marketing? The list goes on.

A painting can be salvaged. A horrible recording has to be scrapped and started from scratch. It’s tiring, complicated, frustrating and anything but therapeutic, but I am glad I did it. Audio book creation has been a momentous experience and I have learned a lot. My new found skills can be used to many other uses.

How to Make the Most of Audible Credits when Purchasing Audio Books

Purchasing audio books from Audible offers a choice of plans. You can have one membership credit per month for the upload of one audio book, or two credits for two. You may opt to purchase audio books one-off without being a member of Audible at all, but this means purchasing the book for its listed price, which can be very costly. But there are ways of getting more out of Audible credits than first impressions. Here’s how.

Make the Most of Audible Credits

Make the Most of Voucher Codes on Audible
Audible will use various means of enticing the audio book lover to sign up for a membership plan, one such way is to offer free membership for the first 30 days.

If you decide to sign up for a membership plan, you can go for £7.99 per month for 1 credit (or one audio book), or 2 credits, £14.99 (or two books) per month. One membership credit allows you to upload any audio book, regardless of its price or length. This is interesting to note, as the writers of tomes such as Stephen King and Dan Brown can provide many hours of listening for one credit. Retail price for these lengthy audio books often exceed £20 (around $30).

Some books are in excess of 40 hours long. That doesn’t means to say they are interesting or to the listener’s taste, but some comprise complete story collections, such as the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes or other classic travel stories.

You can exchange any audio book you don’t like, no questions asked within one year of purchase. According to Audible, it doesn’t matter if you have finished it or not, whether you actually liked it or not, or whether you have even listened to a single sentence. You can exchange it. This does not bode well for audio book producers like me, but great for the Audible member. Once you have exchanged that book, you can no longer leave a book review.

Free Audio Books on Audible

You don’t have to look far to find authors begging for reviews of their audiobooks for a free listen. On completion of an audio book, ACX, (a marketplace where authors, narrators and producers can get together to produce audiobooks) will dish out vouchercodes. These are complementary codes that on redemption gives the Audible member a free credit.

Go to Goodreads, Twitter, author blogs or Linkdin to discover authors touting their vouchercodes for a free listen in exchange for a review.

It is also worth making a regular check of Voucher Code Sites such as Voucher Box, My Voucher Codes or Wow.com where you can spot Audible promotions and deals for a vastly discounted price, for instance, a 3 month membership for 99p per month.

But why not have an equivalent of NetFlix, where members can listen to as many audiobooks as they want for the membership subscription? Well, Audible has no competition as it is the largest audio book provider in the world, but things can change. Maybe Audible will do so in the future. Who knows? And the system can do away with ‘credits’ and simply pay a subscription to listen to a whole bank of audio books.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Ten Audiobook Recording Mistakes to Avoid

I produced audio books myself and learned lessons the hard way, wasting hours of recording needlessly. But have picked up invaluable tips on audio recording that will bode well in the future. Here are ten invaluable tips on audiobook production.

1 Get the best audio microphone you can afford. I wasted money on a standard condenser mic that picked up plosives even with a pop filter and gave a tinny sound to my voice. I sent it back and opted for the Rode condenser mic that comes with a studio quality pop filter with XLR cable. It also gives a nice, warm clear sound. Ideal for book narration.

2 Get familiar with your audio kit. I used a Scarlett solo audio interface, Audacity, my PC and good quality headphones. Read the instructions, play with it, experiment and get to know it inside out. Audacity is easy to use, but has a lot of tools to get familiar with. Don’t start audiobook narration until you know how to get the best out of your audio kit.

3 Go easy on the noise removal! Noise removal is a handy little tool that removes unwanted background noise, which might be the general hush of distant traffic or the hum of a fridge. A room with a low noise floor is preferable in which to record (a quiet room). Too much noise removal will not only strip the background hush, but could also strip away that same noise frequency that happens to exist in your voice, making it sound weird or chirpy.

4 Beware of echoes from a room with harsh surfaces. Some audiobooks behold narrators that sound as though they have stuck the mic in a bathroom. Find a closet and line it with towels or duvets. You can buy acoustic foam, possessing textures that will break up the sound, minimizing echoes. On the other hand, don’t put cloth too close to the mic. The mic needs space to breathe. Place the mic roughly in the center of the room, not too close to surfaces.

5 Don’t record if your voice has had enough. I find my voice will get huskier if I have been recording for over an hour. Don’t push it, for the fatigue will show in the recording. Rest the voice between sessions. Avoid factors that will irritate those vocal chords: cold air, stress, smoking, alcohol, late nights and mucus-producing foods (like dairy). Allow your voice to recover before the following session.

6 Listen to the recording and you will find your voice will sound different to what you expect. I noticed an unwanted Brummy brogue would sneak in some of my narration when tired. Also when doing a male voice, the pitch of my voice would get higher without my realizing. Grow consciously aware of how your voice sounds during recording. Re-record until you get it right.

Get the Best Mic for Audio
7 Before mastering your recording, keep a copy of the original recording in case something goes wrong. I find extra presence can be added to the sound of the voice by ‘dipping’ the middle trebles a little in equalization and enhancing the base and top frequencies (but not too much). Experiment until satisfied. Audacity allows you to save and name any settings.

8 Be prepared to re-write sections of the script if something sounds wrong. When spoken aloud, some of my dialogue sounded a little unnatural. I re-wrote it until it sounded right. Practice reading the script before recording to ensure it sounds good when read aloud. I edited my books heavily as a result of reading aloud during audio book production.

9 Don’t do an accent you can’t ‘feel.’ It will sound wrong. When picking up a dialect, listen to it (YouTube clips are full of people speaking in different dialects.) Say the words aloud. If it doesn’t come easily, allow a couple of days for the accent to ‘sink in’ during practice. Don’t overdo the accent or it will sound parodied. Subtle is the key. Not all words spoken aloud will exhibit an accent.

10 Don’t edit the recording when tired or you will miss mistakes. Little things like clicks resulting from a dry mouth or a mispronounced word will slip by. Be vigilant when editing and mistakes are less likely to sneak into the final audio book.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Get Four Audiobooks for One Audible Credit: Eclipse Quartet by Charles J Harwood: Four Psychological Thrillers of Abduction, Blackmail and Obsession

Audible listeners can get four audio books for 1 credit, or in other words, over 32 hours of listening time of this fabulous audio book which consists of 4 psychological thrillers: the Shuttered Room, Falling Awake, Nora and a Hard lesson. Look out for this audiobook as it will be released in early October 2015. Imagine, getting all this listening time for one membership credit!

Thirty Two Hour Long Audio Book

Click to buy from Audible
Eclipse Quartet consists of 4 full length thrillers, which are on average 8 hours long. Professionally narrated and edited for Audible, these thrillers provide the perfect opportunity to upload four audiobooks for one Audible membership credit. All thrillers are also available singly for those who purchase without using Audiobook units.

Make the Most of Audible Listener Credits

The seasoned audiobook listener will know that Audible offers 2 subscription plans: upload an audiobook a month for one membership credit or 2 books per month for 2 membership credits. The second plan works out a little cheaper per audiobook. The astute listener will of course want to use these Audible credits wisely, (although Audible will refund the credit if the listener does not like the book, within one year without question). That said, Audible are wary of members abusing the system.

Have a listen to the book synopsis of this thriller.


Use Audible Credits

I asked myself what I would look for if I was a member of Audible, and the answer was to make the most of each of my membership credits. This is why I created a compilation of four thrillers in one big audiobook. Imagine getting four full length thrillers for one Audible credit? Over thirty-two hours of thrilling listening for one membership credit. Ideal for the bored commuter or the fitness fanatic who loves psychological thrillers.



Audio Book More than Twenty Hours Long

These four thrillers took me around twenty years to write and ten months to produce. A mammoth task. A brief summary of each thriller can be found below:

The Shuttered Room: 7 Hours 30 Minutes

Eclipse Quartet opens with a story of abduction: the Shuttered Room.

Little do they know their captive has a secret.

Jess Fraser would appear to have the perfect life; daughter to rich parents, married with a son and a successful career. But her life takes a nasty turn when she is abducted and held in an upstairs room by 3 thugs. What they don’t know is that Jess is not what she appears. After a failed escape attempt, she cuts a hole in the bedroom floor from where she spies upon her captors below. That’s when she starts playing little mind games with them.

Falling Awake: 9 Hours Long

Imagine how it might feel to be attracted to someone who seems to possess a disturbing psychological contortion?

Gemma performs routines for an unseen insomniac voyeur to earn quick cash to save her home from sinister moneylenders. Not only does she have to unravel the puzzle of a disturbing doodle her missing husband has left behind, she has to protect her disabled son from the seedy truth about her evening commission.

She eventually finds herself trapped by her obligation to someone she fears most.

And her voyeur is not what he seems.

Nora: 7 Hours Fifty Minutes

Nancy finds herself performing a media shoot with obnoxious playboy millionaire, Vince as they walk from one of his nightclubs. The seduction of this other world turns sour after she overhears Vince make a dirty bet with his PA about her fifteen minutes of fame.

What she doesn’t realize is that the evening is about to end in a nightmare that will unleash her alter ego.

Her life will never be the same.

A Hard Lesson: Eight Hours

Eclipse Quartet closes with this final thriller, A Hard Lesson.

A teacher takes on the pupil from hell only to learn what treachery means.

Sarah thought she was teaching a young schoolchild a little English. But to her horror, finds her subject to be full-grown thug with dyslexia and behavioral problems. Not only that, but he is member to a criminal clique headed by a psychopath.

And this psychopath doesn’t like people messing with his business.

Meek Sarah is about to uncover the murky truths about her pupil’s family as well as a web of
Thrilling Audiobook
manipulation.

Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers by Charles J Harwood Thrilling Audiobook on Audible

This four in one thriller audiobook is not to be missed! Get four full length psychological thrillers on Audible for one membership credit. Over 32 hours of listening time. To be released in early October 2015.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Get Free Audio Books from Audible with Money Off Voucher Codes and Listen to Psychological Thrillers

Want to listen to audiobooks for free? Find Audible voucher codes here to redeem full length thrillers by Charles J Harwood. Each book is around 7 to 8 hours long, providing value for money listening for free.

Get These Thrillers Free on Audible
A star rating or an audio book review is that that is requested in return. Simply leave a message on this blog, Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads and I will provide the avid audiobook listener a vouchcode for the thriller book of your choice.

How to Get Free Audio Books on Audible the Simple Way

When an audio book has been released, Audible will provide the audio book producer free voucher codes that can be given away in return for a star rating or review. I have audio book voucher codes for both Audible.com and Audible.co.uk for all of my books. Here’s how to get free audible books. 

How to redeem voucher codes on Audible couldn’t be simpler. Once you have been supplied with a voucher code for the Charles J Harwood thriller of your choice (each code comprises a long stream of letters and numbers):

1 Sign into your Audible account.
2 Browse to the Charles J Harwood book of your choice on Audible.
3 Add the audiobook to your basket.
4 Beneath the book details, you will find a prompt asking if you have a promotional code. Enter the audiobook promotional code and click ‘apply code’.
5 You will notice one credit will be added to your account (in a little box near the top of the page). 6 Now you can use the credit to get the book free. Simply tick the box next to ‘1 credit’ to redeem it then update the page to apply the credit.
7 Once you have clicked ‘update’, the price of the audiobook will change to £0.00 (or $0.00 if resident of the US).
8 Now proceed to checkout and you will see your free audiobook in your library. You can listen to it via the cloud or download it to your computer and listen to it on your chosen device. It’s as simple as that.

Get Free Talking Book Downloads from Audible

The idea of Audible promotional voucher codes is to enable the audiobook producer to garner reviews and star ratings from avid audio book listeners. However, I shall not chase up audiobook listeners if a rating is not left, but hope my books provide an entertaining listen. The idea is to give away as many codes as possible to increase the chances of a review or rating of being left. Free MP3

Audio Books with Money Off Voucher Codes

Get free promotional voucher codes from Audible by contacting me on this blog, Facebook, Twitter (scroll down to find links) or look me up on Goodreads. Find a short précis on what each of my thrillers are about:

THE SHUTTERED ROOM

Little do they know their captive holds a deadly secret.

Jess is taken hostage and incarcerated in an upstairs room by three thugs holding her to ransom. In a bid to escape, she cuts a hole in the bedroom floor with a cutlery knife. From there, Jess observes the three of them going about their business. That’s when she starts playing games with them.

That’s when her spying pulls her into a treacherous psychological game involving a twisted version of Stockholm syndrome. 

FALLING AWAKE

Insomnia can have the most sinister causes.

Gemma’s husband vanishes under mysterious circumstances leaving a black contorted doodle and mysterious debts. But saving her home proves the least of her worries after Gemma earns urgent cash by performing routines for a chronic insomniac.

Voyeurism never hurt anybody. The cause of his insomnia is another matter. As the horrifying truth about her husband unfurls, Gemma’s paranoia about her voyeur takes its grip.

NORA

Her harsh brand of rehab hides a bitter secret.

Nancy is hurled into the world of celebrity when she finds herself performing a shoot for handsome but odious millionaire, Vince, as they walk from one of his nightclubs. But the seduction of this other world sours after Nancy learns the truth behind her fifteen minutes of fame.

That’s when Nancy is propelled into a nightmare where her alter ego is born. Vince’s playboy lifestyle is about to be turned upside down. Hers will never be the same.

A HARD LESSON (to be released soon)

Sarah thought she was teaching a schoolchild a little English. How wrong she was. Not only is her subject a full-grown thug, he is dyslexic and part of a criminal clique headed by a psychopath.

And this psychopath doesn’t like people interfering with his business. Soon, she will learn the meaning of treachery. And fear.