WordPress Direct University 2010 – Review part 1

It’s 4am and can’t sleep, head full from 2 days of packed content and networking at Marty Rozmanith’s WordPress Direct University figured I’d share some of what’s going through my head on a personal level, and a few take away tips, but mostly the former, so consider yourself warned.

First up, it’s 4am.  I’m sitting crosslegged in the sofa at the Hostel,  with a hint of the cool san diego breeze coming rhouhg the 4 giant windows. The fun gaslamp district is a ghosttown, contrast this to 9pm-1:30pm when it feels like Mardi-Gras.  The ONLY reason it stops at 2amish is city mandated that EVERTHING close round 2amish.  I’m pretty sure that even the clubs at the hotel  (e.g. the Hard Rock Hotel ) are subject to this curfew.  Of course that just means the party moves to the rooms. I’m actually greatful for the silence as I can get quite hypersenstive to

To be honest conferences are a giant pain in the ass,

doesn’t matter how good the last one was, it’s hard for me to get out of the house, they almost always happen at the worst times.

First  I have to drive which if you’re familiar at all with Los Angeles is generally more like synchronized braking.   I structure my life so I don’ t have to drive as I’m convinced that next to TV that driving is the biggest time sink.     Google maps with traffic does it’s best and recently got better by showing intown traffic, It typically takes about 45 minutes to even get to the freeway and that is plenty of time for the roadsystem to turn into a sea of life sucking red lights that mean your trip time may be doubled and your time sleeping halved.

Being the ace strategician, Generally between last minute preps and road dred, aim for 7pm and manage to put out of the house round 2am…

Of course once I’ve left the habit trail 😉  it’s easy to get commited and enjoy. Smooth Driving is very meditative, all sorts of thoughts percolate up  that you don’t normally get to see.

Second, as is typical for most conferences I go to, I usually get about 8-12 hours of sleep spread across 3-4 nights, AND I have to use an alarm clock. WTF is this internet lifestyle?!?  I don’t wear a watch, don’t have any clocks in my room other than those embedded into the device.  For the most part I operate outside of time by design, as freedom is important to me and it’s just how I operate best.  e.g. if the team is cracking or ideastorm, I work all night I do, if I have to sleep 15 hours I do.

Conferences are like mini job, you have to conform to a schedule,  have to sit in the chair, pay attention (else why did you come), and get to and from lunch/break on time else miss something.  WPDirect starts at 9am! Damn those east coaster boston peeps didn’t they see the sign “entering california?!”   🙂  But to augment caffiene,  Marty has been the opening speaker both days and has a deeply knowledgeable brain and a gift for conveying complex information and is almost registers -10% hype and bullshit meter.  Which makes it totally worth it.

What I like about these conferences that are organized around a real product/service is you get to put a face on the company in this case WordPressDirect and see the culture behind it.   It’s easy when everything is through the web to imagine that these companies are giant vending machines with unlimited robots, with impersonal email with various tracking tickets to forget that behind that, every reply is answered by a real living person.  n Companies like really everybody can fit into a single van.  Briefly if you’re not familiar with them, WordPress Direct is a way to quickly build keyword optimized blogs they host and they start at free. They are decent sized and have over 30K users.

Back to the story, I work out of my home, and between automation and outsourcing, most of my team I’ve never met live, and some I don’t even know what they look like.  We have great communication and reort Skype and Basecamp is MORE THAN AWESOME but it’s not the same flavor of seeing people light up, and the banter that happens when you least expect it.   Basically at times I miss the live part.

One of the other consequences of this internet, even if you sandbox your work and personal identities as I do is that the lines between life and work blur.  I’m always working, I’m also always on what others consider vacation. Just things are chopped up, an hour of 100% fun in the middle of the day, an hour of work when you should be sleeping.   Like right now some major projects some brand new some months in and near completion are in critical phases with many unknowns, so I have to constantly guide it here and there and do things only I can do else I become the bottleneck.   This is actually a great problem to have when your team is delivering christmas every day, it’s hard NOT to open your presents even if they are wrapped in email instead of wrapping paper, when they are asking you whether you want to get metaphorically a Million Dollars more in your business or a Year off, it’s impossible not to want to answer the questions, even if that means you are giving up sleep that will make it harder to pay attention tomorrow.

I’m not alone in this.  One of my favorite speaker (and hella funny Texan) Keith Baxter is in the middle of the major “Epic Traffic” launch. I guess the point I was making is that most the successful people I meet have intense freedom, but there are times when they work their asses 16hours a day for weeks on end and end up far more burnt out than you see in a normal job because there are no boundaries placed there and so much drive.

But for even all that. What I at least gain in these conferences is totally worth the sacrifices.  It’s counter intuitive, but honestly I think that for all the thousands of dollars of material I’ve bought, I get more far mroe from going to these conferences even when I have no idea what I’m going to get out of it.   For one there is a force feeding of content, be honest how often have you bought a product and it just sat there on the shelf. In a conference in a locked room it’s a bit like drinking from a firehose.  Second there is a dialog, you can ask critical questions directly, especially after. Thired you have to breath the same air .

After a year, I kinda feel like most infotraining is a perpetual industry to milk and sort of a hidden trick question, the only way to succeed is to counterintuitively stop learning especially from infobook. To be sure there are several awesome courses and you have to get your start somewhere, but I believe most pale in raw impact as some of these  live conferences -even the pitchfests-, and this one classifies technically as one, as every speaker is pushing something, but generally every presentation was the equivalent of a $397 course or more so value is being delivered every hour, so times say 5 presentations per day x 2 days = 10 presentations * 400 == $4K of training value alone. Often the way that these speakers are coordinated on complimentary areas, some of that you’d never voluntarily buy as you don’t think you need it, or worse you don’t even know it exists so wouldn’t ever find it.

Conferences are a bit of a secret society, the door admission price is the secret passphrase. I’ve met some who know this and have spent $2k on product they have no intent of using just to get access to right people in the right place, because major deals happen here.   Especially at smaller events like this, where else can you talk to the CEO and major gurus at length? share a beer with them, get candid answers?

Everytime I go I learn things that aren’t taught anyplace else, and probably won’t ever be.  Again live conferences are a sort of graduation from conventional do it yourself training.  Advanced levels are unlocked.  Rightfully shouldn’t in some cases as they are either super powerful and likely to be abused, and some are super complicated and so far beyond that it would take a year or so of training to be able to fully understand the impact, or that if everybody did it would completely fail.  Others are gems that are dropped in various conversations, either things you’re generally not supposed to know, or “common knowledge” they just don’t ever think to teach, things you didn’t know you REALLY need to know, like perhaps everything you are doing (that everybody else is doing) is either wrong or a poor use of time.

Damn the sun is coming up, I’m getting super sleepy  and the Day3 (which I was VERY kindly comped on…again the power of attending these sorts of things) is starting in a 3  hours, so hopefully I’ll continue this later, so much to talk about, so much has happened.

Troy.

Gurus can look so goofy, but when you drive this much traffic apparently… it’s okay. [VIDEO]

Zeus, Hades, Poseidon.. Names ring a bell?

If you studied ancient mythology, you know these ancient gods were once the foundation
of a civilization, and generally were thought to kick ass.
Each had unique powers to rule their respective part of the world.
  • Zeus controlled the elusive lightning of the heavens.
  • Hades controlled gold and the underworld.
  • Poseidon controlled the ephemeral water covering most the planet.

Translated into today’s marketing, these 3 powers still exist.

Mastering them can get you god like powers, and even your own slavish fan club.
  • Lightning is SEO (aka) organic, it’s free as rain, very powerful if you get right..and damn ellusive to catch.
  • Gold is Paid Traffic, get it right buy your way anywhere, get it wrong and you endup broke in Hades, with no easy way out.
  • Water is Social Media, always changing, always flowing, everywhere.
While calling themselves “Titans of Traffic“, and looking rather silly on this video floating in the sky:
These gurus classify as demigods of Traffic at least.
They are from left to right, Keith Baxter, Jon Shugart, and Joey Smith.
Their super powers are SEO, Paid Traffic and Social Media respectively.

This could be Epic Traffic..

At least that’s what they are calling it.
Yes this is a launch, unlike most this one is largely about automation and tools instead of just infojunk.  Plus these guys actually make full time livings outside of training this stuff. Which is probably why they are a little awkward on camera.
A few of your have asked me what SEO tricks I’ve learned.  Keith is one of my favorite gurus these days, primarily as the SEO system he uses was mind blowing to me and I got sick of google’s PPC shenanigans.   I know from listening to Keith, these guys have spent a ton on this launch and are GIVING away valuable software, including some of the KILLER WordPress plugins they use (and I use as well, plus a few of my own enhancements).

They are going to be giving away training every day this week

on each subject SEO, Paid Media, and Social Marketing.

“Twitter Cash/Traffic Method” [VIDEO]

Joey is kicking things off surfing the near instant Twitter Traffic wave to get paid today. With his presentation

In that video you’ll learn how to
  1. Find hot targeted prospects using Twitter Search
  2. Get your offers in front of them PROPERLY then drive traffic.
While the first should be common knowledge by now, so many people do that last part wrong, which make it easy for you to beat them if you follow Joey’s tactics.
Cheers and Beers,
Troy.

How to download for offline viewing and archiving those expensive website based courses

This article is inspired by three concrete problems I had this weekend, where I had premium content locked in a paid membership site and wanted a local copy of.  That content was often a rather large complicated site consisting of 200-300 files of 500-1GB of size.  While possible to do manually, getting it all, would have been time consuming and tedious to do so, regardless if I did it or one of my staff.  So in this we are going to review and cover 3 automated solutions I tried to get a copy and keep it safe.  So like the pharaohs of old you can take it with you.

Like the pharoahs of old, you can take it with you, provided you know these tricks...

The problem with online courses:

1) your course is only available online in some password protected site. Lose the password, downgrade your membership you lose access to it all.

2) you can’t take the course with you on the road or in places with poor internet connectivity, often which is a perfect time to learn and review this.

3) courses get outdated, and taken offline. E.g. gurus retire, or retire courses.  You spend $2k on the information it’s only fair that you get a copy of it, regardless of what the guru does with it in the future.

If you could get a copy for later for your “Learning Library” you could keep a copy even if you never use it. I still keep copies of my university books just occasionally to refresh my memory on certain subjects. Can’t say that they’ve gotten much use out of (e.g. Linear Algebra and Chemistry) but I spent like $200 on some of them when that was a LOT of money to me (as in a full month of rent) and years later…still… can’t… quite let them go in the trash 🙂

My Inspirations

First, I own Jeff Walkers Product Launch Formula 2.0, which was $2k or so when I bought it about a year ago.   Jeff is retiring PLF2.0 in favor of PLF3.0 in just a couple of days. That means he’s deleting ALL of the excellent content and sites surrounding that product, partly to push people to buy the upgraded “redone from the ground up”.  Much of that pricey but good content I just don’t remember OR worse have paid lots of money for but haven’t gotten a chance to view yet, which come to think of it, is true for many of the courses I have bought, even if I have been working my butt off the entire year!!!.   While I could manually download files one by one, I wanted an easier way and one that would make sure I didn’t lose anything,  and being so busy, I put it to last few days…and just realized I only had a few days left.    I had planned originally just to download the core modules files, but getting into the site after almost a year ofnot seeing it,  I realized there was a huge amount I haven’t seen, and most available in several formats like PDF transcripts, that would benefit me more than just the video. It would be rather insane downloading the entire site that way so I went with the automated approach.

Second I am canceling one of my $300/mo mastermind groups, as over the 4 months, I’ve gotten most the value I need out of it and would rather have that money going someplace else -that’s about what I pay for a month of some of my Filipino workers!  As soon as I cancel though I lose access to ALL the information in the premium mastermind section. Which kinda sucks.  A much better way to go would be to just stop allowing me access to things I haven’t paid for but their membership software doesn’t do that.

Third one of the other membership sites  I wanted local copies of the videos, as they way they organize the site, you can’t watch a video and actually see the slides and take notes at the same time unless you use a spare PC, which make it hard for me to learn the site.

In every one of these cases downloading the videos is perfectly permitted and encouraged, as it’s for personal -not pirated use.  You almost never have the permission to reupload the site to make it ‘your’s” but in some cases (like in the case of employee training) it’s borderline, just make sure you only grant permission to authorized parties.

How to get a copy of that website for safe keeping.

The good news is there are a few different ways to go about this important if somewhat daunting task.

Manual This is great if you only need a few files, pick and choose style.  You can just use the browser to right click over a link and hit save as, or  from the main menu choose File>Save As> Webpage Complete.  This however won’t download video files on say S3 or youtube to keep them safe.   The reason for this is that it’s saves the html file verbatim, and keeps the links intact pointing to the web.

If it’s a video on say youtube there are a few different websites services for this like keepvid and  FireFox plugins like Orbit downloader.

In a pinch when people make it hard to find the video (e.g. EZS3) you can often use the firefox plugin firebug to see where the files are coming from and open the the file in new tab then save it. Firebug is meant as a web development tool (and it kicks butt at this).  Basically how you use it, look at this 9 step picture.

9 Steps to Using Firebug to download a video
9 Steps to Using Firebug to download a Video

Last I should say there are some times when people stream video, that video cannot be saved via any of these approaches, as the video never hits  your harddrive ever. In this last case you can use any screen capture program (Screenflow on a Mac, Camtasia on a PC) to do a capture of everything.  This is particularly great for webinars on gotomeeting.

Automated: If you have a lot of files special software is website rippers, that basically behave as you would viewing the site, except instead of saving it to a local cache they save it permanently to a folder of your choice.

So there are many tools to help you automatically download entire website for later.  They have basically have the responsibility to automatically follow each and every link from a given start page and download each and every file much like google’s search engine bots crawl your site, and once downloaded rewrite the links to something local and not still on the web.   This can actually be relatively complicated job given most sites link out to many other resources (like amazon S3) to host media files, or cross promotions. You have to sometimes setup boundaries on what you do and don’t follow, you don’t want to download the entire web!

Generally you first start a “project” that will contain all the files (e.g. 1 project might be 1 website) , so in my case I needed 3 projects, one for each site.  These projects can exist in various formats: the raw files as they exist on the web, or various compressed archives like zip folders or “chm” help files, which saves space and makes them say easy to share with mastermind or employees.   In all cases these tools try to download everything at a fast rate so will both hog the netconnection and consume significant CPU, so I recommend doing this when you aren’t trying to do something super important at the same time, or better yet start it when you go to sleep etc and check it in the morning.   Also it’s generally a good idea to make sure these files are virus checked in case the site got hacked.

There are MANY programs that do this, I tried the first 3 that caught my eye searching google for “download website offline viewing“, alternate search terms to try are “download entire website”

3 Website Software to Download for Offline Viewing

  • Htttrack, this is an open source free, near the top of the results.  It appears to be a command line utility minimal UI.  It worked fine for normal sites, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work with the password protected websites requiring a non popup login.  Though looking at it’s logs I was able to see that one of the sites was using the WP membership site plugin Aweber which I couldn’t have known before hand. It was the cheapest as it was opensouce/no cost.
  • SpideSoft’s Webzip:    this is not free but it has a fully functional 30 day trial, which for my purposes was good enough as I didn’t need this for more than a week.  They’ve been out for it seems a couple of years, various copyright dates on the software.  This is based on InternetExplorer so it’s workflow is different, and it worked better than Httrack for the password sites.  Basically with it’s built in browser, you browse like you would normally to the part of the site you want to copy, login if needed, and then hit go.   If needed to purchase they were also the cheapest of the 3. at $39.95 for the normal version.  The UI is reasonably polished and fancy feeling, some questionably graphics showing all the bytes in an bytes out.  I found running on Windows XP that it crashed a few times but was easy to resume from where it left off.  Viewing the results it added a extra note at the top about where the files came from, and the date. There is also a resync website so for example if the contents had changed and you wanted to only download the new ones. By default it stores the site in a conventional file/folder.
  • Bimesoft’s SurfOffline:  this is not free but has a 200 link trial, which for my purposes on 2 of the sites wasn’t good enough. It had a polished UI, good reporting on what it’s doing, it also had a visible browser so I could log into the sites before downloading them.    It did not crash like Webzip, but it’s not a fair comparison it also didn’t go as far as the trial version stopped at 200 links.  I found it a bit more limited and market/nagware. After you complete the download pops up a message to upgrade to the full version it had four different versions $39.95 for the standard ‘non-commercial’ version and $69.95 for the non-commercial professional version, commercial versions in both would run *significantly* more.  I couldn’t really figure out what the difference was between the standard and pro version.   It by default stores files in a compressed archive which is a great space saver but I didn’t like, as I prefer to be able to jump to movie files I want.
Screenshot of Webzip, after downloading the PLF website for offline viewing
Screenshot of Webzip, after downloading the PLF website for offline viewing.

At the end I was pretty happy with the trial version of Webzip, it did the job I needed, without costing anything.  If I needed this on a regular basis I would probably investigate some of the others out there, that didn’t require restarting. In any case I imagine that most tools like this run $40, and a 1TB harddrive is about $50 as of this writing, which is nothing compared to the price of one of these pricey courses and the peace of mind having the ability to consume it however you want, whenever you want, however long you want, without being dependent on those pesky gurus.

ADVANCED:
I have what I call a Learning Library currently about  1.5TB in size. It contains ALL the courses I have bought to date, some $10K or so.  In particular it contains on the harddrive, copies of  DVD collections and OCR printed materials I get in those “big box courses” as harddrives are cheap, and DVD’s can get easily damaged or lost in the hustle of life and piles of stuff. OCR the swipe files makes them actually easy to copy and paste from.     Even better is once ripped and converted most are compatible with web browsers, I can tag, organize and even search the files and create hyperlinks to relevant courses on relevant subjects which i can’t easily do with my DVD collection collecting dust on the shelves. Not to mention most IM courses are kinda ugly, not exactly something I like having a showcase of..

3 ways to get those pricey Internet Marketing Guru courses for 1/2-1/20th of the price

As a person starting out in Internet Marketing, especially to those not used to it, it’s easy to be taken back by how much an alternate universe Internet Marketing (and making money in general) is.

1) how much all these courses cost, it seems like it’s every other week that some $2k software is being released as the next cure for all evils. To be fair my local community college also charges $1K for a course but these are taught live, they are instructor lead and there is homework and tests to some form of accountability to get stuff done. In contrast many gurus are clearly knowledgeable but horrible inconsiderate teachers, who are often rarely if ever accessible to answer questions.

2) how much there is to know, SEO, PPC, Social Media, Copyriting, Domaining, Product Creation, Outsourcing, Incorporation, Finances, the list goes on an on. When you first get into the game and even a year later there is quite an astounding amount that it takes to have a business that has reached it’s full potential. The good news of course is you don’t really need but a fraction of all this to get going.

Anyway, I generally think that it’s a bad trap to get into the mega course de jour, especially when that same money could be getting products or websites on the market. But not to worry took part of it too, had I had the ability to do things differently I totally would llike the following.

So here are two tips to get that money to work IN your business rather than on your self.

1) Share the price with a friend
One is get a mastermind, preferrably local. Buy the courses under a shared identity, and pool them in a learning library. Better yet watch the courses together and talk about them.

2) Go Secondhand
Pick it up used. There is a thriving market for, often by people who have been suckered into spending $2K who would like to get some of that back. Just do a search on ebay for any of your favorite Guru’s, bet you’ll find something.

A valid warning is there are certainly courses that don’t age that well, e.g. I wouldn’t buy a book on Facebook from two years ago, too much has changed. But things “classics” from big name gurus like Frank Kern, Eben Pagan, that are delivered on DVD more often than not do not age that much. Don’t buy the hype about it being completely written from the ground up, if the course content is that brittle so will your business be by building on top of it. Just like a car, last years model will still get you where you need to go.

3) Get to know these Guru’s better.
Spend more time searching guru’s blogs and cross promotions, if necessary stalk them online. Here they give away a ton of free content that will get you 70-80% of what they put in these premium products. Odds are most are on yearly cycles. PLF1.0 becomes PLF2.0 becomes PLF3.0. Names and metaphor change the core concepts do not. Often by looking at last years blog entries you can find tons of useful info for free. Do enough research often the gurus leak enough useful but incomplete so that there really isn’t that much left to be incomplete.

4) Just don’t buy it.
Have to bring up this option. Your life will not likely implode or business fail or success typicaly by missing one of these products and odds are you can find the same information in a $2K course in a $200
course somewhere on clickbank. Quite the opposite by unsubscribing from the constant onslaught you might get things done. Having watched the gurus for a year, you may have finally found out, and they don’t hide this. They are a vampire mafia of sorts, they meet a few times a year to figure out what is working, coordinate and make sure that their launches don’t compete with each others, you are the cows they milk on a schedule for a very lucrative business that is often ungrounded in anything near reality as defined by the you can do this too. For all the value in each of these courses, if you live paralized life and never