Doctor, The Autoresponder Is Unresponsive

 

autoresponder unresponsive

autoresponder unresponsive

It has happened again.

I finally get the courage up to tackle the revision of my opt-in. I log in to Get Response. No dice. Check Get Response’s Facebook Page. It’s official. Get Response is undergoing another DDOS attack.  No one is able to log in, including me.

I’m usually a pretty patient person. I understand that these things happen. But after GR went through a big explanation of what they did to prevent this from happening again, it’s not very reassuring. At this point in the game, I don’t have a significant amount invested. Unlike some people who have been building a list for years now, mine is still in its infancy. As in, an embryo. As in, not too late to implant the list elsewhere.

So now I get to reevaluate the options.  I’ve written previously about some of the other services I’ve tried, and for various reasons, did not choose.

A New Alternative

Fortunately, one of the members in the QSC group, Robert Arauz, http://www.expatinvietnam.com alerted the group to one more service. I think I’ll check it out. It boasts that it will save a ton of time.

I know I can certainly put that extra time to use chasing shiny objects.

What do you think?

Reverse Engineering My Blog

reverse engineering my blog_terihelmsrn.com

The Quick Start Challenge has officially come to a conclusion, so now the Facebook group has taken on a new meaning.  It has become a place for the group members to ask questions of one another, to share experiences, and to get overall news and information.

One post in particular caught my eye.  The poster asked for advice from those participants whose blogs were getting decent traffic and/or making money.  Since I hadn’t checked since a few days ago, I logged in to check my New Statpress stats.  (Note: New Statpress is a free WordPress plugin that will report all sorts measurements including: number of visitors, number of unique visitors, which spiders have come along to crawl your site, what search terms visitors used to find your site.  The numbers aren’t official, but it will give you information that Google Webmaster Tools won’t.)

What I found surprised me.  I was expecting a few hundred visits max since April 1.  What I got was `1256 visitors and 2361 pageviews.  Granted, a number of those pageviews were initiated by other QSC members visiting each others’ blogs and posting comments.  And a significant number of those visits were from spiders, the bots that crawl websites to report back to their search engine masters.

Google Analytics had the visitor number at 397, significantly lower than Statpress.  I am still learning the particular differences between the two forms for reporting.  But I have been around the IM block enough times to know that most new blogs take much longer to reach those numbers.  I have set up a number of blogs myself that didn’t attain those numbers for months, if ever. I confess, backlinking has never been my strong suit, so it has been haphazard on those sites at best.

The part that I found most interesting was what search terms the site was ranking for:

Webmaster Tools - Search Queries - http---www.terihelmsrn.com- 2014-05-01 15-24-15

 

The site was in the top 10 for some very current, topical searches.  The mention in that particular post was only as a reference to the Get Response CEO’s letter to customers listing other companies that were affected by  DDOS attacks.  Now, I do not know how many people were actually searching for those terms, probably very few.  The only way I know how to check that is with Google Adwords tool, and that doesn’t always report up to date searches.  But what that told me was blogging about very current issues will get Google’s attention, and will probably get you traffic.

So, what were some of the other things that may have accounted for the traffic, I wondered?  I know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO), but nowhere near what the serious marketers know. 

Things That I Think Made A Difference

1. Regular Posting – I tried to post every other day, and didn’t allow more than a week to pass in between posts.  This was not too hard, because part of the challenge requested a regular posting schedule to keep track of our progress.

2. YouTube Videos – The second week of the challenge involved making a YouTube video and embedding it to the blog.  Because this was very far out of my comfort zone, and this was a challenge, I elected to go for broke and do a talking head video describing the challenge.  I made a designated YouTube Channel (Entreprenurse), and uploaded the video there.  I also made two others, and embedded both. Now, I’m no beauty queen, but I think making the video of myself talking to the camera helped. Having a face in the video to watch is more interesting to most people than a Powerpoint show.  I realize it’s beyond the comfort of many people, as it was for me, but I’m glad I made the stretch.   I’d much rather watch a person talk than just see slide after slide after slide.  Apparently other people feel the same.

3. Blog Hopping – I visited a number of the blogs of other challenge members, and made comments.  They, in turn, reciprocated by leaving comments on my blog.

4. Forum Posting – I visited a couple of internet marketing forums and left posts there.

5. Personal Posts – I tried to make the posts somewhat personal, while still staying on task.  At this stage, I am trying to get my bearings rather than teach anyone about internet marketing.  I have been studying IM for some time now, and I do feel like I know quite a bit.  But since the challenge was focused on setting up a framework for a business, I took it step by step according to the blueprint laid out in the challenge.

Up to this point, I can’t really say I did much more that may have brought traffic to the site.  I am still trying to get the autoresponder issue straightened out completely.

I am also trying to get clarity on my next step.  I can’t say I learned anything in the challenge that was groundbreaking for me, but there were enough nuggets there to make it worth the price in time and money.  What it did most for me was tie the steps together and set up a roadmap that can be followed to success.  It was like graduating from school – we got the education.  We just need to apply it systematically and add enough value to make someone else willing to pay for it.

 

 

Close The Book, Start A New Chapter

Close The Book - TeriHelmsRN.com

The Quick Start Challenge has officially concluded.  As a group, we are just beginning.  The framework has been set up and now it is up to each and every one of us who has participated in the challenge to either continue the momentum we have going or find a new shiny thing to pursue.  I am choosing the first path. Unless it’s a really, really,  shiny thing.  (That’s a joke. Laugh.)

 

The first order of business will be to set up the opt-in form the way I wanted to in the first place.  As I mentioned in a previous post, a number of people in the challenge (myself included) were dealt a blow when Get Response was hit with a DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attack that lasted for days.  It was not only impossible to get the opt-in forms set up, the website was down completely and even logging in was not an option.  The customers who had email campaigns running were also sidelined.  Since I don’t have an active email list yet, that didn’t seriously affect me.  The outage did impact my progress in the challenge, however.  Down, but not out.  As I’ve said before, I’ve dealt with life-and-death situations too many times to let something as benign as this slow me down.  No one died.  No one was even seriously hurt.  Many people took a financial hit, some no doubt lost a lot of money.  But after years of responding to codes (to the layman – a code is loosely defined as a cardiac arrest or heart attack) it is not difficult for me to put something like this into proper perspective.

This is an emergency.

This is an emergency. Losing email service for 2 days is not. Actually, this isn’t either. It’s just a dummy used for demonstration purposes.  But you get the point.

 

I’ve decided to stick with Get Response for the time being.  They have a number of features that the others lack, and it has been recommended to me by some other people whom I trust.  I am also tired of jumping from thing to thing, service to service.  I am also reminded of the grumbling I saw on a number of forums about Aweber experiencing a similar DDOS.  The fact is, a number of authority websites have been targeted recently, and no doubt will be hit again in the near future.

So, my marching orders for myself:

1. Get the opt-in form done the way I wanted to in the first place

2. Double check the giveaway to offer (I want to juice that up a bit, too.) and get that ready to include.

3.  Set up the autoresponder sequence.

4.  Get some traffic.

5.  Prepare for a Plan B in case some catastrophe takes out my autoresponder.

 

 

 

 

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My Puppy Ate My Autoresponder!

I couldn’t complete the challenge like I’d hoped over the weekend, so I wrote this letter.  The challenge isn’t officially due for two more days, so there’s still time.  But I’ll hang on to it, just in case.

Dear Dean (Holland),

Please forgive my failure to deliver on this week’s challenge in a timely manner.  It seems I have had the misfortune of allowing my puppy access to my autoresponder.  It has been rendered unusable.  (The autoresponder, not the puppy.  The puppy has moved on to attend to the destruction of greener pastures, namely, the shoe closet.)

Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

Teri

Week 3 of the Quick Start Challenge

We are into week 3 of the challenge, and swiftly careening into week 4.  The challenge for this week, in a thumbnail, is to set up an opt-in form to begin listbuilding.  After spending hours combing through material I’d been saving on my hard drive, I settled upon something that only needed minimal rewriting.  After rewriting, changing the graphics around a bit, and uploading it so it could be downloaded once the throngs of visitors come clamoring to join my list, (okay, so I’m an optimist :) )I was ready to make the optin page.

Next: login to Get Response.

Here’s the message GR has for me from Simon Grabowski, CEO:

"Dear GetResponse Customer,

As you may know, GetResponse is currently suffering from a major outage caused
by a large DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack that has flooded our network
and our datacenter with malicious traffic. As a result, our network is currently offline.

We are currently working around the clock with our datacenter, Windstream, and two of our
DDoS mitigation service providers (CloudFlare and Akamai/Prolexic) to mitigate this attack
and implement a permanent solution to fix this problem."

The letter went on to explain that the attacks were unprecedented in terms of valume and scale
and it described all the measures they were taking to deal with the problem.  Get Response
was not the only company targeted. 

Among the companies targeted, there were, "Meetup, Shutterstock, MailChimp, Fotolia,
Basecamp, oDesk, SurveyGizmo, MadMimi, OkCupid, HootSite, Typepad, Elance, Aweber
and others."

Generally speaking, I tend to be a bit skeptical of letters that CEOs write when there is
a big uff da moment, but this one did seem sincere. Or at least, I wanted to believe it was.
Time will tell, I guess.

Considering I can't move forward right now, I made the above video. I hope you enjoy it.

Quick Start Challenge – Progress, Or Lack Thereof

QuickStartChallenge -InTheHomestretch

CC BY by sniggie

We’re heading into the fourth week of the Quick Start Challenge, and this week’s challenge is to set up the optin form, or squeeze page.

I have written before (ad nauseum, it probably seems to some) about my squeeze page trials. I have had some success with getting an autoresponder set up, but haven’t really built a list. Nor have I built a squeeze page that I really like.

To date, here’s what I have managed to do:

I Found An Autoresponder That May Actually Work

Although I’ve tried a number of them, for one reason or another I’ve let them go. Among these:

Aweber – This was the first one I tried. At the time, it was the frontrunner, and recommended by about half of the marketers who made such recommendations. Aweber offered a free month trial, so I took them up on it. The customer service was very good. I even got a welcome letter. LETTER. As in, snail mail. Remember letters? Hint: they involve a sheet of paper inserted into an envelope and brought to your door by an actual human being. A+ for good, old-fashioned customer service. The problem was, at the time, I didn’t know a thing about setting up an opt-in form and connecting it to another form. I tried using the instructions on the site, but ultimately I got too frustrated to keep going with that plan. And the only other option was that form that sat on the side of the blog with the blue stripe along the top and the button that required the person to “submit”. I don’t know about you, but I have always felt that carrots work much better than sticks as motivators. If I want someone to kindly enter their information for me to use to my benefit, I somehow don’t think demanding them to submit to the will of my list is the best way to go. Even today, I’m not sure Aweber offers another way to invite people to join a list that doesn’t require them to “submit”. Aweber was also the most expensive at the time, and paying a high fee for a list that has no subscribers wasn’t feasible, no matter how many gurus implored me to start building a list.

Mailchimp – This service offered a free option for lists under a certain size, and there was also a free plugin for WordPress available, so I gave it a try. I found the options rather limited. There was no way that I could see to put the optin form anywhere other than the sidebar. (Note: this may have since changed.) They also had a much steeper rate hike once the list grew to a still relatively small size. The main reason I moved away from Mailchimp was because the free plan did not include an autoresponder, which is a severe limitation when trying to build a relationship with the subscribers on your list.

Listwire – Listwire is free, and it is fairly easy to use. Free is good. For some purposes, Listwire is probably an awesome choice. The form is simple to construct and add to the sidebar or page, although not very customizable. They do offer an autoresponder with the free service, with no limits to how many subscribers you can have. Some marketers are happy enough to use Listwire primarily to build their lists. The downsides are they have a mandatory double opt-in, and every message you send to your subscribers will contain their signature on the end. While I can’t fault them for this, it does seem a little less than professional from the standpoint of a serious marketer. A good autoresponder is business tool, it doesn’t give a very good impression to customers that you’ve obviously cut a corner in that department.

PureLeverage – I got a good launch special, so I decided to give them a try. I can’t say I have any complaints with them really, but it wasn’t a good match. They are basically a Multi Level Marketing organization. Which means it goes something like this: Jack sells to Jill and receives a commission. Jack also receives commissions when Jill sells to Mary, and Mary sells to Johnny, and Johnny sells to Frankie. It’s a good deal if you’re Jack. Not so good if you’re number 100 down the line and everyone you talk to is either in the system or has already been pitched by someone in the system. They also have integrated landing pages that can be used. The problem there was they mostly feature either bikini babes or Ferrarris. My target demographic is moms like me who are not particularly motivated by either one, and will probably not be inclined to opt in to a list based on those particular types of images.

Get Response – I have finally (I think) found an autoresponder service that might fulfill my needs. Except it has been down for the last three hours. That’s actually how I got the time to write this post. More to follow, but for now I want to get this posted.

Quick Start Challenge – Week 3

I finally made it out of the Momvan, and tried my hand at recording inside the house.

I knew this week’s challenge was coming. In a way, this week’s challenge is even more nerve-wracking for me than the video challenge. It’s (cue B-movie horror music) the dreaded squeeze page. Now I know on a logical level, it shouldn’t be so hard, and that I’m just making it harder than it needs to be. It’s not insurmountable, it’s just another hurdle.

Now, it’s time for me to just go and get it done.

Quick Start Challenge – Week 2

After I got over my jitters at appearing on camera, I realized it wasn’t really all that bad. Although I won’t go so far as to say it was a comfortable experience, it didn’t exactly set off a full-blown panic attack, or anything close.  In fact, I’ll probably try it again soon.

What did make it easy, though, was the knowledge that I could just do some quick editing, upload to YouTube, and embed it here. It probably didn’t save any time, but I will keep it in reserve for the days that I just don’t feel like sitting down and writing anything.

Out Of My Comfort Zone And Into The Momvan

Okay, it’s done! This self-conscious little 30 second selfie video was a definite stretch for me. Beside the fact that I am nervous about appearing on video in the first place, it’s also Spring Break. Everybody is home, and finding a quiet place to make a video, however short, is an impossible task. But if there’s anything that my 14 years in nursing has taught me, it’s that sometimes impossible tasks still need to be done. And if you didn’t already know this about nurses, as a group we tend to be extremely resourceful. We see people at their best, and their worst. We get to share in happiest moments, such as welcoming the arrival of the newest family member into the world. We are also sometimes witness to the sadness when another family member departs. Through it all, we are there to offer support and to take care of what must be done, often at the precise moment it must be done. In the nursing world, prioritization often must be done on-the-fly because lives are at stake.

Fortunately, no lives are at stake with this challenge. But that didn’t change the fact that I had to make a decision about getting the video done somewhere other than at home.

Enter The Momvan! It was quiet, well-lit, and sitting right outside, waiting to be the mobile studio that will allow me to check one more thing off my ever-growing to-do list.

My apologies that my video is far from a viral masterpiece. Sometimes it’s about just getting the job done.

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

This week’s Quick Start Challenge was to step out of the comfort zone. Specifically, the challenge is to make a video, post it on YouTube, and then embed it on our blogs. Even more specifically, it was to actually appear in the video. As in, show your face and talk. If that is just an unbearable thought, or for those who don’t have access to a camera, the alternative would be to make a screen capture video and post that. Or, I would imagine, making a video on a service like Animoto would suffice.

I have to confess, I seriously considered just making a screen capture video. I have made a few screen capture videos for various projects, but I am still so inexperienced at it that it takes three times as long as it should. Then I’m never really happy with the result, so the editing takes five times as long as it should. Then I usually end up scrapping the whole thing and hop over to Animoto just to get the whole thing over with. Finally, I head over to see what’s in the chocolate stash, which is really where I probably should have started in the first place.

Having said all of that, I have decided to bite the bullet and make a selfie vid. Judging from the number of my friends on Facebook who hardly seem to have a life event, no matter how mundane that doesn’t get filmed, it shouldn’t seem so daunting to appear in one little 30 second video. But that is the challenge, and it does push me out of my comfort zone, which is precisely why I need to do it.

Stay tuned, I should have that up within the next few days.