Binary Trading

Binary Trading

Hi everyone. Today I’m going to try to explain Binary Trading. I think it’s a bit like Spread Betting where you are basically gambling on the future value of a financial market, but it is a lot simpler. It’s more….Binary.

With Binary Trading you decide whether you think a market will rise or fall in the future, much like Spread Betting. With Binary Trading, however, you also set the timeframe into the future. So, you say whether a market will be higher or lower than it is now, over a given timeframe: 1 minute; 5 minutes; 15 minutes; 1 hour; 1 day; 1 month; etc. It does not matter whether the market goes up or down in the time in between. It only matters what the market rate is at the time in the future you specify. This might not be true. You may be limited to particular future timeframes, as opposed to saying ” I would like to bet on the market being higher than it is now in 7 hours, 13 minutes, and 53 seconds”.

This means, that unlike Spread Betting, you do not have to risk losing more money than you’ve wagered, so there is no need to worry about stop-losses to limit your liability. It’s a simple bet where if you are right you win, and if you are wrong you lose your initial wager.

Of course, like with most gambling, you have to be aware of the “house edge”. Different Binary Trading companies that offer this game need to make money to keep offering this game, otherwise, what is the point. They do this by not making it an even money game, a bit like adding a zero to a roulette wheel so you don’t get true 50/50 odds on black or red. FYI the odds of winning red or black roulette is 18/37 or 48.64%. And this is just European Roulette with one zero. American Roulette is worse. Anyway, keeping European for a minute, the house has 51.36% chance of taking your money. The difference 2.72% is the house edge.

With Binary Trading companies, from what I have seen, payouts for winning vary from 80% to 95%. I have to stress though, payouts vary depending on the markets, so look at this closely. Ok, so I’m going to quantify this with examples:

  1. With an 80% payout, if you wager £10, you either win £18, which is your initial stake back plus £8 winning, or you lose £10. In this scenario, for every 10 wagers, £100 paid if you win 5, lose 5, you gain £40, lose £50, so will be £10 down. If you win 6, lose 4, you gain £48, lose £40, so will be £8 up. Win 7, lose 3, you gain £56, lose £30, so will be up £26. Hopefully you can see here, that you need to be right 60% of the time to make an 8% return, but if you can be right 70% of the time you will make a 26% return.
  2. With a 95% payout, if you wager £10 you either win £19.50, or you lose £10. In this scenario, if you win 5, lose 5, you gain £47.50, lose £50, will be £2.50 down. If you win 6, lose 4, you gain £57, lose £40. Win 7, lose 3, you gain £66.50, lose £30. Here, being right 60% of the time will give you a 17% return, and being right 70% of the time a 36.5% return.

Hopefully, this simple illustration has shown you the importance of hunting out the best returns. Now lets look at the “house edge” for these different returns. with an 80% payout the house edge is 10%, with a 95% payout the house edge is 2.5%. This makes it favourable to a European Roulette table, even if you treated it as a purely random game.

The financial markets, however, have another advantage, in theory. The theory is that they are not purely random. They are, in theory dependent on, and therefore react to different world events. This is why people pay financial analysts. If you can follow a particular market, and understand what affects its price, you should in theory be able to determine which direction a market is due to move in. Now, according to the finance industry, there are two different schools of trading analysis: Technical and Fundamental analysis. These are definitely things you want to look into if you hope to give yourself an edge over the house. Remember, even with a 95% payout, you need to win at least 6 out of ten times to make a 17% return.

The other advantage of Binary Trading over Roulette, if you can give yourself an edge over the house, is that I don’t think there is as much of a house limit. I’m not sure on this however, and will have to research further. What I’m getting at here is, in theory, if you could consistently make 17%, compounding could increase your wealth considerably, much like in investing. Imagine you start with a pot of £200. Every time you bet on the Binary Trading markets, you wager £10. After ten bets your pot would be £217. After 100 bets your pot would be £370. Now lets say you can wager £15 a bet, sticking to an imaginary 5% staking plan. After the next 100 bets you in theory would have won £255 making your pot £625. Now for the next 100 bets you could wager £30 a bet, and could have made £510, making your total pot £1135. Lets assume you only make one bet a day. In just under a year you have turned £200 into £1135, giving you an annual return of 567%, all with only a consistent 17% return. And that is just year one. Of course these numbers are all well and good in theory, and rely on consistent returns, but hopefully you can see the idea behind compounding. Just to prove the point, the returns by the end of the second year would be a pot of £6405. From the initial £200 that is a 3202% return. Got your interest yet?

Now, lets balance this out with the potential downsides of Binary Trading. A word of warning. This information is UK centric to aid my understanding. Please check the guidelines that apply to your own country of residence. Currently in the UK, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) does not regulate Binary Trading. They call them Binary Options. They say that Firms dealing in Binary Options with remote gambling equipment located in Great Britain need to be regulated by the Gambling Commission (note the Gambling Commission’s remit is Great Britain rather than the UK). The FCA’s advice if you are going to deal in the Binary Options market are as follows:

  • A firm based in Great Britain with a current licence to offer bets on binary options from the Gambling Commission. Such firms may or may not be authorised by the FCA for other financial services business but please note that, even if you deal in binary options through a FCA authorised firm, you will not be protected by the UK’s financial services complaints and compensation scheme. This is because binary options are not currently an FCA regulated financial instrument
  • An EEA firm based in a Member State outside the UK which is authorised to deal in binary options and supervised by its home Member State’s financial services regulator, and which is passporting its services into the UK
  • A non-EEA firm that is appropriately authorised or licensed and supervised in its home country
  • You can link to the article here.

In practice it looks like most European regulated Binary Options brokers are regulated in Cyprus by CySec, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. I guess in practice it looks better to be regulated by a financial body instead of a gambling one, but I have seen logos for the MGA, Malta Gaming Authority, and the Isle of Man GSC, Gambling Supervision Commission.

From the FCA site there was also an interesting link to a warning issued by the city of London police, about social media enabled Binary options and Forex Trading fraud. It comes from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. You can read it here.

All interesting stuff. I guess the bottom line here is, like with all industries where a lot of money is involved, regulated or not, there are plenty of sharks in the water, and you have to be careful. Things that I would look out for are:

  • Look for regulation as advised by the FCA. It’s no guarantee, but it is safer than going with someone unregulated. I believe the FCA is still consulting as to whether to bring Binary Options under their jurisdiction instead of the Gambling Commission.
  • Check payout rates for best returns. Also check minimum deposits and minimum stake amounts. These can vary widely.
  • Check the rules, carefully, before deciding whether or not to accept the free bonuses some sites offer. I would say these are best avoided, as they usually mean that you have to stake much more than your initial deposit before you are able to withdraw any funds. Basically, the bonuses act as a way of enticing you into increasing your volume of staking. As I’ve said before, remember the “house edge” every time to place a bet. More volume, more company profits.
  • Be wary of company telesales people, claiming to be account managers, phoning you up, offering you financial advice to increase the profitability of your trading. They again are drumming up trade, trying to increase your deposit, get you to sign up to bonuses. Their advice is worth nothing. You will have no recourse if you listen to their advice and lose your money.
  • Be wary of sites offering you foolproof automated Binary Options robots. There are plenty of people out there offering these services, and claim to have reviewed these systems with fantastic results, 80%+ success rates and all that. Unless you can demo a system and prove it works, or can devise a system you know works, don’t believe the hype. Most of these people have Affiliate links with Binary Options companies. They are just marketing tools to help drive traffic, and will get paid to do so. It is no coincidence that most of the sites they drive you to require a minimum deposit of £250.
  • As with Spread Betting, find a demo Binary Trading account and test your ideas and theories before committing real cash. Otherwise, it’s just a roulette wheel gamble where ultimately, the house will win.

More on strategies and details of the best sites I’ve found to follow.

For those of you that are interested, I’ve added a couple of links to Times articles on the subject. They kindly offered me a reduced rate to reproduce them here, but being the cheap skate that I am, I decided only to add the links. Of course this does mean that you’ll only be able to view them if you are a Times subscriber, but that means I’ve got £100 to spend on other things.

The first article is a story of a man who has a reported amazing life of riches, based on his success in Binary Trading. People follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Turns out he is just a really good salesman. Most of his money is made by getting people to sign up to his trading advice at over £100 a month. He has also managed to personally recruit over 7000 people to trading sites, for which I’d guess he is handsomely rewarded.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/7273cf52-7d0b-11e6-bfdb-4199e9559171

The second is a story of a lady who lost over £600,000 Binary Trading, encouraged to riches by a pushy “account manager” at a Binary Trading company.
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b8cdedfa-87f8-11e6-8242-d338f8b15268
Wishing you health, wealth, and happiness as always.

 

Spread Betting

Spread Betting

Spread Betting or Spread Trading, as I understand it, is trying to predict the future value of a financial market, and profiting from a correct prediction. This sounds similar to Trading at first sight. However, there are some advantages of Spread Betting over Trading, especially for those of us with less disposable income, and I shall try to cover these points as best I can.

  • You don’t need as much money to play the market: With traditional Trading you buy stocks, and shares, and currencies, and all that stuff, because you predict that its value will rise and you will be able to sell that stuff at a later date to realise a profit. With Spread Betting you never actually own any stocks, or currencies, or stuff. This means that you can wager as little or as much as you have, much like on a horse race where you can wager £1 to win or £1000 to win, for example.
  • You can win with Spread Betting if a market goes down as well as up: With buying stuff, you have to see that stuff increase in value to realise profit. With Spread Betting you are placing a wager in whether you think the market will increase or decrease in value. If you are right you still win, so in theory this doubles the opportunities to be right. Of course, you could argue that this also doubles the opportunities to be wrong.
  • There are much lower costs involved in Spread Betting: There are no commission fees to pay brokers in Spread Betting because you are not buying or selling anything physical. There is a slight commission built into the difference between whether you decide a price will increase or decrease. In Spread Betting speak this is known as the bid-offer spread. This of course in practice means that the more you trade the more costs are involved. Spread Betting is, however, free from capital gains, income, and stamp duty taxes. This is why it is popular.
  • Immediate Dealing: All wagers are between the Spread Betting company and you so they almost always get approved immediately. There is no broker to go through, no exchange to trade through, no having to wait to find someone willing to buy or sell at the other end at the price you want.
  • Extended hours: In most cases Spread Betting companies are open outside the traditional opening hours of the markets. This means in practice being able to Spread Bet 24 hours a day, at least 5 days a week.

That’s a brief list to start. There must be downsides though too, right? Well the main one I can see is you can lose more money than you started with if you are not careful. Let me explain. With a trade you buy, for example, shares. Lets say you buy ten shares at £1 each, total investment £10. If those shares go up in value to £1.20 per share and you sell them you get back £12, £2 profit. Lets ignore broker fees and taxes for now. If those shares go down to £0.80 and you sell them, you are left with £8, a £2 loss. With Spread Betting you wager a specific value per point of movement. Lets say you think the GBP will rise against the USD. You wager £1 per point, and the GBP goes up 50 points. You have potentially made £50 from £1. However, if like on 24th June 2016 the GBP/USD market opened at 14881 and closed at 13679, the value of your GBP would have dropped 1202 points, losing you potentially £1202. This is why in the Spread Betting game, stop losses are important. This basically means if the market goes in the wrong direction from my wager, how much am I willing to risk losing before I cut my losses and close the trade, instead of waiting to see if the market changes and moves in my favour. It is for this reason I also think it sensible to decide how much you want to win before closing the trade. Markets can look like they are moving in the right direction, and then suddenly change their minds and move the opposite way.

Of course the next question is, what’s a sensible exit point on wagers, both in terms of winning and losing. I guess that to some extend that depends on the volatility of the market. The GBP/USD market moves on average about 120 points a day, whereas the AUD/HKD market could move over 500 points a day. You have to remember that whatever timescale you are checking market charts in, to attempt to predict future market directions, the actual price of the market changes every second. It’s all a bit complicated really, and certainly not for the faint hearted. It’s not just a simple black or red roulette bet. You definitely need your wits about you and a proper staking plan.

Ok, so i’ll try and explain this in practical terms. What is a staking plan? You have £200 spare that you want to use to try your hand at this Spread Betting thingy. Every time you place a bet on a market you will potentially lose a portion of your £200. Lets say, sensibly that you can wager £10, or in other words 5% of your pot. This will give you 20 attempts to try to win the markets. Now, if you are wagering £1 a point, which is the minimum on most Spread Betting platforms, that only allows you a move of 10 points in the wrong direction before your stop-loss kicks in and the trade is closed. £10 loss. At 13.10 today in a 5 minute window the GBP/USD market moved 17 points from a high of 12516 to a low of 12499. That’s a move of 17 points. It would appear that the stop loss is not big enough here to cope with the volatility of this market. It’s true that there are the occasional companies out there that will offer 50p per point or even 10p per point spreads, but these are not the norm, and I would check closely the conditions attached. Is it for a limited period of time for example.

So, back to my original £1500. Well feeling like a potential lamb to the slaughter here, I would not want to risk more than 10% of my pot to experiment with this market, and it seems like that would not be large enough to cope with the vagaries of the market in this instance. If you do have a larger pot to play with than me, and think that this is something that could interest you going forward, these would be my words of advice:

  • Research different methods of predicting trends in the markets. There are loads of books, and sites out there on the subject.
  • Most importantly, test out these theories, because that’s what they are, by opening up a demo Spread Betting account.
  • Only once you have successfully implemented a strategy with a demo account should you attempt to spread bet live.
  • Be prepared for it to still go wrong when you go live.

I’m still interested in the idea that I can make money from the markets. I don’t however, want to have to spend my whole day, such as it is, staring at price movements to see if my theories will prove practical. If I haven’t got the cash to warrant playing the spread betting game, no matter it’s appeal, I need to leave time to explore other income avenues.

I haven’t completely given up hope here yet. There is one more area to look at here, and that is the little brother of Spread Betting, Binary Trading. More on that next time.

Health, wealth and happiness to all.

 

Thoughts on Trading

Thoughts on Trading

What do I mean by trading? I’m talking about looking into the profitability of trading the financial markets: forex; stocks; commodities; etc. On first glance, it seems like there’s a lot of money to be made here. You could be forgiven for thinking that places like London and New York have built their wealth from them. If you’ve ever travelled to London, you can’t help be impressed by the view of Canary Wharf on the skyline, and you’ve seen the film Wall Street haven’t you? Watch it if you haven’t. Classic.

So how do you make money from the financial markets? Well, a lot of people trade, which as far as I can see, means buying stocks, shares, etc., at one price, and hoping to sell them at a profit. It’s a multi billion pound, dollar, whatever other currency you can imagine, industry, so like with all places where large sums of money are at stake, I imagine that it’s also probably a bit of a bear pit.

I can see the attraction of trading. The opportunity to make vast sums of money, just you and your pot of cash, pitting your wits against the ebb and flow of the marketplace. No customers to please, products to make, staff or premises to pay for. All you need is a phone, computer, and a fairly decent internet connection.

However, trading is a potentially expensive occupation. I would say that you need a fairly large pot to start with if you hope to make any decent money. You need the cash to buy the stocks, commodities, currencies, and every time you buy something in the hope that it will rise in value there is a stock broker commission to pay for that trade. This means that either the value of the trade will need to have been large enough, or the trade will need to have increased in value a large enough amount, to offset the commission for placing the trade in the first place. With a small pot of cash like mine, I can probably rule this out as a viable option. It’s a big boys game.

So are there any options out there in the financial market for the little guy? Well, yes there are in theory. Spread Trading is one. More commonly referred to as Spread Betting. Interesting. So why do you think it is referred to as betting? I guess the main concept here, whether you’re actually buying stocks and shares, or so called Spread Betting, is that you are trying to predict the FUTURE value of something, and this is very similar to the more traditional vision of betting where you try and predict the FUTURE result, of say a football match or horse race. The financial markets may have more of an air of respectability, or maybe not if you think of fairly recent news of “Banker Bailouts” and “Financial Scandals”. In fact, the more you look into dodgy practices, to make a fast buck in the financial markets, the more dirt you find, so perhaps the markets just have the financial capital to invest to make themselves seem respectable. Just a thought. Anyway, regardless, it is a huge market, which attracts a huge amount of investors, and traders, with the potential promise of making vast sums of money, or should I call them customers? I think it’s probably the market makers of the financial markets that make the most profit from the commissions they charge on every trade. Much like the casinos who have an inherent “house edge” with all the games of chance they offer, or the online poker sites who have a “table rake” for every hand dealt. You can probably see the game here. Imagine charging one pence a game, but a thousand games where played a minute. That’s £10 a minute, or £600 an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, somewhere in the world. These are just made up numbers to prove a point. I’m sure the actual numbers are much larger. Basically, trading something in the financial markets is just the equivalent of cleverly packaged game.

Having said all that, people love games. They especially love games if there’s a chance of winning vast sums of money. So what are the chances of winning at trading? Well if you belief the numerous statistics on the internet, it would appear that the less than 5% of people become successful traders. Interestingly, the success rate is higher for women, but in reality, probably only marginally. Trading, unlike investing, is a zero-sum game. Well, actually, a negative sum game if you take into account broker costs. It would seem like as long as the game exists, the only people that consistently win are the brokers. However, the size of the market is vast. The forex market, for example, which seems to be the largest by far, where 90% of the volume is generated by currency speculators, is worth roughly $5.3 trillion a day, or $220 billion an hour!! You can understand why the market is so popular, and with less than 5% of traders making the money, you can imagine the profits for the few. Is this any different from say the chances of becoming a well paid football player? The chances there are reported as less than 1%, and it no doubt has less longevity.

So you’ve seen the odds of winning the game, and don’t have much money to start, but you still like the idea of winning in one of the biggest games in town. I would say under these circumstances treat it like a hobby. What I mean is look after your expenses first: rent; food; clothing; bills; living expenses. If you have spare cash and time after that, why not try and win the trading game. It is just like any other hobby where you spend money on the enjoyment of the pursuit without any immediate returns. You might pay for golf club membership, and invest time and effort in lowering your handicap, but there is no guarantee of joining The Tour. You might enjoy painting, and spend money on materials and canvases, and time perfecting your craft, but you may never sell a single painting, let alone be shown in a gallery. All I’m saying here is, do it if you enjoy it, but only do it with money and time that you are prepared to lose. After all, in all walks of life, no matter the odds, some people win. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and all that.

I’ll take a closer look at Spread Betting next time. For now, as always, wishing you all health, wealth and happiness.

Whilst I remember, for all of you out there with some Chinese heritage, happy new year for tomorrow, or maybe that should be xin nian hao and gong xi fa cai.

 

 

Blogging 105 – Legal Stuff

Blogging 105 – Legal Stuff

It took me a long time to mull over this post. The amount of knowledge I would need to fully understand this subject would either take me a lifetime of study, or a fat wad of cash to pay for the expertise. So, instead, because it’s Christmas, or there about, I decided to mull wine instead and take a light-hearted, gung-ho, hit and hope attitude to this legal stuff, so I can get on with my original mission, and my life. In fact, this post is taking me so long to write it’s already January, so belated Happy New Year everyone. Mulling wine still counts though, as it’s still cold outside, and mulling wine makes cheap wine taste better in much the same way as Sangria does in the summer. Anyhow, hope my attitude, and my wine habit don’t come back to bite me.

Legal stuff is required, as it turns out, if you want to produce a blog online. Yes, blogging is alive and well in terms of giving you creative freedom, and expressing your views, as testified by the millions of blogs out there in cyberspace, but, like with all printed medium, whether digital or not, you have to be prepared to cover yourself in the eyes of the law, or be prepared for the consequences. Silly me for thinking that I could just write what I liked on this funny little blog of mine, and send it out there on the worldwide web, without even contemplating the repercussions of my actions. What happened to freedom of speech? Turns out that even freedom of speech has its limitations, and in many forms, with scary words like libel, slander, obscenity, sedition, incitement, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, non-disclosure agreement, public security and perjury. I guess that’s just the world we live in.

In real terms I’m not sure that a readership of nearly 30 is going to have much impact on the world, but I do have to be mindful that one day, if what I am aiming for comes true, and 30 turns into 30 million, I will need to cover myself in terms of writing/journalism/blogging laws, and it is to that end that I am attempting to write this new post without my eyes ending up pointing in different directions, or my head just exploding.

Now I’m no legal expert, but just the word “LEGAL” sounds expensive to me. Although having laws is a good thing in theory, designed to prevent the world descending into chaos, it seems to me like the legal industry as it is today knows how to look after its own. By that, I mean, that the profession knows how to charge for its expertise, and seemingly, but not exclusively, out of all proportion to the earnings of the general population. All this, unfortunately, would imply that the law is only really there to protect those who can afford that protection, and really I mean afford to protect their wealth. Having said all that, it’s good to see an industry, able to look after their own. It’s just a pity it’s not possible in all industries. That’s just market forces I guess. Given that I am all about thrift here, I will be looking to get this subject covered off as freely as possible. I will also just have to hope that I cover off all the bases here, as not knowing one end of blogging law from another, I’m going to have to rely on information that other brave bloggers have left as a trail of clues out there before me. I will also have to hope that I never offend anyone enough to get sued. I’m doing a search on “Legal Stuff for Bloggers”, as I’m not even sure what technical terms I need to be looking for.

I’ve got to stress again that this aspect of blogging is almost completely incomprehensible  to me. The first site I came to, and one of the easiest to understand, in a straightforward manner, one that I need, just to tick a box and move on, is from serendipityandspice.com. It covers the following sections:

  • Copyright
  • TOS – Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Disclosure Policy
  • Disclaimer

A good place to start, I recon, as it also offers up suggested web locations for generating this stuff for free. Of course there is a question mark as to whether or not this information is designed purely for the USA, and whether as a blogger who lives in the UK I will be subject to separate UK laws. After all, this blog is attached to a .com web address and accessible worldwide so I’m not really sure what the truth is here. I tried doing a UK specific search but I can’t find the information I need in an equally easy to read and understand format, and I get a lot of crossover to actual UK law blogs. I don’t really want to dive into this rabbit hole, as I fear I may reach 50 by the time I surface out the other side again. Can anyone out there point me in the right direction?

As a comparison, I tried searching instead for “Uk website laws and regulations”. This search gave me http://www.ukwda.org. The UK web design association. Sounds official. This gave me the following sections:

  • Registered information
  • cookies
  • Privacy policy
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Disclaimer
  • Terms and Conditions
  • EU Anti Spam Laws

Ok, so I’ll try to cover each of the bullet points above and see what comes out.

Copyright

WordPress can help on this one. In the help section they provide a simple template you can use and copy into the sidebar with a text widget so it is visible at all times. Here it is:

© [Full Name] and [Site Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Site Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hope WordPress don’t mind me using this. I guess it could be argued that this information is for use since it’s in their Support section, and I am a WordPress subscriber, or that sharing this information comes under “Fair Use”. Apparently though, this is a very grey area. Anyway, Copyright done, tick.

As a side note, anything you find on the internet,that you have not added yourself, broadly speaking, belongs to someone else, so if you use it without permission, do not reference the originator, and/or claim it as your own work you could be infringing Copyright rules. In the interests of solidarity with other content creators on the internet,  I have gone back over my old posts, and removed anything that I may have posted that did not belong to me, no matter how much I may have liked it, or thought it worth sharing. I’m sure if it matters to me that much I can either find the originator to ask their permission, or find a way to make it more original in the first place.

Terms of Use/Terms and Conditions

Serendipity and Spice does have a handy link to terms feed.com where in theory you could use the free Terms of Use generator. There are, however, options when using the generator, that may need to be paid for, and as far as I could tell, it wasn’t that clear on the page whether or not you needed these options.

Having said what I said about Legal advice seeming expensive, I did speak to a nice man, for free,  at a company called SEQlegal.com. Here you can download legal policy documents for your website, for free, so long as you don’t mind crediting Seqlegal.com in the process, which sounds fair enough. Ukwda.org seems to imply that you only need this if you are planning to sell something on your website, which I’m not right now, so I can probably skip this one.

Disclosure Policy

I am thinking about running ads, and making money from sponsored posts if I get the chance. I have signed up to Amazon Associates already, so I guess I should disclose this. The link from Serendipity and Spice leads you to disclosurepolicy.org, where a few simple button click options and Disclosure Policy is done. Add a page to your menu options, copy, and paste.

Disclaimer

Couldn’t get the link to work on Serendipity and Spice. Downloaded the free document from Seqlegal.com. There are drafting notes to follow, which helps. The wording is a bit “legalese” so I hope everything is covered correctly.

Privacy Policy

The link to privacypolicies.com is handy. For me though, it seems like if I want to advertise or provide affiliate links on my blog, I have to pay $19.99. Back to Seqlegal.com where I can download a free one, and follow the drafting notes. Create the page as a menu item, copy, and paste. Done.

Some of the wording seems quite onerous, but I took out what didn’t seem relevant. My feelings on this are that Privacy is probably safe in the hands of a well organised, established, organisation like WordPress. In practice, how many of us read and understand this stuff. How many of us have the time or inclination to know the implications of our actions. It shouldn’t have any bearing on the reading and enjoyment of this site.

Cookies

Covered within the Privacy Policy document. WordPress also allow you to add a Cookie Widget to your website, which will then add a Cookie banner to the bottom of the screen when a page is loaded.

Registered Information

UK registered businesses are required to display company information. To me this doesn’t seem relevant as I am only an individual hobbyist blogger. Something to consider if this turns into a business.

EU Anti Spam Laws

To conform to these rules you have to make sure that there is an option to un-subscribe from emails. Luckily here, WordPress takes care of all that for you. If you opt-in to receive emails of new blog posts, there is always an option at the end of each email notification to opt out if you wish.

Wow, glad I managed to get through all that. Hope it makes sense to you people. If there is anything you see on here that is wrong, or could be improved upon, please let me know. As I have already stressed here, I am not a lawyer, so if you are unsure of anything, and need further clarification, please speak to someone qualified to talk on the subject. This blog is just a view on how I chose to tackle this subject, right or wrong. I think it just goes to show that, whatever we chose to attempt in life, there will always be hurdles to overcome, and how we chose to overcome those hurdles is ultimately up to us, and we live and die by the consequences of those actions. For me, I hope I have covered off this subject enough to keep me out of trouble, so I can be left to quietly and peacefully get on with subjects that interest me more than these. Now, where is that mulled wine?

Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness for this new year 2017.

Blogging 104 – Getting paid

Blogging 104 – Getting paid

So I’ve had enough of researching ways to increase blog traffic for now. I’ll come back to it at some point, as I’m not sure an audience of 25 is really going to pay the bills, unless, of course, all my blog following friends are secretly loaded, and don’t mind helping out a struggling blogger in need? Today, instead, for a bit of variety, I’ll have a look at ways a blog can bring in the readies. Unfortunately, advice from the Daily Post is a bit lacking, and stops at writing and building an audience. You can, however, find some useful information, to start with, in the WordPress.com Support section.

Advertising

Direct from their pages WordPress says, “Advertisements from third-party ad networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media are not allowed on WordPress.com. If you’d like to run these types of ads on your blog, you may wish to try a self-hosted WordPress installation.” There are lots of words I just don’t understand here, but basically, I think they mean set up a WordPress.org website, which looks a bit too complicated for me right now. WordPress also says that this is to keep, “…the WordPress.com community uncluttered by scams and unwanted commercial messages or “spam”, which is nice, and I approve. Conveniently though, WordPress has their own official advertising programme, available for site owners, called “WordAds”. I should, apparently,  have access to this programme automatically as a Premium Plan holder.

Where do I join? Sounds great!
It’s easy. Go into your Dashboard/Settings, and click on AdControl. There all you have to do is click where it says, ” request an invitation to AdWords”. Sorted. No actually, because AdWords has certain requirements you need to meet first:

  1. Your blog can’t have a default free [example].wordpress.com URL. You need to register a new domain, or map an existing one that you’ve already created in, for example, GoDaddy.com. Other domain name providers are available.
  2. The advertisers on WordAds do have minimum traffic requirements. They cannot say what that number is, but the guide is that you need thousands of page views per month to make the revenue meaningful. (I might have a way to go yet!)

I thought I’d click the link anyway to see what happened, and got a very polite reply.
“Thank you for your interest in WordAds. We review all sites for inclusion in our WordAds program. However, because of the volume of applications, we are unable at this time to reply individually to all applicants. Our advertising partners have minimum traffic requirements, and when your site traffic meets these requirements, we’ll be in touch.
In the meantime, we recommend our guide for getting more site views: http://en.support.wordpress.com/getting-more-views-and-traffic/”

Ok, thanks. Probably a good thing. I mean, am I the only one that finds adverts annoying when trying to read a blog, article, or web page online, especially when the adverts aren’t related in any way to the content?

Affiliate Linking

This is basically, providing a link to another website where you can buy a product or service. In return for your link on your blog, guiding the reader to the other site, and parting with their cash, the affiliate will give you a percentage return on the value of the sale. There are many affiliate sites out there, some providing better returns than others. I would hazard a guess that the harder the product is to sell, the better the returns. There are some sites that are probably only suitable for the hardened Marketer, confident in their own ability to generate sales, as they require you to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of marketing their products. I thought I’d start at the easy, and free, end of the spectrum with Amazon Associates.

Amazon Associates is one of the earliest and largest affiliate programs around, and let’s be honest here, who couldn’t find something to buy on Amazon? The set-up process seemed easy. You just have to answer a few questions about your website and your sales intentions and ‘Voila!’, I am now an Amazon Associate. They’re not fussy. The only complicated bit seemed to be finding an IBAN and BIC number to receive payments, but just phone your bank. You also need to remember to link all the URL’s where you may have posted your blog on various social media, as these are used to track where your unique traffic sales are coming from.

Of course, WordPress have some things to say about using Affiliate linking:

  1. “The primary purpose of your blog must be to create original content.”
  2. “We do not allow affiliate links for gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, multi-level marketing programs, disreputable merchants, pornography, malware, or phishing-type scams. We also do not allow sites that exist primarily to drive traffic to affiliate links.”

Fair enough. Back to Amazon. Any sale, through an advert on your blog, can generate between 1% and 10% of the sale value back to you, depending on the type of product sold. You can get better rates for volume sales, and Amazon also runs promotional rates at certain times of the year. For example, Throughout November, Amazon are offering a fixed 12% with Amazons Native Shopping Ads. (Not sure what that means exactly). Terms and conditions probably apply. Any referral cookie only lasts 24 hours. This means that if someone buys something on Amazon more than a day later, after linking through from your blog, you don’t paid. The good thing about Amazon though, is customers don’t have to buy the product you advertised. They can buy ANY other product on the site, and you still get your cut.

So as an example, here’s a book I’m reading before bed right now. The Four Hour Working Week by Tim Ferriss.

I looked up the item on my Amazon Associates account page, and generated an image link by simply pressing a button at the top of the page. This gives you some unique HTML code which you then copy into the HTML tab on your draft page in WordPress. Tab back to the Visual draft and the image is there, complete with a link, when you click on it, to the very same product on Amazon.co.uk. Genius. Of course, now I should probably give you the sell on why you should read this book. Suffice to say why wouldn’t you want to read this book, unless you are either retired, rich or love your job. To be honest, it’s taking me a bit of time to get my head around it. About the same speed as figuring out this blogging thingy. Good to open yourself up to new ideas though.Maybe one of you internet savvy lot can read it, and help me understand it. Alternatively, could you do me a favour? Is there is anything you need to buy on Amazon in the near future? There’s Christmas coming up! Could you bear a thought for my little blog and access Amazon via my picture link above? Thanks.

I do have one little problem with this selling method. About 80% of my readership are currently friends from my Facebook list. The others, hopefully you’re just friends I don’t know very well yet. My point? Where is the incentive to buy? Am I to rely on sheer benevolence? That would be nice. It might also be nice to be able to give my friends a little kickback for their loyalty. Now let’s say Amazon gives on average 5%, and I have to stress, I’m just thinking aloud here. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could split that returned revenue. Maybe there is some way of monitoring who bought what, and when? Ok, so in real terms we’re only talking you maybe getting back £25 in every £1000 you spend here, but that’s a few free drinks down the pub when I see you next. Always a bonus. I’ll do some further digging when the sales figures come in. Oh, by the way, Amazon only pay you monthly when you’ve accrued at least £25. Maybe there are some products out there that offer better affiliate returns, like 50% or more. If you need one, lets see if can weave it into this blog somehow, and both make a cut. Like I said, just a thought.

Sponsored Posts

These are posts from companies selling products, who sponsor you to post on their behalf, to promote their products. WordPress allows this, but of course, certain conditions apply. I don’t think I need to consider this with my current readership, but it might be useful for future reference.

Selling Physical or Digital Products

Again, don’t need to consider this right now, as I don’t have anything physical or digital to sell. Parked for future reference. Useful to note that you can link up a PayPal account to take payments.

Requesting Donations or Tips

Here’s an interesting one. Am I too proud to receive donations or tips? No, I guess not. I mean, this blog is out there for anyone to hopefully enjoy, entertain, or enlighten to a certain degree. So if anyone out there would kindly like to help support this project with donations large or small, they will be gratefully received, on PayPal.


Donate Button with Credit Cards

Setting up PayPal is a little bit annoying. You have to set up a business account to be able to create buttons like the one above. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming. If you combine the WordPress help on the subject with the very efficient Paypal help line you should be ok. The one confusing thing was a little bit of small print on the Paypal website that crops up if you try to create a Donate button. You get this message:

“Note: This button is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Not-for-profit organisations must verify their status to withdraw the donations they receive. Users that are not verified not-for-profit organisations must demonstrate how their donations will be used, once they raise more than $10,000 USD.”

I phoned PayPal about this. Turns out it’s not as onerous as it first seems. You do not have to be a Not-for-profit organisation to use the donate function. You just need to be if you want to take advantage of the reduced commission rates Paypal charges.

One last thought on this. Do I need disclaimers, and legal type stuff displayed on my blog now that I have potential income streams on there? Do I need them regardless? More research needed.

Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness, as always.

 

Blogging 103 -Traffic News

Blogging 103 -Traffic News

Well the Facebook launch has been a success, at least in my eyes. Only a day after I sent out the Like invite to all my friends, and already a 23% response rate. That’s got to be good in marketing terms, hasn’t it? My nineteen Likes also mean that my readership has increased over 400%, which is amazing, so thank you friends, you’re all wonderful. I also received great words of encouragement from a very talented blogger friend of mine over in Ireland, so if you are interested in all things horticultural, and life, you must check out Green Cailin Garden, and hopefully in the near future buy some flowers if you are passing through. Last, but not least, I also received a witty one-liner from blessed MIL. (I’ve been  reliably informed by the internet that this is the appropriate abbreviation for Mother-In-Law). The Urban Dictionary on the other hand describes Mil as:

A God like entity or supreme being. Origins are unknown but some historians have cited Mil as being the first and last being within the universe. It is impossible to extrapolate the magnitude of his power through the conventional method of thinking. Only through rigorous sometimes dangerous meditation can one only begin to comprehend the greatness that is Mil. Scientific research funded by the World Bureau of Scientific Investigation has now confirmed that all matter within the universe contains traces of Mil, affirming the significance of this omnipotent and all-seeing entity.

Go figure!

I might have digressed.

Tumblr

Thought I’d better try to get more acquainted with Tumblr today, to see if it’s possible to make friends in a blogging sea of people I don’t know. Tumblr isn’t like Facebook, where you can find friends from your address book, or through searching for people, or through friends of friends. Tumblr does, however, suggest Bloggers for you to follow, but only based on the topics you’re interested in following, which is based on the topics you looked up and followed in the first place. How do you differentiate a blog by topic? I think you’ve probably guessed it, #Tags, apparently.

After a little digging around, it turns out that Tumblr is more of a micro-blogging site, for sharing not just thoughts, but images, short videos, music, or even chat. A halfway house, somewhere in the middle of Twitter and a fully grown blogging site. The thing that differentiates it from other places is its anonymity. People can follow you, if they find your posts interesting, like your posts, and re-blog something of yours to their followers if they wish. That’s how you gain notoriety. The strange bit, depending on your perspective, is that people won’t know who you are unless you actually want them to, by either telling them who you are, or forwarding on your Tumblr account name to people. So it’s basically an anonymous, creative, pick and mix shop, where you move in circles, bound by common interest. That’s the theory anyway. In practice, the search function is rubbish, bringing up all sorts of random stuff, making it more a place where you blog if you don’t want to be found. That must be why it’s reportedly the most popular social network for the under 25’s. Apparently, these under 25’s have a public face, known as Facebook, where they can share stuff that they’d want their mum or grandma to see. Lucky for me that neither my mum or grandma understand technology enough to even have a Facebook account. Anyway, that leaves Tumblr youth to post stuff they only want their friends with Tumblr accounts to see, or to post stuff into the dark abyss of internet nobody, if they set their account settings to private, and maybe even if they don’t with the rubbish search function. It’s sort of like an online private diary. I guess that’s why you get the surprise of some NSFW material occasionally.

To make matters worse, Tumblr also doesn’t want to publish one of my blogs, for some reason, which disrupts the supposed continuity, and actually just irritates me. It doesn’t even tell me why. It just pretends to publish, then the post doesn’t appear, and the number of posts just changes subtly back from 4 to 3. I may have contravened some Tumblr publishing laws somewhere, but, when you consider some of the stuff they do allow on the site, I find this very difficult to believe. I’ve tried asking the helpdesk to explain what’s going on, but a week later and all I have is acknowledgement of my question. I think I may have to tiptoe quietly away from this place before anyone notices. Can you tiptoe quietly, or does the act of tiptoeing imply being quiet anyway?

Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness.

 

Blogging 102

Blogging 102

So where were we? Oh yes, we discovered there are two things you need to make money blogging:

  1. Lots of people who like reading your blog.
  2. Things on your blog that can turn readers into money.

Lets explore these in a bit more detail.

Attracting Traffic

My traffic, or people who follow my blog has miraculously increased by 300% after posting Blogging 101. My first follower was obviously my biggest supporter, my better half. The other two were totally unexpected, so I’ll take this opportunity to personally say thank you to storyshucker.wordpress.com and sableyes.co.uk. You can see their blogs by clicking on the links.

There’s loads of information out there about SEO (search engine optimisation), in fact so much that it might just paralyse you from blogging. It certainly started to frazzle my little brain, so I’m going to keep it simple by staying with WordPress.

On the Daily Post, which you can access through the WordPress reader, there is a tab at the top of page called Blogging University where you can access a free e-book library. The one I’m specifically interested in here is called “Grow your traffic, build your blog”.

The highlights as I see them are:

  • Write regularly – It makes your blog more attractive to search engines (first fail!)
  • Write well – Jury is out on this one. I guess that’s for others to decide. I have found that if you go into your Dashboard through WPAdmin, click on Users, then Personal Settings, you will find Proofreading Settings. I ticked all the boxes, so hopefully this will help.
  • Use your existing network – This really means social media, and I’m sure there are many of you out there who are much more social media savvy than me. The Daily Post e-book covers quite in-depth information and advice on using most of the popular networks out there. Basically, you can share your blog across different social media sites using the Publicize feature, which is found in Configure/Sharing on WordPress. I’d advice having a quick read through to understand the different niches that each social network has, and then try using each one to its best advantage. Bear in mind that this does mean that you then have to either open new accounts on each social media you select or learn how to create a separate account/page for your blog on each one. I set up Social Links, which can be customised in Personalise/Menus, to: Instagram (because I liked the camera logo, and thought it might be interesting to supplement the blog with photos); WordPress (to send back some of the love for helping me set up a blog); Tumblr (not sure yet!); and Facebook (because I already have a personal account). I also thought it was funny that the icons spelled “WTF”, which is exactly how I feel sometimes tackling this. Probably not the most scientific approach.
  • Remember to Tag – Using Tags, as I understand it, is basically making a list of keywords that describe what your blog is about. It helps with search engine searches, and also with searches on the WordPress Reader (the place where other WordPress bloggers look for blogs that interest them). Using Tags should make your blog easier to find. You can create categories and tags for your posts in the sidebar of your Edit Post page. The caveats here are:
    • Don’t include more than 15 Tags and Categories on a Post – It won’t appear on the WordPress Topic Pages if it does.
    • Set your blog privacy setting to Public – otherwise it won’t show up in the WordPress reader and search engines won’t get access to it.
    • Keep it PG – Blogs that have NSFW (not safe for work) content, or are offensive, or are not suitable for minors get flagged as such, and then, again, won’t show up on Topic Pages.
    • Keep Tags relevant – Misleading Tags, much like false advertising, will get you excluded from the WordPress Reader.

Facebook

Ok, that’s enough techie research for now, my eyes are starting to glaze over. Time to put some of this research into action. I’ve created a separate Facebook page, which is more of less an exact copy of this blog. The only thing I haven’t done yet is invite all my existing Facebook friends to Like/follow it. Of note here, I didn’t pay much attention in Facebook class either, so I only seem to have managed to amass 82 Facebook friends on last count. I must remember to be more virtually friendly in future. The hope here is that my Facebook friends will have been better at making facebook friends than me, and will spark interest by liking my page. Their interest in my page will show up on their friends feed, which will in turn spark interest from them, and their friends, and so on, until I have about a million followers. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

Also a big thank you to fellow bloggers, Falling Upwards, Old Fashioned Stories, and Jeyran Main, for taking an interest in my blog and following my progress. Best wishes in all your blogging endeavours. Click on the links if you are interested in seeing their work. (Have you noticed that I’ve discovered how the Link button works)

Until next time, wishing you all health, wealth and happiness.