Shared Hosting Driving You Nuts?

If it is, you can rest assured that you are in good company.  The thing is, though, that many of us are amateurs when it comes to running a site, and there is a very good chance that what you think is lousy hosting is really not lousy at all.  You’ve just got some things going on with your site that are causing you problems.

You are in luck.  Not only is this easy to fix, but I’ve written a comprehensive article on how to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.   And better yet for most WordPress users, I’ve centered the article around WordPress hosting and cPanel:

Making your shared host faster

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Bad Behavior Worked…

Well, as I said in my last post, spambots were using up most of my bandwidth (at another site) and server power by trying to post spam several thousand times per day.  I loaded the plugin, Bad Behavior, and all of that has stopped!

The Scourge of Spambots

Imagine my surprise when I logged into my Media Temple account to check my GPU usage and discovered that my most popular site was my least popular site.  Sound contradictory?  Yep.  The deal is that the site with my least amount of real traffic is being bombarded by spambots, thousands every day.  It doesn’t matter, apparently, that Akismet is only getting tricked once or twice a day.  The spambots keep trying their best.

Of course, this is completely unacceptable.  Why should I allow spammers to use up my server resources?  So I’m doing a little experiment with the WordPress plugin Bad Behavior.  I’ve used it before and chucked it because it was actually, for awhile, blocking Google bots, which is a seriously bad thing.  But now I’m willing to risk it.  Bad Behavior should block a lot of these bots from even accessing the site.

Hopefully, after they can’t access it for awhile, they will give up and go elsewhere, and I can get rid of Bad Behavior.  I guess we’ll see.  I’ll have to keep an eye on the Google bots, as well.

Trying out GoDaddy reseller hosting…

I’ve set up an account with GoDaddy to become a reseller.  One of the interesting challenges that will be involved with this is that I don’t have much control over the site.  You can see it here: US Hosts.

There’s sort of a bit of a trade-off.  You can go with their predesigned, professional looking site that completely works–but you have little control over design except for a few things like headers and colors.

Or you can design your own crazy complex site and worry over every little graphic and have complete control.

I’ve gone with the easier method, but marketing will be different from what I’m used to, which is blog-related.

I guess I’ll have to do things like submitting it to directories, writing articles for article databases, linking from my other sites, etc.

Hosting site image map

Continuing to revel in the joys that come with image mapping (see this post), I created an image in Paint.net and used Hany Image Mapper to create a navigation area for Hosting Website.

The purpose of the website is to review hosting providers (honestly) and sell hosting.

Anyway, take a look at the area above the “reviews” section.  All of that is a single image with an image map.  Just imagine how much fun that would have been to float or table into perfect position.

Monetizing through affiliates, an example (Updated)

So I’ve moaned and complained almost endlessly on here about the seeming futility of Adsense.  For the month of June, my site, Funny Email, had a little over 25 thousand “hits” and made $18.41 from Adsense, and that is with the site as optimized for clicking as I can make it without screwing my readers by tricking them into clicking where they don’t want to.  My click-through rate was a little over 1 percent and I earned a little over 6 cents per click.

But there is another way to monetize sites without dipping into the paid reviews and paid links pools, neither of which I find attractive, and that is through joining an affiliate program like the one at Commission Junction.  There are other alternatives, which I will go into in a later post, but Commission Junction seems to be, at the moment, the best choice for me.

The trick when using affiliate programs is to find something that matches your site.  For me with the funny emails site, that caused a number of initial problems.  I finally decided to go with a combination of products that were generic and universal, and products that were humor related.

For the “generic and universal” category, I chose Discover Card.  I picked them because they pay out well.  While not related to humor, most everyone, at least in America, has credit cards, and a single approved application for a credit card pays out $40.  I’ve just started advertising Discover Card and only had my first application yesterday, but even with that one application, I more than doubled my Adsense earnings for the month.  Now, I can say that the site earned $58.41 for June.  Hopefully, I’ll get a few applications each month from here out and that will improve as the site traffic continues to go up.

For the second, humor related products, I decided to go with funny tee shirts.  There are a lot of companies to choose from at Commission Junction, and I basically selected them all.  I then placed ads in the sidebars.  For June, I made $13.50 from selling t-shirts.  Now I can say that the site made $71.91 for the month.  It’s not exactly a living, but, as I said, the site traffic should continue to improve (it’s only about a 6 month old site) and I just started with the affiliates. 

But then I came up with an even better idea.

One thing that Commission Junction allows you to do with certain affiliates is to create links to specific products.  I have a humor site, and these tee shirt sites have humorous tee shirts, so why not make a post that just has humorous tee shirts in it?  It really isn’t much of a stretch, so that’s what I did here:  Funny T Shirts For.

This post was made today, and I managed to give my readers what they expect, humor, and give myself a chance to earn some money at the same time.

So how much money will this post earn me?  Only time will tell.  Commission Junction’s stats run one day behind, so it will be tomorrow before I know whether any of the people who clicked through actually bought something, but so far I’ve had 9 clicks, so it should be interesting.

I’ll update tomorrow.  Honestly, I suspect there have been no purchases, but I do expect that, over the course of the month, that there will be a few.  And next month I’ll do a similar post with more funny products.  These posts will remain up at the site forever, so there is the possibility of them producing continued income.

Monetizing a site takes a lot of time and careful planning.  First you need a good, honest site with traffic.  Then you need to approach monetizing with extra care, utilizing as many different paths (even Adsense) as possible, but discretely.  You don’t want to trick your customers or overwhelm them with ads.   I’ll let you follow how successfully I manage to accomplish this.

(Update)  Well, I predicted there wouldn’t be any purchases, but, somehow, I didn’t know just how bad it would be.  I had over 200 clicks on products and still no sales.  That shocked me.  I had expected about 6 clicks and no sales.  It’s possible that the reporting is slow.  But the nice thing about this is that each person who clicked now has a little cookie on their computer so that if they go back and buy within 30 days that it will be credited to me.  And, of course, I’ve had more click-throughs today.  I will keep you apprised of how I do attempting to monetize that site.

Today is “National” Laura Zannucci day…

One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was dedicated to my wife, who had come through some serious personal and medical issues.  I later deleted that blog and lost the post, or so it seemed.  As it turns out, one of those nefarious blogs that never puts anything original up, but only steels original material from other blogs, had kindly stolen and preserved that post.  It was my wife’s favorite, so I am glad that they did it.  You can read that post here:  Laura Zannucci Day.

Actually, I think I will also steel it back and place it here:

Paul Zannucci–My wife and I were married a number of years before we decided the time was right for having our first child.  We had no difficulties conceiving or during the pregnancy, but when our beautiful and perfect baby girl was born, it still seemed a miraculous event.  It is amazing that something so common as birth still can be so awe inspiring and bring a newly formed family closer to God.  Seeing this newborn creature look into my eyes made me well up with tears.  In fact, just thinking about my daughter during those first couple of years often brought tears of joy to my eyes.  Fortunately, that doesn’t happen quite so much these days (people think you’re rather odd when you are always walking about looking as though you’ve just had a good cry), though I love her even more than I did the first time I saw her.  But the blessings of this first pregnancy would not prepare us for the different type of blessings we would receive while having our second child.

Before our daughter was two-years-old, we decided it was time to give her a sibling.  Simultaneously, we were experiencing a life trial as my wife’s grandfather was dying of pancreatic cancer.  He was a kind and generous man who could make my baby girl giggle like few others.  Like most other men of his generation, he didn’t understand the meaning of rest.  A day without work was not a day at all.  Even well into his eighties, he did not stop going until the hospice bed was set up in his living room, and he was physically unable to move about on his own.  Such was his condition when my wife and I found out we were going to have another child.

There is both good and bad to knowing the death of a loved one is coming.  You can mentally prepare (though it never blunts the pain too much when death finally comes), and you have the chance to say all those things you should have been saying all along.  But you also become obsessively needy.  You need to soak in as much time with that person as you can.  You need long talks.  You need long hugs.  You need to leave the room with a brave face before bursting into tears.  My wife and I, but especially my wife, drove the winding mountain roads endlessly to visit with this great family father during his final days.  His home was about three hours away, but frequently my wife would take a detour and pick up her mother and add time to the trip.  Sometimes they would reverse course in the same day and she would arrive home late in the evening, spending more and more time on the road in our small car.

A good man died on June 2, 2004.  Despite the forewarning, the permanence of a world without him was only then made real.  There is little point to detailing the mourning.  Nearly everyone has experienced it.  Even such odd traditions as the viewing, when family and friends gather to chat while ignoring the empty body of a loved one resting nearby, are commonplace experiences to most Americans over a certain age.  And, in any event, for those who have not experienced it personally, it would be impossible to convey the nauseous waves of loss, of finality, of never again on Earth, that come at you so hard for so long after a death.  It was during this time that my wife noticed a cramp-like pain in her lower leg.

It didn’t take long to realize something unusual was going on.  Busy with the day to day world, though, my wife fought through the pain as best she could before finally giving in and going to see the doctor.  They talked about her pregnancy as he examined and measured her calf.  Just to be on the safe side, he said he wanted her to go to a hospital and get her leg scanned to check for a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  It was on her way to the hospital that she called me at work to tell me what was going on.  I should have left to be by her side then, but I didn’t know anything about DVT’s.  The doctor had told her that clots in the lower leg were not uncommon, so we weren’t that worried.  I told her to call me after she got the results of the scan.  About an hour later, she was being transferred to a larger hospital, and I was multitasking–driving and praying.

With my daughter safely in the hands of my parents, I spent time with my wife in the hospital as she endured an intravenous drip of an anticoagulant called heparin.  After a few days, the doctors were comfortable that the clot seemed stable, and she was sent home with instructions to give herself three injections of heparin per day until the baby was born.   That was a hassle, but it could have been worse.  There was no reason to believe that the drug or the DVT would in any way harm the baby.  My wife was cleared to return to work and resume normal activities.  Everything was the same as before except for the shots.  That illusion was shattered a couple of weeks later.

On June 29th, a Tuesday, I returned home from work to find my wife lying on the couch having difficulty breathing.  Trooper that she is, she stated that she had a lot going on at work and that if her breathing didn’t improve by Thursday she would call her doctor.  Remembering that breathing problems were something we were warned to watch for as a potential danger sign, I encouraged her to go ahead and leave her doctor a message just to see what he had to say.  By eleven o’clock we were checked into the hospital where we learned some new initials, PE (Pulmonary Embolism).  A PE is where a blood clot, or parts of a blood clot, break free and travel through the heart and get lodged in the tiny vessels of the lungs, thus obstructing breathing.

From WebMD we borrow this information: “PE is the third most common cause of death in the US, with at least 650,000 cases occurring annually.  It is the first or second most common cause of unexpected death in most age groups.  The highest incidence of recognized PE occurs in hospitalized patients.  Autopsy results show that as many as 60% of patients dying in the hospital have had a PE, but the diagnosis has been missed in about 70% of the cases…Approximately 10% of patients in whom acute PE is diagnosed die within the first 60 minutes.”

As we waited for confirmation in the middle of the night with a sleepy, confused little one-year-old girl with curly hair, I was scared out of my mind.  If it hadn’t been for the blissful unawareness of my daughter, I likely would have been in tears already.  As it was, I was merely trying to convince her that the hospital (which she referred to as “the big house”–imagine having her tell people her mother was in “the big house”) cafeteria really was closed and that she couldn’t have any of their yummy macaroni and cheese until the next day.  Eventually, my wife was transferred to the CCU and the bedside vigils (when allowed by hospital rules) began.

Blowing off work indefinitely with a single phone call, I spent most of my time over the next week at the big house, home of the yummy macaroni and cheese.  I was only allowed in with my wife for a few hours a day.  I stayed by her side, holding her hand and praying silently.  When I wasn’t in her room, I was mostly in the CCU waiting room watching the clock until the next visitation period–and silently praying.  More than that, I was learning how to pray without words.  I was in a state, it seemed, of constant prayer, as though a direct line to God had been set up.  God and I had each other on speaker phone.  Mostly we sat quietly, but I never sat alone.

My wife was moved into a private room on the 4th of July.  That night we could see the city’s fireworks show from her hospital window.  We often miss these things at the time, but looking back, I almost think of this display in the sky in the same way I think of Noah’s rainbow.  Our ordeal was at an end and a promise was given.  This promise was fulfilled on January 8th, 2005, with the birth (at the big house) of my second perfect and beautiful child, this time a son–a baby who had endured his mother’s life-threatening condition and prevailed unscathed.  Now I have two little ones who can make me cry from happiness overload (though I should mention that the first reaction of my daughter to seeing her new brother at home was to slug him).

Over time I have turned off, by neglect rather than intent, my side of the speaker phone connection with God, but whenever troubled times arise, I find that the other end is still open.  God is always there, patient and enduring.  I must only seek with an earnest and humble heart to find him.

I share this  story with you for two reasons.  One, because I wanted to let you know a little about my personal relationship with God, and also because my wife asked that I share it.  We didn’t realize that pregnancy and extended car travel were serious health risks.  My wife has become active with a non-profit organization that raises awareness, both in the general populace and amongst physicians and hospitals, about the dangers of DVT’s and PE’s.  March also happens to be DVT awareness month.  If you would like to learn more about DVT’s and PE’s, about how to assess your risks and what the early symptoms are, you can check out some of the following sites: