Top Cash Back launches in the USA - The best cashback site jumps across the pond

As you may all know I am a firm believer of cash back sites and have previously written about two from the UK - Mutual Points and Top Cash Back.  Top cash back has since become my favourite cashback site based on the fact it promises to return 100% of cashback earnings plus sometimes bonuses on top, with no fees.  This is in stark contrast to many other cashback sites which charge a fee, either monthly/yearly or as a percentage of cashback.

Up until recently topcashback has only been open for people shopping on UK sites.  However, they have recently opened a site called topcashback.com which caters to US audiences.  If it is anything like the Uk version of the site (which it appears to be) I would strongly recommend signing up to it.

For those who have no idea how cashback sites work it is simple.  Online retailers pay 'commission' to other website owners who refer individuals to their store (think of it as an advertising payment).  What cashback sites do is return a portion of this money to the consumer.  Top cash back is unusual in that it returns 100% of this cashback to the consumers and doesn't charge any fees.  In the UK they actually offer more than 100% cashback (meaning that they pass on more commission to the consumer than they get from the retailer).  Many people will wonder how this is possible - Top Cash Back say they are able to earn enough money from advertisements on site to cover their costs.  They also make money from bonus payments from retailers when certain targets are met, as well as probably making interest on unclaimed money.

There are several other advantages to Top Cash Back.  It is the largest cashback site in the UK and has been running for many years and so there is a degree of confidence that it is unlikely to go bust with all the money.  There are also generous refer a friend bonuses available - at the time of writing on the USA site this is currently $5 but on the UK topcashback it is £10 ($15).  There are also often no purchase cashback offers which are always welcome.

Overall I would recommend topcashback in the UK and now it has launched in the USA I would also recommend this site.  As can be seen from my earnings update to the right I have made a lot of money using topcashback in the UK (approximately $1000); so if you are in the US why not sign up for topcashback and if you already have why not post a review/share your opinion in the comments section below!

How much money can be made using Youtube?

You may have heard of the stories on massive incomes being made from Youtube.  Some of these stories include people who have made large amounts out of money from multiple views having built up a large following, but others are due to one off videos making it big.  I noticed that Kidgas had written a piece a while back on making money from Youtube, so I wanted to see if I could do similar and possibly get some residual earnings, but up until recently I had no decent videos.  

However, I recently got the chance to see a Sea King helicopter at very close range whilst out walking near the coast and so I uploaded the videos to Youtube to see if I could make any money.

See the videos here:

Despite the name of the videos, I feel I should point out that I believe the 'rescue' taking place was purely an exercise.

Well as can be seen from the videos, they have been up for over 2 months now and they have had very low traffic.  In fact, combined the traffic is only about 60 views and considering that many of these views came right at the beginning it would indicate I will be waiting a very long time to make my first million from Youtube.  There could be several reasons for this.  Firstly, each Sea King video on Youtube seems to have only a small number of views (aside from a couple of videos of these helicopters crashing!).  Secondly, I have done little by the way of backlinking etc to drive traffic to these videos over the alternative Sea King videos.   Thirdly, I appreciate that these videos are of a rather poor quality.  Therefore my experiment so far to see whether it is possible to make any money from Youtube has so far indicated that without traffic it isn't possible to get any earnings (rather like the web in general).  However, I am not completely deterred and so I have uploaded a couple more videos, one of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta nightglow and one of a panoramic video of Falmouth, Cornwall.  

Monthly Update - April 2011

As this post is a bit late I shall keep it brief!

Aside from a few posts on this blog, I did very little online work during April and as a result the majority of my earnings are residual, so I suppose I am in no position to complain whatever the result!  You may remember that for the last few months I have seen decreases in my earnings linked to the Google Panda update - I wonder if this will continue?

Webanswers: £14.79 (11% increase from March 2011)
Infobarrel: £0.48 (67% decrease)
She Told Me: £0.07 (600% increase)
Xomba: £0.07 (99% decrease)
Hubpages: £50.56 (29% decrease)
Total: £65.97 (28% decrease)

This was the first full month for which the Panda update had been in effect and so I expected to see some decrease in earnings.  Whilst I am disappointed about the earnings decrease it is not as bad as it could have been and so I am not too disappointed.  Whilst there was once again a large decrease in my Hubpages earnings, it is encouraging to see the Webanswers earnings having a slight rebound.  Hopefully the decreases in earnings for Hubpages and total will stop now that Panda has fully taken effect and my Webanswers earnings will continue their rebound.

First Hubpages ad program payment

I have recently received an email from PayPal to inform me of a payment by Hubpages and when checking my account sure enough my earnings for March 2011 have now gone into my account.  These are my first earnings under the Hubpages ad program scheme, which in theory should be better than purely Adsense, but with the Google Panda update it is hard to tell whether it really is.

This is good news and a timely boost as I was starting to become demotivated (did I just invent a new word?) by the decrease in traffic to various articles etc I have written, in particular Hubpages but also other sites like Infobarrel and She Told Me.  My various blogger blogs are continuing to see good traffic though, so I will continue to expand on these - I am considering putting advertising on those which don't already etc.  I also mean to follow Kidgas in making money from videos on Youtube as soon as I have got a decent one as I feel this would be an interesting new source of revenue.

Further good news is I have already reached the payout amount for April 2011 and so hopefully, unless there is another update to Google, I should be able to make payout on Hubpages ad program every month which is good news.

Annoyingly though, March 2011 was the first month in a very long time in which my Google Adsense account didn't reach payout (this is partly as a result of the Google Panda update but also likely due to the Hubpages ad program ads instead.  Once again it looks like I won't earn enough solely in April to reach payout, with monthly earnings likely to be around 70%-80% of the payout requirement.  In addition, Amazon earnings have dropped massively.

I have recently, as in the last couple of days, also noticed something of a resurgence in Hubpages traffic.  As it is so recent I am yet to discover whether this will be sustained, but there do appear to be some improvement in my search engine rankings and so I hope it will be sustained.  If the traffic does start to increase it will be good news as Hubpages is a massive percentage of my earnings, but I won't make the mistake I previously made of becoming too over-reliant on it regardless of regular Hubpages ad program payments!  Now I must really get on and produce some more articles so until next time...

What Google giveth panda can taketh away...

You may have seen in my March 2011 earnings update I mentioned the effect that the Google algorithm update, known as the 'panda update' had on traffic to my online income streams in particular my Hubpages traffic.  At the time I mentioned that it appeared that this was only affecting the US at this time, but that Hubpages traffic to the US had decreased by 50%.

This decrease in traffic from US users to my hubs actually accelerated slightly at the beginning of April, resulting in traffic from the UK exceeding traffic from the US, with Canada and India only being slightly behind.  Well a few days ago the panda update was rolled out internationally.  Whilst this is only a short space of time, I am already seeing decreases in traffic from most countries in the world of between 20% and 60%.  The one exception to this is in America where I have actually seen a slight increase.  This has obviously had a knock on effect on my earnings, both from Google Adsense and the Hubpages ad program.  However, at this stage I am unable to quantify it.

Since Hubpages is an external site there is not much that I can do as an individual to improve the Google rank of my pages, other than backlinking.  I believe Hubpages have recognised that there is a major problem and to a degree the company has been backlisted by Google and other sites, such as Infobarrel, have fared better because of their stricter controls on content (a reason I mention in March 2011 that I would concentrate on Infobarrel and Excerptz for posting articles at least in the medium term).  Therefore Google are starting to crack down on overly promotional hubs and those which have excessive Amazon/eBay affiliate links.  Whilst this is admirable, the checking process is not as thorough as those on other sites where all articles are approved before going live, at least to newbies and therefore I can see Hubpages struggling to bounce back as quickly as the alternatives have.

In addition to posting on Infobarrel and Excertz more, I will attempt to post more on Blogger blogs, eventually leading to starting my own hosted site.  I mention Blogger blogs because this blog and another one which I haven't posted on in a long time, on Renewable Energy in the UK, both seem to have done well out of the Panda update and this will fit in with the research done here on how different websites are affected by the Google UK update.  I may also post more on Webanswers although the degree I do depends on how traffic there is affected by the Panda update.

A side effect I have also noticed is that accompanying the fall in Google traffic there has been a corresponding fall in the amount of traffic which comes from Google.  Previously 85% of my traffic to Hubpages was from Google, now it is nearer 70%.  It might be time to figure out SEO techniques for Bing!

Redgage and She Told Me comparison - which site is best for making money on the internet?

As regular readers of this blog will know, it is primarily about making money on the internet.  To make the money on the internet I use a wide variety of sites.  Primarily my income has come from Hubpages and Webanswers, but I am trying to diversify my income.  Two sites I have been using to diversify my income for a while are shetoldme.com (She Told Me) and Redgage.com (Redgage) and every month I provide monthly earnings updates which include earnings from these sites.  These sites also have another benefit - it is possible to backlink to my other sites using both Redgage and She Told Me, meaning improved search engine rankings (good SEO) and direct traffic.

I initially started using these two websites for the purpose of providing do-follow (dofollow) backlinks, since these are best for SEO purposes, with the added advantage of earnings potential.  They both work in slightly different ways and so I feel it is worth explaining this for new readers before going into detail on which one I think is best, so if you are already familiar with both sites I recommend you skip the next couple of paragraphs.

Redgage is webpage where an individual signs up.  Once they have signed up is possible to upload a blog, photo, video, document or link.  Whichever option is chosen, there is the possibility that Redgage will earn money from adverts shown alongside the content.  Redgage then recycle a proportion of this money to an individual.  In addition, they may give bonuses when they consider a piece of work to be particularly good.  Earnings from Redgage are earned within the site, and are paid through a Visa debit card once the amount in the account reaches around $25.

She Told Me is primarily about creating links to other sites and other content, primarily for SEO purposes.  Links have to be accompanied by a minimum volume of text.  Money is earned on She Told Me through Google Adsense revenue sharing and so there is a need to have a Google Adsense account before it is possible to make money from She Told Me.  On each She Told Me page there are a number of Google Adsense blocks, on all links submitted the submitter gets 100% revenue sharing on one particular block of ads.  She Told Me keeps the earnings from the other two blocks, unless an individual signs up through an affiliate link, in which case the referrer gets one of these blocks (meaning the content writer has one block, the person who introduced to them gets one block and Shetoldme.com gets the final block).  She Told Me also makes money from private adverts and Chitika adverts.

As can be seen, if initially starting out, Redgage may be the best site for making money as there is less need to sign up for external companies such as Google Adsense.  However, assuming you already have a Google Adsense account and are looking to use Redgage or She Told Me to increase income from additional sites which site is better?

I have signed up for both sites well over a year ago and have approximately the same number of links on each site.  Therefore I feel I can provide a reasonable overview of the quality of the sites.  Put simply, I have earned slightly more directly on She Told Me than I have on Redgage (about 30%).  Obviously this is in the form of Google Adsense revenue though and since I already earn money using Google Adsense elsewhere it is also much more likely I will get my She Told Me money before Redgage money (at the present rate it will take me about 2 years to reach each payout using Redgage).

There is another source of income which can be directly measured and that is the traffic from each of these sources to my other sites.  My Redgage.com links have provided about three times more traffic to my Hubpages articles as have my Shetoldme.com links.  Also assuming a typical earnings rate for each Hubpages impression, this will result in Redgage earning me more money.

Another source of traffic is much harder to quantify.  I mentioned that I used each of these sites for backlinking and SEO purposes.  It is very hard to measure how well each of these sites affects the search engine rankings of the linked to page and so I won't even attempt to.  The only thing I will say, is that for short, important keywords Redgage seems to rank higher than She Told Me for a given phrase (I assume this amongst other things is an indication of relative pageranks).  However, since links on She Told Me are accompanied by much more text, it is worth remembering that She Told Me generally ranks for longer tail keywords and a lot more.

So which one would I recommend using for making money on the internet, in particular in gaining backlinks.  Direct earnings are very similar between the two, but Redgage links are much quicker to create and so it is possible to create many more Redgage links in a given time.  However, there are definitely advantages to using She Told Me - earnings are paid using Google Adsense and so if you are already at/near monthly payouts with this system you will see the rewards much quicker than likely with Redgage where you will need to build up to $25.  All in all, I would recommend Redgage should be the first site to use (mainly due to it being much quicker to create links), with She Told Me being a good second.

If you want to get ongoing monthly updates on how much I earn from each of these sites (as well as a large number of other online money making sites) keep heading back here, or why not subscribe using the links on the right.

Have you used Redgage, She Told Me, or both?  If so what sort of experiences have you had?  Which one do you think leads to the highest earnings.  Use the comment box below.

Hubpages versus Infobarrel - Comparison number 2

Those people who have been following my blog for a long time may recall that about a year ago I decided to carry out an experiment to compare Infobarrel and Hubpages to see which one would get the best results financially.  I wrote articles for Hubpages on a number of subjects and then wrote articles on the same subjects and submitted them to Infobarrel.  At the time it was clear that the articles in Hubpages had much higher Google rankings for all keywords (although Infobarrel seemed to rank higher in Yahoo!) and so my conclusion was that it was better to concentrate my efforts on Hubpages.  I have every so often revisited this, but at all times Hubpages has come out on top, although Infobarrel seemed to be closing the gap.

I recently decided that with the recent Google algorithm changes it would be wise to review these conclusions to see whether they still held, particularly since Alexa seemed to show a decrease in Hubpages traffic, but if anything an increase in Infobarrel traffic.

Once again to assist with the comparison I used the Firefox add-in Rank Checker, which can be used to see how highly a particular website ranks in search engines for a particular keyword.  The results were quite surprising and showed that a complete reversal has happened over the last year - now Infobarrel seems to rank much higher in Google and Hubpages ranks higher in Yahoo!  I am not sure why the Yahoo! ranks have changed around but I have at least a theory as to why the Google results have changed.  Since writers on Infobarrel are pre-approved, this results in much higher quality content and the site having articles of a higher quality whereas on Hubpages substandard content is removed as and when it is discovered by Hubpages saff which probably results in a lot of dodgy pages slipping through the net.  As I say, this is only a theory, but it appears to tie in with the theory Kidgas came up with for why eHow may prosper.

Whilst I am impressed with the potential of the Hubpages ad program, it can only be successful if there is the traffic and at the moment I am thinking there is the potential to get more traffic on Infobarrel and so I shall start to concentrate a little bit more on Infobarrel and a little less on Hubpages and I suppose it is always good practice to have a diversified income stream.


If you are on Infobarrel and Hubpages have you noticed any changes in the earnings between the two?  Is it similar to my findings?  As always do let me and other readers of this blog know by commenting below.

Monthly Update - March 2011

In March 2011 I have been relatively busy, however I have still managed to create a few articles.  I wrote several articles on this webpage (a Tickles review and a Hubpages ad program review review) as well a Webanswers review on Hubpages.  I also carried out a bit of backlinking.  One site where I did considerable backlinking is on the new website Excerptz.  It runs in a similar way to Infobarrel - articles can be written and these are checked before being posted to the site, which should hopefully result in less spam and substandard content resulting in higher Google rankings etc.  Money is made through Adsense revenue share and the percentage is 80% for the writer.  At present the site is just starting but it is growing.  It was set up by the Hubber Ryankett and I would recommend that you go and check it out.

Now on to the bit I am sure you want to hear, my monthly online earnings for March 2011.  Remember most of these earnings are once again residual.

Webanswers: £13.37 (46% decrease from February 2011)
Infobarrel: £1.44 (12.5% increase)
She Told Me: £0.01 (the same)
Xomba: £6.02 (147% increase)
Hubpages: £71.29 (5% decrease)
Total: £92.13 (11% decrease)

As can be seen, I once again had a decrease in total earnings, primarily driven by a large drop in Webanswers earnings and a slightly less extreme drop in Hubpages earnings.  I was expecting a drop from Webanswers and Hubpages, since traffic to these is down both individually and site wide (according to Alexa) linked to the Google algorithm changes.

As Hubpages is my major revenue source I thought I would review this, especially in light of the Google algorithm changes and the launch of the Hubpages ad program.  I was actually worried that the decrease in earnings would be much greater than this and so I am in a way quite happy with a 5% decrease in earnings.  At the moment (as far as I am aware) the Google changes have happened only on Google.com from the US and obviously US traffic is the major earner for Hubpages.  Despite March having more days than February, overall I saw a 11% decrease in views to Hubpages.  This was entirely driven by views from the US decreasing by approximately 50%.  At the same time, views from all the other major countries actually increased by between 5% and 20%.  This saw the share of traffic from the US dropping from over 35% to less than 15%.  As I have already suggested American traffic is some of the highest earning traffic, so considering I had a 50% drop in this traffic, resulting in a total drop in traffic of 11% and yet only saw a 5% decrease in earnings I am very happy.  I believe that the main reason for earnings holding up is the Hubpages ad program, which I believe at the moment is north America only.  In fact, despite American traffic dropping to account for less than 15%, the Hubpages ad program accounted for a similar percentage of earnings as Google Adsense, which is obviously still shown in America as well as the rest of the world.

As can be seen, I have had a drop in total earnings this month.  However, thanks to the Hubpages ad program it is a lot less worse than I was expecting and in fact I consider that the worst of the drop is over and in fact over the last week or so I am starting to see a recovery in traffic with a corresponding increase in earnings.  Hopefully this will continue  over the next month and so I hope to see my earnings for April 2011 to at least equal the earnings in March 2011.

Tickles.co.uk review - Is it a scam?

In the UK there is now a website called tickles.co.uk.  It is like many other sites such as Groupon, in that it is a group buying/coupon site.  However, unlike Groupon and other companies it is based in the UK, in the East of England.  At the time of writing it is only in Norwich, Ipswich and Cambridge and since I don't live in any of these areas I am unable to give a first hand review - however I will collate information from elsewhere to explain the concept of the site and welcome you to add your own personal thoughts below.

First a bit of history - Tickles.co.uk was set up in 2010 in the city of Norwich and has since expanded to Ipswich and Cambridge, with plans to launch in London.  In January 2011 half of the company was sold to a regional newspaper publisher and so it is expected that there will be a degree of advertising for tickles on local newspaper websites, particularly those in the east of England.

Tickles is like many other similar websites - it is a group buying service.  Basically Tickles establishes links with companies in the cities/towns in which they operate.  The company agrees to give discounted services to Tickles (which Tickles pass on to the customers) as long as enough people purchase the service.  These discounts are often well over 50% and potentially up to 90% and on a range of items as diverse as spa treatments to discounted smoothies to driving lessons.  The company works by offering each deal for a specific length of time - normally this is a day but it can be a weekend or even a week.

Tickles is currently advertising that it will be launching in London, where there are already many different such websites including Groupon, Keynoir, Living Social and KGB Deals.  Once this happens I should be able to give a first hand review.  Until then though all I can say is I think the company is reputable.  It has been going for almost a year and is part owned by a large regional newspaper company.  Furthermore, many people think that such website must be scams, but Groupon etc have proven that this isn't the case.

Have you used Tickles.co.uk?  How would you rate it?  Would you consider it to be a scam?  I welcome your comments as I am sure other visitors to this site will.

Hubpages Ad Program - My initial thoughts and earnings

As I mentioned in my February 2011 earnings update, Hubpages have recently launched their own personal ad program.  For a long time Hubpages have been showing their own banner adverts on their share of page impressions, now they have given the option to Hubbers to take part in this scheme on their 60% of impressions.  Hubpages will deal with the advertising networks and will just pass on the revenue to individuals through PayPal (presumably after taking their cut).  The scheme was recently trialled with a very small number of individuals (I believe it was 7 who get very high traffic to their hubs) who on average saw a 60% uplift in earnings.  Now a further 500 people have been invited and it is planned to invite the remainder of hubbers by mid 2011 (so if you haven't heard anything yet don't despair!).  I was fortunate enough to be one of the lucky people to be included in this initial 500 so here is my views on the scheme.

If you are yet to sign up to Hubpages why not do so now?  I continue to earn in excess of £100 (over $150) most months from Hubpages from about 40 articles I wrote a year ago, so it is true passive income.   

I am unable to comment on the Hubpages ad program and it's effect on the page layout, since I think I am yet to see any such ads either on my own page or anyone else's when browsing Hubpages.  I am not sure why this is, unless it is the Hubpages ad program only currently distributes ads to those viewing Hubpages from specific regions, such as USA or North America.  

Whilst the Hubpages as program isn't in response to the 'Google farmer update' it definitely will help with keeping up the earnings if the traffic does continue to remain at the levels which are lower than previously.  So far I have been a member of the scheme for almost a week and whilst not long enough to provide a definitive answer for the exact effect on earnings, it should provide enough of an indication of earnings rates.

Initial indications for myself are that it has resulted in about a 20% increase in earnings per thousand impressions (CPM).  I have come to this figure by adding the CPM for the Hubpages ad program to my Hubpages Adsense CPM, which has dropped (as one would expect since there are now less Adsense ads per hub and more competition).  In total I would estimate I have since a drop in Adsense revenue of about 10%-20% since starting the Hubpages ad program.

I would attach a couple of caveats to my figure of 20%.  Firstly, there is only a very small amount of data I am basing this on (my own personal rather limited Hubpages traffic over just 5 days).  Secondly, it is hard to tell exactly what this uplift should be is since it has happened at a similar time to the Google Farmer Update which as far as I can tell has affected traffic from Google.com more than from the rest of the world (and obviously USA traffic on average has a higher CPM).  Therefore, I reckon that this estimate of 20% increase in earnings may actually be an underestimate and the Hubpages ad program is returning better returns than the numbers themselves would indicate.

Have you used the Hubpages ad program yet?  Have you seen any increase in earnings?  As always feel free to comment using the box below!