Part-Time to Get Focussed

This year has seen significant change in my work life.

In the day job I’ve experienced a change of managers, team, office, a split to a new company, responsibility and ways of working.

And I love it. It feels good to have that motivation back, that I was lacking during early 2009, as I continued to perform two roles as a tester and another as Director of my own business.

Significantly I’ve been doing the day-job as a part-time employee for two months now.

I only work in my career role for three days a week.

This means that the time spent in the office are focussed and demanding.

I get asked all the time how part-time life is treating me.

Generally I’ve found that I don’t like working at home alone for consecutive days in a row. I can handle two or three back-to-back but beyond that I yearn to get back in the office atmosphere around people.

And mentally I am still fine tuning the balance of my working weeks. Starting the weekend early on Thursday doesn’t make for a productive Friday.

When I started working part-time I pinpointed three areas that I would focus on and look at over time to see how successful it had been. I also had hard numbers for each so could actually measure any progress.

  • Sleep
  • Profit
  • Engagement

Sleep

Having two jobs is very time consuming and I found that the thing sacrificed the most was my sleep.  Updating voucher codes or fixing WordPress issues at 1am isn’t pleasant. Basically I wasn’t getting enough sleep.

Now with the aid of the Sleep Cycle iPhone app I can measure my sleep and I target the prescribed 7 hours. After 67 nights my average sleep per night is 6 hours 15 minutes. A huge improvement and I now have more energy to get me through the day and a few extra gym sessions.

I rarely do work beyond midnight now. Work can often wait until one of the four days I’m at home. I use my last hour of the day to wind down at the casino.

Profit

With all the changes at work I felt I had to make the decision to leave completely, do a sabbatical for up to nine months or work part-time. Carrying on as was, wasn’t practical. I couldn’t squeeze everything that needs doing in my own business into evenings and weekends.

Staying as was, also meant that profits would have nose dived as the sites that make money were updated infrequently.

A six month review of this year shows my commissions are up £5,000 on the first six months of 2009 from the retail side plus a few grand more from gambling merchants. The total figure makes for a nice salary.

I have the spent the last couple of weeks just auditing how efficient I am at working and with a simple spreadsheet I’ve found that I’ve only got 50% of the available voucher codes on my ShopCodes site at any one time that I could have. That’s actually really good to know and provides focus.

Engagement

There are lots of benefits of networking. You learn new skills, tricks, get new contacts and have an excuse to party in new places.

I specifically chose to have a Friday off work so that I could use the long weekend to travel around more and get to more events.

Previously visiting the a4UAwards or Affili.net poker evening would mean taking one or two days holiday and I’d find that by the time I get to the second half of the year I’d run out of holiday days to attend late summer or christmas events.

Now with an extra 104 days in my armoury I can get to a few more.

Also by engagement I’m thinking of  the relationships that I have with people online.

I’ve always got up to 3,000 unread emails.

I’m always dealing with my accountant, weeks after he wants to.

Now I measure these. Focus on them. Improve on them.

ShopCodes on the Big Screen

I turned down the chance to watch Boro’s biggest game of the season as some friends from affiliate marketing, SEO and the blogging community spent the weekend in Leeds for the third Think Visibility.

It was an opportunity to catch up with late night Vegas friends @ChrisClarkson, @KieronDonoghue and @BonyToad on my doorstep whilst also welcoming @ClarkeDuncan and his mate @ukstripclubs to sample the delights of Leeds.

It was again hosted in my local, Alea Casino, which is a great choice of location, particularly for the early Saturday morning start, which unsurprisingly I still missed.

I didn’t get to see all the talks, as the Peroni and chat was flowing at the Royal Armouries square but I did get to see my voucher code site on the Alea cinema screen.

ShopCodes on the Alea cinema screen with the Think Visibility SimpleUsability results

ShopCodes on the Alea cinema screen with the Think Visibility SimpleUsability results

Thanks to @SimpleUsability for dragging people off the street to use my “very busy” site.  It was insightful to see how the users actually interacted and copied the voucher code and which links they clicked.

There were a few surprises and so I’ll be re-installing Crazy Egg, as there’s 7 Things Affiliates Can Learn From Heatmaps, writes @GetVisible.

At the end of the evening I signed up to a No-Limit poker tournament. I finished in the money but it was no compensation for my disastrous blackjack play earlier in the afternoon. Plus poker is a very long game, too long, when you’re missing out on a free bar and VIP entry to a local strip club!

Chip stack when 2 tables remaining

Chip stack when 2 tables remaining

I’ve been to all three Think Viz’s and it was good to see people venture to and have a great time in Leeds.

Well done to @TheHodge and to all these people for another great conference and if you’re able to handle 5am finishes, then see you in September for the next DrinkVisibility.

Time to replace your affiliates4u buttons

Now that affiliates4u, the hub of performance marketing, has had a long overdue redesign it is time to remove the “Back Me” buttons and messages from your affiliate blogs and replace them with the new buttons available at www.affiliates4u.com/buttons/

I’ve plugged mine in as seen here:

affiliates4u button

There’s a choice of black or white and subtle and bold and you’ll need to select one as your old button will link to a “Sorry, we couldn’t find that.  We’re not sure what you were looking for” page.

Clicking the new buttons will take you to a submit page to the new ‘The Pool’.  Here you specify a title and summary and it’s worth expanding on the 250 character limit summary as this is what will prompt people to read and potentially vote for your content.

In the new system you can’t see which supporters you have for your content, the voting is all anonymous, which takes away part of the appeal and fun of it. But it does mean you can “slap” a post and hide.

Scratch2Cash Affiliate Program – An Itch to Write Off!

Scratch2Cash are an itch I have the pleasure of no longer doing business with. I received an email at the weekend from their Market Budget Analyst to invoice them for any money they owe me from 2009 for their accountants.

Knowing that I’d referred a $3,500 paying customer I logged into the NeoGames Partners account to check on my total commission. The Scratch2Cash email included the caveat:

If the amount is less than 100 EUR, we are not obligated to pay, as disclosed on the affiliate agreement listed on the website. Any amount under the “Minimum Amount” (100 EUR) will be written off.

I’ve never read anything so ridiculous. Now I owe lots of companies less than 100 Euros and I just can’t write that off.

“Fitness First, you know that £38.75 you want off me for the couple of times I enter your gym, well I’m writing that off!”

“British Telecom, you know that £39.47 I owe you just to have a landline, well I’m writing that off!”

When I questioned this via email , they replied that they were closing my account.

Since you unfortunately were not able to bring us €100 or more of traffic, we will close your account.

Imagine if a reputable affiliate network chose not to pay you because you’d only made one sale – but not only that, not give you the opportunity to make more sales so that you could reach their self imposed payment tier?

Affiliates, you have been warned. I’d write-off the Scratch2Cash affiliate program today.

Still have that itch? Don’t Apply Now!

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