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How To Leverage Long Blog Posts To Build Your Brand
submitted by W1ZZ4RD to juststart [link] [comments]
You guys were not joking with the amount of shit posts that are ending up on this sub lately.
So, in order to change that, I thought I would throw out something that I have done in the past and am still seeing success with today. Leveraging your blog posts/articles to build a BRAND.
I did it, you did it, almost everyone does it. They get started, they crank out some content, and they expect money to come in. You can make a great living doing this, but you will find it almost impossible to hit the "next level" unless you focus on building a brand. You see the rare comment here of people hitting 20, 30, 50k+ per month....I would bet almost anything their site is a brand that people actually CARE about.
In order to actually get there, you have to create value, have a strategy and create trust with your audience. But how the hell do you create value and trust with an audience that does not yet exist?
One of those ways is utilizing a platform that people already trust: Amazon.
The basic idea before we get into the actual guide is twofold. 1:
You are going to take your longest article or articles, and turn them into an ebook. You will create a coveinterior and publish this on Amazon via the KDP platform. Chances are, no one will actually want to buy your 99 cent ebook, so you are going to make it FREE (with a work around) and use this as a lead gen for your website/email list. 2:
You are then going to take your longest article/articles, and turn these into an AUDIO book, which again acts as a springboard from Amazon to your content to build trust, educate and let them know about your website.
Step 1 brings you no money up front, but if you do this right can net you a LOT of affiliate income and build your list at the same time. Step 2 actually surprised me when doing my taxes. I currently have a single audio book live and it brought me in a few thousand dollars in royalties the past year and I havn't looked at it or touched it since.
Here is a bit of proof that this works and has led to hundreds of thousands of downloads:
So, let's first go over the free book, and then the more exiting method the audio book. Creating A Free Book On Amazon With Your Blog Posts
I am not going to go into detail on how exactly to create a book (this is fairly straight forward), but you will need two things. 1:
Get a KDP Account (free): https://kdp.amazon.com/ 2:
Get a Smashwords account (free): https://www.smashwords.com/
Create your book, format it, and get it uploaded to KDP. This is so straight forward (Google it)
In order to get your book perma free on Kindle, you need to get your book free on other major retailers that Amazon actually has some respect for. The one that I used was Barnes & Noble and this took about a week. Here is how to do it! Smashwords
Smashwords is another retailer of ebooks. What makes this service so powerful is that its free, and they also distribute to major retailers such as Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, iBooks, and Kobo. Upload your Book and set a price of free
It will almost immediately go online at Smashwords as a free book. On your dashboard, you will see that it has been submitted for premium status. This is where the magic happens. A real person will take a look over your work, and if it has followed all of proper formatting, then it will soon show up in the big retailers mentioned above.
It is VERY important that you follow their style guide. It can take a few days at a time for Smashwords to review your book. If it is not up to par, they will deny you, give you a list of things you need to fix, and then you can resubmit it. One of the things that I did wrong was do my table of contents a different way than they wanted.
Another reason I was denied was that my book had links back to Amazon, so remove those as well if you want perma free status. Premium Status Achieved
Once your book has been looked over and has achieved premium status on Smashwords, it is just a waiting game from here.
Eventually, your book will show up on Barnes & Noble. This is one of the only online retailers that Amazon seems to care about. I tried to ask Amazon to price match me as soon as it was free on Smashwords, but it seems they have no respect for this service and I had to wait. Emailing Amazon
Now, you could wait and wait and eventually Amazon should pick up on the fact that your book is free somewhere else. If you are not in the business of waiting for months on end, it is time to do something about it!
What I did was take the URL from Barnes & Noble, and email Amazon from inside my KDP dashboard. At the very bottom of your dashboard, in super small text, you should see Contact Us.
Click on Contact Us –> Pricing & Royalties –> Price Matching, and send them an email asking them to help you out. I told them I had a reader on my blog disappointed that he could get my book for free on my website as well as Barnes & Noble but had to pay for it on Amazon. A few hours later I got an email back stating that while they can decide to price match or not, they had forwarded it to the correct department and a few hours after THAT it was priced to free!
Do keep in mind that this is going to be geo dependent. If you want your eBook free on All Amazon TLDs you need to give them links from all GEO URLs from the major retailers Note:
There are a million and a half Facebook groups for free books. Go post in a few of them to get the ball rolling. Once you have those initial downloads, everything should take off and remain a stable stream of downloads and traffic back to your site if you put links in your book. ALSO, make sure to put some sort of ask at the end of your book for a review, a subscribe to the email list, or give the reader something if they visit your site.
Now, let's get into how even more money is made, by taking that same book/books and turning them into audio books spreading your brand around the internet. Making Money Selling Audiobooks (ACX) Through Amazon Note:
I am going to be copy and pasting images from my own site because there is no way I am downloading a rehosting these. Feel free to complain about self promotion in the comments XD.
In order to be a successful internet marketer, you always have to be testing new ideas and markets. Time and time again I see people who want to make their first dollars online actually succeed in doing so but after many months or many years, it all dries up.
Because these people were not willing to adapt and keep learning. This is the number 1 reason that people fail. They do not want to test the market but keep doing the same thing over and over again, getting stuck in a vicious cycle.
During some downtime a while back, I stumbled across a video of a guy doing thousands of dollars through audiobooks. What really perked my interest is that these books are being sold through Amazon, or more importantly, Amazon’s audio book platform audible.com.
This is one of the biggest audiobook portals in the entire world and I myself have purchased a few during some long road trips.
When I first started selling t-shirts online, the driving factor and where most of my success came from is that they are being sold on Amazon where the customers already are. I did not have to drive traffic at all, only give an existing audience what they wanted. This opportunity looks EXACTLY the same and the competition is so low, its crazy! Chances are, your blog posts will fit right in. Why Audible.com (Amazon’s Audiobook Platform)?
The very first thing I did was take a quick look at how much traffic the platform was getting. I was seeing people put up some pretty impressive numbers (into the 10 figures a month range) so before I dove in, I wanted to make sure the market was actually there.
What I did was take the domain (audible.com) and run it through similar web. This website is incredibly helpful in estimating the amount of traffic that a platform receives each and every month. It is WILDLY inaccurate, but gives a brief overview. https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/audible.png
As you can see at the time of writing this (I wrote this ages ago), there is almost 22 million visitors per month with an average duration of close to 5 minutes.
This is exactly what I want to see!
Lots of traffic, and relatively little competition because there are not that many books out there.
I was down to give this method a try and to my surprise over a year later, it actually worked. Getting Your First Audiobook Published on ACX
Before you attempt to put up an audio book at all, you need to make sure you RESEARCH the niche. Just as with everything else when it comes to internet marketing, you need to make sure that there is customer demand, but that you can break into the market in the first place.
The way we do this is pretty simple. Audiobook (ACX) Niche Research
First, you want to look at Amazon.com for books (NOT audiobooks). For the sake of this example, lets use the first niche that came to my head “merch by amazon”.
Head on over to Amazon.com and just type in the niche you are interested in. If you are pulling back results that are not books, just follow it up with “book”. https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/amazon-page.png
At the very top of the image, you can see that there are over “10,000” results for this niche. This is a good sign, that means there is customer demand there! Customers want to read and learn more about this niche.
I also happen to hold the first and third position for this keyword (those are my books) so it makes this experiment a little easier to start!
Even if there are a lot of results, you want to make sure to click on the first page of products, and look at the BSR or best sellers rank of an item. The lower the rank, the better it is selling.
You can see this in the product details section of the product page: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/product-details.png
The best sellers rank is dependent on the category you are selling in. In this particular instance, this book gets about this many downloads per day: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/merch-by-amazon-book.png NOTE:
Old screenshot but this book still averages almost the exact same downloads per day even over a year later.
Now that we have determined that there is customer demand here, we need to check the competition on Audible.com
In the upper right hand corner you will see the search box. This is where you want to put the same search term that you checked over on Amazon.com.
Click on search and see what comes up!
In this particular case there are ZERO results (note: there are now more than a few results). That means that there is definitely customer demand over at Amazon.com and there are literally zero books on this subject on the audible platform that Amazon owns (and gets 20+ million visitors each month). There is clearly an opportunity here.
After you get good at searching, you will realize that almost every niche under the sun has very very little competition.
What you want to look for is where there are lots of results with a good BSR (under 100k on Amazon.com) and you want to see that there is less than 100 results on Audible.
The opportunities here are almost endless. Remember, it is all about niching down! Vegetable Gardening: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/veggy-gardening.png Sleeping better: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/sleep-better.png Make Money Online: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/make-money-online.png
If one of the most competitive niches on the internet (making money online) has such small search results, then you KNOW this is an untapped gold mine. NOTE:
Screens are from when I published the book. Numbers are changed, but go check. Still stupid low competition in most niches that your blog posts are in. Getting Your Audiobook Created
Now that we have a niche, we need an actual book! Any one of you reading this has the ability to write their own books. It does not matter if you are a great writer. However, if you are NOT a writer, no interest in being a writer, and simply want to get a book up to test this method, there is an easy way to do that.
I will be going over how to outsource the actual book creation as well as the audio voice over for that book once it is complete.
Your book can be as long as you like or as short as you like. However, how long it ends up being is going to determine what kind of royalty you get once the entire process is complete. Because of this, I would recommend about 20-25k words per book. This should put your final audiobook at just over 3 hours in length and this is where you make the best money. To hit this, you may want to take a few of your articles and combine them.
We have a niche, we have a target length for the book, now we just need to find someone to actually write the thing!
Go hire someone or do it yourself. This is pretty self explanatory.
I find that having a general outline for your book is the easiest way to get a good quality product. You can do this by looking at the chapter headings of some of the best sellers. Compile a list of all the headings, and then formulate your own online so that your book will be the most comprehensive book on the market for that niche. Upload Your eBook to Kindle (if you didn't previously)
Before you can actually create your ACX book, you will need to upload your book to Kindle. This is a platform for ebooks that sell on Amazon and ANOTHER avenue for you to make money with your book (outside of audible sales).
Head on over to kindle here: https://kdp.amazon.com/
Sign up for an account and enter in all your information so that you can get paid.
Now that you have an account, you need a few other bits before you can actually upload your book.
First, make sure you familiarize yourself with the cover requirements here: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201113520
You now need to get a cover for your book created. The idea image requirements for kindle for your book cover are 2560 pixels by 1600 pixels.
Your book cover is important!!
I know everyone always says not to judge a book by its cover but we all do it. You do it, I do it, and your potential customers are going to do it too!
Because of this, head over to upwork and post a job for an ebook cover designer. There are a lot of very very talented artists out there and you should get an amazing cover for your book for $20-$30 dollars.
You can see here the cover that I went with that sticks out on the page: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/blueprint-cover.png
Now that you have your book and your cover, let’s upload to Kindle!
Log in to Kindle and click on the Kindle new title button: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/create-a-new-title.png
After you are done adding the Kindle eBook, I would highly suggest adding a paperback as well. We will not be focusing on the paperback, but this is just another avenue that you can make money from your book.
Give your book a title (what is on the book cover), an author, and a description.
Make sure your description is long and detailed. I like to tell a little bit about what is in the book as well as outline the chapters and what the customer will be learning when they read the book.
After you have filled those out, it is time to enter in some backend keywords. These are keywords that you want the book to rank for. Think like a customer here. Whatever they might search for, enter these as your back end keywords.
You have 7 boxes of keywords to fill up here. No need for any punctuation. As long as the keywords are relevant, enter them in.
Once you have your keywords selected, choose a category for your book, and then click on continue.
Now all that is really left is to upload your book, the cover, and pick out pricing: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/manuscript-.png
You do not need to enter an ISBN so go ahead and click save and continue at the bottom of the page.
Set your book at $2.99 or above, and select the 70% royalty share. If you price below $2.99, you will get a much smaller cut. Since we will not be focusing on the actual ebook, every time it sells, we want to maximize our profit. (This is if you are just doing audiobooks and not the free book method mentioned above)
Now all you have to do is scroll to the bottom and click on publish your book! https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/publish-your-kindle-book.png
It can take a while to publish, but I typically see all my books going live within 24 hours. You need to wait for your book to go live, so in the meanwhile, I would suggest publishing the paperback version as well! Publishing Your Book to ACX (Audible)
If you have made it this far and are still with me, impressive.
So far you should have a book with a cover, and it is published on Kindle meaning it is for sale on Amazon.com.
This means we can FINALLY start creation of our audiobook!
To begin, head over to ACX.com and sign up for an account. This is the dashboard for audible.com which is where we want to publish our book.
Again, fill out all your information and take the tax interview. Once you have done that, click on “Add Your Title” from the upper right hand corner.
Search by keyword and find your book on Amazon.com. Once you have found it, click on “This is my eBook”. https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/my-ebook.png
Once you select your book, you will see a popup that asks what you want to do with your ebook: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/produce-ebook.png
Now the fun part starts!
You can either upload audio for the book you already have (which I assume you don’t), of you can find someone to narrate the book for you. This is not going to be free, but you can find some real talent out there that will read your book and allow you to publish audiobooks without ever using your own voice.
Select the first option and click on continue.
Accept the terms and conditions, and click on continue.
The next page is where you want to fill out your book information. Since your book is already on Kindle, most of this is going to be selected for you.
The interesting parts are these: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/book-deetz.png
This lets you say that you want to receive auditions from narrators but also lets you describe the voice you are looking for. I like to select this based on the topic of the book and what would fit best.
After you upload a test piece of your book for your narrator auditions, click on next.
The next page is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the entire process. You can pick how you pay the person that is narrating your book. https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/pay-narrator.png
By default, the first option is going to be selected (Royalty Share) but you do NOT want to do this!
If you have a successful book, that means you will giving half your royalty away for many years to come.
Instead, select pay for production and pay your narrators up front. I have found that the lowest level of $0-$50 per finished hour (PFH) works well and you get some quality people applying to narrate your book.
For a book of 20,000 words, you can expect to pay a little over $100, but you do not have to do any of the work yourself!
You will start getting auditions almost immediately over the next few days and you will be able to see this in your top menu. https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/auditions.png
Make sure to go through all the auditions and listen to each one of them as everyone has their unique style and some attach specific notes about the project to their audition: https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/auditions2.png
Once you have someone selected, all you have to do is then make an offer, and they will do the rest!
The narrator you chose may send you a few questions over messages, so make sure you are watching your email whenever those come in.
Once your narrator has finished the book, you have to approve it. After you approve it, you MUST pay your narrator before the book will go live on audible. This is not very clear for a first time user.
I was expecting the system to use my card on file, but had to follow up and actually send the narrator the money over paypal. After that occurs, they will also approve the book, and it will get final approval from the ACX team! https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/approval.png
Once you receive that email, it is just a waiting game as the book is pushed out to retail! https://neillassen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/book-to-audible.png TIP:
If you email the ACX team and ask nicely, they will give you 25 codes for free books so that you can give them out to people for review. This is a good way to bump your book inside of audible and start getting downloads. Wrapping It Up
When building your business, use every tool at your disposal to drive traffic and build up your audience. Focus on building a brand and not just a website.
A PC-User's Purchase "Guide" (it's not...just the ramblings of an idiot) to High Quality Audio on your system.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to buildapc [link] [comments]
Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations. Thanks to paoper
for formatting. Again disclaimer that I am an idiot, so take this post with a grain of salt. Better info and more accurate info from people way more knowledgeable than I am is readily available from /audiophile /budgetaudiophile
, this is just a start-up guide for the beginner.
NOTE: The monster I gave birth to has become too long. I felt that instead of a short list of things to order, I needed to give context as high fidelity is really all about what sound is like in your
experience. Also a fun read if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the actual list (ctrl+f active speakers, passive speakers, headphones, subwoofer, amplifier)!
I have limited the price range of the products, because this is after all just food for thought and not even a proper guide; real audio purchases will require elbow-grease and research from your end to see if the product's sound signature will match your preferences in music and sound. If your product is not here, do not worry. I have put in products that I have had experience with and those that were recommended by multiple reviewers I hold in high regard (with the exception of a 2.1 system you will see later), and I had to consider the endless number of headphones/speakers vs the ones that are worth your hard-earned cash (and products vs how they compare to my current setup which includes both "high-end" and budget options).
I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra. My ear is highly trained from raw musical performance and not just listening to speakers from home, as well as having the nuance to differentiate between good speakers. I have owned many many forms of audio gear (instruments, speakers, headphones, studio monitors).
So wtf is this?
So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on as well as celebrating the birth of new systems and fellow pc builders who take their rite of passage of building their own system with their own two hands) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or w/e, it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.
Why should I bother getting better speakers/headphones?
I have owned $20 logitech speakers, I currently own $1500 speakers. I have owned varying levels of headphones. The first half-decent (to my standards) speakers I had was a hand me down stereo set from an uncle. This thing was massive, but this thing was good. It's difficult to explain to you the sensation of music enveloping you with great speakers. Speakers are meant to reproduce sound, as in the sound of the instruments in the song. So great speakers and headphones can literally make you FEEL the music like at a rave or a concert or performance in the comfort of your home. This is why Home Theaters were so popular in the 80s/90s.
Upgrading will GREATLY enhance your music, netflix and gaming experience. In fact with passive bookshelf speakers, you can not only use them for your desktop setup, but also chuck them together with a tv and you've got a fine starter home theater system in your hands. You can even upgrade down the line incrementally, one speaker at a time, to a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Setup where your movies make you feel like your in SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I currently live in a small apartment with my TV right next to my battlestation, and when i want to sit down on my couch and watch TV, I simply move 1 speaker from my desk to next to my TV, turn my AVR on and I have an easy 5.1 home theater in my tiny apartment. Move the speaker, revert back to 2.1 (or 5.1 if i choose to but i dont because of badspeaker placement when I'm sitting at my desk) amazingness at my battlestation. Consider this an investment into massively improving your experience
of playing video games, watching netflix, or listening to music. You think those 4k graphics and ULTRAWIDE monitor is giving you more immersion in your game? Shit...having great speakers or headphones can make you feel like you're IN NORMANDY BEACH DURING THE FUCKING LANDINGS
General considerations (or feel free to just skip ahead to the list)
Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile
. I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He is still an expert audiophile
, he just chooses to not use his knowledge and ramble on in his videos, plus the shilling. Great place to start for audiophiles, as he is still a professional. I just think many move on to other reviewers.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less, crutchfield, adorama, Sweetwater, guitar center, etc). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.
So I will be splitting this list into 4 categories:
- active speakers,
- passive speakers,
And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fucking equal bad boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e. Also the budetaudiophile starter package is the dayton audio b652 + mini amp combo from parts-express. All the speakers that were considered were basically compared to the b652 before making it on here (and whether they justified the price bump over the b652)
Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)
So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier is not inside the goddamn box. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.
If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.
Simply connect to your PC or TV via 3.5mm (or the occasional usb).
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
Note that while I have included 2.1 systems here, I would always recommend you get good bookshelves first, save up money and buy a subwoofer separate.
- Cyber Acoustics CA-3602FFP 2.1 $40. This is the I'm broke af but I need speakers route. 2.1 setup for 40 bucks. We do not have the luxury of options here. Enough said. Amazon
- Okay, for under $100 for good quality active speakers, there really is no other choice here besides Edifier speakers on amazon. In fact, their entire lineup is pretty solid all around ranging from the 980T for $70 to the S350DB which is a 2.1 system with 2 bookshelves and a sub for $300. Differences in the models are basically bigger woofers/tweeters as you go up in price, resulting in better bass performance and clarity (again crude explanation). If you don't want to research much and want simplicity, any of the edifiers are the way to go, with the 1700BT being the goto 2.0, or the 1850db which as a sub-out so you can add in a subwoofer into your setup later.
- Micca PB42X: $120- The active version of the popular MB42X passive speakers. Very good performance for price.
- Mackie CR3/4 $90/$140- Now normally I don't recommend these, but they are okay/meh speakers and have that razer aesthetic going on, and aesthetics are big part of speaker choice, so if you like the black/green color scheme, I guess these are passable.
- Klipsch Pro Media 2.1: $150- the only 2.1 system I'd recommend under $200. The thing about adding in a subwoofer to a 2.1 system under $200 means they have to cut corners elsewhere. This is the main difference of 2.1 systems vs bookshelves. While the subwoofer will allow your music to hit the lower notes in frequency resulting in deeper and more bass, this will usually come at a cost of audio quality in the mid and upper ranges in the music. If you are a BASSHEAD then yeah you probably want a subwoofer, though bookshelves under $200 also have decent bass. Note, ALWAYS BETTER TO BUY BOOKSHELVES AND SUBWOOFER SEPARATELY, but this will be pricier. Klipsch Website Direct or amazon.
- Fluance ai40/ai60: $200/$300- nice looking speakers that come in white and walnut and black that also have good clarity and quality. Their bass is surprisingly okay as they are rated to go a little bit below in the lower frequencies than speakers in similar price. I have listened to these before shortly for 2 hours, and would recommend. IIRC the ai60 has a subwoofer out. Mind the size of the 60s, quite big. Fluance direct or amazon.
- Kanto YU4: $270 Direct competitor to fluance ai series. Comes in white as well.
- Audioengine A2+/A5+ :$270/$400. I have no experience with this lineup, but lots of love/hate dynamic with this brand over on budgetaudiophile. Good and bad thing.
- JBL 305P: $300 - maybe the endgame speakers of this list. These are very famous and respected studio monitors that music artists and producers use often. They are sold $150 per speaker, and you will need to get 2. Hooking them up requires separate cables, as these are standalone speakers with it's own volume control on each speaker. Simplest way is to buy a 3.5mm to dual TS Cable. Set both speakers to same physical volume level via knob, and adjust volume using windows settings (having a volume knob on your keyboard helps immensely here). Or buy a separate in line volume control from amazon ($20 bucks or under) and connect via 3.5mm to rca. Being studio monitors, these are meant to reproduce sound neutrally (they will have no external flavoring like how Beats adds muddy boomy bass to its headphones to use as a bad example) and may not sound alive or bright or to your tastes. They can be demo-ed/tested out at guitar center if you have access to one in this pandemic.
- Logitech G560 RGB Gaming Speakers: $200 (yes, you read that right): Okay, now normally I'd be crucified for recommending a logitech speaker in the other audio forums. But I have used these speakers briefly for about 3 months when I got them cheap from a friend. The sound quality of these satellite speakers are....surprisingly not bad? Might I dare to say that these are even....decent for it's price? Now these are $200 speakers for a 2.1 system. This means that it's either this or Klipsch 2.1. Honestly my vote here goes to the logitechs. I owned the Klipsch promedia 2.1 for about half a year. I can definitely say I prefer the clarity of the logitechs vs the boomy bass of the Klipsch. The subwoofer on the 560 does NOT have its own control knob, so you would need to adjust bass settings through logitech eq. Note, these speakers will not sound good out of the box. You will need to go into the eq settings via logitech software, and change the settings to match your tastes. Honestly the fact that you have to tweak the eq through shitty logitech software to make these sound good is pretty bullshit. Note that I am not recommending the z623/625. Don't get those. I used these in college in my apt in brooklyn, and while boomy bass, I'd definitely go with the B652 + mini amp, klipsch 2.1, or the g560 over the z623/625 FOR SURE.
- Second-hand market: okay, let's say you are determined to get quality speakers but you do not have the budget. Look around on the second hand market for stuff from KRK, Emotiva, Ascend, HSU. Make sure to demo them out for as long as you can until the seller gets pissed (please don't), so that you can test to see if you like the sound.
These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life (yes I said life for once you dip your toes into high fidelity, you will get hooked onto a great lifelong journey searching for the perfect setup), or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about passive bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)
What you will need for passive setup:
Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire
separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables
from amazon will set you straight, and while these banana plugs and cable are nice and PURELY OPTIONAL, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable
will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.
- Dayton audio b652+ mini amp combo on parts-express for $60/70. Two combos, two separate mini amps, one from lepai (china) and one from dayton. Same shit. It LITERALLY does not get better than this for under $100, maybe even $150. CHIEF THIS IS IT, i cannot stress this enough. This is the budgetaudiophile 101 starter pack. I'd recommend these over the active Mackies, Edifiers (up to the 1700), and any and all logitech/creative pebble/cyber w/e EVERYTHING systems (except for the g560). These are very BIG speakers and hence will deliver good sound and good bass due to its big woofers. If you have less than $100 to spend on the ENTIRE audio setup, go get these and speaker wire/banana plugs no questions asked. gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
- Dayton Audio B652 AIR $70- The difference between the AIR and the normal 652 is in the tweeter. The AIR tweeter on this speaker costs as much as the entire b652 speaker. This tweeter upgrade gives even more clarity and quality in the treble range (middle upper sound frequency). The next best thing for under $100, though doesn't come with the mini amp combo.
- Sony SSCS5 Bookshelf Speakers. $150 msrp, $120 on amazon/bestbuy until recently, and sometimes goes on sale for $75. These are 3 way speakers with woofer, tweeter and supertweeter. The strength of these speakers lie in its unmatched clarity in the highs and upper mids. I still have these in my collection, and VERY WORTH though my opinion of these is skewed as I got them for $75/pair. If you appreciate bass, you will need to add a subwoofer with these (or generally any speaker below $500....some people would say you cant listen to music on bookshelves without subwoofer) as they sound a bit thin compare to the b652s (a bit less bass because smaller woofer) but better sound quality (though this is just my SUBJECTIVE thought after listening to the cs5s and b652s). These have 5 in woofers and have okayish small form factor.
- Micca MB42X $90- the passive version of the powered PB42X in the active list. The difference is between the amplifier built into the PB42X vs the one you're going to buy separately to power the MB42X. Obv the MB42X route is going to be better because the amplifier in the PB42X will be shit compared to the one you're going to buy ($30/50/75/150 options to follow later)
- Micca RB42X $150 - Amazing small size speakers. For under $200, either this or the cs5s. The rb42s have a bit more bass.
- Elac Debut 5.2/6.2 ON SALE NOW FOR $230/250. GET EM WHILE IT LASTS. Normally $280/350. These are speakers highly acclaimed by many of the speaker reviewers I consider the best (imo zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studio, thomas and stereo). Great bass, warm sound signature. Just go, what are you waiting for. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
- Q Acoustics 3020/3030i $230/400. Highly acclaimed by reviewers, look VERY NICE in white, and have a warm sound signature with lots of bass clarity and bass depth. These speakers are big, which is why they have great bass. Check the dimensions. Their size is the only downside to these fantastic speakers.
- PSB Alpha P5 $400: Great speakers for nearfield listening, aka at your desk, excels in this department more so than the other speakers (better at low volume, etc). Just all around amazing. Get these if the Q Acoustics ones are too big.
- Triangle BR02/03 $450/550. Coming from across the atlantic, these french speakers made a splash last year destroying its competition in the below $1000 range. Highly acclaimed to the point where some see them as overrated (too much hype out of nowhere in such little time). If you have the space in your setup as well as in your wallet for these, they are the way to go. Comes in black, walnut, white.
- Obligatory Klipsch R15/R51/RP600 post: you've heard of klipsch. They're widely available audiophile speakers, and so sometimes get the "overrated" hyped up treatment. They are good speakers but their have their own unique aggressively forward sound signature with the horn style tweeter. These were designed to make you feel like you're at the rock concert direct, may not be for everyone (much so not for me).
Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts (only after turning up your preamp input to maximum volume, which in this case is your youtube/windows10 volume level). Do note that if you have the space, a used $60 AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.
- Lepai 2020ti (LEPAI and not Lepy be wary) $25. 20 watts in 2 channels. Budget
- SMSL SA36 $62: SMSL's 2x20w.
- SMSL SA50 $72: The most bang for buck amp that's also decent. 2x50watts.
- Topping MX3 $130: Speaker amp, headphone amp, dac rolled into one. Allows for your speakers and headphones to be connected via USB and Bluetooth.
- SMSL AD18 $150: SMSL's answer to the MX3. This one is probably the goto. It's got 2x80w at 4ohms, has USB connection, has subwoofer out, has bluetooth connection, headphone amp, coaxial and optical connection.
If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.
Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10
, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer
. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation as well as PLACEMENT (refer to the sub-crawl) will do more for getting the most sound out of your speakers without having to turn up the volume....and just turn off the sub after a reasonable time)
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs
. You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.
- Dayton Audio SUB-800 $100: The cheapest one, don't go any cheaper. Enough said. Get from parts-express. If you need cheaper, 2nd hand market.
- Dayton Sub-1000 $120: The bigger brother. This thing is 10 inches, be prepared for a BIG box sitting in your room.
- Bic Acoustech PL-200 $300: Has good bass, goes down to 22hz. Very good bang for buck "good" subwoofer. A BIG step up from the daytons.
- SVS SB-1000 $500: Bassssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.
Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. Okay, I have seen the headphone recommendation list, and the only one I would give any (if at all) weight to in the usual pc websites that our subreddit goes to, is the list from rtings. These guys mainly measure monitors and tvs (very well might i add) but the writer for their audio section is lacking it seems.
Please dont get Astro AXX headphones or corsair rgb xxxxxx w/e. Please for the love of god, take your good hard earned cash and get yourself a NICE pair of cans my fellow PC users. The mic part is secondary as GOOD headphones will forever change your PC using and music listening experience FOREVER
The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.
- Hyperx Cloud CORE/1/2/ALPHA (please find prices on amazon). So these headphones are a rare instance of when a gaming branded pair of headphones was actually a good no bullshit product. These are hyperx reskins of OEM Takstar Pro 80, a pretty damn good pair of cans from china for under $50 (no longer available on aliexpress but Seoul had a SHIT load of these) with a mic attached to it. Chief, this is it. Reasonably good audio quality from headphone drivers for their price, and you get a mic for discord needs.
- Coolermaster MH751/752 $90/110. Now beware, on amazon there are the mh630/650/670 series headphones that are in the same...product "selection" styling part of the product page. Do NOT GET THESE, these are the typical bullshit gaming branding and are pretty bad. Now, the mh751 and 752s are coolermaster's copycat of the hyperx clouds. They are coolermaster reskins of the Takstar pro 82, another good pair of headphones. I cannot comment on this one, as I have not used either the takstar variant nor the cm variant. But the pro 82s are just as good as the 80s. If i had to guess, different styling (headband) and maybe slightly different sound signature. Difference between the 2 is the dac (the block thing in between your headphones and the wires to your pc). The dac the mh752 is most likely inferior to the dac on your mobo's build-in soundcard. Get the 751, unless you have a laptop, then the 752's dac may be better.
- Audio-Technica ath-m40x $80: You may have heard of the ath-m50/x. Now these headphones are looked down on, on the headphone forums or reddit. The m40/x is the bass reduced, aka the neutral version of the m50x for cheaper too. Great headphones for under $100. Now, I have owned the m50 waay back, and I think if you enjoy bass, then go for it. After all, they are YOUR fuckin pair of headphones and ears, who are others to say shit?
- Sony MDR7506 $100: I remember these were $75, but I guess everything changed when the coronavirus attacked. Anyway, these are the venerated mdr7506, the industry standard for headphones in the professional audio/music industry. Great quality, cheap price. They just, dont have anything going on in the looks department. These are it for pure price/performance.
- BeyerDynamic DT770 (32, 90, 250 ohms) $150: Amazing pair of cans, very comfortable. 32 ohm version if simply plugging into your motherboard. The higher ohm versions may require separate headphone amp. Generally more amps=better audio quality, but differences are NEGLIGIBLE to nonexistent with low output amps (this is like the difference in sound of the same 100w speaker powered by a $30 smsl amp vs a $5000 Mcintosh amp at the same volume levels, very subtle and small but it's there)
- HiFiMAN HE4XX $160: Simply amazing. Open back planar headphones.
- Sennheiser 650/6xx from massdrop/660 $220-$400. The legendary series of headphones from sennheiser. Highly venerated.
- HifiMAN DEVA with Bluemini Receiver $300: Interesting set of open-back planar headphones that came out recently that also allow for usb connection, as well as 3.5mm, but the bluetooth function is a separate module (with a built-in mic) that you connect to the side of the headphones. So it's actually a wired set of planar headphones, but the separate bluetooth module also allows for wireless connection. The module only has enough battery for 5ish hours, so while that is charging you will have to use the wired connection. This is a usb dac/amp/bluetooth module rolled into one. Very stylish and interesting design.
- Audeze Mobius $400: "Gaming" wireless headphones from Audeze, a high end audiophile grade planar magnetic headphone manufacturer. If those words don't mean anything to you, these are wireless headphones with a detachable mic made by an extremely respected audiophile headphone manufacturer. If you want wireless headphones, I would also suggest these or the hifiman deva. These are closed-back headphones vs Hifiman's open back. These headphones also have an onboard dac for usb/3.5mm/bluetooth connection.
Now obviously, there's other choices. A metric fuck load of them. But I had to account for how much you should be paying (price range) for upgrades in sound quality and performance.
Example options (Wireless headsets)
Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.
- TaoTronics 5.0 Bluetooth transmitter+receiver unit $30. It's a small device that can either A: give your non-bt PC bluetooth capabilities by acting as a receiver, or give your wired headphones wireless connectivity to your pc by acting as a transmitter. This thing is battery powered (like a wireless gaming headset) up to 10 hours. You just plug your wired headphones in, put the thing in your pocket and leave your pc.
- See Hifiman Deva above.
- Still here? Fine then. Steelseries artis 7. I put this....thing on this list mainly for true wireless headset inclusion. Still would recommend other headphones.
- Other wireless recommendations: Sennheiser pxc 550 and Sony wh1000xm2 and Bose QC35.
HEADPHONE AMP/DAC (digital to analogue converter)
My knowledge/experience with headphone amps and dacs are...extremely lacking, I'm more of a speaker guy. But, here is a list for you guys.
- Fiio E5/6 $15/25- portable, tiny, budget headphone amp.
- Fiio E10 $55- bang for buck
- SMSL M3 $85 - has usb and spdif connections and line out rca. good starter dac/amp combo.
- Schiit Magni $99- probably the most popular one here. This will drive anything but the most power hungry of headphones. The Schiit stack with the Magni and the Modi is the goto stack for small form factor amp+dac.
- Micca Origen G2 $110 - DAC/amp combo that has usb and fibre, and has a switchable pre-out for powered speakers. Accepts 3.5mm and 1/4''
- V-MODA BoomPRO $30: this is a mic with a 3.5mm that plugs in to your headphones that have a removable cable, simple.
- Antlion modmic $50: yes the modmic. You've probably heard of this.
- Fifine K669B condensor mic $46: simple mic on a stand that plugs in via usb. Imo has better recording quality than Blue snowball.
- Blue Snowball $57: Yes, you've most definitely heard of this.
Other mics? Yes, but are they worth the extra $$ for marginally better audio recording? You decide.
Cool. Stay safe in these dark times brothers. Have a glorious day.
bprs07 Case Study Month #1
submitted by bprs07 to juststart [link] [comments]
Hello again, /juststart
! (Long time, no see.) Welcome to month 1 of my case study.
Who am I?
and I ran a 17-month case study here from March 2017 through August 2018. (Link
) It was my first foray into affiliate marketing with my site making $8,551 in that final update.
When I first joined this sub I think there were 9,000 subscribers. It's over 50,000 now, so looks like there's a lot more competition for me to beat this time around!
What have I been up to?
Since that final update, a lot has happened:
- I quit my full-time job in September 2018.
- I ran the Honolulu Marathon.
- I moved back to the mainland in December 2018 after 5 years living in Hawaii.
- I got married in March 2019 in Massachusetts.
- Then my wife and I bought an RV to live full-time traveling the US.
- We checked out Monowi, Nebraska, the only US town with a population of 1.
- We visited Mount Rushmore.
- We drove to Alaska. The drive is long but incredible once you get to British Colombia.
- Did a bunch of hiking amid Alaska's historically bad wildfire season.
- Panned for gold at the historic Gold Dredge 8.
- Visited Denali National Park and saw the full mountain, which only 30% of visitors are lucky enough to do.
- Saw several orcas and glaciers on a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park.
- Had a black bear come up to our camper and steal my shoe.
- After 6 amazing weeks in Alaska, drove back to the lower 48 to check out Yellowstone National Park, including the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful.
- Hiked 40 miles in 4 days in the Grand Canyon (camping out 3 nights) to check out Havasupai and Havasu Falls.
- Ventured down to New Mexico for the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and to do the Breaking Bad tour in Albuquerque.
- Did some fall-time chile picking instead of the usual apple picking we New Englanders love.
- Checked out the Barringer Crater.
- Wintered in Texas for 2 months, mostly hanging around Austin and the Texas Hill Country (which is a massive wine region).
- But we drank plenty of beer, stopping at about 80 breweries over our 10 months on the road. (Best brewery I've ever been to? Anchorage Brewing.)
- Oh, and we adopted a dog while in Austin named Olive.
Plus a ton more stuff, much of which I'm sure I've forgotten until I look through my photos.
How's my flagship affiliate site doing? Things were chugging along splendidly until the November 2019 Google update when I lost about 40% of my traffic. Interestingly, that traffic loss doesn't seem to be unique to my site. It seems nearly every affiliate site in my niche (household products) lost similar amounts of traffic except for 2-3 industry-leading competitors.
It seems like Google changed up their SERPs to display more features, like product listings, while pushing affiliate sites down to the bottom of page 1 or onto page 2.
Now, I'll be completely honest here: It's been a busy last 18 months for us and we've definitely been doing more living than working. I left this site mostly to its own devices, only putting in a couple of hours per week (some weeks no work) maintaining it. I published almost zero new content and hardly did any backlink outreach. I was asking for this to happen.
Instead, most of my time went into a few side projects:
Regarding consulting, I can't believe I ever decided to get back into that. One of the primary reasons I got into affiliate marketing was because I hated reporting to other people. But after nearly a year of only reporting to myself, I found I missed collaborating on different projects.
- Working on my photography, Adobe Lightroom, and Photoshop skills to be able to document the many once-in-a-lifetime things we got to do.
- Building out a casual travel blog to document our adventures.
- Part-time consulting for aspiring affiliate marketers, primarily doing niche validation, keyword research, backlink outreach, and some freelance content development.
Having a set schedule with clients also helps me stay accountable.
Once we adopted Olive in January, we found ourselves staying home more often to help her adjust to her new nomadic lifestyle. That meant a lot more time working, so I decided to build out my consulting business more while planning a new affiliate project (the one you're reading about here).
Truthfully, I missed the accountability of posting monthly updates. I'm excited to share my journey with you all again!
Niche Selection I launched my first affiliate site on February 24, 2017. I thought it would be poetic to launch this new site on the same day: February 24, 2020.
I don't plan on spending big bucks buying backlinks for this site, which means niche selection is hugely important. I'm looking for that Goldilocks zone where there's enough traffic upside without TOO much competition.
I also firmly believe in being at least SOMEWHAT interested in your subject matter, so I brainstormed a few ideas and did an hour of high-level research into competitors and available affiliate programs.
Ultimately, I landed on my new niche: Homes, Home Improvement & Backyard/Gardening.
It's basically a "be a King of your castle" blog with a bunch of potential sub-niches I plan to target.
The next question becomes: Where should I start?
I found a bunch of my competitors and downloaded their backlink and traffic stats from both Ahrefs and Majestic.
CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
The list goes deeper than the top 30, but that's a good idea of what I'm up against.
Then I scraped the top pages from these competitors to figure out what keywords they're ranking for. I compiled all of these keywords in an Excel file and went to work categorizing them all into my theoretical sub-niches (think of these as WordPress categories) and organizing them by search intent into four different groups:
Then I loaded it all into RStudio (my plotting program of choice) and visualized everything to figure out where to focus my initial efforts.
- "Best of" roundups
- Single product reviews
- Comparisons (this vs that)
- Questions (keywords that start with who/what/when/where/why/how)
CLICK HERE FOR THE PLOT
The age old question: money or info content? I like to start with informational content for two reasons:
From the image above, I decided to start with two categories: Grilling and Tools.
- I want the site to look like a legit authority and not a quick cash-grab affiliate site (this is good for backlink outreach).
- Early money content won't rank for months anyway and I'm in it for the long haul.
Why? On the "question" and "comparison" charts above, I liked their higher volumes with relatively low keyword difficulties, and I think a site that's initially based on grilling and tools fits my vision to a T: "be the King of your castle."
All told, I spent 6 hours on niche selection and keyword research before doing anything else.
Then the usual setup stuff It took 90 minutes to find and purchase a domain. I ended up going with something brandable instead of keyword stuffed, though the domain is easily recognizable as being related to this niche (so I didn't pick something like "Noom" where you don't know what it is at first glance).
I purchased the domain through my host, A2 Hosting, then did the various things you need to do when launching a new site:
(Oh yeah, my name is Bryan.)
- Installed WordPress
- Set up SSL using LetsEncrypt
- Created an email address ([email protected]...)
- Installed a theme (StudioPress/Genesis)
- Uploaded and configured plugins
These are the plugins I use:
This whole setup process took me another hour.
- Akismet (spam)
- Atomic Blocks (Gutenberg formatting/blocks)
- Autoptimize (site speed)
- ConvertKit (email list)
- Easy Hide Login (security)
- Easy Table of Contents
- EWWW Image Optimizer (site speed)
- Genesis Simple Hooks (easy edits)
- Rank Math SEO (better than Yoast)
- WP Word Count
- WPForms Lite (contact forms)
Site Design I don't spend a ton of time on this in the early going because I want to make headway on content. I can always improve this later, so for now I created a basic text-only logo in Canva, picked a color scheme, added the custom CSS elements I always use (for things like call-out boxes, image borders, etc.) and then started writing.
Content Creation I skipped the About and Contact pages altogether and barely touched the home page. I'll get to that stuff in the next month (or whenever traffic starts coming in).
With my initial categories chosen (grilling and tools) it's time to get started on the informational content. In this first week, I published 7 articles with the following stats:
All told, that's 7 articles and 16,200 words (2,314 words per article).
|Article ||Category ||Format ||Ahrefs KD ||Ahrefs Searches ||Length (Words) |
|Article 1 ||Grilling ||Question ||0 KD ||2,600 ||950 |
|Article 2 ||Grilling ||Comparison ||3 KD ||3,400 ||2,500 |
|Article 3 ||Grilling ||Question ||0 KD ||1,100 ||2,750 |
|Article 4 ||Grilling ||Comparison ||2 KD ||2,400 ||3,300 |
|Article 5 ||Grilling ||Review ||1 KD ||4,700 ||1,900 |
|Article 6 ||Grilling ||Comparison ||0 KD ||900 ||3,100 |
|Article 7 ||Grilling ||Question ||0 KD ||1,700 ||1,700 |
I want to talk about Article 4 more. It was a Brand X vs Brand Y comparison. I love these articles for four reasons:
Regarding that last one, those product spec lists are awesome because they make it incredibly easy to write future reviews and product comparisons. I'll need all that info eventually, so I might as well do it all at the beginning while the research is fresh in my mind.
- The searcher usually is ready to buy and has narrowed down their decision.
- These posts serve as good "hubs" to link out to individual reviews.
- You need to do a lot of research about the niche to really nail the content.
- Extensive product research sets itself up well for one of my favorite content upgrades: downloadable, sortable files of product specs.
Between these two brands, I identified 42 products and 19 product specs (e.g., size, weight, etc.). Some specs are easy to complete looking at product photos. Others require reading product pages on various retailers' websites. Sometimes I have to read the user manuals (the URLs of which I saved as well because user manuals are always useful).
That Brand X vs Brand Y comparison changed up my strategy. I wanted to pound out more info content, but I felt like I had some product knowledge momentum and decided to keep with it for Articles 5 (a review) and 6 (Brand X vs Brand Z comparison this time).
Total Time Invested: 73 hours in Month 1 One thing I didn't do with my first case study was log my time invested in the site. That's something I want to do this time around.
My goal will be to work 20-30 hours per week on this project, but my consulting gigs take priority.
Thankfully, we're in the middle of a stay-at-home quarantine! (Sarcasm.) The silver lining? Plenty of time to work.
|Month ||Organic ||Referral ||Social ||Direct ||Total |
|Month 1 (Mar) ||7 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||7 |
|Total ||7 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||7 |
Earnings Stats I haven't joined a single affiliate program and don't plan to until I have sufficient traffic. While I will join Amazon Associates, I think much/most of my revenue will come from other programs.
|Month ||Clicks ||Ord Items ||Ship Items ||Conv ||Revenue ||Earnings ||Rev/Ship ||Clicks/Sess |
|Month 1 (Mar) ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||n/a |
|Total ||0 ||0 ||0 ||n/a ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||n/a |
Money Stuff Earnings Breakdown
|Month ||Amzn Aff ||Non-Amzn Aff ||Ads ||Total Rev ||Rev / 1K Sess ||%Amzn |
|Month 1 (Mar) ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||n/a |
|Total ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||$0.00 ||n/a |
Many of the costs below are shared across multiple projects, so the per-project cost is lower than shown here. However, I have included the full costs to simulate this being my only project.
- Ahrefs: $82.00 per month (annual billing rate)
- Majestic: $49.00 per month
- Domain Reg + WHOIS Protection: $24.90
- A2 Hosting: $27.99 per month
- Genesis Theme (StudioPress): $54.95
- Month 1 Total: $238.84
- Case Study Total: $238.84
Thanks as always for reading. Comment below with any questions/clarifications.
|Period ||Income ||Expenses ||Net Income |
|Month 1 (Mar) ||$0.00 ||($238.84) ||($238.84) |
|Total ||$0.00 ||($238.84) ||($238.84) |
It's good to be back!
How I got started towards making over $10,000/month consistently in less than ONE year. Lots of valuable lessons...
submitted by kyuuji_kun to dropservicing [link] [comments]
I started a small social media marketing business around a year ago and I wanted to share with you my journey. All the way from making nothing in the beginning up to a steady income of over $10,000 a month. It's not all profit as I will explain but it's been superb so far and my best month was $14,000+.
**This is not some get rich quick nonsense but it is a great way to learn some useful skills, while simultaneously helping peoples' businesses. You get to learn vital skills that are not taught in any school – entrepreneurship, sales, buyer psychology, communication and so on. It takes a lot of work and commitment – just want to be realistic from the beginning. My hope is that you get some sort of value out of this.** Why do I post here?
It is my belief that so many young people today have the abilities to succeed. But due to various reasons, they feel dragged down and remain mediocre.
My hope is to inspire you to get started and to share with you some challenges I faced as a new entrepreneur, so you can learn from my mistakes and save yourself precious time.
With that said, let's jump into it. Let me know what you think in the end. Backstory
Like the majority of us, I grew up with no direction whatsoever. I got the usual advice of “go to school, get a good job, save your money and then retire”.
Guess what? I believed it. I studied hard in school, got the best grades and I managed to land myself a job as a game designer.
The job was quite cool actually. I got to design games, creating characters, calculating numbers for levelling those characters in game, price in-game items to tempt you to buy. Yep, that’s me taking your money when you pay for in-app purchases. It was pretty fun overall.
The only problem was that the pay check was peanuts. I felt I was getting paid WAY less than I was worth. To top that off, my boss was a jerk.
“So, this is it?”, I thought to myself.
Eventually, I got so tired from having my boss constantly breathing down my neck. That I started to hate going to work. Suddenly, I no longer enjoyed designing games.
My life had become a total routine. Every day from Monday to Friday having to deal with that annoying creature. Then I'd drink my sorrows away on the weekend, wake up at noon on Sunday after a wild Saturday night of endless drinking and partying. And spend the rest of Sunday dreading Monday.
For me, Sunday was actually the most painful day of the week because I knew I had to do it all over again starting Monday. It was a vicious cycle.
Here's the thing.
I knew I wanted to make money. I knew I wanted out of that job. To have enough money that I wouldn't need to deal with bosses that I hated. I just didn't know how to make money by myself without dealing with all the crap all day long. Sitting in that horrendous traffic. You know, living the mediocre 9-5 life earning a pimple of a pay check.
I thought about it constantly, “There's got to be a way to make money”. I had read about making passive money multiple times online and I dreamed of being able to do that one day. I just didn't know how, or if it even existed.
Then one day, I got fired from my job. It had got so bad I was barely even productive at that point. Oh well...
I was free! Now I can start my own business and achieve financial freedom! Or so I thought...
Guess what I did for a whole month?
Nothing except go to the gym, play video games all day and hit the bars at night to meet girls.
Finally, I realised that if I didn't figure it out, I would have to end up getting another job that I hated.
So I got to work researching online about how to make money. I had never successfully made money online before and I had no idea where to start. I tried affiliate marketing on Instagram for a month and failed miserably. What I learned was that my marketing was crap.
So I ended up doing a Udemy course to learn how to do social media marketing and ads. I dedicated an entire month to learning. Turns out, I enjoyed it even more than I ever enjoyed game design. So, I decided to give it a go. My early beginnings with social media marketing
Months 2-3: Equipped with my new skills, my quest started with UpWork. It was ruthless. I spent 3 months on there but most clients were d*cks. After one client changed his mind for the 11th time on a $80 ad campaign, I quit.
Months 3-5: Next up, I decided to approach some people I knew to do some social media marketing for their small business. They had little cash flow and could only afford to pay me little. They weren't getting much results so I felt I couldn't really charge much.
Months 5+: At this point, I had got a part-time job working with a notary that my father knew. He had recently started his own practice and was looking to get more clients. So I offered to help promote his professional services on social media, on the side, for the mighty one-time fee of $500 (Yep, still clueless).
I spent a TON of time working on crafting the most eye-catching ads, fine tuning the targeting and assessing all the analytics. Guess what? It worked! We were getting plenty of leads. Some people would email, others would call us to set an appointment.
After seeing the results that I managed to get for the notary, I asked him what price would he have been glad to pay for the exact same work I did, to a professional marketing agency. His answer was $2,000 per month. Oops.
Following that, I quickly realised most of what I had been doing was wrong. I had not been operating like a real business. I didn't know how to sell nor how to justify such a high price. I didn’t dare to charge high. I wanted to set up my own website, have consistent leads coming in and be the person running the business, rather than the one doing all the work.
So I opted to change my strategy.
I wanted to be able to charge those higher prices. My dream of making passive income was still alive. However, I did realise that passive income takes time and that at the beginning, it takes hard work to build momentum.
There IS a way you can get a lot of work done and spend less time doing it but only if you did this one thing.
Before I dive into it, think about this:
How many hours do you and I have in our day? 24. If you sleep 8 hours, you are left with 16.
That's not a lot. Even if you were a robot and worked all those 16 hours, there would be a limit to how much work you can get done. So let's say you're left with 14 hours dedicated to working.
What if there was a way where you could have 48 hours in one day? Or 64? Instead of 24 hours?
You would be able to make 2x, 3x much more money, right?
But no one has 64 hours in a day.
Look, if each person has 14 hours a day available to work. Then two persons have 28, three persons have 42 and so on.
Can you see where I am going here?
You see, it's not money that is in shortage. It's time. So why wouldn't you take advantage of other peoples' time? By having them do the work for you.
After all, that is why every company hires employees. They do it to make more money, not out of generosity. When my productivity dropped at the job I had, guess what? They fired me because they found someone better. I was replaceable. Here is how I make $10,000+ per month with drop servicing
Thanks to my newfound knowledge and some costly mistakes...
I came up with a new strategy, which meant I basically had to start over.
Overall, I knew that if I could get results for the notary – I could replicate that with more businesses. This small success made me thirsty for more.
But how could I get more work from clients consistently and be able to get them all top quality results?
I knew I had two pieces of the puzzle to solve. The first was, finding a way to get consistent leads and converting them into sales. The second, delegating all the work by outsourcing the services to employees and collecting the profit.
Here is a breakdown of how I solved this puzzle.
The first step I took was going to the internet. I typed what I wanted to read about in Google search and quickly discovered a term called 'drop servicing'. I had never heard of it before.
But I learned that it was the exact same thing that I was looking to do. It's actually very simple to understand. You get to act as a middleman between a buyer and a seller for a service. So, if I receive $1,000 for a service I provide and I outsource the work for $600 – I get to keep a profit of $400.
“Okay, sounds cool. But how on earth can I get leads consistently?”
I didn't want to do personal visits to local businesses. I certainly didn't fancy making cold calls and getting yelled at. Even though I would have been willing to do it if necessary.
Then I had a realisation.
“Hey, why don't I use my own social media marketing skills to get leads for myself? Yes, that will work!”
Now I was excited!
“But wait, I am going to need a website to send those leads to and convert them into sales”.
Now I was stuck. Apart from having knowledge of social media marketing, I had zero tech skills and knowledge of how to build a website. Let alone a website related to this new concept I had just discovered, drop servicing.
So, take a guess what I tried to do?
I jumped on YouTube to start learning how to build websites. Of course, I wanted to have the best website out there. My motto has always been: go big or go home.
I was making a LOT of mistakes and constantly getting frustrated trying to learn how to build a drop servicing website.
I would literally spend hours trying to figure out how to get an image in the exact place I wanted it to be on the website. Then I figured I would need to learn some code to do it. Again, more hours having to play around trying to design what I needed while actually getting nowhere.
The weeks just dragged on and on. I was still frustrated and the website I had 'designed' was horrible. I knew all this wasted time could have been used on getting clients, making myself some sales and growing my business.
So, I started looking for solutions online again when I stumbled on a site that specifically designed websites in the drop servicing niche.
I had zero idea that there were people who can build websites that focus on just one particular niche out there. Drop servicing.
Not knowing what to expect, I reached out to these guys who offered to build me a site specifically for my own social media marketing drop servicing business.
They took the time to understand my business and design a stellar site for me and to my surprise, it wasn't as costly as I thought it would be.
All I paid them was around $900 – hell, I can make that amount with just one client for one month's work. They also gave me my own logo (cool) and showed me some techniques I had never used before to boost sales, all for free. That was the real game-changer for me.
If only I had taken that approach from the start... Hiring someone to design my website straight away instead of toiling away trying to build my own website for weeks (while really getting nowhere). I would have made 10X more money. Because I could have used that time to get clients instead of feeling frustrated trying to learn web development.
The reason I'm sharing this with you is to understand how valuable time is. You see, every day that goes by is a day we can never recover. On the other hand, you can always recover and get a chance to make money again. Time is really our most scarce and valuable resource.
Now I had a killer site that I could send leads to from my own social media ads. If they didn't convert straight away (most don't, completely normal) I could collect the visitors' data and retarget them with more ads. Sounds pretty cool, right? I had solved the first piece of the puzzle – getting consistent leads.
Now comes the second piece of the puzzle. How can I handle all these new sales without doing the actual work myself? This is where drop servicing comes in.
I went ahead and listed a job request on Fiverr.com, where you can buy services for a relatively cheap price. This is where I was looking to hire social media marketers. It took me just 15 minutes to write and post a job request on Fiverr and I received dozens of messages from applicants interested in my work.
Due to the amount of applications, I closed down the request in less than a day. I eventually picked two of them. The great thing about Fiverr is that you don't have to pay out a salary but rather give the freelancers a percentage of what you earn for every job.
Now I had two guys responsible for my services. If any one decides to leave, I have many more applications in my inbox so I can quickly find a replacement.
I did have to create a system to make this work. Every morning, I would email a zip file to my freelancer's email address with crystal clear instructions. The freelancer had 18 hours to get the work done.
Each project for every specific client had marketing targets that needed to be achieved to ensure the client gets results. For instance, the client and myself would agree on monthly and quarterly targets. To hit these targets, one needs a specific set of actions to take place on a daily basis.
I would lay these out and communicate them to my freelancers on a daily basis, who would go ahead and implement the instructions as part of their day's work.
With that said, most of my day's work involved sending out these emails in the morning and a couple of hours laying out the plans to achieve the clients' targets. My main focus was on growing the business and getting my clients results. While leaving the actual dirty work to be handled by my employees.
Eventually, when I started getting myself additional clients and making more income. It was time to raise the quality even further.
Now I wanted my own employees to work for me full-time. So I listed an ad on Craigslist where I hired an additional two employees, on top of the two freelancers I converted into full timers. Right now, I have four employees working for me in total. The #1 Rule You Need to Know To Eliminate 90% of Your Business Troubles
During this time, I was building up my income but I was still learning about business.
So I would go on the internet and read self improvement blogs and articles. Related to business, management, sales. Anything I needed to learn to help me make more money.
Then I came across a rule, a principle you must follow in your business and your life.
It was this: The worst number is one. Never have just one, always have two of something.
I started following this rule and applying it to my business. Did you notice I initially hired two persons instead of just one when I advertised on Fiverr? This is the reason why.
For every service that I sell, now I have two persons working on it. The concept is you need to have at least two people who can do the same job. If one of them cannot work on a certain day, I will have another one handle the whole work.
Another thing I did was have my employees sign an agreement and send it to me. Stating that if they want to leave, they must notify me 2 weeks prior to quitting.
Can you see how my mindset changed when I started treating what I was doing like a real business? Quick Recap
I started with no knowledge of social media marketing. No idea of how to build, let alone run a business. Made a lot of mistakes but was always seeking wisdom and knowledge. Seeking to improve my game.
It took me some time to figure it out. What I focus on now is driving traffic to my own brand's website, collecting leads and then retargeting those leads with social media ads. I usually charge anywhere between 1-3K per month.
Although I make great money from managing these businesses' social media campaigns, it's thrilling to know that the value I add to these businesses is 10X what they pay and that they are satisfied with my work.
Still, I am in the early stages and know I can achieve much more.
So here is my humble, step-by-step advice on how to begin:
So how do you build social media ads that get massive results?
- Take a course on Udemy, related to any service you see yourself potentially doing. There is so much to choose from. Pick one and get started on (non affiliate): https://www.udemy.com
- Set yourself up as a real business from day one. Do it pro from the get go. Do not waste time playing around and 'pretending to be busy', reading emails, doing some paperwork or even building/trying to build your own website like I did. Your focus should be 100% on getting more business, more clients and more sales. Period. Get your own drop servicing website taken care of by professionals. These are the guys I personally worked with (non affiliate): https://www.lazdropservice.com
- Next, you want to work on your business day in, day out. But never stop learning! I can't stress this enough. Dedicate most of your day to learning the key elements of running your own business – sales, managing employees, customer service, building long-term relationships with your existing clients, selling sold/unsold clients. Then I want you to dedicate at least one hour everyday to learning how you can improve these skills I just mentioned. This could be done by reading books, customer service tips on Youtube and so on. I would believe, as a business owner, customer service is the most important.
That's a great question.
Here is what you need to know... the most important thing is that your clients want sales. They don't want the fanciest looking ad, the coolest social media content being posted. Everything you do must be based on getting your client results.
That means every social media post, story, promotion, ad campaign, engagement with your audience. Everything must contribute to the overall goal.
Let's take the notary example.
Is the goal of social media advertising to teach people about notarial services? Or to share local news? Or to create the brightest looking ad? No.
The whole purpose is to get the viewer to either a) book an appointment; or b) contact the notary for more information about their services. Both of which lead to that person working with the notary and making the notary more money.
Everything that you do has to be based around this key concept. All else that doesn't contribute to the client's targets, should be discarded.
Once you realise that you are capable of getting your clients results. And you sell those results, the amount you can charge and the success you can achieve become limitless. **Quick Disclaimer*\
While I make $10K+ a month in revenue consistently, I reinvest a lot of that money in the business itself (improving my website's design, customer service, refining my sales processes) and self improvement. Sometimes testing ads takes a bit longer to work until you find that ad that converts really well. Some things you have to revise and so on. While most of my employees do this stuff, I still need to monitor how things are going, along with our specific company's metrics.
I still live quite humbly and dedicate a ton of time to learning and self improvement.
This is an excellent way to learn entrepreneurship while you earn money. You have to learn to sell, outsource work, manage and so on. Everyday. This is how you learn, not by sitting on some school desk.
If you are searching for quick, easy money – sure you can get to that point with drop servicing. But you must be willing to put in the time and the work in the beginning.
The first step is commitment. This is really where most people get stuck. Until you invest time AND money in your business, then you are not yet committed. And if you don't have commitment, guess what happens? You will give up at the first hurdle. I learned that the hard way through my past failures in business prior to drop servicing.
The reality is if you don't invest time and money, you will never get an abundance of time and money in return. Seems like a paradox, but that's how it is.
That is why all those get rich quick schemes you see never seem to work. Because creating true passive income usually requires anywhere from 1-5 years of hard, hard work – consistently investing time and money towards achieving your grand vision.
So if you want to get started building your own drop servicing business, learning vital skills while making money. I wanted to let you know what it really takes before someone thinks this is some get rich quick plan.
Currently, I am focusing on scaling more and adding some more workers to the force. There is more I could talk about but this post is getting long.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you got tremendous value out of this. I will answer any questions you might have in the comments below.
The best boxer briefs — Typical Contents
Preface: This is the first guide in a series from Typical Contents, a kind of “wirecutter for clothes”. It’s by the team behind Epochs, a now defunct menswear blog. We’ll be reviewing categories of clothing in hopes of finding the best item(s) in that category. This first post focuses on finding the best pair of boxer briefs. We bought all 13 pairs tested using our own money and there are no referral or affiliate links contained in this post. Over the past six months I've been on a personal crusade to find the best pair of mens boxer briefs. The reason? I'm investing the time and money now, upfront, so I never have to think about what underwear I buy ever again. During this quest I've researched over 20 pairs of underwear, and wore and washed 13 pairs over six months (and I will continue to test and update this guide accordingly). CDLP's Boxer Brief came out on top; they're light and comfortable, look great and can be had for a reasonable price when bought in multiples. submitted by typical-contents to malefashionadvice [link] [comments]
CDLP Boxer Brief CDLP’s Boxer Brief came out top in our testing. They were the most comfortable fit, perfectly hugging the wearer in a reassuring and supportive way. The unusual lyocell material was light, soft and has significant stretch. The material did have a slightly unusual sheen but this lessened on the body of the garment after a few washes (but remained on the waistband). The printed label on the inside is an excellent touch, avoiding the irritation of fabric labels. The waistband seam is moved off centre, preventing irritation in the small of the wearer’s back. The Portuguese manufacture oozes quality and means you’ll be supporting well paid workers. They are also durable: After six months of weekly wears and washes they show no issues.
An incredibly comfortable pair of underwear thanks to their light and airy lyocell material and lack of a fabric label. They're not quite so hard on the wallet in multipacks and subscriptions. Made in Portugal.
View on CDLP's website
£29 is expensive for a pair of underwear but its on par with others also made in developed countries. The price per pair can be brought down significantly by multipacks and CDLP's "Automatique" subscription service. A three pack costs £75, reducing the price per pair to £25 (a nine pack reduces the price per pair to £21.60 but costs an eye watering £195). Combining the three pack with a three month subscription reduces the price to £59 every three months. This reduces the price per pair to a relatively reasonable £19.
We were also impressed by CDLP’s presentation. The garments themselves exude a premium but understated feeling which is preferable to the brash loudness found in a lot of mens underwear. The bright yellow box the underwear arrives in was not only visually arresting, but made the unboxing feel special. It was reminiscent of a Mr Porter or Apple box opening experience.
This is the best pair of underpants I've ever owned. In the entire rotation this is the only pair I really looked forward to putting on. If you only want to own a single model of boxer brief, these should be it.
What we’d like to see improved As CDLP’s founders themselves say, they “are not perfect”. We'd like more transparency around their factory in Portugal, more transparency about their lyocell material, its environmental impact, and manufacturing process. We’d also like to see some sort of recycling/disposal programme where old or worn out pairs can be sent back to the company for recycling alá Patagonia and others.
Sunspel Stretch Cotton Trunk The Sunspel Stretch Cotton Trunk is just as comfortable as our top pick, the CDLP Boxer Brief. They have an excellent, supportive and flattering fit, and conform well to the wearer's body. Unfortunately it does have a fabric label, which we found annoying. Where this pair differs from our top pick is the material, which is a more traditional cotton/elastane mix. It is thicker and more substantial feeling than CDLP's lyocell offering but we prefer CDLP's lighter feeling material. The quality and durability on display from Sunspel is outstanding, and we expect this pair to last a very long time. Do not confuse these Stretch Cotton Trunks with Sunspel's Superfine Cotton Trunks, which are 100% cotton and we did not favour in our testing (they are also more expensive).
A well crafted pair of underwear that is comfortable and will last a long time. The material is more substantial than our top pick, but was less breathable and light feeling. Made in Portugal.
View on Sunspel's website
Sunspel do not offer multipacks or any kind of subscription service meaning what you see is what you get in terms of pricing, barring sales. All in all Sunspel has a nearly as compelling offering as our top pick for the same price (or more expensive if you take multipacks and subscription discounts into account) as our top pick. But purchasers will not be disappointed with the quality and fit on display from this heritage British brand.
UNIQLO Mens Supima Cotton Boxer Brief For the more fiscally minded there is the UNIQLO Mens Supima Cotton Boxer Brief. They have an excellent, close fit and were almost (but not quite) as comfortable as our more expensive top picks. We were honestly surprised at how close they came though. The construction and quality doesn't feel as robust as our top picks and don't expect them to last nearly as long as the pairs made in Portugal. We wish they didn't have a fabric label, although it is at least a small one.
Nearly (but not quite) as comfortable as our top picks, but there are significant sacrifices made in durability, quality and—arguably—origin. Made in Sri Lanka.
Buy on UNIQLO's website
There was some slight confusion between different models with identical names on UNIQLO's website. Likely they are similar models from different factories that changed season to season. Perhaps this is a hazard of fast fashion. Speaking of which, there is some debate around the ethics used in UNIQLO's factories, despite the company’s claims. Bear in mind that this is a rock-bottom priced piece of clothing made in Sri Lanka, so ethically minded shoppers should probably steer clear.
Why you should trust us We are the team behind the (now defunct) menswear website Epochs. Epochs examined the cultural and social history of menswear and produced some well received articles in the menswear community (e.g. Epochs Field Guide to Nautical Clothing, Epochs Field Guide to Camoflauge). We pride ourselves on our in-depth approach to research and focus on good design.
Luke McDonald is a fashion writer and stylist at London-based Thread. He has written many articles about menswear and styled a wide array of fashion shoots at Thread. Patrick McDonald is a designer based in Vancouver and has been a Muji underwear enthusiast for many years.
I (Andrew Emerson) am a designer in London. Finding the best pair of underwear became a mission of mine when I ended up with a drawer full of identical boxer briefs from a clothing subscription service in 2019. The consistency was nice but the quality was poor, so I decided I would replace my dozens of pairs of this brand's boxer brief with another model.
How we tested Researching began online. We looked at a number of Reddit threads on malefashionadvice (thread 1, thread 2) and buyitforlife (thread 1, thread 2). We also looked at The Wirecutter’s “Best Boxer brief for Men” and “Best Travel Underwear 2020” articles as well. The Strategist had three relevant articles: ”The Best Men’s Underwear on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers”, ”What’s the Best Men’s Underwear?”, and ”What Are the Best Boxer Briefs for Men?”.
We also looked at brands that we had previous experience with, and that had permanent basics collections such as Everlane, Sunspel, ARKET and UNIQLO.
We looked to get a spread on different materials (cotton, cotton/elastane, wool, synthetics), different origins (Europe, Middle East, and Asia), and price points. Finally we purchased a shortlist of these using our own money.
We created a set of criteria that all pairs were judged against (see “What to look for” below). All purchased pairs were put in rotation for several months and notes taken on first and subsequent wears. We tracked the different pairs, stored notes, and ranked them using a Notion database. Finally we compiled our findings into this article. We intend to update this page periodically as we try new pairs (keep and eye on our changelog for updates) as there are other pairs we would still like to try.
What to look for in a pair of boxer briefs We looked for a pair of underwear that was suitable for every day wear and most of life’s occasions; work, sleeping in, date night, running to catch a bus, dropping kids off, lounging around your apartment (but not for going to the gym or exercising in, you will need specialty underwear for that).
Boxer briefs only: We looked specifically at boxer briefs so that discounts more loose fitting boxers, and legless varieties like briefs. Boxer briefs were chosen because they are more supportive and comfortable than their cousins, and are flattering without being overly revealing. They are a modern, balanced undergarment for men.
Availability: Garments should be widely available and be almost always in stock. We discounted most high street labels because they have many different models that change frequently. We preferred those that were underwear specialists, or had a permanent collection of underwear.
Colours: We tested everything in black. This was to have a fair comparison, but also we prefer an understated look. It’s also more practical and won’t discolour.
Length and rise: Is the pair long or short in the leg? High or low rise? A balance is important here, but generally we want a regular rise combined with a slightly shorter leg length. Longer leg length can look antiquated, but a very short leg length can be uncomfortable and veer into hot pants territory (that’s bad). A slightly shorter leg can be flattering.
Fit: How tight or loose the pair is. Being boxer briefs, we are looking for a closer fitting garment, without being tight. The fit or cut is also a key factor when considering aesthetics. The fit should be flattering to the shape of the wearer, but bear in mind that it won’t make you look fit if you’re not.
Material: The main body will be some combination of cotton, wool, lyocell, elastane (spandex for our American compatriots). We found about 5-10% elastane is necessary for a comfortable, slightly stretchy fit. Without elastane, the garments had no give, weren’t fitted enough, and were generally less comfortable (they also tended to ride up the leg more). The waistband is generally a synthetic material with a percentage of elastane. The material of the waistband wasn’t as important as how it fit and felt (see below for more on waistbands).
Waistband: Two things to consider — softness and width. It should have a soft handle and be wide enough to spread the load. It also shouldn’t be too tight, or turn over easily.
Keyhole: Pretty much the only “feature” that mens boxer briefs can have; does the garment have a keyhole or not? We do not have a strong preference; slightly preferring without for simplicity. However it was not a factor that was taken into account when making our picks.
Durability: How does the garment hold up in day to day wear? How does it cope with being washed again and again? Despite what Tom Ford says, we don’t believe in throwing out our underwear after six months. We believe underwear should be able to stand up to being worn and washed at least once per week for around twelve months. We will update this guide as we continue to wash and wear our top picks.
Label/tag: Underwear should not have tags, which are annoying and itchy. Labels/tags printed directly on the garment are strongly preferred.
Price: Price can vary significantly, but we found there are generally a low and high price bracket, mostly depending on where the garment is made (see “origin” below).
Origin: Where the garment is manufactured. Today’s shoppers are much more conscientious about the ethics of their clothing. We gave preference to garments manufactured in developed countries and made in ethical, transparent ways.
Multipacks and subscription: Often a good way to reduce the price per unit. Subscription services are a great way to build up your underwear collection and of injecting fresh pairs into your rotation.
The competition The ARKET Pima Cotton Trunks had too narrow a waistband which caused pressure on the wearer's hips. The tag is very long and caused irritation. They were also more expensive than our budget pick, which took them out of the running for us.
Although similar in many ways to our top pick (particularly the excellent lyocell material), the CDLP Boxer Trunk offers a more aggressive cut and a lower rise than their Boxer Brief cousins. However we found the leg length overly short and the cuffs of the legs more loose fitting than our top pick, leading to a overall less secure feeling fit. Some people may prefer the more sporty look, and the pair could be described as more flattering than any of our picks, but for everyday wear we prefer the CDLP Boxer Brief.
The Everlane Boxer Brief is a comfortable and all round good pair of underwear. They fit well, are the right length, and look good. The printed tag is a great touch as well. They fit was good, but were ever so slightly on the loose side in medium and weren't as flattering as the rest of our picks. The issue with Everlane's entry was the price. At £14 they are nearly three times more expensive than our budget pick for about the same experience. And although our top pick is priced at £29, they can be had for as low as £19 (and they're made in Portugal, not Sri Lanka). Shipping to the UK was also very expensive at £12. Overall they are a Very Good pair of boxer briefs but they're too expensive to be a budget pick and don't quite reach the excellence of our top picks.
The Rozenbroek Organic Bamboo Jersey Trunk is the only pair we wore that was manufactured in the UK, and is well priced for such a claim. Unfortunately we found the waistband very uncomfortable. It was too stiff, tight and thick. The edges were also slightly sharp and dug into the wearer’s hips. The bamboo material was comfortable, stretchy and light but Rozenbroek don't show the exact material breakdown on their website or on the garment itself.
Saxx is a brand well known and liked on the internet, featuring on many favourites lists. We tried the Saxx Undercover Trunk and found the cotton/modal/elastane material light, airy and supportive. One of Saxx's primary selling points is their "ballpark" technology, which is designed to cup the wearer’s genitals. We found this to be somewhat uncomfortable in practice though, with the fabric edge of the "pouch" rubbing annoyingly against the skin. The Vancouver, Canada based brand also isn't transparent about where it makes its product, which appear to be Chinese in origin. This lack of transparency made us somewhat uncomfortable, and £21 is on the steep side for China made underwear. The branding and marketing is also slightly over the top and in your face, especially compared to the understated approach of our picks. Finally Saxx is quite difficult to get outside of Canada and the US, and we had to resort to specialty outdoor shops to purchase ours in the UK.
The baggiest fit we tested belongs to the Smartwool Men's Merino Sport 150 Boxer Brief, which took them out of the running for us. This was a shame, because the merino wool construction was soft and light. £35 is also too much to be charging for a pair of underwear made in Vietnam.
The leg length was a little too long on the Stór Bamboo Boxer Brief and as a result they don't flatter the wearer. The bamboo material mix is soft and breathable and conforms well to the body and feels comparable to the lyocell used in our top pick. The origin (Turkey) is a little suspicious as it isn't listed anywhere on the website or the product. I had to reach out to the company to find out where they were made.
Being 100% cotton means the Sunspel Superfine Cotton Trunks don’t have much give, which created problems when worn. When combined with slightly too tight leg openings, it meant they tended to ride up over time, eventually leading to a nappy like appearance which then had to be readjusted. The tag is also a little annoying. Having said all that the waistband was soft and comfortable, and they are constructed well.
Stop Hate for Profit: Peloton spends 76% of their marketing budget on Facebook, while 180+ companies are quitting the platform over hate speech. Why won't Peloton join the boycott?
submitted by ClipIn to pelotoncycle [link] [comments]
180+ Companies are boycotting Facebook; Peloton isn't.
In the past week major brands - Verizon, Adidas, Unilever, Honda, and Hershey’s - to name a few - joined a global boycott
of advertising on Facebook. They join a list of over 180 companies agreeing to "Hit Pause on Hate," (some are listed here
) by not advertising on Facebook in the month of July. The boycott has been organized by the Anti-Defamation League
, Color of Change
, the Free Press
, Common Sense
, the NAACP
, and Sleeping Giants
- to name a few.
The goal is to send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and violence. Facebook took $70 billion in ad dollars; but did you realize it's the ONLY social media platform Peloton officially recognizes? Peloton spent 76% of their marketing budget
there from 11/16/2018 - 12/15/19! Peloton has heavily advertised on FB - and promoted the platform - for years. Marketing efforts have long been led by Carolyn Tisch Blodgett
and “community” efforts led and overseen by Jayvee Nava
. While many of you were pointing out
the longstanding toxic environment of their Facebook page, Peloton still left it largely unmoderated. Even going so far as patting themselves on the back with a “200k strong
” badge, and bragging about it multiple times
on their public blog. They push users to Facebook via links on every page of their website; its mentioned 92 times on the company blog; in every email from John Foley; and on the bike, Tread, and apps pop-ups encourage users to sign up for Facebook accounts and link their Peloton login. Peloton doesn't just advertise on FB, they actively encourage users participate there.
Peloton spent $324 million on marketing
- 35% of sales - in the 12 months ended June 2019. With 76% dedicated
to Facebook, that's $246.24 million.
Let’s put that $246.24 million into perspective. Money spent on a platform promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence. What would that money buy? It's 6,313,846 monthly subscriptions, or 109,684 bikes, or 57,332 Treads, or 5 brand new studios, or 4.5x their entire annual R&D budget, or 15x their music costs. Strikingly, just one-month ago - weeks after protests began - Peloton pledged $500k
to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, even while continuing their Facebook presence.
Over the years that Peloton has been relying on Facebook as its sole community platform and major advertising partner, Facebook has used Peloton's money by:
- Allowing incitement of violence against protestors fighting for racial justice in America in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and so many others.
- They named Breitbart News a “trusted news source” and made The Daily Caller a “fact checker” despite both publications having records of working with known white nationalists.
- They turned a blind eye to blatant voter suppression on their platform.
What could Peloton have accomplished with that same $246.24 million?
- Paid the entire expense budget of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, more than 16x.
- Met the Rayshard Brooks fundraising effort - 985 times.
- Met the Justice for Breonna Taylor fundraising effort - 492 times.
- Met the George Floyd Memorial Fund's goal - 164 times.
- Paid for 81% of the ACLU's entire 2019 budget.
- Paid the total expenses for the National Police Accountability Project charity - 1,087 times.
- Fulfilled many of the fundraising efforts in this NYMag list of 142 ways to donate in support of Black lives and communities.
Facebook could protect and support Black users. They could call out Holocaust denial as hate. They could help get out the vote. But they are actively choosing not to do so. 99% of Facebook’s $70 billion is made through advertising. Meanwhile, Peloton has been dedicating 76% of its marketing spend on Facebook. Here's some examples
. They're in the top-five spenders
of direct-to-consumer brands. Peloton could send a very direct message here, but their silence is deafening. Not only are they NOT taking a stand, they continue to send messages to all subscribers asking them to become users at Facebook, further increasing Facebook ad revenue.
It's time we asked Peloton to stop standing with Facebook; stop advertising there; stop running their only "official" page on a platform promoting hate and violence. It's time Peloton put its corporate money - our subscription dollars - toward a platform that does not promote hate speech, racism, bigotry, antisemitism, and violence. Helpful Links For anyone who wasn't aware, /PelotonCycle was started-by and is run by-and-for Peloton members. We are not affiliated with Peloton Interactive. We started in 2015 with the goal of elevating the Peloton conversation. We seek to exchange info, ideas, intel about Peloton; selflessly helping each other become better athletes and people. Over the years we've seen members do some amazing things, including create the BlueHeart app, and start a monthly cycling challenge that became what we now know as Monthly Challenges. A bot was created here from scratch which tags your Leaderboard name - and keeps your achievements updated 4x/day. We celebrate Milestones every Monday; including those streaks and achievements that Peloton doesn't recognize. On most days, I see threads full of people selflessly helping each other out of the goodness of their hearts. In my view, that's the very spirit of sport.
What you, yes you - the person reading this - and the others around you have built, over years, has helped countless people. We don't publicly post our traffic, because we're really more focused on helping each other and don’t feel the need to emphasize subscribers as the sole marker of a successful community. But over 900,000 people visit here in a given month. Over 4 million unique pageviews. In May 2020 alone you posted 1,096 threads with a combined 24,983 comments. The vast majority were detailed, helpful, informative, interesting, value-added info you generously shared with your fellow members out of the goodness of your heart.
As always, keeping our rules enforced fairly and evenhandedly, and generally running this massive place, would be an impossible endeavour if not for FrauKoko and Kraphtyone. We owe a big thanks to NCBarkingDogs who spends countless hours keeping the bot's gears greased.
What Reddit is doing You may have seen the news Reddit's sitewide owners have banned a number of communities, added a Black board member, and updated their content policy. If you don't know reddit's sitewide rules, they're worth checking out here.
Here in /PelotonCycle we have always maintained a stricter set of rules, including "be kind" (R2), "criticism is welcomed, but don't use it as an excuse to push an agenda" (R6), and a broad view (R7) that "personal attacks, slurs, or comments that insult or demean a specific user or group of users" is inappropriate, considered spam, the content will be removed and you may be banned without warning. We have for a while now been banning links to Facebook or removing content that promotes FOMO when discussing Peloton on FB. More on that policy here.
Wrap Up: What can I do? Someone recently asked me, "what can I do to help?" and my answer is: a) use the vote buttons, and b) click "report" on anything you feel is rule-breaking.
We're community-run. Meaning, your votes move content up/down the page. If it shouldn't be seen, downvote it. If more people should see it, upvote it. If it's rule-breaking -- that goes for any post or any comment, click the "report" button. That immediately sends a 100% anonymous alert to a shared moderator inbox and allows us to act on inappropriate content quickly. If you have an issue with a specific mod, please let me know. If you have an issue with me (and don't want to PM me), please let another mod know. None of us make money off this place; none of us have ever made a single penny here. We endeavour to fairly and evenhandedly enforce our rules. We endeavour to promote a place that's open, transparent, informative, fun, helpful. A place you can make friends, laugh, relax, share stories and info. A place you can interact while being as anonymous as you like (a reddit account doesn't require your real name or even an email, for example); we value user privacy here. We value honesty, integrity, fairness, generosity, fresh ideas, open debate. I'm really proud of what you all have built here. We seek to be better -- better athletes, better people.
Beyond improving this specific Peloton community for all humans, it is time we asked the same of Peloton, too. It's long, long overdue for Peloton to step away from Facebook, build worthwhile community features into their own app/website/platform. To be clear, we are not asking Peloton to take over this page. This is not a self-serving call to action. It is asking Peloton to stop promoting hate by choosing to use Facebook as its social platform; by choosing to spend an overwhelming portion of its astronomical budget on Facebook advertising; asking Peloton to stop giving lip service to community, and start investing real $’s and resources into building the same “community” features that FitBit, Garmin, Suunto, and other platforms have created. Into their own ecosystem. Their own website, apps, hardware.
Put simply: Peloton, stop promoting hate by spending money on Facebook. You can share your support by emailing [email protected], up-voting this post, and leaving a comment below.
Arbitrary list of popular lights - Summer Solstice 2020 edition
submitted by Zak to flashlight [link] [comments]
In honor of Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere, I've made an updated list of popular lights. Today is a couple days after (sorry!) the day you're least
likely to need a flashlight north of the equator, but it increases every day after so it's a good time to buy a flashlight.
Because a definitive buyer's guide is too hard, I've made an arbitrary list of popular lights you should consider if you're shopping for a light. There is no best flashlight, so this is not the last word in what's good, but a list of lights that are often bought or recommended here with a touch of my own opinion thrown in. Exclusion from this list doesn't mean a light isn't good. To search more lights by their attributes, try http://flashlights.parametrek.com/index.html
Where possible, official manufacturer URLs are linked here. Sometimes the manufacturer offers good deals through direct orders, sometimes vendors have the best prices. There are coupon codes available
that apply to many of the lights listed. I'm hosting a version of this list
on my own site with affiliate links because a few people have asked for a way to give me a kickback.
Shipping/availability may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, items shipped from China are often taking 2 months to arrive. Supply chains and warehouse stock also appear to be disrupted as well, so you may have to be more patient than usual if you want certain flashlights, chargers, and batteries.
For those in a hurry
If you don't want to learn much, just get one of these.
All of the lights in this section come with a rechargeable battery and have a charger built in to the light. The battery will be a standard size you can buy online from third parties, and the charger will use USB as its power source, though some options do use a special cable. Aside from the Catapult, all have very good color quality compared to the average LED flashlight, improving your ability to see details.
- Wurkkos FC11 - a general-use light for $30. USB-C charging, but it needs to use an A-to-C cable. There's a strong magnet in the tailcap, and a pocket clip for carry. A 25mm (1 inch) diameter and 120mm (4.7 inches) long is suitable for larger pants pockets. 18650 battery.
- Skilhunt M150 with high-CRI LH351D LED option - a smaller light with many characteristics similar to the FC11, but a smaller (14500 size) battery and magnetic charging connector. This light can also use AA batteries, both rechargeable and disposable, but the built-in charger only works with a 14500. $40, and sometimes available on Amazon, but not always with the right LED, which is important since the color and beam quality of the other options is poor. 21mm (0.82") at its widest point and 84mm (3.3") long.
- Armytek Wizard Pro Nichia 144A - a combination handheld flashlight, headlamp, and magnetic work light with high output and excellent color quality. An 18650 battery is included, and it uses USB/magnetic charging, which is a bit slow, but convenient otherwise. It's $90, but try coupon code "reddit" for a discount. I've linked Killzone Flashlights here rather than the manufacturer because the manufacturer's customer service is rather poor, and Killzone's is good. European buyers should consider Nkon and coupon code "AT25%off".
- Acebeam EC35 II, Killzone special edition with SST-20. I swear I'm not trying to favor Killzone here, but this one is a dealer exclusive. If you're thinking of a handheld light to accompany a pistol, this is a great option because the tailswitch is high-only with other functions on the sideswitch. If you think you want a single-mode light, you probably want this instead. USB-C charging (A-to-C again), and it's a USB powerbank (C-to-C works for this). $77 with bundled 18650 battery, $67 if you bring your own battery.
- Sofirn SP36 (Anduril/LH351D version) - with three 18650 batteries and a $71 price tag, this is a larger, more powerful, and longer-running light than the others in this section. It has USB-C (A-to-C only) charging. If you need to light up a room for a long time, or light up a field, this is up to the task.
- Thrunite Catapult V6 in neutral white - for seeing far away. You can spot large objects with this at 750m, and see in reasonable detail at half that. The color quality here is only average, but neutral white will look a little more natural, and have less visible backscatter than cool white. MicroUSB charging and a 26650 battery is included. $75, but coupon code "20%" does exactly what you think.
These are at the top of the list not because they're the best
in some objective sense, but because they're easy to own and use, and easy to buy. They score well on most measure flashlight nerds care about while also being suitable for non-enthusiasts.
About specs and considerations
Moved to the wiki due to character limit
Everyday Carry Lights
These are selected for pocketability first and performance second, but most of the larger options are perfectly adequate for house/cacamping/etc... uses. This section excludes right-angle designs that double as headlamps, but many people do use those for pocket carry, so see that section as well.
- Nitecore Tube - a brighter, variable output, USB-charging replacement for button-cell keychain lights with shortcuts to high and low modes from off. $10
- Rovyvon Aurora A3x (Nichia 219C version) - neutral tint, 90 CRI, 450 lumens (briefly), USB charging, under 20g weight. Non-removable battery, so this will eventually wear out. Other Nichia Rovyvons are similar, offering different body materials, sizes, and sometimes colored LEDs on the sides. $33
- Lumintop IYP07 - a 1xAAA tailswitch option with three modes (5, 40, 130 lumens), three colors (black, silver, pink), and two LED options, of which only the neutral white, high-CRI Nichia 219C is worth considering. $22
- Lumintop IYP365 Nichia 219C - 2xAAA, 90+ CRI (Nichia version only) and neutral white. This is a longer IYP07. Not as bright as a Ti4, but light quality is often more important for being able to see clearly. $19
- Fenix LD02 2.0 (warm white version) - 1xAAA, tailswitch, warm white, high-CRI, and a UV secondary. 1 lumen low, 70 lumens high. $30
- Fenix LD05 2.0 (warm white version) - 2xAAA, 100lm max, and the same features as the above. $40
- Thrunite Ti4 - 2xAAA - Neutral white available. Titanium sometimes available. High output for this form factor. $20
- Nitecore MT06MD - 2xAAA, 90+ CRI, neutral white, and still shipping with the Nichia 219B as far as I know. Similar to the IYP365 on paper, but many people prefer the tint of the 219B over the 219C. $32
- Skilhunt M150 with high-CRI LH351D - this is the AA/14500 version of the M200, without the mode customization feature. It's only offered bundled with a 14500. The onboard charging works with any 14500, but won't charge NiMH AA inside the light. There's low-voltage protection for both battery types, so unprotected 14500s are OK. $40
- Thrunite T10 II - a side-switch light supporting both AA and 14500 Li-ion batteries with shortcuts from off to high and low and a magnetic tailcap. Neutral white available and recommended. $20
- Zebralight SC53c - 90+ CRI, warm-neutral white, e-switch with shortcuts to low, medium and high with several sub-levels for each. $57
- Thrunite Archer 1A - a dual-switch 1xAA light that can also use 14500. 200 lumens with AA, about 450 with 14500. $28
- Sofirn SP10S - 1xAA/1x14500, 90+ CRI with a Samsung LH351D LED and black, blue, or red body color. Slightly awkward UI with a long-press to turn off, but it may be worth it for the low price and high color quality. $16
- Lumintop Tool AA 219C - 1xAA/1x14500 and a 90 CRI Nichia 219C. There's a Cree XP-L version of this that isn't so compelling, so I've linked Illumn rather than the manufacturer, but it may be available elsewhere. 22
- Acebeam TK16 (SST-20 version only) - 95+ CRI, neutral white, tail e-switch with shortcuts to lowest, highest, and last-used, plus two mode groups so you can choose between sensible runtimes and impressing your friends with the 1250 lumen peak output. 0.5 lumen moonlight. Battery included, but you'll need a separate charger. If you were considering the Olight S1 line, get this instead. Also available in copper. $55
- Wowtac W1 - a basic light using a 16340 (CR123A won't work well, if at all) and USB charging. It only seems to come in cool white at the moment. Why is it here? Because it costs $20 on US Amazon and should have Wowtac's usual solid built quality and accurate specs.
- Thrunite T1 (neutral white suggested) - 1x18350 (included), MicroUSB charging, magnetic tailcap, 1500 lumen max mode with a ramping UI for medium levels. $40, usually
This category is so popular it gets subcategories. If you're looking for a lot of power and runtime that's still possible to carry in most pants pockets, this is your battery.
A tailswitch controls power, a sideswitch changes brightness. The ease of explaning the UI makes these perfect to hand out to others.
- Eagletac DX30LC2 - slimmer than most 18650 lights, with a unique take on the dual-switch interface: it always starts on high, unless the mode switch is held, in which case it starts on low. Longer throw than most, neutral white available from some dealers. $75
- Thrunite TC12 - essentially a TN12 with USB charging, a thermal sensor to limit temperature, low-voltage protection and a battery included. $56
- Sofirn SP31 v2.0 - efficient driver and XP-L HI emitter for more throw than most lights in this class. Cool white only, unfortunately, but a good value with the features of the Fenix PD32 at half the price. $37 with battery and charger on US Amazon. $21 without accessories on Sofirn's own site, but shipping from China is likely to take more than a month.
- Acebeam EC35 II (Killzone special edition) This has a bit different UI than the others here. The tailswitch is alawys high, with half-press for momentary. The side siwtch is an electronic switch with shortcuts from off to low, last-used, and high. This offers versatility in combination with dead-simple reliability under stress. USB-C charging (note: requires A-to-C cable; does not charge from C-to-C), optional battery, and it's a USB powerbank (powerbank function does work with C-to-C). The Nichia 219C is a bit cooler with a fairly balanced beam profile, and the SST-20 is warmer with some more throw. $67 by itself, or $77 with a battery. $10 less for the 219C.
Electronic switches enable shortcuts from off to useful modes - usually lowest, highest, and last-used.
- Zebralight SC64c LE - the SC6x series has long been an EDC favorite for their compact size, high efficiency, great low modes, and a user interface that was well ahead of the competition when it came out. Now, many would prefer ToyKeeper's Anduril firmware as used on the FW3A and D4v2, but Zebralight has added some configuration options that should keep most users happy. The 828 lumen max output sounds low next to today's hot-rods, but lights this size can't sustain more than that for longer than 5 minutes without burning the user's hand. $80
- Zebraligh SC64w HI - the above, trading some color quality for more output and throw. $80
- Thrunite TC15 - like the Neutron in form, but trades battery flexibility for 2300 lumens turn-on output and replaces the ramping UI with fixed modes. $56
- Skilhunt M200 (high-CRI LH351D option recommended) - Were you considering the Olight S2R? Consider this instead. Magnetic charging, but with a standard 18650. Optional high-CRI neutral white LH351D. Magnetic tailcap. Magnetic charging. The linked version even has configurable mode groups, and you can decide whether to pay extra to get it with a battery. Pending due to lack of reviews, but Skilhunt stuff is usually solid. $43 without a battery, $51 with.
- Wurkkos FC11 - 18650 EDC light, high-CRI Samsung LH351D, battery included, magnetic tailcap, USB-C charging, e-switch with the option of fixed modes or ramping. Wurkkos is affiliated with Sofirn, and this seems very much like some SP36S parts found their way into an SC31. Early versions had some UI wierdness, but the UI has been revised and is now very good. The tint could stand to be better, but the color rendering is very good, and it's $30
Other by use case
Right-angle lights and headlamps
If I could have only one portable light, it would be a right-angle light that functions as both an everyday carry light and a headlamp. Some lights in this form factor also offer a magnetic tailcap, allowing them to act as mountable area lights.
- Zebralight H53c - All the Zebralight goodness described above for the SC64c LE, but in a right-angle, 1xAA form factor. The Cree XP-L2 may make a less attractive beam than the Samsung LH351D, but most people report Zebralight's optics smooth it out well. H53Fc for a frosted lens for a very even beam. This one even comes with a pocket clip, and the headband does not have the top strap the 18650 versions do. $59
- Thrunite TH20 - 1xAA headlamp available in neutral white with infinite ramping and shortcuts from off to low/high. $30
- Acebeam H40 with 95 CRI Luminus SST-20. This is very similar to the TH20, but trades having a good sub-lumen low for high CRI. It would be nice to have both in the same light, but for that, you'll need a soldering iron. $35
- Fenix HL10 - a 1xAAA headlamp that weighs 40 grams with a lithium battery. It's here so /ultralight doesn't feel left out, as I would recommend something with a larger battery for a primary headlamp. This would make a good backup. Two is one. $30
- Nitecore NU25 - the other ultralight option. Sealed Li-ion pouch cell, so no carrying spares, and it's effectively disposable when the battery wears out. The primary emitter is cool white and low-CRI, but there's a high-CRI secondary. Some sacrifices must be made for a weight of 28g. $36
- Thrunite TH01 - 1x18350 battery dedicated headlamp, 1500 lumens burst (450 stable). This is a USB-charged option without going to the larger 18650 battery. $40
All of these use one 18650 battery.
- Skilhunt H04 - the popular version has a honeycomb TIR optic for a diffuse beam pattern. A reflector for more throw and a version with a reflector and a flip-out diffuser are sometimes available. Uses a timed stepdown. Available in neutral white. Magnetic tailcap. $40, roughly
- Wowtac A2/A2S - another budget option, this time with a reflector. Both come with an 18650 that has a USB charge port right on the battery, but can be used with any 18650. The A2S also offers neutral white, which I recommend. $20/$30
- Zebralight H600w IV - very compact, neutral white, great efficiency, well-regarded user interface, boost driver. What's not to love? The pocket clip isn't so good. $89
- Zebralight H600Fd IV - the above with 90+ CRI, a frosted lens for a more diffuse beam and a slightly cooler neutral tint that's a close match for the midday sun. $89
- Zebralight H600Fc IV - the H600Fd, but with warmer tint, like the late afternoon sun. $89
- Zebralight H604d - the H600Fd with no reflector and a clear lens for a very floody, perfectly even beam. $89
- Zebralight H604c - if you've read the above, this needs no explanation. $89
- YLP Panda 2M CRI - 1x18650 dedicated headlamp, with high-CRI neutral white LH351Ds. Not the most efficient, but the light quality is great and with an 18650 battery, most people won't mind. $38
- Thrunite TH10 V2 - over 300m throw in a right-angle light for those who need it. USB charging, and battery included. A bit more bulky than most. $60
- Armytek Wizard Pro Nichia 144A - this light was my idea. After reviewing the Wizard Pro XHP50, I convinced them to put a 90 CRI, 4500K Nichia 144A in it. It took a couple years, but they did, and it is glorious. The Wizard Pro is the most versatile light I own, and the one I'd keep if I could only keep one. The first batch of these had some battery safety issues (broken low-voltage protection), but that's fixed now. I suggest buying from a dealer like Killzone or Nkon, and checking for coupon codes for those dealers because Armytek's customer service and shipping are questionable. $90
- Acebeam H30 - 21700 battery (also compatible with 18650), USB-C charging, powerbank function, 4000 lumen main output with optional neutral white, red secondary, choice between a green secondary, UV secondary, or a high-CRI Nichia 219C secondary. Boost driver for stable output when the battery is low or cold. Many people would consider this too heavy for a headlamp, but it weighs a lot less than a motorcycle helmet. Noncompliant USB-C behavior requires charging with an A-to-C cable. $120
- Fenix HP30R - 2x18650 batteries in a remote holder that can be worn under a jacket. This is probably the most reliable battery option for extreme cold environments as the batteries can be kept warm. The battery case features USB charging and can be used as a USB powerbank. There are flood and spot emitters, which make 750 and 1000 lumens respectively, and can be used together for 1750 lumens. This is the heaviest headlamp on the list by far, but much of the weight is in the battery pack. $130
These are suitable for first responders and possibly members of the military in combat roles. The focus is on simple operation, reliability and a good way to make sure the light starts on high.
- Acebeam L30 - 4000 lumens from a single 18650 or 21700 (included). Neutral white available and recommended. High-CRI secondary emitter optional. Not the prettiest light, but there's a lot of it, and enough thermal mass to sustain it for a few minutes. Stable output without overheating is 2000 lumens. Forward-clicky tailswith is always max output, but the side switch has shortcuts to low and last-used. USB charging. $110
- Eagletac GX30L2 Pro - for those who want a better Streamlight Stinger. 2x18650. Neutral white with XHP35 HI recommended for more natural color and throw distance. Onboard charging. Neutral white optional. The included battery pack is just two 18650s in series. It says not to charge standard 18650s, but there's no technical reason for that, and it is reported to work. Protected cells recommended. $155
- Skylumen M2Rvn - about that neutral white... and it gains over 100m of throw in the process by switching to the XHP35 HI. This is a modified Olight M2R with different warranty terms from the original, so read those carefully. $120
- Eagletac T25V - a 21700-powered duty light with USB-C charging and battery included. Twist the head for output selection between three configurable levels with the light on or off, so it can be left locked in high. 2600 lumens and 214m throw with the XHP70.2, or 1640 lumens and about 400m throw with the XHP35 HI. The latter emitter in neutral white does the most to make this light stand out from its peers, if you can find it that way. This is a good alternative if the Olight M2R Pro looks appealing or you missed out on the Acebeam T36.$96
Most lights on the list are easy to carry, with performance constrained by size and thermal mass as a result. After all, the best light is the one you have. Here are lights to bring when you know
you'll be using them.
Turn night into day, but not necessarily very far away
- Thrunite TC20 - 1x26650, 1xXHP70.2. This is still small enough for a jacket pocket, but has a bigger battery than most EDC lights, and a spectacular 180 lm/W efficiency on medium. USB charging. Ugly tint, even when neutral. 3800 lumen max, and more efficient than most competitors in all modes. $72 with standing "20%" coupon code
- Acebeam X45 - 4x18650, not pretty even in neutral white, but it makes 18,000 lumens. $180
- Sofirn SP36 BLF edition - 3x18650, 4xLH351D, Anduril firmware, USB-C charging. Be careful, there's another version of this light with Cree XP-L2 emitters, which are ugly. There's currently a bundle with Sofirn batteries on US Amazon for a very small additional cost, but these usually don't come with batteries. 90+ CRI, 5500+ lumens, 350m FL1 throw. This replaces the BLF Q8 in the list due to the LEDs offered and USB-C charging, though the Q8 is easier to disassemble for those interested in modifications. $50
What's that over there? WAY
over there? The hotspots of these lights tend to be too focused for comfortable use up close, though using a diffuser is an option. These tend to be most useful for search and rescue, boating, and the like.
FL1 throw is the distance at which large objects can be detected in clear air. At half that distance, there's usually enough illumination to see clearly, though with more extreme throwers, the distances may be so great as to require binoculars to see clearly even during the day. Throwers have visible backscatter from the atmosphere even in clear air, which may obstruct the user's view of the target. Warmer color temperatures tend to have less.
- Wowtac A4v2 - 1x26650, MicroUSB charging, 1982 lumens and 564m throw according to zeroair. The A4v2 isn't quite a pure thrower; it's more versatile than that. Boost driver for near-full output even when the battery is low and better performance in the cold - that's rare to see in the A4's price/performance category. $50, but check for coupons
- Thrunite Catapult V6 - 1x26650, MicroUSB charging. This is the Wowtac A4, but with a more expensive shell and a bigger reflector for more throw. $60 with a coupon code
- Acebeam T27 - 1x21700/18650. This is like a thrower version of the L30 duty light above, though its charging is USB-C, and oddly, it can act as a USB powerbank. Boost driver for full output on a low battery. 5000K recommended. 1180m FL1 throw. Noncompliant USB-C behavior requires charging with an A-to-C cable. $140
- Acebeam T28 - it's a T27 with a bigger head and even more throw. There's not much more to say about it than that. $160
- Thrunite TN42 - 4x18650, 1550m FL1 throw advertised, 1700m observed by reviewers. $160
Some throw, some flood... probably a lot
- Acebeam K30GT - a hybrid, but leaning toward the throw side of things with 1km. 5500 lumens, but not for long due to heat. 3x18650. $160
- Acebeam K65 - probably the original dedomed XHP70.2 version. 1km and 6200lm, but much bigger than the K30GT with 4x18650 batteries, giving it the ability to say bright longer without overheating. $195
- Imalent MS18 - proprietary battery pack, 18xXHP70.2. Heat pipes. Fan cooling. 100,000 lumens. 1350m FL1 throw. This thing weighs 5 pounds, isn't waterproof, sounds like a jet engine, and I trust Imalent's build quality about as far as I can throw an MS18, not to mention the price. It makes no sense for nearly any practical purpose, but it's the brightest flashlight you can buy, so it goes on the list. $500
Stuff that doesn't fit somewhere else goes here.
- Pelican 3315 CC - 3xAA, 130 lumens, intrinsically safe. The only reason to get this is because an intrinsically safe or explosion proof light is required. This is the least bad option with a warm color temperature and high CRI. $55
- Viltrox L116T - a 95 CRI, adjustable color temperature LED panel intended to be used as a camera light with adjustable output from about 200 lumens to 1000 lumens. Also works great as fixed lighting with a DC power supply, or a portable area light with a Sony NP-F camera battery. A battery holder and a bit of soldering will allow it to run on 2x18650. $34
- Viltrox VL200T - The 2500 lumen version of the L116T. DC power supply included. Radio-based remote control. $65
- Litufoto F12 (AKA Viltrox FA-D10) - A smartphone-sized LED panel with 96+ CRI, adjustable color temperature, USB-C power (note: noncompliant, A-to-C only), and sealed Li-ion battery. 800 lumens on high with 80 minute runtime, 70 lumens lowest, adjusts in 5% increments. 65% output available continuously without draining the battery while plugged in. This would even be viable as floody EDC flashlight if it wasn't for the obnoxiously long press for on/off. $48 on US Amazon
Enthusiast lights can be subject to a bit of a flavor of the month phenomenon, and this section isn't necessarily going to try to include them all. What you'll find here are enthusiast lights with some staying power. There will probably be an Emisar D4 of some description this time next year, but not necessarily the latest new FW variant or whatever's currently trendy from Nightwatch.
- Lumintop FW3A - this light was designed by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. It's unusual in having a tail e-switch, while most others position it on the side. It has an open source firmware with continuous brightness adjustment and lots of options. 2800 lumen max (briefly), about 800 lumens relatively sustainable (thermally regulated). There are currently five LED options, and I would recommend most people go with one of the high-CRI options. Luminus SST-20 for more throw and less heat, but the Nichia 219C may have more pleasant tint. Caution: this light requires an unprotected, 10A rated battery and can set things that get too close to its lens on fire. This has fairly inefficient electronics, but the large capacity of the 18650 battery makes that a minor issue for a lot of use cases. There are titanium, copper, etc... versions for more money. Build quality and reliability may be a bit questionable, but these pack in a lot of features for the money. Several larger versions with higher output exist, but the original still makes the most sense to this list's maintainer. $40
- Lumintop FW1A - an FW3A with fewer emitters (one) and more reflector (again, one, in place of the FW3A's TIR optic). Less output, more throw, less demanding on the battery. $40
- Emisar D4v2 - every flashlight geek's favorite way to burn a hole in their pocket has been upgraded. It now comes with colored aux LEDs that can serve as a decoration, locator, and battery status indicator. Some versions of this light can exceed 4000 output at power-on, though efficiency is not one of its goals, even at lower levels. Not to be outdone by the FW3A, there are eight LED options, from which I'd suggest the 4000K, 95+ CRI SST-20 to most people. Optional extras include a tailcap magnet, steel bezel, pocket clip, 18350 and 18500 battery tubes, and different optics. There are exposed programming headers on the battery side of the driver for those who want to modify the firmware, or just keep it up to date with ToyKeeper's latest revisions. That's right, it's 2019 and you can get software updates for your flashlight. $45 or a bit more from the US warehouse for those wanting faster shipping.
- Noctigon KR4 - This is almost a tail-e-switch D4, but it uses a variable linear driver that provides a bit better efficiency and more stable output as the battery drains as well as allowing brightness adjustment without PWM and enabling the use of ultra-low-voltage LEDs like the Nichia E21A. If you were thinking about the Lumintop FW4A, this is likely a better option. SST-20 4000K would probably still be my pick here because the E21A doesn't seem to play all that well with the Carclo quad optics. $55, and often stocked in the US warehouse.
- Convoy S2+/219C - Popular light for DIY and modification. Many parts are available from the manufacturer and Mountain Electronics. S2+ linked. S3 is similar, but with a removable steel bezel. S6 has a deeper reflector for a narrower spill and longer throw. Recently updated with the high-CRI Nichia 219C and Luminus SST-20 LEDs, which are strongly recommended over the prior options. 219C 4000K will probably make the largest number of people happy. "Body color" is actually drive current. More 7135 chips means more power, which means more output, shorter battery life, and more heat. x6 is a reasonable choice that should never get too hot to hold. x3 or x4 for giving to people who will waste the battery. x8 for max output. Convoy will assemble other combinations of compatible parts not listed in their store - just contact them and ask. $15
Jacket pocket, maybe
- Noctigon KR1 - Do you miss the Emisar D1? This is a jacket pocket light can reach nearly 700m FL1 throw with certain emitter options. It's the only light I've ever seen offer a high-CRI Cree XP-L HI, which in this case is an incandescent-like 2850K. $50
- Convoy C8 SST-20 - 1x18650. 4000K and 7135x8 will produce the best results for most users. Over 4000K is low-CRI for the SST-20, and yes, CRI still matters in a semi-thrower like the C8. This isn't in the performance class of the other high-output lights, but it's over 500m FL1 throw that fits in a jacket pocket for $20. Note that there are a lot of C8s on the market from different companies, but this C8 is the one most people should get. $20
- Haikelite SC04 - 1x26650/2x26650, 4xSST-20. The neutral white option is 95+ CRI and about 3000 lumens with 500+ meters FL1 throw. Side e-switch with a ramping UI and shortcuts. 2x26650 configuration is probably suitable for thumping someone on the head for those who miss that aspect of the classic Maglite. Boost driver for stable output when the batteries are low. This replaces the Convoy L6 on the list due to its LED choice and switch position. $60
- Emisar D4Sv2 - 1x26650, four emitters, lots of options. This is very similar to the D4v2 from the EDC section, but with a bigger battery, more thermal mass, and more throw. 3000-5000 lumens, 280-480m FL1 throw. SST-20 4000K recommended for most users. $50 US buyers should check the US warehouse for faster shipping
- Emisar D18 - 3x18650, 18xSST-20 (XP-L HI by request). 4000K recommended for 10,000 lumens of 95+ CRI light (thermally limited). Efficiency is not a goal with this model's FET driver, but the battery capacity will make up for it for a lot of use cases. Uses ToyKeeper's excellent open source Anduril firmware. $100 - again, check the US warehouse
- Astrolux FT03 SST-40 FET driver, SST-40, big reflector, 26650/21700/18650 and USB-C (probably only A-to-C) charging. 955m throw and 2313 lumens according to zeroair. There's also an XHP50.2 version that trades some of the throw for output. 5000K suggested. $34
- Noctigon K1 - 1x21700, USB-C charging (including C-to-C!), and probably the most throw of any single-cell LED flashlight (LEPs are impressive, but not quite ready for prime time). 1600m FL1 throw with the Osram White Flat 1, 4500 lumens and nearly as much throw (briefly) from the Luminus SBT-90.2. A balanced beam and stable output from the boost-driver equipped Cree XHP35 HI. Several other emitters are available, though some are not listed and can only be had by request - email and ask if there's a combination you want. $90 and up depending on emitter.
- Astrolux MF01 Mini - 1x26650/21700/18650, 7 Luminus SST-20s (4000K, 95 CRI available), USB-C, Anduril firmware, FET driver, aux LEDs. Like a bigger D4v2 with more emitters and a USB port. $65, but check for active discounts
- BLF GT - 8x18650, over 2000m FL1 throw. 4000K neutral white available and recommended. Do you want to win a display of machismo against a lighthouse? This is your flashlight. $180 (on Banggood at the time of this writing)
* BLF GT90 - the GT with a Luminus SBT-90.2 for over 7000 lumens and 2700m throw claimed, but that's going to be limited by heat and power. For sustainable performance, the original may have the advantage. For short bursts, this will be most impressive. 360, but look for discounts Edit 20200624
: added Tool AA, NU25, KR4, KR1
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