Monthly Archives: October 2015

(a) Make Complete Backups of the Default Code First (Crucial!)

Thoroughly Read This and Think Through It All in Your Head – Come to an Epiphany That You Will NO LONGER Take the Risk of Losing Hours, Days, Weeks, or Even Years of Hard Work Coding, Configuring, and Designing Your New Site When ShiftCode Has Made it So Easy for Us Site Admins to Perform Complete and Automated Backups!  It cannot be stressed enough that it is definitely necessary to make complete backups all the files that you have access to BEFORE you start tinkering (modifying any code or site template designs)

Though ShiftCode always has your back if you lose any of the default programming code or design template code you shouldn’t have to worry about having to ask anyone for the default files should you mess something up (which is surprisingly easy to do – even for professional coders and designers)  Not only is it embarrassing to ask (I’ve been in that situation quite a few times) but it has the potential to completely halt your site building process until your request is handled (yes, ShiftCode support is usually pretty prompt with such requests but you probably don’t want to be put in the position of awaiting a reply while you (or your designer and/or coder) is in the midst of the creative process)

Also note that as your site build out and customization starts to bloom and all through the entire creative process then it will be necessary to make backups of your customizations in code and design at various stages of the creative process.  Know that modifying web site script code is a very delicate process and only one simple mistake in the form of omitting or adding one single character or command in code can potentially bring your entire site down showing an error (though the error condition would be only temporary until you find and fix the error in code or you restore the file containing the erroneous code from a previous backup)

Resolve Now to Commit to Performing Regular Full Site Backups Well Into the Future:  (Yes, you can thank me sometime in the future for stressing the importance of regular full backups while also giving yourself a nice pat on the back just after that dreaded unrecoverable event happens (God forbid! – but YES they do happen to everyone at least once over time!) simple statistics predict data storage error and/or human error causing an unrecoverable failure at least once (though probably more) in the life of most all web sites (if it were not for your regular backups then you may have been instantly out-of-business should a hardware failure of a hard drive or other crucial data storage device (more common than you may think))


Another point to make here is to remind you that you are dealing with other people’s money that they have earned on your site and they have the legitimate right to demand their money from you (even in the case of data loss) it’  I don’t need to remind you how even the most polite and kind (initially) people appear to be – if you start messing with their hard earned money people will get them to stand up, pay attention, and become very vocal if there is even the slightest hint that there is a discrepancy in their site account funds (even if it’s not your fault like a drive failure, database corruption, etc.) then you will instantly be put in an untenable position if your members claim you owe them yet you suddenly don’t have access to any recent records to competently dispute or award their claims (I’ve been there and done that and I can tell you that personally you feel like a complete idiot (all you had to do is make simple backups at least a week apart to still have some idea in what ballpark you owe specific people.  

OK, Enough Talking About Doing It – Let Me Show You How and Let’s Back Everything Up Now!

Prepare a Folder on Your PC or Device to Receive These Extremely Important Backups: I’d suggest that you make the new backup folder somewhere within the ‘My Documents’ or ‘Documents’ folders (one should already be present on your machine.  The reason why I suggest placing all backup folders within the Windows document area is that I know that whatever backup application you may have running (or eventually purchase in the future) will undoubtedly default to including common default areas where important documents are stored.  So, when you initiate any type of backup of the files on your PC then chances are your crucial GPT site  backups will be included by default.

What should you name your web site backups folder?  This is an area where it simply comes down to your own preferences.  I, myself, always like to have the backup folder name SCREAM at you with folder names I’m notorious for such as ‘DO_NOT_DELETE_THIS FOLDER_EVER – IT_CONTAINS_CRUCIAL_WEB_SITE_BACKUPS! – or the like (lol)

General Considerations While Operating Your GPT Site

Having been in the Industry for About a Decade One Tends to Pick Up Tips from Observations Over The Years.  Here is a General Collection of Truths Learned Though They Are Open to Your Own Interpretation for Your Particular Purposes:

General GPT Site Operating Wisdom:  

  • Make your site currency standard!  A biggie peeve of members is finding out that your site is using a non-standard or non-traditional conversion table.  The customary currency conversions for most all decent popular sites is 1 Points = 0.01 Cash and 1 Cash = 100.00 Points !  Adopt and don’t mess with that ratio magic ratio.
  • ALWAYS enable ‘Internal Funds’ as a form of payment for intangibles (advertising, upgrades, etc) on your GPT.  Anything that avoids you actually paying out of your pocket helps – right? The member is satisfied and you are satisfied by them choosing advertising or upgrades instead of cashing out – right?
  • Give sign-on bonuses of at least a quarter ($0.25) to newly registered members (you’ll find members will tend to never want to leave money on the table and will work to reach your minimum)  Also, it helps to issue promo codes liberally and often to spur member log-in activity.
  • Identify other GPT sites by their popularity and check out their banner advertising rates.  Find other GPTs that are fairly popular though that also have reasonable advertising rates and promote your own GPT there.  Also, you can also take another approach, you can look for other GPTs which aren’t so popular with their members and if they have reasonable banner and/or side panel ad rates then make sure you advertise there as well (chances are the members that are there along with new members just signed up will want to flock away from a dismal site as early as possible – give them your banner(s) to click on to discover you own totally cool site!)
  • Notice high referral gathering members and offer them an extra perk or two to more draw their attention that your made promoting your site more enticing for those who know how to do it right.  If your site gives normal standard members 10% for first level referrals then offer the ‘Referral Whale’ member 20-25% (or just give them a free upgrade)  You will definitely get their attention, make them feel welcomed and wanted as a VIP referrer (and you will not regret this decision)
  • Make sure that your site template provides the member’s points balance and cash balance somewhere on EVERY page of your site to avoid member frustration of trying to figure out what their balances are.  As a new site member there is nothing worse than frequenting a site where you can’t intuitively find the most crucial information easily (balances) and you have to click on ‘Account Balance’ to see it.  It’s also very inconvenient to have to remember your points balance when you are on a converter page that doesn’t show a balance anywhere.  Make a balances section either in a persistent top banner such as this:
       top display 
    Or, make a side panel display such as this:  side panel stats 
  • Don’t make the mistake of Interpreting certain affiliate network offer restrictions too literally such as ‘no cash’ and ‘points only’ to mean ‘no points converter’ (that’s not what they mean!)  Generally affiliate networks and offer wall sources that specifically allow incentivized or GPT site promotion of their offers WILL ALLOW you to run ‘points only’ offers while still featuring a point-to-cash converter on your site.
    Yes, it usually goes unmentioned but it is a generally accepted practice and implied that offers bearing the statement ‘points only’ is not interpreted so strictly as one may think while first encountering it.  In most all cases networks we’ve worked with will not take the ‘no cash’ or ‘points only’ statements strictly literally as long as their offers are mindfully promoted in a generally respectful way.  Still to be more fully in compliance with the spirit of the restrictions always ONLY run ‘points only’ or ‘no cash’ offers by rewarding completions with points only (your members may freely convert the points to cash via the converter)  Note: If you want confirmation of this allowance (nail them down to an answer) then know that most affiliate network staff will usually repeat the ‘no cash’ means NO CASH more strict interpretation (though if it’s not asked in the first place then it’s almost always not a problem)
  • Unless you have been alerted by a reliable source to a recent GPT-bot issue then I highly suggest that you set the  log-in CAPTCHA to ‘Easy’ or turn it off altogether!  Observations of human nature for site members to avoid bothering to even log in to a site with a CAPTCHA set to anything but ‘Easy’ or off completely!
    This CAPTCHA level setting is located on the right side Admin Panel under ‘Main’ > ‘Configure’:
    Screen Capture #1259 - 'paidtosite - Admin - Configure' - paidtosite_shiftcode_com_87a528863d130df7bbe167e23849bddc_conf 
    You can turn off the CAPTCHA prompt entirely from the ‘Products’ (left side admin menu) > ‘Membership’ > ‘Configure’ > ‘Security’ here:
    Screen Capture #1262 - 'paidtosite - Admin - Membership - Configure - Security' - paidtosite_shiftcode_com_87a528863d130

I would suggest leaving this setting (below) regarding new member registration checked because it’s only a one time thing when a new member is registering (once)
 Screen Capture #1261 - 'paidtosite - Admin - Membership - Configure - Security' - paidtosite_shiftcode_com_87a528863d130  

Referral Banners:

  • When adding referral banners to your site for your members to use in promoting your site never delete referral banners.  Deleting banners will tend to instantly make any promotion efforts involving those referral banners that you and your members have done up until to appear invalid because of the obvious broken image links leaving only an empty shadow of your banner with a red ‘X’ in the corner.   That means all those broken looking forum posts, referral web site listings, top site list rankings, etc. will make it appear as though your site has gone out of business or otherwise not worth the click effort.  It’s fine to add referral banners (the more selection the better) but try not to delete them.  Even if certain information on the banners is no longer valid then as long as the posts containing those banners still appear fresh and ‘whole’ then they are still beckoning potential clicks leading to your site.
  • When creating referral banners try to stick with online ad industry standard sizes.  Have at least one 468 pixel by 60 pixel banner (the most commonly used and needed for GPT referral use)  Other commonly preferred banner dimensions for GPT referral use are 728×60, 300×250, 125×125, 120×90, 120×60, and 88×31 (illustration below courtesy of Wikipedia – click on it to see the full size version)  Sticking to standard sizes also make your site look more professional:


Site Contest Wisdom Tidbits:

  • GPT referral and offer contests need not offer only cash and/or points as prizes.  It can be advantageous to continuously (or regularly on a recurring basis) run contests offering these items as prizes that don’t cost money to you but are still highly revered by many site members such as banner ad impressions, side panel ads, and well thought out member account upgrades.  Yes, when your site grows stronger in popularity and activity then running cash contests helps as well but in the beginning days then no cost contests do tend to help.
  • When running referral contests always require that contest qualifying referrals need to complete at least one offer (or some other milestone other than just the simple registration)  Having such requirements tends to discourage members that are so inclined from causing bogus multiple accounts and other shenanigans.
  • Thoroughly think out contest rules and requirements before making the contest go live and stick to those rules and requirements throughout the contest duration.  If you change the rules at all in the midst of a running contest then your risk alienating certain members while breeding unnecessary resentment.  If you found that you’ve messed up by including or omitting rules and requirements then let the contest run its full course till the end without changing the rules and requirements and consider that a lesson learned to be applied to future contests.

(a) Expanding ALL Your Menu Options (optional) [Part 03: Initial Basic Site Configuration][Quick Start Guide]

Expanding ALL Your Menu Options:  (totally optional step based on your own personal preferences – may be skipped) If you wish to have ALL of your admin panel options expanded (showing as is shown on the left in the image below) instead of being kept compact (most options unseen until expanded – as is seen on the right – below) then while you are logged in as the administrator in the admin panel click on ‘Edit Preferences’ button on the top red horizontal menu bar (toward the left on the top)

The page section heading will say ‘Template’ though we are only interested in the ‘Expand All’ checkbox at this point.  Check the ‘Expand All’ checkbox indicating ‘Wes, keep all the navigation links expanded’.  Ignore (don’t change) the ‘Template’ drop-down box below it (though it should already be set to the ‘ShiftCode 2.0’ selection)  Click the the ‘Update’ button to save your ‘Expand All’ preference (you’ll then see a green backed ‘Success!’ confirmation)


You also should now notice that ALL your admin panel navigation options on all the menus have been expanded with all options showing.  Do you like all the options showing and expanded or do you find this distracting, confusing, and/or overwhelming? (some people do)  If you dislike like everything expanded then go back and uncheck the ‘Expand All’ box and ‘Update’ again.  I’ve always found that seeing all of my options expanded and open makes it easier to locate the configuration areas I’m looking for (it’s totally your choice but I will assume that your menus are in the ‘expanded’ mode from this point forward in this document)


Initial Site Optimization (SEO), Submission, and Promotion

It is important to stress that for best results you should not jump ahead to this section prematurely. If you don’t take crucial steps before you start promoting your site then you may end up with results that are not optimal (such as pages ‘under construction’ or default phrases and such in your lasting search results)


What is Search Engine Optimization or ‘SEO’ for Short?  Optimization is the process of properly preparing a web site to be in its best form, give out the right identifying information for search results, lend itself more to being promoted on social networks, and generally presenting a finished package to the world being ready for inclusion in search results.

What are META Tags? META tags are HTML elements that are added to the source code of a web site that are used to convey information that is used to properly display the web page in a viewer’s internet browser, by search engine ‘robots’ to help in properly classifying a web page in search results, by social media to assist in properly formatting and linking to a web property for better viewing, etc.  META tags are not displayed to web site visitors by way of the web browser.  Instead they are only seen by viewing the source code of a web page. The most common META tags added and edited by webmasters is the META ‘description’ and ‘keyword’ tags.  When viewed in the web page source code they will usually appear like this:

<META name=”description” content=”This is a good general description of this web page or web site” />
<META name=”keywords” content=”these words, appear in my, web page, and, are, the, most important, words, I want, noticed” />

META Tags are NOT a Magic SEO Solution:  If you Google the term ‘SEO’ chances are you will be bombarded by way too much old stale information touting META tags as a magical solution to your search engine optimization needs. Yes, for the most part that used to be true a decade ago when META tags were a crucial part in getting your new web site noticed by the most popular search engine – Google.

Google used to rely heavily on META tags to tell it how to properly list and classify new web sites in its search results. Knowing that, over the years META tags have turned from something useful to a ever constant point of abuse by internet marketers resorting to keyword spamming, keyword stuffing, and other il-advised (nowadays) techniques in order to fool search engines into giving a site more priority in search results than it rightly deserves.

Needles to say, nowadays Google tends to completely ignore most META tags.  Still, don’t let that discourage you from the proper use of META tags because there are plenty of other search engines that are popular that still rely heavily on META tags to classify their search results.

ShiftCode has provided you with a built in interface to add and edit your ‘keywords’ and ‘description’ META tags without having to know any coding. Simply look on the left side navigation menu (with the heading ‘Products’) in your admin panel for a selection named ‘Meta Tags’ (about halfway down the page) and click on it.  You then be presented with a page looking like this:


Planning – Important Considerations Before You Start Building

Yes, you are extremely exciting to begin your new business venture but as is with any potentially successful business startup (online or off) proper planning before you start or build is key:

  • What countries will your site serve?  Will your site be totally international or will it serve just North America?  Will it serve Just the USA or Canada?  Yes, the geographical region your site serves can essentially be changed any time in the future but it’s best to decide before you start building.

    Be aware that there are a few countries that are anecdotally known in the industry to produce higher amounts of fraudulent activity than the others (in other words, serving those countries could potentially result in eventual unnecessary offer crediting reversals from your source affiliate networks – many of which may happen well after you have paid the site member)  For advice on which countries may be best to steer clear of we suggest this you consult your affiliate manager (AM) at your chosen affiliate networks.

  • Know that there is a catch-22 situation some times with regard applying as a publisher to some affiliate networks and brand new or unfinished web sites.  Logic may tell you that you should apply for a bunch of affiliate networks (where you get your offers from) while or even before you even start building your web site.  Be aware that many affiliate networks have a policy of denying web sites that are not hosted (showing an error), under construction, too new (not enough traffic, not popular enough, too few site members, or not enough traffic (yet))  We suggest that you plan the timing of your initial publisher applications to affiliate networks deliberately after your site shows as a finished site open to new member registrations.  Also, you may want to explain your situation a bit if the publisher application provides a field for such information.

    If you insist on applying to affiliate networks while building your GPT site then initially go with affiliate networks that are the most GPT site friendly.  Performa (ShiftCode) based affiliate networks tend to be more familiar with and welcoming to ShiftCode GPT sites.  They also have the added benefit of being integrated tightly into the ShiftCode system.  News and special promotions from these Performa networks is also delivered straight to the top center home page of your admin panel as is seen below.
    Considering whether my second point (above) is valid or necessary to explain here (note to self)


Official ShiftCode Self-Help Resources

Unless you’ve hired a professional team of staff (rarely done and rarely needed) to help you build your GPT site there are times where you may feel stumped about this or that technical aspect of your ShiftCode GPT site build out and operation.  Don’t worry, we’ve (GPT site admins) all been there and there is a whole host of online resources available to help make your GPT site administration experience a success.


Official ShiftCode Online Resources:

  • ShiftCode Online Discussion Forum – An open public online forum where you can post non-account-specific questions on most all topics of building, operating, promoting, etc. your new GPT site or Performa network.  The forum also has public areas for site public site discussion and promotion. [FEED]
    ShiftCode Online Discussion Forum
  • ShiftCode Online Client Portal – Within your private client account area (while logged in) you’ll find separate areas for checking what services you currently subscribe to (and for ordering new services), a billing area (for checking your invoices, paying your bill, etc.), a support area where you are able to create an account-specific private support request ticket, check previous support tickets (sometimes called a ‘trouble ticket’), view network wide announcements, find official download (when available), and view the network status.  It should be noted that the support ticket system is designed to be a resource of last resort (when you can’t find your answer in any other areas of the vast support resources already offered by ShiftCode)
    ShiftCode Online Client Portal  
  • ShiftCode Official Facebook Group – Though not used as often as it had been before the forum took up the slack this group still has its moments of usefulness here and there.  You must apply to join this ‘closed’ (meaning ‘private’)  group and be approved by one of the group admins as a known ShiftCode site admin.  Occasionally (rarely as needed) ShiftCode staff may post additional information in this group concerning scheduled maintenance / upgrade site downtime, temporary network outages, ShiftCode GPT and Performa Network script promotions and sales, billing notices, terms of service (TOS) updates, security bulletins, etc.
     ShiftCode Official Facebook Group  
  • ShiftCode News & Announcements – This is the very FIRST place you should consult when experiencing any technical difficulties with your site(s) such as a temporary disruption in service.  News, announcements, and proactive instructions are posted here as necessary.  There is also a duplication (updated in real-time) of the information displayed in the ShiftCode News & Announcements that’s located right here on this site in the lowermost part of the right side panel here (as seen in the below image)  Please also note that this information is located in a FEED directly from the source and readable in any popular RSS / ATOM site feed reader:   RSS Feed ShiftCode & Performa Network Announcements Feed 
  • ShiftCode & Performa Announcement Feed in the Right Side Panel Here on This Site

  • Help Icons help icon  in the ShiftCode GPT Admin Panel – While browsing options and settings in your admin panel please notice the many question mark help icons ( question mark help icon )  Also notice that when present you can either hover over and/or click upon the question mark help icon to receive additional explanations.
    question mark help icon

As you may notice on your new GPT site default (grey) site template “We suggest you join our Facebook group for Peer to Peer Assistance – HERE” with an emphasis on ‘Peer to Peer’ meaning you’re relying on fellow GPT site admins for help – if you are looking for mission critical, account specific, or official answers then we suggest the ‘ShiftCode Online Client Portal’ support ticket option.

The ShiftCode Client Portal also contains a News & Announcements page where you can find “All the latest from ShiftCode & Performa Network, Innovative Affiliate Marketing/Networking Software System Service Official News & Announcements” by viewing the page, viewing the feed, and/or subscribing (recommended) to the feed via email (below)

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