Review: PopCash – The Popunder Network

Posted by Wess on

PopCash Review

For the last few months, I’ve been testing an ad network called PopCash. I wanted to take a few minutes and tell you about my experience with this network…both good and bad. For the record, I’ve disabled the ad on this site…you shouldn’t see it any more. But before you start thinking that I killed it because the network sucks (it’s not all bad, really), you should keep reading. I want to keep this post as objective as possible.

If you’re wondering why I took the ad down, it’s simple: I feel that it takes away from the user experience of the site. With that being said, let’s get on with the review of PopCash.

What is PopCash?

PopCash is a CPM advertising network that delivers pop-under style ads on your website. This means that the ads are loaded in the background of your screen, behind the window you are focused on. Pop-under ads tend to be effective because they are less obtrusive to your readers. Since the ads load in the background, the reader doesn’t always notice them when they load. Sneaky? A little, but consider the alternative: pop-up ads. We all hate them. Even people who make money with pop-up and pop-under ads tend to dislike “pop-anything” ads when they encounter them in the wild.

Pros

While I was testing PopCash, I have to say that overall I was quite happy with how they run the network. Their user interfaces for publishers are clean and very easy to navigate.

The crew at PopCash definitely made it easy to get everything set up on your site. It’s easy to find your ad code (hint: it’s under the “get code” menu). The code is very small, and it just calls a script on their server that causes the pop-under to show up. I didn’t notice any dramatic speed changes with the site while using this bit of code, so that’s a really nice thing. Too much code can really cause WordPress to run slowly.

As far as the ad itself is concerned, it’s a pop-under ad. It fires up behind the window you’re looking at, so it’s not quite as annoying as an old-school pop-up ad. One of the things that I personally liked about it was that there was a delay before it loaded, which gives your reader a chance to start actually reading your content rather than being slapped in the face immediately with an advertisement. In this case, slower is better.

Cashing out is really easy to do with PopCash. Their payout threshold is only $10.00, which isn’t really hard to hit if you have decent traffic. You do have to manually request a cash-out, but it’s really easy to do. In your dashboard, just go to “billing” and hit “cash out”. They can send money through PayPal, Payza, and Paxum. And yes…they do actually pay out.

Cons

Oh, come on. It’s an ad network. There’s probably going to be some kind of down side, right? Of course. No network is perfect, and PopCash is definitely no exception.

The first thing to remember is that PopCash ads are still “pop something” ads, and whether it loads in front of the page or behind it, some of your users probably won’t appreciate it showing up at all…which was my main reasoning for ending my test and pulling the ad off of this site (although I will most likely be implementing it on other sites in the future, just not this one).

Another down side to PopCash is that while it will help your blog earn extra income, it’s going to be slow unless you have a ton of traffic. And let’s face it…if you’re getting good traffic, running a pop-up ad of any kind is probably not a great idea…but then, that also depends on the type of traffic you’re driving. If you’re running a niche shopping site, you’re not going to want to touch this. But if you are running a small army of sketchy adult sites, then you’re probably not going to mind a pop-up ad…and your readers will have their hands too full to care right away about it.

The third annoying thing that I’ve noticed very recently (today, actually), is that when I tried to cash out, it appears that they have deducted a fee…this didn’t happen the first two times, but it did on the third (which is still pending, but they usually are quick about getting your money to you). Again, I just requested this payment less than an hour ago, so the “pending” status doesn’t really mean that much…but taking a fee out of my income is an issue. I’m hoping that it’s temporary and it doesn’t process their deduction, since it hasn’t happened before, and I never got a notice that this was a new thing. I’ll have to do further research to find out if they’ve changed the policy or not.

Finally, there’s the ad itself…ah yes…I’m not happy about what I saw when it did load. I’m not sure if this just loaded for me or for everybody, but I was given one of those super sketchy looking “your computer may be infected” ads that spawned a Windows notification that just kept on going. Oh, sure, I was able to get out of it by either killing the pop-up before it finished loading or forcing the notification to stop notifying me and then closing the window…but if you just hit ‘cancel’, it’s going to piss you off really, really quickly. I mean…really quickly. I hope that I’m the only one that got this particular ad. If you got stuck in this, I’m terribly sorry. PopCash does have an option to report ads with malware attached (fortunately, this wasn’t the case with this ad), so if you ever come across one of these ads you should probably at least drop them a line and tell them how annoying it is. No malware is good, but holy crap…it mimicked malware quite well.

TL;DR

Okay, so for those of you who didn’t want to read all of the gory details above and just got down here by scrolling (hi, everyone), here’s a quick recap.

  • Good – PopCash is really easy to implement on your site
  • Good – The ad loads behind your active window, so it’s less annoying
  • Good – The ad doesn’t fire as soon as your page loads, so you’re not just killing your bounce rate right from the start
  • Good – The cash out threshold is only $10, so it’s an easy target to hit
  • Good – They WILL pay you
  • Good – You have three options to get your money: PayPal, Payza, and Paxum
  • Bad – You’re still serving pop up ads to your readers
  • Bad – You’re going to need a lot of traffic if you want to make a lot of money quickly
  • Bad – You may be hit with fees from PopCash (not 100% confirmed, but it appears that’s what’s going on)
  • Really Bad – The ads that are served may look, feel, and act like malware, however I’ve never had any infection from them (use at your own risk)

The Verdict: PopCash is legit, but use your judgment when choosing this network.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the performance of PopCash (except for the sketchy-ass ad…). You definitely do not want to run this on anything you’re trying to build a close bond with your audience on, but if you’re just getting a ton of traffic to a random site, then it could work out pretty well for you.

Click here to join PopCash

Started at the Bottom, Still Here

Posted by Wess on

http://i1.wp.com/s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8c/13/03/8c13030ea7b2ef2858a6794ddb2d6159.jpg?resize=193%2C193&ssl=1Working Your Way Up

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “you’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up”. It’s one of those things that people say when you try to get a job that’s anywhere above “entry level”.

And frankly, it’s total bullshit.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I have to start at the bottom. It’s infuriating.

Sure, I get it…you’ve got to learn whatever it is you’re working with. That just comes with the territory. But I remember being told dozens of times when applying for lower level management jobs that I would still “have to start at the bottom” and work your way up into a management position despite having experience.

Who does that? Seriously!

Look at almost all of the managers or above entry level people you know. How many of them started at the lowest position in the company? I’m sure that some did, but odds are that most of them did not.

Several years ago, I heard a story about Donald Trump that was pretty awesome. I’m not sure how true it is, but it’s still pretty good (and just to be clear, no, I’m not voting for him…I will be voting for Gary Johnson).

The story goes that Trump wanted to get a job in real estate, but he was told that he would have to start at the bottom. He challenged the company…the deal was that he would handle an upcoming deal, and if he was able to pull it off he’d get the job, but if he couldn’t he would walk away.

I’m sure you can probably guess what happened.

I know you guys probably think I’m crazy, but hear me out.

I don’t mean you should only try to get jobs that are above your abilities. That’s absurd.

But you should always be wary of people who tell you that over and over again…because it does happen.

Don’t let bosses keep you in a crappy position forever. Learn, move up, or move on.

The Help Desk Scam is Alive and Well

Posted by Wess on

http://i0.wp.com/www.ukm.my/infomail/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/scam.png?w=750It seems like there will never be a shortage of crappy humans doing shady things on this planet. Since the beginning of time, people have found creative ways to rip people off. Technology has been great for helping track down scammers, but it’s also been a tool for those same scammers to try to take your money away from you.

I spent a pretty good chunk of my evening helping out my neighbor who was just doing some work on the internet, misspelled a URL, and ended up getting a bit of a scare.

Something was really wrong with her computer according to the big red screen with the shield and X on it…but thankfully there was a support phone number where she could get help!

Fortunately, everything turned out okay for her. But here’s how things went down.

About the Help Desk Scam, Adware, and Malware

Basically, the way this attack works is pretty simple. You visit a site (or get a pop-up advertisement from adware that’s installed on your computer) that makes you think your computer is in danger. Often, it’s just a website running a script that is designed to scare the crap out of people who aren’t tech savvy. In this case, the website would play a loud “error tone” mp3 on loop and cause your mouse cursor to look like your computer was struggling to do something while it basically locked the browser.

It looks something like this:

var erra = new Audio(‘err.mp3’);
erra.loop = true;
erra.onended = function () {
setTimeout(function () {
erra.currentTime = 0;
erra.play();
}, 3500);
};

erra.ontimeupdate = function () {

}

var cdcc = 0;
function hashinc() {
document.location.hash = cdcc++;
setTimeout(hashinc, 1830);

}

function errbox() {

hashinc();
var s1 = s2 = s3 = s4 = s5 = st = null;

///// parts removed to make this crap not work…also easier to read /////

window.addEventListener(‘load’, function () {

erra.play();
setTimeout(errbox, 500);
hashinc();

window.addEventListener(‘blur’, errbox);
window.addEventListener(‘focus’, errbox);
window.addEventListener(‘click’, errbox);
window.addEventListener(‘mousemove’, errbox);
});

How to Fix an Adware, Malware, or Fake Microsoft Help Desk Scam

Sure, it’s an easy fix most of the time…just end task on the browser, open it back up, and if the page tries to load, close the page before it can finish loading. Sometimes it’s a fast process, so you’ve got to be quick. Otherwise, you might see if your browser has a safe mode option. Load into that, then force it not to remember previously opened tabs.

While it’s looping the sound and freaking you out, it also will often generate a message with a “support phone number” that you call and speak to a friendly representative that is totally willing to help troubleshoot your system via remote connection software like TeamViewer (non-affiliate) or something like it. They’ll show you log entries that honestly don’t really mean much, and give you shady info that SOUNDS legit to someone that can’t tell a laptop from a modem. After a few minutes of really trying to convince you that your computer is broken, they will try to tell you that they can fix it for you…for a price. They’ll take you to their payment screen, ask you to enter your banking info, then hit you with a pretty hefty bill…all while pretending to fix a problem that isn’t even there.

How to Keep Yourself Safe

Always, always double check your URL before hitting enter. Use some kind of security software like Spybot Search and Destroy (non-affiliate) or Malwarebytes AKA mbam (affiliate) to at least scan your system after you run into something like this, because you never know what they’ll install on your computer either through remote connection or by the scripts running on the web page.

And if you DO call the fake help desk, DO NOT EVER let them access your computer, take your bank or other private information, etc.

But let’s face it…none of us want to be nice about this.

So with that in mind, I’m supporting a measure to start calling them out. Or just calling them or whatever. Here is a list of the help desk scam phone numbers that I have found so far. Also…some of the bad URLs that you want to avoid.

List of Help Desk Scam Phone Numbers and Domains

  • 855-383-1807 (Name: Shweta)
  • 855-909-0303 (Unknown Level 3 Tech)
  • 888-834-1353
  • 888-912-0640
  • 8plhd.xyz (scam domain)

If you have any scammer phone numbers you would like to add, leave them below in the comments. I will update this post periodically when we get new information.

How to Make WordPress Faster

Posted by Wess on

e1f8d48cf8a194d4b53771796770c30dA while back, I had some trouble with the loading speed of my site. It’s not that it was terrible, but it was slower than it should have been. I started searching for ways to speed up a WordPress blog, and I quickly learned that this is not an uncommon problem at all. In fact, at some point, almost every serious blogger has had to find ways to make their site run faster.

What makes WordPress run slow?

I wish there was a super simple explanation of this, but there’s not. To try to put it simply, there’s a metric crapton of stuff going on behind the scenes when you use WordPress…it’s not just one tool…it’s more like a big, awesome, user-friendly pile of acronyms like HTML, SQL, jQuery, PHP, CSS. The actual breakdown of how this stuff all works is probably an entire post series in itself.

Why should you care about blog loading time?

Having a slow-loading website can negatively affect your search engine rankings. If you have a super clunky website, the machines at Google know that people don’t want to sit and wait for content (except maybe that one random individual that actually misses the feeling of surfing the web in 1996 and waiting for what seemed like decades for a site to load).

Fun fact: the first song that I ever downloaded from the internet was Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones back in 1997. The song is 2 minutes and 12 seconds long. It took almost an hour to download. Ugh.

I’m sure you didn’t come here wanting to sit through a class on web development, so let’s cut the crap and get right into the useful information.

Five Tips for Speeding Up WordPress

These are the most beneficial tips that I have learned to speed up a WordPress blog. If you have more that I didn’t think of, please feel free to share it in the comments section!

Before we get started, you are going to want to know how fast your blog actually loads up. There are quite a few website speed test sites out there, but I tend to prefer GTmetrix because it gives you a ton of details, multiple test server options, and the reasons that your site is loading slowly. Oh, and it’s free.

Remove unnecessary plugins.

Whenever I need to add or enhance a feature of my blog, my first thought is something like “I wonder if there’s a plugin that will do (awesome thing)”. The kicker is that the more stuff you add to WordPress, the more it has to do before a page is generated, which will slow you down…UNLESS the benefit of the plugin outweighs the extra processing time.

It’s generally best to keep your plugins to a minimum if possible, but there are some that will accomplish tasks that will give an overall boost to your load time. Get rid of anything that you don’t absolutely need. If you can find a bit of PHP or something that will accomplish a task without having to use a bulky plugin, go for that route instead.

Use caching to speed up load time.

Adding a cache plugin is definitely an exception to the “don’t use plugins” rule. Running something like W3 Total Cache will put a serious dent in your load times. Use it. This plugin should just be part of the WordPress package.

In addition, you can also take advantage of your reader’s web browser caching ability using your .htaccess file. Adding something like this to your file will force the reader’s web browser to keep certain types of files longer and reuse them for rendering the page. This will also help save some bandwidth.

## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 2 days"
## EXPIRES CACHING ##

3. Compress images to make them load faster.

I don’t really need to go into detail here, but smaller images will load faster. This is, once again, a situation where a plugin will help you out. Check out smush.it. This tool will optimize your images for faster loading.

Move scripts to the end of your pages.

Having a JavaScript at the top of your page forces it to load before the rest of the content. Most of the time, this isn’t necessary. Move it closer to the footer. People want to see content…not blank pages.

Use a clean, simple WordPress theme.

More crap to load equals slower load. You don’t need anything overly fancy. Choose a nice, but simple theme and you’ll be much happier.

Do you have any other tips for speeding up WordPress blogs? Share them in the comments section!

Setting SMART Goals

Posted by Wess on

15014275-the-saying-or-motto-change-is-difficult-not-changing-is-fatal-with-words-stuck-onto-a-bulletin-board

I would like to ask a question: have you already given up on your new year’s resolutions?

Yes, I know it’s almost August and by now, you’re probably realizing that dieting sucks, budgeting sucks, working harder sucks, etc. And you’re correct. Throwing yourself into change can sometimes suck a lot. Personally, I hate making drastic changes. It really messes with my head. Life will be fine and then BOOM…a major change comes along. I don’t have a real problem adapting…I just get freaked out by the sudden shock of having to change things.

Changing bad habits is one of the hardest things a person can do. So why is it that so many people think that it’s just going to happen overnight? Think about it — eating too much, smoking, not sleeping enough, spending too much money, and the like are not something that will just instantly be remedied in most cases. I can say this first hand, since these are all problems that I deal with. 

The funny thing is that all of these obstacles can be demolished, but it takes time and persistence…and you have to make a decision to succeed.

But the first and most important step is to set goals.

If you’ve spent any time reading about business or pretty much anything related to goals, then you’ve probably heard of SMART goal setting criteria.

Here’s are a few examples of stupid goals:

“I want to lose weight.”

“I want to make more money.”

“I want to work for myself.”

Great! At least you have a vision, but these aren’t SMART goals. Now let’s look at the same goals, but with the SMART criteria taken into consideration:

“I want to lose 20 lbs. by the end of March.”

“I want to raise my income from $1,750 to $2,500 per month by the end of 2014 using passive income strategies.”

“I want to be able to leave my job and start my own business within the next two years buy building passive income.”

Of course, some of these may sound strange, but goals are really just statements of something you want to achieve. Setting SMART goals is extremely important when it comes to reaching your goals.

The SMART Goals Acronym…what is it?

SMART criteria for goal setting

Are your goals specific? Do you even know what you want?

Are your goals measurable? Can you see that you are progressing towards your goals?

Are your goals actionable? Can you even figure out how to do what you want to do?

Are your goals realistic? You’re probably not going to make $50,000 this month with your blog, are you? What can you reasonably do?

Are your goals time bound? Do you have a deadline for reaching your goals?

Sudden change really, really sucks. Gradual change is easy. Set your smart goals, make an action plan, and start changing your life.

If you want to learn more about setting goals, check out some of these books/ebooks:

SMART Goals – The Secret of Achieving Anything You Want in Life

How To Set Goals: Ultimate Goal Setting Guide to Having Your Best Year Ever

How To Set SMART Goals – The Ultimate Guide To Creating The Life You Want (The Road To Happiness)