Setting up a blog is simple, right?

I’ve never had a blog before. In fact I always said I wouldn’t write one. Not that I have anything against them. I regularly read some excellent ones such as Alistair Hamilton’s betyourlife blog, The Real Moaner’s (although Craig hasn’t posted for a while) and Adam Heathcote’s amazing blog on pre-race trading. All 3 of these guys put their heart and soul into  every post. You get to find out about the man behind the keyboard.

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This blog is a bit different, but then most things I do tend to be a bit different. Traders who write blogs often cite the reason that it helps their trading discipline because you don’t want to have to post that you screwed up. That makes sense to me. But this was never meant to be a diary of my journey through this trading lark.  As I have said before it wasn’t even supposed to be a blog in the first place. I was using the blog format as an easy way to update the members area with the daily match tips. I certainly didn’t want to be giving the tips away for nothing.

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I’m glad I made a mistake during the setting up of the blog. That mistake allowed the blog to be found by search engines. Something that I was to work on a fair bit in the months that followed. Today if someone googles and includes betfair and tennis in their search then my site will be on page 1.

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Once it was apparent that people were interested in reading my rubbish it dawned on me that I could use it as a sales tool. I wanted more members of my tennis trading  group so that we could help the new guys and develop new strategies between us. I genuinely get a kick out of helping someone learn tennis trading.

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As I was using the blog to post daily match tips and advice they had to be good. No one was going to sign up with a guy who can’t tip a bag of rubbish.

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As I was setting it up I was more interested in the content. I knew what I wanted to put on the site and I overlooked its appearance. I had several offers to make the site look more professional. They were being kind and helpful and their offers were greatly appreciated but what they were actually saying was, ” your site looks crap, let me do it properly for you.” I was adding to the blog and the tradesharktennis site at such a rate that I wasn’t taking a step back to look at what I was presenting to the world.

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I have reasonable skills as a designer and graphic artist but I wasn’t using them. I had thrown together a header image for the blog which was ok but I could do a lot better. I had an email from a guy who had taken the time to put together an alternative header image for the blog. I hadn’t spoken to him before and was extremely grateful that someone could take the time to help me. I thought I had saved his email but am embarrassed to say i can’t find it but as you can see I loved the image and still use it.

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I had lots of guys offering advice on what could be improved. All of it was given for positive reasons and I took it as a bit of a compliment that my true self was coming across in the blog and site and people felt I was approachable.

Quite recently I had an email from a new member who said he liked the site but it was clear that I didn’t proof read my content. This was a kick up the arse because I couldn’t argue. I normally have an excellent eye for detail and set myself extremely high standards for everything I do. However in my haste to move the sites forward I was still rushing everything. I was briefly checking content but wasn’t being professional enough to check it thoroughly. I thanked him for his comments and said I would have the whole site checked by the weekend. I had a few mnutes spare that evening and decided to check a few pages. To say that I was embarrassed by what I found is a massive understatement. There weren’t just spelling mistakes but also whole paragraphs that hadn’t been edited properly. Some of it just didn’t’ make sense. There were even a couple of errors on the members home page.

TOTALLY, TOTALLY, TOTALLY unacceptable. I spent the next 3 hours going through every page and correcting what I found. People were paying good money  for this crap!

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WordPress blogs are free. Thats why I chose them in the first place! It turned out to be an excellent choice. If its your first time with blogging there’s a bit to get your head round to customise it but after that its really a great tool.

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Everything seemed to be going ok. The tips were generally good and I was getting more readers every week. people were signing up for the Trading Guide at a decent rate and my own trading was actually improving which I put down to the fact that I was being forced to make the research for the matches of a higher quality than I might do for myself.

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One morning I was at work and I received an email from one of the members that the blog had been suspended It wasn’t long since I had finished posting the day’s selections. I checked the site and there was a message saying that the blog was suspended for breaking some of WordPress’s terms and conditions. A couple of weeks before this The Nugget Crew has set their own blog up on WordPress. They were getting a lot of flack for trying to make as much money as possible out of inexperienced traders. They had been getting a lot of comments on their blog from people having a go at them and trying to undermine their strategies etc.

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Adster from the Nugget Crew was on the RT forum and I PM’d him to ask if he knew what was going on. He was convinced, as I was, that someone had reported their blog for containing links to promote their service. It seemed like too much of a coincidence that my blog was suspended at the same time and I felt that I had been reported for the same reason. I wasn’t happy. If someone had actually contacted WordPress to report my blog, how pathetic was that?

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I contacted WordPress and eventually got an answer that it was suspended because of the links to  my sales site. I have a link to the site on most posts so regardless of why it came to light I couldn’t argue that I was breaking their T’s and C’s. I promised to move the blog to my own webspace and they agreed to let the current blog be used until then.

I think its more likely that they were checking for outgoing links from some of the blogs. But who knows these days?

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I’m no webmaster. I know the basics and tend to teach myself something as and when I need it. I had looked at putting the blog onto the same domain as the tradesharktennis site but to be honest it didn’t look straight forward. It was easy to find instructions on google but there was always a bit of info missing. It just wasn’t going to work unless I could find idiot proof instructions. Previously I had decided not to bother but now I had no choice. It had to be done if i wanted the blog to continue.

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I spent most of Friday evening looking for the elusive instructions. I eventually managed to piece together several sets of instructions that seemed to plug my knowledge gaps. I started on the transfer of the blog files and wordpress software the next morning and after a couple of mistakes where I was installing the software to the wrong folder I had done it. Its actually quite straight forward – or would be if you did it a second time.

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You have a lot more options when you host it yourself. Lots of plugins to perform different tasks. Who’s online?There’s a plugin for that. How many visitors today? What have they looked at? What links have they clicked? Which sites have sent traffic to your blog? Plugins for them all.

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You can play around with the blog layout. You think you have it set up right and you find out that it doesn’t display properly in Internet Explorer 6. So you have to change things and test in different browsers ( why can’t they just upgrade their browser??)

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Every time  I look at the blog I see something that I want to change. I wasn’t happy with the extended header. I had added bits into it and it looked shite. I am very happy with the new one that shows a few of my green screens.

The site runs a little slow at times so I found a plugin to cache pages to speed it up. Seems a little better.

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There is a lot involved in keeping a daily blog up to date. You have to keep it interesting. In my case I have to get more tips right than I get wrong. I get in excess of 50 emails most days from people who read the blog or have signed up for the Trading Guide and have questions. The feeback I have had from the start has been excellent and that makes it all seem worthwhile. There has been criticism but its usually well intended and constructive and I don’t have a problem with that.

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So I had a blog and a sales site. What else might people want? I was sure I’d think of something…….

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In the final leg of the trilogy read about how the forum came about, the chatroom and making money from your blog.

    Trading Guide

Where did TradeSharkTennis come from?

This may interest some of you. If it doesn’t, don’t read it all – simples!

Why “TradeShark”?

When you join a forum you need to come up with a name. Some people put some effort and thought into their name. Some don’t. I am somewhere inbetwwen the two. Years ago when I first connected to the internet – I think it was 1995 as my first email address ended in 95 – the “in thing” at the time was chatrooms. I was curious and joined one. I soon got bored with sitting in a room while the “Regs” chatted among themselves and threw crap at anyone who tried to butt in. That particular chat site (VP – Virtual places) let you choose an avatar or Av to represent you onscreen.  These could be anything and I was able to customise the basic pics for  other users, especially when they downloaded a patch that allowed the Av to show much larger.

I had my own site/room where others could visit, give me their basic avs and I would customise them. They were quite impressive if I do say so myself. In VP I was Shark and the room was SharkAvs.

So when I was thinking of a name for the Racing Traders forum it was likely to include the word shark. Having got that far, TradeShark didnt take too much imagination!

Why set up a site?

This never entered my head at first. Why would it? I knew nothing about trading except for the bits that I had worked out for myself.  It seemed that just about everyone else on the forum knew a lot more than me and I was happy to be there and pick through the posts for bits that could be useful.

Most of my posts were ignored. My sense of humour just doesn’t often work when its written down. Its a very dry humour with a lot of sarcasm. My wife says that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. I think that when I use  it its a bloody artform! However in print it can often come across as agressive and/or rude. Can’t help it – don’t want to help it – I say what needs saying.

However as a forum all in the written word it soon became apparent that I could stop a thread with one post.

As I learned a bit more I was able to pass that knowledge on. I felt a bit better as I could give as well as take things from the forum. As the months passed and the forum became more and more popular it attracted more and more idiots. They didnt want to contribute anything but loved to put down those who were trying to help.

Over several months that led to the situation that the RT forum is in now which obviously hasn’t been improved by the software/API problems and everything that went with it.

But before it got that bad there came a number of ebooks. Not sure where I got the idea from to be honest. I had enough knowledge that i thought it would be useful to put it together in some sort of package along with videos and personal help from myself. I was talking with Darren from Bet72.com as he had asked me to write an article for his upcoming subscription site. He asked me what I thought of the Tennis Trading League. During that conversation I began to think that an ebook might be useful to new tennis traders to give them a point of reference to get them started.

Darren said he could promote it through his current site and as Wimbledon was round the corner it would good to do a Wimbledon feature and promote the ebook. Sounded great but i had a little over 2 weeks before the tournament started!

I threw something together in a couple of days with posts from the forum, videos and expanded on the descriptions of the strategies but it all seemed a bit naff. Also I think Darren and I had our wires crossed as nothing seemed to be happening from his end. So I pulled out. I wasn’t prepared to make something public that I wasn’t happy with.

I also don’t like to have to rely on anyone else. I have had sites before so thought I would set one up to promote the ebook. While I was doing this I asked a few people from the forum to take a look at what I had so far and give me some feedback. I was surprised that a couple of them were also writing or thinking of writing an ebook.

Tony (The Badger) was in the process of writing EasyTraderPro2 and gave me some advice on the layout of my sales site. I had by then decided that it would be better for anyone who bought it to have the content as a website. That way I could update it and keep things current.

My initial attempts at the sales  site were awful ( jeez, you think its bad now?? ). It has been tweaked over the months into something that I am pretty happy with. Sure it looks a bit like all the other ebook sites but its there to do a job and the coversion rate from there is great.

Why start a blog?

Well, I didnt really! I wanted to have a page on the members site that I could update daily with tips/advice on the day’s games. I didnt want to update the site via ftp as this is blocked at work. I came up with the idea of having the info entered on a blog page that I could then feed into the members site. WordPress was free so I looked there first. I wanted just a simple themed blog with no sidebars and I soon found one that suited my requirements. With some googling I decided that the easiest way to feed the blog into the members site was by using IFrames. I knew nothing about Iframes or how to use them so I had to teach myself that. This is how I learn things. I find something that I can’t do and research it. As it turned out it was quite easy to have an iframe on the main site that displayed the blog page.

But I didn’t want non-members to be able to view the blog. I thought I had set it up so that it wasn’t able to be viewed but I got it wrong. Remember I was rushing to get the site up for Wimbledon.

I started posting my match tips  even though I had no members! There were a few people from the RT forum who had access to the members site as I had given them the link as thanks for helping test the site or give me a testemonial etc.

So I pretty much thought I was posting to myself but it was a good chance to get into the habit of posting selections. I was advertising the site on google but no one had signed up. I paid for advertising for 2 or 3 weeks without a single sale. I began to think that all the work had been a waste of time. I had been told that there was no call for a tennis ebook. The only subjects that sold in large numbers were Racing and Soccer. But I felt that I could offer a decent service at a great price.  Maybe I was kidding myself.

Then after a few days the stats for the blog started showing visitors. I didnt understand as no one was supposed to be able to see the blogsite. I checked the settings and the tick box that seemed to be there to keep the blog private wasnt ticked. Bugger! Do I leave it? Might as well.

On the 4th or 5th day I had over 70 hits. People were reading my waffle!! People were actually looking for a blog like mine and were reading it. Perhaps I hadn’t got it wrong. There WERE  people who wanted to read about trading tennis!

As the weeks passed and the numbers grew people who were reading the blog were signing up for the members site. I cancelled the google adverts and haven’t paid for an advert since. The blog is my shop window. If my tips are rubbish, no one will sign up. No pressure then!

Some days its an effort to go through the selection process and post them but then I think of all the people who have my blog bookmarked and go there every day. The blog gets over 1000 hits a day and the highest was just under 2000. I have over 450 members who have signed up for the Guide and the members site. Absolutely fantastic!

Well, thats 1500 words so I should stop for now. In the next exciting instalment I’ll talk about wordpress, moving to your own webspace ( and why) and the mystery that is adsense ads.

    Trading Guide

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