Start an Email Newsletter in Minutes using TinyLetter

Are you an industry expert (like Om Malik) or a content curator (like Maria Popova) who’s looking to start your own email newsletter that you can publish on-demand whenever you have something interesting to share or say?

You have several options to choose from but if you need a newsletter service that is really easy to setup, doesn’t cost a penny and, more important, one that gives you an option to charge email subscribers a recurring monthly fee for them to receive your interesting shares, check out TinyLetter.

tinyletterGetting started with TinyLetter is simple. Pick a unique username – this will become the sign-up URL for your email newsletter – then sign-up with your email address and your newsletter is ready for people to subscribe.

TinyLetter offers a Gmail-like WYSIWYG editor for composing your email newsletter. Once you send an email blast to your newsletter subscribers, they can also reach out to you by replying to that newsletter but without knowing your actual email address. Basic stats - like how many how many times your newsletter was opened – are also available inside TinyLetter.

One of the most interesting feature of TinyLetter is subscription. You may set a fixed monthly fee for your newsletter –like $5 per month - and people will have to make the payment via PayPal before they can actually become a subscriber. Subscribers are directly taken to PayPal once they put their email address in the subscription form.

email_newsletter

You can either receive subscription payment directly into your PayPal account, or if you do not have a business account with PayPal, TinyLetter can collect the money on your behalf which can then be transferred to your personal PayPal account.

Letter.ly is another paid newsletter service but it uses Amazon Payments instead of PayPal.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Start an Email Newsletter in Minutes using TinyLetter, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 14, 2011 under Email, Paypal, Internet.


How Apple can add a Printer to their iMac

imac printer

While Apple may have no plans of adding printers to their product line-up, someone has this creative idea on how printing capabilities can be integrated inside the sleek and beautiful body of an iMac. While this is obviously a prototype done in Photoshop, it can possibly be used for scanning documents as well without adding an extra machine on to your desk.

Picture credits unknown. Found via @SmashingMag.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, How Apple can add a Printer to their iMac, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 14, 2011 under Mac, Gadgets.


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Tools that Detect Changes on your Favorite Web Pages

Last month, my story about Facebook hitting a trillion page-views received an unexpected amount of interest around the web. I obviously don’t have inside sources nor did anyone contact me with those numbers – so how did I get the news about the trillion milestone before anyone else on the web?

The answer is simple. I use a web monitoring software that tracks a list of web pages (URLs) at set intervals and alerts me whenever content is added or deleted from these pages. In the above case, the monitoring utility was watching a page on google.com and the moment Google uploaded the new numbers, I got an alert on my desktop.

webpage monitor

Tools for Monitoring Web Page Changes

The utility that I have on my Windows machine is called Website Watcher from Aegnis.com – a single-user license for the basic edition of Website Watcher is about €30 and it supports all types of web addresses including secure http and ftp based URLs.

A web monitoring tool, in simple English, works something like this. You specify the address (URL) of a web page that you would like to track and how frequently the tool should ping the given page to determine if the content has changed.

In the case of Website Watcher, you can also visually specify the portions of a page that should be ignored for tracking (like the sidebar or the footer). Later, if the tool detects that a page has changed, you can compare the before and after versions of the page side-by-side and, like any other diff tool, the changed text is highlighted for quick comparison.

Website Watcher works well but if you are looking for a free alternative, check out NotiPage. This is again a Windows-only utility for monitoring web pages with basic monitoring features except for one limitation - NotiPage only highlights the new content that has been added to a page but you won’t be able figure out what has been removed from a page.

If you are monitoring a page that follows a regular pattern – like a Google Search results page where all the different results are rendered as a pattern using a similar set of HTML tags – you may also use Google Docs as a page monitor. You essentially scrap the page content into Google Docs with the help of ImportXML function and then track changes through RSS. This does however require some knowledge of XPath and CSS.

Versionista is another awesome web-based tool for tracking web pages. It lets you compare the two versions of a page side-by-side and thus you can know what has been added, or removed, from a page since you last viewed it. Versionista also lets you apply regular expression based filters to help you specify what kind of page edits should be ignored by the tool during the comparison.

Also see: Create RSS Feeds for Google Search Results

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Tools that Detect Changes on your Favorite Web Pages, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 12, 2011 under Web Pages, Software.


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Turn your Google Docs into a Fax Machine

fax google docs

While there are dozens of web-based services that let you send and receive faxes from the computer without requiring a fax machine, Interfax goes one step further – it turns your Google Docs into a complete fax machine.

You just have to connect your Google Docs account with Interfax and once the link is enabled, you can fax any of your existing Google Docs documents, or spreadsheets, to any fax number in the world right from the browser. You may even send the same Google Docs file to multiple fax machines in one go – remember to separate the different fax numbers / Google Contact names by commas.

The cost for sending faxes from Google Docs varies according to the destination country and the length of the document. For instance, if you are to send a fax to US, the cost would be 13¢ per page, 15¢ for UK while a single page fax to an Indian number would cost you 60¢. There’s no monthly fee for sending faxes though you’ll have to buy minimum credits for $10.

GinzaFax is another online fax service that is built around Google Docs. It is slightly more expensive to send faxes through GinzaFax – the cost 40¢ per page for US numbers and 60¢ for other countries – but here you get a $5 free credit for sending faxes the first time you sign up for an account.

Other than sending faxes, you may also use both Interfax and Ginza Fax to receive faxes from anywhere in the world directly into your Google Docs account. The incoming faxes are automatically converted to PDF format and they get saved in a separate folder thus making it easier for you to locate them later.

Also see: Choosing an Internet Based Fax Service

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Turn your Google Docs into a Fax Machine, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 12, 2011 under Fax, Google Docs, Internet.


Online Passive Income and Blog Update [August ’11]

Wow, August was a busy month! We’re almost a third of the way through September and I’m just now finally getting around to writing about August’s results.

August was another one of those ironic months where I did very little, yet somehow had one of my best months ever (don’t get too excited though – it’s not much better than the past few months).

Before I get into the usual monthly update, I’m going to begin with a personal update…

What’s New With Me (Personal Update)

I don’t always spend much time on “personal” matters, but anything that consumes a large portion of my time is probably worth mentioning.  Earlier this month (9/1), my girlfriend and I moved into a new apartment together, and we’re loving it so far.  For those familiar with Chicago neighborhoods, we moved from Lakeview to Wicker Park.

Instead of being crammed into one bedroom with my desk and everything else (I used to live with a roommate in my previous apartment, so my girlfriend and I shared my bedroom for all of our possessions), we have a two bedroom apartment to ourselves, and have converted one of the bedrooms into an office for me (pictured to the right)! No, I’m not quitting my “day job,” but it’s still nice to have a separate working space from my bedroom.

As you can imagine, we spent a lot of time apartment hunting and ultimately packing during August, so that’s where most of my time outside of work was spent.  It’s nice to finally be settled again, which will hopefully mean I can be more productive again.

[Read my write-up here]

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know about my love for Lending Club. It’s a peer-to-peer lending site that I feel is my only true source of passive income (i.e. once I’m invested, I make money by doing virtually nothing).   As of the end of August, I was invested in 98 loans (+2 from July) and my net annualized return was 7.20% (+0.13% from July).

As I always point out, my current interest rate at Lending Club far exceeds that of any type of “safe” investment like money market bank accounts and CDs (certificates of deposit). Remember, however, that Lending Club loans are riskier than these other types of investments.  I do strongly believe that the additional risk is more than compensated for by the higher rate of return.  I’ve been with Lending Club for over 2 and half years now, and have consistently seen returns greater than 7%.

Here’s an image from my Lending Club account summary that show my performance compared to other Lending Club investors:

If you’re interested in trying Lending Club, you can sign up with this link and get a free account.  If you’re unsure whether this type of investing is right for you, you can deposit a small amount (loans can go as small as $25) and become familiar with it.

To me, trying something like this and investing a small portion of your money is a no brainer. You’re going to get higher returns than a bank account, and although it locks up your money for a period of time (you are generally paid back over 3 years), it’s well worth the ability to have your money earn you money, with virtually no effort on your part.

Info Barrel Earnings Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

August was a great month for Info Barrel, as my AdSense income saw a nice increase despite me not writing any new articles.  I’m sure some of you are wondering why I haven’t written any new articles given the success I’ve had with a collection of articles that I wrote several months ago.   It really comes down to this: time.

For the past few months, I’ve only been able to dedicate, on average, probably 3-4 hours per week to my internet work.  Once you take into account that 1-2 of those hours are spent writing for this blog, there isn’t much time left for everything else.  Part of this is my fault, but it all comes down to priorities, and there are other things in my life that have taken priority. :)  Hopefully, I’m able to demonstrate for you that you don’t need to have all the time in the world to make a reasonable amount of money online.

As of the end of August, I have written 130 articles (+0 from last month).  Here are my August Google AdSense statistics for Info Barrel:

In August, I earned a total of $79.02 via AdSense, from my Info Barrel articles (+$19.00 from July).

August InfoBarrel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense:                 $79.02
  • Amazon Associates:          $0.00
  • Chitika:                                    $4.43
  • Other Affiliate Earnings:   $0.00
  • Total: $83.45 (+$6.66 from July)

If you want to add InfoBarrel to your passive income portfolio, you can sign up for it here.

Niche Site Duel

As a part of Pat Flynn’s niche site duel,  I created a niche site about a year ago based on P90X, an extreme home fitness routine.   After three straight months of very modest increases, I saw a decline in August.  Although I’m not officially giving up on this site, I’ve stopped focusing much time on it.  I think it’s important to understand your failures and move on to areas where your time is more valuable.

I am experimenting with something new this month for my P90X site, however, and if anything interesting comes out of it, I’ll write a case study next month.

August Niche Site Duel Earnings Summary

  • Google Adsense: $0.00
  • Chitika: $0.00
  • Amazon Associates:  $1.75
  • Total: $1.75 (-$6.30 from July)

Amazon Niche Site Challenge

[Read about the challenge here]

Last November, I launched a challenge where I planned to create several niche sites specifically tailored for Amazon’s affiliate program (i.e. selling physical products as an affiliate of Amazon.com), and I’m following the lessons taught in Chris Guthrie’s Niche Profit Course.

For the third straight month, I saw record earnings once again.  I’ve been very thrilled with the way my Amazon sites have progressed, and if this trend can continue, I’m expecting a very rewarding holiday season (the most lucrative time for Amazon affiliates).  If you’re thinking about starting an Amazon niche site, do it now so that it’s complete and ranking by the time the holiday shopping season gets into full swing.

Here are the stats for August:

# of Amazon niche sites: 16 (same as July)

Total August Amazon Niche Site Earnings: $214.94 (+$45.94 from July)

My Authority Website

As I detailed here, I’ve started an authority website that I have big plans for.  The site finally started earning money! It’s not a lot, but I’ll take it as a small step in the right direction.  Once I get around to doing some substantial work on this site (most notably, writing an eBook that will be used a list-building giveaway), I’ll dedicate an entire post to it.

Here’s what the site earned in August:

  • Google Adsense:                 $3.45
  • Other (to be disclosed later): $3.84
  • Total: $7.29 (+$7.29 from July)

Misc. Affiliate Income

This area saw a nice jump over the past month!  As usual, there’s no real explanation, as all of this comes from work that I did a long time ago (I didn’t build or write anything new that would add to these income sources). Here’s the breakdown for August:

  • Adsense: $6.66
  • Amazon: $0.00
  • ClickBank: $235.59
  • Commission Junction: $201.40
  • PayDotCom: $0.00
  • Private Advertising: $35.00
  • Market Samurai: $63.50
  • Other Misc.: $64.50

Total Misc. Affiliate Earnings for August: $606.65 (+$121.59 from July)

Income Summary

Here’s a summary of August’s earnings.  Instead of summarizing it by source (i.e. AdSense, Amazon, etc.), I’m going to summarize by project/challenge, which I think makes a bit more sense.

  • InfoBarrel Earnings Challenge: $83.45
  • Niche Site Duel (P90X site): $1.75
  • Amazon Niche Site Challenge: $214.94
  • My Authority Website: $7.29
  • Misc. Affiliate Income: $606.65

Grand Total for August: $914.08 (+$175.18 from July)

I’m thrilled to find that this is my highest month so far this year.  It would be nice to crack the arbitrary $1,000 mark, but I’m not there yet.  These earnings are always bittersweet for me – on the one hand, it’s great that I’m able to generate this now on a fairly regular basis with very little work (that’s the beauty of passive income), however it bothers me to know that if I could just find the time to put some more work into my income-producing properties, I could be making so much more.

Popular Posts

These were my top 5 most popular blog posts in August based on number of views:

1) The Ultimate Backlink Tracker (Free Tool)

2) The Best Sources of Passive Income Online (My Rankings)

3) How to Make $2,000 Per Month Writing for InfoBarrel

4) 142+ Ways to Make Money Online

5) Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July '11]

Until next month, best of luck to you and your passive income projects!

If you enjoyed this income report, subscribe to the RSS feed (if you haven’t already) so that you don’t miss any future updates. Thanks so much!

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Thanks for subscribing to my feed! For more great content, check out my Muse Creation Newletter for tips, tricks, and ideas that I won't share on my blog.

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Online Passive Income and Blog Update [August '11]

Related posts:

  1. My Blog and Passive Income Experiments Update [August '10]
  2. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [July '11]
  3. Online Passive Income and Blog Update [September '11]


Generate Strong Passwords with Wolfram

Wolfram Alpha – an online engine that in some respects is more powerful than Google – can also be used for generating strong and unique passwords for your various online accounts.

To get started, go to the wolframalpha.com website and type a natural-language query like password of n characters to create your unique password (n is the length of the password).

wolfram password

Unlike other password generators, Wolfram Alpha offers a phonetic form for every password to make it a bit easier for you to memorize that complex string. It also shows the time it would take for a computer to break that particular password.

While the default settings in Wolfram are good enough to create strong passwords, you may also provide specific password rules like whether the password should have special characters, should every character be different, are number allowed and so on. Useful!

Also see: Keep Your Passwords Safe on a Piece of Paper

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Generate Strong Passwords with Wolfram, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on August 30, 2011 under Password, Wolfram Alpha, Internet.