A Performancing Experiment: Book Arbitrage

Every month, Performancing is going to run an experiment that we hope will accomplish three things. First, and foremost, it should be fun! Second, we’ll all learn a new thing or two about marketing strategy. Third, by running a collective experiment, we can share seo and marketing wisdom with each other.

This month, the experiment is going to be Book Arbitrage. Let’s have fun with it!

The book we are going to try to do search arbitrage on is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Basically, this is the art of creating a useful website about a popular book (almost like a squidoo lens) and gaining Amazon affiliate sales.

If you read Performancing closely, you might have seen my suggestion that the Photopress theme is the perfect tool for book arbitrage because it lets you put up a nice and big picture of the book’s cover art….plus it’s clean and professional looking.

To get started, I’ve gone ahead and setup a bare-bones book arbitrage site for the 7th and final Harry Potter book that releases on July 21, 2007. As a community, we have about one month to put our plan into place and execute it. Profits will be split evenly between Performancing and everyone who either offers a suggestion in this comment thread or links to the Deathly Hallows site.

What I want us to do collectively is make suggestions for how to make this a killer landing page for HP 7. So fire away in the comment section. What should we add to this barebones template to make it kick some Google ass?

81 thoughts on “A Performancing Experiment: Book Arbitrage

  1. if you build a few pages website.how can you attract people to look into your site? is it relevant?

  2. The 5th movie came out and smashed box office dollars all over the place. The book came out last week and records are still being tallied.

    The site seems to be getting lots and lots of comments. Are we actually starting to see Book Arbitrage taking place?

    Just over 1 month in is there any adjustments that need to be made?

  3. One of the members of the LLA pointed out that the name of the second charity is currently missing. I remember seeing the second name a couple days ago, but I can’t find it now.

    The applicable section mentions the second charity, but not by name which can cause legal issues in the US. I’m sure this was just an editing issue, maybe the name got cut out by accident during one of the site reorganizations.

    The other charity is an organization that has created real and lasting change for children in need in more than 40 countries around the globe for more than 70 years. Over 91% of their donations go directly towards programs that help children, plus they are a highly esteemed charity by numerous of charity review organizations.

    Here is the url for that page

  4. but It was the obvious part that I missed, but didn’t want to hash it out here. Sorry for being so obtuse. Fighting writers block today.

  5. Brett: Ryan’s encouraging people who want to start a blog to submit an idea. And they’ll get paid and share in profits.

  6. I missed that announcement too, but upon reading it don’t quite understand it either.

  7. I’m a big HP fan and will probably finish the book in a few days when it comes out. Get in touch via pm/email if you want a review or help with theories.
    I’ll be purchasing through the aff. link as well, so you’re already guaranteed one sale

  8. Good ideas. When I get the time, I’ll implement them.

    Today I’m creating three blogs for people who contacted my company through Performancing with great ideas for blogs (re: the announcement I made in the forums)

  9. Might be a good thing for Performancing to offer up a Drupal DoFollow mod or plugin. Plugins in general might bring in more traffic than themes. You can only have one theme at a time, but you can have lots of plugins, and plugins can apply more universally to lots of blogs new and old

  10. DoFollow exists for a few blog platforms (well, at least WP). Not sure if there’s a Drupal version yet, but I haven’t looked.

  11. Not sure where you stand on the DoFollow trend Ryan, but I’m sure you could get some more incoming buzz if you shared the love back using the DoFollow plugin.

    Not sure how that will impact the entire project, but when your site goes to PR6 or 7, it would be nice to give a little weight back.

    Just a thought, and one worthy for more indepth discussion on a different Performancing thread.

  12. People do not realize this, but Dobby was modeled after a concept stolen from Star Trek. The figure was taken from the design room floor. Star Trek the Next/New Generation was supposed to introduce a free love society of Klingon little people. They had done quite a bit of work on the concept and the chief designer later became one of the contributors for the 2nd or 3rd film (where ever Dobby showed up). They needed something fast and they used the Klingon Midget, stripped down and basically just added longer ears and made his skin a little bit more pale.

  13. Hi Ryan

    Per a request (of sorts) would it be possible to maybe setup a page or a post listing all of the foreign language editions of all of the Harry Potter books?

    Example, here is the Hebrew Edition of HP and the Philosopher’s Stone


    I’m sure King Solomon would find that particular book interesting . . .

  14. I consider this week the “setup” week. I’ve got writers developing content for the site. I’ve put a number of strong links in place. I’ve started contacting the charities to see about cooperation.

    Next week is promotion week:

    Action points (could use some help!)

    1. Release press release about charity
    2. Participate in forums
    3. Post Craigslist announcement about contest
    4. Contact blog owners about charity
    5. Contact blog owners about contest
    6. Create viral email and send out

    Any other ideas. I think for the first few days, we’re doing quite well.

  15. Not to argue over something that won’t happen until it happens, but I think we could pull off a million books.

  16. I like this ad. Just happens to fit many nav bars for the themes i use. So I’m going to post it on half a dozen sites

  17. Not too much. I was thinking more like 100,000, which is more realistic. And more than 1500

  18. Raj,
    One million is just the goal. It sounds sexy. And I honestly think that it is a doable goal if we could get the entire blogosphere behind the project.

  19. After reading Raj’s points and that first submission, I’m wondering if we should put together a collection of the top submissions into an actual book and also record that in audible format for download there and iTunes.

    I do like the idea about a literacy charity too.

  20. That was terrific!

    But it raises a promotion problem.

    Who will want to buy the actual book after reading terrific submissions like that! 😉

  21. I’ve done two for #6 using http://tools.dynamicdrive.com/favicon/

    But I used the book’s image and the colors aren’t sharp. Tell me where to send the two icons and you can decide for yourself. One is Harry’s face, the other is “HP”

    I think a million books is setting too high, if you’re expecting one site to sell them all in a month. Or is this a longer-term thing?

    You know what could be very cool after the book is out is to do an audio reading of the intro, say 5-10 minutes, and post that. You could do that for other “arbitrage” projects, provided they’re fiction.

    I agree with Ahmed. You need to pick a charity, else the button may be treated as a scam by some. I vote split the charitable contribution with a literacy program. This series made kids want to read again and allowed other children’s authors to ride the after-effect of the wave.

  22. I can handle number 4. It is somewhat related to the other items I’m working on with the LLA. I can also probably handle 1-3, but I do not want to take away from the fun for anyone else. So let me know if no one else volunteers for those.

    Images and graphics are not my strength personally.

  23. Tasks that I need help with:

    1. Crafting a viral email message for the One Million Harry Potter Books For Charity program
    2. Crafting a press release for the One Million Harry Potter Books For Charity program
    3. Crafting a press release for the $500 contest
    4. Crafting an email message to send out to Harry Potter bloggers for the $500 contest
    5. Making a nice sidebar widget image for the charity program
    6. Making a favicon for the HP site

    If anyone could handle any of these tasks, it would take a big burden off my shoulders! Thanks.

  24. As I was looking at your blogroll I noticed that it would help if you had a customized favicon icon in the tabs of browsers and feeds that is more of a HP theme. Maybe a broom or something.

    Currently its got the default camera icon from the photo theme.

  25. sounds good, but pick a specific charity and one that helps children.

    And have the $1 per book still go to charity, just set one million as your goal.

  26. What are you thoughts on doing a charity viral “One Million Harry Potter Books” where the idea is that if one million copies of Harry Potter are sold through the site, $1 from each sale will go to relieve African poverty?

  27. It’s not much but I can offer up an owned vBulletin license. Support ends soon, but you can purchase more support. I’ll have to confirm with them that I can give it away like this, but if you think it’s a worthwhile prize, I’ll offer it after confirmation.

  28. I could see it but couldn’t get it to click. left a comment myself so that you can try and click on mine

  29. capturing relevant info – that’s why email submissions should be in place, with clear instructions on what info to send in.

    ryan – I know, just pointing out that people notice

  30. People should drop their entries as comments. There is a great plugin for wordpress that allows people to vote comments up or down. I believe its called ck-karma, I run it on an infant movie review blog – which needs a reboot by the way HollywoodMoviesUSA.com – multiple blogs.

    People that have their own blogs, should write a short intro for their story submission and link to your page for the more or rest of their story. and then a standard blurb about the contest details. We could kick this off through the LLA thing as well or it could run separate with a mention to the LLA.

    One important thing to do is to make sure you capture everyone’s relevant information for the contest. (name address paypal for payments email address for contact in case different from paypal address.)


    Just found the ck-karma page, its here

  31. oh, and setup filler pages for ‘rumors’, background, etc. 404 message isn’t all that appealing.

  32. cash and merchandise – say around $500 or $1000.

    Yea, I know what you’re thinking – that I should go find you a sponsor. Sheesh…

    Ok, so who on Perf has a site related to literature / pop culture?

  33. Ryan – how about a competition that gives out a prize for the best ‘ending’, as voted by readers? Or any type of competition (just make it one big competition though, maybe even with weekly stages) that you can think of.

    It’ll be easy to find a sponsor for it

  34. Hey everyone, would you be willing to mention this experiment on your blogs (with links!). It’s a great exercise in SEO, marketing, creating landing pages, and community projects.

  35. 1: Store. It’s not a resource site, as I understand it, but an experiment that dabbles in affiliate marketing. Though I could be wrong. Ryan discussed this whole idea with me before he posted the article above, and that was the understanding I came away with. That may have changed in the interim.

    2: You’ll still get auto-tagged by Technorati. However, they only index full content from feeds and the home page. They do not yet index permalink pages. So, if you have full-text in your web feed or your home page, you’ll get indexed and auto-tagged as per your keywords. It may not be 100% as accurate as applying the tags yourself, but it still works.

  36. Raj,

    1 – Are we putting up a resource or a store? I’d go for a resource that can be trusted. You don’t HAVE to link to review sites, you can cite them if necessary or use them to provide you with content.

    2 – Profiting from the technorati tags traffic is the goal, no matter how you do it.

  37. Parts of semiologic are free. But I think there’s a portion that has to be purchased. Not sure, as I have’t used it in almost a year.

  38. Ahmed: Normally, I’m a “link leaker”. But when it comes to affiliate sites, my understanding is that the general wisdom is to have no external links except to the seller. Do you not think that linking out to other review sites guarantees Ryan’s site will not get the sale?

    Also, using Technorati tags is unnecessary. Why give them juice for the anchor text? I stopped using them and I still get indexed regularly. Well, on most of my sites.

  39. some SEO suggestions:

    1) don’t worry about dupe content – focus instead on getting as many trusted links to the site as possible. That means placing a link to it in the Perf sidebar, putting the blog in the EatonWeb directory, mentioning this on other SPM properties and pushing out a digg-bait as soon as possible.

    2) don’t forget the details – you’re building an informational resource, so put in background information about Harry Potter (the series), the author’s bio, summaries / storyline of the previous 6 books, links and reviews of popular HP sites that are writing about the 7th book, etc.

    3) Use the static front page plugin (Semiologic, available for free I think, if you don’t find it tell me and I’ll mail it to ya) so that only pages that you mark in the ‘blog’ category are showed on the front page.

    4) Are we doing AdWords here as well? That would be an interesting approach.

    5) The third huge favor should be asking Perf bloggers to talk about the experiment on their own blogs.

    6) Use proper tagging to get your posts on Technorati.

    some general ideas

    1) the ‘write your own ending’ doesn’t have to be a full-fledged chapter, some ideas will do.

    2) We should setup a specific forum area for these experiments

    3) Since we only have a month, everything has to be done in overdrive – so once again, that linkbait should be pushed out asap!

    I’d volunteer (and I do) but I’m probably the only one here who knows nothing about Harry Potter – well, not much really

  40. I could use two huge favors.

    1. Any good linkbaiter willing to write a strong linkbait for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows? If necessary, we can work out the details via PM.

    2. Any Harry Potter fans willing to help jumpstart a “you write the ending” contest?

  41. Anyone a huge Harry Potter fan who could get us started with speculation about the following questions:

    Who are the characters most likely to die in this book? Top 5 reasons Harry might join Voldemort. Can Dumbledore return from the dead? Will Ron and Hermione get it on? Is Snape Harry’s real father? Can Wizards take paternity tests?

  42. Ryan: Get some good viral posts on there and maybe try out a social media blitz?

    Look around some of the HP sites on the web and maybe do a couple of posts about hot rumours. Who are the characters most likely to die in this book? Top 5 reasons Harry might join Voldemort. Can Dumbledore return from the dead? Will Ron and Hermione get it on? Is Snape Harry’s real father? Can Wizards take paternity tests?

    That kind of thing. Write the content in advance and trickle it out over the coming weeks. Alongside the social media campaign, you should gain attention, backlinks and the all-important visitors.

    I’m not sure about your choice of theme though – content is totally pushed out of the way with this, and if you want to make money from affiliate sales, I’d get the Amazon link up above the fold, preferably in a left sidebar.

    Get your skates on, you’ve only got a month left….

  43. At first I thought maybe having a kind of interactive fiction contest, have users submit snippets of prose, each one continuing on from the last snippet, and then run a vote on the best ideas (imagine all the keyword-rich content!). The problem there of course is, where to find contributors. There must be some active Harry Potter forums on the Net, how about:


    I think a much simpler thing to implement would be a series of Democracy polls in the sidebar on “What is your favorite Potter book/film so far”, “which character will die in the last book,” etc.

  44. How about you let people make suggestions about what they think will happen, and comment on other people’s ideas. Have some sort of prize if anyone gets it right.

  45. Brett,
    Would love to coordinate. I’m thinking that the only fair way of tracking is to have people post on this thread. If you have a better idea, though, let me know.

  46. Ryan,

    I love the concept you are experimenting with here. I would love to pitch this to my volunteer LinkyLoveArmy.

    The thing is how would you keep track of everyones participation? or another way to put it, do you have a max limit on the number of people you want help from? The harry potter market is huge and with a big push we could bite off a nice slice of pie.

    We could do successive weekly or biweekly campaigns to promote the site, comment up the site, and much more.

    This discussion could grow rapidly, so if you like feel free to contact me via PM and maybe we could talk more via instant message.

  47. Actually, there isn’t even a single post. The home page template houses the only front page content. Everything else is a “page”.

  48. how about a mini site, with no post pages, only “page” pages? THat way, the home page is a single post, and everything else is a “page”, in WordPress terminology. The navigation shows only “pages” and the home page.

  49. A few questions to get things started:

    1. Is it better to focus on the main domain as a landing page or the post?
    2. Should the page just be one big post (like a squidoo page), or lots of small posts? I’ve always done the “just one big post” method.
    3. Should we worry about duplicate content between the main page and the categories, etc.? Would it be better to remove the categories all together?

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