This year I was fortunate enough to attend both PubCon 2010 in Las Vegas and Affiliate Summit East 2011 in New York. I’d like to talk about how they compare for those considering either of these events in the future.

The Content:

PubCon is a huge conference held in the Las Vegas Convention Center. They have a lot of sessions (100-ish) covering SEO, SEM, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and the like. I actually struggled to pick which sessions to attend because inevitably there would be 2 or more sessions going on at the same time that I wanted to attend. Also, because there are so many more people at PubCon sometimes the rooms get full so people actually run from one session to the next to get a good seat. They don’t allow much time between the sessions but they do a good job at providing power strips for laptops at many of the tables.. You’ll also see industry heavy-hitters at PubCon like Matt Cutts, David Pogue, and others.

Affiliate Summit is a smaller event, there are three sessions going on at once and about 40 in total, mostly about Affiliate Marketing though I did attend a few good SEO sessions while here. One thing I noticed is that the Affiliate Summit sessions are a bit higher level, less beginner content compared to what you’ll hear at PubCon. Also, the sessions are spread out over the day with bigger gaps between them so you don’t have to rush however there are no power strips for laptops at the tables.

Winner: PubCon – the volume of choices is nice even though some of the content may be low-level

Logistics:

PubCon is not in a hotel but it’s ‘near’ a hotel but you can’t really walk to it so they have shuttles, which is a pain because at the end of the day everyone wants to take the shuttle back to the hotel at the same time so there were HUGE lines waiting to get back. Also, it was freezing cold and I did not fly out to Las Vegas thinking I would need a winter coat so I had none. On a positive note, the shuttle is yet another chance to do some networking. A few of my most memorable connections were made on the shuttle.

Affiliate Summit, on the other hand, is held inside the Hilton so if you stay in the Hilton you don’t have to even go outside to get to the sessions.

Winner: Affiliate Summit – no shuttles

Food:

PubCon gives you these tickets that are like money and you have choices of vendors to buy food from. The lines were long and some of the vendors were poorly prepared for the rush. It was basically a disaster.

Affiliate Summit hands out meal tickets, you hand them the ticket when you walk in. I never saw a line but I got to lunch kinda late. Hilton caters the lunch and provided a nice assortment of healthy food that was actually really good. Although the deserts were just okay for me dog.

Winner: Affiliate Summit – no lunch lines & better food choices

Audience:

PubCon typically hosts the big names in the industry. It’s common to see folks from Amazon, eBay and just about any other big web presence you can think of. It’s a professional environment and exciting to share ideas with these folks. That said, it’s a slightly older audience hosting people who are later in their careers.

At Affiliate Summit the crowd is younger. You’ll see folks in their clubbing outfits, fresh out of college – some look like they just got out of high school. Not as many heavy hitters but certainly a good collection of talent. Also, if you’re a single guy there are a LOT more beautiful women at Affiliate Summit.

Winner: TIE Affiliate Summit (if you’re single) PubCon if you want to be star-struck

With that said you really can’t go wrong with either of these events, depending on what industry you’re in. Enjoy!

 

Chances are if you’re reading this blog you’re a Google Analytics fan & user. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Google Analytics. But, GA is NOT the only tracking solution you should be using to track your visitors. For example, having a real-time web analytics solution, like Clicky Web Analytics can be very handy for instantly testing changes you make to your website without having to wait for the delay imposed by Google Analytics.

Clicky is also amazingly handy whenever you launch a new initiative like a new website, ppc ad or send out an email blast with a link to a special offer. Watching how users navigate your website in real-time is like crack for a web junky like me. No more waiting for 3 hours for GA to update.

Additionally, if you manage multiple blogs or websites, Clicky offers a handy high-level view of all your sites that outlines your traffic at that exact moment, for the current day, and for the last 7 to 30 days. Not to mention that this view can be customized to your liking.

Furthermore, Clicky is ultra-easy to setup, similar to Google Analytics. Just place a snippet of code on your site and you’re done. If you use WordPress, this is even easier with their official plugin.

Finally, it’s totally free to get started. Track your first website (up to 3000 page views per day) with the free version for as long as you like. You only pay when you begin to add more sites and even then it’s only $4.99 / month. Give Clicky a try today. They even have a demo site setup so you can see what the reports are like before you install the code.

Already using Clicky? Awesome, share your thoughts below.

Get your blog in the cloud

In 2002 Amazon launched AWS (Amazon Web Services) in order to provide the same hosting technology used for Amazon.com to everyone else. What made this service unique was their billing structure, which is pay by use. You can actually pay by the hour at incredibly cheap prices. Also, AWS allows you to host your website or application in many locations across the globe to provide the best experience no matter where your visitors live.

In September of 2010 Amazon launched a new feature of AWS called Micro Instances which are low-power instances of web servers perfect for blogs and smaller websites that don’t require a lot of fancy features. These Micro Instances cost as low as $0.02 / per hour. In November of 2010 Amazon announced their ‘Free Usage Tier‘ which will allow anyone to use a Micro Instance free for a year. The Free Usage Tier includes everything you need to host your blog on AWS, monitor it and back it up.

This is an amazing service and value but there’s a problem – you have to be a Linux guru in order to setup the server to host WordPress and get it up and running – or you did – until now. Introducing JumpBox, a company who provides ‘Open Source as a Service’. Right now, JumpBox is offering a one-click setup of WordPress on Amazon AWS. Just sign-up for a free JumpBox account, add a few details from your Amazon AWS account and boom, you’re running WordPress on the most advanced hosting platform in the world.

Below are the actual steps to follow, start to finish, to get this going quickly and easily. JumpBox makes it super-easy but there are a few steps they left out. For example, the default installation does not enable automatic updates from within WordPress, which is a super-handy feature. My instructions below will walk you through it – assuming you’re comfortable using an SSH console. But don’t be afraid, it’s quite easy to do.

  1. Visit Amazon Web Services and sign-up
  2. Log in and visit the Account section and click on Security Credentials. Find your Access Key and Secret Access Key and make a note of them somewhere handy.
  3. Visit JumpBox and launch a WordPress instance. When it’s done you will get an email that will tell you the IP address of your instance – save that email.
  4. Visit your registrar – the site where you purchased your domain name – and edit the DNS A-Record to point to the IP address you received in the JumpBox email.
  5. Wait about 10 mins for DNS propagation and you’re done!

It’s easy as that! Now, if you require more control of your blog please continue to the following steps.

Setup FTP access to your server. Actually, JumpBox instances don’t have FTP enabled by default – they use sFTP which is more secure although not all programs support it. However, Filezilla and Dreamweaver do support it.

  1. Login to the Admin section of your JumpBox instance and click on SSH/SFTP and enable this feature.
  2. Setup your FTP program to point to the IP of your server and to use SFTP.
  3. The location of your files on the server are “/var/data/wordpress”

Setup automatic updates in WordPress on JumpBox via SSH:

  1. Download and launch PuTTY or some other SSH client
  2. Connect to the IP address of your server and login with username admin and your JumpBox password
  3. First, we have to enable SSH in PHP, to do so, run this command:
  4. sudo apt-get install libssh2-php

  5. When that’s done restart Apache with this command:
  6. sudo apache2ctl graceful

  7. Now, when you update WordPress or install a new plugin you’ll have the SSH2 option. Use your server IP as the host and your JumpBox username and password – you can ignore the public key, private key section.

Setup cURL on JumpBox. Some plugins require your server to have the cURL service, if you need this follow these steps:

  1. Connect to your server with PuTTY as described above
  2. Run this command:
  3. sudo apt-get install php5-curl

  4. Restart Apache again and you’re done.

And that should do it. If you have any trouble or questions please post them below and I’ll try to help you. Enjoy!

 

Jeffrey Nichols

MCSA

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