Terran Marketing is now Tactical.com

When I started Terran Marketing back in 2010 I never could have dreamed what it would become. Things have really started taking a different direction the past year (in a good way) and I felt like a rebrand was in order. However, before I get into that let me explain my thought process. When I started Terran I made a few basic assumptions…

  1. I would be looking for keyword domains to do affiliate marketing with.
  2. The name of the company I was forming wasn’t that important since I would be known for the individual websites more than the overall company name.
  3. I wouldn’t be marketing Terran Marketing itself per se.

Well, as it turns out, none of that turned out to be true. Well, #1 used to be true, but we’re making a big push to get away from affiliate marketing (future post about this coming up). I guess you could maybe give a half point to #2 since people do know Terran Marketing for individual websites in some cases. However, Terran Marketing as a brand has really started to take off. People have come to know Terran Marketing as a company that makes strategic domain name purchases, designs great websites, and generally knows what they are doing.

The problem is that the name “Terran Marketing” is long, doesn’t mean much of anything, and is hard to spell for a lot of people. As we’ve been breaking into new industries, such as Treadmills, getting an email from @terranmarketing.com just isn’t very impressive and often times ends up in the circular file.

So, a couple of months ago I set out to find a domain name that was impressive as our domain portfolio itself. The domain name had to meet a few criteria:

  1. Be a .com domain
  2. Be one word
  3. Be easy to spell
  4. Explain, at least in part, who we are
  5. Fit within our budget

A lot of names floated across my desk over the past few months, but none caught my eye as much as Tactical.com. While I was worried about the negative connotation the word might have, I felt like the positive far outweighed the negative. It really fits since we do take very “tactical” approach to everything we do. From buying domain names, coding, design, analytics, etc it’s all very tactical and calculated.

So, with all that said, Terran Maketing is now Tactical.com.

I know it will take some work getting the new name out there, but in the end I think it will be well worth it. In addition to the new name, we launched a brand new company website at the same time. I wanted something that looked as good as some of the sites we’re working on and I feel good about the result.

Time for A Fresh Look…

I decided that since I’m going to start blogging again that my blog needed to be respectable looking. I’ve been getting OCD about design lately (something I’m going to blog about soon) and the old look of my blog just wasn’t doing it for me. So, I decided to invest some time yesterday looking for a new theme and sprucing things up a bit. In addition to my personal blog I’ve been working on a new look for TerranMarketing.com as well. Design has always been important to me, but it’s hard to own GraphicDesign.com and not get obsessive…

A new look for my blog

As I mentioned off the top, the old look and feel of my blog just wasn’t working anymore. I was using the very popular Thesis Theme before, but it was the older version before they updated to 2.0. I was tempted to just upgrade to 2.0, but there is nothing on their site about it being responsive out of the box. Since I already own a full subscription to StudioPress, thanks to WPHub.com, I ended up going that route. I settled on the Focus theme and made some minor personal customizations. Focus met all the requirements I was looking for:

  1. The theme had to be responsive.
  2. The theme had to have a very clean look / feel.
  3. I wanted to use large typography.

In addition to the look and feel I added a FeedBlitz RSS feed and made social a bigger part of the blog. You can now easily find me on social networks from the sidebar and each post has social sharing icons. Pretty basic stuff obviously, but something I just didn’t take the time to implement on my personal blog before.

A new look for TerranMarketing.com

In addition to updating my personal blog, I really want to freshen up the design of all the sites in the Terran Marketing portfolio. I figured, what better place to start than with TerranMarketing.com itself. For this project I solicited the help of one of the Advisory Board members on GraphicDesign.com. I told him that I wanted something that was very trendy with large fonts and graphics. After a few conversations and several revisions this is what we came up with:

New Terran Marketing Homepage

Now that the PSDs are done I need to hand this off to our development team so they can slice it up, get it BootStrapped, and turn it into a theme. We have a lot of other projects cooking right now, but I hope to have this live by the end of June.

Time to start blogging again…

Where have you been?

It’s been a little over 8 months since my last blog post and I’ve really been having the itch to start it up again. To be honest, the main reason I stopped blogging for awhile is that I was dealing with a lot of unpleasant things that just wouldn’t have been very fun to write about.

If you were a follower of my blog you know that I moved to Texas back in mid 2011 only to realize what a mistake that was a few months later. I certainly don’t want to air all the dirty laundry of that experience here, but the biggest fallout was some bonehead SEO practices by my former partner. While I was off practicing total white hat SEO, even writing about it, my partner was off doing all the black hat no-nos known to man. Things such as article spinning, buying links, comment spamming, low quality directories, etc, etc.

When I first discovered what he had been doing I was pretty outraged. When I confronted him about it his exact words were “But it works”. Just thinking about it right now makes my head almost explode. I equated it to poker during tournament play when you bluff all in. There is that old saying of “It works every time, but once”. Even after we had a long conversation about shutting the black hat crap down, he still persisted behind my back.

While we ultimately decided to part ways because of this (and several other reasons), Panda and Penguin finally caught up to his “it works” approach and left me with a portfolio of penalized sites. Fun times.

I actually decided that I’m going to dedicate a entire future post to this one topic, because after over a year of pain and heartache I finally got the penalties off.  I know a lot of other people are dealing with a similar problem and I want to share my experience.

A New Home

After we left Texas, we headed to Washington, DC for the summer to spend time with family and friends. Once the trip was over we took a couple of months to drive back out to the west coast and start looking for a home. We spent several months looking between San Diego and Las Vegas and ultimately landed in Vegas. San Diego was definitely my top pick, but several factors helped sway us towards Vegas. So, for the 3rd time we’re calling Las Vegas home. Dealing with moving was one of the top reasons I went MIA in the blogging world. After spending 9 months straight in the RV it just got to the point where I only used my computer to do the absolute necessaries and just put most everything else off.

Terran Marketing Update

There are some really neat things going on at Terran Marketing that I’m looking forward to talking about. I’ve actually purchased several domains since my last post and I’m very excited about them. I hope to write a post about each purchase over the next few weeks and talk about my thought process for each one.

The last thing I want to do is thank to dozens of you who contacted me over the past few months asking why I stopped blogging. You were really the inspiration for starting back up again and I hope to provide all of you with some entertaining reading material.

3 Months In Washington DC

In my last blog post I mentioned how I was on my way to Washington DC to spend the summer. Well, June, July, and August flew by in a blink of an eye, but it was an eventful and fun 3 months…

Summer In Washington DC

My wife and I rented a house in an absolutely amazing location in Cleveland Park just a couple minute walk to the Metro and dozens of restaurants. We were also a short walk to the Uptown Movie Theater, Rock Creek Park Trails, and other shops. To say it was a convenient location is an understatement. It took almost the entire 3 months, but we managed to try every restaurant in the Cleveland Park area.

My favorite restaurants turned out to be:

Ardeo Bardo

Indique

Spices

Lavandou

Byblos Deli

Out of the Cleveland Park area Founding Farmers took my favorite restaurant prize.

We also attended several events over the summer:

3 Washington Nationals baseball games

Sugarland at JiffyLube Live

Alan Jackson at WolfTrap

Roger Waters The Wall at Verizon Center

Adams Family at Kennedy Center

Memphis at Kennedy Center

The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Beauty and The Beast at National Theater

CitiOpen Tennis Tournament at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center

Martina McBride at WolfTrap

Sheer Madness at Kennedy Center

We also went to the National Zoo, Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, Natural History Museum, National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery, and walked around The Mall several times.

So, if I was culturally starved before, this filled that void. I’ll miss the amazing cultural diversity of Washington, DC: theater, concerts, sporting events, etc, but San Diego has a pretty good touring theater scene, gets most major concerts, and has the Padres and Chargers.

I’m mostly going to miss having my family so close. My mom and dad are about 2 hours west of DC and my mother-in-law actually works downtown. It was awesome having them so close all summer. However, we ultimately remembered why we left the area to begin with and will just have to make an extra effort to fly back a few times a year to visit. San Diego’s weather and lifestyle just suits us to well to pass up.

What’s Next?

Over the next several weeks my wife and I are going to be RVing – heading west to San Diego. We’ll finally take a new route across the country, which I’m really excited about. We’re looking at cutting though West Virginia and Kentucky on I-64 on the way to Saint Louis. Missouri is one of the few states I haven’t been to, so I’ll be happy to finally cross that one off my list. From there we’ll shoot across Kansas on I-70 heading west for Denver where we’ll spend at least a week taking in the sights before heading south on I-15 towards Las Vegas and finally San Diego.

Bye Bye Dallas

If you would have asked me on May 1, 2011 if there was a even a sliver of a chance that I would take on a new business partner, move to Dallas, sell our home in California, have a whole bunch of stuff happen that I’m not going to get into here, and realize it was by far and away the biggest mistake of my life less than a year later – I would have told you that you were certifiably insane. Well, that’s exactly what happend and less than one year after moving to Dallas, we’re leaving Dallas.

Discussing the particulars of anything that transpired in a public forum like my blog would be highly unprofessional and not make me feel any better in the end. Regardless, with the exception of learning from my mistakes, this is something I’d rather erase from my memory and move on with the rest of my life.

There was one thing, and one thing only, that lead my wife and I to Dallas in the first place – that was to become business partners with someone. Since that no longer exists – there really isn’t a reason to be there. I only know one other person in the entire Dallas / Forth Worth Metroplex and we have zero family there. So, as soon as we got back from our trip in Costa Rica on April 14th we began preparations to leave Dallas. The thought of packing everything back up that we just took out of boxes 9 months ago was daunting, but it had to be done. Our last day in Dallas was this past Saturday.

Over the past seven years we’ve lived all over the place (mostly at my suggestion), so this time I left things up to my wife. She really wanted to spend the summer in Washington, DC so we could be near friends and family for awhile. So, we pulled out of Dallas on Saturday with our RV pointing east on Interstate 30. We rented a pretty amazing place right in downtown Washington DC and it’s within walking distance to almost everything, including the Metro. Right now we plan on being there June 1 – Aug 31, but have a month-to-month option we might exercise if we really like it. We already have a pretty busy summer planned with friends coming to visit us from South Dakota, Isle of Man, Charlotte, Philly, etc. We also have dozens of friends who still live in the area along with my mom & dad and mother-in-law. It should be a good summer and I’m looking forward to it.

As to what comes after that, I really have no idea. I’m still going to leave it up to my wife, but I certainly have my favorites. We’ve kicked around all sorts of ideas from taking the RV to the Florida Keys for the winter to moving to San Diego, from staying in Washington, DC to moving to Hawaii. At this point nothing is even close to firm and it’s really just a good time in our lives to have some fun and clear our minds…..

Costa Rica Trip Report

Considering we went to Costa Rica from April 7th – April 14th, this post is more than slightly delayed. Since we got back I just haven’t been able to find the time to write this post. Since were getting ready to take another trip, and I want to talk about that, I figured now would be a good time to write this post.

As most of you know, I lived in Costa Rica for almost 3 years from 2006 – 2009. While I lived there I purchased a condo in Manuel Antonio with some friends and business partners. Since leaving in 2009 I’ve gone back once or twice a year to use this wonderful condo. This trip in particular was one of my favorites because some good friends of mine from California were able to join my wife and I for the week.

The week started off with a little relaxing, but by midweek we found ourselves doing activity after activity – and it was a lot of fun! We started off with some hiking on Tuesday through Manuel Antonio Beach Park. This park offers some amazing views and lots of wildlife. Wednesday was reserved for an ATV trip through the mountains to a great zip line facility. Since I did the zip lines last year I was able to enjoy them a lot more, instead of fearing for my life a whole time. On the ATV ride back I found out how well ATVs perform in 4 feet of water – it wasn’t my most brilliant moment. On Thursday we took an amazing white water rafting trip through the Costa Rican jungle. On our last full day, which was Friday, we rented 4 high-powered ATVs and took a private guided trip through the mountains. These ATVs were like nothing I’ve ever driven before; they had 5 speeds and topped out at over 50MPH. The day ended with an amazing two-hour massage.

All in all it was just about a perfect trip. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to see my friends who still live in Costa Rica. it was a stupid planning mistake on my part. I should have dropped my friends off at the airport on Saturday and spent 1 or 2 extra days in San Jose. Next time I’ll be sure to plan better.

While pictures never do any justice in a place like Costa Rica I’m including a few of my favorites from this trip below.

Big Croc

zip line

sunset

small falls

scary bridge

monkey

wet atvs

dumb

Time To Do Some Traveling

Trip to the Mid-Atlantic

It seems like my wife and I don’t sit still very long and that trend is about to heat up again starting today with a trip to the Mid-Atlantic. We will be on the road for 9 days in a combination of Washington, DC, Atlantic City, and Philly. We’ll be spending the first part of the trip looking for a summer home right outside Washington, DC in a great little area know as Old Town Alexandria. I used to spend a lot of time there as a kid and I’m looking forward to hanging out in the area again this summer. Our goal is to find a rental we can use for 3-6 months and then get out of town before the weather turns cold again. Of course we’ll take the RV during the summer trip and stop in several locations including Shreveport, Atlanta, and Charlotte. Anyway, after our 4 days in Alexandria we’ll be heading up to Atlantic City for a few days to visit family. It’s my grandma’s 85th birthday and I’m really looking forward to seeing her. We’ll wrap the trip up with a couple days in Philly to visit Nat Arem.

Trip To Costa Rica

Not long after we get back from our Mid-Atlantic trip we’ll be heading down to Costa Rica for a week to spend some time with friends in our beach condo in Manuel Antonio. It’s a relatively easy trip and I’m really looking forward to a little R&R. The view from our condo is simply amazing and the activities in the area are awesome too. We’ll do a little hiking, zip lining, rafting, etc. There are also some great restaurants in the area too which I’m really looking forward to. The best part of the trip is some good friends will be joining us that we only get to see a couple times a year…. really looking forward to it.

Sunset From Condo

Sunset From Condo

On The Road Again

Not long after we get back from Costa Rica we plan on heading out of Dallas for several months via our RV to the Mid-Atlantic. The exact dates and stops will greatly be determined based on our trip this week and what we can find to rent this summer. However, the tenative plan is to take a leasuery RV trip to DC this summer, stopping at several places. This will be a great opportunity to promote RVParks.org and see some friends.

The New iPad, iPad 3, iPad Resolutionary (whatever you want to call it) review

As most of you know, I’m a pretty big fan of Apple products. I’ve had pretty much every Apple product that’s come out the past 5 years including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac, Mac Book Pro, MacAir, Mac Pro, etc. So, it’s without a lot of surprise that I preordered the new iPad when it was announced a few days ago.

I’ve been getting smarter and more cost efficient with my Apple upgrades by promptly selling my old version when the new product comes out. Apple products hold their value surprisingly well, and the trend held true when selling my old iPad 2. I paid $599 for my iPad 2 wifi 32gb when it came out last year and I was able to recover $340 by selling it this week. I used a new eBay feature called Instant Sale which worked perfectly. They even pay for shipping, so I was able to net the full $340.

This time I decided to get the iPad with the 4g LTE incorporated – it was a no-brainer for me to go with Verizon vs AT&T. After traveling the country in our RV last summer it’s pretty clear who has the better coverage.

When my iPad 3 arrived today my first thought was “Wow, this is heavier”. That lead me to the Apple website where I was shocked to find out I wasn’t imagining things. The new iPod is 1.46 pounds (662 g) vs the iPad 2 at 1.33 pounds (601 g). That’s a full 10% heavier and it’s VERY noticeable, I’m honestly kind of annoyed by the extra weight; I assume the extra weight is because of the new high res screen.

Before getting the iPad 3 I wondered to myself how much better the screen could really be. I thought the screen on the iPad 2 was perfectly fine and couldn’t really imagine how it could be noticeably better. Well, I was wrong. Within seconds of looking at the new screen it’s undoubtably clearer. For a device so small it’s really amazing. I’m actually convinced that it’s clearer than the monitors on my desktop – it’s a truly amazing screen.

The main reason I wanted to upgrade to the iPad 3 was the new 4g LTG features. We’re going to be traveling again this summer in the RV and I really wanted the added functionality of having the iPad with 4g built into it. I must say, the 4g sure isn’t a disappointment. It’s almost as fast as the Internet in my house and will make a welcome addition when on the road. The best feature of the Verizon version of the iPad 3 is that you can turn your iPod into a hot spot. I tested this out too and I’m very impressed. This will replace all the BS we had to deal with last year when on our RV trip. With the iPad 3 I can go on the road with decent Internet access and it will be about 1/3 the cost of what we were paying for crappier service last year. You can also terminate your contract for the data plan at anytime. So, as soon as we aren’t traveling I can just turn it off.

iPad 3 Verizon Personal Hotspot

iPad 3 Verizon Personal Hotspot

Overall Impression

Overall I’m happy with my purchase if nothing else than for the 4g LTE features. However, if you have an iPad 2 and you are thinking of upgrading, I would just hold off. The screen is nicer for sure, but it’s not that much nicer. I think if you upgrade just for the better screen you will be VERY disappointed. However, if you travel a lot and are looking to get the 4g LTE functionality, I think that’s well worth it. I also think that if you have the original iPad this is the time to finally upgrade. It’s a major jump up from the original iPad when you take into account the better speed, screen, cameras, etc.

Update from 30,000 feet

This is the first flight I’ve ever been on that has wifi access, which is pretty cool. In years past I’ve been traveling exclusively on Continental and they are still in the dark ages when it comes to having Internet on the plane. It’s been over a year since I’ve flown with them, but as far as I know they still don’t have it. It seems like most of the other major carriers have installed wifi, which makes traveling so much more enjoyable. For people like me who have a hard time staying “unplugged” it helps even more. Anyway, today I’m heading back to Dallas from Philly and this American Airlines flight has wifi.

If it feels like it’s been ages since I posted to my blog, that’s because it has! My last post was in early December and since then a lot has been going on in my life. I’ve obviously been really busy with work, which never seems to change, but there has been a string of people visiting us and then some traveling too. The reality is setting in now that this is going to be a really long post to catch up on everything….

Google News Update

Since the last post I made was about getting accepted into Google News I think it’s fitting to lead off with that… Since getting accepted into Google News in early December we’ve been posting about 3-5 news articles per day Monday – Friday and then a couple over the weekend too. The traffic results are simply stunning. I predicted a traffic increase of 2x-3x once we got accepted, but it’s been more like 5x or even 10x on some days. Some individual articles have brought upwards of 10,000 unique visors in the 48 hours Google News was giving that article exposure. The image below is from Google Analytics and shows the impact Google News has had. The dips are the weekends and / or holidays.

Google News Traffic

Google News Traffic

SEO Update

The next thing I wanted to update everyone on is the progress we’ve been making in terms of SEO across our sites. I feel like we’re right on track, or even ahead of the game in some instances. Remember, we’re going after some pretty competitive terms, so we have a 12-18 month outlook for a lot of these terms. Here are some examples of some of the rankings we’ve been able to achieve:

IRA.com – “Rollover IRA” – 1st page, 2nd position
IRA.com – “Open An IRA” – 1st page, 9th position
IRA.com – “IRA” – 1st page, 4th position
OnlineDegree.com – “Online Degree” – 2nd page, 1st position
OnlineStorage.com – “Online Storage” – 1st page, 6th position
OnlineStorage.com – “Best Online Storage” – 1st page, 2nd position
GraphicDesign.com – “Graphic Design” – 1st page, 7th position

A trip to Hawaii

One of the reasons I’ve been absent from blogging is because of some traveling I’ve been doing. My wife and I went to Hawaii from Jan 3 – 15th and the weeks before that were kind of crazy with work. I wanted to take as much time off in Hawaii as possible, so that didn’t leave time for much else. I did a pretty good job taking off the first week we were in Hawaii, but the second week it was a little work and play. Overall it was a really great trip. It was my first time to Maui, but my 7th trip to Hawaii overall. It’s by far my favorite place on Earth and if I had it my way I would be living there. I love the warm weather and the water – it’s a perfect combination. The issue is I’m married and my wife is against being a 12 hour plane ride from family on the east coast.

I could write a 1,000 word post about this trip alone, but this post is already getting too long. In a nutshell, it was a really fun trip packed with SCUBA diving, sightseeing, hiking, swimming, diving off cliffs, swimming to waterfalls, snorkeling, boating, lots of good eating, etc etc. There are some pictures below, but they are only a small sample of the 1000′s we took. None of them do any justice of just how pretty this place is.

7 pools

7 pools

Sun Set In Clouds

Sun Set In Clouds

Road To Hana

Road To Hana

Road to Hana 2

Road to Hana 2

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Crater

Blow Hole

Blow Hole

A Trip to Philly

I spent the past week in Philly with a good friend of mine / business partner going over various Terran Marketing projects. It was a very fun & productive week. My friend lives right in the middle of the action in downtown Philly near Washington Square. It’s a great location that makes it easy to walk pretty much everywhere; I estimate that we did over 12 miles of walking in the 7 days I was there. It was pretty cool seeing Independence Hall, Reading Terminal, a 76ers game, the Italian Market, and much more – not to mention all the food. I’m scared to weight myself when I get home, but I wouldn’t doubt that I gained 2-3lbs this week – even with all the walking.

In addition to the time in Philly I took one of the days to take a ride down to Atlantic City to visit my family. My grandma, uncle, aunt, and several cousins live in the area, so it was nice seeing them.

Finally, I also got to visit with another good friend of mine who lives just north of Baltimore. Since it’s only a 50 minute drive for him, he packed the family in the car and made a day out of it. It’s been close to two years since I’ve seen them, so it was a nice treat. My friend lost almost 50lbs since the last time I saw him (which I’m ulta proud of him for); it was such a big difference I didn’t recognize him at first. Not to mention his kids who grew almost 2 feet! One thing that sucks having friends scattered all over the county is stuff like this. Hopefully it won’t be almost 2 years before I see them again.

Welcome to Google News

I’ve written several posts about the importance of good content and the power of getting your site accepted into Google News. In fact, I wrote a detailed post about how to get your site submitted here. Not every site is a good fit for this strategy, but if your site has a theme that naturally posts a lot of content, especially news content, then Google News might be right for you. We were in the process of getting websitehosting.com submitted to Google News before we sold it, but none of our other sites really had the breadth of content needed; that is until we purchased ira.com.

We’ve been writing an average of 2-3 posts per day on IRA.com since we purchased it; about 2.5 weeks ago I decided it was time to submit it to Google News. Then, yesterday, I got the most wonderful email:

“Thank you for your note. We’ve reviewed your site and will be adding it to our index for Google News. In order for your content to be included in Google News, please follow at least one of the two options below:”

To say the least, I was really happy and excited to get approved. We put a lot of work into this project over the past couple of months and getting accepted to Google News is going to bring a welcome increase in traffic. I estimate that we can get at least an additional 1,000 unique visitors to the site each day. Not only will this traffic undoubtedly translate into more sales, it will also attract more natural links. We’ve had sites in Google News before and several of our articles got links just from the exposure there.

I plan on making a followup post in about a month to document the increase in traffic we see. In the mean time we are going to ramp up our content efforts even more moving forward. It will be some trial and error to see what kind of articles attract the most attention, but I hope to have a good handle on that within a month.