January News Theories

January News Theories

I like to try to look beneath the news sometimes. It’s something of a point of observation between my wife and I, and it sometimes makes for some interesting conversations between us.

We used to be poles apart politically. She comes from working class background (as do I) and has been staunch Labour all her life, whereas I have always been closer to the Conservative Party line although both of us question and query the respective leaders actions and motives now and again. We both think that UKIP are a party without sensible policies and the LibDems too wet and weak to be a significant force, even as a coalition party. Which way the General Election will go in May though is still a very difficult call to make although a hung parliament will not be a good thing for the UK.

Low fuel prices might seem a good thing and as the effects trickle through to food and commodities via cheaper delivery costs, life will become a bit easier for those of us who spend up to the limits the banks will let us. I do have some other theories though on why the oil price suddenly dropped through the floor.

As we all know (at least as far as Europe & Asia are concerned), the setting of the oil price is set by OPEC, the Middle East oil producing companies and is varied by them altering production levels, sometimes to demand and just as often, to prop up their own economies. However, the current low price (dropping from $120 a barrel to $45 a barrel in less than a year) has several side effects, many of them highly beneficial to USA & Europe.

1. It reduces the income to the terrorist group know variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL. They had stolen or raided their way into many oil refinery plants in the Libya / Syria region and had been funding themselves via oil sales to the tune of many millions of dollars.

2. Russia is also a big oil producer, and after their adventures in the Ukraine, were starting to worry the rest of the world as to how much further they would go. Again the low oil price has limited what they as a country can do due to a severely decreased income. The Russian government was a notoriously bad payer to its employees when it was a communist state, but few did more than grumble then as they did not know better. Now the Russian people have a large appetite for luxury goods and may feel the pinch when the price of them shoots up. Mr Putin may blame outside forces but sooner or later his people will get fed up of his actions externally causing internal wage and goods problems.

3. The low oil price may just distract the world from some of the poor human rights situations in many of the oil rich Middle Eastern countries while they play the good guys.

Of course, I cannot prove ANY of the above but as an individual living in a democratic country, I’m allowed to think what I want to and (for the most part) say it out loud or at least on a blog post. However there does come a point where one should not say or do certain things, just because one can. I refer of course to the Paris atrocities.

The thugs carrying out the raids and murders should not be given any sort of religious status or even called terrorists. They did what they did to force people to their will. Bullying with menace if you like. Having said that, the magazine they struck at had done way more than could be considered satirical entertainment. The attack on the Jewish supermarket though was thoroughly undeserved and unwarranted and was little more that total brutal behaviour for the sake of it.

OK now. I’ve had my little say for the month. Let’s hope I can get back to more mundane subjects for my next few posts, infrequent as they are.

I am Steven Lucas

I am Steven Lucas

I had some problems accessing http://www.stevenlucasmarketing.com the other day so I did a Google search for the domain name, but I accidentally put in stevelucasmarketing.com. I wasn’t astonsihed to find that I’m not at the top of the search ratings for this domain! Instead there were 2 videos belonging to SteveLucasMarketing (Steven without the ‘n’).

OK. I can tolerate that sort of thing. I know that videos rate higher in Google’s eyes and my other site does appear at no. 3 and is the first text only entry, so in effect my site is the top one on Google. What did astonish me was the number of other ‘Steve Lucas’ there are, including a very negative articles about a Steve Lucas, another internet marketer, who had taken a great deal of money from someone who was then not happy with the service given. The customer, quite rightly, wanted his money refunded and this Steve Lucas refused.

Now I haven’t investigated this further, so I don’t know if there is any more to the outcome than this

Further down the searches show either the same or different people of the same name also with some negative comments against them. I hasten to add that there are many more Steve & Steven Lucas’ who are not nasty in any way, that appeared in the search list (including this blog), but hearing this story has worried me that I might be associated with some of the bad people who share my name.

I’d like to make this public statement. I am Steven Lucas based in Exeter in the UK and I’m not associated with any other Steve or Steven Lucas based anywhere else in the world, and although I am trying to make my way in Internet Marketing, I would like to think that I’d behave in a fair and friendly way if I ever have a problem with something that I have sold that I have any control over.

My website is called http://www.stevenlucasmarketing.com and has over 70 pages of free marketing advice, product reviews and my own internet marketing progress stories.

stevelucasmarketing.com is NOT one of my websites and I have no control over the minimal content that I have seen on it. (One information page, posted in March 2012, the site updated to reflect 2015 as the year of copyright).

WordPress Updates, Spammers & Hackers

WordPress Updates, Spammers & Hackers

Another month, another WordPress update. It’s a bit of a pain when you get a few WordPress sites and I wasn’t surprised to find how few people actually do keep up with system and plugin updates on their WordPress blogs… and the more they have, the less likely it is to get done. Why is it so important?

Well the main reason (we’re assured) is security. Thanks to some security plugins, I spend far less time than I used to deleting spurious users, spam comments and invasion attempts. The amount of attention some of my sites draw from hackers and spammers amazes me when I think of how little traffic they draw. If I was pulling thousands of visitors per day then I could understand it, but the amount of effort they seem to put in, to try put their message in front of a few hundred people beggars my belief systems. I can only think they have nothing better to do!

WordPress Security

On the membership sites I run, I guess they are after the content (which is pretty good and useful), but with the membership being only $7 a month, I still wonder how they think their time is worth while. I can only assume that they are running a script that just finds and attacks WP based sites, although some of my other ones hardly get touched.

I’ve totally killed hackers trying to log into stevenlucasmarketing.com by redirecting the login page with a plugin. If you don’t require many others to login this is the ideal solution. The other thing that you must always do is never ever use ‘admin’ as an administrator user name. Again by using a plugin you can change this username to null access so even if they got in with it they could do absolutely nothing, but the easiest way is to not use the ‘admin’ username at all and block anyone from creating it – most security plugins can do this.

The look and feel of WordPress itself hasn’t changed visibly with the new update, so there’s no worries there, although I still have a strange problem that when I upload or update my themes and plugins they never show completed. I give them a couple of minutes and refresh the page and everything is as it should be, just never by themselves though. I’ll have to look it up on the WordPress help site.

I’m going to keep experimenting using this site for a while longer. There are some more themes and plugins I want to look at and I don’t want to endanger the marketing site so this is the ideal place. Worst case scenario then is rip it up and start again, which is not a real tragedy here.

I’m also restarting www.know-all.info to test another plugin. I haven’t decided on the niche for it yet but it will be a lot of information on whatever niche I finally settle on. More info on that later, or just watch that space.

Have a good holiday period, no matter what you call this time of year and please stay in touch.

Value Added Tax (VAT) in Europe is about to get complicated for e-product sales

Readers in the USA, Canada & Australia can tune out – unless you are selling in Europe (in which case, see your accountant).

European legislation on selling ebooks is about to get complicated in regards to VAT – Value Added Tax and it will have an effect on you if you sell digital products within European states. Effectively, you will have to charge VAT at the buyers state rate (currently 20% for UK buyers, but varies from country to country). The best explanation I’ve found is here: http://rachelandrew.co.uk/archives/2014/10/13/the-horrible-implications-of-the-eu-vat-place-of-supply-change/ but this is one person’s interpretation, albeit well researched.

What it means is that no matter how small a seller you are, you may have to figure a way of identifying where your European buyers for your e-products (books and videos, but not streaming live training, strangely) are and register for VAT in each of those countries so you can send them the payments you are having to add to your products, or take the easy way out and only sell to people within your country or outside the European Union.

Already I have seen many affiliate sellers exclude Canada from their advertising and sales due to the necessity of declaring that they will make a commission if a sale is made, but surely that is just a matter of being polite to your readers and telling them somewhere around the ‘Buy’ button. 99.9% of them will know anyway that almost everything for sale on the internet is on a commission basis, especially e-products.

Now people are claiming that this is to make life difficult for Amazon, who famously in the UK have managed to avoid many of the taxes that should have been paid based on their claimed revenue, but since every country’s branch of Amazon is a separate entity and cross-country buying is difficult then it should be easy for them to sort out – even for Kindle e-book authors who need to opt-in for each territory separately. All it is really doing is either creating an administration nightmare for trans-European small sellers or just pushing them out of the market. Anyone who is VAT registered in their home country and selling to a VAT registered company elsewhere in Europe will be fine as VAT is not charged or claimed – essentially business to business sales as such will be unaffected by the law coming in 2015.

No one seems quite sure yet how this may affect EU affiliates selling USA based products, but someone may try and make it stick. For now your main worry is if you create e-products within the EU and sell them within other EU countries.

So what can we, as small sales merchants selling e-books from our little websites do? Well if you’re writing in English, in the UK, then probably losing sales by not selling in Germany, France or Spain is not going to be a big loss to you. A few lines apologising that you cannot accept sales from outside your country will probably be enough and if your sales processor allows it, then excluding those countries is merely a belt and braces exercise.

If however, you are a go-getting entrepreneur who cleverly gets his e-books translated into other languages specifically to catch those areas who are less well supplied, but still eager, in your niche then you will have some serious thinking or paperwork to do if you are to avoid the taxmen from other EU countries from knocking at your door with demands for tax you are supposed to have added and collected on their behalf.

Solarversia Update

Solarversia Update

A little while ago I wrote about a book that is being released soon by a new author called Toby Downton. He has informed us through his blog that the release date is scheduled for June 2015 to coincide with the Occulus Rift headset launch. Toby also informs us that the first draft of Solarversia has been submitted to his editor and sits at 180,000 words! I’m envious as I struggle to put together a short document of around 6000 words.

Toby has also commissioned a cover for the book from an artist on Fiverr. He spent extra on getting the layered files (known as the .psd file) to make it easier to change things around if needs be. However it looks pretty good to me and fits in with the theme of the book:

 

For those of you who need reminding, Solarversia is similar in nature to ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline in that much of the action takes place in virtual universe game for a high value prize. However, until Toby releases at least some of the story we don’t have much to go on yet, so apart from some of the character names and some concept art available of the web site – we’re all a bit in the dark. I’m hoping that some snippets or a synopsis will be available soon and I’ll be posting as much as I’m allowed, as soon as I can.

Until then, go to the book’s site at http://solarversia.com and sign up for yourself. Browse around at the ideas that are being presented and do feel free to add your comments and offer your support. Toby does his best to reply to them all and anyone signing up gets a chance to get their own place on the game grid for some terrific prizes.

Until then, when I know more, you will. Solarversia is (still) coming.

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