Category: Work

In the summer of 1991, I graduated from high school and my step-mom got me a summer job in the “Cancelled and Denied” loan section of Headlands Mortgage Company in Larkspur Landing. I remember printing the phone list, and it was in two columns on the front of a letter-size piece of paper. I think there were 45 employees. And tequila Fridays.

Every summer and winter, I would be hired back, and worked with some great people within Headlands.

After college, I used my journalism degree to work at the Marin Independent Journal. My hopes of earning a reporter position by working through the composing (paste-up) department didn’t work, but then again, I only stayed four months before moving to western New York, just south of Rochester in my mother’s hometown. I first worked for Eastman Kodak in its emerging media division (Digital and Applied Imaging’s marketing team), taking care of high-end “new” digital cameras. But the long drive was less-then-ideal, and I took a job as a reporter for the local community newspaper in Hornell. I really enjoyed my time as a reporter and weekend editor, but decided I wanted to shift from the high intensity of the reporting scene to the design side of the business. I learned Photoshop, Illustrator and started learning how to make websites.

In May of 1998, I moved back to the Bay Area, into a studio apartment behind Smitty’s bar in Sausalito. It was a great spot for me. I went to work in San Rafael for Headlands’s Retail division, and there met Leslie Gibin and Pat McCauley. It was a fun time, and the company was doing well. I met my future wife, Emi, and then took a position as marketing manager on the wholesale side of things. I worked closely with a number. Steve Abreu. Peter Paul. Loretta Kelly. Sallyann Clarke. I still keep in touch with a lot of them.

Soon after, GreenPoint Mortgage purchased Headlands and S.A. Ibrahim moved in. It was a great time to be in a booming housing industry. Loan volumes were at record highs. I moved to Texas and started working remotely for GreenPoint in January 2001, with Shawna Foster, Xavier Grier and the rest of the team producing marketing material. I set up the first email database that GreenPoint had, getting AE Sales teams to send us their email lists for corporate communications. I produced the flyers and other design work, and worked on the Intranet. It was an ideal position for me, as my wife was by this point in Medical School and we were a young family in San Antonio. But in 2007, the industry imploded and we all know what happened there. When GreenPoint announced it would close, we were a week away from our third baby. I knew I wouldn’t find another position that would allow me to work from home (which was important to us with the kids and my wife’s demanding schedule). So I went to work for myself.

EC Creative Solutions was an LLC I formed in Texas. I developed websites and provided marketing services for a variety of clients. I connected with the owners of the Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter and they kept funneling projects my way, making banner ads for advertisers. Usually, along with a banner ad, they needed website work as well. This was an industry in flux, and there were a number of entrepreneurial businesses being formed. People needed sites and landing pages for Loan Mods. Debt Settlement. Refinance. Reverse Mortgages. Title Loans. Payday Loans. They all needed web and design. And I needed clients.

One of those clients was Jordan Rolband, whom I became friends with. Along with another friend, programmer Mike Greene, we formed Delta Leads LLC, and generated leads by making landing pages, letting affiliates drive traffic to them, and selling the leads to the buyers. It was a great and exciting venture, but with my move to Seattle, we closed that business.

I attended five Affiliate Summits in Las Vegas and New York, and learned a lot about how the game is played from both sides of the fence. I’ve worked with terrific publishers who have given us great leads. I also learned about the seedier side of the industry, and worked hard to eliminate the low-converting sources.

In 2012, we moved to Seattle, and have fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest. I’ve continued to develop websites and work with clients. I have been writing. I’ve been enjoying having a flexible schedule to spend time with my children and my wife. Emi’s schedule as a Neonatologist is erratic, so we understand and work with that. I feel blessed that I’m at a point where I can take the challenges I want.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been working with Mortgage Compliance Magazine, managing their website and doing occasional design and writing. Publisher Ben Slayton was friends and worked with Peter Paul. And I’m again in touch with old friends from Headlands and GreenPoint, looking at other fun and new projects.

It’s been nearly 25 years of working with people from the old Headlands days. I’m excited to see what the next years will bring.

Use whatever cliché you’d like. “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” … “You Are What You Wear” … “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” …

Mid-80s hair band-references aside, there’s a reason those quotes have been as used as they have. People will judge you by your personal presentation.

Personal presentation (have I shaved today?) and professional presentation (are the icons on my page loading correctly?) both help me determine how I want people to see me and to interact with me.

This new website is a start. I haven’t used it much since we’ve moved to Seattle, but it needed an update, since I’m selling my services for developing websites. My old site was 6-years-old, orange, sliced-image-heavy HTML . I’ve learned a few things, and I’d be doing myself a disservice not to show my best face. Put my best foot forward. And shake it all about. (Yes, you also get occasional children-song-references.)

Plus, I got some new cords and winter shirts, and I’m shaving pretty regularly. So there’s that.

In any case, I understand the importance of a professional presentation. Of how it can help get you better results. Of how being nice and clear in your messaging is better than scolding your dogs. Unless of course your associates are dogs, in which case, scold away.

A song has been running through my head … here’s a little Joan Jett to close out this post.


For work, I’ve been doing internet marketing, focusing primarily on “CPA” (Cost Per Action) marketing. This means every time someone fills out a form on one of my websites, I get paid. It’s also called “CPL” – cost per lead. I do this through my company, Delta Leads.

There is another direction I’ve been working on for Internet marketing … this is “CPS” – Cost Per Sale. This is when you lead site visitors to merchant sites, and I would earn a commission from any purchases made on merchant sites that I have directed the visitors to.

Many of these merchants are organized through a company called ShareASale, based out of Chicago. The merchants stretch all across the board in practically every consumer group imaginable. Through ShareASale, you tell the merchant you want to try to advertise for them, and they either accept you or not.

A year or so ago, I set up a site with Mike Greene called … the issue I had was getting all datafeeds (spreadsheets of products, descriptions, costs, images, links, etc, set up by different merchants) to have common field sections, so I could display easily groups of products from a variety of merchants. I followed the blog posts of Eric Nagel, whom I greatly respect, and learned a lot about how to integrate the datafeed into your site. I also got a lot of help from ShareASale’s Jason Rubacky, who spent hours with me explaining how he does things, and helping brainstorm ways to make it work.

While at ShareASale’s annual ThinkTank conference in Austin, TX, I met with many merchants, and was approved with companies I’ve been interested in working with for quite some time.

One of these companies, Tea Collection, is the provider of kids clothes that my wife and I have been buying for years. Another company, The Land of Nod, is something I will be working with as well.

There are many ways to promote their products, but a popular way is to create a site with WordPress (like this site is a WordPress site, using the Thesis theme). I’m updating the site to manly promote the Tea Collection products, as well as having a section for sports apparel from my friend Wade Tonkin’s Fanatics site.

WyzAnt Tutoring, which is basically a well-organized and personalized classifieds for tutors, offers challenges in taking advantage of a large pool of member data (tutor information) and matching that with potential students needing services based on class, grade level and location.

So, that’s the plan for now … I am still pushing the heck out of Delta Leads and trying new recipes to keep things fresh and moving forward. But it’s a great time and a fun challenge to try to utilize everything I’ve learned to this point to get organic traffic to a site and to get them to convert … en masse.



When I was younger, I used to collect baseball cards. I took great pride in sorting through them, organizing them by number and year, protecting the most valuable in plastic sleeves and memorizing all of the details printed on the back of the cards. I had a pretty large collection for a kid, and I spent a lot of time on them.

However, time has slipped somehow, and I no longer have my old dirt bike to ride to the store for a pack of baseball cards.

Instead, I have found a new hobby! The REAL reason I go to Affiliate Summits is to further my addiction to BUSINESS CARD COLLECTING.

It was quite a natural progression, actually. The cards are similar in size, and I can still use the same plastic sleeves and binders I used for the baseball cards.

SO. What better way for me to prepare for my next round of Card Gathering than to share with you some of my collection?

Business cards are usually pretty standard. They’re typically 3.5 inches wide, 2 inches tall, printed horizontally with basic contact info and a logo. HOWEVER … there are some standouts in my collection! I’ll tell you a little about what makes some of them stand out …

1: Use of QR Code

QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) are those strange square images that have a unique black and white pattern inside. When “scanned” (I use my iPhone’s Qrafter app, though I’ve also used RedLaser) it will provide a data response, whether a website or an email, or a person’s basic contact information.

Here are a couple of examples of QR Codes being used on cards …

Dave Cupples had a great panel at the last Affiliate Summit, but on his business card (Fat Cow Business) his QR Code is so DENSE, it took me two minutes of trying to get the reader to scan it. If I were a normal person, I would have given up. However, Tim Wisner’s card (his title is “race car driver”, by the way – very clever) beings you right to their URL for It took a split second to scan it. And then Stefanie Amini’s card (nicely made for has a simple script font subtly telling you what to do. That’s good – people need to be told what to do. And I bet she has a better response because of it.

2: Die cut cards.

This is a technique that can be used to great effect. It’s when the card is cut in a way that is custom to the elements on the card. For example, it could be a logo, like Has Offers or ClickNKids … this is a way to make your cards stand out.  Though of course it depends on the image you are trying to present. If you’re an attorney, you might not want a cutely trick on your card. You would want a more somber, elegant presentation.

 3: Print styles

I am a big fan of Spot UV and metallics. It’s impressive how a card can stand out due to just parts of it being emphasized with the glossy UV coating, and the rest of it staying matte. Or part of it printing with metallic inks … wow, that can really make it pop. John Rampton from Maple North has a great looking card using the spot UV. Adam Mai from Rate Special also used spot UV effectively with card sprinted through Gotham Press … a little can go a long way, and their simple use was just right.

Also, the use of rounded corners … I approve, depending on the company.

4: Great Art

I met Jen Goode last year at the party in New York, and spent way too much time just looking at the creative talent displayed on her card. It’s great … as an artist, she really did a great job presenting herself. Plus, it has a fairly traditional flip side, so you can still get her contact information easily.

 5: Make Me an Offer

I like what Jill Swartwout did with her card for Along with having the info clearly presented with the branding for her check offers, the backside of her card had a specific action … “Sign Up” etc.

Now, there were also a few cards that I figured I would include as an illustration of what I did NOT like …

First of all, don’t make your cards to be just a LITTLE taller than everyone else’s. That’s annoying … like a card equivalent of a pop-up ad. Make yourself stand out on your own merits – not because your card sticks up a little higher. Makes me want to throw those out.

Most importantly … INCLUDE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION! The point of a card is to share your contact information, right? Make sure to do this! I’m not going throw him under the bus, but there is one guy I had the pleasure of meeting who I think had a lot going for him, but he had to handwrite his email address on his business card. He had his website printed on it, as well as biographical information, but no phone or email.

Oops – I almost forgot the most important aspect of business cards … they almost always have phone numbers and emails of the people you meet! How cool is that. So USE them. Organize them, make notes on who you meet, and get back in touch with them quickly via email if possible.

SO! I can’t wait to get to the summit and see what cards I get to add to my collection. It’s even possible I will use some of them for their intended purpose.

Instead of doing something myself, I just took code from a free site for a countdown to ASW12 … here you go if you want to add this to your site …

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Here is my second post about my plans for Affiliate Summit West

Monday, January 9

This day will start at midnight at Goldcoast Lanes for the “Strike Out Breast Cancer Bowling” event. This is a fundraising event, and is sure to be a good time! For a $25 donation to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, bowlers will get a t-shirt as well as a chance to win some swag from and other GTO Management clients. Register at This goes until 3 am, and since the Early Bird Whiteboarding starts at 8 am, there will be little chance for sleep. No rest for the wicked.

Like I mentioned previously, the early morning whiteboarding sessions are well worth the sleep deprivation. Along with Eric Nagel’s advice, it’s a great chance to be around some of the top minds in affiliate marketing. I hesitate to even blog this, because part of what makes it great is the relatively small group setting and chance to interact and brainstorm. But at the ASE11 summit, this was one of my favorite events. This will go until 9am, at which point I’ll grab some breakfast (or as my kids call it, “breckity-breck”).

Since the opening remarks and keynote don’t begin until 10, I’ll have a little time to head to the blogger’s lounge and catch up a little on my notes / blogging. And of course, it’ll also be an opportunity to catch up with friends from previous summits, including Heather Smith, the “BlogMistress” who acts as liaison between Affiliate Summit and the press and bloggers attending the show.

I am definitely looking forward to the keynote from Jon Spoelstra. This man is a legend … once, as General Manager and Senior VP for the Portland Trail Blazers NBA team, he arranged a trade with the Pacers for a point guard. The compensation to the Pacers was one week of Spoelstra’s time, during which he helped restructure the Indiana front office. He’s written five books, including Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts, which features a glowing forward by World Champion Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (who just happens to be one of the richest and sharpest men in the world).

Some people skip the keynotes … that would be a MISTAKE. If you’re paying the money to attend these summits, it’s because you want to learn how to improve what you’re doing … making connections and having fun and partying is great, but take advantage of the learning opportunities, and this is one not to miss!

The first session of the morning I will attend is at 11:30 am … Mastermind Groups Exposed: Success in Affiliate Marketing will be moderated by Eric Nagel (President, Eric Nagel & Associates, Inc. – on Twitter @ericnagel), Todd Farmer (CEO, PerformStreet Media Twitter @toddfarmer) and Tricia Meyer (Owner, Sunshine Rewards – on Twitter @sunshinetricia).

Next up … lunch, and maybe a quick nap. But I’ll have to be ready by 2 pm for “Stop Doing it Wrong.” How could I skip this? Besides, it is being led by some of my favorite folks … Moderator Kim Salvino (Head of Publishers, US – on Twitter @kim_salvino), the awesome Liz Gazer (CEO/Consultant, Growthspurt Media – Twitter @lizgazer), fellow 49er fan Erik Hom, Sr. (Director, Business Development, Nextag – on Twitter @Route53), and one of the top Erics at Affiliate Summit and all-around great guy, Eric Schwarzer (President, Allspun – on Twitter @schwarzer). This will discuss why it pays more to sell with INTEGRITY … a concept sorely missing in the industry.

At 3:30, there will be another panel I plan to check out. Called 12 Out of the Box Affiliate Promotions, this looks good …with moderator Lindsey Savoie (Merchant Development Manager,, Jamie Reardon (Digital Marketing, LifeLock), Jared Saunders (Affiliate Program Manager, Jenson USA – on Twitter @TurboJared) and Affiliate Summit co-founder Missy Ward (on Twitter @missyward), this looks good.

From 6 to 7 pm, I will meet the SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors … I’m a sucker for cute animals, and for photo ops. Besides, I have to send my wife and kids some photos of me, where I am not holding alcoholic beverages or on the floor of some club. Or both. 🙂

I haven’t made any dinner plans yet, nor am I sure which nighttime event I will check out, though there will definitely be no lack of opportunities. I figure I will probably be a little low-key, and will hit Affiliate Karaoke from 9-midnight in Neopolitan III-IV. Bring your best, though realize that the newer smart phones have HD video cameras, and who knows what might end up on YouTube.

Tuesday morning brings another round of Early Morning Whiteboarding with Eric Nagel at 8 am, and at 10 am, the Pinnacle Awards and Keynote with Eric (ET The Hip Hop Preacher) Thomas, the author of The Secret to Success (on Twitter @Ericthomasbtc) I am not sure which panels I might attend Tuesday … I might hang out and network a little, and will probably spend a little time blogging in the lounge.

More to come as plans are updated …

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To people in the Internet marketing industry, it’s no secret that in early January (just over three weeks from now), Affiliate Summit West will be held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Nearly 5,000 people are expected to attend this event – a three-day conference bringing together affiliate marketers, merchants, networks and agencies. Usually held twice a year in Las Vegas and New York (though 2012 will add Austin, TX, to the mix for a third summit in May), this is a great opportunity for marketing professionals to network, learn, and not surprisingly, to have a little fun.

This will be my fourth summit, and for the first time, I will be attending as a presenter, for the “Affiliate Improv!” session, along with Daniel Clark (@QAQN), Mike Buechele (@mikebuechele) and Trisha Lyn Fawver (@TrishaLyn). I also will be blogging and tweeting from the conference.

Since there are so many sessions and events, many attendees will rely on social media to find which sessions were the most popular and helpful. Attendees with Gold passes and above will be able to access video recordings of all sessions after the conference, so it’s good to know what other people found helpful.

I also followed Twitter to see what sessions (ahem … and parties …) others were attending. Everything associated with the summit typically is tagged, so look for hashtag #ASW12 to see what’s happening.

Here is a basic breakdown of what I expect to do for this conference … this is definitely subject to change, but I’m a planner, so here goes …


I’ll make sure I have enough business cards, and will have meetings planned in advance with people whom I hope to meet and possibly do business. I will also have my clothes picked out for the events … typically business casual, though many affiliates take liberty to dress very casually. My advice … don’t judge any book by its cover. Many of the attendees who look like kids in their high school hoodies could end up being awesome affiliates. On the same note, those wearing a nice suit aren’t necessarily stronger candidates for business partners. But in any case, I plan to dress business casual.

I will be arriving in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 7, at 6pm … I booked early and got a good deal on my flight – even got a nonstop from Southwest. I will probably get to the hotel around 7ish, and then off to dinner with my associates, and hopefully my brother-in-law, Carlos, who coincidentally will be in town for a friend’s bachelor party.

I always try to get in the evening before the conference to take advantage of the networking opportunities that inevitably precede the actual event. Also, that way, I’ll be fully prepared to dive right into the conference on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning at 10am will be the First Timer’s Guide for Affiliate Summit, led by summit co-founder Shawn Collins (on Twitter @AffiliateTip). This will be great for anyone looking to get tips on how to best take advantage of their time at the summit. And if you’ve already been to a summit, it’s still a nice idea to meet people and pick up ideas you might not have considered.

I will be there, since I am participating in the Newcomer Program for the first time. Led by Daniel Clark and Jen Goode (on Twitter @jgoode), this is an opportunity for first-timers to get advice and make contacts from people who have been there and feel comfortable with how the summit works.

The first educational session of the day will begin at 11 am, and there are four options. I will probably go to “the Future of Content Monetization and Publishing” with Murray Newlands (@murraynewlands), John Chow (@JohnChow), Ian Fernando (@ianternet) and Steve Hall (@stevehall).

After this, I will likely stop by the Blogger’s Lounge to say hi to my blogger friends and try to write up a short review of the first session. I know the Meet Market will also be open by this point, but the first day on opening, it’s always so packed that I usually avoid the crush of t-shirt and pen seekers.

Another session will start at 12:30 pm, and I will likely stop by the “SEO – Ask the Pros” panel, though the other ones look good as well.

Panel selection will basically come down to individual preferences and finding what suits your specific skillset the best. While I participate in all aspects of my business, I am usually working on the technical website aspects, and a session that helps me strengthen my SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for my non-technical friends) will likely benefit me personally more than a session aimed at merchants or affiliate marketing beginners.

At this point, I’ll probably grab a bite to eat, and then will  go to “Community, Conversation, Conversion – Social Tips You Need” led by Justin Rondeau (@jtrondeau) at 2 pm.

My “Affiliate Improv!” Session starts at 3:30 pm … with audience participation, we will brainstorm marketing ideas for products and services and will hopefully have a little fun in the process. I hope we have a good turnout … this will be the third “Affiliate Improv!” panel, and they’ve gotten great responses at previous summits.

This will bring us to 4:30 pm, at which point we’ll break. I’ll probably hang out and network (read: drink) a little before going to the newcomer meetup from 6:30 to 7:30.

There’s no rest for the wicked at these events … after dinner, I’ll likely head to the Paris Hotel for Share-A-Sale’s “Under the Stars” party in the Chateau Nightclub. These parties are usually a great time, and you get to meet people in a more relaxed (read: drunk) environment.

I plan to get back to my room fairly early, though, because I don’t want to miss Eric Nagel’s Early Morning Whiteboarding session at 8 am Monday morning.

At the ASE11 summit, the whiteboarding sessions were great to get practical advice and discussion on attendees’ sites … Eric’s advice was always spot-on, but the feedback from the panel attendees was also impressive. I met quite a few people in those sessions, and don’t want to miss them at the upcoming summit.

Also Monday morning, the keynote address and opening remarks will be held at 10 am.

I will have a new post with the rest of my planned schedule, but for now I will post this as Part One of my ASW12 planning! Getting excited … just 23 days away …

OK, trying to do new things today … using WordPress as a CMS (content management system) for a website I am working on for refi lead generation. I want to be able to use WordPress plugin functionality on the site while maintaining the creative control … this means creating new WordPress templates. I haven’t done this before, but I think I have a pretty good grasp … rolling up the sleeves.

I’m feeling ambitious about this project! Taking it to the next level with the widget-style data, and preparing a private label eBook on tips to getting the best mortgage deals as a download incentive for email submit.

IN OTHER NEWS! Just purchased airfare and booked hotel for ASW12. So I’ll be heading to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in early January for Affiliate Summit.

Caesars Palace Casino-Hotel (Las Vegas, Nevada...

Image via Wikipedia


In other news … I’m using too many links in my blog posts. Damn this content recognition tool, Zemanta. I suppose I don’t have to use it if I decide not to, but it’s so damn easy.

So – I will keep you guys up to date on the new refinance project. Here is an early draft of a widget form that Mike Greene and I put together. … the next one will be better …

 Also, if people want to check out a forum on affiliate marketing and learn lots of the tips and techniques used to market online, check out Warrior Forum. Very educational – sign up and just read to learn how things are getting done.

 I’ll probably just update this post later as I am making progress …


OK, progress report …

Just visited the PLR Store online and now have a wealth of content to arrange a private-labeled mortgage-related eBook as the free download with email newsletter sign-up.

WordPress coming along too … just needing to finish the template frame in php and then will do the backend stuff.

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While at Affiliate Summit East (#ASE11) in New York this past August, I sat through a panel led by Dave Cupples, an Australian affiliate superstar who runs I went through the slideshow on his site, and pulled out links that I thought would be helpful. Below are the links … many directly to posts on his site, but many others directly to sites and services that he recommended.

Here is his slideshow, and a list of the links.



Now that I’ve been home for a full day, hugged and kissed my wife and kids, I want to spend a few minutes going over my trip to New York, where I attended Affiliate Summit East (Twitter #ase11) and LeadsCon (Twitter #leadscon).

For both the networking and breakouts, this was a terrific trip. Internet marketing, according to one speaker, “is still in the bottom of the first inning” … but the game is being played and I’m glad I’m on the field.

The moods between Affiliate Summit and LeadsCon were night and day. ASE drew a wider variety of marketers, ranging from suit-and-tie merchants and advertisers, to flip-flop-and-tank-top types who publish and drive traffic. It was a great atmosphere where tons of relationships were made at all hours of the day. Some of the best conversations I had were across a breakfast table or in line to get into an event or breakout.

The breakouts were great. On two days, early morning whiteboarding sessions with Eric Nagel gave people the opportunity to share their site with attendees for critique and feedback. Many of the people in these sessions were top pubs who really knew their stuff, and gave great constructive criticism. Anyone going to future events, I highly recommend this to see case studies of what experienced web marketers have to say about your site. And even if you don’t share your own, to see the discussions and glean tips based on reviews of other sites, it’s a great chance to learn.

With so many different possibilities and companies needing web traffic, it’s now time for me to reconnect with some of the people I met while at these events, and continue to build and grow on the relationships.

Also, if you’re not already, please follow me on Twitter @ECSouza … I’ve been really getting into this, and enjoying many of the threads and discussions on there.

More later!


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