February 21st, 2010
As many of you know, for security reasons back in August ’09 we moved LetterRep to a new host. Immedaitely upon moving, we started getting messages from writers about their failure to receive email notifications of several prepaid requests and only periodic notifications of letter sales and rejections, etc.
The mystery is finally solved.
Our new host put us on a shared server. Just as it sounds, ‘Shared’ means the site shares the server with many other websites. The host quickly learned that LetterRep gets so much traffic it consumes all the server’s available resources, most importantly, memory, which limits the other sites ability to function. In the best interest of all sites involed, we agreed for the host to move us to a ‘grid hosting’ plan that provides us resources ‘on demand’ and allows the other sites the ability to function normally.
In the course of moving, the email problem was discovered.
With all shared hosting plans (‘Basic Shared’ as well as ‘Grid hosted’), sites are only allowed a maximum daily limit of 1000 emails.
LetterRep, of course, has 3500 writers. On a day when we have no prepaid requests, there are no issues. Purchase notifications and rejection notifications and all other individual emails go out freely, because on a day with no prepaid requests their numbers never exceed 1000.
On a day when LetterRep gets multiple prepaid requests, things are different. As soon as one prepaid request is made, 3500 emails are put in queue to the writers. Of those 3500, only 1000 get emailed and then our daily quota is reached. From that point on, the site is no allowed to mail out any more emails that day. That means, no customer username/password emails get sent out, no purchase notifications, no letter rejection emails, no blog post announcements, etc., etc.
We are looking at the available solutions. We’ll keep you posted.
Read up on RSS. It may be our next best solution.
February 8th, 2010
Dear Indian Writers,
You may have heard by now that for some very vague reason, payments via PayPal to India are suspended.
Do not fear! Your payments from LetterRep are being held in a ‘Pending’ status until PayPal figures this out. As soon as the issue is cleared up, LetterRep will make payments again.
If anyone has any information about this and wishes to post links or info, please use the comments section and I will send out the notice.
Thanks for your patience.
January 12th, 2010
This is a repost of an interesting article telling techies not to forget their writing skills. Thought you might enjoy it.
January 4th, 2010
I hope everyone had a very happy New Year! Welcome back.
I hate to start out the new year with some bad news, but I was looking at a site tracking info of LetterRep.com and found the following review:
You have to pay additional fees for most letters. Letters themselves are not good, and their 30-day money back guarantee is totally bogus (they will point you to fine print on why it is not applicable). Otherwise a great service. Do not use this site.”
(http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/letterrep.com# – click the ‘Reviews’ tab)
These kinds of things happen every once in a while…a disgruntled customer who doesn’t agree with the refund policy will post something nasty. On most sites, an opportunity is provided for a site representative to make a statement. On Alexa, no. The best way to handle these is by being open and honest. Something like,
“Dear customer, we regret that you were dissatisfied with LetterRep’s service. We work hard to provide you with the custom letters you need and free access to the letter’s original writer if you need additional assistance customizing the letter you choose. Contrary to your statement of a ‘bogus’ guarantee, LetterRep provides a full money-back refund in every case but one – when customers request to have a letter custom-written. As with custom work in any industry, when the work is performed there are no refunds, however, LetterRep.com gives you the ability to contact the writer of the letter to work with you personally to ensure the letter you choose is written exactly to your specifications. We do not know how to please you more. Please let us know.”
…often reverses the effect the disgruntled customer is attempting to inflict and works in the advantage of the business. In addition, potential customers reading the reviews get to see that we’re a real company that isn’t afraid to admit it makes mistakes but has methods in place to help customers and not rip them off.
None the less, as I wrote before, Alexa does not provide a place for site reps to write rebuttals.
LetterRep, however, has other alternatives.
Many of you have had customers who are very, very happy with your work and wish to post testimonials and praise. When these opportunities arise, please ask your customers to take a look at this page (the one at the link above) and to write a review for us. Their positive reviews will overshadow any negative ones we get.
More stuff coming soon.
Hope all are well and happy New Year again.
December 23rd, 2009
Please allow me to send a very warm wish for a happy and safe holiday season.
I hope all of you will take the time to keep one of our writers, Writer J.D., in your thoughts and prayers as she awaits test results concerning some worrisome health issues.
Thanks to everyone for a great year!
December 20th, 2009
I have been making a lot of posts lately and there more to come. 2010 is definitely the year when I will move promotion of LetterRep to the front.
This post, however, is about how you should make yourself a subject matter expert.
As we all know, there are plenty of people in the world who didn’t get the same opportunity to learn to write as we did. Some did get that opportunity but received it in a different language and their letters written in the languages we speak.
One of the best ways you can promote yourself is to appear as subject matter expert in the subject of writing. To do this, you should be searching around the net for blogs or forums where people ask questions about writing.
One of the forums I’ve found is this one: http://www.englishforums.com/
I suggest you visit it and register for it. In the right column of the page, you will see a list of ‘Unanswered questions.’ This list is begging for people to help them with English. When you answer the question, you should leave your signature and the address to your letters (and just your letters) on the site. Mine might look like this:
Check out my letters on LetterRep.com.
To get the URL for just your letters, do this:
1) Go to the site, http://www.LetterRep.com
2) From the homepage, conduct a search for a letter of yours on the site
3) Once you find one of yours, to the right click the ‘View writer’s works’ link. (The next page lists all the letter categories in which you have letters.)
4) From the resulting page, copy the URL.
The more of an expert you appear to be the more likely customers are to come to you.
Finally, here’s a search query I conducted that showed me a lot of results for people needing writing assistance: I need someone to write a letter for me
Let me know if you have any questions.
December 19th, 2009
I’ve looked for a long time for a public Relations and promotional strategy for LetterRep. The problem has always been that while it’s easy to promote a single letter or category of letters on the site, once the letter/category and the problem it solves or issue it addresses is announced and broadcast, that’s it and there’s very little left to say about it. Moreover, it’s unlikely that any news organization would find a specific letter or a specific category of letters newsworthy…there’s nothing earth-shattering about a letter of recommendation for a job or the Letters of Recommendation category, or any of the other specific letters or categories.
What LetterRep needed was a way to address some newsworthy topic that it was solving or helping to solve through its letters.
Finally, after years of thinking of this, some work I’ve done recently, separate from our site, gave me a good idea.
As many of you may know, when a company or companies give something away or give something back to the world, it’s always newsworthy! With that in mind, I realized LetterRep has a unique opportunity to give back in lots of different ways in nearly every corner of the world.
LetterRep’s bread-and-butter, as well as that of the writers, is made through certain letters and categories on the site: Letters of Recommendation, Request Letters, Resignation Letters, and several others. Take a look. Go to the homepage and click through the categories. You’ll see which are biggest, having 100s of letters while others have only a few.
Posting a letter from one of these categories would only lose money for us and would not be newsworthy. Instead, we should post letters that are newsworthy and raise awareness of issues in our different areas of the world but which are unlikely to ever be requested or purchased. These we’ll post free for anyone to review and download.
For example, if you are a writer from the Philippines and know of a good cause, maybe a church that is seeking help for the elderly, consider writing a letter that others interested in that cause can copy and paste to send to a politician, organization, or group; if you’re a U.S.-based writer who knows of a school that’s seeking clothes for the needy, write a letter to send to organizations or groups; if you’re in any other place in the world and know of a library that’s looking for book donations or a food bank that looking for canned goods contributions, write a letter. The possibilities for this are endless and because we writers are in every corner of the planet we can write about hundreds and thousands of topics in our local areas. We don’t have to write about national or international topics. All of these above, and countless others each of you know of in your areas are equally newsworthy.
News is news and the more letters we post in support of projects, even if they’re all local, can be promoted as news and are worthy of press releases.
Here are some ideas for letters:
Create a fundraising letter to be downloaded for a local fundraising event or political candidate
Create a letter for a local, national or international crusade
Create a letter for a local, national or international cause
Create a letter for a to celebrate a local, national or international hero
The advantage of these letters is that they are all newsworthy. The fact about them is that they are worth very little to you or LetterRep in terms of sales. Can anyone remember writing a letter for one of these above? Probably not. Our most valuable letters, on the other hand, such as resignation letters, apology letters, scholarship reinstatement letters and a few others, earn us the bulk of our money but carry very little promotional value for the site.
A customer-side blog has recently been created on LetterRep. Here’s the URL: http://www.letterrep.com/memberblog/
There is no content on it yet and there are no links from the customer-side leading to it. It is the place we can post the letters described. As always, like we’re doing in the letter descriptions, writers can link keywords to their letters and include a bio to appear at the bottom of the free letters.
Here’s the format I suggest:
1) Brief description of your cause, crusade, hero, issue, etc., and what the intention of your letter is for it.
2) Your letter
3) Your bio
As soon as I receive your letter, I’ll post it to the blog and send out a news release.
The more the better. Who knows…your letter might even help change the world.
Hope to hear from you soon.
December 19th, 2009
I got a nice enquiry today, much like several others I’ve gotten from LetterRep’s South African writers. Here’s the body of the message:
Hello, Do you have any other payment methods as Paypal does not accept South African Citizens??? Regards Sharon
Does anyone out there know why S. Africa does not allow its citizens to receive payments through PayPal.com? S. Africa isn’t the only country that does this…Bangladesh, Burma and S. Africa are three that come to mind.
LetterRep’s South African writers have contributed lots of excellent work to the site. I want to send out a warm thank you to them for everything. Unfortunately, LetterRep is going to lose them because no payment method really exists.
Finding some other method is an option. One I’ve considered is an Amazon.com online gift or an online gift to someplace where S. Africa and other countries can shop.
Moving to other payment gateways, Moneybookers.com, for example, is not really feasible.
Let me know. All options are open.
December 6th, 2009
Happy Holidays to All!
First, the back payments are moving along well. As you may remember, payments stopped on August 3rd, 2009. Since resuming payments on November 26th, in addition to making all the daily payments for purchases made 30 days earlier, LetterRep has also been catching up on the payments since August 3rd. To date, we have completed the entire month of August.
As stated earlier, back payments will be made based on how well LetterRep does on a daily basis. For example, if LetterRep makes $200 in one day but only needs to make $40 worth of payments for the 30 day earlier purchases, additional payments will be made from the back payments list. If LetterRep only makes $40 in a single day and needs to make $40 worth of payments for the 30 day earlier purchases, no back payments will be made.
Steady progress is being made and I should be able to finish the month of September by the new year, although purchases over the Christmas and New Year holidays normally slow down.
Next, keep in mind that typically the month of January is a big month for LetterRep. Most commonly, writers are asked to write ‘college financial aid reinstatement letters.’ If you’ve written these in the past, you might want to get them ready for January.
In my last couple of blog posts, I asked if any writers would be interested in writing some introduction text for the categories. We had a few takers. Here’s a look at how one category appears:
There are a couple of good things going on here. First, search engines (always hungry for content) get some fresh text to consume on these pages that have listed just the letters for so long. Second, the writers get to highlight their skills and get their names in front of the customers. This writer provided us some letters to which she hopes to drive customers so we linked the keywords in the text to her letter purchase page.
If anyone out there would be interested in writing some intro text for some categories, please let me know.
The final good news to bring to your attention is a small change that made a big difference. Maybe some of you remember on some pages the ribbon and the words ‘Custom Letter’ to the right of each custom letter title on the site. The ribbon and the text are gone. They have been replaced by a small pen and a link that reads ‘View writer’s works.’ When the customer clicks the link they are taken to what looks like the LetterRep homepage but shows the writer’s pic and bio. Most importantly, the letter categories on this page show only the categories for which the writer has written letters. Here’s an example pic:
Likewise, when the customer clicks a category from this page, the category page that loads shows only the writer’s letters.
(Note the initials at the end of each letter title)
At the moment, the category description appearing at the top of the page belongs to those writers who have written for us. Maybe in time we will allow writers to compose descriptions of their own category pages, if the consensus is so.
Also of note is that the ‘See All Letters’ link has been removed from the left menu on the customer side. The ‘See All Letters‘ pages are linked to from lots of third party sites so we did not remove the pages. This link and its pages disrupted the hierarchy structure of the site so there was really no alternative but to remove it.
More changes are on the way. Most notably, a free registration is being created allowing full access to the ‘Free Letters‘ section which is currently closed an somewhat of a misnomer as only paying customers can have access. This free registration feature will provide us a means to market to those who come for free letters.
As always, let me know your thoughts. If you see something that needs fixing or have a good idea of how to improve the site, please let me know.
Again, happy holidays!
November 18th, 2009
Tonight LetterRep resumed making writer payments.
As stated in the earlier blog post, I made the first payments 30 days prior to today (as we have always made them) and then began making several payments from the payment date when I stopped payments, August 8th, ’09.
Close to 25 payments were made. I’m not sure if we can keep up that pace, although it would be nice. I’ll try. It really depends on how well LetterRep does.
On that note, LetterRep has been doing very well lately and it seems to be in some part because of the SEO changes we made. There are still a few more things to be done. One of those parts is to write a keyword-rich paragraph or two for each of the category pages on the customer side. Here’s an example of a customer side category page: http://www.letterrep.com/Letters_of_Recommendation-c-85.html .
If any writers would like to assist in writing the paragraphs, they will appear at the top of the page and I will gladly allow writers to leave a signature below their content.
If you’re interested, please let me know which category(ies) you would like and I’ll send you the keywords.
Thanks for everything.