What’s Up, CloudFlare?

OK, so today I was doing some routine testing of my sites, basically, to see if there is room for performance improvements.

I do this form time-to-time, normally when I’m having writers block, or need to take a break from programming.

Anyway – several of my sites are cached on CloudFlare’s free plan, I like the idea of them doing the heavy lifting wherever possible for images/js/css/etc. I also love the idea of being able to “flip” over to by backup server without having to wait for DNS to catch up.

PS. I’m yet to have an outage since switching to Digital Ocean – thanks guys!

[yellow-box]Tip: If you’re still using HostGator/BlueHost, consider moving to a VPS – you’ll get much more bang for buck[/yellow-box]

But today I discovered something that gave me pause.. I noticed that one of my money sites in particular was running like a dog. A three legged dog. With a bad back.

Slow Site On CloudFlare
6 seconds? I’m surprised this page is generating me any money at all!

So I started testing, to see what was up with the performance I was seeing. I mean, sure.. there are a bunch of requests there..

But a lot of those were for async javascript (think Google Analytics, Facebook like buttons, etc..) These wouldn’t actually impact the site speed for a visitor, so I wasn’t bothered by them.

But, the fact remained.. the page was slow to load, very slow.

So, I started by disabling every WP plugin on the site – not that it should have mattered, I used the plugins everywhere else..

But the problem remained.. It didn’t make much sense to me, it was hosted on the same server as several other sites that were speedy!

Even administration was painful – clicking around in the WP administration console was just annoyingly slow!

CloudFlare Is Slow?

I made a quick clone of the site to start really messing with it. Being impatient, I just added an entry to my hosts file. I didn’t want to wait for DNS propagation for test.domain.com to happen!

Low and behold, the EXACT same site was speedy! What?

Then I thought…

what if cloudflare was costing me money

I added my site’s server to my hosts file to bypass CloudFlare’s servers.

BAM! Like night and day, the site was very snappy again!

So, I started testing.. and here are the results (using Pingdom’s handy testing tool)

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With CloudFlare:

Test Perf Grade Requests Load time Size
1 77 83 6.09 4.8
2 77 83 5.02 4.9
3 77 81 2.11 5.5
4 78 80 1.9 4.8
5 78 81 2.19 4.8
6 77 84 5.12 4.5
7 77 82 4.86 4.8
8 78 80 1.57 4.6
9 91 79 5.46 4.8
10 78 80 2.71 4.8
Mean 78.8 81.3 3.703 4.83
Median 77.5 81 3.785 4.8

Yikes – page load times are all over the place! An average of 3.7 seconds leaves a lot of room for improvement, and importantly.. a lot of money on the table!

Without CloudFlare:

Test Perf Grade Requests Load time Size
1 74 80 2.14 4.8
2 74 81 1.55 4.8
3 74 80 1.51 4.8
4 74 79 1.63 4.6
5 73 80 2.02 4.8
6 75 79 1.54 4.8
7 74 81 1.52 4.8
8 74 80 1.51 4.8
9 74 79 1.47 4.6
10 74 79 1.81 4.8
Mean 74 79.8 1.67 4.76
Median 74 80 1.545 4.8

Wow! Now we’re talking! taking CloudFlare out of the picture cut page load times down to less than half what they were before!

I’ll give you three guesses whether I’ll be sticking with CloudFlare for this site.. 😉

Now – before I get a bunch of hate-mail about CloudFlare, it’s safe to say that busier sites will see an improvement in response during peak load – so there’s definitely a use for CloudFlare.

Additionally, I’ll be keeping CloudFlare for my NS servers – they’re pretty damn fast compared to pretty much everything else I’ve tested.

[yellow-box]Tip: Use CloudFlare for DNS – you’ll gain an easy 50 – 100ms for first-page load time over most hosting companies DNS servers[/yellow-box]

So why do I think CloudFlare is slow? Well, I’m not 100% sure.. but here’s my guess..

CloudFlare have a pretty ambitious goal, of caching content as much as possible, as close as possible to the visitor as possible. And they’re achieving this by using AnyCast.

AnyCast allows multiple servers to answer the same request, with the network picking the “closest” one.

Sounds cool, right? Well, it is really – this is the type of technology that allows sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to be so fast no matter where you are!

But in the cast of a small, relatively infrequently accessed site – this doesn’t work well..

Why Is CloudFlare Slow?

Well, CloudFlare’s edge servers are most likely having to dig around to see if they’ve got an appropriately cached copy of the site.

Then, if they don’t, they need to either:

a) Ask another CloudFlare server if they have one

or

b) Forward the request through to the original site

Now.. remember that this happens for every request, and requests queue up..

So, a request that may take 100ms (Visitor to original web server), may end up taking (hypothetically):

Step Time Action
1 50ms Visitor To CloudFlare edge
2 50ms CloudFlare edge cache search
3 100ms CloudFlare to original server
Total 200ms

Which is about what I’m seeing, roughly speaking..

Now, Am I suggesting you abandon CloudFlare if you’re using them already? Of course not!

Do your own testing, make your own decisions.. But don’t believe the hype that CloudFlare always works 🙂

Take care guys!

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So.. What’s In It For Me?

Writing good sales copy. It’s the key for making more money from your sales letters. In today’s world, people have short attention spans.

People want the answer to their problems right away.

In a world where answers to questions are just a Google search away, it’s increasingly difficult to get people to continue reading long sales letters.

The key is to know how to write good copy. If you understand people, you can create better copy that really converts well.

So, what is the key here?

writing good salescopy

People Are Selfish

When somebody is reading your sales letter, they don’t care about you. I’ll repeat, they do not care about you. They don’t care about the sense of fulfillment you get from helping them or the effort you have put in.

All they want to know is what is in it for them.

Your copy must focus on them to relate to them. If you change your focus to be on them, they’ll see the bigger picture and realize that they need what you have to offer.

By putting the specific things they’ll gain into your copy, you engage them as readers and remind them that you only want to give them the best possible value there is.

In other words, that your care about them. Always remember that people are totally selfish and only want to know what’s in it for them. Use this to your advantage.

[yellow-box]Remeber: People re selfish when reading sales copy[/yellow-box]

People Are Skeptical

Make it your personal goal to diminish all possible doubts in their minds. The problem with most poorly written sales copy is a lack of the basic understanding of people and their mindsets.

Your general audience will always be skeptical.

By the end of your sales letter, your readers should be saying things like, “I don’t have anymore doubts. I need to buy this.”

If they’re still thinking about it and coming up with any excuses to not buy the product, then you clearly didn’t do your job well enough.

Think about the times when you have read a sales letter. Your mind is actively thinking as you read and coming up with different questions and doubts about the product.

Possible reasons and excuses as to why you shouldn’t buy this product come to your mind. This is what makes you human. And believe it or not, others are thinking just like you.

[yellow-box]Remember: Answer people’s questions or doubts BEFORE they know they have them[/yellow-box]

Put Yourself In Their Shoes..

Step 1 EXPLORE
Take some time to read other peoples sales letters in your niche – this is also a great way to keep on top of what your competition is doing.

Step 2 QUESTION
Write down every doubt and question you have while reading their copy.

Step 3 ELIMINATE DOUBT
As you read the to the end of their copy, see if your doubts and questions were answered and cross them out if they are. A good sales letter would remove all of your doubts and leave you with nothing on your list.

Step 4 TEMPLATE
Learn from the sales copy that did a great job of eliminating your doubts and questions. See what it did to convince you to officially buy the product. Use the same methods to come up with your own template.

What triggered your thoughts to say that you were going to buy the product or raised questions in your mind will be similar to what your reader are thinking.

With more practice you can canvass all possible doubts. By the end of your own sales copy, all of your readers’ questions, doubts, and confusion should be gone.

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Always Use The Word “You”

There is no better word to use multiple times than this one word alone. Writing the word “you” indicates that you’re talking to the person reading it.

You don’t want to generalize your sales letter to be written for multiple people. You want to make a personal connection directly with your potential buyer.

By addressing them as just the one person you’re talking to, your sales copy will be more naturally compelling.

 

People Have ADD

Headlines are the key to reeling people in. Getting people to head down to that buy button is the ultimate goal.

At the end of the day, you only want to have them buy your product, right?

There really is no goal but to have them click on that buy button to purchase what you’re selling. So, how do you lead them down there fast?

Use your headlines and create a story using just those headlines.

The basic premise of this technique is to utilize your headlines strategically. Creating a great story in your sales letter is so important, but you need to re target your sales letter so that it can be read for both the skimming speed readers and the long slow thorough readers who hang off your every word.

In other words, the people who skim your copy should be targeted just as well as those who read your every single word.

How do You Target the Skimmer Speed Readers?

In your headlines, create a well written story. Try to create a story through your headlines that serve a dual purpose.

Headline the body and also allow skimmers speed reader to get the gist of your product by reading the headlines alone. Try reading one of your current sales letters now. Make sure you just look at and selectively read the headlines alone.Do you get a clear picture of exactly what you’re selling?

If not, you better fix that up right away.

Make your headlines create a separate story. This way when people are reading it, they won’t get lost before they reach the final buy button.

Remember you want a very clear path to that button. People are very fast in today’s fast-paced world. People will scroll down a page without even paying attention to what they’re reading at all.

Capture them and keep them with those headline stories, and they’ll be ready to buy in no time.

 

Give Them More than Benefits

Do not just tell them what they’re getting. Do not just let them know about how many pages it has and about the bells and whistles. Make it known to your readers the value of what they’re actually getting.

Telling them about features is average, showing them benefits is better. For example, a feature of your product might be a new sleek layout, a benefit to your buyer is a simple time-saving layout.

Go one step further than benefits and tell them exactly how your product will change how they feel, act, or think. Let them know how it will actually enhance and better their lives.

Elevate a time-saving layout to one that allows them more time to spend relaxing and enjoying life. If you can show them not just the benefits but the emotions they’ll experience when they buy your product, then you have got a real winner.

Making an offer without letting them know about the benefits or making it clear what they’ll be emotionally receiving is only going to make you lose them in the long run.

Make them the offer, present the benefits, and play off of their emotions by demonstrating value. In other words, people want the answer to their problem. If you have that exact answer, make sure you really seal the deal by reminding them of the emotional value of your product.

If the world of creating sales copy which converts, you need to push the right buttons with your readers minds and feelings.

If you can really convince them with your words that you have the answer to their problems, they will buy what you have for them.

Make known more than the features, give them all of the benefits and all the emotional payoffs they’ll be getting with your product.

Make it a no-brainer decision for them. If you do this correctly, you’ll have them actually impatient and wanting to click on your buy button at the bottom.

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