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Decisions that Lead to $400,000 in Affiliate Income (Part 1)

April 14, 2012 · 17 comments

in Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate IncomeDisclosure: the goal of this article is to broaden your view on affiliate marketing so that you may see the big picture versus focusing on small scale SEO efforts. I am not here to promote any one strategy, business or product. Some numbers and names have been altered as to preserve my identity.

Beat the Funk

It all started a few years ago, when I was in this sort of funk that kept me wondering how I could make more money. We all want more money and many of us will build website and put our best foot forward to get that stream of income flowing.

The very website you are now browsing – Opportunities Planet is engaged in a battle of its own to build readership to promote affiliate products and fill up those ad spots. This is exactly what I was doing with desktop screensaver websites several years back but never quite achieved the revenue stream I was after. “The Funk” as I like it call it – is a stage of your internet marketing growth where you’ve hit an invisible ceiling that stops you from thinking big. You have to beat the funk to make it big in the affiliate world!

Naturally, I hung out at Digital Point forums hunting for opportunities. The truth of the matter is, the real money is in affiliate marketing – not link building, content developing or guest blogging. I knew all too well that those things actually work and over time would result in good streams of income if I gave it my best, but this wasn’t enough.

My desktop screensaver websites were doing well after a year of SEO efforts I was now ranking on 1st page of Google for many keywords with millions of searches. Perhaps I will make another post at a later date about building your own screensaver website empire. Anyway, the AdSense income was just not doing it for me; I wanted to be a full time stay-at-home internet marketer who made a good living without doing the 9 to 5.  In order to think big, you must stop hanging out at places like Digital Point Forums and Warrior Forums, unless only to get some information about your new dreams. I set out to do just that, to think like a big shot.

Make it Free, But…

It was no news to me that affiliate marketing and targeted lists were great sources of income, after-all the list building methods have been tried and true time and again. Instead of building a niche list and bombarding people with who-knows-maybe-it’s-relevant products, I asked myself the following question:

What would I normally pay for, unless it was free?

If you can answer this question, and address the problem of making a premium product free, yet monetizing it in the process then you’re golden. The next question that came to my mind was:

What product or service is every person after, no matter the age, gender or savvy?

All too often the niches people choose are targeted, which can be great when you know what you’re doing. But to get rid of the “funk” I realized that I must target a more lucrative premium product that doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, race, or the savvy of internet know-how. Finding that universally desired product or service and monetizing it is the key to success in affiliate marketing.  I set out to finding such niche and a way to monetize it.

To make anything free requires ad revenue, complementary product promotion or content locking. Content locking was the most obvious choice to getting the most bang for my buck, no matter how many people I pissed off in the process. Frankly, I only cared about money and could care less how my visitors felt about unlocking a product or a service. Now that I’ve identified my product or service, made it free, but required people to unlock my content, I was all set to figure out the last part of the puzzle – traffic.

Herding the Cattle to the Grazing Grounds

It’s all a numbers game. The product of money in and money out is your profit. Unless of course you have a free source of web traffic (which I won’t discuss in this post) then you will have to do as all affiliate marketers do – utilize the power of AdWords. Let’s take a quick look at what we’ve done so far:

  1. Find an irresistible product or service
  2. Lock it (using a content locker, Adscend, CPALead, custom-made or other)
  3. Think about required money in, versus money out.

Back to my personal scenario, the goal was to drive as much traffic as possible via AdWords while trying to minimize the costs. What this basically means is that I had to hunt for the most underpaid general keywords that would bring real visitors to my website and hope for some conversions. In this process of playing with AdWords I learned several very important things:

  1. Accept loss before starting. As Michael Scott from The Office put it: “I will see your offer and I’ll raise you an offer”. Understand that you are going to fail at first and accept it as a fact of life. Once you get over that barrier, knowing that you are going to lose right away the rest of the journey will be much easier. To prepare myself, I read posts after posts on AdWords and strategy, but knew that at the end I would be paying a heavy price before seeing the sun rise.
  2. Be prepared to blow through money and burn holes in your pockets. Testing the keywords, landing pages, ad copy and such is very expensive. It helps to have some previous experience and some cash saved up knowing it will be gone before you succeed. At one point I lost $500 in a single day due to the sheer volume of traffic my keywords generated in a very small fraction of time.
  3. Focus on making a profit, no matter how little it is. If it takes you $500 to make $500.01 then you’ve succeeded. A penny earned is a penny you didn’t have before, and in the advertising world if you’re earning a profit on AdWords then you’re on your way to something awesome. There were days where I would spend $1000 to make a profit of $200, but it was all worth it in the end.

Next time, in part 2 of my personal discovery I will reveal the key to making it big in affiliate world (for those who don’t already know) and explain the number one fault that keeps everyone away from unlocking their potential (you too have it in you). I will also walk through my personal thought process that helps me identify a profit opportunity and turn a stale campaign into a successful one.

Read part 2 here: Decisions that Lead to $400,000 in Affiliate Income (Part 2)

Image Credit: sheelamohan

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Dan Applegate (not his real name) is currently kicking it back and is doing some freelance work for injury attorneys in Los Angeles. If you need any advice, don’t hesitate to contact him at danapple02(at)gmail.com

Dan has written 3 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

marquita herald April 15, 2012 at 9:48 am

Great advice, and I would surely love that level of income, but the problem (for me) is finding that awesome product to promote. I’ve found very (very) few affiliate products I would spend my own money on, so I’m certainly not going to put my name out there to promote them. I look forward to reading more and maybe I’ll find a better way. Thanks,
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Tom Burt April 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Kostas,
Awesome article! It worked! You now have me hooked. I can’t wait to read the next installment. Teach me more please!

Tom
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Dan Applegate April 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Marquita, you’re missing the point. You don’t have to promote any affiliate product. It can be as simple as a premium Wordpress theme that people sell for $30 and you’re giving away for free – but locked with a content locker.

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Perry April 16, 2012 at 1:31 am

That income level would be amazing but i am currently jsut trying to build a modest income online what advice would you give the absolut begginner? Is there any books or reserch info that specificaly helped you? Thanks for any info
Perry recently posted..Finally Commission Shops Pre Launch Videos are LIVE!My Profile

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Mike Sherratt April 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hey Dan, some interesting info on affiliate marketing. f you are looking for a way to make extra money from the comfort of your home using nothing but the internet, affiliate marketing might be just what the doctor ordered. Affiliate marketing might sound like a new concept but truth is it has been around for years.

As an affiliate marketer your job is to refer online shoppers to a variety of different products. Anytime a sale is made based on your referral, you will get paid a percentage or commission based off the sales price.

Now in order to start making money in this industry you must first join an affiliate network. An affiliate network is basically a hub where you can find products to promote. Each affiliate network is different and you will need to first find out what type of product you are interested in promoting.

Some networks make you go through an approval process before you can be a part of the network. If you are someone just starting out it is best to go with ClickBank or commission junction. Both offer instant approval. As soon as you submit the application you can basically start promoting products.

Now in order to make money with affiliate marketing you need two things; a great product to promote and plenty of targeted traffic. When it comes to product selection you will hear a ton of different things. Some say you should try to find a small niche that is under served and others say you should go for the big, evergreen niches.

While you can make money both ways, in my opinion your best bet is to go with the big, evergreen niches. They include love, health and wealth. These are three niches that you will always be able to make money in. People will always want to know how to find love, how to lose weight and how to make money.

When it comes to affiliate marketing health, wealth and love are some of the most lucrative niches you can get into. Now once you find the product you want to promote you will need to start driving traffic to the sales page so you can make money. It doesn’t matter how great the product you are promoting is, if you don’t have any traffic you won’t make any money.

You basically have two options when it comes to traffic. Paid or free. For those just starting out you will want to use the free traffic methods until you start making money.

Some of the best free traffic methods include article marketing and video marketing. The internet thrives off of one thing and that is content. The more content you put out there the more traffic you will get. Eventually that traffic will turn into sales and you will start to make money online.

Overall affiliate marketing is a great way for anyone to make money online. Just keep in mind that it takes time and dedication to get things rolling. You have to stick with it. Don’t fall for all the so called gurus promising you can make millions of dollars with the push of a button.

It doesn’t work that way. Anyone who is making money with affiliate marketing had to put in work. It’s no different for you. But if you stick with it you will be successful.

Mike
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Dan Applegate April 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Perry, most beginners start by making their own blog and blogging about their favorite subjects. Once you get a good reader base / followers then you can try to venture into promoting affiliate products related to your blog’s subject. If this is a path you choose to pursue, I can make a few suggestions: Post often, write posts that are helpful, interesting and provoking. Pursue guest posting on other websites to share your opinions (in return creating more trust in your site). This is all the advice you need to get going – no need to read any books or forums. Trust me, the worst thing beginners like you get into is procrastinating. Set a schedule and post every day – make sure it is something really interested and you are very passionate about because this reflects in your writing. If you have a blog about a subject people are interested in reading then you will have success. Best of luck to you.

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Theuns April 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hi Kostas

Thanks for this post, well you make me looking forward to your next post
i\I will keep my eye open for it. There is so many things that we need to learn to make a success on line and some time we tap into more that we can handel and then we just drop every thing. bur is we can get hel to know what to drop and what to keep that help a lot on the end.

Thanks
Theuns
Theuns recently posted..There are no traffic jams on the extra mileMy Profile

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Theuns April 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hi Kostas

Thanks for this post, well you make me looking forward to your next post
i\I will keep my eye open for it. There is so many things that we need to learn to make a success on line and some time we tap into more that we can handel and then we just drop every thing. bur is we can get help to know what to drop and what to keep that help a lot on the end.

Thanks
Theuns
Theuns recently posted..There are no traffic jams on the extra mileMy Profile

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David Merrill April 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

Very intriguing, Dan.
I’ve been working my newsletter list with great value and content, but practically no monetizing strategy. I know affiliate marketing is the way I need to grow. I create my own products, but need to develop a good back-end list of affiliate products to supplement it.
I’m not familiar at all with locking content, but will pursue. Thanks for the intriguing story, and don’t keep us waiting too long for part 2 :)
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Dan Applegate April 18, 2012 at 12:13 am

@David, You said you create your own products? What’s stopping you from promoting them via your list? If you’re afraid your readers will see it as self-less promotion, why not give your product away for free as a trial? If it is a service, consider a trial period. If it is a virtual item such as an e-book, consider giving away free copies (depending on how many people you have in your list).

If you need help, feel free to email me. My info is in the author box.

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Rosemary O'Shaughnessy April 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Hi Dan and Kostas,

You have given great advice in this post. It is so true to ask ourselves what we will spend money on and our families as well. Quite often by putting thought into what we spend money on we can find an interesting angle to make money. Due to our economy being in difficult times here in Ireland, I have seen some great ideas and businesses being created in the last year with innovation. Take care Rosemary
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Dan Applegate April 18, 2012 at 12:15 am

@Rosemary
I’m not sure I understand your comment…

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Perry April 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

@ dan
ty sir ill deffinatly set a schedule for my self ty sir for the advice!

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Alex April 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Finding niches for me was always very hard. Do you have any tips for that? And btw, accepting lose is a little bit hard for me..

Thanks!
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shawn April 29, 2012 at 8:36 am

I am a first time visitor and I can say that this post is really great. Very informative and I can really use this on my research on the topic titled “Inside the Internet World”. Keep up the good work.

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