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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)

Dan has written 3 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

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