How To Make Your Living Online in 2012

Happy Holidays! Well, Christmas for this year has come and gone. I had a good last few days and I hope you did too.. (perhaps you are still enjoying the holiday season like me 😉 ) But as we all do when the year comes to an end, we start thinking about the year about to end and the new year just around the corner.

To be quite honest, 2011 is a year I would much rather forget. There was the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima Japan which shook everything up for me and those around me. Life here is almost back to normal now, but this year will be a year I won’t forget in a hurry -and not in a good way.

Of course, my internet business helped me to stay focused and headstrong. I didn’t quite achieve everything I wanted to but still a lot of good did come out of this year… (it’s always best to stay positive). I released a couple of IM related products and entered some new niches in non-IM related markets trying my hand at the affiliate blogs/SEO model.

I have to tell you that niche marketing is very addictive and fun, but it’s easy to get wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing and it can take a lot of work to see results. But if you stick with it for 3, 4, 5 or even 6 months, you’ll eventually start seeing sales come through on auto-pilot. That side of the niche blog business model rocks!

Product launches in the IM niche are good too if you create a good evergreen product and can get enough traffic to it with JV and affiliate partnerships. But it’s harder to make the sales last, even if your product is evergreen. There’s always gonna be something new tomorrow in the IM niche. So many IM products are released everyday that the life span for them is usually very short.

The same goes with any product though, as long as you get the right kind of traffic, you can make sales.  But for IM products, it’s a little hard to get JVs onboard for long-term traffic as they are keen to jump on the next best thing and forget about your product. If you can pump out a new product every couple of months, well it’s another story.

With niche marketing, or SE marketing (SEM) as long as you’re site is ranked in Google, you’re pretty much set. The hot niche related problems/keywords don’t change much and the number of product launches are much fewer in ‘niche’ markets than the typical IM scene, so you can keep promoting the same product without your campaign getting old.

I know this is starting to sound like a “product launch vs. affiliate niche marketing” type post, but that’s ok. These have become my two favorite online marketing/business models and I recommend you to get started doing one or the other, or both if you can.

If you’re just starting out, here’s what I recommend you to do. This is just going to be a basic plan of how you could start making a living online in 2012 with affiliate niche marketing. This is not a guarantee you will, because it all depends on how much work you put into it.

1. Find a product to promote (note that I didn’t say ‘niche’). Make sure it’s a product that serves a desperate niche and make sure the offer is easy to take up (i.e. affordable, easy to buy, free offer etc). It can be in an IM niche or non-IM niche. As long as you feel you can help others fix there problem by pointing them in the right direction, go for it!

2. Check how many searches that product name gets per month using google’s keyword suggestion tool. If the product name isn’t that well-known yet, then search for the keyword phrase that the product solves e.g. “how to get website traffic on a budget”, if you’re selling a website traffic course.

3. Check competition on the front page of Google search for those keywords. If there are mostly Pr4 sites and upwards dominating the front page, then try another keyword. If there are some PR2 and PR0 sites and a few affiliate sites/retail sites, then you might have a good chance of ranking on the first page.

NOTE: The more I got into niche marketing, the more I realized how important keyword research is. Get good keywords with low competition and your job will be infinitely easier! Don’t cut corners by choosing random keywords. You’ll pay for it later.

4. Once you’ve got a good keyword or two, register a domain name and get some hosting. Try to get the exact match domain for your keyword. e.g. howtorepairaflattire.com. There is talk about how this is becoming less important, but I still see a lot of EMDs on the front page of google. It won’t hurt, anyway.

5. Install WP on your site using Fantastico. Most good hosting services will have it available. Just don’t use “admin” as your admin username 😉 Don’t worry too much about a theme or plugins because your site doesn’t have to look pretty. It just has to be easy on the eye and direct people to your offer page. I like Profits Theme because it’s dead-easy to use and allows me to create squeeze pages and sales pages for when I want to build a list or sell products from my site.

6. As for onsite SEO goes, install All In One SEO Pack plugin and add your main keyword in your site’s title and in your description.  Of course, you’re going to need content so write 7 to 10 articles using your main keyword for a couple of them and related keywords for the others.

NOTE: You should be aware that a low bounce rate is now very important in the eyes of google so try to make your readers stay on your site as long as possible and click through to other sites. You want as few people to click the back button as possible!

7. Place your affiliate banners and “calls to action” in strategic places on your site i.e. at the end of your post, bnner in the sidebar etc. You don’t want to clutter your site with dozens of banner ads, product recommends or links to other offers. You want to just concentrate on promoting one product.

8. After you’re satisfied with your site’s content, onpage SEO and looks, you’re ready to go get traffic. Of course, you can start doing some promotion even with just a few posts. Don’t be one of those people who has to get everything perfect before they roll out with traffic generation. You need the mind set of “improve as you go”.. or “Ready, Fire, Aim”.

9. Your off-page SEO really comes down to which sites are linking back to your site, aka backlinks. It used to be that the more backlinks a site had, the higher it was ranked on google. But after the panda updates in 2011, things like quality backlinks (High PR and authority site) and diversity of backlinks with a lot of focus now on social sites like google +1, FB likes and Tweets etc. are what you need most of all. So remember, quality more than quantity.

10. Watch your stats in Google analytics and webmasters tools to see what your visitors are doing on your site and make changes from there. Keep improving your site to rise higher in google by adding new content, building more backlinks and you’ll be able to watch more traffic and sales come in. It’s really an awesome feeling to see your hard work pay off.

So there you have a very basic outline of how you could go about starting an affiliate marketing business in 2012. Like I said, you can choose any product in any niche just as long as it is made for desperate buyers i.e. their ‘hair is on fire’ and they need a bucket of water now!

The cool thing about learning how to make a website and get it ranked in google is that you can use it to not only promote affiliate offers, but eventually promote your own products or services some day – which is where the big money is.

Of course, list building is still a great way to capture your traffic, build a relationship with them and offer them great value deals. Even though it has taken a beating in some niches, it still works if you do it right i.e. be cool and don’t spam them!

If you can mix list building with blogs and SEO, you will have yourself a very nice little internet business you can rely on for years to come. Throw in your own product and some JV partners you’re on your way to retiring early!

I am looking forward to and plan to be even more dedicated to helping you succeed in the new year. I want you to know and experience the internet lifestyle and all the good that comes with it. You really can do it if you’re willing to work for it. I’ll be here trying to make that happen for you.

Happy holidays and all the best for 2012!

Stu Sensei

Proof Of Real Affiliate Earnings

Is making money online just a pipe dream?

I know sometimes that making money online seems next to impossible, like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone, but I want to show you that it IS POSSIBLE to make money online.

I’m not one to brag or show off about anything really, I consider myself quite the ‘Average Joe’ when it comes to most things, but hopefully the little bit of ‘proof’ below will give you hope and encouragement to keep going after those sales too.

Plus, I want to let you know that I actually do what I teach and teach what I do… unlike those wannabe marketers with their fake screenshots and hypey sales pitches.

Sidenote: This is does NOT include sales of my own products which is where I generate the majority of my online income. This is some of the money I’ve made from selling other people’s products… i.e. Affiliate Marketing.

Affiliate Commissions proof

WSO pro commissions

Niche Commissions
Commissions from one of my Non-IM niche sites
Niche Commissions
More Non-IM niche commissions

On top of these, I have my Clickbank account which only has a sprinkle of sales every month (sometimes less), and a few other affiliate programs in which I make a few sales here and there like Hostgator.

I get a couple of these every year from Aweber too

You’ll notice there isn’t a shot of my Paypal account here where the majority of my income goes from sales of my own products.

So again, I don’t show you this to brag, but to show you that earning money online selling OTHER people’s stuff is possible.

I admit, these aren’t breathtaking figures.. but they are real and achievable for anyone IF you put in the effort.

As they say, success is 10% inspiration an 90% perspiration.

Keep in mind that I built my internet marketing business from the ground up 5 years ago and have been working on it nearly every day.. sometimes for only 1 hour, sometimes 10 hrs.

Is it easy? No. Does it take time and dedication? Sure does. But I love the infinite potential of being an entrepreneur, the freedom of being my own boss… and of course seeing my work pay off 😉

Stuart StirlingTo your success,

Stu Sensei

3 Things That Make Up A Killer Affiliate Marketing Campaign

Affiliate marketing is and always will be a popular way to make money online. It’s where a lot of newbie’s start out when they first look into the idea of starting an internet business from home.

Although affiliate marketing comes across as being relatively easy (you don’t need to create your own product or deal with customer service, etc) there are still several pieces needed to complete the puzzle than may first meet the eye, if you really want to succeed.

The biggest problem affiliate marketers face is competition. You’ll find that in pretty much EVERY hot niches there is ample competition fighting for sales of the same or similar products in that niche… so in that regard, it can be quite hard to beat them and claim your share of the profit pie.

You can’t control what your competition does, but there are other things you CAN easily control to make your life as an affiliate easier and more profitable.

If you’re trying your hand at affiliate marketing but not seeing any success, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are you getting traffic?
  • Where are you sending your traffic to first? (i.e. squeeze page? review post on a blog?)
  • Is the merchant offer converting?

If you look at these, you can usually find the weak spot and improve on it. These I consider to be the most important keys to affiliate marketing success.

1. An Offer Than Converts. If I could give any one piece of advice to struggling affiliate marketers, this would be it – choose an offer that converts!

This also ties into choosing a “hair on fire” niche.. but usually, those niches are full of hot converting offers anyway… you just have to find the hottest of the hot!

Choosing an offer that doesn’t convert is perhaps the biggest killer to affiliate campaigns and is very frustrating. I know… I have experienced it many times. I send good traffic to offers I think will convert, but it just doesn’t turn into sales.

It’s hard to know if an offer will convert before you send traffic and test it, so it’s a good idea to send a little PPC traffic to test conversions before you go all out and build a complete website and campaign for it.

2. Your Own Website. All the successful affiliate marketers have their own website. If you don’t have a website and you’re sending traffic straight to your affiliate link, you’re missing out on a  lot of commissions!

Having a website of your own is essential for running a successful affiliate campaign. For one, it’s pretty much impossible to get good traffic (i.e. Google search traffic) straight to your affiliate link and second, you’ll get better results by sending them to your website first if you a) presell them with extra info or spice up the offer with a bonus, or b) collect their names and emails (i.e. build a list) so you can follow up and offer other offers to them.

Getting a website is not that hard and is very affordable. For less than $20 you can get a domain and hosting.. sometimes less! WordPress is free and makes the perfect platform for affiliate sites.. either review sites or list building sites or both!

If you need help getting your website up, my Newbie Start Up Guide and WP Sites for Newbies guides are the way to go.

 

3. Laser Targeted Traffic. There are many ways to generate traffic. Search engine traffic being the #1 choice for many marketers because it proves to be the finest quality source of “buyers” on the web. But Google is not the “be all and end all” traffic source. There are email ads, banner ads, text link ads, video traffic, social network site traffic, etc.

Each type of traffic is made up of a different group of people. Some will be more ready to buy than others so make sure you’re appealing to the right crowd with the right type of ad and call to action.

Your promotional methods you choose i.e. keywords, ad copy, call to action, play the biggest part for determining the quality of your traffic and how well your traffic is going to convert.

So take a look at your affiliate marketing campaigns you’re running now and do a quick evaluation. You might find the weak link in it as I have pointed out above. If you’ve not yet got started in affiliate marketing, remember these points for when you do.

To your success,
Stu Sensei Stirling

p.s. Have you got any other important keys for affiliate marketing success we could add to this list? Please leave them in the comments below.

Newbie Start Up Guide – How To Set Up Money Making Websites

Newbie Start Up Guide is one of my best selling “how-to” ebook guides that show beginner internet marketers how to get a real, profitable website up and running.

I got the idea for it when I noticed a lot of “newbies” were coming to me with emails asking the same questions…

“Where do I start with Internet marketing?” “How do I build a list?” “How do I make a blog?”

Newbie Start Up GuideMy answer was usually “Get a website! Build a squeeze page. Use WordPress to make a blog. Sell PLR and MRR ebooks from your site.”

But there were always more questions to follow like “how do I get a website?”

This led me to think a little more about this and being the savvy (sarcasm) marketer that I am, I saw this as an opportunity to fill a big need in the market place…. especially after a little looking around, I found there weren’t any complete, practical guides to help newbies set up money making website (which was really surprising!)

A few days later, I came out with Newbie Start Up Guide. A simple step-by-step guide for getting your first “money making” website up and running less of a challenge.

It explains things like how to get hosting and register a domain name… then point the domain name servers (DNS) to your hosting and start uploading web pages via FTP and even how to install a WP blog!

This covers pretty much all the techy bits that newbies get confused with. But it goes further onto how to make websites that actually make money too!

There are step-by-step instructions on how to set up a squeeze page, and a sales page with order button (to sell your own or MRR products) and then how to create download pages.

This guide DOESN’T reveal any miracle money making system. If you go to the sales page, there is no headline that promises you’ll make “$3434 in 7 days with 1 mouse click”.

It doesn’t cover all aspects of internet marketing like product creation or any secret sales technique… there are a few tips for traffic generation, so if you’re looking for a magic bullet to make you money online fast, this guide isn’t for you.

It’s just a straight forward guide about getting your website up and ready to take sales or collect subscribers.

It’s great if you’ve got your own idea for a web site, your own product you want to sell or got a heap of MRR or PLR products lying around that you want to sell.

Here is some feedback from some happy customers:

Your new newbie guide is so simple and straight forward that anyone who reads this and still DOESN’T know how to build a money making website must be (in my most honest opinion) either a blithering idiot or armless.

“What I really liked about it was the concise, clear instructions. Nothing is left to the imagination nor are you left to wonder about your next move.”

Stu, I love your no-nonsense approach and you’ve out-done yourself again here with Newbie Start Up Guide.

So if you’re in need of help to get your website up and running, give my Newbie Start Up Guide a try. It’s designed to help the most clueless beginner internet marketer get started without stumbling and wondering what to do next.

There are 16 easy to follow steps over the 50+ pages written in plain English and with images and diagrams to show you exactly how to do everything.

It’s a small investment to make but it will be the best one you’ll make for your online career.

Having your own website is the best thing you can do for your internet business….I can promise you that.

Stu Sensei Stirling

How To Get Article Title Ideas Quickly And Easily

Ever get stuck when it comes to thinking up fresh new article titles? If you write a lot of articles, it can happen because you may often feel you’ve written on just about every topic under the sun on that topic and you just don’t know what to write about next.

If this is the case, here’s a cool little tip you can use to get article ideas fast and easily. This short little video explains it…

Play Me!
Click Here To Watch (video opens in a big lightbox)

Basically, I tell you about Yahoo! answers and how to use it to see what people are looking for information on in a  certain topic.

Some marketers will use keyword research tools to find word phrases to base articles around, but often they can be very limiting and sometimes miss what people are really searching for.

I like to use a mixture of both keyword research tools like Google Adwords suggestion tool AND techniques like this one to find what people really want to know.

I hope you can use this tip to help your online business and article marketing campaigns. I know it saves me a lot of time and brain power 😉

If you think others will find it helpful, please pass it along to your friends and colleagues. They will love you for it!

To your success,

Stu Sensei

How I Made My First $200 With A Niche Blog

I finally managed to do it! I made my first $200 in affiliate commissions in a “non-internet marketing” related niche.

$200 in commissions

 

I wish I could tell you that I made these commissions by throwing up a site and voila – 30 minutes later I got these sales…but

(that is what most gurus would have you believe on their sales pages for their latest course or software)

The truth is that it took a lot of hard work and many moments of frustration.

The short of it is..

This is income from 1 site over 7 months! Yes, I started this website in April 2011 and 7 months later, it has made me $206.90 in commissions.

While $200 in 7 months is nothing to write home about, this was a challenge to myself to see if I could make money outside the “internet marketing” niche. And I’m happy to say that I achieved it.

When I Started The Site…FAIL!

To be honest, when I started the site, I had no idea what I was doing for the first 3 months – but I managed to make 2 sales (about $20) those first 3 months.

It was only after learning how to make proper affiliate niche sites from Andrew Hansen and his Unstoppable Affiliate course in August 2011, did I realize I had made my site wrong!

It turned out that my keywords were wrong. My content was written wrong, my site design was wrong.. pretty much everything was wrong.. even my niche choice wasn’t the best which you’ll see why later.

I thought about starting over with a brand new site but I decide to completely re-do the site I had started. I re-wrote the content, found a new theme, set up the pages right – and found my keywords.

Getting Traffic But No Sales!?

A few hundred backlinks later, I started to get high rankings and traffic. Before I was getting traffic, I thought… “ok, as long as I get traffic, I should make the sales.”

Wrong again. I was getting traffic and click-throughs to the merchant page, but sales are far and few between!

As you can see by my EPC, I’m making about the same as I would with very cheap Adsense clicks – from $0.02 to $0.09 per click.

2 cent EPC

It’s just my rough estimation, but I calculate the merchant’s conversion rate is around 0.05%

That means, for every 200 visitors I send, I make 1 sale.

This is up there with the worst conversion rates I’ve experienced in all my 5 years of internet marketing!

I put this down to me choosing a very difficult product/niche  (hint: a type of camera) and a merchant who’s website and order pages are slow to load and not really optimized for sales.

Do I call this site a failure? Well, I can’t see it making me a millionaire, but it is making sales as it is and I have learned a LOT along the way.

Things I Have Learned

If I wrote everything that I’ve learned here, it would take me days to write. But here are some of the bigger ones that maybe you can learn from too.

Niche choice is everything.

This finally stuck me like a sledgehammer to the face. The difference between say a “recreational product” and a “product that solves a problem” is like night and day.

Andrew Hansen’s UA course touched on this, but the importance of choosing a “hair on fire” niche was reenforced when I went through Jimmy and Pete’s IM Game changer course (another awesome course for the money).

SEO

SEO is such a huge topic with so many different theories about what works and what doesn’t, what will harm you and what will go you good. It’s actually hard to know who to believe.

But I have learned that if you get your keyword research done right – i.e. choose buyer or “hair on fire” keywords with little competition and your job is going to be a whole lot easier to get rankings.

I also learned that I started getting into SEO at perhaps the most difficult time in the history of the internet – right after the Google Panda and several other consequent updates that are making it harder for mini affiliate niche sites to rank.

It’s not ALL about Backlinks

I sometimes feel that I (and a lot of SE/affiliate) am just striving to get backlinks, backlinks, backlinks. But in reality, what I (we) really need is traffic.

Yes, backlinks are essential to getting your site ranked in Google.. that I am sure of. But that is just a means to an end. Backlinks don’t make you money, traffic does.

I noticed this when I was submitting some videos to video sharing sites primarily for the purpose of getting backlinks. It turns out those video sites were actually sending me traffic because viewers clicked on the links in my video description.

I also noticed this from a blog comment I left on a high traffic blog. Significant traffic came from that one blog comment alone!

So you need backlinks – but don’t overlook other ways to get traffic too. If you can get a backlink great.. if you can get traffic from that backlink too, that’s even better.

Where To From Here?

As of now, I have a pretty good base knowledge of how to build niche mini sites and get them ranked.

So I am now working out my own systems for building each part of the sites and getting outsource staff to help me.

I just took on a VA to help with backlinking this week actually. I hope to eventually get other tasks outsourced (e.g. content writing, site set up, keyword reasearch) too so I can get more done and lower the word load. It’s too much hard work doing it all yourself!

I have a couple of “hair on fire” niches that I plan to build sites for next. That should be exciting to compare those to this current site.

I think I’ll leave my first niche site where it is and hopefully in another 7 months it will have made another $200… but the good thing it is out there working now so from here on out, any income it makes is passive income 🙂

Stuart StirlingThanks for reading!

Stu Sensei

3 Tips For Selling eBooks & Info-Products Online

The majority of my online income comes from selling my own and other people’s information products such as “how-to” ebooks and video courses.

If you’re selling “how-to” info-products or want to get started in this business, this post will help you succeed faster. These are things that I’ve learned over the last 5 years of selling info-products online.

1) Choose a “Desperate” Niche

What makes a desperate niche? Simply put, it’s a niche group of people who are desperate to find a solution to their problem urgently.

Most buyers choose to buy something through their EMOTIONS. There are people who buy on impulse and a few who buy something based on a logical decision.

But the best buyers you can be sure are going to NEED your product are ones who have a problem with emotional feelings involved that needs an urgent fix.

That’s why niches in health, money and relationships are so huge and lucrative.

An info-product based on a hobby can be good too.

Take the niche of “Golf” for example. People who play golf want to improve so they can impress their peers and clients so they can make business deals with them. There is somewhat an emotional background to wanting to improve at golf.

This is a bit of a bonus section, but a lot of info-preneurs fail when going after a “hobby niche” because they make a product based on what they themselves are INTERESTED in rather than what the market wants and is looking for.

You’ve got to know if there is a market who is hungry for your product otherwise it won’t be profitable for you.. it will be nothing more than a learning experience.

If you want to make money with your eBook or other Information Product, then you must choose a niche that is loaded with buyers who are EMOTIONAL about their need for your product. This makes it so much easier for your job as a marketer.

2) Laser-In On Your Niche

Another reason why some eBooks and Information products fail is because the creator was trying to hit everyone. Very rarely do “one size fits all” solutions work.

When a customer goes out searching for an answer, they are looking for a specific answer and they will buy something that checks all their boxes.

Let’s say a woman wants to lose 20 pounds and get in shape for her wedding in 3 months. She wouldn’t be really interested in a “general dieting” ebook.

She wants a book called “The Bride’s Guide To Losing Weight: How To Lose 20 Pounds In 90 Days Or Less.”

Sure the search volume on Google for “dieting ebook” might be massive compared to “how to lose weight before a wedding” but if your product is targeted specifically to that keyword string, the prospect is going to be several times more prone to buying.

And like Seth Godin said- “Don’t try to please everyone. There are countless people who don’t want one, haven’t heard of one or actively hate it. So what?”

3) Give People A Taste Of Your Product For Free

In recent years, the internet has become polluted with flimsy info products with little to no value (simply because it’s so easy to sell or distribute ebooks online) that customers are becoming more aware of scams and thinking twice before they hand over their money.

That, and the increase of competition means that your customers have more options.

How can you cut through that noise and make that person buy from you an no-one else?

The best way is to give them something of value first. Give them a sample of how good your product is.

It could be a few chapters of your ebook or a special additional report or video that informs but also pre-sells your main product.

But don’t make the mistake of putting together any old junk just because it’s a “freebie” – give them a taste of your BEST STUFF.

When your prospective customer comes to your website and gets something that’s very, VERY valuable from you for free, it shows them y

1) You really know what you’re talking about.

2) You are a cool guy (or girl) for giving it away free

This works great for you because you build an instant relationship with your prospect and show them you’re an expert which makes them much more likely to buy your product(s) in the future.

So give your prospects a taste of your BEST stuff for free – just make sure you get their email address so you can continue to follow up with them and help them place their order.

When they you get them on your list, you can promote not only your product to them, but also any other related products as an affiliate. This is the power of list building.

To your success,

Stu Sensei