Celebrate Success – Not Just Money (Video)

I got a commission check yesterday from Aweber, my #1 recommended autoresponder service for beginners to Internet and email marketing.

It’s not a huge amount, but it’s always good to get paid for recommending a product to others. The dollar amount is something to be happy about, but it also means that I was instrumental in helping others get started with their list building! That is also something to be proud of!

So when you get a commission or launch and make a gob of money – yes, feel good, tell others, but also tell others that you got that money (or other result) as a result of helping others.

Because sales is always a 2-way trade. Too many sellers/marketers seem to forget the buyer in the picture, and only focus on the money they get.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to show off the money I make or the accomplishments I make, but I’m happy to share the results I can get for others, because that too is what I call success.

Be good, be you!

Stuart Stirling

p.s. Subscribe to my Youtube channel for more video tips.

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.

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

Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great business model to start with if you’re just getting into Internet marketing.

In a nutshell, “affiliate marketing” is the term used for selling other people’s products and getting paid a commission when you refer a sale.

You probably already know how affiliate marketing works but want to know how to start being successful as an affiliate marketer.

In my first couple of years online, my primary income source was from selling other people’s product – affiliate marketing. Until I had my own products for sale, affiliate commissions made up 90% of my online income.

The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to spend time on product creation, website building and maintenance, customer support etc.

Your main job as an affiliate marketer is to Advertise!

Advertising online is known by a few other words like as “getting traffic”, “marketing” and “promotion” but the meaning is the same – get people to click on your affiliate link and see your offer!

The 2 big questions all beginners to affiliate marketing ask are “how do you get traffic?” and “how do you get people to click on your affiliate link?”

There are several ebooks and courses written on the topic of affiliate marketing because it is a very broad topic. There are literally hundreds of different ways to get traffic.

But a couple of tips I want to give you are these:

  1. You need to know what is selling
  2. You need to know where the buyers are

Before you sign up for any affiliate program, or build any kind of site or write an article, you need to carefully think if the product you’re looking at is going to sell.

I’ve made the mistake of choosing products and markets where buyers are few and far between. If there is one piece of advice you can walk away with it’s this: target buyers’ markets. When you attract buyers and give them the products they want, you’re bound to hit the jackpot every time!

Once you have made a decision on the market or product to promote, your next step is to start advertising or getting traffic to your affiliate link.

Blogging, video marketing, buying ads (classifieds etc), social “group” marketing and article marketing are some popular ways to promote your affiliate links.

If you go for “search marketing” such as blogging, article or video marketing, it really comes down to the keywords you choose. Remember to target buyers!

For “group marketing” using sites such as forums, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc., the best way to go is to find those niche groups where your target people are hanging out it and contribute a lot of good content to the group so you stand out as an expert and get people to like you.

People will naturally want to “learn” more from you. They go to your site/page, click on your affiliate links and voila – sales are in the bag.

Here’s a free affiliate marketing report (no opt-in required) that explains some of the affiliate marketing methods I mentioned above.

You can also re-brand that report with your affiliate links (instructions included) and give it away to build a list or just to contribute to the community.

All the best with your affiliate marketing!

Stu “Sensei” Stirling

p.s. What did you think of this article on how to get started with affiliate marketing? Learn anything new? Please leave your comment below and share it with your friends and followers!

Niche Choice Is EVERYTHING!

I was chatting with friend and fellow internet marketer about niche marketing and he was explaining to me that the NICHE market you choose is to enter controls EVERYTHING!

I totally agree and wanted you to know this stuff as well so I asked Andrew to write a guest blog post for me.

His article is below…

“If you’re trying to make money online as an affiliate, there are a couple of highly important things that do more than any other factor to determine your level of success.

I can classify them into “mistakes”, meaning that it’s most likely that one of these mistakes is the reason you might not have made as much money as you would have liked in affiliate marketing.

The first mistake is how you choose your niche, the market you choose to enter, and the product you choose to promote as an affiliate.

Put simply, there are markets where you can generate high conversions, easy sales, and fast traffic, and there are markets (the majority of them) where you’ll spend months trying to scrape together a mere 50 or 100 visitors for ZERO result.

Knowing the difference is key. Fortunately, it’s no big secret.

The first kind of markets are those where you have a group of people wanting to buy something… you know what that something is… and you can provide it to them. That’s it.

Read that again to make sure you intimately understand what that means.

The second kind of market (the bad one) is where you know they have an interest but you don’t know what they want to BUY, but you can make a guess, and TRY providing that to them. It should be clear why this results in you making less money.

What most people don’t realize is that the niche you choose controls EVERYTHING.

If you can’t get traffic, it’s not because you’re not good at getting traffic… it’s because the market you entered is too competitive and traffic is too hard to come by!

If you’ve got traffic but aren’t making sales, it’s not because you’re not good at selling… it’s because you’re market doesn’t want to buy what you’re selling!

You’re in the wrong niche and you’re promoting the wrong product! You see how it’s all connected?”

Stuart Stirling

p.s. I hope this article helped you ‘get’ the important concept that the niche is really is EVERYTHING. I’d love to hear your  thoughts so please comment below!