Selling Other People’s Products Vs. Selling Your Own

What is better?

Create and sell your own product, or sell someone else’s and get a commission?

If you’re totally new to online marketing, I would recommend starting with selling another person’s product. We call this business model ‘Affiliate marketing’.

Your job then is to just promote a product, send traffic to your link and get paid a commission for any sales you refer.

This way you can skip the job of creating the product, website, graphics, customer support etc, and just focus on selling.

But is it affiliate marketing really the better business model?

Is it easier, more profitable, more enjoyable to be a product creator/owner or an affiliate?

First, let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing .…

The Pros:

Low Investment – Both in time and money as it doesn’t take long to find affiliate offers to promote and it also doesn’t cost anything to become an affiliate marketer other than your computer and internet connection costs.

Plenty Of Choice – There are many products that you can promote. In fact, you could probably add ‘too many products to promote’ to the list of cons for an affiliate but we will stick with it being in our favour because we can use top affiliate programs like Zaxaa, JVZoo and Clickbank to find top selling products to promote and if we know of any top marketers who have their own products we might find some gems to promote right under our nose. Wink! Wink!

No Support Or Customer Service – As an affiliate you don’t have to worry about buyers contacting you with their support issues as the product owner will deal with them directly.

The Cons:

You Are Building Someone Else’s Buyers List – A golden rule of affiliate marketing, whilst not set in stone is to build your own list before you promote affiliate offers to them. If you just send cold traffic to an affiliate offer you are likely never to hear from them again and even if they didn’t buy anything, the product owner will have done his best to add them to his list and the ones that did buy will be on his buyers list for future promotions. If you can add them to your list first, then all the better for you.

Bad Product Owner = Bad Business For You – If you find top product owners to promote their products this shouldn’t be too much of a problem as most of them value their reputation, but there are always those that don’t provide great support and this can mean you might lose credibility with your customers. Say you build a list of subscribers and you recommend something to them that proves to be a pile of junk do you think they will be eager to follow more recommendations from you? Of course not! So that is why we need to do our due diligence up front.

No Control Over The Product – As you don’t own the product you have no control over it at all. The owner sets the price and has total control of what’s on the sales page including bonuses. You can add your own bonuses to sweeten the deal and this process is easier on some affiliate platforms than others.

Now, The Pros And Cons Of Being A Product Owner/Seller….

The Pros:

You Are In Control – You have total control over the content of the product, the copy on the sales page and the price you sell it at. You also get to choose which marketplace to sell from or even more than one, the choice is yours.

You Keep All The Money – As the product owner all revenue made from sales goes to you. Well almost all! I say “almost” because you will have to pay a fee to the marketplace you sell from and even if you just add a Paypal buy button to your sales page you still pay a fee to PayPal. There’s always someone who wants a share.  😊

Another thing to consider is that by putting your product up for sale at places like Zaxaa, JVZoo and Clickbank you hopefully will get affiliates promoting your products for you and they will be paid a commission which as owner you set the amount.

Affiliates Can Be Good For You – If you attract lots of affiliates who send lot’s and lot’s of traffic to your sales page you can build a list of buyers but also by using a free offer via an exit pop you can build a list of prospects and then you have an audience for any future products you release.

If your products are top quality your affiliates will be only too happy to promote any future offerings you have.

It Pays To Produce – If you create a great product and you build a list of buyers you are on your way to financial freedom BUT!…

I only said that you are ‘on your way’ and not that you have cracked the code. You still have plenty of work to do but the good news is you now know what needs doing so you can rinse and repeat and as your customer base and your list of affiliates grows so does your wealth. Now, I can’t say that you will go on to be financially free because I don’t know how much work you are prepared to put in, but I will say that if you put the effort in you will reap the rewards.

The Cons:

Requires Investment – Creating your own product to sell takes investment in both time and money and can seem like a daunting task if you don’t really have any experience in Internet Marketing. Firstly, the time required initially will depend on your experience as you research your chosen subject. Secondly, you can’t create a product and put up a sales page for free because you need a professional looking sales page which requires professional looking graphics. Sure, you can throw up a basic page with a sales button, but you are looking long term here so start off as you mean to go on. As part of your research check out other products like yours and see which sales pages catch your eye.

They Need Your Support – You simply cannot afford to provide substandard customer service, or your business will fall flat on it’s face and once you lose them you are very unlikely to get them back. Make sure you keep up to date with support issues because if your customers feel they are being ignored they will go elsewhere. If you can afford it, you might want to look at outsourcing your support as it can be very time-consuming answering tickets daily. Outsourcing might not be an option at first but once you start earning good amounts having a good support team is worth its weight in gold.

I am fortunate in having a top guy from the UK to look after my support for me. Not only is he on the ball answering tickets quicker than a speeding bullet but he is probably the most handsome support guy on the web today! 😊😊😊😊

You Have To Know What You Are Talking About – Whilst you don’t have to be the best in the world at what you do, you do have to have some knowledge of what you are trying to sell. If you have zero expertise in any area of Internet Marketing then, in my opinion, you should choose an area you are interested in like traffic generation, list building, social media or whatever you like and become an expert.

You don’t need a university degree in your given subject, but you simply must be able to walk the walk not just talk the talk. For example, if you create a traffic generation guide and you only have 100 visitors a week to your own site no one will take you seriously.

It Could End In Tears – Having a product for sale, whilst being a great way to earn money, it isn’t guaranteed. Just by putting something on any affiliate platform doesn’t mean it will sell and even when you get multiple affiliate requests it doesn’t mean they will sell many copies at all. For example, I had a request for affiliate approval on JVZoo from a guy who had been an affiliate for 4 years. Guess how many sales he made. Yep, zero! Then you get the ones who have 25% refund rates on things they promote. Stay well clear of those guys!

I am not trying to frighten you off recruiting affiliates, but you do need to check out each affiliate platforms method of paying affiliates.

So, by having your own product for sale doesn’t mean you can sit back and watch the money roll in, you still have work to do and by recruiting affiliates you have an army of people spreading the word about you and your product and are not just on your own.

In Conclusion:

So, what’s it to be? What’s best, owning your own product or being an affiliate?

I hope I am not going to disappoint you with my take on this, but I say DO BOTH!

If you have your own product and are steadily building a list of buyers, you can promote affiliate offers to them whenever you like. Now, I am not going into detail about how to do email marketing here but suffice to say, treat your customers well and they will treat you well. This means don’t force promo after promo on them, give them some great free content along the way and now and again recommend something to them.

If you decide to start off as an affiliate before creating your own product, that’s fine, just make sure that wherever possible you are putting them on your list before promoting to them. One way to do this is to download one of my free turnkey cash kits and set it up to start building your list.

Once you’ve built your list, you then you will have that audience to send emails to when you do launch your own product.

To your success!
Stuart Stirling

 

13 Essential Resources For Internet Marketers

I’ve put together this list of some of my most favourite resources that I use religiously in my online business.
Using tools in your business helps you automate and make light work of otherwise lengthy tasks.
Although most of these are free, the paid ones are every cent worth the cost!
1. Roboform – remembers passwords and profiles
2. Jing – screen capture software (free)
3. Audacity – audio recording/editing software (free)
4. CCleaner – clean your PC to make it faster (free)
5. Filezilla – FTP client software (for uploading files from PC to server, free)
6. Pixabay – Free images to use on your sites (check the licence of each image before use)
7. Skype – free skype to skype calls
8. Skype call recorder (free and paid)
9. Convertri – Page builder (not free)
10. Aweber – Email autoresponder (not free)
11. Namecheap – Domains and hosting (not free)
12. Soluto – increases your PC start up speed (free)
 
13. Click magick – click and conversion tracking software (cloud-based)
 
These are just the most essential tools that I use on a daily basis to run my business.
There are a few others, including Google drive, Google analytics, Amazon S3 etc but I don’t consider these essential.
If you have any other recommendations of tools that you use in your digital business, please add them below in the comments!
Stuart Stirling
– Internet lifestyle business expert

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