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

Online Income Blueprints Vol. 1 – Got Your Copy?

Here’s what James B. Allen’s new book “Online Income Blueprints” looks like…

James was kind enough to send me an autographed copy of his first published physical ebook which is available for sale on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.

Online Income Blueprints Vol.1 contains interviews with 14 marketers who reveal their secrets for internet success.

I am privileged to have been asked to contribute to his book and my success story is featured second out of the 14.

I would love to be take this down the local Starbucks and devour the other stories over a grande Columbian blend but seeing as the closest Starbucks is 30 minutes away, I’ll settle for a home-brewed House blend in my cosy little home office.

After skimming the first few chapters, I’ve noticed that there is a great diversity of online business models that are explored. And the best thing is that these are real stories from real people who are living the internet dream.

If you want to live the internet dream too, this is a great little book to give you some ideas to get started with your own online business.

Check it out on Amazon (affiliate link)

To your success,
Stu “Sensei” Stirling

p.s. Congrats to James for releasing this on the market! I bet it feels awesome to hold a real book that you published in your hands.

p.p.s. I wonder if the ‘Starbucks color scheme’ on the book is a coincidence… or just maybe one too many ‘work sessions’ at your local store ingrained the colors into your mind?