So you wanna quit your job, start a website and start rolling in the dough?
Who needs a boss, right? Working for someone else is a drag.
Just get a website up and running, buy a CAT loader and start scooping up the cash.
Yeah, let me know how that’s going for you…
Making money online, despite what the “pros” tell you, is difficult. In fact, some “pros” make money by convincing poor schmucks that they hold the golden keys to online marketing success. They make their money by conning people into falling for easy money schemes.
Here are some tips for those who wish to enter the murky waters of online money making, especially if you’re planning on making use of affiliate marketing.
Don’t write for Google
A whole industry exploded into being a few years back. It’s called search engine optimisation (SEO).
I’ve heard people in need of a website speak of SEO as if it’s the only important aspect of online marketing. They’ve heard the term; they might have read a post or two about it and some online marketer told them SEO is critical to online success.
The funny thing is, so many SEOs speak of what they think Google wants, when Google clearly states what will make you successful online.
It’s not a secret.
Forget about SEO.
If you create compelling content and stick to Google’s website guidelines, you’re doing well.
Create a list
You need loyal followers. Start a newsletter and get people to sign up. It’s easier to sell to existing customers than it is to sell to new customers.
Mailchimp, for instance, allows you to create a newsletter with up to 2,000 subscribers, for free. Mailchimp also allows you to create an automatic newsletter linked to your RSS feed. You set it and forget it. All you need to do is keep adding blog posts to your website.
Do one thing well
I used to own more than a 100 domain names. My thoughts were along the lines of: “The more websites I can get up and running, the better I’ll do.”
This is nonsense.
Choose one domain name (OK, maybe no more than three), choose one niche and spend your time building that one presence.
This helps you focus. This tells people you’re focused. This is the better way.
Find the right thing to market
No matter how marvellous your marketing skills, if you’re trying to sell the wrong thing, you’re facing an uphill battle.
Make life a lot easier for yourself by choosing products that people want.
Granted, the world wide web has made even small niches seem large. But the smaller your niche, the more difficult it is to make consistent sales.
If you didn’t use it, don’t review it
You’ll come across review posts on the net where a blogger sings the praises of a product. But after careful scrutiny you’ll notice that this blogger doesn’t have a clue as to what the product is really like.
The blogger never used the product, therefore the blogger cannot give a trusted review of the product.
Don’t do this. If you get caught, your reputation takes a dent.
If people can’t trust your review, they won’t visit your website.
There are cases where products cannot be used and you might be able to give a valuable opinion, but don’t speak of a product as if you’ve used it, if that’s not the case.
Buy the product
Don’t accept gifts.
Buy the product you write about.
It puts you in a neutral position. If you accept gifts, you belong to the one who gave the gift.
You want to remain as unbiased as possible. Accepting gifts blurs the lines.
Just a caution: gifts come in various forms. It might be an outright gift, or it might be some sort of “loyalty” programme, to make you feel special.
Don’t do it. Stay in charge.
Be careful of deals with suppliers
Be careful of deals with online shops who offer an affiliate programme.
Let them do their thing, you do yours. Don’t ask them to punt your content on their social channels; don’t offer to punt their content.
Do your own thing. Build your own business.
If you do happen to enter into an agreement, make sure you get legal aid. I’m not saying this happens to all affiliates, but read Brian Dunning’s downright frightening story of his ordeal with a large online shop. The FBI got involved. Scary.
Don’t violate affiliate marketing rules
Familiarise yourself with an affiliate provider’s rules. Not doing so could lead to you making a mistake and getting banned from their system.
They don’t care if it was done in ignorance. All they care about is that you stick to their guidelines.
If you’re not happy with an affiliate provider’s terms, don’t join their programme.
Make sure you’re able to keep up
Some affiliate websites focus on latest tech. If you enter that sort of quick-moving market, you have to keep abreast of things relating to that industry. You can’t fall behind. Not only are some niches super tough to compete in, many of the top players utilise teams of content creators whose sole aim it is to get as much quality content published in the shortest time possible.
Outperform the top Google dog
If you want to write an article about a product and you’re wondering what type of competition you’re up against, do a Google search for the product you’re writing about and check the top spot.
Don’t pay attention to the top paid spot. Pay attention to the top natural result.
Now all you have to do is out-perform that article.
Easy. Unless, of course, you come up against websites like The Wirecutter, in which case it might be better to choose a different product to write about.
Don’t stress too much about competition
Sounds contradictory to the above point, but it’s not.
Here’s the beauty of online marketing.
Michael Martinez said in one of his posts (I forget which one) that no one writes like you. Even if a million posts have been written about a subject, chances are that there are people who’ll prefer your take on it.
In other words, the very least you’ve got going for you is a unique voice.
Choose only a handful of mentors
The web is rife with talent. You’ll find help in all sorts of places. You might end up subscribing to tens or hundreds of blogs in order to learn as much as possible about your game.
You might find inspiration elsewhere, but the point is to not go overboard.
Don’t buy traffic
Don’t buy links on other websites; don’t sell links to other websites; don’t buy Twitter followers; don’t buy Facebook Likes.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t use social platforms and Google AdWords for marketing. Do that, but don’t fall for quick traffic schemes.
It just doesn’t work. Having 50,000 Likes on Facebook means nothing if you’re not making sales. The same goes for Twitter. The same goes for traffic from anywhere.
It also does nothing for rankings. In fact, if Google finds out you’re buying links, you might get into trouble.
Besides, Google ranks on content only these days. I’ve seen some of my articles on another site rocket to the top from them just having been written well. No inbound links. Google just did its thing.
Don’t give up
This is something I heard Gary V say. When Mr V started out on his online journey, he began by reviewing wine on YouTube.
No one listened.
He kept going.
No one listened.
He just kept going.
Eventually, after having created quality show after quality show, people started noticing him.
He just kept pushing hard.
Yes, he created quality content. But quality content means nothing if not accompanied by grit.
You’ve probably heard that you need to be on social media.
I’d argue that you shouldn’t be on social media if you don’t want to be or don’t need to be.
I own a few Twitter accounts, and the only reason I have them is for the purpose of owning the Twitter names.
I hardly use them. I don’t find value in social media.
This is not the case for everyone. Many people enjoy great success on social.
But don’t bet on social media. It’s handy, but it’s a small piece of the puzzle, especially if you’re only starting out.
Check your traffic logs, just by the way. Check whether social drives traffic or not. Then check if it’s quality traffic.
Build your own brand
This is more of a personal preference, but I’m of the opinion that it’s better to own your own website.
For instance, mywebsite.com is better than mywebsite.wordpress.com.
When you use an online system for your content, you’re driving traffic to that system. That stuff you’re writing belongs to you. Place it on your own website.
Don’t steal other people’s content
You might be tempted to use other people’s content on your site.
Don’t do this. This is plagiarism, a heavy offense that could (and should) lead to prosecution.
If you use other people’s content, link out to them. Give credit.
Keep your secrets to yourself
If you find something that works, don’t blab it out to the world. Keep it to yourself and ride it for as long as possible.
If you blab your findings to someone in your game, you really think that person’s not going to pass on the knowledge?
Be overly honest
Tell people up front who you are and what your website is all about. If you use affiliate links, tell people. If you’re writing about a gift you’ve received, tell people.
Build trust by speaking the truth. Always.
Making money online is HARD. It’s not for the faint of heart. In most cases it doesn’t happen overnight, and if you don’t aim for quality and you don’t have grit, don’t attempt it.