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It’s a sad fact, but a fact nevertheless, that the majority of people involved in online marketing lose money. For every one grossing 6 figures and above, there are 99 doing 5 figures and below. Every day, thousands more join the hunt for digital millions and the freedom from not having to work for a living.

It’s also true that it’s a minefield out there, especially for newcomers and those who haven’t a well thought out plan. There are plenty of unscrupulous vendors and opportunistic vultures happy to relieve the innocent and naive of their money.

And there are so many offers to wade through and sales funnels to navigate that it’s almost impossible to emerge unscathed, wallet intact, and only worthwhile products purchased.

It still amazes me that so many people apparently believe that doing business online is fundamentally different to brick & mortar, dirt-world commerce. That the rules and laws of money somehow don’t apply to digital estates.

Warren Buffet’s famous Rule #1 is “Never Lose Money” and we would do well to remember it.

The essence of commerce is trade – exchanging something of lesser value for something of higher value. In a healthy economy, there is efficient matching of supply and demand.

From a trader’s perspective, I will exchange my goods and/or services (something of lower value to me) for money (something of higher value to me).

From a customer’s point of view, the product or service must have a higher value to him or her than the money s/he will pay.

Affiliate marketing is seen as the ultimate beginner’s business when in fact it’s one of the more difficult areas to get established and make a profit.

You’re up against well established vendors with their own products and lists and the truth is that if you’re a newcomer, by the time you get approved to promote, you’ve most likely missed the boat.

I was listening to a leading marketer describe how he and his team plan their product launches and affiliate promos months out, just like you have to do in an ordinary business – because it is an ordinary business.

You need your own product or service – there is no way around this. Without that, you’re not going to make a living, never mind make a fortune. And don’t think PLR (Private Label Rights) content is going to do it for you, it won’t.

So your number one task is to start on that – figure out what it is, how to put it together and get it launched. There are several excellent programs out there that will help you.

The Gold Standard is Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula.

If you’re in the info-products space, John Thornhill’s Partnership To Success program is a 60 day intensive for creating and launching your first product.

I’m a member of both and recommend both.

In the meantime, here are 11 tips to help you actually make money (and if you’re losing money, to stop).

1. Pick an evergreen product to promote.

Find a good solid offer that fits well with who you are and where you’re going. It should be something you can be proud to have your name attached to.

2. If you can afford it, buy it.

Use it, learn it, put it to the test and write a warts and all review.

3. If you can’t afford it, research it thoroughly.

Think about how many people will be able and willing to pay to have it. There’s no point in spending money you don’t have promoting a product no-one will buy.

4. Get your own domain name and hosting.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, or expensive. It adds credibility. Set up a simple WordPress blog site and publish your product review page there.

5. If you can have an email address @yourdomain, so much the better.

6. Sign up for an autoresponder service

Aweber, MailChimp or Get Response. This will allow you to start building a list.

7. Create a page on your site where your visitors will “land” when they click on your ads.

This should explain what they need to do (i.e. opt-in to your list) to get what you promised in your ads.

8. Create an opt-in form in your autoresponder account to collect subscriber info.

9. An opt-in rate above 40% is OK

Below that, look at the source and quality of your traffic, the “pull” of your lead magnet and the feel of your page.

10. Connect your landing page to your opt-in form.

11. Connect your opt-in form to your autoresponder service.

12. After opt-in, bring your subscribers to a thank you page.

13. On the thank you page, deliver on your promise.

Have a link to download whatever you promised.

14. Set their expectations by explaining what they can expect from you.

15. Include a link to your review page.

Encourage them to check it out.

16. A minority of subscribers will follow through to view your review page.

However, of those who then click through to the sales page, a relatively high proportion will buy if you’ve already warmed them up.

17. Your review page then connects to the vendor’s sales page.

Make sure the link works.

18. Remember, you can’t have 2 primary purposes.

You have to decide which is more important:

 – to make sales?

 – Or to grow your list?

I recommend you focus on growing your list because this can become a longer-term asset whereas snagging an affiliate sale is a once-off event.

19. Every click costs you visitors.

You will lose between 20% and 80% of your visitors at each step, depending on what they have to do to progress.

20. Converting subscribers into buyers is the task of your email marketing campaign.

As they are already on your list, you bring them directly to your review page.

21. Watch your metrics.

Continuously track your results to assess what’s working and what’s not. The key metrics to keep an eye on are:

– emails opened

– links clicked

– clicks from your review page

– number and value of sales

22. Copy makes or costs you money.

Writing emails, reviews and sales pages copy is another task that has to be done and if you can’t afford to have someone edit the promotional materials available from the product vendor, you’ll have to do this yourself. Poor copy will cost you lost sales.

23. Test, test, and test again.

The fundamental principle of testing is to test one thing at a time – no matter how many there are to be tested.

This can be a long slow process and painstaking as well. Most marketers don’t have the patience and therefore don’t do it or if they do, don’t do it properly.

24. The opportunities for distraction and complexity are endless.

– social media

– advertising

– pixels

– retargeting

– chatbots

– follow up sequences

– click tracking

– post engagement.

25. Never lose sight of your goal.

There are very real dangers of getting lost in the detail and then ending up with $1,000 spent and nothing to show for it.

26. There is no such thing as Free.

We are obsessed with the promise of free and easy – free traffic, easy money. I’m not saying free traffic is bad – it’s not, it’s great. However, most cannot afford to wait while organic traffic builds. That means you need to invest in buying traffic.

27. Easy is as easy does.

There definitely are aspects of the business that are easy to do and easy to follow, but…

…most demand some degree of planning, preparation and management.

28. Success is where opportunity meets preparation so be prepared.

You’ll need a unique review page for each product you promote. Start with one – run your campaign for 3-5 days and assess the results.

In the meantime, do your research and due diligence on your next product. Get your page ready. Bear in mind that it may take several days to be approved to promote so you’ll always need to have a back up plan.

29. Advertising is the single biggest unknown in your campaign.

It’s ironic that the one thing marketers resent spending on is advertising. This, I believe, comes from a mistaken belief that advertising is a cost. It’s not. It’s an investment. Invest well and wisely and you can make a fortune. Invest foolishly and nothing can save you.

30. Beware Averages.

When evaluating products to promote, check the average earnings per click (EPC) being reported. This may help you estimate how much you can afford to pay for traffic. BUT – average EPC is total sales divided by total clicks, from both warm and cold traffic.

If you have a large and responsive list and you know the offer is very suited to your niche, you can expect to equal or better the average.

If you are new and your list is new (and therefore your subscribers don’t know you very well yet) you can expect your results to be average at best.

If your traffic is cold, i.e. coming from ads (e.g. from Instagram, Facebook, etc) or from email Solo Ads, expect lower success rates and lower EPC.

Remember, the primary purpose of buying or attracting cold traffic is to convert it into warm traffic, i.e. subscribers.

31. Place your marketing and subscriber recruitment front and center of your efforts.


I own where I source and supply Solo Ads, mainly for the digital marketing space, but I do other niches as well.

Right now, I’m running a promotion where I have 100,000 clicks for sale in a special JV offer with discounts from 10% – 50% depending on volume.

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