Back in August I published a blog post about my PPC case study where I made $1,000 profit in my first week. Paying for traffic wasn’t really something I had done too much of so I was pretty excited to add a new angle to my marketing efforts and fortunately, it really paid off.
Without a doubt, the reason I had such fast success was because I devoured a ton of information before I got started. Most notably, the threads on the Stack That Money forum. A lot of people recommended it to me and when some of them are personal friends who do six-figures per month, I decided to check it out.
Originally, I had planned to just try it for a month and see what happens. That didn’t really go to plan–I’ve been a paying member ever since. After chatting regularly with the owners on various business topics and helping each other out, they asked if I would like to be a moderator on the forum.
To be totally honest with you, I don’t have a lot of time for other online forums (we run one for our clients) but still regularly pop-in to get the latest news on what works and what doesn’t. I’m definitely not an authority over there, and I learn far more than I have to offer.
Recently, for example, I was looking to do some retargeting on Facebook and had assumed AdRoll were pretty much the only company to use, but the forums steered me over to Perfect Audience which has turned out to be a great decision.
Since the three owners of the site have had such huge success online, I thought it would be great if I could get them all in one place to “spill their guts” and give the lo-down on what is working right now. Of course, they did have links pointing to their websites, but this was all generated through paid advertising, rather than SEO which is what a large part of this blog covers
This is a long read but it combines from a lot of experience from three people who really know how to make money online. Go and grab your favourite drink and sit down to take this in. Enjoy…
Mr. Green “Around 17 I started freelance graphic design, as well as participating in paid Age of Empires II tournaments (no, I’m not proud of that).
At 19 I teamed up with one of my Age of Empires “friends” and starting getting into building and selling websites. I’ll explain the quotation marks later…
Education wise, I studied digital media design and e-commerce. Job wise, well…non-existent. I’m pretty sure I got turned down from every cafe position I applied for — I like eating at those places now.”
Jordan “I was in college for Advertising which was a blast. I didn’t learn much other than social skills which is even more important than anything they could have taught me related to “advertising”. During high school and college I made websites and focused on getting as much traffic as I could to these websites and then filled them with a carefully balanced mix of ads.
Sometimes I kept the sites for a while but ultimately sold most of them. Sitepoint sales were at a high during that time and I got more money for 2 of the websites then I should have. Luckily I saved all that money which came in handy for testing campaigns with affiliate marketing.”
Besmir “I always loved technology and computers since I was a kid. When I got my first computer the thing that interested me the most weren’t the usual games but the fact that I could write my own scripts and programs. So a couple of months later, after reading one or two books on Visual Basic Programming, I could write code decently.
Coding was how I made my first $1,000 when I was just 14. It took two weeks of sleepless nights to develop a basic managing program for a local pharmacy and finishing it made me feel I was on top of the world. This was where I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur instead of a 9-5 slave.
Fast forward to when I was 18, I had finished high school and decided I would study computer science in Italy. The first year I just focused on school but the 2nd and 3rd years were different. I slowly started to get curious about making money online and I discovered the infamous Digital Point forums. I read a post about a guy making money running movie streaming sites so I said I would give it a go.
Three months later I was getting 50,000 visitors a day to my sites and making from $300 to $500 daily. I MADE IT! Unfortunately that lasted only 2 months and I was back to $0 again. But this time I had some money and I knew about affiliate marketing. That’s where my AM journey started.. ”
Mr. Green “Good question! I’d say I had two big tipping points. The first happened when I was 19. My Age of Empires “friend” and I started gaining momentum building and selling websites. I vividly remember a point when I used my trusty calculator to work out I was making more money than the Prime Minister of New Zealand. During lectures at university I was refreshing my revenue reports every 2 minutes. That made me see the possibilities of online businesses. It made me look at money in a different way.
At 20, I remember lying sick in bed for a week, riddled with the man flu. I had the option of watching Oprah, Doctor Phil, and daytime infomercials or creating affiliate campaigns. At this point I think I had generated $100 total from affiliate marketing; I didn’t really take it seriously. Throughout that week I worked 15 hour days because I literally had nothing else to do and had no distractions. By time I recovered from my cold, I gave birth to my first mega campaign. It ended up generating a few million in revenue. As you can imagine I took things more seriously after that.”
Jordan “Tipping point number one was when I went out for beers and Korean BBQ with my friend and he told me he made $10,000 yesterday, and the days before that around $6-8k/day. He then said something along the lines of “If i can do it, don’t you think you can?” From there he wouldn’t give me any direct information other than what an affiliate network is and any programming issues i needed help with. There’s so much more info these days from forums like STM. I had to learn everything on my own.
Tipping point two comes after I was doing okay with Adwords for a while. I’m not sure on the figure but it was OK money, and I was still very new to affiliate marketing. I heard Facebook was opening their ad system and I decided ‘why not be the first to give it a shot’. I submitted ads one day one — a campaign with no landing page.
I remember trying to get it up before having to run out with friends. Around 8pm my friends we’re yelling at me to get downstairs because they were leaving. At this point I got my campaign up and spent ~$20 in the first 30 minutes. I refreshed my stats and saw around $20 spent with nothing made. I was about to pause my campaign but then my friend kicked open my door and yelled “LETS GO”, I immediately forgot about it and we left.
The next morning I realized the campaign was still up. I was expecting to see something along the lines of $200 spent and $20 made. Instead I saw something closer to $300 spent and $600 made. It would have spent a lot more too if my budget limit was higher. This was definitely the main tipping point. I went bananas with that campaign and didn’t slow down for years.”
Besmir “I can sincerely say that the first conversion I saw, and I actually realized “wow, there is money on the internet, this is real!” was my first eureka moment. The second moment was when I hit gold on my first really big campaign where I actually realized this can become a real business and might even be my career.
The third one was when I went to my first conference and met face to face with other affiliates and affiliate networks. This made it look much more like a real businesses instead of a quick get rich scheme that was going to collapse any day.”
Mr. Green “You know how I mentioned I had an Age of Empires “friend”?
Well, I built up the courage to scale our first business. I borrowed money from my parents, girlfriend and my trusted sister’s college money. I then wired the money to this friend, to pay for advertising. That was the last I heard of him. I was 19, jobless, -$35,000 down, and owed money to the people closest to me. My mistake there was giving trust away too easily. Be very selective of who you work with.
Sadly, I didn’t learn my lesson…
A year on, I bought ownership rights to a piece of software from another “friend”. This software had been selling for 2 years so my intention was to simply continue selling it. It cost me $50,000. I could have had it built for $5,000. But I didn’t want to be in competition with my friend. 6 days later I received a Cease & Desist letter. It stated I had to stop selling the software immediately. My “friend” forgot to mention to me that he was told not to publicize and resell the software in any manner.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but those two were certainly the biggest. $85,000 between both.”
Jordan “Easily the biggest mistake for me was not milking a few of my big campaigns. I have campaigns where I could have hired a programmer to help me out for $3000/month, and I could have doubled my campaign income which was a LOT more then $3000/month.
The programmer and extra 2 hours a day of my work would have paid for that programmer 100x over. This is usually most affiliates biggest mistake. Whether your campaign is making $100/day or $10,000/day, you can almost ALWAYS grow/scale and expand it. You better do it before the campaign runs out which always happens.”
Besmir “I would say that trying to do everything myself was a mistake. I could have done so much more earlier on with a proper team. Teaching some other guys although time consuming at first, simply saves so much more time in the future. Plus a business based on only one guy is not a real business. If you go on vacation and things start dying that’s not a way to make long term money in this game.”
Mr. Green “Do not make marketing decisions based on assumptions. Let the data make the decisions for you.
Saturation just means there is high demand, and a lot of money being made. Don’t run away scared when you hear that word.”
Jordan “1. Always split test ads and landing pages. Never stop. There’s so much room to test new ideas with every campaign. If your making money with your first landing page it just means you can make more with your second, third, fourth and so on.
2. Copy is very important. What you write is way more important than your design. Use marketing tactics and be clear and organized in what you write.
3. Google Translate sometimes converts better than onehourtranslation.com. Tested and proven!
4. If you see ads or niches over and over again it means they’re making money! It means you can be making money with those niches too. Those ads you keep seeing aren’t there for fun; they’re being run by guys spending $xx,xxx/day.”
Besmir “First , I don’t want to re-iterate on what you have heard a thousand times. Split-test your landing pages, split-test your banners and split test even when you have a 100% ROI. Something that many people tend to overlook is negotiations.
Negotiations and deals are essential. Copy and paste links and landers (landing pages) will get you so far. You have to be creative and by that I don’t just mean you in terms of your marketing angles, but the ways you close deals with sites and clients (you know, the people we send traffic to). Build a relationship with the advertisers. Prove them you can make them money and you will be able to get deals normal affiliates can’t. This can be an edge that is tough for your competition to clone!”
Mr. Green “People always assume you need some special skill or secret. I’ve seen failures with insane tech skills, copywriting skills, MBA’s, and huge capital. I’ve also seen previously successful affiliates burn out to nothing because they got egotistical and forgot the basics.
You need three things.
1. The ability to learn. You need to soak up information on a daily basis and apply it.
2. A good work ethic. You don’t have a boss to push you around and tell you what to do. You are working for yourself. It’s so easy to stay at home, turn on the Playstation and bust open some Fifa action.
3. Readiness to fail. I fail 90% of the time with my affiliate campaigns. I enjoy failing, I learn a lot from it. You will fail the vast majority of the time. You have to be mentality tough to roll through it. But just like venture capitalists you just need that 10% to work to make it extremely worthwhile.”
Jordan “Two things…
1. Drive and motivation. You need to never give up, and continue testing. Whether you have to sell your car or your gold tooth to do it. The winners never gave up. It wasn’t easy for the majority of winners. You didn’t see them start.
2. You need to be relatively smart. To be fair I’ve seen some dumbo’s do really well in affiliate marketing, but the majority of top guys are smart. You need unique ideas, the ability to put things together, network, manage money, come up with good copy and so forth.”
Besmir “Success in general is based on trial and error. Affiliate marketing is no different. If the statistic is that out of 10 businesses 8 will fail, then statistically if you open 10 businesses 2 will succeed. So taking that analogy and applying it on affiliate campaigns it’s all about testing. I believe in quick rapid tests.
Once I see potential I press the paddle to the metal and scale ASAP. Traffic arbitrage is never stable in my experience, however its great fuel for other stuff. Honestly, it’s all about testing and persistence.”
Mr. Green “I’m a very competitive person so I leverage that competitive nature by surrounding myself with successful people. Through mastermind groups, and the infamous STM forum. This works for me in two ways; firstly I get constant feedback from people actually making money online and secondly it pushes me to beat their success.
To those people who are unsure if people make money online then I’d advise you to browse to Facebook, Google, Youtube or your favorite adult entertainment site. Every single one of those sites are riddled with ads people are making money from. As soon as you stop seeing those ads, please call me. I will start applying for a new job.”
Jordan “For me it was easy to never throw in the towel.
– First I generated revenue from ads and websites before affiliate marketing, so I had a taste of what was possible.
– Second, I had a real life friend making more money then I could imagine at the time so i knew it was the real deal.
– A lot of my early Adwords campaigns completely failed, and I wanted to quit, but I knew I had to make it work.
My goal was big time freedom! You need a goal, other than $xxx/day. A real goal will help you try and try again until you make it work.
The only thing you need to learn is to never give up. No one makes it work in the first week, some do in the first month maybe but throw all of that aside because it doesn’t matter how fast some others have made it work. All you need to know is it’s possible and quite easy with the right mindset.
The right mindset is:
– Giving yourself 3 months to try at least 20 different campaigns
– Realize you need to come up with unique concepts and ideas and not just steal others’ campaigns. I’m not just saying this either. If you’re the second guy stealing a campaign concept from the inventor, then yes maybe it’ll work. 99% though will be the 50th or 500th copycat and at that point you stand no chance of making money with it.
– Test, test, test. Test thousands of ads, hundreds of landing pages and never think you’ve tested enough.”
B “I think that goes back to me just being positive. I don’t linger and think about failures over and over, I tend to move on faster than for example my friends who tend to over think. I guess being an entrepreneur is kind of like that.”
Mr. Green “The most special achievement for me was gaining absolute freedom.
Affiliate marketing has literally given me an all access pass to the world. I’m in a position now where I can pack my bags in the morning, and fly to another country that night. If I like it, I can live there. I do what makes me happy.”
Jordan “I’ve always wanted to fight the status quo (and the ‘man’). I never liked a bunch of things I was taught when growing up and I’m extremely proud that I was able to prove the naysayers wrong. Not so I can say I proved them wrong, but so I can have the freedom to do things the way i want to do it, not the way others told me to.”
Besmir “I must say STM forum (non-aff) is something I’m really proud of. It’s such a cliche, but helping people and seeing people go from $100/day to make 1,000-10,000/day and knowing STM and its members were something that helped really makes me feel proud and happy. Plus it’s good karma no? 😉
Apart from that, being able to support financially my parents is another thing I am very proud of.”
Mr. Green “I know it’s cliche, but I wouldn’t change a thing. My mistakes have been a big factor in my success. The ups aren’t ups without the downs.
The most important piece of advice you would give to a new affiliate marketer is: Take action.
Stop working on the perfect landing page. Stop reading a million articles. Stop searching for perfect offer, traffic source, hosting etc. You will only get more disheartened when you fail. If you don’t start putting money down and gathering data then you aren’t going to get anywhere. I guarantee you will learn the fastest by taking action. Also if you want advice from experts, they can give you a lot more valuable feedback if you give them some data to work with.
I took action when I was 20. I’m 27 now. I do not need to work.”
Jordan “Nothing really except learning to milk the big campaigns more which is a skill I may never learn since just recently I screwed up again and should have milked my campaign a lot more than I did.
One day I’ll learn.”
Besmir “I would think bigger from day one. Thinking of creating a $500M corporation. I can’t say I’m a big spender, but perhaps I’m not a big enough investor. However all of us starting in this industry pretty much go from zero, barely having rent to making more than Inc. 500 CFO’s. To a 23 year old making over $1M a year looks like all the money in the world, but it’s really not, especially if you consider the volatility of this business.”
Lorenzo “Developing my competitive advantages and affiliate business by building a larger team.
More travelling with STM. So far we’ve thrown affiliate parties, in Melbourne, Vegas (3), New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam (2). Next stop is in Bangkok March 14th which will involve affiliate presentations and partying with over 200 affiliates.
I’m also leveraging my money more…morphing into a serial investor! Investing in start ups, property, web properties, stocks and art.
Bottom line: having fun, working on stimulating projects.”
Jordan: Growing the STM (non-aff) brand with better products, meet-ups and information. I love the business and we have a lot of neat things coming up. Our first ASIA meet-up will be in Bangkok sometime in March 2014. It’ll largest mee-tup yet, and I presume the most fun! More info will be on the Facebook page soon.
B: 100 employees and hundreds of millions of revenues. Achieving the position where I just need to think and biz dev while my employees execute.
When I first wrote about STM I showed how one member of their site had gone from $0 to $1,000 per day in less than a month and English isn’t even his first language:
I was happy to see, buried away in between thousands of spam comments, that he actually commented here a few weeks ago to show that his Facebook clicks are getting even cheaper (Edit: Sorry, this is not the same person. Dinesh is the person who has the STM case study thread on getting $0.01 clicks, I messed that up):
For me personally, I have to say that I still love SEO and the challenge of it. Though I’m spending more time than ever doing paid advertisement campaigns on Facebook and Google Adwords (and now Twitter), they’re not my main focus. That said, the fact that paid traffic is instant traffic can be very addictive, especially when you want to test new landing pages and campaign angles, perhaps before you share them with your entire audience.
If this interview gets some good feedback then the STM guys have promised to come back to share some of their campaign case studies here again for ViperChill readers. If you would like to see that then please leave a comment on what you thought of this post and then I’ll drag them back over here soon.