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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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Archive: Affiliate Marketing

My Facebook Method

Actual, useful post today.

I’ve been playing around with Facebook a lot over the past week or two, and I think I’ve finally found a good method for testing and scaling campaigns. For the benefit of those of you who are complete Facebook advertising newbies, I’m going to lay it out in precise detail. Take notes, there will be a quiz at the end of class.

Step 0 - Find a campaign

This part is easy. Find a campaign that looks promising, setup two subIDs, and create two identical ads (one for each gender). Target everybody 23+ (I tend to focus on actual products, and I’ve found that the 18-22 age bracket doesn’t want to spend money. If you’re running a lead gen campaign, feel free to include that age group). Set a large daily budget (don’t worry, you won’t spend it all), take the suggested CPC, and wait. If you don’t get any clicks or leads after 20,000 or so impressions, re-list or rewrite the ad. If this fails multiple times, you may want to try a different campaign. If you do manage to get a few conversions, go to step 1.

Step 1 - Break it down

Ok, you got a handful of conversions. Your campaign is looking promising. Now you’re going to want to see where those conversions are coming from. Go make 10-15 more subIDs and start breaking down your existing ads into more specific demographics. I usually define my ads by three categories:

  • Age (broken into 4-5 year groups)
  • Gender
  • Country (US and Canada mostly)

Depending on the campaign you’re running, it might be wise to break it down even further (marital status, education status, and even interests).

Also, be descriptive when naming your subIDs. Instead of just numbering them, use a character string to help you remember what group you’re targeting. For example, a subID of ‘uf4′ would mean women in the United States in the 4th age group.

Step 2 - Weeding

After a day or so, figure out what your top 1-3 performing subIDs are and drop the rest.

Step 3 - Optimize

Here’s where it gets tricky. You want to take your top performers and squeeze every percentage you can out of them. If you were just direct-linking to the offer page before, create a duplicate ad that leads to a landing page. Better yet, create half a dozen landing pages and see which one performs the best. If you were doing CPC before, try doing CPM (Facebook reports the average CPM for you ads. If it’s less, create a duplicate ad that uses CPM). Depending on how much work you’re willing to put into this, you can break your demographic groups down even further (single year age groups, cities, etc) and the re-optimize everything.

If you’re in front of your computer all the time, you may even want to try targeting specific times of day. If 90% of your conversions are occurring between 5PM and 9PM, pause your ads during the other 20 hours of the day. Remember, the less you spend, the more you make.

Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. If you’re serious about making money online, then you should be willing to go the extra mile.

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Things Pokemon Can Teach You About Affiliate Marketing

This almost goes without saying, but today’s post is for my younger readers.

The last time I played Pokemon, I was 12. Ten years have gone by, and I’m shocked to find that a lot of my peers seem to be playing the most recent version on the Nintendo DS. Color me surprised. Anyway, after trying to pick up the new version and feeling completely lost, I managed to draw some parallels between the world’s most popular video game and AM.

There are always new methods

You may think you’re cool after mastering all 150 original affiliate marketing methods, but as soon as you’re not paying attention, they’ll spring 343 more on you.

The original methods are pretty much useless now

So, you think your psychic type…I mean free iPod site is pretty badass, huh? Well, too bad. Everybody else has them now, and you’re going to get outclassed by newer, bigger, more interesting incent sites.

The world is big, and it keeps getting bigger

Last time I checked, Pokemon had one continent. Now there’s four. Likewise, there are more and more advertising vehicles online every year. If you do nothing but Adwords marketing, you’re missing out.

It’s not just for one age group anymore

Everybody’s doing AM. Teenagers, old people, everybody. Likewise, you’ll see all age groups playing Pokemon (although us older folk really should stay away from kids events. It’s just creepy).

It costs a lot to get into

Did you know that a Nintendo DS and the newest Pokemon game costs around $180? Yeesh. I’m putting off buying those for as long as I can. Likewise, unless you’re incredibly lucky, AM will cost you a lot to get into, especially while you look for a niche and demographic.

You need to be social to be successful

You can do it alone, which is boring, or you can trade and compete with friends to make it more fun.

Brb, gotta go level my Charmeleon.

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Interview: Matt Marcin of MattMarcin.com

I woke up this morning to an email informing me that there’s a pretty successful affiliate marketer going to the same university that I am! Imagine my surprise. After a little messaging back and forth on Facebook, I managed to setup an interview (first interview on this site! yay). So, without further ado, here’s my interview with Matt Marcin - successful affiliate guy.

First of all, tell us who you are and a little about your site.

Well, my name is Matt Marcin and I’ve been using computers in some way or another since I was 8 or 9. I got into doing business online at the age of 14 with eBay and have constantly been trying to get better are making a few bucks online.

My blog, mattmarcin.com was setup quite a while ago as a place for me to talk about what I am doing but more recently has been focused on affiliate marketing. I generally try to give hints and tips about both incentive and PPC affiliate marketing.

How long have you been doing affiliate marketing?

I started back in November promoting a eBook from clickbank.com. I chose a niche I knew nothing about as a way to try and learn everything from market research to sales copy writing from the ground up. That campaign lost money of course but I learned a lot about every aspect of affiliate marketing and was well worth the $200 I lost on it.

How did you find out about affiliate marketing, and what pushed you to try it?

When I ran actual community sites like www.reviewtrader.com I tried to monetize them using Commission Junction with targeted offers. That was my first little taste of promoting other people’s products. A year or two later I started reading some “Make Money Online” blogs and found a couple goods ones.

What was the first site you made for affiliate marketing?

Well, the first site I made specifically for affiliate marketing was to promote some bowling eBooks from clickbank.com. It was a small content site with a newsletter and a review of 2 of the eBooks. I learned a lot from trying it out and there probably is a little money in it if you were to optimize a lot. Only reason I share what niche I was doing is because I don’t plan to go into it again.

Who are your favorite affiliates/bloggers?

I read most of the big affiliate blogs like UberAffiliate, JonathanVolk, NickyCakes and occasionally JohnChow. I’d have to say I really like both UberAffiliate and NickyCakes. Hey both give out some pretty good hints and tips. NickyCakes definetly thinks outside the box!

Failure is a big part of this site. Tell us about one of your major screwups (if you don’t mind).

The biggest screw up I’ve had was forgetting to set an end date on a campaign that I knew was scrubbing. I had the budget set to stop the campaign for the day but forgot to make it not recent the next day. When I woke up, I was $1000 poorer. That sucked. I double check all my campaigns now before going to sleep!

I see you do a lot of work with incentivized campaigns. Tell us a little about that.

I got my “real” start with incentive marketing. It seemed easier to me to convince people to fill out offers for cash or prizes than creating elaborate keyword lists and landing pages. There is still a lot of opportunity right now in incentive/freebie sites if your market them right. I tend to focus on the “Do this to earn something else” style sites. Of course, there are business philosophies that I apply that create a very loyal user base but that’s something I’ll post about on my blog!

Something I do want to try with my incentive sites is advertising them on a CPA model as it often provides better leads than PPC. Basically, you might see some of my sites on affiliate networks soon!

As a side not, if you want to get into incentive marketing, make sure you talk to your affiliate managers and have a solid plan in place to prevent fraud. There is no quicker way to lose you shirt than losing hundreds of dollars to reversals!

You have a Facebook application that promotes incentivized traffic. How’s that working out for you?

It pretty much run’s itself. I got in a bit late with applying incentivized traffic to Facebook apps but there is still plenty of room to explore in that market. The main way I differentiate myself though is I was able to work out deals with my affiliate networks to offer cash incentives rather than meaningless points. I think that it helped out a lot with convincing people to do offers.

True or False: Purdue is the smelliest campus in the midwest.

Don’t remind me! Some days it can be pleasant, but I’d take the smell of a huge city over the smell of decaying corn!

Thanks for your time Matt!

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Deliberatly Ambiguous Earnings Screenshot

Hey guys, check out how much money I’ve made with ONE affiliate program over the past few days:

Isn’t that impressive? I bet you’d like to make that much money in a few days too. Wouldn’t this be a great time to flash my referral link? Wow, now we can all make a ton of money together. Isn’t harmony grand?


Ok, enough bull. I’m sure you’ve all seen these kinds of posts before. “HAY GUISE, LOOK AT MY MONIES!” Wow, a five figure check. Nice job. How much of that is profit?

Keep in mind that, unless you’re getting 100% of your clicks from organic sources, chances are you’ve paid for some advertising. The figure in that screenshot above is the result of a campaign I was running on Facebook. Facebook is expensive. In fact, 90% of that money is going to go to paying for all of the clicks I received during that campaign (I told you I’m not very good at this). So, if you can do basic mathematics, you can see that I didn’t actually make very much. I got a load of useful demographics data, but dollar wise I didn’t do so well. Still, everybody loves an earnings screenshot, right?

Don’t fake it

I was chatting with a wise man on AIM a few weeks back. He was telling me to keep trying new things, and eventually I’d find something that worked. I jokingly suggested that I should Photoshop some extra 0s on one of my earnings screenshots, and was immediately rebuked. No matter how sneaky you think you are, you will get caught. When you do, your credibility will crash. Think of your top three favorite affiliate gods. How would you feel if one of them admitted that they make only 1/100 of what they claimed? Their advice, their word, becomes worthless. They’d lose their readers, and they’d fade into obscurity.

Of course, plenty of people post real checks and earnings screenshots. Those are awesome. Just remember next time you’re looking at one: That’s not all profit.

Geoff note: Keep in mind that I write these posts the night before they go up. With my luck, someone will post a huge check today and think that this post refers to them. I’ll just say it now: This post is not directed at anybody, so don’t bug me about it.

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Performance Enhancing Drugs

Alright guys, desperate times call for desperate measures. As I’ve mentioned, I’m scraping the bottom of my idea barrel, so my options are limited. In an effort to keep the creative juices flowing, I’m going to resort to…

Magic brain drugs.

Ever heard of Piracetam? Apparently, it’s pretty popular among college students. According to Wikipedia, piracetam does a load of neat things to your brain, including:

Enhancing verbal memory in healthy college students in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

If Wikipedia said it, it must be true, right? Overall, the supplement is supposed to increase cognitive function through a variety of mechanisms, or as the bodybuilders put it, “make your brain work good.”

I’d be lying if I said this site was the only reason I’m going to start taking this stuff. For one, my memory isn’t what most people would call “good”, and it irks my girlfriend. Also, my summer classes begin in early June, so I’d like to have my brain soaking in the stuff by then (my GPA could use a little boost). If you check out that link above, you’ll notice that I ordered a 500g tub, which should keep me going for the next six months.

Speaking of that link

You might have also noticed that it’s obviously an affiliate link. When I found what I wanted on that site, I remembered that I was an affiliate for that company. Come to find out, I get 10% of every sale I refer through that link, which means I get roughly $1.80 back. This leads me to my next point: Even if you’re terrible at affiliate marketing, you can still benefit by joining these programs. Being an affiliate for a company is like having a coupon for anything you buy from them. If you’re not a member of Commission Junction, I’d suggest joining and then browsing their merchants next time you want to buy something. For example:

  • I wouldn’t mind having an iPod touch. As an Apple affiliate, I automatically get 1% back, not to mention all of the coupons they fill my inbox with.
  • What about if I needed a new laptop from Dell? There’s another 1% back (plus affiliate coupons).
  • How about a nice new TV from Sony? 2% back.

Those are just a few examples. CJ has affiliate programs with tons of merchants, so you can get a little bit back on practically any item you could think of.

What about free web hosting?

While I’m on this train of thought, here’s something that I’ve been wondering about: Most web hosting merchants on CJ offer around $100 for new signups. Some of their hosting packages only cost $60 per year. Would it be possible to get a year of free web hosting by referring yourself? I’ve been looking through their advertising guidelines, and I’m not seeing anything that says you can’t refer yourself. Maybe I just missed it, who knows.

Anyway, if you’re a real penny-pincher, that’s just something you should keep in mind.

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