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$100 / day or it's all over
jleane




msg:3574229
 9:20 pm on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm 22 years old, a part time college student, and I live with a few awesome friends in a shared house. For the first time in a long while, I'm happy. Life is good - but not for long. Unfortunately, due to my extreme lazyness (compounded with some rather 'questionable' purchases), I am pretty much flat broke. I've done the sums, and in 3 months I will have a net worth pretty much on par with a cashew nut. Unless I'm able to start bringing in roughly $100/day by some time around my 23rd birthday (9th May), I will be forced to make one of two decisions, both of which will utterly annhialate my already fragile self esteem. These are:

1. Move back in with parents
2. Get a job at burger king

Now, you might be thinking to yourself that, while not particularly appealing, niether of these options is really all that terrible. And you would be wrong. I won't go into why this is the case at this point, but for now it should suffice to say that I would rather sell my body to complete strangers. And before anyone tells me to just go ahead and do that, I'm far too ugly to make anywhere even close to $100 a day, so don't bother.

Believe it or not, the mere thought of either of these things is enough to get the hair on the back of my neck to stand up on end, and as the complete financial meltdown gets closer, my psychological state is deteriorating ever more rapidly. Whilst only a few days ago I could push the thoughts of impending doom to the back of my mind, now I wake up with cold sweats on a regular basis. Yesterday my girlfriend told me I started hysterically screaming 'do you want fries with that?' and 'you can upsize that for 70 cents' at random intervals throughout the night.

To save my sanity and avoid emotional castration, I had to come up with a plan. Unfortunately, as well as being lazy, I'm also not the sharpest tool in the shed, so my plan is really not all that good. Basically, it goes something like this:

Step 1: Start up a website
Step 2: Find a related affiliate/advertising partner
Step 3: Get hits and sell stuff
Step 4: Bring in $100/day on a regular basis within 3 months time.
Step 5: Avoid asylum

So yeah.. that's, uh, pretty much the master plan...

Now I assume at this stage most of you are either shaking your head or laughing at me (or a combination of the two).

You're perfectly justified in doing so, but I'm still going to try. Although the odds are stacked against me, I do have a few factors working in my favour.

First, I've got lots of time on my hands. Theoretically, I could work 8-10 hours a day for the next 3 months on this.

Second, I've got reasonable web design skills. While I don't have any official qualifications, I'm decent at HTML and Photoshop, so I can at least create semi-professional looking sites.

Third, I've got about $400 that I can use as a marketing budget - pretty much what's left of my savings after I budget for 3 months of rent, food & misc. expenses.

Fourth, I have a basic understanding of affiliate marketing and SEO, since I occasionally read WW when I see something interesting.

And finally, I really, really, really don't want to move back home or work at burger king.

Now the purpose of this thread is to doccument my quest. Every day I will post a status report that details what I have done as well as how much money I have brought in. I'll also write a breif reflection on anything I've learned, and probably rant on about various unrelated things as my emotional state continues to deteriorate.

I hope you come along for the ride and whether I succeed or fail I'm sure it will be quite entertaining and I hope that you'll leave me a little tip, some encouragement or a scrap of advice once in a while.

Day 1 of 90 starts tomorrow - I hope to see you then.

Jonathan

 

ildarius




msg:3605718
 7:51 pm on Mar 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

You are absolutely right about it not being applicable in every possible scenario, in some cases it would simply be plain dumb to
use this reasoning.
None the less it is a Very hard line to draw... Donald Trump, Henry Ford and Abraham Lincoln have all went bankrupt several times. What they did is far from the usual approach where we test the water see if it's bad and pull out.
Those guys actually went all the way and failed and got up and failed again and then succeeded, i think that's what i was trying to say.

gpilling




msg:3609746
 4:50 am on Mar 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Henry Ford's first car company became Cadillac, his second failed outright, and the third became the Ford Motor Company that we know today. He was widely regarded as not being the smartest guy around, did not do the engineering that made him famous, yet was the one guy with the vision and drive to push his ideas through. Between 1900 and 1905 there were more than 500 automobile manufacturers, most of whom failed. It seems very comparable to the early days of PC manufacturing. See the book "Wheels for the World" by Douglas Brinkley for more.

Or to relate more closely to this thread - yes, you could fail. Learn from any failures and try again. You may not succeed on the original plan, but you should learn something along the way.

What is the worst that could happen? You could learn some valuable stuff that pays off handsomely some time later. I know I did when I failed at affiliate marketing.

cornwall




msg:3612730
 9:30 pm on Mar 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

14th March was "day 28" of this thread. 13 further days have elapsed without the initiator of the thread deigning to put in any input.

Guess the guy is either back with his parents or at Burger King.

raedthakur




msg:3612753
 9:59 pm on Mar 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Or he could be working really hard.

ergophobe




msg:3612926
 3:24 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Or he could be honoring the request that the powers that be made of him to only post every two weeks at most, which means we would expect to hear from him on 28 March at earliest.

Why so much negativity? Why, every time he goes ten days without posting, as requested of him by the admins do people always jump on him and accuse him of somehow failing to live up to some purported bargain?

He's doing just fine. He'll post when he posts. As long as it is at least two weeks between updates, that's his choice.

jleane




msg:3612971
 5:12 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

The rumors of my working at Burger King have been greatly exaggerated...

raedthakur




msg:3613441
 3:29 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

haha ..i was going to ask you for a discount at burger king ..then you posted and spoiled my plans :(

jleane




msg:3616587
 9:15 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sorry Raedthakur :) Then again, if you're in a position where you need a discount to afford Burger King I'm tempted to just buy you a meal outright! :P

And apologies to everyone for not posting an update sooner, I had an assignment due so had to put the blogging on hold for a few days.

Actually, in truth there's not that much to report. I still haven't put up any ads for some reason - I guess I'm a little freaked out by the possibility of no one clicking on them, as absurd as that sounds. I have identified quite a few perfectly suited affiliate programs though - so I suppose I should just man up and take the plunge.

The good news is that my traffic has been steadily building. One of my posts briefly made it to the second page on a certain popular social news site (not sure if we're allowed to mention names, but the site in question rhymes with 'Schmeddit'), and that got me 1500 visits in the space of a few hours. Indeed, I expect that sometime in the next week I will have received my 6000th unique visitor to the site, which I think is pretty damn good for only 6 weeks worth of posting.

Again, I know I say this every time but I just wanted to say thanks for everyone who has PM'd me (especially one awesome lady who is too shy to actually post on the forum!), and to everyone who has posted in this thread. Hopefully I'll have some more interesting news to report soon.

By the way, for anyone who's giving this blogging thing a shot, here are a few things I've learned so far (please feel free to add to this list if I've missed anything):

1. Post often. I try to hammer out at least one quality article per day. I think people generally have a daily routine when it comes to checking out websites, and I want to give them something new each time they visit.

2. Network. I hate that word almost as much as I hate the word 'blogosphere', but you really do need to get the bigger fish to notice you. I try to leave intelligent comments on related blogs every few days, offer to write guest posts for anyone and everyone (I'm hoping this will really pay off when Google does its next crawl or whatever it's called) and hang around at popular blogging forums.

3. Don't get too obsessed with your reader numbers. I try to ignore them, or at least view them impartially. While they are a useful guide in determining what articles people find interesting, the fluctuations can really mess with my emotions. A couple of weeks ago I wrote what I thought was a really good article and the next day my reader numbers dipped a bit. I got really, really depressed. The next day they were way up and I was euphoric. Moral of the story: Looking into your reader numbers too much will give you bipolar and/or manic depression.

4. When inspiration strikes, make the most of it. This one is really important. If you're on a roll, don't stop - keep going until your fingers ache. Remember that for every day you're in the zone there'll be a day when you just can't be bothered. It'll help if you have a stockpile of quality articles saved on your harddrive.

5. Don't be afraid to try new things. Kinda cliche, but good advice nonetheless. I honestly have no idea what my site's demographic is, or what my readers are interested in. Indeed, I think that readers themselves are often not sure what they're looking for until it smack them in the face, so I'm trying as many different approaches as possible.

6. Make it personal. This is a HUGE one, especially (I think) in my niche. There are literally tens of thousands of boring, dry finance articles out there. The only thing that will separate me from the pack is if readers can 'connect' with my writing. I've tried to draw on anecdotes (both real and fictional :), and have even tried writing from a few different persona's. It's kinda sneaky, but if it helps me reach my goal I won't be losing much sleep over it.

7. Take the bad days with the good. Some days you will just feel like throwing in the towel, and some days you will feel like you're going to be the next Bill Gates. I'm not 100% certain, but I'd bet my kidneys that most bloggers fail not because they can't write, but because they don't last the distance.

8. Write for skimmers, not readers. I've found that writing for the internet is quite different to writing for 'offline' mediums. I try to use lots of sub-headings and bold font for my important points, so visitors can pick out the most crucial info at a glance. No one likes being confronted with a wall of text.

Well, that's it for now. Will post again soon.

Jonathan

ergophobe




msg:3616662
 11:33 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>I honestly have no idea what my site's demographic is, or what my readers are interested in

What analytics are you using? You should be able to see things like
- what keyords they search on
- geographic distribution
- where they came from

That tells you a fair bit. If you aren't Google-phobic and sign up fro Webmaster Tools you can see which pages of yours show most often in searches, and which ones get clicked the most often. The difference between those two sets should tell you something.

Finally you have services like HitTail that automate some of that and try to tell you which phrases brought people to your site on a page that doesn't match the phrase well - that's the low-hanging fruit for future articles.

And put an affiliate banner on your site already!

>> most bloggers fail not because they can't write, but because they don't last the distance.

As a writer and a webmaster, I think you'll find this post interesting:
[webmasterworld.com...]

ildarius




msg:3618205
 4:00 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

And put an affiliate banner on your site already!

Amen!
Clearly you got what it takes to succeed, don't disappoint us man.

raedthakur




msg:3618298
 5:02 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

yup just put some banners and also put Adsense ....you don't have anything to loose..its a win win situation.

mayest




msg:3618364
 6:15 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Agreed, you need to get some ads up. It is incredibly motivating to see that you are earning money. You'll be surprised at the thrill you receive from earning even a small amount, and you will want to earn more.

jleane




msg:3623494
 11:30 am on Apr 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Woohoo!

Just made my first affiliate sale - I wrote a piece on Gas Credit cards a few days ago and included a couple of relevant links. I'm now $45 richer!

ergophobe




msg:3623661
 3:28 pm on Apr 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Now just do that 2x per day and you've hit your goal!

ildarius




msg:3624102
 11:35 pm on Apr 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good job, congratulations!
(at 45$ per sale i'm guessing it was an informational product?)

renate79




msg:3624166
 1:10 am on Apr 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

coming out of hiding to say way to go! :)

tomp_gl




msg:3624266
 4:38 am on Apr 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Funny, i'm in a similar situation. I'm 23, living in Sydney, living off a website (which took a major income hit [thanks Adsense] last December) and dealing with a "rental crisis" - just found a run down terrace to share in Darlinghurst. VERY pricey, but what can you do? I find that living on a tight budget makes me work harder (naturally - because i'm fighting to survive). If i'm making money to spare i tend to slacken off. Good luck with it.

MiniAlex




msg:3624842
 6:52 pm on Apr 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

pheeewwwwwwwwww read through the all topic... you better make it (i dont care if it is all a ploy to write a book etc) after all the time i lost reading here...

made for some interesting reading... how people react.
good luck

l008comm




msg:3630339
 7:26 am on Apr 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

If I knew an easy way to make $100 a day from a website, I wouldn't tell you about it. I'd just do it. Then go mountain biking. My sites are currently making only 15% - 25% of that. But I have a 'real' job too :-)

man in poland




msg:3634383
 6:18 pm on Apr 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Jonathan, Long time no hear - it's been a fortnight since you last posted - how are things going?

jleane




msg:3634807
 7:40 am on Apr 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sorry, I've been a bit tardy with my updates lately.

The past few weeks have been 'interesting'. No new sales. As a matter of fact, I'm having a bit of crisis of conscience about the whole thing.

For those interested, I made my first (i.e. only) money by strategically placing an affiliate link in an article I wrote about Gas Rebate cards. Someone clicked on the link and proceeded to successfully apply for a credit card.

To be honest, while my first sale was a huge buzz, I still felt kinda uneasy about it. It was almost as if I was selling out, somehow betraying the few readers I had to make a quick buck at their expense.

Don't get me wrong, the product I linked to was a genuinely excellent way to save money, and was a great deal relative to most other cards of its kind. But still, I couldn't help but feel... well, bought.

I've also received (and turned down) a half-dozen requests for text link ads or product 'reviews' (yeah right...). Apart from the fact that they're unethical, they are - so I've been told - a great way to get penalized by Google.

That brings me to another point: Will it hurt my chances of success if I monetize my blog too early? I've been thinking that perhaps it'd be better to build up a bigger user base before I introduce advertising into the mix, even with my time constraints.

Incidentally, my traffic has jumped significantly since my last post. I'm looking at my stats as I write this, and from the 1st to the 24th of April I've had just over 10,000 unique visits meaning I've already doubled March's total. Probably looks a little pathetic to some of you WW regulars, but I'm pretty impressed with myself :)

Sadly, unless my analytics program is way off, most of 'em don't stick around - I only get 1.21 Pageviews per visitor!

I my opinion this dismal statistic is the result of 1 of 3 things:

(1) Most of the traffic is untargeted
(2) My site is just not all that engaging
(3) A combination of the two

I'm inclined to go with (3).

Most of my traffic is at best poorly targeted. This month, Reddit and StumbleUpon have 8 of the top 10 spots on my Referrals page, and the vast majority of users who arrive this way don't really know what they're getting themselves into. Reading about credit cards isn't exactly most peoples cup of tea, and frankly, I don't blame them!

Still, 1.21 is utterly pathetic, and there has to be at least some room for improvement.

I'm thinking it might be worthwhile to do a redesign. I can't list my page here obviously, but I suppose it could be a little more inviting.
I'm also wondering if I should branch out into other areas of personal finance.

Anyone have any tips?

By the way, I'm excited to report that I'm starting to see organic traffic from Google. It's only a tiny trickle, 3 or 4 per day, but it's a start. Frankly, I thought I'd be waiting at least 6 months to start seeing any G traffic, especially in a niche as competitive as mine. I'm hoping to get some PageRank in the next few weeks as well, but maybe I'm just getting cocky :)

purplecape




msg:3635472
 10:30 pm on Apr 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

jleane, I've been following this thread with interest. Nice to see you back.

I have to ask you something: is it possible that you are too squeamish to make money this way? If that one credit-card "sale" bothered you (and it didn't cost the visitor any money out of pocket!), then how will you feel when dozens of people per day are buying things through your site, including, perhaps, some products you don't approve of.....

Think about it.

SnowDevil




msg:3635974
 12:42 am on Apr 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

jleane I agree with purplecape; you have to be less discriminating and try various things out. From the number of replies your posts are getting at your site I suspect you have more than enough traffic to experimenting and retaining the traffic. The design I thought looked quite slick and professional, I wouldn't be worrying about that at this stage.

Consider that most people expect that you have to try and make some money for your efforts; very few people will begrudge you that. I would recommend lightening up on yourself for a bit and just saying what the hell and trying out a few monetization schemes. Remember, the point of this was not to have a lovely little readership that you don't annoy with ads, but to build yourself a $100/day income.

Perhaps plan a few different ad placement schemes and just bite the bullet and try each of those schemes out for a week or two before switching to the next. And this means not placing a single ad on one specific page that you've begrudgingly accepted you'll try, but by making sure you have something on every page. (Some people prefer not to do so on the front page, but that's up to you to experiment with)

Bottom line, nobody is going to hate you for having a few ads, especially if they aren't the kind that pop out and get in the way. Learn to sell out at least a bit. That's why you're in this to start with, remember?

soudou




msg:3636306
 8:05 pm on Apr 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's not much to worry about so long as the adverts are placed in a manner that doesn't make the site difficult to navigate/read and if they are related to stuff people visiting your site would be interested in anyway (which they should do to not waste space), then there isnt much cause for concern. I wouldn't go crazy and plaster the whole place, but tastefully placed ads are ok. To avoid annoying looking or flashing ads though, if you can, I'd design my own banners etc.
I think its a good idea to research whatever you promote though, in my personal opinion. I have uncovered scams and upset people pretty easily with a quick google of "companyName+forum" or the like.
This is coming from someone who hasnt done any affiliate marketing though.
I find this thread interesting, keep it up.

KFish




msg:3637394
 7:30 am on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

[Actually, in truth there's not that much to report. I still haven't put up any ads for some reason]

Why jleane Why? Are you doing some kinda social service by just wasting visitorís time that read your blog and close their browsers window?

Do they gain anything - NO!
Do you gain anything - NO!

You did this to earn 100 dollar a day - donít forget that.

Get up mate, just sign up for a good ad program and see money trickle to your account.

And as far as your fear is concerned that they might not click - then Hello talk to me. I did the same mistake a few years back and then realized if your site is really good and the ads are targeted - people do click.

Just do it Ė NOW!

ronin




msg:3637533
 12:21 pm on Apr 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

To be honest, while my first sale was a huge buzz, I still felt kinda uneasy about it. It was almost as if I was selling out, somehow betraying the few readers I had to make a quick buck at their expense.

Don't get me wrong, the product I linked to was a genuinely excellent way to save money, and was a great deal relative to most other cards of its kind. But still, I couldn't help but feel... well, bought.

Your point only holds if the guy who ended up following your link and making a purchase otherwise had no intention of buying any card in the first place.

If that person was already scouring the web to find and buy the best offer card they could find and when they came across your article you gave them the final piece of info they needed to have to commit to a purchase... then you haven't been bought by anyone.

You've just earned a well-deserved referral fee.

ildarius




msg:3640339
 1:01 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Remember, the point of this was not to have a lovely little readership that you don't annoy with ads, but to build yourself a $100/day income.

LoL

But good job Jleane, looks like you're pulling through and nobody's going to blame you or think that you are cheap if you're selling something on your web-site, that would make all of us here look cheap too...

ronin




msg:3640545
 4:54 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

the point of this was not to have a lovely little readership that you don't annoy with ads

Actually, IMHO, if you want to build a low maintenance $100/day income, then attracting a lovely little readership that you don't annoy with ads is a very effective way to do it.

You research, you write, they lap it up, and whenever they want to buy something, they buy it from you. You never have to go out and actively sell stuff. It's a "pull" model rather than a "push" model.

BillyWhizz




msg:3641335
 9:35 am on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Jonathan, I have only joined the forums today and was reading your first post, I have not read the whole thread but would like to say, I like your style of writing and believe you can make a go of that style.

Good luck and now I should probably catch up with the rest of the thread to see whether you are hopeful, suicidal or plain happy

Cheers

jleane




msg:3641572
 7:54 pm on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's not yet time for another update, but I just wanted to drop in and say thanks for the replies guys and girls.

As you all know, my deadline is rapidly approaching, and I feel like I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I definitely hear the 'this aint no charity' crowd, and you're right - I am, first and foremost, in this to make money. Having said that, part of me - a big part - is thinking along Ronin's line: that the best way to make money is to think long term by building up a readership base.

As far as I can tell, there is a great deal of merit to taking such an approach, not the least of which being that even if Google, Yahoo and MSN all simultaneously decide that they donít want anything to do with you, youíll still have lots of traffic coming in. Some of your readers might even do a little promotion on your behalf Ė if youíre providing useful and entertaining content on a regular basis, why wouldnít they tell their friends and family about your site?

Whatís more, I canít help but feel that if you donít suffocate them with ads, and if youíre straight up about any affiliate programs youíre running, theyíll trust you Ė and your revenue will (eventually) reflect that.

Time is running out, and by the end of May Iíll have to get a Ďrealí job, or move back home if I donít start making some more money with the site. The thing is though, I really feel like Iím onto something good here, and Iíd rather suffer in the short term if it increased my chances of long term success.

Looks like I have some thinking to do...

soudou




msg:3641872
 12:32 pm on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well I'd say both avenues have merit to them, but which do you have time for? Anyone else I'd say go for whatever you want so long as both are done professionally and tastefully. But at the end of the day, as you say, you only have a month left for this project. You have to prioritise. It'd be very difficult to build up a loyal, dedicated and expansive readership *and* only then later try and implement relevant advertising *and* then tweak and test those adverts to earn the best... in less than 4 weeks... It can probably be done but as you're simultaneously also trying to deal with affiliate marketing from scratch which take time to kick into gear, I wouldn't really advise it for your particular situation.

There's merit to starting off how you intend to proceed too. Showing that a site *will* have advertising from the getgo means no surprised readers later on.

Also as far as I understand from prior research, this topic is somewhat null once you look into options for controlling how your ads are shown. Here are just a couple of methods for displaying adverts without them being seen by a loyal readership:

I'm sure theres a boatload of other methods and plugins out there for blogs and sites. Just have a Google and I'm sure you'll find various articles on it.

Therefore it seems there's no longer a real need for an either/or choice. So get stuck in!

[edited by: jcoronella at 3:52 am (utc) on May 25, 2008]

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