Your Most Frequently Asked Questions…Answered!

The one thing that we have found since we started this website is that we seem to get the same questions asked time and time again. These were the same questions we used to ask when we were struggling to make it. Now I can see how futile those questions were but back then we just wanted answers.

We knew that something was holding us back. Was it the keywords we chose? Did we choose the right niche? Was there a better niche that we could have gone with? How long should it take for our keywords to rank? How long before we can start seeing the money come in?

Basically what we wanted to know was – what were we doing wrong? I even remember that we sent an email to James Martell (our mentor at the time) with that very same question.

We know now that what we were doing wrong was that we were providing very little value. We had plenty of traffic at the time but when our readers arrived at our site, they didn’t stay for very long because what we had to provide wasn’t worth reading. When we finally had that sorted out, we were on our way and  many of the questions we had also disappeared. We no longer needed to ask them because we had finally figured it  out.

You really don’t need to ask these questions either. You may think you do because you desperately want to make it, so you cling to the hope that just some tiny little snippet of information will finally make the difference between the mediocre and the outstanding for you. But when it comes down to it you really only need to do 3 things:

1. Choose quality products to promote.

2. Write excellent reviews that are extremely helpful to the reader.

3. Get traffic to your site – and yes that means backlinking.

That’s it! There’s nothing special about it but for some reason everyone (including us in the past) gets caught up in all the little things and getting caught up in the little things is what is going to set you back time and time again because it usually involves a whole lot of time wasting.

The analysis factor during the period when you are trying to make it is huge. What I mean by that is that a good part of your time is spent analyzing facts and figures as well as analyzing other peoples facts and figures. I can only just imagine how many people have analyzed our websites to see why we are making it. I know the thinking behind doing that but it doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t because it didn’t for us. We would constantly check out other peoples successful sites. We figured if their site was set up in a particular way then we should set our sites up in that way. And because they were focusing on a particular niche then we should focus on that niche. And if they were using a particular plugin then we should use that plugin. And if they were promoting their site using Facebook, then we should be promoting our site using Facebook. And if they were adding 10 posts a day then we should add 10 posts a day. And on and on it went.

It was all just one big time waster….nothing more, because it got us nowhere. In fact, it just kept setting us back because we would invariably start another website or spend time on an existing site changing the format completely. These are time wasters because they don’t involve any of the three steps listed above. We had websites already so we didn’t need to create new ones and the layout on our sites were fine – changing them wasn’t going to suddenly make us more money. Remember – it doesn’t matter if you have the best looking site on the web, if you don’t have any traffic, no one is going to see it, so  no one is going to buy the products you are promoting.

This was a never ending cycle. If we had simply focused on one website and those three steps we would have been making money a lot sooner. But that’s all in the past now and we don’t want to dwell too long there and I can see that I am rambling on again instead of getting straight to the point which is answering our frequently asked questions so let’s get to it.

Your Questions Answered…

We get a lot of questions but these are the most commonly asked:

Have you been hit by the latest Panda update?

A few days ago we received an email from a reader telling us that there had been another Panda update. We had no idea, but then we don’t frequent forums or other peoples blogs too much these days so we are kind of secluded from what is actually going on out there.

If it affects us then we will know about it pretty darn quick because we will see our sales drop. So we aren’t going to worry about things before they happen and staying away from forums etc means that we can focus on the more important aspects to our business

But in answer to the question, at this point in time, we haven’t been hit by any of the Panda updates. Perhaps it is because of the style of backlinking we choose. It is one of the strongest forms of backlinking in our opinion. But I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, nobody really knows what Google is thinking so who knows what is going to happen in the future.

If we get hit we will let you know. We aren’t going to bother hiding it.

How long does it take to rank a keyword in the top 3 in Google?

This is one of our most commonly asked questions. Most understand that it can vary but they just want an average figure to focus on.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to answer. You could have a keyword rank within 10 minutes of posting the page or it might take two years. It ultimately depends on the competition for that keyword. If there is no competition then you will rank quickly. If there is a lot of competition then it will take a while.

And then of course backlinking comes into play. If you don’t do any backlinking then you will probably never rank for it. If you do a lot then you might rank in a couple of months or it could take a lot longer if the keyword is quite competitive.

We also don’t know how much effort you are going to put into this so we have no way of knowing how quickly you are going to rank for a keyword. One person might rank for a keyword in 3 months and another might rank in 6 months.

Which niche converts the best?

Every niche converts. It’s not about the niche, it’s about the individual product in that niche. Every niche is going to have good products and bad products. Your job is simply to pick the best products – products that you yourself would be happy to buy.

Do you recommend promoting electronic products?

We personally don’t. Apart from the fact that they only pay very low commissions, they also change constantly. So you might have a review for a particular laptop or a camera for instance that does really well and then suddenly it is superseded with a newer model. In our view, it’s too much work to keep up with it all.

How many Amazon products do you currently promote now on your blogs?

We don’t know the answer to this one of the top of our heads and we really don’t want to waste time finding out. We don’t keep track of the products we promote. We just keep fixing up reviews and backlinking. We no longer look at our stats – we just don’t want to waste our time doing it.

All you really need to know is that you can potentially make a full time income from just one page on the internet. A few more pages is better because you don’t want to put all your eggs in the one basket and not all pages will generate a full-time income, but it is definitely doable with just a handful of product reviews.

How many keywords are you currently ranking for?

Same as the answer above. We don’t check our stats often enough to know the answer.

How long will it be before I make any money?

The ultimate question of course. We all want to know how long it could take to start seeing some income come in. Again it’s a tough one to answer. There are so many variables to take into account including:

  • the products you choose
  • the quality of your reviews
  • how much backlinking you do
  • the competition

Most generally see some sort of income start to trickle in around the 3 month mark but it could be sooner or it could be later. It generally starts to build and then suddenly hits a plateau. At this point, most people hit the wall so to speak. They have put so much work into it all only to receive a few hundred dollars a month. It is around this time that people start to doubt the process. They think that they must be doing something wrong so they start looking for other methods to make money or they build another website thinking that they chose the wrong niche. This is the start of the Cycle of Doom that can be difficult to get out of.

Do you create a website based on just one product?

We have one website based on one product but personally we don’t recommend it. The reason we don’t is that at any time the product may go out of stock for extended periods or worse yet, the company may decide to no longer manufacture it. If this happens your site is basically useless and all your hard work goes down the drain.

Do you use domain names that are based on a product name?

We have only one website that uses the product name as the domain name but again we wouldn’t recommend it. It’s risky using a product brand or name because at any time the company could ask you to take it down. If you are going to do it, make sure that it doesn’t become your only source of income.

I have a number of websites but am not making much money. How many more do I need to make a full-time income?

You only need one website to make a full-time income. The more websites you build, the more work you will have to do. Building website after website doesn’t work. It just creates stress as it is impossible to manage multiple websites effectively.

This is covered fully in this blog post – The Affiliate Marketers Cycle of Doom.

Yet Another Goal Setting New Year’s Post?

Does time seem to speed up as you get older? It certainly feels that way to me. Last year just flew by and here we are already in 2012 and of course that means the obligatory goal setting post. Yeah, I know…ho hum…it’s not the most interesting of topics and most people try to ignore it all but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal and if you really want your business to flourish then you simply have to set goals.

But don’t worry, we’re not going to go into a lot of detail on how to set goals in this post. You only need to do a search on the net to see how to do it. Let’s just say that we recommend that you set goals for your business for 2012 and leave it at that.

Oh, and just one more thing, when you set your goals aim high. I know most people set a goal to make $100 a day when they first start out but instead set if for $300 a day or even higher. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” In other words, if you want to reach your goal you have to aim higher.

So you’re probably wondering now just what this post is going to be about since we aren’t really going to talk about goal setting. I’ve kind of been wondering that too as I write this but it came to me that goal setting on it’s own isn’t enough. For goals to truly work you have to take action. I think we all know this and we all take some sort of action but is it the right type of action?

To see whether you are taking the right action you need to look to the past. This is a great time of the year to do that. It’s a time to reflect and see whether all the work you put in last year made any real difference to your business.

For us, 2011 was a year of trying new things and looking for ways to diversify. It some ways, we didn’t really move forward in any big way despite the work and effort we put in. We mentioned in a previous post that we kind of got back into our old habits and didn’t focus as well as we could have…working on too many things at the one time really doesn’t work. We keep telling people that but sometimes we need to be reminded ourselves.

However, despite all of that, and despite the depressed economy in the US, we still did extremely well last year so we are happy.

What about you? How did your year go? If you look back over it, at least in terms of your online business, what did you accomplish? Did your business improve in some way over the year? Did you actually do anything to move forward in your online business or was it a mishmash of scattered projects, implementing new methods, tweaking websites and wasted time spent on forums, Twitter and Facebook?

If you had spent the year only backlinking and adding quality product reviews and content would you be in a better position today? More than likely.

If you’ve been around a while and still not making money then you really have to decide whether this year is going to be the one for you. You can’t keep doing the same things because you are only creating a cycle that will continue and by next Christmas you will still be struggling to make it.

There are a lot of people who follow this blog and we know that many of them aren’t making the big dollars yet and we know they are capable of doing it. What we want to see is those people finally making a success of it this year. You can do it – if we can do it so can you. There is nothing special about what we did apart from the fact we focused and we focused big time.

Most people think that the reason we make the big dollars is that we chose the right niche. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was never about the niches because you can make money in just about any niche. What made us the big dollars was that we focused on just a few things at the one time. We stopped reading forums and blogs, we stopped working on all of our 20 or so websites, we stopped checking stats on a daily basis, we stopped spending time on Twitter and Facebook and we stopped buying ebook after ebook looking for new methods for making money.

Here’s just an example of one of our many plans that we went through over the years. This is a weekly plan for when we decided to focus on just one site.

Person 1
Find 40 guest blog sites
Email 40 guest blog sites sites
Write guest blog articles (10 to 20 articles per week)
Person 2
Add 20 forum posts
Post 80 blog comments
Add site to two directories
Add 7 articles to the site
Write 1 review

Are you kidding? Yes, it was a bit ridiculous and I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone. That plan didn’t last too long as it was a bit extreme but it just shows you where our focus was at the time. When you have a plan like that you don’t have time to even think about Facebook, forums, stats and other things.

Just recently we received an email from two friends who like us are working together on their online business and out of all the emails we have received over the years these two have really got it together in terms of their focus. Usually the types of emails we receive from people sound something like this:

“I’m not making much money. Can you tell me how many websites and/or reviews I need to make a full-time income”

OR

“I have built 30 sites so far but I’m still not making any money. Someone on a forum said that the only way to make a lot of money is to build at least a 100 websites. Do you agree?”

But instead what we received from these two friends sounded something like this and I am paraphrasing here:

“We are wondering whether we can just work on two products. This way we can stay more focused. Since we only have 2 to 3 hours a day we can give those 2 product reviews the traffic they need.”

Now remember that there are two people working on it so that is just ONE product review per person so they are focusing big time. And just to emphasize here that they aren’t working on one website each…it’s just one product review each.

In fact, they are obviously so focused on focusing that (although they probably didn’t realize it) in their last email to us they used the word ‘focus’ four times! If these two don’t succeed it won’t be through any fault of their own.

We go on and on about focusing but it needs to be repeated because it’s where most people fail. And for us it’s the same, when we don’t focus we don’t see any improvement.

So our advice is to look back to last year and see what you achieved and whether the action you took really made any difference at the end of the day. If not, then your next decision is easy – either continue doing the same things and never really get anywhere or make big changes and finally succeed.

The Affiliate Marketers Cycle of Doom

What is it about this business that causes people to take on too much? It’s something we had a problem with in the early days, until we got focused and on track, but for some reason it reared its ugly head again and we found ourselves back in that position all over again. For some weeks we were finding it difficult to stay focused on any one thing. Things just weren’t flowing as well as they should and we knew it was because we had been taking on too much. When this happens the work-flow becomes scattered and you start to spread yourself too thin so nothing of any consequence ever gets done.

As we were discussing this the other day Wanda said “I wish we had only built one website when we started – things would be a whole lot easier now.” And that in a nutshell is what it’s all about when it comes to being a successful internet marketer. If you can manage to focus on just one thing you can’t help but be a success. The more you take on, the longer it will take for you to make money and the less time you will have to do anything.

We not only had our niche websites but this blog, the new review website plus constant requests for interviews, joint ventures, the public domain projects we were working on, products we needed to write reviews for, constant emails to answer and on and on it went. We were even in the very early process of creating a membership site of sorts. No wonder we were feeling burnt out and a little frayed. As a result we seemed to be stuck in the same place with nothing really moving forward. Our earnings pretty much stayed the same even though we were doing more work.

Another sign that things weren’t flowing was that we would tend to flag after lunch and we really had no enthusiasm to get back to work so we would end up watching a video or going shopping, not that there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t help your business.

We knew something was wrong. But fortunately this time it was easy for us to figure out what that was because we had been through it all before when we were first struggling to make money online. Back then we were working on all of our 20 or so websites at the one time and it didn’t work then so why were we essentially doing a similar thing now? Go figure!

You’d be hard pressed to find an internet marketer who isn’t taking on too much. In fact, for some reason many internet marketers take on so much that they often work longer hours than they would if they were in a regular 9 to 5 job. I don’t see the point in that. One of the main reasons we came into this business was for the freedom it could give us. To me, it is more important than the money.

So ultimately we don’t want to be spending long hours working. Fortunately for us working on this business is an enjoyable experience for the most part so we don’t really consider it work. However, there are other things we would like to be doing so we don’t want to turn it into a 60 hour a week job.

Now this is just our story but I know that the majority of people reading this post will be experiencing a similar thing. Its hard not to because although making money online is simple, we make it as complicated as possible. And all those complications hinder our ability to make it all work.

In it’s simplest form, making money online involves choosing a product or service (your own or someone else’s), creating a page to promote that product or service and getting traffic to that page. What makes it complicated is how we approach it all. Instead of keeping it simple we do everything we possibly can to make it difficult. And the reason why it becomes a difficult process is that we don’t trust the process to begin with – we don’t trust it because it takes a while for that process to see results. In other words, it takes a while for it all to start making money.

So what happens with most people is that they create a website to promote a product and work for a couple of weeks getting traffic to that page but they don’t see any sales. Everyone tells them that they can make money overnight on the internet so why aren’t they?

So the doubt starts to set in and they think they are doing something wrong. So that website is ignored as they go out and find out what they can do to fix it. They end up on a blog or a forum and everyone is giving advice about which method works and which doesn’t. So they’ll buy another ebook, or two or three because each one has a better method for making money online. Only each one of those ebooks tells them something different so they are already confused as to which way to go.

By this time the first website is totally forgotten and they have three or four more websites on the go. Everyone says to add lots of content but there isn’t enough time so they go and buy some plr content and spin it or they get someone on an outsourcing site to write a hundred articles for a dollar a piece. Of course you aren’t going to get much for a dollar an article but who cares if the quality isn’t there – its content and Google loves content right?

By this point they have given up on backlinking because it is too difficult and time consuming so they start to look for easier ways. So they will happily pay a monthly fee to be part of a backlinking blog network that essentially gives them poor quality links or they will invest in various different plugins that will automate the system for them or pay someone to get them thousands of backlinks overnight.

Now they have 20 or 30 websites going because it is so easy to get them up and everyone says that the more websites you have the more money you will make but that’s not working either. Fortunately there is plenty of helpful constructive advise on the forum they regularly attend and someone says that they really only started making a decent income when they had over 100 websites. So off they go and spend hours building more and more websites.

By this time a year has passed and they still aren’t making much money. The hundred websites aren’t working since there is no time to backlink to them and you can’t really afford to continue to pay some backlinking company or blog network to get backlinks for you and you realize that those links weren’t much good to begin with. Plus the amount of time it takes to maintain them is quite draining and there is really no time left in the day to spend with family or friends.

By this time they are almost ready to give up but another email turns up in their email box with yet another method of making money online and it only takes an hour a day and they can be making money within weeks. It is totally different to what they have tried so they create a whole new website thinking that this will definitely be the one that makes it for them and they do everything it says in the ebook and three weeks later they still aren’t making any money. So they start to doubt the process again and forget that website and start looking for other new and easier methods to make money online.

Do you see how we’ve come full circle here? This is what I like to call the ‘affiliate marketers never ending cycle of doom’. I don’t think there is anyone out there who hasn’t gone through it and you can go through it over and over again for years and years. It’s a never ending cycle of creating more and more websites, buying ebook after ebook and going from one money making method to another without experiencing much success.

What to do if you know you are taking on too much

To be successful at all of this, you really have to be self aware. In other words, you need to step back on a regular basis and take a look at what you are actually doing. In most cases you will find that you are taking on too much. But it’s not only that, you will also find that you are never giving anything you take on a chance to really work.

Imagine that if instead of going through the affiliate marketers cycle of doom the fictitious person above focused on only one website for a whole year. Or even better, what if they focused on only 5 product reviews for a whole year. Most people would never consider doing something like that because they think it is too risky. What if none of those 5 pages ever ranks or what if the product I chose doesn’t sell? Yes, there is always that risk – unfortunately there are no guarantees in this business but I think most of us would agree that if we spent a year on just five pages of content you would see some magic happen.

If like us you are finding yourself with too much on your plate then here are some tips to help you get through it:

1. Spend a few hours writing out exactly what tasks you do on a daily basis. (I actually like the Action Enforcer software for this as it gives you a report at the end of the week that tallies up your tasks and the time spent on them so you know where you are spending most of your time.)

2. Once the list is written, take a look at it to see which tasks you are doing that are helping you to move forward with your business and which ones are just time wasters. You can set up two columns for this.

Time wasters are usually things like hanging out at forums for extended periods, Tweeting for hours at a time, Facebook, tweaking website themes, reading blog after blog, answering emails and so on.

‘Things that help you move forward with your business’ include things like backlinking, writing product reviews, reworking product reviews, writing content, and even more backlinking.

3. The ‘time wasters’ should really take up no more than an hour of your day. Anymore than that and you are wasting your time UNLESS you are actually making money from doing these things.

The ‘things that help you move forward in your business’ column should take up the majority of your time. If you want a simple easy working life then all you need to be doing on a daily basis is either writing really good content/product reviews and backlinking. It’s simple and you don’t need flash and fancy tools to do it. All you really need is just patience and a good work ethic.

Each individual task you undertake during your working day is either going to help you to move forward or it is going to waste your time. So as you work during the next week think about whether the task you are working on is actually helping you to move forward or not.

4. The next step is too look at the number of websites you are working on at the one time. If it’s more than two then that is too many. However, looking at your websites is just one part of the story. To really reduce your workload there is a better way and one we have spoken about in a previous blog post. What it involves is focusing on pages rather than websites. This works particularly well for people with multiple websites. In a nutshell it involves finding five pages on all of your websites that are getting the most traffic and reworking them to provide better quality content and then backlinking to them to increase the traffic even more. You can read about it in more detail here. When you start focusing on pages instead of websites things happen a lot faster. Life is also a lot more relaxed as you have more time in your day and things are a lot less frantic.

What did we do?

Since determining that we were taking on too much we decided that we would go back and start to work on one website at a time. We are tidying up some of the old ones and focusing on pages on those sites that are getting a bit of traffic. We are reworking those pages to provide better content and are choosing quality products to promote.

We have also put a hold on all interviews we are doing (except for ones already scheduled) and have decided not to create any membership sites or work on any new projects for the time being. We will continue to write for this blog and send out our newsletter but our primary focus will be our websites. So essentially we have less on our plate.

As soon as we made that decision, we both felt a tremendous sense of relief. And funnily enough since making that decision our income has increased. It’s like the universe has confirmed to us that this is what we should be doing. We also are back to enjoying the work and will happily work all day.

We have our focus back and it’s a great feeling.

What Was the Main Factor in Our Success

Yesterday we received an email from a reader asking what we considered to be the main factor for the success we now have today. I initially had trouble answering this question because there was no one main factor…there were actually quite a number of them and each factor helped move us to the next level.

I often think back to the early days and wonder how much quicker we would have made it if we had done things differently, but you can’t dwell on the past…you can only learn from it. And believe me everything we have done has been a learning experience…you might even call it an apprenticeship of sorts, although we were probably the longest serving apprentices in existence. It took us around 5 years to start seeing some real success. But just what does the word ‘success’ actually mean in this business? Well, mostly it relates to money which is understandable but it’s all relative really as one person may see success as making $100 a day and another won’t feel successful until they are making $1000 or more a day.

Either way, I’d like to think we have been successful at this…we worked hard to get here, probably harder than we needed to in retrospect but as I said, you can’t dwell on the past. We know that even our mistakes have helped us get to where we are today so it has all been worthwhile.  And though we have had our fair share of ups and downs, at no point do I ever remember either of us saying that it was time to give up. We might have focused on other things for a while like our online wholesale jewellery business (which we have now closed) or our main 9 to 5 jobs but we always came back to this business because we knew that we wanted the lifestyle that it could give us.

And man, is this one fantastic lifestyle. Just imagine going to sleep and waking up to find you have made a few hundred dollars overnight. Or doing a meditation and when you get back to your computer you see that you have made an affiliate sale…or going to see your child perform in a play at school and checking your phone to see that a couple of sales have come through while you have been sitting watching.

Please don’t look at this post as if I am gloating here…I still have to pinch myself on occasion to make sure this is real. What I am trying to do is impress upon you that everything you are doing to move upward in your business is soooo worth the effort although you may not think so now particularly if you are still struggling to get there. If you want the freedom that this business can give you then you have to do the work.

Okay, I can see I am getting sidetracked yet again, so I will get back to the original question which was ‘what was the main factor in our success?’

As I said there wasn’t just one so I have put together the main ones below. Without each one of these I doubt we would be where we are today.

  1. Never giving up – I mentioned this briefly above but I think it was obviously a critical one because if at any point we had decided to give up, it would have meant that we would both be still back at our regular jobs. Not that there was anything wrong with those jobs. As 9 to 5 jobs go, they were a pretty good organization to work for, the people were great and we both had highly paid jobs, but both of us just wanted more freedom. We didn’t want to continue having to get up at 6am everyday and trudge off to work for someone else, or to have to work around work schedules  and other peoples time tables before we could take days off to travel. We knew there was something better and keeping that uppermost in our minds made us determined to succeed.
  2. Changing to Amazon links – I am pretty certain that if we had continued linking to other merchants and not changed to Amazon that we wouldn’t be making a quarter of what we make now. Linking to Amazon products was a real turning point for us.
  3. Writing better quality reviews – We’ve mentioned this numerous times on our blog but when we moved over to writing better quality reviews our conversion rates soared.  We have written hundreds if not thousands of reviews over time and most are short 300 word articles. One day we decided to change one of those reviews to a lengthy well written review of over 1000 words and the results were phenomenal. We are still reworking the older poor quality reviews to this day.
  4. Focusing on one site instead of many – This one was absolutely critical. When we were working on all of our sites at once we had no time in the day and nothing really worked. We were spreading ourselves too thin, and we weren’t enjoying what we were doing. When we finally started focusing on only one website things started to happen. It was actually quite hard to leave the other websites alone (Wanda still tends to tinker with them if I don’t keep an eye on her) but we did our best to just focus on the one and it made a massive difference.
  5. Guest articles – Another critical factor was our method of backlinking. We  were originally  told about this method by James Martell and it is to this day our main method of backlinking. Why?…because the backlinks that you get using this method are super strong and much better than any other type of backlinking method we have tried and believe me we have tried a lot of them. It basically involves submitting articles (containing links back to your website) to other websites and we don’t mean article directories.
  6. Reading and listening to self improvement information – This one may not be for everyone but I do believe that this made a major difference to our success. We spend at least an hour a day of our working time listening to people like Harv Eker, Bob Proctor, Paul Scheele,  Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins and so on. What they do is give us a bit of motivational boost for the beginning of the day. They have also changed our mindsets for the better so that we are focusing on more positive aspects of our lives and our business.