Out For The Weekend

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Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know I'll be in Frisco for the weekend and won't be posting much.

More Sleep = More Money?

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If you watched 60 Minutes the other night, you probably saw the clip on sleep. The gist of it was that not getting enough sleep can lead to several known issues: overeating, decreased mental agility, decreased response time, decreased sexual appetite and more.

So it made me think of my current situation. Sure, I make a decent amount with internet marketing but we're never satisfied, are we? :)

I asked several friends how much sleep they get on average per night and here's what they said-

Wes Mahler: ~8 Hours
UberAffiliate
: ~7 Hours
Jonathan Volk: ~7 Hours
Brandon Hopkins: ~7 Hours
Steven Truong: ~5 Hours
Me: ~6 Hours

You've seen these guys. They're doing pretty well for themselves and, as you can see, they get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Then there's me. I get around 6 Hours per night and that's been pretty constant for the last few years. Coincidentally, for the last few years, I've put on some extra pounds. Seriously, I used to be around 170 and lean; now I'm 190 and rounder. As I said, yeah- I make decent money but think of how much more I could be making if I was firing on all pistons. The same goes for you. If you aren't getting enough sleep per night, you might want to reconsider.

If you do a search on this topic, you'll find some interesting stuff. If you want to read up, just do a search on 'sleep and weight gain.' Among the first results, you'll find this article by Colette Bouchez titled The Dream Diet: Losing Weight While You Sleep. Here's the interesting part:

...have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin.

How Hormones Affect Your Sleep

Leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of "checks and balances" system to control feelings of hunger and fullness, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.

So what's the connection to sleep? "When you don't get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food," Breus tells WebMD.

The two combined, he says, can set the stage for overeating, which in turn may lead to weight gain.

This alone kind of shocked me. I mean, it makes sense but it explained a lot about my current state.

Like many other Americans, I was fooling myself into thinking longer days would lead to more work. In reality, I probably got less done and with decreased quality than if I were bright-eyed and bushy tailed from a good night's sleep.

Now I'm not blaming a bad diet or bad work ethic on not getting enough sleep. But I am saying it can contribute to these limiting factors. And when it comes to your business, you should do everything you can to make it work more efficiently and profit more. If that means getting your 7-8 hours/night, then so be it. And who doesn't want to sleep more? Sleep is amazing.

Personally, I jumped on the sleep train last night at around 10PM just to get a jump start on this experiment. The experiment being: whether an increased amount of sleep will lead to an increase in productivity and money in general. I must admit, I do feel much better today than I normally do but that could be placebo. I'll have to see how it goes over the next few weeks.

If I didn't mention you in the post, please feel free to comment on how many hours you get per night. I'm sure it would be interesting to know.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job … Yet

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Another thing I get asked all the time is why I haven't quit my regular job yet.  The answer to that one is simple: I don't need to.

Sure, your logic might tell you that the reason you're doing all this is to get away from your day job. It might even be your number one immediate goal, but consider this:

  1. With a job, you have insurance. Insurance is a lot more expensive when you're self employed.
  2. Unless you are very disciplined, it's hard for most people to separate work and home when they're actually at home. Time restraints (doing business after work) push us to do more with less time.
  3. You'll have stable income. Affiliate marketing can take you to much higher places but don't be fooled into thinking it's steady income, especially when you're just getting started.
  4. It's more income. Sure, you might be able to make more with affiliate marketing in a day than you do all month at your day job, and perhaps at that point you're ready to quit, but until then -- more money helps cover those advertising expenses.
  5. Connections. It's difficult not to meet useful people at work and since my philosophy is that you should always keep your eyes open for what you can learn from anyone you meet, I think work is a great place to do this. Use your connections to your advantage.
  6. Benefits. You might laugh but it's always good to have a fall-back in case you completely fail at affiliate marketing. Not that you would, but...
  7. It gives you expertise that might help you at work. Who knows?

In the end, it's really up to you when you quit. In fact, "when to quit" is such an interesting question that I asked it a while back with What's Your Quit Number? If you noticed, my 'quit number' is high due to everything I've mentioned in this post. For me, the value of having a job is much higher than my monthly pay check. Another thing you probably noticed is that other peoples' quit numbers are low -- most near $5000/month. I don't blame them but for all you with such a low quit number, I urge you to consider the points made here.

If nothing else, the old adage holds up -- don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Affiliate Marketing + iPhone = Love?

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If by love, you mean money.

With the recent release of the iPhone SDK, developers are jumping all over the chance at launching iPhone-friendly applications that users can purchase directly from their iPhones. Wow, I just realized there's no other way to say iPhone without confusing people, so .. prepare for repetition.

The real question is - what does this mean for us?

If you watched the presentation on the subject, you know that Apple is only taking 30% to handle hosting and sales of apps. That means you get a nice 70% of each sale (assuming you don't set your price at free). Oh also, you can set your own price!

So that means we can develop apps and make a decent profit off of them. But the smart people are the ones who think outside the box -- the ones who wonder: "How can I attach the affiliate marketing business method to this subject?"

I'll put it another way. There's going to be a lot of money circulating through the hands of Apple -- why wouldn't you take some of it? Now, of course, Apple could foresee this fact and put some sort of legal statement in their terms that bars it. But so far, they haven't. And until then, it's fair game.

If you still have no idea what I'm talking about, just think of an application you might put on the iPhone: game, contact manager, favorite game manager, some kind of social networking tool, etc. Then think of how you could create the next iPhone Myspace or iPhone Facebook. That means you'll have room for advertising.

On the flip side, think of an application that uses incentivized offers to get people points or something of that nature. The possibilities go on and on. I've already got some ideas, but what about you?

This could be the next big thing, so if you've got the programming skills, put on your thinking cap. Or if you can't program on your own, hire someone.

In any case, you should always be on the look out for new technology to exploit in terms of sales. This is just one more example.

8 Days Since Last Post – Yikes!

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I just wanted to let you guys know I'm still around but I've been spending tons of time on an application I'm building and learning ActionScript in the process.

Sorry about the delay. I've been getting IMs from people wanting updates and so, here it is.

While I'm working on this application, I'm willing to field any questions people may have about affiliate marketing in general. Until then, posts will be few and far between. By the beginning of next week, everything should be back to normal though.

Thanks for staying dedicated and I'll come out with some quality wordage soon.

Scott

When Will You Be An Affiliate Marketing Rock Star?

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Affiliate marketing can make you insanely wealthy, but you've gotta be in it to win it.

And by wealthy, I'm making a distinction from being rich. Rich people can count their money and state exactly how much they're worth. Wealthy people usually have no idea how much they have because their money grows every day, so they wouldn't be able to tell you.

What's so amazing about this game is that literally anyone can become a rock star, but it's important that you set NTE (Not To Exceed) dates and then bust your ass to hit each deadline. If that means sleepless nights, so be it. If that means taking time off of work, do it to it baby. I've stayed up for 50+ hours at a time to make sure my business is functioning just right and I'm doing as much as I can to reach my goals.

But What If I Fail?

Try harder. You've heard it a million times.

Thomas Edison, world famous inventor, said, "Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Solution? Never give up. If you know something is attainable, worthwhile and can make your dreams a reality, you should be a juggernaut until you're there.

Lately, I've been setting small goals like these as a build-up practice for disciplining myself to complete these goals. You've probably noticed more and more goals I'm putting up on the blog and that's for a specific reason. For one, it gives me some accountability to you and two, I see it every day so I'm constantly reminded.

So do it, do it now and do it well.

Affiliate Marketing Dictionary

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I've decided to start using my Affiliate Marketing Dictionary in posts to link to terms that new affiliates might not know. I figure, this will help clarify my posts a bit more. I also plan on linking to it from the e-book I just released in its new version.

Yes, it will take more work but it's worth it to help people to understand this crazy business. The dictionary is a work in progress, so if you have a suggestion for what should be there or an alternate definition for a particular word, please let me know.

As for now, feel free to look up any of the terms I've already defined. I'm adding a suggestion feature in the next few days so that I'm not missing anything important.

Just another tool from the Affiliate Toolbox. Hope you like it.

Scott

$1000 Days And Beyond – How To Scale

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So you want to start making over $1,000.00 per day?

Not a day goes by that I don't get asked how to scale a campaign to $1,000.00/day and beyond. In fact, not only do I get asked but I read the question being asked elsewhere on a daily basis. Put simply, the people want to know! That's why I'm putting this post together to give you fine people a compilation of information on how to do just that. It's not as easy as 1-2-3, but it's not completely out of your grasp either.

Funding

First and foremost, you need to know that funding an expansion on your campaign isn't cheap. Not only do you need enough money to pay for the advertising, but you need to be able to eat your losses and not go into debt. If you're rocking $1,000.00 in your bank account, that's not going to cut it. You need to either use a credit card with a decent limit or start with at least $5,000.00. Personally, I started with $5,000.00 and then moved over to a credit card once I was profitable for about a reasonable period of time. This is key to ensuring you can pay your balance off on a monthly/bimonthly/weekly basis.

Research

I'll give you as much information as I can in one post, but in the end, no single person knows all there is to know about scaling. That's why you have to bust your ass researching as much as you can. You've got to read, read, read. Read forums, read super affiliate blogs, read e-books and anything else you can get your hands on. People aren't going to spoon feed you the information; it's highly coveted. Make yourself an expert and you'll be much less likely to squander your investment bankroll.

Campaign

If you aren't running a profitable campaign as we speak, there's probably some good information in here for you, but in general, if you scale at this point, you're just going to scale your debt right along with your revenue. It's not pretty, so focus on getting into profit, then come back and read this bad boy. Additionally, if your payout is anything less than $10.00 per lead/sale, scaling is going to be much more difficult for you, so keep that in mind. Scaling works best with more breathing room.

Volume

Now here is where it gets interesting. Volume is at the very heart of scaling. You can increase volume in any of several ways: keyword volume, search engine volume or overall spending volume.

Increasing keyword volume just means using more keywords in general, but before you go dumping tons of keywords into your campaign, let me clarify. I've run campaigns that have done $5,000.00 and more off of just ONE keyword. The trick here is to use broad match short-tail keywords that fit your niche really well. For instance, if you were selling potato chips, it's time to work on going for the gusto with short-tail keywords like 'chip', 'pringles', 'lays', etc. Make no mistake, these are highly competitive keywords but if your keywords are highly (and I mean as much as possible) relevant to your ads and your landing page text, you can avoid paying super high bid prices on these. In fact, over time you can get your minimum bids down to $0.05 and below. Aside from adding high volume short tail keywords, you can also work on adding a lot more short tail keywords that don't necessarily have high volume individually, but together, they'll add up to one short-tail.

What I mean by increasing search engine volume is simply using more sources for traffic. For instance, if you're using Yahoo for all your PPC, try jumping into Google Adwords. You'll see your traffic double, triple or even quadruple for the same keywords. Don't stop there though, you can join networks like MSN Adcenter, Ask.com, etc. Also, if you're running solely 'search network' traffic, try split testing the content network to see if you can get increased traffic that way.

To increase your spending volume, you can do a few things. First of all, you can increase your daily budget in general. That's a given, but you can also test increasing your max bid per keyword. It might be counter-intuitive to you now, but even though you're converting at X% now, you might be able to double that with an ad in a higher position for a particular keyword. You'll also be increasing your CTR (Click-through ratio) for that particular ad, which as you know, decreases your average cost per click. That means you're paying less per click to stay in that higher position. On a side-note, being at the top of the page has another benefit people don't often discuss- you're one of the first clicks (hopefully the last) a user makes for a particular search and that means you don't get disgruntled clicks from people who have visited other sites and have less patience for yours.

Payout

Next in line in terms of importance to scaling is your payout. Payout is the amount of money you get paid for each sale/lead you generate and for high volume campaigns, a few cents can be the difference between life and death. Guess who stands in the way of you and a higher payout? Two people: your affiliate manager and yourself. Your affiliate manager will almost never start you out on a payout that is as high as s/he can go. Therefore, if you don't have a higher payout, it's because you didn't ask for it. Of course, there may be some negotiation involved (you might have to show them you mean business with some initial volume or hitting a particular goal), but in the end, you should end up with a decently higher payout and thus, a higher profit margin. It doesn't end there though.

I say you stand in your own way because you can never let yourself become lazy when it comes to your payout. Remember, this is business and you need to treat it like one. If you get $X amount with one affiliate network, check at least five other ones. Some sites offer tools that allow you to cross-compare offers from multiple networks all at once. For instance, OfferVault.com has a free service that does this for you. Keep in mind, these types of services will only compare the default payout on offers. It's up to you to talk to your affiliate managers and use leverage to negotiate the highest payout possible.

Similar Offers

Sure, you may have negotiated the highest payout possible for the particular offer you're running, but have you split tested other offers that are very similar to yours? This doesn't always work but the only way to know for sure is to try. You just might find an offer that converts even better than the one you have now (even if it pays less, you might profit more overall) OR it might have a higher payout but slightly lower conversion rate but end up paying you more in the long run. Again, the only way you can know for sure is to try it out.

Bounce Rate

Right along with disinterested clicks, bounce rate is one of the biggest enemies of an affiliate marketer. Bounce rate can be defined as the percentage of clicks for a given period that don't result in clicks through to your hop links. That means clicks you pay for end up either clicking the "back" button or unique users click multiple times on your ad as they aren't sure what they want or even accidental clicks (they happen). In any case, they are clicks you pay for that don't pay you back. So the solution is to decrease your bounce rate as much as is humanly possible. That means grabbing the user with some call to action right off the bat, just like your teachers told you to do on your essays. Personally, I like short, easy-to-fill-out forms that kind of pull the user along. Hopefully they think "well, I've gone this far, I might as well finish." Basically, you want to do anything short of forwarding the customer to your hop link. But a word to the wise: Never *annoy* your customers.

When you're scaling, you want to decrease your overall bounce rate because you'll really start to notice a 50-60% bounce rate when you're dealing with thousands of dollars. Ideally, you want your bounce rate below 40% on most campaigns. Of course, there will always be some campaigns where a higher bounce rate is inevitable but that doesn't mean you should settle for it.

Tracking

A large part of decreasing your bounce rate and increasing sales is determining which combination of ads, keywords and landing pages convert as efficiently as possible. If you aren't tracking keywords on an individual level, you won't survive scaling. For those of you that don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars per month for trackers, you can use Tracking202.com, a free keyword tracking service. I've been using them for a couple weeks now and even on my smaller campaigns, they've helped increase my ROI.

The Next Level

Once you start getting into $1,000+/day territory, you'll start to get noticed. Trust me. Not only will you get noticed by your affiliate manager, but also the advertiser (the one you're generating sales for) will most likely start to notice you. Assuming, that is, you aren't in a highly saturated market where you're still a small fish. At this point, you'll start to have more leverage for higher payouts and you might even be able to contact your advertiser directly and you can start talking about a whitelabel relationship. As UberAffiliate puts it:

The ultimate method of scaling?The Whitelabel. Once you?ve optimized, tested, and scaled your campaign using all the methods above, it?s time to contact the advertiser and negotiate a direct relationship. You?ll be able to host the offer on your domain and it will be a fully built site (which means a higher quality score). Conversion rates are generally higher and the biggest plus is the huge payout bump. A lot of networks take around 20% on certain offers, some even more. That?s 20% added to your revenue that again, is pure profit.

Without a doubt, your goal should be to negotiate this direct relationship with the advertiser. With another 20% added to your revenue stream, you can bid higher and get better ad positioning. That means other affiliates with lower payout will have no chance to compete with you. And that, as they say, is money.

Conclusion

Just remember, if you aren't willing to put in the time reading the breadth of information there is on the subject already, you won't get very far. You've got to research your ass off and only then will you have what it takes to manage such large campaigns. Oh and one more thing: I gave this information out for free, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. Don't take it for granted.

March Goal Number One – Reached

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Just a quick update. I logged on this morning to discover ATB has officially dipped below the 100,000 mark on Alexa's ranking system. Or, as I like to put it, The Affiliate Toolbox is now officially in the Internet top 100,000.

Awwww yeah. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Now I just hope I can keep it there by pumping out more and more good content and finding more bad-ass tools. Hopefully this will help with the other goals as well.

Thanks for reading!

Scott

Holy Grail of Landing Page Information

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As a nice complement to my How To Get Started Affiliate Marketing e-book, I stumbled across a post on Digital Point forums where someone had posted a link to a post by Christina Laun of the Virtual Hosting Blog on Landing Pages titled The Landing Page Design Toolbox: 100 Tools, Tips and Resources (click here to jump).

The first author referenced is Seth Godin, so you know it's good information.

If you're new to affiliate marketing, a landing page is just a fancy term for a small website that funnels traffic to a customer site through your referral link. A good landing page can be the difference between no profit and tons of profit, so they aren't to be taken lightly.

I skimmed and scanned some of the sites listed and so far, I've found some pretty good information. I recommend you take a look.