Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Has anyone said something so obvious to you that you'd just overlooked and took for granted? Every chapter in Outliers felt that way for me, and in a good way. The stories of success from people like Bill Gates to Gladwell himself are quite obviously not just stories of amazing genius just by themselves. In our world, success is smarts, persistence and who you know.

In the book, Gladwell points out that you've heard of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even the CEO of Google but do you know the name of the smartest man in the world? Not many people do and that's because genius alone does not make someone a true success.

The stories alone are worth reading, so I won't ruin those for you but I will say this: I'm giving this out to several people this Christmas as a gift because I think the book is just that good. If nothing else, it's an amazing look at how people can use their situations to their advantage and tip fate to their advantage.

Here's a recent interview of Gladwell on the book-

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Great Book: The 4-Hour Work Week

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Lately, I've been extremely busy but I did stop by Borders to take my mind off of things and I saw a book I remembered someone mentioning -- The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss.

To be honest, my last post (Goal #1: Automation) was inspired by this book and with good reason -- this guy is all about outsourcing. In fact, if I were to sum this book up in a nutshell, it would be about removing all your repetative tasks that don't necessarily need you to be involved and outsourcing them to your virtual assistants. This leaves time for you to do the other things you want to do: start new businesses, travel, work on your hobbies, spend time with your family, etc.

Ferriss even goes into detail about getting rid of actual employees and talks about hiring staffing firms in places like India and China to do your work. Rather than outsourcing to individuals in those countries, staffing firms allow you to split test your distant assistants to see who can provide you with a better hourly ROI. Yes, you can even split test your employees. Also, staffing firms come with the added benefit of someone watching over your workers as an added guarantee that things will get done.

There are numerous other great pointers in the book that I won't divulge here but I will say I am thoroughly impressed with the information the guy is handing out. I've been incorporating it into the business and I must say, it does help. I love my assistants and wouldn't go a day without them.

Definitely give this book a read if you want to save yourself thousands of dollars and even more in time and effort.

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Ten Thousand Dollars

$10,000.

How many people can say they've generated that much revenue in one day? Not many. In fact, you might not even believe people make that much or anything close in the affiliate marketing business on a daily basis. You'd be wrong, but you are entitled to your opinion. Your next logical question should be something along the lines of "well, Scott, how do you know?" Let's just say I know from experience that it's achievable and maintainable, but achieving that much revenue every day isn't the problem.

The problem is keeping it.

Depending on a lot of variables that I won't touch on right now, your profit margin for these types of sales can be anywhere from 15-50%+ if you do it right. While that might sound, taste and even smell like what you might imagine a million dollars would, think again.

What most seasoned affiliate marketers know and what many of the greener affiliates are starting to realize is that profit is never cut and dry in this business. Sure, you might profit $5,000 out of that $10,000 but where are you going to get the money to maintain your sales the next day? What about growth? What about variations in your profit margin? What about unforeseen expenses and things of that nature? Yes, it can be confusing. It's expensive.

Despite your large buffer of money, you always need more money to spend on ads the next day, and the next day, and the next day. This is a never-ending cycle that's hard to break free from. Don't get me wrong, you'll start building up a nice chunk in the bank account but it won't be what you expect. And all because for the business to work, you have to keep re-investing in the business on a daily basis. PPC (pay per click) is certainly not free.

Some people might be satisfied with a business like this despite the aforementioned drawbacks but if you're like me, you like to fix what isn't broken.

What if you could go from that 15-50%+ profit margin and take it up to about 95%+? Would you do it? I certainly would. And as I was doing it, I would tell other people about it in my blog. Not that it's some big secret, but it definitely needs to be discussed and utilized.

You guessed it. I'm talking about the golden goose, the holy grail, the cat's pajamas: organic traffic.

Now before you angrily hit the back button on your browser and talk about how much of a hack that Scott guy is, just bear with me. The people with the most successful affiliate marketing campaigns are doing three key things to be successful:

  1. Bidding on short-tail, high-volume keywords
  2. Paying much less than you per click
  3. Getting paid more than you per lead/sale

I know; it's enough to make you want to curl up into the fetal position and cry. It's not impossible to out-do these guys, but it's going to cost you.

Here's the good news: you don't have to out-do them on pay per click if you can rank for the same keywords organically. Sure, it's a no-brainer but have you seriously considered it? If you ranked in the top ten results for a short-tail keyword or two and funneled that into your same marketing campaign, your profit margin would go from measly to grizzly.

In fact, if you're already sending PPC traffic to a website, you're already getting ranked organically for those terms. Now if you start getting other people to backlink to your site, you're going to start climbing the search result ranks. After a while, you can start diverting your direct marketing campaign money (PPC) toward getting more and more back-links. At some point, you're going to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000-10,000+ backlinks and at least a few of those will be from authority links. Eventually, you can cut off your PPC spending altogether if you so choose.

Of course, at this point you'd be fully maintaining a website full of high-quality information and resources with a nice marketing funnel. Google would love you, Yahoo would love you and even I would love you. And you would love your profit margin.

Now whether all of this is 100% accurate is still up for debate. Call it another case study I'm doing, but I'm definitely gunning for some short-tail keywords with a couple of my landing page sites. If it fails, it fails and I'll definitely let you know (after a reasonable period of self-pity and self-loathing), but if it works, you'll definitely be the first to know.

Stay tuned.

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Potential Sales: The Art of the Squeeze

What is it that separates you from success? It's not for a lack of trying, that's for sure.

Like many, you've probably been beating your head against a wall for quite some time now. You've got dark circles under your eyes from lack of sleep and like a drug addict, you can't wait until your next fix. You live from sale to sale and that's why you'll never get ahead.

If there's one message I've been preaching since I started ATB, it's that you should use your traffic to its fullest extent.

That doesn't mean terrorizing each user you get with an insane display of crack-pot ads and pop-unders for them to see later. It definitely doesn't mean pop-up messages when they leave your site. What it means is this: if you pay a search engine to send a click your way, you should find multiple ways of using that single click not just to push sales but to create potential sales.

Potential sales are sales that haven't happened yet. They're sales that neither you, nor your customer know will happen. But given the right opportunity, they're almost guaranteed to happen.

Here's why.

A few years ago, I had a job as a store salesman. To train us for the position, our instructors told us that there is no such thing as "I'm just browsing." They drilled that into our heads because they wanted us to believe that no matter what, a sale had to happen. If a customer walked into our isle with that curious look but says "I'm just browsing," that's when we started really "helping" them because to us, "I'm just browsing" means "I want to buy but something is standing in the way." Usually, that something was either that they had no idea what they needed or .. their wife.

The funny part is, whether browsing in a store or browsing the web, you're usually facing the same obstacles. That's why it's important to keep the same determination in mind when selling to eyes on a web page.

Of course, you're no dummy. You are fully aware that some people are literally just curious to see what's on your site. Your competitors will look, they might even have a mean streak and click on your expensive ads. It just comes with the territory. In fact, it's all the more reason to work on your squeeze.

There are several mainstream ways to go about squeezing sales out of your customers after that initial click:

  • Collecting Emails - I won't go into it again but suffice it to say, it's absolutely necessary. If you aren't doing this, you aren't serious about making money.
  • Offering Similar Products - If you've ever spent ten minutes browsing through Amazon.com, you'll notice they'll always tell you what else customers bought when they purchased the particular item you're looking at. That's because they know it increases the likelihood that you'll buy it on impulse. Think about it.
  • Building Your Organic Rank - That's right. Keep your customers coming back to a site they can actually use and link to. You give your customers something to talk about and suddenly, you won't have to pay so much for people to click your ads because they'll be coming on their own and bringing their friends.
  • Offering Free Things - As long as the free things you're offering are of some use, people will typically come back. They'll say "where did I find that one thing? Oh yeah!" and suddenly, your customer has returned. And that means a chance for more money.
  • Updated Content - Regarding 'free things', if that same customer comes back and sees updated content they're more likely to see what else is happening on the site just because they're curious. If you get people to subscribe to an RSS feed that's attached to the blog that's attached to your landing page, then you'll have a full list of people that you can actually give information to. Just make sure it's decent information and hopefully information they can't get elsewhere.

I could think of more, but I just wanted to get you thinking about what else you should be thinking about when you're building your landing pages. This sort of determined frame of mind will lead to more sales and less sales withdrawals (those periods of depression and insecurity you feel between sales).

So take a step back, take a good look at your sites and think: am I doing all I can do to squeeze my customers?

Just don't squeeze too hard.

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Coming This Friday – My New Ebook

This Friday -- March 8th, 2008 -- I'm going to release my latest creation as a dessert item on the blog.  It's my guide to getting started with affiliate marketing and it will be FREE.

I started writing the guide when I realized people were coming to the blog and asking the same questions I created the blog to answer! So the e-book will be an introduction to affiliate marketing, featuring some of the posts you'd find here, as well as a sort of introduction to this blog and all it has to offer.

As always, my intention is to put out information for free that you'd normally have to pay for. This e-book will be no exception to the rule. Just like I normally do, I'm just going to put my referral links in the book and hope people enjoy it enough to pass it along and I'll consider that payment enough.

So definitely keep an eye out. For all those getting started with affiliate marketing, this should give you a decent advantage in the game. I'm writing it just like I like to read things.

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Two Great Tools To Increase Your Profits

I've been working a lot this weekend and as such, I've come across some pretty great things so I thought I'd tell you about two of them.

High Performance Affiliate Marketing

High Performance Affiliate Marketing EbookOne of them I came across while reading my buddy Jon's blog. It's called High Performance Affiliate Marketing and it's a free, extremely thorough guide on affiliate marketing from getting started to making it big. We're talking over $100,000 per month big. The guy who wrote the guide made over $1.7 million last year and is set to make even more this year.

I definitely recommend the guide. I haven't finished reading it yet, but for something free, what I've read so far is valuable so go get yourself a copy (click here).

10 Ways To Increase Adwords Quality Score

Part of running a blog like this is finding information that is lost in the jungle we call the interweb. I found this link while perusing a few search results and it's helped me to increase my quality score on Adwords already. This sounds like an infomercial but it's true.

As we all know, the key to paying less per click on Adwords for the same position is getting a higher quality score. Sometimes, the way to getting a lower QS isn't a clear-cut path and it's actually pretty difficult to do.

If you're having difficulty, definitely give this post from RedFly Marketing called 10 Ways To Increase Adwords Quality Score. It was written in March of last year but the rules still apply today. No, there are no short-cuts per se, but it will definitely give you a better idea of how you can create a better quality website and adset so that Google will "like" your campaign enough to increase your quality score (hopefully). So far, it's worked for me and that spells profit, baby.

And profit is king.

Scott

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Great Book: Affiliate Millions

Affiliate Millions by Anthony Borelli, Greg HoldenIf you hadn't guessed already, I like reading. I spend a good deal of time at Borders and Barnes & Noble just browsing through the Marketing, Business and Computer section (also known as the nerd section). While I was browsing through the Marketing section, I happened upon this little jewel by Anthony Borelli and Greg Holden called Affiliate Millions.

Much like the last book I reviewed, Moonlighting On The Internet, this book is all about Affiliate Marketing (as you might have guessed from the title). The major difference is that this book is completely geared toward the newbie. In fact, the authors divulge full knowledge about various campaigns, so much so that I'm going to try out a couple myself just to see how well they do. Hey-- you can never have enough nodding donkeys working for you, right?

The book starts out with the main author describing his average day where he rolls out of bed and checks stats (like any of us), only his best month so far has been around $250k. While this is a day in the life of Uber Affiliate, most of us are still amazed at anything close to $10k on a consistent daily basis.

From the beginning, affiliate marketing is defined and explained in detail. Then the author breaks down search marketing and why it's important (essentially the information you find at ATB but with pictures!). There are also chapters on what to look for in a product/offer you'd like to sell and how to research keywords for that product.

My favorite part of this book is the math section. The author busts out with several formulas for determining how profitable a campaign is based on actual numbers vs. estimations, which is what gets a lot of affiliate marketers in trouble when they're just starting out.

If you are new to affiliate marketing and you want to get a jump start on it, I highly recommend you buy a copy of this book and read it three times or more.

You'll be glad you did.

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Great Book: Moonlighting On The Internet

Moonlighting On The Internet by Yanik SilverIf you're just getting started with making money online, you're probably feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the nonsense floating around the internet. Sure, there are hundreds of different ways that people claim you can make money, from reading emails, surfing the web for cash, or even taking surveys.

The truth is, these ways might make you some money but they won't give you a second decent income. What The Affiliate Toolbox is all about is helping people to start their affiliate marketing business and the reason for that is because it's the best kind of business. One word: autopilot.

What other business features ALL the following?

  • Large volume
  • No inventory
  • No employees
  • Residual Income
  • Never Sleeps (On 24x7)
  • High profit margins
  • Low Startup Costs
  • Low Maintenance
  • No need for high technical skills
  • No need to involve friends & family
  • Can become your main business
  • Can help your other business ventures

You get the idea. Internet marketing allows you to create a strong business that you can manage from anywhere in the world. That's exactly the idea behind this book.

In Moonlighting On The Internet, Yanik Silver describes how he's making money as well as how his students are making money as well as their different backgrounds. What's great is that most of them have no technical skills and they're good at one or two things, allowing them to create informational products they can sell. Others market products for companies (affiliate marketing) and some run informational websites.

Overall, this book is outstanding for newcomers. Much like this blog, it contains crucial information to starting out in the industry. There are still billions of dollars to be made.

Why not take your fair share?

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Great Book: Small Is The New Big

Small Is The New Big by Seth GodinWhile we're on the topic of books, I just wanted to point out yet another great read you should get your hands on. My brother-in-law gave it to me as a gift and I'm still in the middle of reading it, but what I've learned so far goes extremely well with affiliate marketing.

Regardless of the content, it's pretty sweet that the chapters are organized into alphabetical order. But the content itself is pretty tops, too. Each chapter is essentially a short, real-world example of why small is the new big. And by 'small', Godin is referring to acting small and the benefits that go along with doing so.

For instance, smaller companies can easily adapt to market fluctuations and put more TLC into their products than larger companies do. Larger companies are usually run by accountants who have a very myopic goal in mind: make money. Not that it's a horrible goal, but the way larger companies are forced to go about getting that money removes the detail and finesse that smaller companies can put into their products. I won't even go into customer support, but you get the picture.

I definitely recommend you read anything by Seth Godin. After this book, I'm going to read "The Dip." I hear it's pretty decent. Incidentally, if you want to learn more about Seth, you can read his blog here.

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