Mark’s 2013 Plans for Late Night IM
I’ve been spending some real time doing some soul searching about what I want to accomplish in 2013. If I’m really honest with myself about what I accomplished in 2012 and 2011 and I go back and compare that to what I wrote down with regard to goals in those years, it’s not a great story. I had these ideas about what I wanted to do.
I think part of that might have something to do with the fact that I didn’t have a real clear vision of what I wanted. In the last couple of weeks I’ve just really been working to try and understand exactly what I want this all to be. I did some work at the end of the last year with Farnoosh, who I hope to get on the show, she’s a lifestyle – dream job – fulfillment coach. I don’t quite know how to describe it, she’s so fantastic it’s hard to put her in a box. One of the courses that she offers is about escaping your day job, which is not really what I want to do, but it’s called Smart Exit Blueprint, about transition from a job that you don’t necessarily love into a dream job. The reason that I engaged with Farnoosh was because I wanted to better define the work that I was doing and make it meaningful to me.
When it got right down to it what I really want to have – these are the things that I want to have; when you set goals you should think about what you want to be, what you want to do, and what you want to have.
What I want to have is the premier resource on the internet for people who are trying to build affiliate marketing businesses on the side. That’s the what I want to have.
What I want to be is the go-to go in that space. That’s the have and be.
In order to do that what I want to do is build that blog out in a way that’s really meaningful.
I think I’ve finally come onto a vision about how I want the blog to be. One of the key mediums that I’m going to exploit to get to this is the podcast. So I’m double-committing to getting a bunch of episodes done. In fact, I have a secret stretch-goal that I’m not telling anyone, so you guys don’t tell anyone, turn your radio down.
I’d like to be in a position where in early January, perhaps on January 1st, we’re doing the 100th episode of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast – 100 episodes. That would be really cool and I would do something special. January 1, 2014 is a stretch goal for me to do that. That would mean almost 60 episodes this year. That’s a tough goal, but that’s kind of what I’m thinking in my mind.
This vision for the blog I’ve already kind of laid it out on the homepage where you can break affiliate marketing down into an overview and four fundamental ideas where you have to pick the niche you’re going to be in, you have to build a website, you have to get traffic to that website, and then you have to expand your business. I think five really good articles on those topics could be the starting point for every human being on the planet who really wants to learn about affiliate marketing. Then from those articles I think I can link down into deep dive information on all the particular topics.
Of course, the finding your niche article will only be 1,000 words but it will have five, or 10, or 15 important ideas in there and each one of those can be article that’s underneath that. This thing can be kind of an inverted pyramid of content where if you’re having trouble in an area you can just dig down in there and get the stuff that you need and you never have to leave the site.
I’m thinking that if you commit yourself to doing 40 or 50 articles in a year, one per week maybe, that you could build something like that. So that’s what I’m going to try to do this year on the blog is really build a superior free resource for that.
Then the podcast will go hand-in-hand with that. We want to deliver great quality information on the podcast. We want to do a cycle of four episodes per month; one episode being a solo information episode like I’m doing tonight where we talk about whatever it is that we need to talk about related to affiliate marketing, then an episode where we do an interview, maybe one interview per month on average, and then another solo episode, and then a feedback episode. That would make a set of four and I would just kind of rotate through that rotation. It won’t always be possible to go in that order. Interviews can be hard to schedule, particular with my personal schedule. But that’s sort of the idea.
Then this thing is a three-legged stool, so one of the things that I always worry about is I don’t want to be one of those marketers that’s talking about internet marketing and not doing any. So this year I want to build five or 10 sites that are profitable. By profitable I mean something between what the Corn Sheller Site is doing, which is $50 per month sort of, and maybe a couple that are $500 or $600 per month. Wouldn’t that be exciting?
The great thing about doing those kinds of sites is that I can talk about them with you. We can talk about what’s working and what’s not working, and that’s going to be awesome for us. It’s going to help generate content and, quite frankly, it generates another revenue stream for me and it’s just all good. It’s win-win all the way around.
So that’s the plan for 2013, to really make an awesome online resource about affiliate marketing that’s free, to build the podcast and really commit to it this year, try to get in 50 or 60 episodes, and to do this thing where in the background I’m building these sites. I’ll be using a lot of outsourcing and so forth, but getting that done and really talking about that with you so we can talk about what’s working and what’s not working. That’s the plan.
Some Things That Are Motivating Me…
One thing that’s motivating me on the podcast is Pat Flynn’s announcement that he’s going to a weekly format. As busy as Pat is, if he can do weekly, I can do weekly. So once again Pat is very inspiring to me and I’m going to respond in kind. If he’s going weekly, the least I can do is keep up with a commitment that I already made to be weekly. That’s motivating me.
Cliff Ravenscraft over at The Podcast Mastermind, those guys are behind me and they have their eyes on what members of the mastermind are doing, and I don’t want to disappoint.
But the big thing that’s motivating me is I think listeners will respond to that. I get these comments. I got one comment on the Facebook fan page the other day about the two “funk” episodes, Episode 41 and 42 that I did, saying stuff like, “Thank you so much, I was in a funk and I didn’t even hardly realize it.” That’s meaningful to me, that’s part of why I do what I do, so thank you so much.
I would love your feedback on this topic, so pop on over to the Facebook fan page and let me know what you think. Do you like the idea, is it what you want to do, so on and so forth.
Affiliate Marketing Courses To Be Reviewed
One thing I will say about building these sites. There are two courses that are out that I’m interested in right now and that I would be interested in recommending enthusiastically.
One is a course from the Internet Business Mastery guys called Micro Site Profits: How to Make Your First Money Online. I’ve been through that course, it’s really good and those guys are committed to it for the long haul. It has a really heavily engaged private Facebook group where the guys support each other. I’ll be building some sites following along with their methodology as part of this 12 site build that I plan to do.
Then my good buddy Andrew Hansen is coming out with a new course called Forever Affiliate and that won’t be released until February, but he has a free report that I will put out there for download at LateNightIM.com/fareport. Basically in that report what Andrew says is that all these people who have been telling you that affiliate marketing is no longer possible and Google has screwed everything up and you can’t make money are wrong and he can prove it. Andrew is killing it making money hand over fist. And we will have him on the show – probably this month, if not in February to talk about Forever Affiliate and what he’s doing there because that might be the right course for some of you out there.
If you want more information, my review of Micro Site Profits is at LateNightIM.com/msp. My review of Forever Affiliate, which I haven’t written yet, will be at LateNightIM.com/fa. If you go there right now you won’t find anything, but eventually that’s where the review of Forever Affiliate will be. I can’t tell you everything about these courses, particularly Forever Affiliate because I haven’t gone through it yet, but I can tell you about Andrew.
So that’s what I’ll be working on in 2013. Again, I’d love to hear your feedback on the Facebook fan page.
Without further ado, let’s get into my discussion with Chase…
Reviewing Chase’s Website Issues
Like I said, Chase emailed me and said, “Hey, I really need your help. I’ve been doing this, this, and this. I’m not getting a great result.” The topic of his website was very personally interesting to me and I could tell from his email that he had been working really hard, it was a very well written email, really polite way to approach me.
I’m never able to answer these things, I can’t take 30 or 45 minutes with everyone because a lot of times I only work two hours a night on my internet business, so sometimes if I do too much of that what happens is I don’t get the podcast out or I don’t get my own site building done. But just on a whim I called Chase and we set up a time to meet. It took us a couple of weeks to get the time right, but eventually we talked on the telephone.
It was a really good phone call and there were some things that came out in that phone call that I knew would be important for listeners to understand, so I recorded this audio. As I said, it’s not so great, but here it is and I apologize in advance for the quality.
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So I have this new Bluetooth recorder for my iPhone and I have interfaced it into the car stereo system in my car with the hands-free microphone part of that unit. So I’m basically talking on my hands-free car unit into the iPhone through Bluetooth. I’m sorry, I know the quality is not great, but I had a few things on my mind this morning and I thought they would be great for the podcast so I wanted to capture them for you before I lost them out of my mind.
It’s about 6:00 in the morning, I’m driving in Dallas, it’s dark, and I’m getting down to my day job for a big meeting this morning. But last night I had the opportunity to talk to one of my listeners named Chase about a website that he is working on now. Chase and I talked for a little while and I don’t usually do that, I don’t usually get the opportunity to spend time talking to listeners about their websites, but Chase had a website that particularly interested me.
I’m not going to reveal his niche and so forth because I don’t want to expose his particular website to competition with other listeners. But, there were some instructive things that Chase and I talked about that I thought I could share on the show.
Chase, thank you very much for your email and for the phone call.
What I wanted to talk about was the importance of keyword research fundamentals when you are working on any kind of affiliate or Adsense website. Now, there are a couple of obvious things that everybody knows when selecting keywords, but let’s go over those real quickly.
If you want to have a website and you want to have organic traffic from Google, one of the things that you have to do is identify keywords that people are searching for. You can do this using the Google External Keyword Tool, that’s a keyword tool that utilizes the data that Google collects when people buy ads in the Google Adwords system and reports the number of page views and clicks that they’re observing through their Adwords campaign system. Or you can use tools that leverage that data and put a nice shiny user interface on it like Long Tail Pro, Market Samurai, or Keyword Canine. All of those three tools are tools that I actually own and use.
What you’re looking for is a sizable amount of search traffic. The exact size of search traffic depends on what it is that you’re going to do with the traffic. If you’re going to sell something that pays you $100 per sale you need less traffic to make it worth your while than you do if you’re selling something that pays $1 per sale or $0.35 per sale. So when you’re looking at keywords deciding which keyword to pick based on someone else’s formula is fine, but you really need to understand that the amount of search traffic depends on what you’re going to do with the traffic. That’s the first thing.
The second thing I would tell you is if you look at the competition for your keyword and you expect that you can rank number one for that keyword, then you should expect that at most you’re going to see 40% of the local search traffic for exact matches of that keyword.
If you go to the Google Keyword Tool and tell it you want the exact match traffic and you tell it that you want to look at the number of local searches, you’ll find (in my experience at least) you’re going to get 30-40% of the direct traffic from that keyword. Your mileage will vary wildly depending on the niche and depending on your search engine conversion capability, we’ll talk about that in just a second.
That’s how much traffic you can expect. So if you’re going to make a nickel a click and you’re looking at a niche with 100 searchers per month and you can expect that you’re going to get 40% of that and you’re going to covert only a portion of those to ad clicks, it’s probably not worth it.
On the other hand, if you’re selling an affiliate offer that is $17 per sale, and you have some idea of the earnings per click on that, you can do the math and decide how many visitors you need.
One caveat on this, of course, is the effect that Pat Flynn sees on the Security Guard Training Site that he has talked about. In fact, we all see this effect. Once you rank for one major keyword in your niche, you’ll start to get long tail traffic from other keywords that are related that you aren’t even targeting. So it’s important to start off with a keyword that you can win that has enough traffic, but recognize that if you build a good strong website with lots of good content you’re going to get keyword traffic from other sources.
The third thing I would tell you is that you need to understand the competition. Chase and I talked about this in some detail. I really like the Market Samurai approach on competition for a more complex view. I also like Josh Spaulding’s approach with Keyword Canine where he just basically boils it down to a number between 1 and 10.
Quite frankly, there is so much complexity in how Google is ranking these keywords that a number between 1 and 10 for how it’s ranking is plenty to tell you whether the niche is easy or hard. After that there’s a lot of sense in digging too much further, you just go ahead and pick a keyword that you might be able to win and go ahead and try it. I really like that approach, especially for people who are either attacking a lot of keywords and there’s no value in spending a bunch of time on detailed research that might not pan out anyway. I also like it for beginners because it keeps things simple and people can just simply move forward.
So that’s the third thing with regard to competition. Basically what you’re looking at you can just take a common sense approach. If you type in your keyword when you are not logged in Google and look at the first 10 results, if several of the first 10 results at the top are very authoritative sites – for example, you’re looking at a medical term and WebMD is at the top or government sites are at the top – you’re not going to beat those guys and you’re not going to win that keyword. Common sense goes a long way in determining whether or not you can actually win a keyword and beat the competition.
With regard to competition, another thing that Chase and I talked about last night was when Google talks about competition, when you look at the Google External Keyword Tool, that tool is for advertisers and people who are buying ads. The Google Adwords system is a bidding system where people compete for ad placement. When they talk about competition they are talking about what is your competition to win ad slots, not what is your competition to win keywords.
That tool is not really made for organic searchers, that tool is made for Google’s customers, the people who place ads. Never ever forget that; Google’s customers are the people who place ads, not really the searchers, not really you, but the people who are buying ads from Google. That’s what the tool is for, so when they say competition they’re talking about how many people are buying ads. If the competition is low according to the Google External Keyword Tool that does not mean that it is easy for you to win, that’s the not the competition for winning the keyword on the Google search page, that’s the competition for buying ads.
Low competition there is bad for you as a marketer because that means not many people are competing for ads on that keyword phrase and that means that not many people are making money against that keyword in that very small part of that niche. Nobody is buying that keyword or very few people are buying that keyword, therefore by definition that means probably people have tried to make money there and they’ve failed.
There are so many people trying to make money on the internet, it’s relatively unlikely that you’re going to identify a niche that no one has thought of before when it comes to pay per click. What’s more likely is that people have tried that niche and there’s nothing there or there are no products to sell there.
Another way you can look at this is if you take your keyword and put it into Google – again, when you are not logged in as yourself in Google – and look on the right hand side of the page, if you don’t see any ads that’s what they mean by low competition.
So those are some tips with regard to keyword research. The final tip that I would give you is if you want to make money you need to target buyer keywords. The best way to think about this is something that I learned from Jeremy and Jason over Internet Business Mastery when they talk about building an avatar for your ideal customer. Now, usually when they’re talking about it they’re talking about building your customer in terms of your website so that you can target it to them. But you can do that exact same thing when you’re doing keyword research.
Put yourself in the mind of someone who just typed that keyword phrase and answer the question, “What are they looking for and are you going to give them what they’re looking for?” three times.
The first time you need to ask that question is on the search results page. When you show up in the search results and there’s a little description under the URL of what your site is about on the Google search results page is that description going to entice them to click. That’s the first conversion you have to make, that’s the search engine results page conversion. When they see your listing on the search engine results page, are you giving them a reason to click? Is the title of the page compelling? Is the URL compelling? Does it contain their keywords? Is the description compelling? Does it contain the keywords? Does it make them want to click?
If it’s a bunch of gobbledygook at the beginning of a paragraph that doesn’t make any sense that was automatically scraped in there by WordPress that’s not in general going to help you get clicks if it’s half a sentence out of the first page of the article that doesn’t address the search term. But if it says something like, “If you’re looking for XYZ you must read this before you buy; critical information you need to know.” If that’s what your description says that shows up in the search results that will help convert the click.
The second conversion you need to make is the expectation on that page. When they click to your page does the information on the page actually match what they would have expected as a searcher having searched for that search term? That’s very important not only for a future conversion from that visitor, but it’s also important for your rankings because Google is leaving a cookie on the searcher’s computer and they know that they clicked on your page. More importantly, they know how long the prospect is spending on your page if they return to Google because they see them right back again.
So if someone searches for your term, goes to your page, hits the back button and comes back out, Google detects that. If it’s a long time that’s good, they means they liked what they found. If it’s a short time, if people are going to your page and hitting the back button immediately and going back to the search results that means Google gave them the wrong result. That’s exactly what that means. So high bounce rates coming out of the search engine means that you’re not a good result for that search term. Google is taking that into account and eventually lots of bouncing will reduce your position on the page.
Google will test other links in your place and see how they do in terms of bounce rate. That’s part of where the “Google Dance” thing comes from, that’s Google trying different web pages in different slots to get the minimum bounce rate. After all, bounce rate is one of the few metrics that Google has to determine whether or not they’re actually doing a good job providing search results.
So the third conversion you need to make is what you want the visitor to do when they get on the site after they’ve come from that search term. You need to know the answer to that question. When someone hits your page from a keyword phrase, what is the main thing that you want them to do? Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? Do you want them to click on an Adsense ad? Do you want them to click through to a product to make an affiliate sale? You need to know the answer to that question, that’s the third conversion that you need to make.
You need to optimize for all of that. One of the problems that Chase was having was he was getting actually quite an amazing amount of visitors for somebody who hasn’t been doing this very long, I was actually very impressed with his ability to find a keyword phrase and attack it and get the visitors, but the problem was the visitors weren’t converting to dollars. Chase had a little bit of opportunity in all three of these areas to improve his conversion rate.
The last thing I’ll say about this is when you are putting yourself in that person’s position, understand their mindset based on the words they’re using. We talk about buying keywords. Remember, someone who types in “faucet review” or “faucet price” or “faucet discount” is about to buy a faucet, they’re just trying to decide where to buy it or maybe which one to buy. Someone who types in “faucet types” or “what kind of faucet should I buy” or some other kind of more generic phrase is at a point in the purchase process where they haven’t quite decided what they’re going to buy yet. So when you’re targeting keywords think about how close the prospect is to actually buying something.
I’ll give you another example on travel websites. If someone types in “European vacation ideas” they’re not very close to buying their European vacation. They haven’t even decided what country they want to go. But if they type in “best bed and breakfast in Tuscany for July” or some kind of very specific thing like that, they’re getting very close to buying a vacation trip to Tuscany in July, maybe this July, and maybe they’ll click through from your website and you’ll get a nice commission from some travel agent somewhere.
I hope this helps. Thanks for hanging out with me while we were dealing with the traffic noise. I’m almost at work, so now you know how long it takes me to get to my day job at 6:00 in the morning when there’s no traffic – it’s about 17 miles from my house to work. I’m just getting on the road that leads to my office, so I’ll be there in two minutes. I’m going to sign off and return you back to the regular part of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast.
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