Speaking of listener feedback, we have a couple of things I want to get to today. One thing that I want to get is I got a question that I often get and I’m going to read it to you in a little bit. It’s from a guy who lost his job, he’s looking to make money, and he’s reached out to me and wanted to know what he should do. These kill me. I get these kind of emails all the time and they’re very hard to answer. So one of the things that I want to do is give my current answer for that on the show so I can refer people back to it. We’ll get that today.
The other thing that I want to do is give you an update on the Corn Sheller site. There has been a lot of interesting stuff going on with the Corn Sheller site and we’re going to talk about that.
Then I owe you the story about this guy, my friend who I’ve known for many years, who wrote me this really amazing email that says he listens to the show occasionally, he’s motivated by it, and he even went so far as to mention me in a sermon that he gave in church. And lightning didn’t strike him or me, which is kind of amazing.
That’s kind of remarkable, but I want to tell you what it was that captured his attention because I think it’s really important for you and your business, and after all that’s what this show is all about. So let’s get to it and talk a little Corn Sheller action….
Corn Sheller Site Update
The Corn Sheller site, for those of you who maybe this is your first episode and you don’t know about it, once upon a time a long time ago, it’s creeping up on maybe 18 months ago that I cranked out this site about this farm implement called a corn sheller. I basically did it because I was testing a piece of SEO software for a friend. The SEO software had said “corn sheller” should be easy to rank for and I went ahead and did that. Turns out the software was right, it kind of validated the results that the software was getting. Then I thought to myself, “What am I going to do with this?”
What I decided to do was monetize it. Since it wasn’t an incredibly valuable asset, but it was a really good instructive teaching tool, I always talk about it on the podcast because I can point to the site and I can talk about it, and talk about the things that work and don’t work, and that’s really instructive for affiliate marketers who are trying to build something bigger. This site makes handfuls of dollars a month, not hundreds, so there’s no risk in me exposing it to you guys. So that’s what we do.
The Corn Sheller site had been making about something on the order of $40 to $50 per month, with gusts of wind, I think we’ve had a couple of $60 months over the last 18 months. The way the site makes money is people visit the site searching for corn shellers that are for sale. My impression is that these people are generally collectors of antique corn shellers. They find my website and then they find listings from eBay on the website, they click through to eBay and buy antique corn shellers on the website.
Buying antiques on eBay is something that people do all the time, so this is a really good market to message match. I have a site that attracts people who are looking for antique corn sheller information, I have some valuable information on the site, they get what they expect, they find corn shellers for sale, and eventually they find themselves on eBay and convert to a sale for eBay, and I get a small – typically really small – commission for doing that.
That site has been running along at $50 per month. Quite recently in the last couple of months the site has fallen off to something more like $10 per month. The traffic hasn’t fallen off at all, but for whatever reason eBay payouts have fallen off considerably. I’ll show a graph about what’s been going on with the site and the traffic.
The traffic if anything is up. But the conversions on eBay, once the people get through to eBay, is down. When I say the traffic is up, I mean even the click throughs to eBay, which I track on the eBay side, are up. So there’s plenty of traffic going to eBay.
It will be interesting to see as we enter the holiday season, because those eBay cookies last quite a long time, particularly compared to Amazon the eBay cookies last quite a long time. What I saw last year was people that were on there with my cookie also buying Christmas gifts on eBay and so forth, so it will be interesting to see if earnings pick up.
Really what we’re looking at is something like a 75% decrease, sort of suddenly, in earnings with no change to the site and no change to the sources of traffic or anything like that. I can’t see any change – no change in the traffic volume, no change in the traffic sources, no real change in the amount of click through, the rankings seem pretty stable. Although I have to admit that I haven’t been tracking it very aggressively as far as the rankings are concerned, I am still ranking for all of the major keywords and so forth.
That’s where we are on the Corn Sheller site and I think it’s very interesting. I’ll be digging into that a little bit.
One milestone that I did accomplish as I’ve been looking for other ways to monetize the site – I tried Adsense, we knew that wasn’t going to work but we tried it anyway. Sure enough, it didn’t work, so I was able to prove that. Another thing that I tried to do was to identify some corn sheller related products on Amazon.com. I created one single page, I got that page to rank on the first page of Google down near the bottom. It doesn’t get a lot of traffic, but it is sending traffic to Amazon and I have converted at least one sale of a corn sheller related product. I’ll put a snapshot of that. This thing made less than $1.00.
The reason that I tell you all this is because this is sort of an important idea when it comes to working on your own affiliate sites. There are four or five lessons that you can take away from what’s happening with the Corn Sheller site, so we should talk about those.
Lesson number one is track everything. Don’t do as I do, do as I say. When it comes time to debug these things, like a weird drop in earnings, you need as much analytic data behind that as you possibly can have. For a site like this, I definitely recommend that you have it fully instrumented with Google Analytics and that you run the Yoast Google Analytics plugin, which will tell you as much as possibly can be told about what’s going on with your website. The Google Analytics plugin from Yoast will add some kind of tagging and instrumentation to your website that will help Google Analytics figure out exactly what’s going on.
You definitely want to make sure that you’re not just relying on the stats that are built into cPanel, like AWstats or one of those programs that are built into your cPanel installation that your host provides you. I think even more typically for WordPress bloggers like us, you want to make sure that you’re not just relying on something like WordPress stats that come with JetPack where you get this nice in-dashboard view of your stats, but it doesn’t really tell you everything that you need to know to figure out what’s going on with how long people are staying on pages, exactly what pages they’re staying, for how long, where they’re clicking to, and so forth.
That’s the first thing is to make sure that you’re getting those kinds of stats and make sure that you have that available to you whenever you have to troubleshoot something.
The other thing that it makes sense to do is to make sure that you’re diversifying the monetization strategy for your website. This is something that I’ve talked about before, I think it’s very important. I think this is particularly true if you have Adsense websites or if you have one particular vendor. I’ll tell you couple of stories…
One day I woke up and Google had banned my Adsense account for absolutely no reason that I could ever possibly figure out. I hadn’t done anything that I shouldn’t have done. I’ll never know what happened. I appealed it, but they told me that it was for fraudulent click activity, which is the kind of thing where you might go to your site and click on your own ads, for example, or have people click on your ads in order to increase your revenue. I had never done anything like that. I had Adsense for a couple of years at that point and was making money every month with legitimate sites, nothing black hat from an Adsense perspective.
You need to have your income diversified in case something like that happens to you.
Another story that I like is my friend Lynn Terry years ago built a big affiliate site around a single affiliate and about three weeks before Christmas that affiliate decided that they were going to just up and cancel their affiliate program, with absolutely no warning. They just decided, “Hey, we’re out.” I’ve told that story before, too. Lynn was able to recover that by changing all her links on her site to a different vendor and doing a lot of work on the site at the last minute in the wee hours of the morning before the Christmas rush.
The truth of the matter if you have your income on your site diversified, you’re a lot more robust against that. That’s why the example of that in the context of the Corn Sheller site is trying to get some Amazon stuff in there, trying to see if Adsense works, trying to understand what else is out there in terms of affiliate offers and so forth. If there were a book out there or if I chose to write a book about how to buy, “The Buyer’s Guide to Antique Corn Shellers,” that would be a great product for this site, for example.
Maybe even Amazon books on corn shellers, I haven’t even looked to see if those exist, certainly they do, there are books about everything on Amazon it seems. Those sorts of diversification are very important in affiliate marketing. To be honest with you, one of the criticisms of affiliate marketing is when you do affiliate marketing it has many advantages, which we’ve talked about many times before. One of the disadvantages is since you’re not the supplier, you don’t control the product, and you don’t control the affiliate program, and you don’t control the offering, and you don’t control the money therefore.
Having all your eggs in one basked in a situation where you’re not in control of everything is never a great idea. That’s another thing that you want to make sure of is that you are doing everything that you can to diversify your income on your affiliate site.
The third thing I’ll say, and maybe we’ll leave it at three things today, is that if you have stats and something starts to happen, you really need to stop and think and understand what’s going on. In this particular case, if you look at the stats, this site continues to run over 200 pageviews per day, and that’s fine. The question is are people still clicking through to eBay? And in fact the people are clicking through to eBay. Since the site started in January 2012, so almost two years now, the number of clicks through to eBay has risen on average every month. There’s noise in the data, but the monthly clicks have been up.
I get something on the order of 1,000 clicks through to eBay per month. In general, it’s sort of all over the map, but those clicks have been running something between a high of $75 back in December of 2012 down to a low of last month which was something on the order of $9. This site over this entire two year period has generated $600 and that works out to just a measly few cents per click. That’s the problem, right? A site like this with that much traffic you want to be doing something a lot better than a few cents a click.
I’ll publish some of that data, but the point is the issue doesn’t seem to be the amount of traffic coming from the site and it doesn’t seem to be the amount of traffic clicking through to eBay. What the problem seems to be is the conversion on the eBay site itself into sales. That may have something to do with the merchandise that’s available in the marketplace right now. Those are things that I need to go off and research and, quite frankly, I just haven’t spent the time to do that.
That’s kind of the thought process you need to go through to understand where based on your data the problem is in your sales funnel, and then go attack the problem at that place. If I figure something out, I’ll let you know and we’ll give you another Corn Sheller update sometime in the near future.
The Story of the Sermon
The next thing I wanted to tell you about was my friend Scott, who sent me this email out of the blue. This was back in August and it really just blew me away. In fact, it took me awhile to even respond to Scott, I was so blown away by this email.
Scott is a guy I’ve known for many years and has worked at this large semiconductor company that I work at in Dallas, we work there together. I remember exactly when we hired Scott and he’s a brilliant PhD type of guy, this guy is just really smart. I will tell you one of my career secrets has always been to hire people that are much smarter than me. I didn’t hire Scott exactly, I worked with him, but he’s an example of that. Scott is a really brilliant guy.
We worked and hung out together for a long time and I got to know him really well. Eventually we were able to hire his wife, she is also brilliant, and they worked there for awhile. Now Scott is off doing something else, but I really valued my time working with Scott because it’s always fun to work with these incredibly bright people.
So I get this email and he said, “I just wanted to let you know that your message is getting through on the podcast.” I had no idea that Scott was listening to me on the podcast, I didn’t know he was even aware of the podcast. I was just kind of shocked by that.
He said, “I just wanted to let you know that I mentioned you in a sermon,” and he attached a copy of the sermon. I’m not going to get all churchy-preachy on you, so if that bugs you, don’t worry, don’t panic, we’re not going to turn this into a sermon here. You should know that these are things that I believe in and it was really gratifying to hear him.
He was preaching on, among other things, Matthew. Matthew is this guy who is kind of cruising around preaching the gospel under great distress, really tough things going on during Matthew’s time, and he’s relating this story where Jesus is asked, “What’s the greatest law? What is the most important thing?” Don’t bug us with all of this stuff, just tell us what the most important thing is. The most important thing is this commandment to love the Lord God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as thy self. This has sort of come to be known as “The Golden Rule.” You should treat people the way that you want to be treated.
The thing that Scott related about me in that was that I’m always running around quoting Zig who says if you want to build a good business, if you want to be a good person, if you want to do the right thing, just know that you can get everything in life that you want if you just help enough other people get what they want. It’s really pretty much that simple. I use it in a business context, because when people come to you in a business context because they need something, they have some kind of pain or some kind of problem that they need to solve, and if you can help people solve their problems then you can do something great. Usually that value exchange will result in your getting something that you want.
Now, this works better if your motivation is not to do stuff because you want something in return. It’s better if intrinsically you can really feel that what you get value out of, what really motivates you, your motivating purpose is to actually help people. That’s the great place to start, that’s the really powerful place to go do this stuff. One of the things that we observe is that when people do that, usually that comes back to them in the form of some kind of value.
Scott relates this story in the sermon about me always running around talking about this quote and about how I had helped him a couple of times, and to be honest with you, in ways that I didn’t really completely appreciate at that time that had to do with helping his wife get a job. I really appreciated that because my motivation in helping Scott during those times and helping people all the time is almost always just because I really enjoy that.
To have this come back to me in this very important way where Scott is speaking to a room full of people and maybe one person in that room would hear that message from Scott that was somehow influenced by me just a little bit, just a tiny bit, that that might help people or in turn help people that would then help people, that’s a very powerful and humbling thing.
I wanted to share that with you because I wanted you to know a couple of things. One is it’s real. You can build businesses that really help people and that’s a real thing, and it really works in the real world. You should really think about it, you should really try and get everything in life that you want by helping enough other people get what they want. That’s the first thing.
Then the second thing that I wanted to impress on you is that, as Scott mentions in this discussion that he had in church, I do this all the time. I’m not just on the mic, this is not one of those do as I say not as a I do things. The stats thing that I mentioned earlier, taking really good care of your websites and dotting all of your I’s and crossing all your T’s, that’s a thing that I don’t always get done. But this other thing, this life philosophy thing about getting things in life as a result of helping people, that’s a real thing for me.
That’s the point I wanted to make here is that if there’s ever any question in your mind about whether or not I’m being transparent on these points, I just wanted to know that’s the real thing there.
Thanks, Scott. I really appreciated that email, it made a huge impact on me.
Listener Feedback from John
Now that we’re squarely into the helping people zone, last topic for today. I get this support ticket, I have a support ticket system at support.latenightim.com and I got this ticket. We’re going to call this guy John for the purposes of this discussion…
I am desperately in need of an internet or passive income to prepare for my retirement. I am 61 years old and have absolutely nothing to rely on…. I have lost everything and now have No pension, no savings nothing… and am doing agency work which is very unreliable, not to mention intimidating.
Quite sad but it is all my own fault… wrong decision…greed…credit crunch…
Now, I need a solution and I see that for some reason or another you are very willing to help people establish their online business. Thank you and I would seriously like to take you up on that.
Liquid finances are a bit low but I trust you will not make me spend unnecessary money. I have a Hostgator account and also a GoDaddy one.
My previous company was ….
I would like to start an Amazon affiliate business and thought I should ask your advice, hoping you would be kind enough to guide me. Maybe you have a better idea/s.
What I really would like is help to create a website that will earn me, say, a minimum of ten dollars/pounds per month. Once that is done successfully I can just repeat it (about a hundred times)…
Well that’s all for now
Hoping to hear from you at your earliest convenience…
thanks in advance
So this is a tough one. This just totally breaks my heart to hear that people find themselves in these situations, whether it’s their fault or not, whether they’re a victim of circumstances or they made bad choices, whatever it is, I absolutely hate this.
The other challenge is oftentimes people come to me and they are really looking for some kind of miracle solution because they’ve been cruising around the internet and for just $97 you can buy a course that will allow you to make $57,000 in your first six weeks. You can find these crazy things all over the place that are total ridiculousness. A lot of times I’ll get people that are looking for that.
The thing about John, this email that I got from John it has some amazing redeeming qualities. One is that he is completely straight up with me about what’s going on. The thing that I love the most out of this email is that he owns his problem, it’s his own fault, he made decisions and he owns that. Now he wants to do the work to get out of the situation.
This has got to be the most important characteristic of successful people – they own their own stuff. He’s not blaming the man, he’s not blaming Obamacare, it’s his deal. He’s actually from South Africa or the UK, some combination of that, so he’s not in the United States. He’s in a situation that a lot of us might one day or might currently find ourselves in, but he owns it and that’s awesome.
At the end of the email he says, “What I would really like is help to create a website that will earn me a minimum of $10 (or pounds) per month. Once that is done successfully, I can just repeat it about 100 times.” This is another awesome thing about this email. He’s not coming to me with unrealistic expectations about what’s possible, he is like show me how to do this, show me how to make an achievable amount of money.
As we know from the Corn Sheller site, just goofing around and making $10 per month, or even $50, is not the most challenging thing in the world when it comes to internet marketing. This can be done and it can be done very inexpensively.
Those two redeeming qualities, the fact that he is open and transparent and owns his own stuff, the fact that he has reasonable expectations, and the third thing, which is that he seems to be willing to do the work to dig himself out. These are amazing redeeming qualities, virtues, in this email.
So what do you tell a guy like this?
The first thing that I always tell people in this situation is the absolute very best thing that you can do to make money on the internet when you need to make money quickly is to offer a service, whatever it is that you can do. Whether that’s transcription, graphic art, writing, whatever it is.
There are places you can go, particularly if you’re someone who is college educated or has a high school diploma and you can read and write well, particularly if it’s in English, there’s great demand for writers. You can get writers jobs by the piece and you can get ebook jobs, you can go compete for jobs on elance. Whatever it is that you can do. Maybe you know some accounting and you can do books.
You can be making money the same day, literally the same day, if you are willing to do just work for money as a way to get started. If you have no money and you need money right now today because you have to buy groceries at the end of the week, that’s always what I recommend to people.
The simple ways to do that are you can go someplace like iWriter.com or IneedArticles.com, either one of those. You can sign up and you can start writing the next few minutes right after that. The money for writing articles will be deposited into your Paypal account once the people that you write for accept your work. If you can do basic research on the internet and write at an eighth grade or tenth grade level, I think you can make money immediately doing that.
You can make even better money writing if you land gigs on Odesk or someplace like that. It takes a little bit longer to get yourself established and win those bids. The first bids are hardest to win, but once you get rolling and you get a great reputation on Odesk or elance or one of those places, you can do really well. I see people, I pay those people, so I know that this can happen.
Another quick way to get started is to go look at Fiverr and see what people are doing on Fiverr, and do what those people are doing or do unique things that you come up with as a result of seeing what those people are doing. Those kinds of things are immediate online work.
What’s really cool is if you can do something that is related to what it is that you eventually want to do. If you’re going to build your own websites and you can build websites for people, you can find maybe starting on Fiverr or Odesk, you can do work immediately and that’s really great.
The next thing that you can do and the thing that I recommend for John, because he specifically mentions it, is you can start on a program to build sites like the Corn Sheller site. Actually, you can pretty much do that, everything that is done with the Corn Sheller site, just by going to LateNightIM.com and reading the Affiliate Marketing Overview. Everything that was done in the Corn Sheller site is talked about at some level in there. There’s comments available and if you ask me a question about how something was done for the Corn Sheller site, I’m going to answer it.
If you want to go the free route, essentially what you’re talking about is just reading through those things and going through the steps that I layout there; identifying a niche or a few niches, getting a HostGator account, which in John’s case he already has, and starting to build websites and monetizing them either with Adsense or with affiliate offers, and creating content, doing the keyword research that’s necessary so that you can get the rankings that you need, building backlinks and waiting on the traffic.
The challenge with this sort of approach for a guy like John is that this doesn’t happen overnight. Fortunately, John has a pretty healthy perspective about the kinds of incomes that are possible for new people who are trying this for the first time. I think it’s very reasonable for anybody who does this, whether they’re a 16 year old kid or an 80 year old grandma, to expect earnings on the order of $10 for their first website. That’s not a bad place to start.
The truth of the matter is before you make a dollar, you have to make a nickel. Before you make $10, you have to make $1. Before you make $10 a month, you need to make $1 a month. And so forth. So you have to build this thing up.
Having a goal out there of having a website that makes $10 a month is not an unreasonable goal for anybody. Just keeping it real here. Having a goal to build a website that makes $2,000 a month can be a little harder, that involves a lot more luck, being in the right place at the right time, and maybe more investment and choosing the right topic. But $10 a month, it’s pretty straightforward to understand how that might be possible.
To John I say, absolutely go to the website and if you have questions, leave comments on those posts and I’ll answer them. That will help the entire community, so that’s a good thing. We’ll do that.
I don’t like to advocate people get their wallet out, especially if they’re in a situation where the first thing out of their mouth is, “I don’t have any money.” If I were going to buy something that I could learn from then I would probably recommend Forever Affiliate. The disclaimer is that I know for a fact that the number of people who went through Forever Affiliate compared to the number who actually made money is the same as it always is with these sort of programs, because many people quit.
They just quit and they don’t do the work. In fact, even yours truly, I haven’t quit but I accomplished way less than I had planned to in 2012 on this. I haven’t quit, I’m just, as usual, way behind schedule. I’m falling victim to the same things these other people fall victim to and that’s that life gets in the way. I do know that those principles in Forever Affiliate are sound, I know that people that went through that course made money, and there were people that did make money from that course, because I saw the reports in the forums and so forth.
I can tell you that with every one of these courses, whether it was Micro Site Profits from Internet Business Mastery Academy or the Internet Business Mastery Academy itself, or my own product that I had in the past when I was selling Adsense themes, or whatever, far more people quit and give up and fail from quitting than are actually successful.
To John I would say the strategy has to be find a direct way to make money as best you can. He says he’s doing agency work right now and that doesn’t fun, I understand that. Make sure you can do whatever you have to do to pay your light bill, but absolutely definitely start working on these passive income streams, effective immediately. I think what I recommend you do is, if you don’t want to spend a dime, work through the information on my site and let me know where you perceive gaps and I’ll help you fill them, just like I would do for any listener. If you are inclined to spend a little money on Forever Affiliate, I think that education is absolutely fantastic.
As a matter of fact, you can get into that for $1 and if you decide you don’t like it, for whatever reason, after seven days you can get your money back. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing that if that’s your situation, you get in for $1, you get everything you can get out of it and you get out. If later something works for you and you decide to go back and pay Andrew for it, I think that’s great too. I don’t think he’d have a problem with that.
That’s my thinking on that for you, John. I hope that’s helpful. By this time I’ve responded to your ticket in the system and I wish you all the best. If there is something I can do to help you, I hope you won’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always willing to help people, particularly when the help that I’m offering them can be multiplied throughout the community. For every John that writes me and asks a question, there are probably 100 other people that have exactly the same question that don’t write to me.
Wrapping Things Up….
That wraps it up for today. We’re going to have another show really soon and we’re going to talk about Forever Affiliate and the Niche Site Duel in the next episode. Stay tuned and watch you iPod, iPhone, or Android device, because I’m coming to you again soon.
Until next time….