Transcript continued from the Episode 067 Show notes

Late Night Listener Feedback

The first thing today, this is very interesting because last week we talked about this guy who broke my heart, like so many have before, and told me he’s down on his luck and he’s looking for internet business as the way out. We talked all about that last week and my advice for listener John.

We have another listener, for the sake of anonymity we’ll call him KB. KB writes me and says…

Hi Mark,
Just signed up for your newsletter, listening to your podcast while I’m writing this message. I am new to all this. My goal is to work at home on the internet. I have worked really hard to lower my financial needs in order to do this. My wife and I are completely debt free….we purchased a mobile home for $8000 cash and I spent the last 7 months remodeling it (looks brand new now.) Our cars are paid for. No credit card debt.

We do have 3 daughters (ages 11-14) and obviously still need income, but I have positioned myself so that we could get by comfortably with $2500-3000 per month. We could get-by on less, but that is what it would take to be comfortable.

Here is my question….can I do this? Can I put together niche websites that could earn this much? I don’t mind putting in the work. I just want to know if this can be done?
I have 1 site started… xxxxxxxxxxx let me know what you think?
I appreciate your time.
Your newest fan,
KB

So his question is can this be done online. Can you put together niche websites that could earn this much money? He doesn’t mind putting in the work, but he just wants to know if it’s possible. By the way, he already has a site up and he sent me the URL and it’s beautiful, it’s a great looking site.

I think this is a really legitimate question that everybody needs to feel like they know the answer to. Can you actually make money online, make a living online? I think evidence is very clear that you can make some money online, so I don’t think there’s much question about that. You can look at the massive experiment of the Corn Sheller site that we’ve talked about many times here where just almost by accident you can make a few dollars a month online.

I think the more interesting question is can you really make a living online and what’s the formula for that? I’ve got some observations about this.

The simple no-brainer answer for KB and his question of is this possible, I’ll say absolutely yes it is possible. It’s clearly done. In fact, the most transparent example that I can think of where this is done completely transparent all out there for you to see is Pat Flynn’s Security Guard Training Headquarters site, he’s making $2,000 – $3,000 a month on that site. That’s real and there’s absolutely no question that that money can be made and that this can be done. So, yes, it’s absolutely possible.

See, I don’t think that’s really the question you need to be asking. Everybody talks about the amazing success stories. I think that’s one of the tricky things about this business is that if people build 10 sites and nine of them don’t make any money but one of them is successful, people talk about the site that’s successful and they don’t talk so much about the nine sites that didn’t make a lot of money or any money, or that lost money. They’re not talking about that.

The question if I’m a guy with a job and a family to support, does it make sense for me to count on internet marketing as a strategy for making money? I think that’s the real question KB is asking – and this is an excellent question.

I think we can all agree that it’s possible. The question being is it likely.

A couple years ago, and I probably should do this annually, I did an income survey of all of my listeners. In fact, I’ll make the commitment right now that I’ll get my virtual assistant to help me crank this back up. I did a survey of all the listeners of the podcast at the time, or all the ones that would complete the survey, and I asked them questions about how it was going.

One of the questions that I asked them was, “Are you making money? Have you ever made money?” The vast majority of the people that responded to the survey weren’t making money. People listening to my podcast were not making a significant amount of money. In fact, you could argue of course not, that’s why they’re listening to the podcast, they’re trying to figure out how to do this and so the data is skewed in that direction.

We’re going to get into this when we talk about the next topic with Forever Affiliate, but my experience has been that the vast majority of people, and I think it’s at least one out of 10 people, maybe more, that start off trying to make money online end up not being successful. They start a website or maybe they don’t even get that far. They make a few dollars, or maybe that don’t even get that far.

Eventually they get tired and quit or they get distracted by this program and move to that program, then to that program, and by the time they get distracted enough times then they quit, or they move on to something else, or they don’t have the right attitude to begin with and they get jaded and quit. Whatever the situation is, it ends up that they quit. Or they end up listening to the wrong people and they get ripped off and then they quit.

One way or another, I think that the failure rate of people who start off with some intention of building a business online and then are unable to turn that into a full time income is incredibly high. I really believe that’s the case. I don’t have extensive scientific data, but I bet it’s one in 10 or one in 20 never reach that level, maybe it’s one in 100 that don’t do that. I don’t know, but I really think that happens.

On the other hand, there are people who end up doing this and making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. The thing is all over the place. I don’t really think in that regard it’s too different than the entrepreneur who decides, “I want to start a small business.” The small business failure rate is whatever it is, you hear numbers from failure rate of 50% to one in 10, it depends on how you count failure in small business. A lot of entrepreneurs they don’t fail until they – I don’t know what failure means, just because you shut down one business and start another doesn’t mean you failed, sometimes it just means you’ve changed tactics.

I don’t know why people think that it should be any easier to start a business online than it is offline. What is it about online business that people think that there ought to be some formula that makes it so much easier to be successful online than it is offline? Sure, there’s this Wild Wild West thing, when the internet was new and a lot of people were having success very quickly and it was very public. But I don’t know why people think that it should necessarily be easier to start a successful online business than it is to start a successful landscaping business in your local community. Certainly the capital expenditure is less, as we’ve talked about many times. But I don’t completely understand why people think it should be easy.

KB’s not saying that it’s going to be easy, he’s just asking me whether or not it’s possible. I think my answer is yes, it’s definitely possible. It’s not easy. I would also that it is not likely. But, one of the reasons that the Late Night Internet Marketing brand exists and is named that is because I think the sensible thing to do – and this is uniquely possible with internet business – is to actually start your business part time while you’re still able to feed your family with your day job.

I recommend to KB, if it’s possible, at least in the beginning, you don’t even need to ask that question, you don’t need to wonder whether or not it’s going to happen for you, you can just go out and do it and see it happen. Then when you feel like you’ve mitigated enough risk to make the switch from part time online entrepreneur to full time online entrepreneur, you can just do that based on the data for your particular situation.

That’s one of the other things that I will say to you, KB, about this; yes, it is absolutely possible, but it depends on exactly what it is that you try to do, how good you are at it, how hard you work at it, how good your training is or the people that you associate with. There are so many factors involved that it’s really hard to predict who is going to be successful and who is not going to be successful.

The other thing that I will say to you is that if you have the right mindset about being successful and discipline to go do the things that you need to do to be successful, that increases your chances dramatically. What you’ve told about your financial situation, the way you have your life in order, the way you’re thinking about this, the way that you have your family positioned financially, there’s no question to me that you have your life together well enough to be able to run your own business. Just from the little bit that you wrote me on Facebook.

I hope that’s helpful to you, KB. My answer is yes, it is possible. It is not automatic. It might not even be likely. But I definitely think that if you manage the risk, it’s something that if you’re interested in it then you ought to go off and try and do it, because I do see these success stories and it is definitely possible.

Forever Affiliate Update and Discussion

That gets us to our next topic. These kinds of things bother me, so this is a very interesting thing to talk about. Forever Affiliate. Back in maybe February or March, Andrew Hansen, great friend of mine, great internet marketer, one of the most ethical people that I know, fantastic experience in affiliate marketing, since I started in the business in 2007 I’ve been following him the entire time, I know him very well and the quality of his stuff is amazing, he’s the real deal, real guy. He comes out with this course Forever Affiliate, I review the course, it looks fantastic to me, the value for the price that he’s charging is just off the hook, it’s basically the perfect affiliate marketing course from my perspective.

I looked at that course at the time that it came out and I still feel this way today. For the money that it cost to get that video training, it was just an unbelievable value. I don’t know how many hours of video in this thing, I think something like 50 or 60 videos, and the whole thing cost under $100 if you weren’t in the coaching part of the program. Really good value.

So I had no trouble recommending it and I still recommend it. I still think if you’re looking to learn affiliate marketing, that is one of the absolute best ways to do it. I still have people going through my link at LateNightIM.com/fa to buy that course. I still sell it even today, they listen to the old episodes and they buy through that link.

The really hard question is though; of the people that took advantage of that how many people actually had success and what did people think about it? It’s one thing for me to recommend something, which I did and still do, I still believe in that recommendation, but what is it exactly that I’m recommending, what actually is the result of that recommendation, and did people profit either personally from an education standpoint or financially from that recommendation? Did I make a good recommendation?

As a lot of you know, in my Facebook account I created a special private group for people who bought through my link for Forever Affiliate. I asked the question, I said, “I’m doing this episode where I’m going to talk about Forever Affiliate and what I plan to do moving forward with Forever Affiliate. I want to address some of the questions, I want to know what you thought about it, I want to talk about the hard stuff. Let me know what you think.”

I got some excellent responses from people. By the way, just to give you an idea of the size of this group, there are 73 members in this group and so far I have a handful of responses, something on the order of eight responses here.

Here’s what I say. Everyone who responded, I think without exception, said that they felt like the course material was good. The people that addressed that issue that responded to me said the course material was good. So I don’t think anybody bought the Forever Affiliate course and said, “This is junk, I can’t believe you recommended this, this doesn’t make sense.” So I think the quality is there – and I know that, because I reviewed it before I recommended it.

A couple of people said that they bought the course but didn’t really do anything with it. That’s pretty typical. In a lot of cases they’re saving it for later. To some extent, I fall into this category. I started out with a plan of building 20 sites this year, I ended up actually fully completing zero sites. If I’m really honest about what my idea of really complete sites are, I didn’t really fully go through the program on even a single site, so I fall into this category.

By the way, I’m the special case because most people who are doing something like Forever Affiliate have a day job or whatever they’re doing and they’re trying to find time to do Forever Affiliate on the side. I’ve got a day job, I do my podcast and the other stuff that I do on the side, and then on the side of that I’m trying to do Forever Affiliate. I still plan to do that, we’re going to talk about that in a minute. Sometimes when I think about that it makes my head hurt, so I try not to think about it.

There were a couple of people that said, “I liked the course, but the problem that I had was backlinking.” So we’re going to address that.

In the Forever Affiliate course Andrew is very specific about the kind of backlinking he thinks you should do. The thing that he was promoting for this course initially to start off with was, among other things, blog commenting. His data is very clear, this seems to work pretty well, particularly now that a lot of things that used to work no longer work. Blog commenting is working pretty decently right now, but it’s a lot of work and it’s hard to find reliable blog commenting services and the ones that you can find are kind of expensive. So that put a lot of people off or slowed a lot of people down. I think there were some people, judging by the responses in the Facebook group, that that really was almost a showstopper, it put so much resistance into the system that they were not able to really make much progress beyond that.

Dan Franks, who I love dearly, he says, “FA was an epic failure.” He got his five sites up, he commented on all of them, and didn’t get any traction. So there were people like Dan who went through the program, did exactly what was said, and for whatever reason it just didn’t work out for him, given what he did. Dan is a pretty smart guy, so I’m pretty sure that he probably followed those instructions pretty well.

So there’s that, there are people who actually did the stuff that was recommended and didn’t see results.

Some people reported they did have some success. Loretta, my transcriptionist who I love dearly, she followed the instructions, got some sales, and kind of broke even on her investment in the program. She didn’t do much more than that, but hasn’t really given up yet and she struggles with link building.

You hear this a lot with these kind of sites, “I got this site, I’ve done everything right, but I need the traffic.” That’s really the issue. Traffic typically comes from building links, so that’s the big gap.

My buddy Chris, who is a long time listener who comments all the time and is very active on the Facebook fan page, says that one of his feelings about the thing is just a long time between the start of the program and when you actually see results. I know this is a problem with these kinds of things in general, but Chris makes the point it takes months. By time months comes around it’s really hard to maintain focus if you’re trying to do this thing. You’re putting all this effort in and you’re not really seeing anything, so that’s an issue as well.

Andrew has some strategies around that, but in general, it takes weeks and weeks or some number of months, typically on average, before you’re going to see results. And because nothing is 100% in this sort of thing, you’re going to have some sites that don’t have any results at all and you’re going to have some cases, like Dan, where you build five sites and nothing happens. At that point, why go on?

I think that’s the reality of every course like this that I’ve ever been involved with. The percent success rate is pretty low. Most of it comes from people not really following through with the program, I think a lot of it comes from that. When you really talk to people and you say, “Show me your site,” you can see that they didn’t really invest in the program from a time standpoint in the way that might have helped guarantee their success.

There are other people, like Dan or Loretta, who build these sites and the results aren’t epic. In fact, I can’t say that there’s anyone that I’m aware of in my sample of 73 people that bought the course in the Facebook group that is claiming that they’ve had enormous epic success from this endeavor. That’s really concerning to me on several levels.

One is it’s concerning from the standpoint that I recommended this course. To some extent, even though I know that this is solid material, the teaching is really good and it’s worth the money that’s paid for it, what I’m really hoping to see from something like that is people building successful empires of businesses, or a couple sites that make a couple hundred dollars a month, and going around saying, “This is amazing, this stuff really works. I can really do this.”

Getting back to the first feedback that we dealt with from KB, is it possible for a guy like KB to take a program like Forever Affiliate and be successful building a $3,000 per month income? The answer, based on the data, is it’s not likely.

Where does that leave us? I’m not really sure. I will tell you that I know this stuff works because I do it myself. So I think we’re going to do some more of it and see what happens.

I have four or five sites in some state of disrepair that I started with Forever Affiliate. I’m going to go back and re-research those sites, make sure the keyword selections are still good. I’m going to round out those sites to 10 sites.

My problem that I had with Forever Affiliate myself personally is similar to the problem that a lot of people had. When it got down to doing all of this blog commenting and taking care of all these other details, I just did not choose to find the time. I’m not going to say I didn’t have the time, that’s a trap. If you ever catch yourself saying, “I don’t have the time” to do something, that’s just a trap. You have to stop that. You have the time, you’re choosing to do something else. In my case, I don’t even know what the something else was, but this didn’t get done.

What I’m going to commit to now is that I am going build 10 Forever Affiliate sites by the end of the year. My original goal had been 20, but I’m going to get it to 10. The thing that has changed that allows me to hope to complete this is that now I have the access to this RankCrew service from Jon Leger. Inside of the RankCrew program there is an option for blog commenting.

I’m going to simply use my virtual assistant, who lives in the Philippines and thankfully was not affected by this massive hurricane. At my day job we have operations in the Philippines that were not hit by the hurricane and my VA was safe from the hurricane, so I’m very thankful for that. I’m going to ask my VA to help me build these sites out. I’m going to hire content writers to get the content out. I’m going to do some SEO work outsourced through RankCrew, which you can find at LateNightIM.com/rankcrew. We’re going to track all of that on the show over the next 12 months.

I suspect I will get those sites by the end of the year, that’s my goal. I’m going to report to you on that and let you know how those go. I am going to keep after this over the next several months into next summer or however long it takes, and I’m going to figure out for myself whether or not this can be made to work by somebody part time like me who is working on this every once in awhile trying to make it go, and I’m going to let you know about it.

I feel like, as a guy who recommended this product, supported people who were using it, and now is trying to use it myself, I owe you that much. That’s what we’re going to do with regard to that and that should be really interesting, I hope that we’ll find out some interesting results.

Eventually I will reveal the niches that fail and the sites that fail to you. Quite frankly, if I hit one and it starts making $1,000 a month, I probably won’t tell you what it is. I’m just keeping it real here. But I will give you as much information as I possibly can as we go through this so that it’s helpful to you. I think that will be a really good experiment.

That’s the Forever Affiliate update. By the end of the year, I will give you another update on Forever Affiliate and let you know exactly what’s going on and where I am with my 10 sites, what the status is. Probably what we’ll do is we’ll come up with some kind of monthly reporting metrics that we can go over where we talk about the site by number, like site 1 through 10, the amount of money that I’ve spent on the site, where I am on the site, what the traffic is looking like and the number of backlinks to the site, those kinds of things. Maybe we can keep a simple spreadsheet so we can keep track of that stuff. That’s what we’ll do for those 10 Forever Affiliate sites and I hope you will enjoy that.

Wrapping Things Up…

By the way, one thing that I want to say here is that my experience is that many people are looking for a very specific formula that they can use to make money online.

“There’s 47 steps, or 32 steps, or 19 steps, and if I follow these steps exactly then I’m guaranteed to make money. I look at these keywords, I have this much search traffic, this much competition, and I build a website this way and I build this many backlinks, I do this and that, I check all these checkboxes according to this exact recipe, then I’ll be successful.” That’s what a lot of people that I hear looking for stuff actually are looking for, they’re looking for a recipe.

My own personal experience, as a guy who has tried to write such a recipe, is that I can’t find that exact recipe for myself. Sometimes some stuff works and sometimes other stuff works. Most of the time A works, most of the time B doesn’t work, except when it does work. My feeling is one of the great failings is that people are looking for this recipe that doesn’t exist. Stop looking for the recipe.

That’s just a little side piece of advice. Understand what typically works and what typically doesn’t work. Understand the big picture. But keep your eyes open for the specific things that are going to work for your particular situation. Specific things that are going on in your market, specific knowledge or talents that you have, specific things that you can see in conversion data, specific opportunities that you can take advantage of, and take advantage of them in your niche.

That’s probably the big gap that no one ever talks about between people who are successful online and people who are not. The people that are successful are adapting to their particular situation.

That wraps it up for today. I am hoping to be back on the air with you on Thursday, which will get me back on schedule for this weekly episode publication. Until then, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week. I hope that you will see this episode as me trying to separate from the hype and separate from guys who aren’t telling the truth, and separate from guys who are telling the truth but are so incredibly talented that it’s hard to reproduce their results, trying to separate from these people and keep it real about what your expectations ought to be with regard to internet marketing.

If you can manage your expectations and keep them in check, you can be patient. If you’re patient, my experience is that you can be successful. As I’ve said many times, the only people that I know that have truly failed in internet marketing are people that have quit too soon.

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