Interview with Andrew Hansen
Mark: I’m back on the mic once again. It’s 4:00 in the morning in Texas. What time is it there in bloody old England, Andrew?
Andrew: It’s 10:00 AM here.
Mark: Okay. I wish it was 10:00 AM here but it’s not. Welcome. How are you?
Andrew: Very well, mate. How are you?
Mark: It’s really good to talk to you again. You’re a busy guy. You’ve been traveling. I guess you were in Africa for a while?
Andrew: In Haiti.
Mark: That’s right, in Haiti. What were you doing in Haiti?
Andrew: Just taking a little bit of a hiatus from work and everything. I was doing some different kind of stuff and some volunteer work where we ended up using some of our online marketing skills to help a non-profit down there to sell some of their stuff. It was interesting.
Mark: That’s excellent. The reason that I have you here today is, a couple of episodes ago on my show, I started dealing with some feedback and did a little informal survey about people who went through Forever Affiliate. As you know, a bunch of my listeners participated in the program at some level. They either bought the course or were in the coaching. I formed a little group with my listeners. We had some level of interaction as some of us built some sites.
Just like you do in your big forums, we started talking about different support topics, like how to do links and other issues we were facing. One of the things that came up was, who is actually having success with this? One of the things we started talking about was the high rate of, I’m going to call it failure, but that’s probably something we need to talk about, the definition of that itself. We talked about the high rate of people who invest in IM programs and don’t see results.
I wanted to call you out on this because I know this is something that you have I have talked about at length. You’ve discussed it publicly. I wanted to go through some of these questions from the point of view of my listeners in the context of Forever Affiliate. There are hard questions that people ask that you’ve heard before.
One of them is, “Is Andrew the only one who makes money on a program like Forever Affiliate?” Interestingly, I don’t think anyone ever complained that they didn’t think that the content or the stand-alone value of the course wasn’t worth the $97 that they paid. At least that was my argument.
Clearly, the content in the course is worth the money that it costs. The question is, people buy these courses with the expectation that they’re going to make money and not everybody does. I wanted to start a conversation with you around this topic and see what you have to say about this idea that not everyone just turns the crank with a program like Forever Affiliate and makes money.
Andrew: Yes, it’s a really important issue. It’s something that I think about a lot. As you know, I’ve made these products and tried to share this information with people for a long time. It bugs me in the same way that it bugs other people to see people going through it and not getting the result that they expect. There are a lot of things to say about it. There are a lot of points on that. We can go into it as deeply as you wish.
The first one, and maybe the biggest one, is that we should all recognize that this is not a problem of IM specifically. It’s not even a problem of Forever Affiliate. This is a problem of business. We have all heard those statistics, like X% of small businesses will fail in the first three years. It’s the majority. It’s most people who start a business. It will not end up succeeding. It won’t survive for three years. That’s worth taking into account.
The reason for that is, as I’m sure many of your listeners know very well, starting a business is a complicated thing. I try to tell people how easy it can be when you’re following smart, clear methods. There are a lot of factors that influence the person’s success that really have nothing to do with the material.
Another situation that we have all experienced is where things just happen to a person. Things happen in life. To make a success with this, or any similar program, the person has to be at the right place in their life. They have to perhaps be fortunate enough to be free of external distraction or tragedy for a period of six months to a year just so they can knuckle down and get it done.
It might sound pessimistic, but that’s pretty hard to line up in the average person’s life. With every person who tries this, there are a lot of personal circumstances. There are a lot of things that have nothing to do with the material that influences someone’s success.
Mark: We see this in the Forever Affiliate forums and I also hear it personally. You’re talking about when you check in on someone with your program and they come back and say, “Yes, I was doing fine, but this and this and this happened so I’ve put the thing on hold for now.” They’re not working on it anymore because life happens to them.
Andrew: Definitely. That’s one category of the people who we’ll find. They might say, “I expected to get this out of the program but it didn’t end up happening.”
The other category we can talk about are the ones where nothing like that happened. They didn’t end up with the results that they had expected, but they were doing everything right the whole time. From start to finish, they were working through the program. They were ticking off steps. They were spending a lot of time on it and the result didn’t match their expectations. I must say, from my experience in having dealt with thousands of customers, this category of people is much smaller. I’m sure you’ve seen that as well.
Andrew: But it is possible and that can happen. That can happen for some of the reasons I try to outline in a course like Forever Affiliate. It’s things like small mistakes get made at really crucial parts of the process. For example, when the person was choosing the market that they should enter, there was a mistake that was made there. In choosing the keywords within that market that they should target, a mistake was made there. Most usually, later on when they got into a great market and had a great set of keywords that would have converted very nicely, they started promoting in that market. They just didn’t see that through long enough to notice the results.
I’ll tell you a really interesting story about this that illustrates this point very well. I did this guarantee on the Forever Affiliate program, which was, if you spend 60 days and do everything that I tell you, if you follow the course completely and do not do anything else but focus on this for 60 days, and you finish all the steps and your site isn’t making you money then I’ll refund your money but I’ll send you $100 in cash as well. I know that it just never happens.
Almost never will someone actually put the stuff into place and not see results. I’ve done this for two years in a row now. I’ve done it with a previous course as well. This year, I actually gave $100 away to someone for the first time. It was very weird. A guy emailed me and said, “Andrew, this is my site. I’ve been doing everything that you said. I’ve done it for 60 days.” He knew that 60 days was when the refund guarantee would apply.
I had a look at his site and it was true. He had laid it out perfectly. He had a great market. He was promoting a good product. The content that he had was solid. The keywords he was targeting were nice. The site was laid out well. All his conversion factors were in place. I even checked his link building. He had really done some link building in exactly the ways that I discussed. His site hadn’t made any money yet.
I said, “You know what? You’ve really done everything. You’ve earned this.” I’m going to refund your money,” and I sent him $100. After I sent him the $100, I was thinking. I thought, “Isn’t this strange?” I know this person, if they had continued from that point, they have done 90% of the work now that is required to have a profitable site in this market.
Their thinking was, “It hasn’t happened in 60 days so it has failed. I should be compensated for this failure.” If that person had continued doing what they were doing, built some more links, promoted a little bit more, increased their rankings for those keywords in that market, that person would have had a site that was making money. They got to 60 days, it didn’t happen, so they considered it a failure. I think this happens more than we will probably know. That’s a possible way that people don’t make this kind of thing work.
Mark: This is something that we talk about on my show a little bit. This word “failure” has a time associated to it. It’s a decision you make. You decided, “Okay, I’m declaring this a failure at this point in time.” Often times, my experience is that people are declaring failure too soon. They’re doing work. Maybe it’s good quality work. Maybe it’s great quality work. Maybe they’re still learning and it’s not so good quality work. They are putting effort in and sweat equity.
They’re burning BTUs of energy into this thing. At some point, they just decide, “Enough is enough.” There are these cases where they just haven’t reached the tipping point yet. That’s what you’re describing with this guy. Maybe in his niche, there are a few particular types of links that are triggering Google for his competition or a simple piece that he’s missing that he doesn’t have the skills to see yet. If he just kept pushing, he might have ended up with something that was profitable.
Andrew: Absolutely. As you said, if the person hadn’t decided on their own criteria for failure and they had sought the advice of someone who knew what failure looked like. If he had emailed me and said, “This is my site. This is what I’ve done. Is this a failure?” I would have looked at it and said, “Hell no. This is incredible. You’ve done almost everything that you need to do. In fact, I’m surprised that this site is not making money yet. Keep doing what you’re doing and this will surely be a success before very long.”
I think people arbitrarily declare their timelines and criteria for failure without good information. It comes to them to feel like it’s a failure but there’s no good reason why. People should explore that further.
Mark: There are these possible things that may have to do with the people or the amount of effort or time that they put in. There are all of these possibilities, like small mistakes and distractions. What about the method itself? Let’s talk about Forever Affiliate itself and this idea of targeting keywords. Is this still relevant? You and I have been doing it since the Niche Marketing on Crack days.
For those of you who haven’t been around as long as Andrew and I have, Andrew had a product back in 2007 or 2008 that really started all of this, at least for me. It was one of the first products I ever bought, which was essentially a variation although very crude compared to the sophisticated stuff that you do now. It’s sort of the same thing. You target niche markets, offer products and convert them. Does this still work? What can you say about people who did have success with Forever Affiliate? You coached hundreds of people through this, this time.
Andrew: Yes, it was a few hundred people.
Mark: Are there success stories that you can tell me? Did you see some success with this for people? What about your niche sites? Are you still seeing profit from this kind of activity?
Andrew: Let me break it down and talk about the model first. Then I’ll talk about the success stories. If I go off track, feel free to pull me back. With the model, it’s very clear. It looks different today than it did when you and I started. There is no doubt about that. That was the purpose of Forever Affiliate. It was to say that this has changed. It’s not as easy as it once was. It used to be ridiculously easy, too easy.
Now it’s still very possible and doable but you have to be a little bit smarter. You have to do things properly. That is still the case today in that regard. It hasn’t changed since Forever Affiliate. That was in February 2013. Even now a year on, we’ve seen more changes. It’s funny because the changes that have come in the last 12 months have made it so that a couple of the things that people would have done for Forever Affiliate could be done better now.
It’s also made it so that some of the things that they’ve done in Forever Affiliate are more powerful now. They have to do even less of them now to see results with this stuff. The details would probably take too long to explain. The bottom line is that the models continue to work because it’s based on a principle that is not going to change. You and I have talked about this before.
Targeting the people who most want to buy something, showing them the thing that they most want to buy and providing additional value to them in the course of that buying decision is always going to have value. There is always going to be a place for that. More broadly, on the internet and off it, that kind of service is expanding in its reach and existence. Nothing will change that principle.
The implementation of it and how we make a site rank in the search engines, for example, everyone who does this should expect that to continue changing. It should be more gradually, I think. There is no big revolutions coming in search engine optimization where we’re going to wake up tomorrow and Google is going to say something that no one has any idea about. They keep saying the same things over and over again.
Make better quality sites and stop doing link building. Anyone who sees a Google update and is surprised is not paying enough attention. It’s the same stuff. We can expect to continue to see those little changes, but nothing about that changes the effectiveness of that model. It’s just about doing this, doing it right and doing it consistently enough to build the kind of income from it that you want. That’s the model.
Let me talk about success stories. The frustrating thing with success stories for this stuff is that we don’t have a good mechanism for recording the successes of the people who do well with this stuff. Really, no one has. I see the support tickets of the people whose results didn’t meet their expectations. The people who crush it with this stuff, they’re out the door. They’re away making their sites and scaling things up. They’re making more money. They don’t get in touch with me as regularly. Some of them do because they’re inclined that way. They have that kind of personality. They want to share their success. They want to be a testimonial.
A lot of people don’t at all. They’re too busy at work. They’re just doing their thing. I have this situation come up regularly where someone will email me and say, “Just so you know, I had a really good site that I made with the Forever Affiliate program. It’s making this much money now. I just wanted to see what you thought about this scenario that’s come up.” This is a year later. I think to myself, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I want to know. I want to feel like there are people actually making this work.
It doesn’t happen very regularly. I have to chase people. There are people who make these comments in the forum that they’re doing well. I have to follow up with them later manually. I don’t have enough time so I always forget. It’s difficult in that way. At the same time, these people do exist. Anyone who went through the Forever Affiliate coaching program will have met some of these people in the forum and will have connected with them via their groups, Facebook and other ways. Success, as in most things, is gradual. It grows piece by piece. There are countless people who are making this work now and who are expanding it into things to craft businesses of their own liking.
Mark: What about you personally? Are you still working on affiliate sites or are you one of these guys who makes 100% of his money by talking about making money?
Andrew: I’m happy to talk about this. I had taken a bit of a break this year. I didn’t do much new stuff in the way of affiliate marketing. The coaching business takes up a lot of my time. I mainly just left the existing affiliate sites that I had to keep ticking over. I haven’t built any new sites for quite a while now.
At the same time, it’s crazy that the old affiliate sites that I have continue to tick over just the same. I don’t expect to see any change there. There are little bits of maintenance that I’ll do every now and then. I’ll order some new content to have put on them or some new links if I see traffic drop down. Mainly, there is no great change to speak of there. In terms of getting new results from people starting now, yes, it’s extremely possible.
Mark: That’s kind of the magic of this. Some of the sites that you have are relatively newer but some of them date back a while, right? That’s one of the great things. Once you find one of these sites, they can last a very long time. What is the oldest profitable affiliate site that you have?
Andrew: It’s from 2009.
Mark: Wow. That’s awesome. To these people who wonder, they don’t know you as well as I do. They’re trying to understand if affiliate marketing is real. Is this the real deal? Can you really make money doing this? Or is it all just snake oil, smoke and mirrors? What’s your big takeaway? What do you tell those people who want to know if this is too good to be true? Is it easy money? Is it for real? What do you tell people?
Andrew: First, I never deny the existence of snake oil. There is plenty of that around in this market, especially in the world of affiliate marketing and make money online. Anyone who came to that conclusion that it was all snake oil, I certainly wouldn’t blame them. I would judge those people very lightly. At the same time, I’ve had enough experience with this now to know that it certainly does continue to work.
There are people who are eking out full-time incomes from this, who are meeting their income goals, who are building businesses that go on to be five and six figure a year businesses. In terms of what to say to someone who has had that expectation and not had it work, it’s one of those things. For the person who has the time to commit to this and is ready to do the learning and make all the mistakes that are required to make it happen, it’s as possible as anything else in the world is possible.
Mark: I don’t want to confuse people about the purpose of this call. The purpose of this call was to address these questions that have come up with Forever Affiliate. I have one more question. Then I want to talk a little bit about what you’re doing next. I got one comment from a listener named Chris. When he hears me talk about working on my Forever Affiliate sites, he always hears me talking about outsourcing this and paying for that. It’s “pay to go fast” kind of stuff.
His conclusion was, “Okay, fine. That means that you must have to have money to make money with a course like Forever Affiliate. Unless you’re ready to invest a bunch of money, you really can’t hope to make money on these sites.” Could you address that a little bit? Is that really true? Do you need to dump a bunch of money into these sites to make them work?
Andrew: There is this conversation that takes place when someone is talking about any online business model. Someone says, “You need to have money. You have to put money into that. You have to have money to make money.” The other person says, “No, you can do this. You don’t need any money. You can really make this work.” For me, this is the same as any business. There isn’t any business that you can start, spend no money and start making money unless you already have some existing, very valuable asset.
Mark: Even a lemonade stand. You buy some lemons.
Andrew: Exactly. You’re likely to make an amount of money relative to how much you spend on a lemon. That’s the nature of business. To anyone who is looking to get into this or any online business model and spend no money, I would say that it probably isn’t the right time. It’s not the right time to start a business. There are other things you need to have in place before that point.
At the same time, the amount of money that we’re talking about investing in these sites is not an offensive amount of money by most people’s standards. You’re talking about paying small fees to have certain tasks done, to have content written, to have backlinks made, to have a WordPress blog installed.
The amount of money that you invest in this business model to the amount of return that you stand to make when you do it properly is disproportionate compared to most business models. This is a low investment, higher return business. That’s a lot of the appeal. It’s a business that people can start with a small amount of capital and see returns quickly without spending years of their life in the process. That’s why it’s cool.
Mark: Let’s move on a little bit. Like I said, I don’t want people to be confused about what this is about. It’s specifically to address these Forever Affiliate questions. I didn’t want to get out of here without having at least a brief discussion about what you’re working on next. I think people will care, both those people who were involved in Forever Affiliate and people who, for whatever reason, missed out on that. You’re working on yet another course.
Andrew: Yes. This year, I’ve partnered with another gentleman. There’s a friend of mine who, interestingly, lives in Dallas at the moment. I think I connected the two of you at one point. His name is Alex.
Mark: Yes, we talked about getting a beer 14 times but have never made it. We’re still exchanging email.
Andrew: Alex is a guy who is not from where I am at all. He’s from SEO and that’s about it. He’s been doing SEO since 2007. He’s had about 400 of his own affiliate sites that he’s promoted, ranked and built out in the search engines. He does SEO for clients that generate millions of dollars a year in revenue just from free traffic and rankings. He’s also involved with SEO like a platform that other SEO agencies use.
He finds himself consulting to other SEO professionals and teaching them how to properly do things. He’s an absolute wiz when it comes to getting rankings in the search engines. He is crushing it right now in all kinds of markets, ridiculous markets. I’m talking about things like credit and weight loss. He gets free traffic. He competes in those markets. I’ve wanted to share some of what he does in SEO for quite a while but he’s never really been interested.
He’s not an IM guy. He’s too busy doing his own SEO stuff. Finally, I pinned him down. He and I created a course together. It’s an SEO course. It’s not specific to affiliate marketing. It’s how anyone with a website can get more free traffic from the search engines that is targeted, buying, profitable traffic in the shortest amount of time and for the smallest amount of effort. It turns out that, for 2014, because of some of the changes that have happened in Google in the last six months, there is quite a unique opportunity to get traffic quickly and easily that hasn’t really existed to this extent for quite a long time.
We’re putting together this new thing. It’s a coaching program and course with a bunch of “done for you” stuff as well for how anyone on with an affiliate or ecommerce site can do that. It’s about how you can get more traffic in the search engines very quickly and easily.
Mark: That’s perfect. I’ll be talking some more about that with my guys. I think you and I are scheduled to do a webinar for my listeners some time later this month on that. We’ll get all that information out to people. We can talk about that at length when it’s not 4:00 something in the morning.
Andrew: I’m really looking forward to it.
Mark: I really appreciate your time. I am sure that I will get some interesting comments based on this commentary. We’ll see what people have to say. I hope this answered their questions. Is there any thought that you want to leave us with for people who are thinking about starting and building affiliate sites on line? They might be trying to get started and thinking about what to do with their 2014. Do you have any parting comment that you want to leave us with?
Andrew: Yes. No matter how hard it is, no matter how long it takes you, no matter how many frustrations, how much money you have to spend, the life that this business can give you is worth going through that for. I speak personally. The benefit to the amount of time that it opens up for you, the amount of abundance, the ability to do more of whatever it is that you care about, that’s worth fighting for to me. I believe that for anyone. It is so special. This kind of life is so remarkable. It’s worth it.
Mark: Thanks, I really appreciate your time. I hope you have a fantastic evening. I guess it’s coming up on late afternoon there, right?
Andrew: Yes, it’s getting there.
Mark: I hope you have a fantastic evening and I’ll talk to you soon.
Andrew: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for having me.
Mark: Thank you very much. Take care.
Wrapping Things Up…
I hope you enjoyed that interview with Andrew. Admittedly, that wasn’t the in-your-face, hard-hitting Geraldo Rivera angry left-wing reporter style of interview. Hopefully, that’s helpful to you and helped give you some perspective about where Andrew is coming from. I don’t know that Andrew has all the answers about why people succeed and fail in this business. I’ve known him for a long time. He speaks the truth. That’s really what he feels. There you go. I hope that’s helpful to you.
I can’t wait to talk to you next week. We will be talking with Farnoosh Brock. That show will be directed at those of you who found me because you’re looking to make a change away from your day job. When I got to thinking about why people do that, I realized that a lot of times they do that because they’re not satisfied with their day job. Farnoosh has been there and done that and has an excellent course that she’s put together.
It’s about how you can improve your day job, make it much better, get that promotion or raise that you deserve as well as all the other things that are missing that are the reason that you’re listening to me right now. Having taken one of Farnoosh’s courses before, I knew she would be willing to come on, talk a little bit about that and give us some free tips. She’ll be doing that next week. I look forward to talking to you.