(Transcript continued from the Episode 120 show notes and audio podcast)

Late Night Listener Feedback

Some very quick listener feedback. I continue to get a lot of chatter on Twitter about what’s going on with the Late Night Affiliate course. Here’s the fully transparent truth. It’s taking me longer than I thought.

We’ve talked about this a little bit. I’m working on it, I’m making progress. I’m really happy and excited about the way that it’s turning out and the direction it’s headed. I have big dreams about how important this course is going to be for me and my business, and quite frankly for you. The only way the course can be important for me is if it helps you. If it’s not a great course, it will never turn into anything great for any of us.

I’m really excited about the way that it’s headed, it’s just taking forever. My eyes are my bigger than my schedule. I’m still shooting for January, that’s still what we’re looking at for the beta release. I hope that if you’re interested in that you will have signed up by now over at LateNightAffiliate.com. That will get you on board so that you can have the opportunity to be in the beta release in January. I have big plans for this throughout 2017, but it’s just taking longer than I thought and for that I apologize.

I do appreciate the constant chatter on Twitter and people asking me how it’s coming along, particularly most recently Rick Smith. Thanks, Rick. I really appreciate it. Stay tuned, because that’s coming to a website near you soon.

This Week in Internet Marketing News

I’m calling this internet marketing news because I think it should be news. Maybe it won’t be news to you, but it was news to me. In fact, I was pretty shocked by it. I was hanging out in the ConvertKit Facebook group, which is a private Facebook group that ConvertKit has for their customers.

Most of you know that I recently switched over to ConvertKit. (affiliate link) I do recommend them enthusiastically, I think it’s absolutely one of the best services on the internet today. It’s just awesome.

So we were having this discussion and somebody mentioned that affiliate links were illegal in MailChimp.

A lot of you know that I moved from Aweber and I’ve known about MailChimp. MailChimp is a disruptive email service provider for the following reasons. They created one of what I like to think of as the four disruptions that have happened in email marketing in the last 15 years.

The first one was Infusionsoft, when Infusionsoft came with all of these new features and at what I considered to be a very high price point, they had these amazing email funnel services that they brought to marketers who could afford it. It’s hard to use and people still call it Confusionsoft and there’s a whole Infusionsoft consulting industry because it’s so hard to use. But, by all claims and reports by people who use it, it’s a great product.

Then what I consider to be the second disruption was Aweber. Aweber was a couple of college kids and a Perl script, basically. They were able to create something at a very affordable price point and just dominate startup marketers like us. Solo entrepreneurs who couldn’t afford things like Infusionsoft needed something simple and more direct, so that was sort of the second disruption in email marketing.

MailChimp was really the third disruption in email marketing because they offered free email marketing. You could sign up at MailChimp and get an account for free, and until you got over a certain number of subscribers that was totally cool. You could start your business bootstrap and have zero cost.

This was something that was really important to side hustle entrepreneurs, because when you’re trying to bootstrap a business you’re trying to do it without spending any money. You spend your $9.95 on a domain name and you have your $4.00 hosting. The last thing you want to do is go crank up $30 – $50 a month for an Aweber account, or whatever it cost, so a lot of people liked MailChimp.

It turns out that MailChimp has this kind of crazy affiliate marketing clause in their terms of service. To be honest with you, I haven’t heard affiliate marketers complaining that they got their MailChimp accounts shut down for doing affiliate marketing, but they have this crazy thing in their terms of service that talks about how affiliate marketing is against their terms of service and even just simply the use of affiliate links might cause your emails to be stopped.

Here’s what they say, and I’m quoting them here, “Affiliate marketers are typically rewarded by a third party for recruiting customers.” This is true. “The reason we don’t permit this activity is that that there is no real obligation to care about subscriber satisfaction or to maintain a healthy ecommerce relationship with them. MailChimp isn’t meant for this type of marketing.”

Then they go on to talk about affiliate links. “Affiliate links encourage subscribers to click through to a third party product or service and are used by a wide variety of marketers and ecommerce businesses, often in the context of partnerships. For example, if you’re a blogger you might link to or promote the website of one of your sponsors. These types of links are fine to use in MailChimp, as long as the URLs you link to haven’t been blacklisted.” Then they have this section, “Here’s how we treat affiliate links. MailChimp doesn’t always stop campaigns that contain affiliate links, but we do stop campaigns that contain blacklisted URLs,” etcetera.

This whole article here is kind of affiliate marketing hostile. I think their definition of affiliate marketing is incredibly vague. To be honest with you, I can’t tell what they mean when they say MailChimp is not meant for this type of marketing, i.e. affiliate marketing.

If I were an entrepreneur, a blogger who was planning on monetizing my blog knowing full good and well that I was not likely to have my very own products for a long time, knowing that I was going to be promoting people’s affiliate programs and affiliate products of various types, and also knowing how flaky these spam lists are about what links get onto spam lists and what don’t, and what servers are on and off – that’s just a constant battle that even MailChimp is fighting to keep their own link tracking servers off of spam lists – I would stay 157,000 miles away from MailChimp if you ever have any thinking that you might do any kind of affiliate marketing.

I was just completely shocked by this. Of course, if you want to convert to ConvertKit, I highly recommend that. You know how to reach them through my affiliate link. If you have questions about how to do that conversion, ConvertKit is incredibly helpful with their conversion and on boarding services, they can help you move over quite easily.

I would definitely have a plan to get the heck off of MailChimp if I was even considering any kind of affiliate marketing. If you’re listening to this podcast you probably are, because we talk about affiliate marketing here all the time. I cannot imagine having a blog in this day and age without doing some affiliate marketing. Why would you not do affiliate marketing and promote products that can help your readers, listeners, viewers, or whatever it is that you have? It just makes absolutely no sense to me.

You can check this out and read it, it’s very long. You can ask MailChimp what they mean. I’d be very interested to hear what you find out. But, my recommendation to you is to stay the heck away from MailChimp.

Late Night Niche Site Update

Now the much promised niche site update where we have gotten a website URL, we have set up a Facebook fan page. There’s nothing on it, there’s nothing at the URL, there’s a countdown timer to the first of the year, and I am in the process of creating my first round of content. I wanted to give you an update on that.

You’ll recall that this affiliate website is about youth baseball, because that’s something that I’m interested in. We picked the site because not only am I interested in it but it meets certain commercial tests that we talked about. There are lots of things to talk about in this area, there are lots of people searching for information about youth baseball. One way to think about that is there are a lot of ways that you can help people in the youth baseball niche.

And there are lots of things you can sell. In addition to physical products that make a lot of sense, like baseball bats which can cost as much as $400, baseball gloves which can cost as much as $200, and a host of training equipment that people need to buy, including buckets of baseballs which cost around $100, there are other things that you can sell in this niche, like training programs, how to pitch videos and stuff like that. There’s a lot of cool stuff.

You can imagine becoming an authority on youth baseball, targeting youth baseball parents and youth baseball coaches about how to run effective practices and how to help your kid be a better youth baseball player. It meets that kind of common sense test that we’ve talked about for your first niche website.

The next question is once we build this website, what do we put on it? My content plan, just for the purpose of this demonstration, is really simple. It’s going to have initially something on the order of 20 – 25 pages of content when I first launch the site.

The first thing it’s going to do is have a homepage and that homepage is going to be something attractive. I’m going to use the Divi theme from Elegant Themes, which I’ve talked about a lot.

When I have that up and running I’m going to have standard boilerplate that I always put on every website. The reason that we put these boilerplate pages on websites is because there is some evidence that the Google Panda algorithm is actually looking for these sorts of pages. They’re looking for a privacy policy, as specified in the Google Webmaster Guidelines, they’re looking for a contact page and an about page. If you’re going to promote affiliate products on that website, or any kind of products, you probably need a disclaimer page letting people know that there is a financial relationship between you and the people that you are targeting.

For my website, particularly since it has anything at all to do with kids, since it’s reasonable to suspect that a kid under the age of 13 might want to be on my website, I’ll add some language that has to deal with the laws around children. So there will be five or six pages that I will add to my website. These are legal pages that are probably important for your legal protection. If you want to understand that better, you might consider getting some legal advice, because as you know I’m not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV. I do know that you want to do things that make common sense when you’re creating new websites, and putting these privacy policies and things like that in place is common sense.

As an aside, I will tell you that these laws are constantly changing. There are things about this that are very tricky. For example, one of the common mistakes that I see people make when they’re talking about their privacy policy with regard to emails is they say, “We will absolutely never sell your email.” What they mean is, “while we own the website we’ll never sell your email to somebody else to use for some other purpose,” but what that says is you will never sell the email, including some day in the far future when you decide to sell the site for a million dollars, you can’t sell their email because you told them you wouldn’t. That’s a trap that people have fallen into before.

There are lots of legal tricks and traps and in the future we need to have some episode on the legal stuff around websites. For now, those are the five pages of boilerplate that I will include.

In addition to that, I have commissioned and ordered, and they are complete, five pages just in general about youth baseball. Just general information pages. I hired a writer and said, “Just write about whatever you want about youth baseball, something that would be helpful to parents,” because after all the website does need to be helpful.

I personally believe that it is very good to balance these affiliate websites with helpful content. It helps Google when they’re trying to decide whether or not your website is a website with thin content. Having something other than product review after product review helps them realize that this is a real authority site, someone who is really trying to contribute to the space, so I always like the idea of having general articles about the topic.

You should pick those articles according to what people are searching for. But, to be honest with you, I haven’t had a lot of time to really work on this site so I just told the writer, “Write these five articles. If you do a good job there will be more work for you later.”

Then I plan to start the site with 10 product reviews. That will probably be 10 reviews split up into baseball glove reviews and baseball bat reviews. Then I’m probably going to add some more articles around that, about how to pick a glove and how to pick a bat, because one of the problems that parents have is what’s the right size glove for my son or daughter when they’re 7 years old, and do I really need to spend $95 on a glove when a $35 glove will do if we’re just starting out, and what’s the difference between a composite bat and an aluminum bat and a wooden bat. There are lots of helpful things that you can put in there that lead to the sale of bats that I can build around that.

All of that content will be on the order of 25 pages to start, so that’s the content plan.

The current status is that I’m in progress creating the boilerplate pages, which are relatively easy to create. The five articles about youth baseball are complete and they should be on the website in early January. I’ll make an announcement on the podcast when that’s up and running. Then for the 10 product reviews I’ve identified the 10 products and I’ve ordered the product reviews from a writer. That’s another thing that we’ll talk about in some detail later on is how to outsource writing content. Those will be ready in late January, so that will be up in February.

That is an update on the niche site.

If you are one of these people like me who is building niche site and you’re kind of in analysis paralysis and not sure exactly what to do next because you can’t decide exactly what to write about and you’re bogged down in keyword research, look, common sense goes a long way here at first. When you’re first trying to build a site that has some authority, create content that you think people want to read. That’s really simple.

You can do some keyword research to figure out exactly what they’re searching for and optimize for all of that, but you can also do that later. Remember, we’re creating a blog where we can edit the content. In fact, there some evidence that Google even likes it when we update the content and update our articles. So don’t worry about putting something out there that is not exactly perfectly optimized for commercial purposes. Put stuff out there that people want to read. I think that will serve you well.

Bust through analysis paralysis. And maybe you can make that one of your goals in 2017 is just do stuff, take bold action, make mistakes quickly. That’s how we learn, we make mistakes quickly, we learn, and we do better the next time. I highly recommend that. Push forward.

Whatever excuses or limiting beliefs are in your way, just push those aside and take some action. In my case, I just told the writer, “Go ahead and write five good articles,” because having five good articles on a website, no matter how you slice it, is a good thing.

So that’s the update on the Late Night Niche Site. I’ll be giving you some clue when that is up and running. You can take a look and see kind of what it looks like sometime in January.

Wrapping Things Up….

That absolutely does it for the final episode of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast for 2016. I have something super special for you next week. The first episode of 2017 will feature my friend Ray Edwards. He made amazing progress in 2016 with his goals that he set at this time in 2015. For the past year, and really this is a process that has lasted him over two years, he has been slogging away at these amazing goals.

I’m talking about seven figure income goals, fifty pounds of weight loss, and all of these crazy goals that he was able to achieve. Now, he’s not done achieving goals, he has another crazy set for 2017. I brought him on the show because as an entrepreneur like us Ray, who is incredibly successful, was able to break through to a whole other level using techniques and strategies that you and I can use. I want to share that with you next week and I hope you’ll join me on the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast next week.

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