Today in the Expert Interview Series we have a well reputable member. He is all over the digital world from E-commerce to SEO he has what to say. Totally an interview that you should read. 1. Could you please tell us a little bit of the journey how you started in internet marketing till the moment of this interview?
I started in IM about 12-13 years ago promoting Clickbank products. Before starting with IM I had built some large Facebook groups and pages in the very early days of Facebook that across them had millions of followers, it was easy back then (sigh). I never really used them for internet marketing though until I discovered Clickbank. I created an account and placed some links and the next morning woke to $238. I was blown away and started making a lot more each day promoting Clickbank guides on the many groups and pages I had created in the past. Since then I have always had a passion for affiliate marketing and creating large hubs where people gather online. My wife and I have worked on many fun projects together and started one of the fastest growing etsy shops of all time which at one point was also one of the top selling etsy shops in the world. We sold that business and moved on to helping other sellers grow their businesses. It feels like we are coming full circle as we have been generating the majority of our income from affiliate marketing over the last 12 months and are about to get back into the fray with eCommerce and POD.
Before IM from 15 - 21 I worked in a lot of call centers and developed customer service skills which helped a lot with managing our businesses ourselves and the ability to speak to anyone on the phone no matter their position. Most of those jobs where in sales departments so I learned a lot of great skills. No matter if it was insurance, phones, inbound sales outbound sales, customer service/sales, I was always the best performer or within the top 1% without fail and would max out on the bonuses and extra commission so I always wanted more and had to become self employed to do it. In my spare time I started working for myself by singing up to an MLM company selling household products when I was 18 and did fairly well with that and had a team generating 35k - 50k sales each month by the time I was 19. I learned a lot of skills from that mlm business and two others I joined before moving to the US. In fact it was a franchise/mlm company I initially moved to the US to do when I was 22. I moved to Vegas and met my wife, we got married 6 months later and moved back to the UK for a year and it was at the end of that year which we got into Clickbank and moved back. We earned so much money in a two month time frame that we decided to move back to the US, paid for my immigration and attorney and had the ability to work for ourselves from that point on.
2. Tell us a bit of your current projects, what are you working on?
The most exciting projects right now are some of our Fiverr affiliate promotions that we are doing as well as some POD shops we are in the process of building. We also dabbled with Poshmark over the last year and surprisingly have built up quite an empire on there with a few shops that are automated and promoted with imacros. The number one project right now however is developing land we purchased so that we can utilize our online promotional skills with promoting an Airbnb retreat for tourists coming to the Grand Canyon and to offer experiences and workshops. As well as that side of things I would ultimately like to have a large cottage industry out there with people running the various businesses and shops we will have online processing the orders and fulfillment all in house, as well as it being an incubator for small businesses. (dont say commune it's not going to be a commune lol!) maybe I will try and keep the promiscuous aspetcs of a commune though, that sounds GRRRR8 lol!
3. What do you think the future has prepared for SEO?
Much the same with people constantly trying to game the system or understand it better. The more people understand SEO the more it will change. It's people like the users on this forum that will dictate the future of SEO as they are the people changing it every day with new techniques that over come obstacles, that then spawn new obstacles. Whenever people adopt a new way of promotion it forces innovation and change to stand out from the crowd. I feel it will evolve as fast as technology has evolved.
4. When you get a new ORM client, what are some basic stuff that you should deal with?
Firstly I ask them what they want to achieve and then let them know what is going to realistically be achievable and set out budgets for it. Most of our clients probably fall under SMM more, but with doing that you inevitably are doing ORM too. Most of the clients we have are not familiar with ORM or its principles so there is a lot of education to be done. The most important thing in my opinion is making sure the client understands what it is they need, making sure that's something you can actually deliver on and then educating the client to make sure that they know a lot of the best practices to make my job as easy as possible and not to cause unneeded pr problems going forward.
5. You have done some e-commerce stuff too. Could you please elaborate a bit into that? What's the best platform for it and some newbie advice for people just starting out with dropshipping.
I love eCommerce, it's just an easy way of making a living. There are so many apps and marketplaces out there that makes it the ultimate thing to be able to growth hack. Anyone can start a shop these days even if you dont make the products yourself. We have had a lot of success on Etsy and Poshmark and even eBay in the past. I think Etsy is a great place for small business owners to learn a lot of skills and cut their teeth on eCommerce, before they dive in to it deeper with their own websites and all the costs and responsibilities that come with it. Etsy has so many promotional features that you can use to your advantage. We generated literally millions of visits to our shops from the Etsy platform itself using simple imacros that would run while we slept. I think it is a lot easier for a newbie to set up a shop on a marketplace like Etsy and become established rather than going it alone with their own shopify site.
6. You also generate a stable income from Fiverr these days. Although I see a lot of sellers moving out from there and new ones being afraid because of the competition. Tell us a bit of your journey there and some advice to stand out from the competition.
I have been making money with Fiverr for about 7 years on and off. The vast majority of our income has come within the last year while pushing the limits of their affiliate program. Offering services there is really nothing more than a way for me to take advantage of the affiliate program. By directing traffic to gigs I control I have increased conversions by about 800% and have increased our affiliate earnings with them buy more than that. I have a VA that does the fiverr gig itself and I sit back and profit from the affiliate program and the sale of the gigs.
To stand out you have to offer a genuinely great service at a good price. People complain about not getting enough orders which is crazy. I had to hire a VA because I could not keep up with them. It's just like content on YouTube, if you put great content out there your channel will explode. It's the same with Fiverr, if you offer a really good service you will stand out so much that the orders will come flooding in. That said the only way to truly guarantee success is to be driving traffic to your gigs yourself as opposed to relying on people browsing Fiverr, so many people make that mistake. People are going to Fiverr to find a bargain so use that fact to convert people and draw them in. From there you can develop relationships that lead to long term clients and bigger ticket sales. You need to have a plan to leverage and build what you create on Fiverr into a proper business outside of Fiverr to be successful with it in my opinion. People need to be utilizing the aff program to make the most out of it, no one likes to work for minimum wage so there will always be a high attrition rate with things like Fiverr, gigs will come and go so don't worry about competition. if you are consistent you will become the competition.
7. How can someone create a substantial income from Affiliate Marketing? What are the best platforms you suggest?
The most important recommendation I can make is grow and audience across social media. Create Facebook groups and pages, create group boards on Pinterest, create twitter profiles and Instagram accounts that you can use in the future to promote with. You have to start someplace and having these resources makes life a lot easier and lucrative in the future. I laugh when people have offered me $20 for facebook pages that have several thousand members on them, I use pages like that to generate thousands of dollars revenue for very little work so why the hell would I want to sell them for pennies. People really don't understand the value of pages and groups and other resources they can create. There are so many ways to monetize them that It's far more profitable to use them for affiliate marketing that than to create and sell them. Also dont just think that affiliate marketing means you promoting something to earn a commission. The people that made out during the gold rush were the people selling the tools and supplies, so be someone that offers services for other affiliate marketeers to use.
I don't recommend any platforms to be honest. Every aff deal I currently have has been from me reaching out to the company or from a company spamming me with an offer and me reaching out to say, hey I can promote this for you. When I drop the size of my audience and how many conversions and signups I have driven to similar apps they want to jump on a phone call with me immediately and ask for all sorts of advice. I normally get an exclusive deal or exclusive links so as to not appear as an affiliate. I try and adhere to all applicable laws with regards to disclosing if I am an affiliate (where necessary lol) so custom links that dont look like everyone else's links come in handy for that. Reach out to companies and ask if they have an affiliate program, you will make more money doing this than promoting the same stuff everyone else is. Some companies I have worked with didn't even have programs before I spoke to them and we developed them together.
8. What is working nowadays in Social Media Marketing? Do you see a better ROI with it or SEO?
Social media marketing is working better than ever before. Practically everyone has a social media account on one platform or another, it's a growth hackers dream! In the last 10 years I think I have spent about $150 on ads, and they were just tests that proved I could do it easier, cheaper and with better results myself with social media for free. I never really used BHW for SEO and I have never really worried much about it. SEO is just common sense in my mind. Of course there are lots of tricks and things one can do to make their site more optimized. However I see a lot of people concentrating on things like that to make their sites more visible to people searching, rather than working on traffic funnels and ways of driving traffic directly to your site without having to worry about ranking high in a search. Personally I see way better results with social media and influencer marketing specifically than I do with SEO. With the tools available at everyone's disposal it's hard not to get results with social media. Automation, consistency and collaboration are key to growing a good base that can be used to promote with in the future.
9. What are some books that have changed your mindset?
I really want to be able to have more time to read and with going semi off grid I think I will have lots more time to do that. I read more books between the ages of 20 - 22 than I have since then so I'm ashamed of that. These days however I get more of my reading done on articles where the specific info I'm after is condensed. I dont read too many books anymore. I watch a lot of YouTube videos and read blog posts which is sort of the same thing. At least that is what I tell myself
Think and Grow Rich - leave out the mumbo jumbo and just take from it the common sense aspects of having goals and surrounding yourself with the right people and knowledge.
Richest Man in Babylon - I'm glad I read this before I was 20. I liked it so much I got the audio tape and used to love pissing my friends off by putting it and other things like it on in the car, I was so misunderstood! They all have identical lives, have shitty jobs and live in the same town doing the same thing every day. I guess they were not listening lol.
Losing my Virginity - I really like Richard Branson, he is a true entrepreneur with his fingers in a lot of pies. I agree that focus is important but why cant someone focus on lots of things. There is a quote by Steve Jobs that I like but also have a problem with.
"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things."
I think having your finger in a lot of pies is a good thing, it gives you a better understanding of how everything works. Our Etsy shop was completely bootstrapped. We started with 5 SKU's and ended up with over 1500 and it all started with less than $200. Everything else was done by ourselves so we learned every aspect of the business. When we started helping other businesses in other niches our knowledge increased a lot and so did our ambitions and quality of our ideas.
10. If you could give some advice to people that are just starting out, what would it be?
Grow social media profiles and accounts, grow pages and groups, build up an audience. While doing this utilize the audiences of others by working with influencers. I honestly don't think there is anything that offers a better ROI than working with influencers. Like everything though there will be situations that offer great value and high ROI's and some that don't. The more you use influencers the more you will understand the metrics at which to judge them by. Surround yourself with people who are ambitious and passionate who want to build things and offer new services. Big corporations are becoming hip to the fact that influencer marketing works so make hay while the sun shines. Work with tiny influencers just starting out, work with them in bulk. I have lists of hundreds of influencers going back years with stats taken every 6 - 12 months and the growth is staggering. If you support them when they are starting out they will have a soft spot for you and the products you represent.
The other advice I would give goes a long the same line as Richest Man in Babylon and that is save some of your earnings to invest in other projects. It's not all about Lamborghini's. I drive a beat up Toyota 4runner that is not much younger than me. I walk around dressed like one of those billionaire Kooks at google. I would not stand out in the street but if people knew the affect I have had and the changes that I have forced/caused on the worlds biggest sites they would probably not believe a word of it. I try and keep a low profile and I would suggest others do the same. Also don't be afraid of being mostly White-hat. Aside from having multiple accounts and maybe breaking the terms of a few sites, nothing I do is that black hat. Other advice would be don't ever sell a product or service you know to be inferior, why deal with the hassle and increased workload of having to find new clients all the time and deal with drama. Treat people right and within a few years you could build a huge business. 11. What's the biggest problem you face?
I think that easy money can make you lazy. Taking 60 seconds to drop a link or send a message out that results in a good income can make you very lazy. Having some spare time and having to manage your own time can be difficult. My personal goal is to spend more time working on my new project and less time thinking and talking about them.
Time management is the thing I need to work the most on. Now that my wife and I have some direction with projects we are starting I think that it will all come together again. Not having to work or get up for a job is a lot harder than it sounds. When we had all of our eComm shops running we had to attend to daily orders no matter what but no that we have moved to more digital things it's become a lot less work and more free time which has been surprisingly hard to manage and has lead to bad habits.
Time management is the thing I need to work the most on. Now that my wife and I have some direction with projects we are starting I think that it will all come together again. Not having to work or get up for a job is a lot harder than it sounds. When we had all of our eComm shops running we had to attend to daily orders no matter what but no that we have moved to more digital things it's become a lot less work and more free time which has been surprisingly hard to manage and has lead to bad habits. The number one biggest problem though is not having enough time for every project and not being able to find enough good people who can be trusted to work on some of them. Building a good team is at the top of my priorities list and something I now hope to achieve with finally settling on a location we can grow from. I suffer quite a bit from analysis paralysis too and too many good ideas that I just don't have time to do but somehow find time to think about, thus creating a huge waste of time.