Alright, so back in September of last year I decided to get serious about internet marketing. After 7+ years of having some modest success, I determined it was time to make a concerted effort. My income as a freelancer had been stuck on a plateau for a few years, so I felt that one of my greatest solopreneurial leverage points would be to start focusing more on my affiliate marketing efforts.
While I do immensely enjoy providing web services and online marketing for my clients, there’s only so much time I can devote to it, being that I’m a one-man operation. I have leaned on outsourcing for various tasks and projects, but it’s never translated into sustainable growth for me. The busier I would get, and the more clients I would attract, the more work I’d have to put into actually running my business. In addition, I’d be continually reinvesting in additional apps and services to enable me to handle the increased workload, and to be able to tackle all of the challenges and requests coming my way.
I guess this would be what many of us refer to as ‘growing pains’, which are to be expected; however, due to some unforeseen expenses which I was faced with late last year (which I may discuss at a later date…), I needed to increase my earnings right away. It seemed that IM was the only way to do that, given the potential for such dynamic revenue (based on my experience). Fueled by a wealth of passion, along with some fear thrown into the mix . . . I was pretty much beginning a vision quest.
I determined what I was going to set out to do, and nothing was going to stop me on my journey.
Enter Wealthy Affiliate
My first big decision was to become a premium member of Wealthy Affiliate. I was initially a bit skeptical about this idea, as I felt there may not be too much I would glean from their member training and tutorials, but after scoping things out during the trial period, I felt like it was a worthwhile move. I still didn’t know how much wiser I would become as a member, but when you plunk down some hard-earned cash for something, that’s making a commitment to yourself and to your goals.
I also felt like it may be a good idea to go back to square one and see if there were any key points I may have missed along the way as a self-taught internet marketer. There are loads of people online who are making a very generous income with affiliate marketing, and many of those folks lack the skill set I have, but obviously they’re smarter in other areas . . . like making money, for example. 😉
I do enjoy the ‘making money’ aspect, but I’ve always been focused on building quality sites, regardless of predicted profitability or monetization opportunities. And while I do feel it’s always best to focus on quality and value, at some point you need to make that paper. My reality is that I’m a single dad with a mountain of bills and responsibilities.
Working hard and ‘getting by’ just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I needed change.
The Reality of Wealthy Affiliate
Let me start off by saying that Wealthy Affiliate is a practical resource for beginners. If you’re looking to get started in affiliate marketing, this place offers tools and lessons to set you on the path to achieving some success. As with most anything these days, the information available in WA is available all over the internet for free, but what Wealthy Affiliate does is provide members with an easy to follow road map. Along with their guided lessons, you also get access to an interactive support community for the times when you are stuck, seeking answers, and needing advice or feedback.
If you’re an intermediate to advanced marketer, then move along. There’s not much to see there.
For a guy like me, who has a deep understanding of the internets and knows how the Google works, there is not much information to take away from my WA membership experience. Like I had mentioned, I was not totally surprised by this. After poking around the community for a week and a half, I felt like the place didn’t have anything to offer me in the way of IM wisdom.
So why the hell did I join?
Why on earth would I pay a few hundred bucks for something I felt was practically useless to me..?!
1. I think that Wealthy Affiliate is a decent resource for beginners
and I am happy to recommend it to others.
Update: 12/08/16 – After canceling my premium membership late last year, I just noticed that WA has completely locked me out of the site unless I renew at full price. This means that if you decide to go premium at any time, it’s for life. That is pretty shady and because of this, I no longer recommend their membership. Previously, I had considered this a decent service for beginners, but I’m now of the opinion that they are managing the decline of a tired business model. If you’re interested in IM and you’re compelled to see what WA has to offer, by all means, sign up for a free membership and glean as much info as you can while you can, but be wary of the premium upgrade.
Another thing that irritated me about WA was that the owners were largely absent from my membership experience apart from renewal time. In the days leading up to my renewal and the days following my cancellation, they had no reservations about spamming the f**k out of my inbox trying to get my CC info, yet when I was a member, not one single email from them asking if I had any questions or comments about the service.
Rant over. Now back to my original post…
A big part of why I joined is because I saw an opportunity to offer an unbiased review and perspective on the service, and in turn, perhaps make a little money by way of marketing it. In my opinion, it’s not a perfect service, but I know that if I were to impart a similar amount of wisdom onto an aspiring IM’er by way of a consulting gig, my fee would be considerably higher than what WA charges for much of the same info.
Despite its flaws, it does offer value for anyone getting started in affiliate marketing.
And in terms of what I refer to as ‘flaws’, those would primarily be a somewhat bloated and one-size-fits-all approach to IM, yet with certain portions of the lessons a tiny bit lacking in explanation. However, I believe that 94.35% (an estimate 😉 ) of what is taught on that site is valuable info for the aspiring affiliate and/or those new to working with WordPress (the primary platform used for internet marketing). The information they provide is sound, but that ~5% worth of info which is left out, or glossed over, leads to much of the WA community wandering around scratching their heads in frustration.
Which leads me to reason #2…
2. I wanted to be that 5%
I’ve always felt like you get what you give, so the moment I joined the WA community as a premium member, I spent most of my time there engaged in what I refer to as an ‘IM and WordPress Support Triage’. I was offering advice and assistance wherever possible, and even going so far as to personally reach out to folks via PM’s. The more I did this, the more people approached me for support and assistance. I even spent about 7 hours of my own time helping a fellow member optimize his site, as well as offer some casual ongoing support.
Pretty soon my comment reply and inbox notifications were lighting up left and right. I was bouncing around all over the place trying to be a do-gooder, and paying it forward by sharing my experience with others.
So . . . rather than dive into the lessons and training, which I did manage to do to some extent, I spent most of my time helping others. I literally committed to helping at least 3-5 people per day, some of them multiple times per day each, and I enjoyed it. I also knew that somehow, someway, this effort and goodwill would likely pay off.
Are you still wondering why I invested my time and money into helping others, when the primary objective was for me to make more money..?
Those of you living under a rock, who haven’t read ‘Think and Grow Rich‘, well . . . you really should. In fact, write that title down on your ‘to-read’ list right now, or go immediately to Amazon and purchase it. The title may sound a little corny, but it’s not. The book was written during the height of the Great Depression by Napolean Hill – a very wise, successful author and motivational speaker, and a protege of the great Andrew Carnegie.
The concept he outlines is that basically whatever it is that you want – it is out there for the taking. All you need to do is put your desire into action and the universe will respond.
I have always believed this to be true, which is why I decided to go so balls out with my affiliate marketing efforts.
However…it’s also significant to note that the universe doesn’t always respond in a way that you’d expect, nor are the results always obvious. Those who are successful, however, are able to recognize these signs as opportunities.
At some point I’m going to re-read Mr. Hill’s book once again, and I will offer an insightful review, but in the meantime…what is it that I’m taking nearly 1300 words to get at..?
The universe responded to my desire to earn more money
But not in a way that I’d expected…
I started out on this venture with a totally unrealistic goal of blogging every single day for a year. I mean, really… who in the hell has time for that when you’re not getting paid for it. I don’t know about you, but I have to work for a living!
Regardless, I felt that if I put my heart and soul into this, and made the time, there would be absolutely no way I would fall short of my goal. In fact, I was pretty certain I’d shatter it if I stayed on task.
Anyway, I came out of the gates hard – blogging every single day during the month of October, and these weren’t some 100-200 word lightweight posts . . . no way. These were meaty. As part of my proposed plan, each one was to be a minimum of 500 words, yet most of them were closer to 1,000 and up.
Needless to say, between being a single parent and maintaining my demanding gig as a freelancer, I was burning out big-time by the end of the month. Forcing myself to sit down to blog at 1am on some nights, just so I could maintain my posting regimen, was making me weary, and even then I was still allowing myself to get behind somewhat with client work. The time I spent on this endeavor had to be borrowed from somewhere!
By the time November came along, I was about to break. My income had plummeted due to the amount of effort I put forth into my more long-term affiliate marketing payoff, and I felt like I really couldn’t afford to get behind any further with my client work. Then there were the holidays right around the corner…
So, I dropped this blog like a hot rock.
But then something interesting started to happen…
I started becoming really busy. I mean, really busy…and it wasn’t just me trying to get caught up that made it seem like I was so overburdened. It was me suddenly becoming the guy that everyone wanted to work with, and not just new clients approaching me, but existing clients wanting to pursue new projects or expand their current ones.
I then realized what was happening. Although I’d set out to make my fortune as an affiliate (which I still intend to do…), the universe decided to respond to my vibrations by answering back with more client work. And not only that, but really great client work. Also, during this period I was forced to optimize my business, which in turn has allowed me to increase my output and income, without me needing to actually work that much more. 🙂
The image below is a quick snapshot of my income graph over the past few years. As you can see, things tanked a bit in October, partly due to me giving my IM pursuits premier attention; however, things got on track real quick afterward. I had marked increases in Nov, Dec, Jan, and last month exploded! I’m by no means bragging, and as far as anyone is concerned the bars don’t mean anything but growth. Last month I could have made $500 instead of the $225 I made in 2014. Point is, there is a radical uptick in the amount of money I started to earn just after I began ‘putting myself out there’.
Blue bar is 2013, beige bar is 2014, and the rust colored bar is 2015. November and December I had about a 35% increase, January was about 20%, then last month was nearly 200%.
It’s been an interesting ride, but a very rewarding one. I’m by no means getting rich over here, but I definitely am enjoying a strong upward trend which I haven’t experienced in some time.
During that time I did continue to pursue and maintain some of my other affiliate projects, but something had to give, so I let this blog fall off my plate. And I feel bad about it, but not guilty. There was really nothing else I could do.
This experience reinforced my believe that ‘if you build it, they will come’. If you follow your passion and pursue your dream, then the universe will answer back. I may not have asked directly for more client work, but I’m sure glad now that I have it, and I feel that much more poised to enjoy success as an affiliate marketer. Providing marketing services for my clients allows me to experiment with, and experience, many different markets, plus it forces me to stay sharp.
During the period of rapid growth, I invested in what I now consider to be an invaluable tool in my IM efforts… SEMrush. I’d been wanting to get this app for awhile, but I couldn’t justify the monthly expense. Now I don’t know how I could live without it.
I’m slowly getting back into the affiliate groove and I feel like, despite my slow-down the past few months, I’m still well on track with my increased earnings goal.
Secondly, I was reminded once again that unrealistic, lofty goals are not a good idea. Telling myself I would blog every day for a year was ricoculous. Instead, I should have committed to 3 posts per week. That would have been sustainable, and I probably wouldn’t have let the publishing around here lapse.
Small, measurable goals which are attainable. That’s what it’s all about. You put enough tiny wins together and it’s the same as building an empire…one brick at a time.
Now that I’m finally figuring things out after this period of craziness, I hope to resume my IM work with a more manageable and sustainable approach.
See you around..! 😀