Author Archives: Perrin Carrell
Author Archives: Perrin Carrell
My site was only getting 400 visits per day when one of the biggest brands in my industry sent me a cease and desist and ordered me to hand over my domain.
By pure chance, I’d picked a brand name very similar to a major company in the space. And it really was an honest mistake; when I first started my site, I literally named it after my own dog.
Needless to say, the lawyers were not nice. And I was freaked out.
But it really wasn’t that big of a deal (of course it would have been more painful if I’d done a ton of marketing under that domain, but I’d only been marketing for a few months).
In this post, Perrin goes into a pretty long rant about how inefficient / lazy most people trying to trade money for links are and points out the real life mistakes that puts their business at risk.
It's a read many people need, but not a read many people want. It will not bring us lots of search traffic or links but hopefully it will create the mind shift needed for long term success in the heads of those who pay attention.
However, if you just want the actionable part of building system that trade links for money, just click here, we've prepared a copy/paste process for you ;).
Know what I hate? The shortcut mentality people have when trying to reach a goal.
Especially in SEO. I hate them because SEO is not a short game. It’s a long game. And taking shortcuts, to me, represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the business -- particularly for authority site builders.
Yes, there are proud black hats out there who use short-term tactics on purpose to make “churn-and-burn” sites. More power to them.
That’s not us, and if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely not you either. But I still see it: people seem to be drawn to shortcuts like moths to a flame.
And do you know where I see it the most? Link building.
It’s no mystery that people hate link building, but it’s still weird. Because here’s the thing: link building is a core competency. It’s one of, like, maybe three fundamental skills you have to learn to do SEO and/or build an authority site.
Here are just a few of the thousands -- yes, really, thousands -- of things I’ve written and published in my life:
In fact, the last time I took stock, I’d written and published close to 1,500 articles on various websites, all of which I’d classify as “SEO copywriting.” That’s not an exaggeration.
Here’s the crazy part, though: of those 1,500 articles, only about 200 were ones I wrote for myself -- for my own websites -- to make myself money.
The other 1,300 were written mostly for one giant website.
If you know me now, that probably sounds crazy. I’m a site builder. I hire writers. I don’t write stuff for other people.
Would Perrin really write 1,300 articles to make someone else money?Continue reading
How many times has this happened to you?
You sit down to write a blog post and... nothing.
You know your blog needs content to grow. You know your audiences.
Maybe you even have a little traffic. But no matter how long you sit there it's still just... nothing.
Here's the good news: there's a much better way to come up with blog post ideas than just staring at a blinking cursor and waiting for a miracle.
More importantly there are methodical, efficient, ROI-driven ways to come up with blog post ideas that can drastically increase your odds of doing well with Google or with your existing audiences.
Of course, what follows certainly are not the only ways to do it.
These are just some of the best ways we've found for our businesses to keep the content machine churning out quality articles.
Let's dive in.Continue reading
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, hundreds of hours of new video will have been uploaded to YouTube.
Altogether, 6 billion hours of video are viewed on YouTube every month - close to 1 hour/month for every single living person on the planet.
So, of course, affiliate marketing on YouTube is a thing - and a wildly profitable one at that.
Who does it? How do you get into it? And is it actually worth investing in YouTube affiliate marketing?
Let’s find out.
YouTube affiliate marketing is the process of creating videos and placing affiliate links in the actual videos (via annotations) or in video descriptions.
That’s as simple as it gets. Just as you might write a blog post on “how to install WordPress” with an affiliate link to ThemeForest, for example, you can create a video showing the WordPress installation process and include an affiliate link in the description:
Here’s an example of a link in the video description:
And here’s one in an annotation (sometimes called an overlay):
Whatever methods you use, the objective is the same: redirect traffic to an affiliate landing page.
(Or you can also direct users to an email sign-up form if you have a more nuanced funnel that promotes affiliate products).
If you’re a serious content creator on YouTube, there’s a good chance you have at least one affiliate offer somewhere in one of your videos.
YouTube is so massively popular - among creators and consumers - that it just doesn’t make any sense not to.
However, it’s probably worth making a distinction here between casual marketers and professional marketers.
In the first category are serious content creators who happen to place the occasional affiliate link in their videos. For them, affiliate marketing is one more way for them to make money, not the only way (these folks often make money with ad views, platforms like Patreon, and sponsored content).
For instance, the StartUp Survival channel usually shares useful survival tips. In some videos, however, it includes affiliate links directing people to reviewed products.
In the second category are channels that exist solely to earn affiliate commissions. For such content creators, all content development revolves around its ability to earn affiliate commissions.
For example, this channel only has BlueHost review videos to earn affiliate commissions:
Fortunately for everyone, YouTube seems to have a lot more of the former than the latter (or, perhaps, their algorithm filters out the spammier content). And because of YouTube’s immense reach, it is possible to be a serious content creator and still make solid affiliate commissions.
For instance, Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) has high quality tech review videos where he frequently adds Amazon affiliate links:
Worth A Buy is another channel that reviews gaming products and tells viewers if the game/accessory/console is “worth a buy”.
The videos are high quality and make great money without being spammy.
Millions. Or nothing.
It all depends on your views, your offers, and your funnels.
For example, a video on “setting up BlueHost” will never go viral. All the traffic it can get will be from search engines.
This means that while this video won’t get a lot of views, it will make a ton of money (if it ranks well) because:
You might even be able to further maximize revenue further from this audience by capturing their emails and upselling other services/products.
On the other hand, a “reaction video” - like those created by the Fine Brothers - may be shared heavily but won’t make much money because neither the traffic nor the offers are targeted.
So to truthfully answer this question, I’d say that you can make tons of money with YouTube videos, provided you pick the right topic, have the right offer, and the right funnel.
For example, this video on “BlueHost review” has over 188k views.
Assuming a CTR of 10% to this YouTube affiliate link and a conversion rate of 3% for the final offer ($65 referral fee), for every 1,000 views you can make:
At 188k views, this video could have made around $12,200 in commissions.
Not too shabby.
Tons and tons:
Just as every rose has its thorn, every pro has its con.
For YouTube affiliate marketing, these are:
Yes and yes! If you can create good quality videos regularly, YouTube affiliate marketing is one of the best things you can invest your time in. YouTube’s audience is only going to increase in the coming few years. And because of the lower competition, you’ll have a hard time getting viewers.
The only caveat is that you must have your content game on lock if you want to succeed at YouTube marketing. Stay miles away from any tool that claim to turn articles into videos “automatically” and avoid spammy content at all costs.
If you can do this, YouTube can be a potential goldmine.
Want to know what people ask me about more than almost anything? Outsourcing content.
It’s a major pain point for lots of marketers, and it’s one of the most difficult hurdles to jump when start to seriously scale a site.
For most people, one of the most crucially important things to get right when building a content machine is finding a good, reliable source for content that allows you to scale.
I did, and my site took a massive jump forward (I’ll tell you which one of these I use for most of my content below).
Of course, not all content agencies are created equal, so we put them to the test. We gave 5 agencies the exact same assignment and let them duke it out. How’d it go? Let’s find out…
The easy answer? No. (I’m going to give you a more qualified answer below…)
There are lots of ways to do affiliate marketing, and you certainly do not need a website for all of them. Hell, you don’t even need to be on the internet for all of them.
Most of the time, it only matters that you’re sending targeted, qualified traffic to your vendor’s; it doesn’t particularly matter how you do it.
You could send people to an offer via Facebook or Pinterest or any other social platform. You could send them to the offer directly from an ad. If you were a spammy, inefficient businessperson, you could also schlep around the web dropping links on forums and in blog comments (obviously not what we recommend).
Of course you can.
In general, it just requires a lot more testing and a lot more money before you see a positive ROI.
But there are plenty of examples of people making it work. Perhaps the most successful is Charles Ngo from charlesngo.com.
Charles makes a lot of money. Like, a lot. He’s been banking hard for several years now, and he’s one of the most respected and well-known names in affiliate marketing.
How’d he do it? Primarily by sending paid traffic (via ads) to affiliate offers. I’m sure he’s created a website or two in the many years he’s been doing affiliate marketing, but as far as I know, most of his business model is sending ads directly to affiliate offers.
You don’t need a website for that.
You do need a fairly big budget. Charles typically says newbies should expect to spend a few thousand dollars trying to find their first profitable ad campaign.
Why so much?
Because this kind of marketing requires lots and lots of testing. You might test ad copy, images, audiences, and any number of other factors you before you find an ad that “clicks” with the target audience.
In my view, this kind of affiliate marketing is a lot more like jumping in the deep end; there’s just a very steep learning curve, and it takes a lot more money to even give it a try.
...which brings me to my more qualified answer…
Building a website has so many benefits, there’s no real reason not to do it.
First, I think it’s safe to assume with this audience that most of us are coming from an SEO background. If that’s the case, building a website is the only way to leverage your existing skills.
Second, websites are one of the few assets you can create that will generate truly passive income. You can’t do that with non-website forms of affiliate marketing. Ad campaigns require near-constant testing and optimization. Websites take lots of work to set up but can then generate money on their own.
Third, websites can open up into other business opportunities. If you have a profitable website that is already generating sales for someone else, you’re really only a couple steps away from creating your own product and simply selling that instead.
So, can you do affiliate marketing without a website? Sure.
But there’s no real reason not to--unless, perhaps, if you’re running through a massive amount of affiliate marketing campaigns in a bunch of different niches.
But when you find that industry you really like--or that offer that’s just knocking it out of the park for you--building a long-term asset is almost always a smart business move.
If you’re just starting out with affiliate marketing, trying to find a good affiliate network can be a bit daunting.
There are literally thousands of affiliate programs you could try. In fact, you could probably find an affiliate program for just about any type of product on the planet, and most of those products will have their own private affiliate programs.
However, if you’re new to this kind of business model, it might not be ideal to go track down a bunch of individual affiliate programs for a bunch of different products. That takes loads of time, research, and, in some cases, even relationships.
Instead, we recommend newbies look at larger affiliate networks.
Affiliate networks are essentially third-party companies that help affiliate managers connect with marketers.
Using a large affiliate network provides a few major benefits. First, large networks take care of the payment process for you. So, instead of having to track payments from multiple different vendors, you can track everything all in one place, and you can be sure it’ll be paid on time.
Secondly, large affiliate networks “collect” vendors. You don’t have to do a bunch of research to find all the affiliate programs. If you join one or two of the biggest networks, you can usually find several products most markets (and some markets will have hundreds).
Of course, not all vendors join affiliate networks, so it might still be worth researching other affiliate programs in your space, but the point is simply that joining a couple big affiliate networks is probably one of the best ways to get started.
The first thing you want to look for probably ease of use. This is also one of the big advantages affiliate networks have over private affiliate programs: they’re typically very easy to use.
I recommend signing up for a few networks and getting a feel for their back end. Talk to an affiliate manager if you can. See what the promotion and payment processes are like. You want something that feels comfortable, so you can spend time promoting products instead of dinking around in the back end of your affiliate account.
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. It’s vital to make sure a given affiliate network actually has products in your market (or the market you want to get into).
More importantly, you want to make sure there are multiple products in that market. You’re not going to make a living on just one product (probably), so having multiple things to promote essentially lays a much sturdier foundation for your business.
And perhaps most importantly of all, you want to make sure other people are actually making money on the products you’d like to promote. Most affiliate networks will be able to tell you which products are most popular and where the money is.
It’s also important to look for affiliate networks that have a lot of users, especially if you’re new. First, popular networks will have a lot more money (because they’ll have more customers). And that usually means they’ll have more resources (e.g. affiliate managers).
Bigger networks also attract more vendors, which means a wider selection of stuff to sell. And if you have more stuff to sell, you have more chances to find something that works without having to go find a bunch of other affiliate programs.
Lastly, you want to look for affiliate networks that have support—for both their affiliates and their vendors. There’s going to be a lot of money changing hands, so you want a network who is equipped to handle disputes.
ClickBank is probably one of the largest and most well-known affiliate networks out there. It’s got a great UI, tons of products, and a lot of support.
Commission Junction is another old, established network that has done a good job keeping up with the times and the needs of both advertisers and publishers. They’re chocked full of products and have excellent tracking and analytics.
The Amazon Associates program isn’t really an affiliate network, but it’s one of the largest affiliate programs out there (likely the largest). They have a shorter cookie and lower commission than lots of products, but they convert like crazy.
The eBay Partner Program is similar to the Amazon Associates program. It’s not a network; it’s the private program of a major online retailer.
Of course, there are loads of great affiliate networks out there, but if you’re new, these should be a great start.
The short answer is: No.
Affiliate marketing is a long-standing marketing avenue for businesses and a perfectly legitimate way for publishers to make money online.
Affiliate marketing has a relatively good reputation in general, but it sometimes gets a bad rap because there have been some actual scams.
Most of the scams in the affiliate marketing space happen with affiliate marketing courses. While there are plenty of great affiliate marketing training courses and resources out there, there are lots — and I mean lots — of people who don’t know what they’re talking about trying to make a quick buck by selling “training.”
People sign up for these courses, don’t learn anything and don’t make any money, and then come to the very understandable conclusion that affiliate marketing scam.
This sort of thing can make getting into affiliate marketing difficult, since there’s just a lot of crap information to wade through. It’s also why you generally want to try to learn the fundamental skills from a well-known, successful affiliate marketer.
Affiliate marketing has also received its fair share of negative press.
Take, for example, this Venture Beat article, which details how the author’s business was essentially scammed by affiliates who are tagging sales unethically (I won’t go into the details of how they were doing this, but the article is worth a read).
Based on that experience — and more importantly, because the author wasn’t at all familiar with what affiliate marketing actually is or how it should normally work — he figured all affiliate marketing was scam.
Unfortunately, however, he also writes for a major publication, and when these types of stories get out, some people inevitably buy into it.
It’s worth mentioning that the author of the Venture Beat article eventually published a second article correcting his position and outlining why affiliate marketing is in fact not bad. The thing about negative press, though, that tends to stick even after you correct it, and affiliate marketing often feels the effects of these pieces long after they are written.
Lastly, the reputation of affiliate marketing, to some extent, has been damaged by the prevalence of get-rich-quick scams.
If you’re a kid in the 90s like me, you grew up watching infomercials, you probably remember being sucked into some kind of get rich quick scan at some point.
Sell real estate. Trade stocks. Flip houses. Honestly, it seems like the scams were endless. I remember begging my mom to buy one of these things for me even at 16 years old.
Of course, nearly all of these programs their promised easy, quick wealth were essentially just some skeezebag profiting off of the ignorance of the layman.
The truly unfortunate thing, though, is that affiliate marketing can sometimes sound like a get-rich-quick scheme. Or, more accurately, it’s sold that way.
“Work from home.”
“Make money while you sleep.”
“Earn thousands of dollars with a few simple tactics.”
If you’ve been interested in affiliate marketing for any time at all, probably seen that type of language on the programs people are trying to get you to buy.
In short, affiliate marketing can look like a skeezy infomercial, especially to an outsider doesn’t know anything about it.
Affiliate marketing is nothing more than an agreement between a business and a marketer that awards the marketer money for referring a customer or potential customer.
It’s a system that has been around for a very long time, and there are many, many people make an absolute killing with affiliate marketing.
That said, it is absolutely not something that will get you rich quick.
You’ll have to do work. You have to learn new skills. You will likely fail quite a bit. And, as is true with any business venture, there’s always a risk that you won’t make any money at all.
This is true for basically everybody who has ever tried affiliate marketing. Even me.
I created four different websites before I finally made my first dollar from an affiliate marketing program. Some of the most successful people I’ve met in this space fail the whole lot more than that.
So, yes, affiliate marketing is very real, perfectly legitimate, it will be a way for both businesses and marketers to make money for a very long time.
No, but you can do affiliate marketing in most markets.
In fact, I haven’t yet researched a market in which there wasn’t at least one affiliate program. I only answered “no” because I’m sure there's at least one market somewhere in the universe that does not have an affiliate marketing program.
But for virtually any market you want to get into, you’ll be able to find at least one affiliate marketing program or a product on an affiliate network.
And believe me: I’ve looked pretty much everywhere — from helicopter rides to curtain rods to hovercrafts to hearing aids.
Affiliate programs are everywhere, and I’d even go so far as to say that in the era of the Internet they are one of the primary marketing channels for almost any business trying to get off the ground.
Just because you can find an affiliate marketing program in a certain market does not mean that it’s necessarily worth your time.
For example, the store that only converts 2% of its customers and pays you a 5% commission is going to basically make you pennies even if you’re sending buttloads of traffic.
Likewise, a program that offers a really big commission but converts hardly anyone is also probably not worth the time and energy it takes to set up all of the things required to refer potential customers to that business.
First, is probably good to start with the market you really enjoying take a look at the quality of the affiliate programs in that market.
Say you like to jet ski and you have a little jet ski enthusiast blog that has a loyal following and generates a decent amount of traffic every month.
A quick Google search would return several different affiliate programs you could try and probably make a little bit of money with (here’s an example).
If, however, your passion is in a market that has few or poor affiliate programs (the DIY niche is an easy example, since people don’t want to buy things; they want to make them themselves), you might research other markets instead.
If this is the case, probably a good idea to start with high-dollar products, since they pay the highest commissions.
Then, you probably want to take a look at the other aspects of the market to make sure you can generate enough traffic to make a profit (e.g. available search traffic, engaged social audiences).
If you’re not sure about a given market, the best thing to do is probably to try a few to see how you do.
Depending on how you are trying to generate traffic, this might take a couple days or several months, but small-scale testing at the beginning can save you a lot of headache in the long run.
You’ll probably be able to find some sort of affiliate program or affiliate product in almost any market you look at; it’s just important to remember that not all affiliate programs are created equal, and some will be a lot more profitable than others.