As we enter the middle of January 2017, it’s worth looking back on the past year.
More importantly, if you’ve been reading my content, you’d realise that the last entry was Jan 7, 2015.
So what’s happened over the past 2 years?
The last couple of years have been hectic ones, as I received more gigs to do project management and marketing in-house for various clients. While this meant less freedom as an affiliate running my own campaigns and developing and promoting my own products, it’s also given me an opportunity to work on projects with a bigger scope than I would work on.
As an online marketer working for yourself, there’s a tendency to work sufficiently to provide for your living expenses, buy a nice car and if you’re inclined, purchase a home and/or office and start paying down the mortgage on them.
Being involved in managing existing online businesses where the challenge is managing feature development, dealing with vocal (and sometimes irate) users, growing revenue and profit numbers, is sometimes a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants business. Even growth hacking (which seems to be the new buzzword for marketing) is a process of continual split-testing, pivoting to find validation, then starting the process over again.
In the process of trying to start a new venture about 2 years ago, I almost lost this blog and 9 years worth of content. But that update will come in a future post.
So what’s there to reflect over the past 2 years –
So in summary, I’m back and will be posting stuff more often. Stay tuned.]]>
…or maybe not.
How did 2014 go for you?
It might be an indication of how this year might end up.
You might be the exceptional 10% that sets goals and consistently overshoots their target, getting much more than they had initially planned. If this is you, then stop reading, there’s not much more I can give you.
If, on the other hand, you find yourself get you all fired up, ready to walk over burning coals, broken glass, molten lava, and you attack your goal with gusto…only to find yourself scaling back on your goal, and eventually stopping.
Don’t feel bad. It gets most of us. If you think that Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Richard Branson don’t encounter setbacks, sometimes on a daily basis, then you’re dead wrong.
Hitting obstacles is part of moving along the road towards making it. If you’re not constantly hitting roadblock after roadblock, look at where you are. Chances are that you’re standing still.
If you want to be a success, you have to move along the path. You will encounter difficulties, you will either be stopped by them, or you will overcome them and move further along the path.
Having coached Internet marketers and affiliates over the years, here’s a pattern I’ve noticed.
Some people will stop when they encounter the first obstacle. It might be as simple as failing to learn how to FTP files into a webhost. It might be a failure to learn how to use a conversion tracker. Whatever the reason, they stop. They decide that Internet marketing or affiliate marketing is “not for them”.
Some will overcome the first obstacle, hit the second obstacle, maybe getting their PPC account banned, or their FB Ads account suspended. They then throw in the towel and decide “affiliate marketing is not for me”.
So it is a funny that a series of obstacles will progressively take out more and more of the pack, till there are less than 10 out of every 100 that started the journey.
I also have would-be Internet marketers that drop me emails asking for coaching, promising they will do “anything and everything” till they succeed.
My answer is “we’ll see”.
While there are some that will encounter difficulty, then do whatever it takes to get over them, a larger proportion will drop me an email a month or two later and drop out, with the reason “Internet marketing is not for me”.
So much for doing “anything and everything”.
I’m just like the next guy, I’d like to see $20,000 or $30,000 in monthly blogging income just fall into my pocket. And there are still a number of bloggers generating those sorts of numbers.
Where a disconnect might happen is seeing the end result and assuming that this can be achieved in a month or two.
What they fail to see is that the blogger might have spent the last two years working up to this level. They might have had months earning nothing, or maybe a token $5 or $10, till they discovered the breakthrough somewhere along their journey.
The breakthrough might have come from trying something different from what they had been doing before, or the breakthrough might have come from implementing a couple of tips they had picked up from attending a conference.
Whatever the “secret sauce” ingredient might be, it didn’t come from trying something new for a month or two, then deciding that it’s not working.
If Thomas Edison and Henry Ford give up on their second attempt at trying something new, we might not have electricity or automobiles now.
Finding something worthwhile, then pouring yourself 110% into it and keeping at it till you succeed is the difference between success and failure.
If you give up so easily in business, it’s likely that you might give up easily in other parts of your life too.
This is the start of the year, and it can be the start of taking new approaches to meeting and exceeding your goals.
Here are some tips:
Ok, stop reading now. Go here: Mindware Recode and turn your goals into reality this year, and every year.]]>
Working through various exercises, I went through old emails to find that questions about working through procrastination, goal setting, prioritization, better project management came up.
It seems that whether you’re new at what you’re doing, or if you’re already experienced, you will be facing challenges that will keep you from getting to the next level in your journey, whether it’s part of building your business, or achieving a goal in your personal life.
It’s probably not surprising that CEOs at Fortune 500 companies also face the same challenges.
In my past life as a tech journalist, I had the chance to interview Red Hat Linux’s Bob Young, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Seagate founder Al Shugart.
The issues are the same, just that the buzzwords have changed. About 10 years ago, “growth hacking” and “lifehacking” didn’t exist. I think they called it “personal development”, “self-improvement” or “business process reengineering” then.
The core challenges are the same though:
The easier solution is to look at your big problem and break it into small pieces.
Want to start a business? Break it into the 30-40 tasks you need to get done. Then work on those small pieces, getting one done every couple of days.
It’s just like running a marathon. If you haven’t been training, it’s not realistic to get out of bed one morning and expect to run 42 kilometers and do well.
It’s an effort, it takes preparation, it takes planning and following through on your plan.
The big things in life, the “marathons” are not tasks you can easily “wing it” and expect to do well.
Which is where the Mindware Recode comes in.
I did a blow-by-blow recounting of the strategies I’ve been using in the past couple of years. They have evolved with time and their latest version work well for me.
With lifehacking, there’s fine tuning, calibration and optimization involved.
It may sound a little meta to optimize your optimization, but it’s needed if you want to get to the next level.
If you’re like some ideas to get to where you want to be, be sure to check out the Mindware Recode.
I’ll be waiting.]]>
About 2 years ago I had the bright idea that I could multitask by managing or launching 5 different businesses. I had just come off an affiliate management gig, so I figured that it was the right time to work on 3 online businesses and 2 offline ones.
This blog is the only survivor out of the lot. The victims included a half-completed MMO RPG game that took about a year’s worth of time and about $50,000 of capital. The framework and content is still there, so I might still launch it sometime in the future.
But the big mistake then was thinking that with 5 projects, I could spend a day or two on each project and still come out ok.
It sounds good in theory, but is pretty flawed in execution. That is unless you’re consistently pulling 14-hour days.
It might be my male mind, but focusing on 1 or 2 tasks, helps me put in my best and get the best results.
If you can achieve the level of clarity like one traffic source, one vertical, one offer, then you’d be able to see the 6-figure monthly revenues that I’ve seen some affiliates pull off.
But if you take your eye off the ball, buy into the “Internet business in a box” sales pitch and fall headlong into the “If you have 100 websites and each website is making $1 per day” thinking, then you are going to be in a world of hurt.
Building something of quality takes time and effort. Your concentrated time and effort. Whether it’s building a business or building a relationship with someone you care about, there’s leverage in concentrating your effort.
I’ve been working with new entrepreneurs in a closed coaching program and as I review their business plans and action plans, I advocate a “less is more” approach. It’s better to do 1 or 2 things well, rather than try to do everything yourself.
While it’s good to have an action list of 10 to 20 items, you can realistically only focus on 1 or 2 tasks and give it your full attention. If you don’t have a team supporting you, then work on the pieces that will give you results.
Some talk about the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. I don’t think 20% of your activities will give you 80% of your results. It usually feels like 10% of your effort gives you 90% of your results.
The difficulty when you’re new is figuring out which is the 10% you should do.
Which is not really difficult to figure out. We tend to procrastinate doing the tough stuff which is likely to get us results, and spend more time doing the easy stuff.
This “easy stuff” tend to be part of the fluffy 90% which is trivial and won’t get you results. Doing the tough stuff – usually the tasks involving talking to people and facing rejection or will involve putting money on the line – these are the things that make up the 10% of tasks that will get you what you want.
The question is whether you’re willing to do what it takes to get what you want.]]>
I agree that with many free blogs, free forums and other free resource sites, having to pay something like $67 per month for affiliate marketing training at AffPlaybook seems silly.
It is, until you factor in that 90% of stuff posted online is based on “theory” and/or by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.
So, yes, there are free sites where you can “learn” stuff. Take note that you will be paying with your time, especially if the ratio of quality to junk is low (ie: more junk than quality), and you ultimately will be paying with your money, if you read up on bad advice and try to follow it.
While I had been an affiliate manager before, I encountered affiliates who learnt blackhat stuff on various forums. A lot of them picked up spammy techniques, which would lead to:
1) A low traffic-to-lead ratio, meaning you would do a lot of work, but because very few leads converted, you’d get paid very little (and come to the conclusion that “affiliate marketing doesn’t work”).
2) Sending masses of low quality leads means that advertisers can see that you’re only getting 1 or 2 conversions out of 1,000 leads sent. That’s a signal that you should be paused or removed from their affiliate program.
3) Using questionable promotion techniques means that you could be kicked out of the affiliate network AND have your commissions zeroed (ie: you will not be paid for any leads generated).
So, in light of what you’re seeing above, it just seems short sighted, foolish and ultimately stupid to try to build a business based on questionable information from bloggers, forum posters of questionable knowledge.
I’ve been a member of AffPlaybook since 2010 and have found it to be a great source of information about the industry and the case studies and tutorials show you how to build your affiliate business on a solid foundation.
To sweeten the deal, the site’s owner, David Ford, has recently launched a $1 membership. You will have access to a lot of the AffPlaybook starter threads, research and campaign management tools within the site. It’s a taster membership and will give you access to the site for 3 days. You can then decide if you want to continue and gain full access to all the content.
Note that with the trial membership, you will probably see about 5% of the total content on the site, for about the price of a cup of coffee. And it’s valid for 3 days, so spend those 72 hours reading everything within those sections that you can access. Then decide if you want to build your business on a solid foundation.
Here is the link for the trial membership (again – access to the starter threads, full access to the campaign tools and valid for 3 days) -> AffPlaybook $1 3-day trial
If you’re like to read my review of AffPlaybook, you can read about it here: (note that the review is for the full membership, so you’ll see much less stuff with the trial): AffPlaybook affiliate marketing training review
I also have a signup link which gives you a permanent $10 off each month off the monthly membership. Access it here: AffPlaybook discount code.]]>
Every entrepreneur and every business will hit this point.
Facing something that hits you like a punch to the heart.
It could be getting your websites indexed, go dark, invisible off the face of Google.
It could be seeing your Bing PPC quality scores drop to 1/10 for your keywords.
It could be Facebook suspending your Facebook Ads or Facebook profile (also cutting off access to your ads account).
Recently I was following developments in the Kindling forum, seeing a writer who had shut off most of her successful online business to focus on writing.
The sad reality is that the amount of effort is not always awarded a proportional amount of reward.
So I could understand the woman’s range of emotions – frustration, anger, disappointment – coming through her posts.
I could empathize seeing as how I’ve spent almost a year and about $60,000 worth of capital and lost opportunity developing a social game, which failed to launch.
I don’t think it’s easy to come out of the experience feeling positive, but I’ve taken lessons from the experience in project management and planning which I’ve then used in future projects.
The thing with the wall is that it’s often an invisible obstacles. Possibly existing in cyberspace, it could be a string of formulas in a ranking or pricing algorithm that seems to be pushing you to the wall and making your life an agony.
But here’s the thing. The wall doesn’t care.
It doesn’t care if you’re sad or depressed or experiencing any other emotion.
The market works according to its own formula, so you can choose to either deny or ignore the problem, or you can deal with it.
The wall exists in every business, and is present in every business model.
So some of the strategies I’ve seen – switching from affiliate marketing to domaining to writing kindle ebooks to adsense publishing – these are not productive ways of dealing with the situation.
Even if you push the wall away momentarily, it is going to come back and hit you in the stomach when you’re gaining some traction in the other niche.
If you feel the situation is unsalvageable, then sure, exit it and do something else, but also go in with both eyes open. Watch out for the walls and prepare to deal with them.
Here’s what the late Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor, known for his “Last Lecture” has to say about walls:
So the question is do you want something badly enough to work through it and break through the wall?
Here’s some steps to work your way past the wall:
So there you have it.
3 simple steps.
The magic is in the execution.
Now, go get it done!]]>
If you look across the board, it looks like blogs are generally showing lower traffic numbers, compared to about 5 years ago.
Part of it is due to the emergence of micro blogging platforms like Twitter and social media networks like Facebook.
I’m also part of the group that finds it easier to post 50-word updates on Facebook, rather than site down to write 500-word blog post.
Does this mean that blogging is dead?
As with all things that are “dead” or soon to be dead, like SEO, PPC, Google, the announcement of their demise is premature.
While you can’t blog and do the same stuff you did a few years ago and expect the same results, some of the fundamentals remain the same.
Quality content (still) rules: People go onto the Internet for all sorts of reasons. To be entertained, to look for information, to learn stuff. If a website has quality information, it will get traffic, whether it’s on Facebook, YouTube, a blog or a standalone website like Slideshare or Lynda.com
If it’s relevant, people will go out there and get it. It’s just like casual gamers buying an X-Box to play Halo or Call of Duty. And yes, they only own that one game.
If you’re consistently putting out 500-word posts providing useful and relevant content, tightly focused around a topic (with about 10-20% allowance for off-topic and unrelated posts), you’ll find a ready audience, like my friend Mike Doyle is doing over at his PaleoRiot blog.
Integrated social media strategy: Yes, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken away some of the traffic which would otherwise have gone via type-in traffic to blogs. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid these platforms.
Working with them instead means you can build new fans, use the platform’s social and sharing functions to reach out to other users on the platform. By building up a Facebook Page or Twitter profile for the blog, you can aggregate traffic to your site and pull them in, especially when you’re posting announcements of new content or doing promotions like contests and giveaways to blog readers.
Think about ways in which you can “chain” various social media channels together and funnel traffic to your blog. In a sense, the blog becomes a landing page for your brand with your content engaging readers who come by.
Blog monetization: This is still key. If you can’t effectively your blog, you’re not running a business, you’re running a charity/non-profit.
Fans who like your content will want to engage more with you. If you take time to write and publish a book themed around your blog’s area of focus, it gives fans more of what they want, and gives you an opportunity to generate income from your writing.
A blog post can give you about 500 to 1,000 words worth of engagement. An ebook gives you more room to come up with 10,000 to 20,000 words worth of content and has more flexibility in terms of infographics and information you can present.
Think of the blog post as the TV series, coming out regularly, while your products, whether they’re a book, video training or coaching as the feature films or movies where you showcase your premium content.
In short, blogging still works, the game has changed. If you adapt to the changes, you will likely do even better than before.
Whether you own your own product or be an affiliate, the principle of having a sales funnel and optimizing it applies equally to you.
What is a sales funnel?
It’s a process where you introduce your leads (also known as prospects) to your marketing message, with the aim of hitting your conversion goal, either a sale, collecting the prospect’s information or some other action.
Most marketers will aim for a single goal – the sale. If the lead doesn’t buy, then there’s no followup on the action. This can be considered arbitrage, especially if you have a single opportunity to get the sale.
To make arbitrage work, the following factors will help
Note that the above goals are usually mutually exclusive. That means you probably can’t buy high quality traffic at a low price, and you won’t be able to convert low quality traffic for an offer with a high payout. If you are able to find an offer that is brand new and hasn’t been picked up by many affiliates, or if you find a traffic source that few affiliates and marketers are using, you’d have the opportunity to capitalize on the market gap (at least until other affiliates start saturating your market advantage).
For your strategy to work, you’d also need to ensure that you have enough quota for the offer (eg: offer cap) and that the traffic can provide enough volume, else your income potential will be bottlenecked.
One way to work around these limitations is to improve your sales funnel.
You can do it by re-marketing to leads which have landed on your landing page.
The traditional way is to collect an email address on the landing page, instead of asking for the sale and market to the leads via a sequence of emails loaded into an autoresponder. A 5- or 7-email sequence works well with this approach, though it requires a different set of conversion and copywriting strategies versus asking for the straight sale. There’s a number of free resources online from Gary Halbert and other direct response copywriters to achieve this.
The newer way of marketing to these leads is to use an arbitrage-style landing page, but embedding a site retargeting cookie on the site, then chasing the lead as they go around the net, displaying your ad via Facebook ads, search engine results or banner/display ads.
In some projects for clients, I’ve seen cost-per-click of $20 and upwards for highly competitive verticals for PPC traffic. With the right keywords, the campaign will pan out. But when retargeting is added into the mix and displayed at a $0.50 to $1 CPM cost, you can imagine the high ROIs we are able to achieve.
The bottomline is that if you have multiple opportunities to market to the leads, your chances of achieving profitability and being able to scale your campaigns are significantly boosted.]]>
Here are some reasons why:
If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering, “So what if I’m not an athlete? Aren’t you overgeneralizing?”
This came about because I’ve been hearing from corporates who say they especially like hiring employees who played college sports. They also like ex-military. If you don’t fall into either category, there’s nothing to stop from defining who you are and what you want to become. There’s a measure of figuring out what you want to do, fighting through the pain and going for it.
Now, get back to work.]]>
Chances are you need you need your digital fix.
Here are some tools that can help boost your online business.
Free Images: Formerly known as sxc.hu (Stock Exchange Hungary), the site’s parent company Jupiter Images was acquired by Getty Images and rebranded as “Free Images”. The user experience is largely the same and even though I have memberships to Deposit photos and other photostock sites, I usually head to Free Images to check out the available options for this blog or other campaigns. Take note that some images require seeking permission and including other attribution info. I usually go for the ones with the standard terms and conditions so I can use the images immediately.
Canva: Web/Cloud-based photo editing sites have been around for some time, including Google’s Picasa. What I like about Canva is its easy to use interface, plus a set of predefined templates for Twitter banners, FB Ads, ebook covers, etc. So while I still have Adobe Photoshop, Gimp and other photo utilities on my computer, I usually head to Canva and get it done within a few minutes.
Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs?): I’d include a screenshot, but I do so much stuff on there now, it’s not easy to take a screen without showing the client projects I’m working on. With Internet access, I’m putting together project proposals, marketing plans, writing ebooks, archiving blog posts/bookmarks.
I’ve also shifted most of my expense and accounting to the Google spreadsheet. It’s an easy way to get a remote admin support to enter my expenses into a shared doc, then ping me when it’s completed.
Forms are also useful for collecting feedback and data for projects you’re launching or in the middle of a course to get suggestions for enhancements. In a pinch, linking out to a Google Form also serves as a ghetto contact form, with feedback going into a spreadsheet for review.
The calendar is also a great meeting coordination tool. By inviting others to your events, you can get RSVPs for meetings as the system sends them an event invite which they can then confirm. since Calender replicates itself over iOS and Android, it’s a good way to stay on top of your schedule.
Pamela call recording software for Skype: I’ve tried a bunch of free call recording plugins/software, they usually don’t work as well as I’d like. I’ve gone to the extent of using Techsmith Camtasia to try recording calls. No dice. I’ve finally gone back to using Pamela which had been a mainstay when I was doing podcasts more regularly. It’s a paid offering, but if it works well, it’ll pay for itself many times over.
Google Hangouts: I’ve using Hangouts more often for project meetings and consultations. If you use the Hangout On Air broadcasting function, it records and posts the call to YouTube, which means no messing around with third-party recording software.
You can also make free phone calls to the US and Canada for free by following this tutorial, though I haven’t tried that out yet.
Online-stopwatch: Keeping on task can be a challenge unless you have a taskmaster to watch what you’re doing. Especially with a tight project deadline looming ahead of you, tools like Online-Stopwatch, which is an online countdown timer, can be helpful. And it’s useful if you play any online games with countdown timers for mob spawn rates…
Dropbox: Possibly the first online file storage service (or at least with the largest critical mass), I’ve been using Dropbox since its beta and have grown my mailbox from the default 2gb to 16.4gb through referrals and its bonus storage options. I manage data across an Intel Atom machine that I use as a file server and the various desktops and laptops (Mac and PC) that I use for work. If you use it for sensitive data (or your cryptocoin/bitcoin backups) be sure to enable 2-factor authentication.
iCloud: Apple’s accompanying web interface for its iCloud surface, the data across the web interface can be synchronised with your iOS and Mac OS devices. Just be sure not to post any naked selfies to the cloud surface. Unless your last name is Kardashian or Hilton. Anyway, I like to update long-ish notes via the Notes application via the desktop interface, then pull the update on my iPhone. The most useful function probably is the “Find my iPhone” function, which despite its name can be used to find that missing iPhone, iPod, iPad and Mac device…
Voluum: I’ve tried various conversion tracking software and the ones I like best are CPV Lab and Voluum. CPV Lab’s more efficient than the free alternative Prosper202, and more feature rich and user friendly. I’ve been using Voluum more regularly since it’s being hosted makes it an easy option to use without having to deal with a VPS or dedicated hosting the software. Some will have concerned about your campaign data being shared, especially since ZeroPark is a sister company and Voluum themselves might also run lead generation campaigns. I don’t think your data being shared when you’re a smaller affiliate is an issue. And if you’re concerned about protecting your data, you could always develop a custom solution for about $10,000 or more when you’re doing bigger numbers.]]>
A friend had his Dropbox cloud storage account hacked into a couple of weeks ago and lost a lot of data.
Depending on how actively you use the service, you might have:
So the idea that someone hacked into your account and make a copy of everything and/or wiped everything is a nightmare.
In a blog post, Dropbox has said it’s security systems weren’t compromised, but rather hackers used a list of logins and passwords obtained from other services and tried them on Dropbox and other websites. The lesson is that if you use the same login/email and password on your Internet banking/PayPal/Bitcoin account as you do on a Flash arcade site and the arcade site gets hacked into, then your accounts are very exposed.
The workaround for this is, sure, use that “SuperBaller” login and “Password123? logins for throwaway sites. But you should use unique passwords, preferably containing a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers and have a unique password for each site. Note that some password storage services like LastPass may be vulnerable if you’re using the same login/password combination for those accounts too.
Once you’ve come up with something unique, you probably don’t want to have it sitting in your Google Drive or webmail account. Some might prefer to use a password storage app on their desktop or cell phone. Writing it in a diary (the dead tree kind) also works. Keeping multiple copies of the password in a locked drawer with your ID and bank documents also works well.
The other recommendation, to enabled 2-factor authentication, is also a good one. This is where you need to authenticate yourself on a second channel (typically via email or mobile-based text message) when you’re adding a new machine or change payment settings for some of your accounts. Lifehacker did a pretty good feature on 2-factor authentication (http://lifehacker.com/5938565/heres-everywhere-you-should-enable-two-factor-authentication-right-now). And you can also read Dropbox’s instructional post about enabling 2-factor auth for it’s services here (https://blog.dropbox.com/2014/10/have-you-enabled-two-step-verification/).
The more sensitive data for an Internet marketer will include
Importantly, if you have accounts at game networks like Kongregate, Newgrounds, etc, you should use your throwaway account (unless you’re spending a couple hundred bucks there each month, in which case, you might want ot have your own special account too).
Losing access to stuff you do business with majorly sucks, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.]]>
The stall, Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint, set up in the 1970s, by Ha Wai Kay, 64, and his wife Betty Kong, 68, is an instutition of sorts in the Paya Lebar area in Eastern Singapore.
They have sold the business, which includes a shophouse unit valued at $2.1 million, to a listed company, Aztech Holdings.
Kay Lee’s owners had set off talk in the food and beverage industry in 2012 when they first named their $3.5 million asking price because food stalls typically aren’t sold. They’re either handed to the owners’ children or closed when the owners retire.
Betty said she gave up her career as a clothes designer 40 years ago to help her husband with his Cantonese-style roast meat business which includes it’s signature dish char siew, as well as roast duck and roast pork.
The lesson is that building a business with a long-term focus can yield handsome dividends. With the $4 million selling price, the couple can expect to retire comfortably, assuming they don’t start another business venture.
In the online marketing world, with the near-instant nature of setting up a website and selling products within a couple of hours, there may be a tendency to build “pop up” type businesses that are trend-focused without a clear idea of its long-term prospects.
I think most marketers, including myself, start off with arbitrage businesses – running campaigns with a priority on generating sales, then profit. Thinking of how to grow the business comes later when you’re not showing losses as you pay your “school fees”.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve developed my Mindware Recode Foundations workshop which I’ll be launching later this week.
Planning and having in place a blueprint that you can follow means starting and growing an online business will be less haphazard and random than it would normally be.
With a focus on researching various verticals, designing and positioning your business so that you have a clear idea of where you want to be, it reduces some of the time and capital that would otherwise be wasted trying to figure out what you want to do and to find something that works.
Through a 10-week cycle, I’ll be going through the process of how I research new ideas, do due diligence on products and services in the space, then decide how I either promote the services as an affiliate or develop my own product. From there I’ll also be covering traffic generation (paid and free), campaign analytics and optimization.
I’ll be showing how I apply the techniques to launching and growing a new series of products and will also be helping participants roll out their own online businesses too.
The class will be held weekly for 10 weeks, starting this week and will be held over video conferencing and will also have a discussion forum.]]>
While most marketers will be aware of online news sources and spy tools, it’s worth taking a step back to gain a wider perspective of what’s out there and how you can use it to your advantage.
Whether you have your own product or you’re promoting someone else’s product as an affiliate, distributor or reseller, you can benefit from the following 3 types of business intelligence.
Technology intelligence: You might be doing search engine optimization (SEO) or some form of paid traffic. Now, stop. How much time do you spend reading up on the available FAQs, instructional materials, tutorials, step-by-step walkthroughs?
I’ve met a number of Internet marketers who gobble e-books on traffic sources and continue to do so. But the strange/weird thing is that they haven’t gone through the introductory material and training materials posted on an ad network. Which is weird. If your traffic source has gone through the trouble and effort of creating an information resource – creating a blog, posting instructional videos on YouTube, having white papers, organizing regular webinars or training calls, then why wouldn’t you want to go through that material? It’ll only help you, wouldn’t it?
In the absence of such material, then sure, go ahead, ask a friend about what they think about how to use an offer or an ad platform. You might do better with that instruction. On the other hand, you could do worse.
(Think of the times where you might have been getting an informal course in sex education through your teenage friends. Yeah, not that good).
Bottomline: If you want to get accurate information, especially on ad platforms where you’re spending hundreds, if not, thousands per month, then it makes sense to invest a little time in searching out material related to being able to use that platform better.
There are also external resources like AffPlaybook for traffic-related stuff. It’s also important to balance out how much you might be paying for a monthly subscription vs the time and money it would cost you if you did your own tests, screwed up and had to learn things the hard way.
Offer/Industry Knowledge: If you’re an affiliate, it would be useful to go through the marketing material or background offer information provided by the advertiser. Also, if you have a competent affiliate manager, then their feedback and suggestions might be useful too.
But there’s not substitute for doing your own offer research. Resources like Google News, stock annual reports and quarterly earnings reports for major companies in the sector will give you an insight into what’s happening in the space. If a large online dating site is spending significant capital acquiring mobile-related technology providers, or dedicating a large chunk of their capital towards expansion efforts in Latin America or Asia, that would influence your marketing efforts, wouldn’t it? Old-line media like cable news channels, newspapers can also provide data to help you make better decisions.
It helps to be focused in a vertical, whether it’s dating, finance offers, software offers, etc and once you’re locked in on an area of specialization, then have a resource of 5 sites that you regularly go to to stay current with developments in your vertical. Your success is only as good as the information you have.
Competitive intelligence: The last couple of years have seen an exponential increase in the number of services, commonly known as spy tools. While these can be useful, take note of the potential drawbacks with using some of these services:
When you’re starting out, the best form of competitive intelligence would be checking out the competition by hand and keeping notes/records. Doing it manually may seem “old school” and inefficient.
I feel that doing stuff this way does take more time. At the same time it gives you a pulse of the space you’re playing in, which looking at a series of scraped stats may not. The more information you have access to, the better quality decisions you’re likely to make.
The tendency I’ve observed is that many affiliates will be quite dependent on the competitive intelligence side of things, specially data scraping and copying/cloning other affiliate’s creatives. While this might help in the short term, on a long-term basis, you’d want to focus more on the other 2 elements – the technology platform and industry updates because these generally give the biggest boost when it comes to building and expanding your business.
Whichever path you take down the intel route, having a system to record and analyze your data is key to planning for business growth.]]>
There is a saying by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar that goes “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
For most of my 20-year career (most of it spent online, thought the same principles of relationship building and business building apply as much to virtual business as much as brick-and-mortar ones), I’ve focused on a couple of values:
A mentor, who owned about 20 lifestyle brand stores in Singapore, explained the concept of value this way: “I watch how my employees work. Some will work at parity. You pay them $2,000 and they’ll put in $2,000 of effort.
“Most will put in half the effort of what you’re paying them. They’re the underperformers.
“I look out for those who work as if they’re being paid twice what I’m paying them. These are the ones who become the store managers and executives at the head office.”
Some of you may know that I’ve been in “retirement” mode for the past 8 years or so, about the time my older daughter was born.
I had built up my Internet business which was generating passive income, leaving me to spend time with my older daughter, and later my younger daughter when she was born.
Online marketing gave me the opportunity to have the ultimate liberty – the freedom over my own time and the freedom to work from my home or at the recreation room at my apartment. (I’m not really keen on drinking coffee at Starbucks all day…besides I’ve had better java elsewhere).
So whether it was managing affiliates in Asia or in the US, I’m fortunate to have had the flexibility to create my own consulting gigs and build my business around my lifestyle.
I still don’t subscribe to the idea of building and running a business in an hour a day or doing a 4-hour workweek. If you’re driven and passionate about what you do, you will probably end up doing more than an 8- or 10-hour workday. You just have the freedom to take a 2-week vacation after a long project.
Since turning 41 last month, I’ve been in the mode of working on projects which keep me engaged and are also projects that I can see myself doing a year, 2 years, 10 years from now.
Tip: If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing now, even if you hire employees later, it won’t make it anymore enjoyable. It can be quite painful. So tread carefully.
Earlier this year, I wanted to launch one of my “backburner” projects – the lifehacking books which would eventually become the Mindware Recode and the other books that Tamar Weinberg and I have written.
It’s time to bring it to the next phase.
I’m starting a training program which will focus on 2 areas:
If you want to think of it this way, it’s taking the system and techniques that I’ve written about in the Mindware Recode and using it to “recode” yourself to become better, fast and achieve more!
Here is the thing.
I am aware of product launch strategies, having big-bang launches, working with joint venture partners, having them mail to their 100,000-strong mailing lists.
Think of this as the anti-product launch.
I plan to work with small numbers, I plan to have an application process, I will be reviewing each person, possibly doing a further interview/discussion over email or Skype. This is to make sure that I can help you.
I’ll be focusing on sharing the systems I have developed which tend to be more “slow burn”. It will take some time to build it, it will take some effort, you won’t make a million bucks overnight. I think that stuff only works with lottery tickets.
What I want to do is find 5 people who would be a good fit for the group and kick the project off that way. If I can’t help you, I’ll let you know and I’ll make a recommendation if there’s a book or other resource that might help you.
As of 2.49pm, Monday, 13 Oct, I have shortlisted 3, so I have slots for another 2. This is not a scarcity ploy, I want to work with a small group with whom I can help make a difference. There will be no miracle “oh, we’ve opened up x slots”. It will be just the 5 slots.
Maintaining a good reputation and delivering quality have and will continue to be important for me, so this will be where the bulk of my time will be spent. I focus on specific, actionable strategies, so if you’re a believer in making dreamboards, then doing nothing to make it come true, this won’t be for you.
I’m structuring the program so that you can participate whether you’re in Asia, Europe or North America. I’ll also be organizing monthly online meetups via voice conference, Google Hangouts or some of the new services I’ve been testing out.
If you’re interested, you can fill in this survey.
I read all responses (just like I did for the Mindware Recode survey) and reply.
If I feel you’re a good match, I’ll ping you with info about the program.
It’s an ongoing program, you are welcome to stay as long as you like and leave when you want.
You are welcome to message me with any questions or post in the comments below.
-> What are you working on now?
My main areas of focus are:
I’m writing ebooks which I publish on the Amazon Kindle platform, which tend to be in the humor or fiction genre.
I’m planning to write more often at WhoIsAndrewWee.com and build up the list and focus more on email marketing.
I’m building up affiliate campaigns (usually more cost-per-sale offers which have a much higher payout than cost-per-action (CPA) offers)
-> How does the training program work? How much does it cost? Is there a money-back guarantee?
It will work like a monthly membership, there’s a monthly fee.
The first 5 will get an attractive price and will be “grandfathered” so your membership fee will be locked in, unless you quit.
There will be a “no-questions-asked” money-back guarantee. Maintaining a community is important to me and selecting the members via a screening/interview process will help ensure the community remains high quality. I’ve also run my own membership sites before, so I’ve got a pretty good handle on moderating the community.
-> Is this a money making thing? Can’t you help me for free?
Yes, it’s a profit-driven venture. I have to feed my family too. I’ve always focused on making a business viable, else it becomes a charity. I’ll show you how I build my businesses, so you can replicate the same techniques in your own business. The main factors in how successful you will be tend to rely on how consistent and focused you are on doing what you’re supposed to do. (You’ll get what you’re supposed to get).
The “help me for free, I’ll give you half my profit” request comes up quite often, especially at entrepreneur start-up events. I’ve also spend time giving someone career advice for 1-2 hours for free. What I’ve found is that people value something based on how much they paid for it. Specifically, if you’ve personally invested in something, you’re more likely to take action. You can read up the analogy about the farmer eating eggs and bacon, then telling his son that the chicken is invested in breakfast, but the pig is committed… I’ve done free stuff, the experience has not turned out to be positive. If anything, think about how much you should be investing in yourself.
Here is the survey link.
And if you have questions, drop me a mail via my contact form.]]>
I also unlocked a new achievement, gaining about 5 lbs over the course of a meal. Here’s the evidence.
This post should have been posted then, but stuff came up, writing was delayed, so this happened.
At the same time, I was thinking back on what I’ve been doing over the past 15+ years.
Back then I was 23, the year was 1997 when I started doing “Internet stuff”. My first gig was as a web team leader at one of Asia’s largest media companies.
It was also the same year that Yahoo! started.
Besides building a couple of content portals from scratch, I also updated hundreds of web pages every day, primarily through cleaning up BRS format files (not “bank reconciliation statement”) but a type of text file, then FTP it into a server where it’s be formatted for the web.
I later moved to tech reporting where I had the chance to interview the founders of various startups, as well as IT majors like Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Red Hat Linux’s Bob Young and Seagate’s Al Shugart. It also helped to be on a coordination committee of Accenture’s dotcom startup awards, where I had the chance to grill tech entrepreneurs on their product and marketing strategies.
This was all pretty useful background, especially when I went on to start my own biz consultancy in 2003, focused mainly on strategy and marketing for various brick-and-mortar companies going the online route. Though I was brought in to come up with strategy, there were more than a few times where I ended up running people’s companies. It was good experience and pretty hard to duplicate via attending seminars or conferences.
Creating my own infoproducts and getting involved in lead generation and affiliate marketing seemed like the next step in 2006, which is about the same time I joined Azoogle and Neverblue. My affiliate ID number is in the 40k range at Neverblue.
This “Internet stuff” has done well for me for the past 8 years or so.
Although I’m still promoting my own products and running affiliate campaigns, I’ve been working on the life hacking aspect of the business since the start of the year. Some of the stuff you might have seen like the Geek Hackery books I worked on with Tamar Weinberg have turned out well. I’m looking at moving things up a notch in the coming month.
I’m also starting up my email list and sending out idea for growing your business and achieving that quality of life that comes with a healthy work-life balance
I’ll be sending out weekly updates (unless I’m heading out of town, in which case it might drop to every 2 weeks).
And if I get discount codes, free trials, beta codes, etc, I’ll be sending them to the list first.
Here’s the TL:DR version:
1) Doing internet stuff = good
2) Doing more life hacking stuff in the coming month = stay tuned.
3) Stay tuned = opt-in via the form below.
4) Expect weekly, unless I’m falling behind, in which case, maybe one email every 2-3 weeks?
5) “Sign Up” is pretty horrible button text. Don’t do it. It’s almost as bad as “Submit”. I think “Give me access” would be better. (putting it on my to-do list).
UPDATE: The email list is being, er, updated. Will post it later.]]>