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Newbie’s Toolbox

Newbie's Toolbox

7 Keys to find affiliate products to promote on your blog

So you’ve decide affiliate marketing is for you, so now how do you find affiliate products to promote?

At first glance, being a successful Affiliate Marketer looks simple enough – you head over to an affiliate marketplace like Clickbank, choose a product, create your unique affiliate link, slap it onto your website… and voila! Sales and commissions come flooding in!

Sadly it’s not that simple in reality. I wish it was.

After weeks and months of wondering why the sales and commissions are not rolling in, you begin to wonder whether you have picked the right products to promote. You might be wondering how you even determine which of the thousands of products avaliable on Clickbank will sell well and give you good commissions? Please tell me I’m not the only one who felt that way.

As a newbie, I found the sheer selection of products on offer at ClickBank utterly overwhelming. There was just every affiliate product you can think of in every possible niche you can imagine.

So where do you start with choosing affiliate products to promote on your website? And how do you pick ones that are profitble and will actually earn you money?

Is choosing profitable affiliate products an art or a science?

Picking profitable affiliate products is definitely more of an art than a science. There is no exact blueprint that gurantees success but what I can give you are seven keys to guide you as you choose your first affiliate products to promote. I’ll also share mistakes that I made as a newbie so you don’t have to learn them the hard way.

While there is no 100% foolproof formula, applying these keys and learnings will go a long way to increasing your chances of success.

So here are my seven keys for choosing  a profitable ClickBank product to promote:

  1. Choose a niche you are passionate about

Before you jump straight into the sea of affiliate products, you need to decide what niche you want to get into. What do you want your blog or website to be about?

I strongly recommend choosing a niche related to your hobbies, skills, passions and experiences. Since you will be spending a lot of time thinking about this niche, it will be more enjoyable if you actually like reseraching and writing about the topic.

Are you a dog lover? Have you had experience with weight loss or turning your health around? One thing I found helpful is to think about what your friends come to you for advice on. Do they ask you for help with their finances or for relationship advice?

If you have experience and knowledge in a particular niche it is a huge advantage because you are able to write more engaging and credible content for your blog or website. For example if you have struggled with your weight for many years then turned your situation around, people will be able to identify and relate to you as you have walked in their shoes. People would be more likely to buy weight loss products from you than someone who has been skinny all their life telling them to shape up. At the end of the day, people buy from people they like and relate to.

If you are a bit stuck on selecting a niche, check out my post on how to pick a niche for your blog.

So now know that you have a niche you won’t get bored of in 2 weeks, you need to choose a profitable products and that starts with…

2.   Understanding your customers

Let’s say you chose ‘losing belly fat’ as your niche. So you need to understand what are your customer’s pain points.

A great way of finding out your customers’ painpoints is to have a look on forums or facebook groups within your niche. Find out where your customers hangout and what they are talking about. For example, some people would be looking for ab machines to target their problem area. Others might not want to do any exercise and want to take pills to melt their belly fat away. And others will want to lead a healthier lifestyle by eating belly fat burning foods.

By understand your customers pain points, you will be able to accurately select products that address their individual needs and problems. While people hate being sold to, they love having their needs being met or their problem solved.

If I have been looking for a quick way to lose belly fat and you show me with a safe and natural herbal pill that will melt belly fat away quickly, I will snap that offer up in seconds!

So before rushing into product selection, do some research and understand your customers’ painpoints. Your time spent on this step will not be in vain.

3.   Selecting products that sell

As a newbie, I found Clickbank to be the easiest to get signed up for and to navigate through. Some affiliate programs require you to have a certain level of traffic before you can sign up, which of course you dont have when first starting out. That’s all good if you get rejected by other programs just reapply when you get some sales under your belt. Don’t let that get you down.

All you have to do with Clickbank is sign up and you get access to a massive database of products that relate to almost any niche. The commissions are also generally pretty good, between 50-75% of the product sale price.

What I like about Clickbank is that it offers good feedback on which products are selling well and have high commission rates.

The ‘gravity’ presents how well each product sells, based on how many sales have been made and how recent these sales were.

A gravity of over 100+ generally indicates that there is a lot of demand for the product. But it also means that there is lots of competition in the niche. One way people get around the high level of competition is to connect with others in the particular affiliate program and try and form a partnership and work together. They say if you can’t beat them, join them. However, I did find that as a newbie, not many people are keen to partner up with you. You will probably get asked about your website traffic numbers or size of your email list which is probably a big fat 0 if you were anything like me when I first started out. And then the other person stops replying…sad one. Give the newbie a chance!

So how I got around this was pick products that had a gravity of between 10 and 100. So there was still demand for the product but not as much competition. You can filter for this gravity range when you conduct your product search.

I would also highly recommend that you actually buy and test the product out before you promote it. A little trick is to buy the product through an affiliate link, which makes it cheaper. I got a bit ahead of myself as newbie and asked for free samples but in reality without a proven track record you are unlikely to be given any free samples to review and promote.

If you don’t have the budget to actually buy and test products, that’s all good. At the very least do some research on websites like www.ripoffreport.com just to make sure you aren’t promoting a scam or something dubious. Its a sad fact but there are some unscrupulous people out there who are willing to profit at the expense of others. These scams often entice affiliates with very impressive commissions to do their dirty work for them. So don’t fall into this trap and help these ratbags promote their junk.

So make sure you do your research. Promoting a scam is going to damage the trust you are trying to build up with your customers.

4.   High Commission Percentage (50% or greater)

The next factor I consider is the average%/sale which tells you the commission percentage you get per sale. So if the average%/sale is 75% that means you will get paid $75 for every $100 of sales. This means that if the product costs $100, then you will get $75 for every sale you make.

In reality, your efforts are not going to be worthwhile with $1 commissions so average%/sale is an important factor when selecting a profitable product. Additionally, if you are going the pay per click (PPC) advertising route over the free traffic SEO route, you will need even more of a return to cover your advertising expenses as well as your time.

I must warn you that when you first start out, you are unlikely to be profitable for a while. And if you are new to PPC advertising, it’s a very expensive way to learn internet marketing and a lot of money can be burned in the process with little or no results.

I didn’t have much budget to blow when first starting out so I took the slower but steady SEO route for free traffic. If this you have the budget and want to try speed things up with PPC, here a link to a great introduction to PPC.

5.   High Quality Affiliate Resources

You also want to make sure the product offers quality affiliate resources. The level of affiliate resources available and quality of these resources vary from product to product so it’s important to sign up and check out the affiliate resources before making a decision on a product.

Many products have a dedicated affiliate manager whose sole job is the help you promote their product successfully. They provide promotional material such as banners to place on your website, example sales letter and example sales emails. While you should never copy and paste these resources, they serve as a great starting point to add your own personality and voice.

Here is an example of a credible, information email swipe file provided as part of a product’s affiliate resources:

It also helps if the vendor sales page is persuasive and not tacky. After all you will be sending your customers through to this page, so if it’s persuasive and credible it will not only convert well and give you more sales, but it will enhance your brand and reputation.

I personally avoid products with affiliate resources and vendor sales pages that sound too cheesy or spammy. Chances are if you cringe when you read it, your customers are going to as well.

If you are planning to build a long term affiliate marketing business, I would stress that your brand and reputation is much more important than making a quick sale. You don’t want to be known in the market for selling cheesy low quality products.

6.   Pick a product that isn’t too expensive to start off

Also, pick a product that’s not too expensive. Sure the commissions on a high value product look more appealing, it may be more difficult to secure a sale due to the high price.

It is easier for people to buy products up to the $35-$30 mark. This is known as the ‘impulse buy zone’. On the other hand, if something costs over $100, people are more likely to conduct a lot more research before whipping out their credit card.

So when you are first starting out and trying to figure out the whole internet marketing thing, go easy on yourself and aim for the “impulse buy zone”. Most of the products on Clickbank also have 30 or 60 day money back guarantees. The lower price and money back guarantee reduces the risk from the customers point of view and makes it psychologically easier to make a purchase.

7.   Focus, Focus, Focus

When first starting out, stick with one product at a time so you can figure out what strategies are most successful. This means you can rinse and repeat for your second, third and all subsequent products.

I made the newbie mistake of getting too excited and trying to do so too many products at once. This was both overwhelming and I didn’t know what was working and what wasn’t because there were too many variable and moving parts.

So what I’m saying is don’t try to multi task. Tackle one product at a time and promote it as good as you can before you move into the next one. This is not a race to the finish line. It’s more of a continuous learning journey so don’t rush ahead of yourself.

I’m also not saying is stick to marketing only one product forever and ever. Of course, you want to include more than one product because it is important to offer your customers alternatives and buying options. You want to more to having a whole range of reviews on your website.

But also don’t fall on the other side and promote all sorts of products for money-making’s sake. More products on sale doesn’t automatically equally more sales. Stay in the happy medium between too few and too many products on sale.

So what’s an Example of a Good Affiliate Product

 

You will note I said an example of a good affiliate product and not the perfect one. I don’t believe there is any perfect product that guarantees success and I would be wary of anyone who makes such claims.

I would call this a good product because it has many things going for it:

  • A great gravity – good demand but not too much competition
  • High 75% commission rate
  • High quality affiliate resources
  • Persuasive sales page
  • And the bonus: It has a 13% average re-billing. This means that after the initial sale and commission of $10.33. 13% of buyers go onto a continuous payment of some kind (possibly a subscription) which continues to pay you $6.48 of commission on average. This means passive income after the initial sale – yay!

Now you know what a good affiliate product looks like, here are some common mistakes to avoid

  1.  Following the money and not your passion.

This is by far the most common mistake newbies make and I was among those who fell into this trap. I mean its hard to when “gurus” are telling you left right and centre that affiliate marketing is the key to easy riches. So all you’re thinking when you enter affiliate marketing is let’s make some of this sweet money they keep telling me about.

But sadly these guru’s have actually set us up for failure. Doing affiliate marketing for the money just never works. You need to promote something you actually believe in. If you aren’t passionate about your niche, you will probably find researching and dealing with your niche such a chore and end up quitting before you see success (that was me with my first niche website).

In reality, you will be the most successful at promoting products that you have a passion for and that you can get excited about. That’s why I emphasised that you should choose a niche that you are passionate about. When you are passionate about something, you customers and readers will be able to feel your passion through your writing. Passionate is contagious and is attractive. So the most effective marketing you do will be for products that you enjoy and have the most interest in.

2.   Choosing money over customers

A common mistake is to promote the hottest new product there is on the market which is not necessarily right for your potential customers or worse…is just low quality junk! While you might make a quick buck, you can be sure any customers will not be returning in the future. And that’s no way to run a long term successful business.

Affiliate marketing is a people business, don’t forget that. You are in the market to help people – to understand their pain point and curate content and products to meet their needs. If this is the philosophy you take, you are almost guaranteed success.

People hate being sold to, but they love it when people add value to their lives.

Final thoughts

Remember I said picking affiliate products is more of an art rather than a science. The more you practice and learn, the better you will become at this art.

I’ll leave you with a video of how my mentor in this business picks affiliate products. P.S For the visual learners, this one is for you.

And once you’ve read this guide and heard my mentors words of wisdom, get out there and give it a go! It’s action that will move you forward 🙂

I would love to hear how you go! And if you get stuck at any point, please feel free to reach out to me at shan@youcanescapetheratrace.com.

 

Newbie's Toolbox

The difference between Multi-level Marketing (MLM) and Pyramid schemes explained – can you tell which one’s legal and which one’s not?

Is there even a difference between MLM and Pyramid schemes?

You often hear people using the terms pyramid scheme and multi level marketing (MLM) scheme interchangeably. Though there is technically a difference between the two, there is A LOT of overlap. This makes it notoriously hard to tell one from the other.

In theory, pyramid schemes emphasize recruiting new sellers over actually selling product. MLMs on the other hand, emphasize selling products over recruiting people. But in the end an pyramid scheme and MLM scheme does both things, so you can see how it is easy for people to be confused between the two.

Let’s take a deeper look into pyramid schemes and MLM schemes to see if we can crack the code and tell the difference.

Let’s start with MLM schemes, so what are they?

MLM’s Origins

MLM, has its origins in direct sales. As the name suggests ‘direct sales’ (sometimes known as network marketing) is a business model that does away with the middleman.

This is where the manufacturer uses distributors to sells products directly to the consumer, saving them huge amounts of money on advertising and selling costs.

Instead, independent distributors promote the manufacturer’s products at their own expense to friends, relatives, and acquaintances.

The manufacturer then pays the distributors bonuses and commissions for products sold, from the money they have saved by not having to advertise and build a sales force.

MLM is basically direct sales but on steroids.

As an independent distributor in the MLM industry, you are strongly encouraged and incentivized to build your own sales team who will also promote the products. You not only build your own team, but you teach your team members to duplicate your efforts and become leaders of their own teams.

When members of your team recruit independent distributors and become leaders of their own teams, they still remain under your umbrella and you earn money from their efforts.

All distributors, even those brought in by someone else on your team, are considered to be part of your business and are placed beneath you on your business chart. In MLM speak, they are considered to be your “downline.” This downline is made up of many layers or levels – this is where the name multi-level marketing comes from.

Photo credit: Global Domains International, Inc.

 

So what are pyramid schemes?

What the Federal trade commission (FTC) tells us are features of an illegal Pyramid Scheme

Feature 1: An illegal pyramid scheme is where the company forces recruits to buy more products thant they could ever sell, often at inflated prices.

When joining an MLM, its common practice to have to buy a starter kit of products to demonstrate and to sell.

For example, when you join Pure Romance as a consultant, you have three choices of starter kits:

  • Standard kit, $159
  • Deluxe Kit, $359
  • Premium Kit, $639.

The idea is that you would throw a party, demonstrate the products, sell lots of products to friends and family that come and earn commissions. Then rinse and repeat.

Personally, my husband and I bought more products than I could ever sell when we joined an MLM. TO be fair, I bought lots of overpriced laundry powder and household products and then couldn’t bring myself to sell them to my friends and family. You could say I quit MLM before I really started.

I was attracted to MLM because we were promised a way to start a business, which I’ve always wanted to do. However, I just could not understand why the household products the MLM sold us was so much more expensive than its equivalent product at the local supermarket. I was told the laundry powder preserved clothes better…I was doubtful it justified the price.

Because I could not convince myself of the value of these products, the thought of trying to recruiting friends and family to sell these overpriced products just made me feel sick to my stomach. I just couldn’t lie to my friends and family to recruit them….so there was the end of my short lived MLM career.

I’d love to hear if anyone has had a similar experience with an MLM. If so, please let me know in the comments below.

Feature 2: The people at the top of the pyramid reap substantial profits, even though little or no product moves to market (i.e. most sales are made to other distributors within the scheme).

While this sounds simple, it’s actually pretty hard to tell with in practice. Tastefully Simple for example certainly appears to have many raving product reviews on their website.

At first I thought surely this means sales are being made to people outside the MLM scheme but there is no way to tell for sure. And it’s funny, every single review is a 5 star review and sounds like they are absolutely in love with TS. There are no negative reviews at all!

The Tastefully Simple MLM scheme, like many others, requires distributors to maintain a certain level of purchases/ sales in order to remain ‘active’. Some MLM schemes like Damsel in defence, even penalize distributors if they don’t make sales targets but taking away people they have recruited. So who says MLMs emphasize sales of products over recruiting?

In fact, we know that the bulk of an MLM’s profits (if any) come not from selling products but from recruiting other members. This was covered well in this segment of HBO’s Last Week Tonight.

John Oliver bulk of an MLM’s profits (if any) come not from selling products but from recruiting other members

Feature 3: The people at the bottom make excessive payments for inventory that simply accumulates in their basements.

My main concern when joining an MLM was my ability to make the sales targets in those first few months when I was getting my business off the ground. With zero direct sales experience, I knew it would be a steep learning curve to build a successful MLM business.

My “upline” (the person who recruited me) assured me and said it was easy to meet the targets. Him and his wife met their targets each month by purchasing all their household goods, makeup, skincare and groceries from the MLM. They said it was such a good deal because they received commissions from their purchases (which worked out like a cash back). Plus they also receive a commission from their kid’s monthly grocery shop.

While the MLM I was involved in sold household good which you would eventually use, this is not the case with all MLMs. If you were a Damsel in defence distributor, you could end up with lots of tasers and stun guns in your garage. Or worst, if you were a Pure Romance consultants you would be left with lots of sex toys in your basement, not something you can gift to friends and family for Christmas if you don’t sell.

It’s interesting that the FTC itself admits they find the difference between MLM and pyramid schemes confusing too.

I’m glad I’m not the only one confused. The FTC warns, “Pyramid schemes now come in so many forms that they may be difficult to recognize immediately”.

Before you join an MLM scheme…

I would strongly advise you to do some research as studies have shown that 99% of all MLM scheme participants received less than $10 a week in commissions, before all expenses. Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Try and meet former members/distributors and learn from their stories. You can also find these people and their stories online and there are many support groups where people meet to warn other potential members.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints about the company.
  • Listen carefully when you’re at that MLM recruitment meeting. Any inflated claims for the amazing amounts of money with little effort should raise alarm bells. This goes for any kind of make money program. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme, only unscrupulous businessman trying to prey on the desires of people.
  • Research other ways you can make a side income like freelancing, transcribing or affiliate marketing.

Final Thoughts

I do hope this post gives you a few tips to be able to tell a legal MLM scheme from an illegal pyramid scheme. But it can be confusing, even for the FTC!

So please do your research before diving into any MLM schemes. If you would like me to play detective and do a review of any MLM scheme you come across, let me know in the comments and I would love to help.

 

 

 

beginner's guide to affiliate marketing
Newbie's Toolbox

What is Affiliate Marketing and does it even work? Affiliate Marketing explained and demystified for newbies

What is affiliate marketing (and does it even work)?

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing. It involves you promoting a product you like, and being paid a commission when someone buys the product based on your recommendation.

Many online companies who sell anything from books, shoes, TVs, dating services, couples counselling or some other service, usually offer an affiliate program.

For example, if you type in “book affiliate programs” into google you will find a list of all the companies which offer affiliate programs for selling books.

All you need to do is sign up for the affiliate program and get your unique tracking link. Then on your blog or website, whenever you are writing about a book available on the online bookstore, you simply use your special tracking affiliate link to recommend the company’s site.

If your readers buy the book through the link on your website, you will get a commission.

If you are more of a visual person, this is I created these infographics to step through how Affiliate Marketing actually works.

Affiliate Marketing Explained

Affiliate Marketing Step by Step Guide

A bit more about how the tracking works

One of the first questions I had as a newbie was, “how do companies actually track the record of who was sending people through via the unique tracking links and making sales?”

The simple answer is with the unique tracking link (which given to you by the affiliate company or product company when you sign up), is used to keep track of all the sales you are driving to the company’s page via your website or other promotional techniques.

Back in the day, affiliate programs would ask the buyers for an email address of who their referrer was in order to track where the sale came from. As you can imagine, this was not the most reliable way to track affiliate sales.

Thankfully, tracking now happens with cookies. No, not the kind that Nana’s bakes.

So What are these Cookies?

It’s the kind of cookie that works with web browsers to store information like user preferences, login or registration information, and shopping cart contents.

Not the type of cookie in affiliate marketing

Have you ever asked website “remember” your password and username details for easy sign in next time? Well, that’s a cookie!

This is also why when you have Google for “travel deals”, you suddenly see travel display banners on other non-travel related websites? Those ads appear because you have been cookied (its okay, it’s doesn’t hurt or contain any calories).

In affiliate marketing, these hard working cookies tag a tracker onto the link when your reader clicks on it. For example, if your reader uses the unique tracking link on your website to land on the company’s sales page, it will track the sale for a period of time.

Many companies track sales for up to 60 days. That means if a reader clicks on your link to go through to Amazon.com for example but only makes a purchase 2 months later, you will still get a commission.

Did you know that CJ Affiliate, one of the largest affiliate networks, tracked a total of over 3 billion website visits, 175 million transactions and over $6 billion in online sales in 2011 alone.

Crazy huh!

 

So Is Affiliate Marketing a Legitimate Way To Make Money Online?

Yes, it absolutely is!

Affiliate marketing is a legitimate way to monetize your blog or website. There are just thousands and thousands of companies that run affiliate programs and will pay you a commission for sending you sales.

This is a fair question to ask as there are so many scams on the internet these days, including scams centered around affiliate marketing.

Here are some potential red flags to look out for:

  • Affiliate programs that aren’t free to join,
  • Promises of BIG money without any hard work,
  • Pictures of lavish cars and other “proof” of the crazy lavish lifestyle you can achieve with their program in a short amount of time,
  • Claim that it is a “fool proof system”. While there are proven methods, no one can guarantee you 100% success.

If you see any of these red flags, have a look under the “product reviews” category to see if I have done a review.

If not, please reach out to me at shan@youcanescapetheratrace.com. I am happy to do a review of the product if you want to be sure 🙂

So Why Affiliate Marketing – because Affiliate Marketing creates passive income.

Passive income is literally earning money while you sleep.

No more trading hours for dollars.

However, the downside is that you usually need a large sum of money to be able to create passive income.

For example, to earn $50,000 per year in passive income (before taxes) in rental income you will need a purchase property of about $700,000 (where I live). Most people don’t have that kind of money sitting around and if you want to get a loan and have to pay interest then you need to buy even more property, about a million dollars’ worth, to cover the interest costs.

If you put a million dollars into the stock market, you might get dividends at a rate of 5% that would also give you $50,000 per year in passive income.

That’s probably the biggest attraction of affiliate marketing; that you do not need such a massive amount to invest. You can even get started for free to check it out. Although I would strongly recommend making some investment if you are serious about getting into this business. You can get a great online business off the ground with about $1,000.

This is after all a lot less than what most people starting brick and mortar businesses invest when starting a business

In addition, since the internet ever sleeps, your Affiliate website is open 24/7 to get traffic from Google. Whether you’re sleeping, on vacation, or just taking the day off, your website is online and available to earn you money.

However, I must note that Affiliate Marketing is definitely not a get rich quick scheme and you don’t earn passive income on day 1.

If you’re writing consistent content for your website, you can expect to start seeing visitors and sales at around the 3-6 month mark. So that means you may have to put in consistent hard work for six months before you start to get consistent traffic and sales coming in.

You then have to keep building to the level of passive income that you want to get. See what I mean? That’s why I said anything promising $100,000 in 3 months without much work just smells like a scam. You just don’t get such results in such a short time especially while you are sitting on your couch watching TV.

I wish it were that easy. But the journey to passive income and escaping the rat race is definitely worth the hard work in my opinion.

So How Much Does It Cost To Get Into Affiliate Marketing?

There should be no charge for joining an affiliate program. As I previously mentioned, legitimate affiliate programs don’t ask for any payment to join.

However, there will be other costs to building, running and promoting your blog or website. Your costs will depend on the type of traffic (way of getting visitors to your website) you choose. There are 2 methods of getting traffic:

Organic Traffic: This means you create a website and get traffic from search engines like Google. This is you write content in a post, your post gets ranked in Google, people find your post when they Google search, people read your post and then click on your unique affiliate links to products you promote.

Paid Traffic: This is where you use PPC advertising (or other forms of advertising). For example you tell Google AdWords or Bing Ads you want to pay $0.10 per click to your page. If you get 10 clicks, that’s $1.00 you pay for traffic.

If you have an affiliate link on the page that gets you $2 per sale, you just made money! While the concept is very simple, I would warn newbies against using starting off with paid traffic unless you have a lot of money to “learn” with. It does take skill to get your PPC advertising aimed in the right direction. If not you can end up dishing out a lot of cash with no sales…not good.

 

What Lingo Do I Have To Know To Speak Affiliate Marketing?

Here are some common affiliate marketing terms you will come across in your Affiliate Marketing travels explained:

  • Affiliates: People like you and me who are using affiliate program unique links to promote and make sales.
  • Affiliate marketplace: There are many marketplaces like Shareasale, CJ Affiliate, and Clickbank. These are like Amazon.com for affiliate programs in different niches.
  • Affiliate link: This is your unique tracking link offered by your affiliate program to track the progress of your affiliate promotion (remember the cookies we talked about before).
  • Affiliate ID: Some affiliate programs offer a unique ID which you can add to any page of the product site instead of an affiliate link.
  • Affiliate Manager: Many companies have dedicated affiliate managers who send you regular tips and material to help promote the company’s product/service.
  • Commission percentage/amount: The amount or percentage you will be receiving in affiliate income from every sale. For example, a 40% commission percentage means you will get $40 for every $100 of sales.
  • Payment mode: Different affiliate programs offer different methods of how they will pay you – e.g. like cheque or PayPal (I personally prefer PayPal). Different companies also have different thresholds before you will receive a payout. For example, some only pay out after you have made at least $50 in commissions.

Alright, now that I get Affiliate Marketing, How Do I Get Started?

If you are ready to build an online business, I suggest you check out my no. 1 recommendation here. This is for those who are serious about building an additional stream of income online.

If that’s you and you are willing to commit time and effort, then check it out.

Newbie's Toolbox

How to choose a web hosting company for beginners – the ultimate guide to save you time and make the best decision

A Guide on how to choose a web hosting company for newbies beginner's guide to choosing the best web hosting

Choosing a website host when you are first getting started online can seem like such a monstrous and intimidating task.

There are so many hosting companies around and what exactly makes a good hosting company anyway? And why do the prices vary so much? Is it worth paying more? Is it for something I really need?

These were all the questions swirling in my mind as I muddled my way through the process of choosing a hosting company.

So here is a beginner’s guide to the best hosting for newbies based on the culmination of my wild hosting adventures, so you understand:

  • What is hosting?
  • What are the important qualities to look for in a host?
  • Mistakes I made as a newbie that you can learn from.

So you can make a good decision on which web hosting site to choose.

What is Hosting?

Hosting is where all your files for the website are stored.

Your domain name is like your address, where people come to visit you online. The host is where you store all the bits that go in your website.

For example, someone visits your website and clicks on your “about me” page. The ‘about me’ page content is stored on your host’s servers and you want your host to be able to swiftly retrieve and bring out the content of the ‘about me” page when you visitors requests it.

You can buy a domain name and website hosting from the same company. Or you can choose to buy a domain from one place and hosting at another.

What I have found personally is that the best place to buy a domain name is Namecheap.

A domain name is the same regardless of where you buy it from. So you want the cheapest deal.

What I’ve found is that some sites like Godaddy are cheap for the first year but then the renewal price increases sharply. So if you aren’t sure if I have found Namecheap to be the best deal in town. https://affiliate.namecheap.com/?affId=118956

However, the best place to buy a domain name is not necessarily the best place to host.

Important Qualities To Look For In a Good Hosting Company

When I was first starting out, I found it difficult and almost impossible to compare hosting companies because I just didn’t understand what important qualities I was actually looking for or even what a good hosting company looked like.

So reflecting on what I know now, these would be the top 5 important qualities to look for in a hosting company.

Customer ServiceGood support web hosting company

As a newbie, I had SO MANY questions and needed extensive help getting my website up and running. So it was vital to have access to help when I needed it.

What I learnt the hard way was though some hosts like Hawkhost advertise 24/7 support, it definitely didn’t mean that you will receive fast and knowledgeable answers. With Hawkhost, live chat was only available at certain times of the day.

And it seemed like when I had issues and needed help, live chat was not available and I had to raise a ticket. It seems like I had a MILLON questions and everything was just so confusing: How do I get my hosting linked correctly to my domain name with another company (note: this should be very easy to do with good and responsive technical support)? How do you add a subdomain? Why am I getting 500 Server Unavailable Error?

Often it would take up to 30 minutes for a response AND often the response was so full of technical jargon that it was so unhelpful. I would get lost trying to Google what their response meant. After getting more confused, I would send another ticket to clarify what their response meant. Then I would have to wait ANOTHER 30 minutes for a response.

This meant I spent HOURS just trying to solve ONE issue. And as a busy mom trying to get my first online business started, I only had a few hours a day to spare.

So it took me a totally of TWO WEEKS, yes two weeks to get the hosting on my first website sorted.

How crazy is that?

I was so frustrated with the support and just wanted someone who spoke normal English to HELP ME! To think, I almost gave up on starting an online business because of it felt like an impossible task to ever get my website hosting up and running.

So I don’t want the same thing to happen to you. It doesn’t need to be that painful and it doesn’t have to be that hard!

For my next website, I looked elsewhere and found Siteground.

They had 24/7 live chat support which meant that I had a real person, who I could go back and clarify as needed STRAIGHT AWAY and I got my second site up and running in minutes.

I still remember Nikolav’s response, the first support staff at Siteground that I dealt with, when I told him how different my experience was at Siteground compared to my horrific experience with Hawkhost. He told me, you will never be alone at Siteground. And I almost burst into tears.

That was exactly how you feel as a newbie without excellent customer support – ALONE and HELPLESS.

I don’t want that for you. So I would strongly suggest that you test the live chat options for response times BEFORE you establish an account anywhere.

In my experience, Siteground has excellent customer service with 24/7 live chat support. With Wealthy Affiliate, you do have to lodge a site support ticket but I have always received a fast and helpful response within minutes.

 

Adequate Scalabilityweb hosting company and your future

When you are first starting out, it’s hard to imagine that one day you will receive thousands or maybe even millions of visitors.

So it’s important to think whether your web host is able to grow with you and let you upgrade to accommodation such changes.

Siteground’s starter package for example is $3.95/ month for one website for up to 10,000 visitor per month. That is more than sufficient when you first start out but you will need to upgrade to $11.95/month to accommodate up to 100,000 visitors.

This is quite reasonably priced. I would be wary of companies that offer very cheap hosting in the first year, then sting you with increased costs for the SAME package the year after (Cough…Godaddy…Cough). I didn’t know the number of upsells that Godaddy charged me as a newbie until I tried other hosts. I’m still a bit sore about it, as you can probably tell.

What I like about hosting at Wealthy Affiliate is that it had a very high threshold of 500,000 visitors. That is more than sufficient for a long time without having to keep upgrading if you grow very quickly.

 

Guaranteed Uptime

There are many hosts that boast 99% uptime which I thought sounded really good. But if you think about it 99% uptime means about 100 minutes of downtime every week. When you are running a profitable business, any downtime is costing you money. 100 minutes per week of downtime is just NOT acceptable.

You should look for 99.99% uptime or better.
You hosting company should take measures to prevent downtime by installing generators, uninterruptible power supplies or backup servers.

Siteground has a 99.99% uptime and a good reputation in the industry for being a reliable host.

Wealthy Affiliate is the only hosting platform that double hosts your site. This means if one of your websites go down for some reason, they have a “mirror” of your website to swap in instantly. So far I’ve had no downtime with my websites hosted with them.

 

Backup Servicesweb hosting company backups security

There are many reasons such as software bugs, hackers and hard disk failure that can cause a website to lose data.

Have you ever lost hours of work when the laptop you are working on has gone down? Can you remember the sinking feeling when you realise that you were so focused on typing that you haven’t pressed save in two hours and you will have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN.

Imagine if that happened to your entire website. Not good at all.

So it is absolutely crucial that you host stores backups of this information and does so regularly. You can always manually log into the control panel (or CPanel) to download your own backups, but let’s be honest, who wants to do that? And like we forget to press “ctrl-s” to save our work sometimes. What if you get busy and forget to log in and manually back up your site for the day and God forbid it a software bug gets into your site. I say, automatic backups are the way to go.

My two favourite hosting companies Siteground and Wealthy Affiliate automatically backup files daily.

 

Securityweb hosting company security against hackers

Even if your hosting company automatically backup your files daily, you want them to be able to prevent the bugs and hackers in the first place.

I didn’t know this when I first started out but hacking is more common that you might think!

You want a host who provides active protection and not the ones who just ‘help out’ after the fact.

Both Siteground and Wealthy Affiliate offer active protection.

Siteground has an advanced artificial intelligent solution that stops between 500,000 and 2 million brute-force attempts on customer sites before they reach Siteground servers (told you hacking was real!).

Both Siteground and Wealthy Affiliate also provide you with Free SSL certificates. Essentially, it is a security thing for your website.

Websites with an SSL certificate start with https and those without SSL certificates are just http.

You can expect to pay between $15 and $70 annually for an SSL certificate with most hosting companies so it is an expense that can add up. You definitely need an SSL certificate if you are going to be receiving any payments on your website and Google also rewards you with better search engine rankings because it deems you site more private and secure.

Cut Out Mistakes – Please Learn From Mine

learn from my web hosting mistakes

I assumed Cheapest Host = The Best Host

WRONG!

My first mistake was to go with the cheapest hosting I could find – Hawkhost. As I mentioned above, this was at the expense of having good and responsive technical support which cost me time and unnecessary frustration.

I do note that Hawkhost advertise a really cheap hosting rate but this is only if you pre-pay for 2 years. So at about $2.25 a month, this will set you back about $70 ($55 plus $15 for an SSL certificate which makes your transaction on your website secure).

So when hosting companies advertise a monthly hosting cost, they often require you to pay upfront for a full year or two to lock in that “low” price.

Siteground advertises basic hosting at $3.95 per month but you do have to pay $47.40 upfront for 12 months as they only do annual billing.

Wealthy affiliate on the other hand does allow monthly billing but offers a discount if you pre-pay for the full year.

Do Make Sure You Ask What The Price Will Be After A Year So There Are No Surprises

Hawkhost promises not to increase your hosting cost, I have read about many cheap hosting companies which offer cheap hosting in the first year, then sneakily double the cost of hosting in the second year.

Siteground offers a 60% discount on your first year, then you pay the full price of hosting from the second year onwards.

So make sure you ask, so there will be no nasty surprises a year down the track.

 

Unlimited Does Not Mean Unlimited

Did you know that unlimited hosting does not actually mean unlimited space?

Well, I didn’t either!

I assumed that unlimited hosting means that you would never need to upgrade and never run out of space. However “unlimited” refers to the size of the files and not the number of files.

So when you are just getting started, this is not an issue but once you start to build many websites in different niches on the same hosting account you will run out of inodes – which will cause your websites to crash. Not good.

This is definitely something to keep at the back of your mind for the future if you want to build multiple websites in different niches.

My Personal Hosting Recommendation For Newbiesmy number one web hosting recommendation

My personal recommendation for newbies is to go with Wealthy Affiliate as this is the only hosting company that will also teach you how to run a successful online business.

Aside from being a storage space for your website files, Wealthy Affiliate can also tell you how to get visitors to your website and how to conduct a successful social media campaign for your business.

Wealthy Affiliate’s membership is $47 per month or $359 per year (about $30 per month) but I note aside from hosting this price also includes affiliate training, website building platform, live support, keyword research tool and more.

$30/month will get your hosting for multiple websites at both Siteground and Wealthy Affiliate. Except at Wealthy Affiliate, you get all the other extras.

However, if you know all that already and don’t need the other features offered inside Wealthy Affiliate, then Siteground is great. I trust their service and would highly recommend them.

For your first year, their basic hosting for one website will set you back $3.95/month (note: they don’t do monthly billing so you have to pay $47.40 upfront).

Hawkhost is slightly cheaper at $2.24/month if you pay for two years (that’s $53.76 upfront).

To be honest, the savings you make by choosing Hawkhost over Siteground is just not worth the frustration with the lack of prompt support.

Final Thoughts

I hope the information in this guide has given you the information you need to make a more informed choice about choosing a hosting company.

I have only mentioned the hosting companies that I have had experience with but there are many more out there.

If you are wanting to start an online business but aren’t quite sure how then I suggest you check out my no. 1 recommendation here. This is for those who are serious about building an additional stream of income online.

If that’s you and you are willing to commit time and effort, then check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newbie's Toolbox

How to choose a domain name for SEO: The Gateway to Easy Traffic and lots of it!

It’s hard to pick the perfect domain name.

It’s almost as hard as naming your child.

You want it to sound right, you want it to be able to stand the test of time and represent the brand you’re your business will grow into.

It is also hard the finding the right with a .com extension.

A great place to start is to look at what keyword you want to rank for.

Keyword rich domains are always a good place to start for newbies!

However I must point out that it is equally important to have a memorable and brandable name. Ultimately, you are creating a website for people, so you domain needs to be people friendly and not only SEO friendly. Let’s not lose focus on the people aspect.

Online marketing is first and foremost a people business, remember that and it will serve you well.

 

So, what is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo have developed mathematical algorithms that send out “spiders” (not the actual creepy crawlies thankfully) out to your website and assess if your website has valuable information or not. These spiders “crawl” your website and compare it to other websites with many ranking factors.

These ranking factors include things like domain age, keywords, backlinks, fresh content and more.

In days of old, domain name used to be key to SEO and lots of people went out and created lots of keyword rich domain names with rubbish content to achieve rankings. The search engines soon caught on and have since changed their algorithms to give less weight to keyword rich domains.

You now need to have quality content as well to rank well.

 

Before you consider SEO, here are the 2 keys to keep front of mind to pick a Great Domain Name For Your Business:

Have a people-friendly domain

Having a domain which is short and snappy which is easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say, people are likely to remember and visit your website. We would call this a people friendly domain name.

But such a people friendly domain name will do wonders for your website’s processing fluency.

What is processing fluency mean?

Studies have shown that as humans we are wired to favor concepts that we find easier to pronounce in our own minds. In fact, a recent study by Bing showed that the easier the domain name was to remember, the more clicks the website got.

So stay away from domain names that are too long, too complicated and hard for people to read to pronounce. If your domain is hard to read for people, it will be hard for search engines too.

Let’s take the website name La-a.com for example. If you haven’t heard, La-a has soared in popularity as a baby girl’s name in 2017 and its pronounced La-dash-a, not LaAA. The – is actually pronounced.

So let’s say you decide to name your website after your beautiful baby girl. It’s nice and short, has a good ring to it.

But where you might run into problems is when people are discussing your website down the track and recommending it to their friend. Their friend is likely to then go on their computer and try type in ladasha.com or something similar and won’t be able to find your site.

That would affect your ability to attract traffic by word of mouth or via chat without the need for an explanation of how to spell your website name correctly.

Studies also show that names with dashes tend to rank lower.

So steer clear of dashes if possible. Keep it simple.

 

Make “.com” your Preference

While there are numerous extension like .co or .xyz available these days, “.com” is still the biggest and most renowned website extension. In fact, 75% of all websites have a “.com” extension.

If you want to establish a brandable website that is easy to remember, it is key that you go with a “.com” extension. It looks more professional and people trust “.com” websites more easily.

Of course, the exception is where you are a business in New Zealand then you might want to go with the “.co.nz” extension instead to relate better to the local New Zealand market.

But if you are reaching an internet market then “.com” all the way!

 

Is there still any point of trying to get keywords in a domain name?

Having keywords in your domain name is certainly not the determining factor of your online success.

Just look at twitter.com, reddit.com and facebook.com. They are all hugely successful but none of them have keywords or hint at what the business is about from their name.

So is there any point of going for keyword rich domain names like Bestyogapants.com or MakemoneywithMatt.com?

It’s true that Google and other search engines have now turned down their algorithms to give less weight to keyword domain names, but it is not true that having keywords in your domain name doesn’t help with ranking.

In fact, if you have keywords that have high traffic and low competition in your domain name, it can still play an important role to help your website rank.

Creating a bunch of low-quality domains with keywords alone doesn’t work like it used to in the past. But if you have quality content and a high traffic, low competition keyword, the studies still show that this can help you achieve rankings – this means easy traffic, and lots of it!

So how do you search for high traffic, low competition keywords for your domain name?

Did you know that there are over 500 million brand new keywords searched every day on Google alone?

Think about that for a second.

So if you are thinking, all the high traffic and low competition keywords are probably already taken. Think again.

There is an abundance of “low hanging keywords” for you to leverage and harvest.

You just need a keyword tool that can help you locate these low hanging keywords.

I personally use, Jaaxy as it is the only keyword tool on the market that gives you access to one of the most critical metric – true keyword competition. If you want to know what keywords will rank easily and give you a competitive edge, you need to know this critical metric.

Let me show you how you look for “low hanging keywords”:

Let’s say you have seen the negative effects divorce can have personally and are now passionate about saving marriages and want to enter this particular niche.

You are now thinking of a domain name, and are wanting to find some low hanging keywords to include in your domain name.

So you type in “save my marriage” into the keyword search bar, hit “find keywords” and cross your fingers.

This is what you get:

 

With one click of a button, Jaaxy will give you two important metrics that enables you to find low hanging keywords:

Average searches per month – this is the number of people who search for this keyword every month.

QSR – This gives you the level of true keyword competition in search engines. When starting out as a newbie you want to aim for < 100 QSR. The lower the better.

When you take a look at the search results above, the “save my marriage” traffic levels are off the charts at over 1,000 searches per month! However, competition is pretty high at 296. As a newbie, it is definitely not going to be easy to rank for such a key word. You want less than 100 QSR.

So let’s look at the “related” suggestions Jaaxy has provided on the right. Maybe I’m thinking I could focus on “save my marriage after cheating”. So I click on the related keyword and get a new set of results:

 

 

It looks like “save marriage after cheating” is a pretty good keyword to target. 136 searches per month is not too bad. Not quite 1,000 but the competition is well under 100 so it will be easier to rank for this keyword.

You might need to run through this process a few times. Jaaxy gives you 30 free searches so that is enough for you to have a good dig for a low hanging keyword.

 

Once, you find a keyword you like, I like to head over to Namecheap.com to find out if the keyword I like is available as a domain name.

I personally find Namecheap.com the best value for money. Godaddy always seems cheaper to get you in but then they have a few sneaky add ons when you check out, so Namecheap still comes out cheaper.

Here’s are the results when I typed in the selected keyword into domain search:

 

 

Unfortunately, the “.com” extension isn’t available for this particular keyword. So you might have to go back to Jaaxy and try the process again until you find a low hanging keyword with an available domain name.

I note Jaaxy’s Pro membership allows for manual domain searches within Jaaxy so you don’t have to flick between Jaaxy and Namecheap. Jaaxy’s Enterprise membership tell you what domain names are available automatically when you do a keyword search. You can read my full review of Jaaxy here.

However, when you are first starting out this might not be an expense you want to incur. Perhaps, when you get to the stage of doing lots of keyword searches a day an upgrade might be more time efficient.

So there you go! That is a step by step walk through of how to find low hanging keywords for your domain name. You want to get all the SEO help you can get to rank your website and start off on the front foot.

If you are genuinely stuck for a name or need keyword ideas, here are some fun websites to check out to brainstorm:

https://www.namemesh.com

http://www.panabee.com

 

I know when I was deciding on my first domain I reached out to many experts in the online community I’m part of to ask what people thought. I was such a big decision for me and I was so nervous about “getting it wrong”.

But I must note your domain isn’t the sole determinant of your online success so please don’t get stuck on this decision for too long!

And please, if you want to run a domain name past me or if you are stuck, I am happy to offer my two cents. Leave a comment below or contact me at shan@youcanescapetheratrace.com.

 

Newbie's Toolbox

How To Pick A Blog Niche – A step by step guide for newbies

keyword research for bloggingWhen I mention that I make money blogging, people often shoot me a look of disbelief.

To most people they see blogging as just a hobby, not a real job or real business. People often ask me, “Does anybody really make money from blogging?”

Well, the answer is yes. It is actually possible to make money blogging online.

Blogging is a business but not as you know it. It’s not just limited to those few bloggers who talk candidly about their personal lives and make it big online.

There is another way to blog following a proven blueprint to earn decent revenue online. I’ll show you how in a little bit. I was surprised too when I first stumbled upon it.

But first, let’s start at the beginning and look at what a niche is, before we delve into how to choose a blog niche.

What is a niche?

Essentially, a niche is a group of people looking for stuff on the internet. There are millions and millions of people looking for stuff on the internet everyday within all sorts of niches that you probably would not have even imagined.

Google alone gets 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

So where do you start?


The best place to start picking your niche is not to ask “what” is going to make money, but “what do you want to make money with?”

This is what my mentor told me when I first got started online.

He suggested I ask myself:

  • What do you think would be interesting to research and write about?
  • What do you want to help people with?

He constantly emphasised that helping people was and is the best way to make money in any business. I didn’t really grasp that concept at first but as I have gone on in this business it is entirely true. As with any business, it is centred around helping people. If you help people, they will buy. It’s a win-win situation.

You might want to help people in the area of you passions and with something you have some experience with.Create a list of 3-5 things that interest you and that you have some experience with. If you love motorbikes, write down motorbikes. If you are a mom, write down babies and parenting. If you love keeping fit and eating health, perhaps health.

Why it is VITAL you start here

The reason why I suggest you start with your passions is because you will be spending lots of time:

  • Writing content about your niche
  • Communicating in forums and on social media about your niche
  • You will be researching products in your niche
  • You will be helping people in your niche

So if your niche is not something you enjoy and are passionate about, then it will quickly become mundane and like a “job”. And most of us already have one of those.

You don’t want to get out of your day job and come home to do your other job. That doesn’t sound appealing at all!

For me, I almost went with the niche “stopping Ed (erectile dysfunction)” that looked really appealing because there were many high ticket affiliate products out there which were selling like hotcakes.

After doing a bit of research and braining storming on website content, I knew that it was not going to go anywhere. I was already bored and tired of the subject.

It definitely wasn’t really a passion or mine. Firstly I’m female and I also didn’t have any one close to me that has struggle with this issue so I didn’t have any personality to bring to the content. I had the option at the point to outsource the rest of my content so I could get the level of traffic I wanted to.

But I honestly got to a point where I could not be bothered to even brainstorm ideas and give direction to someone else to write the content for me. I would note when you are outsourcing that you still need to be quite specific with what you want, if not you don’t have a change of getting quality work. You also have to proofread the content once it’s written to ensure that it reflects the brand you want to portray.

So I canned that project and started with my passion. And it also helps if you have some personal experience in the niche. It helps bring your story and your personality into your content.

In the old days, people could become overnight successes by slapping up some half-baked content with crazy expensive product offers. However this doesn’t work anymore. The online consumer is now more discerning and wants true value before they will even consider buying from you.

This is why you need to choose a niche that will sustain your interest for the long haul is of paramount importance. If you’re not really interested in your niche, it will just be impossible and almost painful for you to sustain the level of attention required to create a successful website.

Biggest Myth about Picking a Niche – Busted!

When picking a niche, most people are concerned about too much competition. I was exactly the same when I first started out.

I was like what if there is too much competition? Can I really make any money?

Once again my mentor came to the rescue and assured me that if there’s competition, it just means people are making money. That means you can make some too!

Over time, new products come out, new technology is introduced, new ideas formed, and each change is an opportunity for “the newbie” (everyone was one at some stage!) to get a foothold and overtake established websites.

Should you be worried that the niche you pick will be too saturated and that these is little money to be made?

No way! It’s not something you need to be worried about at all!

Firstly, within every niche there are thousands and sometimes millions of low competition keywords that you can target to get free traffic to your website…indefinitely. The ability to uncover these low competition keywords gives you a huge competitive advantage over your competition and means that you can make any niche successful.

 

 

And think about it, there is a reason why there are millions of types of stores all over the world. There are a million kinds of baby clothes stores, jewellery stores and watch stores all over the world. If they are thriving and still popping up on street corners, that means there are millions of people buying stuff from all those niches.

Really? Are there really so many potential consumers out there?

Did you know that there are 4 million babies born in the US alone each and every year?

That means 4 million moms and dads jumping online looking for information about their new babies, looking for help with their baby’s sleep, their baby’s colic or looking to buy a baby stroller or a car seat. THIS is where you step in with your niche website to help them.

This could be tips to help baby sleep better, or information on soothing colic babies or doing reviews of the best baby strollers and car seats. You can do anything that targets and helps a specific group of people.

Remember 4 million babies are born in the US alone. If we look at the global number, it’s more like 120 million babies. So your potential audience is massive!

In fact, online Sales in the US alone are forecasted to reach $523 billion by 2020. That is up 56% from $335 billion in 2015. Crazy huh?

How to select your group of people (niche)?

So I’m sure by now you are excited and ready to get out there and find YOUR group of people, your niche.

So your group of people will be interested in something, something specific. The key to selecting your group of people is to be quite specific because if you are too broad, it is difficult to tailor the products and the way you communicate to your audience.

For example, if you want to lose weight after having a baby you are more likely to trust a source of information coming from someone who has achieved results in this specific area or who specialises in helping moms lose weight after having a baby. You would choose a specific source over a general health source talking in general about being healthy, eating right and exercising.

A mistake many people make when starting out is trying to go too broad. It’s natural to think that if you target everyone that you will get more traffic and therefore more sales. But in fact, that is probably the worst thing you can do.

Let me explain.

An example of a highly profitable niche is health. There are millions and millions of people that are interested in health. In fact, the health and wellness industry is worth trillions!

But that niche, or group of people are just way too broad to target. Health could be just about anything.

So have a think about what groups of people sit within this big health niche? There are group of people looking to lose weight after having a baby, like we alluded to above. There are people interested in low carb diets. There are people interested in juicing for health.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

If you pick juicing specifically for example, you will be able to talk specifically to this group of people. You will review products that this group would be looking for – the best juicers that are efficient and keep the nutrients in. You can tell them about the best juicing recipes to try. The group of people who are interested in juicing will immediately be attracted to your website and be able to relate to your content.

But if you go health in general, what will you talk about? If you have one article about juicing and one article about low carb diets you might get an audience from many groups of people, but they are unlikely to stick around for long. They would rather go to a website that speaks their language and is catered for them.

More and more customers today want personalized offers. They want to be treated as individuals.

Can you see where I am going with this?

At the end of the day, people are not coming online to look for health, they are looking for something much more specific. The keywords they type into the search engines are much more specific.

Within a board niche such as health, there are thousands of niches within which each have millions of people looking to accomplish something, looking to buy something, looking for help to solve their problem.

Remember, you are looking to target just one of these niches within a broad industry niche. And this niche is still a very big group of people that you can connect with, build trust with and sell products to them at a much higher rate than your competition.

If you want any help with this or want to get feedback on your ideas for a niche please drop a comment below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

Where to brainstorm ideas

I totally get that you want to spend a bit of time selecting your niche. I did too!

I mean this is going to determine the direction of your business so it’s totally understandable! If you were setting up a traditional business and went to the bank for a loan, one of the first questions the bank would ask if you have done your market research and developed a business plan before loaning you any money.

You should do the same thing even though it is your money at risk when starting an online business.

If you don’t know the process of how to make money online, that’s alright. I had no idea when I first started out. I learnt the fundamentals in this free course that explains the fundamentals of how to start an online business, the process of making money online and it also teaches you how to build your own website.

Amazon 

A great place to brain storm is Amazon.com in the book department.

I like to scroll down the categories on the left side. If you see something that interests you write it down then click on it. Amazon will then give you even more related categories you may be interested in.

I like to look at book titles within niches to give me an idea of what kind of problems people are looking to solve within a particular niche.

Another thing you can do on Amazon.com is to type “how to” into the search box of you selected category. This will give you even more insight into what problems the top selling books are targeting in that niche. This gives you a great indication of where your group of people are hurting the most. Hint, this is also where the money is.

Jaaxy

Another favorite niche finder of mine is Jaaxy. It has some very powerful features for helping you come up with a niche.

You can use the brainstorming tab within Jaaxy to come up with ideas or you can take an idea, plug it into Jaaxy and with one click get a wide range or more narrowed down niche ideas.

Here is a great video that walks you through step by step how to use Jaaxy and Amazon to find your niche.

 

Final Thoughts

There are thousands of affiliate programs, products, and ways you can make money in any niche but for now you just need to choose your niche, build your website and then start creating great content for your business!

Exciting times ahead!

If you do not have a website yet, you can get one below for free. Just key in your domain name to see if it is available.

And if you do want to bounce around some niche ideas, please drop a comment below and I will be more than happy to help you out!

 

Newbie's Toolbox

Understanding SEO For Beginners: 5 Things you should know about SEO and your website

What is SEO?

When I first started online I saw the three letters SEO everywhere. All I knew was that it was a big deal and it was something important to succeed online.

But what exactly is it?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically how to get Google (and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo) to sit up, notice pages on your website and rank them highly on their search engines.

The aim is to be on the first page of results when someone researches for a topic relevant to the content on your website page.

Click through rate studies show that the first result of a Google search gets a click through rate of about 36%.

Can you guess what the click through rate for the second result is?

30%? 25%?

Nope. It’s 12.5%.

And third place is about 10% and it decreases from there.

So you can see the importance of search engines ranking to getting traffic to your website.

When someone finds your webpage using this method, its called “organic traffic” or “free traffic”.

Have you have ever wondered how the search engines come up with the results when you type in a search?

The search engines have developed mathematical algorithms that send out “spiders” and “bots” (short for robots) out to your website and discover if your website is useful, interesting or of low value. These bots and spiders “crawl” your website and compare it to other websites with about 100 or so ranking factors. These factors include things like domain age, keywords, backlinks, fresh content and much more.

It may come as a surprise, but I bet you have already seen SEO in action.

Let’s say, you are looking for a new French door fridge for your house. And one of your main considerations is that it is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. So you go into Google and type in, “most efficient French door fridge”.

And these are the search results.

 

Let’s say you go into the first result, TopTenReviews. We know that there is a 36% change that you would click on the first result.

And you scroll through their extensive reviews of the Top 10 French Door fridges as follows:

 

At the end of the comparison table, they also summarize which fridges are the favorites and why:

 

You might have already done lots of research before this point, so you decide to click on one of the blue links. It then brings you through to the “Home Depot” website to purchase the fridge.

You are a happy customer and live happily ever after with your energy efficient new French Door Fridge.

Wait…so how does SEO feature in this example?

Well, when you searched for an energy efficient French door fridge, Google’s algorithms would have gone to work to bring up the most relevant and popular results.

The first website, TopTenReviews has achieved the first place in Google rankings by SEO.

It is important that the TopTenReviews website ranked first for the keywords “best energy efficient French door fridge” because someone like you typing this phase in is likely to be looking to buy a fridge. You are “targeted traffic”, someone looking to buy.

On the other hand, if they ranked for “French doors”, which is something completely different, the website would get traffic but not targeted traffic. People looking for French doors are likely to click out of the website immediately after realizing its not about French Doors at all.

And because they have provided such a comprehensive review, it is likely that you would click on one of their links or ads on the side to purchase a fridge.

These links are called affiliate links, and Home Depot in this example would pay the website owner a commission for the sale of the fridge (affiliate marketing).

In this case, the website owner is relying on SEO and organic traffic to get visitors and potential customers like you. And when you click on one of their affiliate links to purchase, CHA-CHING, the website owner gets paid a commission.

 

 

So to summarise why SEO is important:

Website Rankings + Targeted Traffic = Revenue!

So Where Do You Start Learning About SEO?

You can spend years learning about SEO and you will never learn all there is to SEO. That is because SEO is constantly changing with search engines refining their algorithms.

So is there any hope for newbies?

Don’t worry; you don’t need to be an SEO expert to run a successful online business. You just need to know enough to be successful.

Learn SEO in little chunks.

Look at it as a fun challenge, something to keep chipping away at.

To start you off on your SEO journey, here are 5 Things You Absolutely Need to Know about SEO and Your Website

 

1. Don’t Create Low Quality Pages

Don’t provide content that is plagiarized or duplicated. Don’t create pages with sparse content that are filled with affiliate links.

The search engines have methods to determine if a page truly provides unique content and value to its searchers. So a low value page that isn’t unique or doesn’t provide much value will not rank well.

 

2. Don’t Buy Backlinks to your website.

This used to be an effective way of boosting your website’s SEO back in the day. However, lots of people abused this progress and you could pay a fee to get countless backlinks to spammy websites to boost their SEO.

So now Google and the other search engines seek to discount the influence of such paid backlinks. Because of the abuse, backlinks are now viewed as low quality content.

In fact, websites caught buying links to participating in link schemes risk severe penalties that will seriously hurt your rankings. So don’t do it!

Include only quality links that are relevant to your content. This will fare much better than a 100 times more spammy links.

3. Don’t Use Automated Programs To Artificially Promote Your Content on Social Platforms

I thought I had found the secret keys to the treasure as a newbie when I found automated programs that artificially promoted my content to social platform to boost my website’s traffic.

Don’t waste your money. These kinds of programs sound amazing but they actually leave footprints that can easily be detected by the search engines and search engines don’t like this so you will be penalized in the search rankings.

4. Do Produce Fresh Content Regularly

Being consistent is key. When you first start out, set yourself a posting schedule and keep to it.

It’s easier said than done. I’m not the most consistent at posting either but you just have to keep at it. The good news is writing posts gets easier with practice.

If you feel daunted about writing, don’t be. You don’t have to be a writer to write valuable content. See writing to your readers as communicate with a friend. Think about what your friend’s problem is and how you can help them resolve this problem.

Did you know its actually more effective to write the way you would speak online?

It is actually easier for the reader to digest.

People don’t want to read perfect prose describing the “crimson sun setting into the dusk” kind of writing that we did in English class.

If you are struggling, this was a valuable resource I used when I first started out on how to write a 500 page Article The Easy Way.

5. Do Create Valuable High Quality Content

Create content that provides value to your website visitors. Write pages primarily for visitors and not for Google. Help your visitors resolve an issue, or save time by providing insights and research findings.

After all, search engines are looking to constantly improve their algorithms to achieve one thing – the best relevance to people’s searches. So creating genuinely valuable content over trying to “game” the system is definitely the way to go.

Do keyword research to ensure you rank for valuable and high return key words in your niche

This strategy is about not just getting visitors to your website, but getting the right kind of visitors – i.e. the kind that turn into paying customers.

This is where you use a keyword tool to research keywords that have the following 2 characteristics:

  • High Traffic
  • Low Competition

Why is that?

Because for starters we want a keyword that lots of people search for. If not one is searching for a certain term then why write content that nobody wants to know about.

Once we know lots of people are searching for a certain keyword, we want to know what the level of competition. The higher the completion, the harder it is going to be to rank well for the keyword.

So why not choose the path of less resistance and try to rank for these low hanging fruit with high traffic and low competition.

I think this is the MOST fun and exciting part of SEO and it is a free way of generating relevant traffic to your website.

Are there any low hanging fruit left for me?

That was my no.1 question. I thought surely with the numerous websites online now, all the low hanging fruits would have been taken.

However, I’ve found that with a great keyword research tool. I’m finding them all the time.

Have a go for yourself:

 

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with SEO and keyword research. Please share your stories below 🙂

 

 

Newbie's Toolbox

How to learn Affiliate Marketing for free – can you really get quality free training?

So what is Affiliate Marketing?

Have you bought something online before?

If you have, you are not alone. 96% of Americans have shopped online before.

Have a think about how you came to find the product you bought online? Was it through a recommendation from a review site or a social media platform?

When I buy online, its usually from a website that has offered me a great review and “sold” me on why the product is going to help me.

For example, when I was looking to lose my belly fat fast (after giving birth), I bought from the review site that best convinced me that the product they tried was going to help me achieve exaclty what I want.

Chances are the person who owned the website wasn’t the big pharmeceutical company who produced the weight loss pills I bought. It is likely that the owner of the website was an Affiliate Marketer.

This means when I clicked to purchase the product, the owner of the got paid a commission from the big company who produces the weight loss pills.

So basically, affiliate marketing involves you finding soemone’s product you like, promote it, often through an affiliate network. You then earn a commission when people buy the product from you as a result of your marketing.

Why Would You Want To Learn To Be An Affiliate Marketer?

There are 1,000’s of ways to make money online but affiliate marketing is still one of the most fundamental and proven techniques to generate revenue online.

It is simple enough for anyone without any previous experience to learn and presents you with as much opportunity in the massive online world as you like.

So what is YOUR reason for wanting to learn how to make money online?

It’s different for everyone.

  • Do you hate your job?
  • Do you want more free time to spend with family or to travel the world?
  • Do you WANT a better life for you and your family?

Think about what additional income from an online business would mean for you and your family?

It is 100% possible with Affiliate Marketing.

Did You Know Affiliate Marketing is how 99% of Successful Online Entrepreneurs first started out?

Sounds straight forward?

Well, it’s the simplest form of internet marketing. That is why 99% of successful internet marketers like Anik Singal and Mark Ling started in affiliate marketing.

What is so great about internet marketing is that anyone can learn how to build a successful affiliate marketing business online. I didn’t know anything about computers, the internet, business or marketing when I first started out too. I learnt it all from scratch. If I can do it, you certaintly can.

However, I must stress to you that though it is straightforward to learn, it does take time and effort to be successful in Affiliate Marketing.

Affiliate marketing is more of a marathon rather than a sprint. It is certaintly not a get rich quick scheme.

There are many schemes out there which promise that you can earn $10,000 per month which only minimal work. I would love to make lots of money with minimal effort too! Who wouldn’t?

But sadly that is simply not true.

It is such a shame that there are so many that prey on the emotions of busy everyday people who feel caught in the rat race and want to earn extra income online to get ahead.

Being the naïve newbie that was keen to get start and get ahead quickly, I let my emotions get the better of me.

I hope you don’t end up throwing money down the drain like I did.

I wish I had known there were good resources online that are FREE to help you get started in Affiliate Marketing.

So I want to share two great free places where you can start your Affiliate Marketing journey today.

So where Can You Get Started For Free?

Free Affiliate Marketing Courses on Udemy

My favorite place to go to is Udemy. It is an online learning and teaching marketplace with over 45,000 courses and 15 million students.

I have the app in my phone and I love it how I can listen to courses on the go. We all lead busy lives and it can be hard to set aside a solid hour and sit in a room to learn. So it’s nice to be able to learn while you are on the go.

Most courses on Udemy are NOT free, but when you search Affiliate Marketing Free courses these are the results you get:

 

My personal favorite is Create An Affiliate Niche Website for Amazon Or Clickbank by Niche Site Creations.

It had a good coverage of the basics you need to know to get started. The course is nicely broken down into 4 Sections:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Selecting a Profitable Niche
  3. Building Your Niche Site
  4. Putting It All together

It covers the two most popular Affiliate Merchants Clickbank and Amazon. The number of affiliate products on those two market places will be more than sufficient for you to run a successful online business.

Each lesson is bite sized with most videos at around the 3-4 minute mark.

While the visuals in the video were helpful, I do think the audio often provides sufficient explanation that you could just listen to the lesson if you were on the go.

This is a great starter course if you are wanting to know more about how Affiliate Marketing actually works and only have a few minutes a day to spare.

With a 3-4 minute lesson you can get one done and dusted while you are running an errand.

Free Starter Online Entrepreneur Course at Wealthy Affiliate University

However, if you can spare about 30 minutes a day I would highly recommend the Wealthy Affiliate Online Entrepreneur Starter Course.

The BIG advantage this starter course has over any of the free Udemy courses is the ability to TAKE ACTION while you learn.

The best piece of advice a successful Internet marketer gave me when I first started out was, TAKE ACTION, TAKE ACTION, and TAKE ACTION. He said way too many people simply read and learnt about affiliate marketing thinking they would one day implement all those skills and start a successful online business, BUT they never do!

So the secret to succeeding where other newbies have failed is simply to take action. Don’t just read about affiliate marketing, do something.

This is why the Wealthy Affiliate Starter Course is so powerful because by the end of the course – you will have learnt the basics of Affiliate Marketing AND have your first website and online business up and running!

And you also have access to a community of like-minded individuals to help and support you on your journey.

There are others who like you are just starting out on the Affiliate Marketing journey and there are others who have already achieved success and are there to give back and help others achieve success.

 

Start Your Own Online Business in 5 Days Course

I personally learnt Affiliate Marketing from many sources including both the free Udemy and Wealthy Affiliate courses I recommended above.

 

Check out my full review of Wealthy Affiliate to see why its my favourite online business community and training platform.

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into action.

– Peter F. Drucker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newbie's Toolbox

What Kind Of Website Should I Make – The Art of Picking A Niche

The ONE thing that always tends to confuse people when they first start out online is, “What kind of website should I make” or in other words “What is my niche?”

I know, because the same thing happened to me when I started.

So I hope my post below will shed some light on:

  • How To Pick A Niche, and
  • The Myth About Picking The Perfect Niche

So you don’t stumble on this question like so many have and sadly never take action and START their online business.

What is A Niche

When I first joined Internet marketing circles, the word “niche” seemed to be thrown around a lot. And the main message I got was I had to pick one to get into and that some niches were more profitable than others.

So I gathered, “picking a niche,” meant deciding what topic I want my website to on? Or what kind of things do you want to sell on your online store?

However, I have later learnt the true meaning of a “niche” is essentially a group of people looking for stuff that you want to bring a solution to.

For example, if you want are interested in Weight Loss and want to start a website in that area, a niche or a group of people might be: Post natal women who want to lose weight quickly or People over 50 looking to lose weight. And the solution you bring to them might be a great weight loss product that you are an affiliate for.

How To Pick A Niche?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are some of your main interests?
  • If you don’t know, what would the 3 closest people to you say would be your main interests?
  • Now out of those main interests, which one gets you most excited?
  • Which interest do your closest 3 people say you talk about all the time (i.e. a good sign you are passionate about the topic).

And this is the question that helped me the most:

What would you like to help people with?

 

The reason why I stress that the niche should be something that excites you is because you are going to be spending A LOT of time writing, talking about and dealing in this niche.

If the niche is something you already enjoy talking about, then the process of building your website and online business will be an enjoyable one. On the contrary, if you pick something that you aren’t really interested in, chances are you might either feel like writing content and talking about the topic becomes a bit of a drag.

And we don’t want that. We know that 70% of people already don’t enjoy their day job. We don’t need to start something else on the side that we don’t enjoy.

I suggest that you spend AT MOST 30 minutes brainstorming what niche you want to get into. Ring those 3 closest people if you have to, don’t sit there waiting for a reply to a text.

I just don’t want you to get stuck in “analysis paralysis”.

 

The Myth About Picking The Perfect Niche

There are many webinars and articles out there promising to reveal the top niches you should get into.

This tends to lead people to believe they need to find these profitable niches if not they have chosen the wrong niche and will never be able to make money online.

Well the truth is, there is NO SUCH THING as choosing the wrong niche.

There I’ve said it.

In fact, you can make money in ANY niche, so you definitely should NOT worry if your niche is profitable or not.

My mentor said this to me, “The big question is not “what” is going to make money, but “what do you want to make money with?”

There are thousands upon thousands of affiliate programs, products, and ways to make money in any niche. All that will get clearer to you further down the line when you learn more about Internet marketing.

It is YOU that makes whatever niche you have chosen profitable as build out your website. It is your ability to help PEOPLE within your niche that determines your profitability.

Remember the definition of a niche? A group of people looking for stuff that you want to bring a solution to.

People hate being sold to, but they love buying. What do I mean by that?

If someone has a problem and you are able to communicate how you can help them. They WILL buy from you and that is how you earn affiliate commissions.

For now, you need to decide on a niche, get your website built and start creating some quality content for your website!

If you really get stuck on this question, please feel free to reach out to me below. No question is a silly question. I asked a lot of silly questions and still do!

If you don’t ask, how will you ever know?

 

hustle
Newbie's Toolbox

Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The single required trait revealed….

This is a question that plagued me when I first started a business online – do I REALLY have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

I started to study many successful entrepreneurs and I realised there was ONE trait successful entrepreneurs had that went against the grain of a typical employee mindset.

If you want to have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and a successful one, you need to change your mindset. You need to think like an entrepreneur and NOT like an employee. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.

As an employee, you trade your hours for dollars. In exchange for a set number of hours each week, you get the certainty of a pay check.

There is a sense of security as an employee, knowing money will be coming at the same time each month to pay the bills. There is nothing wrong with this mindset. It is natural as humans to want a sense of security.

However, this is NOT the mindset that you need to build a successful business.

A true entrepreneur knows that it is going to take time and effort  before their company starts to take off and become profitable. They are in it for the long run and aren’t afraid to put in the hours at the start knowing that their efforts will bear fruit in time to come.

They understand the concept of delayed gratification which flies in the fact of our current microwave generation. Do you know the average person is only willing to wait 8 seconds for a webpage to load after giving up?

On average, it takes a full year for a business to become profitable. That means while some produce a profit sooner, some take well over a year!

The employee mindset of trading hours for dollars goes against this.

If you still have an employee’s mindset, you will start to feel uneasy after “working without pay”. You might find yourself thinking, ” Well i’ve put in X hours,so I should get Y dollars by now!”

Unfortunately I have seen so many people get discouraged and give up before they have given their business a real shot.

These days with internet businesses, people seem to expect even faster results! There are many programs promising BIG money with little effort which further fuel people’s expectation that making money online should be quick and easy!

Let’s compare for a moment an internet business and one in the physical world. On the Internet, there is generally a low cost to starting up, whereas in the physical world there is usually a large sum of money involved. Take franchises for example, on the very low end you are still looking at around $20,000 just to start your business.

Since the startup costs are far lower on the Internet, it is much easier for people to cut their losses and get out if they are experiencing any sort of trouble. It is not uncommon for new Internet business owners to still be showing slow results with a webpage at the end of their third month, especially when you are brand new to internet marketing. It can often take about three months for search engines to even locate your site!

It is important that if you want to be an entrepreneur, that you think like one!

Make sure you are absolutely certainty about WHY you want to be an entrepreneur? Is it more time for your family? Is it the ability to travel the world? Is it about building a great business and blessing others financially?

I would challenge you that your WHY has to be something bigger than yourself. It has to be more than, I can’t be bothered going to work anymore or I just hate my boss. That WHY isn’t strong enough.

Successful entrepreneurs all have a strong WHY that carries them through the hard times so they never give up until they see their dreams and visions fulfilled. THAT is the one trait that you need to have if you want to be an entrepreneur.

Next, you have to set specific goals. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Some of the best Internet marketers I know took around ten years to reach $10,000/month but now they are making millions.

I guarantee you that if you asked them whether or not it was worth the trouble they wouldnt hesitate to tell you it was! It may have taken them a while to reach their goals but now they have positioned themselves in such a way that they have passive income coming in for life.

So I would encourage you with this thought – Find your WHY and keep going until you see your dreams and goals fulfilled. You do have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Dig deep, find your why within and be unrelentless.

If you have thought about starting a money making online business then I suggest you check out my no. 1 recommendation here. This is for those who are serious about building an additional stream of income online.

If that’s you and you are willing to commit time and effort, then check it out.