I recently did an interview with Omar from TwoEnough.com. He revealed several affiliate marketing tips for the frustrated. He goes into detail about how to drive traffic to your site.
He takes a very systematic approach and doesn’t spend crazy amounts of money either. He utilizes the help of some software, but doesn’t rely solely on that.
If you’d like to learn how to finally get traffic to your site, you need to adopt a system. His approach is very step by step. You just need to take action on the advice. Here’s the Skype chat transcript from below.
Affiliate marketing tips for the frustrated – Skype chat
Matt: Omar, thanks for your time. We’ll discuss affiliate marketing today and some different strategies that can make it easy to build your business. How did you start with affiliate marketing in the first place?
Marius: First of all, you may want to know my real name. My name is Marius Oancea. Since that is pretty hard to spell in English, and I needed a short nickname for ICQ, I thought about a short letters game which led to “Omar”. O.Mar. You get it. That was in like… 2002, I think. So except a few people, everybody just knows me as Omar.
In the affiliate marketplace, I started about same time. I was actually working in a public Internet coffee shop, and I had lot of time to spend on the internet. A friend of mine told me that people make money on it, so I started to research on how they do it. My first contact with affiliate marketing was actually in the adult industry, which was blossoming 10 years ago. Then I started to move to mainstream, step-by-step.
Matt: How did that go for you? Did you stay involved in that industry for long?
Marius: I don’t think I made any money in that industry. Well, at least nothing serious. I may have been there for 1-2 years. It was a pretty good kick start though. High competition, a lot of software and scripts needed. It helped me learn the technical stuff.
Matt: I see. Do you still focus on a lot of the technical side of the business, or has that slowly evolved? What is your approach now to affiliate marketing (Affiliate Marketing will be abbreviated as AM for the purpose of this interview)?
Marius: Currently, I am more of a vendor than an affiliate. After being an affiliate for a few years, I probably got saturated, became lazy, lost focus, and got bored. I used the money I made to start an offline business with my wife, and pretty much tried to move away from internet. But it wasn’t to be. One guy, who I knew and who is currently my partner, approached me and asked me to help him sell a script he made. It was the year 2006, I think. That’s when everything started.
Matt: From an affiliate stand point, especially if someone isn’t very technical in nature, do you have any recommendations as far as software that they can/should use for running a website such as the WordPress platform?
Marius: I love WordPress. 95% of my sites are based on WordPress. But my advice for anyone would be to not be afraid of the technical part, and accept the challenges. If you don’t know how to upload some files on FTP, how to install WordPress, a theme, a plug-in, or the like, the chances to succeed as an affiliate marketer are slim. The software that they will additionally need depends on many things: based on their niche, strategy, etc. But the good part of WordPress is that it is a plug-in for anything and everything.
[Editors Notes: Marius shares a very valid point. Many resources are available to learn the very basic simple skills such as loading up a site. WordPress is a great tool to use. Many tutorials are freely available. This is a great way to learn affiliate marketing and the basics of web marketing if you have the time but not the money in order to get something set up].
Matt: So as an affiliate, regardless of if they are starting out or not; if they have a budget, even a small budget for outsourcing, what recommendations would you mind sharing on this?
Marius: I recommend a premium theme. There are many available. I recommend to use the money on things they really can’t do it themselves. If they are like me, not a native English speaker and with no writing talent, they should use the money to buy some good content for their sites instead of, for example, paying someone to install WordPress for them.
There are many approaches in the affiliate industry. They can get the “article marketing” approach and need related tools (an article submitter, an article spinner). They can get the “social marketing” approach, as well as some social bookmarking software, or some specific plug-ins to increase the organic spread of their sites. I don’t really have favorite tools. Maybe Market Samurai for keyword research, specifically because it is free to use.
Matt: These are some great starting points. As an affiliate yourself, even in the past, would you start with, say, five or ten niches and see which ones work, or do you prefer to build an authoritative figure around a site? What was your approach when starting with a new offer?
Marius: I always approached one niche at a time. It may not be the best approach, but I found it more suitable for me. It was easier to focus on. I started, of course, with one or two domains, a shared host. Personally, I don’t like the risk. I don’t like spending money on things I am not at least somehow sure I will succeed with. At some point I had like 100 domains in the same niche. That was before Google’s Florida update, if you remember it, which started to punish sites for duplicate content. I wish I knew half of what I know now at that time.
Matt: Yes, dancing with Google is always a challenge. Before I jump into a traffic question here, how would you even determine what kind of affiliate offer to go after? What would you say, in your experience, would make or break a good rock solid offer?
Marius: Well, It is a multitude of factors to consider: Competition, demand, commission. Ideally, you want an offer that pays a high percent; have a big demand, and low competition. That is pretty hard to find.
Matt: Would you mind walking us through your process briefly, expanding upon what you may consider as a competitive of a niche versus a gold mine? Maybe any sort of metrics you may have used.
Marius: I got some tips by word of mouth from other people: “I have a friend who makes a lot of money selling X product.” Also, effectively look around my room at anything, and then “What do I have here, what have I bought recently…?”, then started to fit objects to niches. For example, a glass: Can I sell glasses? Sure. Where from? Amazon, Overstock. Okay, let’s do some keyword research starting from glass related keywords. Then you see there are already millions other sites doing that, or not. There are thousands of searches, or a dozen.
You make your call, does it worth or not. Think about what people’s shopping habits are, what their needs are. The ideas are floating or walking around you. You just need to pick one and do a research, see what the market is, its demand, and the competition. If you think you can compete, go for it. If not, look for something easier. Weight loss, for example, is a gold mine, as long as you can compete. Insurance, natural supplements…
Matt : Here’s an age old piece of advice you hear a lot of times on the internet – build a business around your passion. Then I’ve even heard some people say “Don’t bother. Just build something that is profitable.” What is your take on this, regardless of whether or not someone is new to affiliate marketing?
Marius: Depends on a person’s principles, to say so. Some people work better if they like what they do, some work better when they are motivated by profits. I’d say, build something that is profitable. If you don’t do this for money, and just need a hobby, find something else. Go to gym, go outdoors. Spending 16 hours a day in front of a computer has to worth. Of course, when you are passionate about the thing you are promoting, it will help. It means you have good knowledge in that niche. In my case, to get personal, I was always passionate about computers.
For me, it is not an ordeal to spend all day working….Working at the computer that is. But speaking of niches I promoted, I don’t recall any that I was passionate about. It was all about ROI (return of investment).
Matt : What is your preference, digital products versus physical products? Does one outperform the other at all?
Marius: Hard to say. I do both. I have some digital products selling better than some physical once and vice versa. I don’t think the type of good itself is very important. It may stress you, but it is just about competition, demand and commission. Usually, digital goods tend to pay higher percentage because of the specifics of the product, but there are physical goods as well that pay 30, 50 or even 70%.
Matt: I did some background research on an affiliate offer. It is a good offer. I set up my page, get some content on there that makes it ‘pop…’ making the pre-sell copy good. What are a few tips you can offer that should be included in every pre-sell copy? How do i softly persuade my visitor to take a look at the affiliate offer once they land on the page?
Marius: I would like to be honest. Even if I try to emphasize the good points, I still cover bad points if I find any. I don’t like hypes, superlatives. Although some people say others like to read things that they want to read, something like “tell them what they want to hear”. However, I think that is deceivable. You should be honest if you want to make a name for yourself.
Matt: As well as when writing. So really when writing, it sounds like you take the approach as if you are talking to a friend: one-on-one. Not by screaming to the masses?
Marius: Actually, I am not writing. I always had bad grades at literature and those related to it, but I ask my writers to do what you said: Be honest and helpful. The approach will depend on the product, though. You may hear me say “depends” too many times, but that is the truth. This is not a black and white game. There are way more shades of gray.
Matt: I see. However, this also only helps to create transparency in everything you are doing online then. You are not hiding anything, whatsoever. No scheming, nothing false?
Marius: Yes, there is no use of saying false things. People will buy, and then refund and you earn nothing
Matt: Exactly. When building a site, how much content do you put out there for an affiliate offer? Do you offer any kind of incentive or bonus if someone buys through you? What’s your approach or take on that?
Marius: I have 2 approaches on building sites. One is if I own the products or I am very familiar with it, I may make some “personal” site. Example, “Hi, my name is.. I found this great product… etc.” Two, is if something I just found on internet would make something like a 3rd party site, preferably a review site (with 3-5 products from that niche), I am offering bonuses when possible.
Again, depends on the product. If you sell social bookmarking software, you can offer some E-book as bonus (you can buy either a PLR or MRR E-book). If I am selling physical good, I usually don’t offer bonuses although wonder why don’t. You just gave me an idea!
Matt: Perfect. And that is what conversations are for. Generating ideas!
Matt: How often are you updating the sites in terms of content around any given niche on a site that you know is generating some revenue?
Marius: Rarely. I think I have sites not updated for years.
Matt: Oh wow. And they are still generating something?
Marius: Why wouldn’t they? Revenue is generated from one or few pages (main page and the reviews).Any other content will be buried in the “blog” or “articles” section. 80% of the people will not leave your homepage. That is what Google Analytics says for most of my sites.
Matt : So in terms of traffic, what specific tactics do you use to drive traffic day in and day out? What’s your favorite approach?
Marius: Organic traffic, SEO. I tried everything but it did not pay back for me. PPC, PPV, you name it.
Matt: What methods of SEO do you dive into, then? What consistently have you done in order to get around all the Google dances and what not?
Marius: Well, in a few words, back-links. The more you get, the better, despite what anyone will say.
Matt: How do you go about getting your back-links?
Marius: Anything but spam, which is a no blog comments and no forum profile links.
Matt: How are you defining spam back-links? Is that what you would call spam? What about spinning articles and using a service such as UniqueArticleWizards.com?
Marius: Sure. I have an UAW account myself, but not as efficient as it used to be, unfortunately. Article submission is fine, I guess, so is social bookmarking. I don’t like forum profile links maybe because the only 2 sites I used it on were banned by Google. Then again, this is my experience. I am sure there are people who will stand up for the forum profile. There are entire commercial services based on that (i am sure you heard about Paul links). Oh, and don’t forget about directory submission. As I said, all links count.
Matt: Now when it comes to doing these, do you use software, use people or outsource, or do it yourself?
Marius: Nothing compares with what you do yourself. Would you have paid someone to interview me? I do it myself and I use software. Some things are impossible to do manually.
Matt: What software/s do you recommend for doing some of the back-links? Anything that you love?
Marius: I may have an advantage here because I have my own software/system. But from the software you can buy, I own and like article marketing robot. I also use rssbot and socialbot.
Matt: Do you have a ‘schedule’ or systematic plan in place for using the software? What kind of strategy do you take with them when working on a site, is what I meant.
Marius: First of all, I finish the site. I usually add some 10-20 articles already made as scheduled, so they show over time. Then I start build links to it. Initially, I use rssbot to ping and post the feed to aggregators, and then I use socialbot to bookmark the site to as many social sites as I can. I then start article submissions initially every 2-3 days until I get ranked, then slower, to keep the rankings. If possible, I set some “hands-off” link building using services like linkboss.
Matt: That’s a nice little process you have there. And the beauty with some of the software that you mentioned is these are one time purchases. And many times you can get screaming deals with those software online at the Warrior Forum through the WSO Section – Warrior Special Offer.
Marius: Yes. I tried to mention (and use for myself) one-time fee products. At least while until you start making some money. Otherwise, you can get burned fast. 127 here, 47 there, soon you pay 500/month and make nothing yet. One time or yearly is the way to go (or monthly but cheap enough, or monthly if cheap enough).
Matt: What essential monthly service would you not live without? Linkboss?
Marius: Honestly, I can live without any. But you should not take me as standard. I have my own resources already.
Matt: Yes this is very true.
Marius: But essentially, not to take sides, but an rss submitter, a social bookmarking tool, and an article submitter is a must.
Matt: And this is a great starting point for building a very niche focused site.
Marius: There are many of them, maybe others better than those I mentioned. I just told you what I own and use.
Matt: Awesome, and real quick, too. I wanted to touch base on your own site right now: http://twoenough.com. You offer several different products on there.
Marius: Yes, most of them are WordPress plug-ins.
Matt: Of course it’s great that someone would buy them all right now, but is there one or two you’d recommend for starting out with in terms of driving traffic or assisting in converting that affiliate offer?
Marius: Well, the tools I am selling are related with auto-blogging and, obviously, affiliate marketing. When you get at some point, and have, say, 10 sites, manually posting on them can get tedious. You can either hire people to do that, or software. At some point it is way cheaper to use software to automate some of the workflow. Some people when read “auto-blogging” instantly think of splogs (spam blogs).
Of course, it can be used for that too. But at the same time, you can use your laptop to club some guy over the head. Does not mean your laptop is a weapon though. Click2bank is a nice plug-in, which can add contextual click-bank products at the end of each post. Twoclicksmall is very good at posting affiliate products on your blog from a variety of sources (Amazon, Ebay, Clickbank, etc) is a nice way to keep a “shop” section on your mainstream blog, trying to monetize your current traffic.
Matt: Okay awesome. Wow the time as really flown by.
Marius: Tell me about it.
Matt: Well listen, I think you’ve answered a lot of great questions and given some great pointers on different topics, which of course are all related to affiliate marketing. Do you have any final parting words at all? Any final secrets if you will?
Marius: My secret was my love for computers and software. I did everything I could on my own. Don’t be afraid of technical parts, and be patient, especially if you are doing SEO. Google will not rank you overnight. It may take months, even over a year. That happened to me too, and recent enough, anyone can be beaten with enough perseverance. Try to keep your expenses low until you make enough money, or in other words, don’t spend what you don’t afford to lose.
Don’t fall for all the hype. There will always be new software that “made a 16 year old guy $5000 in a month”. Find something you are comfortable with using, and use it. Build as many links to your site as you can. And I guess I could continue like that for another hour.
Matt: Haha! Got it right on. The key is consistency in building links if SEO is going to be one of your main focuses in driving traffic.
Matt: Alright Marius. Well, I do thoroughly thank you for your time you’ve taken today. I appreciate that a lot. And learning from other people is exactly the way to expand your business; Learning from those in the trenches.
Marius: Yes, that is true. It was my pleasure as well. Nobody that emailed me ever been left without a reply. I like helping and sharing. It’s a perfect way for expanding business over time. Then again, I hate when I am just asked “how soon will I make money if I buy X software?” One thing for any aspiring affiliate marketer to remember is this: If anyone could do money as an affiliate, we would all be affiliates and nobody would have another job. It is just another business and the success rate is the same. Be optimistic, but be rational too. Set some simple goals that are achievable and can be done. Have that goal in front of your eyeballs every single day. Yes, one step at a time. And by the way…
Marius: Don’t just stare at the goal. Work for it.
Matt: Exactly! The take action part is always a necessary evil in achieving the goal.
Matt: Okay, Marius. I’m signing off now. Again, thank you for all your time. Go check out his site at http://twoenough.com
Marius: You’re very welcome and good luck to everyone!
Matt: I will let you know when this is live and send you an edited transcript.
Marius: Just a link should be fine
Matt: Okay, will do!
Marius: Great. Have a nice rest of the day then!
Matt: You too. Have a good weekend. Thanks.
Marius: That’s far away, but thanks!
Matt: I know! Two more days. Take care later.