Hey guys, this post is something I wanted to write for a long time now. I’m not sure how it will sound by the time I am done but hopefully you guys will understand my viewpoint :).
You just discovered Internet Marketing!
So, a lot of you guys are probably like how I was when I first started, eager to start an online business and be in complete control. No boss, your own hours and being able to not work for weeks and still make thousands. You might have first read about a couple of ideas, probably believed it was horseshit and you would be getting scammed. Eventually, for whatever reason, you met or read how someone went from 0$ to x$ over a period of time (like when I describe my adsense earnings in 2010) and might actually believe it enough to start giving it a serious try and not just read internet marketing posts/ebooks without doing anything with the information.
However let me stop you RIGHT THERE. If you do not truly put time in this and treat it as a serious business your chances of success are VERY slim. You see, when Becker and I first started, we did not think of IM as a “hobby” that we would do in our spare time and maybe one day it will work out. For me, it took me a few months to actually believe that making money online is possible and that I could do something other than being an accountant upon graduation (I was in my last semester of college btw when I started IM).
However, once I decided to take action I gave it my 100%.
I did not drop out of school yet (I was living with my parents and they would have been devastated, free rent in exchange for being at school…), but you can bet your ass that I was working 2-6 hours a day every single day, school or no school. By the end of the semester, I was making only $1/day but I was so confident that I would succeed I just worked 8 hours a day on this and barely studied for my finals. As I received my terrible grades I simply used those as leverage and an additional reason of why I cannot possibly fail. This brings me to my next point. Once you are determined to succeed, you want to FOCUS on SPECIFIC areas.
For example, I knew someone (Fingerman from our old blog) who was making money by driving traffic to his websites with SEO and monetizing with adsense. I decided to focus on exactly that. Now, please keep in mind I did not in any way copy what he was doing, he did not tell me what he was doing for almost a year! And he did not want to show me any of his websites until way later when I was at $100/day. All I knew is “Alex, I drive traffic to my websites with SEO and then you know about those Google ads? It’s called adsense and they make me $250+ a day without much maintenance work”. I then proceeded to Google every single word that I did not understand (SEO, adsense etc.) and found out for myself how I could make it work. I started visiting the warrior forums, reading a few ebooks on those topics and started having a blueprint to how I could succeed which a year later became the ultimate guide that is on this website. However, this is when you get in the second trap of wanting to do money online.
Yep, not only will you see hundreds of ideas in forums but if you buy products you will start getting email spam about hundreds of different products and services you could buy. While I’m sure some of those would be helpful, they will distract you from truly perfecting your art in an IM field. You cannot start IM and expect do to everything at the same time. SEO, PPC, Aff mkt, product creation, sales letters, CPA, video mkt, social media traffic etc. However those products will probably tempt you to try out different fields under the promise of “this guy was able to make $5k in one month using this technique”. Sure, that might be true but of course that does not include the many months it took him to reach that point. Furthermore, I can guarantee you even if you copy exactly his techniques you will not reach $5k by the next month (and if you do, forward me that course ;)). Is it because he did not reveal all his secrets? Well, that’s probably true but the real reason is that the money comes from following the process FOCUSING on that task and putting your 100% into it. Analyze your own work and figuring out what can be improved. What you get from a course is the conclusion mindset of the author (by the time it comes out) and not necessarily the process, the author will most likely constantly be improving his business/technique. Or, just make a shitton of money off selling that course and ride on that wave for a while. 😉
Would it be useful for the product creator to tell you what brought them to where they are today? Maybe… But that might not sell the course as well, and it would make it a far more boring course to read/watch.
Things in IM constantly change
That is what separates the buyers who never end up making money to those that will. Even for SEO hybrid, Me and Becker were done with the videos and it’s going to be released on the first week of December but a few days ago the yahoo backlink database shutdown! I added a new video mentioning how I now use ahrefs.com to freely analyze the competition. If Seo Hybrid was released last week, already a part of it would be “outdated”. If you just follow a course 100% and expect to make as much as the authors, well that will not happen. It’s a good guideline to start with but then you have to apply your own twists.
When I started, all I knew was SEO + adsense is possible
I tried everything to make it work.
While people were preaching small websites when I started in early 2010 I decided to build a few of those and a few big ones. The big ones sucked for the first 5-6 months (my small sites were already making money…) but eventually were the reason I was able to reach a high income and probably why I never got banned by Google Adsense unlike many other IM’ers using Adsense. I also was never very into using obvious spam techniques such as profile links, blog comment spam or Xrunner (which is annoying and spams our linkback forums so much, you guys don’t see all I have to moderate at times :P). Whether those work for you or not is for you to decide but I doubt sooner or later these will not be made useless… In the last two months I have been studying and trying PPC/social media because SEO is not a good traffic source (currently) for the iPhone app business I am working on. The top search results in SEO are big brands so the only way I can get people to my site is PPC so I have been learning how to reduce CPC and get as many people as possible to click on my ads. The only “SEO” I have been doing is for my niche sites with a bit of social bookmarking from bookmarking demon since that’s quite effortless but besides that I don’t have time for it.
Becker started from reading thelinkback.com back when it was called passive income seo and followed what me and fingerman used to make money. He started a popular college dating advice site, brought traffic from a lot of sources beyond SEO and decided to build an email list and sell a product after many months of sharing free advice. His first sales page was very bad compared to what it is now. He first basically said how he sucked but knew a thousand ways to get girls to throw their panties at him. However, he later learned that people would much prefer a relatable person and learn about the story of a legitimate guy that was shy talking with girls growing up but over time became a beast around his campus.
Anyway, between all my close friends that were interested in doing what I do and all the people I exchange emails with, for every success there are (probably) hundreds of people who quit or lose interest. So far I probably tried to help 5 or so people to start their online business in my local social circle and none went beyond a few $’s a day so far, I think all of them quit by now… It simply comes down to, how much do you want it and do not rely on others to teach you everything, a lot of this is self taught. Internet marketing is not for everyone. I think everyone would like it, and I have a hard time not sounding as if I am bragging when I describe what I do to people I meet in everyday life because while it still sounds awesome to me, to most people it blows their freaking mind!
I also almost never tell them how much I make or the fact I make that working ~20 hours a week instead of most people’s 40 hours or so. Especially when a lot of people of my age work at the local grocery store as a wrapper (my first job!). There is great advice out there, including hopefully this blog but it can only guide you, not teach you everything you will know.
No one is above the process and even if you feel you are completely retarded right now you can succeed. Case in point, in closing of this post, when Becker first started he asked this to my friend.
“Hey since lawyers cpc is so high, could I make a lawyer site, then drive around town from different IPs and click my ads”
<3 Becker. This amazing idea was only 9 months ago when he started… A few days ago, Becker made 5 figures selling a few of his websites to make his increasing workload easier to manage!
VERY good post Alex! I think it’s VITAL for everyone getting into online business.
I’m now starting to take action the right way with IM; and on this post when you say “you will not learn everything from other people. Sometimes you’ll have to figure stuff out on your own”, that’s just mind blowing, and it brakes a pattern that the majority of the newbies normally have.
Anyway, great stuff, thanks for sharing! =) Can’t wait for SEO Hybrid.
Thanks 😀 Took me a while to write this down but hopefully it will help newbies who are stuck in that stage for far too long!
Truly epic post with some of the greatest lessons people getting into this can learn.
Lol, yeah I remember asking that question back in the day. I still think it was clever =P
It’s a good idea, just not a good long term way to make money 😉
Yeah that’s an outstanding article Alex and goes for pretty much everything in life. Although depressing too. Why can’t anything be easy easy?? haha
It’s similar to my career being a professional poker player. I was only playing 15 hours a week online and making good money… but everyone that I tried to teach or even personally coach failed. They didn’t understand that I had read over 30 books on texas holdem alone, or the 5k posts on poker forums, just the blood sweat and tears I had going in.
It was a good 7 year run but online poker is about finished in the states. The government hates us and I lost half my bankroll on april 15th to poker’s “black friday. when all the sites went belly up. Probably similar to what people felt when Panda hit.
So now I’m looking to spread my talents around. SEO might be it. I’ve already learned a shit ton in the first few weeks… but I have a long ways to go. Any advice on my bob marley site?
What ever happened to Fingerman? Is he still with you guys on this blog?
Nah, when we started the blog together (Me and Fingerman) he had started losing interest in IM. His current sites are/were doing great but he was not doing any more work on them or starting/trying new things so he was not writing much because of that.
Very inspiring. Reminds me I need to work hard if i want this to work.
Working 20 hours a week in cancun sounds about right.
Thanks for the great post. This is my favorite blog on internet marketing.
Great post man!
Talking about coaching, as I am stuck with 3 websites making around $50/month in total, I am tempted to have a private coach in order to discuss a bit more about my situation and understanding better how to improve my sites.
I came across Trent’s website, http://nichesitemastery.com/
Does anybody know about him?
The membership is not cheap but his reputation is quite good.
I suggest you use our private coaching =P
Ah! I was waiting for that 🙂
I clicked on your page for “private coaching” but there is an error.
Can you tell me an email address where to write for more info?
Especially prices… 😀
Wowzers, thanks for bringing that to my attention. I fixed the link and emailed you. How on the ball am I?!
very inspirational post
Thanks for sharing Alex. I definitely fall in the trap of information overload. I did it with my website actually. I tried to bounce around with a few different strategies instead of focusing on the simple ones that I had already learned. I need to give it more time and then adjust accordingly!
Nice post Alex,
I’m one of the local persons your site’s helped starting in SEO….I’m still banging at it, i started a few years ago making a bunch of programs (similar to the ones that now sell for 100$+) when a friend successful in SEO told me it was all about backlinks and blogs with fresh content. However i was in school and not intent on giving that up, so i soon gave up and never made much back then.
But i got back into it, when i saw how you and fingerman were so successful with it, i figured it just confirms what i already knew. Invested in the basics, and put lots of time into it. It’s coming along slowly but surely.
I was talking with Fingerman a few months ago, i told him my blogs weren’t making any money.. and he told me that when he started, the first 6 months he did nothing but SEO all day… he said i’d have to invest some money monthly on basic software/subscriptions only to reach that amount i’ve invested monthly.
From there i was motivated to work on SEO real hard, and 2 weeks after that discussion with him, my sites started getting some regular clicks! I’m stubborn and refuse to spend as much as he suggested until i earn that much, but i’m still coming along.
Right now i’m at the “information overload” part of your article, trying to filter out what works for me and what not. I also cant help to agree with what you say about having to find things out on your own.
i’m still not breaking even, i’m not even passed the 5$/day yet, but i know at least some direct cause and effect for SEO->Income.
I am also ranking 9th for a massive kw!! however i’m not getting much visitors, but that’s another story.
You are actually the only “local person” that’s been really giving this a real try beyond a few week’s interest and that actually tried a few websites so far :), I hope you reach your success goals soon :D. And ya what Fingerman said is true I was doing almost only SEO for 6 months before I made money, I was averaging 30 hours a week … You don’t need to spend as much as he did to get started, though that definitely helped him try a lot of things very quickly but I also did like you when I started. I think I was spending around $200 per month between some montlhy subscriptions and some one time software every now and then. Of course, hosting/domains is included in there 🙂
and the subscriptions to cheerleaderhoneys.com didnt help either!
Hey man great post. I had a similar problem of information overload. After having a consultation with Becker, I am just focusing on one strategy and 3 tools right now. Plan to master it and keep learning this art.
yep that’s the way to do it :).
haha I overloaded you with the awesome raj =D
Great post Alex. I’ve been waiting for someone who is successful to say that it still does take a lot of time, effort and self-learning… instead of just “buy this tool.”
Unrelated question… what sites do you guys post jobs on to find VAs? I’ve used staff finder services in the past, but haven’t found the right VA. Do you or Becker know any sites that have high-quality VAs looking for jobs?
Thanks- can’t wait for SEO Hybrid. Release it already!
the one I previously hired was from a friend who no longer needed him.. A few days before that I was trying from Odesk but it seemed like it would take time to filter out for someone who properly will do the jobs I wanted.
This is one lovelty post. I saw.
Alex , great article!
I wonder, when did you knew that your income is going to be stable and quit your job…
did you wait couple months to see that the income keeps coming and only than decided to quit and focus only on IM…
we need more articles from you Alex, you bring some great things to the table!
thanks for the kind words :). Hmm you can’t be 100% sure things would be stable ( I mean past 2 months my adsense stuff as actually gone down) but by the time I reached about $1k/month I decided to stop school and only kept working part time (about 15 hours a week for day job) and the rest on IM since I figured if I could reach $1,000 I can get much higher.
Hey David, I had a situation similar to Alex.
However. The SEO here we show you should not take you longer than a hour a day of work so there really is no need to drop a job. While there are some free routes to SEO, having a stable income will allow you to experiment and take risks. This is huge!
Oh ya that’s something important to mention, it’s worth way more your time to have some other job (ideally part time) as a source of income you can re-invest in SEO. Even if you are at minimum wage I think this might be a good idea, especially if you work from a computer (so you can browse some IM info or even do IM stuff at work on downtimes of work/breaks).
Since I was working full time I hired ppl on Odesk quickly to help me out write/spin articles, it also helped me be more flexible in trying out services/buying domains and test things out. Before that summer when I was in school I barely spent anything and was doing everything manually. Sure I had a lot of time and little income but I was was not as effective as how I did things during the summer with income and less time. Oh and working a job also helped me stay motivated every single day since I had to wake up at 7am 🙂 (my biggest motivation to not have a day job…). While by nature I am a small spender, I really tried to test everything that other’s recommended to see what was most effective for me (and drop the monthly subs that do nothing for me).
I’ll probably expand on this on the next post I am currently writing.
Thanks Alex, this is what I needed to hear, even though I always suspected it to be the case haha.
Hey Alex, Becker….are there any specific actions you are taking to keep your big sites safe..
things like dedicated serves, different ip’s and other things i heard people are doing …
if so would be great to know what you are doing , and which services you are using if so for those stuff…
thanks a lot!
No nothing special, I’m just more concerned with my newer sites since some of them got sandboxed a while ago and so far most are still there. I might just redo them in those niches at this point. As for my older sites, no I do nothing special, shared hosting on hostgator + same adsense account. I want to change them alot in the future though when I have time.. I did not do anything on them for like 2 months /sigh. I would like to get away from adsense.
Why do you want to get away from adsense? What direction will or would you like to go then?
It’s a bit of a downer to hear you say that though 🙂
A big part of my revenue decline is lower ecpm from adsense. Also I feel that for certain of my sites while adsense is an easy way to make money I could make much more if I put the time to grab emails and market to the list. While I have a website that I started grabbing emails, I barely pushed the email optin and also I need to set up an email list autoresponder.
I guess I’m a bit annoyed with adsense, I haven’t worked on those sites in 2 months (30% of my time is IM related stuff such as linkback and the other 70% is my iphone app project) and my $$ has been going down a bit this month again. Not too sure I will post an income report again until maybe January when I will be able to actually share some of the stuff I have been up to and hopefully have time to do improvements on my current niche sites.
Hey, SEO Hybrid should be comming out tomorrow for $1, but no official announcment or anything, is it still on?
ey dizz we are waiting a bit to release it. Youll still be getting it for a dollar though, you cheap bastard =P
they’re delaying hybrid for a bit dizzye
Now I’m sad and depressed. I’m gonna kill my rainbow bunchie =((
haha do not fear, it just so we can make it better
Inspirational content. Similar to my experience with the Forex markets.
Took MONTHS of research, testing, optimization, and whatever else, only to ride a roller-coaster up and down (although quite profitable for the summer).
Also interesting note on Fingerman. A buddy of mine who keeps contact with him occasionally, says this fella doesn’t really have a passion for IM.
A+ article nonetheless.
Great Post, but success is sometimes way more elusive and won’t come with just hard work and dedication.
Luck, intelligence and just being wired to be an entrepreneur seem to be the overriding factors why some make it and some don’t.
I spent years with the exact mindset and work ethic you describe above. My IM business has never gotten off the ground apart from a period where I was making $400 net profit per month from Adwords. And then Google slapped half the world – me included – goodbye income. All the guys who I shared an IM mastermind group with on Facebook gave up after YEARS of trying and failing.
Compare to a friend of mine who without a huge amount of work in a couple of months has set up his first Adsense site, is making $30 per month and is on his way up.
It’s perplexing and frustrating.
I definitely understand where you are coming from… In some ways maybe it’s easy for me to say “never give up” now that I had some initial success with IM and lived off it for almost two years now. I think luck is just a factor of trying multiple things. In adwords (different ad copies … Then you get one that mysteriously works and you try to see why) or in SEO (testing many keywords/niches and seeing which ones worked). I have a calm calculated approach to most of what I do in IM but the guy I first heard about making money online (Fingerman, who used to do this blog with me) is more of the ballsy try anything type and he invested a ton of money in adwords (which all failed) until he found a winning PPC campaign for a short time and made $20,000+ in it but the CPA offer he was using shut down and then he decided to re-invest all that in SEO (which he has been living off of for 2+ years now).
I also don’t like believing that anyone is less or more smart than me… But some amount of luck can definitely help. However, the more you try the more likely you will get “lucky”.
You seem to have tried hard so far so I really hope you find your own winning formula soon!