I’ve been speaking to a few friends about the benefits of getting in to affiliate marketing, and it’s pretty hard for me to explain to them how I’ve managed to get to where I am. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for anybody looking to get in to PPC affiliate marketing is the initial startup investment.
There’s a reason millions upon millions of third world kids spend 14 hours a day scratching around on Digital Point for SEO advice. SEO is “free”. You can build a potentially vast empire of riches without spending a single penny of your own money.
For anybody who’s brand new to these terms, I’ll give a quick overview.
You can pretty much divide affiliate marketing in to two main categories; PPC and SEO.
SEO: Stands for Search Engine Optimization, it epitomizes the constant struggle between webmasters to get their sites ranked higher up in the search engine results. Being ranked higher means more traffic, and more traffic generally leads to more revenue. A good SEO expert will know how to build a website that’s compliant with the ten commandment bullshit that Google likes to boss the web with. He’ll also know how to get his site linked to on the web. Basically, the main purpose of SEO is to get traffic for free.
I spent four years doing this. I didn’t make much money but that was partly down to the fact that I find manual SEO work ball-numbingly boring. I could sit a donkey at my computer desk and I’m pretty sure I could have him practicing good SEO before some of these retards get their sites indexed. You might like it. It’s free and it’s a good place to start if you’re wanting to sample the affiliate marketing waters without blowing a fortune up the wall on Google advertising.
PPC: Stands for Pay-Per-Click. It is as it sounds. Instead of whittling away the hours trying to claw your way up the search engine results, you sign up to Google AdWords and buy exposure in the “Sponsored Links”. The obvious disadvantage of this is that you’re gonna have to pay some money to get some bang for your buck. How much you spend will vary dramatically depending on how competitive the search terms are that you’re bidding for.
I like PPC because it gets the job done quick. I really don’t have the time in my day to go begging other webmasters to link to me. You can whack an advert online in ten minutes and be seeing a profit within the hour. That is, of course, assuming you know what the hell you’re doing. Anybody who claims to be good at PPC should have a firm grasp of tracking (that is, watching closely to see what works and what doesn’t), and he or she should also have either creative sales writing skills or the know-how to outsource that shit to somebody who does.
When somebody asks me how they can get in to affiliate marketing and be successful, I generally tell them to go and read about PPC. But the trouble with paying for your web traffic is that 95% of us are going to need to see a return on that investment pretty quickly to be able to maintain the cashflow.
I’m at the point now where it’s routine for me to spend a few hundred dollars a day on a single campaign. You try telling your mates that they only need to pay Google $500 a day to be able to give up their day jobs and they’ll probably laugh in your face. The fact that it takes about 5 to 6 weeks in the time that you start affiliate marketing until the time that you get the first pay cheque and you’re looking at a cashflow problem which can cause quite a few headaches.
If you’re lucky enough to be sitting there with $5000 in the bank, congratulations, you’ve got a better starting block than the large majority of us had. I started my Google AdWords campaigns on free vouchers. It took me about $350 worth of AdWords freebies to be able to nail my first $1000 in revenue. That revenue was 100% profit seeing how the voucher money was never mine. I waited for my cheque and then I invested all of it, every last penny, in to campaigns that I knew were profitable.
Eventually, I had a nice pot of money to fund some serious investment and I’ve gone on from there. But for most people, that startup hurdle remains a huge issue. Here are your options.
1. Build up an investment pot with SEO.
When I said SEO was free, I lied. SEO is never free, and it’s often more costly than PPC. What most people seem to forget when they announce SEO as the cheap budget alternative is that everybody has to have an hourly rate. You might be using marketing techniques that are free, but the time that it takes you to do them has to be compensated in the form of money that you’d expect for your time.
If you spend 8 hours a day doing SEO, and your hourly rate is $30, that’s $240 you’ve not earned because of SEO. So is it free? Of course it isn’t. You wouldn’t expect an SEO specialist to work for you for free, would you? So remember that the same cost covering applies to yourself.
However, if you need to raise money to fund PPC, you’re going to need to commit to this whole working for free business model. Either for a few weeks or a few months depending on how quickly you produce conversions. Save the money you make and put it towards your PPC starting pot.
The benefit of doing things this way is that your SEO websites will continue to earn you money even when you’ve stopped working on them. In fact, most affiliates return to natural SEO once they’ve exploited PPC and used it to become more business-efficient. It’s the only strategy for viable long-term growth.
2. Become a coupon whore.
When I realized that I’d blown the little money I made with SEO on trips to America and widescreen televisions, I didn’t have the patience to go back over the same tracks. I started collecting free PPC advertising coupons.
Over here in the UK, they supply a free Â£30 AdWords voucher with every edition of .Net magazine. I grabbed a couple and searched the web for other freebie offers. They’re out there by the plenty. I just about managed to accumulate enough free credit, combined with my own small investment, to generate a big enough return to grow my business and get it on it’s own two legs.
The good thing about starting on coupons is that your risk attachment is non-existent. I knew that if a campaign bailed, I hadn’t lost any money. And I never did.
The challenge is operating on extremely tight resources (Â£20 a day is NOT a lot in PPC). You have to pinpoint the most profitable campaigns and nail them from the get-go if you want to grow your business using a bunch of coupons.
3. Take on debt.
Something I was never, ever brave enough to do.
If you’re serious about PPC and you’ve done your research, you might be tempted to place a little flutter on a loan or a credit card. I don’t personally recommend taking this route, for two obvious reasons.
Firstly, you’re taking on a big financial burden. You’re borrowing money and throwing it at a business model that might never make you a single penny. That’s pretty brave.
Secondly, the money you make in return has to be enough to cover not only your investment but the interest on it as well. Profit margins are everything in PPC. You’re at an immediate handicap if you have an artificially raised ROI to match.
But the fact remains that many affiliates are ready and willing to take on personal debt to fund their campaigns. I’ve spoken to a couple of guys who were five figures in the red before turning it around to be well on their way to six figures in the bank. All within the space of a year.
Whatever method you choose to fund your PPC, don’t be a retard. Track every last detail of your income and outgoings. The horror stories of spiraling debt are only applicable to the dumb shits who know no better.