Building An Affiliate Business With $0 Investment
Too Many Fish In The Sea With PPV
An Affiliate Marketer’s Guide To Site Flipping

Building An Affiliate Business With $0 Investment

That’s right, I’m sniffing for linkbait again.

When I use the term “Super Affiliate”, what image springs to your mind? Is it the picture of a top baller, sprawled across a sunbed, dripping Armani, and occasionally snapping his fingers to make more dollars fall from the sky?

Is it the eternally vivid image of Shoemoney wedged between a flock of scantily clad wenches at the Playboy Mansion?

Part of the reason why most marketers will never get close to that super affiliate lifestyle is because they’re looking at it from the wrong angle. They only see the rewards, and never the groundwork that the smug bastard covered to build his platform to brag from.

Behind most successful “super affiliates” is a sound business plan. One of the things I hear quite often from new marketers is the complaint that they don’t have the money to invest, or the freedom to spend enough money to attain this super affiliate state of luxury. Have you taken the time to look at the background of most top affiliates? The only shared quality is a desire to be successful.

Some people start with $10000 to invest. Maybe they’ve tucked away their savings and prepared mentally (or read a shit ton of blogs) to get started like a virgin mountaineer would at the foot of K2. To achieve something out of nothing. To reach the summit with knowledge in their head of what lays ahead, but no real experience of handling it. These are the marketers you probably hate if you’re built in the same mould that I was.

I had zero cash to invest other than the leftovers from my monthly pay packet. I’d guess that many aspiring affiliate marketers are in the same boat. You want to make it, but you just can’t fathom a way to generate income out of so little. I think it’s perfectly possible to build an affiliate business with a lack of start-up investment, and I believe that because I managed it myself.

How do you get visitors to your site without money? How do you generate leads organically without having the spending power to use paid traffic?

Get your thief on, we’re going hunting for coupons.

It’s always perplexed me why so many affiliates fail to see the appeal of coupons. I don’t use them anymore, but I would never be sitting at home scratching my balls right now if I hadn’t sniffed them out and used them as my “risk free” assessment of paid traffic. If you can plug a $50 voucher in to your Google Adwords account, you have a very rare situation where it’s possible to make what I’d call a “return on virtual investment”.

I was lucky enough to stumble across a campaign that was making me 300% ROI on Google Adwords when I was getting started. With the money I had in my bank account, it simply wasn’t possible to spend more than $200/month without having to jump London’s Oyster barriers or steal my lunch from the back of a van. But with coupons, ANY money you make is a profit.

If you’re from the UK, and I can’t believe I’m about to recommend this…but fuck it. Get down to your local WHSmiths. Search for a magazine called .Net. Look inside and you should find a free voucher worth £40 on Google Adwords. Jack that shit and clear out the pile. By the time you get back from your lunch break, you should have an Adwords budget of £200. And it isn’t even your money. I did this and with a 300% ROI, I was technically making £800 from…zero.

I should use this opportunity to thank .Net magazine. The secret to Internet riches, quite clearly. Or a criminal record if it goes wrong.

I have my tongue in cheek, thank God. There are ways to get your hands on free advertising coupons without stealing. Check out both Digital Point and the Warrior Forum. You can probably buy a $75 voucher for 10 bucks from some dude with no better business idea than to steal them from WHSmiths (ahem).

The point is, when you have no money to invest, you have to be looking for opportunities like this to give yourself the launch pad to start spending your own money. It didn’t take me long to use coupons to get on to weekly payments and to generate enough revenue to be able to re-invest it in to my business. But obviously that wasn’t the only opportunity I saw along the way.

There are two free traffic sources, right under your nose, that have incredible potential for making money without investing a penny. Only the currency of your time. Those traffic sources are classified sites and Yahoo Answers. Now as I understand, it’s a lot harder to make money on Yahoo Answers these days. But do you see why it was an open gold mine?

People asking questions, people looking for specific solutions to their needs…Christ, if you’re in the business of lead gen, your eyes would water at how simple it could be to game the system in to huge profit at no expense of your own. There is easy money out there if you expand on Yahoo Answers and look further afield for similar opportunities.

Classified sites were an enormous boost for me when I was assembling my cash to invest in the early days. I’m not going to venture in to detail about how you make money on sites like Craigs List and Gumtree. But any straight thinking affiliate should be able to smell opportunity like Justin Dupre outside the gates of an all-girls Thai college.

There are many ways you can jump from having zero money to having $10000 in as little as a few months – without ever spending a penny of your own on paid traffic. But the most important leap of them all is that you realize this thinking can only ever be temporary. Once you’ve established money to invest, it’s important to shed your fear of spending it.

I doubt you’ll find a single super affiliate who hasn’t yet overcome that fear of spending money. It’s necessary to grow your business. Don’t get caught up by the fact that the gurus are dropping six figures a day on their favourite traffic sources. You will never compete with them from day one. It’s your job to scrap and hustle, to seek out opportunity, to establish your own business that gives you a chance to scale in time.

It’s a lot easier to operate CPA campaigns with enough money in the bank to be able to run on 20% ROI. The job gets easier in that respect. I like to use the mountain metaphor. If you try to catch up with the top guys at the summit, without building your base camps along the way, you’re probably going to get blown off the mountain altogether. To get to the summit, you have to grow your business in stages. And at each stage, you’re going to have to acclimatise to the new pressures and the new risks. Because the distance to fall gets a little greater every time.

It’s a slow process, and I could slap every guru out there who preaches otherwise. But even if you’re sitting at home with nothing. Zero, nada, a pint of water and Pot Noodle for lunch. All is not lost. There is opportunity EVERYWHERE for those who are willing to seek it out.

Need a larger slice of Finch?

I haven’t been posting much recently, that’s pretty obvious. I did take the time to do an interview over on Jonathan Volk’s blog though. You can check it out below.

Stuff you never thought you needed to know about Finch Sells

Too Many Fish In The Sea With PPV

Once upon a time, PPV was the new craze for affiliate marketers. Less guidelines to stick to, less slaps to run from…but now unfortunately, a whole lot more competition to bid against. Over the last six months, I’ve highlighted two different approaches to profiting from PPV:

Laser Targeting Your PPV Campaigns
Shock Marketing Tactics For PPV Profits

Another tactic I’ve read about on other blogs and forums involves “brand bidding”.

Brand bidding? The art of matching a branded CPA offer to a branded web page and hoping against hope that the margins stack up in your favour. The problem, as I’m sure most of you will have realized by now, is that they rarely do.

When I first got in to PPV, I saw zip and email submits as my gateway to riches and infinite private ball massages. A life of luxury by pushing offers that pay out, what, $1.30? The problem with matching PPV to these type of offers is that you don’t have as much margin to play with as you think you do. Throw in an element of scrubbing and people quite frankly not giving enough of a shit to wait for your pop-up to load from it’s shared hosting – you’re almost back to square one.

Brand bidding can actually be quite effective, but let me give you an example that probably isn’t going to out anybody who’s making more than 47 cents a day.

Here is your stereotypical iPhone email submit:

iPhone email submit

For a PPV virgin, it’s easy to get carried away and assume that a free iPhone offer is going to attract the interest of just about anybody browsing a domain with apple.com in the query string. And maybe it will. But if you’re going to master the art of brand bidding, you ultimately need to filter the crap first.

Direct brand bidding will swamp you with a large amount of traffic. From my experience, the profitability of bidding on a full domain just isn’t going to be sustainable 95% of the time. And even if it is, you’re using such a primal form of marketing that the next retard is waiting in the wings to bid $0.01 higher.

To take this iPhone example, the possibilities are endless for brand bidding – particularly if you ignore the temptation to bid on the actual Apple brand. I’ve always advocated “laser targeting”, particularly if you’re working with a low payout. A good method of brand bidding, less likely to attract tramp traffic, would be to dig out some links over on the o2 website. That’s a phone network for you yanks.

Take a URL target like this: http://shop.o2.co.uk/promo/iphoneindex/Pay_Monthly/3G_S/White

It’s a step forward in the sense that contrary to targeting apple.com, we know a few things about the visitors to this page:

  • They’re thinking of buying an iPhone.
  • They’re already in “comparing mode”, weighing up the pros and cons of the various deals.
  • o2 is a possible point of purchase that they trust.

So where does brand bidding come in to the equation? There’s no sign of o2 on our direct linked landing page.

The next step would to create a landing page that bridges the gap between the URL target and the shoddy email submit we’re about to hit them with. I would suggest a landing page with a header along the lines of “Can o2.co.uk Match Our Outrageous iPhone Giveaway?”

I would not want to be creating separate landing pages for every last phone network on the web so the “o2.co.uk” would have to be dynamically inserted.

The header is designed to portray relevance. It’s almost a “brand extension”, particularly if you design your landing page using the same colour scheme and font selection. It also exploits the fact that we know the user is already in comparing mode. You can use this to your advantage by listing some existing deals on your landing page, and then dumping your free iPhone at the top of the list in fancy flashing lights.

Of course, the problem with these type of campaigns is that you’ll never find the same volume that you would in spreading the net far and wide.

Another way to play with brand bidding is the classic bait and switch. A few months ago I had a very profitable campaign targeting just one single page on the Plenty Of Fish website. The concept was to deliver leads to a free dating website (Zoosk and Mate 1). What better way to target fans of free dating websites than by hitting them where they already congregate?

Of course, you could pitch a dirty great pop-up for Zoosk on the front page of POF. But you’re going to run in to several problems.

The sheer volume of users accessing the root domain “plentyoffish.com” every day will be too great. By targeting the top domain, your pop-up will show not only when somebody goes to sign in, but when they reply to a message, when they browse a profile, when they see who’s viewed them. You’re simply catching too many fish to ever be profitable.

The second problem was a lack of targeting. POF has a relatively balanced mix between males and females. How can I spring a pop-up that appeals to both genders? With a dating offer, it’s essential to break down your demographics. You also need an offer that accepts traffic from the 18+ crowd.

So instead I targeted just a single page – the “Who Viewed Me” section.

The concept was again pretty simple. I had a landing page and a header reading “Getting Viewed But Not Getting Messaged?”

I plugged the image of a depressed singleton, a screenshot of an empty inbox and then the complete opposite under the brand logo I wanted to promote – “…Why not try a dating site where our sexy members aren’t afraid to say hello?” You can probably piece the rest of the idea together in your head. I’m not going to spell it out. Needless to say, my version was a lot more provocative.

Much to my surprise, this simple PPV campaign – with just one target – produced a nice ROI in the first few weeks. I soon realized though that my pitch was getting lost somewhat. Most women on POF are already getting messaged at every waking hour, so it wasn’t as effective considering a large percentage of my page loads were falling on female eyes. You can probably guess what I done. I used the same concept to target niche websites where gender wasn’t a factor. Examples aside, this kind of laser targeting is my preferred method of making money with PPV.

Brand bidding has it’s merits and can be used to good effect with the right offer. You will undoubtedly get conversions. But the challenge is to get those conversions while weeding out as much other traffic as you can to make it profitable.

There’s a huge misconception that PPV traffic is the cheapest on the market. I think that’s pretty much bullshit. It may be the cheapest in terms of what you’re paying for a “visitor”, but that doesn’t always equal good value. A good CPM campaign can drive the cost of a click down to as little as a few cents. And when a user has clicked, you know you’ve grabbed their attention. Yet with PPV, you’re paying around $0.02 for the loading of a pop-up. Most people hate pop-ups. Some won’t even wait for them to load. You do the maths.

If you’re promoting zip and email submits, it’s quite likely that the best tactic is good old fashioned CPM bidding on the content network. That’s a post for another day though. There’s a bandwagon rolling past claiming that PPV is the future for affiliate marketers. If you’re going to jump on, don’t be turning your back on the other opportunities that surround you.

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An Affiliate Marketer’s Guide To Site Flipping

Time and time again you’ve heard me rattle on about the need to build long term assets to survive. Traffic brokering is a volatile gap-market to be working in, and if you’re not setting some time aside to expand in to other ventures, you’re going to run in to a brick wall at some point.

Site flipping is something I’ve never posted about before, and yet it’s probably one of the most interesting areas for an affiliate marketer to work in. It’s a chance to leapfrog your way to those long term business assets without needing the creativity, time or technical know-how to build them yourself. It’s the art of investing in a good concept. Something any self respecting entrepreneur should be able to appreciate.

And it’s a very simple concept to get your head around. There are many websites for sale on the net. Some of them are untapped goldmines of potential revenue that a lesser webmaster simply hasn’t thought to monetize properly. As affiliates, we’re typically a long way ahead of the average website owner when it comes to finding ways to drive profit from a site.

By scouring various online marketplaces, it’s possible to buy websites that have already been developed with outstanding content. We can then choose to apply an affiliate’s touch. Hopefully to raise the revenue being generated by the site with a view to selling it on at a greater price – “site flipping”, if you will. Of course, you can also choose to bag the redeveloped website for yourself and keep it as one of your long term business assets.

Nothing says “well diversified” like an affiliate with a few dozen automated and high-quality websites earning him a few hundred dollars each every month.

Unfortunately site flipping is one of those areas where if you go in unprepared, you’ll end up getting mislead in a market where there are 1001 tricks that a seller can use to artificially inflate the true value of a website. This post should hopefully warn you against a few tricks of the trade.

Ten Commandments For Successful Site Flipping


1. Become a dirty great cynic. – Whenever I visit a website marketplace, I’ll make sure I’m already feeling cynical. Maybe I’ll play Radiohead in the background and pound myself in to a state of doom and gloom. The reason being because there’s simply so much bullshit that a site seller can attempt to get more money for his creation. If you go looking to buy a website with the attitude that you’ll snap up the first bargain you find, prepare to be burnt. Be super cynical and don’t be afraid to ask for whatever necessary data you need before agreeing to a sale.

2. Don’t trust the seller’s traffic stats on face value. – So you’ve stumbled across an excellent looking website and you’re salivating at the thought of 65,000 unique hits/month in a high profile niche. With a 1% conversion rate, that’s 650 sales, right? Don’t be such a retard. You need to know exactly where that traffic is coming from, the countries of it’s origin and whether the traffic will be sticking around after your purchase.

I’ve seen websites for sale boasting 20,000 unique visitors/month, but what the seller isn’t keen to disclose is the fact that nearly all of them are triggered by a pop-up on his own high traffic site somewhere in Ethiopia. Oh, and that he’ll be removing the pop-up after the sale. Get smart about it. If the seller is currently driving a shitload of low quality traffic through PPV, for example, you can pretty much disregard any value he attributes to the current traffic levels.

Assess the website as it’s own little standalone business. Is it well diversified with organic traffic being driven from a number of different sources? That’s what you should be looking for.

3. Adsense is for amateurs. – If a website is boasting Adsense as it’s main source of income, your little affiliate ears should be standing on end. Adsense, with a few exceptions, usually means that the webmaster is pretty clueless when it comes to monetizing his site. Why would you plaster ads over your website for OTHER affiliates to use your own high quality content for their own gain? Remove the Adsense, replace with your own banners, and you could flip a profit in the space of a lunch break.

4. Look out for licensed software platforms. – I got duped by this trick last year. I purchased a website built on the CubeCart platform, but I failed to check how the long the license would last. Contrary to our agreement, the motherfucker deactivated the license after a month and I ended up having to pay more than I set out for the actual site just to renew the license.

If you’re buying a website built on licensed software, make sure you nail down the terms of the transaction so both parties are clear who owns the license, how long it has left to run, and any other bullshit escape clause a slimy dealer might use to shaft you over. This includes the site domain.

5. Ask what has been spent on the site so far. – Of course, you want to know what percentage of the site’s traffic is being delivered from paid traffic sources. Otherwise you could just build the same damn site for yourself. But it’s also important to find out if the seller has paid for any banner placements, directory submissions, classified listings…anything that you might potentially have to replicate to maintain the current levels of traffic. If it’s not free, and it’s not automated, you need to know about it.

6. Is there any work required to maintain the website? – If the site involves distribution of any kind of physical goods, you need to be considering the implications of what an actual “brick and mortar” business involves. Basically, asking yourself “Am I too much of a lazy motherfucker?” If the website is selling something, make sure that the sales funnel requires absolutely minimal processing at your own end, or ideally none at all.

I only bother investing in websites selling virtual goods. You should be careful not to end up site flipping your way in to a position where you’re responsible for a dozen small businesses that each require your time and care. Automation is key, and it will dramatically increase the number of potential buyers if you choose to sell the project on.

7. What are the hosting requirements? – If you’re purchasing a very bespoke website, it may come with specific server requirements. These can be a Grade A pain in the jacksy. Nothing will frustrate you like having to purchase a brand new server to recreate a specific hosting environment for a site that currently only makes $47/month. Make sure you can handle your new baby, or that it shows enough potential to merit such an investment.

8. What are the reasons for the sale? – This sounds petty. Well, I’m a petty man. I like to know exactly why a website is being sold. My logic being that if there’s a reason for selling, there’s probably a reason for not buying. In cases of turnkey sales, my mind rests a little easier. But if a seller is boasting an automated website providing $500 of profit per month. Why would he sell it for $800? He only has to wait 6 weeks to match that ROI by keeping it. Explore the reasons for selling and compare them to your own reasons for buying. Don’t get stuck looking after somebody else’s wobbly dying donkey.

9. What do I know that the seller doesn’t? – I specifically like to find websites that are developed by passionate fans of their chosen niche. Firstly, it guarantees a level of excellence in the content. I like value that a marketer wouldn’t be able to replicate without outsourcing. But secondly, by targeting these kind of websites, you often have a raft of knowledge for monetizing the project that would dramatically increase the website value. I like to use forums as an example. Most forum owners create and develop their communities because they like to play God. Their ROI comes in the form of members and posts.

If an affiliate marketer can get his dirty hands on hours of work where the content really is king, his task of monetizing it becomes a whole lot easier. Look to buy what you cannot build overnight.

10. Sleep on it. – Hey, listen. It’s better to miss out on a promising looking website than it is to jump the gun, buy it now, and end up waking in the morning with that bitter taste in your mouth. You know, the “why the hell did I just buy a website about the culling of trees in the Amazon rainforest? Oh yeah, just because it mentioned acai in the footer” kinda taste. Yes, site flipping is a competitive business. But there’s plenty more competition for being a retard with a bunch of failed investments in your portfolio. Think before you buy, eh?

Finally, here are some marketplaces to check out for site flipping galore:

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Finch Sells is the anti-typical affiliate marketing blog, designed and written for real affiliates. If you’re interested in reading more and grabbing the odd tip, follow me on Twitter. I don’t sling you shitty ebooks but I do talk about my balls. So you’re morally obliged to, okay?

That’s what I thought.

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