The Grind: Only Cool When You Know How To Stop
The Power Of Keyword Sets On Facebook

The Grind: Only Cool When You Know How To Stop

There seems to be a sub-culture in affiliate marketing these days. It’s the by-product of a super competitive crowd, all working hard to stay one step ahead of their rivals. You’ve probably seen it splashed across your Twitter feed.

“Hey Joe, I can’t come out tonight. I’m busy grindin”

“I just dumped my girlfriend. She didn’t like my grind.”

“Forced to choose between the grind and playing with my balls, I choose the grind.”

Check out Ryan Eagle’s Twitter for more classic examples.

Affiliates seem to fail or succeed by virtue of “the grind”. The ability to work like a slave – through the night, through the morning – deaf to distractions and entirely committed to the art of getting shit done.

Everybody needs to be working at least 22 hour days or they’re just not working hard enough, right? I’ve been sucked in to this competitive mindset in the past, and I’m doing my best to wriggle my way free. The grind is only cool when you know how to stop.

I was sitting downstairs in my lounge the other day, vegetating like some kind of unshaven grizzly bear. It’s very rarely that I allow mindless police chases on budget Bravo TV to distract me from work, but I truly miss the days where I knew how to lounge around and do absolutely nothing.

That sounds like a step backwards. If you’re successful, why would you want to waste your energy on television while the opportunity of time passes you by? For me, it’s become an issue of retaining my health and limiting my insanity.

It’s very easy, as an affiliate marketer working from home, to get sucked in to working these grueling 16 hour days. And if like me, you enjoy what you do, the lure can be even harder to resist. During the earliest days, I built some kind of elitist dream where putting in those hours somehow made me more likely to be satisfied with my progress. It made me better than everybody else because I was somehow more committed or more in control of my destiny.

But if you don’t know when to stop, you’re not really in control, are you? You’re more of a prisoner than you ever were in your 9-5 when there was a clear beginning and end to your day.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that no matter how much money you earn, there will always be somebody earning more. If you fall in to the trap of pursuing this relentless grind, unable to dictate when your work day ends, it’s only going to be you that suffers. And I know personally because I’ve already suffered. My health has suffered, my moods have suffered. My ability to appreciate rare moments, simply festering on the couch with absolutely nothing to worry about – those have also suffered.

I went for a laser eye surgery consultation last week and somehow ended up referred to the hospital instead with skyrocketing eye pressure, pounding headaches and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue.

Ironically, I’ve always figured that my problems could be solved by money. My bad vision being one of them. I thought if I could afford to throw £5500 at surgery to correct my eyes, it would easily justify all those hours on the grind. But there are some things money can’t fix, so grinding for 16 hours straight isn’t always the answer. Even if affiliates are being systematically brainwashed to believe that’s the case.

Over the last week or so, I’ve been working to reverse the trend. I’ve been slowly lowering the number of hours I allow myself to spend in front of a computer screen and trying to work in productive surges. I took some advice from lenstrom on Twitter and have been trying to integrate these health measures in to my day.

The biggest challenge for me is to learn that whatever lands on my desk, whatever lands in my inbox…it doesn’t always have to be acted on now. I’ve already caught some fire and some contrasting opinions on the matter.

Just two days ago I posted on Twitter: “Tomorrow…tomorrow is the day where I get back on track.”

These words seemed to raise some strong opinions from various affiliates. Apparently it came across as a sign of weakness. Why wait til tomorrow? Why not act today?

Well, that’s the attitude I’m trying to overcome. It’s not always in my best interest to act today. Everybody has to have an off switch, and the ability to resist the temptation to grind or work hard at every waking hour. It’s just not healthy. That I’m only 22 years old, and feel like I have the mental wear and tear of a 42 year old…surely can’t be healthy.

Yet everywhere you look across the affiliate marketing landscape, grinding hard is the cool thing to do. I read a forum topic a few weeks ago with the title line “How much do you earn in a day?”

A guy, admittedly with his head somewhere up his own arse, had wandered in bragging about his $1000/days. He promptly received a bunch of criticism that he was small-time, a little fish in a big ocean. He had no right to be smug. It got me thinking though.

Would I rather be the “big time” affiliate who’s torturing himself to add the next zero on his pay cheque? Or simply the smug dude who’s perfectly content with his $365,000/year? As far as I’m concerned, that’s not small time. Look at the average annual earnings in the United States and it’s anything but small time.

This industry seems to judge affiliates by the flash cars, the fancy mansions and the number of Americans they’ve convinced to shed the pounds with acai. It all boils down to money, and yet money is only a gateway to opportunities. It’s not happiness in itself.

I’ve always preached the need to work hard and harder than most. But the importance of appreciating what I already have is only just dawning on me. The next time somebody tells me to get back to the grind at 2am, or to stop thinking about tomorrow rather than today, I’ll probably tell them with all due respect – to go fuck themselves.

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

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The Power Of Keyword Sets On Facebook

One of the things those gurus love to preach is the usefulness of targeting your Facebook ads with keyword sets. If I hear one more promise that “yeah it’s easy, you just like add some keywords, and then you get a crazy high CTR”, I’m going to stab my eyeballs out with the half-eaten chicken dippers on my desk. It’s only easy if you know where to start. And most people don’t. So let’s start with the basics.

I’m going to show you an example of how keyword targeting worked quite nicely for me last year. The clue for why I’m willing to part with this information is hidden at the end of the last sentence. It worked last year. It might work now, it might not. One thing you’ll learn quickly about keyword targeting is that it has a much smaller scope for scaling. Keyword targeting can make you money, but clever demographic targeting can make you rich. Great marketers have mastered both.

So why do we use keyword sets?

If we’re bidding CPM, we’re paying every time our ad is displayed – no matter who views it, and no matter how relevant they are to the offer. Simple logic dictates that we want to reduce the number of stray eyeballs catching our message to only those who are likely to qualify as potential customers. We can do this by using keywords to search for users who’ve added certain information to their profile.

A fine example was Many Body Theory’s post last month, showing how to create a dating ad on Facebook for insane ROI. The gist of the post was that in order to find people who’d potentially be interested in joining a dating site, we could add “zoosk” to our keyword set and target only users who’ve mentioned or liked Zoosk on their profile.

Suddenly, your target market is reduced from a few million to 30,000 users. The CTR will improve with a great leap but the problem is obvious. How do we scale beyond 30,000 users? Even if every single user popped us $4 per lead, that’s still only $120,000 revenue.

This is where you have to get creative with your keyword sets and learn what I like to call persuasion via association.

Here’s an example of persuasion via association:

Facebook ad example

You’ll noticed I’ve blurred her face out. This is a standard trick I use at the end of the night, after a few too many pints, when I’ve failed to get lucky and instead dragged home a London ghetto rat. Blurring helps, kids. Especially in the morning.

On a serious note, I’ve been working recently to ensure that I only use images if I own the creative license to them. It’s a massively ignored problem in the affiliate world. And although I’m not perfect – some of my creatives still need replacing – you should think twice before sourcing directly from Bing. You’ve got shit in your pants and if the owner of the original image catches a whiff, you’ll probably hear all about it.

Anyway, why is the example above effective? Put simply, it isn’t. Not until you combine it with some highly targeted keywords. Let me show you how it comes together…

Facebook ad example

See where we’re going? All of the keywords are closely related to Manchester United Football Club. Facebook has made a big song and dance about approving ads that sell “unrelated features” in a product. You could argue that Manchester United has absolutely nothing to do with Cupid, Zoosk or whatever dating site you want to promote. But there’s no mention in the ad copy. The only reference we have comes from the girl in our image. She’s wearing a United jersey with that familiar MySpace camera angle that works so well on dating ads.

I’ve experimented a lot with this on Facebook, and it still proves to be successful even after the latest blitzing round of guidelines changes.

The eyes of single, male, Manchester United fans are much more likely to light up when they see an attractive girl flaunting the jersey of their favourite team. It’s a double attention grabber. And if you’re subtle about it, you should be able to get the ad approved before making some vast and sweeping changes to your destination landing page. And that’s where the money is made with this kind of technique.

When I talk about using persuasion via association, there’s a thin line to be obeyed. Capturing the attention of the user with a little association is one thing. Obliterating your quality score by sending a bunch of leads that think they’re going to a dating website with thousands of sexy female Manchester United fans…that’s a different business altogether.

The key is to design a landing page that references your original message – you might find other female United fans when you join us – and build a greater more powerful urge in the reader’s mind. A more powerful urge could be well I’ve been looking around for a girl that shares my interests and I can’t find one, maybe I should give this site a shot?

It’s a lot easier to execute your sales pitch once you’ve grabbed the user’s attention. And you would be amazed how something as simple as an attractive girl wearing the jersey of a guy’s favourite football team can be enough to flick a switch in his mind. Suddenly the service being advertised is cool and compatible. It feels like something where his kind belong. Unfortunately the entire concept will fall apart if you don’t get the landing page pieced together correctly. I’m not going to share my tips for sealing the deal so to speak, so you’ll just have to get testing for yourself.

While this is a very small and niche example, I hope you can appreciate how marketing with keyword sets doesn’t have to be so linear. You don’t have to stick to a favourite football team that your campaign is based around. It could be a favourite band, a certain hobby…the possibilities are pretty endless. As long as this retarded craze for people to “like” shit on Facebook continues, there are always going to be opportunities for marketers to herd individuals in to groups.

If you can find a mutual interest in a large demographic, you can write the kind of laser targeted ad copies that will demand and receive your reader’s attention.

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