The Perils of ‘Saving It For Later’
What’s Hot Today… And Why You Shouldn’t Care
Find The Bright Spots of Your Business

The Perils of ‘Saving It For Later’

If you’re anything like me, you will have a desktop that resembles a barren wasteland of hastily named Jpegs, ‘To Sort’ folders, and a trash can that hasn’t been emptied since 2009.

To the naked eye, it looks like I have some serious hoarding issues.

Who collects dating site logos, I mean, seriously?

I have a bunch of text files filled with nothing but numbers – future projections of traffic stats, conversion rates and earnings. They meant something at the time. But two weeks later, I’ll be damned if I can remember what my calculator was smoking.

Call it poor organization, call it a cluttered desktop, call it whatever the hell you want. I prefer to blame the perils of my worst enemy – the little voice in my head that says “Oh, nice. I’ll save that for later.

How are your bookmarks doing?

If I had a dollar for every bookmark I’ve saved for future reference and never touched again, I’d probably sell this blog on Flippa, migrate to the Caribbean and never speak to any of you ever again. It’s insanity.

Just forraging through my links today, I found some genuinely very useful articles that could help my business moving forward… if it only it were 2009.

If I were to teleport in to your office and glance to the side of your keyboard and mouse, what would I find? If you’re like me, I’d find a notebook tainted by coffee stains. After picking it up and scanning through the pages, I’d find the 101 ‘light bulb moments’ that you scribbled down in excitement, only to bury under new pages never to be referenced again.

Let’s be real. ‘Saving it for later’ means you’re probably not going to see that shit ever again.

And that’s a shame, because it’s retaining the occasional light bulb moment that separates the creative minds from those who are equally creative but hopelessly inept at proving it outside their own heads.

How Can We Get Organised?

It’s quite simple.

If you are the kind of person who stores snippets of a thousand bright ideas, make sure you’re storing them somewhere that you’re going to reference, and act on from time to time.

Unless you set aside a specific time to venture in to your bookmarks, re-read what you’ve saved, and decide whether you want to act on it – the whole gesture is futile, a bloody stupid waste of time. Worthy of a slap in the tits.

The same applies to the notepad on your desk.

I am distancing myself from notepads altogether. They are a nice organization tool in theory – “Mhm, moleskin, I bet this changes my life!” – but in practice, as soon as you’ve turned the page, the scribbles might as well have jumped through the fire exit of your mind.

Instead of using a notepad, I’ve started to record my brainfarts on to post-it notes. This may come across as vapid, or slightly psychopathic, but it’s also very effective.

As soon as I’ve splurged the idea on to my post-it, I’ll drop it in a transparent box next to my Mac.

At the end of every day, or sporadically during the week when I’m having a downtime, I will empty the box and decide whether I want to save the idea for a future project (in which case it gets filed under Maybe Projects), or burn it while fisting myself in the bollocks for even contemplating the lunacy.

You could argue that replacing a notebook with post-it notes is a tiny change, and it is. But the principle has nothing to do with how you document your brainfarts. It has everything to do with remembering to set aside time to trace back and act on them.

Too many light bulb moments get lost in the back of notebooks that serve no purpose other than to make you feel organized. ‘Saving it for later’ only makes sense when your collection tool is not interchangeable with the trash can.

It’s something to remember as you click and drag your entire desktop contents in to a new ‘To Sort’ folder!

If your ‘To Sort’ folder runs six directories deep, your sorting skills probably extend only so far as fiddling with your balls on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. No shame in that, but it’s not particularly smart.

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What’s Hot Today… And Why You Shouldn’t Care

CPA marketers like to divide the affiliate world in to six continents: dating, health, careers, gaming, mobile and zip submits.

These are the verticals that get talked about almost constantly. If you log in to an affiliate network’s control panel, it’s likely that the hottest offers – those pushed above the fold – will fall in to these categories.

If you’re launching CPA campaigns, it makes sense to stick to the tried and tested, because you’re likely to get better support from your networks – most of whom are very familiar with the six continents of markets above.

Networks are better at providing support for offers they know, the offers they see a million other publishers promoting. Naturally, there’s a downside. Saturated offers are also seen as ‘past their peak’. By the time Average Joe is throwing his money at Offer X, the initial conversion rates are likely to have tapered to compensate for the demand. The best time to promote an offer is nearly always before everybody else.

There are many reasons why you might look at the state of the CPA world and draw the conclusion that it’s a shrinking pond with an overflow of hungry fish. That’s my view, and it’s why I’m spending most of my time diversifying away from CPA. Product creation is my number one focus right now, shortly followed by the development of websites that cash in on trends ahead of time.

Stop asking “What’s Hot?”

In the last round of Premium Posts, I included a section on tax season offers. Tax offers are the perfect example of a money machine that materialises as surely as the sun rises. It solves a real-world demand… every single year.

Everybody hates taxes, nobody likes filing them, and many will shit bricks at the thought of making a mistake and somehow ending up in the slammer on fraud charges. A resource that takes the pain out of filing taxes is a nailed down success, year in year out, for as long as taxes remain a pain in the arse.

But for many affiliates – the short term thinkers – this is a real-world demand that passes them by. They’re far too slow to react. And what they’re doing wrong is precisely that: reacting.

The affiliates who pocket the most are those who are planning ahead. While the rest of the world is busy scrummaging for festive tinsel borders to drape on its dating creatives, the long-term planner is already working on tax season creatives. And not just creatives, but entire websites.

I’m not normally the greatest advocate of search engine traffic, but what would you give to have a site at the top of Google for a tax-related keyword right now? Unfortunately, ranking on Google takes time, patience and a painful self-awareness of your small man syndrome.

Most high volume tax keywords have been swept up already by publishers on far greater budgets than your own. It’s one thing to spot and prepare for a future trend, it’s another to launch a website that gets the traction necessary to capitalise on it.

Target the trends within seasonal booms.

When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, my first reaction was to register a domain that welded his name with Halloween. I knew right away that Jacko themed Halloween costumes were going to be all the rage in 4 months time, so I acted as fast as I could to lay the groundwork before most other affiliates even turned their attention to the season.

It sounds like a slightly disturbed mindset to adopt. The greatest pop icon of all time dies, and I’m already pillaging his legacy for commission. But if you don’t look forward, you will constantly find yourself reacting to ‘What’s Hot’. And when you react to what’s hot, it’s too late.

Sure enough, I was able to pocket a lot of money from my Jacko costume groundwork. By the time Halloween rolled around, I was in ‘sucking up traffic‘ mode, while anybody reacting to the trend would have been dawdling in the planning and execution phase.

Even when planning in advance, you have to be realistic. Had I focused my efforts on targeting Halloween 2009 as a whole, I’d have been swept aside by many other companies with bigger budgets and the same foresight. So I focused all my efforts on one angle instead – a dead Michael Jackson.

Competition decreases as your focus increases.

The same concept applies to tax season, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and virtually any seasonal trend. If you don’t have a planning cycle that runs several months ahead of the average consumer, good luck reacting fast enough to make money from him.

You will make life a lot easier by specialising on a trend within the trend. It’s unrealistic to think that even 4 months of preparation is going to be enough to dominate tax-related search engine traffic, which is why you need to segregate keywords and target the low hanging fruit.

Get a whiteboard and list every conceivable concern related to tax season, from every possible angle. You need only target one angle effectively to make a lot of money, and you will reduce the competition by doing so.

Use the AdWords Keyword Tool to find the highest trafficked keywords with the least competition. These are your low hanging fruit.

Once you have your trend within a trend, it’s time to make a commitment to work that isn’t going to produce an immediate return, but hopefully will produce a steady passive income in the future.

Register a domain closely tied to your chosen angle (exact match if possible), and get your sales funnel in place – either by building your own product, or promoting a stable offer that isn’t going to cap out when the season arrives. Then inundate the site with fresh quality content and a constant barrage of quality backlinks.

If this sounds like donkey work, it’s because that’s precisely what it is.

I hire small armies of Filipinos to do the SEO labour for me.

Your goal should be to have a legitimate presence on the web, somewhere close to the top of Google, for a high volume keyword that brings in money on autopilot. With this animal of free traffic at your disposal, you can be much more flexible than the average CPA affiliate when it comes to payouts and margins.

Clearly, it’s too late to build a money-machine for 2012’s tax season. But you can certainly build one for 2013. In fact, there’s no harm in reacting to seasonal trends in 2012, so long as you’re expecting to make a profit next year – rather than next week.

Seasonal trends are sometimes a turn-off for affiliates. Not everybody likes the idea of making their money in one small boom period. So… cover more than one trend. Build a website for a trend in each quarter. With good execution, you’ll never be more than 2 months away from your next money tap, and the cruel satisfaction that comes from watching everybody else rush to build what you have in a fraction of the time.

Most importantly of all, learn to stop reacting to ‘What’s Hot’. Focus on getting to market before the crowd reacts.

Recommended This Week

  • Behold 98 pages of ‘Outside The Box Marketing’, conversion boosting strategies and tips that can actually make you money. Snatch up my Premium Posts Volume 4.

  • If you’re running ads on Facebook or Plentyoffish, FBAdsToolbox is an excellent little time-saver. Simply upload photos, crop to size, and choose from over 80 variations to split-test. Very nice tool.

  • If you’re a new reader here, please add me to your RSS. Also follow me on Twitter. Thanks for reading.

Find The Bright Spots of Your Business

I’ve just finished reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and there’s one point in particular that resonated with me throughout.

If a task is too daunting, or your goals too distant, search for the bright spots and focus on what’s already working.

This is a simple but powerful concept of great significance to Internet Marketers. We are notorious multi-taskers. Our greatest fault is traditionally that we spread ourselves too thin and don’t see projects through to their conclusions.

Think of an SEO project as an example. In your head, you have a starting point – it might be the Google Keyword planner, or an exciting new niche you’ve heard about. And similarly, you have a final destination – typically a highly trafficked, super profitable web property that earns money while you sleep.

The hard part is travelling the road that connects those two destinations. More specifically, it’s the feeling of “What in the hell am I supposed to do now that I’ve launched this shit and I’m sick to death of it?”

Somewhere between defining our vision, and reaping the rewards of its fruition, we face problems; twists and turns that deter us from completing the project. The middle part – the long open road – is always the hardest.

To use the SEO project example, our open road might involve endless backlink building, content creation and keyword tracking. Much of this is laced with dead-ends and hours spent unproductively. The only way to finish these projects, to realise our vision, is to keep searching for the bright spots.

Ask yourself, “What is working? How can I build on it?

Maybe one of the pages on your site is whoring the majority of the traffic. In which case, can you isolate the variables that are fuelling its popularity? Is it being shared socially? Why is it being shared socially? How can you create more content that ticks the same boxes?

This flexible mindset of learning on the road is vital if you’re going to connect your launch foundations with the end vision of a prosperous money machine.

A fixed mindset rarely ever works in business, and certainly not where SEO is concerned. We are much more successful when we pinpoint the areas that are bringing us the most success, and adapt our work going forward.

This is a fault that has troubled me no end in the past. I have a habit of being too concrete with my processes, and not allowing user feedback or valuable data to manifest itself and shape a more productive strategy going forward. I’m a pretty stubborn bastard, and it’s probably cost me a lot of money.

Switch certainly struck a chord with my stubborn side. I’ve started to re-evaluate my career objectives and match them up to the bright spots of my current business model. It’s resulted in me culling two entire dedicated servers and dropping about 20 domains, but I’m pretty sure I’ve made the right decision going forward.

If you feel like your wheels are spinning in the tracks, and you can’t seem to inch closer to your defining vision, the easiest and most damaging attitude is to focus at what you’re doing wrong. It’s much more productive to find the bright spots and use them as a guiding light. Hinge your business around what’s already working. Focus on your strengths.

I really enjoyed the first half of Switch. It packs in a lot of useful actionable advice that I haven’t read in any other change bible (and I’ve read my fair share). The book loses its focus around the halfway point and descends in to more of a tribute towards the authors’ favourite social psychologists, which might go unnoticed and appreciated by some, but for others will feel like a Robert Cialdini overdose. Still, a recommended read.

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