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Make Money Online!!!

 

 

Whether you’re looking to make some fast cash, or you’re after long-term, more sustainable income-producing results, there are certainly ways you can make money online today. The truth is that making money online isn’t as difficult as most make it out to seem. It does require some discipline. Sure. Without discipline, you’ll find it tough to make a buck both online or offline.

However, if you’re looking for realistic ways you can start earning money online now, then it really truly does boil down to seven paths you can take towards profit. Some will provide you with immediate results, helping you to address your basic monthly necessities such as rent, utilities and groceries, while others have the potential to transform your life by revolutionizing your finances in the long term. 

No matter what method you select for generating your online income, there’s one very important thing to understand. Today, across this globe, with its 7+ billion inhabitants, there are two recurring things that people are looking for more of. Either people want more time or they want more money. The truth? Time is far more valuable than money. You can’t recreate time. Once it’s spent, it’s gone forever. Not money.

Money can be earned and spent, saved and pilfered, invested and wasted. Not time. That’s why time is far more valuable than money. The point? When you lack the luxury of time, making money online (or offline) can seem like an impossible task. How are you supposed to do that when you’re working at a life-sucking nine-to-five job? While the stability of full-time employment might allow most to sleep well at night, it doesn’t empower your creative juices to search for new income-producing strategies.

Now, this isn’t about some get-rich-quick method here. If you want to get rich quick, forget about trying to do it on the internet. Sure, Facebook ads are all the craze, but without a serious understanding of the mechanics behind sales funnels and conversion optimizations, which only comes after years and years of in-the-trenches work in the internet marketing field, you’re largely wasting your time trying to “get rich quick.”

How to Make Money Online

No matter what method you end up using to generate an income on the web, you need to adjust your mindset to help empower you rather than discourage you. The truth? Making money online can be fraught with avoidable pitfalls. There’s no shortage to the rah-rah cheers of internet marketers looking to find ways to ensure they part you from your hard-earned cash. The trick? Cancel the noise and get to the real meat and potatoes, so to speak.

To do that, you have to harbor a few fundamental guiding principles in your mind. Today, if you’re at all serious about generating a full-time income (and more) from your online activities, then you need to focus on passive income as opposed to active income. Sure, the active income will help you survive. That’s the scarcity mentality at play. But it’s the passive income ideas that will help you thrive.

 

Considering that you have a finite amount of time, passive income should make up a large part of your work. And if you’re serious about generating any semblance of income online, then passive income should be one of your sole goals and ambitions. Why? Simply this. Wouldn’t you prefer to do the work one time and get paid repeatedly as opposed to relying on your time to generate that income?

Since time is the most precious commodity on this earth, invest the time at the front-end so that you can reap the benefits on the back-end. This means putting in a bit of sweat equity and not getting paid today. Rather, you’ll get paid somewhere down the road. And you’ll continue getting paid whether you keep building that passive income stream or you stop. It’s obvious that this is the preferred route, but clearly the road less traveled.

Anyone interested in making money online should be pursuing passive income, while also working on active income. There are loads of ways to generate an income passively on the internet, many of which start at the foundation of having a blog, generating substantial traffic and building an audience and a list. Is it easy? Nope. Is it worth it? It sure is. But that doesn’t mean you need to start a blog to make money online today.

You could opt for a non-blog-starting route. Sure. But if you’re looking for longevity in your income-producing abilities on the internet, then a blog should be your primary aim.

 

How Can App Makers Improve Revenue and Keep Users Engaged?

1. Leverage the app economy.

If you’re looking to address some immediate financial needs, then the app economy is likely right for you. Thanks to the global sharing phenomenon, launched in part by our smartphones and ever-burgeoning global connectivity, you could easily opt for some quick active income by using well-known apps. From ride sharing to deliveries and even quick tasks, there’s an app for that today, as the saying goes.

Drive for Uber or Lyft: If you’re in a locale where you can find Uber or Lyft (or even one of the many competitors around the world such as China’s Didi), you could easily make a respectable income. The hours are flexible and you can work as you see fit, making it perfect even if you currently have full-time employment but are looking to make some money on the side.

Deliver for Postmates: Apps like Postmates are a dime a dozen today. Still, Postmates is by far the most popular, and you don’t even need a car in some locations to make money with this app. In some urban developments and major metropolises like Manhattan, a bike would suffice.

iBotta: Earn cash back rewards by purchasing featured products at major retailers. All you have to do is add rebates, go shopping, then snap a photo of your receipt to earn your cash back. Simple and effective. Plus this app has over 50,000 five-star reviews on the App Store.

Task Rabbit: Another simple and straightforward app for making a bit of side-hustle income is the Task Rabbit app. Tasks can be anything from simple repairs to more exhaustive undertakings. The app carefully vets each service provider to ensure the highest quality, and it’s a great way to make some extra income on the side on your own terms.

Ebates: This app offers a simple way to make money online by buying whatever you’re already buying and then getting a cash-back reward. With eBates, there’s no scanning receipts. Simply click a link in the app and buy from the store. You’ll automatically be credited your cash rewards upon purchase along with receiving an email confirmation.  

Swagbucks: With Swagbucks, there are a number of ways you can make money. You can shop online, watch videos, answer surveys and surf the web. The app gives you both cash back and gift cards as a reward for your efforts.

Inbox Dollars: Another app you can use to make money online is Inbox Dollars, which pays you for watching television, taking surveys and shopping. There are cash offers here and it’s relatively similar to some of the other apps in this arena.  

What You’ll Really Earn on Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit Every Month

2. Use existing websites.

You could also opt to use existing websites for making money. These include both active income and passive income methods. For example, you could sell some used items or invest in creating some digital designs that then can be sold on merchandise. Again, devote a sizable portion of your time to passive income so that you can slowly build up earnings that will arrive on autopilot without any extra added effort.

Of course, a large portion of these sites do have their own respective apps. But these are certainly less involved in the gig economy, and more so in the longer term projects that exist in the fields of photography, online marketing, graphic design and web development, for example.

 

Craigslist: This site has been the go-to resource for over a decade now for people that are looking to make a bit of extra money online. You can easily sell your used stuff, rent out a spare room in your home or apartment, and offer up your services to the world.

Upwork: This website offers a great marketplace for selling just about any professional service. You don’t need a merchant account, website of your own or anything else for that matter. All you need to do is be able to provide a high-quality service at a reasonable price. But be informed, you will have to compete with many others that are constantly bidding on open jobs.

Cafe Press: This website allows you to create digital designs that can then be sold on the platform. You’ll earn a commission for everything that sells and you’ll never have to deal with printing, warehousing, customer service and so on. The site has over 2 million independent designers that have created products being sold online here. If you have some graphic design skills, then this is a great potential source for your web-based income.

Fiverr: Israeli-based Fivver was started in 2010 by Shal Wininger and Micha Kaufam. It’s a great resource for selling just about any service online. You can offer gigs as low as $5 but also get paid much more for upgrades and add-ons. There are plenty of providers earning 6 figures on Fiverr so it’s definitely a worthwhile cause for generating a healthy income. Just ensure that you provide some serious value.

Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you’ll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online.

Flippa: If you have a penchant for buying and selling, you could use Flippa, and its higher-end counterpart, Deal Flow Brokerage to buy and sell websites for a profit. You’ll need to know what you’re doing here, but you could easily make a sizable income by flipping income-generating websites for profit.

 

 

Etsy: While Etsy’s popularity has declined recently, it’s still a great resource for selling handmade items online. No need for complex ecommerce sites or merchant accounts or any sort of automation. The company takes a commission of every sale and charges a small listing fee per item. But many still use Etsy as their primary source of income. The best part is that you can also sell digital products on here such as poster designs.

Shutterstock and iStockPhoto: Have a keen eye for photography? Why not sell photos on some of the leading photography sites. You’ll need some design software skills to tag along. But if you do have skill in this arena, it’s a great potential source for passive income.

Threadless: Similar to CafePress, Chicago-based Threadless also allows you to sell digital designs in the form of t-shirts and other merchandise such as phone cases, mugs, beach towels and so on.

Zazzle: Another great resource for selling online is to use Robert Beaver’s Zazzle. The site is somewhat similar to Etsy and virtually anyone can make money online selling a variety of items here. From art to handmade items and customizable products, you can pretty much sell anything here.

5 Ways to Make Enough Side Money to Eventually Quit Your Job

3. Sell your own stuff.

Ready to enter the ecommerce fray? Why not sell your own stuff. Of course, along with selling your own stuff on your own website comes a whole slew of both responsibilities and technical configuration and requirements. For starters, you’ll need a website and a hosting account. You’ll also need a merchant account (sure you can use Stripe or PayPal). Then you’ll need to design that site, build a sales funnel, create a lead magnet and do some email marketing.

You’ll also need ecommerce software, fulfillment software, worry about warehousing, customer service, refunds and so on. But that’s not all. You’ll also need traffic. Think search engine optimization, Facebook ads, and other social media campaigns. Sound like a lot of work? Sure, it is. Especially if you do it all on your own. You could opt for Amazon’s platform, which might be the easier route. But, then again, at the end of the day, this is a serious business, which could produce significant profits. So you’re either all in or you’re not.

Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA): You could easily start selling on the largest online store in the world and forget all the muss and fuss about building out your own infrastructure and worrying about traffic. You will need to pay a commission, but most of the other processes will be automated for you.

Drop-shipping: Amazon offers one form of drop-shipping, but there are other resources for drop-shipping products that you’ll never actually have to see or handle yourself. You’ll simply need to close the sale. Providers like SaleHoo, Worldwide Brands, and many others, offer you a great resource for drop-shipping your products.  

High-ticket consulting or coaching: You could sell your own high-ticket consulting or coaching products from your website. You’ll still need a website, merchant account, sales funnel, lead magnet and many other items. But you can easily earn a substantial amount of money from each individual customer, making it well worth the arduous setup required.

Making Money Online: 5 Major Online Selling Opportunities for Any Entrepreneur

4. Sell as an affiliate.

There are loads of resources for making money online as an affiliate. You could source products from ClickBank, Commission Junction, Rakuten Marketing, Share-a-Sale,Impact Radius and many others. Plus, many of the larger companies have their own affiliate programs as well. Do your due diligence and find the right company with a relevant product or service to your audience that you can sell as an affiliate.

In some cases, you will need an active website with substantial traffic to get approved. Selling as an affiliate isn’t easy by any means, but if you do have the audience, it can definitely amount to a substantial amount of income.           Why Affiliate Networks Are So Important to Online Affiliate Marketing

5. Start a blog.

If you’re serious about making money online, start a blog. Blogging is one of the easiest and most sustainable income sources. As long as the blog is setup the right way, in the right niche, with the right content targeted at the right audience, and the offer is complementary to the content, you could make a tremendous amount of passive income from a blog.

While some might think that starting a blog is an arduous effort, when you understand the precise steps you need to take, it becomes far easier. It all starts in the decision of choosing a profitable niche and picking the right domain name. From there, you need to build your offers. You can easily sell things like mini-email courses, full-blown trainings, ebooks, and so on.

Related: 6 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into a Money Maker

6. Email marketing.

The money is most certainly in the list. If you’re at all interested in online marketing, setup email software and create a lead magnet that you can use in your sales funnel. Then, build up that list. It’s often said that you can expect to earn about $1 per subscriber per month. If you have a list of 10,000 subscribers, that means you can earn roughly around $10,000 per month. You will need to deliver value and not pitch them on every email, but it is a very achievable goal in a short period.

There are many ways to get people onto your list. Lead magnets are one such resource. For example, you can build ebooks, checklists and cheat sheets. But you can also do content upgrades, such as PDF versions of an article with added resources in them, four-part video training series, and more. Think about your audience and what you can offer them to better serve them, then treat them with some respect and you’ll eventually reap the rewards.

 

 

One of Facebook’s First Employees Explains Why Email Marketing Is Better Than Social Media Marketing

7. Webinars trainings.

Webinars are quite possibly one of the most potent ways you can make an exorbitant amount of money online. Russell Brunson often says that if you do a webinar every single week for a year, you’ll be a millionaire at the end of it. You’ll need an audience to train and you’ll need to know what you’re talking about. Of course, this usually requires having a website and some semblance of an online presence.

However, people can still do webinars without all of that. For example, you might have a sizable social media following and you train them every week on something to do with social media. But you will need a product to embed and sell at some point. Don’t worry about it in the beginning. And by far, the best webinar platform out there is certainly GoToWebinar. Hands down, there isn’t even another platform that comes close.

However, not matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you’ll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you’ll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter. That’s the important thing here.

 

 

How to Build a Profitable Business Online by Selling Nothing

Imagine a business that contains no fulfillment, deliverables or customer support and can be sold for 25 times its monthly net profit. Now, imagine this business also maintains a consistent 30 percent margin and could be managed without any full-time employees.

Related: How I Make a Full-Time Income in My Spare Time — And How You Can, Too

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.

It’s called affiliate marketing and it’s a business model drenched in time and location freedom, impact and profit. It’s also the first business my wife, Jill, and I started together back in 2012.

You see, back then Jill had a social media management service and my business (which had started feeling like a job) was coming to an abrupt end. We had been researching potential business models (hello, selling physical products, online courses, done-for-you services, coaching, consulting — you name it) and finally landed on this little thing called affiliate marketing..

If you’ve never heard of it, don’t sweat. Because once I’m done, you’ll have a three-tiered strategy you can use to build a wildly profitable business … by selling nothing.

Sound good? Great. Let’s dive in!

What is affiliate marketing anyway?

Simply put, it breaks down into three simple steps:

  1. A visitor comes to your website.
  2. You recommend relevant tools, products or services in your content via outbound affiliate links.
  3. If the visitor clicks on any of those links and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

Basically, you are the “connector” between your audience and a product creator or service provider you’ve either used, like or believe in. What’s even better is commissions can range anywhere from 4 percent (like Amazon’s associate program) to 75 percent (by selling digital products through Clickbank) depending on the industry and the offer.

Not too shabby!

So, how do you get started? First, you need to find and sign up for an affiliate program. Now, it’s very possible that an individual merchant will have its own in-house program, however the easiest way to get started is to join relevant affiliate networks.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of 10 affiliate networks you can sign up to today. What do you do once you’ve registered though?

Related: 4 Marketing Strategies Every Startup Can Afford

Strategy 1: Product reviews

Good news: Creating a persuasive product review is pretty simple.

Why?

Because there are millions of people searching for honest reviews of the products they are interested in purchasing. Think about it: Have you ever Googled a product you wanted to buy to see what others have said?

This is where your product review would come in. If you can produce a high-quality objective review (and you understand the basics of search engine optimization), you can rank on page one of Google — allowing you to generate commissions from one single post.

(Hot tip: It’s always best you use the product so you can speak honestly about it.)

Related: 8 Ways to Make Money While You Sleep

Strategy 2: Strategic partnerships

Fun fact: According to Statista, ecommerce sales are expected to hit close to $5 trillion globally by 2021.

Five. Trillion. Dollars. Let that sink in for a second.

Since there is no shortage of new industries or products coming onto the market, why not collaborate with companies that line up with your values and spread the word on them? One of the ways we’re doing this is by building strategic partnerships with existing course creators in our space.

And since the global e-learning market is projected to hit $331 billionby 2025, there is a ton of opportunity for collaboration. Wondering how this works? Here’s an example from our business. There is an entrepreneur in our space who has created one of the best online courses on how to use webinars to grow your business. Since we don’t plan on creating any courses on this subject, we reached out to her to see if we could send her leads for her course.

Once we got the green light, we wrote a blog post that we use to send qualified leads to her webinar on how to create webinars. I know, so meta. From there, if someone makes a purchase from that webinar for her course on webinars, we make a commission.

*fist pump*

Not into selling courses? No problem! You can build strategic partnerships with service providers, software creators or consultants. It just takes a little courage to put yourself out there.

Related: 4 Ways You Can Attract the Traffic You Want to Your Affiliate Site

Strategy 3: Product launches

Confession: This strategy is dependent on your industry.

Why?

Because there are really only a few industries that run launches to sell their products and programs. Some of them include:

  • Health and fitness
  • Business
  • Finance and trading
  • Love and relationships

You likely already know by now if your industry uses this strategy and if so, there’s a big opportunity you can take advantage of right now. In the business space there are a ton of them, however, there is one that seems to take over the whole internet for two weeks in February. Each year it opens up for enrollment at $2,000 and affiliates earn at least $1,000 per referral.

To give you an idea of how much money you can make, we’ve heard some of the top affiliates of this program earn close to $1 million each year.

Seriously.

Want to get in on that action? Do some research in your industry to see if there are any influencers or experts who not only run product launches, but have a partner program.

While not every business will be able to take advantage of all three of these strategies, decide which one works best for your industry and start building up that affiliate revenue today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Social Media Marketing

Generating Leads With Instagram Stories: A Step By Step Guide 2019

Instagram is popularly known as a social networking and photo sharing platform which is widely popular amongst the teens and young adults. We all see Instagram in that light. However, it is also a great platform for generating B2B leads.

Here are some of the statistics that will prove that you should start seeing Instagram as a lead generation platform.

  • 80% of users follow at least one business on Instagram
    • 75% of Instagram users take actions after visiting a post
    • 72% saying they have made fashion, beauty or style-related purchases after seeing something on Instagram
    • 60% of users say that they have learned about a product or service on the platform
    • Instagram has more than 800 million monthly active users
    • 200 million Instagram users actively visit business profile every day

Even separate Instagram features such as Instagram Stories gets more than 300 million daily active users. This means that if you focus on only this feature, you can still generate a lot of leads.

In order to do that, you will have to convince followers and influence their buying decision process but how?

Here is how you can influence the buying decision process on Instagram.

Want to know how brands are using Instagram stories and converting followers into customers?

Here is how brands are using Instagram stories and kind of stories brands put out.

How to Generate Leads with Instagram Stories?

  1. Add Personality to Your Stories

The biggest advantage of Instagram stories is that you can personalize them according to your brand personality. Add a human touch to your Instagram stories because your target audience wants to see the human side of your brand.

Instagram audience want an experience, not informational content so your Instagram stories should be designed with that in mind. Apply the stickers and music to your Instagram stories to add individuality to your brand.

You can introduce your audience with your team and get everyone involved even the C-level executives. Your followers will think that they are a part of your company and will be more interested in buying from you because you are valuing them.

  1. Make Popular Content a Regular Feature
    Humans are driven by habits. When we like something, we want to see it again and again until we get bored of it. Would you like to see your favorite TV show again? Yes.

Would you like to read your favorite magazine again? Yes. The same rule applies to Instagram stories as well. Identify the type of content that is striking a chord with your target audience and make it a regular feature of your Instagram feed.

For instance, your target audience on Instagram engages with product demos. Make it an integral part of your Instagram strategy. This will help you win over loyal followers. The more they engage with your Instagram posts, the more chances you must convert them into B2B leads.

  1. Share Purpose Driven Posts

If you want more engagement, leads and sales via Instagram, Sue B Zimmerman, an Instagram expert shares her formula for success. According to her,

  • You should have a posting strategy that aligns with your brand
    • Use relevant hashtags instead of popular ones
    • Use geotags to boost user engagement
    • Add a call to action
  1. Use Captions as your CTAs
    As mentioned above, you must use a call to action to tell users what to do next and persuade them to take actions you want them to take. Unlike other social platforms, you need to a bit careful when using CTAs because going overboard with CTAs will cause more harm than good.

Instagram users like to stay on Instagram instead of going to other websites and platforms, but you also have to divert them to your website so how to do it: By mixing up your call to actions.

Instagram allows you to add more content to your caption, so you should include a call to action subtly in your caption. You can even add a mini blog just like this one.

  1. Become a Thought Leader on Instagram
    Instagram stories expire after 24 hours. This makes it an ideal choice for delivering thought leadership content. When you deliver short-lived thought leadership content via Instagram stories, your target audience will consider it as an exclusive experience.

Additionally, it creates a sense of urgency among them, forcing them to see your content as quickly as possible.

What type of content should you share to portray yourself as an industry thought leader? Share your experience; give useful advice and insights on trending industry topics and burning issues. You can also give a product demonstration and show how customers can benefit your products.

  1. Use Videos
    According to Constant Contact, you should use video extensively because 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. It is also one of the best ways to keep the audience engaged and help you build connections quickly. They went on to make this fact public by sharing a post about it.

Here is what that post looked like.

Create Your Own Sales Funnel For Instagram

  1. Every Instagram user is different and belongs to a different stage in the buyer’s journey. You will find everyone from a teen searching for his or her favorite brand to a business owner searching for different brands or their products. Post Instagram content and stories for every stage of the sales funnel. Don’t let leads slip through the cracks in your sales funnel.

Create Instagram ads for every stage of the funnel. For the top of the funnel, focus on solving your industry problems and tell prospects about your company and how your company works.

For middle to bottom funnel, you should publish Instagram content that is comprehensive and focused towards your products and services. Highlight the benefits your customers would get after using your products and services.

  1. Create a Clickable Instagram Feed
    Social media marketingexpert “Peg Fitzpatrick” specializes in Instagram marketing have a clever tip to generate B2B leads. She creates a clickable Instagram feed by using a tool known as Gallery Metricsand suggests you should do the same.
  2. Deliver Value
    I saved the best one for the last. Lead by delivering value. This tip came from none other than Sue B Zimmerman, who is one of the top Instagram experts to follow for Instagram marketing.

She suggests that businesses should focus more on delivering value to customers instead of asking customers to turn on their notification or follow them. You can automatically convert profile visitors and followers into leads by constantly delivering value. Her Instagram post says it all.

Let’s recap. Start off by creating an Instagram strategy for every stage of the buyer’s journey and have some purpose behind every post you publish on Instagram.

Add a human touch your Instagram posts so your audience can relate to it. Establish yourself as a thought leader and use video to grow your sales. Lastly, you should lead by constantly delivering value to your customers.

 

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: A Step-By-Step, Comprehensive Guide

 If you’ve ever wondered how to earn passive income from your website, this post is going to become your new Bible.

Not only am I going to teach you the basics of affiliate marketing, but we’ll also dive into some real examples from professional affiliate marketers who are making thousands or even millions of dollars per year.

In other words…

Want to make a few extra bucks on the side without doing much?

I got you covered.

Or maybe you’re wondering how to become an affiliate marketer and quit your day job?

You’ll find this useful too.

Let’s jump in.

Table of Contents

  • So What Is “Affiliate Marketing,” Anyway?
  • Why Affiliate Marketing Rocks for Bloggers
  • The Types of Bloggers Most Likely to Succeed with Affiliate Marketing
  • How to Sell Affiliate Products (Without Selling Your Soul)
  • Behind the Hype: The Realities of Affiliate Marketing
  • How the Affiliate Marketing “Engine” Works
  • The Three Levels of Affiliate Marketing Mastery
  • How to Decide Which Products to Promote
  • 7 Simple Steps to Affiliate Marketing Success
  • How to Start Affiliate Marketing

So What Is “Affiliate Marketing,” Anyway?

Well, here’s our (somewhat long-winded) definition:

If you’ve been listening to us for long, you’ve learned that bloggers make money by building an audience that trusts them, and then offering products or services that will genuinely help that audience.

Affiliate marketing is really just a quicker way to offer products and services without creating them yourself.

In practice, it’s a modern interpretation of a very old idea — getting a commission on a sale. You introduce your readers to products or services from trusted companies or individuals and get a commission on any sales to customers you send their way.

For bloggers, that means you find a product or service that you like, promote it to your readers, and earn part of the profit on each sale that you make.

Simple idea, right?

Let’s see an example.

In our WordPress hosting post, we give readers the ins and outs of how to choose an excellent host. A portion of readers want to know who we recommend based on those criteria, and so here’s what we say:

The arrow is pointing to an affiliate link. If anyone clicks on that link and buys from them, we earn a commission

Bloggers can include links like this in blog posts, emails, social media posts, and much more. We’ll get into all the possibilities later.

For now, though, it’s important that you know exactly what affiliate marketing means — as well as its potential for you as a blogger.

 

Why Affiliate Marketing Rocks for Bloggers

At Smart Blogger, we’re big fans of selling affiliate products and services.

Here are three compelling reasons why we think you should look into it, too:

  1. You can monetize your blog sooner than you would if you created your own products from scratch.
  2. You can learn what types of products your audience is clamoring for, reducing the risk of any future product launch of your own.
  3. You can get your readers used to the idea of buying from you — and increase their level of trust (as long as you pick the right products and services to sell).

All pretty significant advantages to you as a growing blogger.

But that’s not all. There are additional benefits to affiliate marketing as well:

  • It’s easy to implement. You share a link with your readers and that’s it. You don’t have to worry about tracking sales, providing customer service, setting up payments, or anything else. All that support is handled by the merchant.
  • It doesn’t require you to have a support team in place. Affiliate marketing is completely doable even if you’re a one-person show.
  • It doesn’t require specialized expertise. You don’t have to be a world-renowned expert in your niche. You only need to be familiar enough with your topic area to know what products are good and worth recommending to your audience.
  • It’s low-effort and low-risk. While affiliate marketing isn’t exactly passive income, it doesn’t require a significant time or money investment on your part.

Sounds pretty good in theory, right? Let’s see if affiliate marketing is right for you.

 

The Types of Bloggers Most Likely to Succeed with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate income can look pretty attractive, but you need to have a few things in place first if you want to succeed.

For instance, don’t jump into the deep end if you’re still figuring out how to start a blog.

Instead, make sure that:

  • You’re producing regular content on your blog. You have to give a lot of free value to your readers to build your credibility before you start asking for sales.
  • You have an email list with at least 500 subscribers. If you can attract and keep 500+ subscribers engaged around your topic, you have a foundation with earning potential.

Hold Off on Affiliate Marketing if…

If you already have a list of at least a few hundred people and are planning to sell services like coaching, consulting, design, writing or other professional services (as in legal advice, finance, or real estate) in the short term, it’s probably best to hold off on affiliate marketing.

That’s because for service providers, your best bet is selling services first. It’s simply your most profitable way to start monetizing.

You can consider adding affiliate offers into the mix once your money-making machine from services is running smoothly.

Still with me? Great!

 

How to Sell Affiliate Products (Without Selling Your Soul)

Affiliate marketing has gotten a bad rap in some circles because of unethical marketers who annoy their readers with junk ads, offers that don’t apply to them, or general spam.

These bloggers have given affiliate marketers an unsavory reputation.

But when affiliate marketing is done right, it’s a positive, powerful “engine” for generating value for you and your readers.

The bloggers who succeed understand this simple truth:

Your relationship with your audience, and the trust that you build with them, is your single most important asset.

The importance of trust can’t be stressed enough. You have to invest the time and effort to constantly nurture trust with your audience — and take care to never do anything to betray that confidence.

So whenever you’re tempted to cut corners or venture into the murkier regions of affiliate marketing, just remember you’re risking the relationship with your readers. In other words — don’t do it!

The Simple Golden Rule for Success

Here’s our foolproof rule for success as an ethical affiliate marketer:

You should only become an affiliate for products that you have personally used — even if that means purchasing a product so you can kick the tires and decide if it’s something you can recommend.

Why? Because your reputation’s on the line.

Think about it: what’s the first thing you do when you need a new doctor, mechanic or building contractor?

You ask for recommendations from people you trust. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools.

But when you get advice from friends that turns out to be bad, you can’t help but wonder, “What on earth were they thinking?”

You probably won’t value their opinion as highly the next time around — if you even ask them at all.

As a blogger, you can’t afford to have your good name damaged because you didn’t do your due diligence and check a product out thoroughly.

And doing it right makes everything so much easier.

When you can honestly and wholeheartedly recommend a product or service that you’ve tried and liked, your marketing will simply work.

You won’t feel sleazy or unethical. You’ll be legitimately excited about the product — and your audience will appreciate your authenticity and feel confident buying from you.

That’s a good place to be — for both you and your readers.

But in case this is all sounding a little too to good to be true, a few cautions are in order.

 

Behind the Hype: The Realities of Affiliate Marketing

Most good things have a downside, and affiliate marketing is no exception. But if you’re aware of the potential trade-offs and pitfalls, you can enter into it with your eyes open.

So let’s start our reality check with a few cautionary points.

Quick and Easy to Set Up Doesn’t Mean Instant or Free

Selling affiliate products is certainly quick and easy when compared with creating, marketing and delivering your own products. But that doesn’t mean it’s a breeze.

You’ll have to take care in choosing which products to represent — and you’ll need to invest time and at least some money into finding the best affiliate products for your readers.

And you can’t expect miracles or overnight successes. You’ll need some trial and error to discover what works and build a mix of offers over time.

Earning While You Sleep Doesn’t Mean “Set It and Forget It”

No blog income is truly, completely passive. If you’re looking for an “easy button,” don’t become a blogger!

Even when you’re set up with some affiliate offers, you have to continue the work of growing and engaging your audience — and that means creating great content and building trust with your readers.

Without a loyal and engaged audience, you’ll struggle to find success via affiliate marketing. And without a growing list you’ll quickly “burn out” the audience you already have.

The best way to think of it is like this: affiliate marketing is a money-making add-on to a successful blog, not an alternative to a successful blog.

Even Smart Bloggers Can Make Dumb Choices

Many bloggers have been fooled by unscrupulous merchants. If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. Even if a merchant is above-board, they might not be a good fit for your audience.

Likewise, you shouldn’t let yourself be seduced by the tactics of less ethical affiliate marketers. You can find numerous tips and tricks in affiliate marketing forums that might help you make a quick buck but could quickly break trust with your audience.

Here are some quick tips to help you stay safe:

  • Never pay a fee to become an affiliate — that includes membership or setup fees. Merchants who charge you fees are running scams on rookies who don’t know any better.
  • Don’t let yourself be pressured into using “black hat” strategies to drive traffic to your site — e.g., aggressive SEO tactics that focus exclusively on tricking search engines instead of pleasing humans. This kind of activity can alienate your audience and get you banned from search engine listings.
  • Don’t promote a product until you’ve subscribed to your affiliate partners’ email list and know exactly what your readers can expect in terms of follow-up marketing. Your potential partner may have a more aggressive style than your readers are used to, and that can reflect poorly on you. If there’s a big mismatch, don’t promote the product.

Now that you know the pluses and minuses of affiliate marketing, let’s dig in for a behind-the-scenes look.

 

How the Affiliate Marketing “Engine” Works

Even though it’s based on a simple idea, affiliate marketing can be complicated, especially when you start getting into the nitty-gritty details.

The section will help you understand the most important concepts without drowning you in technical detail.

Let’s start with some basic definitions.

Affiliate Marketing Glossary

Affiliate marketing has its own terminology, which can be confusing at first. But if you become familiar with these concepts, you’ll be well on your way.

Here are a few terms it’s important to know:

Affiliate — the partner who promotes the merchant’s products for a commission. Also called the publisher.

Affiliate agreement — a contract that both parties agree to specifying the rules, responsibilities, rates to be paid and other legalities.

Affiliate link — a trackable URL that identifies the affiliate as the source of targeted traffic to a merchant’s site. (A click on an affiliate link counts as a referral.)

Affiliate network — an online marketplace where merchants list their products and where affiliates can find products to sell.

Affiliate program — a program set up by merchants to pay commissions when affiliates refer people to their products.

Commission — a percentage of the total sale that is paid to the affiliate for referring the sale.

Cookie — in affiliate marketing, cookies are used to assign a unique ID to the buyer in order to tag the purchase as being referred by you. Cookies usually have a predetermined lifespan, so that even if the buyer doesn’t purchase right away, you will still get credit for the sale if it occurs within that timeframe (often 60 days or more).

Customer — the end user or purchaser of the merchant’s product or service.

Merchant — the owner or creator of the product or service. Also known as a retailer or brand.

Referral — credit for a click or a sale that occurs when the affiliate sends traffic to the merchant’s site.

The Mechanics of Getting Paid for Promoting Affiliate Products

Affiliate marketing can get pretty technical. Fortunately, you don’t need to know all the details to get started.

The actual mechanics run in the background, thanks to the merchant’s affiliate program software.

But here’s a quick look behind the scenes:

  1. When an affiliate joins the merchant’s program, he or she is given a unique ID and a specific URL to use when promoting the product.
  2. The affiliate includes the link in their blog content and/or subscriber emails and invites readers to click it to find out more.
  3. When a potential buyer clicks on the link to visit the merchant’s site, a cookie identifying the affiliate is placed on their computer. The cookie ensures that the publisher is credited with the referral sale even if it occurs days or even weeks later.
  4. Whenever a buyer completes the sale process, the merchant checks the sales record for a cookie identifying the source of the referral.
  5. If the merchant finds a cookie with an affiliate ID, the affiliate is credited with the sale.
  6. The merchant makes reports available so that the affiliate can see their referrals (clicks) and sales.
  7. The merchant pays the affiliate commission at the end of each payment period.

Here’s a graphical overview to help you visualize the process:

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The flow is pretty straightforward once you understand it, and it works the same no matter what kind of product you’re promoting or how established you are as an affiliate marketer.

So let’s look at the typical progression for a blogger who’s serious about making affiliate marketing a major source of income.

The Three Levels of Affiliate Marketing Mastery

As you mature as a blogger and affiliate marketer, you’ll pass through three distinct stages — each one with its own strategies and typical earning levels.

Knowing what level you’re at is important. If you try to skip ahead and use strategies you’re not ready for yet, you’ll likely fail.

Use these descriptions to figure out where you are in your blogging journey and build from there.

Stage 1: Getting Started

You can start selling to your list once you’ve proven that your topic has legs — i.e., you have enough engaged subscribers to prove your blog is a viable money-making platform.

Generally speaking, you’re ready for this stage once you have 500-1,000 email subscribers and at least 10% of them are opening your emails. At this point, you can start testing products to see what your audience is likely to respond to.

Applicable strategies: Experiment with a few products or services to find a “core earner” and round out your affiliate offers with a few complementary digital products (ebooks, packaged services, download products, etc.).

Typical earnings: Up to $250/month, enough to cover your expenses and maybe the occasional treat.

Stage 2: Ramping Up

Once your blog is more established and you have a few thousand subscribers, you’ll be ready to up your affiliate sales game.

At this stage, you’ll be publishing quality content on a regular basis and continuing to grow and engage with your email list. You’ll be starting to build relationships with influencers serving similar audiences.

You’ll also now have some experience selling to your subscribers, and you’re beginning to understand what they like and need from you. You’ve found at least one product that’s earning consistently and may also have plans for your own products.

Applicable strategies: Continue to look outside your core offers to find additional solid-earning products and services. Seek to identify additional smaller-earning offers that also sell consistently.

Typical earnings: Around $500–$2,000 per month — a nice part-time income.

Stage 3: Full Time Earner

You’re now considered a top-tier blogger, with an email list of 10,000 subscribers or more.

It’s easier now to network with the big influencers because of your accomplishments and reputation. You’ll be invited to participate in major product launches and promotions.

You’re also a pro at selling to your readers, building sales funnels and writing sales pages.

Applicable strategies: Build closer relationships with the “big name” authorities, participate in high-ticket product launches, and run your own major email campaigns.

Typical earnings: You’re now making a full-time income from your blog!

Of course, relatively few bloggers will successfully progress to this final stage, but you can still achieve significant success and satisfaction from the earlier stages.

Also, some bloggers may deliberately deviate from this path. For instance, if you’re serious about creating your own products, you might start to replace affiliate products with your own offerings around Stage 2.

In other words, you can start monetizing your blog with affiliate sales, using the experience to generate revenue and learn what your audience will buy, then pivot to your own products with a much greater confidence in your product focus and your subscribers’ willingness to buy.

Now that you know the typical stages bloggers go through on their affiliate marketing journey and figured out where you belong, let’s dig into how you find the best products to promote.

 

How to Decide Which Products to Promote

You can represent many different types of products and services as an affiliate.

Some are more profitable than others, but usually most of your affiliate income will come from one or two “ringers” — core products that just about everyone in your audience needs and which also pay a good commission.

As you progress, you can add complementary products to round out your offerings and help your audience in new ways, but identifying your core earners is an essential first step.

We highly recommend that you start with digital products, services and courses for this simple reason:

They usually have greater earning potential.

Digital products generally pay higher commissions than physical products because there is much less overhead to produce and distribute them.

They also have the advantage that the merchant is often an individual rather than a company, so you can build a personal relationship with them that will increase your status as a blogger and future success as an affiliate.

That said, physical products can be a good option for certain niches, but we’ll focus on digital products for the most part (although we revisit physical products below).

So what’s a potential ringer?

Your best bets are mid-priced ($200–$2,000) courses or services that could potentially benefit almost all of your readers at some point in their journey.

Once you start generating steady affiliate income, you can offer other similar products, hosted services or ebooks that allow you to help more people (or help everyone more thoroughly).

Let’s look into the product options for bloggers.

Option #1: Digital Downloads

Digital downloads are online resources that your readers can access instantly, without having to wait for a package to come in the mail (as is true for physical products).

They could be audio or video files, PDFs, ebooks or even links to webpages where the content lives online.

  • Software — Downloadable programs, games, apps, plugins and cloud services
  • Mobile applications — Some of the hundreds of apps that are available through the iTunes Affiliate Program and other mobile app affiliate networks
  • Music, movies, TV shows, and more — Media offered through Amazon as well as the iTunes Affiliate Program and others

ADVANTAGES

  • Digital downloads are an easy way to get started and help your audience with pressing problems.
  • There are no overhead costs of production, shipping or storage.
  • Your buyer can access and begin benefiting from their digital product immediately.

DISADVANTAGES

  • Many ebook, software or other download products are relatively inexpensive. You’d have to sell a lot of them to make any significant money.

Our recommendation?

Do it! But expect higher earnings from other options on this list.

Option #2: Online, Hosted and Professional Services

When it comes to selling services as an affiliate, it’s important to concentrate on those which will be accessible to your entire audience no matter where they’re located (as opposed to service providers who serve local customers only).

In other words, don’t limit your earning potential by geography.

Your best bet is to represent online, hosted or professional service providers/influencers you’ve worked with in the past and have full confidence in.

Examples of professional services:

Option #3: Online Courses

Online courses are an important subset of digital products, especially for bloggers, and the market is huge. They’re so popular that they deserve their own category on this list.

Online courses exist on just about any topic you can think of. They range in price from free to thousands of dollars, with higher-priced programs promising big results for students.

Option #4: Physical Products

If you decide to represent physical products on your blog, your best bet is to choose high-quality, distinctive products that that will appeal strongly to your specific audience.

Avoid commodity products that your readers can buy anywhere — the commissions are so small you won’t make worthwhile money unless you can drive tremendous traffic to your site.

Commissions on physical products are usually fairly low because of the overhead of production costs, storage costs, shipping, etc. So unless you are planning to build a large review or shopping site, physical products will probably be a very small portion of your blogging affiliate income.

However, if you have a favorite tool of your trade, a must-have gadget that will make your readers’ lives easier, or a high-quality recommendation that you’re sure people will be thrilled with, go ahead and offer it.

You’ll build goodwill even if you don’t make a lot of money.

7 Simple Steps to Affiliate Marketing Success

Follow these seven steps and you’ll be well on your way to building your own affiliate marketing machine, even if you’re just starting out.

Step 1: Identify the Desirable End Goal

The key to finding products that your audience wants to buy is knowing the goals they hope to achieve and the obstacles that are holding them back.

Once you understand your audience’s aims and what’s keeping them from achieving them, you can find products that help them get where they want to go.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a mind reader. You just have to know how to listen to what your audience is already telling you.

The easiest and best thing to do is to tap your current readers for details, but even if your list is small, you still have lots of options.

Let’s see how to discover your audience goals and roadblocks.

1. MINE YOUR READERS’ EMAILS AND BLOG POST COMMENTS

Gather up and read through feedback you’ve already received from your readers through email or comments on your blog.

2. GO AHEAD AND ASK THEM BY EMAIL

Send your readers an email and ask them what their biggest frustration or obstacle is right now, and how you can best help them.

3. LOOK FOR CLUES LEFT IN PUBLIC PLACES

Read the discussions in online forums in your niche as well as on sites like Quora. Amazon book reviews on your topic are also enlightening.

Whatever source you use, look for statements that start with phrases like:

“I wish…”

“I’d love to…”

“Someday I’d like…”

“I’m frustrated by…”

“I can’t seem to get past (barrier or challenge)…”

“I hate it when…”

Collect your responses into a spreadsheet or document and look for commonalities.

Then choose a much-wanted accomplishment that you know your readers can achieve if they complete certain steps.

Examples:

  • Gardeners — Grow a year-round indoor herb garden
  • Personal finance — Build an emergency fund
  • Career — Get your next promotion

Step 2: List the Steps Needed to Reach the Goal

Once you’ve found a desirable end goal, list out all the steps that your readers need to take to get there from where they are now.

You’ll find your audience’s objectives, stumbling blocks and challenges in these steps. Once you know these, you’ll be able to look for products to help your readers along their way.

Let’s use our example of the indoor herb garden.

The steps your readers need to take probably look something like this:

  1. Find sunny or well-lighted spots in your home
  2. Get the right kind of pots with drainage
  3. Use a good potting soil
  4. Choose plants that will thrive indoors
  5. Find a good fertilizer
  6. Transplant properly
  7. Water and humidify correctly

Sound about right? Good.

Now you can start identifying your audience’s needs.

Step 3: Determine What They Need to Get Ahead

Look at each of the steps you’ve outlined and figure out what types of tools or resources your readers need to accomplish each step.

They might need physical products such as fertilizer, or they may need software, services or knowledge that they can get from a course or book.

Any tools or resources that are either essential to success or dramatically increase its chances (or provide greater ease or speed) are good candidates for affiliate sales.

Here are some examples for specific groups:

  • Gardeners — pots, tools, fertilizer, potting soil, reference books, a course including how-to videos
  • Emergency fund builders — a separate bank account, places to sell their old stuff, tips for making money on the side, financial planning services, an ebook on saving money on major purchases, a course on changing money habits
  • Job seekers — a book on salary negotiation, resume rewriting services, a course on professional networking using LinkedIn

Here are some recommendations for each of the main blogging niches to help you generate ideas of your own:

  1. Business and Entrepreneurship— Productivity apps, business growth courses, masterminds, books and ebooks
  2. Career— Resume and cover letter services, aptitude or personality assessments, courses and ebooks on networking and negotiation, mastermind and networking group memberships
  3. Creative Endeavors— Media services, website and online services, marketing courses, virtual assistant services
  4. Freelancing— Writing and marketing courses and memberships, ebooks, training programs
  5. Gadgets and Technology— Physical products, apps, software, games
  6. Marketing— Lead generation tools, CRM services, email services, website services
  7. News, Culture, and Entertainment— Movie streaming apps and memberships, restaurant/food review apps, music subscriptions, toys, games, hobbies
  8. Parenting— Physical products, courses, support groups, memberships to discount sites
  9. Personal Finance— Budgeting or accounting software or apps, courses, membership sites, newsletter subscriptions
  10. Self-Improvement— Books and ebooks, courses, tracking apps, coaching services, masterminds
  11. Social Media and Blogging— Hosting services, WordPress themes, email service providers, web services, media services

Using these examples as a guide, brainstorm a list of all the products that you think would help your audience the most.

We’ll narrow down your list in the next step.

Step 4: Choose a Product to Promote as an Affiliate

As an ethical blogger, you’ll always be constrained in the products you choose to represent in one of two ways:

  • Either you’re limited by your experience to products that you’ve used and liked, that have affiliate programs and that are a good fit for your audience, or
  • You’re constrained by the products you can get access to in order to evaluate them, either by buying them outright or getting a free sample or trial.

No matter which approach you take, expect to have to invest time and money into researching the best products for your audience.

Here are your three options, listed in order of preference (with your best option listed first).

OPTION #1: PROMOTE PRODUCTS YOU ALREADY KNOW AND LOVE

This is probably the most common way bloggers get started with affiliate sales.

You become an affiliate for something that you’ve used yourself, had a good experience with, thoroughly tested and feel good recommending. You should be fairly confident that others will get the same results you did (or better), as long as they do the work.

If you’ve found great success from a course, mastermind, or ebook that your readers could also benefit from, it only makes sense for you to spread the word and share your results.

Do an inventory of the products, services and courses you already have experience with. You might have a list of a dozen or more.

Which of these would you be thrilled to promote? Cross out any that don’t fit the bill.

Now simply check to see if the merchant has an affiliate program (some won’t but you’ll probably be surprised at how many do).

Do a Google search for “affiliate program” + [product name], or simply email the merchant and ask.

Then run your remaining options through this Good Affiliate Product checklist:

  • You’ve previewed the product so you know its quality (given, in this case).
  • They have a solid refund policy that you trust they’ll honor.
  • They provide good customer support (and you’ve tested it).
  • You have a good story to share about your experience with the product.
  • The offer fits your audience’s needs and won’t abuse the trust you’ve built with them.

The products that tick all the checkboxes are your best opportunities for affiliate income. As time goes on, add as many of these products to your mix as you like.

You’ve found your first product! Apply using the merchant’s process and start promoting.

If you’re just dipping your toe in the water of affiliate marketing, this first option may be enough to get you started.

However, most bloggers will want to try one or both of the next two options, too.

(And you’ll have to explore these options if you don’t have an existing product you love that is also a great match for your audience and offers an affiliate program.)

OPTION #2: PARTNER WITH INFLUENCERS TO REPRESENT THEIR PRODUCTS

As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways for you to build relationships with the authorities in your niche is to promote their products to your audience.

So if you don’t have any product, course or service in mind already, try this approach next.

Start by asking for recommendations from people you trust. Spy on your favorite influencers’ sites to see what they have to offer. Check each product’s social proof and testimonials and see if they pass the Good Affiliate Product checklist above.

Bloggers who have affiliate programs will often have an application process (sometimes formal, sometimes not) that you can go through to be approved.

Usually, you’ll need to show that:

  • You have a decent-sized email list.
  • You’re serious about producing content on a regular basis.
  • There’s a good fit between your audience and the influencer’s audience.

If you have all of these things in place, you can approach the influencer and simply ask. Sometimes — especially if they already know you — they’ll even approach you first and offer.

Also, it helps if you’ve been building a relationship with the influencer prior to asking them to become an affiliate.

If you want to work with top influencers doing huge, Jeff Walker-style launches, you might need to invest months or years in building those relationships.

Note: Requesting an interview is a great way to start getting to know an influencer. After that, just keep nurturing your relationship and building your list. You will probably need 5,000-10,000 subscribers to start gaining attention from the biggest authorities.

Good product candidates (ones that could become core offerings) will fill a vital need for your audience:

  • They’ll move them past some step that they’re struggling with.
  • They’ll provide assistance that your readers ask you for all the time in their emails and comments, but that you don’t (or can’t) yet provide yourself.
  • They’ll be tools or resources that are essential to completing the steps they need to take to succeed.

If the influencer is serious about building affiliate relationships, they may have program information on their website and/or they may have already mentioned the opportunity in emails to you.

If not, just ask!

Let them know that you’re familiar with their work and whether you’ve had positive experiences with their other products.

Here’s how to approach an influencer and get the scoop:

Subject: Possible affiliate relationship?

Hi [First Name],

I’m wondering, do you have an affiliate program for [course name, ebook, your services]?

I have a blog at [your blog] helping [audience] with [mission]. I’ve got [X number] email subscribers and good engagement from my list.

I’ve [followed your blog/read your book/taken your related course/used your related service] and [say a little about the results you’ve achieved]. It seems that [prospective affiliate product] could also be a good fit for my audience.

Is there any way I can review [product] to be sure?

Let me know. It would be great to be able to help my readers [achieve desirable result] with [product name].

Best,

[Your Name]

If you don’t already know any influencers in your niche offering what you’re looking for, try a Google search for

“affiliate” + [product] or [topic] or [company]

You could check their site to see whose products they are promoting, and look into whether it would be right for your readers, too.

If you find some excellent products using these first two options and want to stop here, you’re all set.

However, if you want to keep exploring opportunities (now or in the future), go ahead and move on to Option #3.

OPTION #3: FIND PRODUCTS VIA AN AFFILIATE NETWORK

If you don’t have any direct experience with or knowledge of products in your niche that could help your readers, you can often find good affiliate products on affiliate networks.

But be aware — this approach requires that you invest time into research and money into purchasing products to try out, more so than the first two options.

That’s because there’s less trust and prior knowledge involved from the outset. You have to do your due diligence to protect your reputation and the credibility you’ve built with your readers.

When you work through a network, you typically won’t know the merchant ahead of time and usually won’t build a relationship with them (your business relationship is with the network).

Two of the most popular and reliable affiliate networks are Clickbank and Amazon Associates.

As one of the biggest affiliate networks, Clickbank represents physical products as well as digital downloads. Be sure to research and test potential affiliate products the best you can before signing on. There’s a lot of junk on Clickbank, but there are high quality products as well.

Buy products that look promising and test them. Most aren’t very expensive.

As usual, review all potential products through the Good Affiliate Potential checklist.

Here are a some specific tips for finding affiliate products on Clickbank:

  • Review the steps your readers must take and decide what major category your solutions will fall under — for example, business, computers, health and fitness, etc.
  • Look for a gravity score of 30 or more, because these products have a proven track record of selling well for a number of different affiliates. Products, especially new products, with gravity scores under 30 may work but are more risky. Gravity scores of greater than 100 mean the product’s popular. You could have competition, but don’t worry about that. The important thing is that there’s lots of demand.
  • Look for commissions of 65% or greater, or at least $18 per sale.
  • The product’s description will specify if they offer a $1 trial (not all will).
  • Check out each product’s return policy as well.

[If you’d like more information specifically on Clickbank, check out this comprehensive guide from Authority Hacker.]

Here are some tips for finding affiliate products on Amazon:

  • You can find digital downloads, including books, courses and more, in the Amazon Associates affiliate program.
  • Look for at least 20+ reviews. Read the reviews carefully.
  • Again, if you decide to promote physical products, try to find high-quality, high-value, specialized or unique products that your audience will appreciate — mediocre or poor-quality products will reflect badly on you.

You can review and vet products on your blog for quality and value, saving your readers time and headaches. You may even be able to claim a tax write-off for the expense of any purchase.

Aside from Clickbank and Amazon, there are many good networks to find physical goods:

  • Many online retailers have affiliate programs, including Target and Walmart. Your best bet is to check with your favorite retailers.
  • Commission Junction has a wide range of products from mostly quality sellers.

Step 5: Get Yourself Set Up as an Affiliate

Whether you work directly with a merchant or through a network, you’ll have to apply, be approved and provide certain information so that you can be paid.

At a minimum you’ll need to provide:

  • Your personal/business contact information for tax and reporting purposes
  • Your bank account where commissions will be sent

In turn, the merchant must provide you with:

  • An affiliate link. Whenever you post about the product, you’ll use this trackable link. It will have a long tag at the end of each link that includes your affiliate ID.

Here’s what some typical affiliate links look like.

EXAMPLE LINK THAT DIRECTS TO THE MERCHANT’S HOME PAGE

https://merchantsite.com/dap/a/?a=1199

EXAMPLE LINK TO ANOTHER PAGE ON THE MERCHANT’S SITE

You’ll also usually get some tips and useful assets for marketing the product (often found in a welcome guide or on the affiliate reporting site).

These could include:

  • An affiliate guide as well as instructions on how to use the platform and summary of policies such as payment
  • Marketing tools like banners and sidebar graphics
  • Sample email/webpage swipe copy
  • Ongoing communications from the merchant about promotions, new products, etc.

If you use a network like Amazon, you’ll get your own link for each of the specific products you promote.

Be sure to check your specific network’s help or support pages for more information.

Tip: If your audience is global (which many bloggers’ are), you might want to check out geniuslink for tracking overseas sales through Amazon, iTunes and Microsoft Store.

Step 6: Start Promoting Your Chosen Affiliate Products

Few things destroy a good relationship with your audience as quickly as too many pushy sales messages. The last thing you want is for readers to think you care more about squeezing every last penny out of them than you do about helping them succeed.

So make sure to balance out your offers with lots of valuable non-promotional content. Every once in a while (say, every one in four emails) you can include a specific call to action to ask your readers to buy a product.

Remember, free content builds a reservoir of goodwill with your readers. Keep filling that well by giving and people will be much more open to sales-related emails when you send them.

In addition to emailing your list, you’ll also cross-promote your offers in many different ways, at different times and through different media.

Many of these promotional efforts will be “soft sells” — links, reviews, resource pages or informational posts added specifically to gently guide your readers toward products that they may need.

Start off by collecting all the social proof that you can:

  • Quotes from readers on their successes using the affiliate products
  • Testimonials from others (i.e., not your readers) who’ve enjoyed success
  • Your own results using the product

Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income recommends becoming an authoritative, credible source of information on the products that you sell.

But what does that mean exactly?

Well, people are often a little skeptical of the information they find about a product on the merchant’s own site, assuming it’ll always paint a glowing picture. This means you have an opportunity for your blog to become the go-to destination for more even-handed information about the product, describing its positive and negative points.

Let’s see your options for promoting your affiliate products.

OPTION #1: ADD AFFILIATE LINKS IN KEY PLACES ON YOUR BLOG

Don’t let your biggest asset go to waste. Make the most of your website’s real estate by using these tried-and-true methods to get your readers’ attention:

  • Use a Resource page — Resource pages can be very effective when you drive traffic to them from posts, guest posts or other promotional efforts.
  • Promote your products in a sidebar on your blog — Sidebars are less effective than they used to be, but using one may still be worthwhile.
  • Use Hellobar or a popup or exit gate — These marketing tools (often WordPress plugins) can be very effective.

OPTION #2: CREATE AND PROMOTE CUSTOM CONTENT

Custom content strategies will be the backbone of your affiliate promotional efforts.

Use as many of the following different strategies as make sense for your blog and audience.

Note: All of these strategies assume that you are already sending traffic to the latest content you’re creating by emailing your list on a regular basis (at least two to four times per month) to let them know what’s new.

A) Write Reviews

You can write detailed reviews of products, courses, books or software products you promote as an affiliate.

Your reviews can focus on a single product or compare competing products side-by-side.

The second approach arguably builds more trust and gives you the opportunity to promote multiple products at the same time, giving your readers the information they need to choose between them.

B) Write Definitive Content on a Related Topic

You can write a definitive, comprehensive post on your site to educate your readers and “soft sell” your products.

For instance, you could write an ultimate guide to setting up a WordPress blog and include your affiliate links to your favorite hosting providers.

Whatever the topic, make sure that it’s evergreen content — information that’s likely to be useful and valuable for years to come.

You can create blog posts, videos, infographics or anything similar — but whatever you do, it should not be a sales page.

Finally, your content must be excellent — make sure it’s an authoritative list post, an epic how-to post, an ultimate guide or some otherwise epic content.

C) Write Guest Posts to Promote Your Definitive Content

The advantage with writing content for someone else’s blog is that you get to tap into their (hopefully large) audience.

When looking for potential targets, make sure that the host blog’s readers are likely to be interested in your post’s topic and looking for solutions to problems your affiliate products can solve.

Also, do your research to check that the host blog gets a fair number of comments and/or social media shares and that they credit and link to guest authors.

Most blogs won’t allow the author to include their own affiliate links (but it’s worth checking). The next best thing is to link to the definitive content on your own blog, either naturally within the body of your post or in your author’s bio.

D) Conduct Interviews

You can interview people who’ve had great success using the product so that your audience can hear their stories — think of it as a kind of audio testimonial.

If the merchant is an individual rather than a company, you can also invite them to chat about how their product works and why your readers will find it useful.

E) Create Valuable Bonus Content

Assuming it’s allowed by your affiliate agreement (sometimes it’s not), you can create bonus content, exclusive to your readers, that helps people get even more value from the affiliate product.

People love bonuses! You can create many types of bonuses fairly quickly and easily while still giving your readers excellent value.

By the way, this is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from other bloggers representing the same products.

Here are some example bonuses you could offer:

  • Step-by-step checklists
  • Quick-start guides
  • Video overviews or demos
  • Complementary or discounted services (e.g., coaching calls)

OPTION #3: CRAFT PROMOTIONAL EMAILS FOR YOUR SUBSCRIBERS

Your email list is your biggest asset when it comes to driving traffic to your offers.

Assuming you’re already emailing your list on a regular basis — for example, every Tuesday, every two weeks, etc. — you can also run occasional promotions where you email your readers more frequently.

If your mailing list software allows it, you can segment interested readers onto a separate interest list, so that only people who raise their hands will receive your free informational and promotional emails.

But even if you can’t segment your list, you’ll want to provide lots of valuable content and build anticipation for your product offers.

Here are some quick ideas:

  • Promote your offers indirectly by sending emails linking to your free content (blog posts, reviews, etc.).
  • Offer occasional special deals exclusive to your readers (discounts, bonuses, etc.).
  • Run “social proof” giveaways — ask your readers to share their experience with your process or product in return for a chance to win.

If you’re promoting a low-priced product like an ebook, digital download or hosted service on an ongoing basis, you might do something as simple as using a P.S. or signature link in your regular emails, with occasional emailed links to custom content.

For courses, masterminds, services or higher-earning products, you might do something closer to an official launch once per year with softer launches once per quarter.

And of course, always follow your merchants’ lead. If they run major launches twice a year, for example, you can participate in those and take advantage of the natural momentum these launches often create.

You may have a different promotion plan for each product.

Example Email Sequence

Custom email sequences are especially effective for your core products.

You’ll usually send out a series of five to seven emails spread out over a timeframe spanning a week or two.

These can be run in parallel with your normal blog emails or you can “pause” your regular content for the duration of the sequence.

A sample seven-email series might look like this:

  1. A welcome email (if they’ve joined a new interest list) or a content-rich email talking about the problem the product solves
  2. More helpful content (no selling)
  3. First mention of the product, positioning it in relation to the problem, with a link to a sales page
  4. More free content with advice that’s valuable regardless of whether the reader buys the product, also including another link to the product
  5. A “bigger sell” to incentivise the reader to buy using scarcity (e.g., “Only 50 places available”) or time urgency (e.g., “This deal ends in 48 hours”) *
  6. Additional helpful information, testimonials and/or social proof, and a reminder that time is running out
  7. An eleventh-hour last call to let readers know that the offer is closing soon

* Warning: Only use scarcity or urgency tactics if they are genuine and you intend to stick to the limits or deadlines. Telling readers a deal ends for good at midnight, then offering it again the following week, is a surefire way to lose their trust.

The important thing here is to try different approaches for each product, see what your audience responds to best, and don’t give up!

OPTION #4: RUN EXCLUSIVE LIVE EVENTS

Finally, you can run live events to introduce your audience to your products.

Webinars are the most popular way to do this, and you can host them on your own or as a joint venture with the merchant. (Usually, though, merchants will only participate if you can attract a certain number of attendees.)

If there’s already strong interest from your readers in a particular product, you can make it the focus of your webinar, giving attendees one of the following:

  • An interactive walk-through showing how you use the product, including tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way
  • A demonstration of specific features of particular interest to your readers
  • A personal case study of the results you achieved using the product

More typically, the webinar will focus on a particular outcome that the audience wants to achieve and then position the product as a way to achieve those results more easily or quickly.

A common way to separate webinar content from product content is using the webinar to explain what you need to do to achieve a certain goal, and leaving the product to dive into (or facilitate) the how.

Importantly, the webinar should be valuable even to people who don’t end up buying the product.

To give an example, if you were promoting a software product that automates blogger outreach, your webinar could talk about high-level strategies for outreach that attendees could implement manually, then position the product as a time-saver that lets you focus on the relationship-building instead of the initial outreach.

Tip: to get the most from a live event, remember to publish and promote your webinar replays for people who weren’t able to attend first time around.

DON’T FORGET TO TRACK EVERYTHING TO DISCOVER WHAT’S WORKING BEST

Whichever options you choose for promoting your affiliate products, you’ll want to know which are producing the best results.

Pat Flynn recommends Pretty Link for this. You can create clean, easy-to-use-and-remember links plus get analytics so you can see exactly where people are coming from and what strategies are working best for you.

Most importantly of all, be patient. Don’t expect to get any of this right the first time out. Keep building a strong foundation of content and continually test and try new things.

Step 7: Comply with Legal Requirements (and Best Practices)

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that you let people know you’ll earn a commission.

But even if it isn’t required by law where you’re located, we recommend it. It’s just good business.

Don’t be afraid to be transparent. People will appreciate your honesty and want to support you to repay you for making their lives better.

So wherever you share an affiliate link, whether it’s in blog posts, web pages, or emails, let your readers know that you stand to earn a small commission if they buy through you — and if they choose not to use your link, no worries.

Assure them that you wouldn’t recommend any products if you hadn’t used them yourself or were confident they could help them.

It’s also a good idea to create an Affiliate Disclaimer page on your website.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

That dream you’ve had of making money while you sleep isn’t just a silly fantasy.

It’s a completely achievable reality.

Sure, it’s not as easy as pushing a magic button, but with a little knowledge and persistence you can definitely do it.

Once you’ve gained a respectable following, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money blogging.

And the best news is that it’s so easy to get started. All the steps are spelled out in this post.

Simply identify the one big thing everyone in your audience needs to reach their goals and start there.

Choose a great digital product that you believe in and share it. Tell the story of your successes.

Provide lots of valuable content that helps and educates your readers, and take care not to be too salesy.

Be honest and transparent. Nurture the trust that readers place in you.

And finally, be patient.

All your efforts will pay you back with that sweet “cha-ching” of overnight deposits into your bank account.

 

 

 

How to Become a Freelance Writer and Get Paid $200 – $1K per Post!!!

Imagine you’re sitting in a lounge chair on the beach, staring out over the glittering sea, the ocean breeze ruffling your hair, listening to the slow, steady rhythm of the waves.

It’s peaceful. Perfect for thinking.

And so you do, scribbling down your thoughts with one hand and drinking a martini with the other.

You’re a freelance writer. You get paid to write for websites, magazines, corporate clients — all different types of gigs.

And it’s work you can do from anywhere.

One week, you’re on the beach. The next, perhaps you’re in the mountains. The week after that, you’re visiting family.

Sounds like a dream, right? Like it can’t possibly be real?

But it is.

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to become a freelance writer. I’m also going to talk about what’s changed with freelance writing and what it really takes to build a career in today’s world, both as a full-time writer or just doing it on the side.

Because the career is real. The freedom is real. In fact, you might even say it’s easier than ever before. Here’s why:

The $412.88 Billion Opportunity for Writers

That’s not a typo. 🙂

Have you noticed how just about every business has a website, blog, and Facebook page?

Maybe you’ve also noticed how the stuff most of them publish kinda sucks? Boring content, unprofessional spelling and grammatical mistakes, etc.

Well, that’s why successful businesses are hiring freelance writers in droves. In 2016, companies spent 195.58 billion on content marketing, and the research firm Technavio predicts spending will more than double to 412.88 billion by 2021.

It’s the new normal, but here’s what’s crazy:

While businesses are well-aware of the importance of content marketing, writers are still stuck in the Stone Age of wanting to get published in magazines and newspapers. Yes, you can still make a living that way, but with an increasing number of publishers not paying writers at all, the competition for paying gigs is getting stiffer and stiffer.

With content marketing, on the other hand, there’s actually a shortage of writers. You can make a lot more money with way fewer headaches.

Here’s how to get started:

How to Become a Freelance Writer

#1. Develop Your Content Creation Skills

Your skill at creating exceptional content will have more of an impact on how much money you make than anything else. Here’s why:

The companies paying the highest rates are the ones who understand the importance of quality content. They are happy to pay the best writers, because they believe (correctly) that it will help them dominate their competitors.

The good news is, we have dozens of posts about that very topic here at Smart Blogger. Start with this one about how to write a good blog post and work your way through.

In particular, here are some of the most important content skills for you to develop:

  • Mastering content frameworks. The web is overflowing with list posts (i.e., 7 Ways to X) for a reason: they work. It’s not the only content framework, though. There are actually about a dozen proven frameworks, and the best freelance writers master as many as possible.
  • Writing headlines. The headlines of your posts have a bigger impact on their traffic and overall success than any other factor. Get in the habit of brainstorming 5-10 per day. Like anything else, writing the perfect headline is mostly about practice.
  • Thinking for yourself. Ever notice how most writers are just regurgitating the advice of other writers? Don’t be one of those. I’m not saying you have to be entirelyoriginal, but at least layer your own thoughts on top of the standard advice. It’ll give your writing a much greater sense of authority.
  • Supporting points with examples. Instead of making a point and leaving it hanging there unsupported, get into the habit of backing up every point you make with an example. There are exceptions to this rule, but you’re far better off having too many examples than too few.
  • Keeping the reader emotionally engaged. To get work as a freelance writer, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your posts need to make logical sense, but you might not realize they also need to resonate with the emotions of the reader. The better you get at keeping readers emotionally engaged, the more shares you will get on your content, and you’ll be able to charge more.

And while those are a good start, there’s one particular skill that’s so important it deserves its own point:

#2. Up Your SEO Game

Companies and agencies are more than happy to pay a little extra for someone who understands the basics of SEO.

The more intimate your understanding of keywords, user intent, and competitive analysis, the more likely your post is to rank well in the search engines. Therefore, your writing becomes more valuable.

Because put yourself in their shoes: wouldn’t you rather pay more for someone with a proven ability to rank? I certainly would, and so it makes sense to become that person.

#3. Build a Portfolio of Sample Posts

You’d think it would be really hard to become a freelance writer without an extensive portfolio, right? After all, it’s proof for clients that you know what you’re doing.

But here’s the thing:

There are different levels of proof, starting with…

LEVEL 1: A PORTFOLIO THAT PROVES YOU KNOW HOW TO WRITE A DECENT POST

You’d be surprised how many so-called “freelance writers” don’t understand how to write a proper blog post. I’d say it’s more than 80%, which sounds horrible, but it’s also a huge advantage if you do know how to write a good post.

Let’s say you’ve been working on your content skills (the first step above *cough*), and you’re getting comfortable writing different types of blog posts. Well, write a few sample posts to show off your skills.

If you have your own website, put them there. If not, it’s quick and easy to publish them on other blogging platforms like Medium

The best part is, you can do this in a matter of a week or two. Two or three posts is enough, and you don’t need anyone’s approval to publish them. If you don’t have a portfolio yet, it’s absolutely where you should start.

LEVEL 2: A PORTFOLIO THAT PROVES YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT

Next, you want to build your credibility as a subject matter expert.

And I’m not just talking about demonstrating your expertise. This phase is also about showing you can get published on top publications.

Think about it… if you see someone writing on one of the top sites in your space, don’t you immediately assume they are an expert?

Well, that’s the kind of credibility you need. It’s also far easier to do than you might assume.

Because most big sites have stopped paying for content, they’re always looking for good writers. In our guest blogging program, we’ve helped hundreds of new writers get published on sites like Forbes, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Lifehack, and dozens of others. I won’t say it’s easy, because it’s not, but it’s far easier than most people think. Here’s a guest post by Laura Tong published at Huffington Post:

I’m generalizing here, but for the most part, it’s about the pitch. If the editor likes your idea, and you follow up with a well-written piece, you can get published almost anywhere.

And that immediately helps make you a hot commodity as a freelance writer.

LEVEL 3: A PORTFOLIO SHOWING DOCUMENTED RESULTS FOR CLIENTS

Finally, you want to prove you can get results for clients.

One way is to track shares and search engine rankings for the posts you write, like we discussed above for Sarah Peterson, but an even better way is to create case studies. Here’s an example from Ross Hudgens of Siege Media:

He shows screenshots of increasing client traffic by 250,000 visits per month for three different clients. Nothing is more compelling than that. Granted, it’s super hard to do, but that’s what makes it so valuable.

Your long-term goal should be to develop that kind of proof for yourself. It might take you years, and that’s fine, because when you get there, it can literally make you one of the highest paid writers and consultants in the world.

#4. Get Your First Paying Client

So, we’ve talked a lot about the skill and credibility aspects of becoming a freelance writer. What about getting clients? That’s the hard part, right?

In the beginning, yes. Eventually, top freelance writers end up getting more work than they can handle, mostly by referral, but getting those first few paying clients can be a real slog.

Here are some insider tips for getting started:

  1. Keep an eye on agency job postings. One of the best potential clients is agencies, because they usually have an ongoing need for writers. Instead of only getting paid once, you can develop a relationship with a few and get new gigs for months or even years into the future. Here’s a big list of content marketing agencies.

  1. There are two main ways of getting work from them. You can reach out to them and ask if they have any freelance work — a gutsy but effective approach — or you can keep an eye on their “careers” page.
  2. Pitch software company blogs. This might seem odd, but stick with me here for a moment. You want to work with businesses who have money to spend on marketing. Chances are, those companies are subscribed to various apps for email marketing, analytics, and so on. Most software companies in the marketing space (like Hubspot, Sumo, Ahrefs, etc.) also publish a great deal of content.So, who better to write for? You’re instantly getting in front of thousands of the right clients. Many of these blogs will also pay you to write for them, so in many cases you can get your first client while also prospecting for clients. What could be better than that?

Link to your services in your byline. Let’s say you’re in “Phase 2” of the portfolio building process we walked through above, and you are writing some guest posts for top blogs in your space. You can mention it in your byline to attract clients. Here’s an example from Sophia Dagnon over at Copyhackers:

Before we move on, there’s one thing you SHOULDN’T do…

Compete against bottom dollar freelancers on sites like Upwork.

Yes, there’s always work available on sites like those, but generally speaking, it’s clueless, frustrating clients who will nickel and dime you over everything and never refer you other work. It’s better than nothing, I suppose, but I believe you’re far better off pursuing some of the options I mentioned above. Not only will you get paid more, but you’ll be treated better too, and it will be much easier to grow your client base.

#5. Scale until You No Longer Want to

In the beginning, you’ll probably be thrilled just to get a client paying you to write a few articles on the side, but I think it’s useful to step back and think about how freelance writing fits into an overall career.

Here’s the career path for most freelance writers:

PHASE 1: A NICE SIDE INCOME

Most people start writing just a few articles on the side, and I think that’s smart. You can learn the craft, build your connections, and make a few bucks on the side. Most likely, about $20-$25 per hour.

Is it going to make you rich? No, but it’s certainly not a bad side gig. A lot of part-timers clear $500-$1,000 per month from their writing.

Eventually, if you’re good, you’ll also start getting more work than you can handle in your spare time, and that’s when you can ponder moving on to the next phase.

PHASE 2: A FULL-TIME JOB OR BUSINESS

When should you consider quitting your day job?

The easiest answer: whenever you feel confident your freelance writing could replace your salary. You can either…

  1. Go to work as a full-time content marketer. The number of job openings for full-time content marketers is exploding. Here’s a graph of the job growth just from 2017 to 2018:

  1. Start your own content marketing agency. Once you’ve picked up a few clients, you can begin hiring people to work under you and grow your own miniature agency.

Both options have big upsides. You can have a long, solid career as a content marketer working companies who truly appreciate it, and building an agency could potentially make you a millionaire.

At some point though, I’ve found that even the most successful writers usually end up moving on to…

PHASE 3: STARTING YOUR OWN SITE

In the past, you’ve probably thought of starting your own site as the first step, not the last, and it’s true — there’s nothing stopping you from starting your site right now.

But think about it for a moment…

Would you rather start your own site right now, spend a couple of years learning everything from scratch, and then slowly but surely begin to make money from it, or could it actually be a better option to go to work for someone else for a while, get paid while you learn, and then start your own site with several years of experience under your belt?

Over the years, I’ve noticed an increasing percentage of our students choosing the second option, and I think it makes sense. Yes, you can absolutely start your own site right now, and yes, you can be successful — we are the market leaders in helping people do exactly that — but it’s a tough road. You have to persistently put in the effort for years before it begins to pay off.

If you become a freelance writer and start working for other businesses, on the other hand, the payoff is fast. Probably a month or two to learn the basics and then another month or two to get your first client. While it might take you longer overall to build your own publishing powerhouse, it’s easier to stay persistent when money is coming in each and every time you publish an article.

The bottom line:

You Can Make Good Money As a Writer

It’s tragic how many writers think go into another career because they believe no one can make a living from it. It’s just not true.

Yes, it’s tough to make a living as an author. Yes, it’s difficult to scrape by writing for magazines and newspapers. Yes, there are plenty of would-be poets and novelists living under bridges.

But those are only a few types of writing.

If you want to make money as a writer, go where the money is. That’s what I did. I started out writing for other sites, took a full-time job at Copyblogger, and then branched off on my own — exactly the career path I described above.

The results?

About $5.3 million so far. In this case study, I described exactly how I did it.

Oh, and did I mention I did it all from a wheelchair without being able to move from the neck down?

Yeah…

So please, don’t tell me you can’t make money as a freelance writer. You absolutely can.

You just have to be smart about it.

 

DEPRESSION

12 Types of Depression, and What You Need to Know About Each.

There’s more than one kind of depression. Here, experts explain major depression, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, and more.

Under the big tent of depression there are many shades of gray. Depression can be mild or severe. It can be short-lived or chronic. Special circumstances, like the birth of a baby or the changing of the seasons, can trigger depressive symptoms.

Understanding the type of depression a person is experiencing helps doctors determine treatment. And for people who are diagnosed with depression, having information about their specific disorder can be helpful. “Folks seem comforted in knowing what’s going on for them,” says Sarah Noble, DO, a psychiatrist with the Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia. “At least they have an answer for why they’re experiencing what they’re experiencing.”

Here’s what you should know about the different types of depression. If you suspect you or a loved one has one of these, get evaluated by a mental health professional. They can help you figure out a diagnosis–and the best course of treatment.

Major depressive disorder

In a given year, more than 16 million Americans (a majority of them women) experience this very common type of depression, also known as major depression or clinical depression. Under diagnostic criteria published by the American Psychiatric Association, people must have at least five symptoms persisting for two weeks or longer to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Those symptoms can include feelings of sadness, emptiness, worthlessness, hopelessness, and guilt; loss of energy, appetite, or interest in enjoyable activities; changes in sleep habits; and thoughts of death and suicide. Most cases are highly treatable.

Major depressive disorder has two subtypes: “atypical depression” and “melancholic depression.” People who fall into the former category tend to sleep and eat a lot. They are emotionally reactive and very anxious, Dr. Noble explains. Those in the latter category have trouble sleeping and tend to ruminate over guilt-ridden thoughts, she says. Young adults tend to present with atypical depression, and the melancholic type is seen more often in seniors.

Treatment-resistant depression

Sometimes people with major depressive disorder don’t readily respond to treatment. Even after trying one antidepressant and then another–and maybe a third or fourth–their depression stubbornly hangs on. “Maybe it’s genetic, maybe it’s environmental,” Dr. Noble says. “Their depression is just tenacious.”

Helping people overcome treatment-resistant depression begins with a thorough workup to ensure a proper diagnosis and identify other psychiatric and medical causes of their symptoms. Patients are counseled on proper dosage and duration of treatment. If a medicine isn’t working, doctors will try switching to a similar drug or one from a different class. Patients may benefit from adding a second antidepressant from a different class and perhaps another type of medicine, such as an antipsychotic.

Subsyndromal depression

A person who has depressive symptoms but doesn’t quite check all the boxes for a diagnosis of major depression may be deemed “subsyndromal.” Maybe she has three or four symptoms, not five, or maybe she’s been depressed for a week, not two, Dr. Noble explains.

“Rather than look at symptoms, I usually look at functionality,” she says. Is the patient able to go to work and take care of day-to-day responsibilities? If the person is struggling, they may still benefit from treatment, including with medication, she says.

Persistent depressive disorder

People with persistent depressive disorder (PDD) have a low, dark, or sad mood on most days and at least two additional symptoms of depression lasting two years or more. In children and teens, PDD (also called dysthymia) may be diagnosed if symptoms of irritability or depression persist for a year or more. “It may wax and wane in intensity, but generally it’s a low level of depression,” Dr. Noble explains.

To be diagnosed with this type of depression, people must also have two of the following: sleep problems (too much or too little); low energy or fatigue; low self-esteem; poor appetite or overeating; poor concentration or difficulty making decisions; and feelings of hopelessness.

Usually PDD requires treatment with a combination of medication and

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Up to 10% of women of childbearing age experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This severe form of PMS can trigger depression, sadness, anxiety, or irritability, as well as other extreme symptoms, in the week before a woman’s period.

“It can be really uncomfortable, disabling, and interfere with a woman’s day-to-day life,” says Dorothy Sit, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Scientists believe these women may have an abnormal sensitivity to hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle. Taking antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, in the two weeks before their period or throughout the month can be very effective, Dr. Sit says. Certain types of contraception may help too. Researchers at the University of California San Diego are exploring the use of light therapy to improve sleep quality and mood in women with PMDD.

Bipolar depression

Wide swings in mood and energy, from elation to hopelessness, are the signature of bipolar depression, also called bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness. To be diagnosed with this form of depression, a person must have experienced at least one bout of mania. Bipolar usually shows up in young adulthood. While women and men are diagnosed in equal numbers, studies point to possible gender differences: Men appear to have more manic behavior; women tend toward depressive symptoms. Bipolar usually worsens without treatment but can be managed with mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medicines, and talk therapy.

While further research is needed, a recent study by Dr. Sit and colleagues suggests light therapy may be a potential treatment for bipolar depression too. Compared with dim placebo light, daily exposure to bright light at midday may reduce symptoms of depression and improve functioning in people with bipolar disorder, the study found.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Screaming and temper tantrums can be features of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), a type of depression diagnosed in children who struggle with regulating their emotions. Other symptoms include an irritable or angry mood most of the day nearly every day and trouble getting along in school, at home, or with their peers.

“These are the kids with strong emotional outbursts,” Dr. Noble says. “They’re just not able to contain their emotions,” so they “act out and act on” their feelings.

Currently, DMDD is treated using medications, psychotherapy, and parent training on how to effectively deal with a child’s irritable behavior.

Postpartum (or perinatal) depression

The birth of a baby brings enormous joy but can sometimes lead to postpartum depression (PPD), a type that affects one in four women and one in eight men. In women, postpartum depression is likely triggered by shifts in hormones, fatigue, and other factors. In men, it’s environmental, brought on by shifting roles and lifestyle changes that come with parenting.

Postpartum depression can begin any time in the first year following a child’s birth, although it usually appears soon after the new arrival. Intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion become overwhelming and can interfere with daily life. It can provoke thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.

Compared to the “baby blues”–which is a mild, short-lived, and extremely common condition causing anxiety and depressive symptoms in the immediate wake of a baby’s birth–PPD usually requires treatment with antidepressants and/or talk therapy.

Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a recurring type of depression (also known as seasonal depression) that usually strikes in the fall or winter. Along with a change in mood, SAD sufferers tend to have low energy. They may overeat, oversleep, crave carbs, gain weight, or withdraw from social interaction.

Women and younger adults are at higher risk of developing SAD. It can also run in families. SAD is diagnosed after at least two years of recurring, seasonal symptoms. While the exact cause is unclear, research suggests it may be related to an imbalance of the brain chemical serotonin. An overabundance of the sleep hormone melatonin and insufficient levels of vitamin D may also play a role.

SAD is typically treated with a daily dose of light therapy and sometimes medication.

Substance-induced mood disorder

Using or abusing sedating drugs can change your mood. Symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities, typically appear shortly after taking or abusing a substance or during withdrawal.

Substances that can lead to this type of depression include alcohol (if you drink too much), opioid painkillers, and benzodiazepines (which act on the central nervous system).

To diagnose someone with a substance-induced mood disorder, doctors must rule out other potential causes of depression, and the depression must be severe enough to interfere with daily activities.

Psychotic depression

People with psychotic depression have severe depression accompanied by psychosis, which is defined as losing touch with reality. Symptoms of psychosis typically include hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there) and delusions (false beliefs about what’s happening)

One of Dr. Noble’s patients, two years after beginning treatment, confessed that she had a year during which she would not eat anything her father cooked because she thought he was poisoning her. The woman was otherwise lucid; she simply suffered from psychotic depression that had not been fully treated.

Doctors usually prescribe antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines together to treat psychotic depression.

Depression due to an illness

Coping with a serious chronic disease, like heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, can be depressing in and of itself.

Adding insult to injury, there’s now evidence that disease-related inflammation may also play a role in the onset of depression. Inflammation causes the release of certain chemicals by the immune system that cross into the brain, leading to brain changes that can trigger or worsen depression in certain people, Dr. Noble explains. Antidepressants may help prolong their life and improve their ability to function, she says, and therapy can help many patients cope with mental and physical illnesses.

 

7 Membership Sites that Make $100K+ Per Year (Real Examples)

Chances are, you’ve heard about people starting membership sites and making buckets of money.

Maybe you’re a little skeptical, and rightfully so. We all know better than to believe everything we read on the Internet.

But here’s the real question:

Should YOU start a membership site? Could YOU realistically expect to make any money?

And that’s a tough one to answer.

If you Google it, you’ll find lots of how to’s for getting a membership site up and running, but nothing about how to figure out if a membership site will work for you.

What if your niche is the exception, and you pour days and dollars into setting one up and it bellyflops. And what’s more — and this is kinda embarrassing —  you’re not even sure exactly what a membership site is.

I get it. In fact, I felt like a fool a while back when I was curious about the same thing. I’ll bet we’re not the only ones too. So, I’m going to clear it all up for you.

Let’s start at the beginning…

What is a Membership Site?


For the sake of this post, we’ll define a membership site as any part of your online business that contains gated content (information behind a log in). A gate is simply a barrier to limit access to your content to those who pay or you decide to let in. And once inside, they get access to exclusive content and membership privileges.

Think of it like a gym membership.

Before you’re allowed to pass the turnstiles, you’ve got to sign up as a paid member or for a free-trial. Once you’re inside, you have access to everything, usually on an unlimited basis.

Sometimes you can also have different membership levels. One level might have access to all the fitness machines, while another level up gives you access to a sauna and heated pool.

Simple enough, right?

Well, membership sites work the same way. Before you can get access to their content, you have to become a member, and you can also offer different levels of membership with varying benefits.

It’s the same idea as a gym membership, except on the Internet. That’s pretty much the only difference.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at why a membership site is a smart idea.

3 Reasons You Should Build a Membership Site


Put simply, membership sites are a blazing-great way to monetize your blog.

How exactly? Well, the money flows because of three key reasons:

Reason #1. Leverage

Membership sites allow you to leverage your time and content in two ways:

  1. Your content is a reusable asset. You can create it once and sell it to hundreds or even thousands of students for years to come.
  2. Membership sites can be totally automated. How dreamy is the idea of having a hands-off campaign that invites people to buy into your membership program while you’re sipping margaritas on the beach somewhere?

Reason #2. Value

Weirdly, people value things they pay for more than they value a freebie.

So in their eyes, your paid membership site content is more valuable than free information.

What’s more, once cash is exchanged, they’re more likely to take action and achieve results that get you rave reviews (which equals more sales).

There’s also an interesting money-credibility thing going on in cyberspace.

I’m sure you’ve noticed how easy it is for any old Joe to jump on Facebook live and create online content nowadays. It’s led to a rather strange online phenomenon, I call the ‘credibility gap’. Meaning, even though content volume is going up, trust in most free online content is going down.

So, why not play this to your advantage?

How?

I’ll explain. People attribute a higher level of credibility and trust to paid content, right?

Which means they’ll attribute higher value to any content locked behind the gates of your membership site. What’s more, existing members are more likely to upsell from within your membership site. Once they trust you, they’ll trust all your content.

And finally, let’s flip to your prospect’s perspective.

By packaging everything they need and presenting it with a bow and a roadmap, you’re making it easy for them. You’re also saving them tons of time.

No longer do they need to cartwheel about the internet piecing things together. You’ve given them one simple place to access everything they need and they’ll pay you for that simplicity.

Reason #3. Tribe

People love being surrounded by a tribe of people just like them, united by common interest, with similar problems and worries to chat about.

And membership sites build tribes. They provide people with a place to hang out, belong to and feel part of something bigger than themselves. It’s the vibe of your tribe that will make people stay, pay and play.

Let’s not forget that every tribe has a leader too. One with unique character.

On the surface it may seem as if people are just buying your content, but it’s really your character and personality they’re buying.

They want to be like you on some level. They’ll  connect with your character through the tone of your writing or the personality you show in videos. And it’s this that they’ll return for over and over again with credit card in hand.

You’re convinced now, right?

Hmmm, I have an inkling you’re still wondering.

You know it’s a good idea. But… what if your niche is the exception? What if you are the exception?

Let’s take look at a few successful membership sites that all make over 100K so you’ve got some proof.

Successful Membership Site Examples


Site #1. Orchids Made Easy

Growing orchids is a popular and ongoing hobby with hungry orchid enthusiasts worldwide. Ryan ‘the orchid guy’ has created a fantastic character story and feeds his members with continuous drip fed content via a monthly membership subscription to his Green Thumb Club. Members can join at a low starting price for a month so they can test the waters.

Site #2. The Game Changers

A specialist in the business coaching niche, Barry Magliarditi guides his members on an ongoing development journey that dives into the structures, systems and mindset that fuel business growth. He offers a fixed fee membership to his Opulence Program which has three tiers of access. In other words, the more you pay, the more access you get to one-to-one advice.

Site #3. Smart Blogger

Of course you know this one, but it’s totally worthy of a mention. As a leader in the blogging niche, Smart Blogger offers high-quality online courses to paying members. Programs such as Serious Bloggers Only and Freedom Machine are a phenomenal guide for members to navigate how to start a blog and monetize it.

Site # 4. Lady Boss Weightloss

Losing weight is a never ending plight for millions of people. Kaelin Tuell Poulin has created a paid 28-day challenge membership site filled with stacks of advice that gets real results. People start by joining for a 7-day free trial. Her style is authoritative and her character has a popular zero to hero story. She offers lifetime access to her content, plus a strong community for support and accountability.

Site #5. Magnetic Memory Method

Anthony Metivier’s membership offers free content, products and a fantastic blog on the surface.

Yet, the success of his behind the scenes membership program demonstrates the power of a narrow and focussed niche with a strong sales funnel.

He leads people gently, builds trust and engages them as he moves them into his fixed-term online program. He also offers a continuity program for those who want to stay — and many do!

Site #6. Succulents and Sunshine

Cassidy Tuttle’s online business is a thriving success that uses a hybrid of affiliatecommissions, display ads, ebook sales and a gated online course as income. She offers  “easy access to all the resources and information you need to successfully grow succulents… all in one convenient place”, and has rave reviews as social proof on her site.

Her site boasts lots of free content. But the premium content and one-to-one access to her advice is behind the paid gates of her online course. Smart!

Site #7. Jan Spiller Astrology

In full disclosure, I couldn’t get confirmation that this site made over $100K, but it’s pretty safe to say it’s doing well given the length of time it’s been around.

Long-term survival in the online world is dependent upon income and a hungry market.

The unique traits of this membership site are the ongoing and endless drip feed of readings and charts offered through a tiered membership model. Natal charts and astrological weather seem to be high value in this magical niche.

There’s no denying success can be had in a huge variety of niches. Let’s wrap it all the learnings in in a few lesson’s to give you crystal ball clarity.

Lessons Learned from $100K Membership Sites


It’s apparent that success is possible for membership sites in a wide variety of niches. And you’ve no doubt noticed that there are different models for membership sites.

The trouble is, they all overlap in a blur of confused boundaries that leave you wondering exactly what would work for you.

To help, there are two distinct levels of difference you need to be aware of… the membership models and the variables.

Let’s dive in…

The Three Core Membership Models

THE FIX MODEL

Fix model membership sites are focussed on one thing — they solve a distinct problem. The problem can be a specific fix, such as how to grow a healthy succulent or how to write a novel. Or, they can fix a longer term problem such as how to scale a business — often solved through three, six or twelve month program.

THE MOTIVATE MODEL

When people are faced with a goal that they’re likely to struggle with alone, such as weight loss, fitness goals or a new diet, having an external source of motivation is often the difference that makes the difference.

Paid access to challenges that have motivational communities to share struggles in are perfect for this membership model.

THE HANGOUT MODEL

Otherwise known as the community model, this type of membership site offers people a place to connect and belong. Members are often united towards a common cause or passion such as gardening, cooking or writing.

On the surface they’ll appear to join because they want to solve a problem, yet they’re more hobbyists at heart and their love for their ‘thing’ drives them to be around others who speak their secret language.

Once you know which model suits you best you can customise your membership site by deciding from the following variables.

The Five Core Membership Site Variables

FIXED FEE OR MONTHLY PAYMENTS

If you choose the Fix model then a fixed fee works well. Prices can vary from a $27 online course to a $3,000 plus online program. It’s all about how much value you offer. The hangout model is perfect for a monthly payment structure as people will pay to stay as long as you continue to provide regular high-value new content.

CONTENT TYPE

When it comes to content, you’ve got an enormous range of choice.

Depending on your model, you can use video (live or you talking to slides), worksheets, workbooks, photos and mock-up illustrations, photography, quizzes, charts, graphs, interactive spreadsheets, Facebook live videos, webinars and so on.

As long as it’s online and accessible within a gated forum or platform, you’re good to go.

See, even mind-maps work as membership site content.

DRIP OR IMMERSION ACCESS

Deciding when your members will get access to all of their content immediately or not is personal preference. You can choose to drip feed content to members daily, weekly or monthly to protect your content.

Drip fed content is perfect if you offer a free trial or want to build excitement and suspension.

Or, you can throw members into the deep end with full immersion access on day one and let them work as fast, or as slow as they choose.

LIFETIME OR FIXED-TERM

There are no hard and fast rules here. Lifetime access provides paying members to ongoing ‘forever’ access to the course or content they’ve paid for. This works well for bigger, more detailed courses that take a long time to complete.

Fixed-term access is perfect to create a sense of urgency to encourage members to complete the course. It also opens the door to offer a continuity program for those who haven’t finished within the fixed term and want to retain access.

TIERED OR SINGLE-LEVEL

Single-level access means a fixed program structure. You may have one or more programs that solve a specific problem, which is best suited to a dedicated, single-level or set structure.

Or, you may offer a program, in which three tiers works best. You can offer online access as a base level and leverage one-to-one access to you at your top level.

It’s pretty clear that membership sites can work in a huge range of niches. And they’re a great way to leverage your time to create the income you know could change your life and give you the freedom you crave.

But that’s not the real issue here is it? Could it be that a sneaky fear of not being up to the task is lurking behind the clumsy charade of ‘will it work for me’?

You’d be inhuman if it wasn’t.

Regardless, now is the time to step up and decide. Because you’re only ever one decision away from changing your life. Could this be one of those decisions?

I’m guessing though, because you’re a passionate blogger with your heart set on spreading your message, that you’re keen to discover a bit more about how to build a membership site.

How to Build Your Membership Site


If you’re up for playing a bigger game, rather than giving in to those progress-halting worries of yesterday, you’re ready to create a membership site to leverage your time and make money faster. Fantastic!

But, just as you’re enjoying your moment of excited inspiration, you wonder what is the best platform to build your membership site with?

Well, your options fit into two broad categories — a WordPress Plugin or a non-Wordpress All-in-One platform.

Let’s take a look.

WordPress Plugins

If you’ve already got an existing WordPress website oozing with content and attracting traffic, then a plugin may be the best option.

Using a plugin gives your readers a sense of familiarity as you can maintain brand consistency and probably reuse your existing website theme.

Plugins makes marketing simple as you can install a ‘log in’ button on your existing home page and avoid having to create a new domain name as well. Plugins these days are remarkably easy to get up and running too — even for non-techies.

Here are a few options for you:

  • Memberpress — MemberPress will help you build astounding WordPress membership sites, accept credit cards securely, control who sees your content and sell digital downloads … all without the difficult setup.
  • Learndash — a powerful WordPress plug in with course builder, quizzes, cart, group management and is compatible with any theme.
  • Restrict Content Pro — a seriously top-level and increasingly popular membership plugin that offers all the features you could want.
  • Memberium — Built exclusively for WordPress and Infusionsoft™, Memberium is the perfect tool for creating scalable membership sites.

Non-Wordpress All-in-Ones

Perfect for bloggers or online newbies who don’t yet have a fully fledged website or tech stack in place, an all-in-one platform makes things ridiculously easy. Just pay a subscription and have fun with the drag and drop builders to customise and upload your content.

You’ll also benefit from a host of extras such as payment systems and course builders plus marketing and email automation options as well. Job done.

Here are a few of the players worth considering in this space:

  • Kajabi — the all-in-one tool for those who want it all and want it simple. Websites, membership sites, landing pages, quizzes, online courses, webinars and payments.
  • Teachable — With just a few clicks, you’ll get a fully functioning school with learning management, payment gateways, and sales and marketing tools.
  • Thinkific — drag and drop design, customised pricing and cart for those who want to educate with confidence.
  • Kartra — this relative newbie packs a punch as it does every-single-online-thing you’ll ever need. Pre-written funnels, email marketing, membership sites, analytics and everything else.
  • Simplero — Action packed ALL in one for your website, membership site, email and business management, CRM, hosting, payments, marketing — everything you’ll need to be online in one place.
  • AccessAlly — if you’re ready for upselling and sophisticated marketing as well as a solid course builder with gamification and more, AccessAlly is a great option.

Is a Membership Site for You?


Starting a membership site isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain kind of person to jump into content and community management like this.

Yet, for a blogger who is serious about monetizing, it’s a road worth considering. Seriously.

Because it’s a way to build a following and an income — fast.

A membership site means you’ll build your name with credibility, trust and value. It’ll make you stand out from the crowd as an online entrepreneur with a character people love.

Because you’ll be someone who offers a solution to fix problems, motivates people beyond that which they can achieve alone and you’ll give them a place they want to hang out.

But only you know if you’re up to the task.

Only you know if you’re disciplined enough to map out a vision, a structure and create the content you need.

Only you know if you’re up to taking the leap and taking charge of your future.

So what do you say?

Are you up for it? Or not?