"You need to write a blog." Dave said.
You know, up to that point, I had never considered writing a blog. After all, who would care what I had to say? But I decided to take him up on it and start up a blog.
That was the beginning of the end.
I wanted Internet Money
About five years ago I was writing a very popular dating blog that taught guys how to meet and interact with women. It was a good time!
Somewhere around then I discovered the concept of Affiliate Marketing. I realized that I could sell other people's products and earn money from it. Not too long after researching the concept I stumbled onto Mark Ling's Affilorama and that launched me on the path to affiliate marketing.
Now you may be thinking: How perfect! You already have a website and people who love you!
But I didn't think that way. I was stuck in a certain mindset, you see.
I wanted to get out of my day job, and not have to put on a suit and go work for 'the man'. I wanted to make money online, and I wanted it to be easy.
I thought that the key was to find certain products or niches and promote them directly. Instead of capitalizing on what I had already built, I decided that the best thing to do was to attempt to create something new and monetize that.
I was suckered into buying all sorts of useless domains for products I didn't care about.
The strategy in those days was to buy up what we call "EMDs" – or Exact Match Domains – and then pump them full of 300 word shiticles (shitty articles no more than 300 words, usually listicles).
If you were (understandably) failing to draw in search engine traffic, then you paid money to a private blog network somewhere to spam your links across their huge, easily found network.
Predictably those networks were found by Google and de-indexed. Along with them, all of the sites they linked to got the big slap.
That was the end of my affiliate marketing career – or so I thought. Clearly, Affiliate Marketing isn't what it was back in 2005 when all these guys made their huge amounts of money.
I had missed the boat.
Right And Wrong
I thought I had missed the boat in those early days. And to a degree I had. And if you're reading this, then I want you to know that you've also missed that same boat.
If you were drawn into affiliate marketing by flashy promises of making shit tons of cash by selling toasters on Amazon, you're going to be disappointed. Long gone are the days of easy cash with websites like "bestbabystrollersfornewmoms.com".
The Direction of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing these days is less about exact match domains and getting hyper specific on a product or niche group. While that may work in some instances, it is largely over.
If you're looking for the way to quick money and you have a bit to invest, you can still make out like a bandit in developing markets. Those scams that no one in North America fall for anymore – the virus pop-unders and shady internet pharmacies and the like – are still wildly effective in third world countries where the internet is still fairly new.
But that kind of internet marketing even has a shelf life, and with the internet under more international control that shelf life is likely shorter than you'd want it to be.
Authority is where it's at
If you want to make shit-tons of money these days, your best bet is going to be picking something you're passionate about and creating high quality content around it.
It doesn't matter if you're building a huge instagram following, a huge YouTube following, or a huge blog following (or all of those), the key to making money online these days is by being an authority on a topic.
Powerful content will always resonate better with people.
When I say powerful content, I mean long form, story-telling content. Something that gives people some entertainment and some value. Something that answers their questions.
You need to produce content that solves a need. Whether that need is answering questions about a topic, or simply entertaining, your content has to be the thing that people turn to.
If you can be seen as an authority on a certain topic then your opportunities to make real money and start a real online business will never be limited. You just have to be able to invest in creating lasting value for your audience.
Authority gave me my first real taste.
That dating blog I told you about? I was so very excited about it. I loved waking up each day and sitting down to write for it.
The very first thing I would do in the morning was brew up some coffee, sit down at my kitchen table, and get to writing. After writing, I would check out other blogs, surf around, and leave comments and interact with the community.
Eventually, one of the guys I looked up to, opened up an affiliate program for his books. I figured I would take some time to promote his stuff since it had been so impacting on me personally.
I had been in the Affilorama Program for a little while now and was putting together my first niche website, but figured I could promote products on my dating blog as well.
That first month I made over $260 in sales of a $10 book that I was sure most of my audience had already read.
In fact, I became such a high performing affiliate for that guy that when I tried to buy one of his books, he sent me a refund and said, "You never have to pay for my stuff."
I would get coaching offers from readers who wanted me to help them overcome their own self esteem issues and problems with women. I even helped a few on Skype for like $65 an hour.
I lost myself
It was really an amazing time in my journey as an internet entrepreneur. I didn't realize how far I'd come and what I had in my hands at the time. I (correctly) thought I should launch a product.
Unfortunately the product I launched was half baked, poorly executed, and over priced. I stopped focusing on my users, on the value, and started focusing on the money.
My fall from grace was pretty phenomenal. I started getting flooded with hate mail from people who previously loved me. On top of that, my product failed completely to gain any traction.
I eventually shut down the blog and had a huge crisis of self esteem, something that has haunted me for the better part of 5 years now.
I realize now what went wrong
I was doing well because I was providing value. I was an authority on dating for men. I plummetted because I stopped providing that value. Instead of asking, "What can I do for my audience?" I started asking, "How much can my audience pay me?"
This was a fatal flaw that cost me a good thing. And it took me a long time to realize what my problem was.
Longer than it should have to realize why I failed, and what had made me successful in the first place. But now I do.
Building an Authority Site
I'm going to be building up an authority site around affiliate marketing and affiliate SEO (this one) and showing you what I'm doing along the way.
I'll also be showing you my affiliate site for my cat (Gabby The Tabby) and how that's coming along.
In addition to posts on the subject, I'll also do monthly income reports to show you exactly how much I'm making with these sites. The monthly reports will also include traffic and ranking.
So if you're curious about how to start an authority blog or if you're curious about Affiliate Marketing, then I encourage you to follow along.