A few days ago I was in the mood to randomly help someone out with their Internet marketing efforts. I simply posted on twitter the message, “What can I help you with?”
The first people to reply were Elliott and Pamela. They sent me the following e-mail (edited to protect people and products mentioned, and I’ve added some comments in red).
What advice would you give my new “students”? Check out what happened next, and see my advice just below the email they sent me:
Thank you so much for your Twitter offer to help. We feel very much in need of guidance.
Five years ago we bought your book “The Silent Sales Machine” but weren’t in a position, due to family issues, to put time into doing anything with it. I don’t even have a copy of it anymore, since I bought a new computer and lost it in the transfer of info. (I’ve sent them a new copy of course)
A few months ago, we decided to learn to build an online business. About that time, I received an email from ******, promoting someone’s affiliate marketing programs (I think there must be 5,000 of those courses out there!). I contacted that person and asked her how and where one should begin, if being a complete newbie, and she recommended starting with affiliate marketing (BAD IDEA in my opinion – the odds are SO stacked against you!). So, we took her class on affiliate marketing. Although it contained good information (they all do, but what RESULTS did you get?), when we ask for help, she said she doesn’t do that type of teaching and won’t answer any email questions, although she says all the time to contact her anytime with any questions. We set up a blog and an opt-in page and were told by this teacher that our opt-in page was not good and wouldn’t work, but she won’t explain what is wrong with it and why it won’t work (it won’t work because you started out by BUILDING A WEBSITE before you HAD AN AUDIENCE) Check out THIS BLOG POST to see what I mean . She says she doesn’t have time for that. She taught steps we need to take (for example, that we must use social media and article marketing sites to drive traffic) but does not explain or answer questions about how to use those sites. We feel stuck and somewhat misled and don’t know how to move forward from where we are.
Our niche is health and healing, specifically disease prevention. (now I’m interested…tell me what YOU are passionate about!) We think this may be too broad and that we need to narrow it more (maybe, maybe not…let your CUSTOMERS decide that). We also wonder if our niche is a reasonable one in which to make money, due to us not being medical professionals. All we have is personal experience and learning and a passion to share with others how to protect their health. When I first asked our teacher about the health and healing niche, she said it was excellent and there would be many good products to promote. Now she says we need to be very careful in that niche, to not make claims about healing and be careful how we promote things. (only lawyers should be giving you legal advice, but false claims are a landmine in ANY niche. careful.)
A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to 6 people whose products we’ve purchased in the past and asked for some direction. You (or your staff) replied and were the only one that did. (why thank you for mentioning that – we do our best) Since then, I’ve been reading your articles and got back on your email list and we are trying to build a list, but although we post articles on eZine, have a few Twitter followers, and write a blog, no one subscribes to our mailing list. We feel that our efforts to keep writing, posting, etc. are wasted if we’re not getting any subscribers, but don’t know where to go from here. We don’t know how to correct what we’re doing wrong. (Not to pick on you, but if you are doing something wrong sometimes doing no more of it is the answer…not “correcting” it. If something clearly isn’t working move on quickly to something that is.)
If you have the time to look at our opt-in pages, perhaps you could simply tell us what is wrong with them and give us some direction. www.healthandhealingwithnutrition.com and www.neverdoharm.com. Our blog is www.healthandhealingwithnutrition.com/diseaseprevention.
We’re considering joining your membership site, but are a little gun-shy about putting out more money before we’ve had any success and aren’t sure if it contains the kind of information we need. The course we took on affiliate marketing cost **** and we don’t feel it was worth it because the ongoing support that was promised, is not there. The only thing we hear from her now is more and more promotions of other products she’s trying to sell. My husband is convinced that it’s much easier to teach people how to make money in affiliate marketing than it is to actually make money doing affiliate marketing. (BINGO! GOLD STAR FOR YOUR HUSBAND Elliot! We Have A Winner!! He is 100% correct.)
Thank you for any help or direction you can give us, Jim. Everything I’ve seen of you and your work seems credible and honest, and when you asked on Twitter today, if you could do anything to help anyone, I decided to take you up on the offer.
Elliot and Pamela Y.
Elliot and Pamela,
Thanks for contacting me. I hate to say it, but your story isn’t all that unfamiliar to me.
Unfortunately the key to your success in this industry isn’t hiding behind the next perfect course or training. I think you already know that though.
Instead of giving you a bunch of general advice and encouragement I think I’ll spend my time giving you the best advice I can regarding growing your audience in the niche you’ve told me about.
The good news is you’re in a popular enough niche that you should be able to easily find other experts that already have established audiences, and then you can find ways to partner with them creatively. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
Find a willing expert that has a large e-mail mailing list in your niche. A few minutes searching google should generate a nice list of good potential partner sites. Make sure they are active with email marketing (i.e. they have an opt-in box on the main page, or an email pop up offer etc.)
Create a free short special report that accomplishes three things. First, it educates and informs and gently leads prospects towards more quality information from you. Do not try to sell anything at this stage. Ideally you are telling a compelling story at this stage as well. Secondly the report must make your generous “host” look very good. If this means including his name on the title of the report, or including references to his materials or other products, or meeting whatever other requests he has when you approach him for your partnership, then do it. He’s in charge because he has the list, and the audience. Third, include inside the special report an easy way for prospects to continue to get further information from you (i.e. join your mailing list).
The right partner will agree (before you do the work) to pass out this quality free report to their prospects knowing that while they are doing you a favor, they are also increasing their own credibility by bringing quality content to their followers.
Another version of this strategy is to conduct phone interviews with other experts in your niche. The big fish in your niche will likely say no if you approach them first, so approach the “little fish” first and get them to agree to 30 minute interviews with you. Once you have a good handful of these interviews recorded there are many things that you can do with the content. A free special report that links to each of these interviews for example. Use freeconferencecall.com to easily record your interviews and save them as MP3 files without spending any money. Make sure that you have a similar theme in each interview. For example, force each expert to reveal what single five-minute change people must make now in order to live a healthier life. The title of your book might then be “Change Your Life in One Hour: Top Tips From 10 Healthy Living Experts”. Most of the experts you interview will be happy to pass the new book out for free to their fans. This will generate e-mail leads for you and give you a base of link minded prospects to work with.
I’m also starting to get more excited about “Paid Search” – not PPC or pay-per-click (which is getting harder all the time), but media buys. I’ve got a course I’m endorsing in today’s newsletter that talks more about that topic. It’s definitely something to experiment with in any niche.
Back on the subject of affiliate marketing:
Once you have your OWN product you can certainly allow affiliate to help you sell it! That’s where most of my sales come from on my own products. Also – you’ll find it’s far easier to sell as an affiliate marketer once you have a loyal audience. See the links at the bottom of this article for more of an education on why I have a love/hate relationship with affiliate marketing.
There’s no magic bullet when it comes to growing an audience online. Finding the places where your audience hangs out online and then engaging in in one-on-one conversations, and finding the true leaders in your niche (try twitter) so you can creatively partner with them are the best ways to establish yourself as a leader in any niche. There’s no magic marketing formula that you can put a few dollars into and expect loyal followers to result, the Internet just doesn’t work that way. I hope this information helps you out and if any of it isn’t clear please ask for clarification. I’m sorry for the experience you’ve had with others in the industry but I really do do my best to help out anyone and everyone that has a passion and a goal for success online.
God bless your efforts,
For some further reading on “affiliate marketing” and avoiding gurus selling that garbage (even though I do actually LOVE affiliate marketing once you “get it”, please read the following articles:
- Do I love or hate affiliate marketing?
- How to be a rich internet guru in four simple steps
- The four reasons why affiliate marketing is a losing game (for most)
What further advice do you have for Elliot and Pamela? Do you have any questions about this article? Did I do a good job or am I wrong? Leave a comment by clicking the comment link at the top of this article.