Well… I guess any reason would do, but the main reason I began looking at doing online business was – I was surprised. Literally.

Some years ago I was searching for a tool that would enable my wife to do graphics for an online store. You know – ads, product images, and things like that. I stumbled upon a software called YouZign; it’s a great tool and we’re still using it, but that’s not the point here. I bought it.

The same day emails started coming in from three different people, explaining to me what I have to do to make money online. I didn’t know what was going on, honestly. But I started to look into the »magic« and I quickly found out that these are the guys I’ve bought the software from plus the guy whose link I have clicked.

I’ve been in sales (sort of) for years, so the principle was clear to me very fast.

By clicking that link and buying something that I really needed at that time, not only have I paid the vendor, but also the seller. The affiliate, as I learned, earned a whopping 50% of what I have paid, by simply showing me his ad.

Wait a minute. I can do that, too.

A bit of a background

When I say I’m in sales for years – I’m an engineer, working with computers and printers my whole professional life, that is, for almost 35 years now. This includes sales, service, and maintenance, of course, and everything that goes along.

Searching for prospects, people that might need our a-bit-specialized stuff (Tally, Printronix, Microplex, …), getting in touch with them, checking the requirements, and trying to close the deal.

And I remember thinking this was exactly what being an affiliate means. I’m not selling my own products, I bear only a limited risk regarding the proper equipment operations, and so on. And I’m earning in the process because the vendors don’t need to do all that local marketing.

So my big moment of truth was not »I can do that, too«, but rather »I’m doing this already«. I’m deep into affiliate marketing already.

Of course, joining the train meant I was also exposed to lots of information about this new world. And when I learned about the insane amounts some guys earn online, I was both shocked and hooked at the same time.

The first steps

Just a few days later, I applied for an account at JVZoo and started investigating. I soon found a few offers that were somehow understandable to me and applied to become an affiliate. Needles to say, as a total newbie, I got approved by one vendor only.

But I started posting about the offer and believe it or not, I’ve made a sale after a few days. It was a $7 offer, so I earned $3.50, but man was I happy. The thing really worked and I’ve just made my first dollar online, with many more to come.

Or, so I thought. It took me almost three months and countless posts on social media to make another sale. This effectively proved to me that I have to learn and quickly buy some training and software that will finally enable me to do what these guys do.

The spiral
I’d rather not talk about everything that happened after that, but I have to mention it.

I went down the spiral of buying shiny objects quickly.

I ended up buying software that promised the world to me. You know, sales pages have a way to let you believe you and your benefit are the only things they’re thinking of. Of course, my budget was limited, so I only bought low-priced courses and software items.

I was not entirely new to web pages, so I’ve registered a domain, found a hosting account, and jumped into WordPress and my first review site. What I did not do, however, is stop buying the all-mighty add-ons and plugins that were supposed to bring me thousands by the next day.

The total result of the three years spent in this was some 35 sales that earned me a bit over $1,200, but in the process, I’ve spent well over $5,000 buying things. And had no assets to show, like an email list or even a library of products to sell.

There was clearly something really wrong in all this, right?

The status in 2020

It is no surprise that the 2019/2020 season affected our core business too. The sales went down, lockdowns meant that our equipment was not being used, so no maintenance was really needed… in short, our income came down to half of what it used to be. And instead of me earning additional $1,000 monthly online to somehow make it up, I was spending an additional $100-$300 every month for stuff that never really worked for me. It had to stop and I simply had to do the online marketing things differently.

During this year, I came across two marketers that run their business in a way that I feel somehow comfortable with. These guys were Nick James, who specializes in digital publishing, and John Thornhill, whom you surely know.

I started following them. I also bought some of their products – here we go again, you might say. Only this time, I feel confident that I have invested smartly. At last.

Here’s the first thing they both teach. And I think I finally understand it.

Choosing the way to do online business

All this time, as a wannabe marketer, I was focused on being an affiliate. Running affiliate marketing campaigns was all I was interested in. So I chose certain products that looked good to me, applied for links, and started marketing them.

In these two sentences, you can already see my first problem: I chose the products that looked good to me.

There are some people in the world that think like me and buy similar stuff, for sure. But all the others have different needs at this specific time, and they are in a large majority. Knowing what people need and are looking for right now is crucial information for any marketer.

Types of businesses – affiliate VS vendor

My second problem is that I was at the mercy of vendors to create a product that »my« audience wanted. Along with the fact that I actually had no proper idea what my limited audience wanted at all and was making »educated« guesses all the time. Can you make sales working this way? Only by pure accident, which more than obviously happened to me also.

But becoming a vendor, that is, creating your own product, well, that really sucks, doesn’t it? Coming up with an idea and then changing it into a product seems like an awful lot of trouble. Not to mention the support you have to give, the refunds, everything. Sounds so terrible.

Is it a hobby?

The third thing I have learned: sure, you can do online marketing as a hobby. This means you’ll get a domain, build a website, and then occasionally post a review about a product you like. But if you take it as a hobby, the results will be as they are from a hobby. Little to none, except having fun doing it.

Thinking from my own position I somehow came to a decision that it’s much better to take it seriously because after all, it is a serious business. There is little difference, apart from the channels and means used, between this business and what I’ve been doing all those years. So why not take it like it is, a serious business, and do what I can to make it run?

Is it worth it?

By all means – yes. Both John (with his Partnership To Success program) and Nick quickly turned my head around, because they actually teach the same thing, only from a different perspective.

In short, being an affiliate means much less trouble on the way, but it surely also means much less comfort. It rarely builds your most important asset, an email list, and most of all, you’re out there at the mercy of vendors to come up with something you need for your audience. You have no problems with support and refunds, though.

On the other hand, having a product of your own means you define the product and with it also the perfect audience. You can get a number of affiliates to sell it for you, so you don’t have to do that much marketing on your own, because you can leverage their channels. And most importantly, each sale that they make brings you another subscriber into your own email list. And you can market other products to them later on. Which gives you an opportunity to switch to high ticket offers, by the way, where the real money is.

The downside is that you have to take care of your product, offer good support to people that need it, and also take care of your affiliates. But if you nail it with the right product, it all comes worthy of all that trouble and can make you much more in a long run. But as John can teach you in his Partnership To Success program, it’s far from being all black.

Learning as you go

Of course, learning those few things does not make me a success story just yet, but I believe I’ve set foot on the right path at last. There are many things in between that I have to learn, and there will be more money spent on additional tools and traffic in the process. But hey, I’ve given myself a goal for 2021 to make it to $30k, and I will learn whatever it takes to get there.

Speaking of learning, I strongly suggest you take a look at the free webinar where John speaks about these things. When you hear about it from a seasoned and successful marketer, many things will become clearer immediately. You can learn about product creation and its importance in a much faster and more cost-efficient way than I did.

This is a guest post from Darko Radelj, if you would like to be considered for a guest post please contact me.


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