I do a lot of different things in business, web development, and non-profit work. Some have even called me a “loose cannon” because of all the things I have my hands on at any one time. I’m trying to take that as constructive criticism, but in between therapy sessions, I also try my luck at PPC affiliate marketing.
Honestly, I’ve kinda sucked at it. I’ve lost about $250 so far in my attempts since February. I can’t remember how many I’ve tried at and lost money at before, but it wasn’t that significant. A few dollars here and there. But this time, I’ve been motivated.
Explaining PPC Affiliate Marketing
Before I continue, let me just help those of you who don’t understand what PPC affiliate marketing is yet. I know some of you who read this are web geeks, some are cellphone lovers, some business owners and others are non-profit volunteers. But, stick with me for a bit. Some of my readership skipped this article just because of the title, which is ok. I’ll write another article later that fits them. But, if you’re still with me, keep reading and I’ll try to explain what I’m doing, and more importantly why I’m doing it.
Now, PPC (Pay Per Click) affiliate marketing is this process….
- Find a company who’s willing to pay me to bring customers to their website
- Agree on a price they will pay me for each transaction (sale or lead).
- Find a way to inexpensively bring customers to their site (usually by creating an advertisement and placing it on search engines)
- Start bringing people their way (paying the search engines per click on my advertisement)
- Get paid by the company when the person buys something or enters information the company will use later
That process is essentially what Pay Per Click affiliate marketing is all about. It’s not my product or service. It’s not my customers. I act as the risk-taking middle man who gets paid for bringing customers into the company’s door.
Some of the better affiliate networks out there, which I highly recommend working with, are Convert2Media and Copeac. The managers at these places are top notch and specifically, Convert2Media gives the biggest payouts regardless of traffic numbers that I’ve seen for the big offers. There, that’s my ad for them – without whom I probably wouldn’t have been successful at all.
What I did to make a profit using PPC affiliate marketing
Now, instead of jumping bouncing around randomly here and there, trying to test a bunch of different PPC campaigns (product/service offers from companies), I decided to choose one that paid almost $50 for each signup. That’s a pretty big payout for each customer, so I figured I had a lot of margin to work with. I could spend up to $49 to get one client and still make a profit.
One dollar of profit doesn’t sound like much, but you have to understand that once you consistently make a profit doing this kind of thing, you simply scale your advertising campaign up. If you brought in 1000 people per day where you made $1 off of each of them, that’s $1000 profit you made that day. Now, that doesn’t happen very often, and I made a decent sized mistake by trying the bigger payout first.
My mistakes in PPC
The thing I didn’t really think of was that while testing this kind of offer, I just might spend and lose a whole lot of money while trying to make this thing work. Fortunately, I figured that out after loosing about $150 or so. It could have been much more, but I’m a stingy guy (just ask my wife). So, losing $150 was a big deal to me.
Instead, I turned from my ways and went to the really cheap payout offers. These offers are usually ones that pay per lead, which means they require someone to put in some kind of information like their email address or zip code before you get paid. Depending on the offer and when/how they pay, this can be a great deal or a sucky one.
I decided to go with the ones that take very little for me to get paid… zip codes. I don’t mind giving my zip code to someone, most people don’t. It’s when it becomes personal, like giving your email address, when people get really hesitant. Plus, this particular campaign was nice in that you put your zip code in on the first page (I get paid), and then they go on to the offer. So, if someone bails before they get through the whole thing, it doesn’t really matter much to me. I got paid already.
What I changed
So, I found an offer that paid little and didn’t cost me much to try out.
I then stumbled upon a few nice coupons where the search engines would give me between $50 and $100 to try out their ad network. I had to put a few dollars in each one, but still, that’s $50 to $100 for free that I got to play around with and test my new little campaign.
I went through the first 2 coupons pretty fast, but with the help of the little free statistics program I found, I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong (was it my ads? my keywords? my max CPC?) and how to adjust my campaigns. What I figured out was that the amount I was willing to pay for each customer to click on my ad was too high (CPC, which is “cost per click”). Because of that, I was spending more money than I was making from the company.
I adjusted that maximum cost per click about 3 or 4 times until I found an amount that actually started to make me a few dollars a day.
What’s the point of this story?
The point of this story is partially tactical, and partially strategic.
First (tactical), before you jump into PPC marketing and lose a bunch of money, spend someone else’s. I spent Google’s, Yahoo’s, and Microsoft’s money first using their coupons. I lost a few dollars while testing things out, but not as much as I would have if I was spending my own money.
Second (tactical), don’t learn on the big payout offers. They’re expensive to play with, and although you might win big, you could also lose big too. You wouldn’t go up against the poker champions of the world the first time you try to learn poker would you? Shoot, I’ve been playing poker for years and I still wouldn’t go up against those guys. They’d kill me and not in a small way. Learn on the small payouts because that means they usually don’t cost as much per click either. You can test a lot of things while you learn, and you might only lose $5/day while you do it (you will lose money while you learn). Eventually, when you figure out how to win at this game, it doesn’t take much to earn back what you’ve lost.
Third (strategic), let’s answer the question as to why I play this game at all in the first place….
Why am I trying to make money in the PPC affiliate marketing business?
The real point is that I want my time to be mine. When I was 15 years old, I realized the only way I’ll get to live my own life is to run my own business. That’s been the motivation behind me starting companies, working for startups for equity, and trying out all kinds of little things. I don’t think I’m that different from a lot of other people. But, I have this driving passion for being my own boss. There’s a few ways to do that in this world, but most take either a large sum of money, a lot of time, or a big network of super smart and/or connected people. I don’t have a lot of money or an awesome network. I do, however have time. But, it’s time that I want to keep for myself.
So, here’s some options that I’ve tried a few times.
- Real estate (takes time and money)
- Employee at startups (takes time for the shares to be worth anything, if ever)
- Owner/founder of startups (takes a network, sometimes money, and time)
- Regular investing in stocks, 401ks, IRAs, and other investments (takes lots of time and at least some disposable income)
- Flipping websites (hard to make a lot of money for the time it takes to develop, and it’s not residual income)
- Building awesome valueable sites/services (takes time to market and gain people’s attention for your product/service, although this one is worth doing even if you don’t make a ton of money)
- PPC affiliate marketing (takes a little money, a little time, and almost no network is necessary)
All of the above have residual income possibilities except for building and flipping websites. I’ve tried them all and the only one that shows promise for residual income with a little risk and trial and error is PPC marketing.
My ultimate goals
I have a few goals which PPC can actually help me reach.
- Make residual income of at least $3k per month (because it gives me my time back at the lowest possible level)
- Contribute to my local community (requires time and sometimes money)
- Spend time with my family (more than I work)
- Give my time to others without needing to charge for it (vs. the typical workweek)
- Travel often and to many places in the world
Attaining these goals gives me the flexibility to spend time where I believe I can be most effective in all of my circles of influence. Eventually, it may help me to be a world-changer (not that you have to have money to change the world, but it’s much easier). With my constraints, and my goals, I’ve been working hard at this trial and error thing for 16 years. I believe I’ve finally hit upon something which has the potential to help me attain my ultimate goals.
Wish me luck, and let me know how I can fill in any blanks so you can reach for your dreams.