How Harry Lost Money But Gained Experience
For today’s post, I wanted to share some experience from another affiliate marketer, so I asked Harry from Harryvsinternet.com if he’d be interested in writing a post for you AuthorityAzon folks, and he did.
This post is all about how you can lose money, but gain a ton of experience. It’s a positive post, despite the whole “losing” money aspect. At the end of the day, the expression, nothing ventured, nothing gained, rings true.
If you don’t ever get started, you’ll never get anywhere (which is why we have a done for you service, to help you get started).
What’s more, by reading this post, you can learn from Harry’s experience, without losing money yourself. Win win!
Take it away Harry…
How I Lost Money But Gained Experience
My journey through making money online is a turbulent one.
It still is to some extent and I am sure that even the most experienced marketers we know, also have off days when they just aren’t sure what direction they should be travelling in on that particular day.
People say hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I think that it’s bitch and I hate it because it makes me look stupid…but it does have its uses.
You should try learn from every single mistake you make – and you will make mistakes I promise you that 100% – and try not to be that guy from the Matrix who shits on his friends to gain back his blissful ignorance. The bald one chomping down on a fat, juicy steak and…anyway let’s back to the point:
It is so easy to say, “fuck it, this shits too fucking hard I will just go and find some cake”.
But that would be foolish, apart the cake bit. That would be wise, but you can’t live on cake forever.
Let me tell you a little story:
I am currently making pretty OK money right now, (average of $1,800/ month) and I am in the process of making a new niche site with another in the works, both looking very promising with lots of great content.
Kind of overkill but hey, I am a glutton for punishment!
Anyway, the point I really want to make here, is that this is just 1 niche website that is making me money right now, but it is by no means the first niche website that I have attempted making.
I am actually not entirely sure just how many failed sites I have under my belt, but suffice to say we are talking double digits here.
Now, most of these sites I just didn’t spend enough time on and let wither away somewhat like an abused Bonzi tree.
But there is 1 site in particular that failed so epically that I want to let you know the stupid things I did so that you won’t do the same.
It was hit with a Google Panda/ Penguin/ Hummingbird/ General Google Fuck You penalty, or a combination of all of the above.
I don’t know and haven’t really bothered trying to find out or fix it because there is so much to do that I would rather focus my efforts on other things.
The thing is that it was ranking really well for about 6 months, in the top 10 results for most of my target keywords (10 – 1,000 searches), but even then after many clicks to Amazon it still didn’t convert well because I wasn’t thinking about my reader.
On a side not, I have been messing around a bit and have kind of turned it around a bit. I have a YouTube video ranking number 5 for a 1,600 search term and I get a fairly significant click through rate to Amazon via that, (although no sales because they are only warm leads and probably don’t like being taken direct to Amazon. Also the video is a bit shit, but I spammed it to the front page as an experiment – see parasites).
What I learnt
- Find something you are interested in writing about – big point
- Don’t buy links – certain links are fine like the Hoth and certain very specific PBN’s (lightening Rank, Diggity Links) etc.
- Stay away from Fiverr links like the damn black death and scurvy combined
- Forget about buying social shares – they are utterly useless and even if they did have an impact for SEO, they will send you no traffic and will not be re shared; useless basically and you should that money for something more useful
- Don’t just scrape content when you can’t be arsed to write your own stuff – see point 1
- Write for your readers and not Google
- Don’t be spamming
- Do be contenting (is that a word?)
- Do be tweaking – that’s tweaking; not twearking. Twearking will get you nowhere in life.
- Basically, make a website that you are proud with and can say hand on heart, “yep; this is a damn good site and I can bring it home to meet my mum”.
Each of these points represents something that I did with my failed site.
So I will go through each of these points letting you know why they should be avoided and why failing so spectacularly has actually been a good thing for me and taught me loads on new things.
I will also tell you what I am already doing differently for my new site/s so that you not make the same mistakes as I did.
Unless you’re stupid and want to spend money with a 0% return.
Find something that you are somewhat interested about
I can’t really hammer this point home hard enough so I will just repeat it on its own line:
Find a niche that you are interested in. Even if just a little bit.
If you couldn’t care less about fungal toenail growth, then you are going to find it bloody impossible to get traffic to send to that amazing 523% gravity Click bank product.
I don’t care who you are, but toenail fungus is not interesting unless you are blighted by toenail fungus and actually want to help people who have severe toenail fungus.
Anyway that’s enough about toenail fungus for the time being.
The point here is that in order to stick with your niche site; you have to have an interest in the subject matter.
To succeed in this game, you have to commit and stay long term, there are no shortcuts anymore.
This is especially true when you reassess the reason that you are even getting into this in the first place.
If you are anything like me, a unique little flower fluttering in the wind, then you most likely are doing it because you want to be able to create a steady long term income that will replace your job.
I’m a bit different because I have a great job and would probably stay working here even if I was earning 5 digits a month. (I work with elephants in Laos – I just wanted to force that in there to brag a bit).
If that is the case then you have to think of it like a business and not a quick money making scheme.
In order to keep it going long term; you need to somewhat enjoy the subject you are writing about.
As I said earlier, one of the reasons that I have so many failed sites is because I just let them fail, in part because I wasn’t really interested in the product; remember the toenail fungus point?
With regards to my epic fail site – from now on to be referred to as EFS – I actually bought a readymade site, similar to Dom’s, but not one of his because I didn’t know about his sites when I got it.
The only thing I looked at when I bought it was the Keyword Competition score as given by Long Tail Pro and the monthly searches.
Big mistake my friends.
I don’t even bother looking at these anymore, unless I have done the research myself and am confident that I can actually do something with them.
Now I will firstly make sure that I am able to:
- Write my own content in an interesting manner, or turn outsourced content into my own voice
- Scale if the site starts to get popular
I have really been focusing on the second point for my newest project because I am content in waiting some time to see results, and I want to make several pages into “money pages” to spread the risk a bit, (if a competitor comes a long and tries to eat all of my pie, for example.)
Bottom Line: If you find something you are interested in; you will have more fun with it.
Don’t buy links
I was thinking about whether or not to include this point because I didn’t want to insult your intelligence as I am sure that you already read a shit ton of marketing blogs talking about his; hell I read so many other marketing blogs that I sometimes forget that I have a wife and kid!
Don’t worry I can joke about this because my wife doesn’t care about the internet apart from Facebook, (also I don’t really forget them – just in case she is reading).
However I’ve included it because like you, I also read about not buying links; but I still went ahead and bought links.
I am stupid and inpatient and it cost me a lot of money.
Don’t be like Harry. Be smart, patient and don’t spend a lot of money.
There is a bit of a caveat to this point, and that is PBN links.
If you don’t know what a PBN is, it’s basically a network of high metric websites that you make look like individual websites and then use to point some links back to your money sites.
They are difficult to do, really, really difficult, and can fuck you up if not done properly.
If done correctly then they can massively boost your site up the rankings, but you have to be very careful.
That’s why I mentioned the 2 link services at the start of the post.
They both have good reviews. I will be using some of these services for my new site; but only as part of a link building mixture which will include guest posts, outreach and interesting infographics.
Outreach really isn’t as difficult or scary as it sounds and if you can get a link on a real site, you will benefit from their traffic and social presence.
Bottom Line: …Don’t buy links when you are just starting. A link earnt is better than a link bought. More fun as well.
Stay away from Fiverr links
This relates to the last point and also includes Source Market links.
Source Market used to be really cool and full of really useful SEO things; but it has just fallen off a cliff nowadays and is just like a massive supermarket that only sells Spam.
Bottom Line: same as above
Get real social shares
I read somewhere that social shares were great for SEO and that Google used them as a ranking factor.
So what did I go and do with my EFS?
Yep, I went out and bought some social shares.
I bought a lot of social shares.
I bought literally thousands of social shares.
Did they work?
I don’t know if they had any impact whatsoever, but I do know that I will not be doing that again.
The reason being that I would rather focus on getting real people to actually enjoy my site so much that they share it.
This has the added benefit that their friends may also share it, creating a beautiful chain reaction of shares. A nuclear bomb of sharing, if you will.
OK, so it probably won’t go viral, but if you don’t understand why real shares are better than fake ones, I don’t want to explain to you and we most likely can’t be friends.
Bottom Line: 1 real share is better than 100 fake shares
Don’t scrape content
This is the lazy man method of making websites.
It is also the stupid man method of making websites, as well as the no traffic man method and the “I don’t really know what I should be writing about” man method.
All are great methods if you don’t want to make money, but very bad methods if you want to be able to make money sitting on the toilet with your laptop.
This point is much related to number 1.
The main thing I have done differently with my newest site, is to either write the content myself with my own research, or to buy content – I recommend Human Proof Design article here because they tick all the boxes.
The pack of 20 is the best value for money IMO, and they are well written and researched.
However if you are making a super, duper authority site, then you should either do at least some of the writing yourself, or be prepared to spend some serious cheddar on a pro writer.
But can’t you just buy content from Fiverr?
See the part about Fiverr links for the same response.
Bottom Line: Content is the most valuable part of your website and you should treat it like you treat your valuable body parts…with care and attention.
Write for your readers
Related to the point above, but it needs to be said in its own little section.
Your readers will be making you money; not Google.
You should make sure to lay out the content well and give it a certain structure, i.e. Title – H2 – H3 etc, but you should be writing like you something you want to read first and foremost.
It seems that Google is pushing hard quality content and thin sites will find it very difficult to rank anyway, so you might as well write something worthwhile.
From what I have been reading from certain forums, even doing certain “churn & burn blackhat” kind of projects still actually require some pretty decent content for the money pages.
I think this is in part to do with the fact that internet users are really pretty savvy today and can see right through a thin, piece of crap article that only exists to take money from their pockets and put it into the website owners.
The main point is that even if you manage to get to the coveted number 1 spot for a high traffic keyword; if your content is not good enough to convert; it won’t convert. That’s it.
For my EFS, I was only thinking about ranking with keywords and how I could SEO the crap out of Google.
It worked…for a while.
But as I said it got slapped down because I am pretty sure the content was rubbish.
I know this because even though I got onto page 1 for quite a few OK keywords; when they went through to Amazon no one bought anything!
Now bear in mind that the content was about the subject, but I didn’t warm up the readers enough and I think they just went through cold, to Amazon not really in a buying mood.
Bottom Line: Your readers will be buying things from your affiliate links, not Google. So you had better write for them or risk staying in your day job forever.
Make sure to constantly tweak your content
It is worth going back to your older content and tweaking it slightly to be able to rank for even more keywords.
Yes I know that I said don’t be writing with keywords in mind, but they are still important. You just have to make sure to write for a human first.
The thing is, if you can put in a relevant keyword into your content in natural way, then that is good. If you try to stuff in a keyword – relevant or not – in an unnatural manner; that is bad.
Good Example: This is one of the best remote controlled drones under $200 that both beginner and an experienced flyer will enjoy.
Bad Example: Flying one the best remote controlled drones under $200 for beginners is very fun and even those who are experienced will enjoy this remote controlled drone.
Can you see the difference?
This isn’t the best example, but it gives you an idea of what shoehorning looks like, and the bad example has been so thoroughly shoehorned that they should come up with a new word for shoehorning because shoehorning just won’t cut it for this one.
However, once your content is starting to get a trickle of traffic, you should check your analytics and webmasters accounts to see the queries that people are using to find your posts, and see if you can place them somewhere to help Google to show your content in more prominent position.
There are a few good tools for this:
- Google Analytics – link with your webmasters account to get a whole load of analytical goodies
- Google Webmaster (search console – stupid name)
- SEM Rush – can use a free account
- Ahrefs – can also use a free account
You can also use some of the data to use in an advertising campaign with Facebook etc.
You should also getting yourself a free account with SumoMe and use their content analytics to see how far down a page that people are reading to, and also their heat map tool to see where they are clicking.
The heat map tool is especially useful.
If you are getting lots of traffic but not many conversions, then you can see where your readers are clicking and depending on their intention; you can place in an affiliate link.
Bottom Line: Teak things around and make sure to keep content relevant and readable and pushes your reader where you want them to go: your affiliate or email subscription links or whatever.
Be proud of your site
You are going to be sending a lot of time with your new site, so make sure to make it into something that you are happy with.
One rule of thumb you could use; is to think about if you had the money to buy a website from Empire Flippers etc, would be happy to spend it on your site?
If you look at your website and think, “yes I would buy this”, then that is good. If your site is ass ugly and you would rather burn your eyes out with a hot spoon…that is bad.
Bottom Line: If you want to create a sustainable online presence; you need to make sure that you won’t be vomiting every time you log into your website.
Wow, so that was a long one. If you made it all the way down to here, then I salute you and will give you a virtual pat on the back.
All of the points in this post, represent impatience, stupidity, lack of knowledge and lack of respect for the web user.
We are all users of the web and so we should start to treat each other with a bit more respect and only make stuff that is useful.
If you make sure to be useful, people will always come back for more.
I don’t want this post to put anyone off starting a brand new project, because you have to start something to make money.
However I really want those who are new and reading this, to understand that it is bloody difficult.
You know, passive income isn’t really a thing, you have to work hard and hustle hard.
Just like with anything in life – just the rewards here can be pretty great if you stick at it and do things right.
I will just finish up with reminding you of the saying: “measure twice, cut once”.
If you do things correctly to begin with, you will not waste time and effort trying to fix something in the future.
About The Author
Harry is currently living in Laos, and dealing with things such as an internet connection that is “sketchy at the best of times”, while trying to build an online business. You can follow him over at HarryVsInternet.