Making Mistakes Faster

In late 2011 I decided to dig into more ‘larger projects’, as I was tired of playing the games with Google for all of my smaller sites. I was tired of teaching people how I did this stuff, as I eventually got burned out while giving away the same information I was using to make money, for free… yep, even for my ‘paid training’ that ended up becoming a free site for that last 1.5 years of existence. In fact, I had what I thought was a ‘friend’ who I was trying to help, as this person was basically beyond broke and having to ask his wife for a few bucks to even buy a domain. This person was extremely lazy and didn’t even try, yet wasted HUNDREDS of hours of my time over a year.

I was just tired of affiliate marketing. I was completely burned out. I was mentally taxed before I even got out of bed in the morning, and that’s not an exaggeration.

I eventually started working on a project with my Business partner and it had started out relatively well, especially for the type of site it was. I thought I had hit a home run with this project, until Google launched an update in the fall of 2012. Everything took a major hit, but I kept trying, but it was a losing battle each and every day.

It was my fault. I had let myself down, but most importantly I had let my business partner down, because I tried to rush things with this project. I knew, deep down, that my affiliate sites were going to fail soon, and I really did not care at that time… that’s how badly I wanted out of that business. It haunted me that badly at times, but looking back I can’t really understand why. I think I just wanted more.

Being an affiliate marketer is hard to explain to people. Yeah, sure, some people may understand what it means, but those times when people say “so what do you do for a living?” and then you say “Well…ever hear of Affiliate Marketing?”. That look of confusion always made me sigh, because I knew then I had to explain what it was, for the bazillionth time, and then they’d assume, like everyone else, that you were a Multi-level marketer.

Ugh, I hated that feeling. I’m not the most social person, so having to explain that stuff bugs the hell out of me for some reason.

But I do miss affiliate marketing. Well, I miss the residual income that helped me get into these other projects in the first place. I miss the whole aspect of failing fast.

See, in affiliate marketing you can figure it out quickly, whether it will fail or not. You can make campaigns with just about any traffic source and get a good feel for it fairly quickly, even with SEO. The key is finding a smaller niche, not a giant market. That’s where I failed. I got “too big for my britches” as the saying goes.

Affiliate marketing could…no, should, use a better way of creating campaigns. Before I slowly let die down I had come up with a thought about “Lean” affiliate marketing, similar to the lean startup philosophy by Eric Ries. Fascinating stuff by that man, BTW. Definitely check it out. If I had actually used his advice for the other projects I would have failed faster and survived in the long run.

Depending on the traffic source and the type of campaigns being used, you probably already use a similar method. Most PPC campaigns were created like this back in the day. You basically build them quickly, test, then decide whether to scale them up or toss them. I know you’re probably thinking “I already do that.” If you do, great. But I’m recommending this for any traffic source.

A quick idea for SEO would be along the lines of:

1. Find an interesting niche that looks like it could be worth the effort. Do some basic research, but try not to spend too much time or money here.

2. Build a quick, super simple site and throw up some ads or adsense on it…or leave it blank with just a little content. The key here is keep it SUPER simple. You have to be sure to¬†throw up clicky or GA and get a glance of the traffic. If the traffic is rolling in and browsing around, try to get clicks on ads or opt-ins.

3. Scale or toss it. Give it some time and see if it may be worth it. Your gut will tell you if it’s worth putting anymore effort into this site, just be sure you’re tracking the traffic. The key here is to scale slowly. Don’t go from a small test to full blown attempt to re-create Huffington Post. Don’t do that. NO. Double the size and keep testing…it’s a lot like fishing here.

4. Repeat. Try to build out multiple sites in multiple niches. If you find a good place to ‘fish’, then you should throw out better bait (ie, more content for that site). More content COULD mean more traffic, but test slowly.

I know this sounds stupid simple and some people may even argue that it would be a waste of time. Wrong. If you’re using your time wisely you could find a few winners here. You could sell the losers or use them to build a private network for SEO. That’s something I’d like to discuss later, but it’s beyond the scope of this post.

Building tiny sites is where most of us got our start, but many people (such as myself) always drop everything for the next big fishing spot. Don’t do that. NO. If you decide that you want to go bigger – find someone trustworthy to keep doing this for you. But I’d say find a few extra hours per week to ‘keep fishing’ in waters you’re already familiar with. Don’t go out in the choppy, unpredictable waters and end up drowning when the bigger fish pulls you overboard and you discover that there really are alligators in that lake. Wait…wut? I don’t know.

My goal over the next few months is to go back to where I started. Small niches that I can conquer easily and will provide me with plenty of fish over time. They’re still out there, believe me.

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