APB Podcast Episode 6 – John Monarch

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As affiliates, we’re familiar with promoting offers on various traffic sources, but don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of an offer. When I first started, I was busy learning all about paid traffic and how to promote offer. I never gave much thought to what happens outside of that. It wasn’t until later that I started learning about advertisers and what they deal with.

I know many people who have started their own offers, so I always try to pick their brain when I can. Knowing what happens on the advertiser end is obviously crucial if you want to start your own offer, but it can also help you be a better affiliate. Just about every affiliate at some point gets mad because they’ve been kicked off an offer. Are offer owners evil, and trying to keep all the money for themselves? In most cases, no – they’re just like us with certain metrics they look at to determine if something is profitable.

Starting your own offer isn’t without challenges of course, but it’s definitely doable for a lot of people. Even if you aren’t ready to launch an offer, knowing what happens on the advertisers end can make you a more successful affiliate.

My guest today is  John Monarch. John started out as an affiliate and progressed to offer owner, and now runs Direct Outbound – a full service call center and fulfillment center. This was a very informative podcast. Some of the things we discussed:

  • How do you go about setting up an offer? What do you need to have in place?
  • The steps for setting up a product vs lead offer and which is easier to start with.
  • What is a CRM and pingtree? What role do they play in running an offer?
  • How John went from affiliate to call center owner, and the challenges he faced along the way.
  • How advertisers deal with fraud and bad affiliates

John is going to be popping in the forum to answer questions related to this podcast, or setting up your own offer in general so don’t be shy about asking questions.

I would like to thank John for doing this podcast and sharing his knowledge with us!

Interview – Box Of Ads Spy Tool

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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, spy tools have been around a long time and aren’t going anywhere. New affiliates spend lots of time worrying about their campaign getting spied on, or ripped off, and trying to prevent it. Other than using spy tools occasionally, I never give them another thought. They can be great resources for research, but there’s no reason to fear them.

This is an interview I did with Lukasz Jasiak, one of the co-founders of the spy tool Box of Ads. In this interview we talk about:

  • Why most seasoned affiliates don’t worry about spy tools
  • How to use spy tools most effectively (hint – it’s not about copying campaigns at all)
  • How BOA got started, and it’s plans for the future
  • The challenges of creating and running a software startup

We have several tools in the forum built off BoxofAds including PPV spy tools, and a newly released media buy spy tool.

Listen to the interview here and let me know what you think!

 

Aff Playbook Consulting Master Class Registration Open

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If you’re a member of the forum, you already know Stefanie. She’s been a member since 2009, and posts lots of amazing stuff. One of her most popular threads is a 7 part series on becoming a freelance consultant. Now, she’s offering a 6 week consulting master class starting May 6th designed to make you a successful freelance consultant.

For anyone thinking about this class – I highly recommend it. I’ve sat in on Stefanie’s previous consulting class, and seen what she’s offering in this one and there’s a ton of value here.

If you’re thinking ‘I don’t know enough to be a consultant’ – you’re wrong. Even after I was really successful as an affiliate, and making tons of money, I still thought ‘yeah but no way I’m qualified to consult’. For some reason it can seem intimidating, but you have to realize so many ‘consultants’ know way less than most of us. Taking this class will put you so far ahead of the pack, it will pay for itself many times over.

Below, is Stefanie’s write up about the class. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, or inside the forum. *note – you do not need to be a member of the forum to take this class.*

Almost everyone I know through affiliate marketing has talked about doing consulting work at some point. There are a ton of benefits to consulting, especially for affiliates and other internet marketers:

  • Client work (especially ongoing clients) can add a degree of stability to your income, making it far less likely you’ll ever have to return to a day job.
  • You get to see and learn things you wouldn’t typically encounter as an affiliate – back-end advertiser experience, 6 and 7-figure monthly ad campaigns, the inner workings of e-commerce companies, highly sophisticated sales funnels, etc.
  • You grow a diverse professional network that includes people outside the relatively small affiliate world.
  • If you do envision a future in working for someone else, client work gives you references and verifiable experience you can use later.
  • You get variety. Building campaigns or websites day in and day out can get boring if that’s all you do.

Ever since I outed myself as a consultant, tons of people have come to me to ask how they can get started in consulting work. They have a general idea of what to do, but they aren’t quite sure where to start. They say things like:

  • I’m not sure where to start. What services would I offer?
  • How can I get experience? Why would anyone hire me? How can I prove I know what I’m talking about?
  • I don’t like the idea of calling up businesses and asking for work.
  • Bidding sites suck, and I don’t want to compete with $2/hour Indian workers.
  • I had a client once, and it took up all my time. I don’t like clients.
  • I don’t know how to interact with clients. What do I do about contracts, reporting, making myself seem like a professional…? I feel like there should be some official procedure or something, and I don’t know what it is.
  • I don’t know how much to charge. I’m afraid I’ll ask for the wrong amount.
  • I don’t know how to make myself seem like a better choice than a hundred other people doing the exact same thing I want to do.
  • I have a bad habit of ending up with clients who put me in a bad mood, abuse me, try to lowball me, avoid payment, or nitpick everything.
  • I don’t know how to make consulting scale without opening up some kind of agency and taking on a bunch of work I don’t want to do.

Every time I talk to someone about how they want to do consulting, I take notes about why they’re not actually doing much of it. This course is uniquely designed to answer those questions and give you a specific, actionable plan to follow.

Course Agenda

Week One: What Services to Offer, & How to Get Credibility

  • Types of services you can sell – with examples of sample project types and budget ranges
  • Choosing services to offer – which ones will give you the best return for your skillset?
  • What to do if you lack experience
  • Ways anyone halfway competent can get experience with minimal effort
  • Mining your past for things that can be marketed as relevant experience – you probably have more experience than you think, and I’ll show you how to leverage it.

Week Two: Finding & Pitching Clients

  • Locating potential clients – specific processes you can use, including tips and approaches if you’re a little shy or hesitant to randomly call businesses
  • Planning the most effective sales approach for each client (hint: don’t just call them up and start talking)
  • How to figure out the client’s hidden agenda – if you can figure it out, you’ll have the client practically begging to give you money

Week Three: Filtering Clients & Negotiating Contracts to Save Yourself Headaches

  • Determining what kind of clients you want to work with – and don’t want to work with
  • The pros and cons of different types of clients – and why matching yourself with the wrong type can torpedo your consulting business, no matter how skilled you are at doing the work
  • Client warning signs and ways to probe clients to see if they’ll be troublesome
  • Setting up milestones for both payment and delivery
  • Keeping your risk of non-payment low – plus highly effective ways to deal with non-paying clients AND keep everyone happy (lawyers are a last resort)
  • Managing client expectations through initial contracts/agreements

Week Four: Client Reporting & Useful Tools

  • Determining the best reporting for each client and project – too much information reported can hurt as much as too little
  • Generating professional-looking reports
  • Tools to help automate the reporting process
  • Tips for outsourcing reporting you can’t automate
  • Bonus: Client Psychology – subtle tips to keep clients happy and give an even greater perception of value

Week Five: Outsourcing 101 – Reducing Your Workload So You Can Scale

  • Baby steps to start outsourcing small and tedious tasks
  • How to create instructions for your assistants (including some sample instructions I’ve used with my own assistants – which you can customize for your purposes)
  • Cutting out inefficiencies – and training your clients to keep things simple

Week Six: Taking Your Business to the Next Level – Making More Money

  • Understanding the 3 levels of projects – and how you can move up to better, more lucrative projects
  • Classic consulting firm structure used by big firms like McKinsey & Booz Allen – and how you can modify it for an all-online business
  • Creating additional streams of income through your client business
  • And finally – bringing in a higher caliber of outsourced help so you can eliminate more of your workload and focus on big picture stuff

Each week, we’ll have one 60-90 minute class via webinar. The first part will be for the lesson and demonstration (including some live client examples I’ve gotten permission to share), and the second part will be for discussion and questions.

It doesn’t matter if you have clients or you haven’t started – but the course will work best for you if you’re taking action and asking questions each week.

For every class, you’ll get a PDF outline of the day’s topics, along with extra resources and recommended action steps (where applicable). Some weeks will also include sample forms or documents you can use in your business. Each call & all the materials will be posted in a special, member’s only area where you’ll have lifetime access to review the materials anytime you want.

There isn’t another consulting course out there like this where you get to work one on one with someone who has a ton of experience working with both small to mid-sized businesses AND major, household-name brands. If you’ve ever thought about doing consulting work to make extra money or to diversify your affiliate business, this is the class for you. Even if you don’t do it full-time, think about how a single client could pay off some debts, give you extra testing money, or just make sure you get the bills paid if you have a few bad affiliate months. Think of what that experience will do to sharpen your overall marketing skills – not to mention the under-the-radar niches and opportunities you’ll spot long before other affiliates.

To keep quality high and ensure there’s plenty of time to give everyone individual attention, spots are limited. We’ve never done this course before, and there’s no guarantee we’ll do it again – so if you’re interested, I encourage you to sign up. From now through April 20th, early bird pricing of $597 is in effect. Procrastinators who sign up later than that will pay $697 if spots are still available.

The course will be held on Tuesdays at 2pm Pacific from May 6th to June 10th (6 weeks). As I mentioned above, classes will range from 60-90 minutes depending on the amount of questions and discussion.

To sign up and reserve your spot, click here.

APB Podcast Episode 5 – Jason Rubacky Passtheseo.com

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SEO is one of those topics that is always full of interesting stuff to learn. Some people love it, some hate it, and some think that practicing voodo is the only way to get the Google gods to bless you. My guest today doesn’t practice voodo (I don’t think), but he does have a serious knack for SEO. Jason Rubacky from Passtheseo.com has been in the industry since he started building websites in 2001. He has experience working in many areas  of online marketing and loves talking business.

I’ve done ‘SEO’ for quite a while, but don’t consider myself an expert in this area. I mostly think of search engine traffic as part of my overall strategy. I’m always interested in learning more about SEO because the traffic you can get from it works great! Anytime I can learn a few tricks to increase my traffic, I’m all ears. Jason gave me some exciting ideas for monetizing my sites by not limiting yourself to products in a specific niche.

I also learned new ways to increase engagement and help my content go viral.  Using things like polls and contests is an awesome way to increase traffic and engagement. We talk about some specific examples of using these.

In this episode we talk about Jason’s background and various projects he’s worked on, then get into some great examples of how he uses SEO to generate traffic.

Tools and Links Mentioned in This Episode:

WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast – This is the main plugin Jason uses to give WordPress an extra SEO boost.

Google XML Sitemaps plugin for qTranslate – This generates a special XML sitemap that helps search engines index your blog.

WP-Polls plugin – Jason talks about using this plugin to increase user engagement on your site. I’ve used this plugin with a lot of success myself!

Rafflecopter – Is a neat tool to run giveaway’s in WordPress. I hadn’t heard of this before, but learning the way Jason uses it to increase engagement and viral activity gave me some great ideas for my own sites.

A big thanks to Jason for doing the show and giving us some great tips. Check out Passtheseo.com to learn more about Jason and what he does.

If you enjoyed this episode…

Please share it. It’s as simple as using one of the social sharing buttons below!

Also, please take a second to leave a rating or review in iTunes. I put a lot of work into this show, and it would mean a lot to me! You can also subscribe while you’re there.

APB Podcast Episode 4 – Charlie Hoehn Author of Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety

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As internet marketers, we’re no stranger to working long hours and spending most of our time in front of a screen. My guest for this episode knows this all too well, and the toll it can take on you. Charlie Hoehn has worked with some big names including Tim Ferris, Tucker Max, Ramit Sethi, and Seth Godin.

Everything seemed great – he was making a lot of money and working with some of the biggest names out there. The amount of hours Charlie was putting in led to a period of terrible anxiety he had to overcome. After learning how to overcome his anxiety, and enjoy work and life again, he wrote a book called Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety detailing exactly what he did to become productive and happy again.

In this episode, Charlie and I talk about how he got started working for well known authors. We discuss what caused his anxiety (a lot of you will be able to identify with this), and how he overcame it. This advice is valuable for anyone looking to be more productive and happy with their lives. How many of you work 10-12 hour days, waiting for the big payoff? You might be surprised to learn how taking time off, even an hour per day of a specific activity, can actually make you get more done.

Check out Charlie’s blog, where you can also get a free copy of his Recession Proof Graduate ebook. I highly recommend reading Play It Away, even if you don’t suffer from anxiety. The advice in the book is invaluable for anyone who works long, solitary hours in front of a screen.

I want to say a special thanks to Charlie for taking the time to do this episode!

Subscribe in iTunes or RSS

APB Podcast Episode 3 – Charles Ngo

In this episode of the Aff Playbook Podcast I interview Charles Ngo who is a well known affiliate and blogger. In addition to having a wealth of knowledge about affiliate marketing,  Charles loves sharing information about productivity and motivation. There is some great info shared in this episode!

Some of the books we mentioned:

The Power of Habit
The Art of Learning

Be sure to visit Charles on his blog at Charlesngo.com

Click here to download the transcript

Don’t forget to subscribe via iTunes, and leave a review if you enjoyed it!

Aff Playbook Price Increase Starting Jan 29th

As of January 29th, and for new members only, I’ve made the decision to raise the price of the forum and tools to $119/month.

I made this decision for a few reasons:

SUPERIOR VALUE. I feel that the training and tools we offer here are the best in the industry. I don’t own an affiliate network I try to steer anyone towards, and I don’t ask anyone to sign up for extra tools or subscriptions. My point is that I have no conflict of interest in recommending what offers you run, what companies you work with, or what tools you use. My only motive is to help you be successful.

BUILDING A REAL BUSINESS. I see courses and forums all the time that teach people affiliate arbitrage (basic sending paid traffic to offers), but don’t teach them how to turn that into a sustainable business. That’s fun for a while, but every affiliate hits a point where they want to build something sustainable. Aff Playbook is the only forum I know of where you can learn everything from paid traffic to starting your own consulting business or creating your own product. It’s not just about having those lessons here, but showing you how to take parts of them to become a well diversified affiliate.

MASSIVE CONTENT LIBRARY
. That is a LOT of stuff to read through – over 4 years worth now. Even though things change all the time in the industry, I wrote most of the lessons and case studies with longevity in mind. Instead of just showing a case study like ‘run this offer on this traffic source with this lp’, I emphasize what the technique or idea is behind the case study. That way, you can apply it to different niches, offers, or projects.

THE BEST AFFILIATE TOOLS. We have a lot of great tools inside Aff Robot, and have some amazing things planned for the coming year. The response to the tools has been awesome, and we truly appreciate the feedback and support. We offer tools to help grow your business that you can’t find anywhere else. We will be rolling out new tools every month.

MORE PERSONAL ATTENTION
. You guys know I put a lot of work into the forum. In addition to what you see me posting on a daily basis, I also spend a good amount of time answering PM’s, emails, running campaigns for case studies and lessons. Increasing the price will help to ensure affiliates who join are serious about growing their business.

Right now, we have people at all different price points from when I first started the forum and various promotions over the years. Whatever price you’re paying now will remain the same forever. However, if you cancel and want to sign up again you will pay full price. Just to be clear – whatever price you’re paying for the forum now is what you will continue to pay as long as you’re a member. If you cancel for any reason, and sign back up in the future, you will have to sign up at the new price.

Again THIS PRICE INCREASE WILL NOT AFFECT CURRENT MEMBERS. Whatever price you are paying, is what you’ll continue to pay unless you cancel and rejoin at some point.

If you aren’t a member and want to lock in the current rate,
you can join here.

Let me know if you have any questions. 2014 is going to be a GREAT year for APB :)

Voluum – The Ultimate Tracking Solution For Affiliates?

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The affiliate space has been dominated by a small number of tracking tools over the years. The most popular being Prosper 202, CPV Lab, Imobitrax, & Bevo. Those are all great trackers. Affiliates have, and will continue to make millions using them. There’s a new tracker on the scene now that I think has the potential to be the ultimate affiliate tracking solution.

You might have heard about Voluum – a new tracking solution for affiliates that’s generating a ton of buzz. It’s currently in beta, and free so I highly recommend checking it out.

I was first made aware of Voluum in a thread on the forum called Ditch CPV Lab for what? If you’re on the forum you should definitely read that thread. The poster is a long time forum member who does a lot of volume, and was frustrated with the lack of scalability in the current commercial tracking solutions. Many possible solutions were discussed and implemented in that thread. A few of which include:

- Server upgrades (RAM, SSD, various MySql/database tweaks and upgrades)
- Multiple tracker installs spread out across servers
- Using Imobitrax, or a modified P202
- Building a custom tracker (which he did)

After testing most of these ideas, there was nothing that would let him rack up views without a significant slowdown. When I say ‘rack up views’ I’m not talking about a few hundred, or even tens of thousands of clicks. I’m talking a lot of volume – millions of clicks. Again, I really suggest you read all 16 pages of that thread – there’s some great info there!

Enter Voluum

Voluum was created to be a technologically advanced tracking platform built specifically for affiliate marketers. Here are a couple key ideas behind Voluum according to one of their creators, Robert:

  • Our technology. We’ve spent close to a year developing our proprietary database technology. Whereas our competitors use outdated database technologies, we’ve created our own. The result? Infinitely scalable campaigns & fast loading reports, even if your click figures are in the billions.
  • Our team. Our dev team is composed of very experienced Java developers. These are people who’ve worked on building hardcore banking applications, aerospace tech and telecom software. We currently have 12 developers who are here to pump out functions and features based on your needs.
  • Our approach. Voluum is a tool that will continue to evolve based on our clients needs (You!). We take all feedback very seriously – there have even been cases when our users have asked for features and have had them live on our production environment days later.
  • It’s free while in beta Pricing after the beta period.

Yes Voluum is hosted (not self hosted) – you just have to get over it. Someone probably isn’t going to sink tons of money into building a tracker and build up a great reputation just to steal a few affiliate campaigns. It’s natural to want to protect your data, but you need to think logically about it. Any tracker that wasn’t open source could potentially steal your campaign data (even self hosted). Hosting companies could easily see your campaign data on any tracker too. Something I’ve noticed over the years is that the affiliates most worried about people stealing their campaigns are the ones not even spending/making that much to begin with. The affiliates making the most money don’t give much thought to people stealing their campaigns. Why? They know that campaigns are easy to steal with spy tools, etc. but it’s knowing how to scale and optimize those campaigns that makes the real money.

When you start doing a lot of volume, it becomes extremely difficult to rely on a self hosted tracker. This isn’t a knock at any of the current tracking tools on the market, it’s just the reality of the technology. Try running millions or billions of clicks and trying to load reports. One of the huge advantages of Voluum is the ability to scale without having to worry. They have a user who does over a billion clicks per month, and the system is still lightning fast. This would be a nightmare to manage on a self hosted tracker.

Voluum tracks both web and mobile traffic which is another huge plus. Prosper and CPV Lab are great tracking tools, but not for mobile traffic. Voluum is a great mobile and web traffic tracking solution.

I got to meet the people behind Voluum at my ASW 14 party earlier this month. I learned more about the technology behind it and what they have coming up. Good stuff in the works for sure! :)

I’m not associated with Voluum in any way, nor am I saying the other trackers aren’t good. I simply think Voluum is a great tracking tool, and arguably the best out right now. Does this mean you should throw P202, CPV Lab, etc. in the garbage? Of course not. Voluum isn’t some magical tool that will turn your campaigns profitable, and if you’re just starting out I recommend Prosper 202. It’s free, and will take you pretty far into your affiliate career.

Voluum is currently in beta, and new features are being added. There are some custom views/reports people have been asking for that are currently being implemented. When you test it out, just remember this is the beta version and is still being improved. Voluum has been great about listening to our suggestions and implementing. If there’s a feature you want that they don’t have, don’t hesitate to make a suggestion!

Voluum is free while in beta and I highly recommend you check it out!

 

ASW 2014 Pics or it Didn’t Happen

Another great Affiliate Summit West is over, and I have some great pics to share with you guys!

We flew in on Saturday, checked in, and headed to our Above All Otters event. This is where we took a bus to a nearby exotic animal zoo, and got to do some cool interactions.

We rented a party bus to take us there, and apparently they knew we meant business since they sent us THE BOSS…

The boss came equipped with a stripper pole (no, we didn’t order that). Everyone was a little shy about using it at first.

But on the way back, Eli showed us how it’s done…

The zoo (Roos-N-More)was awesome! If you’re ever in Vegas, you should definitely check it out. We got to not only see, but interact with a lot of different animals.

I timed this pic of the Camel kissing Stefanie perfectly…

Eli boxing a Kangaroo

I wanted to take this cat home, but don’t have a big enough litter box

See, it really IS Above All Otters…

I think she was a Superman fan too…

Everyone had a great time! A huge thanks to Eli and the whole Above All Offers crew for making this event possible. We’re planning on doing it again next year!

Next was the mastermind on Sunday afternoon. I didn’t manage to get any pics of this since I was talking, but judging by the comments we got, it went really well!

The mastermind ran over so people were walking in the door for the party just as we finished up.

Stefanie’s famous cookies were all laid out on the Beyond Hosting banner

#ballercookies

These are the famous red velvet cookies that got eaten quick! Sorry, Dr Ngo we’ll make more next time!

There was also an ‘island of misfit cookies’ that didn’t survive the airplane well

The party was packed – I don’t think I stopped talking once. I got to see forum members again, and meet some new ones!

Me watching Barman sampling the cookie buffet…

Like my ‘Freddy Mewger’ shirt?

Someone else wore a cat shirt too!

Ctrtard, Jason Rubacky, and some other attendees…

Look! Actual girls at an Affiliate Summit party!

Me and joegaines

Out on the balcony

The party was great! Special thanks to A4D and Beyond Hosting for sponsoring! I think this was one of the biggest turnouts so far.

We had limos taking people over to the Badger Ball, so when the party was over we grabbed the last ride and headed to Planet Hollywood. Lots of great people at the Badger Ball…if you’ve never been to one, you should check it out!

I had a great time at ASW! It was great seeing you guys again, and meeting some of you for the first time. If you didn’t make it out this year, try to come to our next meetup!

Now it’s time to get back to work, and make 2014 the most profitable year yet!