Planning For A Sabbatical At 50

Sometimes it’s appropriate to take a serious look at what you’re doing in life and plan accordingly. I had wanted to be retired by the time I was 40. That didn’t happen. And now just 2 days ago I turned 49 and exactly 1 more Earth trip around the sun, and providing that Barack Obama isn’t the anti-christ, I’m looking at the big Five Ohh No!

With that in mind, on my birthday I implemented the plan to allow for my wife Jean and I to take a year off from work and set a new direction for our lives. Where the year 2010, and beyond, will take us I’m not quite sure yet, but in 2009 I’ll be working like a mad dog to raise the funds needed and set in place a business that keeps on working even when I’m not working at it.

As a little aside, don’t think when I mentioned retirement in the opening paragraph that means you go and sit on your backside, smoke a pipe and drink powdered lemonade while playing checkers with the rest of your retiree buddies all day long. That’s not living. Retirement is living life and filling in best where the good Lord can use you, but not having to worry how you’re going to pay for it. By the time I’m 50 I don’t want to be worried about how I’m going to make the money needed to spend my next 50 years here.

I’m not saying I’ll never put out any effort in the money making department of life after 50, I just don’t want that to be the main focus of my endeavors as it has been for the last 35 years or so.

What makes up the plan for this year and what is different than how I’ve conducted business in the past is that I’ll be outsourcing almost all my content writing. Right now I’m looking at getting about 50 articles a month written for the 3 main sites that have generated the bulk of my income for some time now. Two of those sites, one being a blog, are travel related, one of them focusing on a specific city or area of the United States and the other site is a BANS site that has at its highest income level produced over $1,000 a month.

The content I’m outsourcing will be used as articles for the sites and blog posts, but the majority of it will be used for article marketing and getting those all important incoming links pointing to your site. I’m hoping by the end of this year, or actually my 50th birthday next year, that I’ll have an additional 600 pages of content, blog posts and articles working for me making the elves at Google happy.

So, with the business side of life covered, what are Jean and I going to do on our year long sabbatical you may be thinking? While that isn’t 100% carved in stone just yet, we do have several ideas we’re kicking around. First, we have to have our house taken care of because by this time next year we’ll have probably 50 to 60% of our available yard covered with gardens so we will need someone to make sure all of that doesn’t die.

And for locations we’re looking at, right now we’re thinking of somewhere in Montana where it’s dark and I can play amateur astronomer on about 40 acres of land, a cabin somewhere in the Smoky Mountains or northern Georgia or on some sort of farming co-op in Costa Rica. As far as what we’d actually be doing, well for the farming co-op, that’s fairly obvious, but for the other locations we have a few book ideas rolling around in our brains. For me I’d like to turn Affiliate Confession into a book about how to make money through all the opportunities on the web. Heck, I already have 340 pages of affiliate marketing info online already with this blog, it would probably be useful to someone in a book format. And Jean has a couple ideas for books related to her Christian counseling work and healthy eating.

And when we’re done with the year long sabbatical, what then? One thing I know for sure, life will not return to normal, normal being spending 50 to 60 hours a week in front of the computer writing, doing research, learning more about what everyone else is doing and spending way too much time following rabbit trails originating at the Drudge Report.

Depending on what we may learn in Costa Rica or what we come up with pursuing a book we could either be teaching people how to turn their yards into mini farms or promoting our books in various venues. We’ll also get back to working our yard / mini farm that we hope to get to produce 40 to 50% of our food someday.

Right now, I have to get back to working on the main goal because I’ve spent way too much time writing this blog post.

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Affiliate Confession Reaches 500 RSS Subscribers

A huge thanks goes out to every one today who is a subscriber to Affiliate Confession. After almost a year of writing, this blog has reach the 500 RSS subscriber milestone. The counter at the top may show an amount below 500 depending on when you read this (it fluctuates a bit at times), but the first time the 500 reader level was reached was on Saturday Oct. 11th.

I initially started the blog back on November 1, 2007 after several months of thinking about it and having my wife tell me that I need to write about what I do. In fact, the name Affiliate Confession was actually my wife’s idea. We we’re sitting around one day brainstorming domain names for the blog and it just suddenly popped out of her brain. I didn’t really do much writing the first month and started blogging consistently on Nov 22, 2007.

One of the catalysts for starting the blog was probably for the wrong reason when I read one of John Chow’s ridiculous income statements. I believe it was around the $23,000 per month mark at the time and I thought why not get in with the crowd and get out there and make some money. That’s not a good reason to start a blog! It has since evolved into something I enjoy doing while I chronicle and hopefully give some advice on what it takes to build a successful affiliate marketing business.

Some of the more memorable posts over the last year include:

Why I don’t Do Network Marketing Or MLM– The first and longest post here at AffiliateConfession.com going into why MLM is mostly a waste of time.

Taking The 30 Day Blogging Challenge – The most commented post here.

Build A Niche Store Review – A review of the product that maximizes earnings from the eBay Affiliate program. It is currently one of my top money makers.

Lessons In Perseverence – A 4 part series on just working through the hard times despite what may come your way.

Build A Niche Store Tutorials – A 7 part series on how to set up your BANS affiliate store and get into profitability with the eBay Partner Network.

Explaining Twitter Is Like Explainig Sex to A Virgin – The day I saw the light and became a Twitter fan. You can follow me on Twitter here.

How I won A MacBook Air– Yes, I actually won $5,000 worth of prizes in an online contest and one of those prizes was a MacBook Air. This post explains how I did it.

The Harsh Realities Of Affiliate Marketing – A 7 part series on what affiliate marketing is really like. It’s not all fun and games, it takes lots of work.

Joined PPC Coach – I’ve finally started making some money with paid search marketing and this post explains how that happened.

If you are new here at AffiliateConfession.com please subscribe to my RSS feed and if you are already a reader of this blog, I appreciate the time you take to read through my ramblings. It’s been great getting to know a lot of you and respond to your questions and comments and I’m looking forward to the continued journey.

PS – As of this writing the count at the top is showing 486 readers and my Feedburner control paned is showing zero subscribers, so I’m not sure where it will end up today.

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20 Question Interview On TheAtHomeCouple.com

The nice thing about blogging is that you meet some really great people from them leaving comments on your blog and by you leaving comments on other blogs throughout the net. A frequent reader and commentator at Affiliate Confession has been Elijah from TheAtHomeCouple.com. Elijah and Veronica write about their journey into the realm of internet marketing to document the struggles and victories and also give advice on what’s working for them. Their blog is a refreshing change from much of the usual mess that clogs up the blogosphere.

Elijah recently asked if I’d be willing to to a 20 question interview for his blog, I gladly accepted and he published the interview today. The questions deal with all the important things in affiliate marketing like my shoe size and who my favorite superhero is and he also managed to slip in a few that deal with boring stuff like making money online. I had a great time answering the questions and tried to be as informative and witty as possible.

So instead of me writing a long-winded post today, just head over to The At Home Couple and read the interview. And don’t forget to leave a comment, cause that’s how this blogging thing works.

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Affiliate Confession FAQ

Quetions? Check the FAQ...You may have noticed another link at the top of the page leading to the Affiliate Confession FAQ. I put this up because of the increasing amount of questions I’m getting for information that’s already on this blog.

I started writing Affiliate Confession to chronicle what I’ve been doing in affiliate marketing for the last 4 years or so, what’s happening in the world of making money on the internet, what Google’s up to (someone needs to keep an eye on them) and occasionally what Jean and I had for lunch or dinner or some other off topic rant. But the main purpose of this blog is to teach people how to make money online based on how I’ve done that.

Even though the main purpose is to explain how you can make around $3,000 to $3,500 per month in affiliate marketing and show people how I’ve done what I do, I still get tons of questions wanting me to explain how I do what I do. It’s kind of a vicious cycle in that the more posts that go up explaining what I do and the more traffic that comes to the blog, the more question come in asking about the same things I just wrote about.

I’m trying to keep this at one level below a rant because I really don’t want it to come off that way, but this is a little symptomatic of why people don’t make money in affiliate marketing. Sometimes the information is right in front of you, but we fail to act on it or dig for it a little and see that the secrets are right there in the previous post or in the archives section or just below the surface.

I certainly don’t mind answering questions that are well though out and cover topics or information not covered in the blog or that can’t be found by plugging in a search in the box between the most popular section at the top and where the posts start. And if you have a burning question that you can’t find the answer to by looking around or checking the FAQ, please feel free to contact me and ask it.

And if I haven’t answered your question you may have sent in some time ago, it doesn’t mean it has been ignored, it may simply be because I can’t answer every question personally. Sometimes though, your questions have been used as material for a post because I realize that topic hasn’t been covered adequately.

All that to say, don’t stop sending in questions, just check the FAQ first, or look around the blog, because there’s a good chance your question may have already been answered.

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Lessons In Perseverance Part 4

Lessons In Perseverance Part 4It has been several weeks since my last post on perseverance and this one concludes the series. In this post I’ll touch on getting schooled in not putting all your eggs in one basket, namely the Adsense basket and in being a spammy affiliate.

Somewhere around January of 2006 I saw a serious decline in my Adsense earnings and experienced a drop from a high of approximately $1,300 per month to around half that much at about $650 per month. Unfortunately at that time Adsense was one of the very few programs I was using to monetize my sites except for some leads I was generating for Rentalo.com that paid $1 each and earning a little with a log cabin decor merchant. Overall my online earnings went from about $1,900 per month to about $1,000 per month and I was in deep trouble, especially with a spec home on the market that we couldn’t sell.

My best guess on what happened was that Google assessed my Adsense account some penalty or there was an overall shake-up on the kinds of ads lower performing publishers were displaying on their sites. I had seen single clicks in the vacation niche pay me as much as $2.50 each and that dropped to a high of about $1 per click. Two other significant things that occurred were my vacation site went from getting about 400 visitors a day to around 60 to 80 visitors per day and my Blogger spam blogs (yes, I have participated in spammy techniques) were either being deleted or dropping in rankings from one of the first 10 spots on the serps to 100th place or worse.

I learned a huge lesson in avoiding the get rich quick mentality when I lost rankings on my Blogspot spam blogs. I had found a way to get 1st page rankings on Yahoo for almost any term with 1,000 or less monthly searches. The way it worked was that you could create a new blog with the name of your chosen keyword such as “log cabin decor”, which was also the first part of your url, you then added a description containing the keyword which would appear under your blog title. The next step was to write one post containing your keyword and an affiliate link and the most important step was next. You then would go into one or several MyYahoo accounts and subscribe to your own rss feed and just like magic, your blog would be indexed on the first page of Yahoo and sometimes MSN in 2 days or less.

I was making about $250 to $300 per month in log cabin decor affiliate commissions and more in Adsense earnings, but this was a horrible business model because when Yahoo found out about this little trick, they shut it down and my earnings went with it. As a newbie affiliate I didn’t know any better, I was just reading and doing what was working for other people. However, I no longer spam because it only temporarily creates revenue and you can’t depend on it and as soon as you do, the party dries up. Here’s a great article about why you shouldn’t web spam.

I was also never really sure why my vacation site took a dive in traffic and was de-indexed. After a few months of tweaking and redirecting some 250 affiliate links, the site appears to be doing well again, but isn’t up to the traffic levels it once was. It is on my list to have another look at this site and redirect a few more affiliate links and continue to get incoming links. I use a meta-redirected page with a no-follow tag to redirect my affiliate links. In my experience, Google does not like to see too many affiliate links on a site and redirecting through what appears to be a link on your site helps take care of that. The practice of constantly trying to please Google however, is extremely annoying, but that discussion will have to wait for another post.

After all those adventures I’ve finally come to realize that the best practice is to build a strong foundation for your business and never rely on spammy techniques, one basket of eggs, one web hosting company, one niche or one way of doing things. While I’m not opposed to participating in a little gray hat fun when I read about a new technique, it is never anything I will spend serious time on again. A solid business foundation is much better for your long term bottom line.

If you haven’t had the chance, read part 1, part 2 and part 3 of Lessons In Perseverance.


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