Paint What You See, Not What You Think You See

Paint What  You See“Paint what you see, not what you think you see.” Those were probably some of the most profound words uttered by a teacher in a painting class I was taking while working on a graphic arts degree. It helped me finally “see” what I was doing wrong in drawing and painting still lifes, people and landscapes.

The trouble us budding artists had was that we knew what an apple, an orange, a wine bottle, and a human face looked like close up, but from 20 feet away we were trying to draw in the detail that we knew was there, but couldn’t actually see. When we all eventually realized to just paint what we saw, the entire process became much easier.

If you think about what you do in affiliate marketing and especially how you work your paid search campaigns, sometimes doing the stupid simple things, or at least being able to realize what they are, can make a huge difference in your business. Taking a step back and examining what you really see and how you really get conversions, what makes people buy, or fill out a lead form and ends up making you money can be an eye opening experience. It will probably turn out to be different than what you may have been led to believe or thought you had your head wrapped around.

For the longest time it was like I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out this ppc thing and just about 4 or 5 months ago it really began to literally “click” for me. The conventional wisdom for years was to throw thousands of somewhat related keywords into a few different ad groups, see what converted and then trash the rest. The trouble with that philosophy was that you could have hundreds or thousands of words that end up getting 1 or 2 clicks each and you continue to hold onto them while they get 3, 4 and 5 clicks, waiting to see if one of them may convert while they up costing you lots of cash (especially in a competitive niche) and valuable time watching them. I now never, ever use more than one keyword in an AdGroup.

There are certainly lots of ways to make ppc work, but what started finally paying off for me was when I realized that there is an entire group of impulsive individuals just waiting to pounce and spend money on the hottest thing or get the latest bit of information that’s important to them especially when it’s recommended by someone else or has the force of the all powerful media behind it.

Up close it looks like ppc is a huge chore with all the market research, keyword research, tracking, quality score issues, bid prices, conversions and everything else that goes with it. The right in your face view of ppc marketing is fraught with details, but once you step back and take a look at the bigger picture the fundamentals are really quite simple. The basics are no more complicated than: find a source of lots of cheap traffic and send it to a relevant offer that converts.

Whatever you think of the media, when it comes to identifying hot trends, hot products and niches relevant to us affiliate marketers, they are absolutely your friend. If you keep an eye on the Drudge Report, the morning shows, the nightly news and the extended news programs like Dateline, 20/20, 60 Minutes and others and then regularly check Google Trends, Insights For Search, Yahoo Buzz and anything else that keeps track of hot topics, everything you need to get gobs and gobs of traffic is right there.

The more familiar you become with watching trends, the easier it becomes to identify topics that could possibly be a successful ppc campaign or other affiliate marketing venture for you. It is becoming much more frequent that I get up from watching one of these news programs right in the middle of it, start a ppc campaign and and end up making money 15 minutes later. And the great thing about these hot topic campaigns is that no one else is bidding in that space, plus if they don’t end up working, the cheap traffic doesn’t end up costing you much.

You’ll probably have to run several of these type of campaigns until you get the hang of it and figure out what makes people react and buy and more specifically what works for you and the way you target your ppc efforts. For some of you, this will probably be fairly easy if you are already in touch with trends, popular culture and the like. It was an initial effort for me because I tend to shy away from trendy subjects so it was hard to identify what was important and would eventually be profitable.

The bottom line though is not to over-complicate the process because even if you are remotely familiar with the news and general happenings you already are in touch enough to make your affiliate marketing and ppc efforts work much better. You may just have to refocus, take a step back, and learn how to paint what you see, not what you think you see.

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Financing Your PPC Campaigns

Getting into pay per click marketing can be expensive because unless you really know what you’re doing, most everyone tends to lose money in the beginning. There are those that have the golden touch and are profitable with PPC right away, but for most of us, including myself, you end up spending a lot of money with Adwords long before you see profit.

So what can you do if you want to get started, but don’t want to risk the money initially? Try financing your PPC campaigns. I’m not talking about taking out a loan and risking money you don’t have, we already have a huge problem with that in the world today, what I’m talking about is to finance your paid marketing with other present or newly created revenue from your affiliate business.

If you want to get into PPC and have little money to do so, determine right now to either use a specific amount of money (a budget), a specific CPA offer that’s generating x amount of cash or build a new stream of revenue with your blog, a new site or sell some stuff on eBay just to get going. You are essentially borrowing money from one part of your business to finance another part of your business. The only way you are going to be truly profitable in the long run as an affiliate is to put those profits back into your business on an ongoing basis.

Initially I sold some things on eBay to have some seed money when I decided to get into PPC again. And when I reached a level of income over $2,500 per month, my wife and I decided I could spend anything over that amount on PPC. I’m also profiting from a PPC offer that’s making more money per day than all my other campaigns are costing.

If you are successful with this method of financing your PPC efforts this way, be careful not to overlook your campaigns that are losing money just because you are making more in the long run than the losers are costing you. You still have to weed out and either delete or heavily tweak your campaigns that aren’t making you any money if you want to build a good income. I have to stay diligent and check my campaigns every day to find the ones that aren’t doing well.

This may be done fairly quickly for some or may take some time to implement for others depending on how profitable you are or how quickly you can start to be profitable with various affiliate offers. Once you budget the amount you’re going to spend or are going to finance your campaigns with a changing amount of revenue from one of your best affiliate offers, then don’t exceed the amount you are making for that day. If you keep working at it and are smart about your cash flow when just staring out, you will eventually be making enough that you can try bigger and more riskier PPC campaigns and hopefully make even more profit.

You should know by now that I’m not about get-rich-quick, so if you thought that was what this was about, head over to ClickBank and get one of those kind of ebooks. If you want to learn how to do PPC the right way, check out PPC Coach.

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How Lawn Mowing Is Like Pay Per Click Marketing

Lawn mowing is like PPC, instant gratification.My wife asks me on a semi-regular basis why I don’t just hire someone to do the lawn for us. I don’t because I like mowing the lawn. It’s one of those simple pleasures in life that provides instant gratification. With the new lawn mower we recently got, it has cut (no put intended) 15 minutes from the time it takes me to mow and when the work is done, instant results, we have a nice looking lawn. I get to enjoy the fruits of labor by seeing our nicely manicured yard.

That’s why pay per click marketing, once you finally start to make a profit, is like mowing your lawn, you can throw a campaign together in an hour or two and start making a profit in another hour. Sure, it does take a bit of a learning curve for most to get the hang of how to actually make a profit in the world of PPC (It certainly did for me). But when you do, if you direct link to affiliate offers or just build simple landing pages without all the work that goes into building out a large site, you can see nearly instant results. There isn’t any waiting to see if Google will show you some favor and index your pages high enough to get good traffic. Normally within a couple of hours you can see the results of a good pay per click campaign start to take shape and it’s a marvelous thing. It obviously doesn’t always work out this way, but with the info I learned from PPC Coach, I was making a profit with my first campaign about 3 hours after I started it and 24 hours later, after a bit of tweaking, my ROI was 100%.

Now there are two major schools of thought to PPC marketing. One is to build landing pages and there are those that say this is the only way to do it. Pre-sell your traffic with your own landing page, or at least collect your visitor’s email address and build a list that you can market to over and over. And the other option is to work with CPA offers and merchants who allow you to deep link to their website directly from your ads. In fact in reading the PPC Coach forums the other day, I ran across someone who has been at this game for a few years and claimed that he has never built a landing page. So whenever you get into the PPC game, you’ll just have to figure out what works best for you.

I tend to like the direct linking option better because you’re still sending traffic to a landing page, it just happens to belong to the merchant. You just have to find out which ones convert better than others through testing different offers or different merchants with the same kind of offer. One of the nice things about PPC Coach is that a tool they have is a database which shows the top paying offers through several networks, searchable by keyword, so you can look for the latest Acai Berry or Green Tea diet and weight loss offers and more easily find the landing page that converts the best.

PPC Coach has definitely helped the instant gratification of PPC become a reality. While on vacation this next week, a lot of planning will be going into heading more into this direction with my online endeavors.

By the way, my wife recently hired someone to do the house cleaning for us and I’m so thankful, because I got zero enjoyment out of running the vacuum around the house. However, I don’t know if I’ll ever hire someone on a regular basis to mow our lawn. It’s too easy to do and I get too much enjoyment out of it to farm it out to someone else.

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August 2008 Affiliate Earnings Report

I’m not the accountant in our family. Crunching numbers for hours at a time makes me loony, but I do love to figure out affiliate earnings every month because it gives me a legitimate excuse to be obsessive about checking stats, which I usually have a bad habit of doing way too much.

I was hoping to get to $5,000 in earnings this month, but actually had a slight drop. This month was a good example of why you should keep your affiliate business diversified. Revenue shifted quite a bit from some solid earners into newer and unexpected income streams. While earnings from the eBay Partner Network were down by about $400 and revenue from my top BANS store was down by nearly $600, other affiliate streams almost replaced it. Earnings from Azoogle, Clickbank and Market Leverage were up and after advertising expenses, profit was around $500 from these three. I also earned a nice $282.51 from Site Build It which I rarely ever promote.

Pay per click advertising between Facebook ads and Adwords showed the most promise this month as a spend of $1,115.11 (this is what I can specifically track)  created revenue of $1,609.90, realizing a profit of $494.79. It’s now a matter of weeding out the losers and attempting to tweak and ramp up the winners.

Total revenue did come in at over $5,000 this month, but costs were at an all time high. Everything breaks down as follows:

Google Adsense – $1,415.24
Commission Junction – $110.37
EPN – eBay – $719.19
Meal Planner Ebook – $102.00
TripAdvisor – $177.03
Clickbank – $266.83
Private Advertising – $175.00
AzoogleAds – $1,152.85
Microsoft – $200.00
Pepperjam  – $49.70
Market Leverage – $252.85
Other Affiliate Programs – $405.46

Total Revenue – $5,026.52

Total expenses – $1,208.46

Total Income – $3,818.06

The goal for September is to reach $5,000 in earnings even though this month is traditionally very slow and we’ll be on a nice beach vacation for a week. Hopefully we can avoid the 3 storms churning up the Atlantic ocean as I write this. Our last vacation was rained out, so it would be nice to get a break from that.

Remember, keep your earnings streams diversified to avoid getting crushed when that big stream turns into a tiny creek and your income suffers significantly because it’s the only thing you have going.

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Record Month For Build A Niche Store And eBay

Bans Stores For May 2008May is turning out to be a very good month for my Build A Niche Store web sites and the eBay affiliate program. The final numbers won’t be in until Monday or late tomorrow, but it looks like earnings for my BANS stores should be around $900 for the month and earnings for the best performing BANS store around $650.

I did spend some money driving traffic to one of these stores this month, but only to the tune of a little over $100 and it has apparently paid off fairly well. Last month my top store produced $246.68 in revenue and I spent a whopping $2.90 in PPC traffic, this month $101.97 has been spent on PPC and revenue is at $629.44 for the same store. PPC search traffic this month has produced 304 clicks to this store resulting in 314 bids and 97 winning bids. Last month with virtually no PPC traffic, there were 139 total bids with 53 winning bids at the same store.

A little closer examination needs to be done on organic search traffic versus paid traffic to see where the real gains are coming from, but initially it looks as though paid search is paying off for this Build A Niche Store site. I’m working on another BANS site that I will be trying some paid search on, the earnings probably won’t be as significant for at least one reason. The store I’m sending paid traffic to right now is based on products that sell for between $500 and $1,000 and sometimes even more.

It is questionable as to whether paid search would work on a BANS site with items selling for much less than $300 to 400. The reason being is that you earn about 2% for a sale at eBay and earning anything much less than $10 per sale is hard to make work with PPC. Of course there’s always the chance of selling multiple items and earning a few $25 new member bounties which would make paid search worthwhile. The new store I’ll be sending search traffic to will have items ranging from $100 to $300 in price so it will be a little experiment to see if this theory holds true.

One last note is that the store bringing me good returns with PPC is a fully built store with substantial content in both articles and content on auction pages so I’m getting very good quality scores from Google on the pages I’m sending traffic to. PPC probably won’t work on pages that have nothing but auctions.

You can get more info on Build A Niche Store here.

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