I had pretty much given up on affiliate marketing, then I saw an ad on YouTube promising a way to do affiliate marketing without Facebook ads – I was intrigued. 

Email Lists and Solo Ads – My Step 2.1

That YouTube ad led me to a guy who taught me about two things.

  1. The importance of list building – meaning whatever I was doing I needed to be working to build my own email list of leads and customers. With my own email list, I could continue to nurture those leads, turning them into customers, and turning customers into repeat customers. 
  2. Solo ads – Solo ads can be an effective way to market online. They are a way for you to pay someone who has a huge email list to email your offer to their email list, and they will guarantee you a certain number of clicks on the link you put in your email ad. This means you’re not just paying them to send out say 500 emails and hoping people see them (impressions). You’re paying for them to send out enough emails that 500 people not only open the email but click on the link and actually check out your offer. 
  3. BONUS – you can combine the solo ads with the list building. Obviously, not everyone who clicks on your link in the solo ad is going to buy the offer right away, but if you know what you’re doing you can get them to sign up for your email list. Then you can continue to email them, building trust, increasing their interest, and making new offers. 

As I was going through the training, learning how to set up bridge pages (to build my list), landing pages (to make offers), email auto-responders (to follow up with my list), and learning about what affiliate offers to make, the guy teaching the course introduced me to two new people. 

Both of these people offered different quicker ways to get up and running with this stuff. In part because a lot of the setup would be done for me, and in part because they had built systems with different offers – meaning I didn’t have to go and find a bunch of different offers and try to tie them together. 

Because I was impatient, and because I was excited to get going, I looked at both offers and signed up for both.

The ClickBank Funnel – My Step 2.2

This was the first offer I looked at. It was pretty simple. An expert affiliate marketer who had been doing this for years had built a funnel, with nearly a year of automatic email follow-ups, making another 40 or so offers. All I had to do to get started was set up my email autoresponder, and import the already made email campaigns, which was easy. 

They set up the funnel so that when I sent people to it and they entered their email, they were put on my email list. Then no matter if they bought that initial offer or not, they were on my list, and the automatic follow-up began. 

Then all I had to do was direct traffic to the funnel. But this time instead of using Facebook ads I used solo ads. With the solo ads, I got exactly the amount of clicks I paid for. I wasn’t making sales yet, but I was getting people on my mailing list, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

But I wasn’t getting as many opt-ins to the mailing list as I would have liked in proportion to the link clicks I was getting. In other words, people were interested, but once they got to the page that asked for their email so they could watch the webinar for the offer, they didn’t continue.  

I figured I needed to offer them something different they’d be willing to give me their email, so they’d get on my mailing list before I took them to the next offer where they’d watch the webinar, so I could get more opt-ins. 

To do this I built another bridge page, before the webinar. This new bridge page did get more opt-ins. But the problem was these opt-ins were to a new list, and I couldn’t then just put them into the other automatic funnel with the rest of the email follow-ups. They had to go through that webinar first. So either I had to get traffic that would opt-in to the webinar, or I had to build my own email follow-up – but they would defeat the whole point.

Dean Holland – My Step 2.3 

I said earlier I had been a little impatient. I had to wait about a week to get on a call with Dean Holland’s people, so I had already signed up for the ClickBank funnel thing before I learned more about Dean. If I had talked to him first, I probably wouldn’t have done the other thing. Not that I think it was bad, I just didn’t necessarily need it. But it didn’t cost that much, and I figured I could still use it in conjunction with Dean Holland’s program, and I have done that. 

Anyhow, what’s the deal with Dean, and why did I sign up with him? There were three things I liked about Dean’s program. 

  1. A complete affiliate marketing system – he’s already got all the pieces to the puzzle built. 
  2. Training – he then starts with the basics and teaches you how to put it all into action
  3. Follow up – Dean’s built an active community that supports each other, and there are multiple weekly calls members have access to, to get questions answered and keep on track. 

But I actually decided to go pro-level with Dean. Which meant I also got a co-branded funnel built for me. This enables me to capture all the traffic that’s going through my funnel – and gives me more information about my customers as I’m building my email list. Finally, I have an extra level of access to Dean, being able to get one-on-one coaching from him. 

Now the first thing I must admit is that I have been very inconsistent with what I’m supposed to be doing with Dean’s affiliate program. Working on it off and on for the past couple of years. I have not done the things he’s told me to do. I miss a lot of the coaching calls. I’ve got distracted by other things.

But I didn’t give up. I’ve stuck with Dean, and I’ve not lost my trust in him. And I’ll tell you why – but first … 

A Couple Distractions – My step 2.4

I started out using solo-ads with Dean’s program. I was getting clicks, I was getting people on my list. However I wasn’t getting sales, and I wasn’t confident about my ability to find good sources to buy the solo ads from, so I decided to go back to Facebook ads. As I was watching the training in Dean’s program I heard something the trainer was talking about that reminded me of another product I had seen ads for on Facebook. 

What I should have done was ask Dean about it. But instead, I ended up buying a whole other training program for online media buying. This wasn’t an affiliate program. This was a program designed to teach me everything I needed to know to become an online marketer and media buyer so that I could manage other businesses’ online marketing campaigns. I wasn’t doing this for affiliate marketing.

I was thinking this could be another way for me to do my business consulting. In my last post, I talked about how the main business I had been trying to build was for me to become a business consultant/coach – my focus being on helping businesses with their marketing. Well, how great would this be if I was trained and certified in online marketing?

This just turned into another distraction. I learned a lot. And it has certainly been helpful. But I don’t want to spend my time researching, developing, and managing other businesses’ online marketing. That’s not consulting, or coaching – that’s selling a service. This was just me again grasping for some other thing to try, trying to figure out what I was doing. 

I then got a chance to write and direct a feature film (very low budget), but that’s not really a distraction, it’s what I want to be doing – but it did take a lot of time.

But what’s this – another thing to try for my coaching consulting business. The YouTube algorithm knows how to serve me up a good ad now and then (that will get me) and about a year ago I found something new to promote for my coaching/consulting business. 

It’s a customer relations management software (CRM), with just about every single thing a small business needs for marketing. It puts all the lead generation, lead management, email marketing, reputation management, website building, social media management – whatever you can think of – in one place. And I get to white label it, and license it to small businesses. 

My thinking was this, this is everything that a small business should be doing, this is everything I’d coach a small business to do – I’ll license this software to them, help them get started, and then make residual income off the license even after I’m done coaching them. Man, that’s a great idea, I’m selling myself on the idea all over again as I’m explaining it. 

First I used this software for my own daily business (that I make my living from, mentioned in the previous blog post). The software has been useful, but I’ve had difficulty figuring out how to use all the features, and I haven’t found it in the training from the developers. 

Their system shows you how to set up the basics, and then goes straight to selling it. But since I haven’t figured it out for myself, I’m not very confident about selling it to others. It’s not something you can just sell to most small business owners without helping them get started with it. The system for selling it includes helping set it up and getting it started for the business you’re selling it to. And if you want to make money with it, you can sell them marketing management bundles – BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT TO DO.

There are coaching calls I can get on and get my questions answered so I can learn how to use the software, but I haven’t gotten to that. This means even in my own business I’m not utilizing all that I know it can do.

Affiliate System – My Step 2.5

A very interesting thing occurred last November; Dean Holland introduced an all-in-one system that has everything an affiliate marketer needs, called “Affiliate System”. The interesting thing about it is that it’s based on the same CRM software I had already licensed for my consulting/coaching business. 

Dean has always been open about the fact that he developed it with a third party, and he’s added more features to the system than it had before. He has modified it to work for affiliate marketing in conjunction with the products we already promote with him, or any other products and services a person would want to promote. 

And here’s the most important part – he’s provided a level of training on how to use it, with one-on-one coaching that I didn’t have before. 

With that coaching comes what Dean calls the Beginner’s Advantage training. In this system Dean has instructed us to set up our own “Owned Asset” – this is our own website/blog where we can connect with the audience we build in a way that we can’t lose, which we could if all we do is build our audience on a social media platform. Now Dean had encouraged me to do this from the very beginning, but I didn’t do it. I didn’t think I needed to have a blog before. But I’m listening now. 

I’ve been going slowly over the last few months since I started using Dean’s affiliate system, but I’m working consistently. And I’m committed to actually doing what Dean tells me to do. I’m not working at the same pace as others, but that’s ok. I’m not worried about that. I’m committed to keep at it and follow the path Dean has laid out for me.

Why – why have I stuck with Dean, even when I’ve been “working at this for years” and haven’t made money? 

Because I trust Dean. After all I’ve done; everything I’ve tried; and all the other products and courses big and small I’ve gone through; I know that Dean is teaching me what I need to know. 

It all comes down to the basics:

  • Traffic
  • Capture
  • Follow up
  • Make offers

Do this consistently, and track your results. Focus on one primary traffic strategy, that you can afford, stick to it – be consistent; STICK TO THE ONE THING; there’s no magic button/product/system, so stick to one thing and be disciplined. 

In the 3 years I’ve had access to Dean and his system, I’ve put less than a year of consistent effort into what I’ve been told to do. I know that because when I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing I’ve tracked it, and there’s a lot of months with no tracking information because there was nothing to track. I’m responsible for that. 

So the answer is not to look for some new shiny thing. The answer is to do the work that needs to be done. 

What I’ve Learned About Affiliate Marketing and Myself in the Process 

The Truth About Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is way different than I thought it would be. No matter how good a person is at online marketing, I don’t think very many people could just dabble in affiliate marketing to supplement their income. It’s not as simple as just direct traffic to a good offer and the money rolls in. 

If you want to be an affiliate marketer, you have to build your audience. Someone who already has an audience, like a social media influencer, could easily promote a product and make some extra money. But the key is they already have an audience of people who know, like, and trust them. This doesn’t mean you have to be the face of your brand. You could create a brand online separate from you as an individual.

Without creating an audience you may get a sale here and there pushing products and services to strangers. However, the amount of time and money it takes to make this happen will probably mean it will never be profitable. But if you want to have consistent long-term success you have to build an audience (social media followers, blog subscribers, email lists) of people who engage with what you’re doing. People who may not buy everything you promote, but they’re interested, they trust you, and they will become repeat customers.

And this means you can’t promote crappy products. You have to earn and retain your audience’s trust. That takes time. That’s the main thing I’ve learned about Affiliate Marketing. It takes time because I still have to build a brand that people trust. 

I’m not just a marketing gun-for-hire that blows into town, promotes a high-ticket product, makes 100K in a month, and wanders off to the next thing. 

What I Want to Be Doing

I got started online by trying to be a business consultant/coach – and I wish I had figured this out earlier – I don’t want to do that. 

I wish I had started blogging when Dean first told me to because even if no one reads this, it has helped me straighten out my thoughts and desires concerning what I’ve been doing. 

I said from the beginning I wanted to sell products online that didn’t require me to do direct sales and didn’t require me to deliver a service. But that’s exactly what coaching and consulting requires. I may be able to do it remotely from anywhere in the world, but I’ve still got to schedule sales appointments, get on Zoom calls, do a sales presentation, and then provide a complex follow-up service. 

So I’m done with that. My emotions tell me, but you’ll be wasting all that time and money you’ve put into it. Why keep wasting any more time and money doing something I don’t want to do? And it’s not a total waste – I learned a lot. But it’s time to move on. 

I’ve Actually Been Embarrassed by Affiliate Marketing

Over the past couple years, I viewed the business consulting thing as my “real” business I was trying to build, and the affiliate marketing thing as something I did on the side, and really in secret, because I didn’t want that to be my identity. 

No more. This is a real business, and the only way I’m going to have success in it is if I treat it that way. 

The thing I’m realizing, and that is exciting about the Affiliate System, is that I can still use it for my own brick-and-mortar business, and I can sell it to other small business owners to use for their businesses. So if I find a business owner who wants to do what I’m doing, and is willing to do the work for themselves – not expecting me to do it for them – I have a product they can use. So that can provide some side residual income if it happens, but it will not be my focus. 

I Need to Start Asking Questions

I’ve been wondering why I rarely ask questions of the mentors I’ve paid to coach me. Even with Dean, who I have asked more questions of than others, I still have gone off and bought other products trying to answer questions I had instead of just asking him. Why? It’s not because I don’t trust Dean. 

I’ve never been shy of asking questions in other areas of my life. I had no problem worrying about looking stupid in school; if I had a question I asked it. I process things through discussion, so I like talking to people about the things I’m interested in. As an employee, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. 

But I recently realized that as a business owner, I don’t ask questions. I started my brick-and-mortar hearing aid business in 2012, and right from the start I’ve been ignoring “experts”. I didn’t ignore them because I thought I was smarter, I ignored advice that conflicted with my values. For example, I believed hearing aids were overpriced and could be sold for less. I was told I couldn’t be successful with the profit margins I was planning to operate with. But my business plan demonstrated I could, and I have. 

There have been a variety of other things people have told me I needed to do. Some of them I ignored just because I was already having success with how I was running my business, and I didn’t want to spend the time and money on the marketing campaigns they told me I had to do. I’ve gotten away with it.

I’ve taken what in some ways have been bad habits and applied them to the making-money-online space. In part that was because some people have told me to do things that are not in line with my values. But I can’t say that’s true for everything, and that’s certainly not true for anything Dean has told me to do. 

That’s one thing Dean has never done. He’s never told me to do anything I felt was deceitful, spammy, gimmicky, etc. I’ve never felt he’s BSed me. That’s why I still trust him. That’s why I’m actually going to start asking him all my questions – which is exactly what I know he wants me to do.

And that brings me to where I am today. It’s time to be disciplined, stay focused on one thing, ask questions, and be consistent. 

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5 responses to “Chasing Shiny Objects: Part 2”

  1. As a self-confessed magpie, I am constantly distracted by shinny things. So I absolutely loved this perspective!

    Focusing on one thing really seems to be the key to not only mastering it but also enjoying the process.

    This post definitely resonated with me as it aligns perfectly with my experiences.

    Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post!

  2. Thank you for writing such an open and honest blog. It was a pleasure to read and boy, have you had a complex journey. What is has shown me, in no uncertain terms, is that I/we have struck gold in finding Dean Holland and his crew. It may take a long time but I am convinced that we are on the right path. I consider myself to be so fortunate to have discovered Dean and his program before being seduced by a myriad of worthless shiny objects.

  3. Thank you, Nathan, for putting into words those hidden aspects that we struggle with. I have certainly been there chasing shiny objects and eventually, hopefully, we work it out, as you say.

    It’s doing the work that needs to be done, consistently and persistently.

    So important to know what we want to do, Too often we work for the money but it’s not what we want to do.

    Sometimes it’s not knowing what we want that can be so confusing. But you know what you want to do. Hope you get to do the thing you love to do.

    Make many more films.

  4. Nathan,
    You certainly have had quite the journey. Like you I have been chasing shiny objects. That is until I found Dean and the Affiliate System program. I have to say the guidance and support have been top notch. I need to ask more questions as that is what I struggle with.

  5. Nathan, It sounds like you’ve been through a lot on your affiliate marketing journey, but your persistence and willingness to learn are commendable. Building an audience and earning their trust is indeed crucial in affiliate marketing, and it’s inspiring to see your commitment to doing things the right way. It’s great that you’ve found a mentor like Dean Holland whom you trust and are willing to follow. Remember to stay disciplined, focus on one thing, and don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way. Keep up the hard work and consistency, and success will surely follow! Atif

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