Andrew Wee | Blogging | Affiliate Marketing | Social Traffic Generation | Internet Marketing

BizExcellerated Internet Marketing: Achieve mastery in blogging, affiliate marketing, social traffic generation at Andrew Wee

Archive of ‘Internet Marketing’ category

Lessons Internet marketers can take from Apple’s Steve Jobs

He was born Steven Paul Jobs on Feb 24, 1955 in San Francisco, CA. The world would know him better as “Steve Jobs”. To the Apple faithful, he would be like a god to them, but that image was broken when he died on Oct 5, 2011, aged 56, having lost his long-running battle with pancreatic cancer.

Some will be fixated with Forbes’ estimate that Jobs’ net wealth was $8.3 billion in 2010, making him the 42nd wealthiest American. They’ll probably see the glowing success of the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMacs and neglect to see the failures Jobs encountered along the way. That could be a major mistake because it’s only in failures that lessons can be learned, especially for Internet marketers.

Jobs was an astute businessman, in an early episode with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, the book iCon recounts:

Atari’s founder, Nolan Bushnell (who later founded the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant chain). Bushnell asked Jobs to figure out a design for the game Break-Out, where players would use a Pong-like paddle to smash a wall of bricks. Unbeknownst to Bushnell or Alcorn, Jobs turned around and made a deal with Woz: Do the coding, and Jobs would split the $600 completion fee with him. Woz did the work, and Jobs got his money and gave Woz $300—his “half.” Problem was, Jobs got $1,000 as his fee. Woz didn’t find out about Jobs’s lie until a year later, according to iCon, the 2005 book by Young and William L. Simon. When he did find out, he was so hurt he cried.

The lesson is that if you own a business, you need to run it astutely. I most would consider Jobs to be charismatic and project an aura. Not as many would call him a nice guy.

His desire for getting things right played a large part in his success. In the same way that successful marketers will continually strive to get something right so that their business ran correctly. As some would say, “If you do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll get what you’re supposed to get”.

Here’s an insight into Jobs’ quest for perfection from iCon;

Jobs wanted the next computer to be something different—an appliance, something anyone could use. That was the Apple II, which came out a year after the Apple I. He hammered at his message as the company grew: Computers should be tools. Trip Hawkins, one of Apple’s first 50 employees, remembers Jobs obsessing over an article he’d read in a science magazine about the locomotive efficiency of animal species. “The most efficient species was the condor, which could fly for miles on only a few calories,” Hawkins says. “Humans were way down the list. But then if you put a man on a bicycle, he was instantly twice as efficient as the condor.” The computer, Jobs said, was a “bicycle for the mind.”

Jobs had another message: These tools had to be beautiful. The Apple II did look great, for then: It had a case and keyboard and fit easily on a desk. Jobs’s aesthetic suffused everything, even the circuit boards. He insisted the circuits be redone to make the lines straighter.

And just in case you mistakenly associated Apple’s touchy-feel human-friendly products with the personality of it’s founder, here’s a reality check:

At Apple, Jobs inspired without inspiring much love. “He’d stop by and say, ‘This is a pile of shit’ or ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen,’” Andy Hertzfeld, who helped develop the Macintosh, told Moritz. “The scary thing was that he’d say it about the same thing.” The people at Apple had a name for that behavior, too: “the shithead-hero roller coaster.” Guy Kawasaki, another early employee who was assigned to recruit outside developers to write software for the new machine, said Jobs once came by his cubicle with an executive Kawasaki didn’t recognize. Jobs asked for Kawasaki’s opinion about some third-party company’s software. Kawasaki replied that he didn’t think it was very good. “And Steve turns to the guy and he says, ‘See, that’s what we think about your product,’” Kawasaki says, laughing. The stranger was the third-party company’s chief executive officer. “I’m sure the CEO did not expect to get ripped like that.”

Lesson: If you want to get what you want, you need to do whatever it takes. This means working on your PPV, PPC, SEO campaign till you get what you are shooting for. It means working on it on weekends, holidays till you get it right. Closing shop at 5pm every day is just asking for trouble.

Despite all that hard work though,

The board told Sculley he had to act. In April he relieved Jobs of day-to-day duties and made him vice-chairman. Then Jobs lost that title, too. At 30, he lost the thing that most mattered to him. “I didn’t see it then,” he would say in 2005, “but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again.”

So even if you start a company, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be kicked out. Though Jobs’ managed to turn it into an opportunity:

After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets. Apple’s subsequent 1996 buyout of NeXT brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and he served as its CEO from 1997 until August 2011.

Although Next was touted to be the next big thing in computers, Jobs’ struggled to find buyers for his $9,999 computers. He poured $7 million of his own money into the company and it nearly went bust. Funded by VC money, the company continued to chug along.

It was only after a turn of events that Next was acquired by Apple in 1996 for $429 million.

In case you’re wondering, parts of the NextStep operating system formed the foundation of Mac OS X, which were a crucial part of Jobs’ iMacs after he rejoined Apple.

Also, Next’s WebObjects, an object-oriented software platform, would power the Apple Store, iTunes and the MobileMe services.

Lesson: Smart entrepreneurs will learn to reuse, recycle, repurpose tools and intellectual property from previous projects. If you’re an enterprising marketer, this won’t be news to you.

While Jobs was involved with Next, he also acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm for $10 million. The company, which would later be renamed Pixar, first tried to sell the Pixar Image Computer, but failed. After years of unprofitability, the company would contract with Disney to produce animated films, the first of which was Toy Story and the rest is history, with hits like A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and the Incredibles following.

If you think running a business with “years of unprofitability” to its name is a good thing, you’re probably an optimist, but might not do well running a company. Being able to adapt Pixar’s business model not only ensure its survival, but brought it to a whole new level of profitability.

And Apple was not without it’s failures too. It’s attempt to launch a tablet computer-type device through it’s Newton subsidiary was a pretty big failure. Placed side by side, you can see some similarities between the Apple Newton MessagePad and today’s iPad.

Lesson: Expect failure no matter how smart or good you think you might be. Picking yourself up is a test of whether you’re capable of getting to where you want to be.

Create like a god. Command like a king. Work like a slave.

Psst. If you missed it, the secret to Internet marketing is contained in the title to this post.

That mantra also happens to be the subtitle of Guy Kawasaki’s Rules for Revolutionaries (first published in 1990s), and still equally relevant today.

There’s a paradox/dichotomy with Internet marketers. Almost all of us have the potential for unlimited income, but the vast majority (ie: more than 90%), work less than an hour a day.

That’s excluding time spent on twitter, facebook, watching youtube videos, reading ebooks, chatting on AIM. That’s less than one hour of purposeful, meaningful, goal-direct work each day.

The other “law” is that your amount of meaningful work is directly proportional to the amount of income you generate.

So that time spent goofing off translates into throwing away potential income too.

Deciding to be an “internet marketer” could mean spending time after you finish your day job, after you’ve eaten your dinner/supper and sitting at your table, trying to figure this “internet thing” out. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances tell me they want to “do what I do”, and then they go on to talk about how working from home would be great for them, how they’re really good at marketing/writing/creative stuff and they would make an excellent internet marketer.

So, like a fool, I give them an idea to work on, and they buy into the idea, they see they can do it, and I finish off the conversation with… “Remember, more than 90% of people give up after the first day, of the rest, 90% of the guys left give up after the first week. So only 1 out of 100 ever gets anything done.”

After promises that they’ll be that one outstanding individual, they go off to do their thing.

Two weeks later, I speak to them and they’ve got a lot of stuff to tell me. Mainly a lot of reasons why they didn’t do anything. Usually a combination of either:

  • School
  • Kids
  • Relationships
  • Their day job
  • Stress, fatigue
  • A lack of drive
  • A loss of confidence
  • Or they bought about $100 worth of books off Amazon, but haven’t had time to read a single book.

Which is a little disappointing because I gave one simple thing for them to do. If they had done it, they would have made $10, $20, or maybe even $100.

Even if they’d have made their first $1, it’d drive them to go on.

I’m fairly sure, it’s not anything specific to Internet marketing, e-commerce, being an entrepreneur.

It’s got everything to do with your drive, your motivation, your ambition.

It’s free to say you want to have a lofty goal, but it takes real cojones to do something about it.

Are you going to fail if you try it?

Possibly, and the probability is pretty big, especially if it’s something like CPA marketing, or using a new traffic method like PPV.

Are you going to lose money?

Heck yeah, possibly a lot of it too.

In sci-fri writer Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series, the protagonist Paul “Muadib” Atreides is put to a test by the Bene Gesserit order.

His hand is put into a box and it feels like the flesh is being burned off it and his hand is being torn apart.

But he survives this test because his mother Lady Jessica has taught him a mantra, the “Litany against fear” which goes:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Besides being my favorite sci-fi series, Dune also contains one of my favorite quotes.

Substitute “Fear” with “Failure” or “Adversity” and you’ll realize that anything worth the effort is going to involve some degree of pain.

If you’re starting something new, it’s going to take time to master it.

In all likelihood, you’re going to spend about 8 to 12 hours a day just figuring out something new – whether it’s blogging, social media, PPV or CPA.

Once you’ve understood the basics, it will probably take 4-6 hours a day to fine tune what you’re doing.

And in the third stage, you can probably get things going smoothly and you’ll be able to maintain your level of earnings with just one hour of effort a day.

How long will it take to go from stage 1 to stage 3?

It varies from individual, but typically the ones who aren’t afraid of fear, or don’t let it become their mind killer move much faster through the stages.

If you haven’t been brainwashed by some of the talk of buying a business-in-a-box or a pack of 2,506 ebooks to kickstart your e-commerce business, you’ll usually start out on a better footing.

To address some emails I’ve received:

“What’s the fastest time it will take for me to earn $xxx per month from websites/affiliate marketing/blogging?” – I suggest that rather than shoot for “fastest”, it’s better to bone up on your fundamentals. I’ve noticed that these “fastest” methods tend to rely on learning one method (usually blackhat) way of doing something and these generally last a couple of hours/days/weeks depending on your luck. Then you’re left running to learn another “trick”. You’re not building a business in my opinion, you’re just hustling for some spare change.

“Does it work?” – I could tell you I’ve been doing this for many years, but I guess you won’t know for yourself, until you’ve tried it out, will you?

“Can you coach/mentor me?” – I’ve not offered this for a long time (since 2008 I think). Unless you have an interesting project proposal/joint venture in mind, I’m wholly focused on long-term projects. If you’re newer or looking at bringing your earnings to a higher level, you should check out PPV Playbook. I’ve mentioned it a number of times, and you can check out a write-up here.

By the way, PPV Playbook discount codes are still available.)

“Will more Friday Podcast episodes be coming out?” – While I produced the series, it took a fair amount of time and resources. With two young kids and a number of ongoing projects, there’re no plans to continue it at this time. You can check out the archive here though).

“Will you be blogging more regularly?” – I was inspired after meeting FinchSells (aka Martin Osborn) last week in Singapore. He claimed that he was blogging about once a week now. I wasn’t going to call him out on it, but he seems to be blogging every 2 weeks, so I guess he’s a big fat liar. Now that my gnarly taxes are out of the way, I plan to publish a post every week. So check back often.

Your 2011 New Year’s Resolutions And Your Online Business

Back in November/December last year, it seemed a good idea to set aggressive business goals, if you’re into the business of creating New Year’s resolutions. You might even have gone aggressive to set something that was 10x what you achieved last year. In motivational/NLP talk, you’d call this a “stretch” goal.

We’re half a month into 2011 and there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that half your competition, who had set aggressive goals/resolutions, have given up on what they had said they would do. Maybe it was because they woke up the morning after and decided it was too much work. Some might have hit the first bump on the road and given up immediately. So whatever competition you might have foreseen in your niche might have just taken themselves out of the game, 2 weeks off the starting blocks.

Here comes the bad news.

If you’re unlucky, you might be one of those who’ve also dropped out on your plans to step up to the next level. Maybe you’ve decided to settle for the “same-old same-old”.

So the one thing that isn’t taught in any ebook, seminar, course, or $50,000 mentoring/coaching programme is how to kick yourself in the pants to be hungry enough to put in the time and effort to reach the goal you had set for yourself.

Sure, most of us would like to buy that Ferrari, big house, go on a round-the-world trip. But the reality is probably only 1 out of 1,000 marketers are there will actually do it.

The other 999 are probably happy to sit on their butts, dream about what they’d do with the cash, and conveniently forget about putting in effort to get the whole thing moving.

To help your online business prosper and thrive, it needs to be more than just “work”. Ideally it should be something obsessive that drives you to want to keep working till you find the winning formula.

Maybe times it might be a specific website target or keyword for a PPC, PPV or media buy campaign.

It might be a particular cost-per-sale (CPS) or cost-per-action (CPA) that you find is going gangbusters for you.

Whatever it might be, you need to figure it out.

This will likely require having to grind to get yourself there.

Does it mean that everyone who puts in 8 hours of solid work in your online business is guaranteed to succeed?

Not necessarily, but your chances of success are significantly higher.

Looking for more ideas to kickstart or grow your internet business? Be sure to check out my “Making your online business work in 2011″ post“.

Why the US government’s $600 billion cash infusion is a bad idea

You might’ve heard the term QE2 being banded around political and finance websites in conjunction with the $600 billion that is going into the US economy. Anytime money goes into an economy might sound like a good thing, but in this case, I don’t think it is.

Here’s why.

QE or quantitative easing refers to adding more money into the finance system in the hopes that it will stimulate the economy.

Here’s a summary of what QE1 involved:

With QE1, the Fed’s newly printed dollars were used (for the most part) to purchase illiquid assets such as mortgage backed securities from the large commercial banks. Whether by choice or not, the cash received for these securities is being held on deposit at the Federal Reserve Banks (i.e. the Fed bought assets from the large commercial lenders who are just keeping that cash at the Fed).

From: Seeking Alpha

Was that a good thing?

Here’s what happened:

We can speculate on the reasons why the large lenders are keeping their powder dry at the Fed. For one thing, the banks are still reluctant to lend. Also, the deposits are receiving 0.25% interest.

In case you don’t remember how much was involved. Here’s a reminder:

Remember QE1? That was when the FED (printed money and) bought back $800 billion in worth less, and worthless investment paper from the banks which they will hold until the troubled banks decide to buy them back.


Very little of that money actually reached the economy, and hence the velocity of money was minimal and despite what trade and employment figures show, the economy seems to be barely chugging along.

Forbes has observed some of the recent effects of QE2, namely “QE2 has already damaged the ordinary lives of the middle class and the poor by driving up the price of basic foodstuffs  required in the average American’s diet. Sugar is up 5.7%, wheat, 5.8%, oil, up 8%,, soybeans, up 5%– all inside of the first week of QE2.” (source)

And what’s going to happen with QE2 is that it’s going to be used to mop up a large chunk of US government bonds. So the Federal Reserve is going to essentially be printing more money and adjust the amounts that are owed to bondholders.

This means that the government will seem to owe less debt, however, it’d weaken the US dollar against other foreign currencies. Goods that are being imported into the US such as your Sony BluRay player, your lawnmower which was made in China are going to cost more (because of the weak US dollar).

For affiliates outside of the US, such as in the UK, Australia and Asia, a weakening dollar means your income will drop. Taking the Singapore dollar as a benchmark, the US:Singapore forex conversion has resulted in a 30% drop in earnings in the last 4 years.

What this means for Internet marketers: US consumers (still the largest demographic for any product/offer that you might own or might promote for a CPA or CPS network) will look for ways to deal with a drop in income and in some cases, unemployment.

Bizops, finance-related offers and money saving offers should do well. Penny auction CPAs seem to be going gangbusters at several networks, even though some cynics had said they were on their way out having been launched sometime back.

On the economic front, what’s worrying about the latest QE2 measure is talk that the government might launch QE3, QE4 and so on in hopes of stimulating the economy. However, this could be as effective as pouring money down a blackhole which will ultimately weaken the US economy and the business owners who depend on it.

President Barack Obama, has been a charismatic face to the current administration, although the track record shows that the Democrats might be clueless about solving the current economic problems. On the other hand, voters are also reluctant to give control back to the Republicans who’re perceived to have created many of these problems in the first place. The swing to the populist Tea Party in the recent mid-term elections might be a knee jerk reaction to “politics as usual”, but none of their rhetoric nor policy bashing seems to have any answers to digging the economy out of its hole, aside from calls for a smaller government.

That $600 billion QE2 might have been more effective if it had been made available to small business owners or to organizations like the small business administration.

As it stands, business owners, especially internet marketers should brace themselves for short term opportunities and possibly some tough times ahead.

How to get started with making money online

This isn’t the first post I’ve made on this subject and likely won’t be the last either.

UPDATE: I posted about a week ago that I’m working on a guide on Internet marketing, it’s still being worked on. A couple of projects have come up in the interim that have taken a fair amount of time (though they’ve been very rewarding). So my own project is moving along at a slower pace. It’ll come out soon.

But back to getting started.

Reality #1: There’s lots of money to be made on the Internet. Because when you say “Internet marketing” there’re so many ways to skin a cat, from investing in domains (domaining), marketing on classified sites like CraigsList, Kijiji, Gumtree, etc, to what I typically cover on this blog: affiliate marketing and product creation. The Internet is more a platform or a marketplace than one specific method. There’s no one “best” way to make money on the Internet.

Reality #2: Internet marketing is easy…if you’re prepared to fail a lot. I’ve had some gnarly internships where I worked with non-profits as well as marketing agencies and the work was pretty mind-numbing and would leave me physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day. In contrast, I think Internet marketing is way easier (try flipping burgers for a day to experience the contrast), but it has a high failure rate. The best marketers probably succeed 50% of the time with their projects, you just don’t hear about the failures very often, unless you’re into consulting, accounting or have these guys in your mastermind. But the cost of failure is small (if you’re managing your risk sensibly). Just pick yourself up and get going again. My smallest loss has probably been a couple of hours for a failed project. My biggest loss has probably been about $10,000. Then again, I’ve made many times that with the successful projects.

Reality #3: Focus. This is an easy one to understand, but harder to implement. Just imagine going out on a warm summer’s day, the warm sunlight on your skin. Now imagine if all that sunlight was focused into a single pencil-wide beam of light. That laser could burn skin and bone and probably cut through industrial steel. That’s the power of focus. Most newbie marketers will try 5 to 10 projects and attempt to find 1 or 2 which work then focus on them. I think it’s ok if you’re testing various options for a couple of weeks (no more than a month). But if you’re still “testing” stuff 6 months down the road, then you’re looking at a heap of trouble later on.  While it may seen unrealistic that you might create the next or digg or icanhazcheezburger, still being focused will have a better return on your time than trying out too many things. Being focused also means picking yourself up and keeping at it, even when you fail. Stop only when you hit a brick wall which you can’t bust through.

Reality #4: Books, courses, tools are a crutch. Unless you have the luxury of working for someone who’s been in the game for a long time and is willing to show you what they do or better you tell you step-by-step what to do, you probably need to invest some time figuring stuff out. I was just telling someone today that I probably bought about $1,000 worth of “stuff” – software, books, courses in my first month getting started in 2006. I still have my old copy of Adobe Photoshop sitting on my shelf in its shrink wrap along with this fancy teleconference equipment I bought off eBay. It’s probably better to understand how stuff works and if possible do it by hand before investing too much in courses and automation software, which blocks you from the real goal of building a business, marketing and selling products and services.

Making Money Online Action plan

So if you sent me an email asking about how to get started with Internet Marketing/Affiliate Marketing and I’ve sent you to read this blog post, here’s my advice:

1) Get started within 30minute of reading this post. Yes, you can go have your dinner, send the kids to school, pay some bills, but get started immediately. The biggest procrastination is before a project gets started. If you overcome this obstacle, you’re doing better than the other 90% of marketers who are hoping/dreaming for a big stack of money to fall into their laps.

2) Find a successful business model/strategy to make money. I check into a paid forum, PPV Playbook, run by David Ford, every couple of days. In it you will find other guys who were just like you, wanting to get started and are making $100/day, $300/day or $1,000/day profit about 6 months to a year from when they first got started. Take note, that some of them have spent as much as $1,000 or $5,000 to get to where they are. And if you’re asking if it’s worth spending $5,000 or even $10,000 to get to the point of making a measly $100/day profit, I’d say heck yeah. At $3,000/month, you’d cover back your $10,000 investment in a little over 3 months. More importantly, you will have the skills to grow your business from $3,000 to $5,000 then $10,000, then $1,000/day. But only if you’re willing to put in the effort to improve yourself and grow your business.

Even if you read about all these “business in a box” packages out there which claim that all you do is stick a web page on the Internet and start making money, the reality is that they don’t work unless you know how to generate traffic and have these Internet visitors convert into customers. It’s better to build a foundation in the necessary skills, and from there you can choose to either promote someone else’s products (ie: affiliate marketing or CPA marketing) or develop your own offer/product.

“What do you suggest I do next?”

This is a simple strategy, but it will only (more…)

Internet marketing: What to do when you get “stiffed”

If you haven’t been scammed or conned once in the course of running your internet marketing business, it’s probably a sign that you’re not doing enough.

A couple of weeks ago, Aden Mott posted about getting “ripped off” by Copeac (You can read the post here).

I think the fact that Copeac’s owner, Mike Krongel, posted a personal reply says a lot and based on my past experience in working with Copeac, I’m inclined to see things from Mike’s point of view.

My take on affiliate referral commissions is that you’re at the mercy of the network. I’ve had affiliate managers, and affiliate network owners suggest that I could get higher payouts by setting up a 2nd account and bypassing my referrer and get a higher payout in the process. I’ve not gone through this route and prefer to just give my referrer his due. If a campaign is predicated on being able to get an extra 1% or 5% to break even, then you might need to work on being more creative/innovative and moving away from the arbitrage model to creating more value for the lead.

At the same time, I’ve had referred affiliates whom I’d been getting comfortable referrals from, switch out of the referred account so they could earn a slightly higher payout (or so they were promised). I don’t think there’s much you can do about these situations, they’re a fact of the affiliate/internet marketing life. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the fire.

The majority of CPA networks which had initially offered a 5% referral comm have since reduced the referrals to the 1% to 2% range. In a number of cases, they’ve either discontinued the referral scheme (but still pay out for referred affiliates) and in extreme cases, axed the program altogether. As an affiliate, there’s not really a lot you can do about this, so you can either focus all your effort on building and scaling out campaigns, or develop your own product where you’ll have control over how it’s marketed and its price point.

Being able to manage risks sensibly is part of being a business owner. It might seem fun to aspire to be a network owner, but most don’t see the risks and losses that come with it. Having advertisers who renege on making payment because of lead scrubbing or fold up without possibility of payment. Having to deal with fraud affiliates who stuff thousands of leads each month (which are eventually reversed by the advertiser). Dealing with advertisers who have offers which are obviously scammy or have done the old bait-and-switch with their offers. It’s not all fun and games at the top.

Another friend who markets products on the Internet, had a broker that he was buying products from, suddenly disappear and stop answering his email and phone calls. The amount wasn’t high enough to destroy my friend’s business, but it is still a pain because this issue is delaying a project we’re collaborating on.

I don’t see what’s the point in scamming a couple of thousand bucks each from a couple of people because you might have a little play money for a while, but the world and especially the online world is a small place and it’s going to come back to haunt you.

At the end of the day, integrity and honesty are two traits which will carry you further in this business, and if you choose to play in the murkier adult/gaming/pharma space, then you should be more diligent about managing your risks.