HPD is in a unique place where we can see the spark of mastering digital entrepreneurship born every single day.
With hard work, determination, & of course luck many of them build up a sizeable income within 8 or so months
Marty is one of those fine folks.
He's been active in the HPD membership for a year now and today is the day we get to share his journey to a set of $1200/mo sites (mostly from the first one.)
We'll be breaking down Marty's content strategy, how he approaches his week, niche selection and even CRO.
We also recorded a podcast for this episode, so tune in there if that's how you prefer to absorb the info.
As always, let's dive in!
Please introduce yourself to the HPD audience
I’m Marty and I’m originally from a small town in Alabama but now live near Atlanta, Georgia.
I have a professional job but I’m EXTREMELY motivated to break out of the boring, monotonous American 9-5 life and I want personal freedom.
How long have you been working on your affiliate sites for?
Well, I joined Doug Cunnington’s course in Jun 2017 and started a site then I believe, so less than 2 years for the main of 2 sites. It’s important to explain that since I made the mistake of losing focus early on several months delayed my progress.
The other (smaller) site is about 1 yr, 1 month old.
How much are they earning?
Most of the earnings come from site #1 which converts higher also.
Together they are now just under $1,200/month.
There were peaks and dips, but I’ve recently made some CRO improvements that should help it keep growing.
Was this your first endeavour into internet marketing?
No, it wasn’t. Before I knew what I should do I tried starting an Amazon site in a VERY in-demand, but super-competitive supplement niche.
Wow, what a flop that was!
I also dipped my toes into drop shipping shortly after I started my first site, which is a regret I have.
I let those distractions cost me 3-4 months or more of progress.
How much time do you dedicate to your sites per week?
Easily 20+ hours.
As I really go all-in for the content I produce.
It takes a lot of time – especially my images, diagrams, infographics, research, and so forth. I’m hardcore – what can I say?
What's your background? What made you start looking into building affiliate sites?
I’m an engineer by trade. While I appreciate my work and I do enjoy it often, many times in my life I had a sinking feeling of how quickly life passes us by without us enjoying what’s really out there.
I clearly remember one instance in which I (as I often did) needed a break from the drudgery of the 9-5 workday and I took a drive for some fresh air.
It was so beautiful, warm, and wonderful outdoors. Yet no matter what I did, I’d ALWAYS have to go back to work.
It feels like living a sad excuse for a life where I’m playing by someone else’s rules and not my own.
That lack of freedom and realizing how I was, in fact, trapped in a predictable, repetitive routine without the ability to go where I wanted to gave me a depressing, sinking feeling I’ll never forget.
Learning about alternatives:
I read about guys who are working remotely and living life on their terms. Then I discovered affiliate sites as another way to possibly do the same.
Needless to say, I was blown away to see what is possible!
Quickly I realized that being stuck in a regular job, which is what you’re “supposed” to do, is bullshit and there are some fantastic possibilities out there.
That means there’s hope for a better, happy life that doesn’t require winning the lottery!
What's made the biggest reason for your success so far?
Honestly? It’s pretty simple, as I see a lot of people come and go, and having been through the more difficult moments myself… I never give up.
I want this enough that I’m truly motivated to do what it takes to succeed.
Hard work and following a good plan. Learning more and continually trying news things.
Continuously improving has been a tremendous help also.
How long did it take for you to go from $1 to $500 a month?
My main niche is rather hard & competitive, so in my main site’s case it was a bit slower (and also since I do my own content).
It took about 6-7 months to reach $1-ish, then I think 10+ months for $500.
However, within 2 months after reaching $500 it rose even more quickly, to near $1000.
Do you write all your content yourself? What's your content strategy? Is it different in any way?
Yes, I write it all myself.
I’ve hired writers but ended up having to re-write their work as well.
My content standard is pretty high so that’s a topic I’m hoping to streamline.
Generally I seek out keyword opportunities and put out SEO-optimized high-quality content that honestly delivers good value to the reader.
I now write content with the intent to sell, not just to inform about details.
Copywriting is now a part of my approach. For info posts, I really go all-in 100% and dig in with great infographics, information, diagrams, images, etc.
Moving forward, however, I’ll be trying to outsource the work as the time it takes impedes the rate at which my sites grow and is costing me time & effort.
What's your best traffic tip?
So far, one that I’m glad I tried was targeting even “dumb” sounding search queries I found and writing long, detailed info posts for them. They’re actually my highest-traffic posts and some now bring 1,500+ visitors a month each.
There are lots of people searching for the answer to questions that may sound dumb or silly to you, but that also means there may be very little if any competition. The best thing I ever did was write good info posts for those.
It helped increase site traffic and get eyes on my sites!
What's your best CRO tip?
I have several, actually!
- Use optimized product tables with a horizontal layout: Thumbnail, brief but good description, and call to action (CTA). They should also work great on mobile. I tested these via A/B testing and got essentially 2x the click-through rate of standard boring, spec-heavy tables.
- Produce content in natural-sounding conversational style English. Learn some basic copywriting skills and write to SELL. Don’t just throw out some boring details and specs.
- Make your site trustworthy: good-looking, clear, and easy to follow. Make it easy for buyers to read through and direct them to take action (CTAs).
- If you’re confused about your actual posts content, start with good examples like the content templates Human Proof Designs has available for download. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel but instead follow examples that are known to work.
- Once you get some decent traffic, try out things like heatmaps and A/B testing services or plugins. There’s a lot you can do for free. What you see & learn will be very educational!
What's your best productivity tip?
- I work in long sessions often, so I think it’s smart to take breaks occasionally just like in college.
- When driving or when I have time in-between doing things, etc, I make good use of it. I read related articles or listen to good podcasts like those from Human Proof Designs and others that deliver things I can actually use.
- Subscribe to podcasts, YouTube channels, and whatever you can get your hands on to learn from. I’ve learned a lot of practical, actionable ideas I wouldn’t have now otherwise.
Average people do average things and get average results.
If you really want to succeed, you’ll need to do what average people don’t do – use your time in ways that will benefit you in the long run, not the just in the moment.
What advice can you share about niche selection?
This is huge factor that can decide between being successful or taking on a challenge that’s a bad gamble.
Honestly, I think there’s not enough attention given to this topic.
In my opinion it’s best to put additional time into this and try to find additional ways to evaluate niche ideas if you’re a beginner. That’s because when you’re new (or even moderately experienced) there’s a lot you’re still not yet aware of.
I would definitely recommend paying a trustworthy, experienced marketer for 1 hour of their time to get an honest second opinion before moving forward with a niche.
It’s a FAR better investment to spend a little bit of money now for that as opposed to dumping time, work, and money into a site that essentially never had much chance to succeed to begin with.
Also, remember that if you’re thinking of a niche idea, most likely someone else has too.
Try to dig deeper or “dig sideways” (somewhat related but not directly the same) for more niche ideas.
Also, in many cases from what I’ve seen the “boring” niche ideas have products that actually sell quite well and offer a good opportunity.
Don’t be too quick to rule out things that might not seem appealing at first.
If it will make money, who really cares if it’s not your first choice?
What's your favourite book that you think the audience would be interested in?
Hmm, well I don’t have an exact favorite, but one that comes to mind right away is How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame.
Also, I’ve never forgotten what Mike Cernovich said in his book Gorilla Mindset: Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way of going after what you want.
If you want it, you’ll have to stand strong and take it.
You deserve to have what you want and it’s not up to others to decide what you should be able to achieve in life.
He was right, and this will become important a few times in your life more than you’ll understand at first.
What is your mindset and what are your thoughts on the journey to make money?
I could go on here for hours, but let me boil it down to things I’ve observed along the way.
- You’ll have to consciously decide what you really want and make decisions at times that aren’t easy. Let’s be honest, you’ll have to make sacrifices and not enjoy the short-term fun others are having if you want to succeed.
That means not sleeping in late on weekends, but getting up and doing work. Not going out with friends Friday night until late drinking and partying, but staying home to work on your goals as well as get up early during the week to get more done.
I’ve been known to take all my vacation days (1 week, that’s all I get!) to knock out a bunch of posts of content for example when I started my 2nd site. It was a personal decision and I knew what the right one was.
- You’re going to mess up, and failures WILL happen. That’s ok. What I’ve learned is that people who succeed aren’t “magical” or special, but they keep going when things are hard.
- It will be hard at times and you’ll feel like giving up. Sadly, sometimes even people close to you will discourage you. Don’t give up – these hard moments are normal. Take a moment or day to get back on track and let those hard moments pass by. It’s how you deal with challenges like those that will allow you to go the distance.
- Entrepreneurs who make things happen have a different way of looking at life. They’re positive and they put themselves around others who they can share good things with, contribute to, and learn from.
- Accept that sometimes you’ll have to let go of toxic or negative things or people that will hold you back and plant the seeds of doubt in your mind. That’s how life is, sadly. The best thing I did is accept that some people simply have the “crabs in a bucket” mentality and were draining my positive, make-it-happen mindset.
I cut them loose and got rid of big distractions in my life.
Life is more simple, positive, and less stressful now. I’m so much more focused on my goals now!
- Learning is incredibly valuable and there are people out there who will virtually give you their hard-earned knowledge for free! Take advantage of the resources out there. It has really helped influence me to grow and improve my abilities at an accelerated rate.
Questions From Other Members of The HPD Community
Adrian: What kind of skills do you think you need to acquire in order to have success in the affiliate marketing space or internet marketing in general? Is there any particular skill that you've learned and made a huge impact?
I think the following really helped me a lot:
- Learning more and more about SEO and how to find and evaluate keyword opportunities
- Content writing skills: not just filling up a post with X number of words, but really trying to deliver what the reader is looking for
- SEO tips I got from free articles, podcasts, and webinars along the way – too many to list!
I believe you need to get the basics down first (how to find keywords then produce content that ranks well).
However, learning more skills like copywriting, touching the reader’s interests and even feelings, and understanding that we’re really salespeople in a way has made a difference.
Also things like conversion rate optimization (CRO) are fascinating and can have some surprising benefits to help you increase earnings. A/B testing basics are great to know, too.
Car Scheffer: What is one thing that you would recommend a new person starting out in affiliate marketing do that will have the best results in this game? And, How many articles a month do you write (or outsource?)
I would say, follow the 80/20 rule, as it’s what you should live by: focus on the 20% of your effort which results in 80% of the payoff. That is, focus mainly on finding keywords and producing content that ranks and drives traffic.
Don’t flop around chasing new income ideas or unproven ideas you get until you’re doing better at the fundamentals and have proven you can make that work.
My content is a bit deep, and I’m not fast, to I average from 4-6 or 8 posts/month. For some topics it’s specialized and because of my technical background I can’t hand it to someone else yet, so in that case I still do it myself.
In the future, however (potential new niche & site) I’ll be outsourcing.
I’ve learned that you can succeed either way, but for an average site it’s about numbers and with outsourcing you can grow several times faster than doing it yourself.
I’m proud of the sites I have, but making things happen in your limited free time is really tough.
It’s frustrating to be limited in how fast I can grow once I learned I can do it.
Suggested podcast episodes:
WRITE IT YOURSELFOR LET US WRITE IT FOR YOU
- SEO DRIVEN CONTENT
- CONVERSION FOCUSED
- END-TO-END SOLUTION