Jan.21

Jim Kukral Kicked My A** For 40 Minutes

I attended Jim Kukral‘s session at Affiliate Summit entitled, “How to get Motivated for Success” only to hear Jim speak. He has a natural stage presence, and I was going simply to listen to a great public speaker. I didn’t expect to get anything out of the session, but Jim definitely proved me wrong.

Jim’s first shot at the audience was: get over yourself. Lose your ego. The reason I’m bothering to bring this up is because that’s how I found my success in the affiliate industry. For years, I thought I knew how to be a successful affiliate, and I didn’t listen to anyone. Then, frustrated with my failures (more on this later) and presented with a training opportunity with Jeremy Palmer, I left behind everything I thought I knew and followed Jeremy’s training. 1-1/2 years later, I was a full-time affiliate marketer.

Next, you need to produce, or perish. Get rid of distractions: turn off Twitter, Gmail, and your phone and get some real work done. Stop reading my blog (when you’re done with this article & left a comment) and get back to work! A tool I use for this is online-stopwatch.com. I tell myself, I’m going to do “X” for 20 minutes, and that’s all I do. When something else pops into my head, I write it down, and get back to the task at hand. Focus.

You need to get out there & do something. Don’t worry about what others are doing – worry about what you’re doing. You need to work your butt off. At this part of the session, Jim called me out, but in a good way. Yeah, I work hard. I’m up between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning, I hit the gym (while listening to GeekCast.fm on my iPod), then come home & help get the kids off to school, work hard all day, spend some time with the family in the evening, and often get back online to answer some emails or plan tomorrow’s to-do list. Even right now, I’m writing this blog post while flying home.

Doers get what they want, everyone else gets what they get – Jim Kukral

What’s your goal? Write it down, and work on it every day.

Besides being hard workers, Jim and I have something else in common: we’re failures. But, we’re not losers. Failures fail hard, fail fast, and try again. Losers give up.

Get rid of the negative people in your life. It’s hard when they’re family, but believe me, you’ll feel better about what you’re doing, you’ll be more focused, and you’ll get more done.

Jim ended his session by asking the audience what they’re going to do in the next 6 months. He challenged people to come up to him and tell him what they’re going to do. And at Affiliate Summit East in New York, Jim wants to hear back from them.

I’ll be at ASE10 in NY, too – what are you going to have done? Tell me in the comments, or send me an email if you don’t want to share with the world. How can I help you get there?

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Jan.21

Write Mo’ Articles, Get Mo’ Traffic

Chris Knight‘s session at Affiliate Summit, Scaling Article Marketing for Affiliates, was one at which I took more notes than any other in the five Affiliate Summit’s I’ve been to (Miami ’07, Boston ’08, Vegas ’09, NY ’09, Vegas ’10). I was on fire, with 3-1/2 pages of typed notes, which I’m going to try to summarize for you.

First, let me start with the flaw… there was no “10,000 foot view” of what article marketing is. From what I understand, and I hope I have this right, is that as a publisher, I submit articles, which get syndicated, and the resource box at the bottom of the article drives traffic to my site, which then I’m responsible for converting into leads, sales, newsletter subscribers, etc.

Also, while I know speakers cannot pitch their own products / services while speaking, I wish Chris was able to show how a publisher who has an article submits it to ezinearticles.com and how website owners (looking for content) get the article and the final relationship of syndicated article to publishers website.

The biggest misconception I had was that article marketing was an SEO tactic, not a means of generating traffic. You’re not using articles for backlinks with the anchor text of your chosing, but rather, you’re generating content which drives qualified leads to your site.

You need to think big – not a few articles, not dozens of articles, but hundreds or thousands of articles to really see what impact article marketing can have.

Whether you have more time than money, or money than time, you need to get these articles written. You can do so by writing the articles yourself (excess of time) or by hiring someone to write them for you (excess of money). Chris talked about Ghostwriters, the average length an article should be (400-800 words) and how much you should expect to pay per article ($4 – $40).

When you write your article, or when you hire someone to write for you, the longtail keyphrase which you are targeting should have a 1-2% keyword density. Even if you hire someone else to write the article for you, it should be your responsibility to write the headline.

Chris then went on to talk about longtail keyword research, which could be a whole other blog post in itself, using Google search suggestions, AdWords keyword tool, Wordtracker, and spacky.com (audience shout-out).

If you’re still looking for ideas for your articles, take a look at:

  • Old Ezine Articles
  • Got a blog? Makes great articles
  • Forum posts
  • Support emails (minus private data)
  • Out of date books / ebooks
  • News & current events

The optimum traffic generating strategy outlined by Knight, included 25% unique content that’s not syndicated (only on your site), 15-50% unique content which is syndicated (to mass-appeal sites or niche sites), user-generated content (get as much as possible), and reprint rights articles (no more than 30-45%).

As an affiliate, the last part is what I don’t understand. Why would I want to take an article (including the resource box, which links to another website) and post it to my site? Maybe Chris can answer that in the comments below 🙂

There are 6 tips to maximizing article traffic

  1. Article Title determines traffic level
  2. Don’t sell hard in body
  3. Be original
  4. Volume required to make impact
  5. 400-800 word count
  6. Resource box seals the deal

Continuing on the idea of word count, an important point is that 2, 500-word articles will give more traffic than 1, 1,000-word article. So if you find yourself writing too much on a topic, break it down into two articles and submit each individually.

When you’re writing your article, you must write with syndication in mind.

  • Don’t write for traffic!
  • Hard sells in body will not be syndicated
  • 2 links will give most traffic
  • 1 link will give most syndication
  • TEST! (hrm… have we heard that before in this industry?)
  • Include one full URL (http://www….)

Finally, we get down to the resource box. That’s the final paragraph or so at the end of the article, where a little bit is said about the author, and you get your link back to your website 🙂

You must include your name, website URL, unique selling point, and a call to action. If you include your photo, you’ll get more clicks (and if you don’t think you photo will encourage people to click, create a brand with a person who’s attractive enough to do so!). This is not a spot for your entire resume, but simply why you are an authority on the topic you just wrote about.

Other, optional elements, to include in the resource box include a link to your ezine subscription (I don’t understand this one), a free report, an anchored text link, and your contact information.

Including the word free greatly increases CTR! However, “Click here” outpulls everything else.

Remember your goal: traffic.

There are 7 pitfalls to avoid with article marketing:

  1. Quality over quantity
  2. Too much hype / bragging
  3. Making your content too broad (avoid the head of the long tail)
  4. Failure to deliver article title within article body
  5. Trusting ghostwriters
  6. Submission infrequency
  7. Failure to create scalable systems

With this blog post now over 900 words, I guess I should have broken it into two posts, to get more traffic 🙂

What’s been your experiences with article writing? I know Vinny O’Hare has something to say on the topic – who else uses article marketing to drive traffic to their affiliate sites? This is new to me, so I’d love some advice.

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Jan.21

ASW10 Day 3

Tuesday was the final day of Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas – sad to see things wrap up, but 3 days is all I can take being away from my family and working (attending sessions, networking opportunities, walking the exhibit hall floor) nearly 24/7.

I started the day down in the Blogger’s Lounge, where I cranked out my Day 2 recap. Once published, Andrew Wee and I headed over to breakfast, where we found NickyCakes and chatted with him. Along with Kim Rowley, NickyCakes and I were each named finalists for the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award for Affiliate of the Year. NickyCakes had some interesting viewpoints on the award, which he ended up winning. I was able to find a transcript of his acceptance speech, which I’ve included for you here:

Thank you.

The other winners were announced, and then we were onto Brian Clark’s (CopyBlogger) keynote. To be honest, I don’t follow CopyBlogger, so I didn’t know what to expect. However, it seemed to me a lot of his speech was taken from an article (and subsequent follow-up article printed in Feedfront) by SugarRae, “How to Survive the Affiliate Evolution“. If so much was based on SugarRae’s article, why wasn’t she giving the keynote? I also wasn’t a big fan of the musical intermissions during the keynote. While they were making a point, and while I enjoyed watching the ASL interpreter signing “Rock Me Amadeus”, I felt awkward sitting there, watching a man on stage listen to music.

I honestly cannot tell you what Tuesday’s keynote was about, as my ADOLAS was kicking in and I was having trouble concentrating. Maybe including some slides would have helped me follow along. To be fair, Clark admitted this was his first keynote, and aside from watching him listen to music, I felt he did well on stage while he was speaking.

After the keynote, I attended the session, “Scaling Article Marketing For Affiliate Marketers” with Chris Knight, CEO of EzineArticles.com.

On the way to lunch, I noticed the room for Impact Radius was open, so I stopped in to see if someone was available to show me around, and Todd Crawford (despite horrible WiFi access) showed me how the Impact Radius network works. Todd was great, spending about a half hour showing me their system, which is not only extremely transparent, but finally puts affiliates on level playing field with advertisers. For example, if you want to apply for a program, but don’t like the terms offered, you can change them and submit your offer to the advertiser! They can then counter, or accept your modified terms. There’s so much to say about Impact Radius, it’ll be saved for a future date (once I get accepted into the network and do some work with them).

I had a quick bite to eat with a couple of chaps from the UK, then headed over to Jim Kukral’s session, “How To Get Motivated for Success!” I sat in the front to heckle him, but really got a lot out of his session.

To wrap up Affiliate Summit, and to support my fellow podcaster Jason Rubacky (listen to “Both Sides of the Tracks” on GeekCast.fm!), I went to the GeekCast.fm Live! Session. My favorite moderator, Lisa P, was asking the panel (including Vinny O’Hare, Loxly, Daniel M. Clark and my boy Jason) about hot topics in the affiliate industry. Jason fit right in, downing 3 beers and shielding his eyes from the bright lights that shined down on the panel.

During the final session, I found out I won a gift certificate from buy.at (who I really need to do more work with, but their interface confuses me) so I had to sneak into the Exhibit Hall to pick that up. A few of us then headed to a quiet bar (yes, we found a quiet one) to kill some time before being sorely disappointed by VooDoo lounge at the BlogUp blogger meetup.

The BlogUp was put together by Murray Newlands and Eric (from ClickBooth) and was supposed to be held in VooDoo lounge. However, they double booked the event and we couldn’t get in. So they told us to all hang out at the bar (not thinking that when we did that, nobody could get through, including the waiters). I took off early (after a few #voodoofail Tweets to @RioVegas) but I guess the group was moved down to iBar and taken care of pretty well. You don’t want to piss off a group of bloggers.

I wrapped up the night with a group of friends at the Carnival Buffet (side note: if you wonder how buffets make money – it’s on people like me. $24.99 for 1 plate of food? I eat a lot, but not at one sitting).

It was great seeing everyone again this year at Affiliate Summit. However, as I’m flying home (wrapping up 4 blog posts on the flight), I’ll be really happy to see my family again.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to chat with me, who bought me a drink (I’m a cheap date: club soda w/ lime), who bought me dinner, or who commented on my podcast with Jason (good or bad comments – I like to know that we have listeners). Now let’s see how much work we can get done between now & August! See you in NY!

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Jan.20

Wil Reynolds’ “How to Fix Failing SEO Efforts” from ASW10

Wil Reynolds‘ session at Affiliate Summit West, “How to Fix Failing SEO Efforts,” was the third time I’ve listen to him speak. No matter what other sessions are going on, and no matter what the session is named, if you have the chance to hear Wil speak, do it. If not, subscribe to his YouTube channel and listen to past sessions. Wil offers some of the best SEO advice I’ve ever heard, and provides real-world examples and tools you can use to improve your organic search rankings.

Wil says the number one reason people fail at SEO is loss of focus. Do not pay attention to the drama in the industry; focus on what works! This means when you hear rumors, don’t worry about them – work on what’s real.

When looking at a keyphrase, you can judge how competitive the space is by looking at the organic listings on page 1. If you see a lot of homepages (domain roots), it’s highly competitive; on the other hand, if you see a lot of deeplinked pages (blog posts, burried pages) then you have a good chance of ranking well for that particular keyphrase.

With regards to link building, quantity of links does is not always the answer. In an example given by Wil, the number 1 result had 1,200 backlinks, while the number 2 result had 1,250,000. Links from focused sources are more valuable than links from generic, or unrelated, sources.

Furthermore, a link from a major publication may seem good at first, but when these traditional publishers break down their single article into 5 pages, and your link is on page 4, it doesn’t do that good.

If you do manage to get a quality link from a trusted source, you can do some link building to that article in order to get the click-through traffic. This was a huge idea that I could have used a couple of months ago, when an article posted on time.com linked to my website. If I drove traffic to that article, I would have seen an increase in traffic to my site, too.

Wil went into deep discussion on the impact of Google’s Universal Search has on the SERPs. As Google adds in local results, product results, products within AdWords, videos and images, your number 6 organic spot could put you on page 2!

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to impact what Google does, so your only solution is to fight back! Wil shared a MASSIVE tip during his session – one that I haven’t heard ANYONE talk about previously…

Google is now adding buying guides to their product search results. So, if you have an affiliate site about netbooks, add a Netbook Buying Guide and Google may pick up on it and include your buying guide in their product search result. If products are infiltrating organic results, do what you can to infiltrate Google’s product search results! This has only been doing on for the past couple of months, and is a perfect example of the quality tips you can get from attending Affiliate Summit.

You should also work on decimating the long tail. Take your keyphrase, run it through Google’s AdWords tool, see which keywords have low competition, and kill it.

Also, you should know what keywords are becoming more (and less) popular. Google’s Insights will tell you the trend and help you focus on the keywords with rising popularity. However, be sure to adjust the timeframe that you look at. A rising trend over the past 4 years is much different compared to a rising trend over the past 4 months.

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Jan.19

ASW10 Day 2

Affiliate Summit continued on Monday, starting with breakfast then Dr. Robert Cialdini’s keynote.

After the keynote, I ran through the Exhibit Hall, but wasn’t too impressed this time around. “It’s not you, it’s me.” Previously, I would have talked to everyone, took every pen, stress ball and whatever SWAG they were giving away and dropped 150 business cards. This time, I stopped at one booth but was able to sneak in, get the flyer about their network, and get out, completely unnoticed.

I then went to Wil Reynolds’ session on fixing failing SEO efforts. I took so many quality notes from Wil’s session that it will be it’s own blog post in the near future.Notes on Wil Reynolds’ session

Lunch followed, where Peter Shankman amazed me with his ability to speak faster than any person I ever met. However, in doing so, I was able to get a summary of his session (Self-Promotion Will Save The World) in about 3 minutes, freeing me up for that time slot. Maybe it was talking with Peter, or maybe it was Vegas being Vegas, but after lunch I popped some Advil and rested in my room for a bit.

That afternoon, Wade from GTO Management and I went to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop (made popular by the show, Pawn Stars) where I met the “Old Man” and took some photos (will post when I get home).

Still nursing the headache (I wasn’t even drinking the night before! I think in 3 days, I only had 3 glasses of wine!) I went back up to my room & rested before joining Emilio and Andy of ARC for dinner at Stratta at the Wynn. While I would have preferred being with my family on my birthday, Emilio took great care of me, and the dinner was delicious!

I then attended the Trivia Tweetup, which was a nice quiet get-together. We then headed over to McFadden’s for the makebeer.net get together.

Press passDay 3, the final day, is now upon us. I’m wrapping up in the blogger’s lounge, and heading over to breakfast.

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Jan.18

ASW10 Keynote – Dr. Robert Cialdini

Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, was the Affiliate Summit keynote speaker this morning. I wasn’t expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised.

Cialdini covered 6 Universal Principles of Social Influence:

  1. Reciprocation
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consistency
  5. Consensus
  6. Friendship / Liking

I’m not going to cover all 6 points, but the one that made me think the most was scarcity. The basic idea is, if I can’t have it, I want it. Ask yourself about your customers, what do they stand to lose? That’s very powerful when it comes to marketing.

Also, when you have information, get it out quickly. “For every hour of delay, there’s an hour of decay.” “Information is not like wine: it doesn’t get better with age.”

With regards to authority, Cialdini talked a bit about the word “but”. “But” is a powerful word, which can be taken advantage of in your marketing efforts. Mention the weakness, followed by the positive, not the other way around. Consider this example from a former CEO of Ford:

I feel very good about our plan, but, we have a long way to go.
-vs-
We have a long way to go, but, I feel very good about our plan.

The first sentence has a negative feel to it, while the second sentence, saying the same thing, has a positive spin. State the weakness, then the strength.

Unfortunately, this keynote could not be recorded & shared, so you’ll have to check out Dr. Cialdini’s books to get the full message.

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Jan.18

ASW10 Day 1

Sunday was day 1 of Affiliate Summit, which for me started with breakfast with CAMA. Like I said yesterday, small meals like this is where the real deals get done at Affiliate Summit. A product I was emailed about a couple weeks ago (and ignored) was given as samples at breakfast. I got to talk to the merchant and GTO Management, and decided to promote it.

I skipped the first round of sessions to hit the Meet Market before it got too crazy. But I did attend Monetizing Blogs in the second round. The first half of the session was all about what blogging software to use, what content to create, and what plugins to use. This was rather disappointing, as it had nothing to do with monetizing blogs. The second half was much more on point, covering affiliate programs, paid posts, and (what I thought was the best tip), adding data feeds of related products to the end of a post. If the entire session was based on the content of the second half, this would have been a better session (or, if the name of the session was changed)

In session 3 I attended the Video session and didn’t know what to expect. Last time I heard Rosalind Gardner talk, she had a sore throat and her self-intro was 20 minutes long. This time, I’m pleased to say, the intros lasted only a few minutes, and Jeremy and Rosalind got right into the content. After throwing numerous stats on how big video is, they got into some really useful points on the equipment, software, and best practices to rank in YouTube.

After the sessions, I had dinner with Jeremy Palmer (highlight of my trip!) and got some really useful tips and motivation to keep going down the path I’m on. Then I hit up the mentor meetup and then the ShareASale party for a bit. Unfortunately, my nap after the ShareASale party lasted 9 hours, and I missed the Bowling for Boobies 🙁

Now Day 2 is going… time for breakfast!

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Jan.17

ASW10 Day 0

Affiliate Summit is kicking off in Las Vegas, and yesterday was day 0 – the unofficial start. After a cramped flight in from Buffalo and a rather long shuttle bus ride, I arrived at the Rio and checked into my room right away. After a quick nap, I met a couple of friends down at registration, then had dinner with James Seligman, Eric SchechterFrom Clickbooth, Logan Thompson and David D Ochoa. This is where the real deals get done: face to face networking. The food at Martorano’s was amazing – thanks James!

After dinner we checked into the charity poker tournament where James, Logan, David and I all picked table 5 – that made for a lively game 🙂 I quickly lost my first 1,000 in chips, and bought in for another 1,000. I thought I’d be knocked out by 9:30, but actually played fairly late into the night.

That wrapped up the day for me; unfortunately, my body was still on East Coast time, so Sunday morning I was up at 5am, ready to go! Too bad the rest of the world was still asleep…

Now Day 1 is kicking off, and the buzz around the conference is amazing. Seeing old friends and meeting new is just great. If you see me around the conference, say hi!

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Jan.12

Affiliate Summit PreGame Show

Affiliate SummitIt hit me today when I signed an e-mail, “See you Saturday!” that Affiliate Summit is really here! Well, here’s my pregame blog post…

I get in on Saturday and once again registration is open on Saturday. If you’re in Vegas then, you should definitely register before the show starts on Sunday. This is such a time-saver!

Shortly afterward, I’ll be heading to Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, home of the Pawn Stars! If you’re interested in coming, check out this page on the Affiliate Summit Ning page.

Saturday night I’ll briefly be in the Charity Poker Tournament (I say briefly, because I doubt I’ll be around long). I’m sure I’ll head back to my room after the tournament, as my body will not yet be adjusted to the timezone change.

Sunday morning plans are net yet announced… but that afternoon, there are some sessions open which you’ll find me attending, including “Monetizing Blogs for Affiliate Marketing and SEO” and “Video: Biggest Affiliate Marketing Opportunity Since Google”. Inbetween sessions, I’ll be pushing my way around the Meet Market or hanging out in the Blogger’s Lounge. In the evening there’s the Mentor Meetup, followed by the ShareASale party, which I swore I’d attend this time! Aftwards, much later at night, I’ll be attending the Strike Out Cancer Bowling event.

I have no intention of waking early on Monday, but I won’t miss breakfast. I feel meals are some of the best networking opportunities you can find at Affiliate Summit. Monday is the first day of the Exhibit Hall, but I’ll break away from that to attend Wil Reynolds’ “How to Fix Failing SEO Efforts” (honestly, his session could be titled “What my dog had for dinner last night” and I’d attend – Wil is an amazing speaker), “Killer Facebook Advertising Tactics”, “Self-Promotion Will Save The World” (aka – the mystery session), and “SEO Site Review/Clinic”. Later that night is the Affiliate Summit Trivia Tweetup.

Tuesday I hope to fit in a run before getting the day started. After breakfast, I’ll be at the “Opening Remarks, Pinnacle Awards & Keynote” where I’m a finalist for the Affiliate of the Year award 🙂 There’s a couple sessions I’ll be attending on Tuesday, including “Coupon Problem Solving Clinic” and “How To Get Motivated For Success!” and finally “GeekCast.fm Live!” (Side note: I just started podcasting with Jason Rubacky: both sides of the tracks)

What’s different for me this time around is I have no set dinner plans! I don’t plan on dining alone, so I’ll be watching (and broadcasting) to the #asw10 tag on Twitter to find people to have dinner with. I’ve invited myself to dinner before (sorry!), and I’ll be looking to do the same this time around.

So bring your business cards, bring your poken, bring your iPhone to bump, and let’s meet at Affiliate Summit!

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Dec.14

ASW Charity Poker Tournament

NBCF LogoLast week I signed up to play in the Affiliate Summit Charity Poker Tournament, hosted by dk, and benefiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I haven’t played in a tournament in some time (actually, my last one may have been the Football Fanatics tournament in Vegas last year!) but I was once a pretty good poker player.

I was playing in some home games, then decided to enter a tournament in Rochester. Realizing I didn’t have the proper skills, I read Doyle Brunson’s Super System, learned about pot-odds and how to read players, then took first place in the tournament. It took about 8 hours from start to end, but it was worth it. I’ll definitely be studying that book before this game.

Breast Cancer has hit us close to home, so even if I end up buying a $150 burrito (every player gets an $8.00 Chipotle Burrito Certificate (and they just opened one here in Buffalo!)), it’s worth it. Besides, there are a lot of really great people playing, so this begins your networking at Affiliate Summit!

The only downside, for me, is that the game starts at 9pm, which will feel like midnight to my body. So I’d better sleep on the trip out there, as I’m an early bird, not a night owl.

If you haven’t done so already, start making up your schedule for Affiliate Summit at affiliatesummit.sched.org. You can see what I’m trying to make it to at affiliatesummit.sched.org/ericnagel.

See you there!

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