How to Profit by Giving It All Away: The Missing Ingredient

This is a guest post by my good friend and mentor, Todd Tressider of Todd and I are in a mastermind group together (the same one as Jaime Tardy, who recently wrote a guest post about masterminds and mentors on SPI a couple of weeks ago), and he’s also coaching me on the side about investments. Besides being ridiculously tall and a super nice guy (I met Todd in person at the Financial Blogger’s Conference in Chicago last year), he’s incredibly smart when it comes to money. He’s been experimenting with a lot of cool things online for his brand, and he wrote this in-depth guest post to share some findings with you when it comes to giving stuff away and strategies to monetize. Enjoy!

Pat makes it look so darn easy that it can be frustrating.

He gives away his best stuff, and his income skyrockets. I give away my best stuff and, well, I give away my best stuff.

Maybe you can relate? Your results pale in comparison to Pat’s. You only see a trickle of income for your efforts, while his income skyrockets.

Did you ever wonder if you were missing a piece of the puzzle?

In this article, I’ll dive deep into Pat’s “giving it all away” model so that you can learn a few advanced tricks and tips for applying it profitably in your business.

The Hidden Triangle Behind Giving It All Away

Pat’s model looks simple on the surface.

Develop niche expertise and give it all away to your followers through high quality posts, podcasts, and videos. The premise is that great content eventually draws targeted traffic. You then monetize throngs of hungry visitors with the best tools available to satisfy their unmet needs. They joyfully buy from your site because they know, like and trust you to direct them to the best resources.

It’s a simple formula where the triangle of profitability appears to be formed by three sides. Let’s use SPI as an example:

  1. Pat is a content marketing machine applying the “Be Everywhere” philosophy to the internet marketing niche.
  2. Targeted readers are attracted to Pat’s site by his useful, high quality content thus building authority and trust.
  3. Pat offers affiliate products that match the needs of his readers thus he converts without pitching. They just click on the links naturally connected to the useful tutorials and resources he provides.

For example, if you want to make money on the internet you’ll need someone to host your WordPress site and run your email marketing. Bluehost and Aweber are industry leaders that anyone starting out would be well served to use. Pat produces content showing you how to set up a blog in minutes on Bluehost or build an autoresponder system using Aweber. These products are a natural fit and Pat makes a killing offering them. No sales pitch required. They trust Pat’s expertise, he tells them the preferred vendor, they need the service, and conversion results. End of discussion… or is it?

What happens if your niche doesn’t offer high quality affiliate programs?

Is there a deeper level of understanding to what Pat is doing? Are there other ways to apply this triangle of profitability to your own business in ways that aren’t obvious based on what you see at SPI?

How To Monetize Your Site Without Affiliate Programs

For example, I’m a financial coach who teaches wealth building strategies. The affiliate programs in my niche are the garbage I educate people to avoid. I can’t offer credit cards, payday loans, and forex trading because it’s out of integrity with my teachings. So how do I monetize?

The obvious answer is to develop my own products and services but that introduces a new problem. You can’t give it all away when the product or service is your own. The triangle doesn’t exist when there is no third side.

In other words, one of the many keys to Pat’s effectiveness is how he monetizes through independent third party products and services. We know there are multiple hosting companies and email service providers with affiliate programs, and we trust Pat to pick the best. He isn’t selling “Pat’s Web Hosting” because then he would be biased. He is telling you about the well-known, trusted name brand that he prefers above all others. We trust he did his homework.

The key point is the sale must occur as a result of something else. The pitch cannot be direct. This is critically important to the system working. In fact, it’s the key to taking the strategy a cut deeper and applying it at every level of your business.

Think about it. We trust Pat because he is truly giving us his best stuff which establishes his expertise through content marketing. We all need the products he offers and fully expect that he has handpicked the best from what is available. We are leveraging his depth of knowledge in the industry by buying what he thinks is best, and he is leveraging our wallets. Both sides win.

This is all fine and good if you can mimic his model, but as I already stated, I can’t do that. There are no affiliate programs for persistence, financial intelligence, and a strategic wealth plan. In fact, very few market niches have the depth of quality affiliate programs that Pat’s niche provides, and that’s a key problem for many of us.

Well, necessity is the mother of invention, so I dug a little deeper into what makes Pat’s model work. I redefined the triangle of profitability so you can figure out how to apply Pat’s model to all those situations in your business where the superficially obvious solution doesn’t fit. Let’s explore this a bit…

How To Give It All Away by Giving Something Else

The key to gaining a deeper perspective on Pat’s model is to redefine the sides of the triangle.

For example, if you redefine the content marketing leg to “giving something of value” many possibilities open up. You can give away personal attention through email responses, a teleseminar or group coaching program, an ebook, a networked resource, a guest post, and much more. The key is you must give something of value that builds trust and authority.

You can redefine the second leg of the triangle from “reader” to “anyone”.  In other words, you can give to every human connection you have. It could be the network of bloggers in your niche, it could be your friends and family, or it could be someone else’s list. In fact, it could be all the above. And yes, it can also include your email list of readers. Just don’t limit your thinking to your own list. The concept is much bigger than that.

Finally, redefine “affiliate program” to include any third party monetization strategy. This is critical to shifting your thinking when your niche lacks quality affiliate programs. It could be as simple as an advertising network or it could be two layers removed from your business like Amazon’s targeted client base or Google’s search traffic.

These redefinitions are more than just semantics because they open up possibilities. These broader definitions allow you to create a virtuous triangle of profitability in situations that extend beyond what is superficially obvious from Pat’s affiliate business model. There is far greater depth and potential to what he is doing.

Let’s look at some examples…

Giving Away Amazon Ebooks

Amazon is a massive marketing machine holding the dominant position in the book market. Think about it. If you are looking for a book you don’t Google it. You go to Amazon to search for it similar to how you would search for a video on YouTube or a podcast on ITunes. Just as YouTube owns the video market and Apple owns podcasting, Amazon owns the online book market.

In addition, Amazon provides us with an example of a third leg in Pat’s giving it all away strategy – an independent third party monetization platform – but it operates on two levels simultaneously. The superficially obvious level is their affiliate program where you drive traffic to Amazon and get paid on purchases. That’s one monetization approach we all know.

What a lot of people don’t understand is the incredible power of Amazon’s internal marketing machine. The key to monetizing long term on Amazon is you must provide a great book (sells well, receives great reviews, low return rates) and drive that book up the ranks until Amazon takes notice and begins marketing it for you. That is when it becomes smart passive income.

You’ve probably seen how the Amazon marketing machine works through their direct emails, the “customers who viewed this item also bought this” recommendations, and so on. Amazon has multiple ways of direct selling and cross promoting built right into the largest third party book marketing platform in existence. You just have to figure out how to rise up and get your product noticed on that platform thus leveraging Amazon’s marketing prowess producing sales and passive income beyond anything you could have done on your own.

But how do you achieve that goal? By giving it all away, of course!

As a neophyte, I tried just giving my book away. That’s the duhh-obvious idea. Rather than content marketing I gave the book itself as the item of value (again, we are redefining each leg of the triangle). Unfortunately, this is a problematic strategy when the “something of value” you give away is the very product you want to sell.

The new world of book marketing says the concept works like this: the market for my book inside Amazon is huge so when I give the book to my 7,000 (and growing) loving readers they will “like” the sales page and leave favorable reviews. I give them extraordinary value in the form of a quality book and they help drive the book up the ranking scale with their downloads, likes, and reviews. Amazon’s massive built in market takes notice of the social proof and reader interest thus lifting it up their internal ranking system. The premise is Amazon’s market is far bigger than mine so it is smart business to give the book to my market in an effort to get noticed by Amazon’s market.

The result? It worked okay.

In exchange for giving the book to my best buyers thus pillaging future sales from my list I got 29 likes, 19 great reviews, and bounced around the best seller ranking between 10,000 and 30,000 in the weeks that followed. Better than nothing, but not exactly retirement. It definitely gave the book a kick start selling hundreds of copies and got things moving, but there are smarter ways to apply the principles.

In hindsight, my big mistake was not having the paperback version of the book available for purchase during the promotion. The ebook giveaway would have driven paperback sales creating immediate revenue and greater total sales volume by allowing people to consume in their preferred format. All was not lost, however, as all other books in the same series experienced significant spillover sales from the giveaway.

My next lesson occurred when I gave away a promotional webinar demonstrating how to actually implement a critical aspect of the book’s teaching. The premise was to give “next step” education for people who had already bought and read the book. The only thing I asked was to prove you read the book first by leaving a review showing yourself as a verified purchaser (social proof in Amazon’s system). I didn’t want just anyone in the class – only people who had read the book. This encouraged both purchases and reviews.

Again, the key here is to give killer value to people (in this case, my readers) through value added content (advanced education webinar) and to monetize through a third party platform (Amazon’s massive marketing machine). However, this time I added a twist by requesting an action that cost the reader nothing (a book review showing them as a verified purchaser that can be completed in two minutes). Some might argue that I didn’t give it all away, but I did because I gave the book earlier to my list and invited anyone who wanted the next level of instruction to simply leave a review showing they read the book. The cost was nothing.

The results were surprising.

Many readers left reviews, but they were low quality. The book was 4.95 stars (19 reviews before the promotion) but dropped to as low as 4.7 stars (after 25 additional reviews during the promotion). What I discovered was these readers were leaving genuine reviews but they weren’t familiar with the review process. They didn’t understand how a 4 star review was lukewarm and a 3 star review was actually “critical” in the Amazon system. They incorrectly believed they were leaving positive reviews when they were actually lowering the average rating of the book. Once I pulled the promotion the reviews immediately returned to consistent 5 stars and delivered much higher quality statements about the value of the book.

In summary, these two “give it all away” examples provide a successful case study in creating passive income through Amazon. The book appears (as of this writing) on page 1 in Amazon for the competitive term “retirement planning” in both the “Kindle store” and “books” categories. I still have more work ahead of me, and I’m sure many readers will share great strategies in the comments below to build on what I’ve shared here, but for now I want to point out one more strategy I’m implementing that astute readers might have already noticed…

This Guest Post Is Meta

This guest post is walking the talk. I’m giving you (Pat’s readers) this valuable case study as a gift.

You are Pat’s fans and I’m demonstrating my expanded definition of “readers”. In addition, I’m demonstrating my expanded definition of “affiliate program” to include any third or fourth party monetization strategy.

For example, if you look over this post I don’t have an affiliate link in it.  I have no overt monetization that would cheapen this gift or break your trust. However, notice the anchor text links going into the sales page at Amazon and resource pages on my site from Pat’s valuable PR5 site.

It won’t take too many backlinks like this to drive the rankings for the book’s sales page to the top of Google for relevant terms because Amazon is such a highly trusted site. This will cause thousands of targeted searches per month to find my book as an authoritative solution to their question, “How Much Money Do I Need To Retire?” (on page 2 for this competitive term and rising). The sales driven by Google search (independent third party) will, in turn, further boost my rankings within Amazon’s marketing system which will drive additional promotion to their customers (independent third party).

Notice how the monetization is twice removed and never overt. Sure, a handful of you might buy the book, but that is not the intention (although I really appreciate it – oh, and make sure you “like” the sales page while you are there. Thanks!). The real goal is to drive thousands of targeted buyers through my Amazon sales page every month from Google organic search by giving value to Pat’s readers and receiving backlinks as a natural part of that process.

Notice how this strategy is totally different from Pat’s affiliate marketing model even though it is still the triangle of giving it all away. Rather than sell from my site I’m getting two huge marketing juggernauts – Google and Amazon – to do the heavy lifting for me and these two marketing juggernauts are taking their cues to market for me from independent, third party resources (Smart Passive Income).

In other words, this guest post is a meta example of giving it all away; yet, it is totally different from how Pat walks the talk. Pat would never publish this post unless I was giving something hugely valuable to you (creative insights to apply his strategies). In turn, I’m not using an affiliate program and I’m not even giving to my own readers. It is a creative twist on the same principles to fit my own business model.

Taking “Giving it All Away” A Cut Deeper

The point here is to look more deeply at what Pat is doing here at SPI. His results aren’t random, but they also aren’t easily duplicated by you and me. You’ll need to get creative and find your own twist to make it work.

I had to look behind the superficially obvious to redefine the key principles from SPI into something I could apply in my own business. It wasn’t until I took the learning a cut deeper that I was able to produce meaningful results.

Always remember, when you give it all away you build trust and authority, but without a monetization plan you don’t have a business. That is key!

Everyone wants free ice cream so giving valuable content is the easy part. Figuring out the third party monetization is the critical component too many people miss. I know I did. For SPI the monetization was easy because of the niche. For the financial education niche I had to find more creative solutions.

So now it is your turn. Take these lessons and share in the comments below how you could apply the principles to your own business.  Or maybe you thought of more strategies for developing the book business at Amazon that will expand on the ideas shared here. I’m all ears and look forward to a great brainstorming session in the comments below…

Thanks to Todd once again, and don’t forget to visit his website at if you’re interested in learning more about what he does. Cheers!

  • Sunil – Extra Money Blog

    great feature Pat and thanks Todd.

    totally in agreement here. it is some of my freebies – whether ebooks, tip sheets, consultative sessions or merely brief encounters and phone conversations that have led to massive monetization proceeds.

    always end a message / conversation with “how can I help you” has been invaluable (genuinely meaning it of course)

    and yes, resource pages on my niche sites and blog have also converted very well.

    • Sajan Elanthoor-OnlineBusinessMania Blog

      Yes Sunil, I know the strategies that Todd shared are well applicable to any marketing field, both online and offline. Your resource pages are awesome because you not only introduce the product but explain in detail how the product works with demos.

      Being everywhere strategy of Pat helped him to build authority and credibility, and he’s and example of how to sell products naturally without hard selling.

      • Justin Westbrooks

        I agree – building a platform and gaining trust is a good idea regardless of the industry you’re in. “Freely give what you freely receive” is a big focus for me and my team this year, even as we’re creating our first product. Lot’s of fun ahead and lot’s to be thankful for when it comes to others who have shared valuable information with us!

    • Brendan

      Hey Sunil,

      How do you go about that?

      How can I help you?

      ^Like that?

    • IM Queen

      Hi Guys, Karine here
      Thanks for the post. I am working on my 1st eBook and I need all the help I can get.
      @Sunil, I visited your blog and I must say that it looks a lot like (in terms of design) Pats blog:)
      I guess he is a sort of an idol for you,right? And yes, freebies rulz. Even though I started a blog 1 month ago I got a lot of new visitors thanks to a free List of….well, I am not gonna advertize myself here:)
      Take care

  • Todd Tresidder

    Thanks Sunil. Glad to hear similar strategies are working for you as well.

  • Victor

    Great post Pat! The info is very much appreciated.

  • Brandon Turner

    Hey Todd – this was a great post. I’m part of the “real estate investing” industry- and we face the same problem you do: Everything out there is the spammy stuff I tell people to avoid! In that same way – it’s hard to create a product without appearing to be one of those spammy gurus. How do you deal with this line?

    I appreciate your thoughts Todd.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Because of my coaching I’m constantly interacting with my target market. This gives me deep insight into their under-served needs. I then provide a targeted solution at a price point that gives more value than it costs.

      For example, the book mentioned here resulted from the fact that most of the conventional wisdom taught about how much money you need to retire (or be financially independent at any age) is dangerous half-truths or totally incorrect. This book completely overturns conventional financial planning practices.

      In short, it provides a solution. At 5 bucks for the ebook, I have yet to have someone comment that is spammy or not an extraordinary value.

      Hope that helps!

    • The Rookie

      Its amazing how the real estate stuff that has been popping up has become so spammy. I just had a conversation with someone the other day about real estate as its one of my business interests and has been for years. They said the same thing, as they were talking about a couple of the “gurus” and felt the real estate didn’t work just because of the spammy way they presented their product. The thing is the product they were promoting probably worked as with my experience most real estate techniques work its just a matter of the buyer putting in the work.

      The way they hyped the product and added the extra junk to make a little extra just made the customer shy away.

    • Al Williamson

      Big B-,
      Thanks for asking my questions.

      Thank you Sir!

  • Brad Voigt

    Great stuff. I’m discovering that giving away value leads to incredible referrals as well that are well outside my personal network. Much like you’re Amazon strategy, it’s fun to here a client say, “Oh by the way, I’ve passed on your information to…” That’s great news to a small business owner! I guess that sits on both sides of triangle under “Earning Trust” and “Giving Away Value”. I sure appreciate the way you and Pat challenge me to think creatively around monetization!

  • Todd Tresidder

    You’re welcome, Brad! Glad it helped.

  • cubicle free Quinn

    The triangle is a terrific visual way to visualize monetization.

    I think great untapped opportunity exists by redefining the monetization side.

    It is way too easy to focus on affiliate programs that are offered rather than focusing on the needs of your visitors. However, by focusing on the needs of your visitors, I have found that you can identify and create very profitable affiliate relationships from scratch. Everyone is happier.

    Great Post – Thanks Todd and Pat!

  • Todd Tresidder

    Interesting addition to the conversation – “…creating affiliate relationships from scratch”. Pat has done that very successfully for his own business. It is another creative solution.

    (Who knows, maybe we can encourage Pat to write one of his definitive posts on how he does that :-)

    Thanks for adding that idea to the discussion!

  • Kevin

    Great post Todd and very relevant to many of us who trying to develop a business strategy in environments where the affiliate products are what you are warning against.

    I LOVE Pat’s site and his information but it has been difficult trying to figure out a way to ‘model’ his success for what I do.

    Remarkably it sounds like finances, real estate (above poster) & healthcare (my area of expertise) are related!

    Thanks again!

    • Todd Tresidder

      I’m glad it helped. Thanks.

      Yes, I often use the analogy of dieting and weight loss (health care) when illustrating certain financial principles. No coincidence. It appears certain niches have more conflicts of interest built into them.

  • Scott – TwitterHQ


    Thanks for the great article. I promote with the free ebook but I think I need to get creative and think of ways to go deeper in the “free model”.

    An Amazon book has been on my mind for awhile, not it’s just a matter of execution. Thanks for the reminder, have a great day.


  • Robert Henderson

    Thanks Todd. I have been working on this over time. I am finding that providing great insight and valuable content are key. It’s not really about all the SEO and link-building stuff (although “real” high-quality links are invaluable and SEO does matter).
    It seems to me that getting people reading a blog or going to your website, when they are genuinely interested in the topic, is what matters.

  • Todd Tresidder

    My experience is humans try to separate and categorize (it’s this, not that).

    When you study who is winning and who is losing the online marketing game you see it is “all the above” – just applied in a creative way that works for the entrepreneur.

    My experience is all of these ideas are tools in a toolbox you use to build your online empire. Just as a master carpenter emphasizes different tools at different stages when building a home, so a master online entrepreneur pulls various tools from his toolbox at the appropriate strategic point in his online development.

    I don’t think of it as “either -or”. I think all the tools are half-truths that have their appropriate use.

    • sam weisz

      I agree Todd,
      Well said.

  • Jacko

    Good post.

    I have to believe that if you give away the milk they will never buy the cow.

    I think it all comes back to value. You have to offer more value than anyone else and solve difficult problems.

    I don’t think you can chase it. You just have to know that people will come if you do it right.

    Its like when you are troubleshooting a problem on your computer you don’t stop until you find an answer and you really appreciate it. This is what I’m trying to do.

    Pat’s been a great help and inspiration, thanks dude.

  • Jon @ authority website income

    I think one of the keys to successfully monetizing a site with content is ensuring a large overlap between the content and the affiliate offer. Todd, you got it right with Pats site having it all… Tight content to offer match, lots of value added and a splash of personality. Great post.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Yep, content marketing 101. The challenge has always been how to monetize that “overlap” when no good affiliate offer fits. That is what forced me to get more creative… thus this post. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Tim Hague

    Hi Todd,
    Wow this is brilliant stuff, no wonder Pat agreed to this post:) Many of us in the IM world often say stuff like “yeah nobody does it better that Pat” and that is 100% true. But what you have shared here (and I need to read it about 3 more times to truely understand it LOL) allows us to think more outside the box when it comes to the 3 sides of the triangle. I can’t thank you enough for the post and I plan to pick up a copy of one of your books.
    Very Best Regards,

    • Todd Tresidder

      Too cool! You’re welcome! I really appreciate your enthusiasm and support. Thanks.

  • james

    love it!

  • Stephen

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I just published my first two kindle ebooks and offered them Free yesterday and today. My thought process was this… even if I give the information away for free it will still benefit me because I will get my words in front of an infinite amount of people who have never heard of my website. So, yes it is free, but hopefully the people will love the content enough to want to visit my website. And, if they like my stuff they will look for my other books (I plan to write several more in the coming months.)

    In my introduction and closing of the book I talk about how additional tips and tricks on photography can be found on my website. So the goal is to generate more website traffic with this book. And, a free promo seemed to be a great idea!

    As of this writing my results so far are:
    2077 downloads of book #1
    2502 downloads of book #2

    I have tons of tips I can share on how I got these numbers in only 2 days :)

    For anyone that is interested, my free books are here:

    Mastering Shutter Speed in Digital Photography

    Mastering Aperture in Digital Photography

    • Todd Tresidder

      Please share the tips so we can all learn.

  • Matt Alden

    Good post Todd.

    I agree with you regarding the quality (or lack there of), of the affiliate products within the financial niche. I’m currently under-monetizing and haven’t used affiliates at all so far (except for Amazon), despite having thousands of email subscribers.

    Since my site primarily caters to people that like to invest for the long term in individual stocks, and also recommends basic low cost index investing, I certainly can’t and won’t promote penny stocks, forex, various stuff, etc. So I’ve also gone the route of creating my own products. There are only a small number of affiliates that I’d be happy to promote as good products or services.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Yes, it is a challenge in our niche.

  • Minh Quyen

    Giving away is also a smart marketing strategy to promote aff products. Sending out free bonus to build list ad profit a long time later.

  • Andrea @ EC Simplified

    Thanks for the creative post, Todd! I have built my business in the past 18 months primarily from Pat’s advice here and am bringing in an avg of $4k/month from selling my book packages. However, I am missing out on Amazon and you are the first person to enlighten me as to EXACTLY how to do that.

    As a result of reading your post, I’ve put an ad on oDesk to get my 180 page ebook converted into print-on-demand -ready so I can sell it in paperback format on Amazon. I have over 1200 happy readers internationally who I’m sure would vouch for the book (and many will want the paperback too!), but looks like there is some training involved in how Amazon sees each star. Very good to know. I’ll be hand-inviting my top testimonials to rank the book on Amazon…thank you!

    I’m also now motivated to create a free giveaway in my newsletter sign-up…it’s a 15% off coupon right now and a subscription to free EC tips, but not valuable if you’re looking for a good how-to video or something not on my site. And people get upset when they receive too many emails with tips in them, and then my normal broadcast messages. I’m thinking about giving away the whole list of tips for free…which leaves me more email space to send notes about other things like fun contests and new blog posts etc. So thanks for expanding on that notion.

    Lastly, I have many guest post opportunities already agreed-upon but haven’t really made time for them. You’ve reminded me of the power of keyword backlinking, and with Google’s newest algorithm change bumping me from #3 (sometimes 1!) to #6, I need all the help I can get. My website is the real deal and I can’t understand how is outranking me all of a sudden! Complete crap.

    A long way of saying thanks for all these ideas, and this is how I plan to implement them. Hold me accountable. :)

    • Todd Tresidder

      You are welcome! I’m glad it was the right message at the right time.

  • Allen Maddox

    Interesting concept. I volunteer and give a lot of information and services away. It would be nice to monitize enough to al least cover expenses. This has given me something to think about.
    Pat, thanks for bring more quality information and Todd for some great advice.
    Now to figure out how to make it work in my niche.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Good luck with the creative application. It didn’t come immediately for me, but the answers are there. Once you get the hang of it you start seeing quite a few ways to apply the principles.

  • Kevin Dahlberg

    Great post. You’re right. Someone else’s model might not exactly work in your particular market. The overall concepts might be the same, though, and you can learn a lot from adapting someone else’s model to your own needs.

    I especially like how you use Amazon and Google to get your name out there. It’s so much easier to let the companies with crazy amounts of traffic do your leg work for you.

  • Todd Tresidder

    I see it all as tradeoffs. On one hand you get certain advantages (high PR from Amazon, traffic, etc.), but on the other hand, everything done off your site runs the risk of being a “digital sharecropper” (borrowing from Copyblogger). It’s a careful balancing act.

  • Sam Matla (Minimal Blog)

    Thanks for the post. I find it hard to discern whether to either sell something, or give it away. Knowing that if I give it away, I’ll likely get more readers/traffic/shares, etc. I guess it’s a more long term plan, and my main focus for now is building a readership, so I suppose I’ll give some stuff away! :)

    • Todd Tresidder

      The key is in the closing of the article. You must have a monetization strategy or it is not a business.

  • Tim van de Vall

    Another great post! Thanks, Pat!

  • Jimmy – Niche Experiments

    Great article! I recently found a completely untapped but potentially profitable niche. However, after looking around I found virtually no ways to monetize at all. I was considering making my own product, so this case study has hit my inbox in the perfect moment. Thanks.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Excellent! Glad it helped.

  • Charles @

    Thanks for this Todd. What you said about not all niches having the luxury of a wide range of quality affiliate programs like the internet marketing niche does is true. Still, in my niche, learning to code, there are a lot of books that have been written on the subject, so there’s always Amazon’s built-in affiliate program.

    Also, I’ve decided I’m going to try to start up a mastermind group.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Amazon’s affiliate program is good. Just remember it takes a lot of traffic to generate a decent income in that program.

  • George Tee

    Hi Todd, no offense here but I think your guest post is a little confusing and not really helpful in many ways to most of the beginners.

    I’m a direct response marketer and I thought I could share some of the things that could really help to the readers in Smart Passive Income.

    Rather than talking about general stuffs, I would like to offer some frank opinions on your own blog and online business.

    First of all, the reason why Pat is highly successful in what he is doing while most people are not is because he chose the right market and is extremely different from the rest of the marketers.

    Even though Pat’s URL is, take note that he doesn’t talk about passive property investing or stock market investing etc. But he is really focusing on how to make a passive income online.

    Making a income from a website is one of the biggest markets out there in the internet. One reason is because it is extremely low cost, the other reason is it seems really easy. Most importantly, it is Mass Appealing.

    Whereas for Todd, you have chosen a huge market as well. Otherwise there would be less mutual funds, stocks or other form of investments.

    However, somehow I feel that you are not understanding your market well enough. Firstly, it seems that you are targeting a wide group of people who is looking for ermmm – financial advice? Or are you calling it financial coaching?

    But whether or not what you called it, my opinion is nobody is really looking for financial advice or financial coaching. They are looking to “Make Money”… Or they are looking for more of wealth building.

    The only thing is that I believe you want to help them more towards making money via making smart investments. Is that so?

    The truth is that I personally feel that you are spreading your net too wide trying to target a big group of people looking for financial help? which makes it hard for your customers to look for you.

    But let’s take a look back at Pat. He is only serving one group of audience only – people who is looking to make a passive income online.

    When you try to target a big group of people, you end up getting “no” results.

    Hmm.. If you are a millionaire, I thought the first advantage you have is to teach others how you become a millionaire. For example, I know people who become a millionaire by investing in stock markets, and later on they teach people how to do so. (Pat teaches people how to make passive income through websites)

    Same applies to property, internet marketing etc… But somehow you are not leveraging on this. If you are an entrepreneur who made a millionaire by starting an investment management company, then you probably has more credibility and great experience in sales and as a business consultant.

    To sum it up, I personally feel that knowing your target audience, knowing what they want, and what they want to pay for, is far more important than monetization or giving away free stuffs. And that usually starts from what we want to do right from the start.

    And when you know who is your target audience, you know where to find them and pay for the traffic. And giving the free valuable content right in the right place would give you more results than the wrong place.

    Hope this helps..

    Warmest Regards,
    George Tee
    Love to connect on FB –

  • Dawn Marcotte

    OMG – you just turned my life around. I have had a blog since 2011 that I could not figure out how to monetize. I have written 15 ebooks though that all share the same theme as the blog. While I have tried selling the books on my site I never really got a lot of sales. I am totaly going to use your system to give them away and drive them to the top of Amazon and finally monetize that site. THANK YOU!!!!

  • Todd Tresidder

    Glad I could help! Thanks for sharing.

  • Tony Green Tea

    I got the point there! It really pays to give for givers never lack.

  • Alberto

    Great, insightful post, thanks a lot!
    I am just implementing another tactic to find third party products when there are only a few in your niche that you would promote.
    I blog in Italian about photography and, although English ebooks are a lot and of top notch quality, Italians have some difficulties understanding English. I sell English ebooks as an affiliate, but nothing to retire on.
    So, after a couple of tries, I found a photographer from New York who accepted to have his ebook translated by me and to split the revenue.
    This way I will have a product that is in part mine but in larger part of a third party and that could sell well because I not only suggest it but have also translated it.
    Unfortunately, I cannot give details about the results, since I am still translating it.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Excellent, creative solution that perfectly fits your situation! Thanks for sharing and adding to the discussion.

  • Samuel

    There’s a lot to chew on in this post. I’ve also wondered how I could monetize some of my side projects without so many reliable affiliate products that Pat has access to. I guess the idea is to be creative… there’s always a way to monetize.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Thanks! I’m really glad this gave you some tools to work with. Hope it helps.

  • Yassin Madwin

    Wherever there is a need , a desire … there is a money making opportunity
    a man needs only to take actions

  • Gav

    Awesome post Todd, this really got the old brain working overdrive again. Thanks for bout of insomnia btw….

    Todd, I was wondering, do you (or anyone one else for that matter) know of a good person for designing and putting together an ebook? Mine is basically ready to go, but graphic design is not my strong suit. Thanks!

    • Todd Tresidder

      I work with Chris O’Byrne at and have been very happy with the result.

      Coincidentally, I found him through Pat’s podcast interview with “The Minimalists” and their success with books.

      Hope that helps!

  • Matthew Allen

    I’m currently in the midst of implementing a similar guest posting strategy, and didn’t even realize it. I have a guest post running on a PR5 site. My intent was to target the audience for that site, provide useful and valuable information to them, and then hope they click through via one of the links over to my site. I wasn’t even thinking about the juice value of the links. Perhaps the pages I linked to will get a boost in the search engines for certain keywords as a result. Very cool stuff. You would think I would have thought about that, but I didn’t. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Todd Tresidder

      You’re welcome. Glad it helped!

      • Mike

        A nice piece, Todd. Thanks! I have to quit just creating good content on my site and actually take my game to the next level and posts like these help. (Also Matt is putting together some excellent content on SEO, keyword research, etc., over at his site. It is worth checking out for sure!).

  • David >> Website Buddha

    This was refreshing Todd. A lot of creative marketing ideas. I enjoyed your insights into leveraging Amazon book publishing as well as you revealing what mistakes you made.

  • Andi the Minion

    Excellent post Todd and thanks to Pat for publishing it, I have learned a lot from it, I have seen people giving things away fro free on Amazon but this is a more details explanation of what to do and why to do it.

    As you say, not all the people who read SPI are in the exact same market as Pat so they cannot promote the usual hosting companies or like you they might not want to promote the affiliate products they have available in their niche on ethical grounds. So what can people do?

    This post is an excellent help for those people, I think you have answered many of their concerns. :-)

  • David

    Thanks Todd, this is great stuff! One of the things that I was struggling with was how to translate what he was doing in giving information away about affiliate marketing etc and how he monetized it into what I could do on my site. I think your analysis is insightful, and will certainly make me think.
    Thanks again.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Thanks David, David, and Andi the Minion
      I’m glad it was helpful.
      I appreciate your feedback.

  • Enterprisemind

    Great post! I really just had a ‘lightbulb’ moment about where it would be best for me to promote ebooks. I have previously been trying to promote them in traffic exchanges with squeezepages. Although, it is effective, I think this approach will yield much better results. Thanks.

    • Todd Tresidder

      Book marketing is a fascinating online marketing subject. It is rapidly becoming an Amazon world similar to videos on YouTube and Podcasts at Itunes.

  • The Dividend Ninja

    Todd, very very well done! Congrats man, your rockin’ it. :)

    • Todd Tresidder

      Always great to hear from you, Avrom.
      Thanks for your support!

  • Valokuvaus

    Great advices! Still, I think it is very difficult to figure out those free pieces of your content that will benefit you and your fans the most and not ruin your money flow. But mostly I definitely agree with this.

  • Tom

    Good perspective from your post. I always wondered why some people gave their ebooks away for free.

  • Yee Mei

    You made a light bulb go on above my head.
    I’d better start writing that book!

  • sam

    Enjoyed this article very much. Just getting into the ‘give it all away’ mindset, but can readily see result possibilities. Thanks Todd and Pat for your valuable incite…

  • Ornella @ Moneylicious

    Great points in this article. It’s sparked some other ideas for my blog. Plus, I would like to say giving away as much value as possible shows to your readers you do care about them. Your readers or fans don’t always have to buy something from you. They are more than happy to learn from you and support.

  • Ryan Eisenhower (Manifest Income)

    Excellent article, and I think the most important point to take away is the power of give-aways. Most people are very protective of their work, but they have no idea what give-aways can do for building their brand. Contests are also a great way of building your brand and commandeering a powerful marketing tool that can have customers lining up at your door.

  • Christine Springer

    This is so interesting — I realized for some time that Pat’s model works great but wasn’t totally on point with what I do. I am a paralegal who doesn’t want to work in a law firm anymore. I started my own business in 2007 and quickly got pulled into foreclosure defense. I figured out how pick apart loan documents and started blogging about it. I have a unique angle — people know paralegals do all the work anyway, and they are more approachable. But before you know it, everyone, including lawyers, helping homeowners was a scammer. It was difficult to show people that you were legitimate. I kept blogging through all of that — after all, a scammer isn’t going to write 1000 blog posts about foreclosure defense!

    Also, since I’m not an attorney, there were a lot of regulations enacted that slowly began to choke my core business service, the audit I do for homeowners. It was a blessing in disguise, however — it forced me to get creative.

    In 2010 I wrote an e-book about how to audit your own loan since I was having trouble convincing people to let me do it for them. This year I revamped the digital product site with WordPress, etc., updated all the products, and re-launched. Then I split the updated product up into 11 lessons, (for the people who were still not comfortable purchasing the whole product), shot a video lesson each week with my Flip camera, and made the handout to go along with the video lesson super cheap. I posted one lesson each week for 11 weeks, and a lot of great stuff happened as a result.

    My passive revenue has increased from $0 (before I revamped the site) to $500 this month. The traffic is up, and my business overall has doubled but it’s not direct — nobody talks about this, but blogging is like magic –something happens when you really decide to shine your light and share the information with the intent of helping others.

    I am personally motivated to share the information because nothing will change if we don’t stand up for ourselves. And it doesn’t do me any good to have this great information if it’s locked in my head with a high price tag. The YouTube video lessons are a far better alternative to Facebook given the changes going on there, and I’ll take $500 to do nothing vs. $750 to work my tail off.

    Thanks for this post!

  • Darius

    I want to really thank you for this post.

    This is something I’ve been struggling lately: from one point I do have an underlining belief that knowledge (information) should be free for those who choose to seek it.

    And yet, I don’t want to support my project from other businesses-incomes forever.

    Affiliate deals would be a possible approach and there are some good products out there. But this product – amazon approach makes so much sense as it allows me to give away “the best stuff” to “fans” and sell product to those, who can afford it.

    Again, glad I found this article, thank you!


  • Ueberflieger

    Hi Todd – what a fantastic article!! You are so right. I love that you raise these issues because I often felt the same way – if I don’t have any hosting contract or blog provider affiliate programme to sell, where do I go from here? very insightful. I look forward to checking out your personal finance blog.

  • Hassaan Khan

    Nice post!
    Designing our own affiliate offers and not selling others products are bunch of good ideas to fetch from this article. I liked it!

  • Csirvatka

    OMG I shouldn’t read this stuff at night; my mind is racing.Siper tips and ideas and thank you for sharing your journey of what worked and what neededimprovement. You don’t usually get to hear that from people who have found success. Thank you for the energy and encouragement I now feel!

  • Jeremiah Say

    Thanks Todd. This is my first time seeing someone using a strategy like that:) It makes perfect sense. Having to leverage on TWO juggernauts Amazon and Google is really cool!! Although, I have heard someone talking about Amazon and giving books for free, I didn’t expect you to give such a detailed explanation.

    I’ll definitely give this a try. And I think you have gotten yourself a new fan from a third party site today! All the best. See you at your blog.

    With regards,

  • Carmen

    I agree with the post. Writing great content is the key factor in becoming a powerful site. Even though SEO and Backlinks play a major role. You need to produce great content to have a fan base!

  • SuccinctBill

    A mind-blowing piece for online novices like myself.

    Earlier this year, I realized eBooks were the way to go in my niche (cultural resource management archaeology) and I needed to get on Amazon. My books were well-reviewed by the people I gave them away to for free, but they didn’t sell well on my website because I lack the authority that Amazon has. I’m dedicating 2013 to Kindle publishing with extra worksheets, diagrams, and other graphics for sale on my website. Or, people can buy the full version of the book on my website for a slightly higher price. I’m trying to develop resources we can store on our phones or tablet computers that we can take with us around the world.

    Anyone have experience making portable non-fiction, reference eBooks that would like to give me some tips?

  • Sam Weisz

    Thanks for the post. As a dentist I really related to not wanting to sell products I didn’t personally endorse. You perfectly helped conceptualize reinventing the triangle for different industries. I look forward to following your future writings.

  • Dustin

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been looking for a way to monetize my website other than adsense. There is not much in the way of affiliates in my niche. I thought about creating my own product but I might try the eBook route on Amazon first and see how it works out. If anyone has any good ideas on how to monetize a concealed carry website, I’m all ears.

  • Monty Campbell

    Thanks Todd and Pat.

    I’ve struggled with the give away everything model for some time. I realize the model isn’t for everyone. I am working on my final monetization plan for my self and my virtual partners. I love the idea of helping people and this post is educational to me for my niche too. I love the test you did and I look forward to posting my results as I test in 2013.

    God Bless.

    Thanks again.

  • Pat Sweet

    Hey there,

    This is a phenomenal post. I’ve wondered for a long time what I could do to monetize my site given that the affiliate marketing opportunities didn’t seem all that great. The ideas presented here are very cool.

    I have a question though: how do you actually execute giving a book away through amazon? Are you simply emailing your list a discount code and directing them to the sales page? I’d love to know more about the techniques used to make this happen


  • Gabor

    Hi Todd,

    Thank you for the great ideas on Amazon! It’s really cool to see monetization from different viewpoints! Your post is helpful just as practical.
    I also have this question like Pat Sweet: How do you actually execute giving a book away through amazon?

    Many Thanks and Happy New Year!

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  • Greg Jeffries

    Genius little “profit funnel” you’ve created. It’s all about leverage if you want to work smarter not harder.

  • Walter

    Thanks Todd. I learned a lot. I will think to convert this strategy to my (hopefully) coming book about writing.

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  • Michal

    Do you know what I like best Todd? 20 moths after publishing this post your book is still around #20-#30k in Kindle rranks earning about 20 bucks a day.
    Now, that’s the proof of the concept!