AskPat 349 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 349 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week.
Here's today's question from Chava.
Chava: Hey, Pat. What's going on? My name is Chava, and I have a brand-new tiny, infant website over at OurKidsCanThrive.com. My question to you is, should I use Google ads on my website? I really don't want to. I tried it, and I think look very not nice. Widely, do you suggest doing ads at all? What would be an alternative to monetizing my site without using ads? Thanks so much for all you do and see you later.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Chava. Thank you so much for the question. I guess I should say hey, congratulations on your new baby, and by “baby” I mean your new baby website, like you said. It's really cool that I get a lot of questions from people who are just starting out, and these are great questions to ask. This is right up there because it's obviously important to think about monetization. How are we going to keep this going? Obviously, a lot of us want to profit from the work that we do online. Over time, you're going to be providing a lot of value, and you want to get paid for that, which is absolutely the right mindset.
Now, I also like your mindset in thinking of what your site looks like and how it might be portrayed if people come across certain things that really don't fit. If you feel in your gut that something may be off a little bit, then chances are that your gut is going to be right. I feel like your gut is telling you, or you've told us, that these Google ads that you're putting on your site from Google AdSense, you've all seen them before. The little blue text with the little bit of description underneath and then the green URL underneath that, they're not very attractive on most sites, especially if there's a lot of design on your sites. Because they are very design minimal, just a couple colors and a couple lines here and there, and that's it. They can be advertising whatever.
That's one of the other things about Google Ads is you don't get to necessarily control what shows up on your site. It may provide something that's helpful for your audience, and it may not provide something that's helpful for your audience. I have a couple of experiences putting Google AdSense on my site, specifically SmartPassiveIncome.com, my main site where most people know me from. This was back in 2010, I believe, when I had done a redesign and AdSense was doing pretty well on one of my other sites. I'm not saying it won't work for you, but when I added it to SmartPassiveIncome.com which was less of an informational, kind of textbook studying type of site like my other one was, and more of a, “Hey, here's my personality, here are the case studies, here are the things that I'm up to.” More me trying to connect with my audience. They seem to get in the way, especially because the kinds of ads that were showing up, which again is controlled by Google, and they try to make it relevant based on the keywords and the kind of content that you have on your website, but they don't always get it right.
There was a lot of get-rich-quick scams and pyramid schemes and MLM-type stuff that was showing up in those ads on my own website. The crazy thing about these ads, or any ads that you put on your site, is that when people click on those ads, they're going away from your site. Then you can no longer control the user experience. Oftentimes, people will go down a rabbit hole and forget about the site that they clicked that ad on, and they're bye-bye forever, so that's not good.
Not to say ads are bad. Ads can provide a lot of value, and Google AdSense can provide a lot of value, but if you're going on there, and they don't seem to fit on your site, the ads that come up aren't aligned with you and your brand and your goals and how you're trying to help your audience, or it doesn't look good, if that's the case, oftentimes it's not going to be clicked on, and it's a waste of space. If you do want to test it to see if this actually can make money for you, add them onto a couple of your pages, perhaps your most popular pages.
I did this on FoodTrucker.com. They blend into the site fairly well, and the ads that are on there are relevant. I was testing it out on a couple of my most popular posts on FoodTrucker.com, and they actually get quite a few clicks, so I've kept them on there. They don't seem to be a distraction like they could be on some other sites, perhaps like yours. I also have a website at SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com which you can visit and see Google AdSense on there, if you don't have any of those tools on your browser installed, that block of those things which those do exist. That's, again, another thing to think about. Some people, or a lot of people, have those now. They don't even see the ads, and then they just see a white space there. SecurityTrainingHQ.com makes about $2,000 to $3,000 a month with about 35,000 unique visitors. The cost per click is quite high. That's why it's doing very well on that particular site. That essentially means that companies that are paying for advertising in that particular industry, or for those specific keywords, are competing quite heavily with each other, and that bumps up the price of the clicks. That's how that whole auctioning process works.
Now it might be better for most people, however, and I think this is something that everybody should be working toward, even people who have Google AdSense on their sites, is finding specific companies that are willing to pay privately to advertise on their site. That's the next level. I've done this on GreenExamAcademy.com. I found a number of companies that I liked that were actually advertising through Google AdSense that ended up on my website through that engine. Then I contacted those companies directly and asked them what their prices were, what they were interested in doing, and if they were willing to work with me. The first one I did was for $50 for a whole month to a company that did practice exams for the LEED exam which is the exam I was helping people study for. Then I kept increasing the prices because I honestly had no idea what I was doing or how much I was worth charging for. It was all the way up to about $300 per month. In that time, I had about four different companies sponsoring a 125 by 125 pixel advertisement in the sidebar. The nice thing about those is I know those companies, and I've spoken directly with them. I trust them to take care of my audience once people click over.
I also liked it because I knew what was going to show up on my site, and those ads were a little bit better looking than what had been appearing through Google AdSense. Now there's obviously, beyond advertising, a whole plethora of different ways to monetize your website. A lot of it is going to involve, what would be the best solution for your audience? That's really where I would start. Even before figuring out how to monetize, I would figure out: What are the biggest pains and problems and issues, needs, and wants of your audience? And trying to find that one that you should start out with, and then building that out. Whether that is ebooks, or courses, or membership sites, or software, or whatever it might be, that's how you figure out what it is instead of choosing something and guessing.
Now I do have a series of podcast episodes on SmartPassiveIncome.com that go over a number of different monetization strategies, everything from advertising, which we talked about already, I give you a little bit more specific strategies there as well, to everything I just mentioned: membership sites, your own products, ebooks, software, and those types of things. The episodes also go into what would it take to start those and who those are right for. I would recommend listening to those. You can go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/session15, SmartPassiveIncome.com/session16 and SmartPassiveIncome.com/session 17.
Essentially, all of that content is still up-to-date. Those are some of my first, early episodes. There is a part there where I'm talking about generating an income by putting articles on article sharing or article revenue sharing websites. I wouldn't really recommend that to be a first step any more, even though that's still a good way to get your foot in the pool in terms of how to write online and things like that. Really, there's more opportunity for you if you were to create your own site and start using those articles, either on your own site that you're writing, publishing them on your own site or other sites where there are other influencers as well.
Now there's also another monetization strategy that works very well which is similar to advertising, but I feel much more lucrative, if done correctly, and that is affiliate marketing, where you are essentially promoting a product or a service or a tool or something that another person or company has created. You get a special link that helps that company keep track that those sales are coming from you. You put that link on your website in various different ways, and I'll go over that in a second. If anybody clicks your link and ends up making a purchase, you get a commission or a share of the overall price. Depending on the product, the affiliate commission can be anywhere from 50% or lower or 50% or higher. I've even seen affiliate commissions that go for 100%.
For example, if I had a product, and I had 100% affiliate commission for those who are selling it for me, if you sold that product for me, I'd give you the full price of that product. What would be the benefit for me? I'd have that lead, I'd have that buyer. I'd know that they'd be willing to pay for something. I could potentially upsell something else or sell them another product down the road, and those sorts of things. I want to make sure I answer that because some people are curious about the 100% affiliate commission and why people do that. That's exactly why. You're collecting the lead and the buyer and the customer from a person who is helping sell for you, who would help you get people into your buyers list who you wouldn't have been able to reach any way. That's the benefit of being an affiliate for somebody who has an affiliate program for their website.
As an affiliate, I can say easily that affiliate marketing has been my number one revenue source. The cool thing about affiliate marketing, it does come with a little bit of a negative connotation in the industry simply because, technically, it's pretty easy how to do it. For those of you who have Amazon or access to Amazon.com in states that aren't dealing with all those tax issues related to Amazon, you have the ability to become an Amazon associate, which means essentially you're an affiliate for Amazon. You could find products, any product on Amazon, get a link for it, share that link with your friends, family, your community, your audience. If people click through that link, and they purchase anything on Amazon, not just that product but anything within, I think, a 12- or 24-hour period after they click on that link, you get a commission. Typically, it's between 4% and 6% depending on the volume that you produce, but it's something, and technically, it's easy to do.
That's why it's gotten such a bad rep because a lot of people abuse this power of affiliate marketing, and they just find projects based on the commission. They go over the top in selling it. They become car salesmen and snake oil salesmen in the way that they promote other people's products, not even having used those products before but simply promoting them to an audience they built trust with because they could make money. That's definitely not the way to do it. You want to approach it with, what can help my audience the most? How can I better serve my audience? Let me take you through the thought process here, the tree.
The first thing you think about is, how can you best serve your audience? What kinds of things can best provide a solution for your audience? Then you can think about, are these things that I can produce myself or things that other people have already produced that can help my audience the way I want to? If it's another company or product, then you have to think, does that product come with a commission or without a commission? For me, whether it comes with a commission or not, if it's helpful for your audience, you should share because you're providing more value whether or not you get a commission or not from that product. Because maybe it doesn't have a affiliate program connected to it. You're still helping out your audience, and that's going to help you out in your long run and help you make more money through the trust that you're building and the value that you're providing by actually finding these products out there that are really helpful for people, again, that you can't or maybe haven't time to create yourself.
For example, one of the biggest affiliate companies, or excuse me, one of the biggest companies that I'm affiliate for, the one that generates a lot of my income, is Bluehost.com, which is a domain and hosting company. If you go to AskPat.com/Bluehost, you can get hooked up with hosting. You get special pricing. That is something that I cannot serve and give you on my own. I guess I could build a hosting company, but I'm not going to do that. By sharing this company with you, I can help you go through the process of starting your own business, and I'm sharing this other company, and everybody is a winner. You get the website up and running, I get a commission. That website gets another client. That's how it works.
A few quick tips for affiliate marketing because I think this is a big opportunity. If you're doing advertising, you have the ability to do affiliate marketing. One, find companies and products and services that are really helpful, hopefully, products that you've used before because that will make the rest of this a lot easier. Two, give people insight on exactly what that product can do for them, actually show them. Walk through the process. Some of my most successful affiliate products are ones where I actually walk people through video step-by-step how to go through that. If you see on my getting started page at SmartPassiveIncome.com, you'll see a video there that is all about how to go through Bluehost step-by-step.
The fact of the matter is people want to see what they're going to get before they get it. They want to see what they get before they potentially buy it. If they have that trust with you, and you show them what they're going to get before they get it, chances are they're going to get it, and they're going to get it by going through your affiliate link. Now, you want to be honest that these are affiliate links that people are clicking on. I think that's always the best practice, just being honest. Also, when you share that you actually get a commission when people click on your link, people who have gotten value from you, they're going to find ways to give back to you. That's a really quick and easy way for people to give back to you without actually asking them to pay for more because the affiliate commission doesn't come out of their pocket. It comes out of the pocket of the company. It's at no additional cost to the customer. Sometimes people don't even know they can give back to you in that way, but when you share that, that's an affiliate link, and you do get a commission, they're going to be more than happy to do that. I think that's one of the cool things that has happened on Smart Passive Income from my approach of providing as much value as I can and then giving people opportunities to pay me back for these affiliate links. It's worked really well.
Then finally, again, I can't reiterate this enough: The products that you are promoting as an affiliate, treat them as if they were your own in the promotion of it, in the support even, as much as you can. Try to build a relationship with that company as well and have them know that you're there to help them because they'll be there to help you. Then over time, as you produce more volume for some of these companies, you can work with them and have special deals, special commission rates, special events for your audience and special pricing for your audience as well. Those are some things that have worked really well for me, and I hope that helps you, Chava, and everybody else out there listening.
Again, thank you so much for the question today. This is really fun to talk about. I want to thank you by sending you an AskPat t-shirt. You'll hear from my assistant in the next week or two who's going to collect your information to have us be able to send that t-shirt to you for free, free shipping, everything. For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to AskPat.com. You can ask right there on that page. Thank you so much.
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