AskPat 265 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What is up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 265 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you are off to a great week. Wherever you're at listening to this right now, I appreciate you so much, for you taking time out of your day to listen to me.
This is so cool, but not only me, you're listening to today's question from Bobbie. But before we get to Bobbie's question, I do want to also thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com, the super-easy-to-use cloud accounting solution to help you manage all your business finances, from income, to expenses, to your invoicing, to just really making these reports you need for tax season really easy. It's just seriously one of the most incredible and most useful pieces of software you'll have in your business. So check it out. You can actually check it out for 30 days for free, a free trial, by going to GetFreshBooks.com and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.
All right now, let's get to today's question from Bobbie.
Bobbie: Hi, Pat. My name is Bobbie, and I live in Florida. Like everyone, I'm working on my own passive income, but most of my work is very active income. I love your website and I love reading your blog, but I'm wondering if you could have your biggest income producers mind-mapped. I'd love to be able to see how you started with Bluehost and how it's grown over the years. But what actions were taken to get it to grow? Thanks so much, and I'm going to keep listening to your podcasts.
Pat Flynn: Bobbie, thank you so much for this question. I really appreciate this, and I think this is going to be really helpful for a lot of people, because affiliate marketing is such a great way to generate an income online. If you've been following myself and Smart Passive Income for a while, you'll know that on my income reports, affiliate marketing is the number one way that I've been generating a commission, especially off of SmartPassiveIncome.com. But it didn't happen overnight; that's for sure. So, that's why I appreciate this question, 'cause it's going to allow me to share you the journey I've had, or these timelines I have, with the companies that I've been promoting. I'll talk about Bluehost, but it very much aligns with a lot of the other companies I promote as well.
The first rule I want to talk about, or the first part of this journey, is based off of a rule that I have when it comes to affiliate marketing. That is the most important rule of all, and that is, you should use the product that you are promoting, or if not use it, at least understand it completely to a point where you can be confident it will take care of your audience and help them achieve their goals. You want to know it as if it were your own product. That's so important, because, let's say you recommend a product to your audience, and I would hope that if you recommend something you would at least think that it was helpful to them. But let's say you maybe didn't do you research, or you didn't get to know that person on the other end who owns that company, or you just haven't used it yourself. You're not exactly sure it does what it says, because you haven't used it yourself. If that person who goes through your affiliate link purchases it and has a terrible experience, yeah, they're going to have a bad experience and terrible experience and not really like that company of that product, but the trust that you've earned with them is likely to fizzle out. You definitely don't want that to happen. It would happen, if that's the case. It takes a lot of time and effort and content and value providing in order for somebody on the other end… somebody in your audience, a subscriber, a reader, a watcher, a listener, it takes a lot of time and effort for them to get to a point where they trust you enough to go through an affiliate link. If they are at that point, you gotta treat them like gold, not because they're money, but because those are the most valuable people in your business, not just people who can be customers, but people who trust you enough, and who can share things with you and help you move forward, and find success in your business. It is your number one duty, as a content provider, somebody who knows something that somebody else doesn't, to be able to find the products that will help them and make sure that they will help them.
I've made a few mistakes in the past with that, and that's why I've just set this rule for myself, that I don't promote anything that I haven't used or can essentially provide support for. It makes it really easy for me, too, when people come at me with, “Hey can you promote my product?” or, “Can you be a JV partner for this?” JV meaning “joint venture” partner. It's really easy, because if I haven't used that product, then I just say no. That helps you have your audience's best interest in mind at all times. I used it. That's my first part of this journey. I used Bluehost. I used Long Tail Pro. I used Market Samurai. I used AWeber. Now, those are the things that are my top-producing affiliate companies. So, “used it” is number one.
Number two is “loved it.” Loved it, because it has helped me find results, and in doing that, I knew it could help others too, if they learn to use it properly. First, “used it,” two, “loved it,” three, “mastered it.” Now, this isn't always the case, but more often than not, I get to a point where I will not promote something until I have “mastered it.” ‘Til I get to that point where, like I said, I can provide support for it myself, as if it were my own product. That's how you want to think about it. You want to think about the products that you're promoting as an affiliate as if they were your own products. You want to get to know them that well. You want to be able to help somebody else get through them as if they were your own, as well. If you know a product that well, it is very, very likely that somebody on the other end who asks a question about it and you solve their question, that they're going to pay you back by going through that affiliate link. Mastering it, and understanding it, and being able to get to a point where you can provide support for that product … that product that's not even yours, but again, in your head, it should be as if it were your own.
Then you're going to win with affiliate marketing. There's a lot more going on. I used it, I loved it, I mastered it, and then I recommended it. This is when I started talking about Bluehost on my site, or Market Samurai, or Long Tail Pro. It wasn't 'til I had done all those things. It wasn't like the first day after I used it, I all of a sudden started recommending. It took some time to get there, but when I finally started doing that, I recommended it. I did that through talking about it on posts, and articles, and podcast episodes, and things like that. Just whenever it fit into that conversation, I would point to those resources, because they're related. They help my audience out. That's the big thing here. You're talking about things that are actually going to help. That's what the focus should always be on. It shouldn't be on, “Oh, what company or product can I promote that's going to make me the most money?” That's not the way to approach it. The way to approach it is, what company or product is going to best serve my audience. That's how you win. Some products and some companies out there might not have an affiliate program. But they're ones that you should recommend anyway, because, again, they are helpful, and that helps build that trust. When you promote and help other companies, even though you're not getting paid as a result, if they are helpful for their audience, your audience is going to see that you do have their best interest in mind. They'll be likely to click other things too that may have an affiliate link involved. You will earn a commission.
Number five, beyond “recommended it,” which is sort of just casual way of saying I just talked about it, blogged about it, linked to it on blog posts, I then made it formal by putting it on number five, my resource page. If you go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/resources, that's essentially what I'm calling my resource page. It's a compilation, or compendium, all of most of the things that I've talked about or recommended and obviously have used. They're things that I know are helpful, as well. They're just not links too; they're descriptions, some of them linked to video tutorials, which I'll talk about in a second, or helpful articles that describe how I use those things. A lot of people go there when they are looking for things, and they purchase those products from that page. It's a helpful page. It's a valuable page, because it has all those fancy tools and resources and tips and tricks and books all on one space. I reference that resource page all throughout my content on my site. When people go to that page, they find other things that they need that they might not have known they would need because of the descriptions and what they are. If you go there, again, SmartPassiveIncome.com/resources, you'll see it broken down into different sections which makes it really easy to scroll through, to find more stuff. You want people to understand that there's stuff there that will help them. When you can do that, if that product that they want happens to have an affiliate link related to it, then boom, you're all winners.
So, the resource page was a big one, and that's when I formally put it on that page. Again, we're not just talking about Bluehost here, although Bluehost, which is the hosting company that I recommend if you're just starting out you can check it out. My affiliate link for that is AskPat.com/Bluehost. All the affiliate products that I have go through this sequence. To recap, we're halfway through; use it, love it, master it, recommend it, put it on your resource page so it becomes official, and then number six, this was a big one for me, is I created a video tutorial walking people through how I use Bluehost and how I set it up. One thing with affiliate marketing that's interesting is, yes, you are promoting products that aren't yours, and as a result, oftentimes, you might not share enough information about that product and what it looks like, and how it's used, to get to a point where people are comfortable buying it. There's this wall, or the security line, that people put up before they purchase anything online, of course. We all have that, right? We want to make sure that what we're buying … we know what's on the other end after we hand over our credit card. By creating a video, not only are you being an educator and providing value in that way and earning people's trust, but you're actually showing people what they're going to get, and how to use it. It's almost like a quick-start guide. I think if I had a magic wand and I could just do one thing in my brain right now, it would be that right next to every single affiliate on my website, I would have a little parenthesis and a link that says something like, “Here's a tutorial video on how to use this,” or, “Here's your quick-start guide on how to use this,” or, “Watch this before you buy.” Man, that would be awesome. This Bluehost video that I created has well over 100,000 views at this point. Not all of those views converted, obviously; that would be crazy. But they do help with that trust building, and it is a resource that I also put on a number of different pages on my site. It's something that I mention all the time, for people who are looking to just get started.
Which, is related to my tip number seven, or point number seven here, is putting that video on a “Getting Started” page. If you go to SmartPassiveIncome.com on the homepage you'll see a big green button that says “Click here to get started” or “Get started here.” That's very important, because after a number of surveys and talking to people on my site, I found out that people didn't know where to start, back in the day when I had my old blog design where it was just a chronological order of my most recent blog posts. That makes sense that it's overwhelming, because we write blog posts in a chronological order, but they aren't things that should necessarily be consumed in that order. There's certain posts that would probably be, for all of us, that would make more sense for people to start with than others. The idea here is to create a “Getting Started” page or a “Start Here” page, where you talk about the very basic things, defining what you're going to do for them, defining where to start, and here are the first blog posts to read or here are the first podcast episodes to listen to. In that page that I have, I also say, “Hey, if you're ready to get started, here's where you want to start. Watch this video, it's going to show you how to set up a website and domain in less than four minutes. And there you go.” A lot of people watch on that page, and that page does convert. It's the second most profitable page on Smart Passive Income, my Getting Started page.
What's the first one? My resource page, which is why I mentioned that one earlier. After the Getting Started page, I actually did a few things that really jumped the income with Bluehost and a few of my other affiliates as well. This doesn't always work, but I reached out to them, and I had said, “You know what, based on the relationship that we have and I've been helping you guys out, I'm producing a lot of volume. Is there any way we can negotiate a higher commission?” It worked. Now, this took a long time. If you're just starting out, this isn't … I mean, I have a lot of volume. I will let you know. I just don't want a billion people emailing Bluehost because I want to respect them. Again, they've been amazing to me and I know I've been amazing to them too, in helping them with a lot of customers and feeding a lot of people their way. And so they were happy to pay me back, or give me a little bit of jump in commission as a result. And so that's something that a lot of affiliates will do. When I learned that that was possible, which actually somebody else in another mastermind group told me to do that, that obviously just increases everything almost immediately. Then, I emailed a bunch of other companies that I'm an affiliate for, and I'd say maybe 20% of them agreed, based on the volume, that I could have a higher commission. That was pretty cool. I have a higher-than-advertised commission, which is why Bluehost is significantly higher than you might think it would be.
Then, number nine is I optimized, which means I paid close attention to where people were converting. On my resource page, I optimized my description. At that point, that's when I put the video link right there next to the affiliate link, in the resource page. I put a nice little featured … if you go to the resource page, SmartPassiveIncome.com/resources, you'll see that at the top section has images with four or five of my top recommended items. That helped a lot too. It differentiates from the whole page, the top ones that people should look at. They're right there at the top, and Bluehost is one of them. That helped optimize my conversions for Bluehost on the resource page, as well. I also found the top hit posts and discovered which ones made sense to put Bluehost in there, because I knew a lot of traffic were going onto those sites. A lot of those were niche sites, duel-related sites. That helped a lot as well. That series alone has helped, because it was my way to prove what I was talking about and building a website from scratch. You can to go NicheSiteDuel.com to check more about that.
When I reached number one in Google for my security guard training site, my Bluehost earnings went up, just simply because more people were like, “Oh, yep, it worked. He did it. I want to do the same thing.” They ended up going through the link and following the same process that I had shared for free on building a niche dual website. What's really cool is a lot of people built their own and are doing extremely well now, too.
Number 10, finally, after “used it,” “loved it,” “mastered it,” “recommended it,” “put it on my resource page,” “created a video tutorial,” “created a getting started page,” which I put that video on and then reached out to potentially make a deal with those other companies, and then “optimized” where people were coming in, and what I could do to increase those conversions … Number 10, finally, is … and this is something that hasn't happened yet, actually, 'cause we're working on it. But I also reached out back to Bluehost and a lot of companies do this now, as well. I've noticed 99Designs does this. They are an affiliate—excuse me, a sponsor for the Smart Passive Income Podcast. If you listen to Tim Ferriss's podcast, for example, you'll see that if you go through his link for 99Designs.com, which is a company that you can get anything designed really, if you go through his link, it goes to a special page on 99Designs.com that has his face and has some of the 99Designs contests that he's run, himself. What I'm talking about is a custom-designed landing page. That's something I'm hoping to get up very soon. So if somebody goes through my Bluehost link, for example, it won't just be the generic picture of a stock photo guy with his hand writing a graph that's going up, or something, or a collaboration of a team around a desk, or anything like that. It'll be a picture of me, or something related to where people are coming from. I think that would help conversions as well, because that helps make that connection stick from where they were, to this new site that they're at where they're about to buy something. If they see my face there, it's just going to help with that ease in their mind of, “Okay, this is something that Pat recommends. Here's his face, there. He's representing there, as well.”
If you have the opportunity in your niche, you have a company that is performing very well for you, maybe you can reach out to them and help them. This actually helps them get more conversions, because you can only do so much on your site until people who click those affiliate links go off your site. They have to finish that purchase. If that company doesn't do a good job of converting on their end, you did your half of the work and they have to do their half too. That's what I really like about Bluehost, specifically, is they really worked. I saw it these past couple years, on conversions on their end. I noticed a number of various designs of homepages. The homepage went through a massive redesign to increase those conversion. When they landed on a design that worked, I just saw an increase in commissions, just because when people were clicking over, they were continuing with the buying process. It had nothing to do with me; that was all Bluehost.
One thing you can do, to finish up, is you can reach out to these companies that you're an affiliate with. If you're doing some volume for them, you can say, “Hey, would you mind, or do you have the ability to create a custom landing page for me? You can use these images and you can put my name on there. I think it's going to help conversions and help people who come through my affiliate links stick around and finish the process.” Everybody's a winner, again.
This one was a little bit longer of an episode, but I think it was important because I have a passion for affiliate marketing. Obviously, because it's working for me, but also, because I think it's definitely underutilized. A lot of people don't realize the power of the fact that there's all these great products and services and tools out there that can help your audience, that you can recommend. I'm hoping that this episode has helped you understand how you can recommend them to the best of your ability and also even getting into the other company, and how they can help you even further, as an affiliate.
Bobbie, this is about two episodes worth, but I'm still going to only send you one AskPat t-shirt, if that's cool. My assistant will be in contact with you. For those of you listening, if you have a question that you'd like potentially featured here on the show, and of course if you get your question featured like Bobbie, I will send you an AskPat t-shirt, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com. You can ask right there on that page.
Lastly, I also want to thank FreshBooks.com. They are a company that I wish I got involved with earlier, because I used to keep track of my finances through Excel files and things like that, which, you know, I was sort of an Excel spreadsheet geek, like I know a lot of us are. A lot of us just hate Excel and any spreadsheets in the first place. Either way, even if you know Excel, having something like FreshBooks to organize everything is just so convenient, especially if you do any invoicing, if you're a coach, or if you have students, or your a consultant and you work with other companies, it makes it super easy and professional. You gotta check it out. Go on over to GetFreshBooks.com and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section for a 30-day free trial. You can check it out right now.
Now, lastly, I always love to end with a quote. Today's quote is from Henry David Thoreau, and he says, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” So, how are you going to spend the rest of your day? It's totally up to you. Hope it's a good one. Cheers, take care, and I'll see you on the next episode of AskPat.
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