Before I tell you how I earned my first $100 marketing online, let me start by telling you a bit about me. My name is Andrew Seltz. My nickname online (given to me by my wife) is The Go-To Guy! and I’ve got a pretty wide ranging background. I got my first computer back in the mid-1980’s – a Commodore 64. In addition to playing video games, I taught myself a little programming. Later I went to college and studied filmmaking and animation. I mortgaged my soul to purchase an Amiga 2000 computer that I used to create 3D graphics and animation.
Between film school and my current career producing corporate videos, independent films, and websites, I spent 3 ½ years working on an automotive assembly line building cars (Mom was so proud of how I put my college degree to good use!)
I got a late start with the whole Internet business. I didn’t actually get online for the first time until mid-1996, but I started learning HTML right away and building web pages for practice. It was a few years before I built my first complete standalone website for a non-profit group in New York and another 2 years before I started building sites of my own. These were some pretty awful sites, too!
I’m completely self taught when it comes to web design and web programming. I’ve learned a lot and can handle many technical and design tasks on my own. But, I’m not an expert in any one thing. I rely heavily on websites like www.W3Schools.com for tutorials and quick reference when I’m working on a project.
One thing that should be glaringly obvious from this little biography is that I have absolutely no formal background or training in marketing – online or off. I’m a storyteller with a healthy dose of geek mixed in.
Until a few years ago, I expected that the Internet business I was dreaming about would involve hiring myself out to design and build websites or create online videos for clients. In short, trading hours for dollars. Not much different to what I was already doing. But, deep down I knew I didn’t want that and started searching for another way to make money online.
What I’m trying to say with all this is that I know a lot about the practical side of the Internet, but I’m still learning when it comes to marketing and promotion – I’m no marketing guru!
My Internet Marketing History
My personal Internet marketing story can be traced back to a blog entry I read back in December of 2005. Professional blogger Yaro Starak had written about how you could make money creating niche content websites with Adsense ads on them. Adsense sites were the hot idea being promoted back then.
I had been toying with the idea of creating some sort of Internet based business for several years, but hadn’t figured out how to get started. Yaro’s article laid out a logical approach that seemed attainable. So, with no market analysis or research I ran out and bought a couple domain names and started experimenting. This was not a wise approach to business.
At the same time I set up a blog and wrote about my Internet marketing experiments and anything else I felt like writing about. This turned out to be my first wise move.
My Unremarkable Early Results
After one year of researching and experimenting with my niche sites, I had earned less than $30 from all my efforts and spent at least $250 on hosting fees, domain registrations, and some lame (and expensive) attempts at Pay Per Click advertising (back then, Google Arbitrage was still a popular idea.) I was not a raging success in the world of marketing. I was all over the map trying every idea I found that seemed to make sense. I was never tempted to try spamming or auto-generated websites, but I tried a lot of fad ideas.
As depressing as my initial results were, those experiments were not wasted. Every one of them was an investment in my education. I learned a huge number of valuable Internet skills which became the foundation for my later success.
I learned about:
- Effective web design
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Ad optimization
- How to set up a WordPress site
- How to set up an automated system for selling and delivering digital
- Keyword research
- Much, much more
I also discovered that the blog I created to document my experiments (and also to write about other projects I was doing) was far more popular than any of the niche sites I had created. Publishing valuable content will attract readers. Owning a well ranked website with good traffic is very useful for promoting new projects for yourself and others.
My Run-In With a Real Mentor
Along the way I had also found a number of excellent e-books on various aspects of Internet marketing. I had to wade through a lot of junk to find the gems, but I found them. The pivotal book for me was “5 Bucks a Day“, by Dennis Becker. I discovered it during a special offer sale he was running at the Warrior Forum (the 800 pound gorilla of Internet Marketing Forums.)
I had been learning dozens of business plans that all seemed like legitimate methods for earning money online, but I hadn’t focused on any one thing long enough to get real traction in my business. Dennis’ book is all about focus and breaking down your efforts into small manageable projects designed to earn a little profit consistently. Over time, you build a portfolio of profitable projects that adds up to significant income.
My new-found focus wasn’t the only benefit I got from Dennis’ e-book. He also started a membership forum for all of the people who bought “5 Bucks a Day.” And, it was there that I experienced the first of many $100 paychecks.
As a member of the forum I got very active helping other members and sharing my personal experiences in the world of marketing. All of the knowledge and skills I had acquired became the foundation for helping others.
On the forum I answered questions about adding video to websites and how to record better audio. I jumped in with tips for people building WordPress sites (WordPress was not as common back then as it is today.) And, I offered detailed reviews of new e-books and software I purchased.
The forum also gave me a chance to interact with Dennis on a regular basis. He provided a lot of encouragement and delivered a steady stream of valuable resources to members of his forums (that continues to this day.)
All the energy I put into giving valuable information to fellow forum members paid off in the excellent reputation I was earning. I became a respected member of the community and even struck up a few friendships.
Forum Marketing In Action
Forum marketing is a powerful technique. I continued seeking out new information about Internet marketing beyond the ebooks, audios, videos, and software that Dennis provided in the forum. One e-book I came across was “Niche Marketing on Crack,” written by Andrew Hansen. The night I bought that book, I devoured it, and jumped on the forum to offer up my opinion of the content.
Dennis is very generous toward the members of his forums. If you provide valuable information in a review and include a non-affiliate link to the sales page, he doesn’t have any problems with members including an affiliate link as well. I included an affiliate link in my review of “Niche Marketing on Crack.”
Over the next several days I answered many questions about the e-book. Fellow members asked about the specific techniques covered in the book to determine if they already possessed the key skills discussed. They told me what they were trying to accomplish with their business and asked whether I though the book would help.
Some people I encouraged to buy the book and I recommended that others look elsewhere for the information they needed. As with any product, it was not right for everyone.
As a result of the helpful information I provided and the good reputation I had built up, the majority of the forum members who decided to buy the e-book used my affiliate link.
My First Real Internet Marketing Payday
In the month of February 2007, that one product review earned me $206.80 US in commissions in the first 48 hours after I wrote it. Over the next 4 months I earned an additional $129.25 US from that same review. That was my first real taste of marketing success.
For a guy who hadn’t earned a fraction of that amount for all of the work he had done over the previous year, the experience was an adrenaline rush – I was really hooked.
A short while later, Dennis opened another membership forum called “Earn 1K a Day.” I joined in a heartbeat and put the same kind of energy I had spent at the “5 Bucks a Day” forum into this new venture. It was the foundation for my biggest success to date, my “Rapid Website Development” video training series which has generated more than 10 times that first success before it has even had a public launch.
Where I Stand Today
Due to the increased focus on specific aspects of my business, even some of those initial bumbling efforts at marketing have begun to generate small but steady profits and have opened up new opportunities. My Internet Marketing Insights blog is an offshoot of the work I did on my first blog. It was started with a collection of my marketing and business articles from the old blog as the initial content.
Of course, I also continue to invest in my business education to help push me to the point where my publishing business generates enough revenue to support my family. In the past year I invested in a copy of John Reese’s “Traffic Secrets” course, Mike Filsaime’s “7 Figure Code“, and (most recently) Frank Kern’s “Mass Control” course and Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula.”
I recorded a special webinar you can watch where I broke down all of the major marketing training courses and explained the psychology behind how and why they work.
The most satisfying aspect of all of this is the fact that I’m funding the growth of my business and my ongoing education with revenue from my business and not credit cards and income from my ‘day job!’ (Okay, technically I did charge Frank’s “Mass Control” course on a credit card before I had the money, but I’m hard at work finishing up 2 projects which should earn me all of the money I need to pay that one off – and what I’ve learned is definitely worth the effort.)
How To Make Money With Forum Marketing
WARNING – Never Spam a Forum!!!
Sorry to start off with a warning. I want you to make your first $100 as an Internet marketer. I would be proud to help you achieve your first online success. But, I hate Spam and don’t want to encourage anyone to abuse forums in the hopes of scoring some quick cash. It is a very bad way to do business and will work against you in the long run.
Now for a little good news. If you go about forum marketing the right way, people will actually go out of their way to click on your links and give you a commission – I know this because it has happened to me!
Find Your Forums and Join In
The first thing to do is scope out the forums you want to participate in. If you are interested in the Internet Marketing niche, I have listed a few excellent forums in the resource section of this report. But, this approach will work with almost any niche that has an active community that spends money on products in the niche. Sign up and create your accounts at the forums. Read the posting rules and check to see whether they allow you to include a signature file. Pay special attention to their rules about signature files and posting links.
Now, spend some time every day for at least a week reading relevant discussion threads and offering insightful comments when you have something to say. Avoid ‘Me Too’ and ‘I Agree’ comments as they add nothing to the discussion and will not build your reputation on the forum. Providing high quality content is essential to making people want to click your links.
Identify Products To Promote
I strongly recommend that you purchase a copy of any product you plan to promote – specially if you intend to review it. Faked reviews are not good business and amount to little more than Spam themselves. If you just plan to refer traffic, it’s okay to promote something you haven’t seen. Just don’t claim to have used the product unless it’s true.
Set Up Your Promotions
If you plan to create a product review and post it directly to a forum that allows reviews, write your review and post it to an appropriate area. Be ready to answer questions and give as much detail as you can without revealing the actual content of the product. The more helpful you are the better your sales. If the forum doesn’t allow affiliate links, the next step is to create a ‘review blog’
where you post your reviews and include your affiliate links. You can create a review blog using a free service like www.Blogger.com, or host your own blog on your own domain using software like WordPress. I use both approaches depending on what audience I am promoting to.
Once your review blog is up and running with your review content posted, add a link to the review in your forum signature file. Don’t use a ‘raw’ link, but rather a curiosity building phrase that is hot-linked to your review. Each forum has slightly different methods of adding hot-linked text, so you’ll have to do a little research to find out exactly how to set this up. Many use a format like this:
[url=http://www.linktoyoursitehere.com]Text your are hotlinking…[/url]
If the forum allows it, play with the font size, bolding, italics, and font colors to make your little teaser phrase stand out on the page. But, don’t go overboard. You just want to catch people’s eye – not assault them.
Once your signature file is ready, keep participating in discussions related to the product you are promoting. Your little hot-linked phrase will show up under every post you make. People will read your posts and then see this teaser. Since you’ve been delivering top quality information, they will already have a favorable opinion of you and be curious about what other information you have to offer. Clicks and sales will follow.
Some forums will allow you to add direct affiliate links to your signature files, so you can bypass the whole review blog in those cases. But, I recommend you don’t do that.
The Extra Step That Builds Your Business
You will be spending a decent amount of time and energy building a reputation and getting traffic to your links. Sending that traffic directly to your affiliate link gives you only one chance to sell to them. For long term success you need to build a prospect mailing list and email them regularly with useful information and promotional offers. By sending people to a review site first, you can entice them to join your mailing list before they click away.
One great strategy to get people on your list is to use a pop-up that offers a free gift or e-course in exchange for the visitor’s name and email address. But, even placing a simple sign-up form on your blog is better than nothing. I do both of those things on this website.
I used the Super Popup WordPress plugin to create the pop-up code which appears on this site. The window that takes over the page contains a banner ad that leads to a squeeze page with my Aweber auto-responder signup form (this is the company I use to manage my email marketing lists.)
That’s all there is to Forum Marketing:
Respect the forums, offer good information, and add your links.
People will continue to visit the discussion threads you participate in for months and sometimes years. Each time that happens, you’ve go another shot at snagging an affiliate commission. It’s always nice to get a surprise commission from a post you forgot you even made.
Good Luck and Have a Profitable Day,
The Go-To Guy!