Case Study #1: I’m 26 Years Old And I Want A Clear Start

I recently received a long and wonderful question from a reader. It struck a chord with me and as I typed up my response, I couldn’t stop writing and it went from a short reply to a mammoth brain dump of information.

So I thought I’d post it here as well to serve as a case study for anyone who might be in the same situation.

Waking up to realize that you’ve wasted a lot of


In this response I’m going to go over:

  1. Why there’s no better time to start than now
  2. The mind shift that changed my life
  3. Why bad things can be good for you
  4. A traffic source recommendation for starting out
  5. How to launch your own ebook/product on Google
  6. A multi-million dollar post from
  7. My biggest mistake in affiliate marketing
  8. 10 steps to start working on your goals
  9. How to learn anything
  10. Why helping other people helps you

All that being said. Let’s get into it.


This is the actual email

We’ll call him “Todd”. And keep in mind that people from all over the world read this site. So English is not Todd’s first language. That’s why it reads a little funny in some places.

Here is Todd’s question, verbatim.

Hi there..

My name is Todd. I found your blog by accident few days ago and I kept reading it. I think I read it almost from A to Z.

I can’t tell you how similar is your old life you described in your vlogs – alcohol, crazy stuff, problems with the law – with my current life..

Anyway I woke up yesterday and I realized that I’m 26, and I wasted BIG time. The reason I write this is because I read the post where you saw God. I was stunned. Really, I can’t describe how this article made me think about my life now. And the funny thing is that years ago I did SEO and Aff marketing, but I never took it serious and I quited it (although I spent 2–3 years of learning stuff).

I decided that I want to put myself together, to start workouts and to clear my life from all the past negatives. I want a clear start.

May be I’m late, but I desire to try all my best. I have 3 question to you, since I think you are great person behind all this marketing stuff. I really hope you have the time to answer me. Really this is what I felt when I read your blog and watched your videos. It is always clear when a person is honest!

1 – What make the mind shift to you – is it only the vision of God you had, a talk with a wise man or something else happened. What helped you make the transition from old you to the new you? I mean really really small percentage from people I know in my life make any positive change at all, and if they do, it is short term.

2- If you have to pick one method to start with aff marketing promotion, which will be your choice. Since I have some skills in SEO, PPC, and web design, what would be your recommendations. I lost so much time it is vital for me to be advised from man like you. Adwords? PPV? SEO? and the offers Clickbank? Lead Generation? I have small monthly budget to test eventually..

3- What is your greatest mistake in aff marketing that you feel that you didn’t learned something new.

Excuse my English 🙂
Thanks in advance!

My Response

Hey Todd,
Thanks for the great question(s).

I’ve read your email 5–10 times because what you’re going through sounds exactly like what I was going through 6–7 years ago. And you are EXACTLY the type of person I want to help with this website. Because you’re just like I was a few years ago.

I’m basically putting out a signal with these blog posts and when people like you show up, it’s magical.

Before I get to your three questions I want to address something you said in the beginning of your email about being 26 years old and wasting BIG time.

  • 26 is VERY young in the big picture. When I was 26, I thought I’d failed at life too. But looking back I can see that back then, life was just beginning. You have plenty of time to do well. If you start working on yourself now – you’ll be kicking ass before you turn 30.
  • Remember this: Today you are the oldest you have ever been BUT you’re also the youngest you will ever be again. So there has never been a better time to start than right now.

Now, let’s get on to your 3 questions.

1. What made the mind shift to you – What helped you make the transition from old you to the new you?

In early 2008, my life totally crashed and burned. It was mostly related to alcohol and my inability to deal with my past. Hitting the bottom like that forced me to take some steps to turn my life around. Steps that I probably never would have taken otherwise.

Sometimes you need bad things to happen to inspire you to change.

I went to AA every day for several months and I met a few people that worked with me to help me through the transition. There wasn’t a “wise man” really, but I had good talks with people that had been where I was.

It’s a big help to realize that your problems are not only happening to you – and that millions of other people are going through them too. That was a big breakthrough for me. I wasn’t alone.

If I did one thing that set the whole thing off, it was that I “gave up”.

What I mean is – I stopped fighting against the Universe and went with the flow. The moment I got into the flow, magical things started happening.

  • Instead of trying to block reality out – I accepted it.
  • Instead of fighting against the current – I dove into it and let it carry me.

Things changed – almost immediately.

For me, giving up meant saying the little prayer that I mentioned in the post I wrote. But it doesn’t have to be that for you.

All you have to do is take a look at your life and current results. If you’re not happy with it, consider that maybe you’re not the greatest person to be in charge of your life.

Then, turn that power over to something or someone else. Even if you don’t believe in something or someone else or know what it means. Just turn it over to the Universe or whoever will take it – and let go.

That’s what worked for me.

It’s actually quite freeing and much less trouble than you think.

*Pro tip: I also decided to forgive everyone for everything.

I realized I was still holding on to grudges and anger for things that happened 5–10–15 years ago. Instead of worrying about details of who was wrong and who was right, I forgave everyone for everything that had happened and was able to move on.

That will change your life.

If you have to pick one method to start with aff marketing promotion, which will be your choice?

There are a thousand ways to make money online. But one thing I always recommend is that if you’re already familiar with a traffic source (and it is a good one) you should start there. That way you eliminate as much of the learning curve as possible and can get started right away.

You said you have experience with PPC, Web Design and SEO. So I would recommend you start with PPC (pay per click) first.

And out of Adwords, PPV and SEO I would definitely go with Adwords. It’s a giant traffic source and if you can make something work there you can have long and lasting success. You can go from spending $5/day to $100k/day with them over time. They have the volume.

*My first year I used nothing but Adwords

For offers I would speak to an affiliate manager at an affiliate network and ask them what offers are specifically allowed and being run on Adwords right now. There are many offers that you can run, they just can’t be shady or cause harm to Google’s users. Some can even be direct linked. (yes this is true in 2015)

[Get more ideas like this by signing up for my free newsletter]

If affiliate marketing isn’t for you, (I have super successful friends that think affiliates are crazy for not building their own products) I’d recommend writing a simple ebook about something you are interested in and creating a brand around it on Adwords. You don’t have to be a genius at the subject, you just need to have some information that can help other people and type it all down.

If you want to do big volume, be sure it’s about a subject with a big audience. Although some people do really well in smaller niches as well.

Spend a week writing your book. Then spend a year advertising and building your email list. If you that, you’ll end up with a real business that will make money for years. It takes a bit more time to setup, but can be worth it.

Setting up the book as an offer is easier than you think. Just type it all down into a Word document, save it as a PDF and put it behind a payment system.

Google prefers that you have the shopping cart as part of your own site. But if that isn’t something you can do you can look into 3rd party checkout apps. They seem to be allowed as well.

Here are a few that I’ve seen in action:

**P.S. I would highly recommend you check out this premium forum / community called Yes, that is my fancy affiliate link there, but I recommend it all the same.

For $99/month, you can log in and get access to the ideas of 100s of other affiliates that are doing the exact same thing you’re doing. Just a few days ago a super affiliate wrote a detailed guide on how he made millions in profits on mobile in the last year or two. He shared the campaign, the ads and the angles. He gave it all away.

It’s called “How I made millions on mobile in 2 yrs using 1 angle [Angle Revealed]“. Look it up if you sign up for sure.

I’m a moderator on the forum, so if you join – look me up (username: maland)

What is your greatest mistake in affiliate marketing?

This is a hard one to answer because with every big mistake I made, I learned a valuable lesson. But that’s a crappy answer so let me think about it…

Okay, the first thing that comes to mind is this: I tried to make my own offer with no idea what I was doing.

I totally underestimated the amount of work that it takes to create and run a real-world product. And at the end of the day I could have made more money just doing my affiliate stuff.

Here’s how it happened:

A few years ago I was dominating a certain vertical online. I took a look at the product I was promoting and decided I could make my own version of it.

The concept was that if I owned the product and the customer list and ran my own traffic I would make more money overall. So I stopped doing my affiliate marketing and spent 30–60 days setting up my version of the product.

[Get more stories like this by signing up for my free newsletter]

It was a physical product that had to be assembled in a warehouse and shipped every time it was sold. Luckily I found a company that handled that entire process (from order to shipping) for me.

After we got everything setup, I launched my ad campaign and things took off and I started doing a lot of sales every day.

In about three months time – things started to fall apart.

  • Shipping was delayed
  • Refunds were coming in
  • The customer service team wasn’t very good
  • We had problems with the bank I was using to process the orders.

Long story short, it all got shut down about three months after I’d started.

Luckily I’d been doing really well and made money on the deal overall. But it was a nightmare scenario and really wore me out.

I’m good at being creative and running traffic. I’m not good at being a business guy and dealing with shipping facilities and banks. I needed more people that could have managed all that for me. It was just too much for me to handle alone.

But it was profitable, so I decided to try it again.

I decided to give it another try with a person that had a team of people working for him that could handle all of the backend and business work for me. So we came up with a revenue split and 30 days later I was up and running again.

Then, we had all the same problems. His team couldn’t handle it all either and the whole thing got shut down again. This time I took a tremendous loss financially. Because I had spend a lot of money on the ad campaigns but the sales couldn’t be processed. So instead of making the money back, it was all lost.

When I did the numbers I saw that I lost pretty much everything I’d made on the first try. So after 5 months of work. I had made $0.00.

I could have made WAY more money by just selling someone else’s product, like I was doing before.

The lesson I learned: There are a lot of different ways you can make money online. You just have to find the way that works for you.

For a guy like me (solo, no team) it makes no sense to setup a big, sophisticated operation with shipping and warehouses and customer service because I don’t have the time or interest to deal with it.

For me, it makes more sense to sell other people’s stuff for a commission. It’s a very basic setup. Money In vs Money Out. I get to be creative for a living – which is all I ever wanted.

So my biggest mistake was trying to go against what was naturally working for me and try to become something that I’m not.

A lot of people make the same mistake, I hear the horror stories all the time.

The reverse problem happens sometimes too.

Product owners thinking they can “put on their creative hats” and run their own ad campaigns. They find out pretty quickly that they suck at the creative stuff and go back to working with guys like me.

The Grass Is 100% Not Always Greener On The Other Side.

// end of my answers to your questions

Here are some ways to get started

I don’t want to end this without giving you some solid advice on how to get started. I don’t know enough about you to give you specifics, but I can share some things that worked for me.

In your question you mention that you want to change a lot of things at once.

You want to:

  • Start affiliate marketing
  • Get in shape
  • Clear out your mind from the past

It’s great to want to do all of these things, but the more things you try to fix at the same time, the higher the chances are that you’ll get overwhelmed, quit and feel like you failed at them all.

Keep in mind that it took you 26 years to get to where you are today, so you can’t expect to solve all of your problems overnight. I started working on myself back in 2008. It’s been 7 years now and I still have a long way to go.

Here are a few ideas to help you start your own long term journey.

  1. Write/type down or make a mindmap of all your goals. Be very specific. Put each goal into a category. (Financial, Health, Mental, etc.) Write it out like a master plan and explain to yourself exactly what you’re going to do. I did this in 2008, it’s magic. I use MindMeister (3 free maps) or FreeMind (free but not as good) to map out my life and Trello (it’s free) to handle my daily todo lists.
  2. Don’t try to do everything at once. Choose whichever goal is most important to you and start there. For me it was to stop drinking. If I had continued to drink, nothing else would have been possible. So figure out the thing you need to do first and start there.
  3. Do one thing per day. I wrote an entire post about this and people are starting to catch on. At the beginning of each week, pick 5–7 things from your list of goals that you want to do and then do ONE thing per day. You must always do that one thing. If you do more that one thing, that’s great. But you can never do less than one. Over time, those one things pile up into huge progress.
  4. Set realistic expectations. There is no way in hell you’re going to fix all your problems this year. If you’re lucky, you’ll make good progress on one of them. And that is only if you stick to your plan. Too many people say “I’m going to change my life!” and then get frustrated when it doesn’t happen right away. The good news is that when you start the new long journey, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
  5. What would _______ do? If you don’t know what to do or how to get started, imagine you’re someone else and write down what they would do. This is powerful because sometimes you can’t see yourself solving a problem, but you can see someone else doing it with ease. If you want to get in shape, imagine what an in-shape-guy would do. He’d eat the right amount of food, go to the gym 3–4x a week on a regular basis and get plenty of sleep. Close your eyes, watch what he does and write it all down. Then do those things.
  6. Use YouTube. Almost every question you’ll ever have can be answered using a combo of Google and Youtube. When I wanted to get in shape I followed 3–4 fitness YouTube channels and watched them every day. I learned to tie a necktie by watching a guy on Youtube. To learn about investing, I watched Warren Buffett interviews on Youtube. It’s all there. Just choose what you want to learn, subscribe to some channels that talk about it and dedicate a little time every day to learning.
  7. Read books. Another shortcut to learning anything is reading a book. If you want to learn a new skill, buy a book written by someone who is already good at it and read their advice. Very simple and effective.
  8. Be Strong. Changing your life isn’t easy. Especially when it all needs fixing. Be strong, because it’s all up to you. Sure your family and friends love you but they cannot fix you. That’s your job and you want the strongest version of yourself working for you. Be a bad mother f#cker when it comes to this stuff. Don’t chicken out.
  9. Help other people. One of the most backwards, but true things about life is that the best way to forget your own worries is to worry about someone else. Most of us focus our energy on ourselves and our problems. “WHY ME!?!?” we cry! If you focus too much on your own problems, they will overwhelm you. However, when you turn your attention to someone else’s problems, you forget about your own for a while. Feel like crap? Call someone else and ask how they’re doing. Don’t talk about your problems at all, just listen and help if you can. This is probably the secret to life and never fails.
  10. Invite the Universe to Help. One of the most powerful things I ever did was invite the Universe to take over and guide my life. When I did that it was like a tidal wave of positive things started happening. Instead of fighting the current, I was swimming in the flow. Dive in head first and ride.

Those 10 things have served me well. I hope you get some use out of them too.


Thanks again for the great and honest question Todd. I hope I’ve been able to help you out and give you some insight.

Please don’t get caught up thinking that you’ve wasted too much time to make something of yourself. That’s just plain silly.

You have plenty of time to turn things around and do something great with your life. And time is more valuable than anything else.

Remember, there are 80 year old millionaires out there who would give every dollar they have to get to be 26 again. Because they know the secret…

You’re just getting started.


  • Ken L

    Thanks Malan. Amazing way to sum up everything by answering one person’s question, and thereby helping all of us.
    As for me, today I’ll start with the pro tip. I think i’ve been putting it off for long enough. Take care.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Ken, that pro tip will serve you well

  • Lubomir Goban

    Hey Malan! Thanks for great reading.. really inspiring.

    • Malan Darras

      glad to hear it Lubomir

  • Sheldon

    How do you access the universe? I sure I did a few times but can’t seem to get back to that flow..

    • Malan Darras

      I wish I could “access the universe” on demand, but I can’t. if i could, i’d sell tickets…

  • zwLee

    Thanks Malan, this post just like a Friend’s words to me, I’m in the similar situation as “Todd”. You have give me some spirits.

    • Malan Darras

      i think most people are in a similar situation to “Todd”, you’re not alone zwLee

  • Michael Staub

    Great post.

    • Malan Darras

      Thanks sir

  • Amandeep

    Malan, what a post! Thank you for sharing your reply to Todd. That was a fantastic read…

    How’s the work shirt split test going?

    • Malan Darras

      thanks man – i may do a post or video on that one soon. it was interesting. but be assured, i’m not doing it every day now or anything crazy like that 😉

  • Daniel

    Great post Malan, and very actionable advice!

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Daniel, good to see you here. I don’t think I’ve seen you comment before, so welcome to the family.

      • Daniel

        Thats correct! thanks for noticing it. I found your blog couple days ago through a friend that atended your last Q&A.. I am also looking to get back to the aff mktg game after 10+ years of other ventures, and this time stick to it 🙂

        • Malan Darras

          good idea. that’s one of the fundamental requirements of succeeding at this thing… (sticking to it). If you quit, you’re out.

  • Yussef Gilkey

    Pretty dope post! Beta waves were turned all the up to 30hz that day MD.

    • Malan Darras

      #betawaves haha

  • Petre Veluda

    Wonderful to share this. I think it could help anyone even if they are successful, healthy, etc. Everybody encounters new challenges in life so it’s a good reminder that we are all just getting started at some point, again and again.

    • Malan Darras

      Thanks Petre

  • Carl

    “Remember, there are 80 year old millionaires out there who would give
    every dollar they have to get to be 26 again.”

    Wow, at 31 that has really struck a chord with me, great post Malan and thanks for sharing

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Carl, and they would give every dollar they have to be 31 again too…

  • Regard Vermeulen

    At 36.. Trying to make more than I am spending.. It’s been a long hectic, roller coaster ride. I refuse to give up. Been at it since 2011. Not really had any success to speak about. Learned a boat load. Still learning. Every campaign is getting slightly better. I think the best line in this entire post for me was… “Today is the youngest you will ever be again”.. That really hit home.. thanks for the brilliant post. Have a awesome day.

    • Malan Darras

      it’s true Regard, and it’s always “today”

    • leonoflondon

      This is what I’m afraid of, 5 years in and yet to see a positive net spend :/

  • Obi Uba

    Top top post Malan. You keep it real and honest. Keep up the good work.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Obi, welcome to the comments 😉

  • Nikola Sarac

    “What would _______ do?” The best advice ever. You wrote about this in one of your posts a while ago and since then I have been implementing it when I feel anxiety. Little mind hacks like this really work.

    • Malan Darras

      yeah it’s a fun and helpful game Nikola. Seems to work

  • Jozef

    Hey Malan, Thanks for doing this. Your articles help more ppl than you think !

    • Malan Darras

      Hope so Jozef – thanks for the comment

  • Mac

    You know.. I recommended this article here in comments on the day it was published, but had really nothing to say. Now, when I literally went through this 10 or more times, I wish this guy, ‘Todd’, succeed and get rid of his deamons as you did. I really hope he will.

    • Malan Darras

      me too.

  • Mark

    Great post Malan. Now that I quit my 9-5 job I feel I am at the same stage as Todd. I have too many things to fix in my life and it was making it overwhelming for me to start but your tip on focusing on one thing at a time is probably the solution I need.

    • Malan Darras

      I get it Mark. When you don’t have a 9-5 to go to… a lot of weird things happen because you have so much more time on your hands. Making a master list or mind map and then doing one thing at a time works for me.

  • thaKingy

    no way you can run direct on adwords dude. are you direct linking? i honestly don’t believe u. i have read your blog before.. u seem really adamant on not sharing anything u do, which is 100% understandable.. but please dont make these claims because no way it is true man.. no way. adwords has a direct policy where they say you cannot use bridge pages at all. maybe you can get away with it for a little bit if no one else is running traffic.. but sooner or later u will be caught.