When we last left off, I had just attempted (and failed) to make money online using an ad toolbar installed on my browser. I made about .04 cents in a month, and called it quits.
A few years later – I was pursuing a career in music and had joined a “How to make it in the music business” email list.
The woman behind it sent me emails every week about how to put together a press kit, sent out contact info for booking agents and label reps and gave guidance on how to get my band more attention.
One week, she sent me an email that had a really weird subject line:
“Struggling to make it? Learn to make money on the internet”
The email was totally unsuspected and I had no idea why she sent it to me, but it I was definitely interested. It seemed like fate.
The link she gave me sent me to a Free 30 day course that could teach me how to make money online doing SEO, AKA “Free Traffic”. This sounded great to me – I had no money to spend on media buys – so free traffic was about all I could afford.
The Thirty Day Challenge
The course was called “The 30 Day Challenge” and was taught by a guy named Ed Dale.
I don’t mind naming him, because the info he put out did help me. It definitely didn’t make me rich but it gave me starting point, and for that I am eternally grateful.
So Ed, if you come across this article. Thank you.
What he was teaching was basically article marketing, or “bum marketing” as some people called it back then. “So easy, a bum could do it.”
What you did was find products you wanted to promote and then write articles about it on a free Tumblr blog. Tumblr was brand new at the time and Google LOVED it.
So after a few weeks of reading and watching videos I gave it a shot.
I wrote an article about a product (I think it was Jessica Simpson hair extensions). It was about 200 words long and used the keyword “Jessica Simpson hair extensions” in the title, first paragraph and last sentence.
I bolded the phrase in the first paragraph and italicized it in the last paragraph as instructed.
To my amazement – I ranked in the top 3 on Google in less than 24 hours.
You see – blogging was very new back then and Google figured that if someone was writing on Tumblr, it was going to be unique, personal and highly useful for their users. So they gave you preferential treatment.
I guess Ed figured this out and decided to share it with about 50,000 other people. And while that was very kind of him to do, it also completely destroyed Tumblr’s Google rankings because as soon as they figured out what was happening they penalized Tumblr into oblivion.
Traffic started coming and I got excited. I waited and waited but never made a sale… BUT now I knew the “system” worked. I figured I could just duplicate the process and test other things as well.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
I didn’t know what an affiliate network was back then, so I just browsed around looking for products that had an affiliate program. It was a painful process that took hours just to find one product I could promote.
Then I found Clickbank.
Holy mother of GOD! Clickbank had 1000s of offers I could promote and they all paid $25 – $200 per sale! I did some digging and chose 4 or 5 products to write about next.
My idea was to launch them all at the same time and see which one did best and then focus on it. (I still use this process today)
I worked a 9–5 gig during the day so at night I wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote some more. My girlfriend thought I was nuts and started getting more and more frustrated by how much time I was spending on the blogs.
I kept telling her “I think there is something here… I see a way!” But she would just roll her eyes and walk away.
After a week or two I had several different sites ranked in Google and they were all getting traffic. I swear, back then you could write a post on Tumblr and be #1 on Google the next day. Too bad that doesn’t work anymore.
I worked for a few months, getting more articles out there and getting more traffic.. but still no sales! I was beginning to think the whole thing was a scam and a waste of time.
Then, one morning I rolled out of bed and immediately went to the computer to check my stats. I didn’t expect to see any fireworks, I was just checking to make sure I hadn’t made any sales.
When I logged in, the screen came up and I checked my commissions. The commission line always said $0.00. But to my shock and surprise it said…
My head exploded! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Could it be real? Was there a mistake?
“There’s no way….” I said to myself, and I refreshed the page.
It was still there! “OH MY GOD!!!” I screamed, “I CAN’T F#*KING BELIEVE THIS!” “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!!!????”
One of my five blogs had ranked on Google, got some clicks and someone bought something! This was the first time I ever saw that process go all the way through.
I was shaking in my boots. I almost peed my pants. I was jumping up and down like a mad scientist locked away in his laboratory.
I DID IT!
I couldn’t wait to tell someone the good news. All of my friends knew I was doing this crazy internet marketing thing but no one believe it would really work. So I was excited to prove them wrong.
I picked up the phone and called a friend and screamed to him “I made $27 online!”. “You did what?” he replied. “I made $27 on the internet!” I said again.
“Only $27 dollars? I thought you were trying to make money hehehehe” he replied.
I told someone else… same reply.
I was devastated. “Why aren’t they excited?” I asked myself.
Then it hit me.
I had been working for about 120 days, at least 8 hours a day.
And I had made $27.
That’s 960 hours put in.
And $27 taken out.
So in reality, I was only making about .03 cents per hour.
No wonder no one was impressed! I could have made more money working at McDonalds! To them, the $27 sale proved that what I was doing was just a waste of time.
But to me it proved something else.
I had made $27 while I was in my sleep!
This thing was real!
It may have only worked out to be .03 cents per hour… but to me it was the first step into unlimited potential. I could make sales in my sleep!
That $27 sale lit a fire in me, and I started writing more and more articles as quickly as I could. I was energized now and could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I had always had a suspicion that affiliate marketing thing was fake… and a scam of some kind… but now I had PROOF that it could work. All I had to do was make it happen.
So I did.
I stopped writing on the other blogs and put ALL of my focus on the one that had made a sale.
I turned myself into a writing machine. And I wrote hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of little articles on tumblr, and ezine articles and other free blogs.
Each article got ranked and I started clogging up the search engines with my sites.
Soon, I making a sale every few weeks, then every week, then every day.
Then I started getting 2 or 3 every day. Each sale was $27, so on a good day I’d make $80+ profit. That was as much as I was making at my job!
I kept writing… and soon I had a nice little article machine going and it was making me $2000 or $3000 a month. I could live on that – and very soon I’d have the opportunity to do just that.
You may or may not know this, but the entire time this was going on, my life was in shambles.
I had a great job and few bands that I was playing in, so from the outside I appeared to be ok. But my drinking was out of control and I was quickly pulling everything down on top of me.
I was passing out on the streets, waking up in hospitals and just causing chaos for myself and everyone around me.
I was desperate for change and luckily, with the help of an old friend I had an opportunity to get out of Oklahoma and move to California.
It was a risky move for sure. I had a great job, making more money than I’d ever made in my life. So to quit my job and move to a new State seemed crazy to everyone else, but I knew I needed a change… so I went for it.
Soon – I was living in the Los Angeles in a little 1-room guest house in Laurel Canyon. I had my savings and a few thousand dollars a month coming in from my article sites that I could use to get by.
My dream at the time was just to make a steady $100/day so I could concentrate on music.
I was pretty close to there already, but I was writing articles all day and night and knew I couldn’t keep that up forever.
I really needed to figure out an easier way to do things.
One day, I got a weird email. It was from someone I had never met before.
He said something like:
“Hello – my name is Chris and I found your dating blog online. I wanted to talk to you about your business model and see if I can help. I’m sure you could make more money with the offers we have on our network and I could show you some other opportunities as well”
“This has to be a scam” I thought to myself.. but I was REALLY curious to know who this guy was… and how he had found me!
So I picked up the phone and decided to give him a call.