“We rise by lifting others.” ~ Robert Ingersoll
Welcome and thanks for taking an interest in my website. I’m Henri and these days I enjoy a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle working from my home-office in sub-tropical Queensland, Australia. I feel grateful and privileged. The climate here is near perfect and I can see the beach from my office window, which can be both a blessing and a distraction. Luckily, I know how to make money from a website. No matter what you’ve heard, affiliate marketing is the future. The enormity of affiliate commissions paid monthly by such online shopping giants as Amazon Walmart, and Alibaba – along with thousands of others – is astonishing.
I originally intended to name this website ‘How to Prosper with Integrity’ because integrity is the most important pillar of success when it comes to affiliate marketing – there are other’s but integrity is the most important.
It’s amazing to me that people can spend a lifetime in sales and marketing and simply don’t get it – you must never trade trust for profit. Those who do so are condemned to spend their lives in a constant search for new customers to replace the ones they’ve disappointed. It’s not only immoral, it’s stupid, and it’s certainly no way to build a successful business online or anywhere else.
I’m all for sustainable income streams, and the best way to maintain long-term relationships with customers and clients is to listen to them, respect their needs and provide them with more than they expect.
Now, in the interest of building trust, I happily confess that it was not affiliate marketing that brought me to this happy space. But, it will sustain me here.
How do you make money from a website? I’ll be more than glad to point you in the right direction, but please bear with me as I first tell you a little about myself.
I got my start in sales. I worked for a medium size multi-national company. In time, I became a sales manager and, eventually, general manager of an Australian subsidiary. Nevertheless, I privately harboured an ambition to be my own man.
I became a partner in a small – but up and coming – import-export company, and even though I was determined to become its managing director, my initial focus was on marketing. I enjoy marketing – its fun and the outcomes are often measurable.
I studied marketing; I attended courses and seminars; I read all I could about noteworthy marketing successes and failures. Always, I asked myself how I would have done things differently.
There is a saying: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”. It’s not a saying you hear often these days, probably because it’s rubbish. In truth, even if you build better mousetraps, you’re going down if don’t have an effective marketing strategy.
But for us, times were good and our business grew and expanded for several years. Our customers were small factories and workshops who added value to the ranges of propriety products and components we imported.
Yet, in time, things began to change, slowly at first, but inevitably. One by one our customers began to close down – gone the way of the blacksmith – replaced by new suppliers in Asia.
Some customers survived (very few it seems) and I proud to say that I still work with them to this day.
Adapting to a Changing World
Our company diversified into Asia, and that’s where I was to live and work for the foreseeable future. Our strategy was to develop small networks of resellers in several countries, rather than to rely entirely on one large but rapidly diminishing customer base in Oceania.
My work involved a lot of travel. Representing our brands at international trade fairs and the development and maintenance of supply chains and reseller networks was demanding work. Over the years, my duties took me to five continents.
As our business became established, we were able to measure where our efforts could best be focussed. We positioned ourselves as reliable suppliers to small to medium size distribution networks in very specific countries.
The larger factories and wholesalers were unreliable by comparison. They certainly paid scrupulous attention to quality control and delivery dates when it came to large customers, but orders from smaller customers seemed to be pencilled in and were always subject to the needs of major customers.
We insisted on the highest standards of quality control for our products – we had our own people supervising the QC process – and we delivered on time (barring acts-of-God or civil insurrection).
Our business model worked, and I knew that it would probably continue to work for years. But, I also realised that, in effect, our efforts were an unrelenting scramble to collect the crumbs that fell from the tables of the rich.
My experience had taught me that eventually – usually at the bottom of a business cycle – vertical integration would come into play, and that’s when the major players would go after our customer’s customers.
Our Strategy: Bite of as much as you can and keep chewing.
I came home often to spend time with family, but it wasn’t nearly good enough. It didn’t take me very long to decide that I needed a new business model – one that would bring me home for good.
A New Direction
I decided to build a business based on website design, content management, SEO and copywriting – something I knew little about. My business associate in Australia canvassed for clients– a number of our surviving customers in Australia wanted to establish an online presence to develop their bands, establish points of differentiation and increase their market exposure.
Our strength was that we had industry-specific knowledge and experience, and that makes a hell of a difference. We also found clients in Asia among our former foes. The competition among them was fierce and they also craved market exposure. Some of them – with a little nudging – decided they wanted to convey a compelling and coherent message to their export markets using the voice of a native English speaker with industry experience. They didn’t regret it.
At first, I concerned myself with marketing and copywriting only. I hired others to do the technical stuff. It suited me because I was still wet behind the ears when it came to website design and development and I was very busy with our primary business.
Even so, I studied all aspects of my new business (usually on long flights and in hotel rooms). I learned to design and create websites using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS); I learned about SEO and how someone was always moving the goal posts, and I learned about the elements of style – how to design banners and create video content.
In 2009 I created the first commercial website that was entirely my own work. From conception to publication, every element of design, every word of copy, every banner and embedded video were produced by me. It was an inefficient allocation of resources, but it was also one of the most satisfying projects that I have ever undertaken. The site still exists – it’s an industry directory that carries paid advertising and it continues to produce income. I don’t own the site but in a way, it will always be mine.
The process of developing a successful business that could function from a virtual office almost anywhere was to take some years. As much as I enjoyed the work, it remained a part-time project for far too long, and it was a project that didn’t benefit from the information and resources available to me today. In hindsight, I should have made things work in less than half the time, and that’s a very difficult thing to admit. But that was the price of my education.
Nevertheless, I eventually divested in Asia and transferred the new business to Australia where it continued to function. It wasn’t seamless or without hiccups, but I did get to come home.
I’m no guru. I admit it freely. But don’t despair – there are plenty of internet marketing gurus to go round. Be careful though. Many are not being entirely frank about their level of success or about what they have to offer. I’m certain they’ve all made mistakes and continue to do so. Success will never come as quickly or as easily as they make out. You have to want it, work hard for it and you have to pay the price.
In my experience, you learn by doing, moving on from your mistakes – mistakes are your tuition fee – and by having the best information and resources available.
I’ll have more on that later.
About fifteen years ago, an internet advertisement for an affiliate marketing program caught my attention. At the time, I managed other businesses and stakeholders more deserving of my attention, but I was intrigued find out whether it would work. So I paid my money and took my chances.
The advertiser provided a website – which featured duplicated content – and I provided some traffic. I won’t bore you with my strategies because my efforts were naive at best. The initiative enjoyed limited success, but the exercise really wasn’t worth the effort. I really needed some help.
At about the same time, I noticed that there were established online businesses with regular income streams being offered for sale at knockdown prices. I was wary, but I decided to take a chance on a couple of these. After all, there was only a modest investment involved.
I assume that the people who had established these businesses – they were almost always affiliate marketing websites – were time poor or had burned out. Why else would they sell them? In both cases, the sites I bought paid for themselves within a matter of months and continued to provide income – not forever, but for long enough.
I tweaked them a little, but at the time I didn’t have a clue about search engine optimization or affiliate marketing for that matter. I managed to resell only one of the sites to someone who knew what they were doing, but I had a new hobby – for a time. Google had other ideas. A new algorithm penalized the business model and rendered my affiliate marketing websites nonviable.
Well, it was nice while it lasted. Nothing lasts forever, I figured – not even Pan AM or Polaroid.
Affiliate Marketing Rebooted
A few years ago, I came across an article written by Steve Olenski and published by Forbes. It was titled: ‘4 Myths About Affiliate Marketing You Need To Know’ , and Olenski made a strong argument for debunking them. The myths, as he saw them, were:
1. Affiliate systems are quick and easy to manage
Olenski argued that an affiliate marketing program is hard work and that most often you will face a lot of competition. It takes time to develop income streams.
2. You need to work in a very popular and lucrative niche to make affiliate marketing work for your business
Olenski claims that whereas it is true that popular niches do better with affiliate marketing, it’s always best for advertisers to “stay in line with the goals and mission statement of your company and find affiliates who understand the relevance of working in a market where you are comfortable”.
3. Affiliate marketing is a strategy of yesterday
The author acknowledged that due to recent changes to Google’s algorithms for SEO, link building was becoming increasingly outdated. Nevertheless, there are new and better SEO strategies available.
4. Success in affiliate marketing comes from getting your product on as many sites as possible
Olenski’s position was: “The best way to think about affiliate marketing is quality over quantity… the key is finding a small number of partners that will deliver conversions”.
He concluded the article with a warning about “unscrupulous affiliate marketers’ tactics which cost brands and businesses millions of dollars every year”.
The article made me question my preconceived notion that affiliate marketing was a shot duck. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that there were super affiliates out there making huge sums promoting brands. But, it seemed to me that was a very expensive and risky pursuit – particularly if you were just starting out.
For my own part, I was running successful pay per click (PPC) campaigns on behalf of my clients. They also enjoyed organic traffic based on some fairly broad search terms. I seemed to be on top of that side of things. But, I decided I do a little more research into the matters raised in the Olenski article to see whether I could better serve my clients.
After a great deal of reading, I discovered that Olenski’s article had merit, but that it was incomplete. It largely concerned itself with the interests of the advertiser rather than the interests of the affiliate marketer.
My conclusion was that affiliate marketing may not only serve the interests of some of my client-advertisers but that I just might give affiliate marketing another try myself. Oh, and by the way, unscrupulous affiliate marketers are not the only people you need to watch – you need to keep your eye on others in the food chain as well.
There is a lot of contradictory information out there but, when you read enough of it, patterns begin to emerge. Many competent affiliate marketers have branded themselves. They have websites full of free and factual information – quality content. However, the secret sauce recipe is generally missing. The recipe costs money, a lot of money. The problem is how can you be sure it’s the right sauce from the right source?
As I considered that question I came across a Wealthy Affiliate (WA) review. These guys ‘backed themselves’. That’s Australian slang. It means that the people at WA had so much self-belief that they were prepared to put themselves on the line. Their products, services and recipe for success were free to try. Why? Because they work and the moment you realise that you’re hooked. They didn’t even ask for my credit card details when I signed on for free basic membership.
If Wealthy Affiliate hadn’t offered me free basic membership – no credit card required – I would not have joined.
My Experience at Wealthy Affiliate
Now, I have a confession to make: I never intended to stick around at WA for very long. I figured that I was already pretty well-informed and I already had a server to host my clients’ websites. So, I decided to learn as much as I could and get on with it.
But there was a hitch – the information available in the forums and video classes was so current, valuable and so frequently updated that I was reluctant to leave just yet. WA was keeping me abreast of industry developments and saving me so much time. Moreover, their keyword research tool JAAXY was too valuable to abandon. You can subscribe to JAAXY without being a member – hell, they’ll even give you a free trial – but for just a little more than I had to pay for JAAXY, I could enjoy everything else that Wealthy Affiliate had to offer.
It was only when WA introduced free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, which could be added to a website as easy as using a light switch, that I became totally committed.
SSL certificates are becoming increasingly important. They ensure visitors that the provided content comes from a verified publisher. Secure sites have a little green padlock in the address bar and the website URL commences with https:// rather than the more familiar http://. It gives visitors confidence.
Website developers hate adding SSL certificates to a website – particularly a mature site. It’s complicated, time-consuming and no fun at all. Worse still, it can be very expensive. You may find an affordable SSL certificate only to discover that your website hosting company wants to charge you for applying it – like a restaurant that charges a corkage fee. Blah!
WA offers basic members two free sites – you can keep them forever – but they don’t have SSL certificates. Premium members get host up to 25 SSL secured websites on a superfast platform and another 25 subdomains.
I still use a commercial hosting platform to host my clients’ websites, and I wince every time I see the charges debited from my account. It costs more than my Premium WA membership and everything that comes with it. In time, I’ll get rid of that server, but for the moment I love what I’m doing at WA, and when I’m not busy working for clients, I’m very busy with my affiliate marketing initiatives.
As for my clients, I continue to offer them my very best efforts. But, I plan to delegate more and more of that work to staff who will work under my supervision.
WA’s policy of offering more than you could possibly expect (and continuing to do so) resonates with me. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a concept fundamental to my own humble marketing philosophy.
“Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.” ~ Andrew Carnegie
I’d like to help you to achieve success in affiliate marketing. It will benefit us both, and that will only become obvious to you when you check out exactly what Wealthy Affiliate has to offer – and how it can benefit you personally.
I encourage anyone who has read this far to try the free basic membership at Wealthy Affiliate. It’s not for everyone – it requires commitment, discipline and hard work. Not everyone makes it. But, I assure you that it does work. The forums are populated by a multitude of helpful, affiliate marketing professionals who do very nicely indeed.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” ~ Henry Ford
Having said that, I urge you to try before you buy and always remember that nothing’s a bargain unless and until you can afford it. Fortunately, becoming a premium member at WA is not particularly expensive.
One more thing: please commit to the free basic training without skipping a step – even if you have experience designing websites. I made that mistake and I regret it.
You see, the training assumes that you know little more than how to send an email. It’s that simple. However, the training method is an inspiring model of how to teach new skills – step by step. That will come in handy if you want to design your own training one day. It may even come in handy if you just want to help your kids with their homework.
How I Got from Point A to Point A
- I managed a sales force.
- I opened new territories.
- I developed and implemented marketing strategies.
- I launched new products.
- I managed national and international stakeholders.
- I managed companies.
- I got caught up in two military coups d’état.
- I adapted during the Asian Economic Crisis and the Global Financial Crisis.
- I experienced the impact of globalization and developed new business models.
- I travelled approximately two million kilometres by air.
- I experienced two aborted aircraft takeoffs, at least four aborted landings and one engine flameout that resulted in an emergency landing.
That’s it for now. If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,
 Olenski, S. 2014. 4 Myths About Affiliate Marketing You Need To Know. © 2014 Forbes Media LLC. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2014/07/08/4-myths-about-affiliate-marketing-you-need-to-know/2/#286caa857f20