We’re especially excited to bring you today’s Beyond The 9-5 post because this one is coming from a veteran online marketer whose answers will show you how to make money as an affiliate marketer online.
In fact, that’s how I met Roderick, known online as “Nathaniell”. It was right after I read his review on Clickbank University (and decided to forego it in favour of Wealthy Affiliate, which I highly recommend) and the blog was on our three-month mark.
I was spending too much time scouring the internet for legitimate affiliate marketing opportunities.
I was honestly getting so tired of navigating the seemingly shark-infested waters of the MMO niche (AKA making money online niche). There was so much information and you really need to dig deep in order to find out which is legitimate and which is a scam.
As a full-time blogger, freelance web developer and wife and mum, I can honestly say this with passion: ain’t nobody got time for that!
Thankfully, his recommendation panned out and, with his help (thank you, WA, for making him accessible!) I am now happily, safely and legitimately ensconced in far safer waters.
This interview will be especially relevant to anyone looking for effective strategies for new affiliate marketers so you can finally learn how to be a successful online affiliate marketer from someone who’s been there, done that.
Let’s go check out Nathaniell’s journey from English teacher to wildly successful online affiliate marketer!
Nathaniell, can you give us a brief intro?
I’ve been doing online marketing for 9 years now and doing it full time for 7 of those years. I started when I was 25.
How did you get into online marketing, Nathaniell? Who/what inspired you? What made you turn to making money online?
When I got started, I was working as an English teacher in China. I was considering staying there indefinitely but realized that my salary wouldn’t allow me to travel, or even come back to the US on a regular basis. I needed a side income to have a “cushy” life in China.
Ever since my initial websites took off, my life has taken a much different path!
One More Cup of Coffee
You run a very successful blog called One More Cup of Coffee. Who is it for? What information can people expect to find in your blog? What made you start a blog in the first place?
One More Cup of Coffee has been through many “niche transformations” over time. Originally, I wanted to have an all-around personal finance blog. Then I realized I didn’t have enough expertise or time to become an expert!
Now, I really try to focus on new affiliate bloggers trying to get their first website off the ground and earning money. People say that the “make money online” industry is saturated, but there are so many ways to make money online, that I feel there are plenty of untapped niches within the broader MMO industry.
Even someone wanting to build an affiliate blog could have a different mindset.
Someone looking to supplement their fixed-income retirement would have a different mindset and set of goals than a young person looking to travel with their blog income. The former would need more hands-on help and simplified tutorials, while the latter would need more instructions on automated systems and work-flow habits.
What was the journey like for you? What made you keep going?
In the beginning, I was really just focused on money, and that was my driving force. For someone earning $1-2k/month as a teacher, suddenly earning $10k-$20k was crazy (Kevin & Jade: Ahem, people, I know you’re wondering so that right there is your answer to the question, “Can you get rich from affiliate marketing?”).
Nowadays, I realize that the longer I’m outside of traditional employment, the more I have to rely on my business for long term income.
That means actually creating lasting value. My time horizons have consistently changed to a longer and longer timeline. Now I’m wondering what’s in store for my website ten years down the road.
What are the first and most important steps you took to get started?
I think the two most important steps for building a successful website are 1) actually building the website, and 2) creating templates you can follow that you can pass on to freelancers. Thinking of a new topic to write about every day can be stressful and lead to inaction.
I’ve always had more successes with serial articles, publishing many keyword variations based on a template.
Knowing what you do now, is there anything that you would’ve done differently?
One of my biggest mistakes as a beginner was keyword cannibalization. I’d write 10 articles on very similar topics, hoping to capitalize on different phrasings or word order. In reality, the intent is super important.
“How to train your dog” and “How to train a dog” are basically the same phrase, and should not be different articles.
What was the highlight of your journey?
What counts as a “highlight” keeps changing over time. Things that excited me back then are not as exciting now. For example, the first time I earned $300 in a day was when I was on a flight from the USA to China, so it was pretty cool to earn that passive income.
One of the strangest things to happen to me was when an affiliate company accidentally sent me $66,000 to my Paypal account. I ended up returning the money, but who knows if they would have noticed if I didn’t return it!
And what was the low point? What are some of the challenges and how did you manage these?
The lowest point in my journey so far was when my sites got hit in 2012 or 2013 with the Panda/Penguin updates. My traffic tanked and my income was cut in half over the next few months.
Over time, I was able to clean up those sites and rebuild some new ones (the right way this time). I see it as a learning experience now.
Back then, it felt catastrophic.
Did you ever consider giving up or going back to the 9-5? Why (not)?
Within the first six months of building my site, I was also trying to get a cafe off the ground. It was pretty busy, so I thought about canceling my hosting for while and coming back to things later. I guess it was lucky for me that the cafe ended up not working out because I found a much more fitting career as an affiliate marketer.
I don’t think I could ever do a 9-5 though. I’ve considered it, just for self-improvement and for something to break up my day, but really there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than working on my affiliate sites.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to transition from full-time employment to becoming an online entrepreneur? What can they expect? What qualities, skills or certifications do they need to have?
My best advice for someone starting out is that they need to suck it up and get ready to give up a year of their life and a chunk of money to build their business. So many people start out wanting to build a site the cheapest way possible and make money the fastest way possible, with no mistakes.
I find it’s much more comfortable to have a “loss leader” mindset. Prepare to make some sacrifices now for better rewards in the future. It’s interesting that people want to take steps to change their life, but only as long as it doesn’t take too much time or money to do so.
Aside from running One More Cup Of Coffee, what else are you working on? What else keeps you busy?
Can you give us a peek at what your day looks like?
My days really vary. I try to be working from 7 AM to about 6 PM, with a 2-hour break for lunch and gym in the afternoon. I do this 5 days a week, and usually, take weekends off.
Of course, self-directing is never that simple, and a lot of times I won’t start until noon, or I’ll get off track at some point in the day and end up running errands or doing the laundry.
When I am actually busy and do a full day of work, I typically get all my must-do tasks in the morning, first thing. Then I work through some weekly goals and new tasks, and by the end of the day, I’m working on conceptual things like keyword research, topic research, and brainstorming future plans.
Thank you very much for taking part, Nathaniell.
And there you have it – straight from an expert’s fingertips – how to make money as an affiliate marketer online.
Let’s recap the most important things you can learn from Nathaniell’s interview. In other words, what are the most effective strategies for new affiliate marketers?
1. Adjust your expectations. If you needed to earn money yesterday, then affiliate marketing may not be for you. At least, not right now. As Nathaniell wrote, you need to have a “loss leader” mindset. Just like in a brick-and-mortar business, you need to invest in your affiliate marketing business and then really work on it before you can see the ROI you’re looking for. One year is a good enough time frame to expect to break even.
2. Build the website you need. Yes, you can become an affiliate marketer sans website but to build longevity into the business, you really need to have your own real estate here (AKA your website).
If you want to do it for free because you’re not sure if this MMO thing is really for you and just want to test the waters first, you can learn how to launch a website for free here. If you want to know exactly how Nathaniell does it and eventually earn as much as he does, then you can either try his basic training or take a step further and go enrol in his premium affiliate training.
3. Create templates that you can follow to make writing easier. You can check out Niklas Goeke’s awe-inspiring system to get an idea of what such a template looks like.
4. Start learning. If you want to successfully do business online, you need to be prepared to invest not just in the business itself but also, and maybe more importantly, in yourself.
Learn the skills you need to make your business grow. Unless you’re a writer extraordinaire who has incredible coding, copywriting, graphic designing, social media marketing and networking skills, you will need to study and learn.
5. Keywords. If this is your first foray to making money online -specifically, through affiliate marketing, then there are obviously many things you’d need to learn (see point above). Chief among them is the importance of keywords in your ability to generate income. For more information on keywords, you can check out this Wealthy Affiliate training.
6. Keep going and don’t give up. Nathaniell could’ve quit after his websites got hit with the Panda/Penguin updates about five years ago but he didn’t. Instead, he cleaned up his sites and did what he needed to do in order to make everything right. That’s the attitude you need to cultivate if you want to become a successful affiliate marketer.
If you have any opinions or further questions about this post, then do write them down in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!