At the time the thing that held me back six months was the emphasis on creating your own product along with spending the $500 or so that Tim recommended on ads. This was to see whether ad spend would be profitable sending to a sales page you created for the product you are testing (for the audience you understand and belong to).
That $500 was just too much of a psychological barrier at the time as a new entrepreneur in the freebie only mindset.
The book changed my perspective on what was possible more than any other book or blog I've read and this post is therefore no criticism (I am a big fan of Tim), however I think it's hard for new entrepreneurs to:
- Create a product (even info / digital)
- Build a sales page
- Learn Google Adwords
What I feel is better is to simply sell other people's products as an affiliate who have already created their own converting sales pages or product pages. And you can generate traffic by creating your own content sites and promoting on a platform you are already familiar using - Facebook.
Indeed, Tim actually mentioned in the tools and tricks section of 'Income Autopilot I Finding A Muse' experimenting with products through affiliate networks such as clickbank and commission junction as a proof of concept to find your own products to create.
In this post I argus that it's easier and better to simply market other people's products as an affiliate without the intention to create your own.
In this post you will learn:
- Why building an authority site is the best strategy for generating enough monthly passive income to replace a full time salary
- The three best business models / monetization methods I know for achieving this
- How to setup marketing funnels to generate leads and convert into customers
Engineering a muse
Back when Tim wrote the book, clicks on Adwords for buying intent keywords were typically 5-15 cents and you could generate a 3-4x return on ad spend right off the bat by sending cold traffic to a sales page. Tim mentions doing this with his BrainQuicken supplement in his muse math addition to the book.
The thing is, nowadays clicks are typically at least 10x more expensive (for both short and long tail keywords) and making buying intent clicks instantly profitable for anyone who isn't an Adwords expert is incredibly hard. Instead you need to extract more money out of every visitor using methods such popups, email marketing automation and marketing funnels to cover your acquisition costs.
Fortunately Facebook ads and funnel software have filled this gap but require a different strategy to what was in the book. Cost per click on Facebook is in my experience less than half that of adwords which is great and you can target niche audiences with their audience insights tool in ways which are impossible on google.
However, people are not in a buying state on Facebook and you have to attract their interest through great content and by offering something for free - a lead magnet - to then send them directly to a sales page (or indirectly to a bridge page - explained below) and follow up and nurture through an autoresponder sequence to convert them into customers.
Muse Math - Defining the challenge
Our goal is to build a web based business that generates the average US personal income as quickly as possible with less than 4 hours of the owners time involved per week.
According to wikipedia, the average US personal income is $44,510 which works out at $3709/m. Let's round that figure up to a target of $4k/m (or Total Monthly Income as Tim states).
As mentioned I feel that a $500 ad budget is mentally too much for new entrepreneurs to throw at something. To make this challenge interesting to experienced entrepreneurs as well I'm going to say we only have an initial budget of $50/m to invest in generating that $4k/m.
So what is the best option for achieving $4k/m passively month on month as soon as possible with a starting budget of only $50/m?
Building an authority site (muse examples)
With my first muse attempt I failed to do this. I bought a domain focussed purely on panorama photos that people took on their iphone rather than a larger site focussed on say iphone photography. I was limited to the type of content I could create, the types of products I could offer and therefore the amount of keywords (search phrases people were using) I could focus on.
I had built a niche site rather than an authority site, and just couldn't get income above $1500/m. To better understand the difference between niche sites and what is authority sites there's a great post on nichepursuits.com, a discussion on authorityhacker.com and an argument on empireflippers.com.
For those new to website building here's a quick top 10 list of how to get started - most of my audience can probably skip this.
How To Setup An Online Content Asset
- Buy domain - I use 123 Reg
- Buy hosting - I use Dreamhost
- Install wordpress
- Pick a theme, free is fine to start
- Create a google analytics account and grab the code
- Install a tracking code wordpress plugin to add the code
- Install Yoast SEO Plugin to optimise your content for the keywords (search phrases) people are searching for who could purchase the products you want to promote as an affiliate
- Do keyword research into the area you are thinking of building a site for
- Find the best content for the top keywords using buzzsumo.com
- Write better content and promote on social channels and through email outreach to websites that linked to the existing content.
How to make money from authority sites
For me it comes down to one of (or all) three options.
I've tried and looked into many different types of business models when I had the Bootstrap Duel Podcast. I even recently asked this question in a private community for experienced location independent entrepreneurs which confirmed the following three best ways.
The easiest way to get going is to write content that mentions products that are being sold on Amazon. As you can imagine that's not very restrictive being the world's largest online marketplace. You simply sign up for an Amazon Associates account and then grab an affiliate link for the products you want to make commissions for (typically around 7%). For a full explanation Authority Hacker have a great guide and you can find them and 25+ more affiliate blogs here.
Super simple to monetize
Requires a lot of content and traffic to get to $4k/m
Tung Tran is an amazon affiliate expert and on his excellent blog cloudliving.com he is running a challenge to get to $10k/m from one authority site - thankyourskin.com. In his latest update he is actually now over $4k/m which has taken a year where get could get to over 150,000 visitors a month which generates over 50,000 clicks through to Amazon a month. Looking the site up in google (site:thankyourskin.com) over 170 pieces of strong content. What's super interesting to see is that Amazon product pages converted for him at over 6% - a good conversion on your own shopify ecommerce site would be 2%.
To potentially achieve quicker results, promoting other people's digital products on clickbank.com is worth looking at. Clickbank is one of many performance marketing networks that offers a wide variety of ebooks, online courses and memberships in a large number of niches.
The way to make money is by sending people to a sales page on clickbank that's optimized so that a certain % of people will purchase. However you will first want to make sure you collect the emails of people before sending them over to someone else's page and offer.
How this works is you create awesome content then offer what's called a content upgrade within the post which offers more information about what they've just consumed in exchange for leaving an email. Once people optin you can either send directly to the offer on clickbank but typically you will need to send them to what's known as a bridge page where you congratulate them for opting in, introduce yourself or brand and then recommend that they also check out the offer on clickbank.
You only need a couple of decent pieces of content that take off to make a living doing this. The guys at authorityhacker.com have the authority site healthambition.com where they created a post that generates $2500/m from an ebook offer as described on their podcast.
Once you have someone's email address you need to setup an autoresponder to nurture that lead into customers. Typically less than 2% of people you bridge over to the offer will end up purchasing so you need to try and convert the remaining 98% through a series of emails that gives value and reintroduces the offer. Also through creating a longer sequence you can add in multiple offers on clickbank which will dramatically increase the lifetime value of a lead however this is hard to track. I recommend and use Drip for this which now has a $0 free plan. I wrote why I moved from Mailchimp to Drip in a previous post.
Clickbank Affiliate Marketing Funnel Structure
Content > content upgrade (lead magnet) > bridge page > clickbank offer.
The thing with this approach is that a couple of great pieces of content that convert into leads is all you need to get to $4k/m. The guys at authorityhacker.com got one of their blog posts on their authority site healthambition.com to $2500/m through this type of funnel as mentioned in this podcast episode.
You only need a few pieces of great content to funnel people into offers to make a full time living from an authority site
Only need a few pieces of great content to get to $4k/m
Need to maintain traffic to maintain sales month on month, hard to work out customer lifetime value
RECURRING SOFTWARE COMMISSIONS
The reason why Software As A Service (SaaS) businesses have high valuations is their predictable business model of monthly recurring revenue (MRR), high margins and high lifetime customer value (LTV). Due to this, software companies can pay generous recurring commissions to affiliates to sign people up to their platform. I've been doing this for years for Leadpages and Drip and all the other companies on my tools page but it wasn't until I actively started promoting software such as affiliate programs such as clickfunnels with my previous business Funnel Engine that I realised I could make a full-time living doing just that.
Clickfunnels pays 40% commissions for life which is ~ $40 per customer with their most popular $97/m plan. The video below shows how I made money promoting clickfunnels. I was using facebook retargeting to send people to the optin in the video. I wrote blog content about Shopify, pixeled people who visited the page but didn't optin and then served them a retargeting ad to try and get them to claim their free shopify funnel template offer. I got < 40c leads this way and if they signed up to clickfunnels with my share funnel link I got 40%. It was a decent ROI.
Affiliate income builds every month, you're building an asset with a much higher multiple
Somewhat limited to the make money online space unless can be creative and target niches who can benefit
I think the easiest business model to understand and get going with is amazon affiliate, writing content and linking to products on Amazon. For someone new to affiliate marketing without a budget, the best thing I can recommend is to go Tung at Cloudliving's own AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp course. If you already have experience with funnels then clickbank can be a good place to start, however there is nothing easier than writing about marketing software you are already using and earning commissions by linking to it.