Since quitting my job at the end of 2009 my focus has been on replacing the income I gave up and for it to be recurring every month with the minimum involvement from myself. (100% passive income just isn’t possible and you should be wary of anyone who is trying to sell you that dream).
However, I started with the most active kind of income possible, that of multi-tabling online poker. I thought this was my route to freedom but it was the opposite.
I then discovered I could make money online by doing web and online marketing for other businesses.
I started out building websites, creating logos and business cards. Anything clients wanted I would do.
I slowly moved up the value chain and in offering marketing services such as SEO retainers I was able to finally replace my job income through client work after 3 years.
However, it then took another 4 years to figure out how to build a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) online business the generated predictable revenue.
Put another way, I failed for 7 years to reach this end goal by trying every business model that people were promoting!
Productized services didn’t get me the level of passive income and stability I wanted.
Building ecommerce stores didn’t create that four hour work week muse I wanted to achieve ever since reading the book.
And trying to build amazon associate sites just ended with me getting rejected from the program and almost entirely rejected from online business!
It wasn’t until I started receiving regular affiliate commissions from mentioning the software products that I was using on this site that a lightbulb went off in my head.
The content I had published was signing people up for software products such as Leadpages and Drip twenty-four hours a day without my involvement.
I then asked myself:
What would happen if I built an entire site around promoting software?
Could this be the MRR machine that had alluded me all these years?
I shut down the productized services on funnelengine.com, added more content to turn the site into an authority in the area of funnels, and focussed 100% on generating software commissions as an affiliate, primarily Clickfunnels but also Samcart.
Since then I’ve gone on to build up recurring affiliate income from software that’s generated over $5k/m.
But just what was wrong with the other online business models.
The problem I had with Amazon Associates sites
A lot of people are focussed on building Amazon niche sites to replace their job income. And these people are realizing that when you’re only earning 5% commission rates from Amazon Associates it takes a LOT of traffic to make replace your job income.
Whereas if you’re promoting software such as Samcart that pays out 50% then you don’t need to generate 100,000+ pageviews each and every month to earn $5k/m.
But the biggest issue I have is that Amazon can shut down your associate (affiliate) account whenever they choose. They recently shut down my US account as I had inadvertently uploaded an image that had an amazon logo on it. No heads up, just an email (below) saying the account was closed. I spoke with them on support to try and get it reinstated after deleting the image but they would not as was against their policy.
This is kinda like playing Russian roulette when you just don’t know which bullet is going to kill your income.
I felt out of control and vowed never to apply again to the program. I interviewed Matt Diggity on a recent podcast and he’s also had enough with Amazon associates.
The problem I had with affiliate marketing networks
One word: conversions
I’ve promoted a bunch of products on networks such as Clickbank (above) in a variety of niches from health to poker and the conversion rate from traffic to sales has been abysmal for me.
Plus you have to make sales every month to generate an income as it’s not recurring.
The problem I had with ecommerce sites
I love ecommerce and have built and sold a profitable shopify store however I wouldn’t recommend it as a way for people to first get to $5k/m.
There are way too many moving parts where you need to deal with (and often be dependent on) suppliers as well as shipping and customer support.
With my shopify store I had no revenue for December one year as my supplier closed down over the holiday period!
Why software review sites are best
Right now everyone is focussed on building up amazon niche sites or dropshipping ecommerce stores that are all competing for the same keywords.
Software review sites are way less competitive and it’s predominantly RECURRING commissions.
This is huge as you don’t need to pick up new customers every month.
Even if your organic traffic tanks your income will not be affected for months and you have time to recover or stack up additional traffic channels.
And if you’re building it correctly you will have an ever growing email list that you can depend on.
And they use great affiliate tracking software to power their programs or create their own.
I think that content sites that promote software is the best online business model for achieving financial independence.
Here are my 5 best software review site examples:
- capterra.com – the grand daddy
- g2.com – great write a review feature
- woofresh.com – strong site structure
- reapon.com – really like the add your product page
- crozdesk.com – like the UI on this one
Best Recurring Affiliate Programs
I build software review sites due to the recurring affiliate programs. Below are the top residual income affiliate programs I promote: