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I'm new around here and figured I'd jump right into the mix and do an AMA. Here's the short version on me ...

I've been online since 1998. Financially speaking I've gone through the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs. I've made millions, and I've lost millions. At my peak I was making around $250k a month in profits online.

I've made tons of money as an affiliate, and also selling my own info products and web apps/services.

My bread and butter though is straight lead gen via paid traffic. I've spent millions on advertising, and I’ve literally generated millions of leads online both for myself and other companies.

I'm a direct response marketer - I don't do SEO, and I don't do "social media".

I also don’t do mobile. I know nothing about mobile advertising or creating apps. Was just too busy killin' it to learn something new when mobile came along...

I actually don't love Internet marketing - it turns out I'm just pretty good at it. If I'm being completely honest, it has always just been about the money for me.

Now that money isn't much of a motivating factor, I really don’t have much interest in this stuff any more so I’m going to take a break and see how I feel in 6 months or so.

In the meantime I’m going to start looking in to some other businesses, getting active here on the forums, and I’m looking forward to learning and sharing as much as I can.

Oh yeah, one more thing I should tell you up front …

Much of what I’ve done isn’t very fastlane. I spent far too long “grinding” and “hustling” rather than building real businesses and real assets. That’s one of my biggest regrets.

I can’t complain – but I definitely need to be more mindful of this going forward.

OK I think that’s it for now so go ahead and ask me anything!

*** UPDATE ***

While I'd like to individually help everyone in the world, it's obviously not possible. There's no way I can keep up with this thread AND PMs. Please don't PM me questions, unless it also includes some kind of lucrative rev-share offer or you're willing to pay me at least 5-figures monthly as an advisor. :)
 

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What industry did you work within with success?
What industry did you work within that was failure?

I’m going to take a break and see how I feel in 6 months or so.
Any ideas what's next? More lead gen? For me, it was writing ... got real tired of my industry. (not the lead-gen part.)

Thanks for the post ... should be very interesting and valuable to all.
 

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What advice would you give someone just getting into paid traffic? What to start with? What to read/learn?
 
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What industry did you work within with success?
What industry did you work within that was failure?
Over the years I remained insanely focused on just 3 big niches - health, wealth, and relationships. The stuff that has always sold well, and always will. Obviously you have to sub-niche it down from there, but I never ventured off into the unknown and literally had no real "failures".

In the early days I honed my craft promoting scammy biz opps, and once I learned the ropes I was able to relatively easily duplicate that same success in the health, fitness, financial, and dating markets.

Any ideas what's next? More lead gen? For me, it was writing ... got real tired of my industry. (not the lead-gen part.)
I honestly don't know what's next. One thing I do know is that I'm pretty sick of sitting in front of the computer for many hours a day, so I hope to NOT be doing that. As a competitive athlete I also really hate the way it wrecks your body. Most people don't realize this.

I'm going to be investigating some different offline business ideas, but if I end up staying online I'll definitely have to be smarter about things going forward. The problem with what I've done in the past is that it all revolved around me. Basically I just created a really high paying job for myself. I've had employees off and on over the years, but *I* was the "secret sauce" that couldn't be outsourced.
 
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What advice would you give someone just getting into paid traffic? What to start with? What to read/learn?
It somewhat depends on what you're promoting, but ...

The only thing you need to know is that the "secret" is testing and tracking. That's it. I promise.

Everything else you'll have to experiment with on your own. There is no "best" anything. There is no one-size-fits all answer to any of this. Just pick something that interests you or fits your budget, and go do it.

Some people make millions with PPC. Others hate PPC. Some do PPV. Some do media buys. Some start their own affiliate programs. You'll never know what's going to work for you until you try it.

I've done it all but paying affiliates to send me traffic is how I made most of my money. Once I had the proper systems in place I found it to be the most efficient and scalable way to get as much traffic as I needed.

The key here is to simply have a great freakin' offer. If you have a highly-profitable offer you'll attract affiliates and partners without even trying, and they can send you almost unlimited amounts of traffic.

And yes, you can do this even when you're "just" an affiliate yourself. I've made millions paying affiliates to send traffic to my pre-sell pages where I pitch something and send the users off to another site. It's all just arbitrage.

Just make sure you split-test and track everything. That's honestly all that matters.
 

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Thanks for doing this!

What are your main traffic streams for paid traffic?
Are you into media buying as well, or just ppc?

Did you build email lists or did you just push the traffic via landing pages staight to the affiliate offer?
If you didn't build email lists why? It seems like building email lists along promoting affiliate offers increases profits and you actually build an asset.

Also are you into non english markets or just the english speaking market? Competition seems to be a lot lower in non english speaking markets.
How did you go about creating your own information products? If you outsourced it how did you do it?

Would be awesome to get some insights. ;)
 

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Did you ever venture into physical e-commerce?
Or have your products and affiliate offers always been info products?

When I see black hat SEO world and all it's members striving to make 10,000$ ~ / month
I always assumed the affiliate and lead gen stuff was just another glorified job.
 

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Hey, wondering why you didn't do this in Insiders. But, your choice was your choice.

My questions:

1) What do you say the WORST part of what you were doing before would be?

2) Would you do it all again if you had the chance?
 

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Over the years I remained insanely focused on just 3 big niches - health, wealth, and relationships. The stuff that has always sold well, and always will. Obviously you have to sub-niche it down from there, but I never ventured off into the unknown and literally had no real "failures".

In the early days I honed my craft promoting scammy biz opps, and once I learned the ropes I was able to relatively easily duplicate that same success in the health, fitness, financial, and dating markets.



I honestly don't know what's next. One thing I do know is that I'm pretty sick of sitting in front of the computer for many hours a day, so I hope to NOT be doing that. As a competitive athlete I also really hate the way it wrecks your body. Most people don't realize this.

I'm going to be investigating some different offline business ideas, but if I end up staying online I'll definitely have to be smarter about things going forward. The problem with what I've done in the past is that it all revolved around me. Basically I just created a really high paying job for myself. I've had employees off and on over the years, but *I* was the "secret sauce" that couldn't be outsourced.

That's a pretty good problem to have from my point of view! Any recommended reading / studying for a rookie that would like to be glued to his computer and highly paid? I'd love to say I'm sick of being stuck at home making shit-tons of cash! seriously though, I really would like to better understand how to build a system like that. There's a lot of mis-information out there and a nod in the right direction would be great. Thanks.
 

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First - Thanks for doing the AMA for us!

The key here is to simply have a great freakin' offer.
How are you assessing the offer? Are there certain metrics that you look at to gauge if it's worth the time / money?

Do you target a specific audience and then go looking for the offer or vice versa?

Have you found a quick and low cost way to assess the offers / your products to determine if they're worth tweaking and spending more money on?

Thanks!

edit: assess not access...long day..
 

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What are your main traffic streams for paid traffic?
Are you into media buying as well, or just ppc?
I've done just about everything over the years. I started out with PPC many many moons ago, back when you could get penny clicks from GoTo. I remember the good old days when you could slap up a crappy "thin" affiliate site and get clicks for pennies from Google for almost any keyword. Talk about easy money! As time has gone by this isn't really possible anymore, and depending on what you're promoting you may not even be able to use AdWords as they are more and more strict about what you can and can't promote. Not to mention the costs just keep rising every year. That's the "problem" with RTB platforms - costs will basically keep rising forever until only the top few percent of advertisers can afford to compete. Great if you're one of those top few percent, not so great for everyone else.

Anyway, personally, I've spent millions on PPC over the years. Depending on what you're promoting FB is another good option, although they are quickly going the way of Google. Another good place to advertise is POF.com. They have the best platform by far. Most people just promote dating offers there, but I've had success promoting all sorts of stuff.

Over the past handful of years I've shifted towards running my own affiliate programs. That's where I spend the most money on "paid traffic" nowadays. I have 1000s of affiliates that send me 10s of 1000s of clicks a day, even to my own affiliate pre-sell/landing pages.

This is a more "advanced" strategy but it's a great way to go once you know your numbers. It's just basically arbitrage. For example, if a lead is worth $3 to me, I'll setup an affiliate program where I pay my affiliates $2 a lead. Then I basically make $1 a lead and build a huge list that I can make more money off of in the future, with literally no risk. Basically I get paid to build huge lists. :)

Did you build email lists or did you just push the traffic via landing pages staight to the affiliate offer?
If you didn't build email lists why? It seems like building email lists along promoting affiliate offers increases profits and you actually build an asset.
Yes, building lists is a no-brainer and you should almost always do it. With that being said, and I'm going to sound like a broken record on this point through the thread, but there really is no right or wrong way to do this stuff. I know people who make millions just direct linking to affiliate offers, and I've done it myself. Most of the guys doing really well with this stuff generally get really, REALLY freakin' good at one thing - and yes you can still make money direct linking to affiliate offers. It's just not as easy as it used to be.

Also are you into non english markets or just the english speaking market? Competition seems to be a lot lower in non english speaking markets.
I've only ever focused on the major English speaking countries - US, CA, UK, and AU/NZ has generated probably 98% of my income.

I do know people who focus on promoting only spanish dating offers, etc. Almost anything can be profitable if you're willing to put in the time and effort to figure it out.

How did you go about creating your own information products? If you outsourced it how did you do it?
Well, creating info products is really easy. Something like a basic ebook can be written in a weekend. In my case my info products have been a handful of ebooks, but mostly "membership sites" where people pay for access to certain types of content. I hate creating actual content so in my case my products were often just re-packaged content I got from other sources (not PLR crap, but great content), or certain types of data that people could slice and dice however they wanted. I have written a few ebook-type products myself though too.

For the content-based sites I would usually pay someone to gather, condense, and spruce up the content for me. They'd usually update it for X period of time as well. Believe it or not you can buy great content very inexpensively. Would you believe you can "interview" an expert in almost any field and often pay them as little as a few hundred bucks for an hour or two of their time? You can record it all and then convert it into whatever format you want to sell it in - an ebook, an audio program, etc. You can find these people on RTIR etc.

For the data-based content sites, this is usually all fully-automated just by pulling in data from various APIs. The value I added is by integrating various tools, etc. that allow users to slice and dice the data in exactly the way they need. Think a keyword tool for example.

My favorite are web-based services that people pay for as this type of thing usually has a much higher perceived value than something like an ebook, and these projects are just more fun (to me) to work on.
 

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I gave a preso on this @ BnP but using the leads for my own use and not selling them out. The cool thing is that I get all the backend. I know why scale you can make tons of money in CPA lead gen, but its another affiliate marketing job that I would rather not have. The only lead gen I have been interested and am currently doing outside my own clients is for services that have long customer life cycles and recurring monthly payouts. Those are pretty fun to build.

Edit - Let me not be rude and actually ask some questions.

You said you were doing lead gen, are you doing large info capture or just name/email?
When you say arbitrage through getting your own affiliates, what is your payout reduction rate to get affiliates driving traffic for you, and why would they not just find the original offer?
What is your experience with companies scrubbing big time and payout reductions/non-payment?
 
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Did you ever venture into physical e-commerce?
Or have your products and affiliate offers always been info products?

When I see black hat SEO world and all it's members striving to make 10,000$ ~ / month
I always assumed the affiliate and lead gen stuff was just another glorified job.
I've never done ecommerce. If I decide to stay online it's a challenge that's definitely on my list. :)

Affiliate marketing and lead gen stuff is mostly used to make short-term cash. I did it that way for many years. Like I said, I created a very high paying job for myself. But there are ways to be smart about it and turn it into a "real" business if you want. Just look at sites like homeadvisor for example. They are just a "lead gen" company, but I'd say they are a real business lol
 

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Do you have any ideas or recommendations for how to do lead gen for a serious stock trading training program.

It isn't a typical stock offer, "You'll double your account in 3 weeks" hyped up thing, it's a program selling down to earth fundamental education for people who want to become real traders... what would you do?

The initial offer is a free webinar. Once we get people there, it converts nicely, but we'd love to get a lot more people into the free webinars.
 
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So, learning YOU were the secret sauce,

has led you to what new discoveries?

whats the focus to make the secret sauce, other than YOU now?

Z
My "problem" is that I always only wanted a lifestyle business. At least up until recently I've had ZERO interest in building a "real" company that would require me to go and open an office, hire a bunch of employees, etc. Still not sure I'd be happy doing that. I've worked from home for the past 15 years, when and how I wanted, with no real responsibilities, and for the most part I've loved every minute of it. It has limited me though for sure. With some projects there's only so far you can go working from home with a handful of "virtual employees."

I'd be lying if I haven't contemplated where I might be if I had "given in" and tried to build a real business. Several of my projects over the years definitely had the potential to be 10x bigger had I chosen to do this. I could just never get myself to do it.

I'm an idea guy, and I always will be. To me the fun is in coming up with a new idea and building something out of nothing. Once a site is up and running and making money, I lose interest VERY quickly.

If I continue online I'll probably stay focused on software and web apps. That's where I have the most fun, they are easy to sell and scale, and I can outsource most/all of the work - unlike a 6-figure a month advertising-based campaign. You just can't outsource the management of this kind of thing, because anyone qualified enough to do it is already off doing their own thing. You just can't hire people like me.
 
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Hey, wondering why you didn't do this in Insiders. But, your choice was your choice.
I'm new around here. What's the pros and cons either way? Hadn't even given it a second of thought.


1) What do you say the WORST part of what you were doing before would be?
That's easy - the fact that I was the secret sauce that made everything work. If I ever took more than week or two off things would start going downhill fast. As I mentioned much of what I did wasn't very fastlane. In essence I just created a really high paying job for myself.

2) Would you do it all again if you had the chance?
It's a tough one. For the most part, I always did what I felt was the right thing for me at that moment in time. I definitely should have looked at building some kind of "real" business much sooner, but it was always kind of a catch-22. I was making so much cash that I couldn't just give it up, but since it required me to work so much to make it I didn't have the time to do anything else.

I would have had to REALLY wanted to do something else because it would have literally required me to "throw away" huge amounts of cashflow in order to pursue anything else. I guess I wasn't willing to do it at the time. I did consider it a few times though.
 

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Just look at sites like homeadvisor for example. They are just a "lead gen" company, but I'd say they are a real business lol
Very true.

Since this is right up my alley:

1. Any experience with adult dating? Or adult content in general?
2. As far list building goes, are there any specific tools/services you could recommend? Mailers/software/etc.

You mentioned POF, the only problem I have with POF is lack of volume. Not to mention with how FB is going, it seems more affiliates are flocking to POF. The pond is filling up fast. Though, I have had some success with non-dating campaigns. To each their own, I just like being able to scale hard if need be.
 
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That's a pretty good problem to have from my point of view! Any recommended reading / studying for a rookie that would like to be glued to his computer and highly paid? I'd love to say I'm sick of being stuck at home making shit-tons of cash! seriously though, I really would like to better understand how to build a system like that. There's a lot of mis-information out there and a nod in the right direction would be great. Thanks.
You're not going to like my answer on this one. The answer is to just work like a maniac and learn as you go. When I started out I literally worked 80+ hours a week, 7 days a week, non-stop. Maybe not the healthiest way to do it, but almost every super successful person I know goes through this same process. I ate, slept and breathed Internet marketing for many YEARS. Not weeks or months, but years. You know what they say ... do for a few years what others aren't willing to do, so you can blah blah blah however it goes. :)

Keep in mind there were no courses on how to do any of this stuff when I started out. These days there are some good ones out there that can help speed up your learning curve. I would definitely recommend trying to learn from others as much as you can for sure. It just depends where you are and what you want to learn next though. Identify that and then do a little research to see who is selling the best info product or course on that topic, and grab it. Don't let the broke a$$ wannabees convince you that paying for info is dumb because you can get it all "free" if you just spend enough time looking for it. That's a bunch of bullshit - your time is way too valuable for that.

Before I forget, here's one piece of advice that may or may not apply to you...

marketing skills + basic techie/programming skills = M-O-N-E-Y

I'm the farthest thing from a "nerdy programmer" you could imagine, but over the years I've learned a little here and a little there and these days I can literally create almost anything I want in terms of web-based applications or services. I've taught myself PHP, MySQL, the basics of managing and maintaining servers, etc. With a few projects, I'm positive that my ability to iterate quickly was the key to my success.

Outsourcing is great and all that, but dealing with flakey programmers is not. If we're competitors and you have to wait days to have one little change made on your site - something that I can do in 5 minutes - who do you think is going to kick who's a$$?

I went into one market that was dominated by a pretty big company, and within 2 years I had literally kicked their a$$ and essentially put them out of business. I basically just took what they were doing, put my own twist on it and made it better for customers, and I was just too agile and they couldn't keep up with me and my tiny team.

If you think you have the mind for it at all, I highly recommend that EVERYONE give PHP and mysql a try. You'd be surprised at how quickly and easily you can learn the basics of LAMP development, and how big of a competitive advantage it can give you.
 

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What are your top 5 book recommendations?
 

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How are you accessing the offer? Are there certain metrics that you look at to gauge if it's worth the time / money?
If you're referring to affiliate offers, the safest thing to do is just copy other people. Not blatantly rip them off, but just see who is doing what successfully, pick something where you think you can add value, and then just copy what they're doing but do it a little better.

As far as determining if something is worth the time and money, you'll develop a feel for it over time. Once I hit my stride I never had a "failed" project again. Because I just kept doing the same thing I knew I was freakin' good at it, in different markets. Starting out I think the best thing you can do is copy what others are doing. Unless there is an obvious barrier to entry, generally speaking if someone else is doing something successfully you can probably do it too. This will eliminate a lot of risk when you're starting out.

Do you target a specific audience and then go looking for the offer or vice versa?
Yes. I recommend you always identify a hungry market of people that has money to spend first, then work on giving them what they want. NEVER start with the product or offer and then try to figure out how to sell it. Never ever.

Have you found a quick and low cost way to access the offers / your products to determine if they're worth tweaking and spending more money on?
Starting out you should really use the "copycat" method and you won't really have to worry about this kind of thing. Go to Clickbank for example and check out all the top selling products. Pick one that looks interesting. Reverse engineer what they're doing, and then just go and do it yourself - hopefully in a way that's even better and provides more value to the customer. It's pretty hard to screw up doing this.
 
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I gave a preso on this @ BnP but using the leads for my own use and not selling them out. The cool thing is that I get all the backend. I know why scale you can make tons of money in CPA lead gen, but its another affiliate marketing job that I would rather not have. The only lead gen I have been interested and am currently doing outside my own clients is for services that have long customer life cycles and recurring monthly payouts. Those are pretty fun to build.
No doubt. For the most part I agree. Of course there's nothing that says you can't do both - sell the leads AND keep them yourself. :)

You said you were doing lead gen, are you doing large info capture or just name/email?
I've done it all. Depends what the lead buyers want. I've done everything as simple as generating name/email leads and getting paid a buck or two, all the way up to 3-page forms where I got paid $100+ for a lead.

When you say arbitrage through getting your own affiliates, what is your payout reduction rate to get affiliates driving traffic for you, and why would they not just find the original offer?
My "margin" is usually anywhere from 25% on the low end all the way up to 100% or more. The more savvy partners usually demand higher payouts, and of course I would always pay more to a partner if they can deliver volume. As far as why most people wouldn't just do it themselves, it's because most people are lazy. That and the fact that I almost always add a lot of value to the process, which is a big part of my success. I've done some direct linking (especially in the early years when it was so freakin' easy), but that's not how I've made most of my money.

What is your experience with companies scrubbing big time and payout reductions/non-payment?
I have lots of experience with this. Here's what it comes down to. Your goal is to be in a position where you generate so much traffic or so many leads for a company, that they depend on you. At that point YOU have all the leverage and they can't screw with you. That's the simple truth.
 
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If I may ask, what's the barrier to entry in this type of industry?

What stops anyone on this forum to replicate your success?

I read a lot about how much people can make doing this, but there must be a reason why everyone can't be as successful as you have, right?
The only barrier to entry with what I've done is that most people aren't willing to work as hard as me, and they give up whereas I don't. I've had this on my wall behind my desk since day one. Motivational stuff is sometimes corny, but this is my only secret to success:

http://c811328.r28.cf2.rackcdn.com/10093_zoom_double_735550.jpg

The key take away is at the bottom ...

"The difference between history's boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere."

That's me, and I promise that you can take that to the bank.
 
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Do you have any ideas or recommendations for how to do lead gen for a serious stock trading training program.

It isn't a typical stock offer, "You'll double your account in 3 weeks" hyped up thing, it's a program selling down to earth fundamental education for people who want to become real traders... what would you do?

The initial offer is a free webinar. Once we get people there, it converts nicely, but we'd love to get a lot more people into the free webinars.
I think this type of thing is a little too general for me to respond to in this AMA. If you have specifics questions I'll try my best to answer them. If your funnel is converting nicely that's awesome, because that's the hardest part. All you need to do is get more traffic. If your offer converts well it should be relatively easy to re-invest your profits into buying paid traffic to scale your business. If you find this NOT to be true, then it means your offer isn't converting well enough and/or your customer LTV simply isn't high enough.
 

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Nice. Thank you for your time. I'll read along and see if I have questions for you.
 
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Dec 30, 2012
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1. Any experience with adult dating? Or adult content in general?
A little but nothing recent. I dabbled in adult stuff early on, but it was just too much of a hassle to have to "hide" what I was doing from certain friends, family, then later my kids, etc. My wife wouldn't have a problem with it, but I work from home and have 3 little kids running around half the time. Just doesn't work lol. I remember one time I was on vacation with my family and I was sitting out by a pool checking my stats and checking on one of my landing pages when my dad came and sat down next to me. He thought I was looking at porn or something lol. Just too much hassle for a guy my age and in my situation. Definitely big money in this though!

2. As far list building goes, are there any specific tools/services you could recommend? Mailers/software/etc.
Hmm not really. My stuff is almost all inhouse since I've developed everything I need over the years. For example, I have an autoresponder system that's as good as aweber, but it can do other cool stuff that aweber can't. Most guys just use aweber though. Sorry, nothing I can really add here. I guess one random tip I can throw out there is if you get to the point where you have your own server with multiple sites on it, make damn sure you set things up so each site has it's own IP and mail that goes out goes out under each sites individual IP. The worst thing you can do is have all your mail for 5 different sites going out under your servers primary IP.

You mentioned POF, the only problem I have with POF is lack of volume. Not to mention with how FB is going, it seems more affiliates are flocking to POF. The pond is filling up fast. Though, I have had some success with non-dating campaigns. To each their own, I just like being able to scale hard if need be.
Yeah man I hear ya. PPC in competitive markets is not for me any more. I can't keep up with all the young grinders and hustlers. To "scale hard" you should probably focus on media buys and possibly setting up your affiliate program and finding some big a$$ partners. For example I have partners that can send me 500-1000 leads a day EACH.
 
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Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Dec 30, 2012
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San Diego
What are your top 5 book recommendations?
Was waiting for this one. Sorry man this is one thing I don't do enough of. Apparently most successful people read a lot, and I'm the exception here. I have a huge pile of books I WANT to read, but just have never made the time for it. Between work, family and my hobbies there just doesn't seem to be enough time. I usually try to read a bit before bed, but at that point I'm usually half asleep and only end up reading for 15-20 minutes and never remember what I read. Off the top of my head I'll give you 2. E-Myth Revisited, and Cashvertising.
 

SeanyHang

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May 24, 2013
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I guess I got to the party late.. But I just wanted to tell you how friggen' insightful this thread was and I genuinely feel like I'm taking something away from it.

++Speed
 

Rerun

Contributor
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Aug 7, 2012
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Just wanted to say great thread.

I can completely relate to everything you've said about affiliate marketing. Especially about the physical toll it takes on your body. This is not a healthy business. You literally feel yourself deteriorating and aging.

Also agree with it just being a job you create for yourself. The money can be great, but basically it only flows as many hours as you can sit at the computer. Once you have kids, you just can't sustain the lifestyle or compete with those who grind it out.

Like you said, it is hard to turn it off and walk away from when you know you're walking away from cash. Eventually though you just have to pull the plug. Sounds like you're at the point where it's not about the money anymore... so now is the opportune time to get out. Although a 6 month hiatus might make you excited to get back in it again, so watch out for that.

Web Apps and SaaS was something I've always been interested in, but never felt I found a good enough market that has the right opportunity to dominate and has the scale. Can you share other examples of areas that you've had success in? Maybe not specifics, but some examples that might get the creative juices flowing.

Curious about your affiliate traffic... did you partner with a couple guys you knew individually that could bring the volume? Or mostly put your offers on CPA networks and/or Clickbank? With so much fraud and crap out there, it seems best to work with just a few guys on private. But then your business is at the mercy of a couple affiliates.

Thanks again. ++speed
 

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