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Rags to Riches to Rags

Discussion in 'General Affiliate Marketing Forum' started by iReef, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. iReef

    iReef Affiliate affiliate

    Hi all, I think I've got a fairly interesting story to tell and I've always liked this community, so why not here?

    This is a year-long story about how I went from making zero, to $12,000 in a month, then quickly back to... well, almost zero.

    I hope this proves to be both an inspirational and cautionary tale at once that really delves into the game we're in with affiliate marketing. If nothing else, if you read closely, you can find some easy, VERY UNSPOKEN ways to make money. at least for a little while...

    So, it all started about a year ago. I picked up an expired domain name for fairly cheap, and it integrated well with the niche I had up to that point, reef aquarium sites. This domain was reefhq.com

    It was a good name but I really didn't have any use for it, so I thought, "what the hell?" and set up a wordpress blog with affiliate links for reef sandals. (It's pretty much exactly now as it was before).

    Then a couple sales came in and I was hooked. Over the next several months, I registered many domains, set up many wordpress blogs, and made a fair amount of money - to an average of a little over $100 per day. I worked my *** off learning about SEO from places like here and digitalpoint.

    I set my "quit the day job" goal at $300 per day and was well on my way to that thanks to the Digitalpoint Ad Network. Then Google dropped the hammer on sites using the ad network and it dropped pretty fast. POOF! Money was gone.

    I worked even harder.. set up new sites, with more and better original content, that didn't rely on the DP co-op for SE rankings. I did well at first with every site in MSN, but after a few weeks the ranking would drop and the money would go away. POOF!

    Gaming MSN for a few weeks was pretty easy... keyword in the domain name, title tag keyword only. It still works on keywords which have about 500,000 or less results in MSN... but I wanted sustainable income and this wasn't it.

    So I played a bit with adwords. Why? SEO was proving way too inconsistent... spend hours setting up a site, get good rankings in 2-6 weeks, then POOF! drop like a stone. My quest for a sustainable model continues to this day, but I digress...

    Around October of last year I had a couple Adwords campaigns going that were doing fairly well. Again, with lots of work, pegged at about $100 per day.

    Then I saw an offer at Azoogleads for Shoebuy.com - $10 off $30 coupon with a $15.75 payout. That, my friends, was the gold. I set up adwords campaigns for Crocs, a pair of sandal/shoes hybrids thingies that were gaining popularity and cost just over $30 per pair. The money and conversions came flying in! Before I knew it I broke $500/day profit. Then $800. Then I broke $1,000 in a day. I was writing my resignation letter in my mind, believe me!

    Why did this work so well? A few reasons... First, $30 is a low-involvement purchase for the consumer. Take $10, i.e. 33% off plus free shipping, and it's a no-brainer. Second, the adwords world revolves around commission-based sales. If I was going through Zappos, I would have made $4.50 per sale and barely broken even. Nobody caught this high payout on a low purchase except me (that I know of).

    Then...the inevitable POOF!. If we do some simple math, we can see that the Shoebuy folks didn't think this offer through very well. On a $30 pair of shoes, they pay me $15.75, Azoogle their cut, and of course knock $10 off the consumer's price with the coupon... AND ship it free. I knew this math pretty early on, but I thought maybe Shoebuy was seeing the value in gaining a new customer (they should have) who would repeat the purchase (they did, I'm sure). Anyway, Shoebuy saw they weren't doing so well on this offer and cut the coupon to 10% off $50 instead of $10 off $30. Traffic dropped, conversions dropped, and as quickly as the money rolled in, it went away. In other words..... POOF!

    After that I tried some coupon offers on shoes from CJ using the same model. It worked OK until the reversals hit. Then google dropped the hammer on landing pages. POOF! You see, all these adwords ads clicked to a landing page with a simple coupon image I created and nothing else. (Yes, this model will still work if you can figure out how to get the quality score algo to play nicely).

    After about 10 months of working my *** off, learning, optimizing, failing and trying again, I decided I needed a break. This is where I'm fortunate to have a very well-paying day job... no big deal, I wasn't counting on that money from affiliate marketing, it was my retirement/corporate escape fund.

    So I took a break... and the money is just flat-out gone. Why? Because none of it was sustainable. It was all subject to SE algo updates, adwords quality score updates, changes in consumer trends, etc. So as I stopped building, the money stopped coming.

    The moral of this story? There are several...

    • Work hard and you'll make money. Stop working and you'll stop making money.
    • Don't quit your day job.
    • Recognize an opportunity and capitalize on it.
    • In this business, a good thing doesn't last long. You've got to keep moving.
    • Most importantly.... POOF! happens. Almost without fail.

    There are probably many more lessons in this story. Most important for me was making sure people who are new to the affiliate marketing industry know what they're getting into... your whole world can, and will, change in one day. You'd better be ready for it.

    As for me, I'm still looking for that holy grail of sustainable income based off a model that can be repeated long-term.

    Wish me luck. :)

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2008
  2. terraleads
  3. kbldshmn

    kbldshmn New Member

    Great story and thanks for sharing. It certainly gives us hopefuls (vicarious) experience to go by. I'm sure that the lesson you learned will be valuable in future endeavors :)

  4. Linda Buquet

    Linda Buquet <span style="color: #daa520;font-weight: bold;">Me

    Wow iReef, I think that's about the best post we've had this year!
    Seriously, so many good lessons!

    It reminds me of a post James Martell (one of th etop industry gurus if you don't know the name) made a little while ago to another member of our forum.

    James talks about the importance of focusing your efforts and not quitting your day job til you get to a certain level.

    Be sure and read this one, it's filled with wisdom too.

    Thanks again iReef for sharing your trial and tribulations!
    Here's hoping you can get back on a winning path soon!
  5. StephenR

    StephenR Affiliate affiliate

  6. Teli

    Teli Affiliate affiliate

    Thanks for sharing those bits of wisdom, T. Very inspiring indeed and I'm sure, as many have said, that you'll bounce back better than ever.

    Just have faith in yourself and have fun with it. When you stop enjoying what you're doing online, then it becomes work, and we all know what that will lead to... :)

    Good luck!

    ~ Teli
  7. Banks16

    Banks16 Affiliate affiliate

    An amazing story


    I think you hit the nail on the head there. It's great that you shared that with us. You are completely right, as I am sure most people here are aware of. Continuous improvement and changes are necessary if you are to make it profitable in our market. Sustainable income with no continual updating will never leave results.

    Keep us informed :)
  8. affmeter

    affmeter New Member


    Many thanks for telling your story. I think everyone of us have similar stories because affiliate marketing is all about ups and downs in reality. Only if we stay solid, we can reach our goals. I am sure your experience will lead you a way where you can find the right soltion for your affiliate marketing endeavours. But please be patient.

    I am in internet business together with my husband for almost 10 years. I can say we had countless failures and disappointments. The most important lessons I have learned from those years are as follows:

    1)Always spread your risks among different projects. If one fails or the conditions have changed just go to other project to save yourself. I know that it is hard to do but whenever you have reached to a certain level of experience that will come up automatically.

    2)The other fact is that always love what you are doing for leaving. Just not do it because it makes you earn more money. It does not last too long. Stay passionate about your occupation.

    3)Always keep your courage and self confidence for accomplishing your target and wait until the right time comes.

    I wish you all the success and patience to reach your goals.

    All the best
  9. Idea Guy

    Idea Guy Affiliate affiliate

    Thank you for sharing your story,...

    Well, good luck to your next step.... :cool:
  10. muskratviking

    muskratviking Affiliate affiliate

  11. Larwee

    Larwee <b><font size=2>In Memoriam - Loyal Administrator< affiliate

  12. AnneHamptom

    AnneHamptom New Member

    thanks for sharing your story, very well taken:)
  13. karenlim

    karenlim Affiliate affiliate

    Thank you for sharing

    I agreed that if you stop working, income stop
    This holds true whether you are in internet marketing, network marketing or traditional business.

    But I feel when the 2nd income can comfortably takes over the job salary, people can still quit the job to focus full time. This itself does not mean they can stop working on their business.

    True retirement or stop working comes in when you have accumulated lump sum wealth ( say $5M) at certain age to last the rest of your life at a certain lifestyle.

    The idea behind true residual income is not totally true. I have seen even great master in MLM work really hard. My guess is when downlines come and go in their organization, they need to continuous get more people , train them so that they keep their so called residual income stable.

    In internet marketing, this applies as we need to continuously do campaigns, update content etc etc.

    Please update us with your developments. I am sure the lessons gained have given you both strength in character and knowledge to move ahead.
  14. TheCuteKidDave

    TheCuteKidDave Affiliate affiliate

    great post!! learned alot from it!! most of all you must keep banging away...
  15. OneOfEm

    OneOfEm Affiliate affiliate

    Every time I consider quitting my day job, I remind myself how fragile this whole system really is. I've been really, really tempted over the past few weeks. Thanks for reminding me why I shouldn't.
  16. Darkling

    Darkling New Member

    ireef are you a member of clickbank forums? I think I saw a post of yours in 2006 where you were having trouble and getting about 100 vistors a day but not making a single sale. You really turned that around fast I mean 12k a month in under a year.:eek: Your post is a bit of a let down about how you lost it yet motivational at the same time. How did you lose it all exactly? adwords? web hosting a bunch of sites? The reason I ask is I hope to be at your level on day and maybe even surpass it.

    I'm new to internet marketing(But not to the internet have been online since I was 13/14) and I was going to try an start in 2006. But suffered information overload due to all the ebook/videos/bookmarks/and gimmicks I signed up for. Now I'm back and realized that I need to try one thing and do it. So I'm going to do bum marketing/article marketing and try and "master" it before moving on to advanced stuff. Problem is I still have a lot of questions after taking 2 courses on it. I've searched forums including this one and which led me to signing up for for 30 day challenge just hoping it only covers article marking. Ether way I might end up having to create a topic on all my questions. Hopefully get the answers I'm looking for and guidance.
  17. derrekmay

    derrekmay Affiliate affiliate

    This is the first time I've read the story.
    But annyway I hope you haven't lost your will to get back to that 12.000$ each month?
    It's like you said work hard and earn allot:)
  18. bobang

    bobang Affiliate affiliate

    Thanks for sharing your personal story with us. I can definitely relate to your story in many ways. I'm sure you will find a model that will work for you if you keep searching for it.

    Like you, for a very long time, I was determined to find a model that would generate steady income online. I tried everything you've mentioned plus some more. When I started, I really wanted to find a way to make at least $10,000 per site I created. Well.. instead I found at least 10 ways that I can generate steady flow of $100 - $200 / month per site without any advertising.

    I don't know "the" way, but I found "a" way that works for me. So my point is.. keep searching for it. Eventually, you will find it.

    Good luck
  19. Jean59

    Jean59 New Member

    Thanks for the story. I like that you were willing to share your experience. I have always said it is better to learn from someone elses mistakes than your own...saves time and money!
  20. iceforever.diamonds

    iceforever.diamonds New Member

    it is a real poof story...
    very nice that you were able to realize it...
  21. Arun Lakhera

    Arun Lakhera Affiliate affiliate

    I would like to thank you for providing a link in your quote. I followed the link and went through the 10 point success strategy of James Martell. According to me patience should be the moral of this story.


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