Here’s How I’m Going to Make $1,000,000 (And So Can You)

When I tell people that I’m going give away $1,000,000 through blogging, the most common question I get is:  How do blogs make money?

(This post contains affiliate links.  We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.)

You want to start a business but it’s too intimidating.  You want to spend more time with your kids but are scared you’ll be poor if you quit.  You busted your tail for years to earn your “dream job” but you’re miserable at work.  You feel stuck.  Like you, I’ve been searching for the key…and actually found it!  Don’t waste years searching like I did when you can benefit from my research. 

The answer is actually pretty simple: Affiliate Marketing.  

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Essentially, it’s when a blog affiliates with someone else (say, Amazon.com gift cards) and gives you a special link to a product. If you buy that product (and sometimes if you buy other stuff, too) after clicking the link, the blog gets a small cut from Amazon because of its affiliate status.

(Affiliate marketing is phase 1 of our plan for making that $1,000,000.  Phase 2 is eCommerce, which we will dive into later this year.)

Our rules for promoting a product or service:

  • These are things we use and would recommend even if we didn’t have an affiliate relationship.  We value your trust.
  • We will always disclose when a post has affiliate links.  Although you’ll start seeing more affiliate links here and there, not every post will have them.  

Why Affiliate Marketing? Why Not Something Else?

I’ve looked at thousands of businesses and assessed their risk and upside.  It was my job to figure out the special sauce behind a company and recommend whether we should put in millions of dollars at risk in this company.  People say I am good at this. So I basically whittled my search to only good business models.

Two years ago, I tried to start my own hedge fund so that I could give away half of its earnings. Then I  looked at all of the bosses I’ve had and realized I didn’t want to be them. Sure, they’re multimillionaires, even billionaires, but they weren’t free or happy.  In fact, they were miserable. All the money and power in the world but they were soulless.  They were under the shackles of their investors.  So I stopped talking to potential investors.

Last year, I spoke with an investment bank about buying a company through something called a leveraged buyout (LBO).  After some diligence, I passed on the opportunity to buy a healthcare staffing company.  There was already unease that a new administration might undo Obamacare, which has been buoying these companies.  But mostly, I didn’t want to buy myself a job in a company with a culture I didn’t build.  Work cultures are hard to renovate.

I was down but not out. I was not going to regret not giving it my all to do good for others in this world.  So I kept searching for the right business model.

Then I started reading about online businesses and researching how they do it.  And most of the time, it was through something called affiliate marketing (and eCommerce, which is also what we’re learning.  More on that in future posts).  For example, Jim Wang built bargaineering.com in the evenings after he got home from his engineering job.  He used affiliate marketing and sold it a few years later for $3 million.  Now he’s doing it again with another blog.  In another example, thepennyhoarder.com generated $20 million last year mainly from affiliate marketing just using WordPress!  Studying these online businesses led to my aha! moment. I peaked into the future.

Why is affiliate marketing the future?  Now, when a company advertises on the radio, television or print, it doesn’t have a precise way of knowing how effective its marketing is.  It doesn’t know if someone skipped over its ad in a magazine or went to the bathroom during its commercial.  But when it does affiliate marketing through websites, it only pays for marketing that has converted into a sale. In other words, a company only pays for its marketing after it has made money from marketing.  Affiliate marketing takes away a company’s marketing risk.  This is a game changer because print, TV, and radio are shrinking while the internet is growing.

Put it this way:  if you were running the marketing department of a company and looking to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing spend, are you going to choose traditional or affiliate marketing?

Exactly.

This is the way the world is moving.  Which is why I’m so eager to learn it.  If you can figure out the future and master it now, you position yourself to profit immensely.  That’s the secret many wealthy people discovered.  Just listen to the Mark Cuban interview on How I Built This.  They saw the future and put real sweat into building for it.

And, once you build it, it’s passive income. Someone can find an article you wrote 3 years ago and decide they want to purchase from your affiliate partner while you’re spending the winter in Tahiti.  Pretty neat.

It’s simple to understand.  But don’t confuse “simple” with “easy.”

It’s So Easy?

An old acquaintance used to call me weekly with ideas on making money.  Out of curiousity, I listened to the first 3 ideas.  He’d always end with, “Dude, it’s so easy!”

Actually, they weren’t ideas.  They were ploys.  I stopped taking his calls.  

As much as I talk about how technology is going to change things, when it comes to the fundamentals, there is nothing new under the sun.  Good businesses aren’t get-rich-quick ploys.  Good businesses have always been built upon good products or services.  Good businesses cannot be built in one night.  

Easy means that someone got lucky, but just try to replicate that luck.  When someone tells you making real money is easy, stop listening to them.  Making a real amount of sustainable, life-changing money takes hours and elbow grease.

If it’s easy, I don’t want to do it.  It means that anybody can do it and the barriers to entry are too low.  You’re just a commodity.  Easy means that it can disappear as quickly as it came.  Easy is not cognitive non-routine.

So I want to be upfront with you.  If you want easy, making money blogging isn’t for you.  It’s not just writing 300 words and throwing up affiliate links.  Like with all worthwhile things, it’s all about the execution.  

If you’re willing to put in the hours up front…if you’re willing to deal with the ups and downs in the initial years…if you’re willing to invest in yourself…then the payoff can be massive (or in my plans, change the lives of many children and help boost research that solves world problems).  Plus, after you’ve got the machine rolling, the work can be minimal.  

So really, making money blogging is a game of endurance.  It’s a journey rather than a jaunt. But it’s a journey that ends on fine sand and clear, blue water.  

That said, there is a faster way to get there.  The slow way is like having a sense of direction but making wrong turns until you finally get there.  A far faster way is by using a GPS to get to your destination.  

Let’s say you take the slow route because you think you could figure it out without help.  Hey, since it’s so simple, I know I can figure it out.  Chances are, after a couple of wrong turns you’ll quit and go home out of frustration.  But what if you could download a GPS app that directs you using the shortest route with the fewest traffic jams?  Chances are much higher that you make it there.  Would the financial and lifestyle rewards at the destination be worth it to you?  

Your GPS for Affiliate Marketing:

If you’re going to take this journey, you need the best GPS app out there.  You need direction from someone who’s actually done affiliate marketing with great results and has mastered the technique.  

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner made $979,321 in 2016, mostly from affiliate marketing.

So yeah, I think she can teach us something about it.  She offers an online course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing that gives you a step-by-step guide of how to do it.  I figure, even if I’m only 1/10th as successful as Michelle, I can hit my giving goal (and there are plenty of bloggers who have gotten to that level).

I’ve taken this course and here’s what you’re going to get:  

  • What affiliate marketing is and how it works
  • The exact steps she took to earn over $300,000 from a single blog post
  • How to pick the right affiliate products to promote
  • How to increase conversions
  • How to build trust and not lose followers
  • Required disclosures that you need to know about
  • The one major tool you need for affiliate marketing
  • Different strategies to promote your affiliate products
  • How to use Pinterest to succeed at affiliate marketing (this includes the newest Pinterest affiliate rules)
  • Access to private Facebook group

My Review of the Course:

None of what’s in this course is challenging to understand.  It’s going to feel a bit like learning to drive. Put in key; press gas pedal; turn wheel.  Seemingly simple, but somehow your arms are wobbly and sweaty at first.  Then one day, you’ll be fiddling with the knobs and realize that driving has become second nature.  

What’s most challenging about blogging is building a cohesive brand, creating the right content, and attracting followers.  The course actually has BONUS SECTIONS that cover these things — they’re worth the cost alone.  I’ve only implemented some of the Pinterest strategies and it’s now my second biggest source of traffic in less than a week.  Really, this is not just an affiliate marketing course, but a blogging course.  

  • What Could Improve:  One feature that I would like to see in future versions is the ability to edit the online worksheets directly.  Currently, you need to print them out and fill them in manually.  
  • My Favorite Feature:  The private Facebook group has about a thousand members, some of whom are big, influential bloggers. (It’s comforting that even they continually invest in their learning as well, sort of like how competitive athletes hire personal trainers even though they are already the best in the world with the best coaching in the world) It’s a super active, supportive group, and Michelle will often take questions on what you can do to improve your blog.  It’s also a great source of networking with these more seasoned and successful bloggers for potential collaborations.  The group is, without question, the most powerful benefit of the course.

You’ll find that you’re not alone in your journey.  You’re caravanning with a community of like-minded strivers who offer advice and encouragement along the way, and you receive direct feedback from the best in the business.  The truth is, no one gets there alone.  Those who have made it got help.  They stopped to get directions when they got lost.  Relationships are the secret sauce of blogging.  This group alone is worth many times the price of admission.

Overall, this course delivers incredible value worth many hundreds of dollars with the course, the bonuses, and the community.  I spent months floundering, trying to figure it out. If I could go back again, I would have taken this course at the beginning to save myself from a lot of wrong turns.  

If you’re ready to start earning money through affiliate marketing, grab the keys and start the engine:  Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

The Cost:  $197.  

The course has a return policy.  You can get a full refund in the first 30 days if you’re dissatisfied.  But, you had to have gone through the course and implemented the strategies / tips.  This makes senses, since the tips won’t work unless you actually try it.  At a moderate pace, you can finish the course in a week and start implementing the tips right away, so the 30 days is more than enough time to decide for yourself.

(If you have any questions about this course, please feel free to ask in the comments or email me at justmakingcents@gmail.com)

6 Comments

  • Joleisa January 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Well, I’ll be proud to say, I know this guy! I met him when he just started blogging! Lol
    All the very best on the journey.
    I’ve bought that course and had a sneak peek and it looks really good. So my focus this year is learning how to become a good affiliate marketer. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • JT January 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Awesome! Thanks Joleisa! I’ll look out for you in the private FB group ☺️. Looking forward to collaborating more!

      Reply
  • Alli Rosenblum February 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you so much for the review of the course! I will have to add it to my budget this year!!

    Reply
    • JT March 4, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      Hi Alli! For some reason, I missed your comment until now. The course is great, the community is even better. If you have any questions about it, let me know!

      Reply
  • JH March 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Do you recommend affiliate marketing for anyone who blogs or is affiliate marketing only for people speaking about finance? Also, how much time do you need to devote to affiliate marketing? I’m a psychotherapist who blogs on the side, but I’m wondering how to best balance my time/finances with clients and my time blogging. Thanks!

    Reply
    • JT March 4, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      Hey JH! It’s for anyone who blogs. Bloggers of all shapes, sizes, and topics generate income through affiliate marketing.

      Affiliate marketing, by itself takes little time. There are some rules that you need to follow or else you could be out of compliance with regulations. The course covers this.

      But if you just throw up an affiliate link without the proper strategy, it rarely leads to success, so folks give up before they even truly give it a chance, which is a shame because the potential is enormous.

      So, to be more specific, the course can be done in under a week. Implementing the strategies won’t lead to more time, but it will change how you go about your blogging (in good ways!).

      If you have any more questions, let me know!

      Reply

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