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Are you currently stuck in an office dreaming of being your own boss?
This was Adam Connell’s situation over 12 years ago. And If his name doesn’t ring a bell, his alter ego as Blogging Wizard surely will.
Adam is not only one of our key affiliate partners who has generated close to 5K NitroPack referrals – he has grown from a handful of affiliate partnerships to over 350 while making millions of dollars in the process.
Today we’ve sat him down for an interview to give you insider knowledge on:
Whether you’re just starting out with affiliate marketing or you’re further down the line in your journey, Adam Connell’s tips are your go-to on how to launch or transform your online business through affiliate marketing.
Blogging Wizard was launched in December 2012, and it's changed a lot since then thanks to various pivots and redesigns.
But my foray into affiliate marketing started a couple of years before that and for a different website entirely. Prior to 2012, I was working in a customer service role, and the nature of customers (and management) created a work environment that wasn’t rewarding.
It was one of those “get in a hole and stay there” types of jobs. It wasn’t a good environment to work in at all. And managers would occasionally performance manage people out of the business if they didn’t like them.
So, while job hunting, I decided to launch a side hustle. I had experience building websites with WordPress thanks to a record label I ran in college.
And affiliate marketing seemed like an easy way to monetize it. Looking back, I wasn’t all that confident I could make any money doing it. But I suspended disbelief, put the time in, and built up the website.
It was the day my first commission cheque from Clickbank arrived in the mail.
This was a turning point. The time and effort paid off. And it taught me that it was actually possible to earn money with affiliate marketing.
It was a few hundred dollars. Given the time I’d sunk into the project, it wasn’t much, but that didn’t matter. I had a “pinch myself” moment and ramped up my efforts. I had the motivation I needed to continue so I continued growing the site and my commissions.
The only problem? I paid attention to some terrible SEO advice at the start of building that site.
Google pulled down the hammer with their Penguin update in May 2012.
It was a tough time. Years of work wiped out overnight.
Working on this specific site taught me a lot of difficult lessons about building a business, SEO, and content marketing in general. The SEO and content marketing side of things being quite useful moving forward but that didn’t help me with my side project.
My initial plan was to scale the site to a point where I could leave my job and do something that I enjoyed.
So, I did the next best thing and applied for a job at a local marketing agency that focused on SEO & content marketing.
My chances were slim. I was up against qualified marketers. People who went to university and studied how to do marketing. And to top it off, I couldn’t attend the group interview.
But as it turns out, they needed someone who didn’t learn about SEO in a textbook. They needed someone with hands-on experience that wouldn’t risk their clients getting hammered by Google’s ranging penguin.
I got the job, and it was damned hard work. The learning curve was intense and extremely fulfilling.
However, I still had the blogging bug, I guess we could say. And given the experience of losing everything I’d built previously due to some shonky SEO advice from a marketer I trusted - I wanted to help others start their blogging journey right.
Yes, this is where the idea of Blogging Wizard was born.
My priority was to simply share everything I knew. And everything I was learning from my day job working on content & SEO for clients.
Affiliate marketing was the lowest-friction option out there. And it helped me to avoid running display ads.
So, I monetized with affiliate links where it was relevant and whenever I found a useful product that was relevant to my audience.
Fast forward more than a decade and the initial handful of affiliate partners has grown to over 350. And I’ve made millions of dollars for the brands I’ve partnered with.
But it nearly never happened. So here are a few key takeaways from this experience:
Success with affiliate marketing comes down to these key components; the audience, product, traffic, and content.
But you’re going to need all four components in perfect alignment for the magic to happen.
Here’s what you need to know:
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than this, but this should provide you with a decent top-level overview of how to get started on your affiliate marketing strategy.
There are two parts to my thinking behind this approach.
Firstly, most of my audience is at different stages of their journey, and as such, they have varying needs from one moment to the next.
For example, they may have looked at tools to speed up WordPress before NitroPack existed and chosen a specific plugin.
But now, they may simply be looking for alternatives to that plugin. A general top-level roundup may not be too relevant. But an article on alternatives to their current plugin? That’s a lot more relevant and serves their needs better.
This is why I place such a strong focus on need-based content - it puts me in a better position to provide content to my audience that’s as relevant as possible.
The second part is risk aversion. The last thing any affiliate marketer should do is rely on a small amount of content to provide their entire income.
For instance, in the early days, my income was reliant on a handful of articles that drove all of my revenue. That wasn’t a good strategy.
So the benefit of adopting a need-based approach to content is that my affiliate revenue is spread out amongst a large number of articles. And I’m always looking to expand that content.
It’s a win for my audience, and it’s a win for me.
When planning your content strategy, consider not only your audience but also traffic sources and the products you’ll be promoting. All these components need to be fully aligned.
I had a bit of a facepalm moment.
It was quite a few years ago now, but I’ll always remember it because it was one of the most potentially catastrophic mistakes I’ve ever made.
I’d rebuilt one of my sites on a new server and chose a Friday evening to push the changes live.
The only problem? I left the "Discourage search engines from indexing this site" button ticked in the back end of WordPress.
And I temporarily bounced my site out of Google’s index.
I wasn’t smiling at the time. Quite the opposite haha. But I do look back at it with a smile. It’s the last time I ever made that mistake.
So, take it from me. Never push site changes live at the end of a day and never do it on a Friday evening. And it’s a good idea to have a checklist for these types of things.
It’s been a long journey with a lot of significant lessons. But here are some of the most prevalent:
People want to read reviews based on actual testing. For a speed optimization tool, performance gains are super important.
For other types of products, you usually don’t have the luxury of showing hard data that justifies the product because it’s usually so subjective.
Fortunately, with speed optimization tools, you can show hard data on exactly what the end user will get from it. This makes the purchase easier to justify and make sense of.
In addition, you’ll have all of the typical sections like a walkthrough of how the product works, key features, pros and cons, pricing, alternatives, and some sort of verdict. But it’s the all-important performance gains that are so important for a review like this.
Website performance has always been a challenge, particularly for those using the self-hosted version of WordPress.
Advances in hosting technology have helped in this regard, but there’s only so much a web host can do. They can’t fix performance problems that are introduced by themes, plugins, and lack of optimization.
I’ve always built websites myself. I enjoy the process, and over the years I’ve developed a tech stack that I’m comfortable with.
I had go-to recommendations for performance, but they required more technical know-how than some of my audience had. And the problems my audience was trying to solve with performance weren’t easy to solve without a lot of tinkering.
For example, I’d get readers coming to me with bloated themes and page builders that were introducing 5-10+ seconds of extra load time. They’d want a solution that would essentially solve all of their WordPress performance woes with zero technical know-how. And typically hiring a third-party developer wasn’t an option due to the cost.
Then I found NitroPack. I tested it out on one of my sites and was blown away by the performance gains. And it quickly became my go-to recommendation for my readers that needed a way to dramatically speed up slow websites with a few clicks.
As part of the marketing team, Svilena helps our affiliates make the most of their relationship with NitroPack.