In this edition of the Affiliate Buzz, host and Instructor of the Affiliate Marketers BootCamp, James Martell, welcomes back returning guests Vinny O'Hare, a 15 year internet pioneer who is also a podcaster, speaker and author with plenty of great advice for affiliate managers.
James kicks off the episode by asking Vinny about the amount of travel he does. After a hurricane destroyed their home in New York, Vinny moved his family to Arizona while he stayed to rebuild the house.
Now that the house is almost rebuilt, Vinny is still travelling back and forth between the two states and will for another two years until the construction is complete. You can hear about Vinny's experience of being in the house during the hurricane in episode #348 of the Affiliate Buzz.
The Latest Things that Work Really Well
Next James asks Vinny, a retired New York subway system employee who has worked as a full-time affiliate marketer for well over a decade, what the latest thing is that's working really well. Vinny's short answer is user generated content through Gravity Forms, a WordPress plugin, and shared social media through a service like HootSuite.
James and Vinny recap the process. First, set up a form on the Gravity Forms website in such a way that you're asking people questions. The form looks like a normal form on a page to your audience. Then people answer the questions and hit submit, which automatically drops it into the back end of your WordPress site as a draft.
Vinny interjects that his virtual assistant, or VA, handles about 90% of the responses to these questions. The VA takes care of any editing that needs to be done to the drafts before they are published to the web. The result is a few hundred posts per day on Vinny's WordPress site which he monetizes using AdSense, affiliate programs, and advertising.
Then James and Vinny discuss his lack of failures lately. Vinny attributes this to the fact that his recent work involves revamping old sites. His one new venture, however, includes a site to promote giveaways.
The Benefits of Having a Virtual Assistant
James segues into the topic of the benefits of having a virtual assistant, or VA. James and Arlene each have their own VA, and Vinny hired one in March, 2014 on the advice of a friend. He hired the VA his friend used part time, and in no time at all had her up to 40 hours a week and has steadily hired her at that pace in the time since.
Vinny had the benefit of getting a VA who was already familiar with the basic process. James wholeheartedly encourages this strategy and tries to impart the importance of hiring a virtual assistant on students in The School of Internet Marketing.
As Vinny went along, he created how-to guides with screen shots and specific instructions to help train any future virtual assistants that might join his team. He stresses that it is important to make every single move clear when making how-to sheets to avoid problems on down the road.
For more complicated tasks he might use ScreenFlow (which requires purchase of a license) on his Mac to record himself doing the task so the VA has the best possible instructions. James recommends Screencast-O-Matic, an online software whose free service allows 15-minute recordings.
A Typical Day with a VA
Next Vinny explains what a typical day is like working with a virtual assistant. Because they've worked together so long, she just logs in and gets started. Her duties include things like editing and posting interviews and letting people know when their post is live. At the end of the day she sends him a daily progress report.
Another thing Vinny tasks his VA with is going through social media and following 50 new people per day. He limits it at 50 to avoid getting into trouble with the networks. The VA finds people using hashtags, and once that task is done she re-tweets 15 people at random - it may not even be people that they follow. These people often head over to Vinny's site to become customers.
Then Vinny explains the importance of maintaining open communication with your VA. The idea of using Facebook to let people know when their post goes live was the brainchild of his virtual assistant. Vinny suggests gifting your VA with a bonus whenever the suggest successful ideas such as these.
Communicating with a VA in a Different Time Zone
In the beginning, Vinny and his VA communicated using Skype but segued into using email due to the time differences. Vinny points out that one benefit of email is having a documentation of what's going on.
Next James addresses the subject of time zones. Some people have complained to him that working with a VA in another time zone means not getting a response until the next day. James and Vinny agree that their operations are on various levels of auto-pilot to where their businesses run day-to-day and can support that pace of communication.
James goes on to ask Vinny a frequently asked question about hiring a virtual assistant: If you can't see them, then how do you know if they're working? Vinny emphasizes that he has a really good VA who communicates her schedule. If she has to skip a task one day, then she might make it up the next day.
Using Photography to Generate Income
After a short break, Vinny shares how he uses photography to generate income. What began as a hobby rose to a new level of picture taking after Vinny received a new camera, and now he's started a stock photography website.
One of Vinny's most popular photos to date is one of the space shuttle Enterprise's final journey. During its trip from JFK airport it was damaged when the wing crashed into a bridge. Vinny had spent about three hours waiting for the shuttle to arrive in hopes of getting the perfect shot. His shot of the crash was so good that CNN asked for permission to use it.
What to Do When Attending Affiliate Summit in NYC
Next Vinny and James discuss what to do in NYC while attending Affiliate Summit. Some of the things include:
- The NYC Transit Museum, which is housed in an old subway station and has cars from every era of transit history.
- Freedom Tower, where the impossibly high observation deck is open 7 days per week and offers views of up to 20 to 30 miles on a clear day.
- Concerts, which take place in and around the city. Check out a site like http://www.nycgo.com/ to see what's available.
What's Not Working in Affiliate Marketing
From Affiliate Summit, Vinny and James segue into a discussion about what's not working in affiliate marketing. Vinny says most blogs that he sees are fashion related with a model who travels and talks about fashion, nightlife, and so forth. Once they're approved, a few months later they're getting sales from PPC driven, trademark bidding, and so forth.
For new listeners, trademark bidding is when you're marketing a new product or service for a well-known brand. That brand typically doesn't allow anyone to purchase those keyword phrases because they want the traffic for what's searched for their brands. This gives the brand both natural ranking as well as the ad.
Vinny points out that if you look at your search listing results, the top ad listing above the natural results is more and more often from an affiliate site, and not the actual company. James says he sees the same thing happening as well.
Brands who see this happening can contact Google to have the ad taken down, but by this time a few days have gone by. If you aren't sure about an ad, then click the link from the natural search engine results, but only after you make sure it's going to the actual company.
Some products and services Vinny is representing that he says they should be marketing include:
- Viator Travel & Tours (http://www.viator.com/)
- Expand2Web (https://www.expand2web.com/)
- Horizon Checks (http://www.horizonchecks.com/)
- My Bling Place (http://myblingplace.com/)
Developing Content around Your Passion while Keeping Google Happy
Then James segues into developing content around your passion, which he says Vinny does a great example of with his Cadillac site. Vinny has had the site, which helps people buy and sell Cadillacs via an RSS feed, since his early days of Affiliate Marketing, and hasn't changed the format since.
From there they delve into the topic of Google's recent announcement that websites must be brought up to date and mobile friendly or risk losing rank. James and Vinny heard very little negative feedback following the announcement.
Next the pair enter the Speed Round, where James asks his guest a wide range of questions. During this portion of the podcast we learn that Vinny:
- prefers Mac over Windows
- uses an Android but plans to upgrade to an iPhone
- considers Affiliate Summit to be his favorite internet marketing conference
- considers ShareASale's Think Tank his second favorite
- prefers dogs over cats although he has both as pets
- has a dream car, the new Corvette
- uses Google Drive every day and would hate to live without it
- flew to NYC from Phoenix on his last airplane flight
- likes the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay better than any other hotel he's stayed in as a result of the business
Vinny's favorite success quote is "Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a nice Cadillac to drive around and look for it" from Lou Reed. His favorite business book is Zombie Loyalists by Peter Shankman.
Finally Vinny shares the top three things a new affiliate marketer must be doing in today's industry: creating content, outsourcing, and the most important - building an email list. James concurs on all three points as noted by his past Affiliate Buzz episodes on the topics.
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Gravity Forms - http://www.gravityforms.com/
WordPress - https://wordpress.com/
Google AdSense - http://www.google.com/adsense/
The School of Internet Marketing - http://www.theschoolofinternetmarketing.com/
ScreenFlow - http://www.telestream.net/screenflow/
Screencast-O-Matic - http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/
Affiliate Summit East - http://www.affiliatesummit.com/15e-conference/
ShareASale Think Tank - http://shareasale.com/thinktank/
Zombie Loyalists - http://www.zombieloyalists.com/
Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay - http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/HalfMoonBay/Default.htm