There has been enough bad news on the television news recently to last a lifetime. With the stock market crash, the housing market slump, people losing their homes, retirements and savings, not to mention high costs of fuel, food, and seemingly everything else, it is no wonder watching the news is a depressing and discouraging act.
Personally, I turned CNN off weeks ago. I’ve had enough with this need to constantly beat the bad-news drum. The effect of this barrage of negativity is profound. Our attitudes suffer, as does our productivity. Even our health takes a hit from this constant threat of financial disaster.
The bottom line is, we are in the midst of a very turbulent financial crisis. Disposable income is down, and the economy will certainly have an effect on our pocket books. But how much depends on many factors. If we stop focusing on the national and international crisis and start focusing on our own personal economy, we have a great opportunity to improve our situation and avoid the downturn the media seems to love talking about.
Start By Taking Action
During a nice New Year’s Eve dinner with friends in 1998, conversation centered on what the New Year would bring. It didn’t take long for conversation to turn to the economy and how things like high fuel costs were causing strain on our pocketbooks. Yes, even 10 years ago prices seemed unreasonable.
Eventually, the talk turned to the Internet. Back then the Internet was big news. It was new and it seemed that everyone was making money.
Someone finally piped up and said “if we’re not making $5000 a month on the Internet by the end of the year we are all sleeping!”
It was then that I decided to stop whining about the rising fuel costs and made a decision to “out earn it.” Of course, I had no idea how I would accomplish this, but I was determined to take action and figure out how to reach that $5000 a month income via the Internet.
The next few months saw me searching wide and far on the Internet (using my 28.8K dial-up connection) looking for the ideal way for me to earn income online. There were plenty of gimmicky so-called opportunities back then. One of the biggest was getting paid to surf the Net and click on ads. It was all the rage, but it just wasn’t right for me.
At the time I was running a struggling telecom business with my wife from our home office in Abbotsford BC Canada. We were starving! Driving a 1987 Pontiac Sunbird that constantly need repairs, we were living hand-to-mouth. Whenever we received a check we immediately went to the bank to cash it in order to buy food. We were behind on the bills and with our four kids Adam, Justin, Shelby and Victoria, it was hard times. Added to that, Adam was struggling with serous health issues. To put it mildly, we were in a desperate state. Maybe you can relate.
A Glimmer of Hope
Enter Shawn Bouchard. Shawn, a good friend who knew we were really struggling, particularly financially, wandered into my home office in the spring of 1999 and said, let me show you what I am doing.” He sat me down at the computer and showed me a little website he had constructed to “give away free Internet access” for a company in California. He explained that this company was paying $4.00 for every subscriber he referred to them.
That was my introduction to affiliate marketing and getting paid to perform -- thus the term “pay for performance marketing.” It didn’t take long for me to see the huge potential, and after seeing Shawn’s checks I knew it could work. But could it work for me? I decided to ask him if he would show me how to do what he was doing, and thankfully he said “sure.”
I decided to do what Shawn was doing - market free Internet access. Over the following months I struggled to build my first website. I called on Shawn a number of times, and he was kind enough to answer all of my questions. Needless to say, he was always very helpful.
By the end of 1999 I had reached my first goal of earning $5000 a month online. Things were great. We began to catch up on some bills, got rid of the old Pontiac Sunbird and bought a larger vehicle. We even moved from Abbotsford to a little seaside community. Things were progressing nicely. We put some money in the bank and even the kids were happier.
The DotCom Crash
I will never forget the morning I woke up to find that the companies I was marketing free Internet access for had ALL gone out of business. The problem, I discovered, was that the free Internet providers I was marketing all used a common service provider that had gone out of business. Just like that my online business was over.
Yale Town, a trendy new area in Vancouver and our local high-tech community all but disappeared. For lease signs sprang up overnight. It was bad times for Internet companies. The bubble had burst, and burst big time. Layoffs were happening everywhere and there was a lot of doom and gloom. The dotcom crash had overcome us.
Then as now, the media was full of bad, bad news. It was during these tumultuous times that my wife Arlene and I went for a drive to discuss what we were going to do. We had gotten a taste of the value of true passive income. We saw that this income, once the sites were constructed, just came in on its own. We had experienced what it was truly like to make money while you sleep.
The news media continued to talk about the bubble bursting and that the Internet was just a fad. We saw it differently. We had experienced the convenience of online shopping and knew that a better selection of products and services were available online. We saw the advantages of having products delivered to our front door and avoiding the trip to the mall. We saw the value of spending 5-10 minutes online to find that perfect gift for a loved one and have it shipped directly to their front door instead of hours spent wandering aimlessly from store to store only to find a not-so-perfect give and still having to mail it to them.
Could We Do It Again?
The result of that drive and conversation between Arlene and I was that we decided to go for it and see if we could duplicate the success we had by finding another merchant who would pay us to refer customers to them. This time we wisely decided to diversify.
Our merchant choices were satellite TV, credit card and long distance industries. We decided to create a site for each one and calculated that we needed three to four months of income to get started. We didn’t have the money!
We chose to sell our new Toyota 4-Runner to finance our new business. It was a difficult decision and a sad thing to see her go, but we needed the money in order to put our plan into action. The result? We developed our three new sites and within months we had not only replaced but surpassed our former “free Internet” income.
There Was No Looking Back
Despite the DotCom crash, we earned a great living and more importantly learned how to create our own economy. We haven’t looked back and since that time we have earned a substantial income online and continue to create profitable websites.
In addition, I have taught friends how to do this, just as Shawn taught me. In 2001 I held the first live training on the subject, and then wrote a top-selling e-book which is now in its third edition. I also hosted BootCamps and online training sessions.
Today I speak at top industry events, allowing me and my family to travel extensively and take family vacations that I never dreamt possible. We have spent a week at Disney World, a 10-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise, and even visited the movie set for Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a 10-day vacation to Maui, three-week road trip to California, several trips to Las Vegas and one to Germany.
The continued online success has allowed for many adventures for our family, as well as educational opportunities never imaginable for our children. I took in the America’s Yacht Race in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain, sent our son to Leadership Camp in Washington D.C., sent our 11-year-old daughter to Tennessee to attend Destination Imagination Leadership Conference, and even spent eight days traveling the back roads of Cuba with my son.
My children have not been the only beneficiaries of our success. I have even send my parents on an Alaskan Cruise. For me, this success also allowed me to achieve a 25-year dream of owning my dream car – a 1965 Shelby Cobra. The point is, you can achieve and even exceed your dreams through an online business. And it is all so simple.
Rumor has it that affiliate marketing starting on Amazon in 1996. A lady who had published her own website (thus called the “Publisher”) called the company and asked if there was a way she could market some of the books from Amazon (called the “Advertiser”) on her site. At the time there was no way for Amazon to do this.
But they were innovators and quickly developed a special tracking code this woman could easily place on her site next to an image of the book she was marketing. This link was tracked by Amazon so that when someone clicked on this link and a transaction took place the woman would earn a commission paid by Amazon. The idea grew from there.
Many other Internet companies started to embrace this new marketing model. It made sense since they could get thousands of website owners to promote their products and pay them only if they performed. The term pay-for-performance was created as the companies only had to pay for sales referred to their sites. The risk was very low and it worked well for the publisher as there was no need for inventory, customer service, and the publisher didn’t have to worry about collecting payments nor issue refunds. That was the role of the Advertiser selling the products.
We Are Known As Publishers
Affiliates are known as “Publishers” because we “publish” a website or newsletter. Publishers “join” an advertiser’s affiliate program by completing an online application. Advertisers provide marketing materials, typically banner ads, text links, articles and sometimes videos or audio files.
These marketing materials come embedded with invisible codes to track each transaction that occurs each time someone clicks on the advertiser’s link. So as a Publisher, when you put a banner or text ad on your site the Advertiser knows the buyer was referred by you and this insures you will be paid a commission every time a buyer purchases something at the Advertisers website.
Advertisers "Advertise" On Our Websites
The merchants who sell the products or services are called “Advertisers” because they “advertise” on our sites instead of the traditional way of buying ad space like they do in newspapers. In return for the ad space for no up-front fees, we Publishers get a nice commission from each visitor we refer to them that results in a sale.
Advertisers are responsible for tracking each referral, and they do this by installing specialized software on their servers. Or in some cases, they hire out the tracking to a “Network” that provides third-party tracking of the transactions and pays the publisher on behalf of the advertiser. In some cases they do both.
The Role of the Networks
We call them “Networks” because hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of companies share a common infrastructure, tracking, customer service and payment processing system.
It's BIG Business
There is so much information online about starting an Internet business that sometimes it can be difficult to determine the difference between the hype, BS and the real opportunities. Consider this; here is a list of companies that will gladly pay you to refer customers to them.
- American Express
- Budget Rent a Car
- Discovery Channel
- The Wynn Las Vegas
- National Geographic
- NHL Hockey
- NBA Basketball
- NFL Football
- Warner Bros
- Southwest Airlines
- Yellow Pages
...and of course the one who started it all:
There are tens of thousands of smaller companies as well. Why? Because the risks are so low for these companies. They don’t have to pay a dime for the advertising until a sale is made.
Going Back To School
There are times in our lives when we must make difficult decisions. But choosing to create your own economy, to free yourself from the roller coaster of our economic times doesn’t have to be. Learning how to profit from publishing your own websites isn’t difficult.
Starting your own successful online publishing business is very doable. All it takes is determination and a little know how. It’s a matter of going back to school. The difference is you get to earn as you learn this time around. The risk is low and the upside is huge.
Take the first step. Learn the skills that will enable you to create your own online business and free yourself from the fear and struggles these economic times seem to encourage. We don’t have to take part in this tumultuous financial market when we can create our own economy that provides consistent income and a lifestyle that allows you to create the lifestyle of your dreams.
Learn more about James Martell’s training programs, watch a FREE introductory video and get your FREE subscription to James & Arlene Martell’s NEWSLETTER -- The News About Building Profitable Websites From Home -- by clicking HERE.