Getting started with Google Adsense

Last week I talked about the 3 ways to make money online (ok, 3 of them)

This week we will focus on Google Adsense, which is one of the easiest ways to make your first $1 online.

This is what you will need:

  1. A Website
  2. An Adsense account

That’s it! Once you have both, you can place the Adsense ad code in your site and your visitors will automatically start seeing ads.

Bear in mind that in order to apply for an Adsense account, you need to show them the url of your website, so you need to have one created beforehand. I recommend you have some unique articles (not just scraped content). A website with only one page probably won’t work. You want to get accepted the very first time, so make sure to put some work (and love) into it.

How does Google Adsense work?

It’s very simple, you just place a few lines of code in your website, and Google will show ads related to your site’s content.

Every time a visitor clicks on one of your ads, you will get a %of the money Google makes with that click (to be precise, you get 68%).

Not all clicks are worth the same, so a click can range from 1 cent up to 1-2 dollars.

There are several factors that affect CPC (cost per click), I will be talking about those in future articles.

They have both text and image ads. You can select just one of them, or let Google show both. I recommend having both (for advanced users, you can test and pick text ads only if they make you more money on your site).

Assuming you have a WordPress site, the best option is to use a plugin to insert ads. I will describe the whole process in detail in upcoming articles.

So that’s it for today! If you don’t have an Adsense account, make your site look nice, add some useful unique content, and apply for an account here.

If you have an account, well done! It’s time to earn some $$$.

 

Why are you doing this?

If you are reading this, chances at some point you decided to use the Internet to earn some extra income (or, if you want to put it in finer words, “build an online business”).

However, behind every decision, there is a reason (or more).

What is your reason?

Maybe you will say “money”. And you will probably be right. And you will probably be wrong.

Yes, we all want to make more money. But you must never forget that money is a by product.

What you (most likely) really want is peace of mind. Or being able to spend more time with your family. Or send your child to college. Or freedom. Or ________________ (fill in the blank).

So what is your Reason (with a capital R)?

It’s worth devoting some time to think about it, because when you are feeling down (and you will), and obstacles get in the way (and they will), you will need to remember WHY you are doing this.

This will help you burn the midnight oil. Keep going. Try again tomorrow. Not give up.

And your reasons (or Reason) can change over time.

If you had asked me a couple of years back, I would say my reason was freedom (being able to do what I choose with my time).

Right now, these are my two main Reasons (one is 17 months old, the other one is a bit older) 😉

 

So what is your number 1 Reason? Leave a comment below!

 

 

My top 10 favourite [100% free] WP plugins

Here are some of the plugins I use in most (or at least many) of my sites:

Yoast SEO

Excellent SEO plugin, with (almost) everything you will need (link)

W3 Total Cache

Speeds up your site (link)

Contact Form 7

Create simple contact forms (link)

Contact Form to Database

Save all contact form submissions to database (so nothing gets lost) (link)

Akismet

Cleans 99% of spam (link)

Wordfence Security

Extra security for your site (link)

Pretty Link Lite

Add website redirects, and track clicks. (link)

WP Offload S3 Lite

Store the images on your site in an Amazon S3 bucket. Save space and bandwidth. (link)

Updraft Plus

Automatically (and/or manually) create a backup of your site (link)

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Add Google Analytics tracking. Does what it says. (link)

 

BONUS: 2 other plugins that I have used in the past multiple times (also free)

Woocommerce: eCommerce solution for WP

BuddyPress: Turn WordPress into a Social Network

My 5 biggest mistakes

If I could go back in time and leave a note to my past self, these are some of the things I would tell him/me not to do.

These are, in no particular order:

Not sticking to one thing long enough

These are some of the things I’ve tried in the past:

  • Adsense
  • Amazon
  • Facebook Ads
  • Adwords
  • Bing Ads
  • PPV
  • CPA
  • Mobile ads
  • Banner ads
  • Niche sites
  • Review sites

And guess what? I’ve made some money in almost all of them. However, it wasn’t until I decided to focus on a few things that I started to have a steady monthly income.

(read the book “The One Thing” where you can get more tips on this)

If I had decided to stick to just one of them (let’s say Adsense), I would probably have become an expert, and would be earning some nice income out of it (plus, being an expert means I could teach others how to do it), instead of having a broad/generic knowledge in some of them.

Not outsourcing earlier

In your business, there are many things that you should not be doing. Period. Your time is better spent doing high value activities.

However, I’d also suggest doing a few things for your self, and learning, before outsourcing (This only applies to core business stuff, like doing keyword research or building sites, not other things like graphic design, you can outsource that from the very beginning).

Not building a list as soon as possible

If I had a dollar every time I read “the money is in the list”, I would have a lot of dollars. But trust me, it’s true!

As soon as you go into any niche, start building your list, sharing value with your subscribers, and establishing a relationship of trust. Not to take advantage of them, not to lie to them or squeeze every penny out of them, but to add value into their lives (if you do that, there is nothing wrong with making a profit with your list).

And that takes me to #4

Not focusing on adding value

Many of my old sites have now expired, and I didn’t renew the domains, because at some point they started earning less than the yearly cost for the domain, but trust me when I say I had some crappy (can I say crappy on a blog?) websites.

In the past, I found some cheap writers (not native), who wrote useless content, so I had whole sites where all of the articles were poorly written, and wouldn’t interest anyone.

Sure, I didn’t have to pay that much for the content, but this didn’t turn out to be a good business.

Never forget that visitors are not numbers, but real people, with real problems. If you can help them solve their problems, you are entitled to some profits (that includes things like sites with ads; affiliate sales or selling your own product).

Trying to find the next “loophole”

This is very tempting. I heard that if I build an Exact Match Domain, write 5 articles with 600 words each and use some keywords, I will be ranking fast. Or, I would dig into forums trying to find the secret sauce.

At the end of the day, business is simple. Just help people solve their problems, the rest will take care of itself!

 


 

Obviously, I have made a ton of mistakes along the way, but many of them were great learning experiences, so not all mistakes are bad.

What are some of your mistakes? Feel free to share in the comments!

Now on Facebook too!

In 2011, I traveled with my wife 3 months around India. It might seem a long time, but it’s such a huge country, that we only had time to visit some places.

We used to watch TV in some of the hostels, and there was this Vodafone ad that we kept watching, with a very catchy song:

Anyway, I don’t intend to be “always on Facebook”, but at least I am now on Facebook. You can like my page to find updates about my blog or other articles I find online that might be of your interest.

See you there!

Raúl

On learning vs doing

In the online marketing world there is no shortage of courses, teaching everything you can imagine, and ranging from $5 to $5000, and mixed quality, so it’s a bit of jungle out there.

Why so many courses?

2 main reasons:

  1. Some people really enjoy teaching what they know to other people
  2. “Sell shovels to the miners instead of digging for gold”.

The first point is clear, but what about the second one?

Do you know who got really rich in the California gold rush era? Many people came with their pickaxe and started digging, and after long days ended up with nothing.

However, some others sold the miners the tools and supplies they needed. And those people made tons of money!

Sure, selling wheelbarrows and jeans sounds much less glamorous than digging  for gold, but in the end it is a much better business model, with less risk, and a ton of potential customers.

How does it apply to the world of Online Marketing?

Well, you can find tons of people digging for gold (ie, people trying to get rich by doing niche sites/cpa/affiliate marketing…) and a few people selling them the pickaxes, profiting from the first group.

What are the pickaxes here? They can be

  • Courses
  • Services
  • Tools
  • Coaching
  • etc.

So now you know why you will find so many people selling courses about how to make money online. Many of them actually make more money by selling the courses than by doing what they teach…

So how can you find out if the course you are thinking about purchasing is a good one or not?  The answer is, most of the times, you can’t. And sometimes the content is reasonably good, but you might not need it at that point (ie, it’s too advanced, even when in their sales page they say it’s for everyone).

(As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true… it probably is).

But this wasn’t what I wanted to talk about in my post (doing vs learning).

Many people tend to think: I need to learn everything I can about XXX then I’ll start doing. They research. Purchase a course. Then another. Read forums, blogs… And in the end they devote 90% of the time to learning, and 10% to doing, when in my opinion, the percentages should be the other way round.

Sure, if you can get some education in the topic, that will probably help you, but there is nothing like rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. You will probably learn much more by making mistakes than by reading the latest e-book.

And if you take a course, make sure to implement what you learn!

So, after reading this post, make sure to take some action!

See you on the next post 🙂

Why building an online business is not easy

I was going to title this post “Why making money online is not as easy” (or even “not as easy as everybody wants you to believe”), but in the end I went for “online business”.

Why?

Because I wanted to emphasize that at the end of the day, you are building a business, not “playing around”. You have an investment (in time and money), expenses, risk… just as any other business.

When I got started (and especially after watching so many sales videos telling me how easy it was), I thought I could just work on it for a few hours, and everything would “click” straightaway.

Well, nothing further from the truth!

First of all, like with anything in life, there is a learning curve. And this is unavoidable. You will have to go through the four stages of competence. In the beginning, you will have no clue of what you are doing. At some point you will start thinking: “hey, I think I’m beginning to get it”, but a few minutes (or hours/days) later you will think: “I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing”.

And this is ok! This is perfectly normal, and you have to go through it whether you like it or not.

There is something else working against you: statistics.

According to Google, 8 out of 10 business fail. 90% of startups fail. 96% of business fail within 10 years.

What does this mean? Basically, that the odds are against you, and succeeding online is not the norm, but the exception.

Does this mean it’s almost impossible to succeed? I just said it’s hard, not that it’s impossible.

It will require a combination of hard work, resilience, focus and more hard work (ideally, a bit of luck too).

And then, as you are starting to see some light, you will get thousands of e-mails promising the next best thing. Try Facebook Ads/Adsense/Amazon/Pinterest/a secret traffic source/CPA/…

Then you would read stories about someone who got rich doing X. And you will want to do X. Then comes Y, and you think “ah, I should try that”.

Have you been there? I have, multiple times. And I still do sometimes. After all, we are all human.

Anyway, my purpose when writing this was not to discourage anyone, just to let you know that it’s going to be hard, but not impossible. And whatever you are going through, tons of people have been there, so it’s ok!

So after this philosophical post I’ll go back to more practical issues in the next days.

Let me know your thoughts!

3 (simple) Ways to Make Money Online

It’s obvious that you can use the Internet in a million ways to make money, but if you arrived here, chances are you would like to be what is commonly referred as an “Online Marketer” or “Internet Marketer”, so we can narrow it down to 3 ways:

  1. Ads: you make money each time somebody clicks on one of the ads in your website
  2. Affiliate sales: You make a commission promoting other people’s products
  3. Sell your own product/service

Each one of them have their own advantages, involved risks, amount of work/skills required… And you can make a ton (or none) of money doing any of these, so ultimately you need to pick.

What I’d personally recommend is start on step 1, learn and master it, then move to step 2, and finally number 3 (but that’s just a personal recommendation).

Now let’s dissect each one of them

 

1. Make money via ads

The idea here is very simple: you build a website -ideally more than one, so you get to diversify-, and put some ads on it, related to the topic/niche of your website. Then, each time someone clicks on one of the ads, you get paid, regardless of  whether that person ends up buying something from the advertiser or not.

This is a great way to get started online (in fact, it is how I got started), because you don’t need to know how to sell, how to create a funnel, how to increase conversions… The only thing you need to know is how to create a website, and that’s it.

One of the most popular solutions out there is Google Adsense.

Why? Because you don’t need to find any advertisers, or rotate ads. You simply insert the code they provide for you, and Google will supply you with an endless amount of ads. Not only that, they will find the ones that will make you (and therefore them, since Google is not an NGO) the most money. Plus, they have one of the best payouts in the industry.

What do you need to make money via this system?

2 things: A Website + Traffic. That’s it!

Now if this sounds so simple, it is because it is, well, simple. But, as most things in life, simple does not mean easy.

To get a website that makes a decent amount of money, you need the following:

  • Do niche/keyword research (not all niches pay equally)
  • Create quality content for your visitors
  • A traffic strategy in place. Will you be getting SEO traffic? Or will you be driving paid traffic?

In future articles, I will talk in detail about this, but for now, let’s go to the pros/cons:

Pros:

  • Easy to get started
  • Low investment required
  • You don’t need a great knowledge  to get started

Cons:

  • Low payouts
  • You will need to build a portfolio of websites
  • If you aim to rank your sites via SEO, that will require time.

 

2. Make money as an affiliate

The way this works is the following: you get a special link (called affiliate link), and you provide that link to other people. If the visitors purchase something, you get a commission on the sales.

That commission will vary a lot. For physical products, it’s usually low (between 5-15%), but for digital products, it’s much higher (usually around 50%).

However, physical products have a higher perceived value, so don’t discard them just because the commission is low (look at how many people are promoting products from Amazon.com, even when their commission is usually around 5 to 7%).

The great thing is that there are affiliate programs in almost any niche, so you won’t run out of items to promote.

Popular affiliate networks are Clickbank or JVZoo (for digital products) or Amazon.com (for physical products).

Pros:

  • No stock required
  • No customer support
  • You don’t need to think about creating products
  • You don’t even need to create a website

Cons:

  • You are dependant on the person selling the product/service. If they stop selling, or ban you, your income goes to 0.
  • You also depend on the seller’s ability to sell. You might be the best promoter in the world, but if their website does not convert, you are wasting your time.
  • You are not building a customer list (instead, you are building it for somebody else)

There are multiple ways to promote an affiliate offer: you could have a website and add the affiliate links there, you can promote via e-mail marketing, via paid traffic… The possibilities are endless.

 

3. Sell your product or service

We are now at the top of the chain, so you will need some (but not that much) knowledge on how to sell online.

Basically, you create an offer (for example, an online course), sell it to visitors, and keep 100% of the profits (whereas in the previous 2 methods you are getting paid only a certain %, or even a few cents per click if you are doing ads).

Why do things get interesting here? Well, because if you can create multiple products, and  sell a few copies every day, you can make a very very decent amount of money.

And something very important too: You are creating a customers list. It’s much easier to sell something to a previous customer, than to someone who just found out about you. And you can only do that if you sell your own product.

Pros:

  • You get to keep 100% of the profits
  • You can tweak everything that you like: the sales page, the offer…
  • You get to build a customer list (a great asset)

Cons:

  • You need to create the product
  • You need to deal with customers (some very grumpy, trust me)
  • More time involved

 

I know that the explanations were very broad, but I’ll go in detail for each one of the methods in the upcoming weeks, so you will know what to do, step by step.

I have personally tried each one of the methods; in facts, I still have Adsense monetized websites that I built in 2010 and that are making me money every month (and we are in 2017). I also have a few websites promoting Amazon Products (one of them, for ex, has been bringing me around $200-$300/mo since 2009), and I also sell my own products.

Hands down, the most profitable method for me has been #3, building my own products, but I have also made money with the others, so my personal recommendation, if you are getting started, would be this: build a website and put some Adsense ads. Learn how to do keyword research, how to build a website, how to bring SEO traffic…

Once you get the idea, and make your first dollars, promote some products as an affiliate. And when you have learnt some more lessons, go ahead and sell your own product. Despite involving some more work (and more risk), it’s the best way to make good money online.

As always, feel free to post your comments and I’ll do my best to reply to everyone. I’ll see you in my next post.

My Goals for 2017 (and how they can impact you)

I was supposed to write this post on jan 1st, but you know how life can get in the way :-/

I did my yearly review for 2016 and didn’t turn out to be a bad year.

On the family side, my daughter celebrated her first birthday, and despite having a baby, we managed to do a few trips (USA, England, and a few visits to Sweden). So, yes, you can travel with a baby!

On the financial side, I didn’t reach my yearly goal, but the part that most frustrated me was that  I made less money than in 2015 (not that big of a difference, but a business is supposed to keep growing…).

Reviewing why this happened, aside from the fact that going from having 0 children to 1 child makes you, on one hand, less  owner of your time, and on the other hand, re-think your priorities, the main issue was a lack of accountability.

So with this post I’d like to “slightly hit without causing any damage” 2 birds with a stone (I’m not too fond of killing animals):

  • Write down my goals
  • Share them with the world so there is a certain accountability expected

So this is what I have in mind for 2017:

  1. Earn over 200.000 dollars (before tax; a bit over 30% of that will go towards building roads and some other uses). So far my record is around $90.000/year, so it’s a bit of a challenge.
  2. Create, launch and sell 6 different software products (5 of them coded by me, one of them outsourced; this is a new thing since I’ve always done the coding, but it takes too much of my time)
  3. Build a membership site where I will share everything I know about building an online business
  4. Grow my list to 15.000 readers
  5. Send an e-mail a week to my list (minimum) with useful and actionable content
  6. Write a blog post a week (minimum), again, with useful content for my readers (no vacation photos allowed, just good business advice)

Right now I looked at the calendar and it’s the 3rd week of the year, so I’m a bit behind in #5 and #6, I will need some catching up.

Also, at the end of every month, I will write a blog post stating how much money I made, where it came from, and how far away I am from achieving my 6 goals, so everything will be documented, and, hopefully, all my readers will be able to learn a bit about my successes and failures.

So why did I say this can impact you?

Well, I expect that by sharing useful content, experiences, ideas, etc., you will be able to pick up a few ideas to implement in your own business, even if it is what NOT to do.

So, that being said, if there is anything you would like me to write about, just let me know; otherwise get ready for some random advice.

 

Thank you so much for reading this, and see you along the way.

I wish all my readers a wonderful 2017.

The best physical books about Online Marketing

If you are like me, you love being able to “touch” a book. Feel its smell. Sometimes cut your fingers with the pages…

(disclaimer: I also own a Kindle, which I use almost every day, so I don’t live in the stone age)

Here is a list of the best books about Online Marketing that I have read so far, in no particular order:

Launch

This book is about Jeff Walker’s idea of product launches. He’s supposed to be the “father of launches”. Of course, he sells his 2k Product Launch Formula Course, so here’s just a glimpse of it, but it has most of the things you need to know if you want to do a PLF-like launch for your product.
Good for… those looking for tips on doing a product launch
Not for you if you don’t have (or aren’t having soon) a product to sell.

Trust Funnel, by Brian G. Johnson

This book is about Setting up a brand and a website around it, and gaining trust, with some SEO and social media tips.
Good for… those looking for a step-by-step blueprint on finding a niche and creating a website.
Not for you if you are and advanced marketer (it was a bit basic for my taste, although it is filled with great ideas)

Ask, by Ryan Levesque

This book is about Creating surveys to get into the mind of your customers (or potential customers).
Good for… those interested in understanding their market, and getting insights about what they want, so you can sell to them.
Not for you if for some strange reason you don’t need to understand your market.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hoo, by Gary Vaynerchuk

This book is about understanding and using different social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
Good for… those interested in improving their social presence online (this is THE book when talking about using different social media channels)
Not for you if you don’t use any social media.

80/20 Sales and Marketing, by Perry Marshall

This book is about understanding how the 80/20 rule works (also known as Pareto Principle), and how to apply it to your marketing
Good for… getting a 10000 foot (or 3040 meters) view of your online business
Not for you if you either enjoy working long hours, or live in a cave. Otherwise it’s good 🙂 (in my opinion, it’s a bit repetitive, although the main idea is really good)

DotCom Secrets, by Russell Brunson

This book is about creating a successful sales funnel, and communicating your offer to your audience.
Good for… those interested in understanding how to set up a funnel (starting with a free offer, and building from there).
Not for you if you already are a funnel creator ninja.

The Rockstars of JVZoo.com, by Joel Comm

This book is about personal stories of people who have had success selling on JVZoo.
Good for… a bit of motivation and enjoyment. You won’t learn to be an advanced marketer, but you might get some insights from different people.
Not for you if you hate people talking about themselves or their story.

 

Bonus: other books indirectly related to Online Marketing

Influence, by Robert Cialdini

This book is about different strategies to influence someone (it might be customers, or your children). If you think “influence” is an ugly word, then you should definitely read this. All copywriters swear by this book.
Good for… learning tips and ideas about how to influence people to do what you would like them to do.
Not for you if you are 100% convinced that you should never ever try to influence someone (if you are just 99% convinced, give it a go, even if it just helps you when trying to make your children eat their vegetables).

Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin

This book is about the shift in marketing strategies. Old fashioned tv/newspaper ads do not work anymore, now that we are bombarded with ads.
Good for… getting a few ideas on how to advertise in the 21st century.
Not for you if you don’t have anything to do with advertising. By the way, I recommend any books by Seth Godin you can get your hands on. He’s brilliant!

Get it here if you live in the UK

 

To Read:

I haven’t read any of these, so I can’t personally recommend, but they are on my to-read list. I will review them once I’ve read them:

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising, by Ryan Holiday

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, by Guy Kawasaki

Millionaire Within: Untold Stories from the Internet Underworld, by E Brian Rose

The Conversion Code: Capture Internet Leads, Create Quality Appointments, Close More Sales, by Chris Smith

PS. If you do not want to type, you can always ask your Echo Dot to do it for you 😉