Archive for the ‘Basics’ category

The Affiliates Guide to Cheap VPS Hosting

April 30th, 2015

Web hosting can get expensive really quick, so in this post I want to talk about VPS’s and give you a nice spoonfed tutorial on how to set them up. We are going to be setting up a cheapo $5/month server running Nginx on Ubuntu. I learned all this stuff real inefficiently (took me far too long) so I wanted to write a very in-depth guide on VPS’s for all you affiliates and SEO’s out there who are looking to get cheap hosting.

First things first, what is a VPS and why would you want one? VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s your own little computer (usually Linux) on the internet that will eventually (by the end of this tutorial) become your web server which you will use to host your websites.

What’s cool is that VPS’s are not just limited to being web servers. For instance, you could install VPN software on it which effectively cloaks your real IP address and makes browsing the internet far more secure from hackers. Instead of paying $5 or $10/month for a VPN service which you share with tons of other people, you can install VPN software (its free and called OpenVPN) on your own VPS so you have your own truly private VPN. There are also many SEO tools that can be run on VPS’s.

Maybe you are building a PBN and want to host each PBN domain on its own server (separate IP’s and all that) for as cheap as possible. Maybe you want to setup a Prosper202 tracking domain that can handle a decent amount of traffic for a new campaign of yours. I have a 1GB Prosper202 server that never crashed after doing some decently high volume Facebook campaigns (10 clicks/second at peak times). The only con is that you have to set them up and manage them yourself. But then again, that’s why I put together this post! To prepare you and give you all the information and resources you would need. For those who aren’t technical, you’ll be excited to know that we will be using a script called TuxLite that automates the entire server setup process. It’s very easy, all you need to be able to do is follow directions, copy/paste, and watch some Youtube videos which teach the basics on the Linux command line.

Ready? Let’s get started.
» Read more: The Affiliates Guide to Cheap VPS Hosting

How to Get Landing Pages in 5 Minutes or Less

May 1st, 2014

Finding profitable campaigns is 100% about experimentation. If you test 10 campaigns, you may find a winner, but if you test 100 campaigns, your chances improve dramatically. It’s a numbers game. Your goal should be to test as many campaigns as you can afford.

Building landing page templates from scratch is one of those things that takes time. And anything that takes a lot of time hurts the numbers game you must play. So it’s nice to have a way of getting landing pages that requires no thought or effort whatsoever.

You know that section within your CPA network that you have grown to ignore? The advertiser-supplied creative tab, with all those crappy banners that don’t look like they possibly could convert? Pay close attention to the ’email’ creatives, those are usually pretty decent landing pages that are already pre-made for you.

Here’s an example of an advertiser-supplied email creative – just copy/paste it into your own page and in less than 5 minutes, you are ready to go! Don’t let the hassle of setting up landing pages hold you back from testing lots of campaigns. Once you find an offer with some life, then you can start testing all sorts of other landing pages, but to get started now, just use what the advertiser has supplied!

There ya go, a simple post that hopefully gets you to test more and find some winners for yourself.

Tax Season! Here’s Where to Get Tax Offers

February 7th, 2014

As much as we all hate taxes, tax season in the USA is pretty nice for affiliates. Why you ask? Because at this time of year TWO extremely solid offers pop up: TurboTax and TaxAct (among others). These are not your average CPA offers – they’re actually good and they provide a real service that adults need.

Where do you find these offers? They will probably pop up on a few networks in the coming weeks, but I noticed that W4 has them already! I’ve written about W4 previously in my post about what I think are the best CPA networks, but the bottom line is that they really do have the best assortment of offers of any CPA network. I highly suggest joining if you haven’t. also has them too, but their payment terms are pretty long.

Why Tax Offers are Good

Scale and how easy they are to convert! Every adult in the US needs to file by the April 15 deadline. Of course not all do, but the responsible portion of the USA does, which is a massive number of people. With a tax offer, you don’t have to ‘sell’ them all that much. It’s mandatory they file, so it’s pretty awesome for us 😀 Even the crappiest landing page ever will probably still convert.

When I think of the size of a market, I envision a line of 100 people and try to estimate the percentage of people that would say ‘yes’ when asked if they are interested in [niche]. Take eCigs for example. Not all people are smokers, probably only 10-20%. So in a line of 100 people, you’d get 10% or so of people that would like to try an eCig. 10% sounds small, but a market that big is absolutely HUGE. It’s common knowledge that cigarette companies make billions of dollars. But taxes? It’s gotta be a lot higher. It’s a HUGE HUGE market.

Another example of the ‘100 people in a line’ test is fitness. Most people would probably respond with a ‘yes’ when asked if they’re concerned with their health and would like to become more fit/attractive. This is why health/fitness/beauty is the single biggest market for affiliates to play in. You can run ads on a general news website (high volume websites) and still, a significant portion of the people are interested. Running an ad on a general news site for something super niche like Adobe After Effects tutorials? Probably way less than 1% of the population is into that, so it wouldn’t work. I find the ‘100 people in a line’ test pretty helpful for my own personal purposes.

As far as these tax offers go, I’d run these on Facebook, especially as the deadline approaches! And sign up to W4 if you haven’t, they are excellent!

The Absolute Biggest Mistake That New Affiliates Make

June 21st, 2012

…is writing adcopy off the top of their head when they come to the ad creation screen in their traffic source. In other words, totally wingin’ it!

Adcopy is the most part of your campaign and should be your #1 priority in getting right. If you just make something up with no real thought behind it, chances are you won’t produce something powerful and compelling enough that will actually perform. Once you have a good control ad you can start testing more spur-of-the-moment ideas.

I suggest getting organized and writing as much copy as you can before you even launch a campaign. It will make split testing easier (and more fun) since you know what you are going to test next and will keep you from spinning your tires!

Great Tip on Writing Adcopy

May 14th, 2012

After reading Mike Geary’s Super Affiliate newsletter, I thought he put the topic of writing effective adcopy into really simple English so I figured I’d cite it here for everyone!

Why Ad Wording is so Important

To explain why the wording of your ad is so important to whether you’ll make any money as an affiliate, let’s look at the psychology of the web surfer who is clicking on your ad…

First, let’s look at a generic type of ad for the Truth about Abs product.

Ok, here’s the main problem with this ad, and why it won’t result in as many sales as a more strategically worded ad…

For one, it looks too much like an ad, and many surfers will click on it out of curiosity, but are already on the defensive of being “sold” something. Another problem is that it simply looks exactly like what everybody else is saying.

Now let’s look at a type of ad wording that will get a much higher response rate, possibly even tripling the amount of sales you get from it.

So why in the world does this type of ad wording result in me tripling my money, whereas the other ad hardly gets any sales at all even for the exact same keywords?

The reason is that this type of ad wording has piqued the readers curiosity by mentioning something about 1 specific secret. Do you see what this is going to do when they click-through?

They’re going to hit the sales letter and be searching the page for this one specific secret that the ad mentioned, so they have a much higher chance of actually getting into reading the sales letter, and letting the sales letter do it’s work in converting them to a sale!


Full article here.

Well said!

Truth About Abs is a monster offer – you should definitely test it out. Mike also did a really awesome interview on Tim Ferris’ blog awhile back that is definitely worth reading. Good stuff!

Here’s A Campaign You Can Run With…

May 3rd, 2012

This is a campaign that I’m not going to pursue because I’m trying to focus on my main projects at the moment. The idea occurred to me when I was actually using the product. The offer is called Lumosity, which is a website that allows you to play brain games that improve your memory and focus.

When I was using it, I couldn’t believe how much it woke me up! A few minutes of doing the brain exercises seriously works better than coffee does. The next time you wake up in the morning and you’re slogging, play a few of the games and see how awake you feel afterwards. The games really turn your brain on.

After realizing this, I thought to myself “Hey, this is a great solution to a problem.” The problem, of course, is feeling mentally tired. There is a huge market for this because we all know how well those “5 hour energy” and other energy drinks sell 😀

So that’s the campaign. Your audience is people who feel tired all the time, and you pitch them Lumosity. You frame it as a solution to feeling tired.

No doubt you will have to split test a number of ads and landing pages, but I’m confident this campaign could work great once dialed in. The offer can be found on ($12/trial) and at W4 ($1.25 per free registration).

If you aren’t signed up to W4 yet, you definitely should by signing up here. Tons of CPA networks these days just broker all their offers from other networks. W4 on the other hand has a ton of quality offers that you can’t find on other networks. They also credit you with leads that were undertracked at the end of the month which helps the bottom-line of your campaigns.

Hopefully one of you can blast this one out of the park.

Campaigns Almost Never Work the First Time

April 10th, 2012

In my affiliate career, I can only count a couple campaigns that were “near perfect” out of the gate. I ALWAYS ALWAYS have to tweak things around before a campaign starts performing.

I usually have to split test a few different offers (even same offer, different network).
I usually have to re-write my landing page copy a few times.
I always have to test a bunch of ads when I’m buying traffic.

Ya know, it’s pretty disappointing when you put a ton of research into your campaigns and they don’t perform well initially. But that’s the thing… people just aren’t willing to tweak things around until they work. They scrap campaigns when they don’t immediately deliver a 100% ROI.

Here’s a quick example of how dramatic the difference can be. I had a site that was getting a lot of organic traffic, and was getting 1 or 2 conversions per month on my “first try”. I had to split test FOUR different offers before I found the right one, and I had to rewrite the opening paragraph on my lander a few times before the thing finally started converting. That dumbass site went from $100/month to $40 per day. A pretty substantial improvement indeed.

I wish campaigns would work on the first try, but they rarely do. It would definitely make our lives easier. But on the other hand, that’s where you have a huge competitive advantage. Most people simply are too lazy to split test their way to profitability. Like Diorex says, testing is for the rich!

129 Big Money Niches and Markets

February 5th, 2012

Recently, Aaron Wall of posted a list of 129 big money niches on his Google+ profile. The keywords were taken from a calculation of search volume x adwords cpc.

You can’t go wrong if you decide to build sites/campaigns in any of those markets.

Then once you have a market in mind, the next step is to put together a strong keyword list. Awhile ago, I wrote a post called Highest Volume Keywords by Category, which is about using Google Insights for Search to locate popular keywords by niche. When I wrote that, the Google keyword tool was not returning results when you searched in the same fashion (using no keyword), but today it is.

A pic of the Google Keyword Tool

Side note: On Thanksgiving, when asked was I was thankful for, I said the Google Keyword tool 😀

Check out Aaron’s list here to find markets, then use the category selection on the keyword tool to find the top keywords in that market. Simple.

A Great Way to Find Affiliate Offers…

February 3rd, 2012

Just look at the most popular sites on the web using the Quantcast top sites list. It’s time consuming to manually look at thousands of different websites, but on the flip side you can gain a lot if you keep your eyes out for things like…


  • sites with affiliate programs
  • which ad networks are on what sites
  • sites that have self-serve advertising systems
  • what advertisers are running ads
  • etc…

You’re looking exactly where the traffic already is. Think about it: if a website is in the top 5,000 most popular on the entire internet, they’re probably doing something right, right?

Popularity is a crude measurement of quality, but it’s good when you’re looking for affiliate programs. The more popular a website is, the more you can be sure they have something that people actually want and the more you can be sure their offer actually converts.

Check out the Quantcast list and start investigating. Hopefully you can find yourself some new offers to promote and think about niches that you never knew were so popular. Just watch out for all the disturbing sex fetish porn sites that you will encounter in your research if you’re scared of that kind of thing 😮

Adwords Bidding Strategy

January 5th, 2012

google adwordsStart off bidding high while you’re gathering data and just to get the ball rolling. Always pay closest attention to which adcopy converts best in your testing phase.

Then lower your CPC bid every other day or so until your position starts suffering. If you don’t lower your bids over time, which is most beginner PPC advertisers, then you’re overpaying for clicks plain and simple.

A hypothetical example

You start your campaign and you’re bidding $3/click, but your clicks are actually costing you $2.32. After a day or two, you lower your CPC bid to $2.30 (a couple ¢ under what you’re paying) and then wait for some more traffic to flow. Then check on it a day or two later. Now you may see that your clicks are actually costing you $1.83, so you then lower your CPC bid to $1.81.

When you keep repeating this process of lowering your bids over time, at some point you’ll reach the lower bid floor and your position will start suffering. Obviously you don’t want to trade cheap clicks for shitty position, so raise your bid a little bit until you find a happy balance between position and CPC price.


I decided to update this post real quick and try to explain the “reason why” a little bit more thoroughly. I always seem to hit the publish button a little too soon :)

CTR matters to Google because that is what makes them money. They want to put the ads that make the most money in the best positions, obviously. If your ad has the highest CTR, you’re able to pay a lower CPC than all your competitors if your CTR makes up for it. Consider this scenario…

You are paying $0.20/click and have a 8% CTR. With that math, we can deduce that Google will make $16 per 1,000 impressions of your ad (CPM).

1000 imp X 0.08 = 80 clicks
80 clicks X $0.20 = $16 CPM

Now let’s say your next best competitor is getting a 5% CTR and is paying $0.30/click

1000 imp X 0.05 = 50 clicks
50 clicks X $0.30 = $15 CPM

As you can see, Google would give your ad a better position even though competitor #2 is paying a higher CPC than you. Competitor #2 would have to raise their bid or increase their CTR to beat you.

The most IDEAL situation is when your best converting ad is also the one with the highest CTR, but that is usually not the case. Usually, your best performing ad is NOT the one with the highest CTR.