Why do so many aspiring internet marketers fall flat on their faces again and again?
It’s a rough note to start on. But it’s important that you’re well informed so that you can avoid the pitfalls I’m about to discuss.
There’s one school of thought that says the market is flooded with crap - useless, outdated junk peddled by wannabes and rich, heartless masterminds set on squeezing every dollar from their customers.
There’s another school of thought that says there’s a mindset problem – that most people don’t have the mental and emotional training needed to make it as a businessperson.
Both camps are wrong.
Let’s assume the best possible conditions on both sides. Smart customers being guided by savvy, caring gurus who know all about affiliate marketing and are eager to teach all of this to each of their students:
|• Copywriting||• Videos||• Backlinking||• Social Media||• Competition|
|• Articles||• Graphics||• Blog||• Mailing List||• Keywords|
|(Main Site)||• Website||Commenting||• Making Free||• Your|
|• Articles||Design||• Content||Stuff||Products|
|(Directories)||• WordPress||Marketing||• Getting||• Fixing Bugs|
|Releases||• The Affiliate|
The money’s all yours if you can do ALL that? What you’re looking at here is more like a sick practical joke than a credible marketing plan.
The Art Of Delegation
One of the problems with the internet marketing industry is that teaching is a linear action. In Chapter One, you might learn about writing content. In Chapter Two, you might learn about SEO. If you break the many, many tasks that go into affiliate marketing down in this kind of way, it seems pretty simple, right?
The problem is that the actual process of affiliate marketing usually isn't stepped by steps like in a book or instructional video. You’re doing a lot of things at once, over a long period of time, and if you fall behind you can lose quite a lot emotionally and financially.
If you want to be one of the handfuls of people who actually make it in an affiliate marketplace that’s getting more and more competitive, you can’t rely on being a one-person operation. That’s tough no matter how dedicated you are, and even tougher if you’ve got a day job, classes, or a child.
Remember that even Superman had the Justice League!
Imagine the tasks you have to complete as a marketer as a set of papers on your desk. If you’re doing them by yourself, it’s a big pile that’s going to leave you irritated by the end. And if something happens to you-you get sick, or you’re bad at one of the tasks, or life gets in the way – then those tasks don’t go anywhere. That’s called a single point of failure, and it can be disastrous!
Now, let’s add a single full-time outsourcer to the equation.
Suddenly, you’ve got more options. You can outsource all the things you aren’t good at or things that require equipment you don’t have. You’re still hiring that outsourcer and evaluating their work, but you’ve drastically reduced your workload and added an extra point of failure.
Now, imagine that you’re paying a small amount of money to ten different people who are all working on a different aspect of your business. Not full-time, mind you – just a gig or two when the need arises. Now you’ve got a lot of smaller points of failure. But unlike the first couple examples, one or two screwups isn’t going to derail your business. And perhaps more importantly, you’ve got the best people you can find, working on tasks that they specialize in. In the internet economy, chances are that these specialists are doing well enough at their individual job that they are making a full time living at it!
But that isn’t the full picture either. Obviously, getting the time and talent of other people doesn’t come without a price - unless, perhaps, you’re opening a family business – and who wants to share all your profit with the family anyway? Most people think of outsourcing as something that you can only do once you’re already financially independent and have some money to throw around. A “Stage Two” aspect of your business.
This was an immutable fact of internet business… until about ten years ago.
The internet makes hiring help a lot easier.
You might be thinking that with the economy as bad as it is, you don’t have enough money to hire help. But the fact is that with the economy as bad as it is, you can’t afford not to. It’s a “buyer’s market” out there, and when the economy is in bad shape, it means you can get services and help at rock bottom prices.
Leveraging is the most critical skill an entrepreneur can have, and it can deliver exponentially more powerful results than just working really hard yourself. If you live in the first world and have any income at all, you owe it to yourself to hire as much help as possible. Even the price of a pizza or two is enough to get some really valuable stuff done for your business.
It’s important to delegate. Take all the knowledge you’ve taken from books, videos, and courses and be the brain of your business, and put as much as you can into letting others execute the details.
Now that said, I don’t want you to think of outsourcing in a negative way, or think of it as exploiting someone else’s work. You aren’t closing down a factory and laying off a thousand steelworkers. You’re hiring people (some of whom will be based in the US) that you probably couldn’t afford to pay under any other circumstances!
And you’re going to take your earnings and spend them on local products and services (not to mention giving the government a share). It’s really a win-win.
Best of all, outsourcing doesn’t always mean that you’re getting a human to do the job. There are heaps of services and pieces of software that take the place of any kind of manual labor – they aren’t always as useful as a real person, but they do save time.
Now, let’s jump right into the world of outsourcing and talk about what you can get done and, just as importantly, where to look, and how to evaluate talent.
Good content is obviously central to your affiliate site because it pops up in so many different places. In the online world, the written word generates leads, entertains them, and lets them know that you’re the best person to give them whatever they need.
Good articles generate backlinks and buzz in any niche, but you’re not always looking to enlighten a general audience. Sometimes you want to reach a more specific set of people – that’s where it’s smart to outsource tasks like press releases. It takes both connections and an intimate knowledge of what “triggers” editorial gatekeepers to get wide distribution for a press release, and a smart PR team can do both.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, getting help writing and distributing press releases gets you in touch with someone who knows how to grab eyeballs and where to put your material.
Best of all, pros in this industry are really experienced at getting attention even from “unlikely” niches. Before you decide to write off press releases because your niche is “unsexy” or “flooded” – remember that coverage in the media is always about having an interesting angle.
A great looking web presence depends on a combination of technical skill and artistic wizardry – if you don’t have both, it’s tough to make an impression on your site. Most people already use the help of others when it comes to designing their site – using pre-made templates available online.
But there are lots of times when you need something more personal. Buttons, banners, and eCovers (for special reports) are all small, inexpensive ways to show your value, convey trust, and scoop up the sale
You shouldn’t limit your outsourcing ideas to 2D graphics. Videos are incredibly good for your site – partially because people who watch videos stay on your site longer, and partially because Google is determined to meet the demand of people who are looking more and more for quality video.
The demand for watchable content is really, really outstripping the supply.
Getting a helping hand with SEO is a complete no-brainer. Whether people start their day typing your product directly into a search engine or look on social media and “Web 2.0” sites for a little inspiration, it’s essential for your website to be at or near the top. Great content can go a long way towards getting you there, but a dedicated SEO specialist can really help you stir the pot and get more visibility.
Best of all, SEO is a universal language – a lot of the work of backlinking can be done even without an amazing command of English, which opens you up to the services of a lot of amazing talent from the Philippines and India.
SEO covers such a wide range of activities, it almost seems unfair to give it one section. But everything is inside this category, all of it plays a role if you want to make noise in SEO:
- Blog entries
- Wiki posts
- Social Bookmarking
- RSS Distribution
- Article Distribution
- And More!
Where To Go, What To Know
Those are a lot of tasks – where should you start when you’re looking for help? Here are a few of my favorite sources.
Fiverr is full of people who need some cash right now and are willing to do a task for you. Plenty of people turn their noses up at Fiverr and say “how can you get anything for value for that little money”?
Well, that’s a foolish way to think. The web is full of people who need the bucks, and in business, everything is worth what the seller can sell it for.
So if you need a quick infusion of money, or you’re a pretty girl who is afraid of computers, or you don’t have the skills to promote your product, your service is worth five bucks.
There aren’t a lot of better places to go for cheap services than Fiverr, especially for the simple SEO gigs that
I’ve recommended here.
So, here are some things to know about
- Don’t fall in love with reviews and thumbs up. Again, everybody asks for feedback, and plenty of people give positive feedback
when they aren’t being that critical to the service. You need to actually talk to people and use common sense. If they’ve got a lot of orders in the queue and the gig requires a lot of manual work, you might need to be patient or skip them altogether.
- Don’t be afraid of new gigs. Most people are slow to buy offers because they don’t want to “take risks” on someone who isn’t proven, but the fact is that by the time they are proven, they’re charging more money and juggling more customers. Someone new is going to work really hard to build a reputation, and you know they have the time to do a good job.
- Buy the right thing. There are lots of people who will “teach” you or “show you how” or “give you a list” of places to go and things to do. Tune this stuff out, it’s mostly
people selling you ebooks that they may or may not have written themselves. Maybe it’s useful, maybe it isn’t – you aren’t going to find out from a Fiverr description though. Personally, I like to look for the word “manual” in my gigs so that I’m working with someone who is going to do the work by hand.
- Bigger numbers aren’t automatically better. I stay away from gigs offering a gazillion of anything because I assume it’s not going to be as high in quality.
- Don’t get writing from Fiverr. Writing is credibility, credibility is sales and sales money. This is one area where you can expect to get what you pay for. I strongly recommend that you hire a writer from a forum or go somewhere like need an article or articlez.
There are lots of worthwhile places to go for services – places like WarriorForum and WickedFire and BacklinksForum are basically like their own little economies, but I got my start in WarriorForum so we’re going to focus there. I’ve found lots of really skilled hires, many of whom became eventual partners along the way.
There really isn’t a lot of absolute crap on WF, but the difference between a service working and a service working well can be pretty great. Your main advantage in working in places like this is
the high skill level of the workers – you’re more likely to get pros who deal with a lot of orders and have already made a name for themselves here.
Read their copy very carefully, spend a good amount of time comparing prices, and don’t confuse quality graphics (or even quality copy) with a quality product. Look at the results delivered and be discriminating. There are way too many bought testimonials from suspiciously new members in places like these.
Finally, I don’t have a problem buying newer gigs on Fiverr because it’s a big marketplace doing small dollar amounts, which means service providers need to stand out from the start.
I’m a little more hesitant to jump on new threads in WarriorForum. There’s such a massive userbase that it’s a bit
more susceptible to fly by night operations that aren’t exactly scams, but don’t deliver high quality for the money.
Freelancer, oDesk, and the rest
There are a couple of reasons why I like freelancer.com.
First of all, there's a very large pool of people that you can choose from, and they’re quick to jump on jobs. The time between your posting project and the time that bids fill up your screen is very short - on average you will have a handful of good offers within an hour of making a job post.
You can pick from a list of candidates that you personally interviewed, you can decide how you will pay them, and you don't have to pay until you’re fully satisfied with the job done. Funds usually held in escrow while you wait. You're also free to cancel projects that you don't feel are working well for you.
Second, they’re rock bottom when it comes to price – very inexpensive. If you live in the first world and you have a job, you can afford to hire from here. Third, it’s very easy to see other gigs that people are assigning and hiring for so that you can take inspiration and copy them.
One of the most useful things about Freelancer is the milestone system. If you ever have a large task that you need to break up and a lot of smaller tasks you can set milestones, paying to your freelancers along the way. This protects you from stress and uncompleted job AND protects them from the hassle of waiting a long time for a payment.
I’m a big fan of Freelancer.com and it’s where I do the vast majority of my hiring, but the fact is, your SCREENING PROCESS is much more important than the site you use, or the country you hire from.
Take your time in the hiring process. SCREEN, SCREEN, and SCREEN some more. I know your instinct is to just grab somebody that seems pretty good and get things rolling as soon as possible, but it causes MASSIVE headaches in the long run, especially in a service based business where the people you hire aren’t delivering and you’ve got to deal with the massive refund rate.
Your Job Listing
One of the biggest problems I've seen on most outsourcing websites is that clients are not very clear about what they want. A clear set of instructions that are concise will lower mistakes and increase speed on your projects. It's also the serious benefit to the bidder because they'll have a better idea of what you need.
You need to be firm. You need to be demanding, and you need to come off as about 20% more serious about business than you are in real life. Your goal is to scare off the people that are unserious. Here’s a sample.
***Important – Please Read The Entire Post Before Applying **
I’m looking for manual, drip-fed social bookmarking.
You will target a list of 30 sites per page (Digg, Stumbleupon, Etc).
I have a lot of orders, so a fast turnaround is important. Communication is important too, will need to communicate via the PMB regularly. Must be willing to discuss and share methods.
I don’t do personal payments, and I don’t clear payments until work is verified. I usually order test packages before hiring to verify quality. Please use the word green in your sentence so I know you read it through and understood it.
You don’t need a codeword, but if you insist on it, don’t put your codeword IN ALL CAPS or offset it with quotes, there’s no need to draw attention to it. Either they can read or they can’t.
Remember though, the communication skills you need depend greatly on the task at hand. There’s a school of thought that tells marketers to stick with hiring people from the Philippines because they have great English skills, are thrilled with getting a paycheck while they’re in school, and aren’t ambitious enough to steal your business plan. It’s one of those things that sounds really impressive at first and is a load of crap when you think about it.
Even for something like making graphics or link building, you need good communication skills in order to understand what needs to be done, but you don’t have to be a language snob because there’s not as much customer interaction. I’ve worked with really cool people from Russia, India, and all the other “bad neighborhoods” online.
What To Screen For…
As I get more and more busy with my IM work, availability tends to become less and less important to me. I’m always busy, which means I don’t have time to look over everyone’s shoulder. But when you’re starting out, you absolutely should have access to the people you’re working with.
Take everyone who didn’t fill out your application properly and bin them. It doesn’t matter if they have the greatest feedback in the world. One of the problems with feedback is, you’re trusting that the people giving the feedback know what the hell they’re talking about (and most people don’t).
Even in the best case scenario, the freelancer is breathing down their neck offering quid-pro-quo feedback before even evaluating the service.
Ask plenty of questions – you want to know what software they’re using, how long it takes, what their turnaround time is, how much volume they handle. You’re going to ask this for two reasons. First, you want to weed out the people who get really evasive and talk about their “trade secrets”.
Second, you want to monitor their results.
I never had any luck with getting “work samples” until I have a bunch of feedback from other providers. You’ve got to think about it from the provider’s perspective – there are a lot of people out there trying to get
“free samples” of everything under the sun. It’s kind of rude to ask someone who has been on the site for 3 years to spend time making free work for you as if your 40 dollars is breathtakingly important.
Just hire them for a very small job and look at the results. It’s so worth it to spend a hundred dollars up front on evaluation before getting into a relationship with anyone.
You need to be very articulate about what you need to be done. Especially if you’re communicating with someone from the third world – idioms aren’t going to go over well, and you can’t count on them to “get the gist” of what you’re saying – chances are, they’ll mess it up and you’ll get mad at them.
Ask them to rephrase what you said in their own words before they start, especially if their English isn’t that good. I want you to give yourself a lot of time to evaluate before hiring someone, but I also want you to treat your time as valuable.
Usually, a freelancer will PM you and ask for positive feedback and money the moment they finish a job. Don’t be in a hurry to do this. Check out their work first and verify it. If it’s a big job like backlinking, pick a few links out at random, or run them through a backlink checker. There’s a good free one on the Scrapebox website.
If your work with a freelancer isn’t working to expectations, don’t hesitate to get your deposit back, or cancel the order on Fiverr. Kicking them off your team doesn’t mean the guy is a con artist - maybe they're having a bad day… or a bad series of days. It's just it's much worse, in the long run, to let yourself get the lead on, that is to start fresh.
Finally, when you start working with these guys, be sociable and respectful.
First of all, that’s how you should always conduct yourself in business.
Second of all, almost any freelance specialist knows their craft better than you. Just because their English sucks doesn’t mean they’re dumb. Third, those guys do a lot of volumes. Your order, whatever the dollar amount, isn’t worth their dignity or yours.