6 SEO Myths That Prove We’re All Idiots





Humans will do anything to look smart and competent. Comedians like Jimmy Kimmel feed off of this propensity for hubris. And then we all benefit from it. Try it for yourself sometime. Go up to a random stranger and ask, “Do you think Bill Clinton gets enough credit for ending the Korean War?” (HINT: He wasn’t old enough to be President of the United States during the Korean War.)



Ironically, this behavior often exposes our ineptitude.

SEOs and bloggers are no different. We want to look like experts so bad we bullshit our way into corners all the time

Here are a few ways SEOs B.S. themselves all the time and really make themselves look like idiots.

1. Do What These Massive Brands Are Doing

When I was a kid, I played the game Lemmings. Often, I’d get bored with a particularly difficult level and just set up traps for my lemmings rather than rescue them. I’d watch them all follow the digger to hell and then hit the nuke button.

The fact a lemming is bigger and healthier looking than the other lemmings doesn’t change the fact it’s a lemming. That lemming still might be heading for a cliff.

Big brands aren’t always wise sages, especially when it comes to SEO. Think of it this way: a bigger brand has a much wider margin of error than you do. If they make a mistake, they can bounce back when you might splat at the bottom.

You’re also assuming their HR department knows what they’re doing when they hire SEOs and web designers. Often the philosophy of “throw money at it to make it grow” doesn’t work. And that’s exactly how some big brands function once they get the big cash.



Don’t be a lemming, seek real advice.

2. SEO is Snake Oil

Ok, SEOs typically don’t say this. They wouldn’t make any money this way.

But I’ve heard it from Google employees, bloggers, and anyone who just doesn’t want to do the work of ranking well. I even had a friend from YouTube tell me this, backpedal, and then say, “well, it’s just that the target is constantly shifting.”

There’s a lot of surface-level SEO information out there. And while it’s not exactly snake oil, it’s often not enough to have any real impact on your SERPs.

SEO is like psychology. It’s a soft science.

We can’t peak into the box and know what’s going on but we can observe the effects. Sometimes Google will give us a heads-up, but often we’re scrambling to patch holes after the fact.

This can make it seem like SEOs are behind the curve, but they’re more in the know than anyone else. It’s not an exact science, but it’s not snake oil either.

3. Worry About Keyword Stuffing

Seriously? What year is this? 2012?

Can we be done with the keyword stuffing thing yet? No? Well, I guess we gotta slay this beast while we’re here.

Sure, keywords still matter a *little* bit. But here’s the bite: they gotta be so natural, even you don’t see them as keywords.



Google’s RankBrain is now all about user intent. It’s so important to give users what they’re looking for that keywords almost don’t matter anymore.

Where Then Are Keywords Relevant?

Until our language goes fully pictographic, search engines will continue to take keywords into account. And you should definitely research a keyword to put in your title tag.

Otherwise, just be natural (grammatically correct, and concise, and…well, content is king, right?).

4. Content is King

Aw, what? Didn’t I just say content is king? Yeah, yeah, I know, plot-holes, right?

But this myth is just like the “write what you know” rule in writing. People take it, run with it and have no clue what the hell they’re even doing. And then they end up writing boring crap because their life is so boring.

Novice bloggers do the same thing with content. If you write it, they will come, right?

Wrong. You need more than just content (even great content) to make the SEO wheels turn. We’re looking at links, tags, design, usability, speed…

Yeah, content is just an important piece of the puzzle, one you can’t do without. But it’s not the end-all of SEO.

5. Links Are a Dead Horse

I’ve said this before, but the internet is — drumroll please — a network! Without links, you are just a powerless tool in a sea of well-connected and well-dressed geniuses.

It’s just that, like keywords, and content, links are only one step in many to get you to the SERP prize. No, don’t put a billion links in, but don’t ignore them either.

Don’t go buying links for cheap either. Negotiate for access to high ranking sites instead. And again, be natural.

6. Google is Penalizing You

I only cried once in Hockey. I’d just come back after time off from a broken ankle and I was reckless on the ice. I almost whacked someone in the throat with my stick. I ended up in the penalty box a teenage mess because I had lost skill.

Google’s algorithms aren’t referees. They’re a content elevator. When one site drops in the rankings, it’s because of a change in the algorithm they weren’t ready for. It also means another site was ready (knowingly or not).

There is no Google algo penalty box. There are referees at Google, but Google actually notifies you on the Google Search Console when you’ve violated their Webmaster Guidelines.

Talking about SERP rank changes like hockey penalties only serves to malign Google and cause confusion.

Don’t Be an Idiot

Humility is an underrated quality in our society. I’ve found that when you admit ignorance, you’re rewarded with knowledge.

Only idiots pretend to know eveything. If you’re on the SEO struggle bus, seek help. Your SERPs will thank you.

 

To PPC or Not to PPC





Many marketers think SEO is better than PPC. Is it really? No. They’re just different. Each piece of your search marketing strategy should have a different goal. It should hit people in different parts of the sales funnel, as I’ve mentioned before. What I didn’t go into detail on was where in the funnel they would hit.



So today, I’m going to clear this up. Let’s get started.

PPC

Search engine marketing usually refers to PPC. At least it does these days. Originally, it referred to both SEO and PPC together. So PPC + SEO = SEM.

So anytime you see a piece of content mentioning SEM, it could mean PPC or both PPC and SEO. Confusing, isn’t it?



Where does PPC fit into your campaign? Statistics show that only somewhere between five and ten percent of searchers click on PPC ads. Yet these ads in the SERPs have a higher conversion rate.

For many marketers, this probably doesn’t make much sense. And once I explain it, you’ll have a better understanding of why PPC is so important.

New businesses don’t need to focus on PPC. This strategy is all about sales and less about brand awareness. If you want brand awareness, which as a new company you definitely should, stick with social media to get eyes on your content.

PPC is for the big boys. The brands that have an audience and a trusted product. Once you have that, people will immediately click on your link. They know it and they trust it. No one hesitates to click on a PPC ad from Nike. If they’re clicking on a Nike link, they’re looking to buy shoes right then and there.

The same goes for any major brand. So if you have a trusted, household name product, then PPC needs to be a major part of your strategy if you’re looking to increase sales.



SEO

To build a brand and show potential customers that you’re an authority in your industry, use social media first and on-page SEO.

It takes months to see results of a proper campaign.

Social media is pretty much instantaneous, which is why it’s so effective. You can get your content in front of millions of eyeballs in a matter of minutes.

As your company grows and people know your logo and what it means, you can use all three strategies in tandem. This is why new businesses struggle with inbound marketing. They simply don’t know where to start and where to put their marketing dollars.

The Bottom Line

PPC should be last but it should also be a large part of the budget. A social media specialist, especially an independent contractor, will be some of the best money you ever spend.

It will help to increase brand awareness, show you are bringing value to customers, and help build an early online reputation.

Your SEO game is somewhere in the middle. I’m going to spend some time writing about that in my next post. Thanks for reading and I hope you look forward to my next post.

 

Borrowing Marketing Strategies From Other Industries





A lot of people are going to try and tell you that there isn’t anything new as far as marketing goes. For the most part, this is true, at least until some new tech comes out that changes the game. Why not try tactics that other industries are using? Strategies that work well with general contracting may not work with promoting a Shopify store. Sure. I get that.



But what if some of these ideas could work for your company? Keep reading to know more about what’s going on in my head.

Foodservice

Restaurant marketing is probably a lot different than what you think.

They use coupons and discounts. They have industry nights where if you come in and you work for another restaurant or hotel, you get a discount.



One of the coolest strategies is having your chef do a guest spot somewhere. They go do cooking classes or visit a culinary school, promote the restaurant, and do a little razzle-dazzle with some food.

While you obviously can’t do that for a construction business, why can’t you do something similar? Go give some talks at high schools. Go to local hardware stores, hang out, and answer questions about what you do.

The idea works with pretty much any field, you just need to think outside of the box.

Car Sales

Every car salesman, for whatever reason, wants a spot on TV or radio. Why?

Younger people don’t listen to the radio and don’t watch nearly as much TV as older people. If you want to hit young people where it counts, these folks need to do what other businesses are doing and hit social media.

The problem with selling cars is that for decades, the marketing has been way too “in your face”. If they were to back up and change their approach for the millennial and younger generations, they could flip their marketing game on its head and possibly sell more cars.



Imagine how many more cars he would sell if a salesman was less salesy and instead, provided real value on a blog and on social media, telling readers everything they need to know about dealing with the process of buying a car. Different, right?

The Flip Side

What about SEO? Why aren’t there more ads for it on TV and radio? Not enough people know what it is and how much value it has for businesses.

Why aren’t we getting the word out? Why is it such a big secret to most people?

Every business deserves to have its shot at the title. People like us can make it happen. Instead, we have to explain what we do for an hour while people look at us with blank-face Radio Shack employee stares. It’s awkward.

Conclusion

Everyone. Every business.

We, collectively, as a whole, need to do more to market our businesses.

We need to try new things and see what industries are doing that aren’t related to our own field and see if we can make them successful with our own companies.

It’s worth a shot!

 

Arbitraging.co Crypto Arbitrage Platform Concerns, Tutorials, and Results with the Abot





A little while ago a friend told me about an arbitraging platform that was, “too good to be true.  Just put money in and watch it grow”.   He put $60,000 dollars into the platform and in only 2 months it was now worth $100,000 dollars.  I called bullshit and threw out everything at him but he said he could withdraw at any time and it was “risk-free”.  I still called bullshit.



But I tried it out with a small amount…  to my surprise it does “just work”.

Arbitrage is not new or rocket science.  By definition, arbitrage it is the profit from a market imbalance.

In the crypto-coin world, there are many exchanges where the same coins are exchanged (bitcoin, ethereum, etc).  This platform has a bot and it simply looks for differences in prices in these exchanges and then makes a trade to make a profit.



Think of it like this.  You see in the newspapers that 2 different places are selling & buying bananas.  At groceryA the banana is $1.00 and at groceryB the banana is $1.10.   You can simply purchase at A and sell to B and profit 10%.  That is all arbitrage is.

The stock market has been traded by bots for more than 20 years.  The crypto coin world is in its infancy and it makes sense there is such a huge opportunity.

If a system is only buying and selling for a profit than it is risk-free.  In theory at least.

So I have been using arbitrage.io and telling all my friends about it.  For newbies and even people familiar with the crypto world, it’s not very easy to set up.  And I am very tired of walking people through it.  So I decided to make videos and direct people here.

These videos are simply about the abot.  They have many other features that I will include as I learn.



I will start with my concerns about the platform:

Now for my tutorial:

 

And the results so far (I will update this once a month or more):

 

Education Matters: Interesting Courses for the Entrepreneur





When I left university, I thought I was done with school. I’d learned the basics of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. I could get a job and make a living now. The more I talk to people with higher ed degrees, the more I realize how much education really matters. It’s not about knowing facts but improving your own emotional intelligence. Some of us might not be able to take the time to go get a Master’s degree. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue in our education. Entrepreneurs love to read books. And they love to give courses. But one thing many of us neglect is real coursework.



If you’d like to continue in your education, here are some of the most interesting courses any entrepreneur could take right now.

1. Digital Marketing with Udacity

Digital marketing is such a broad topic. And when you don’t know where to start, you might just give up on the entire production. Fortunately, Udacity created a complete digital marketing program.

The program lasts three months and you earn a micro-degree at the end. You’ll take courses rich in the basics of marketing, content strategy, media planning, social media marketing, SEO, and SEM.

You’ll learn how to design your website content. The course includes opportunities to network.

2. Learning How to Learn

The human brain is so complex that we still don’t understand all of its mysteries. For example, we still don’t get what consciousness is (if it’s even a real thing and not a concept). We do know it’s not as simple as on/off, but we don’t understand much beyond what it’s not.

We do understand more today about practical aspects of the brain than ever before. And learning about how we learn is useful not only in your own life and career but in helping others toward their goals.

This is what the Coursera class “Learning How to Learn” attempts to give us. A glimpse into the learning abilities of successful and artistic people.

The course is about 12-16 hours. You will learn about brain science from experts who understand how the brain “chunks” information and stores it.



3. The Complete Crowdfunding Course for Kickstarter and Indiegogo

Kickstarter only has a success rate of about 45%. That’s about as lame as the average U.S. Presidential mid-term approval rate.

Why are so many Kickstarters failing? Perhaps it has something to do with the blasted million dollar success stories?

Whatever is happening, Udemy’s Complete Crowdfunding Course wants to give you all the tools necessary for success. You’ll participate in a four-hour course that includes step-by-step approaches to growth-hacking a crowdfunding campaign.

One of the major problems with most crowdfunding campaigns is the lack of audience. Many assume they’ll magically accrue an audience once they begin their campaign. Even people with an audience often fail at running a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve seen it.

4. A Course on Artificial Intelligence

As I’ve pointed out in countless articles here on Shoemoney, A.I. is here to stay whether we like it or not. You already interact with artificial intelligence on a daily basis. Often we don’t even realize we’re talking to a bot.

Another Udacity course wants to help you understand how those bots actually work. And they want to help you apply the technology to your business and startup.

The course, Intro to Artificial Intelligence covers four months of basics, stats, planning, logic and really anything A.I. related. It’s essentially a crash course in artificial intelligence.

The course is based off Standford University’s Sebastian Thrun’s own course on artificial intelligence.

You will need to take a few courses before beginning this one. You’ll need to know a little about probability theory and linear algebra. But that’s the cost for learning to control the A.I. before it learns to control you.

5. A Course on Productivity

I personally have a hard time taking the time to work on my productivity. It feels counterproductive to take time out of my day for self-improvement. But it’s really not a bad idea.

Learning how to throw the procrastination monster overboard and avoiding that feeling of being overwhelmed would be valuable, right? Well, there is a course for that.

You can take two hours out of your day to learn how to be more productive. The first step is to schedule (some of us have a hard time with that word, schedule) the course during a time when you can give your *full* attention.

The course is like a doctor’s checkup on your productivity health. You’ll participate in activities that diagnose how you mismanage your time and find ways to fix those things.



People who find themselves constantly overwhelmed rejoice. You’ll learn to control your mindset and increase your energy level. You’ll learn daily habits you can incorporate that mesh with your personality type.

6. Building a Personal Brand

If you’re not looking to jumpstart a startup, you are probably building your own personal brand. This is where I’m at. And I can tell you that any freelancer I’ve ever known could use a course like this.

And even if you aren’t building a business from your personal brand, you can learn a bit from Gary Vaynerchuk’s course.

7. +Acumen Presents: Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop

Seth Godin founded Yoyodyne and Squidoo and is a bestselling author. While taking skills related courses can be extremely beneficial, sometimes all we need is a bit of inspiration for our day.

Learning from great entrepreneurs like Godin can have a profound impact on your drive and your mood. This is why I’ve included this awesome short course on leadership.

Even if you don’t feel like a born leader, there is always someone in your life who looks up to you.

8. Google I.T.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate Specialization is probably the most intensive course on this list. It includes 10 hours a week of video lectures, hands-on labs, quizzes, and widget tutorials.

This is a partnership course between Google and Coursura. They recently opened the course to the public and that’s a good thing for entrepreneurs who want to manage their own I.T.

And even if you don’t want to manage your own I.T., you might want to understand every aspect of what’s going on in your company.

9.  Startup Business: How to Raise Seed Capital

Whether you’re starting with $100 or $100,000, you’re going to need to raise funds to run your business. Some will do this through Kickstarter, other will earn it and still, others will rely on traditional investors.

The Startup Business course is for first-time business owners who feel overwhelmed. They might see startup funding as a mountain to climb. This course gives you the tools to climb that mountain.

10. Why Ethics Matter: Ethical Research

Often in business, we’re not asked to reflect on our personal morals. But morals and ethics guide our everyday actions. From how you treat your employees to what kind of food you choose to eat, you’re making moral and ethical choices in life.

If you want to ensure your business ethics are above board, you should check out this six-hour course on ethics from FutureLearn.

You’ll learn about history that’s shaped and established common ethical tropes in our society. You’ll read case studies about ethical research. And you’ll build a framework for future ethical research and how to apply what you learn.

11. The Complete SEO Course

While you can learn the basics of SEO from free articles on the web, SEOs still like to keep secrets from the general public. How else do you think they make their money?

SEO is as essential to your business as that bowl of oats you had for breakfast is to your daily focus. In this course, you’ll learn about how to measure SEO success, how to drive customers to your company through content marketing, and more.

It includes quizzes at the end of each section.

12. Intro to Virtual Reality

After the 90’s we all thought the virtual reality dream was dead. But just a few years ago, Oculus and HTC made that dream a reality.

While most people who own headsets are gamers and creatives, the market for VR is still growing in the business sector.

If you want to stay one step ahead in your visual marketing game, it’s a good idea to understand virtual reality as a marketing and training tool.

This is a basic intro to the technology by Google and it’s a free two-week course. You’ll come away understanding optics, displays, stereopsis, tracking, and hardware. You’ll also learn about various VR applications.

 

It Might Be Cliche, But You Can Turn Your Passion Into a Business





You’re sitting your cubicle staring at a blinking cursor. It dances there mocking you. You’re supposed to be typing up that yearly report for the boss. But you’d rather be out in the mountains or on a lake somewhere fishing. Someone comes and taps on your shoulder. It’s the FedEx guy with a large envelope. You rip it open and out slides a flip phone. You open the phone and it rings.



You answer, “Hello?”

“What if I told you that you don’t have to sit in a cubicle forever.”

“Yeah, well, I’m heading home here in an hour…”

“What if I told you that you could turn your passion into a business? That it might take a lot of work, but you could be on the river fishing and making money at the same time.”

Would you believe the man on the phone? Or would be like Neo and decide that the ledge was too dangerous? It’s entirely possible to take a passion and eventually use it as an escape hatch for a boring job. It’s just more work than most realize. So, I’m going to take you through a few bit of advice and hopefully by the end, you’ll be ready to take the leap.



1. It’s Not Wise to Jump Ship Just Yet

Unless you have a year or two safety net of income saved up, you might want to keep that soul-sucking job for the time being. No new business is a guarantee.

Maybe you want to start an SEO company. Perhaps you want to target the cannabis industry. So, you begin to build this business, gain a few clients, and suddenly with the next wave of politicians, even associating with a cannabis company becomes illegal.

It’s something completely out of your control. You can’t have predicted it would happen. And if you left your job, you’re going to be hurting quite a bit.

But if you kept your job, it was just a side hustle, and you can afford to start over in another industry.

2. It’s Not Just a Hobby

If you want to turn your passion into a business, you can’t treat it like a hobby. A hobby is something you spend maybe a few hours on the weekends doing. A business is something you work at every day until it becomes profitable.

One of the best things about working from home is that you can set your own schedule. It’s also one of the worst things about working from home.

If you don’t set a schedule, you won’t get anything done. You’ll be constantly working against your own deadlines or those clients impose on you.

It’s the same when you’re a new entrepreneur with a side-hustle. You need structure or you’ll get home from work and never get anything done.

Just like your boss does for you at your 9-5, you need to create a weekly schedule of when you’re going to work in the evening.



Set weekly goals and strive to meet them.

There are plenty of organizational platforms out there for you to work from. And you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done with a little bit of structure.

3. Seek a Mentor

While you might be an expert in your passion, you may not be an expert in turning it into a business. There are a billion aspects you may not have considered before deciding to turn your passion into a money-making business.

But resources exist to help entrepreneurs every step of the way. The U.S. Small Business Administration built Small Business Development Centers all across the country.

You can learn how to develop a business plan, do market research, even get guidance on how to offer healthcare to future employees.

The private sector offers another free option. SCORE is a non-profit organization that will pair you with a mentor. They offer free live and recorded webinars. They conduct on Demand courses that teach anything from competitive analysis to strategic planning.

If you do become successful enough to quit your job, you don’t have to be lonely. You can find a co-working space and either rent office space or share space with other people.

Many of these environments offer opportunities to network and edvance your business. And when you want to scale, you might find partners and new employees there as well.

4. Use All the Online Tools at Your Disposal

You’re no longer bound by the physical world. Leverage that social media. If you’re just starting out and need to make connections, you’ll find a community for almost every passion on the books.

Social media platforms like Google+ already have a natural setup for community building. And if you don’t have a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account, it’s time to start one.

From these platforms, you will build a following and eventually a brand.

If you end up selling merchandise related to your passion, you’ll easily convert this following into buyers. Gain a massive following on one of the above social platforms and you’ll have another income stream outside of your passion.

5. Don’t Keep it a Secret

While at first you grandma and your sister might be the only ones visiting your site, they’ll tell their friends and their friends will tell theirs. Grassroots is always the best way to build a business. It creates a solid foundation from which to work.

 

5 Tips for Building a Sales Team





I’m taking a short break from my super popular As the Search Engine Turns story to bring you a piece on sales. Don’t worry, ATSET will be back soon. Whether you’ve got a mediocre or sub-par sales team on your hands or are in charge of building a brand new one from scratch, you’re going to need some help and some patience. According to SalesForce, 79% of marketing leads never convert into a sale. This is a problem. Why are these conversions not happening? There could be miscommunication between the marketing and the sales departments or one of those departments could just be dropping the ball.



To make sure it isn’t your sales team that’s responsible, check out our checklist.

1. Watch Out For Toxicity

Negativity breeds negativity. You need to either fix it or remove it completely.

Toxic employees, if allowed to fester, will poison the minds of other team members as well as turn off your prospect, potentially chasing them away to a competitor. Build a team that’s positive and reading to make things happen for the company.



2. It’s About Results

You want your team to be driven. They should want to make the sale. Your team should be about results. This is right out of the sales 101 playbook.

On top of that, they should also be competitive. They should want to do better than they did last month and better than the other teams every month. Make it a friendly competition. Winners get bragging rights for the month and have to buy the first round at the local watering hole. Something like that.

3. Coachability

A lot of hot shot sales guys aren’t great at receiving feedback.

When you build out your team, make sure to hire the people who can take constructive criticism well. Explain that it’s for the good of the company and them as individuals and then prove it to them.

As a sales manager or lead, you’re going to be required to put your money where your mouth is quite often.



4. Training and Learning

Sales professionals are sharks. But a shark doesn’t stop swimming just because there isn’t any blood in the water.

When things are slow or when new programs or courses come out, get your team on them quickly. Make sure they’re trained well from the jump but do not let them get lazy. Keep them learning new things all the time.

5. Communication is Key

Talk to your sales team. Every team has meetings, sure, but how many sales managers are truly effective communicators?

Don’t be afraid to have one on one meetings with your team members, especially if they need help. Offer to do whatever it takes to get their performance level to where it needs to be.

The Takeaway

While every business is different, the root of the sales team stays the same.

It’s easy for people to pick up bad habits in previous positions. Make sure you’re ready to retrain if necessary and communicate clearly as to what you expect and when you expect them.

Don’t be a pushover. Assertive is the way to go as a manager. You’re a leader and your team is going to be looking to you for support and help when they need it. At the end of the day, your team meeting their goals and quotas is your responsibility.

 

What Webmasters Need to Know About Google’s Medic Broad Core Algorithm Update





It seems like every few weeks, Google is tweaking their search engine just a little bit. And ever since Matt Cutts cut himself out of the Google-sphere, Moz and other companies must stab in the dark and hope they get their guesses right. In essence, it’s been quite rare that Google actually announces a major algorithm update since the Matt Cutts departure. When they do announce something, it’s after the fact and after much deliberation on our part.



Recently, Google released a major update. They’re calling it the “Medic” Core Update. So, without much further ado, here’s a bit of info on this recent update.

1. A Very Short Google Update History

The Moz outlines all the updates, both major and minor since 2012. They’ve done an incredible job alerting SEOs and webmasters of impending changes and current debacles. And for a time, Google was at least partially communicative with SEOs.

The Moz goes all the way back to the year 2000. But the first real SEO impacting update happened in 2011. Panda affected 12% of all search results. It cracked down on thin content and other quality issues.



From there, Google updated their search engine about every few months. A year later, another major update came waddling in. This was Penguin and it targeted webspam like a spider to a fly.

These updates showed that Google was deadly serious about increasing the quality of their results. And who would blame them? Search results are, after all, their main product.

2. What’s So Special About the Broad Core Algorithm Update?

Google recently began to move away from updating their search engine to find quality content. They’ve pretty much perfected this aspect of Google. And posting quality content will always be something you should do.

For example, if you’re an apartment rental site SEO company, you would want to write articles about SEO and about how to maintain a rental management site. This is what users will look for.



What’s different now? Google is now looking for relevancy.

If your site took a hit with this new update despite usually being a top-ranked site, you probably didn’t do anything wrong. You just need to do more. (Yes, you are allowed to groan when hearing that.)

Figure Out User Intent

This is what Google is trying to teach its search engine to do. And you can do it too. Ask yourself, what is your audience trying to achieve by typing in a search engine term.

What are the questions they’re asking? If you can figure this out, then you can tailor your content to answer those questions.

Who Might Have Taken a Hit?

Moz is calling this the “Medic” update. The sites it seemed to affect were primarily healthcare websites. Anything to do with health and wellness took a hit.

It’s understandable that Google would “target” these sites. I’ve heard medical professionals complain about “Dr. Google” misleading patients. And perhaps Google is trying to teach its search engine to give better medical advice.

Really, if you are in the percentage of sites that took a hit, then my advice would be to double down on your research and give better information. But that should be something you’re doing anyway.

 

How to Choose Affiliate Products





In one of my recent posts, I touched on picking a product or service to use for affiliate marketing. It should be something that you have both used to your personal satisfaction and believe it can help your readers solve some of their problems. This is ideal, but there are many other factors to consider. The first thing you want to do is choose a niche. Then build out your site to see how it looks. Write some starter content and build your readership. Only then should you start to consider what kind of products you can or should offer.



If you’re on the fence about what kind of products or services you want to use on your blog or niche website, here are a few tips for you to consider.

Choose a Network, Not a Product

Individual companies don’t really care if you get paid. In fact, I personally know some affiliate marketers who have been ripped off by companies.

When you choose a network, such as Shareasale or Amazon, you get paid all the time. There is no argument. If you sell the product, you are compensated according to the terms and conditions of the program.



Many people think that money is guaranteed when you get into this hustle, and then they find out there is no such thing. Picking a solid network with a decent reputation can help keep you from getting burnt.

Sell Less, Make More

It’s easier to tell a hat than a lawnmower.

Let’s say you get a 5% commission on the hat. Each hat retails for $12.99. This puts your cut at $.65 per hat. To make $100 a week, you need to sell 154 hats. Sounds like a lot of work to me.

What if you also get 5% commission on a lawnmower. It’s one of those real spiffy zero-turn things that cost about $4,000. Selling just one mower will get you $200.

Do you see the point I’m trying to make?



The best affiliate marketers are selling a mix of items. Some cost thousands of dollars and others cost less than twenty bucks. Blending in the quick selling and the big-ticket items together on the same site can keep income rolling in consistently.

Make Multiple Sites

My mentor, who taught me almost everything I know, has over two dozen affiliate sites. He’s semi-retired, hasn’t made a site in years, and still pulls in over $100k per year from his sites.

He doesn’t worry about things like SEO. He outsources it to a company like Register It.

While I always tell people to make multiple sites, I don’t recommend making them all at once. You need to find that winning formula. Build sites until one sticks and then take some time to research and find out why it is successful and your other sites are not.

Then you can start cranking out site after site. Find that winning formula, then duplicate. It’s as simple as that.

The Takeaway

Picking the right affiliate offers is one of the hardest parts of affiliate marketing.

At some point, I’m going to write a post to talk about how to properly interlink to your content that contains these offers without looking spammy.

But for now, go out there and do some research. I definitely recommend starting with Shareasale or Amazon. They’re good networks, you always get paid, and they offer a wide selection of merchandise.

 

6 Things Small Businesses Should Outsource





There is a freelancer for almost every industry in the world. In this country alone, they make up about one-third of the workforce and that number is expected to increase to more than 50% in the next ten years. There are dozens of platforms online to help you find these workers. All it takes to find the right person for the job is a few clicks of your computer mouse. As an entrepreneur, you likely want to try to do everything. But with this horde of independent contractors all looking for work, why not focus your time and talents on your skill set? Which of course, is growing your business.



Delegation is part of the process of owning a business and growing it. You can’t scale if you’re trying to do everything yourself. Here are 6 things that small businesses can and should outsource to make their lives easier.

1. Accounting and Payroll

Taxes, invoices, and time sheets, oh my! Does this sound like a good time to you?

It shouldn’t. Because it isn’t a good time. You’re a busy person trying to get a startup off the ground and you’re going to try to do the accounting and payroll work yourself? Don’t be silly. There is only so much work one person can handle.

Accounting firms are really good at what they do. They know about tax laws, write-offs, and all sorts of ways around red tape. Sure, they’re going to cost you some cash. But in the end, they’ll end up saving you a ton of money and you’ll be thankful you made this move early on in the game.

2. Web Design and Development

Websites are a big deal. You can’t really open or operate a business without one. This is the digital age. If it doesn’t exist on the internet, it might as well not exist at all.



And if you’ve been doing your research, you probably know you can make a WordPress site with relative ease. You pick a host, a theme, and then you just create some content. Easy, peazy, right?

Not so much. If you’re taking your new company seriously, you want the best website you can buy. Luckily for you, finding a freelance WordPress developer who is out there building really nice websites at a reasonable rate can be relatively easy. You just need to know where to find them.

3. Content

Writing blog posts can be fun. But do you really want to spend your Friday and Saturday nights sitting in your office and racking your brain trying to think of headlines?

Proper outsourcing is all about delegating your weaknesses. Unless you’ve done a lot of writing in the past, know a ton about keyword research, and know how to properly do internal and external linking, you might want to leave it to a pro.

Finding a content writer is likely one of the easiest contractors to find. Sites like Problogger and Blogging Pro have job boards that are specialized. They are just for clients who are looking for writers. And writers know about them. In fact, most pro writers check these boards daily. Problogger and Blogging Pro aren’t the only ones around, but they’re definitely two of the most popular. I recommend giving them a shot. You’ll probably have a writer working for you in less than a week.

4. Administrative

Scheduling your own meetings and appointments isn’t just a hassle. These are the kind of tedious tasks that can make or break a new company.

Before you try to do some hiring, check out sites like Upwork, where you can find a Virtual Assistant. No more dealing with an assistant who isn’t getting the work done. These folks only get paid for time spent actually working. Expect to pay about $15-$20 per hour, but the bright side is that you don’t have to cover any benefits.



Some Virtual Assistants are so good you will wonder why you’re not having to pay them more. Interview your candidate just like you would a normal employee and find the person who’s right for your business. Ask for a portfolio and references and try to get a feel if they are actually interested in what your company is doing.

5. Marketing

Digital marketing agencies are all over the place. You probably never realized just how many are in your area until you started your company.

The reason they’re so abundant is no one wants to know about marketing. It’s one of the hardest parts of any business, not just new or small ones. Trying to do this all on your own, especially if you don’t have any experience, can cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue.

A great agency will be able to handle your email promotion, your social media, as well as your SEO.

Some even offer content packages.

Before you make a decision, you definitely want to spend some time vetting and researching agencies. Scammers pretending to be legitimate marketing agencies is a real problem. Start with tapping into your personal and professional networks to see if anyone has any recommendations. Then go online to look at reviews to help narrow down your list.

6. IT

More than half of all companies outsource their IT. The reason for this is based around cost. It’s way more effective to outsource your IT because many firms can scale as your company grows. The cost of hiring IT professionals for a startup is usually going to be higher than it’s worth.

But you do need someone to watch over you like an angel. This is what IT firms are all about. They help protect you from hackers and will help deal with technical difficulties.

Conclusion

I know this feels overwhelming. It was probably not too long ago that you were developing your app or prototype late at night in your basement while your family slept soundly. You worked into the wee hours of the morning and then had to go to a day job with hardly any sleep.

If you can make it through that phase, you can make it through anything. But you shouldn’t try to do it alone.

Hire the best and brightest people you have ever met, but outsource the tasks that are outside of your skill set. In the end, you will save money, have fewer headaches and stress, and have a small army of independent contracts that will have your back when you need them.

 

Thinking About Affiliate Marketing? Read This First





Anyone who reads blogs on a regular basis probably knows about affiliate marketing. If you’re a new blogger, you’ve probably considered becoming an affiliate marketer. Ads, especially if you’re just starting out, aren’t going to bring in much income. You could build a digital product, but without any traffic, you won’t make any sales.



So for new sites and people just getting into the hustle, affiliate marketing is definitely the way to go as you build trust and authority in your niche. Here are a few quick tips for those of you who have yet to get started but are tinkering with the idea of building a niche website or you want to monetize your blog.

Focus on the Audience

If you’re all about sales, your readers will pick up on it. Instead, put your focus on helping people. Affiliate sales are all about quality products that you have personally used and recommend to readers. This is really the purpose of affiliate marketing and why so many bloggers have had success over the years.

As a blogger or website owner, you are an influencer. People trust other people more than they trust companies. Just be real.



Play the Long Game

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Google has seen to this over the years. They no longer let people create and promote “churn and burn” websites to make a quick buck.

The best case scenario is your site will see some Google rankings in about 6 months. This gives you plenty of time to create amazing content and research the right products for your website.

If you want to speed up the process a little, you can spend some time on social media. Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are great resources that can get early traffic to your new website if used properly.

Outsource Your SEO

Many website owners have fallen victim to themselves. You can research SEO all you want but if you aren’t an expert, you are playing with fire.



Building the wrong links can get your whole site de-indexed by search engines. If you want success with Google, then you need to play their game. And no one knows the game more than the pros. Reputable businesses like CloudRock SEO Agency can make all the difference.

A great agency will take a lot of hassle off of your plate. This will allow you time to focus on building out your site, researching products, and writing great content.

The Takeaway

I can spit out affiliate marketing tips all day long. But these three are all near the top of the list.

Building out your site or blog requires a ton of work and patience. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to sit back and take a deep breath on occasion.

It’s tempting to check your sales and traffic a hundred times a day and honestly, it’s normal. We all did this for the first few months. But the sooner you get yourself out of this habit, the better.

Find your niche, find your groove, and be prepared to work hard.

 

How to Sink Your Teeth into Real Estate Without Buying Property





Right now is one of the best times to get into real estate investing. Price growth is slated to slow and then pick up speed again. And we’ve seen only a marginal bump in mortgage rates. All of this spurs confidence in the market even if inventory is down. And with confidence comes increase in prices and increase in value. You’ve got to get on the cart now before it climbs too high.



But if you don’t necessarily want to bind yourself with a mortgage and a house you can’t sell for a while, there are other ways to invest in real estate. Here are a few methods investors use to increase their dividends.

1. Grab Those REITs While They’re Still Hot

A real estate investment trust is a company that owns or finances real estate. Said real estate must produce income for it to be a real estate investment trust. The company must also invest at least 75% of its total assets in real estate, cash or U.S. Treasuries.

There are three kinds of REITs you could invest in. Most are equity REITs.  These investments require the REIT to distribute at least 90% of the portfolio’s income to shareholders. These types of REITs invest directly in real estate.



Mortgage REITs loan money to real estate owners in the form of mortgages and various types of real estate loans. The money you earn comes from a net interest margin.

Hybrid REITs are a combination of the previous two.

2. Mutual Funds Are a Classical and Solid Option

While REITs are a type of mutual fund, you can invest in other real estate mutual funds as well. These kinds of mutual funds provide an opportunity to brush up against domestic and international stock positions.

They’ve outperformed the stock market historically, but they’re also slightly higher risk than your typical stocks and bonds. This means it shouldn’t be your sole source of investment. It should be part of a diverse portfolio.

But it’s a fairly lucrative investment if done right.



There are thousands of mutual funds available. A fraction of those are real estate mutual funds. How then do you pick a mutual fund?

Look at the Expense Ratio

Each real estate mutual fund must overcome costs before it can make money for investors. When mutual funds express this amount, they do so using a ratio or percentage.

You want to pick a mutual fund with a low expense ratio. If you don’t, the decision or lack of wisdom could put a massive dent in your potential wealth.

High Turnover Ratios Are a No Go

This is a tax problem. If you jump into a mutual fund that turns over 50% or more of their portfolio each year, stay away.

Why? Because the taxman will tax the property every time it’s sold. The longer a mutual fund holds onto property, the less the taxman will take out.

The Management Team Needs Experience

Who did the mutual fund hire to manage the portfolio? Will they be successful? Will they manage your portfolio well?

And ask if they have skin in the game. If a manager doesn’t have a substantial amount of their own net worth invested alongside fund holders, find another mutual fund.

Have you found other ways to invest in real estate without buying property? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.

 

8 Step Guide to Help Your Blog Improve Conversion Rate





As a blogger in need for fast recognition you will need to find the best way to optimize your blog. I’m thinking here if you are more interested in having a better Search Engine Optimization, Conversion Rate Optimization or both of them. Depending on your profile, you will probably choose one of them. My advice: go for both!



What is a blog?

According to Andrew Sullivan (former editor to The New Republic, author, publisher and blogger) a blog is “the first journalistic model that actually harnesses rather than merely exploits the true democratic nature of the web. It’s a new medium finally finding a unique voice.”

Why blogging?

The answer lies in the fact that every human has a voice and wishes their voice to be heard.

I would say a blog is like a vehicle.  All you need to do is to start it and you’ll have to figure out how to keep it running because, as far as I know if the engine stops, all the other vehicles will overtake you and you’ll find yourself as you were before “ no voice to be heard”.

We will focus on optimizing your “vehicle”. Keep it loud and running!

 

Basic On-Page SEO Tips for Blogs

SEO for blogs is defined by the content the audience wants and needs but also by what you need to tell your search engines, so they can share it to your target audience.

Some of the main keys we need to focus on are:



Keywords

  • you need to find out what your audience is searching for on search engines
  • for keyword research you can use tools like SEMrush.

Title

  • Title is very important as it leads your audience to your content and the search engines to your audience.

One thing is for sure, you need to think at the search engines as to your audience. Don’t make the difference as one of them might feel offended.

Rules for a properly optimized title:

  • keep it under 60 characters
  • use the focus keyword once
  • don’t stuff it with keywords
  • title has to be natural, relevant and clear for readers

URL

  • The URL has to provide relevant information to your audience. You can use the title when possible.

Rules for a properly optimized URL:

  • no date inside the url (just in case of duplicate URL’s)
  • no underscores (use dashes if needed)
  • no uppercase or proper case (use lowercase)
  • avoid using dynamic parameters in the URL’s (?)

Meta Description

  • Goes with the title and describes what the people will find on your website

Rules for a properly optimized Meta Description:

  • keep it under 160 characters
  • must include page’s main focus keywords but don’t abuse the keyword density

Headings

  • Headings help both the audience and the search engines. The audience can read the content easier and it’s a signal for the search engines.
  • Headings must be set accordingly to their importance from H1 to H6.

Internal linking

  • keeps your audience on your blog
  • increases traffic and time on site.

Content

How do you write it?

How do you do keyword research?

Check for keyword density.

After we focused on SEO and we managed to acquire a decent percentage of Search Engine for our desired keywords, our main focus should move towards optimizing the page for a better conversion rate.

Optimizing a blog is more about retaining user attention and getting credit for spreading ideas than it is about optimizing content to match search relevancy algorithms.

Conversion Rate Optimization for Blogs

 Conversion Pages Attributes:

The page may rank for keywords but is primarily concerned with direct conversions. Keyword targeting is secondary or may be unnecessary. We need to focus on one particular audience. To have a good start you should put your calls-to-action in people’s natural eye path.

1. Make sure that your CTA buttons look clickable

  • Clean and contrasting background to text color
  • A distinct button text (e.g., “Get free access”)
  • Have white space surrounding them
  • Rectangular (sometimes rounded) shape
  • Complementary border

The point of contact between your visitors and your offer is the call-to-action, whether buying, trying or sharing on social media.

2. Define and know the points of interest of your page – Heatmap Usage

I would say, this is your map to success. As long as you will pay attention to this, the content and all the actions your audience will take will lead to conversion.

There is the “F” rule where all the attention of your audience will focus on this magical shape.



Of course, testing is the key but having this hint is easier to check your visitor behavior.

3. Have a compelling and short button copy

It’s time to click: “reading mood” to a “ready to act mood”  has to be encouraged.

 

4. Use power words in your button copy

It’s proven that power words are the key. Why not to use them where you can confirm your audience impulse.

Here is an example of power words but may be different depending on your blog type.

 

5. Create anticipation in your copy

According to a research study reported in The Atlantic, 47% of the time, the human mind is wandering. Your mind wanders about a third of the time while you are reading or talking with other people.

It seems that the key to getting people to do what you want – e.g., click a button – is to promise a better experience.

6. Test and use the right font color

  • “If a good color sells, the right color sells better.”

Since less than 5% of the population suffers from color blindness, color theory should be explored.

There’s no perfect color for any specific emotional state. You can’t accurately say “red is the best color for CTAs,” or that “green symbolizes wealth and productivity, which means that you should always use it in those niches.” There is no one color rule – you just have to test out options for yourself.

 

7. Use pop-up and slide-in forms the right way.

There are four types of pop-ups. Depending on the information you are about to show, a pop-up may be pleasant or annoying. You have to make sure you will provide the best user experience in order for you to reach your goal.

  • Welcome mats: Full screen pop-ups that slide above page content
  • Overlay modals: Center screen pop-ups that appear on top of page content
  • Top banners: Small banners at the very top of the page
  • Slide-in boxes: Small boxes that slide in from the side/bottom of the page

 

Action:

  • Page entrance:Pop-up appears when the visitor first gets to the page
  • Page scroll:Pop-up appears when the visitor scrolls to a certain point on the page
  • Element interaction:Pop-up appears when the visitor clicks on or hovers over a specific element
  • Time on page:Pop-up appears when the visitor has been on the page for a specific amount of time
  • Exit intent:Pop-up appears when the visitor scrolls towards the top of the page to leave

Timing:

Wait X seconds before showing the popup
Show when user scrolls to X% of your website
Show when user attempts to leave your page (exit intent)

TIPS:

  • Give them a tease. If a visitor closes the form, they can be shown a teaser in the bottom of the site which can be opened at any time. You can see how many visitors sign up after having closed the form.
  • Keep it closed. If the form is closed, it will not reopen during the same visit/session.
  • Give it a limit. It’s essential to set a limit for your form. All Sleeknote pop-ups are created with a default limit on four exits from a single person. After this, the visitor will never see it again. You can also modify this to your needs.
  • Don’t show it again. Finally, if a visitor signs up, they are counted as converted and will not see the form again.

Some additional tips include:

  • If you’re using a timer, set it to at least five seconds.
  • Make sure your form is not shown during checkout, receipt pages or other conversion points. After all, you don’t want to interrupt potential customers during the process of buying.
  • Avoid more than one pop-up on the site at one time. You can easily have a slide-in and pop-up on the same site, but never two different pop-ups.
  • Think about the copy on your call to action button. For call to action tips, check out our how to create the perfect call to action post.

8. Use social media strategically for lead generation.

The goal of a brand social media page is to get a follower over the blog, not the other way around.
If they click over to your social page, they may not return and may not convert.

INCLUDE IT ON THE BUSINESS WEBSITE

Have you provided people with a way to easily access the blog from the company website? Even if you have opted to host your blog on a separate domain from the business website, you still need to make sure that they are both accessible to one another. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the company website gives the blog a level of credibility that may not exist if they don’t realize that the blog is part of the overall web presence of your company.

When the website and blog aren’t able to be navigated from one to the other, vital information that conveys trust to the visitor is missing. If the blog is part of the business website the visitor automatically knows who the author is, what the industry is, who they can contact, etc. The website navigation is right there for them to see. As a result, this establishes a sense of credibility and trust, which could then encourage the website visitor to take the desired action.

 

7 Easy Skills to Pay The Bills





If you’re looking to make money, it’s important to understand the tools of your trade and have the technical knowledge to wield your tools with confidence. But soft skills are equally critical in the quest to pay the bills. And that’s something they don’t teach you in school. Soft skills overlap as personality traits, meaning they are inherent to some people but not to others. If you’re missing any of these soft skills it’s important that you expand on them quickly if you want to get paid.



7 Easy Soft Skills That Pay the Bills

In an age where anyone can learn anything thanks to the internet, it’s important to brush up on these 7 soft skills if you are going to remain competitive and relevant in the digital marketplace.

#1 Communication

Marketing your business online is all about mastering the art of communication.

Just as it is essential that you communicate appropriately with colleagues, customers, contractors and other people you come in contact with in your pursuit to get rich, you must also use proper internet communication etiquette for digital marketing.

For instance, communication on your social websites should reflect your company’s culture, mission, and values. No matter who is doing the posting for your business, one unified voice should shine through.

That’s just good branding!

#2 Enthusiasm and Attitude

If you’re going to have a lifestyle that allows you to pay the bills, you’ve got to maintain the right attitude.

Let’s face it. There are going to be long nights spent nursing a cup of coffee or ten, working on your digital marketing and SEO strategy.



And guess what? The next day, the world isn’t going to stop for you. No one is going to want to regale what you learned about Google Hummingbird.

But don’t let it get you down.

Only you get to choose how you approach each day, so make it count by keeping a positive attitude that reflects your integrity and inspires those around you.

But when all else fails, reclaim your time when you learn about 20 simple on-page optimization tips.

#3 Networking

Many professionals agree that one of the most effective ways to pay the bills and keep them paid is by staying active in your network.

In influencer and digital marketing, it’s important that you cover all the networking bases on your social accounts.

This includes marketing to friends, groups and staying in front of your current customers using resources like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Post schedulers make it easy to stay in touch with your audience when they need to hear from you the most.

#4 Teamwork

Whether you are an influencer, working behind a webcam, or a manager of a digital marketing agency, you have to be able to work within a team to achieve your goals.

In fact, working with other people (i.e. teammates) is an essential life skill that really can’t be avoided, even by the most discerning hermit. (I’m looking at you, social influencers.)

Teamwork helps people hone skills like patience, cooperation and inspires them to come up with creative solutions that are important to any business model.



The whole premise of teamwork is that if we all work together this life will be a little bit easier. If you’re trying to pay the bills, that’s advice you can take to the bank.

#5 Critical Thinking

We all know there’s more than one way to fry an egg, but how many creative solutions can you think of when put on the spot?

If the answer is not many, you might be someone embodies the principles of absolute thinking. But not everything is black and white. In fact, on the internet things rarely are as they seem.

In order to come up with the next creative blog idea or marketing strategy to pay the bills, you’ll need to display critical thinking. Luckily this skill can be learned because it’s an important one.

#6 Professionalism

Over the years the idea of professionalism has changed.

And while many companies now have a culture that allows for business casual attire, there are some tenets of professionalism that still ring true today and always.

These include things like being respectful of your audience’s time, formulating a content strategy that includes helpful, relevant information and becoming a thought leader.

#7 Perfection

This is a joke.

But wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could all just be perfect? It’s possible you won’t ever have a personality that encompasses all of these soft skills, perfectly.

But if you can be your authentic self, you’re on the right track to being able to pay the bills. It’s essential to make sure your original personality shines through online whether that be on a business website or social post.

On the world wide web, nothing will make you stand out more than using your own unique voice. But remember to be #6, always be a professional, because the internet also never forgets.

Get the Skills and Get Paid

It’s really as simple as these three steps:

  1. Get the skills that get you paid
  2. Apply them to your digital marketing and customer communications for optimal success
  3. Then watch as you pay the bills each month

But just because it’s a simple concept, doesn’t make it easy.

If you make these soft skills a part of your everyday life, it will make your journey better one.

Evidence suggests a high propensity for failure puts entrepreneurs in a downward spiral that can lead to foul mood and depression.

Embodying these traits is not only an essential part of creating success in your business but also important when handling the disappointment of inevitable bumps along the road.

For more information on how to grow your digital marketing business read our articles.
Share if you found something interesting.

 

How To Make Passive Income Online (3 Business Models)





I’ve been building businesses since 2001 and have generated over $5M in earnings. In this post, I’ll distill what I’ve learned into three passive income business models you can choose from.

How To Make Passive Income Online (3 Business Models)



The internet is an amazing place, folks. I probably don’t need to tell you there’s more than one way to make money online. And today, I’m going to give you the lowdown on three strategies you can use to do just that! I’ve built several businesses since 2008 using one or more of these models. I’ve been featured in magazines and articles across the globe, and since I started my journey I’ve generated over $5M in earnings from these businesses. All of my income and expenses for those businesses dating back to October 2008 have been tracked publicly.

But you don’t have to read all of my income reports to learn how I’ve made these three strategies work for me—or how they can work for you.

In this post, I’ll distill what I’ve learned into three business models you can choose from to decide which path you want to go down.

Those three models are the FP, AA, and EP models.

“But those are just acronyms, Pat! Tell me what they meeeeeaan!”

Fear not. I’ll explain them all, and help you figure out which one suits you best.

A Quick Primer on Passive Income

But first, let’s about talk passive income! What is passive income? There are many different definitions out there, but mine goes something like this: Passive income is all about building online businesses that can work for you, that allow you to generate income, and grow and scale, without a real-time presence. In other words, you don’t trade time for money. You build something up front that can continue to work for you over time.



“But Pat,” you might be asking, “is this really possible?” It’s definitely possible. And you don’t need a huge investment, either. Unlike investments such as real estate or stocks, you don’t need a ton of money to start to build something.

But there’s one thing you need to be super clear on. It’s definitely not easy to do. Some people may tell you there’s a magic button or blueprint you can use to get rich, all by doing nothing. Don’t get me started on people who say you can make it happen overnight. No way, no how. It takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to put in the hours.

You have to work hard now to build assets that will continue to work for you later. But once you start to build that passive income stream, you start to gain a little flexibility and freedom. You have a little more time to do more things, build even more passive income streams—or do fewer things, if that’s what you prefer!

So as I introduce these three business models to you, realize that yes, they all take time, but that time will also be very much worth it.

Cool? Okay, let’s get started.

The FP Model: Starting with Active Income

FP is the Freelance to Product model. In this model, you start by freelancing, then you find a problem that can be solved with a product.

Yes, we’re talking about passive income. And yes, freelancing is active income. So what’s the deal? To be perfectly honest, I believe freelancing is the #1 way to get started a building business of your own. You’ll learn a lot of skills, and you’ll get paid a lot quicker, too. You need some active income first!

But the biggest reason I recommend starting with freelancing is you’ll get to know the industry you’re in really well. You’ll learn it so well, that you’ll be able to find the holes, the opportunities, that allow you to create a successful product-based business.

Let me tell you about my friend Brian Casel. He was a freelance web designer who used to bill all his work by the project and sometimes by the hour; it was all tied to his time. He could only fit in a certain number of projects, and he was basically living project to project. It was not an ideal situation.

Brian had found a huge need for web design in the restaurant and food truck space. After getting tired of working with client after client, he decided to turn his service-based business into a product-based one. He made his services more standardized and productized. He eliminated all his client work and created templates and products to serve that market instead. And it’s been going great for him.

All active businesses can be turned into more passive businesses by using products you’ve already made, by using software to do a lot of the legwork, and even having other humans do some of the work, too.

The AA Model: Advertising Your Way to Income

Next up, I’ll tell you how I made my first bit of passive income in 2008 with business model #2: the AA Model.

AA stands for the Audience and Advertising Model. It’s one of the most-used models for building passive income online—but it does come with a fair number of warnings, which I’ll share with you in a minute.

If you’re a YouTube personality, this is how you generate your income. If you’re a blogger who gets a lot of traffic to your site and uses advertising or sponsorships, then you’re also following the AA Model. Got a podcast with sponsorships? Same deal. You have an audience, and you have advertisers that want to get in front of that audience, so you marry the two and get paid for it.



When I started building my architecture-related business in 2008, I made my first dollar through advertising. I’d spent a lot of time and money building the site and getting traffic. Then one day I threw an ad on the site one day, and I made $1.18. Sure, I could find that much under my couch cushions—but that’s not the point! The point is that I was able to build something online, put an ad up, and make money without having to do anything. I learned it was possible, and it motivated me to move forward.

Eventually, I put more ads on the site. Traffic continued to grow, and I started earning between $30 and $50 a day just from advertising.

Then I built a brand-new site, got even more traffic, put ads on it, and . . . didn’t make more than $50 after six months of advertising. And therein lies one of the downsides of the AA Model. Ads are not super-predictable, especially auto-generated ones like those through Google AdSense.

There’s a second downside to this model. Although I’ve done advertising and sponsorships in the past, and have made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so, the truth is it takes a lot of time for this business model to start to generate income for you, because you need to build that audience first. In addition, what happens when you build your audience on a platform that ends up changing its algorithm, affecting how often you actually get seen by the audience you’ve built?

In order to build an audience, you need to have a platform. You need to have something worth following and sharing; something that’s valuable to others. And that, of course, takes time. That’s not to say you can’t build a huge audience in a short amount of time. But as much as we hear about the people who’ve succeeding at doing this, we don’t hear about the millions of others who are struggling every day to get just a few more fans and followers.

Long story short: the AA Model, while it can work for you, should be approached with care.

The EP Model: Making Money by Being Expert Enough

But the great thing is, you don’t need a huge audience to generate passive income and make money online!

That’s why if I had the choice, I’d go with the EP Model.

This is the Expert to Product Model. Now, don’t let the term “expert” scare you away—because it’s probably not what you think it is. Most people think an expert is someone who’s a master at something. Someone with a special degree or training, who’s put in those 10,000 hours, who is just great at what they do.

That’s not the kind of expert I’m talking about here.

What I mean is that you can be an expert in the eyes of someone else just by knowing a little more than they do. Because guess what? You have experiences, ideas, and opinions that are all unique to you. The goal is to become expert enough to earn the trust of others so that they’ll want to learn even more from you.

Quick story: Remember that $1.18 I found in the couch? Even when that increased to $30 to $50 a day, it still wasn’t enough to live on. So I looked for other options. In August 2008, after people started to know who I was and how I could help them pass the LEED certification exam through my blog, I wrote an ebook. It included all the information I knew about passing this exam, and I sold it on my blog for $19.95.

On October 2, 2008, when I finally put the book online, I sold my first copy, which was an amazing feeling. Fast-forward through October 2008, and I ended up making $7,126.91 just from ebook sales!

The craziest part of this was I’d wake up in the morning and there would be more money in my bank account, from people who had bought my book overnight. When you think about it, an online store that sells something that’s digital is something that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Using tools, software and systems, you can automate the delivery process so you literally don’t have to do anything to serve that audience. That’s super powerful.

What’s also really important to realize here is that when I took the exam I was teaching people to study for, I didn’t get a perfect score. In fact, I didn’t even get close to a perfect score. I passed. But I also knew a lot about this exam—way more than somebody who was just getting started diving into studying for it. And it was because of that, because I was just a few steps ahead of them, that they trusted me to help them with that information. To support this, I provided a lot of great free value to help them along the way. I engaged in conversations and interacted in comments sections and on forums. Most of all, I just really cared about those people, because I struggled big-time with that exam myself.

Here’s the truth: a successful business is something that successfully solves a problem. And that business can make more money in two ways: solving more people’s problems, or solving bigger problems. The cool thing about the EP Model is that sometimes these products don’t even have to be yours. You can generate income by recommending other people’s or companies’ services or products. This is called affiliate marketing. It’s actually how I’ve made most of my money since I started in 2008.

The first time I did affiliate marketing was way back in the day on my architecture exam website. I connected with a company that sold practice exams, which gave me $22 for every person who bought one of their exams via my site. Since then, I’ve generated over $250,000 simply by recommending that product alone. Again, this is a product that was not mine, but one that has still been helpful to my audience. This was all done with thousands of visitors a month. Not millions, or even hundreds of thousands.

So how do you get started with the EP Model? First, you need to be an expert in the eyes of those you’re looking to serve. And again, you don’t need all those qualifications and credentials. A lot of people gain expertise and credibility just by sharing their experience learning something, which is something I’ve done on SPI.com. If you think about it, many people in the personal finance or fitness space establish their authority by sharing their journey and their process. They do it by sharing their experiences—and you can do the same thing, too.

Another great way to get started is to identify an area of interest you have. Then, go out and start talking to people. Ask them, “What are you struggling with right now? What are your biggest pains? What’s something you wish existed that doesn’t?” That’ll give you some ideas about where to get started.

Active Problem Solving + Automation = Passive Income Success

Remember, a successful business solves people’s problems. At first, you’re going to have to do the legwork and put in the time. But it’s about building something now so you can reap the benefits later, with the help of software, tools, automation, and people you hire. In this way, you can then turn this business that solves people’s problems into something that generates passive income for you!

What model resonates with you most? Leave a comment below with your pick!