Seventeen years ago I created my first information product. And then I created another. And another and another.
Over three years I created six or seven information products that ranged from “How to Become a Straight A Student”, to personal development and productivity, to search engine optimization.
I didn’t sell 100 copies – total. I’m not sure I sold 50 – total.
During this time I tried a number of affiliate marketing approaches too. I promoted books for Amazon (when the standard commission was 15%), goal setting software, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and a dozen other products.
My success rate wasn’t much better. I never earned more than $80 in a month.
What I eventually discovered was this:
It’s much easier to sell products people are already looking for than products they’re not.
And it’s much easier to sell products when you actually know how to sell a product.
80% of Your Time
I had already achieved Internet marketing success but this piece of advice would have helped me greatly – it will help you.
In the book Ready, Fire, Aim, Michael Masterson recommends that when you should spend 80% of your time selling and marketing until you reach $1 million in sales.
As it turns out, this is great advice. It does not matter how great the product or service is that you have to offer, if you don’t have selling and marketing skills your success depends on long-odds.
With very rare exception the people who’ve come online and achieved instant success have done so with existing sales and marketing skills. The rest of us need to learn, and then we need to do until we are proficient, if not masters.
Affiliate Marketing or Product Creation?
It’s common that I’m asked “Which?”
Since I create products about being successful with affiliate marketing people question where my income comes from – and that’s a legitimate question.
Ideally, you have a mix of both. I do. And I’ll explain, later in this article, how I used affiliate marketing as a lever to successful product creation. But that’s getting ahead of the question – I generate BOTH affiliate marketing income and product creation income but that’s where I am now.
At this point I *can* create products and I love doing that, so I do. And, the fastest way to grow your business is to form joint ventures with others. That means you promote others and you earn commissions, and they promote you.
No matter how prolific you may be as a product creator you cannot fulfill every need your prospects and customers have. It makes sense to recommend other products and services you legitimately believe in – it benefits everyone.
Every highly successful Internet marketing business I’m aware does some mix of promotion for their own products and others.
But that is not the place to start – it isn’t an either/or question as much as it’s a “When”.
Where to Start and Why?
I believe that almost everyone should start with affiliate marketing. In order to focus 80% of your time on selling and marketing you need to clear your plate. You can’t create products. You can’t support customers. You can’t manage freelancers. You can’t do all that needs to be done in order to sell a product.
And to be honest with yourself, you probably don’t know enough, at the start, to know how to sell or market your product.
This means you’ll spend an enormous amount of time and effort creating something you’re unlikely to sell.
The smart move is to pick a market and sell what they’re already looking for and buying. This was my strategy (once I learned what I was doing) and it’s how I gained traction.
Rather than writing articles and posting banner ads (didn’t work), If people are looking for Product X by Big Brand, use that to your advantage because it’s unlikely you’ll beat them head-to-head.
Fantastic success arrived for me when I began to actively advertise and sell those products people were already looking for – just as-if I’d been hired to do that job. I began building lists. I write auto-responder sequences. I began making money – and then an income that replaced my day-job.
First, Establish a Stable Income
Acting as an affiliate, I figured out how to generate traffic, build a list and sell the first product; then I moved on to the next, and the next, and the next. I developed a portfolio of income producers. Most months I added a new income stream (some didn’t work, that’s reality).
One campaign would net $200 per month. The next $1400. The next $750. And on and on.
This provided a stable income base. That afforded me the opportunity to take risks and develop ideas.
I KNEW how to sell. I KNEW where to find my buyers. And I KNEW my bills were paid if my product creation effort didn’t produce a result.
And that’s when I added product creation, successfully, into the mix.
Because I had built lists I had people who already knew me to sell to.
Product creation became a part of my business because A) I wanted to share what I knew – it’s a compulsion for some of us and B) because it opens all kinds of doors.
Yes, a product has the potential to generate a lot of cash, fast. But the biggest unspoken benefit is that people on the “next level” are waiting to welcome you.
The Answer is . . .
Both. You should ultimately utilize a mix of affiliate marketing AND product creation. But I caution you to not invest your time and effort in creating your own products* if you haven’t already proven you can sell and you KNOW who you’re going to sell too.
I’m going to add one last thing . . .
Logically, I would do nearly 100% affiliate marketing because it truly *can be* a set-it-and-forget-it business model. I love the idea of doing work once and getting paid again and again. I call it “Checks in the mail for work already done”.
I continue to create products because I love learning and I love sharing what I learn. This can also be a lonely business and it’s a key way that I stay connected with people.
There are skills you have in place to be successful. And then there are the things that make what you do compelling. So be honest with yourself about what you really need to be successful, and then pick a model that supports the life you want.
If you’re interested in affiliate marketing – selling other people’s products and services for profit, there is no better training program than The Affiliate Black Book.
If you’re interested in creating and selling your own information products, there is no better training program than the Fast Path to Cash Product Creation System.
If you have any questions, let me know below in the comments.
All the best to you – John
** In editing I realize a point that needs to be made; even as an affiliate it is beneficial to have assets to offer. You will need bonuses to offer. You will need opt-in incentives. The Fast Path to Cash system teaches how to create these assets fast. It’s different than the idea of “creating a product to sell” but it’s an important part of marketing. It’s best to start out creating simple 5-10 page reports you can offer without the pressure of attempting to generate an income selling them outright.