The day I made a $700 affiliate commission for the first time…

One of my favorite stories to tell during interviews is my first attempt to make money selling an affiliate product.

My campaign started off as a failure as my blog post promoting the product netted zero results. I briefly doubted my decision to blog and considered giving it up for all of a few hours, but decided to stick to it because I enjoyed it. I then later made my first sale from the blog post, earning $20 in commission, which led to more sales and cementing of my belief that affiliate marketing could become a serious source of income for me.

Later that same year (this was my first year of blogging) I did another affiliate promotion, but this time for a live event that cost $1,500 to attend. The commission was $700.

I did my promotion with a couple of blog posts and eventually was blown away when I actually made a sale. $700 from a couple of blog posts was a big deal for me as you can imagine, and when a second sale came in a week later I was seriously excited. I had just made $1,400 US dollars, which for an Australian at the time with the exchange rate was over $2,000 Aussie dollars.

Bear in mind all this happened without an email list, with around 400 daily visitors to my blog and somewhere around 500 to 800 RSS subscribers. Obviously one or two sales is not a great conversion rate, but considering the commission amount I was very happy. This also happened to be the first time I had made more than $1,000 in a month from my blog.

I Had A Story To Tell

One thing I learned early on as a blogger, especially in a niche like blogging about blogging or blogging about making money, is that you have to actually have success stories to tell. You need to do stuff, get results and then use that as your best content.

The reason this works so well is that it’s practical, real life and exciting for anyone who wants to replicate your success. It also happens to be rare, as most people don’t actually get a result and thus spend most of their time telling stories about other people.

Credibility is absolutely critical and at the end of the day there really are only two ways to prove you are more than just talk. You have to do it and get the result yourself, and if you can then teach it and have other people get the result because they followed your instructions, you have the best proof you will ever get.

People gravitate to great stories, especially when it comes to working towards achieving something someone else has. When I started blogging I had about seven years experience of starting websites and businesses, some of which made money, some didn’t – but they all made for great content – great stories. There’s no way this blog would be what it is today without the time I spent before blogging learning the ropes and the continued action I took while blogging, some of which made for more great stories you may have read during the previous six years.

Of course when you start out, you may not have all that many stories, and for me as an affiliate marketer, those first two $700 sales were a big deal and one of my first blogging for profit stories. This was my first real point of credibility as a blogger who could make money, and since I had experienced quite a bit of doubt leading up to the result, I felt elated that I had actually made some money (perhaps ironically the emotion felt for these early successes was much stronger than subsequent financial success of a much greater magnitude I enjoyed later on).

Climb The Ladder

What’s a good blogger to do when he has a success? Use it to build more success of course!

I spent quite a bit of time around this period in a couple of forums related to Internet marketing and web hosting, including the Digital Point Forums and Sitepoint Forums. I was mostly chiming in on any discussions related to blogging and Internet marketing to help where I could and build my profile.

When this early affiliate marketing success was achieved I decided to conduct an experiment. I wrote an article of about 1500 words telling my story of how I made these initial affiliate marketing sales and the lead-up full of doubt before that. I then published the article to the two forums.

Immediately after publishing discussions broke out in response and my posts in the forums remained popular for a few days. I don’t remember specifically how many people came from the forums back to my blog, but I know it did something positive simply because of how many times the forum threads had been viewed.

I used one financial success as a springboard to bring more audience to my blog.

Leverage Each Success

That was not the first nor the last time I would use this technique of taking one success and using it to create more success.

Here are a couple more quick examples to demonstrate how I have applied this method.

  • This technique probably won’t work now, but years ago I was able to achieve a first page Google ranking for my proofreading business by using entries in the classifieds site Craiglist. I would look up certain keyword phrases and notice that people who had placed entries in Craiglist ranked well, even in the first position on Google, so if I created entries in Craiglist I could do the same.It wasn’t a technique with lasting impact as you needed to keep going back to Craiglist and re-add your entry after it expired in a couple of weeks, but it did prove successful for a while. In less than 24 hours I could have my site linked from the Craiglist page which ranked number one in Google. Of course once I achieved this result I immediately went and wrote a blog post about it and that blog post proved really popular. It spread around the blogosphere in my industry when it was first published, bringing me new readers and links. Again I used one successful technique to create more success for my blog.
  • This next one might seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing it out because you can do it too and so many marketers already do it and profit greatly. Once I was making money with this blog, I created a course on how to make money from blogs. I had just spent two years learning how to do something and I decided to use that experience, especially while it was still fresh in my mind, to create a new income stream.My proof in this case was that my blog was making $5,000 to $10,000 a month and that was a very desirable goal for a lot of people. However in your case this doesn’t need to be about making money. If you figured out a way to cure your bad back, that could be something you can teach and sell, or at least leverage as a story to build more success and exposure. The same goes for anything that you’ve achieved and other people would know doubt love to achieve as well.

Make Money Teaching How You Did Something

I remember clearly a comment from John Childers during one of his stage presentations. He talked about how he had made $250,000 a year from investing in property. He then translated that success into a training system he sold on stage and other places, which netted him a million dollars a year. He was able to make more money teaching how he made money, and as he says, there is nothing wrong with that.

People often bear a grudge against those who make money teaching how to make money, like it’s some kind of con. Unfortunately this skepticism is no doubt warranted and plenty of people profit by selling a dream of financial freedom and that’s the only way they ever have actually made money themselves.

I’ve written about this subject before in – How To Make Money Teaching People How To Make Money – so I guide you there if you want more advice.

The most important thing is that you realize your potential to build on whatever you have done in the past or what you are currently achieving. Each success is a stepping stone to next story even if you just use it as a story to tell to your people.

The Real Power Of The Success Ladder

So far I’ve talked about the success ladder in a practical context where you can see how I used one result in my life and/or business to stimulate another. That’s a powerful technique that I know you can apply immediately.

However there is a more exceptional underlying principle behind the success ladder when it comes to your mindset that must not be ignored.

The reason a success ladder is so brilliant is that it can take you to what you really want, something that you very likely only dream about as a possibility right now, a perhaps unlikely one.

Outcomes that seem very “big” and very challenging, like becoming financially free, or losing a lot of weight, or gaining a lot of muscle, or finding the love of your life, or attaining a certain position of authority, or a new job, or becoming famous, can seem incredibly distant because of the magnitude of changes you see as necessary for that result to become reality.

It’s not a case of A leading to B, it’s going through an entire alphabet of necessary changes for something to finally happen, which because of the multitude of tasks, is enough to make people give up before they start.

Worse still, we see many of the changes required to meet these big goals as completely out of our hands. As a result we believe that we need a lot of luck to ever have a hope of experiencing these desirable outcomes.

It’s easy to be “defeated” by life if you believe that random chance is entirely in control of your outcomes. I for one believe you can do a heck of a lot to help bend the will of random chance in your favor, and defeat is definitely not an option. There’s enough proof in my life, not to mention the lives of so many people who on first inspection because of their “life situation” should never have achieved what they did, let alone far exceed these things, yet have become what we consider great – icons to be admired and emulated.

How To Apply The Success Ladder

The key to applying the success ladder in your life is to remember two incredibly important elements –

  1. You must have a big goal that is tangible to you, that you at least conceptually understand, if not fully “know” because you haven’t experienced it yet.
  2. You focus on incremental improvement.

For this to work the most important factor is how you think and react emotionally to each little success.

People always say life is all about the journey and not the destination. One of my all time favorite books, The Alchemist, is about exactly this, and I wholeheartedly agree that every success in life worth celebrating is already within you. There’s no need to look outside, you have all the tools you need to be happy.

However there is a practical reality that many of us on this planet, myself included, wish to live through. We want to have certain experiences in the physical world. It’s okay to be content, peaceful and calm about who you are and what your purpose is, but it’s darn fun to chase experiences too.

What I am saying here is that yes, the journey is important, but the destination is too. If you don’t have a goal, an outcome, a desire for change in mind, then the journey will not inspire you. There is a symbiotic relationship between your ability to enjoy the journey and where that journey is going. You have to want both and relish the all of it.

The Little Successes

So how does the success ladder come in? If you have a powerful destination, something you want from your life that you will not rest until you have, then you can focus on each of the little successes to lead you there.

Why are the little successes important? It should be obvious – they are much easier to attain!

It’s much easier for me to make a $20 affiliate commission from my blog than consistently make at least $5,000 a month from my blog for an entire year. However one goal leads to the other and in order to reach the big goal, I must use the success ladder to bolster my self belief.

It’s also a case of practical experience leading to awareness and understanding. I didn’t truly believe that full time income from a blog was possible for me until I made at least that first sale. Once that sale was made, I could see using simple mathematics that if I could reach more people and improve conversion, I could make more money.

The same goes for anything in life. If you’ve never had a girlfriend or boyfriend, it might seem daunting to get one, especially if you have never been on a date. But how can you get a date if you’ve never actually asked someone out? How can you ask someone out if you’ve never talked to the opposite sex with that intention?

There is a success ladder to everything and as my experience dictates, it’s almost always a much bigger and more complex ladder than I initially thought. However because I can celebrate and use each success as motivation to strive for the next, I actually become a much more complete person as a result of climbing the ladder.

This is why ultimately the journey is, at the end, more important than the destination. It’s because you personally transformed as a result of climbing each step to achieve the goal. That growth has changed you completely in ways you could never imagine, giving you the groundwork for even greater achievement.

It’s the transformation that matters, the sum of the changes making you a better person, which is a much greater benefit than the original goal you were striving for that set you off in the first place.

Here’s to you climbing your own success ladder.

Yaro Starak