How I made my first affiliate marketing sale the wrong way.
You must be asking yourself, is it possible to make a sale the wrong way in affiliate marketing? Is there a wrong way to make money? Let me tell you I felt lucky and it felt like I was cheating.
Before I tell you how I did it, let me tell you what sparked this affiliate marketing idea. I was up late watching YouTube, and I came across an ad that promoted “Make $10,000/month with this great program”. Immediately I was skeptical, but I clicked on it anyway.
The random guy goes on to explain how he made a landing page and basically used google ads to drive traffic to this page filled with affiliate links. So, I said what the hell, I would give it a quick try, but I would do it my way.
I didn’t purchase the program, but I took the basic steps and put it into action. Mind you, it was 10:00 at night and I was wide awake, but I was determined to give it a try. I wrote down three steps from the video and within hours I made my first sale.
3 basic steps I wrote down
Step 1: Find a profitable affiliate program with high commissions
Step 2: Build a landing page that promotes the program
Step 3: Purchase google ads to drive targeted traffic to the page
Timeline of events that ensued in this experiment
→ Time: 10:20 p.m.
First step was to find an affiliate program that made high commissions. I joined Clickbank.com a few years back but I never did anything with the account. I look back and wish I had learned affiliate marketing years ago, and I would probably be working from home today.
So, I did a quick search for weight loss programs. There are hundreds that I needed to look through. I sorted by commissions, and by gravity. Gravity is a way for Clickbank to measure the popularity of a program in my opinion.
I found a program that sounded good, and had a good designed landing page. Lord knows I was not going to promote bad design. So, I clicked “promote” and got my affiliate link and was off to the races.
Find a custom domain name from Godaddy.com
→ Time 10:35 p.m.
I am very lucky that I have a web design background, and I already had a hosting account with MediaTemple. This website allows me to host 100 websites for $20.00 per month and the service is great. I build WordPress websites for freelance clients all the time, so I knew what I was doing and how to start.
My next step was to buy a domain. I started searching Godaddy.com and came up with a few options. I wanted something in weight loss, but everything seemed taken. Every search seemed like it resulted in “not available”, and I had to keep going.
Setup my hosting account with MediaTemple
→ Time 10:55 p.m.
After finally choosing a domain I made a purchase. I want to say I really didn’t feel like I put much though or effort behind this because to me it was an experiment, and I didn’t expect to keep the domain very long.
I purchase all my domains from Godaddy because it is cheaper than MediaTemple. After I made the purchase, I changed the name servers to point to MediaTemple, so I could do a WordPress install.
→ Time 11:45 p.m.
After getting distracted with a comedy show on TV, I checked MediaTemple and triggered a one-click install of WordPress. Within 15 mins the install was done. Yes, it took less than 15 mins to my surprise for the automated install to finish.
Building my landing page with WordPress
Once the install was done, I loaded my WordPress theme and was off to the races building a one page website. This was to serve as a landing page for this little experiment. I took language inspiration from the affiliate marketing landing page I was going to promote. I didn’t copy it exactly, but I pretty much took some of the key points from the page, and rewrote them to be on my WordPress page.
To be honest, design is extremely important to me personally, but I put all those feeling aside and made the most basic page I could make. I did a search for free stock images, and pulled a generic good looking fit woman and put her as my background. I made a large button right after the main headline.
I spent less than 1 hour on the site an I was ready to drive traffic and continue with this experiment.
→ Time 1:00 a.m.
Next step was Google ads and a quick midnight snack. I already had an Adword account since I have been studying digital marketing for a while already. It’s free, and you can do all kinds of keyword research before you jump into affiliate marketing with Adwords.
After consuming cold leftover pizza, I started my campaign. I was not sure if google was going to approve the ad because the website was literally 1.5 hours old by this time. I created a small campaign with a few long tail keywords. I looked for a good medium between high traffic and low CPC (Cost Per clicks). I settled for about 10 terms in that I felt would get this experiment going.
→ Time 1:45 a.m.
The campaign was ready and I set my total budget for $25.00 for 1 day. Again, this was an experiment, and it is easy to waste money on buying traffic so I highly recommend you start out small if possible. If you are feeling saucy, then go big.
I waited to see if the ad would be approved, and I kept watch on my google analytics to see if any traffic was coming to the site.
→ Time 2:20 a.m.
I fell asleep!
→ Time 8:23 a.m.
I woke up and the first thing on my mind was the google ad. I was curious if the traffic and clicks started flowing, and much to my delight it worked. After a few moments, I was saddened by the fact that each click had costed me close to $1.10 so I only had about 22 clicks to the page. It was a low amount of traffic, but again, this was just an experiment.
→ Time 8:50 a.m.
After reviewing the google analytics, I checked Clickbank.com. I was honestly not expecting to get a single sale off of such small traffic. Most professional marketers will tell you that you need thousands of views before you will be able to convert.
→ Time 8:55 a.m.
I was SURPRISED AS HELL, and woke up my wife!
→ Time 9:00 a.m.
After pissing off my wife who was next to me in bed, I went downstairs and reviewed ClickBank with excitement. Yes, it had happened. I made a sale. The sale was over $110.00 and I made 50% commission.
→ Time 9:15 a.m.
Breakfast and reflection. I needed to come up with an excuse to tell my wife about why I stayed up working late, and why I spent money on an experiment. Brainstorming ensued.
Recap of the project experiment
I spent a total of 4 hours from start to finish. I spent $12.00 on a domain name from Godaddy. I spent nothing on hosting since I already had an account with MediaTemple. I spent $25.00 on an Adword campaign and got only 22 clicks, but got around 434 impressions.
Total profit: $35.00
Experiment results: A failure and a success
Why was this experiment a failure?
From my point of view, the experiment was a failure. I only made $35, and I spent 4 hours working on the website. This does not seem like much to go off. Maybe if I had a larger budget I could gamble and test and see if I can make more sales from this page. Landing pages are meant to be tested and revised in order to make more reliable and convert more viewers.
Why was this experiment a success?
The process works from a foundation standpoint. If I can accomplish these little results with a few hours playing around behind the computer. Imagine if I made a plan and worked on this website for a few hours weekly.
My goal is to nurture the website and grow it organically. I am looking into ideas for blog posts and creating more enticing content about weight loss. I am not subject matter expert, but I will make sure people understand I am looking to learn about the industry and maybe make some good lifestyle changes in the process.
I can see this website as a start to a long term project and I hope to see larger returns in the future if I continue to learn more about driving traffic and getting viewers organically. Who knows where it can lead.
How I learned to make an affiliate marketing sale the wrong way
I didn’t build an audience. I didn’t create unique content. I only built this website landing page with the sole purpose of making money. I am surprised Google let me pay for traffic.
Moral of the story is, this is not the way I want to enter affiliate marketing. It was a fun experiment, but I advise against this path. It is too easy to lose money in Adwords, and I just don’t feel comfortable spending more money on traffic.
I am sure I can find alternative ways to drive traffic, but I am not really providing valuable content or learning experiences for the reader. I am only enticing them with a BOLD headline and CTA to click on. Nothing more.
I see affiliate marketing as so much more than that. I want to build websites that interest me, and help me learn to grow. You can decide for yourself if this story was a success or a failure. In the end, we all will choose different paths to learning affiliate marketing. I am all about trial and error and learning from experiences, so I hope this inspires your journey.
About The Author
Jason Pena, Creator of Affiliate Flash
Sr. Digital Design Manager with years of experience in design, development, and digital marketing strategies. Learn with me, and lets be successful together.