Our third interview from the Affiliate Interviews series features Zac Johnson - a veteran, highly experienced blogger and affiliate marketer. Zac runs a number of websites on blogging and making money online, as well as a podcast where he interviews some of the most successful entrepreneurs online. Zac’s success is mostly thanks to his great content strategy and persistent outreach and content promotion. Read his interview to learn more on how that helps him become such a successful affiliate.
In this interview we have featured a question from one of our affiliates - Michael Higashi. As promised he will receive $100 affiliate bonus to his account. Congrats, Michael!
Today it seems easier than ever to start your own website and make money through it. Yet, to start converting traffic, you need to generate enough of it. What would be your advice for bringing healthy traffic to your website and steadily increasing it?
It's dead simple to create a website or blog these days. All you need is a domain name, hosting and a WordPress installation. While the process is dead simple, it's actually a negative at the same time - being that so many people are starting a blog, writing some blog posts and expecting to get rich overnight. The truth is that it's actually very hard to make money online, especially with blogging, simply because you are putting yourself up against another 300+ million blogs on the internet.
However, the good news is that there is a model behind doing this right. The first thing you need to do is pre-plan for your success and actually treat your website or blog like a business - this is where most people fail to get started, and subsequently start to fail. Regardless of whether you are going for search traffic, paid advertising or even word-of-mouth marketing, if you don't have a content marketing and monetization plan in place, you simply aren't going to find success.
To illustrate this process, I have created a simple guide and a visual infographic that details this process of pre-planning, content and keyword research and giving valuable experience to your audience, while also implementing a call to action in the process.
After you build a plan for your blog and you know your niche audience, then it’s time to start using tools like Google Keyword Planner, LongTailPro and SEMRush, and begin looking at potential keywords you rank for, along with where your competition is ranking as well.
Once content is in place, it's then time to focus on your content promotion through guest blogging and creating shareable content - this is where 99% of bloggers fail, as they are only putting the work into content creation rather than including promotion and call to action. No matter the niche, the end goal is to create content that provides value and gets the user to take action.
You manage to publish several articles every week and a podcast interview every month. You sure have a lot of experience creating content. What is the best way to balance having longer review articles for better search engine results yet still have your content optimized for affiliate conversions?
This answer ties back to the first question a bit, as too many bloggers, site owners and marketers are putting way too much emphasis on 'content creation' and not enough effort into 'content promotion'. If you want to rank and get more people to see your content, you need to focus more on the promotion of your content.
First things first. YES, longer and more detailed articles do perform better these days. It's been proven that longer content articles get more links, likes, shares, comments and reads, even though the majority of people won't read the whole thing - people just love longer and more detailed content!
But just "creating great content" isn't good enough anymore. Once a high quality content piece or infographic goes live on your site, it’s time to start your outreach. This can be done through personal emails to other sites within your niche, in order to see if you can provide them with an original article for their site or if they would like to link back to your content, or feature your infographic on their site. It sounds easier than it actually is, as most sites will ignore and delete such emails, and a relationship should always be in place before asking for a link or promotion to your site.
Whether you are creating general content or detailed review articles, this concept works amazingly well. The outreach that is required to make this work is lengthy and exhaustive, but it's also where most site owners fail to put in the time and effort - which is why it's an amazing opportunity for anyone who follows through.
MonitorBacklinks.com is a great tool for building backlinks as well. The tool allows you to plug in your own sites, along with the URLs of your competitors, and then reports back to you on all of the latest incoming link activity. This would give any site the advantage to study where and how their competition is building high quality backlinks, while also giving the opportunity for you to try and do the same for your site.
You are attending and speaking at multiple conferences which is not typical for the majority of affiliates. How important is networking when it comes to identifying business opportunities? Does that help you be a more successful affiliate and how?
I first started making money online back in 1995-1996. For many years I was simply making money online as an affiliate and doing my own thing. Then in 2000, I flew across the country with my dad to attend the Commission Junction University in California. It was the first event I went to, and I was around 19 at the time. This event changed everything for me and introduced me to the world of networking and the importance of making connections. Over a decade later, I'm still good friends with many of the people I met at that first event.
Jump forward to 2007, when I decided to go from just 'being an affiliate marketer' to building my own personal brand with ZacJohnson.com, and these relationships and networking opportunities have meant everything. As a result of the blog, speaking at different events and getting my name out there, I've been able to meet some amazing people, be featured in a documentary that premiered in Hollywood, California, write a book, start a podcast, help others make money online and to also have new opportunities present themselves all the time. To best answer this question, I would say that networking is EVERYTHING!
Even if you are still 'just an affiliate' who is banking like crazy and making money all over the place and still wants to stay behind the scenes, that's perfectly fine - but getting out to a conference and building relationships with others around you is key. For example, just think about how much more of a relationship you might have with your affiliate manager if you were to meet them in person? What opportunities or increased payouts could result from such a meeting?
In short, when I first started making money online and going to my first conference, there were only a handful of events per year. Now they are held every weekend, at every location throughout the world. Take a chance, go do some networking and see what happens!
You’ve known SiteGround for quite some time, I believe you met our team about 2 years ago. Yet you’ve only recently started to recommend us to your users. Why do you believe it took so long and how did SiteGround manage to gain your trust?
It's funny how all of these questions keep tying into each other and flow off my previous response very nicely. Again, I think this one goes right back to networking, putting yourself out there and building those relationships.
With nearly 20 years of experience under my belt, I've had my fair share of web hosting companies - both great stories and nightmares as well. Web hosting is a very competitive and lucrative space, yet not something you really want to have to think about - you just want it to work!
I had the chance to meet with the SiteGround team roughly two years ago, but it was really just in passing. It wasn't until the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas earlier this year that I got to meet with the team, talk in more detail and then follow up after the show as well. In short, the opportunity was there, the people at SiteGround are great to work with and I've had absolutely no problems, issues or headaches since making the switch, and I would love for my audience and followers to feel the same way about their host - which is why I recommend they all host through SiteGround.