My name is Gary Nugent and I’m the author of this blog, which includes some personal opinions and experiences as an affiliate marketer as well as reviews of products I’ve personally used. Whatever opinions I espouse are purely my own. In addition, the site provides information on various topics that are of interest to webmasters, from ways to get traffic to your site to the best webhosting option to choose, advice on making your websites work harder for you and also gives news and tips from the world of internet/affiliate marketing.
My Story (if you want to read it!):
I’m a programmer by profession and ran my own software contracting business for 10 years.
I’ve worked for Banks, IBM, the European Space Agency, the European Commission among others and developed the original system for the Youth Justice Board for tracking young offenders in the UK.
Even though I worked for myself, I was still accountable to the people and companies who hired my services. That meant I still had to do daily commutes, deal with office politics and all the stuff that makes a job work rather than fun.
After 10 years, I’d had enough, so I pulled the plug on full time contracting even though I’d negotiated contracts where I only worked a 4-day week, could start in the morning when I liked (but still did an 8-hour day) and had about 6 weeks holidays each year.
So, in 2004 I decided to take a year out and try my hand at this internet/affiliate marketing thing. Building websites were nothing new to me. My first site went online in 1995 and my longest running site (the Night Sky Observer) has been online since 1997. My plan was to build a few sites to sell other people’s goods and services online (affiliate marketing).
The Start of My Affiliate Marketing Journey
I had some success selling my own software products but then, as now, driving traffic to a site was still something of a black art.
Of course, there were a lot fewer people online back then. One of the most prevalent ways of traffic was to throw up a few Adwords ads to drive traffic to your page. That was when Adwords was simple and bids were cheap and you didn’t get slapped by Google when they thought your quality score sucked.
Nevertheless, having bought a couple of Adwords courses and implemented their techniques, I ended up losing money in the long run (more spent on advertising than taken in sales). Well, it might have been an expensive lesson to learn, but Adwords wasn’t for me and I haven’t touched it since.
The internet was a bit of a wild west frontier back then and all sorts of money-making schemes abounded. One of them was AutoSurfing. These were membership sites (with different levels of membership) and your fees got you advertising credits. Your ads were displayed on the AutoSurf site and other members surfed them for cash.
Provided you surfed the requisite number of pages each day, you were guaranteed a return of about 40% on your membership fee (pay $10 a week and get $14 back at the end of the week kind of thing).
You can see the problem: they were Ponzi schemes. Did they work? Yes, for a while. The trick was to join one for 3 or 4 weeks, get your profit and leave. I came out a bit ahead on this in the end but those who stayed with the programs lost money, as happens with all Ponzi schemes. AutoSurfs died a death a few years back once tighter regulations were introduced.
HYIPs were another fad back then. The High Yield Investment Portfolios allowed you to invest a sum of money for a fixed term with a guaranteed high yield interest rate paid on maturity.
Yep, more Ponzi schemes. While most were simple ripoffs, there were a few that were run for long periods of time, using outside investments to fund the pot, rather than simply relying on members fees. So they weren’t Ponzi schemes in the strict sense. I knew what I was getting into when I tried a couple of these and while I lost money in some, I gained money in others. Probably broke even overall.
I even tried playing poker online for a while. I had a good winning streak and then started to lose too frequently. So I stopped playing before I’d lost all the money I’d won.
The thing about all these (questionable?) schemes, is that they were fun. I knew I stood a chance of losing money in them (as you should if you gamble at all) but I had a blast with them while they lasted.
Other Ideas To Pay The Bills
After a year of playing around on the ‘net, it was time to start thinking about pulling in some real money to pay the bills again. That’s when I launched the Home Based Business Directory, a site that provides information about various aspects of affiliate marketing and affiliate marketing opportunities. There’s not much on it these days.
While my LunarPhase Pro astronomy software continued to sell during my time-off period (and still sells), I went back to software writing and created Clickbank Elite (no longer available), a desktop application that made it easy to find hot products on Clickbank to promote.
Site Build It
The site I built with SBI was Great Landscape Photography (since rebuilt as a WordPress blog). SBI sites are not cheap at US$299 per year per site, but my site pulled in 5-8 times that each year.
SBI’s way of doing things wasn’t for me so I didn’t build any more sites with them but they are a great option for a newbie. You can read my Site Build It Review here or take the SBI eLearning Course.
I tried Multi Level Marketing for a while but just couldn’t make it work no matter how hard I tried. The sign-up rate was pathetically small so I could only conclude that that way of doing business was vastly over-hyped or I was simply crap at it (probably the latter).
Building A Site About A Passion
Anyone who knows me knows I like cats. They’re good companions and don’t need a lot of looking after like a dog. While I like dogs (and had a few during my childhood), I like the cats’ independent nature. And, like I said, they don’t need much looking after.
I created a cat website to inform about cat care and health. In 2006, I did a bit of caretaking while a friend was away on holiday and inherited the care of Ginger, a.k.a. RedPuss, a moth-eaten, bedraggled feline that lived on the property. His story was an interesting one.
What Worked For Me
What did continue to be successful for me, I realized, was building websites and doing affiliate marketing on those websites.
I was still building sites the old-fashioned way – in Notepad. I never took to the site builders like Frontpage or Dreamweaver because they seemed to introduce tons of unwanted style definitions and other unnecessary code that bloated the actual webpage code. Notepad gave me complete control over exactly what went onto a webpage. But building sites with it was slow and each page on a site had to be manually crafted.
That’s when I came up with the idea for SiteBuilder Elite – a web-based application that creates multi-page websites quickly and easily and allowed site-wide changes to be implemented, pretty much at the click of a button.
Since 2007, the software has undergone two major revisions and I now use it to build all my non-blog sites.
The software can be set to post pages at future dates, features dynamic content like RSS content, YouTube and Yahoo answers on pages, can download articles from article directories and has support for Adsense, Amazon and Chitika built in (other ad networks can be used if needed). It does what I want a site builder to do without all the bloat introduced by other builders.
In recent years, I’ve been working with WordPress.
I’ve experimented with autoblogs for a while – blogs with a number of future dated posts scheduled to be published over the coming days or weeks. Thanks to bugs in WordPress 2.9.x at the time, posts that should have be published went into a “Missed Schedule” status, so they didn’t get published.
That, and some other issues, plus Google getting wise to autoblogs, put paid to the idea of using autoblogs.
One thing I learned early on in my WordPress career was just how easy it was for a hacker to break into a WordPress site and deface it or hijack it. I spent far too much time repairing hacked blogs only to have them hacked yet again.
Building Secure, SEO WordPress Blogs To Order
That’s when I became a WordPress security expert. These days I bring that expertise to the table by building SEO, secure blogs for myself and clients – affiliate marketers and small business owners – over at Top Design Blogs.
While I might be tempting fate saying this, none of the blogs I have built have been hacked since I learned how to secure blogs with the tools I now use.
The Art of Promoting A Website
While I can quickly build quality sites, I’ve never enjoyed promoting websites. It’s a lot of hard work and the skills you require constantly need updating as the search engines, particularly Google, change their algorithms.
My skills in that department lapsed and fell out of date so in looking around for a training course that would bring those skills back up to date, I came across BTF is closed. Join WealthyAffiliate for FREE..
It’s course materials are kept updated in line with changes in the search engine optimization landscape. The course covers everything from building your own blog to marketing your site and making it profitable.
I chose it because of its long track record and list of successes. BTF is closed. Join WealthyAffiliate for FREE. if you plan to to build and promote your own sites.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to promote your own sites, as is frequently the case with me, then I pay someone to do the tasks I find onerous. For site promotion, I use this site promotion service.
Marketing With Instagram
Another avenue I’m currently pursuing is using Instagram as a way of promoting a link. That link goes to an opt-in page though so I’m trying to use Instagram as a lead magnet.
If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it’s a photo-sharing app for mobile devices and was never designed to run on a PC or laptop. That makes working with it somewhat difficult.
I recently bought a software app called Instamate which runs in your browser and makes it very easy to post to and manage an Instagram account on your PC (I reviewed it here). It’s actually easier to use than from a mobile app and has image editing features that allow you to find, edit and brand images. This is as easy it gets for affiliate marketers to work with Instagram.
BTW, there’s a free course on Marketing With Instagram here (just sign up as a free member).
Building Mailing Lists
Another bit of software I bought earlier this year is SmartMember. This tool builds Udemy-style video tutorial sites but has the added benefit that there’s an in-built autoresponder, link masker, email support system and forum, all under one roof.
I’ve used it to create a paid membership site – Niche Site Institute – as well as free membership sites (used to build mailing lists) like Starfleet Academy, Muscle & Fitness, Fallout 4 Buzz and Investing In Gold.
These sites can make great bonuses to give away as enticements for your own affiliate offers. If you’re interested in getting a site like these for yourself, then send me an email and we can talk.
Can’t Get Away From Facebook
Where PPC (Pay Per Click) is concerned, you just cant get away from Facebook. Have you noticed that the quality of Adsense ads has dropped in the last year or two? That’s because Facebook are making inroads into the PPC market.
I don’t like Facebook for a variety of reasons but I’ve realized that I could not go on ignoring it, simply because of how good it is as a marketing channel. So another thing I’ve been learning about is how to create Facebook ads the right way.
As with any PPC venture, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money. Facebook ads are a lot cheaper than Adsense so you get more bang for your buck. They also make it easy to target your ads at the right people so the money you do spend is well spent.
There’s a lot more to creating Facebook ads than I thought, so there is a bit of a learning curve.
I’ll keep you posted on my successes and failures here on this blog, so do check back from time to time to see what’s new.
Again, I’m Gary, and it’s been great talking to you. If you’d like to ask me anything, just shoot me an email. And feel free to leave a comment on any of the posts here. We can all benefit from each others’ experience in the world of internet marketing.
That’s it for now.