How I Started my Online Business

Transcript of my newsletter from 12th April.

Hey there,

I was chatting with a friend over a couple of beers one day, back in 2003, when he asked me this:

“Do you ever look at the ads beside the search results?” (In those days the paid ads were on the right side of the search results screen).

“No, why should I?”

“Because you can make money there” he replied.

And so began my online business career.

I signed up with Google Adwords so I could place ads, and I signed up with Clickbank, from where I could find products that would pay me a commission if, as a result of my ad, people went to the website and bought.

I didn’t need a website. I just placed ads directing people to the product pages of other peoples’ websites.

And I made money.

That was the early model of affiliate marketing – pretty much anything went.

Over time things have evolved.

First, Google insisted that any affiliate link placed on Adwords had to direct visitors to the affiliate marketer’s own website, not directly to the product owner’s sales page.

That forced me to learn how to build websites.

Then they started assessing the quality of affiliate marketers’ websites (Google’s idea of quality, that is).

Although I’m not a fan of Google for a few reasons, their focus on the quality of affiliate marketers’ websites did improve the overall experience of people using the web.

Next, they started restricting ads for specific industry sectors.

Over time, ads for natural health sites, gambling sites, tobacco-related sites and others have all been restricted or outright banned from Adwords.

Move on to today, and affiliate marketing has emerged as a huge and growing industry. Household-name companies from all industries participate, and successful affiliate marketers make a lot of money.

Despite that, it’s still one of the lowest-cost ways anyone can start an online business.

This week’s articles

In addition to a detailed article on affiliate marketing, I’ve linked this week to 3 ways to drive visitor traffic to your website (essential for success in affiliate marketing), 5 marketing mistakes to avoid in 2021 and 6 cyber security steps any business should take, irrespective of its size.

Affiliate marketing – the lowest cost way to start a business online

Like many things on the Internet, Affiliate Marketing took off early, went through some tough times as people gamed the system, and has matured and emerged as a huge and growing industry.

As I said above, it has proved extremely profitable for both the product owners and the affiliate marketers.

It is probably the lowest cost way you could start a business online but, like any business, it requires planning, commitment and consistent work.

Here’s a detailed description of the affiliate marketing business, and how to get started:

How to get started with affiliate marketing.

3 ways to drive consistent traffic to your website

Many of the articles I read, and some that I link to in these newsletters, give the impression that whatever they’re writing about is easy and quick.

The reality is that it’s not, which is why I often add a cautionary note when I link to them.

This article by Ryle Holt is unusual, in that it is realistic about the work and time it takes to develop a consistent income from an online business.

It covers 3 broad areas where you need to put your focus in order to drive sufficient numbers of visitors to your website to enable you to earn a worthwhile income.

For any online business, the number of visitors to your website will define whether it succeeds or fails.

How to drive visitors to your website

5 Marketing mistakes to avoid in 2021

Without marketing, your business will not get off the ground.

Even if you are marketing it, there are plenty of holes you can fall into, and mistakes you can make, that will trip you up and could cause your business to fail.

For me, especially when I started, I made Mistake #2: trying to serve everyone.

It’s an easy mistake to make because feels natural to spread your message as far and wide as possible to get more customers.

But it’s the wrong approach.

Cory Mosley sets out 5 marketing mistakes that will stunt your business’ growth:

5 marketing mistakes to avoid

6 cyber-security steps small businesses should take

A hack into any part of your business can be devastating.

The range of threats from theft of your login details, theft of your data, through to holding your business to ransom to recover disabled computers, is growing in both volume and sophistication.

This article refers to businesses that may be bigger than yours currently is, but the steps set out are not difficult. I do recommend you go through them and pick up on those that are relevant to your business.

Any cost involved in doing so will be hugely outweighed by the cost of recovery if your business is hacked.

6 cyber-security steps you should be taking

Fun flashback

In 1985 I was on a biz trip to Phoenix, Arizona, for my then employer.

The first morning after my arrival I woke up at around 4:00am because of the jet lag. So I jumped into the car and drove up to the Grand Canyon.

This song was played repeatedly on the radio, and always reminds me of that drive:

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Martin Malden

Martin Malden
Owner – WealthyDragon

Website owner: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.