how to start an authority site in any niche

How Erica Stone Quit Her 6 Figure Job by Building Simple Websites

erica stone interviewToday’s interview is with Erica Stone, one of the best ‘real’ Amazon affiliates I know of. Her super popular course, Extreme Review, has helped hundreds of people dial-in their Amazon affiliate efforts. This interview is long and has a lot of great content– Make sure you read the whole thing. I really appreciate Erica taking the time to do this for us.

UPDATE: You can now get Erica’s most popular course, Extreme Review, for just $29 here…

What got you interested in starting an online business and how did you get started?

In 2008, I developed an interest in HTML.  At the time, I was not looking for a new career.  I had a senior management position at one of the largest banks in the country and was just looking for a hobby.  I received a book on how to write HTML for Christmas that year and decided I’d build a family website.  I was a bit frustrated with the limitations of the free site platform I was using and began researching how to build a more substantial site.  That led me to WordPress and I started a personal blog.  Jumping into WordPress with no website experience at all was a challenge.  I enjoyed it but it only led to more research and that led me to Squidoo.  I was hooked.  I had no idea you could make money online unless you actually ran your own online store.  I’d never heard of affiliate marketing.  I joined a group on Squidoo to learn as much as I could, abandoned the idea of a family website, and spent every spare minute online building Squidoo lenses.  When I felt I had the concepts for keyword research and marketing down fairly well, I went back to WordPress and started building Amazon review sites.

Did you have any failures early on and what did you learn from them?

Ha!  I’m the queen of failures.  I don’t think there’s a better way to learn in the whole world.  My first WordPress site was hacked in the first couple of weeks.  I’ve broken my own sites, accidentally deleted them, and made tons of Squidoo lenses that have no hope of ever making a sale because I completely misunderstood how to target buyers with my content when I was building them.  I’ve had sites, too, that never made a sale.  I’ve tried PPC and spent plenty that never resulted in a gain no matter how analytical I am and exacting in studying the results.  I’ve chosen stupid domains, spent weeks spinning useless content and tried tools that aren’t helpful.

I was online probably six months before I made my first dime and it was just that – almost exactly a dime.  Something like $0.11 or $0.16.  It was the most exciting money I’d ever made and I was earning a healthy six figures from my day job.  Why I’d be so excited by that first sale only other internet marketers will ever understand.

What’s the main thing that made the difference for you in becoming successful?

Only when I focused on one project exclusively for months at a time did I see any real success.  I decided to build a site around a keyword that only gets about 500 exact searches a month.  It seemed important to find something simple to work on so that I could see how the strategies all came together.  I wanted to know what it would be like to rank really well for just one keyword.  Ninety posts later the site was getting 500 visitors a day and making money through Amazon sales and a Clickbank product every day.

Focusing on just one keyword, one site for an extended period of time just seemed so strange.  When you read the internet marketing forums – which so many of us do when we’re new and trying to get our arms around how to make money online – they’re so bloated with strategies and advice that they almost make you think you have to have your hand in five or ten different business models in order to be successful.  That’s just not true.  It’s also not what the forums intend you to think but it seems a natural outcome of seeing so much information in one place.

Even today, I get emails from people who list out the 20 different projects they’re working on and they’re asking for help understanding why they’re not making any money.  I get tired just reading how much work and energy they’ve put into everything they have going on.  Makes me feel almost lazy in comparison. It shows that energy and effort are not the issue, in most cases.  It’s knowing what to do first, second, and third on a single project to carry it to fruition.

Almost any single, niche can bring in a full time income.  Giving up too early and spreading myself too thin were probably the biggest hurdles I had to overcome.

What’s the best piece of “big picture” advice you would give to someone just starting their online business?

Everyone has a unique set of skills.  Those skills might work really well with one online business model and not well with another.  This means everyone has the potential for success but they have to know what they’re good at, be able to compensate for what they’re not good at, and choose a model that plays to their strengths.  I love to write, enjoy numbers and analysis, and find researching products a satisfying challenge.  This makes me a good match for affiliate marketing and review sites.  Find your strengths and make sure you choose a path that plays to those strengths.

As I mentioned, almost any niche can bring a full time income.  When you think about the millions – billions, even – of dollars in sales that take place for just a single product and that you’d be happy with just a small percentage of that income, then it starts to make sense how this is true.  If manufacturers and retailers make millions every year selling baby cribs and you get into the baby crib niche, even 1% of the sales that take place is a great deal of money.  The potential is almost always there.

What could you have done that would have made you successful sooner?

I think the only thing that would have helped me see success more quickly would have been to start sooner.  I understood the mechanics of how to get material online but not the art of putting the right content together with the right keywords and I’m not sure you can gain much of that without taking action and seeing the results.  A lot of people that I work with struggle with over-analysis and it prevents them from getting content up online.  They have ebooks, they read all the forums they can find, they ask questions, and they study different business models but they don’t actually BUILD anything.  It’s taking the time to TRY that will teach you more than you can gain from any other resource.

What would you tell people just starting out that they should focus on?

Focus is really the key.  Write a plan and follow it out.  Make adjustments only when you think they’ll make a material difference to your results.  I don’t care if the plan is just a set of hand written notes or a detailed spreadsheet of what you want to do but come up with steps you want to take to get started – find a niche, get a domain, get hosting, write my first post, etc.  Write them down somewhere and start working through them.  There is a ton of information available that outlines step by step action plans for you to follow. Find one that resonates with you and work it from start to finish.

Then, take the time to analyze the results.  There’s a concept that businesses of all sizes have followed for years.  Launch, analyze, refine, and keep going.  For affiliate marketers, we should put up content and then analyze the results – what keywords are bringing traffic, what is that traffic doing when they land on our site, are they finding your affiliate links, are they following them?  There’s a ton of information in tools like Google Analytics or stat plug-ins you can use for WordPress.  Look for problems and then refine your site to address those problems and keep going.  This doesn’t have to be done daily.  Keep building your site but once every month or two stop for a couple of days and just digest the site statistics and see if there’s something you should change to improve traffic, clickthroughs, or conversions.

Why do some people succeed online and others never do?

That’s a tough question.  There’s no one single reason that divides those that are successful from those who are not.  For some people, it’s a lack of taking action but there are many people who take so much action that I’m awed by their energy and yet that doesn’t lead to success, either.  When action IS taken but doesn’t achieve the desired results it seems to boil down to a few, common issues

First, a lack of quality content can be a problem.  I don’t necessarily mean that the writing is poor and unpolished.  I mean that it doesn’t help the reader.  We can all put words on a page but it’s putting the RIGHT words on the page that will answer whatever the visitor was hoping to find when they entered the search term in the search engine that makes the difference. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and you don’t have to use big words, you just have to lead the reader through important points to consider when they’re considering buying this product.

In the case of review sites, people are looking for honest, well-researched reviews of a product that give them information they can’t find on Amazon.

Posts like the “Best Such and Such for 2012″ can be great traffic getters but if all it does is showcase a product without any explanation as to why it’s the best product, then it lacks the reasons people need to feel comfortable that the product really is the best.

Second, using shortcuts in hopes of speeding things up doesn’t usually bring success but it’s easy to think that they will.  In fact, we really want them to so we pin our hopes on them and give it a shot because it sounds so easy.  Easy isn’t always good.

People are amazed when I tell them I don’t use a lot of sophisticated tools or a large team of assistants to do what I do.  I put up my own sites, I write my own product reviews, and I write all the content I use to promote my sites (web 2.0 pages, articles, or press releases).  I have occasionally outsourced these things but I’d say that I’ve done 90% of the work myself.

Outsourcing is fine but it does require that you stay heavily engaged with the content that you’re putting up.  If you’re not really reading it for understanding and if you aren’t in touch with the products you’re promoting, you’ll miss opportunities to expand your site.  Some of the best posts I put up are those that compare one product to another and it would be hard for me to know which products I should compare if I didn’t know them as thoroughly as I do.

Third, I think passion for the niche and the process has a lot to do with success.  I’m just finishing up with some one-on-one coaching with a number of students.  Those who did the best had such dedication to their topic and the process that it was like they were unleashed by just having a plan to follow.  All they needed was some guidance in the right direction and they’ve come up with amazing ideas for distinguishing their sites from their competition.  They’ve added their own, unique spin on the niche and it’s simply amazing to watch them go.  While they’re certainly hoping for sales (and making them), they’re almost more driven by putting together something they can be proud of.

How has running your own online business changed your life?

My life is about as 180 degrees different from what it was and it’s all due to affiliate marketing.  In 2010 I left my job at the bank and became self-employed.  I’ve had moments of sheer terror wondering what I’d done but also moments of incredible freedom.  As the sole provider for a family of 5, there’s a great deal of responsibility on my shoulders and I often lose a great deal of sleep because of that pressure. Taxes, medical insurance, and retirement planning when you’re self employed are way more challenging.  I’ve easily got several more years before I’ll feel I’m as stable as I was when I was working for someone else.

My lifestyle is very different, too.  My previous work life involved a great deal of meetings, travel, and long hours.  I still work long hours but only because I choose to do so and not because I have to do so.  I get up when I want (unless the kids are in school), we travel when we want, and I work in a tank top, jeans and flip-flops (something you can do just about year round in Arizona) sitting on my patio and right by the pool. Seriously, it’s like an amazing dream!  My parents have been extremely supportive of the change even knowing it was a big risk.  My mother asked me the other day if I would ever go back to working for someone else and I told her I couldn’t ever see myself doing so again.

What motivates you to keep going and become even more successful?

I’m highly motivated by achieving new goals.  Once I made my first dime, I wanted to make my second dime that much more quickly.  Soon it was $100 a day and then I wanted to make it $200 a day.  Supporting my family is also a huge motivator.  I have a son entering college and another son who will need a car in a couple of years.  I want to be able to help pay for those things.  My husband and I have travel goals we’d like to meet, too.  Hawaii, Greece, and a comfortable retirement. Each new financial goal I meet means I can achieve another level of success and so I keep striving for that next level.  I have a fixed amount I’d like to make each month and I won’t slow down until I’m there.

You’re obviously an expert Amazon affiliate… what are some of the best tips you have for creating successful Amazon affiliate sites?

One of my best tools for creating a successful site is content.  Content can be a great traffic getter all on its own.  If you write useful, relevant content about a niche, you will get traffic – long-tail at first but then you’ll gain traction when your site continues to explore that topic in depth.  I use very targeted posts that go after long-tails so that my sites become a sort of full-service, authority site around a niche.  Once the visitor lands, I want them to have all the information they could possibly need before deciding which product to buy.

When you’re researching a product, ask lots of questions.  Why does a product have a particular set of features?  Who would need those features?  When are they important and when are they not useful?  Find the answers and include that information in your posts.  It will connect your content with more readers through long-tailed searches and it also makes your site unique from most competitors.

Ignore products people don’t buy online.  If a product appears to be something people would prefer to buy in person, it’s not worth your time when there are so many products available that people DO buy online.  Why work harder than you have to?

Find products that people buy online and buy in multiples.  When I buy lawn chairs, I never buy just one – I want a set of 2, 4, or 6.  Products like these might have lower ticket prices but when you sell multiples of them at a time, you’ll see higher commissions more quickly.

How do you go about choosing niches or topics for your Amazon sites?

For my Amazon sites, I tend to pick complex products that have lots of features, buttons, controls, motors, and accessories.  The more complex the product, the better, because I know that I’ll research it more thoroughly than most people will attempt.  By doing so, I’ll get more traffic in the long run.  These kinds of products also tend to have higher prices and the commissions are good for each individual sale.

I make sure that there are signs that these products are bought online by checking the number of reviews that are on Amazon.  The more reviews, the more people have purchased these online before and the chances are good they’ll continue to do so.

At the root of things when it comes to getting Amazon sales, the overall goal is just to get the visitor to click thru to Amazon.com. Have you found any tricks to really increasing conversions or seen big differences in what types of calls to actions work best?

For my sites, I link almost every image in the post to Amazon, I include two Amazon style buttons, and I include at least 3 or 4 text links.  Those have worked well for me.  For my Squidoo lenses, I’ve been testing out using a button that says something like “see today’s favorite such and such” and link it to a search listing page on Amazon.  This gets a good clickthrough volume but a low conversion rate.  However, it showing incremental sales and I’ll take every one of those I can get.

What traffic strategies are working for you right now, and are there any that will always work?

My favorite traffic strategies – which also make for good backlinks – are several web 2.0 sites.  Squidoo is by far my favorite.  They rank well, they’re fun (in my opinion), and they can earn a strong page rank in their own right if done correctly.  I have some sites where the site and a Squidoo lens rank on the first page for my main keyword.  If I don’t capture a searcher one way, I stand a chance of getting them through the other link.  Squidoo has a great system in place for referral traffic that your lenses can gain from other lenses.  If you can tap into that traffic, you can use your lens to drive that traffic to your sites.

Where can people go to learn more from you?

I don’t have an internet marketing blog only because I’ve not carved out the time to set one up.  I do have a list where I routinely send out informative emails, updates, and tips and a set of ebooks around Amazon affiliate marketing.

Erica’s main course is Extreme Review. If you’re not making money with Amazon yet but you want to then get it.

If you want to get as much in-depth info from Erica on being an Amazon super affiliate, then check out these products of hers:

Here’s a tip: I buy a lot of products and guides to see what’s out there, but I end up sending only the very best ones to my Kindle so that I end up reading them over and over. Tip inside of a tip: Each of Erica’s products above are on my Kindle.

 

Limited Offer: Name: When I was just starting to figure things out, I did an interview where I walked through exactly what was working for me.

You can get this entire interview completely free, and you'll learn a lot from it.

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194 Comments

  • Sheilah Marshall

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I liked Erica’s suggestion that you sell products that people will buy in multiples. Many times I overlook less expensive items to promote because the price point is too low but, if I can find a product that people usually buy more than one of then it could be a profitable product to promote.

    I have Erica’s course, Squidoo Niche Blaster and it’s a really good course. I have only created one lens so far in the Halloween niche. I actually made a sale this week from my lens.

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Sheilah- The multiples thing is a great idea that I’ve never thought of before. Thanks for reading.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Sheilah – Now, I can’t pass up a comment where someone said they made a sale from SNB! Congratulations! Halloween niches are a perfect fit for Squidoo. All holiday related items, in fact, do well there. You can put something up so much more quickly than a whole site and there are so many different items to promote. Build some more! ;)

  • Nicki M.

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    The most helpful part of this awesome interview (thank you Erica, by the way!) was the little tips on getting those click-throughs on her Amazon affiliate site. Linking the images is brilliant- people are more drawn to images then to text, aren’t they? I know I am!

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Nicki- I agree. The more clicks you can get to Amazon the more sales you’ll make- pretty basic premise but every tip helps.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Nicki – Thanks! I always think use of images seems so obvious but I do see a number of sites where people use nothing but text and I think those look so plain. It’s easy to lose visitors if you don’t make the post look visually interesting. And then use those images to your advantage with links!

  • Rick Burnett

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate…

    Thanks so much for a great interview. And kudos on your decision to interview Erica.

    Erica is simply the best! I have known her for about a year now.

    She is the most generous and helpful person I have ever met online. It is really great to see the level of success that she has achieved.

    Rick

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Rick- You’re welcome- Yes Erica is great at what she does, and her courses are gold.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      *blush*

      That was very sweet, Rick, thank you!

  • Sheila

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I really enjoyed this article, Thank you both, for so much information. I am gong to check out your site next Erica. I have a class on this next month, thanks for sharing your “failures” as well as your success.
    I really liked the part about FOCUS. As you said, there are so many conflicting suggestions out there, and a lot of them make it sound like you have to have your fingers in all of the pies. Nice to hear that you can find success starting out with one main focus.
    Thanks again! Wish you both, continued success :)

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Sheila- Thanks for coming by. Focus is the biggest thing that anyone needs to master to be successful.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      I forgot to mention that when I built that one site focusing on a 500 search keyword, it worked its way up to getting over 500 visitors a DAY. You don’t have to reach for the giant keywords to see success. It was the focus that made the difference.

  • Kat C

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I really needed this today-very inspirational and some really good ideas. Been struggling with a site for about 3mos now-we’re so close…The part about common issues in failure really hit home. I’m going back through what I’ve done and see if there is stuff I can make better based on this.
    Thank you!

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Kat- You’re probably right on the edge… I’m sure you’ve heard of stories where some of the biggest successes came right after someone was about to give up.

      • Kat C

        Reply Reply June 27, 2012

        definitely not ready to give up on it…too stubborn really-plus its way too early to even consider it :)

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply June 27, 2012

          Being stubborn is a good trait to have in internet marketing. Nate nailed it – people usually give up just when the site is on the verge of success. The first 3 months (sometimes 6 months) can be a roller coaster. I compare it to a bucking bronco ride where Google does its best to shake you. Put your blinders on and build a great site. When it turns a corner and things stabilize you’ll be glad you did. I’m working with someone now who I’ve been in touch with for almost a year. He worked his way through some very minor changes (site layout, navigation menu and more content) and in the past month he’s started making sales every day. You’ll get there!

  • Aleshia Green

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    The fact she mentioned that she was only successful when she stayed consistent with one project shows that it really must be so to stick to one thing only.

    The part I found really helpful although I cannot be an Amazon affiliate…I can be an affiliate for something else..is how to come up with review ideas…I have always been scared or turned away about writing reviews simply because I feel if I have never seen or held the product in my hand I will not be able to make up a review on something. She mentioned the kinds of questions to think to your self on how to solve problems people have with products…I think it is a good approach that I will have to try.

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Aleshia- Sticking to one thing really is the key.

      And yeah it’s too bad you can’t be an Amazon affiliate, but Commission Junction and ShareaSale have merchants that carry almost anything that Amazon does.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      And Walmart! They’re a great alternative to Amazon. The commissions aren’t as high but they carry so many products that you’ll make cross sells. Their prices are also highly competitive with Amazon. In fact, I know that Amazon monitors Walmart’s site and adjusts their prices accordingly to stay within pennies of each other on many products. People can order online from Walmart and have the item shipped free to their local store which gets them around the additional shipping cost.

      As for doing reviews on products you haven’t touched, focus on what the product has or doesn’t have. Most people first need to find the product that does what they need it to do for the lowest price. If you look at two vacuum cleaners on Amazon, it’s hard to tell what’s different between the two of them.

      That’s where you come in. You research the product, read the manual, read all the user reviews you can find, and give a very detailed product description – much more than Amazon does.

      Then, you summarize what people liked and didn’t like about the product. If you can try it out at a local store, great. If not – no problem. You’re still providing a single source of information regarding the product.

      Next, you now know so much about the product that you can compare it to another and make strong, informed recommendations about how one product is better for certain uses than another because of the power in the motor, the options on the control panel, the accessories that come with it, etc.

      Once you get the site earning enough money, buying each product and doing a live demo is just a great way to take it up a notch!

      • Daniel Hicks

        Reply Reply June 27, 2012

        Erica,

        Are there any other good broad category alternatives? Walmart last time I looked only has a 30 minute or 1 hour cookie as opposed to the 24 hour cookie Amazon gives you for a visitor. Have you seen a lower conversion rate on Walmart click-thru’s because of this?

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply June 28, 2012

          Daniel – I think Walmart has a 3 day cookie, which isn’t much better than an hour but is longer than Amazon. The conversion rates are pretty good but they’re best for products that can’t be purchased on Amazon.

          One benefit of Walmart is that they’ve negotiated some private label products through large manufacturers. My laptop, for example, is an HP Pavilion model that you can only get at Walmart so Amazon is not even a competitor for this model.

          I always look at Walmart to see if they have those kinds of products in my niche and add those to my site.

          I do not have another broad retailer who does any better. I’ve tried Overstock and Target but without as much success.

  • Sherry Morton

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Thank you for such an insightful interview. Being someone who has been “all-over-the-map”, the emphasis on FOCUS and realizing and utilizing your own strengths really hit home for me. I’m not a techie and (sigh) never will be. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make a good living on the internet. I have many other strengths. Also, I need to learn about Squidoo. Erica has introduced me to the value of it. If Squidoo is fun too, well even better. Sharing the failures yet persevering as Erica has gives me hope. Thank you Nate and Erica!

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Sherry- You’re welcome, and your insights are dead on. Thanks for reading.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Sherry – Glad you liked it! And don’t worry, there are plenty of non-techies who do extremely well online. It’s absolutely not a show-stopper. ;)

  • Don

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hi Nate,

    Before I explain what part of the interview I found most helpful and why, I’d like to say Thank you to both you and Erica for this interview.

    I feel that the most important point of the interview (though I enjoyed the whole thing) was the point about…

    “the RIGHT words on the page that will answer whatever the visitor was hoping to find”

    I don’t feel that other marketers or courses emphasize this enough. We’re all taught to create keyword rich articles with LSI keywords that read well and don’t sound like spun content… but Erica gave us the key in that statement and I feel wholeheartedly that even if you’ve heard it before, most of us overlooked it.

    I’ve often wondered what the heck am I doing wrong and after many years of failure, I’d be willing to bet that Erica answered my question in that statement.

    It wasn’t my keyword research, it wasn’t my keyword density, it wasn’t the length of the article(s)…

    Even though my content may have been interesting and related to my primary keyword(s), it was the fact that I didn’t give the visitor the information he/she was looking for.

    • Don

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Sorry Nate.

      After I hit the post comment and re-read what I had written I realized I left out the word “Don’t” in this sentence:

      We’re all taught to create keyword rich articles with LSI keywords that read well and

      Don’t
      sound like spun content…

      • Nate

        Reply Reply June 27, 2012

        Don’t worry- I fixed it within your comment;)

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Don- that is a great point… giving the visitor enough information to make a buying decision. It’s something I’ve always tried to do with my own reviews.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Don – I struggled with this one for a long time. I’d find a keyword, right about that keyword and then feel so deflated when I’d get traffic but no sales. I finally realized that there’s some work that has to go into figuring out what people are hoping to find with that keyword and then giving them THAT. The better I get at being able to interpret what people really want when they type in a search phrase, the better my results get.

      • Don

        Reply Reply June 27, 2012

        Hi Erica,

        And that makes perfect sense to me now.

        I use to think it was just important to make my article content interesting.

        I now know that is NOT true. The visitors that are potential buyers are looking for something specific… some tidbit of information or confirmation that if he/she purchases that it will fulfill the need.

        Thanks for emphasizing that.

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply June 28, 2012

          You’re very welcome. ;)

  • Jo

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Great interview with amazing tips from Erica. It is so refreshing to hear ‘how it is really done’ by someone who is doing it herself, and really knows the subject matter.
    The tip about making sure there are signs that products are bought online by checking the number of reviews on Amazon was an extremely useful tip for me. The more reviews, the more people have purchased online before.
    Thanks to both Nate and Erica.

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Jo- It is nice to hear from someone really doing it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Jo – That’s a big one. Not that you can’t make sales with the products that aren’t bought online to the same degree but I find it’s so much easier to make regular sales when people have demonstrated a strong willingness to buy online.

  • Alan

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hey Nate,

    Once again you captured another great interview. I liked Erica from the get go. Especially when she decided to learn HTML on her own!

    Also I think writing every step and sticking to it, no matter how small is a great tip.

    Thanks again buddy,

    Alan

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Alan- You’re welcome, thanks for reading.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Alan – LOL! The HTML. I’m really such a geek. ;) But you should see what I can do with HTML now!!!

  • Charlie

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    My takeaway:

    What is the one thing to focus on?

    FOCUS

    So hard to do for me!

    Thanks for the info.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Charlie – Get a timer. There are some that are online, or one on your phone, or one on your iPod. Put a post-it on your computer about the one task you want to accomplish. Set the timer. Shut down all programs on your computer that you don’t need for that task and see how much you can finish before the timer goes off. You’ll finish things much more quickly. (I know from having suffered from the same thing at times…)

  • Ruben

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hello Nate,

    thanks for posting this informative interview, great decision on your part on interviewing Erica,

    I have followed Erica’s teachings thorough her course and finally found a steady income stream, not anything to brag about yet but its building up so I can’t complain.

    Erica really cares about teaching people to focus on a specific project instead of trying every new shinny object, I am now a firm believer after finally getting some success.

    Listen up everybody, its FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS instead of falling for Hocus Pocus, there is no magic button, it just involves hard work and dedication on your part. Follow this and join the 3 -5% of successful online marketers.

    Thanks Erica and Nate for doing your part in educating everyone,

    Ruben

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Ruben – Oh, I like that! Focus vs. Hocus Pocus! Very smart. ;) And so very true!

  • Jackie Johnson

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hi Nate,

    Thanks for this post, Nate. Just this week, I’ve been planning a Fresh Start, recognizing the mistakes for what they are – and Erica identified a couple more I’ve made that I need to acknowledge, really learn from, and then let go. The big one is content – and really being sure that it genuinely helps the reader, and isn’t simply what I find the most interesting and ‘feel like’ writing about.
    Erica’s own story on the path to success really is inspiring!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Jackie – Those mistakes are valuable learning experiences and worth their weight in gold. Learn from them and keep going. That’s the path to success!

      The other thing I didn’t fully understand is that I could fix stuff I didn’t do well the first time. I could rewrite an old review that wasn’t really up to snuff. I could revise posts that weren’t complete. My posts are often a work in progress.

  • Brian

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    The parts about writing the content that the visitor hopes to find, and the part about choosing complex products and researching the heck out of them were my favorites.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Brian – Thanks! That’s really my favorite part – researching a product so well that they have everything they need to know before they buy. Those kinds of reviews often inspire comments from visitors and questions about the product and I love knowing that I can answer those questions. I have one site, in particular, that has over 2000 comments from visitors and half of them are people asking which product they should buy when they have their choice narrowed down to 2 or 3. You have to know you’ve established some degree of trust when visitors are asking your opinion before buying.

  • Helen Page

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate, this was a terrific interview. I have made a list of things I don’t fully understand yet, so I can increase my knowledge base, such as using Squidoo lenses, which Erica seems to rely on. I’m also curious about her niches. She targets big ticket items but sounds like her sites feature one product or series of products, rather than a big authority site such as we are building.

    I found her advice to stick with one site until it is profitable so consistent with what you have been saying and it encourages me to stick with mine, even though I am finding WordPress challenging. I have the passion for this work and am glad she sees it as an asset.

    All in all, a great, motivating interview. Many thanks.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Helen – My sites are usually quite large but each one covers a specific kind of product – like only vacuum cleaners. I prefer my sites to have over 100 posts each and I work on only one or two sites at a time for months on end. The posts include a mix of review posts covering a single product in the niche and informational posts that compare products, dissect product features, and help people understand which product is best for which purpose.

      My Squidoo lenses, though, each focus on very narrow, very targeted niches like “purple lamp shades”.

      Sometimes I’m not very clear about which strategy I’m talking about when I write. ;)

  • Richard Lodge

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hi Nate

    Thanks for a valuable post. My greatest interest was in the section on niche selection. I ‘listened up’ to the suggestion of choosing complex products that require more detailed coverage of the various features; all of which means more content to attract traffic.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Richard – I swear by content as one of the best traffic methods you can use for SEO traffic. More content – as long as it’s related and useful – brings in lots of targeted traffic your competitors won’t get!

  • Tammie

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    The most helpful part of this interview is easily the section about choosing the products to promote and writing the content. Every time I read an interview, or one of her courses, or even her posts in the forums, I learn something from Erica.

    Over the years, I’ve bought a lot of information from a lot of affiliate marketers – but I can honestly tell you, the best review products I’ve ever seen are those from Erica Stone. I literally keep a 3 ring binder with her products close by, and whenever I start a new review, I follow her instructions step by step.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Tammie – Thank you so much! I can’t imagine what that looks like all in one binder. ;) I’m so glad you’ve found the material helpful. Comments like that keep me going!

  • matson@deductr.com

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate,
    Another great interview. I have been a fan of Erica for some time now. I loved that her most exciting money she made online was her first $0.11!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Matson – What was really funny is that the $0.11 was earned on Squidoo and I’d accidentally left the charity setting at the default so I only got half of the money. Still….I’d EARNED it and I’m sure my husband was tired of hearing about it after the first week. ;)

  • brad

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I like how she goes for complex products on Amazon. Great idea as there are so many auto post plugins and usually people put up a crap review and expect to get a commission (including me!)<–it doesn't work :-)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Brad – Yup. Doesn’t work. ;) Been there, done that, too. Not that I’m opposed to the plug-ins because they can automate some post formatting and they look really cool but if you don’t add your own content, you won’t last long!

  • Charles

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    You will not find a bigger proponent of Erica than me. I have bought most of her products and have promoted them on forums. She LOVES to help people become successful.
    Erica I loved the comment about your being so excited abiut that first “dime” you made. My wife was talking to a friend when I got my fist adsense income report and it was about the same as yours..They congratulated me, but weren’t nearly as excited as i was. But like you said, you have to be involved in this to understand that accomplishmnet.
    I think looking for things that peole will buy from its appearance is a key factor on promoting products on Squidoo, more of an impulse buy.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Charles – I’ve got a special place in my heart for you and your wife, too. I’ve loved following your journey online and can’t wait until you experience the full success I know you’re capable of achieving. Thank you!

  • Erica Stone

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate, I want to thank you so much for this great opportunity. Thinking through the questions reminded me just how far I’ve come and also about the things I’ve learned along the way. You’ have a great site here and an amazing list of followers.

    Sincerely,

    Erica

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      You’re welcome Erica and thank you- You gave us a lot of great info and it’s the exact type of stuff that’s really helpful for people.

  • Nigel- The WSOBro

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    HEy Nate,

    I really enjoyed the post. I think everyone can relate to Erica’s story. You never forget yoru first dollar or cents you make online. hehe

    Nigel:)

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Nigel- I’m glad you liked it- Thanks for stopping by.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Nigel – Too true. That was 3 years ago but I remember it like it just happened!

  • Gautam

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hi Nate:

    Thanks for bringing Erica to this group!

    Loved her candid advice on so many aspects of IM.
    Specially loved this insight”
    “Almost any single, niche can bring in a full time income. Giving up too early and spreading myself too thin were probably the biggest hurdles I had to overcome”

    Time to focus more on just one thing at a time!

    Cheers!

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Gautam- That is a great insight about any niche, and it’s true. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Gautam – I like to say that all sites start out small and then you build them like a snowman, rolling them into larger and larger mounds of content and suddenly you’re sitting on a very solid site. Just keep adding and adding what you think will be of interest to your visitors. Thanks for commenting!

  • Viviane

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Charles,

    I’m afraid you’ll find me competing with you for that title. I have also bought most of Erica’s products and share them with my husband (another Charles) who is also building his own websites part-time. It’s great to have someone who can fully understand the excitement of achieving a modest first sale…

    Erica, I agree with you wholeheartedly that FOCUS is the main issue and find it so ironic that it seems almost diametrically opposed to working online. What on earth could possibly be more distracting than the internet?

    I still struggle with writing 1,000-word posts, but as you pointed out, the more you get to know your chosen product, the easier it gets. I have also found that adding my carefully selected keywords after I have finished writing the post makes for much better flow. It is so much easier to integrate keywords after the message has been delivered.

    In a way, I really look forward to building those Squidoo lenses (I love working with images), but the prospect of writing long articles about shiny objects gives me nightmares…

    Nate, thank you for a great interview and look forward to hearing more from you.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Viviane – I’ll take all the comments like that I can get! ;)

      1000+ posts on products don’t have to start out that way. My earliest posts on my site often start out smaller than that until I get to know more about the niche. Then I come up with all kinds of ideas to go back and add to them. I have one post that started out at probably 800 words and is now over 6000 words! It took two years to build up that content just going in every now and adding something new I’d learned about the product.

      Now, for Squidoo lenses, I don’t think I have 1000 words on my SNB lenses. I don’t think I could come up with that much about shiny objects, either. That’s why I find them a nice break from my sites. A lot less writing and some really cool items with pretty images. Sounds like it would be a good match for you!

      • Viviane

        Reply Reply June 27, 2012

        Erica,

        A big weight just came off my shoulders. Can’t wait to get started on those Squidoo lenses. In the meantime, I am getting an email ready for you which is long overdue…

  • Iris Johnson

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate and Erica,

    Great interview! Erica has a wonderful story of how she achieved success online and it is truly inspirational.

    The part of the interview I found most helpful was the need to focus on only ONE project at a time, from start to finish! I have found that to be my biggest challenge.

    This interview was full of so much valuable information and tips. I would like to thank you both for taking the time to share.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Iris – You’re very welcome. I love the chance to share and often – obviously – get a bit wordy but always in the hopes that it will give someone the one piece of info they’ve been looking for. Thanks so much!

  • Russ

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate and Erica,

    Thank you! The interview, coupled with your follow-ups to the comments are, frankly, better quality content than many reports I’ve spent too much money on.

    Each aspect of this interview had golden nuggets in it. So, aside from the never-too-often-stated part about focus, what I thought the most beneficial to me was her stating what I already knew, but don’t always do.

    Quality over quantity – always! Slow down and do it right the first time and forget the “overnight riches easy button”, since it doesn’t exist anyway. And really work on getting into your potential customer’s heads. Pretend YOU are looking for the product in question and use the words you’d like to read and hear if you were looking to buy.

    It’s all so intuitive, yet so many of us seem to overlook it, due to the continuous noise we’re bombarded with coming from this launch or that, this new, bigger, better product or that. And let’s not forget the super-duper magical 3-click insta-profit site! (<;

    You guys rock!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Russ – Oh, you reminded me of something! That part about pretending you are the customer. EXACTLY! You can try this, too. Find someone you trust – family member, friend, IM buddy – and give them an instruction like “pretend you have to find the best (whatever you’re promoting) on my site that does a, b, and c. Have that person tell you if it was difficult to find the best product. Ask them to list the challenges. Then use that feedback to make your site easier to navigate for information that is important to your visitors.

      Navigation of any site is critical. If you have About, Contact, Privacy, etc, in your top navigation menu, move them to the sidebar or footer. Focus on using factors important to your niche in that space like being able to find products by price, brand, or feature. You should find a better on-site time and more page views per visit.

    • Nate

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Russ- I agree. With Erica’s 3000 word interview and then all her comments here there is a lot better info than in a lot of paid courses.

  • David Tong

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Erica’s a great mentor and friend that I met through a silly LinkedIn Amazon group, and what I’ve learned from Erica has been golden and none of the friends and contacts that I’ve referred her products to have anything negative to say with her methods and teachings.

    Truly a rare character in today’s IM scene. :)

    Great interview BTW Nate!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      David – That poor LinkedIn group. LOL!

      Nice to see you here and thanks for the recommendation. Much appreciated!

    • Eva

      Reply Reply June 27, 2012

      Where is the “Like” Button! :)

      • Erica Stone

        Reply Reply June 28, 2012

        Thanks, Eva!

  • Wendy

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I think the information in this interview is really great. There were some great tips here that I’d never heard used before.. like the selling of multiples of things. I never would have thought about something like that.. but I could see where you could bring in quite a bit of money using lower priced items that way.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Wendy – If you look around your house, there are so many things bought in multiples like formal napkins, place mats, curtains, silverware, plates, bowls, glassware, Christmas ornaments, any holiday lights, and patio furniture covers. There are lots of keywords in those kinds of niches that aren’t very competitive and are great for Squidoo lenses. Thanks for commenting!

  • Shaun

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hi Nate,

    This interview with Erica could not have come at a better time! I have been lucky and privileged that Erica has been mentoring me since more than 1 month ago, and I have really learned a great deal from her. There will be a lot more learning and action to go. This interview provided much insight into how an extremely successful Amazon affiliate thinks and do to build her online empire.

    What I like most about this interview is that to be successful, we need to focus to do just one thing, and until it is successful, we move on to the next. In IM, I have been bombarded with emails on products, courses and many new information on a daily basis by “gurus”. To focus on my current task is easier said then done. But under her guidance, I have already learned how to just focus on completing my tasks and then move on. I have also learned that perseverance is very important. Building Amazon affiliate sites will not see big results in weeks or even months. Have lots of patience and Never give up!

    Erica,
    What an inspiring interview…Awesome! These are the kind of burning questions that have been in my mind. Thanks for sharing! Will continue to work towards my goal….now rushing to get that final post ready soon…:)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Shaun – You have had a great appetite for learning and it shows in your work. I know you also like to understand how all the pieces work together and that’s important, too, because it gives you a solid foundation for building your own ideas on top of that foundation. I’ve enjoyed watching your progress!

  • Colin

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    There are three people online that I regularly keep up to date with and devour all of the information that I can from them.

    They are Erica Stone, Nate Rivers and Joshua Morris.

    I have been a sucker in the past for Warrior Forum WSOs and shiny object syndrome but through reading everything I can find from Erica, Nate and Josh I have found that I trust what they tell me and I have now pretty much put the blinkers on to all of the other noise around the I.M. scene.

    Focus. In my opinion that is most definitely the biggie. That, together with Erica taking a look at some of my niches has finally allowed me to start bringing in some sales. Thank you Erica, you are a star :)

    Erica taught me how to pick one of my niches and just concentrate on that one and ignore everything else until I saw some success with it and only then to move on to the others when I had that one running smoothly. It’s working Erica! Thank you so much!

    Nate, he has given me the encouragement to keep plugging away at what I am doing. I still have a full time job and its a regular 12 to 13 hour day so not much time for the I.M. stuff but I am determined to get there and Nate gives me the encouragement to do so.

    How? Well, I bought his 60 minutes course which is totally awesome plus I have downloaded all of his podcasts and videos and play them in the car and on the ferry during my 2 – 3 hour daily commute which keeps me motivated and positive that I will eventually do this and achieve my goal of freedom from working for others and to live the life I want to live.

    I truly believe the only ones who succeed at this are those who are stubborn, yes that’s me! :), and those with the determination and tenacity to hold on in there and never give up.

    Thanks guys and to anyone reading this who really wants to make this work devour everything you can get your hands on from these guys :)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Colin – I’m glad to have helped in any way and thrilled to hear about your sales! IM is certainly an area where being stubborn is a very helpful trait. Keep it up!

  • Garrick Dee

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Focusing is on one strategy is very very important. In the world of IM you can get easily get distracted with “easy money” or “push button” strategies popping out left and right specially in forums. In our haste to make a quick buck, we outsource and find another marketing strategy to try out instead of doing it ourselves and focusing. Often times these outsourcing services can give instant results but in the long run fail because it often lacks quality and end up getting penalized.

    Of course the best long term approach to any business is having a good quality product, am learning this right now despite being in IM for almost a year. I’m currently narrowing down my focus on a couple of strategies in IM and expand from there only when I see the results, also am cutting down the outsourcing and doing most of the work myself, it saves me money and helps me figure out what actually works and what doesn’t.

    I’ve purchased Erika’s squidoo niche blaster and among the IM products I’ve purchase, it is the most bang for the buck. With a couple of sales via amazon affiliates I’ve made the investment back =).

    Just want to thank Erika again for graciously sharing her knowledge to us.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Garrick – Congratulations on those Squidoo sales! Love to hear when that happens. ;)

      There’s a lot to be said for doing the work yourself – at least initially to immerse yourself in the niche. I’ve had sites where I outsourced all the reviews and I found I just didn’t get as close to the products as I’d like so any content I added seemed to lack a little something. When I do the work myself, I can get so close to the products that it’s even easier to know what to write about.

      I’m glad you’re starting to see more success!

  • Eva

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Wow! Thanks Nate & Erica for this GREAT interview!!!! :)
    What I liked and learned from it is that you should ALWAYS put goals!!! Never stop putting up new ones! I think that it’s really really important to do so because the moment you stop makeing goals the motivation stops…
    Thank you so much!!!!!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Eva – Goals are SO important! Set out to make your first $1. When you make it, do more of what you did to get there until it’s $2. Goals can be non-financial, too. Decide you’re going to put up 5 pages this month and then make it 10 next month. When you focus on small accomplishments, they don’t seem so insurmountable and suddenly you’ll have a pile of great content!

  • Allen

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    The best IM interview I have read. So much useful information, many already mentioned by others above, it’s difficult to highlight just one point!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Allen – So glad you liked it! Thanks!

  • Isobel

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    What a really great interview – thank you both! I’ve been a fan of Erica’s for a long time and love her writing style and the sense of a really ethical, good person that shines through.

    I love the story about focusing on a word that only gets 500 searches a month – big takeaway for me there. But the part that meant the most to me was “putting the RIGHT words on the page that will answer whatever the visitor was hoping to find”. I have too many sites with traffic, even click-throughs but no sales – because I’m not telling the customer what they need to know in order to make a decision.

    Thanks for asking such great questions, Nate – and for being so generous in your answers, Erica :)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Isobel – You’re very welcome!

      When you have traffic and clickthroughs, you have most of the puzzle down and a great opportunity. Pick one of those pages that isn’t getting the sales it should and start tweaking it. When you start to see sales, you’ll know what to do with the other pages.

      Good luck!

  • Bruce

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Interesting that Erica and Nate share a character trait – they both throw off sparkling bits of great information like Catherine wheels.
    Both this interview and Erica’s newsletter that points to it are chock full of great ideas and timely reminders.
    I’ve bought a number of their products; they are crammed with solid, valuable information from start to finish – and I’ve just written myself a large reminder to review everything once again (and print out and keep this interview!).
    Incidentally, for those who need help with focus and timing, have a look at http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/ (the product is free, so this is not an affiliate link) for a great site on how to become more productive.
    Thank you both

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Bruce – Very good share. The pomodoro techinque is perfect for anyone who needs help focusing. It keeps you on track without driving you crazy. Just small bits of time dedicated to one task can really increase your productivity.

      Thanks!

  • Mike Sugars

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I am always happy to read anything that Erica writes. For many months I have been trawling various so called gurus in internet marketing and have found out that you can soon see who is genuine by counting the amount of products promotion emails you then receive from them. This winds me up and soon unsubscribe from the list.

    Erica only sends out info on products that are know to help in the area that she has become an authority in which is Amazon Affilliate sites/squidoo lenses.

    I now only have focus on following what Erica is teaching because I know it works……this is totally concentrated, quality, researched and relevant niche content…..not spun or coppied but creative and well written.

    I am content to just become an authority myself in my well chosen niches and applaud Erica for being “real” and totally supportive, at least for me being one of her students.

    So thank you Erica. I hope to have many more years of email conflab with you.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Mike – I’ve so enjoyed working with you! If I ever turn into one of those mass mailers, I know a number of you would be all over me. Don’t worry, though. I get such knots in my stomach when I go to write an email to my list to make sure it’s something good that I could never go through that on a daily basis. ;)

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  • Brian

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Good post. I recall Erica had a popular wso about how she used squidoo to make good money. Couldn’t share this post as your social button don’t show in my android phone for some reason( you might want to check your plugin that you use). I didn’t see social buttons anywhere on the site

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Brian – Oh, yes, I’m a big fan of Squidoo and still use that very strategy to this day. Squidoo fared very well through Panda and I just enjoy it as a great break from my sites when I need something more simple to work on. Thanks for commenting!

  • Bren

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I love Erica Stone! I read every word she writes and I have bought her course. It is power-packed with lots of great tips for Squidoo. Thank you for this great interview. I enjoyed hearing her answers to questions all Squidooers ask themselves. It’s nice to know that Erica struggles or has struggled just like we have. I have been doing Squidoo for just over a year and I love it, but it is slow learning it all. Erica’s course did speed that up for me though. Thanks Erica…..you rock!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Bren – Oh, yes, I’ve struggled. I get a lot of questions from people who ask me if they have to build 300+ lenses as I have in order to make any money from Squidoo. I have to explain to them that there’s a lot of losers in that 300 because there were so many early on that I built without a clue of what I was doing. I keep them, though, because they’re still good for backlinks and maybe some day I’ll go back and clean them up. ;)

      (You rock, too!!)

  • Fride

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    well, Miss Erica is great teacher for me.. I’ve read her works like extreme review.. from above interview, well, I finally realize that my biggest mistake is not FOCUS.. great article.. :)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Fride – Thank you! Loved your email, too. Very funny!

  • Daniel Hicks

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I have to say Erica is one person I highly respect and know that what she claims is true. I purchased her Squidoo niche blaster product about a month ago and thought the high click thru rates she claimed these could deliver wouldn’t happen. have only done one set of lenses so far. I only get about 180 views per month because I haven’t got them ranking but of those 180 visitors I get about a 40% click thru to Amazon and about 15% of those make purchases. I’m working on a couple of more right now and cant wait to see what a lens that ranks like this can do.
    They are quite a bit of work to build but Erica has every detail laid out with cut and paste templates and videos. I’m sure any website instruction she give will be just as thorough.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Daniel – So glad you’ve seen sales with your Squidoo lenses! You know you’re doing right when you get clickthrough rates like that. Comes from having very targeted lenses and a good selection of products for the keyword. Amazon takes care of the rest. Good job and good luck with the new lenses!

  • Andrew

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I like the idea of banging away at a method until you have got it right. Nate, you’ve mentioned that in your latest podcast and I’ve actually made some changes to the current way I’m spreading out my time across the sites I am developing at the moment.

    I have one site that is my long term prospect in quite a competitive niche, but this month it has shown progressive traffic gains due to my more direct, focused efforts.

    I think that for me to build a concrete online income that I can travel the world on, (ultimate goal! :D) I need to focus on working on one site and then replicate whatever I find to be successful.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Andrew – that’s it. When you put your head down and start building that one site, things happen. You learn SO much, too, and that’s when you can escalate your results because you weed out the stuff that doesn’t work, are left with the best of what does work, and then you apply that to the next project. You’ve got a great goal that should keep you very motivated. Good luck!

      • Andrew

        Reply Reply June 28, 2012

        Thanks for the reply Erica.

        I really appreciate the fact that here on Strayblogger both Nate and his guest bloggers such as yourself take the time to reply to all of the reader’s messages.

        Thanks for the input. Here’s to hard work and the core desire to get rid of the day job and live free!

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply June 28, 2012

          Thanks, Andrew – It’s been a very enjoyable experience and some great questions and ideas have sprouted from the discussion. Well worth it!

  • Rob

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I thought the point that she picks complex products was very helpful.

    This makes sense as the more complex a purchase the more research and information I will do before making my decision.

    Great interview, keep up the good work Nate.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Rob – I love those kinds of products. They’re usually more expensive and they’re things people only buy once every few years so they want more information before they buy and Amazon doesn’t have that information. Your site can be the natural stop that people make before they finalize their buying decision. Then you send them on over to Amazon ready to buy.

  • Dina

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Erica Stone is the best teacher out there and her products are bar none. She is the real deal.

    Everything Erica puts out I purchase or read because I know it is honest to goodness good information and I always learn something.

    I have found that Erica always gives from her heart. She always takes time out of her busy day to share her knowledge freely to help others succeed. I just received an email from her last night with a wealth of information to help me succeed online. Thank you Erica! I truly appreciate it and I am on it :-)

    Also I wanted to say that I just recently starting making money online and it was all due to Erica Stone. I followed her wso’s that I had purchased and finally made my first money online. Whoa Who! I have followed those so called guru’s advice and nothing, zip not a dime.

    Now I am just following Erica’s guides and tossing the rest.

    So if you truly want to make money online, purchase Erica’s products and just follow them. I guarantee you will make money, I certainly did.

    Thanks Nate for interviewing the best and a big thank you to Erica Stone for helping me to make money online!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Dina – You have no idea how excited I get by comments like yours! One of my goals is to be able to help people achieve success and learn from my own mistakes. The best confirmation that I’m on my way to doing that is when people see success by following my strategies. I’m thrilled!

      Now that you know you can do it, you can grow it!

      Wishing you much success!

  • Irwin Dominguez

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Nate & Erica –

    Thank you so much for this interview. I usually feel a connection with certain interviews when they’re done via podcast/ TV, but I was able to connect with this one right off the bat. It’s so cool, Erica, how your plan initially wasn’t to leave your successful day job for IM, but life took you in this direction and look at you today. Thanks for being so open about your failures; I understand it’s part of the learning process but when you hear how successful people, like yourself, went through the same struggles that people like me are facing today; it lets us know that it’s normal and to keep chugging along.

    Nate stresses keeping laser-focus on whatever method we choose in IM and it’s refreshing to see another respected IMer in the game emphasize the same point.

    I live in California and the concern of Amazon possibly pulling the plug on their affiliate program in various states (CA included) concerns me – are you, Erica or Nate, doing anything to your Amazon sites in case they do decide to pull the plug on your states too in the future? Also, do you think it’s still a good idea for newbies to start Amazon review sites?

    Again, thanks for the great interview – I’ll be following you, Erica, going forward – looking forward to seeing more stuff from you in the future.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Irwin – I do still very much think Amazon is a great place for beginners to start. I’m working with some coaching students at the moment, some of who are brand new to internet marketing, and they’re seeing their first successes with Amazon either through their sites or through Squidoo.

      I live in Arizona and about once every six months the issue of introducing a nexus law enters the House or the Senate. Keeps me very much on edge. In one instance, they attempted to railroad the bill through in a matter of weeks. My backup plan is an LLC but everyone should research that option carefully on their own.

      Backup plan B is to use something like Skimlinks to replace my own Amazon links so I could continue. I’d see a small reduction in my share of commissions, but it wouldn’t wipe me out. That’s an option available to most people today who can’t be an Amazon associate.

      Failing that, perhaps the Federal sales tax efforts will resolve the situation for everyone.

      Set up a Google Alert for your state name and the word “nexus” and “amazon” to stay in touch with what’s going on in your state. The more notice you have about what’s happening, the more time you’ll have to come up with options.

  • Mark

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Here is the shot that got me right between the eyes:

    “Only when I focused on one project exclusively for months at a time did I see any real success.”

    Months? I have a hard time focusing on a given project for DAYS at a time.

    Geez, wonder why I’m not experiencing success?

    Erica is such a wealth of knowledge which she so readily shares.

    Gotta love this gal!

    Thanks Erica.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Mark – Yes, months. LOL! I challenge you to give it a shot. (And then email me and tell me how it goes!) ;)

  • Ellen Braun

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I have been following Erica’s ebooks for several months, and she is definitely my Ama§on Affiliate Marketing Heroine!

    I just built 2 new sites using Erica’s princibles, and I’ve already sold 3 pricey machines on one of the sites! (The other one doesn’t get much traffic – yet!)

    People trust ama§on, and Erica’s method absolutely works!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Ellen – Love your funny z’s. ;) Congrats on the sales! That’s the best feeling, isn’t it? And a new site, too. Proof Amazon sites still work. Good job!

  • Donna Johnstone

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Erica, thanks for the lift today. Thats what your article is to me. The part I learned the most from is “focus” I knew I needed to focus but you broke itt down telling me what to focus on plus included the parts of the project what role they play and how you gain from that role.
    Your motivation is respected if I had five people to support maybe I would be more motivated (haha only joking) we all have those to watch over. To be able to replace your salery in four years is remarkable. I have been doing this for two years some days are better than others.
    I would like to say how much I learned from your approach thank you for being truthful, open and honest if there were more marketers like that would not have to weed through the b.s. Thats ok can not change them but when I know it is something to run with (like yours) I will be running hopefully
    to the bank.
    Thank You again best wishes for you and your family.
    DonnaJ

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Donna – Thank you so much! Five mouths to feed (one of them mine) keeps me very motivated, that’s for sure. When I told my then 16 year old son that I was going to become self-employed, his response shocked me. “Will we still be able to do the things we do now?” I didn’t know the answer. It has stuck with me and keeps me working as hard – probably harder – than I did before. I refuse to let him down.

      I hope you’re running to the bank more and more often in the future. Keep at it, find ways to focus and you’ll get there!

  • Mike

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    I liked the part about how Erica’s life has changed since becoming successful online.
    That’s exactly what I am looking to do: change my life and work from home. I hate commuting almost 2 hours each day in traffic and putting up with crap from my employer.

    Thanks for the tips re amazon click-thrus too!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Mike – Oh, yuck! Two hour commute. I’m so sorry. If it helps, I know another person in a similar position. How she manages to put up as much content as she does while working full time and commuting two hours each way is beyond me. But when you want something, you find a way. Hang in there and you CAN meet your goal!

  • Laura

    Reply Reply June 27, 2012

    Hi Nate & Erica,
    excellent interview (like others have mentioned before me, I especially benefited from Erica’s comments about focus, providing valuable content that helps the searcher, and hearing how we don’t have to be perfect from the start–posts can be a work-in-progress). I also loved all the tidbits that I’ve learned from reading through the comments (like using a timer to help stay focused & having a friend give you feedback on site navigation). Thank you so much for providing this valuable information!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Laura – You’re very welcome and I’m glad you found it helpful. Thank you for stopping by!

  • Frank

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    Hey Erica and Nate, I’ve got a question.

    Since I’m from Canada I gotta sign up with Amazon.ca,

    What happen if someone from an other country get on my site and want to buy from my links but they all point to amazon.ca instead of .com.?

    Thanks, great interview Nate, and Erica I bought your WSO and I really learn one thing,
    is that I’m trying to put my mind everywhere when I should actually focus on one thing until it’s done and then jump to an other thing.

    Remember me Nate ( few months ago I offered you to market Strayblogger to the french community ) I still struggle with distractions and inactions, almost give up twice and still not made any sale !.

    • Ade

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Frank,

      You don’t have to sign up with the Canadian Amazon. I’m from Australia and I signed up with the US one…Australia doesn’t even have an Amazon. Sign up to both but most of your traffic will probably come from the US market unless you are specifically targeting Canadian products/people and using a Canadian domain etc.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Frank – Ade’s right, you don’t HAVE to stick with just Amazon.ca. In fact, I’ve been on Amazon.ca and, as I recall, there are not as many products at all as there are on Amazon.com.

      Make a promise to yourself not to do anything but one project for a solid month. You know you have to pick what the site is going to be about before you can do anything else so start there. Then you need a domain and hosting. Then you need to make the site look right and cover navigation and structure. Then start writing. Just take them one step at a time and in a month you can have a great site started.

      Good luck!

  • Mark

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    Hello Nate and Erica. I own almost all of Erica`s wso products. Before purchasing Extreme reviews, I had not made any sales with Amazon. While my focus thus far is more on Adsense, with here training I have had the opportunity to start earning with Amazon.

    The thing I like most about Erica is she is real. Her emails are almost as informative as some wso products. Because her emails are so good, the only complaint about her I have is that she doesn`t send more emails. LOL. Can you imagine… actually complaining a marketer doesn`t send out enough emails.

    Anyone on Erica`s list knows what I am talking about.

    As far as this article/interview goes… for me the most interesting is Erica`s focus on quality content. All her products teach this and she reiterates that sentiment here in this interview.

    I have certainly been one who has spent too much time and money trying to learn too many different ways of earning online. There is know doubt that if I spent less time reviewing wso threads and other training products, buying them, downloading them, and trying to go through them all… I would have much more time to focus on building sites that help visitors and that ultimately earn money.

    Erica`s advice to build, analyze, improve and move forward is what I found most helpful.

    Mark

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Mark – Those emails to my list stress me out so badly I can’t see doing it more often so it’s funny that you’d say you want more! I feel such a great responsibility to deliver something of value that I have to think about the next one for weeks to come up with material I think worthy of sending.

      One tip – I do like to stay on top of what’s going on the forums but I know that once I get in there, I’ll end up killing a lot of time. Instead, the first thing I do when I get in bed is to check out my favorites on my iTouch (I’m probably the only person who still uses one…). I can’t act on the information. I can’t read too long (I’m too tired). I can’t buy anything. I can’t respond using just those little touch keys. I can just absorb the info. If it was something really important, it’ll come up again the next day.

  • Ade

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    Believing that what you are doing will work is a biggy I think….that’s what stops people taking action, bouncing from one course to the next or creating website after website without having any success. The problem is that belief only grows when you can see some initial success. And success only comes when you believe in yourself and follow through.

    The way round this is to not believe the hype or put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t expect too much from your first website. See it as a learning process…as Erica points out, it will probably have lackluster results…but it is the stepping stone to better results. No course, no short cut and no secret can replace hard work…simple as that.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Ade – So very, very true. You have to start somewhere and it’s likely going to be a lot of little challenges at first but you learn so much from those challenges. You’ve got to get yourself past that hurdle. Just start. When you do, the biggest step is out of the way.

      Thank you!

  • Erica Stone

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    Thanks, guys! Just wanted you to know I’m still keeping an eye on this thread and will be back in a bit to answer some of the questions that were asked. Didn’t want you to think I’d abandoned you. Got buried in a project with my son today and just catching up. Be back shortly!

    Sincerely,

    Erica

  • Shawn Soszka

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    I like the down-to-earth approach of staying focused on the project at hand, seeing it through to completion. It’s the same thing that Nate has been saying on his site from the beginning.

    It makes perfect sense, I mean that’s how the rest of the world works right? I’ve certainly been guilty of trying to do too many projects at once – which leads to IM Paralysis!

    I certainly love the “low tech” approach that Erica takes, its certainly refreshing compared to all this “push-button” software being offered out there.

    I’ve had some success back in the day when BANS was the latest and greatest, but stepped away from IM for a while, now I’m back and currently reading through the Extreme Review package – good stuff!!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Shawn – Someone asked me the other day for a list of the top 10 tools I couldn’t live without for building my Amazon sites. Eight of the ten tools were free. Of the two that are paid, I hardly use one of them and could live without it but I couldn’t come up with anything else for the 10th spot.

      The free ones? Google Keyword Tool, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, a Firefox rank checker plug-in, ubersuggest.com for getting long tail keywords, WP Table Reloaded plug-in for making comparison tables, and iMacros for Firefox to help me log into groups of accounts with the push of a button.

      I love SIMPLE. ;)

      Good luck with Extreme Review and let me know if you need anything!

  • Inno

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    Great inspirational interview!. Expect nothing less from Erica Stone, and I know that because I am one of her students. Focus and do not quit at the edge of success is my takeaway.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Inno – “do not quit at the edge of success”

      That’s so wonderfully put!

      You’ve been a complete pleasure to work with and I’m excited to see how your next project progresses. ;)

      Sincerely,

      Erica

  • Herb

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    Hi Erica, I have a few questions;

    How many posts should an Amazon afiliate site have at least? (in your opinion)
    How long do you make each post? 700 words.. more??

    I would appreciate your answer very much!

    • Charles

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Herb, while Erica is away maybe I can help. If I remember correctly, she starts with 10. Five on product and five other ones. For example with BBQ grills, five reviews of grill or grill accessories, and then 5 that could include favorite ways to cook BBQ, recipes, how to clean your grill, etc.
      The more the better as far as content, try to hit 1000. I’m concentrating on Squidoo right now and its been a while since I reread the other one on WP sites, but think I got it right. Will see how good a student I am when she answers.

      • Erica Stone

        Reply Reply June 29, 2012

        Charles – Almost right! The one thing I’d change is that I like informational posts that target buyers instead of owners. Once a site is large enough, I might expand to include informational posts that target owners in the hopes of selling more related accessories but, at first, all the informational posts are things like “best such and such for…” or “best such and such under $xx” or “how to choose a such and such”. You had most of it right, though! ;)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 29, 2012

      Herb – I like my sites to have at least 100 posts. I never consider them even near done until then but a lot depends on the niche, too. In my case, there are usually hundreds of products I could review and lots of informational posts I could write because the products are usually so complex.

      My reviews are around 1000 words long although I have some that are 5000-6000 words long. Again, this depends on the product. Some products just shouldn’t be stretched that long. ;)

      Although, they don’t always start out that way. Some reviews start out at only around 800-1000 words long and I continue refining them as I learn more about the niche. They seem to just grow over time.

  • Eleanor

    Reply Reply June 28, 2012

    I’ve worked at conquering online marketing for over 10 years now, and I’m wallowing in defeat. Erica summarizes my problem: I’m smart! I’m a great writer! I love the process! And — I’m not focused. I’m splattering myself first here, then a little there, dropping this project because maybe this other project has more potential! I’ve tended to work on products that people don’t buy online! I’m an expert at over-analyzing!

    After reading Erica’s comments I feel re-energized. Yes, focus is the key! I CAN focus! I CAN write a plan and follow it. I CAN stop over-analyzing! I CAN pick niches that delight my heart and that people buy online.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Shawn

      Reply Reply June 28, 2012

      Eleanor: I hear ya!!! Its funny, I’m pretty focused in the rest of my life, but completely ADHD with IM…. go figure.

    • Charles

      Reply Reply June 29, 2012

      Eleanor, I told you that you would get a lot from this interveiw. Now onward and upward as we take this journey together.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 29, 2012

      Eleanor – Oh, I don’t want you to be splattered! LOL! (Loved your choice of words.)

      Based on just your turn of a phrase in your comment alone, I have no doubt you’d write wonderful product reviews. Engaging, personable, and fun to read. The over-analyzing is such a brick wall for some people. “But what if…”, “oh, this isn’t a good niche, I think…”, “there’s already a site about that…”, “maybe I should check the competition again…”. Those thoughts just suck up valuable time and I’ve been just as guilty.

      Check these things once, make a decision and move forward. I have no doubt you CAN do it and it very well can be about a niche you love. That gives you such an edge!

  • Cathy

    Reply Reply June 29, 2012

    I love the part of the interview where Erica shows she’s a real person who didn’t start out making mega bucks a month.

    I also like looking for multiples. A variation on that is finding a product that needs accessories. For example, one of my reviews is for a certain type of mattress that needs it’s own unique bed frame. So as a courtesy to my readers, I let them know about that and link to it. I also link to a mattress pad that isn’t necessary to have for it, but is very helpful to have.

    When I did this, I really didn’t expect many sales for these extra items but was pleasantly surprised to find I get almost as many sales for them as I do for the actual mattress.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 29, 2012

      Cathy – Excellent point. In fact, it’s a great way to grow your site. If your products are the kind where you can buy related accessories, attachments or things that go with them for storage purposes, add those to your site. They’re a natural fit, good for more traffic, and good for adding related keywords to your site.

      Nice share!

      • Cathy

        Reply Reply June 29, 2012

        Thanks!

        I do have one last question for you.

        How did your sites do with the panda/penguin updates?

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply June 29, 2012

          Cathy – Only one of my sites was hit by Penguin. I believe it was due to an over-optimization of anchor text for my backlinks and the kind of backlinks they were. I’ve been working on new backlinks with a variety of anchor text and that’s brought the site back up some. I’ve also added new content. The strange thing is that only some keywords were hit and not others so the site still gets traffic and makes sales but from a different set of keywords than before.

          All the sites that used the backlink strategy from Extreme Review did just fine through both Panda and Penguin.

          Good question considering the attention on Penguin these days! I’ve continued to use just web 2.0, article syndication, RSS feeds, bookmarks and videos for all my backlinking and those seem to still do very well these days.

  • Jen

    Reply Reply June 29, 2012

    Erica’s statement regarding focus really hit home with me. I find myself constantly switching directions even though I know it is counter productive. I am going to take her advice and “write a plan and follow it out.” I think this will help me to focus and move to the next level. Sometimes you just need somebody to state the obvious for you to have that aah ha moment that really makes a difference. Thanks for sharing this great interview!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 29, 2012

      Jen – I think it’s completely natural to be distracted online. Someone recently said (and maybe it’s in this thread somewhere) that the web is just sitting there a tab away waiting for us. It’s so easy to stop what we’re doing for a second, pop open a new tab and see what’s going on in our favorite forum or check our stats, or see how our rankings are doing.

      I try to use those things as rewards for work well done. If I tell myself I can’t check my stats until I finish a certain task, I’m more dedicated to getting that task done. Of course, sometimes I cheat and I have to look anyway but I’m not perfect. I can only try. It at least works most of the time… :)

  • Kent Chow

    Reply Reply June 29, 2012

    Erica, I have some of your products and they have been helping me to be a better Amazon Affiliates.

    Thanks for your sharing with us.

    I found that FOCUS on one project for a period of time and your family and financial goal is your motivation are helpful. They truly speak to me and keep me going.

    Sometimes people are just overwhelmed by information overload and so true that simple steps work. All it takes is dedication.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 29, 2012

      Kent – I’m glad they’re helping. Thanks!

      Information overload and the constant supply of new opinions and ideas through forums can be very distracting. You’re right, dedication is the key. Put your goal in front of you, put your blinders on, remove the distractions and start working on your future. ;)

  • Karen

    Reply Reply June 30, 2012

    This was a great interview and something I really needed to read.

    The best part of this interview for me was how Erica talks about concentrating on one site/keyword – and nothing but that site until it is doing well. Although I ‘know’ I should do this, the fear of losing ‘something’ by not working on multiple sites keeps me from focusing (fear of focusing on non-profitable keywords, so you go after many)

    Time to start focusing on just one …. Thanks for all the help and great information you provide!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply June 30, 2012

      Karen – You won’t be missing anything by working on one project, although I do know how it feels that way. Instead, you’ll be building something valuable – an asset – that also helps you learn strategies that you’ll be able to reuse in future projects. I’m glad you’re going to give it a try!

      Sincerely,

      Erica

  • Lori

    Reply Reply July 1, 2012

    Wow – it is hard to say which part of the interview I like the best! However, your traffic strategies are an encouragement to me – since there is so much talk these days about this not working and that not working – it can almost make you afraid to try anything for fear of messing up. So hearing that the basics that you have taught you continue to use and rank well is good to hear.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply July 1, 2012

      Lori – Almost anything you “mess up” can be fixed and I know because I’ve done my fair share of messing up. Don’t let it stop you and, yes, I was thrilled to find the basics still work post-Penguin, too!

  • Matt

    Reply Reply July 1, 2012

    Really great interview!

    Erica, I was wondering if the sites you create have “brandable” domains/names ( eg. GolfWorld, GolfWarehouse etc. ) or just use keywords ( eg. bestgolfclubs.com, golfbagreviews.com etc.).

    Thanks a lot.

    -Matt

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply July 1, 2012

      Matt – My pre-Penguin domains are mostly exact match domains and even include disgusting numbers of hyphens. However, post-Penguin (and with my coaching students) we’re focusing on more brandable names. They do include some piece of the main keyword but no domains, all .com and something more professional than EMD.

  • liz

    Reply Reply July 1, 2012

    Hi there,
    I thought the best piece of advice from Erica is “FOCUS”!. …so simple, yet so difficult. But it really is the key to earning money online since there are so many distractions and ‘shiny object’ out there.
    I’m off to work smarter!
    Liz

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply July 1, 2012

      Liz – The old “work smarter, not harder” absolutely applies to IM. Good point!

  • Erica, way to go there. I like to read success stories always and it do help my spirit to get productive as well. Working hard or not does not guarantee success online – work smart and make sure you do the right thing. Those who have done so has been successful and will always be successful…

    Sheyi

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply July 1, 2012

      Sheyi – I enjoy reading success stories, too. Those and case studies often provide great eye-opening material. Thanks for commenting!

  • Skeffling

    Reply Reply July 3, 2012

    OMG I love this! I am doing this too, I just hit $3000 a month earnings mostly on Squidoo lenses made since Feb (and through their Amazon program), and am just starting the niche phase now! I pretend I am the customer too and look at what I’d need to know to go ahead and buy.

    I am even buying EM domains after sootting the winner keywords earning well on Squidoo. I plan to have a lens and a niche site on the front page too of the SERPs.

    I will have to read Erica’s products, this is awesome. I hadn’t heard of her before today.

    Erica do you backlink at all? I go for low monthly searches, with super low competition with zero backlinking required.
    So I am a bit nervous as to how much backlinking if any is needed for a small niche site v’s a squidoo lens for the same kw. This is assuming best so and so, “best so an so under ” or “best so and so for” and “So and so reviews” type keywords.

    Do you usually add the year to the electronics and other items? It boosts traffic a lot and may help you of you are not already doing it.

    Thanks in advance for your reply, I honestly didn’t think there was anyone out there qualified to answer it! Look forward to it. Claire

    • Nate

      Reply Reply July 3, 2012

      Claire- That’s awesome to hear about your success. Erica will probably come in and answer your questions.

      • Skeffling

        Reply Reply July 3, 2012

        Thanks so much Nate. I really appreciate you interviewing Erica and sharing it with everyone!

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply July 3, 2012

      Claire – Oh, you’re doing GREAT on Squidoo! At that level of earnings, you need to seriously consider switching the links from Squidoo’s affiliate links to your own (unless you’re in a state that doesn’t have an Amazon Associate program). With Squidoo’s links, you get a maximum commission rate of 4.25% vs. the 8.5% maximum you could earn on your own!

      I do backlink but all very basic and reasonably user friendly. For my sites, I build web 2.0 pages as backlinks (Hello, Squidoo!), bookmark my posts, and write articles that I can spread around to ezinearticles and other article directories. I also submit RSS feeds to RSS submission sites and every now and then I’ll do a video as a backlink. Then I backlink the backlinks by bookmarking all of them, submitting article directory author RSS feeds to RSS sites, and submit any web 2.0 RSS feeds to RSS sites. I might do an article or two to point to a quality web 2.0 page, as well.

      For my lenses, I use Squidoo related lens directories, bookmarks, submit my lensmaster RSS feed to RSS submission sites, and every now and then I’ll do an article for a lens and spread it around the article directories. I rely heavily on interlinking related lenses for backlinks, though, as those work better than almost anything. Build a set around a single topic, link them together, and they’ll help each other out.

      I do add the year to the lens title for certain items and then change it each year. I also write various “best of such and such for 20XX” posts for my sites, too. Those do very well at converting and rank very easily.

      Keep going! You’re on track to have an excellent year. ;)

      Sincerely,

      Erica

      • Skeffling

        Reply Reply July 3, 2012

        Thanks for the swift reply Erica. It is much appreciated.

        I have been wondering about switching to my own links (I am in Canada so no problem there), but I don’t look forward to the coding to have things laid out like Squidoo’s, especially the Amazon search modules (I have one at the bottom of each lens). The spotlights are fairly easy to mimic and I have done that once or twice where the image didn’t come though on the Amazon item feed.

        My ctrs are pretty good and I am nervous of disturbing them too. I guess the only way to know is to try it! Looks like I have to figure out RSS feeds too!

        I have linked the odd Squidoo lens to my brand new niche sites for the same kw. Thanks for the tip on the related articles, that is a good one. I do that already, and I think that is the reason they get such a high PR so quickly.

        Thanks so much for your help, openness an willingness to share. The only only takes you so far doesn’t it? Then it is so much fun to help others. I will be checking out your courses. Thanks again, Claire

        • Charles

          Reply Reply July 3, 2012

          Give it a try on a few of your lenses that are getting the most sales and see if it affects the CTR you have been getting.

          • Skeffling

            July 5, 2012

            Thanks, I will do that with my top ones.

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply July 4, 2012

          Charles has it right – test out changing a few lenses over to your own links but it really shouldn’t have any impact.

          Create a code template that you can use for each kind of layout you like and then copy and paste that template into your lenses. You can host the photos on something like Photobucket, if necessary. Use alt tags for every image and apply nofollow to all the affiliate links.

          It will be a pain – I’ve done it before. But at your level of commissions, assuming everything was at the 4.25% rate (no electronics in the mix) and assuming you’d get to at least the 7% commission rate, you’re looking at an extra $1900/month. It would be well worth your time.

          Good luck!

          • Skeffling

            July 5, 2012

            Thanks for the calculation and clarification Erica. I am guessing I have about 1/4 to 1/3 of total sales in electronics but would l ea higher proportion of evergreen-er items as I progress.

            What would the code template be, what code, html or bcc or something? Sorry I’m very low tech! So if I outsourced making a few templates , what would I be asking for? ;-)

            Thanks so much for your patience. Your kindness is much appreciated.
            Claire

  • Erica Stone

    Reply Reply July 5, 2012

    Claire – Oh, you shouldn’t have to pay anyone for a template you can follow. Either use Squidutils (Google that) which will create the code for you (although then SquidUtils gets 1 click for every 10 generated but still better than 50%) or there are several good lenses on Squidoo that give you HTML code to use to do various things in your lenses.

    The other thing you can do when you find something that looks good on Squidoo is to view the Page Source to find the HTML code they used and then duplicate it with your own links and images.

    Sincerely,

    Erica

    • Skeffling

      Reply Reply July 5, 2012

      Oh that is awesome Erica! Thanks so much for your patience!
      Claire

  • Brian

    Reply Reply July 6, 2012

    I just had to say something here although its a long time after the interview.

    I have been “testing” the affiliate waters for a couple of years now.

    Erica is one of the most generous and caring people in this market. She has the patience of job and is 110% geniune.

    I am so fortunate to have come across her – and had advice from her. I’m a FAN! I have bought Extreme Review and Squidoo Niche Blaster and I also have Product Niche Arbitrage.

    Without Erica I’d have given up long ago.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply July 13, 2012

      Brian – Thank you so much! That was very kind of you and I’m thrilled that you didn’t give up!

      Sincerely,

      Erica

  • Nigel Baker

    Reply Reply August 9, 2012

    Hi Erica

    Which one of your courses do you suggest to start first, then 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th

    Extreme Reviewer
    Reviewers Edge
    Squiddo Niche Blaster
    Amazon Niche Blaster
    Squidazon

    Many thanks

    Nigel

    • Nate

      Reply Reply August 10, 2012

      What’s up Nigel- I’m Erica will answer this, but I’m pretty sure her main product is Extreme Review.

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply August 14, 2012

      Nigel – Charles has it right.

      If you want to build your own site, start with Extreme Review. (Reviewer’s Edge and Amazon Niche Master are add-on products you can use to write even better reviews and informational posts.)

      If you want to go with Squidoo, Squidazon is designed to deal with the same kinds of products you’d build a review site for. You can then use these as stand alone sets of lenses or as backlinks for your sites – or even just to test out a niche before you decide to build a site.

      Squidoo Niche Blaster is designed for promoting things like home decor items, holiday decorations, and toys. They’re far easier to build than Squidazon but they usually promote less expensive products.

      (Charles – thanks so much for covering for me!)

      Sincerely,

      Erica

      • Nigel Baker

        Reply Reply August 15, 2012

        Many thanks Erica,

        How long will it take to get a single authority site making money and how much time is involved

        Nigel

        • Erica Stone

          Reply Reply August 15, 2012

          Nigel,

          How long it takes for an authority site to make money depends on so many things – niche, competition in the niche, quality of the site, amount of content, etc.

          I have seen sites start earning in a matter of a couple of weeks and some might take a couple of months. I have noticed that the more content I produce, the more sales I make so it does help if you build up your content more quickly – just don’t sacrifice quality to do so.

          As for how much time it takes to build such a site, I usually devote about 20 hours a week to a new site and I focus on that site for 3 months in order to build up 60-90 posts in that time. By the 3rd month, I can usually back off to just an hour or two a day. I also build backlinks during that time – web 2.0, articles, bookmarks, maybe a press release.

          By about the 4th or 5th month, I like to have 100+ posts and then I slow down on adding posts, just about stop backlinking as natural links take over, and then I have more time to build up a new site.

          That’s a rough schedule. Some niches are easier than others. Sometimes I have more time to devote and other stretches I have less time. So many possible impacts but all things going smoothly, this should give you some idea of what it takes. Keep in mind I write all my own reviews and build almost all of my own backlinks by hand so there are certainly ways to cut down the time commitment but you still have to be a “content manager” for your site and ensure quality material gets posted even if you didn’t write it.

          Sincerely,

          Erica

          • Nigel Baker

            August 15, 2012

            Really appreciate your detailed and prompt reply Erica
            Very helpful info

            Nigel

  • Charles

    Reply Reply August 10, 2012

    Hi Nigel,
    Extreme Reviewer is about doing your own WordPress site and reviewing Amazon (and other) physical products.
    Suidoo Niche Blaster is about using Squidoo to promote and review Amazon products, focusing on less expensive products that customers will buy on visual appeal (home decor, etc) rather than researching customer comments, etc. Squidazon is her most recent course on using Squidoo to promote more expensive Amazon products.
    I would start with either Extreme Reviewer, if you want your own site/blog on WP or Squidazon if you want to start on Squidoo.
    I have most of her courses and they are all complimentary to each other. Mainly decide whether you want to start with Suidoo or a larger WP site. The largest income producer would be with the WP site if done correctly, although some make full time income with Suidoo.
    I think Ercica would say she makes much more from her WP sites, but has a healthy income from Squidoo.

    • Nigel Baker

      Reply Reply August 15, 2012

      Much appreciated Charles

      many thanks

  • Taran

    Reply Reply November 13, 2012

    Great inspirational interview!Lot to learn from Eric, really interesting post.

  • Skeffling

    Reply Reply November 13, 2012

    I just want to Thank Erica. Thank you for your help.

    Thanks to her advice this summer (in these comments) about putting in my own links, my earnings jumped about $3k a month. Ctr went up 7-10% with bigger images, I just mimicked a spotlight module. Adding more Squidoo lenses as well means we broke $8k in Oct mostly on Squidoo. Now I really am concentrating on the wordpress sites for diversity!

    Thanks for reading. And keep at it everyone, we have a great shopping and selling season upon us! ;-)

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply November 15, 2012

      Skeffling – Those are great results! Congratulations on your achievements and I bet you’re eagerly anticipating seeing your dashboard throughout November and December. ;)

      Sincerely,

      Erica

      • Skeffling

        Reply Reply November 15, 2012

        Thanks Erica. Yes it should be fun, looks like average daily sales in Nov are up 15-20% compared to October’s daily average, so we’ll see!

        We are looking at being Amazon sellers at some point for more long term stability. We may as well earn more than 8% now we have learned to sell!

        I hope you have a great holiday season online and off! Thanks again. Claire

  • james samy

    Reply Reply December 1, 2012

    Nate and Erica, you have shared a goldmine here. Thank you.
    I did not know who Erica is until I drop by at warrior forum and was browsing … found Erica post, started to read and got her Extreme Review.
    Now I am learning from it .. amazing information given.

    The main stuff I going to do is FOCUS fully for 30 days on one product and just shut up follow direction.
    Once again thank you Nate and Erica
    Keep up your good work
    Wishes from Singapore

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply December 26, 2012

      James – Thank you! I’m so glad you found the information valuable and it sounds like you’ve understood a very important point about FOCUS! I was just having a discussion in a forum about how I’ve never turned a project into a 4+ figure a month income unless I focused on it exclusively for an extended period of time. The more you do that, the better off you’ll be! Let me know if you need anything.

      Sincerely,

      Erica

      • james samy

        Reply Reply January 6, 2013

        Thanks for reply Erica. Happy New Year to you.
        I saw in your WSO for Squid Pro that you have a forum group , can I have the link to it.

        Anything else I need to know
        Thank you and best wishes

        • james samy

          Reply Reply January 6, 2013

          Sorry Erica, I got the link and anything else I need to know to prosper

  • Mellow

    Reply Reply December 18, 2012

    Hello Erica,

    Your skills are top notch. It’s great hearing about your success.

    I bought your Extreme Reviewer WSO nearly 2 years ago. I was wondering, is the support email to contact you still the same as the one in the WSO? I sent you an email a few weeks ago, but haven’t had a reply back so I was wondering.

    Thankyou,

    • Erica Stone

      Reply Reply March 8, 2013

      Mellow – Yes, the email should be the same. I’m not seeing an email to which I didn’t respond so you might need to send it again. Just to be safe, the email address is my first name @extremereviewer.com.

      Sincerely,

      Erica

  • brigitte

    Reply Reply February 26, 2013

    thanks

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