How to Write a Book: The Secret to a Super-Fast First Draft

Hey, everyone! This post is a trial run of a new blog post format, and we’re using a video guide I created in 2015 on how to write the first draft of your book to test it out. Basically, I want to make it as easy as possible for you to digest, enjoy, and benefit from the content I produce—and my videos in particular!

I’d love to hear if you find this new format useful. Please let me know your thoughts and feedback in the comments!

If you’d prefer to watch the video version of this blog post on YouTube instead, click here.


Book writing is something that used to be a constant struggle for me. Read on to learn about the process I used to write over 36,000 words in the first two weeks of 2015—and that I’ve been using ever since with great success. I’m also going to give you one tool that is saving me so much time and helping me achieve up to 180 words per minute.

A book is such a huge undertaking. It’s really funny, because I can write a blog post—3,000 or 4,000 words—in just a few hours, but when it comes to writing a book, I struggle a lot. That’s why I have a couple unwritten books just sitting on my computer, in Scrivener, which is the tool I use to help write books. It’s a great tool—the reason those books weren’t finished was because I just couldn’t do it.

I remember sitting for hours. I would block out four or five hours of time during the day, just sit in front of my computer and finish my book or work on it at least, and come out of that with an extra 300 words for four hours of work. It was completely defeating—and I know a lot of you can relate to this. I know a lot of you also, like me, feel you have a book in you—maybe even many books in you. So I’m going to show you a book-writing technique that has changed my life in terms of productivity. I used it to write my book Will It Fly?, and within the first couple of weeks of 2015, I was able to crank out 36,000 words.

Using Post-it Notes to “Brain-Dump” Your Book’s Topics

I’ve adopted this technique from a lot of other people’s strategies and tips for writing books, and it’s involving something that a lot of other people have used before: Post-it Notes. I love Post-it Notes, because you can write on them and move them around. They’re small, but not so small that you have to squint to see them. So they’re perfect. I’m going to show you how to mind-map your next book using Post-it Notes, and how you can achieve incredible words per minute in terms of the rate at which you write your book.

SPI TV Ep. 1 How to Write a Book

I’ll also show you some tools I’ve been using along with my Post-it Notes, as well as some special things you can do in terms of where your Post-it Notes are that’ll help you crank out books like none other.

The first step is to get some Post-it Notes. Make sure to get a bunch of different colors. I like the smaller ones, because you’re just going to write one or two words on them. Then you want to pick a color—I’ll start with neon green—and just start writing. Just start with anything that comes to mind involving the book that you’re going to write, put it down, and stick it to the surface that you’re working on, whether it’s a desk or a whiteboard or some other surface.

To demonstrate this, I’m going to pick a topic. Something I always talk about on the blog is fly fishing, and it’s something I know a little bit about. Using the example of fly fishing, I’ll show you how I can start to put together my hypothetical book. You’ll see that once you start to put all your ideas onto this board that you’re working on with these Post-it Notes, you can move things around. Then the chapters and subchapters start to form, which will help create what becomes your outline. The next step is to take bits and pieces of that outline and move them to a place where you can then focus on those little bits and pieces. That’s why I love Post-it Notes, because you can move them around into different places.

So, fly fishing. I’m first going to pick a color and place it in the middle to label my central idea. I’m going to pick a pink note and write “fly fishing” on it. With this process, you write anything that comes to mind; there are no rules here. You can always throw things out, but you don’t want to stop yourself. This is the creative process. You don’t want to edit in your head. You just want to put things out there, and later on you can edit.

I’ve got “fly fishing.” Next, what is involved with fly fishing? There’s obviously “fish,” “flies,” and “rods.” There’s “casting techniques” and “reels.”

Again, write down anything that comes to mind. You want to put the stuff that’s in your brain down on paper, because then you won’t have to think about it anymore. You can focus on organizing it later, but we’re not at that part yet. What else? “Lake fishing” or “lake fly fishing.” There’s “rivers and streams,” and there’s “oceans.” Let’s see, what else? There’s “tying flies” and “tournaments.”

What else comes to mind? “How to dry things off after you’re done” . . . which is “equipment!” Good! I like that. Maybe “clothing,” too, because we’ve talked about “rods” and “reels” already. Also, different types of fish I know are popular, so “trout fishing” and “bass fishing.” I know a little about fly fishing, but I’m not a fly fisherman. You’ll obviously know a little bit more about the topic you’re working on, so you should be able to fill up your work surface pretty easily. When I was writing my last book, the table was completely filled with notes.

“Fly fishing”: what else?

Let’s see, “fly fishing for kids,” and maybe “destination areas.” You also need “boots.” You need “safety.” You need a “license,” typically, too. You need a “net,” of course, and need to know how to “catch and release.” By the way, I’m using a different color—green—now.

There’s also “etiquette.” What else is there? “Snacks” that you should bring. Obviously, there’s “where” in the lake—i.e., where in the water should you go?

I probably shouldn’t be doing this on fly fishing, and I’m not going to be publishing a book on fly fishing any time soon, but you’ll get what I’m doing here shortly.

What else? “Fish finders,” “wading boots,” maybe “boats.” “Boats,” “floats”—I feel like I’m doing a word game right now with my son or something. What rhymes with “floats”? “Coats,” “jackets.” Again, anything that comes to mind.

Starting to Create Some Order

At this point, you should have a whole board or desk full of Post-it Notes. Next, you want to start looking at all of them so you can start to tie them together. Pull them off and start moving them to different places, organizing them in groups that make sense to you. You’ll see that your brain will just start to organize them. Again, it’s nice that it’s all here for you because then it’s much easier to move things around.

For example, I can put “jackets” and “wading boots” together. Let’s see, “equipment” and “clothing.” That’s the top-level one here. Then I have “reels” and “rods” and “flies” over here. Then I have behavioral stuff like “etiquette” and “time flies” and maybe “casting techniques” over here. I have “oceans,” “lakes,” and “streams” over here. “Snacks,” which is something to bring, so maybe that’s over here in the equipment area. “License”—that’s another thing that you’ll need before you go out.

“Safety”—I can put that in the behavior area. “Tournaments”—I don’t know what goes with that right now, but that’s okay. Here’s some more “equipment:” “boats” and “floats.” “Destinations”—that could go with “oceans,” “lakes,” and “streams.” “Where in the water,” “what to do with kids,” and “fish finders”—that’s another piece of equipment. “Casting techniques”—that’s its own thing. There’s probably a whole array of different kinds of casting techniques.

“Kids.” You can take them with you on these destinations, so maybe we’ll have one for “kid-friendly.” Now I have four different sections here I can see, maybe five, because of “casting techniques.” Then what I can do is I can start to create a hierarchy, so I can see that this is “equipment,” and “clothing” is here, and then stuff to “bring with you” when you go and then more “fishing-related equipment” here that you’ll need before you go out. Already, I can see a chapter here, and then subchapters happening in this section.

Again, I’m starting to organize; I’m starting to form my book here. “Fish”—that’s a top level thing, obviously. “Fish.” What kind of fish? “Trout,” “bass,” and there’s a whole bunch of other fish. How about “fishing equipment” like “rods” and “reels” and “flies”? That can be separated out from here, so that becomes a nice little chapter. Then what you can do is start to pull out another color and begin to create second or third levels within these.

If I knew a little bit more about fly fishing, I would probably know that there were different flies that I could tie. I don’t know all the names of the flies, but I think there’s a “nymph” fly, so I’ll put that down. What are some other flies? People who actually fly fish are probably going to be mad at me for this, but there’s a . . . “housefly.” There’s “nets.”

Again, you begin to create your chapter on “flies” here, and then maybe under “nymph,” there are two different “nymph” ones. I also know that there are two different kinds of flies, so I’m going to create one for “dry”—those are flies that float—and then “wet.” “Wet” flies—those are the ones that sink. Then within that, I’m going to use a different color to create another level, and put “when to use.” So you can just go deeper and deeper. Then maybe “what to use” based on the type of fish or season.

Then maybe “casting techniques.” I know there’s something called the “roll cast,” so I’ll just create a new level here: the “roll cast.” Then I could create a sub-level under that: “how to use it” and “when to use it.”

Starting the Writing Process

You can see how I begin to structure everything; I start very top-level. I bunch things up, and then I start to break things out a little bit. That will help me decide what my chapters are, what order everything should be in, what my subchapters are, and my subsections. Then, what I typically do when I start to create this order of events here and start to organize them in a sequential pattern, is start from the top. I pull out those Post-it Notes and move them onto my other desk.

That’s when I start writing about that specific topic. Everything else that’s here on the first desk is still here, but I’m not focusing on it, because I’m just writing that little portion. That’s something I struggled with when I was writing books. I was envisioning the whole thing, and thinking about every other part of the book and how it was going to relate. Instead, you’ve got to focus only on that next little section. When you do that, it becomes so much easier, because as you complete them and move things aside, then move on to the next section, and the next section—little by little, you’re chipping away at it. You’re adding more words every single day, and by the end of it, you will have gotten rid of all these Post-it Notes. You start to make progress, and it’s completely motivating.

There’s one more little secret I want to share with you that goes along with this technique, and I’ll show it to you next.

The Technique That Will Dramatically Upgrade Your WPM

You’ve created your Post-it Notes, and you’ve started to see what’s happening in your book in terms of the outline and the chapters, the subchapters, and the little sections within each of those parts. Now it’s time to start writing. Like I said earlier, you’re going to pull out little sections. I might, for example, pull out the sections on how to get involved with “fishing tournaments,” and there’s probably some more hierarchy involved within this one as well. I think there are different types of tournaments, so those would go in here as well. Now that you know this is what you’re focusing on—tournaments—you can start writing about it, and your mind is just focused on this topic. Everything else is still there on the table, but you’re only focused on this one.

Now, for me, writing and actually typing all that out would still be a struggle at this point. I’m a little bit more focused than I was, but my mind still gets into editing mode whenever I get in front of a computer. It works for blog posts, but when I am writing a book it just becomes much harder for me mentally. Even though I can try and treat each of these things as a single blog post, I still want to edit along the way, as if I’m crafting it like a blog post that’s going to be published tomorrow.

Now, the very best strategy I know of if you want to upgrade your writing efficiency is to “puke” what’s in your head onto the screen. Basically, you just want to put everything in your brain about your topic onto the page. I know some people who actually take the “delete” button off their keyboard, because they don’t want to let themselves even accidentally edit. They are just in creative mode. Later, you can come in and edit and move things around, and you’re probably not going to be using a lot of what you write down, but what comes out when your brain is in creative mode is going to be extremely good for your book.

When I was in editing mode, I just wouldn’t let myself think creatively. I would just stop myself, because I had to edit this thing and move things around. It’s not what you want to do. Now, the big trick I use, and the app that I use to help me achieve extremely high words per minute, is called Rev. With Rev, I’m actually not writing, and I’m not typing; I’m dictating my book.

Rev is an app for iPhone and Android. It’s basically an audio recorder, but the cool thing about it is you can take that audio recording and send it to the people over at Rev, and they will transcribe it for you at $1 per minute. You can even just transcribe it yourself or have somebody else on your team transcribe it for you, but Rev does a really great job. The quality is really good, and when it comes back to you a few hours later, it’s all the words you dictated related to that specific item.

So that’s the trick I use to get up to 180 words per minute. It’s how I’ve been able to complete the first brain dump of each of my books over the past two years. You can’t even really call them drafts, because they’re just everything in my brain about these particular topics, on these Post-it Notes, all dictated. Actually, they’re 95 percent dictated, because I start writing on the computer, but then I go to Rev, which has been game changing. Then I go through the book a second time with a little bit of editing mode in mind, and I can then shape and move things around and craft these stories in a way that makes sense for a book. It’s not going to make sense for a book when it comes from your voice, but you can get so many amazing stories and pieces of your book out through your voice.

So, record it on Rev, transcribe it, and you’ll see you have a lot of stuff to work with. And your book’s going to be finished sooner than you know.

To recap:

  1. Brain dump all of your ideas about your book onto Post-it Notes.
  2. Move them around, organize them, shape them, and sequence them to a point where they come to look like a book in terms of chapters, subchapters, parts within those subchapters, and so on.
  3. Pull out individual pieces and talk about those things, then record them.
  4. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine; you can write them, too. But just having that Post-it note there that you’re focusing on is going to help quite a bit.

That’s my process!

Good luck, and I hope it’s helpful for those of you out there working on your first (or next) book! Give it a try, and let me know how it goes in the comments.

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SPI 296: What’s Coming in 2018 for the Podcast and SPI

We are closing in hot on the end of the year here on SPI. Next week I’ll be recapping the year in full (the good and the bad) but today I want to give a little sneak preview of what’s coming up in 2018 for SPI. It’s going to be a very exciting year, and I can’t wait to share my plans with you!

First off: the theme for 2018 is Higher Value. That doesn’t mean tons more content—a lot of us think that in order to do something better we have to do more of that thing, but actually the opposite is true. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes scaling back can have a positive impact on the quality of the content that you are publishing.

What I’m talking about today is not necessarily what you should do personally. It’s a preview of what to look forward to, to give you an idea of why I’m doing the things I’m doing, and to tell you why I’m making the adjustments I’m making so that you can utilize those lessons in your own business and life. Next year is going to be incredibly exciting—it will be a very different year to be sure, but it already has me pumped up and raring to go. I’m really looking forward to sharing my 2018 plan with you today—enjoy!

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.


You’ll Learn

  • Why my theme for 2018 is Higher Value.
  • What’s happening with AskPat, my podcast, after Episode 1000.
  • How I’m changing my blog content in 2018.
  • How I’m integrating more video into my 2018 content.
  • Why I’m diving headfirst into the YouTube space in 2018.
  • The different shows I’m going to be releasing on my YouTube channel in 2018.
  • My plan for more workshops in 2018.
  • What the SPI Accelerator Program is.
  • Why I’m hiring a Marketing Director.
  • Why I’m creating pins to bring my community together, and how you can win one.
  • Why I’ll be doing more webinars in 2018.
  • How you can join the audience for my biggest ever presentation, and more!

Resources

My November 2017 Monthly Income Report

Over the past few years, the business has become more and more like a machine. Although I’m definitely keeping myself busy with new projects, more parts of the business become automated. This is thanks to the team that I’ve built, the software we’re using, and the rules and procedures we have in place.

The blog, the podcast, the emails—a lot of it is automated, which is great. I can serve more and offer even more value since the hard work was put in up front.

But . . .


Income Summary

  • Last month: $145,511.70
  • This month: $213,212.64
  • Last 12 months: $2,155,237.12

Expenses Summary

  • Last month: $49,458.31
  • This month: $48,937.72
  • Last 12 months: $655,035.82

Net Profit Summary

  • Last month: $96,053.39
  • This month: $164,274.92
  • Last 12 months: $1,500,201.30

For the complete breakdown of income and expenses, visit the full report here »

Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month’s income report.

AskPat Hits Episode 1,000!

And finally, a huge milestone to share with you. The AskPat Podcast, which started in February 2014, just crossed the 1,000 episode threshold!

It’s incredible to think I’ve recorded and published that many podcast episodes, plus the nearly 300 from Smart Passive Income. (Episode 300 will be published the second week of January! Make sure to subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already. It’s going to be a great celebration episode!)

Episode 1,000 was actually super important, not just because of the number, but because of the important announcement, which related to the new direction of the show.

I recommend you spend a few minutes, if you have the time, to listen to it below:

To sum it up, we’re on a little bit of a break with AskPat as we gear up and prepare for a new era of AskPat, which is called AskPat 2.0.

After answering 1,000 questions, I began to notice that a lot of the questions coming in were the same as ones I’ve answered before. Not only that, I knew that in order to best help people, I had to go deeper with them, and although I was answering voicemail questions from the audience, they were, of course, just the tip of the iceberg in most cases for what the real problems or pains were in their business.

So, the new show, which will live on the same feed (there’s no need to re-subscribe to another new show), comes back in February, but this time once a week. But here’s the big difference:

Instead of five episodes that are each 5-12 minutes long, now they will be 20-25 minutes in length, and a real conversation with people who need help and coaching through a specific problem in their business!

Yes, a live call, recorded, that you can all listen to. This is going to be massively helpful, not just for that person, but for everyone else listening in too. Plus, it’s a great format that allows me to also practice my coaching and hone in on my skills for helping people live, which everyone can always improve upon.

I’m super excited about this new era of AskPat, and if you’d like to submit an application to potentially become a guest on one of these episodes of AskPat 2.0, head to AskPat.com and fill out the application on that page!

We’ve already begun recording for February, and it’s going to be amazing!

Make sure you subscribe to the AskPat podcast too, so you can listen in on these conversations once they go live.

Thanks again for your support, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s income report!

SPI 295: 35 Quick Life Lessons from 35 Years of Life—Plus a Pencils of Promise Birthday Challenge!

Guess what? Today’s my birthday! I am 35 today and very grateful to have lived this long and experienced so much. I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, so today I’m giving you 35 quick lessons from 35 years of life. I’m also ending today’s episode with a challenge.

This week, I want to give you the opportunity to reflect on the amazing things that you’ve encountered, experienced, and enjoyed in the life you’ve lived so far. Here at SPI, we’ve created a lot of great content, a lot of actionable items over the past several months—last month was Affiliate Marketing Month, for example—but today I want to shift gears and talk about my 35 life lessons.

These are short nuggets of wisdom from my business journey and life experiences. This is what I’ve learned so far, in summary, about how to carve out your career and business, and some best-practices for creating opportunities and making the most of them. I’ll also be sharing what I’ve come to understand so far about life in general, the habits and rituals that make me stronger, and the rules that guide my day-to-day decisions.

Pencils of Promise Birthday Challenge

To further celebrate my birthday, I’m asking you to join me in making a difference in the lives of children who do not have access to education. I’m talking about Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools and creates educational opportunities for children in developing nations.

Previously, the goal was to build two schools which we accomplished in 2014 thanks to your support. This year, the goal is to raise $75,000 to help reach—and provide education for—1,000 students.

I will also match your donation 100 percent up to $50,000. So if you donate $100, I will donate $100 of my own—for each donation up to $50,000.

Let’s do this! Donate at SmartPassiveIncome.com/pop.

I’m an advisor for Pencils of Promise, and I’m really excited to get the SPI community involved, as I’ve done in the past. Every little bit counts (even just $1!), so please join me in donating at SmartPassiveIncome.com/pop. Thank you so much.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.


You’ll Learn

  • Why “life is too short to complain” is my number one life lesson.
  • How to use the experience of others to carve your own path.
  • What keeps me on track when I start to stray from my chosen path.
  • The number one thing I recommend for starting out your day the right way.
  • An exercise I use to change my thinking and keep my priorities on target.
  • What keeps me moving forward when the going gets tough.
  • Why you should never be the smartest person in the room.
  • The best ways to make room for growth—for yourself and for your business.
  • A great rule of thumb for making any business decision.
  • What I would tell my younger self, if I had a DeLorean.
  • The daily habits that keep me focused in the moment, and more!

Resources

SPI 294: 21 Top Places to Include an Affiliate Link

So, you have the perfect affiliate product and you’re excited to tell your audience all about it. The only thing is . . . where do you put that affiliate link? This is the episode you’re going to want to listen to, because it’ll tell you exactly where you should be putting your affiliate products (and where you’re probably not putting them currently).

In fact, there are twenty-one locations that I’m going to mention in this episode. Of course, you don’t have to use them all, but I actually do all of these things personally, and they work very well. Pick and choose, and use what makes the most sense for you!

If you’re just tuning in, this month is Affiliate Marketing Month here on SPI. I highly recommend going back and listening to Episode 290 through this episode. Affiliate Marketing is the number one way that I’ve generated an income over the years as an entrepreneur, and it’s just a massive win for everyone involved if you do it right. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re just starting out. There are products out there that already exist that may align perfectly with what may best serve your audience; why not recommend them and earn a commission in the process?

If you haven’t already, sign up for the waitlist for my brand-new course, 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing. This will help walk you through the process of how to generate an income through affiliate marketing from start to finish: how to select the right products, how to promote them, how to frame your affiliate pitch so your audience is likely to engage, and how to follow up and make sure everyone is happy. You can sign up before the end of the week if there are still spots available (I’m limiting the beta period to 500 students only); if not, sign up for the waitlist and I’ll let you know when the course opens back up again, sometime in 2018. Check it out at 123AffiliateMarketing.com.

And, to download my free guide to mastering affiliate marketing, check out AffiliateMarketingtheSmartWay.com.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.


You’ll Learn

  • Where to link to affiliates on your website so that it’s natural, organic, and helpful to your audience.
  • The number one page on my website where I link to affiliate products and services.
  • What pillar or evergreen content is, and why you should integrate affiliate links with it.
  • The best places outside your website to include affiliate links.
  • How to engage your email list with great affiliate products and services.
  • Why you should never have a dead-end on your website, and the most common dead-end zones websites have.
  • How to show your audience how fantastic an affiliate recommendation is.
  • How to integrate affiliate links with downloads for your audience.
  • How to create short, memorable, and easy URLs for your affiliate links.
  • How to combine tactics (like lead magnets and custom URLs) to help your audience discover recommended products and services.
  • Ways you can work directly with companies as an affiliate, and more!

Resources

1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing Course Launches Today!

Today is a big day! For years, the SPI audience has been asking me to create an affiliate marketing course. Specifically, they’ve been asking for a course that would help them:

  1. Find a product that already exists to sell;
  2. Learn how to promote that product in an honest and genuine way without upsetting their audience; and
  3. Generate an ever-increasing affiliate commission from those product recommendations.

It’s finally time! I’m happy to announce the beta launch of my brand new online course:

1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing

1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step program that will take you through the exact and proven three-step process I use so that you can finally generate an affiliate commission with legitimate recommendations for products that will serve the audience that you’ve built online.

Since this is the first time this course is being promoted, as I do with all of my online courses, I’m limiting the number of students to 500 only during this beta period. The 500 students of 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing will have direct access to me and the community of students as we go through the course together. You’ll also have frequent office hours with me throughout the next month so that I can answer any questions you might have if you get stuck along the way.

Next, most important of all, a note about about who 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing is for:

Those who have an email list of 500 people or more.

If you have an email list of less than 500 people, this course isn’t the right fit for you. 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing is designed specially for those with email lists of 500 people or more. If you’re not quite there, don’t let that discourage you! That just means you have room to grow, and something to strive for.

For those with less than 500 email list subscribers, I recommend you either start with my Build Your Own Brand Challenge, or my 72-Hour Email List Challenge, which are both free. You can also enroll in my Smart From Scratch® premium course, which will help you decide on what ideas and business path make sense for you.

Why don’t I just let everyone in?

The way that I teach affiliate marketing, you need to have an audience in order to succeed. At 500 or more email list subscribers, you have a solid start. The audience doesn’t have to be massive, though. In fact, many of the most successful people I’ve taught affiliate marketing to are the ones who have smaller, but highly targeted and responsive email lists.

What it comes down to is this: I don’t want to sell you anything that you cannot benefit from.

That’s simply not how I do things. I want you to succeed. If you don’t have an audience yet, this course will not work for you; it won’t help you succeed.

If you don’t have 500 people on your email list, work toward building that audience and then come back to 123AffiliateMarketing.com when you’re ready. I’ll be here for you.

I will also be pre-selling 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing. This means:

  1. From today through midnight on November 30, 2017, the cart will be open for 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing. After November 30, the cart will close.
  2. If you sign up, you will be one of the 500 limited beta students.
  3. The course will officially open up to the 500 students on January 2, 2018. At this point, you will have full access to all of the content within the course.

Note: You will have access to the private 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing Facebook group and the intro lesson immediately. The remainder of the course content will launch January 2, 2018.

What about a social media following?

If you have a social media following, that’s awesome. You can work with that as a base. But it’s not exactly the same as a email list. I’m focused on helping those who want a long-term business, and having an email list is an incredibly important aspect of that.

If you have a large following on social media or other online platforms, but you don’t have an email list, you’re living very dangerously. I’d highly recommend focusing first on building your email list from your following, because at any moment you could lose access to those followers, even if it’s not your fault. Your account could get hacked, suspended, or the platform itself could go away.

When do the doors close?

The doors to the beta launch for 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing close on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at midnight. After that, I’ll be collecting waitlist members until the first public launch, which may be several months later.

As one of the first 500, you’ll get early instant access to the course material, entry into a supportive and engaging student center with other students from the course, and access to six total group office hour sessions with me. By the end of the course material, you should be able to run your first affiliate campaign and hopefully generate income from it that you’ve never had before.

Then, we’ll work to create long-term funnels for your recommendations so that they can continue to work for you over time.

I’m truly excited about this. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to serve you with 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing when you’ve got that audience to promote to!

If you have an email list of 500 people or more, click the link below to be a part of the founding group of students for this course:

Click here to get access to 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing today!

SPI 293: My Top Performing Affiliate Marketing Products, and Why They Performed So Well

This month is affiliate marketing month, and we’ve covered a lot of ground so far. We’ve talked about strategies—long and short term—and last week we even talked about the dark side of affiliate marketing and how to avoid it. But this week we’re keeping it a little lighter: I’m sharing my top performing affiliate marketing products (that aren’t mine) and breaking down exactly why they’ve performed so well.

These products are all fantastic tools that I’ve recommended over the years. They’ve all done well for various reasons, but there are some common threads. These patterns fall right in line with a lot of the rules we’ve talked about, as far as how to win with affiliate marketing. These are great case studies that really embody what we’ve been talking about for the last couple of weeks.

This episode is all about the personal experience I’ve had putting my affiliate marketing strategies into practice. Each of these affiliate products succeeded as a result of careful strategizing and planning. A lot of the strategies that I’ll be explaining here could seriously boost your own affiliate marketing success, so get out your notebook or note-taking app, and let’s get started!

If you want to go even deeper, check out my brand-new course, 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing, which launches on Monday. You can sign up for the waitlist at 123AffiliateMarketing.com. And if you want to check out a free (yes, free!) affiliate marketing resource in the meantime, Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way will walk you through the more foundational affiliate marketing strategies you should use.

Thanks to our episode sponsor, Ahrefs, we have a contest this week! Register to win a free annual account (a $3,990 package!) by answering the following question in the comment section below: What is the one thing in your business that you are most grateful for right now?

Leave your answer below for a chance to win. To start your free trial today, go to Ahrefs.com. I’ll pick my favorite comment from all entries; contest closes on December 7, 2017 at midnight Pacific. The winner will be notified via email using the email address associated with the comment.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.


Resources

You’ll Learn

  • Why creating a demo for your product can be a huge boost to your affiliate sales.
  • Takeaways from my ConvertKit case study that you can apply to your own affiliate marketing.
  • How I’ve organically introduced the products that I’m an affiliate for.
  • How blogging about my journey—from AWeber, to Infusionsoft, to ConvertKit—went viral.
  • Why thinking about affiliate relationships in terms of solving your audience’s problems makes a big difference.
  • How showing (as opposed to telling) changes the way you present affiliate links to your audience.
  • How a webinar helped me boost my JV (joint venture) affiliate sales.
  • Why taking an online course that you are an affiliate for with your audience is a great strategy.
  • How to present affiliate physical products to your audience, and more!

Resources

Sponsors

  • Ahrefs

    Ahrefs is the ultimate tool for anyone who wants to win in the world of SEO. Whether you need a tool for keyword research, competitor research, backlink research . . . Ahrefs is the only tool you need for SEO.

A Letter to All Current and Future Affiliate Marketers

Dear Affiliate Marketer,

Whether you’re just learning about affiliate marketing, or you’ve been enhancing your online business with affiliate marketing for years, this letter—a must read—is for you.

First, I want to tell you a story.

It was 2008. I had just been laid off from my job in the architecture industry. In the months leading up to my layoff, I had been experimenting in online business with my very first effort, GreenExamAcademy.com.

As I was building Green Exam Academy to help others in the architecture industry pass the LEED Exam, I discovered something amazing.

In forums related to internet marketing and online business, I learned about this thing called affiliate marketing. People were finding products to sell online in places called “affiliate networks,” and spending money on ads to send traffic to those products and earning a commission on the side.

This was the first I’d heard about affiliate marketing. The people who were sharing their success were talking about how little they were spending on ads, and how much commission they were making as a result—and with products that weren’t even theirs. I couldn’t believe it, and it just seemed too good to be true.

Back then, when I first started learning about affiliate marketing, the purpose of it was geared toward quick money. The affiliate networks that were prevalent then are a good example of this. They worked like this:

  1. You’d sign up for the affiliate network.
  2. In order to join, you needed to share information about the size of your email list and how much traffic your website brought in, an opportunity for many to exaggerate their numbers.
  3. Once you’re a member of the network, you have access to a giant library of products (from cosmetics to chicken coops) that were being sold as part of the network’s affiliate program.
  4. If someone purchased from those referral links, you earned a percentage of the sale.

This seemed like a treasure trove, an amazing opportunity to make lots of money if you could convince people to click on those links and follow through with the purchase.

Future me (the me who’s writing you today), would say that that’s not the right way to go because you’re not starting from an authentic place. Unless you truly know the product, have used it successfully for yourself, and can prove that to your audience, you can’t expect others to just take your word for it.

But past me (the me who was just getting into online business) didn’t know better. Oh how time and experience can shape you!

My $300 Mistake

During this time, after signing up for an affiliate network, I picked a product that I felt was okay for my audience (but I didn’t really know), I set up a Google AdWords account to start advertising it, and I created my first ad. At that time, I was a terrible marketer and copywriter (still am in many ways!). In the ad, I drove people to click on the link for the product I was advertising.

After a couple of hours, I saw that I had a few hundred impressions on the ad. After a few more hours, it was over a thousand impressions. But I had zero clicks on the ad. Zilch, nada, none. I waited and waited until I finally got my first click, but that person didn’t end up buying the product.

So what did that experience amount to? I spent $300 on a couple dozen clicks, but those clicks amounted to zero sales.

As a learning experience, I began thinking about those clicks, and the person on the other end. Who were they? What compelled them to take action? Why did they click?

After a short while, I learned that there was really no way for me to know the answer to those questions. I couldn’t know that person who clicked, or even my audience. I had created an ad based on a product I didn’t understand inside and out. I didn’t spend the time to know the product, or understand how it could serve my audience. And in so doing, I was failing myself and the people (my small audience at the time) who counted on me.

I wasn’t going to do that ever again. I had a wake-up call, right then and there. I learned how important knowing your audience is, and how integral relationship building is to effective affiliate marketing. My learning process would continue from there, of course, but the building blocks were set.

Affiliate marketing isn’t a quick, impersonal thing. It’s the exact opposite.

Affiliate marketing is about fostering genuine long-term relationships with people you trust, products you love, companies that align with you and your philosophies.

Any healthy relationship takes time and a great deal of trust. And that’s what we need to focus on in our affiliate marketing relationships. I see, too often, people wasting time and energy in promoting products in the guise of affiliate marketing. But, you see, affiliate marketing should be a natural extension of your own efforts in business; not a tack-on just to make a little extra money.

The affiliate relationships I’ve built over the years took time because I spent the time to do the research, test out the product, meet with the creators, and understand their vision. We took the time, together, to build that trust so we can gain the trust of our respective audiences. All of that is essential in affiliate marketing.

And you need to know your audience.

Knowing Your Audience

If you want to make affiliate marketing work for you and have it help build you a long-term passive income, you need to know your audience. Always ask yourself this question:

How can I best serve my audience?

There are a multitude of ways to serve your audience. Sometimes it will simply be a free piece of content that you create: a blog post, a YouTube video, a podcast episode. Sometimes the best way to serve your audience is to promote one of your products, such as an online course of your own, or a piece of software, or a targeted service created specifically for them.

Other times, the best way to serve your audience is to recommend another person or company’s product that already exists. You are a problem solver, but sometimes the best solutions are the products that already exist. If you can make that connection for people, you can be rewarded for it.

Your perspective, always, should be from a place of serving. Serve first.


If you’re not thanked for the products you’re promoting, you’re doing affiliate marketing wrong.
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Rewriting the Story on Affiliate Marketing

Because of the potential for abuse in affiliate marketing (and actual abuse by some), it’s getting a bad reputation. If you are an affiliate marketer, and you really want to succeed as one, you need to do everything in your power to rewrite the story, and allow people to see affiliate marketing as the positive force it can be: to serve.

When you promote something that is not helpful, you’re not only not in tune with your audience, but you’re doing them a huge disservice. They will, in turn, be less responsive to any calls to action you create in the future, whether it’s related to affiliate marketing or not.

It’s your responsibility, as an affiliate marketer, to see and understand the whole journey of those you serve with your affiliate marketing. It’s your responsibility to know what happens to those you serve. And, it’s your responsibility when things don’t go as planned, which happens even if you have the right intentions.

Here’s an example: A company I trusted and promoted started to fail my audience, and me. I started getting reviews from my audience about the company that were less than stellar. So, I flew to the company’s headquarters and had a serious chat with the CEO to see what was going on. I learned that changes were indeed being made, and although it took awhile, things began to improve. I’m so thankful that the company listened to my feedback, because the service they provide is significantly better now, and the customer reviews that are coming in more recently are back to the levels that they should be.

You can read about that conversation in more depth in my May 2016 Monthly Income Report.

Sometimes, as an affiliate marketer, there are things that happen that will be out of your control. But you have to be willing, if something happens, to take responsibility and take care of your audience—even if it means giving up your affiliate income to find a better solution.

1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing

As many of you know, I’ve come out with several courses this year covering a wide range of topics, including podcasting, starting your business from scratch, and building your own brand. In total, thousands of people have received help they need from these courses to grow their online businesses. And guess what? I have one more course coming out this year. In fact, it’s coming out next week! And that course is:

1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing

This brand-new course is designed to guide you from not making any money in affiliate marketing to a place of understanding exactly how affiliate marketing works, so you can make your first commission in a way that’s genuine, effective, and with an eye toward the long term. Even if you have tried affiliate marketing, and so far it’s just not working out, 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing was created to help you too.

Here’s my promise to you:

If 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing does not help you earn your first commission the right way, you will get your money back—no questions asked.

That’s how confident I am in the power of this course.

Next week, I will be opening up spots to a limited amount of students for a limited beta run—just like I’ve done with all of my other courses.

I will also be pre-selling 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing. This is something I’ve done before with my online courses, but in case you’re not familiar, this is what that means:

  1. From Cyber Monday through midnight on November 30, 2017, the cart will be open for 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing. After November 30, the cart will close.
  2. For those of you who successfully sign-up for the course, you will be one of the 500 limited beta students.
  3. And, since it is a pre-sale, the course will official open up to the 500 students on January 2, 2018—giving you full access to the entire curriculum, and motivation to start strong in 2018!

Note: You will have access to the private 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing Facebook group and the intro lesson immediately. The remainder of the course content will launch January 2, 2018.

So, if you’d like to get in on the ground floor to make affiliate marketing work for you, sign up for the waitlist by clicking the link below! For those who sign up now, you’ll get to work closely with me throughout this process, we’ll have multiple office hours to check in with each other, and you’ll definitely lock in the lowest price available, as the price could potentially go up during the first public sale next year.

Sign up for the waitlist for 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing.

I hope to see you there!

Pat

SPI 292: The Dark Side of Affiliate Marketing (and How to Do It Right!)

Everything has a sort of yin and yang, dark and white, and affiliate marketing is no different. It’s important to understand the light and the darkness, so let’s go a level deeper on our affiliate marketing journey; let’s talk about the dark side of affiliate marketing.

I don’t want you to be scared of going down the affiliate marketing path; that’s not the purpose of today’s episode. I want to equip you so you know what to look out for, because affiliate marketing can be abused if you take an income-first—rather than a serve-first—approach. For a long time it had a very negative connotation, but affiliate marketing can be done in a legit way that’s a big win for everyone, so I want to change that perception.

Personally, I’ve earned over $2.5 million with affiliate marketing and have had wonderful experiences doing so. I feel that it’s my personal responsibility to teach you how to do affiliate marketing right, but also how not to do it. Take a deep breath; we’re about to venture over to the dark side. Pay close attention, because when it comes to affiliate marketing, understanding what not to do can be just as important as what you should do.

If you want to go even deeper, check out my brand-new course, 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing. I’ll be talking more about the course later this month, and you can sign up for the waitlist at 123AffiliateMarketing.com. And if you want to check out a free (yes, free!) affiliate marketing resource in the meantime, Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way will walk you through the more foundational affiliate marketing strategies you should use.

And hey, if you’re not following me on YouTube already, check out YouTube.com/smartpassiveincome. A lot of the gameplan for next year is very video-centric. My team and I are devoting a lot of time and energy into YouTube next year (don’t worry though, the podcast and blog aren’t going anywhere). I built out a top-of-the-line, 900 square foot studio space this year, so I’m excited to use it to share some exciting SPI videos with you soon!

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.


You’ll Learn

  • Why it’s important to understand the dark side of affiliate marketing.
  • The #1 biggest mistake that people make when they start affiliate marketing.
  • How and why companies reach out to affiliates, and how this informs your decision-making.
  • How the affiliate marketing decisions you make now can bubble up again in your future.
  • How to stay active with your long-term affiliate relationships and your audience.
  • A negative experience I had purchasing an affiliate product from a friend and what it taught me.
  • Why it’s critical to be honest about what an affiliate product can and can’t do.
  • My 8 Mile rule (talking about Eminem here) and how it applies to online business.
  • How the law of reciprocity can boost your affiliate sales.
  • Why all your income shouldn’t come from affiliate marketing.
  • Why, despite the dark side, affiliate marketing is amazing and worthwhile.

Resources

My October 2017 Income Report

Welcome to my October 2017 Monthly Income Report! It’s been a busy but extremely enjoyable month. I’m happy to share what I’ve been up to, and how the businesses have been progressing. As always, I share all of the ins and outs of my business so that you can get motivated, and learn from both my wins and my failures. Some months are up, others are down, but there are always lessons to be learned, which I’m happy to pass on to you.

Beyond that, I also love to share what’s coming next, and with the year coming to an end very soon, team SPI and I have been putting a lot of effort into what’s coming in 2018. So, without further delay, let’s get right to it!


Income Summary

  • Last month: $220,158.54
  • This month: $145,511.70
  • Last 12 months: $2,074,204.23

Expenses Summary

  • Last month: $57,061.83
  • This month: $49,458.31
  • Last 12 months: $645,315.21

Net Profit Summary

  • Last month: $163,096.71
  • This month: $96,053.39
  • Last 12 months: $1,428,889.02

For the complete breakdown of income and expenses, visit the full report here »

Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month’s income report.

What I Learned in October

Going back to VidSummit, another key lesson I learned while I was there is “the hook.” That is, when you start a piece of content (whether it’s video content or other content), how quickly you get people committed to finishing that content all the way through before they make the decision to leave (aka “bounce”).

This relates back to increasing watch time and session time, two of the key factors YouTube looks at in their algorithm.

I realized after hearing about the importance of “the hook” over and over again at this conference, that in all of my content—the blog, the podcast, and especially within my existing videos—the hook is something I never really tried to do well. I just sort of started, and would hope that I would set it up nicely so that people would want to continue to read down the page, or listen to more of a podcast episode, or stop themselves from clicking away from watching a video.

In 2018, you’ll notice a significant attempt (hehe, attempt) to get better at hooking the audience to keep you intrigued. I also learned not to bait and switch people either. Meaning, if you create an amazing hook, but don’t close that loop, or deliver on that promise, your audience will actually turn away even harder, and probably never come back.

You need to keep your promises. But, on the other side, I know personally I can do a better job of letting people know what those promises are right away.

And on the other end of this are your open-ended teasers. To keep people going, you need to also let them know what’s coming next. It’s partly how Netflix shows reel us into the next episode as soon as one finishes.

For us, it’s how we can get people to keep reading, watching, and even clicking.

So, I’m going to practice that right now.

This month, Ask Pat Episode 1,000 goes live on Monday, November 20. It’s a special episode of the podcast, not just because it celebrates 1,000 episodes since February 2014, but also because I’m going to announce an important and significant change to the format of the show.

After 1,000 questions answered, this new direction is needed, and it’s going to give me an opportunity to give you even more value down the road, maybe even directly related to you and your business situation.

What is this new change and how will it affect you? Well, you’re going to have to subscribe to the podcast and listen to episode 1,000 when it goes live next week.

To subscribe to AskPat, visit AskPat.com, or click here to subscribe on iTunes.

🙂

Thanks so much for your time and attention here in this month’s income report! Wishing you all the best, and here’s to an amazing end of the year!