I’ve known super affiliate Lynn Terry for a long time now. In Internet marketing years, we’re both ancient. We “met” online through some forums aimed at work at home moms about ten years ago and we finally met [no quotes] in person in 2004.
Lynn has always been genuine, up front and armed with an honest mission to help anyone she can “live the dream.”
What makes her different from most other “make money online” types is that she isn’t selling bullshit. She knows her stuff and proves it with her earnings.
Rae: We run in different circles even though we’re both career affiliates and have known each other for about a decade now. I am best known in the SEO community while you’ve been a fixture in the “make money online” realm (I often refer to you as the only honest “guru” I know LOL). Care to tell my readers a little bit about who you are and how you got started in affiliate marketing?
Lynn: I started out with a web dev company back in the 90’s, so I’ve been teaching people how to market a business online – or start an online business – for almost 14 years now. I worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurs from multi-million dollar companies to home businesses.
Affiliate Marketing was a big part of my business model even then, though it wasn’t called that (yet). It was called commission-based sales, or referral payments. About the time more affiliate programs started becoming available, my oldest child got sick. I moved my office, then in a storefront downtown, to my home and started working “virtually” so I could be home with and for my son full time.
As his condition got worse, it became harder to do meetings and phone calls. I ultimately decided to focus on affiliate marketing and stop taking clients, which gave me tons more freedom and flexibility. It was a gradual transition but I was basically doing the same thing – except I was doing design and programming for myself instead of clients.
I didn’t start blogging about Internet Marketing until 2004, so that’s been just about half the time I’ve been in business. Prior to that I had an email newsletter and an active online community. Both were originally a means to serve the growing do-it-yourself side of my market that wasn’t interested in paying for services. Both are still thriving to this day and are a great place to share resources & ideas I come across while working on my own affiliate sites.
Rae: Having had an email newsletter for so long, you likely have tried out a variety of vendors. Who do you recommend as an email marketing service company and why?
Lynn: You’re right, I have. I use and recommend Aweber. They are the industry leader in email marketing and list management. And honestly, no matter what you test or try – you’re most likely to end up at Aweber in the end anyway.
Considering what a pain it is to move a list, and that you lose ~90% of the list you worked so hard to build in any major move, it pays to just go with Aweber to start with.
I always advise people to look carefully at the features of any list management option. Make sure you own the list, that you can back it up yourself, that you can customize the landing pages and follow up messages, etc. Most of these are not common with current (free) blog email notification options, for example.
Aweber has excellent support, delivery rate, top of the line features, etc. After going through every other option out there, I ended up at Aweber… and expect I’ll be staying there indefinitely.
Rae: Affiliate marketing “dies” nearly once a week at this point. A lot of folks believe it’s too late to get in the game. If I took away everything you’ve built, could you start over in 2011 and be successful again if given an Internet connection and eighteen months?
Lynn: If anything, now is a great time to get involved in Affiliate Marketing. There are SO many more resources available, and more help – events, forums, blogs, guides, networks, programs, you name it.
Given an internet connection and 18 months? You betcha! I would choose one project (site/niche) and work it to the max. I would even go back to working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week if I had to. Knowing what I know now… it’s worth every minute worked, and every minute of sleep lost.
Rae: Assuming a laptop and an internet connection were a given, what would be the first three tools you’d arm yourself with to “work it to the max” and why?
Lynn: Does coffee count? LOL
Honestly, I don’t use very many “tools”. Obviously 1) a hosting account, which is less than ten bucks a month. Assuming I had a few bucks to spend 2) a keyword research tool such as WordTracker or Market Samurai. Otherwise I would start with the Wordtracker free tool.
And then 3) a VA or personal assistant. While I hate to call him/her a “tool” (ha) I know firsthand what a difference that can make in leveraging my time while getting a project off the ground.
Like I said, I use very few tools. I have zero toolbars installed on my browsers, minimum software installed on my computer, and prefer to operate manually as much as humanly possible. It just keeps things from getting complicated – and I love simple. :)
Rae: One of the questions I’m most often asked is “how to find a niche.” For me, I’ve stumbled into most of the ones I’m involved in, one way or another, almost exclusively by chance. However, I know you tend to think a bit more on the tactical side when it comes to choosing affiliate niches. Can you give folks a few tips to finding that ever so important niche?
Lynn: The method I share with people is based on knowing now what I wish I had considered then (when I first got started). I recommend you choose a niche that leads you to your ideal lifestyle. Consider what you want to be doing for a living, or how you most want to spend your time.
If you’re in love with the idea of New Zealand for example, you should choose “New Zealand Vacations” as your niche. Or maybe it’s ballroom dancing, deap sea fishing – whatever.
Choose the one thing you would spend your life doing if you weren’t tied to a job, a mortgage, and all the usual things that hold you back from living your dream life.
We spend more of our adult life on our career than almost anything else. If you choose the right niche, you can create a lifestyle out of it. Ask yourself this: “Do I want to blog for a living? or – Do I want to vacation in New Zealand for a living?” There’s a big difference.
There are some awesome opportunities right now to do just that. If you have a voice and a readership in your niche, merchants and vendors will be coming to you – practically handing you the option to live that dream life you thought was out of your reach.
Rae: If someone was brand new to affiliate marketing, what three “traditional books” would you have them read while starting their first website and why?
Lynn: I would start with Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk. That book will open your mind to the opportunities and really help you think outside your comfort zone. Second would be Socialnomics by Eric Qualman, for a deeper understanding of how communications are evolving and how you can use that to create your dream job/lifestyle combo. Third would be The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
The first two will really help you get a grasp of the current opportunities – they are both chock full of ideas and creative inspiration. The third book choice… because you might as well get it right from the start. Your business model and structure, that is.
Rae: What three e-books would you recommend?
Lynn: The Super Affiliate Handbook by Rosalind Gardner. She gives live examples throughout the guide so you can click through and actually walk through the site or page to get a feel for what she is teaching. Definitely my top recommendation for starting in niche affiliate marketing.
SEO Fast Start by Dan Thies. You can download it free. I recommend this to everyone I meet because no matter what your business model… organic traffic is simply the best.
Chris Garrett’s Guest Posting Guide. This one could come a little later, once you have a site/blog established, but it’s a great resource. Guest blogging is one of the best ways to get exposure, especially when you’re new in your niche and getting established. It also results in some of the highest quality inbound links you can possibly get, which will help you get those much-needed search engine rankings for your pillar content.
Rae: Your success as an affiliate is only rivaled by your success as a blogger. What has been your secret behind growing ClickNewz from 133,000+ unique visitors in 2007 to over 387,000+ unique visitors in 2010?
Lynn: Consistency. It truly is as simple as that. Write, optimize, get links, write, optimize, get links…
To be honest, I have never done any major marketing for ClickNewz. While it is now profitable, it has always been more a labor of love than a primary business. Every now and then I’ll do interviews, guest posts on other blogs, or speak – but all 3 are rare, and my main source of new readers is free search engine traffic.
I love to write, and I love the market. I don’t think I could have blogged for the last 7+ years so consistently if I didn’t have a passion for the topic. No amount of money would be worth doing something every day (or week) that you don’t enjoy…
Rae:If you think back to your early blogging days, what promotion technique would you recommend new bloggers start with first to begin building a readership and reputation?
Lynn: Guest Blogging. Definitely Guest Blogging. Obviously you should do your SEO – make sure that every page and post is properly optimized, and build links to your content. That’s a given. But when it comes to building a reputation and readership, Guest Blogging is the quickest possible way you can do that.
Rae: We both have being “simple chicks” in common. You inspired my post There Are No Damn Silver Spoons (or Defining and Achieving Success Online). What’s the average day in the life of Lynn Terry like?
Lynn: LOL – you are anything but simple! :P I know what you mean, though. And I love that in the ~10 years I’ve known you, success and money and all, you are still every bit the Rae I originally met.
More often than not I am hanging out with friends and family, or with my giant dog :) I’ve kept things simple (intentionally) and have a very laid back lifestyle. I still work from my home office, have a very flexible schedule, and nap at least 2 hours every day. I like to get up around sunrise and knock out my work in the first few hours so I have the rest of the day “free”.
I travel quite a bit as well – every chance I get, actually. I took the kids to Vegas last Christmas just to see the Blue Man Group on Christmas Eve.
My daughter and I are taking a ski trip later this month.
I headed off for my 5th trip to Australia in February (just got back), which has become one of my favorite destinations. And later this year I’m planning to *finally* have a stay in New Zealand.
But otherwise I can usually be found right here at home, curled up in my comfies, or out for a hike with Slim… ;)