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Is Shiny Object Syndrome Killing Your Business?

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As a successful entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing and business space, I can tell you that staying focused and always being driven towards your end goal can be tough. With so many distractions and opportunities getting exposure every day, it’s easy to lose focus, try something new and then start losing interest in what you already were having success with in the first place.

This is commonly referred to as “shiny object syndrome” — which is the process of getting distracted by all of the shiny objects that may blind you from what you are currently focused on.

How Shiny Object Syndrome Works

Here’s a perfect example. Years ago I wrote about how one of my sites went on to generate over $800,000 profit in just a few months time. While this specific business model and target audience for this old case study is still relevant, it simply wouldn’t work as effective today. However, many people have read the article and I’m sure many have chased the dream of making money with the same concept as well. More than anything else, posts like these are meant to be an inspiration and to show what is possible through affiliate marketing. Nonetheless, it’s been read by thousands of people and has probably been considered a “shiny object” to many over the years.

Zac Yahoo Check

I also created a super simple guide to starting your first pay per click marketing guide (which I will soon be updating). This super easy to follow guide actually resulted in over $3 million worth of new business and referrals to Neverblue’s ad network. I showed people how easy it was to select an offer and create their first ad campaign. Site readers followed my advice, walked through the process and the rest is history.

Now here’s where shiny object syndrome might come in. Let’s say you found my PPC marketing guide and started to make some money with your campaign and were super focused on your end goal of making $100 per day… however, you are only currently making $10 per day.

While working on your ad campaigns, you decided to start browsing other online marketing blogs to see what’s going on in the industry. Then you came across John Chow’s blog and saw he was making $100,000 a month by pushing some new program. You instantly get inspired, start following him and try to replicate his own success. Soon enough, your successful PPC marketing guides start to die out — not only are they no longer profitable, they are now costing you money!

John Chow MOBE Check

So after a few weeks of trying to replicate John Chow’s success with whatever you were trying to promote that got you inspired on his site, once again you realize your earnings progress isn’t fast enough. Once again, you start browsing sites again to find some new ways to make money.

Next thing you know, you end up on EntrepreneurOnFire.com and see John Lee Dumas is making several hundreds of thousands of dollars per month with his podcast, blog and online course and you decide you must do the same.

EOFire_s_Income_Reports_-_Entrepreneur_On_Fire_Business_Podcasts

Starting a podcast and online course of your own is quite time to consume and challenging… so let’s say we jump forward a year later to when you have a blog and podcast in place, but you are still only making a few dollars per day and still trying to figure out where everything went wrong.

The answer is simple… you are suffering from “Shiny Object Syndrome“!

150119.shinynewobject1credit: marketoonist.com

And don’t get more wrong… this post is in no way bashing John Chow or John Lee Dumas, it’s actually doing the complete opposite. When both of these players were told their ideas wouldn’t work and you could never make money that way — guess what, they did!

Why? Because they didn’t let shiny object syndrome deter them from their goals!

The Cure for Shiny Object Syndrome

To make it in the world of online marketing, entrepreneurship and business, you need to stick with whatever it is you are going to be awesome at, and simply be the best at it. No one wants to work with the Jack of All Trades, they want the Master of One. The same holds true for making money online, as your competition is hundreds of millions of other sites.

There are thousands of ways to legitimately make money online, but if you keep jumping from idea to idea, you are never going to get ahead. Stick with one idea and have a goal in place to make it work. You will also need to have a cutoff point where you decide to kill an idea or keep pushing forward. You don’t want to waste time beating a dead horse.

This is something I did with one of my social network resource sites. After the site generated a million dollars in profit, I knew the industry was changing, the competition was on the rise and it was time to move on. Things move quickly on the internet, and you need to adjust to it.

Take a look at everything you have on your plate right now. Remove the distractions and side projects that are wasting your time, resources and keeping you away from your end goals and best projects.

The internet is a battlefield on your mind, ego, and focus. Re-evaluate where you are focusing your time and effort on a weekly basis and don’t let the shiny objects distract you along the way.

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Affiliate Marketing

My First Affiliate Checks and How It All Started!

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While I was cleaning up my office, I came across a few copies of some of my first affiliate checks I earned online over twenty years ago! It’s funny when I think back to how you got started, because everything was so different, yet the same. Affiliate marketing was just starting out… companies were taking a chance at a new form of advertising and most didn’t know what to expect. Imagine if the Amazon.com Associates Program had never exist… would affiliate marketing still be as big as it is today?

C’mon everyone, hop into the delorean…  and let’s step into the affiliate time machine and go all the way back to 1997!

Back in the 90s… Domains Cost $70!
Before finally spending the big bucks to get my own domain, I spent years on free web hosting sites like Geocities, tripod and mostly through my free AOL accounts. Who didn’t have 20 or 30 free AOL disks sitting around… so I went for a very long time without having to pay for internet access. Getting my own domain several years later was one of the biggest events yet to hit my business, not to mention… one of my first big expenses!

networksolutionsdomainregistration by you.

Back in the 90s… CJ was Personable!
Sure, Commission Junction is now one of the largest affiliate networks out there… if still not the largest! However, years before ValueClick even thought about buying them, I was an affiliate and merchant on their network for years. Along with your monthly check, you also received a printed letter from CJ and their President Lex Sisney… and YES!, he actually did sign off on each of these original letters.

commissionjunctioncheck by you.
Commission Junction Monthly Statement, Signed by President Lex Sisney

Back in the 90s… Checks were smaller, but meant so much more!
No matter what sites you visit today, it’s not hard to come across their affiliate program. Back in the 90s they were far and few… and many companies weren’t even online yet! One of the first companies I worked with was a hosting company called eAds, and they were the equivalent to what ValueClick Media and CasaleMedia are today. They had a small network of banner advertisers that you could place on your website and you would be paid a specific amount per click.

eadscheck by you.
eAds Check: $10.45, September 16, 1998

One of the most lucrative companies I worked was a hosting company called AdGrafix. What was really great about their affiliate program was that they offered residual income on any new web hosting clients you sent them. I used to go into the AOL chat rooms and find people that wanted to get a website for themselves or their companies. I was around 15 or 16 when I started pushing the web hosting programs and they continually made me residual income for years. Affiliate programs now as days just pay a large affiliate commission per signup, to avoid paying nice residuals and keep it for themselves.

adgrafixcheck by you.
AdGrafix: $29.65, October 5, 1998

Back in the 90s… Amazon was King!
Not only was Amazon.com one of the largest and fastest growing sites online, they were also one of the first affiliate programs available. Here is one of my earlier checks from Amazon.com. During the first few years of their associate’s program, you could earn 5-15% on sales, depending if they were books or movies (since that is all they sold at the time). Using FrontPage97 I created hundreds of celebrity pages with Amazon.com book/movie listings to generate sales. The high-quality content from the sites ranked very well in the search engines, bringing in new traffic and sales. Still, at this point, I hadn’t spent any advertising dollars to promote my sites… but I was still able to send Amazon.com a couple hundred thousand dollars in sales.

As my online shopping sites became more popular, so did affiliate marketing. I added new advertisements to the site and found I was starting to make more money from getting signups to CPA offers, then pushing sales for Amazon. I gradually moved everything over to a CPA perspective for affiliate marketing and my main focus.

amazoncheck by you.
Amazon.com: $38.72, Jul 30, 1998

Back in the 90s… it was all coming together!
Everyone has to make a start somewhere. Below is one of my first financial reports and as you can see, payments from AdGrafix hosting revenue was one of my biggest money makers. Seeing this type of revenue, while just starting high school, only fueled the fire to excel and make the most out of what I had started. It was only a matter of time before everyone else started to get into the game and more affiliate marketing opportunities became available.

97revenuechart by you.
Beginning Monthly Earnings Chart – 1997/1998

Back in the 90s… The Almighty Banner Started it All!
But what really started it all?… it was “The Almighty Banner Ad“. Before affiliate marketing, before affiliate networks, mailing lists, and blogging… there were always banners, and even more importantly, the AOL Web Diner. The Web Diner was a chat room on AOL where webmasters and designers could talk about what’s happening on the internet. Long story short, I made my first dollars online by designing 468×60 banners for people to promote their website. There was no Paypal at the time, so I would receive actual dollar bills in the mail… well, most of time (imagine that, people ripping a 15-year-old kid off!) Nonetheless, the experience was amazing and even in it’s the smallest form (of $1.00), it showed the true potential of the internet and what was to come!

Looking Back, 20+ Years Later…
It’s amazing to look back and see how everything started. I still have my original computers that I worked endless nights on, cranking out new web pages and absorbing as much information as I could. I should load them up again and see what other old school goodies I can find. It’s been an amazing journey, and it’s still just in the beginning phases… I’m still so excited for what the future holds and the fire is still burning to excel that much more!

When did you make your first dollars online and what stories do you have from yesteryear?

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How Attrace is Changing Affiliate Marketing with Blockchain Technology

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Every once in awhile something new hits the industry and it grabs the attention of audiences around the world. In the business of affiliate marketing we all know the importance of technology and crunching the numbers as much as possible to make a profit —  however, the core foundation, basic principles, and how affiliate networks are tracking leads and paying out commissions to affiliates haven’t changed much over the years.

Sure, there are faster payments, more offers, and better tracking technology, but doesn’t it seem like we should be more advanced and have more control over such analytics and data? With so much emphasis on blockchain technology and everyone talking about Bitcoin as being the future of personal and business finance, I think the next question is how blockchain will disrupt the affiliate marketing industry.

That is exactly what Attrace, a decentralized affiliate marketing network, wants to do with their brand new and blockchain technology-driven platform. Today we are going to look at not only how blockchain technology can disrupt the affiliate marketing industry, save merchants money, and also help affiliate marketers earn more than ever before.

The Time for Blockchain Technology is Now

As mentioned earlier, if you’ve heard of the phrase blockchain, you’ve likely heard it associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The reason why blockchain is so popular and gaining so much attention, is because it’s changing the way data is transferred among users, makes only payments and transactions after, and also integrates the power of a decentralized internet in the process.

With so many companies using blockchain to protect their data, make transactions safer, and also keep all sides of the party safe and secure,  it seems like a perfect fit for affiliate marketing as well.

This is where Attrace comes into play.

Attrace Affiliate Network and Features

With so many opportunities in the world of affiliate marketing, every once in awhile you will come across a new network or tracking platform that takes advantage of the technology around it, and makes a solution that’s better for everyone. Today we can look at a trace and see that they are building a platform with the future in mind, while also catering to the affiliate and advertiser alike.

When you look at the impact of affiliate marketing around the world and see that billions of dollars are generated every year, it’s also important to realize there are hundreds of millions of dollars being paid to affiliate networks in transaction fees. With these basic concepts and financial figures in mind, it would make perfect sense for someone to develop a decentralized platform with minimum transaction costs to the advertisers, and making the withdrawal and payment process to affiliates more seamless.

That is exactly what Attrace has focused their efforts on creating, which we can see through the short explainer video below.

For anyone that has ever signed up to an affiliate network as an advertiser or merchant, you know there are several costs involved —  such as the initial setup fee, integration, program management and of course the ongoing transaction costs. If you are paying out several thousands of dollars to your affiliates, you will likely be paying thousands and transaction fees as well.

It’s not just on the merchant or advertiser side that you will find new improvements, features, and benefits, Attrace has built their network with the affiliate marketer in mind as well. As more people continue to use mobile devices and different types of browsers and ways to access the internet, it’s always a question of how well your leads and sales are actually being tracked. Just the smallest percentage of leads getting lost or scraped can be the difference between a successful campaign, or a failed one.

All of these elements and focus points are a top priority for Attrace, while also focusing on the following areas:

  • Very low fees
    Affiliate Networks charge 10-25% commission. Attrace reduces this to ~0.5%.
  • Faster Real Value payments
    Instant commission payout instead of waiting for weeks if not months, based on very precise definitions and dynamic scaling.
  • Fraud detection
    Smart contracts attached to every click/referral cannot be manipulated resulting in all statistics being the absolute truth.
  • No more tracking problems
    Every individual click/referral will have a unique ID, resulting in the fully reliable tracking of the Publishers’ performance.
  • Direct connection between Publishers and Merchants
    The Attrace platform enables direct communication between Publishers and Merchants via the advanced messaging board.
  • No Merchant restrictions
    Long Tail and Emerging Markets acceptance will be based on reputation, not at the discretion of Affiliate Network.

With so many features and benefits in place, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the floodgates open for advertisers and affiliates to join a new platform like Attrace. At the same time, with so many elements in play and the technicalities of the blockchain, this will likely be a transition and work in progress for months and years to come. You can actually see how all of this will come together through the timeline created by Attrace, while also seeing their projections and goals over the next year.

How to Get Started with Attrace Affiliate Network

There are two ways to get started with Attrace affiliate network —  the first is to sign up through their telegram group or to take part in their upcoming ICO token sale — which is also featured on their main page.

No matter which of the methods you decide to go after, it will be quite interesting to see how blockchain technology continues to change the way we all use the internet and especially in the world of affiliate marketing.

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Affiliate Marketing

GDPR Rules, Fines and Compliance – What You Need to Know

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As most business people know, taking care of sensitive and personal data of customers is of the utmost importance. Failing to do this could see you getting on the wrong side of your customers and the wrong side of the law – and the penalties can be severe. In the past, the Data Protection Act has provided regulations and guidelines to help businesses to implement data protection policies. However, this is now changing with the introduction of the GDPR.

How will this affect your current business and email marketing efforts?

The biggest question is always what needs to be done next to make sure you are compliant. iContact answers this easy enough with the following statement from the site:

The good news is, if you are already following email marketing best practices and asking your subscribers for permission to join your email lists via a subscription form on your website or requiring the subscriber to tick a box on your ecommerce site (and you can prove this ), you are well on your way to GDPR compliance.

Just like CAN-SPAM came out several years ago, and caused a big fuss, GDPR will likely do the same but everyone (and all of the major solution providers) will make compliance process quite simple and direct.

In order to ensure you do not end up being penalized as a result of failing to implement these new regulations properly, it is important to keep up with the latest developments. Businesses that do not follow these new regulations, which are due to come into play within a matter of weeks, could find themselves facing serious consequences. These regulations are all linked to how data is handled by businesses and it is important for all businesses, large and small, to get to grips with them.

Just like any new laws and regulations that are about to go into place, they have some hefty fines lined up for anyone looking to be made an example of. Imperva has a nice write-up and infographic on the new laws, and their associated fines as well. As you will see from the infographic below, the fines associated with the GDPR are quite high… with maximum fines hitting the $22 million range! In short, prepare your business now, or pay the price later on!

Fortunately, the government has already put a lot of information online about the GDPR, so those with lack of understanding can make sure they do their research to find out what needs to be done. Furthermore, specialist experts from specific industries are being taken on so that businesses can turn to someone with expertise in their specific industry in order to ensure they are following the new regulations to the letter.

One thing to remember is that your business does not have to be located within the EU in order to be tied to these regulations. The regulations also apply to businesses that are not in the EU but that sell products and services to others that are in the EU. Therefore, make sure you do not ignore these regulations just because of the location of your business, as you may find that they also apply to you because of the location of your customers.

How to Prepare for the GDPR Going Live on May 25th, 2018

As fun as it is to read up on all of these new laws and legal jargon, it’s much more exciting to watch a short video that breaks it all down. Not only will you learn more about what GDPR is, but you will also discover eleven things you need to make sure you have in place before May 25th hits and the law goes into effect.

An even better and more detailed resource on how to keep your business safe and compliant is this Forbes article on how the GDPR will affect advertising and e-commerce. With nearly all websites, blogs, and online businesses collecting emails, data, or placing cookies on their visitor’s computers, this is something we all need to be aware of.

How to Stay Up to Date with the Latest GDPR News

Since the new regulations are only just coming in, there may be some teething problems to begin with. This means that there is a chance there could be some changes and adaptations to begin with. In order to ensure you continue to implement the regulations properly, you should keep on top of any chances and developments. You can also hire the services of experts to help you get to grips with the GDPR as well as to help keep you informed as and when any changes are made.

With the introduction of the new regulations, all countries within the EU can benefit from the same data protection laws, which can help to make things much fairer and far easier to understand. Having different sets of rules from one EU country to another could be confusing and frustrating for both customers and businesses. Experts believe that these new regulations will help make things far easier to manage and understand as well as ensuring fairness across all EU countries.

However… only time will tell, and it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out after GDPR goes into affect.

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Hi, I’m Zac Johnson

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