Ten years ago today I made the decision to finally go live with a blog of my own and share my story with the rest of the world. Looking back, it was definitely one of the best business and life decisions I’ve ever made.
Before I talk about the purpose and results of the blog… we need to start from the beginning.
All the way back to the mid-90s…
Today we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of ZacJohnson.com, though I’ve actually been making money online for roughly 20 years now. Back when the internet was young and while I was still in high school, I knew there had to be a way to make money online, it was just a matter of figuring it all out. After playing around with a few different methods, I finally came across one that legitimately worked and had a real business model associated with it.
That was affiliate marketing.
The concept was simple — refer a customer or sale to a business and get paid a commission! At the same time, it was also a dream come true! Wow, I could make money online without ever needing to work for anyone else, talk to customers, handle any transactions and not even have to invest in a product or hold inventory! Too good to be true? Nope… that’s just how affiliate marketing works.
Long story short, Amazon.com had an ‘associates program’ of their own, where they paid out 5-15% commission on all referred sales to their site. I found some great success with this and was able to continually scale my business through the use of affiliate marketing for the next several years. Once I discovered the world of CPA marketing where I could earn a commission on leads and not required to have a user complete a purchase, then things really started to get serious.
You can see a couple checks from 1996 and 1998 below. eAds was a CPA type banner advertising network and AdGraphix was web hosting company back in the day. I used to scan copies of all of my checks, but most of them are now destroyed thanks to Superstorm Sandy. Good thing I still have digital copies to remember them!
Even before starting the blog, my focus was always on lead generation. My two favorite methods for doing this were through the creation of my own website and using email marketing. In the early years of my business, I started off in the free stuff and sweepstakes niche market, then moved into entertainment sites and also social networking resources sites.
One of my best sites was a MySpace resource site that went on to generate over $800,000 in profit in just a few months time. You can see a check from the revenue generation from that site below as well, along with two write ups on that who process here and here.
However, don’t take the “showing” of such checks in the wrong way. I’ve never been one to brag and have always used any success of mine as an example and inspiration for others. In doing so, the content and material I’ve produced through the blog have helped my readers earn millions of dollars in the process, all while never charging them a penny in the process.
Such examples are here to only “impress upon you, and not impress you”.
But don’t let me get too far ahead of myself… this would all just come into play as material to document through the blog when I would then launch it in a few years time…
Jump forward to 2005-2006…
Being an affiliate marketer is great, but it also comes with its own set of ups and downs.
You never know when your next big campaign might win or fail, there are always going to be outside (advertising) costs, and you are also reliant on affiliate networks and the offers you are promoting. In short, if you don’t own your own website, blog or product, your business can go belly up at any time. On top of all of this, you are also potentially held captive to affiliate networks until that next payment comes through. (and sometimes it doesn’t)
In short… this isn’t where I wanted to see myself forever.
I already knew I had what it takes to find success and make money online, and not only did I want to grow my own business, I also wanted to teach others how to do the same. I also wanted to become “the brand” of “Zac Johnson”.
Unlike other ‘gurus’ who charge $5,000+ for online courses and $25k for a mastermind, I never really felt right with charging someone that much money. It’s a perfectly legitimate business model and one that has held me back over time, but this also goes back to why I never promoted junk weight loss rebill offers and scammy offers. Sure, I could have made a lot of money, but I also want to be happy with myself and how my business works at the same time.
Affiliate marketing is always going to be a main focus of mine, but I knew something bigger and better was on the horizon.
Time to start a blog…
Around 2005-2007, the concept of blogging was getting pretty popular. Thanks to the growth of WordPress it was now easier than ever for someone to start a website and publish new content on a daily basis. With entrepreneurs and bloggers like John Chow, Darren Rowse (ProBlogger), Brian Clark, (CopyBlogger) and Jeremy Schoemaker (ShoeMoney) all making big names for themselves in the world of blogging, it was definitely something to consider. (All of whom I’d be later speaking on panels with at events like BlogWorld and Affiliate Summit, all a result of the blog)
And consider it I did… for quite a while actually!
You might think having a personal website or blog isn’t a big deal, but when you are putting yourself out there… you are really putting yourself out there! This is especially true when talking about the internet marketing industry, where everyone is constantly trying to one-up another or bash someone for the dumbest reasons possible. So yes… it is quite a decision to put yourself out there, even if it is just a blog or website of your own.
March 17, 2007…
With deep consideration and thought, I finally decide to launch my blog at ZacJohnson.com on March 17th, 2007 — which happens to be St. Patrick’s Day.
The date was fitting, as it was right around when I was ready to launch the site and it’s a perfect ‘Lucky’ holiday and easy way to remember when the blog went live. My first post was a simple one, and you can see it here. Just a simple hello and getting that first post out of the way. As for the domain name, it was one that I registered several years earlier and just decided to keep it for a rainy day. I always stress upon the importance of owning your name as a domain, and this was something I acted on very early.
Like all blogs, in the beginning, you are writing for yourself and any friends or family members who are willing to take some time to read what you have to say. These are going to be the toughest times for anyone launching a blog or brand of their own. Keep in mind, I already had years of experience in the world of internet marketing, but I was still kind of an ‘affiliate marketer in the dark’. Sure, I was already speaking and attending events like Affiliate Summit, but I didn’t have a launch pad to really kick things off. However, I did manage to secure a blog review on JohnChow.com a few months later, which helped introduce my site to a larger audience.
With the blog now live, it was simply a matter of growing my readership one person at a time, while also focusing on sharing my story, case studies, guides and helping others learn how to do the same. After all, the time and effort that I put into the site and personally responding to nearly ALL emails I get, is how the site and my personal brand got to where it is today.
The Zac Johnson Mascot Logo…
Speaking of personal branding… one of the best decisions I made when launching the blog, was to create a unique logo for the site and a custom site design. The blog logo, of course, is a custom drawing of myself with a crown and a dollar on my shirt. Whether you like the concept or not, it’s become quite the branding feature and is well-known throughout the blogging and affiliate industry.
As for the actual design of the site, it’s gone through several revisions over the years — all of them being 100% custom designs. You can see the first three designs of the blog below. If you ever want to invest some money in your own site and branding, a custom design is definitely the way to go.
However, as great as a killer logo and site design might be… it’s the actual content of a website or blog that matters most.
As of today, there are 1,548 published articles on ZacJohnson.com, all written by me (except for a few guest posts). Not only does the site make for a great resource for learning how to make money online and grow a business, it’s been an amazing way to connect with my audience and profile my life in the process.
Rise of the Entrepreneur…
When you have an audience, you always want to provide as much value for them as possible. Starting ZacJohnson.com was an amazing opportunity for putting myself out there, which is something I never really liked or wanted in the first place. I was a shy kid and never enjoyed the thought of public speaking or becoming a mentor to people around the world — being an entrepreneur, attending conferences and launching the blog helped changed all of that.
To keep the message and value of ZacJohnson.com alive and flourishing with the trends of the industry, I thought it was time to launch a podcast of my own. This was yet another challenge in itself, as no one likes to hear their own voice, I know absolutely nothing about audio/recording equipment (nor did I want to), and recording yourself in conversion with another person on the other side of the line is quite a task in itself.
With all of that said, Rise of the Entrepreneur was launched.
The focus of the podcast would be to interview industry experts and entrepreneurs I’ve personally become friends with over the years — ultimately making each episode strictly about the guest and how they got to where they are today. It was quite a process, and over 80 episodes have been launched so far, with more than 100,000 downloads to date. Some notable names that have appeared on the show are Gary Vaynerchuk, Jeremy Schoemaker, Carol Roth, Timothy Sykes, Neil Patel, Michael Hyatt and even my dad!
The podcast is currently on hold for the time being while transitioning/rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy.
Not only has launching the podcast allowed me to connect with some of the best experts in the world, just like blogging, it’s also helped me become a better public speaker, while also allowing my audience to know me much better in the process. Written text is one thing, audio is another.
Thank you again to everyone who has listed to the show.
Ten years in the making…
So here we are… ten years, 1,500+ blog posts and more than 2.5 unique million visitors later — it’s been quite a journey and one that’s really only just getting started.
The opportunities and new business that have been generated from the blog over the past ten years have been quite amazing. Everything from appearing on ABC News and Fox News, to having a camera crew come to the house and film a documentary that premiered in Hollywood, to being able to share personal stories around my life, brand and business — and most importantly, getting to meet and connect with new audiences and readers around the world.
Probably the greatest result of all from the blog is being able to spend time with my wife Reena, my dog Foxy and family and friends. I get to work from the comfort of my home and I love what I do. Life is short and I wish everyone could truly experience the same.
Simply one of the best business and life decisions ever made.
Without you, the blog is nothing. Thank you, everyone.
Cyber Monday and Black Friday Deals Going on Right Now!
Quick and Effective Tips to Maximize Speed of your Website or Blog
Few things are worse than when you click over to a new website or blog, and then it’s loading slow as anything. With everyone having an extremely short attention span, and so many options for other websites and entertainment online, a fast loading website is a must for every blogger, brand, or business on the internet.
There are also many benefits associated with a fast loading site, beyond just user experience. Google is now penalizing sites that take too long to load, and boosting up other sites that a mobile-optimized and running super fast.
Depending on how technical your design or WordPress skills might be, the process of speeding up your site and maximizing it’s optimization might vary. To help with this process, I’ve listed a few of the best working methods below.
Optimize your Homepage to Load Quickly
With the homepage being one of the most vital parts of your website or blog, you should be doing everything possible to make sure it loads quickly. Different things can be done to speed up your homepage such as lowering the number of posts on the main page, minimizing applications and widgets from third-party sites, and also optimizing your images so they are either loading as a smaller sized file or through a CDN service. It’s also a good idea to use an SEO friendly theme or template, as these are more often cleaner with their coding and already optimized right out of the box.
Use an Effective Caching Plugin
If you are using a CMS like WordPress or blogger, then using an effective cashing plugin can contribute nicely in the process of making sure your site is loading as fast as possible. Since caching is an apparatus for a temporary storage of web pages to diminish bandwidth and to improve page loading performance as well, it saves the server’s time to make web pages load faster. Caching plugins are easy to install and use. All you need to do is perform some research online to see which plugin is best for your site, then click a few buttons to have it installed right within WordPress. Once this is done, it’s usually just a matter of copying the account number of your CDN and letting the hosting provider and WordPress plugin do its work.
Use CDN (content delivery network)
We’ve already referenced content delivery networks or CDNs, a few times now. The way these solutions work is that they host a version of your site on their server, and then loads the content from another server that is closest to that individual’s location. More and more site owners and bloggers are using CDNs not only to improve page load speed but to provide users with a great experience to make them stay longer on the website. Also mentioned earlier, this can help with how well a site ranks in Google, while also moving your site above the competition. Moreover, if one of your server locations is overloaded due to huge traffic and visitors, then users can automatically be switched to a new server location to enjoy fast loading website experience.
Improve Your Hosting Plan
If you have a slow loading website or blog, it’s likely due to your hosting plan. If you are pushing a lot of traffic through your site and making money in the process, you should definitely upgrade from a shared server. Shared hosting is often fine for new site owners and bloggers, but as your site gains more attention, backlinks, and traffic, it will also likely be using more server resource. On a shared server, your site is also sharing the server resources with many other sites — sometimes hundreds, or even thousands! Upgrading your hosting plan to a VPS or dedicated hosting package can greatly improve the performance of your site as well. So, if you are still using a cheap web hosting plan with an average price below $5/mo and receiving massive traffic from search engines, then it would be the right time for you to upgrade your hosting plan with a better one to speed up your website loading speed.
Use Optimized Images
Big images take up a lot of space and resources when it comes to loading data from your site. This is especially true with very high-quality images. While these images are going to play a big role in the beauty and engagement on your site, there are still ways to optimize such large images so they load faster and put less stress on your server. There are many plugins are available that can drastically reduce the file size of an image without reducing the quality. Image optimization will not only help you boost website load time but will also save disk space for more files and media. If you really don’t want to overload your website with plugins, then you can also use online image reducer apps and software to optimize image before uploading to the media library of the site.
Minimize HTTP Redirects Requests
How and where content is being loaded on your site can also affect its overall performance. You may need to use redirect requests to redirect the web browser from one URL to another. There are a variety of reasons as to why you might want to do this, such as to specify a new URL location, to track visits and clicks on the site or to connect different elements of the website with each other. Since redirects might be necessary to enhance overall UX of the website, you should only be using the redirect requests that are most important because excessive redirect requests can have an ultimate impact on the loading speed of your website/blog.
Don’t Leave Your Audience Hanging
When browsing the internet, few things are more annoying than accessing a slow loading website. It’s hard enough to get someone to visit your site, let alone stay for a few seconds. Don’t give them a reason to leave right away because your site isn’t loading as fast as it should be.
Follow each of the simple and effective site speed optimization tips above to make sure your site loads as fast as possible, ranks higher than the competition and also doesn’t disappoint your audience when they hit your site.
7 Examples of How to Rank Higher in Google for Your Name
Your name is important and when someone searches for it online, you want to make sure they find your correct information. This isn’t just about reputation management, it’s also about looking your best and delivering a great first impression.
The key thing to remember here is no matter what someone is searching for online, they are likely going to start with a simple Google search. Since most people share their name with hundreds or even thousands of people in the world, having your content rank for your name might be quite a challenge. This is especially the case if you share a name with a popular celebrity, politician or well-known personality.
The good news is that when it comes to ranking for your name in Google, anything is possible. Implement each of the seven methods below into your content creation and marketing efforts to see your own site and content start ranking higher for your personal name.
Create a Website or Blog with YourName.com
It’s not just about creating a site and putting it out there, it’s also about making sure the site acts as your main hub for everything you do online. This means you should be creating original content for the site, linking to your social media profiles and also referencing back to your site when contributing to other sites or getting quoted/referenced.
Once you have a platform in place, it’s something that will continue grow and develop with your personal brand over time — while also gaining in authority and SEO power as well.
Promote Your Social Profiles
Speaking of social profiles, Google loves to rank sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter right at the top of their search results. Depending on the competition around your name, your social profiles might already be ranking at the top of Google, even above your own websites.
You can see an example of what currently ranks in Google should you search for “Taylor Swift” below.
With millions of sites and new content pieces covering Taylor Swift every single day, it’s her social profiles (Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) that continue to dominate the search rankings.
This same method works for all names and not just celebrities. If you want your social profiles to rank higher, just keep sending more links to them using a variation of your name as the anchor text.
Boost Profiles and Authority Sites
As mentioned in the beginning of the article, ranking at the top of Google for your name is important if you want to deliver the best and most accurate information. If you are having trouble ranking your own site or want to focus on ranking other high authority content in addition to your own, this is a perfect option to explore.
For example, let’s take a look at Warren Stephens, who is an entrepreneur and has multiple bios and articles written about him online. His Wikipedia profile ranks first, then a bio on Forbes and another based around “Warren Stephens net-worth” on TheRichest. While Wikipedia and Forbes are both mega-huge outlets, TheRichest is still quite powerful to be ranking number three for his name.
Celebrity networth sites have quickly been gaining more and more attention lately as they continue to ramp up the number of celebrities, entrepreneurs, and well-known personalities they continue to cover. Even if you don’t think your one of the most famous people in the world, your profile could soon quickly be picked up by their platforms and covered in the media.
How long before we see these “networth” sites ranking on the first page for many average individuals, YouTube stars and entrepreneurs?
Guest Blogging and Author Profiles on Other Sites
While you might already have a site of your own that is ranking well for your name, it’s always a good idea to try and rank for multiple positions with other relevant content. If you are an expert in your industry, a great way to secure even more page one rankings for your name is to contribute content to other high-authority sites.
Not only does Neil have his own sites, he is also a contributor to many big media outlets like Entrepreneur.com and HubSpot.com. Doing a quick search for his name in Google will result in not only his main sites and social profiles ranking for his name, but also each of these contributing bios on other sites as well.
Once again, a perfect example of how you can deliver a great first impression (and your best content) when someone searches for your name on Google.
Rank with Other Content Sharing Sites
As covered in a few of the examples above, a great way to quickly rank at the top of Google for your name is to do so with other well-established sites. In this example, we are going to look at Jeff Bullas, who is one of the most well-known bloggers and social media influencers in the world today.
His site at JeffBullas.com already ranks number one for his name, then his social profiles follow afterward. However, when you move further down the list you will see his profiles with SlideShare.net and WordPress.com also make it on the first page of Google.
Even though Slideshare and WordPress.com are two extremely popular sites, not many people consider them when trying to rank for multiple positions for their name. These are definitely two free options everyone should consider when trying to dominate the whole first page of Google for their name.
Do Interviews and Media Outreach
A common theme in this article has been the power of using authority sites and media outlets to quickly rank at the top of Google. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through interviews and getting mentioned or covered by relevant industry sites that rank well.
A quick example of this can be seen if you search for my name in Google. A few years ago I was interviewed for IncomeDiary.com, and that post still ranks extremely well for my name today.
The same holds true for even big name celebrities or entrepreneurs who do interviews or get covered for stories based around their success and fame. If you do a search for “Lori Greiner” of Shark Tank, you will see interview-based stories from BusinessInsider.com, Inc. and Entrepreneur.com all ranking on the first page for her name.
Not sure how to get media coverage on sites like Entrepreneur or Inc? Simple… just look for the author bio section in each article. Share their content, build up a relationship and maybe your story is a perfect fit for their next article.
Don’t Forget About the Power of Video
Video is a fascinating beast in itself, yet one that is often overlooked by content creators that mainly focus on “text” based articles.
Here’s two quick things you need to know about video.
- People love to share and reference videos
- Google loves to rank video since they own YouTube
Now that you know that, you should definitely be using video in your content outreach and SEO practices.
Still not sure how effective video ranking can be? Richard Branson is one of the most well-known and successful entrepreneurs in the world, with billions of searches for his name annually. With all of that competition in play, do you think a video would rank for his name on Google? — The answer is yes, and even more surprising… it’s not even a YouTube video!
Don’t Just Rank #1 — Rank for All Ten!
The ultimate goal for everyone trying to rank in Google for their name shouldn’t be to just grab that elusive number one position, but instead to rank for multiple (if not all) page one locations.
Run through the above seven working methods again and see what type of content you may already have ranking in Google. It’s much easier to improve your rankings with any existing content that you already have ranking on page 2 or 3 pushed to page 1, versus trying to come up with new and original content of your own.
In the world of SEO and ranking at the top of Google, it’s all about getting your content in the right places and building authority links and references around them
Most Read Articles
5 Expert Guides on How to Rank YouTube Videos on Google
Want to rank your YouTube videos within Google? Sure, we all do… but the truth is that most people think...
5 Reasons Why Media.net Is a Top Alternative to AdSense
Many online publishers assume that Google AdSense has a monopolistic stranglehold on the contextual ad market, particularly for smaller publishers...
How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing – 57 Experts Share their Tips
Affiliate marketing is simply one of the best ways to make money on the internet today. It’s actually been one...
I have Ulcerative Colitis. This is My Story.
I have Ulcerative Colitis (also commonly referred to, or confused with Crohn’s). There is a big difference between the two,...
Amazon Dropshipping 101: 3 Expert Guides to Start Selling on Amazon
Amazon is the ultimate beast for buying and selling anything in the world today. With their massive reach and billions...
Insider Secrets to Making a Million Dollar Web Site!
A few days ago I released my first post on “How I Made $860,538.38 PROFIT in 4 Months!“, along with...
How I Made $860,538.38 PROFIT in 4 Months!
First off, I would like to make it clear that this post is NOT to impress you, but to impress...
Entrepreneurship5 months ago
17 Growth Hacks to Help Your Startup Scale Faster
Entrepreneurship5 months ago
Logo Design Tips for Digital Marketers, Businesses, and Brands
SEO5 months ago
SEO Tips to Dominate the Competition in Your Niche Market
Solutions5 months ago
Grow Your Affiliate Business with Lorem Marketing Experts
Affiliate Marketing5 months ago
How to Make Money Promoting Survey and Quiz Affiliate Offers
Entrepreneurship5 months ago
Must-Have Business Tools and Resources to Grow Your Startup Online
Affiliate Marketing4 months ago
PayKickStart Shopping Cart Checklist: Can Your Online Shopping Cart Do This?
Marketing4 months ago
MegaPu.sh Push Notifications Network is Excellent for Affiliate Marketing