Hey! By the way… This blog earns money via affiliate marketing – meaning that I earn commissions when you purchase a product or service after clicking a link on this site. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank YOU in advance – I really appreciate it.
Welcome to this months edition of Ask Matt! Because I blog publicly about ‘making money online‘ and ‘passive income‘ – I tend to get a lot of questions from people about various related topics. Although I don’t formally ask for these questions – they inevitably come in randomly. Sometimes by email, sometimes in blog comments and sometimes on Facebook or in a forum somewhere.
I try my best to answer quick questions whenever I can. But some questions deserve a longer and more detailed answer. In the past, I would find myself ‘wasting’ far too much time answering questions privately. So… now I save them up and answer the good ones in the form of a blog post. This way all of my readers can also benefit not only from my answers, but from the great questions that others ask! This is a win-win-win for everybody! Let’s check out some of the questions that came in this month…
Newbie Advice for Somebody Who is Willing to Invest Money and Work Hard
This first question came in from Chris via email. There are actually a few questions within here (I made them bold) and a great back story. I decided to copy & paste the entire thing because I think Chris’s situation is similar to many of you. In fact, I know it is because I was exactly in Chris’s shoes not too many years ago! Here is what he wrote to me…
Thank you for all of the great content. I really identify with you due to our similar backgrounds. Fast learning, Blue-collar father of three hoping to have some of the financial burden lifted with an entry into passive income. Straight to the point, I’m deep in the analysis paralysis phase. Shocker I’m sure. I bounce around between podcasts, blogs and forums every free second I have trying to wrap my head around this to get moving. I’m becoming a complete stranger to my family wading deeper into the web of information every night only to get more confused on where to start.
I guess you’ve done about everything I’ve read to try for alternative income streams, but I’m curious what you would recommend for me to focus on if you had to start from square one again factoring in the current market and competition. I looked at trying the Amazon Affiliate program, Retail Arbitrage and being a Private Labeler recently. I have no SEO or WordPress experience, but I have read deeply on each and watched videos and I’m confident I could do it. I would really appreciate some no B.S. advice from someone who has done it all. You are one of the rare few who don’t just highlight how amazing everything they touch turns out, like making 10K a month with little effort.
I know you bootstrapped your way into this as well. I have found numerous sites that list out step-by-step methods for each income channel, but each involves some upfront investment. Which is completely understandable. I’m the sole income for my family, so I’m trying to make the best decisions I can. Thats why I’m writing you. What’s your advice for a newbie who’s not scared to put in the hard work and spend some income to make this work in the current Amazon marketplace? Should I even be concerned with purchasing any software right now like LTP, Jungle Scout, or AmaSuite? I’ll take any advice you have on top of the great information that I’ve pulled from your site already.
Thank you in advance,
Wow Chris! Sounds like we are very much alike – except that I’m a few years ahead of you when it comes to this internet marketing stuff. As far as our day jobs – I’m not sure what exactly it is that you do – but blue-collar is the way to go! I love that I don’t have to even remotely think about my day job when I am not there. Okay… to answer your questions…
What to Focus On if Just Starting Out
If you’re a total newbie and literally just getting started in this vast world of internet marketing and making money online – I would definitely say the #1 thing you should learn is how to setup a basic WordPress website. Included in this step would be buying a domain and hosting and learning what WordPress is and how to load it onto your domain and use it to manage the content and appearance for your website.
Luckily – I don’t have to re-write all of that advice here because I cover ALL of it in detail on my Start Here page! And by detail – I mean I even include step-by-step videos that walk you through the entire process for how to buy hosting and get started. It really is a LOT easier than you might think.
Learning and knowing WordPress will prove to be essential as you learn how to make money with websites. The best way to learn is to jump in and just start doing. Make mistakes. Don’t worry. Everything can be edited and fixed later. Just do it man! Get a domain. Get some hosting. Load WordPress and get to work! Whenever you get stuck – Google it or look it up on Youtube. I guarantee that somebody had the same issue or question at some point and your answer already exists somewhere out there. SO many people use WordPress and there is SO much help and support available for the platform.
If you really wanted to spend some money on some sort of fast-track niche site training program – I recommend and endorse a few of them. Tung Tran’s AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp is probably the very best for total newbies and it includes a very detailed module dedicated to teaching beginners how to use WordPress.
Advice for a Newbie Just Starting Out
I’ve got a few different tips here…
One – try not to spend the majority of your time in the ‘analysis paralysis’ phase. It can be extremely overwhelming. Even now, 6+ years after starting out, I am still amazed at how much new information I get bombarded with every single day. Taking in content from others who have had success is a great way to learn and stay motivated. But try to limit your time on content consumption and instead try to focus your time on content creation. It’s a balancing act once you get going – but the majority of your time should be spent on tasks that will move your income needle in the positive direction.
Two – Remember these two words. Persistence and consistence. These are key to long term success with making money online. Just DO IT and Don’t Quit! I practically wrote the book on not quitting! Check it out…
Note: This isn’t really a book. It just looks like one. Please don’t click on it and think that you can get it.
You must remain persistent in your pursuit for passive income. I’ve seen WAY too many people give up after trying for just a short amount of time and then giving up after not seeing results right away. This stuff takes time! I spent almost my first 2 entire years doing this stuff with almost zero return in income. But I never gave up. And now I make a decent chunk of change, on the side, every single month.
You have to stay consistent in your efforts to create content and get traffic to your offers. This goes hand-in-hand with persistence, but it means that you must devote time regularly to your efforts. I chose to forego a couple hours of sleep in order to devote time to my online entrepreneurial efforts. I’ve been waking up at 5am almost every single day for over 6 years now! I don’t miss the sleep at all. The extra income that comes in every single month more than makes up for it.
Should I Purchase Software Right Away?
If you are serious about making money online and you plan to stick with it, then there are certain software programs that will certainly help fast track your success. If you have the money and are willing to spend it – I say yes! But do your due diligence first. You don’t want to waste money on software or tools that you don’t absolutely need – especially when first starting out. Here are some of my brief thoughts about the 3 tools you mentioned…
Long Tail Pro – if you plan to use SEO to get traffic to your website(s), then keyword research is a MUST and Long Tail Pro is the very best keyword research tool that I know if and has been a standard in the industry for several years now. Long Tail Pro recently released their Cloud version of the software and it is now better than ever! Here is my very best post on the blog about how I’ve used Long Tail Pro to make it pay for itself.
Jungle Scout – if you plan to private label products to sell on Amazon, then detailed product and competitor research is a MUST and Jungle Scout is the very best tool that I know of that makes this process extremely quick and easy. Here is my detailed post on the topic of finding private label products to sell on Amazon (including an instructional video on Jungle Scout).
AmaSuite – this is a nifty suite of 4 different tools all designed to make product and keyword research around Amazon products much easier. I wouldn’t say that this tool is necessary starting out – but once you know what you are doing it certainly makes the research phase a LOT easier. Here is one of my popular posts that highlights how I use the tool to find products to promote on Amazon Affiliate websites.
Note: I have exclusive discounts available on ALL of these tools if you choose to purchase through any of the links you find on my site. And yes, all of these links are affiliate links meaning that I will receive a commission if you use them. I Thank You in advance for supporting me and my blog.
I hope these are satisfactory answers to the questions that came in from Chris. You see why I try not to answer questions like this privately anymore? I tend to ramble on and on and I could easily ‘waste’ an hour answering a question like this privately and only one person would see it. This way – everybody who reads this post benefits and there is a chance that I might even make a little bit of affiliate income from this post!
Do You Add Affiliate Links Right Away on a Brand New Site?
This question came in via the comments section on my recent post about how I grew a site to 400+ daily visitors with very little link building. Somebody who goes by slavikb asked the following…
Hi Matt, when you start a new site and generate content, do you wait until months later before adding affiliate links in the posts? Or does the content (even from day one) feature revenue-generating affiliate links?
I add almost all of my affiliate links to posts right away. I do this partly so that I don’t have to remember to come back and add them later. But at the same time – I do have a strategy when it comes to this. I DO NOT publish product review posts right away or posts that contain lots and lots of affiliate links. I try to start out with several helpful posts and a great deal of informational content first. I usually sneak in a few affiliate links in this informational content.
Then later – I start producing and publishing product review posts and pages that have comparison charts and sliders that contain lots of affiliate links and also links to the review posts. Once these main review pages are created – I then go back to some of my original content that is getting traffic and insert links or buttons that lead to my main affiliate pages.
Should I Start a ‘Legal’ Business for Tax Reasons?
This question came in from Foster via email. Lots of people are discouraged and put off by the legalities of starting a business. It’s really not that difficult – so this question from Foster is a perfect way to try to educate beginners…
Just found your site a couple of days ago and I have been reading through. I am planing on making a blog myself but before I get started. I was wondering if you made a business or if you claim everything on top of your income. Is it worth it to legally start a business for tax reasons or is it not worth the effort until later?
This answer has a disclaimer – since my audience and readership is international. I live in the United States and pay my taxes to the U.S. government. My knowledge is limited to this locale only and I have no idea what is legal or acceptable in other countries.
If you are just starting out with blogging – don’t worry about setting up a business at all! Your income can easily be reported with your personal tax filing by filling out the Schedule C form. You will be reporting as a Sole Proprietorship using just your full name and Social Security number instead of a business name and business Tax ID number. You don’t have to do anything special, or fill out any forms or applications, to report as a Sole Proprietor. Form Schedule C is a very standard IRS form.
I reported my internet income this way for the first several years! This year (2016) is the very first year that I will be reporting under an LLC. Notably – this is also the first year that I will be considering hiring an accountant to do my taxes instead of doing them myself with TurboTax. We’ll see about that…
I will give this advice. Make sure you keep careful records of ALL of your income and expenses related to anything you do online. Keep it completely separate from your personal finances. Remember – you only have to pay income taxes on your net profit. This means all of your internet income minus ALL expenses (hosting, domains, software, tools, hiring writers/assistants, etc.).
I hope this helps. My overall basic answer to your question is don’t worry about it! Don’t let details like this hold you back from getting started. Just DO IT! Start now and don’t quit.
Got a Question for Me?
I don’t have an official form to fill out or anything like that. But when questions come in via email or within comments on posts, I set aside the good ones that I think will fit nicely in the next “Ask Matt” post. Feel free to find my contact form and email me if you have a question. Or, simply leave a comment below and I’ll either answer it there or maybe even include yours in next months post!
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He is the only known trucker who is blogging about creating passive income online. He is also the co-founder and co-creator of the most popular WordPress plugin for Amazon affiliates – AmaLinks Pro.