What does it take to succeed online for 18 years?
Even though Zac Johnson has been making money online for close to two decades, he’ll be the first one to tell you that it takes a lot of hard work.
Zac has made millions of dollars from affiliate marketing and he started his first business during the 4th grade.
Zac has also been a blogger since 2007 and he has written over 3000 articles since then.
You could also build your own business as a professional blogger. Click here for my step-by-step guide on how to start a blog.
Listen to the following interview to learn how Zac has managed to succeed by working hard and always keeping his eyes open for new opportunities.
Say hi to Zac at zacjohnson.com.
Read Raw Transcript Now:
Success Harbor: Hi everyone, welcome to Success Harbor. I have Zac Johnson with me. Zac has been making money online for over 18 years, Zac has made millions of dollars from affiliate marketing, and he started his first business during the forth grade, that’s number four. Zac has also been a blogger since 2007, and he has written over 3000 articles since then. Welcome!
Zac Johnson: Hey George thanks so much for having me here I appreciate it.
Success Harbor: Thanks so much for being here Zac. Can you tell me about your first business, the one that you started in the forth grade, that’s a little early.
Zac Johnson: Yeah, definitely, it was early but it was fun so I’ve always had the mentality for business, and make money, it’s always been a concept of mine so, when I was in school I had trading cards of comics and sports cards and knew that my friends liked these as well. So, what I did was that I brought them to school, I paid probably a dollar for a pack of 12, then I’d get to school and I’d sell them to friends for about 25 cents each. And they had this money on them because that was basically their lunch money, and there was nothing for them to bring home 25 cents, 50 cents, to their parents each day, so I would actually sell the cards to them, and they’d get some cards and they’d be happy. And this actually evolved with time cause as I got into 6th grade and middle school, and then high school I actually started selling soda cans instead cause during lunch they wouldn’t sell soda and everybody liked soda, so I would sell them for $0.75- $1.00 each and made some good money just for a kid in school.
Success Harbor: And so you didn’t get in trouble with the teachers and all that.
Zac Johnson: Nah, they were like, let’s say they were like the FTC trying to go after people but I never did get caught or whatever, so it was pretty much well just selling my stuff at the table, and there was only like a few guys or whatever, so I would bring a six-pack to school, and my parents would buy it, and I would make all the profit in between. So the teachers never really cared.
Success Harbor: Smart, smart, cause I heard stories where teachers would shut things like this down and I think they should encourage it, I don’t understand why they would do it. Sometimes they don’t like that stuff. But that’s pretty cool. So while you were in high school, you started your own affiliate programs. What were you interested in affiliate marketing that early?
Zac Johnson: Yes, so I was in high school, 15 at the time, 14 or 15, and the internet was just starting to come out so I’m like “there’s gotta be a way to make money with this”. So, the first way I started making money was by creating graphic banners for people at AOL web diner chat room. I’d make a banner for someone; they’d send a dollar to me in the mail. This was way before Paypal or anything was around. So, a lot of people wouldn’t send me the money, so I had to figure out how to make money online, and then I cam across the Amazon.com affiliate program, and I built up my own celebrity website, and basically took all the content from Amazon relating to movies, books and music because that’s all they sold back then, and I would get 5-15% commission every time someone bought through my website, and went over to Amazon.com. So my site ranked pretty well in the search engines, and I ended up doing around six-figures in sales for them, and this was while I was still in early high school, and I would get my 5 to 15% commission cut. And this was good money, for a kid in high school but at the same time I had to make money whenever someone took out their credit card. So, fortunately I found out about affiliate marketing, which was more in the CPA side, where I would get paid someone would take an action or filled out a survey. So instead of making $0.15 for every dollar that someone spends somewhere else, I could actually make a dollar or two dollars for someone completely a survey or getting paid $15 to $20 for someone signing up for a new credit card transaction. This was a huge difference for my business when I found out about affiliate marketing, and not having to make money just by people using their credit cards.
Success Harbor: So, what year was that approximately?
Zac Johnson: I’d say that was around 97’ ish, is when that started to kick off.
Success Harbor: So 97’, that year was easy right, but how did you drive traffic, what were some of the things that worked back then?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, back then, the first several years of running my business, and making money online, I had zero cost; I was running free through AOL member pages using stuff like Geo Cities. I webstered my first domain name, and I think 97’ or 98’, that was back when Network Solutions was $70 for two years to register a domain name, so that was a huge deal for me. But, all the traffic from the site was coming from, just the search engines, so that was when I was pushing everything through Amazon. Then I found out about the affiliate marketing stuff, which led me into lead generation, so I started creating my own lead generation sites, where I’d have a sweepstakes or a form, they’d fill it out, and I’d pass them to another offer on the back end, and I promoted those campaigns by starting my own affiliate programs, on commission junction. And some other ad networks, so people were getting paid every time someone filled out a lead on my website. So I went from being the affiliate, to actually having my own affiliates and paying them to send traffic to my site.
Success Harbor: So, I have read that once, you have made over $860,000 in profit, in just four months, can you share what that project was?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, that was an exciting one because you never know what’s going to happen on the internet or what’s next, so this was right around when MySpace was starting to get traction, and there was like Facebook was out there but it was only for people that were already in colleges cause it wasn’t even out in the public yet. So MySpace was out, and everybody wanted to add pictures to their MySpace page, but not everyone knew how so, I said “I’m going to create a website”.
Success Harbor: Wait, wait … let’s go back, how did you know everyone wanted to do that, like how did you figure that out, was it just, did you listen? Did you look at forums, how did you know this was a problem?
Zac Johnson: Yes, so just from hearing from friends or whatever, you could go on Facebook, and when you look at someone’s profile page, in the comments you would see people like posting pictures, a funny picture or whatever holiday came around. Instead of just typing “Happy Valentines Day” they would post a picture of someone with a Valentine’s Day card, or whatever. So a lot of people were also leaving comments saying “that’s cool, how can I do that?”, then if you looked at forums online you would see people also saying the same thing so there was definitely a demand out there, and I wanted to make the process a lot easier.
Success Harbor: Okay, and so, how, did you create software for that or how did that happen?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, that was 100% html, I had over 10,000 pages on this site, and as I was watching it grow I was just coding all these html pages non-stop. I was working like non-stop, all throughout the night until the next morning, cause I was seeing these amazing numbers each day it was growing more and more. Like the first day I had maybe 100 people, and then it would stay that way for a while and then as more people started posting that to their page, more people would go back to the site. So what I did was, take all different images that people were using, and I hosted it on my own servers, so people wouldn’t have to find images to upload, and then figure out how to do the html coding. So, all they’d have to do is come to my website, and grab a simple html code, so they could just copy, and then just paste it onto their MySpace page, and then that image would be there. So I had terabytes of data going through the site daily, I had over 100,000 visitors daily on the site at it’s highest points, and it was just pushing massive traffic because everyone’s putting these images on their pages, and then when they clicked it they would send them back to my resource site. And I was basically providing the service, wasn’t charging anything for it, had over 10,000 in server costs at one point, and it was just pushing so much data that the amount of revenue was ridiculous, because of how many impressions were coming through. So I used a variety of CPN banner advertising, and affiliate offers to generate that $800,000 plus in four months.
Success Harbor: Wow, you have said you have done everything by yourself, so does that mean that you don’t have like virtual stuff of anything like that?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, it’s been pretty much always been me. So there’s two way’s to look at it. Lots of people say, “you can’t do it all yourself” or, “you can’t pretty much expand to new levels”. But, at the same time, it’s what I enjoy and I’ve pretty much focused on the key things that make money, so over the years I’ve had people that write the different websites for me and I’ll pay them based on posts or whatever. Occasionally I would have people come in and do web design and stuff. So I do all sorts of stuff occasionally, but it’s mostly just me like 95% of the time.
Success Harbor: So, how do you make that work, cause it sounds to me then that you really have to know how to focus. Do you have any kind of systems in place that helps you reach the level of success that you have reached?
Zac Johnson: It’s really a matter of picking and choosing what to focus your efforts on. Automating when you can, and when you build up site properties, like ZacJohnson.com for example, my site or people can learn how to make money online from posts that I have written. So I have written over 1000 articles written on that website. But they’re in the search results, people link to it, and they find me all the time. So that site’s pretty much working for me non-stop so that’s clearly one of my efforts that I am focusing on because I want to expand that. And if I had so many other projects that I would have to deal with, I would definitely need more help and outsource those projects, but it’s just a matter of really finding what I need to focus on, what needs to be done and not spreading myself too thin.
Success Harbor: So you mentioned in the intro that you were over 3000 articles, and they are not all on one website, but it’s still 3000 articles. So, how much time do you spend writing, doing most of your writing, and what do you consider great content?
Zac Johnson: I’ve written a lot of articles, and if the author bio says Zac Johnson, I am the one who actually wrote it, I know a lot of people that have other people that write their content and they take credit for that so that has never been the case with me. And as for a writing schedule, I don’t have anything set so, one day I might write 3-5 articles, then the day I might write zero. So it basically comes down to what I’m working on with new projects I have, when I’m talking to someone and I need content for their website, and what I’m learning about pretty much is what I’m working on in the industry right now. So I like to write about new ways to promote stuff, what’s worked for me in the past. Write tutorials and guides for people and how they can start making money online, and give them examples of what’s worked for me over time as well.
Success Harbor: You have mentioned that you are self-taught, what is your process for writing something new that interests you?
Zac Johnson: It’s so much easier when you are passionate about a topic or a project, and I know everybody says that and they say “start a project or a business that you’re passionate about and the money will follow later”, and that’s not always the case because you actually need to have a business plan in there. But think about sports for example, if you love playing basketball, you just continue to play it all the time, you’re gonna get better at your shot, you’ll get better at dribbling, and that’s something you’re passionate about so the time and effort you put into it is going to be a lot better than say you had to fish and had no interest in it. So, that’s how I’ve been with internet marketing and building my own business, it’s something that I really enjoy doing that’s been endless hours creating content, building out my brand, and really trying to reach that next level so, it’s really all that time and effort I put in.
Success Harbor: Can you share the role of networking in your business, I have interviewed so many successful bloggers and entrepreneurs, and networking comes up over and over.
Zac Johnson: Yeah totally, networking is everything because when I first started out in 1995, I pretty much was new in this space, and then in and around 1998 to 1999, started to get closer with the ad networks I was working with. Then in 2000, I took a week off high school; my father and I flew across the country and went to a conference called “Commission Junction University” and I met a bunch of great people out there, and 15 years later I’m still good friends with a bunch of those people today. That was my first introduction to really networking with people in this space, and now I speak at conferences, maybe 3-4 conferences a year, I get to meet with all the people that are speaking at the conference along with everyone who also reads my blog so networking is everything because that face to face relationship means a thousand times more than getting an email and not knowing who you are actually working with.
Success Harbor: So, the face-to-face networking is one thing, conference is another, do you also do network through twitter or other means online?
Zac Johnson: Yeah definitely, everything intertwines with each other so whenever I write a new blog post it goes out to all my social outlets, so twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, everything. Then someone will leave a comment or will link to content from their website so that brings my attention, and then I can even meet with them at a conference if they’re to attend it, and I’m like “oh yeah I remember you, you linked to that content or left a comment on my post”. So, everything that’s online could evolve into real life meeting of someone as well so networking in every direction possible, and online communities and Facebook, is just a great way, it’s putting a face out there as well. And you can engage with people, and they’ll see your face and it just means that much more than an email with no interaction or faces.
Success Harbor: You used to do much more affiliate marketing, but now you’re more about building your own brand, what inspired you to make this transition.
Zac Johnson: Affiliate marketing is very profitable, and it can make you a lot of money and it can also cost you a lot of money too. But the thing with ad campaigns is they can come and go, and if you spend a whole month promoting an ad campaign and everything invested into it, and then the advertiser says they don’t like the quality of your leads, or they ran out of budget, or they just don’t want to advertise anymore, then what you’re screwed and then you’re sitting there and you put all this
Success Harbor: Did this happen to you?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, it happens all the time because of ad networks and companies can spend more money than they’re expecting to and things drop really quickly because in the world of affiliate marketing it is a lot of new companies coming in wanting leads and then they’ll often over rely on a network, and a bunch of affiliate will grab it, promote it and then they can dry out the budget in a few days. It can happen all the time so, with your own business that’s not gonna happen because you are the business, and you are actually building a brand over time. Instead of growing other people’s businesses and getting a small percentage, you could be growing your own and getting 100%.
Success Harbor: So let’s talk about blogging, you’re a prolific writer, with 3000 of your own posts or articles. How do you think bloggers today can differentiate themselves from others?
Zac Johnson: Yes it is over a billion blogs in the world today. There is bloggers everywhere, they’re writing content, there are people that have software that is just scrambling content and then just rewriting it again. So how are you supposed to compete with all that? At the end of the day you have to provide content that relates to your audience and provides the most value, but some other ways to stand out is to have a great story. My story is basically I’ve never had to work for anyone else in my life and I started at 15, and I help people learn to do the process through my site, so that’s why people come to me. I answer people’s emails, I show that I’m real and that I care, and you want to find your own niche your gonna be awesome at, provide better value than anyone else. So if there is a top website in your niche and all your doing is writing content with text, then you could be doing video and more value, so if your best competition is doing video, then you could start providing video, text, and info graphics. And then if you have to go a level deeper, you start doing audio and doing podcasts. So it’s all about finding what your competition is doing and how to do it better, so don’t write about all the same garbage that everyone else is talking about, make it personal, make it real, and provide the best value.
Success Harbor: Do you have an example, maybe something that you have done, or that you saw somebody else do that you thought, “wow, this is really a different way of blogging”?
Zac Johnson: Yeah there’s ideas all over the place, the best examples are almost always tutorials, and one thing that had worked very well for me is I will actually walk people step by step through the process of doing something, and it’s easy for someone to say “okay, everybody’s covered the basics of how to get started with pay-per-click marketing so I’m not going to cover all that. So I did the opposite of that, of beginning to end of how to promote an ad campaign, and then I use the ad network called NeverBlue over $3 million in new business just as a result of that one post that people continually read and find in the search engines and follow that process of how to make money.
Success Harbor: Since launching your blog in 2007 you wrote 3000 articles, you mentioned that you don’t have a writing schedule, but do you have like a time of day or like anything that you say “I’m going to write right now”, and “I’m going to write so many thousands of words” or anything like that?
Zac Johnson: I’d like to say I do but I don’t and that’s evolved over time because things started becoming more important than simply getting a post up there every day. And I know a lot of people like to say that they’ve blogged every day for the past 7 years or whatever, but you don’t want to put something out there for the sake of putting something out there. I try and put something out there at least a few times a week and I have a podcast that comes out every Tuesday so I make sure a new post goes live every Tuesday which documents the post and the content that’s within the podcast. Then I’ll do other interview posts and tutorial posts, a wide range through the week, so usually you’ll see 2-4 posts a week on ZacJohnson.com and I’ll usually throw a blog post or two on BloggingTips.com every week and then I’ll do guest blogging on other websites to make sure I’m always reaching new audiences. There’s no such schedule, I’ll probably write t least 15-30 articles every month.
Success Harbor: What type of content gets the most shares, you know I’m sure it’s not the same, but if you had to say, you mentioned tutorials already, but if you look at all the content that you develop over the years, which one gets the most shares?
Zac Johnson: Stuff that gets great shares is stuff that they call “evergreen”, which means it’s not going to go away. So, if you were to post that says “How to build your website and create a campaign on Twitter” that’s probably not going to be the same now as it will be a year from now because a lot of things change. But then if you create something that says “5 Principles to build a Successful Blog”, that’s gonna probably be effective for the next 5 years from now because the concepts of business are usually the same. But something that always works well is link bait, and a good way to do this but also building your authority is to interview people within your niche and get advice from the or a quote. So let’s say you’re in the Internet marketing space, you want to write a post “How to Rank Higher in the search results with Anchor Test Linking” so you can send emails to 30 of the top experts in your industry and then maybe you’ll get 20 of them who write you back. You can make a whole big compilation post of that, list all the websites, list all their quotes and then send the email out to them when the post goes live and says “hey can you promote this for me since I just wrote about you?” Then all those high authority people then share that on their social networks, so it’s a great way to send a ton of traffic to your website, because you’re not just having people that see your website but your having all the people that follow all those big authority figures to promote that for you and you are going to get a whole new mass of amount of people.
Success Harbor: Years ago you purchased BloggingTips.com, which is a very popular blog, about 18,000 to the likes of traffic reign, do you recommend those who want to get started with blogging to buy a blog or start from scratch?
Zac Johnson: Well, if you don’t have any money then you should definitely start from scratch, and you can get a good idea of how WordPress works, what you need to do to build your site, and make it more about you. But, if you have money then you can definitely jump into the space that isn’t personalized to an individual person and you can jump right in and already have something established. Then you only have to focus on getting traffic to it, how you can monetize it better, add some content to it every few weeks, and rank it higher in the search engines. So, Flippa.com is the best site out there for buying and selling websites. So you just type in whatever niche you’re looking for, it’s gonna come up with a bunch of websites. But, if you’re gonna go the route where you buy a website, you have to do a lot of research, you have to make sure the person you’re buying from is authentic and they’re not just putting in fake information so they can just try and sell a website. If you’re buying a website you’re going to want to spend over $1000-2000 because the stuff that falls below that range are garbage sites and they are based on templates and they just outsource copywriting to some other country just to write articles so that they can sell these websites real quickly. So, there’s a lot of work to make sure you’re not getting screwed over and BloggingTips was a pretty big purchase I actually knew the guy who created that site and we’re good friends and he was selling it so it made it a good opportunity for me. Had a little bidding war in the end with some other players, but I ended up getting the site, so that’s been a great site, so that’s been a good purchase for me.
Success Harbor: So you mentioned not getting burned when you’re trying to buy a site, do you use any kind of tools, what is kind of your due diligence that you go through when you look at something or try to evaluate a site?
Zac Johnson: It’s not so many tools, you can use a lot of tools you can check the page rank, check the Alexa, you see how many backlinks are coming to it. You can use Moz tools for that, Majestic SEO that you can use to compare to other websites. But you’re also going to want to look at revenue, you’re gonna want screenshots, if not full access to their Google analytics so you can see that the traffic is good, you’re going to want to know where the traffic is coming from, cause if a website has 90% traffic coming from the US it’s a lot more value than a site that has double the traffic, but only 20% of the traffic is from the US. So there are so many different variables you have to look at, and when you are buying a website, there’s usually a discussion below the auction as well of people talking about it, and you can ask questions in there, a lot of people ask questions, and you can actually look at that buyers or sellers history, what they’ve bid on so there’s a lot of different things you can look at and you can pretty much justify which ones are legitimate and which ones aren’t.
Success Harbor: Those people that are about to start building an online business today, where do you see the best opportunity is?
Zac Johnson: You definitely want to find a place where you will fit in, where you are creating a service what people need. Because if you are just going to create a website with basic information or hobby, it is very hard to scale that and break into the competition cause there’s so much out there already. So if you can create something that people already need, and if you can do it better, it’s a great way to break in. You can also create a resource site, so let’s say you want to promote rakes or whatever for example, create a website that’s die hard about rakes, “what’s the best rakes you can buy”, “where can you get the best discounts”, “can you find coupons”, “what rakes are the selling in Home Depot that you can’t get a Lowes”. Just cover every single aspect of it that you can and build an authority niche site, so whenever someone does goes to Google and say they want to buy a rake for gardening, or get a snow shovel, they are going to end up on your website. Then you can then pass them along to Home Depot or Lowes affiliate program, or Amazon.com, you can earn a commission, and even place advertisements on your site. You want to be the authority in whatever space you are trying to get into.
Success Harbor: Is there any kind of, it’s something that people struggle with finding niche’s, identifying “yeah, I’m going to write about rakes or this or that”. Do you have advice on identifying niche’s or underserved in the market?
Zac Johnson: You have to definitely look at the long term, the long tail keywords; there is software out there that makes this process easier. But it’s not an easy process at all because you have to look at the keyword, how much competition there is, what way’s you’re going to monetize the content. Is it something you want to write about, or is it something you are going to completely outsource? Are there currently people in Google searching for those search terms, and is there a way for you to promote it through an affiliate program? Because of all those aren’t a yes that is not a good niche for you to possibly get in to, if you are not interested in it, and you probably just have an inkling that it’s going to make good money, but then you create a site then you have no interest in it. But then, if it’s something that you are going into because you are interested in it you might not be making money, so you have to find all those different aspects. There’s a lot of software out there, there’s LongTail Pro, that’s a good software for it, or you can just go to Google and type in “how to research Long Tail keywords”, and you’re going to find a lot of articles on how to do it best.
Success Harbor: So you have made so many adjustments over the years, started your first business in the fourth grade, and making money different ways online. Where do you look to find new opportunities, is it sites that you go through regularly, is it books you read or people you meet? How do you know that it is time to make a change?
Zac Johnson: So I have my core foundation of sites, which are always good, and I’m always focusing on them, but new distractions come up all the time, and I might write an article that says “I’ve made $10,000 in the past 3 Months with my Niche site”. So then I start reading about those niche sites and you say, “hey I could probably do this too”, so there are new ideas that come up all the time. Mainly everything that I’ve done business with has been in the Internet marketing space, how to cater to it, and whether it’s a new affiliate program or a new social app or project launch, there’s always new ideas and ways to make money online. It’s a matter of picking a choosing which look best, some that I’m interested in, but also knowing that it’s not going to take up all my time as well.
Success Harbor: So, let’s talk about, you have a lot of success obviously, but I’m sure there were some failures, can you share maybe 1-2 that was a great learning experience that would be great for our audience to learn about.
Zac Johnson: Yeah sure, every day there’s a new failure; there are new success stories, so here’s an older one from back in the early 2000’s. I had a free stuff site with a mailing list with about 2 million people and it was a newsletter, so I would send it out and if anybody replied to it, it would come right back to me. But then that same list provider, also offered discussion list, so if you’d send out a discussion list, I would send it out, and if anyone replied to it, it would also go back to everyone that’s on the mailing list. So everyone would see it going back and forth, so somehow I sent out a newsletter, and it got switched over to discussion list, and there was 2 million people, so then one person replied to it, and it went out to 2 million people, and it went back and forth, on and on all day. And this mailing list provider, this was way before it was cheap to set this up, so I was paying on a CTM basis, which meant that every thousand people I sent it to, I would have to pay a dollar or whatever. So every time someone replied, it was another 2 million new emails that were going out. So I was freaking out, I was early 20’s I guess, I called my dad from work, I’m like “I dunno what to do”. He came home, we ended up talking to the hosting company, it cost me like 5 grand, or whatever, but it was just like a completely crazy disaster going on. I guess the lesson is to not freak out, and do what’s right and we took care of the situation, paid the hosting company, we addressed everyone on the newsletter list saying what happened, and then we kind of just moved on. But, that was crazy.
Success Harbor: Wow, anything maybe that’s a little more recent.
Zac Johnson: I would say into projects and they’re awesome at the time, but unfortunately they fail just because you can’t focus on them. So, one of the most recent failures could be, starting new projects that you are extremely passionate about, but then you simply can’t work on them because you don’t have the time or effort to expand yourself into a whole new area. So then you end up buying a domain name, you set up the website, you put content in, you do some SEO work, and then you just end up leaving it, and you can’t focus all your efforts on it. Spreading yourself thin is something that I’ve struggled with a lot over the years, that can probably apply to almost anyone because when you’re working on the Internet, there are new opportunities everywhere, and you just get distracted so easily.
Success Harbor: How do you know when it’s time to move on to another project, I mean you obviously start a lot of different projects, and you mention sometimes you get distracted or whatever, how do you know “it’s time to shut this down and focus on something else”?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, that one’s a tough one because it comes down to money, and personal feelings, and that MySpace site I talked about is a great example. The site is still up today, but it fizzled up a long time ago, especially when Facebook was up and coming and all over the place. So I didn’t have to make a decision to shut it down, but I made the decision not to focus on it anymore, so it would still make a few hundred dollars for several years afterwards, and just have website people linking to it still, going to the site and clicking on banners or whatever. But other projects, let’s say for niche sites and domain names for example if they’re not making a decent amount of money, or they are not ranking in the search engines, then you can just go into your domain name registry and check off that you want those domain names to expire. And that’s always sad, because you put in some time and effort to grow them out, but when you look at the scheme of things, it’s probably a $50-100 investment, and it’s going to save you a lot more time than trying to build up these struggling opportunities and sites that just didn’t seem to work out.
Success Harbor: Can you talk about traffic a little bit, for somebody that’s let’s say starts a blog or a website, and they want to build some organic traffic today in 2014. What is the most effective, or what are the most effective ways for somebody to drive organic traffic to their site?
Zac Johnson: From the basic point I would say create a WordPress site, install the latest SEO plug-in that way you can start up all the features, so every time you come out with a post, it will all be set up for the search engines. Then create content that’s going to gain attention and get people to link to it. So like I said earlier, you can do video and info graphics, and create link bait articles. So then more people you get to link to your site, Google’s going to see it and there gonna find more content on your site and rank you higher in the search engines. Then from that point, you can write other content, which is targeted to rank higher in the search engines, but because all those other people are linking to you Google is going to see it as authority content, and they are going to kindly take care of you in the long run. Links are always going to be important, whether Google says don’t do link building, don’t do guest blogging, I still do all the link building and guest blogging just on a basis of creating quality content and getting out there. As long as you are doing it the right way, and not like spamming all over the place and building up an exact match domain names, and using exact match angle text, you’re going to be fine. Just focus on getting the high-quality sites to link to you, and creating real content.
Success Harbor: How do you get business, one is you know to guest blog or comments on blogs, for example, those are two examples. Any other examples that come to mind?
Zac Johnson: Yeah, you can contact websites that are, there is actually a lot of ways, you become a resource and provide quotes and information, and do the dirty work that other sites don’t want to do. So let’s say a big authority site in your niche wrote an article about, say it was outdated, and you contacted them and said “here’s an updated version of this, would you like to post this to your website, and all I would like in return is a note at the bottom saying that I referenced it and did all the work for you”. Then there are other ways to get links out there, such as you can set up Web 2.0 properties, you have social media profiles, all that stuff links back to your website because they ask what your website is. Make sure you have a Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, everything that you can set up on the social media. Make sure that it’s set up for your personal websites, or your business websites, no matter how many websites you have, if you want them to rank a little bit higher, set them up on as many social networks as possible.
Success Harbor: And what about paid traffic, AdWords and all that, it has become a little too expensive for most people to just start out, but are there any paid options that you recommend to someone that’s new to blogging or running a website.
Zac Johnson: It’s definitely a lot easier if you have a business model or a CPA type of offer in place, because if you just have a website with people running it just for the sake of people reading your content, you’re going to lose a lot of money cause there is no way that money is being monetized. But then if you have a form on your website, and let’s say for example you offer consulting with online marketing, you have a form, and you get a good idea for every person that fills out the form you might make $10, and one out of 10 might convert into a sale, which makes you $100. So $10 per person who fills out the form and then maybe 10% of people who come to the site fill out that form. So you can pay a dollar per click for people to check out your site. So one of the best ways to do that is you can do it through media buying, which would get you banners on websites, you can do it through contextual advertising, which is like Google Adsense on websites. You can advertise to Google AdWords and Google Adsense to get on to other websites. Facebook ads are a great way to get traffic coming to your site at a low cost possibly, a few pennies per click, but depending on what niche you are in, and the competition, and the country and the demographics, that can range heavily in costs. So depending on all those factors, you are gonna want to set a daily budget very low if you are going to be doing any of those options that are pretty much going to send you like traffic out of nowhere cause you can blow through a whole budget within a day if you’re not watching it.
Success Harbor: My last question is if somebody came up to you, a friend or a family member that saw your success as an entrepreneur and say “Zac, I want to start my own business” what would be the first skill you would want them to learn, what would be the first thing you would teach that person?
Zac Johnson: I would teach them that for every success story they hear, there are another thousand failures behind them. They have no idea how hard it actually is because everyone thinks it’s so easy to make money on the Internet, and if that is the case everyone would be doing it but only a few people out of 100 will succeed. So they have to have a business plan, whether it will be selling a product or creating a website or just doing ad campaigns, they have to have a good idea of what they’re doing. The next thing I would tell them to do is do a decent amount of research, spend a whole week reading and learning everything they can, and then not to spend too much time learning it because they have to actually learn from putting everything they have in their minds, into action. The best way to actually do that is by actually creating the website, and creating the ad campaign, and then getting it live. So they have a two-week period where they can take everything they wanna know and what do to on the Internet, create a plan how they’re gonna get it done, and then put that plan into action.
Success Harbor: Well Zac, thank you so much for coming to Success Harbour to share your story, I mean I could ask you a lot more questions, but I want to be respectful of your time, how can people reach out to you, or find out more about you?
Zac Johnson: Thanks, George, it’s been great to be here, and I could talk about affiliate marketing all day, so you can actually read about everything that I’ve done over the years at ZacJohnson.com. You can also join my private training community and Blogging.org, and that’s where I teach people how to start a blog, and brand a business on the internet, and I also have a podcast on iTunes called Wise of the Entrepreneur, where I interview a lot of the big names and experts that I have been good friends with over the years.
Success Harbor: Thank you very much everybody, check out ZacJohnson.com, again Zac thank you, bye everyone!
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