I got on the web back somewhere around 1995 or 1996. I remember it was right around the time that Netscape went public. It was the beginning of the so-called ‘Internet Boom’ and, looking back, it makes me sick to my stomach to think of all of the wonderful money-making opportunities I missed. Some I got into too late. Some I got into and then got out of too early. Some I knew existed and missed completely. Some I didn’t even know existed!
When I got started, I did not know anything. I did not know how websites ‘magically’ appeared on the World Wide Web, nor how they were built. I found an informational site called ‘The Infohaus’ which I do not think exists anymore, but it was basically a site that allowed users to upload informational products and then set their own price for visitors to download these informational products. Think of an early predecessor to eBay that allowed ONLY informational products and only allowed a set price for these products. After stumbling upon this site, I said to myself, “I can create a quick guide or informational booklet, let me give it a try.” I created a small guide about how to find what you are looking for online more efficiently, then another on how to win at blackjack, and another about how to eat healthy and so on. Well, people started downloading my guides and paying me my $3.95 or $7.95 or whatever I was charging for them at the time and every day when I checked my email, I would have another email from the Infohaus about how many booklets I sold and how much money I made. At the end of the month, the Infohaus would transfer the funds to my checking account. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
Now you have to remember, this was before Paypal, before there was any type of credit card processing online, and before there was really even any online security so people paying for things online using our personal information were ‘pioneers’ or ‘crazy’ as some of us used to be called. Now, the problem with the Infohaus was there was no security, no checking or verification of whether the products people were uploading for sale were copyrighted or even their own. Their ‘payment processor’ was also somewhat of a shady site, called FirstVirtual, which I do not think exists anymore, either. So, it wasn’t that much of a surprise when the whole ‘money making system’ of which I was a part came crashing down. It was nice while it lasted, but sometimes good things do not last long.
There had to be another way to make money online. As I stumbled around, I came to hear of a site called Amazon.com that had something called an affiliate program. I did some research and discovered that if I had a website and referred someone to Amazon through a link on my website and they made a purchase, I would get a commission! All this without having to deal with an inventory of products, customers, payments etc. It sounded great, EXCEPT I did not know how to build a website, how to make it ‘magically’ appear on the World Wide Web or how to join an affiliate program.
I did some more investigating and found a small paperback book that, for the life of me, I can not remember the title or the author. Nevertheless, this little book explained how to build a website, how to get your website online, and how to make money as an affiliate. Wow! This was just what I needed. I followed the advice in this guide and, even with a few stumbling blocks along the way, I was able to purchase a domain name, find hosting, and create my first website. Now all I had to do was throw some Amazon.com affiliate links up and I would start seeing my internet income come rolling back in just like it did when I sold my informational products through the Infohaus. NOT!
It took me awhile, but I eventually realized that what the Infohaus had that my site did not was traffic. Oh, great more to learn. How was I going to get traffic to a site that nobody knew existed? Well thanks to some more detective work, I found a website that explained how to market on the internet. I realized one thing I could do right off the bat was create content, so I started writing articles, but instead of selling them as informational booklets on the Infohaus website, I was publishing them on my own website using FrontPage. I was on my way.
After almost six months, I finally made my first sale for Amazon and was paid about fifty-seven cents! What happened? What I failed to realize is that Amazon’s commission for affiliates was so low that even selling an occasional book or two was not going to make me the several hundred bucks a month I was making with the Infohaus. As far as I know, Amazon’s affiliate commission rates still suck. Back to the drawing board. I continued to do more research online, but at least now I knew what an affiliate was, how affiliate sites worked, how to build and publish my own website. I searched high and low for ‘affiliate sites’, ‘high earning affiliates’ and related terms and eventually found out about online dating and a website called OneandOnly.com. This site had an affiliate program that paid upwards of thirty percent instead of the two, three or five percent Amazon was paying so I joined up in a heartbeat – only thing was, I didn’t know anything about online dating, or too much about real dating for that matter, either!
Nevertheless, I trudged onward and eventually started seeing some results. I was selling subscriptions to OneandOnly and earning affiliate commissions that eventually reached and surpassed my Infohaus earnings. I purchased several more domains and created a small network of online dating sites, but I never really knew much about search engine optimization or finding keyword rich domains, so my sites were on domains, like mydumbsite.com and other useless domains. Even still, as I added pages and got inbound links to my various dating sites, my commissions increased. During this time, OneandOnly became Match.com. I was worried, but the affiliate program only got better. Affiliate commssions went up to 70% and then, for top affiliates like me who were selling more than 50 subscriptions per month, Match.com increased our commissions to 100% (I think it was this high, but am not sure). There were no residual earnings, so if the visitor renewed, Match would get all that, but who cares when you are getting 100% commission or almost that much! With one annual subscription to Match.com, I could make more than I could selling 100 books on Amazon.com. Why would anyone bother selling $12.95 books and earning five percent when they could be selling $100 online dating subscriptions and making about that for each sale?
I continued to add pages to my site(s) and found various ways to get them indexed higher in the various search engines. Looking back, some of the techniques I used could be considered ‘spammy’. I never realized that what I was doing was wrong and this was before the terms ‘white hat’, black hat’ etc. had ever been coined. I thought I was just doing what I needed to do, but what I failed to realize is that I was not really providing useful content for my visitors. Sure, I was helping visitors to my sites find their way to Match.com – a site they found useful and a site that was exactly what they were looking for, but my site really jut came down down to a bunch of affiliate links leading to Match. Even still, thanks to finding various ways to ‘beat the search engines’, my websites enjoyed high-rankings and I was finally making about two-thousand dollars per month as a Match.com affiliate, which exceeded my day job’s earnings. This would eventually level off to about fifteen hundred dollars per month, definitely ‘killer income’ for a relatively young kid at the time.
I enjoyed watching the income roll in for probably over two years and during this time, I did not do much. Google started gaining more popularity and eventually began ‘policing the Internet’ so to speak, trying to establish a higher standard for the sites that ranked well in their index. Other search engines like Yahoo eventually followed suit. During this time, my earnings declined somewhat, but still remained over one-thousand dollars per month so I was still enjoying the ride, but things were about to change and change drastically. Two dramatic events ensued that lead to the collapse of my online dating empire.
The first thing that happened was that Match.com, which had been running their own affiliate program just like OneandOnly did before them, had their affiliate program become a part of Linkshare. Now, I don’t know about any of you, but I find it extremely difficult to make money with any Linkshare programs at this time. I am definitely more successful using Commission Junction. But I am not sure if my drop off in online earnings was due to Linkshare, or the fact that my website traffic was on the decline. I can tell you this – my earnings declined much more severely than my traffic so it kind of makes me wonder. I am still a Match.com affiliate (through Linkshare) with my new online dating site, but it has been tough to make money with them.
Ultimately, since my early dating network’s traffic was still good I was able to sell the sites for a nice amount and I got out of online affiliate marketing and online dating for awhile. I still managed to earn a couple hundred bucks from some residual deals, like Friendfinder but this eventually became almost nil as I stayed away from any type of internet marketing. Frankly, after some time had passed, I became bored. I missed earning that extra affiliate income, I missed seeing my ideas manifest themselves online through my websites and I missed trying to ‘beat the search engines’ and rank higher than competing websites. I had to get back in, so to speak, only this time I would ‘do it right’, play by the rules, create useful resources for my visitors and if they were so inclined to make a purchase through any of my affiliate links, well then who am I to stop them?
So this site, KillerIncome.net is about a former internet entrepreneur who is trying to make it a second time around. My goal, like yours, is to earn killer income. I did it in the past, but those techniques are no longer valid or worthwhile so I am re-evaluating what I need to do to get my earnings back on track. I am learning just like you and this blog is basically about what I am doing to earn money online today. I am-at this time-definitely NOT earning killer income, but I have some sites that are gathering steam. My newest online dating site, WebPersonalsOnline.com I think is a fantastic dating site that is right now starting to earn some money.
Through this blog, I will dicuss my various sites, how they are coming along and what I am doing to help gain traffic for them. All of my sites are no longer solely in the online dating space, I have a free music videos site called FreeMusicVideos.net, as well as a paid link directory site, a site that sells concert tickets online, and a site that sells musical equipment. I make money through affiliate commissions, as well as through Google AdSense on most of these sites and I am constantly looking for ways to maximize my site’s revenue. I will discuss various search engine optimization techniques and show you how effective they are using my very own websites as case studies. Finally, I hope to turn this blog into another money-making website of mine and that by helping, teaching and sharing with all of you, this site will just become something great.
So, let’s all try to earn killer income together, but remember to not let earning it become a killer. My goal is to keep a balance in my life and not to let my pusuit of internet riches become all-consuming. Hopefully, you will try to do the same. Please feel free to share your experiences here and together we can all be successful.