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4 Hour A Week Challenge

My 4 Hours Affiliate Work a Week Challenge

Like all good internet challenges this one sounds a little familiar. But we’re not aiming for the giddy heights of Tim Ferris here. I want to showcase something a little more relateable and achievable.

I’ve been having conversations with people struggling to get traction within the affiliate space recently. The “Affiliate Dream” is a telling phrase. It’s way too easy to spend a LOT of time planning and researching a project that quickly becomes so overwhelming you don’t know where or how to start.

With that in mind, I thought I’d set myself a “consistency challenge” using an amount of time every week that’s achievable for just about anyone, and share the results here.

Demonstrating The Uncomplicated Power Of Affiliate Marketing

What I am hoping to demonstrate is twofold. Firstly, the true power of affiliate marketing. You work an hour like any other job, but that hour doesn’t get you a wage only once. You’ve just sent an hour of your life out into the virtual world of work. That hour is now going to work for you 24 hours a day, and it’s sending all it’s wages back home.

Secondly, you don’t need a large, complex plan. Get in there and get a start on the quick wins, then you can go back later and add the fancy touches and details you’ve been spending your time dreaming up.

Without further wordy-ness, here’s my plan!

I’m Going To Spend 1 Hour Each Day Of My Working Week Doing Direct To Merchant PPC on BING And Here’s The Kick Ass Result I Want To Achieve…

Will it be a sun kissed mansion? Oh! A massive big Audi to zoom around in on the school run? Making like Shoemoney with the cheques that make you weak at the knees? Heck nope.I’m going to pay my council tax baby!

The Aim: £211profit per month

Why have I chosen this? Because it’s far more relateable than those (admittedly exhilitrating) pictures of people like Jeremy with those huuuge cheques. Guess what though? It’s still a life changing sum of money. No more Council Tax. An extra £211 a month I can pay towards my mortgage, or use towards a nice family holiday.

The Rules

Rules are important, so here’s mine.

  • My 1 hour a day does not include research time to find merchants who allow use of the display URL. I make a point of trawling around networks every now and again “just because” and anything I find when doing so goes on the whiteboard.
  • No broad match allowed. This isn’t actually a rule, I’m putting this here for the benefit of any unwary souls who read this, then decide to have a crack at Bing PPC for the first time. DO NOT BROAD MATCH TILL YOU SKILL UP A BIT. There. You have been warned, don’t say you weren’t. No apologies for shouty all caps 😉
  • I’m going to post a weekly update on progress with what I’ve done, and what it’s achieved each week. I won’t be posting specifics like merchant names and search terms. That’d be counter productive as I am sure you will agree. I’ve created a specific category for this challenge, and will do an update every Friday.

Anyone Care To Join?

Anyone want to join in for accountability? Post in the comments and perhaps we can set something up here on the blog.

Do bear in mind, it doesn’t have to be a financial challenge you set yourself. I’ve gone with a money based goal because I have a method to do it. If you’ve always meant to start that site, set yourself the challenge of throwing up any old blog skin without getting bogged in design and SEO, and get 3 posts a week into it. Just do something. Then watch it grow. The rest can be taken care of down the track.

Don’t dream. Do it. 🙂

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4 Hour A Week Challenge

PPC Project June

Wow, where is the year going? Quick update on my progress with my project trying to earn £211 a month just from direct to merchant PPC using only Microsoft Ads, and spending just 1 hour a day on my 4 weekly workdays on it.

Things are building nicely, I’ll cut right to the stats and bring you up to speed on what I did to get them afterwards.

June PPC Performance Graph

Clicks: 1,504

Average CPC: 0.15

Cost: £86.78

Commission: £221.34

Profit: £81.81

Profit Down, Traffic Up!

This was expected, in May just about all my profit came from a single flukey sale. Everything that had worked in April was lost to a merchant range switch out. This meant that in June I had to throw 500 more clicks out to merchants to get way less commission than I earned in May. Hence, lower profit.

In June I added 4 new merchants, and removed 4. The 4 that were losing me money account for 239 of my clicks. Two of my new merchants brought in no less than 964 of the 1,504 clicks in June. It’s proving tricky to establish that baseline of consistent performers I need to take things forward, but I’m getting there slowly. I now have two on board that are looking consistent. There’s 1 sort of inconsistent performer, but it’s got an awful lot of volume (comparatively) so I’m slowly reducing my max CPC and hope to hit a point with it where I can still make some profit without the traffic drying up.

I’m going to write a separate post about the basic performance indicators I monitor for each merchant so I can keep an eye on their overall performance in a few minutes a week. I’ll link to it here once it’s done. I think it’s important learning info and it’ll get buried (aka I’ll forget about it!) if I post it here.

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4 Hour A Week Challenge

PPC Project Update May

Hey chaps. It’s been a while, I had a bit of a holiday mid-May with an old backpacking chum in the Netherlands and when I got back we had some work done on our house, and the wheels sorta fell off my work routine. It happens to me often. So I just allowed myself the time to rearrange my thoughts, and I’ve finally arrived back at the blog.

I’ve decided to output my results on a monthly basis now, weekly wasn’t really turning out to be terribly helpful – it doesn’t really show useful progress. My thanks to one of my readers Rich Hickson for helping me out creating this nice graph after I said I wasn’t getting my head around a way to embed something into my posts. Isn’t that a beautiful shape to chart progress?

PPC Project Results – April & May 2019

There’s only been two full months so far, and here’s how it’s all looking.

April

Clicks: 564

Average CPC: 0.15

Cost: £84.70

Commission: £193.44

Profit: £108.74

May

Clicks: 1,010

Average CPC: 0.17

Cost: £73.24

Commission: £291.09

Profit: £117.85

It’s Going Great! Isn’t It?

Have you heard of the saying about statistics and lies? Well, in April I made most of the profit from one strong performer. At the end of the month, they discontinued the lines I was making 90% of my commission from. I’d spent a lot of time refining keywords and ads to capture this lovely traffic and it wasn’t to pay off. Sigh. This is fairly typical of direct PPC. Although you can just as easily get a couple of years or more out of something with minimal input. Thems the breaks.

In May, I tried out a lot of new things (as we can see from the clicks doubling). The profit above? Almost entirely from one blinding left of field £135 commission I got after spending precisely £1.75 on traffic. By no means a bad thing, this is the Yin to the Yang of the often “sudden death” nature of PPC. Subtract that from my £117.85 profit and May could have been a different beast entirely!

However, these freak (and frankly wonderful) surprise commissions will always feature in the mix.

No Pressure

So yeah, no pressure for me in June eh? Fortunately, as I’m trailing behind a bit on my blogging updates I’m happy to say I’ve hit an even keel in June. I will say no more, fickle old PPC can burn through smugly regarded profit fast.

More from me on this at the start of July. I’m going to try to work out a way to do a series of mini articles about the thought processes around direct PPC. However, as many of them also stream into niche selection, and other affiliate research too – I need to try and come up with a useful framework to insert them into.

Please, if anyone has requests or suggestions for helpful content – drop me a comment or an email.

Till next time 🙂

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4 Hour A Week Challenge

My 4 Hours Work Per Week Challenge WK 4, 5, & 6

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a bit of a hiatus for some much needed family time. I did keep records every Friday though, so I’ll pop them below. I think from this point on I’ll limit these posts to once a month as the value of them here on the blog will get limited and repetitive. For anyone really interested in following along weekly, I do a tweet with my stats every Friday morning. You can find my Twitter here.

Week 4 Results

During this week I didn’t work at all beyond keeping an eye on my campaigns most days (Bing phone app – most handy!) to make sure everything was running as expected. As I suspected when I was getting frustrated in my last post, I just needed to give what I’d already done a wee bit of time to bed in.

Total Clicks: 122

Total Cost: £17.15

Revenue: £35.84

Profit: £18.69 

Week 5 Results

Again during this week I was enjoying time with family, so just the odd tweak here and there which took a minute or two each day.

Total Clicks: 116

Total Cost: £16.48

Revenue: £36.75

Profit: £20.27

This was all very encouraging. A few things I’d done in the week before I went on holiday were looking promising. One thing that had been running for 3 weeks and had 75 really targeted clicks hadn’t had any sign of a sale, so I switched it off at the start of week 6.

Week 6 Results

Back into things this week. I did a bit of adjusting of all the existing campaigns, made sure they were all triggering as they should, and added in new adgroups, search terms, and ad extensions to things that I’ve identified as working well.

Total Clicks: 127

Total Cost: £18.04

Revenue: £77.59

Profit: £59.55

Monthly Total For April: £98.23 profit

Oh yes. This is a bit more like it! You’ll see that the total clicks haven’t increased that much, but the revenue and profit has. This is because I’ve been stripping out stuff that’s not working, and enhancing things that are working. I’m really childishly excited because I’ve identified a new niche I wasn’t aware of before – that’s where a lot of this profit has come from. It’s converting like the blazes, so I hope to build on this discovery as much as possible.

I must just add, there’s likely to be a fair bit of flukery in this week’s stats. I wouldn’t really expect such a return on investment. This may be an atypical week of the very best kind. But I’m not complaining!

I am now 47% of the way to my monthly target of £211. That doesn’t mean I don’t have all that much left to do. I could lose a lot of this in a week’s time and have to grapple around to get it back or find something else. I love this aspect of affiliate marketing. I have always dabbled in PPC direct to merchant where I could because I do often find little niche gems without the need to laboriously build a site. I’ve now got a new bit of niche knowledge to work with and feed into other ideas.

I’ll update this section again at the end of May, and as I said check me out on Twitter if you are interested in a weekly heads up on how this is going!

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4 Hour A Week Challenge

My 4 Hours Work Per Week Challenge WK3

Week 3 of my PPC challenge, I thought I’d keep a little day to day note of how I felt about things every day. Just for a bit of insight into the self doubt!

Day 1 – Started off the week feeling disheartened after a weekend of zero sales! Shattered, kids awful. But nevertheless I cranked out two new mini campaigns and did not enjoy it at all. The campaigns get a few clicks immediately. I go to bed feeling quite excited. I’m sure there’ll be a sale from somewhere in the morning

Day 2 – Still no new sales. God I suck, I really don’t know what the point of this is. Why are there no conversions? Really disheartened. I log into Facebook to distract myself from my feelings of impending failure. Everyone’s just been paid FFS. What’s the issue here!! But I’ve been here before. I get disheartened and stop the project. Two months later, everything’s working marvellous and I SHOULD NOT HAVE STOPPED. With great reluctance, I get my hour done and pop up 5 new adgroups.

Day 3 – sigh. Not a new penny. Also, discovered I’d stuffed up and left the “search partners” option activated on Bing. No wonder my click levels have been fluctuating madly. Now resolved. However, It did make me realise I’ve added a lotta adgroups since the start of my project. I’m up to over 120 now. I’ve popped up another 5 adgroups today to add into the campaign I did yesterday.

Day 4 – Small commission made, One new campaign set up. I only managed one Adgroup due to the time it took me to find the appropriate test areas to start off in. The merchant site I chose wasn’t in one of my “preferred” niche areas so I had to cope with a little bit of unfamiliarity.


Week 3 Results

Total Clicks: 111

Total Cost £15.97

Total Revenue £12.80

Loss: £3.17

Cumulative Results

Total Clicks: 238

Total Revenue: £31.91

Total Loss: £3.54

The Swear Jar is Rammed To Bursting

This right here is the point at which this sort of promotion drives you freaking batty! All the revenues over the three weeks have come from different places. What performed in Week 1 has died in week 2 & 3, or the traffic has vanished. Some of the new things I’ve added which make up the extra traffic have volume but have done nothing. I’ve been doing a lot of silent swearing under my breath this week as I check my stats, and really feel a bit disheartened. I’ve only spent £3.54 on all this though and I’ve gained 238 data gathering opportunities on the click front. I can’t see any reason to not just keep pushing on.

Giving My Work Time To Succeed

A lot of what these campaigns need is simply time. Bing in particular takes weeks for PPC to bed in. I’m also only using phrase and exact match for my little experiment as I mentioned in week 1. That does mean volume will fluctuate, as I have found you do need to venture into broad match with modifiers to really get the old Bing volume flowing. However, I’m not doing that until I can see who is converting as it’s fairly labour intensive to manage that traffic stream initially.

What I’m Doing in Wk 4

I said that in week 3 I’d be honing things, I didn’t do that. I added a new merchant every day because I remembered I am going on holiday this coming week. I won’t add in new things on holiday, and I won’t be doing my hour a day challenge in it’s full form. My kids will be in a log cabin with me, and I am incapable of concentrating on being creative around them. Also, they should get to enjoy a bit of Mum time without the “Shh. Working!” thing happening. I will spend time doing bid management and negatives though, when my darlings go to sleep.

Wow, Affiliate Marketing Takes Time!

That’s right Susan. Remember that the next time you see an infallable making money product online 😉

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4 Hour A Week Challenge

My 4 Hours Affiliate Work Per Week – WK1 & Wk2

Adhering to my own “just do it!” principles has meant I just got started on my PPC project without laboriously setting up the required post, plus blog section. For the sake of accountability I’ll just pop a couple of headlines on what I achieved in week one and week two here.

Hoping to add some nice graphs etc as I go, but I’ll update the post with that once I’ve worked out how to do it.

Week 1 Results

In week 1 I had a total stinking cold, so I threw up 4 little tests for 4 merchants. Bing takes a while to really yeild in terms of traffic potential, so I knew it was important to just get something up there and starting to work. I’ll probably add more details in future about how many keywords and adgroups I’ve put up to achieve my results, but I didn’t record it during week 1.

Total Clicks: 78

Total Cost: £11.92

Total Revenue: £7

Loss: £4.92

T hat’s not at all bad for the first few days of a trial as cookies get bedded in.

Week 2 Results

Total Clicks: 46

Total Cost: £7.56

Total Revenue: £12.11

Profit: £4.92

Cumulative Total: 37p loss

This week I added an additional 6 merchants, bringing me up to 10. This hasn’t resulted in a traffic increase immediately, but it will bed in over a few days and product more. There’s less clicks this week, but these fluctuations are not unusual particularly given the small number of keywords and adgroups I’m working with.

Good Start!

I’m off to a pleasing start here. I’m just about breaking even, and the revenue I’ve had has come from 4 of the 10 merchants. I can see where the initial revenue is lying, and I can also see a couple of product groupings that are generating quite a few of these clicks and not a lot of the sales.

What I’ll do in Week 3

In week 3, I will monitor to see which merchants and terms aren’t bearing revenue. I won’t necessarily switch anything off, as its important to give a good test in a representative spread of their product. I will reduce CPC through some basic ad improvements and keyword refinements. I will also add some new merchants to keep the testing fresh.

Don’t forget, you are welcome to join in and set your own challenges and these don’t necessarily have to be about money as I mentioned in my introductory post.