A very simple way to make money online

Today I wanted to share with my readers a super-simple strategy to earn money online.

It’s called “direct linking via PPC“.

What does this mean? Let me explain with a simple example:

Let’s say there is a company called “Papazon” (I already check, it does not exist) that sells, among other things, laptops. For example, they sell the model “Cherry Air” at their website at papazon.com/cherryair

So when people go to a Search Engine (for ex google) and search for “Cherry Air laptop”, at the very top is your ad, linking to papazon.com/cherryair BUT with your affiliate link. So if the customer purchases, you get a commission, and you didn’t even need to build a website or send an e-mail.

Everything you did was:

  • Grab your affiliate link
  • Bid on that search engine (Google, Bing…) with very specific keywords
  • Create your ad (with your affiliate link as destination URL)

And that’s all 🙂

Obviously, you have to pay for every single click, so you are expecting to make more money than you are paying.

This works much better for digital products, since they usually offer higher commissions (as opposed to physical products where the commission is much lower).

Now wait a minute, you say. This sounds too good/easy/simple to be true.

Of course, it has some caveats:

  • Many brands do not allow you to bid on certain keywords (most of the times trademarks)
  • Many companies do not allow direct linking at all. Amazon did in the past (before 2009), and many affiliates were making a killing.
  • Most search engines do not like this (although there is nothing wrong per se)
  • You are paying for every click, regardless of whether it makes you any money or not
  • This is not a sustainable, long-term strategy. You are not building any assets (the merchant might be building a list, but not you). If you get banned from the merchant (or the search engine), there is no business any more.
  • As stated above, your account/s might get banned. Back in 2010 I got my Adwords account banned for doing this (in all honesty, I was promoting a product that was built to cheat Google; I should have seen it coming, but I was doing between $1000-$2000 a month with literally 10 minutes of work – total time, not monthly)

The upsides are:

  • Simple & Easy
  • If you bid on the specific keywords, many people are in buying mode, meaning they are likely to buy
  • Traffic from Search Engines (especially the top ones) is usually pretty good and reliable

So, you ask, have I done anything like that in the past? Mmmm, I already said too much 😉

As I said, this is not a sustainable business, but it can be a great way to make some extra side money.

A simple strategy could be as follows:

Go to Clickbank and find a product that is selling properly (for ex, anything with gravity over 10). For the sake of example, let’s say the product is called “The Spanish Miracle” and their website is http://thespanishmiracle.com (with that name it would probably be a spanish course)

Then you would go to either Adwords or Bing Ads and create a new ad.

The ad text would be something you come up with (be creative and compelling)

The display url would be thespanishmiracle.com

The destination url would be your Clickbank affiliate link.

Then you could bid on the following terms:

  • the spanish miracle
  • spanish miracle
  • spanishmiracle
    • (and other misspellings you can think of)
  • http://www.thespanishmiracle.com
  • http://thespanishmiracle.com
  • www.thespanishmiracle.com
  • thespanishmiracle.com
    • (and any other url variations)

So people searching for anything of the above would see your ad and (hopefully) click on it.

Google Adwords has a much higher traffic, but on the downside they are a bit more strict and expensive than Bing Ads.

Optimizing is a bit harder. Some keywords will convert, others not that much, so you would need to know which keywords are bringing you the money, so you can wipe out the non performers. To do this, you would need a tracking system (like prosper202), which will keep track of that, but we’ll leave that for another time.

What do you think of this system? Have you ever tried it?

Where to find writers for your site?


When it comes to adding content to your site, you have basically 4 options (well, actually 5, you could also copy/steal content, but that is probably going to take you nowhere):

  • Write your own content
  • Hire a writer
  • Use a content creation service
  • Have guest blogging

Let’s have a look at the options

1. Write your own content

If you are on a budget, this is the way to go. Start writing the content yourself and at the same time learn the process along the way.


  • If you are a reasonably good writer, you will have high quality content
  • No need to manage anyone
  • Save money


  • You are constrained by time (and this is a biggie)

2. Hire a writer

If you have some money to spend, you can also hire someone to write content for you.

Ideally, you want to find a native speaker, but those are usually more expensive, so if you are on a budget you can try to find someone with good language skills.

As usually with outsourcing, you’ll have to test 10 people to get 1 or 2 who are good (and sometimes you can’t even find a good writer out of 10).

These are some recommendations from my own experience:

  • Send people a test job. Ask them to write a couple of articles with different styles/lengths
  • Ask for samples (those can be faked though)
  • They way they communicate can give you feedback


  • Very escalable


  • It will take you some time until you find a good writer
  • Money investment
  • Sometimes people disapper without a trace, so you need to start over again

Here are some places where you can find writers



3. Use a content creation service

Instead of hiring a single person, some pages have a buffer of writers that you can use.

It’s  not as personal as having a dedicated person, but on the other hand if you have just one writer and he/she gets ill, or goes missing, your progress gets halted, whereas if you use a service like this you always have someone ready for the job.


  • Plenty of people ready to work


  • Usually more expensive than having a full (or part) time writer
  • Less personal communication
  • You can get a mixed quality depending on the particular writer

Some of these companies are:



4. Guest blogging

In case you never head the term, guest blogging is when somebody will write a unique article for your site, and instead of money, they will request a backlink to their site. It’s a way for them to get some extra traffic (and backlinks).

This can be a great strategy since you are basically getting content for free, but you will need a established blog before you can ask people to write for you for free.


  • Free


  • You need to have a certain amount of traffic before you can request a guest blogger to write on your site

There are 2 ways you can find guest bloggers

a. People will approach you and ask to write a guest post

b. You proactively find someone for it

When looking for someone, you can browse their personal sites or use a service like blogger link up or MyBlogGuest


What is Keyword Research and why is it so important?

This is Wikipedia’s definition:

Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research actual search terms that people enter into search engines. Search engine optimization professionals research keywords, which they use to achieve better rankings in search engines.

The only thing I disagree with that definition is the part about SEO professionals. Hey, I’m no SEO professional but I also do keyword research 🙂

Basically, when you are doing keyword research, you are, like our useful Wikipedia says, finding out which terms are people searching for (and since Google is the most used Search Engine, most keyword research focuses on Google).

You are usually trying to find both sides of the equation:

a) You are looking for terms that people are searching many times (so you can get a lot of traffic) and

b) You are looking for terms that have little SEO competition, so you can rank them with ease.

Of course there is more to it, since some terms are better than others. For example, if you are building an Adsense site, some keywords pay more than others, so in this particular case, it might be better to find a keyword that has 1000 searches a month but pays $1 per click, than another that gets 5000 searches a month but only pays 1 cent per click.

Then there is something called user intent (sometimes called customer intent) that you must take into account.

To understand this, look at these examples of keywords that people might enter in google:

  • Coffee machine
  • Best coffee machine under $100
  • Buy DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Coffee Machine

What can you deduce from what the user is looking for in each case?

In the first case (coffee machine), the user is in what we might call “information mode”, he just wants to know about coffee machines, maybe how they work, different types…

In the second case (best coffee machine under $100), you can deduce that the customer is in “research mode”, meaning he wants to buy a coffee machine, but he hasn’t decided which one.

In the third case (buy DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Coffee Machine), the user is in “purchase mode”. He has his credit card ready and he is just trying to find out where to buy it; maybe do a price comparison in multiple stores…

In general terms, you want to attract visitors who are in purchase mode, so you can make more money:

  • If you are a store owner, you can sell that item to them
  • If you are an affiliate (ie, Amazon affiliate), you want them to click on your link so they will purchase and you make a commission
  • If you have an Adsense site, you want them to be willing to click on ads, since they are ready to buy.

So why is keyword research not only important, but crucial for your business?

Because if you target the right keywords, you are way ahead of your competition:

If you pick the right keywords for your site, you will attract better visitors, and maximize your earnings.

If you find valuable keywords with little SEO competition, you will rank much faster

All in all, keyword research is something that you must pay close attention to, especially if you are focusing on getting SEO traffic, so I’ll be talking about how to do proper keyword research this week.


7 Online Marketing Blogs I follow (and 3 podcasts)


Niche Pursuits (by Spencer Haws)

I have been following Spencer for years. When I got started with Online Marketing, I was focused on building niche sites; tons of information about that in here. Spencer is the creator of Long Tail Pro and Long Tail University.

Smart Passive Income (by Pat Flynn)

Full of great information, and a great source of inspiration for me.

John Chow

A bit filled with ads for my taste, but there are some great posts.

Online Rule (by Veit Schenk)

Ok, this one won’t win the Oscar for the best design, but Veit delivers great information (with a sense of humor, something to be thankful for these days)

Charles Ngo

This one is more oriented towards CPA, but there are tips about optimization, landing pages or affiliate marketing in general that are useful for everybody.

John Carlton

A copywriting legend, he has a blog full of useful, interesting and fun content.

Bonus: Seth Godin

This is not an online marketing blog per se, but Seth offers great advice that can be applied to any online business.


There are not many podcasts focused on Internet Marketing, but here are some that I listen regularly:

Smart Pasive Income

Again, not only the blog has good content; the podcast is great.

Marketing in your Car

From the creator of Clickfunnels; 257 episodes so far

Digital Kickstart

Not too many episodes (yet), but great interviews


Niche site vs Authority Site

When it comes to building a site, you can take 2 main routes:

  • Niche Site
  • Authority Site

Let’s look into them:

Niche Site

This is usually a smaller site, targeting a small number of keywords.

There is no clear definition, but I’d say it’s a site that has from 2 to 15 different pages with content, which is not updated often, and does not engage with its audience.

The idea is that once you find one (or 2-5 at the most) keywords that you can easily rank for, you can build a site around them, add some more related content, and rank for your main keyword or keywords.

It is built around a single topic or keyword, and usually the owner will do all the backlinking.

Takes some work to create in the beginning, but after that it mainly becomes set and forget.

Usually monetized with Adsense or Affiliate links.

Authority Site

This is a bigger site, with lots of content, updated regularly, and with high quality articles.

It focuses on a main topic, but has different pages built around related keywords.

The goal is to have people linking to the site, so it gets trust and better rankings over time.

It aims to have an engaged community, and can have multiple monetization systems, and takes a lot of work.


So you have 2 main choices: you can build a portfolio of small niche sites that earn a nice sum combined, or you can build 1 or 2 authority sites.

Which option is better?

That’s for you to decide!

Obviously an authority site has a much higher income potential, but it takes more work and in the end you are putting all your eggs in one basket.

The good thing is that there is much room to scale once it becomes successful.

On the other hand, building small niche sites takes less time and effort, however its earnings potential is much limited, since you can just rank for a limited set of keywords.

In the past, one could just find a primary keyword, purchase an EMD (Exact Match Domain), write 3 to 5 articles and rank pretty quickly.

However, at some point, Google became much smarter and it’s giving much weight to authority sites, so niche sites are not so easy to rank anymore (unless you find some nice keywords).




Why are you doing this?

If you are reading this, chances at some point you decided to use the Internet to earn some extra income (or, if you want to put it in finer words, “build an online business”).

However, behind every decision, there is a reason (or more).

What is your reason?

Maybe you will say “money”. And you will probably be right. And you will probably be wrong.

Yes, we all want to make more money. But you must never forget that money is a by product.

What you (most likely) really want is peace of mind. Or being able to spend more time with your family. Or send your child to college. Or freedom. Or ________________ (fill in the blank).

So what is your Reason (with a capital R)?

It’s worth devoting some time to think about it, because when you are feeling down (and you will), and obstacles get in the way (and they will), you will need to remember WHY you are doing this.

This will help you burn the midnight oil. Keep going. Try again tomorrow. Not give up.

And your reasons (or Reason) can change over time.

If you had asked me a couple of years back, I would say my reason was freedom (being able to do what I choose with my time).

Right now, these are my two main Reasons (one is 17 months old, the other one is a bit older) 😉


So what is your number 1 Reason? Leave a comment below!



My 5 biggest mistakes

If I could go back in time and leave a note to my past self, these are some of the things I would tell him/me not to do.

These are, in no particular order:

Not sticking to one thing long enough

These are some of the things I’ve tried in the past:

  • Adsense
  • Amazon
  • Facebook Ads
  • Adwords
  • Bing Ads
  • PPV
  • CPA
  • Mobile ads
  • Banner ads
  • Niche sites
  • Review sites

And guess what? I’ve made some money in almost all of them. However, it wasn’t until I decided to focus on a few things that I started to have a steady monthly income.

(read the book “The One Thing” where you can get more tips on this)

If I had decided to stick to just one of them (let’s say Adsense), I would probably have become an expert, and would be earning some nice income out of it (plus, being an expert means I could teach others how to do it), instead of having a broad/generic knowledge in some of them.

Not outsourcing earlier

In your business, there are many things that you should not be doing. Period. Your time is better spent doing high value activities.

However, I’d also suggest doing a few things for your self, and learning, before outsourcing (This only applies to core business stuff, like doing keyword research or building sites, not other things like graphic design, you can outsource that from the very beginning).

Not building a list as soon as possible

If I had a dollar every time I read “the money is in the list”, I would have a lot of dollars. But trust me, it’s true!

As soon as you go into any niche, start building your list, sharing value with your subscribers, and establishing a relationship of trust. Not to take advantage of them, not to lie to them or squeeze every penny out of them, but to add value into their lives (if you do that, there is nothing wrong with making a profit with your list).

And that takes me to #4

Not focusing on adding value

Many of my old sites have now expired, and I didn’t renew the domains, because at some point they started earning less than the yearly cost for the domain, but trust me when I say I had some crappy (can I say crappy on a blog?) websites.

In the past, I found some cheap writers (not native), who wrote useless content, so I had whole sites where all of the articles were poorly written, and wouldn’t interest anyone.

Sure, I didn’t have to pay that much for the content, but this didn’t turn out to be a good business.

Never forget that visitors are not numbers, but real people, with real problems. If you can help them solve their problems, you are entitled to some profits (that includes things like sites with ads; affiliate sales or selling your own product).

Trying to find the next “loophole”

This is very tempting. I heard that if I build an Exact Match Domain, write 5 articles with 600 words each and use some keywords, I will be ranking fast. Or, I would dig into forums trying to find the secret sauce.

At the end of the day, business is simple. Just help people solve their problems, the rest will take care of itself!



Obviously, I have made a ton of mistakes along the way, but many of them were great learning experiences, so not all mistakes are bad.

What are some of your mistakes? Feel free to share in the comments!

Now on Facebook too!

In 2011, I traveled with my wife 3 months around India. It might seem a long time, but it’s such a huge country, that we only had time to visit some places.

We used to watch TV in some of the hostels, and there was this Vodafone ad that we kept watching, with a very catchy song:

Anyway, I don’t intend to be “always on Facebook”, but at least I am now on Facebook. You can like my page to find updates about my blog or other articles I find online that might be of your interest.

See you there!


On learning vs doing

In the online marketing world there is no shortage of courses, teaching everything you can imagine, and ranging from $5 to $5000, and mixed quality, so it’s a bit of jungle out there.

Why so many courses?

2 main reasons:

  1. Some people really enjoy teaching what they know to other people
  2. “Sell shovels to the miners instead of digging for gold”.

The first point is clear, but what about the second one?

Do you know who got really rich in the California gold rush era? Many people came with their pickaxe and started digging, and after long days ended up with nothing.

However, some others sold the miners the tools and supplies they needed. And those people made tons of money!

Sure, selling wheelbarrows and jeans sounds much less glamorous than digging  for gold, but in the end it is a much better business model, with less risk, and a ton of potential customers.

How does it apply to the world of Online Marketing?

Well, you can find tons of people digging for gold (ie, people trying to get rich by doing niche sites/cpa/affiliate marketing…) and a few people selling them the pickaxes, profiting from the first group.

What are the pickaxes here? They can be

  • Courses
  • Services
  • Tools
  • Coaching
  • etc.

So now you know why you will find so many people selling courses about how to make money online. Many of them actually make more money by selling the courses than by doing what they teach…

So how can you find out if the course you are thinking about purchasing is a good one or not?  The answer is, most of the times, you can’t. And sometimes the content is reasonably good, but you might not need it at that point (ie, it’s too advanced, even when in their sales page they say it’s for everyone).

(As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true… it probably is).

But this wasn’t what I wanted to talk about in my post (doing vs learning).

Many people tend to think: I need to learn everything I can about XXX then I’ll start doing. They research. Purchase a course. Then another. Read forums, blogs… And in the end they devote 90% of the time to learning, and 10% to doing, when in my opinion, the percentages should be the other way round.

Sure, if you can get some education in the topic, that will probably help you, but there is nothing like rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. You will probably learn much more by making mistakes than by reading the latest e-book.

And if you take a course, make sure to implement what you learn!

So, after reading this post, make sure to take some action!

See you on the next post 🙂

Why building an online business is not easy

I was going to title this post “Why making money online is not as easy” (or even “not as easy as everybody wants you to believe”), but in the end I went for “online business”.


Because I wanted to emphasize that at the end of the day, you are building a business, not “playing around”. You have an investment (in time and money), expenses, risk… just as any other business.

When I got started (and especially after watching so many sales videos telling me how easy it was), I thought I could just work on it for a few hours, and everything would “click” straightaway.

Well, nothing further from the truth!

First of all, like with anything in life, there is a learning curve. And this is unavoidable. You will have to go through the four stages of competence. In the beginning, you will have no clue of what you are doing. At some point you will start thinking: “hey, I think I’m beginning to get it”, but a few minutes (or hours/days) later you will think: “I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing”.

And this is ok! This is perfectly normal, and you have to go through it whether you like it or not.

There is something else working against you: statistics.

According to Google, 8 out of 10 business fail. 90% of startups fail. 96% of business fail within 10 years.

What does this mean? Basically, that the odds are against you, and succeeding online is not the norm, but the exception.

Does this mean it’s almost impossible to succeed? I just said it’s hard, not that it’s impossible.

It will require a combination of hard work, resilience, focus and more hard work (ideally, a bit of luck too).

And then, as you are starting to see some light, you will get thousands of e-mails promising the next best thing. Try Facebook Ads/Adsense/Amazon/Pinterest/a secret traffic source/CPA/…

Then you would read stories about someone who got rich doing X. And you will want to do X. Then comes Y, and you think “ah, I should try that”.

Have you been there? I have, multiple times. And I still do sometimes. After all, we are all human.

Anyway, my purpose when writing this was not to discourage anyone, just to let you know that it’s going to be hard, but not impossible. And whatever you are going through, tons of people have been there, so it’s ok!

So after this philosophical post I’ll go back to more practical issues in the next days.

Let me know your thoughts!