Finally another awesome Saturday is here and we all are going to go through the life of a person who is living dot com life. This is the 11th interview from BCIS (Blogging Cage Interview Series), and thanks for the support and love for this series.
Today we have one of the most known affiliate marketer from the industry who was able to grab million of dollars from affiliate marketing and still continuing his online journey to make billion in coming years. If you are into blogging or affiliate marketing then it’s 100% sure that you have heard his name many times, because he is very much active on social networking sites, as well as his blog have become benchmark for bloggers.
Today we have Zac Johnson with us who is going to share some of his secrets and I am going to ask many questions from him. 🙂
First of all thanks a lot for saying ‘YES’ to my interview proposal and spending time to give such wonderful answers.
Let’s start the interview.
1. Zac, I am very happy to have you here. Please tell us about your childhood as well as educational qualification and when you entered in internet world.
I guess you could say that I had a pretty normal childhood. I was raised by my two awesome parents and also have a younger sister. One of the ways I may have been different from other children was that I was always interested in money and business at a very early age.
When I was in elementary school I would sell comic cards to friends and make a profit, then I would go on to sell soda cans during lunch in intermediate school.
Things really started to change in high school, which was when I started to play around with the internet and eventually learn how to make money on the internet.
Everything I’ve ever done has always been self-taught and I’ve never actually worked for anyone else or has a “real 9-5 job”. Since I started at such a young age (15), I was able to take my success and continue to grow it into what it is today.
You can read more on my full bio on my blog.
2. You are one of the best affiliate marketers in my list; tell us your journey to become an affiliate marketer, and how easy or difficult it was to come in affiliate marketing.
Thanks, I appreciate that. It was quite an exciting time when I first started making money online, and it feels like it happened pretty fast, but actually spanned over many different areas and a couple of years in the process.
One of the first ways I made money was by creating and selling 468×60 banner designs for people in the AOL Web Diner, which was a chat room for people who had web sites of their own. This was in the mid to later 90s and there was no Paypal or easy methods to send payments online. I would create a banner for someone and they would send $1 in the postal mail… yet many never sent the dollar.
This was my first taste at making money online and I definitely knew there was potential to make some real money, I just needed to find out how.
Over the next few months to years I would get involved in pushing web hosting affiliate programs through AOL chat rooms and earn a 35% commission on all sales.
The big money and business opportunity came when I teamed up with Amazon.com and joined their affiliate program. This was back when Amazon was only selling books, movies and music and paying out 5-15% commissions. I had created a ton of pages for every celebrity and their movies, then linked the titles to Amazon and ended up doing over six figures in sales with Amazon in a short period of time.
Making money with Amazon was great, but it was hard to continually make money off people having to pull out there credit card and make a sale. That in addition to only earning 5-15% commission on all referred sales.
That’s when I then came across the free stuff industry and saw that I could get a $1 commission or someone submitting their info to join a mailing list or enter a content. This lead me to joining Websponsors.com (one of the first affiliate networks) and discovering the lead gen and affiliate marketing industry.
This process went on for a while and I went on to build a bunch of sites and even start my own merchant programs through Commission Junction and pay out six figures in commissions to my affiliates. In 2000 my dad and I flew across the country to attend CJU (Commission Junction University), which was my first internet marketing conference. I met some amazing people there and was also one of the youngest attendees (18 at the time).
All of this went on way before I decided to start my blog at ZacJohnson.com in 2007!
3. I downloaded your book “Six Figure Affiliate Blogging” around one year back when I was almost new in blogging. How much people have downloaded this book till now and please share any of the successful stories of persons who downloaded your book.
This was my first real free ebook and product I put out there. For anyone who has seen it, you will notice it has a really great looking PDF file and design to go with it. I wanted to make sure I offered something of real value and quality to my readers. Just the cost of designing the e-book was in the $500 range. I believe there is around 20,000 downloads to date.
I don’t have any specific stories off-hand of people who have downloaded and read the book, but the goal behind the book was to educate and inspire others to learn how to make money from the success of others. The book is full of interviews from some of the most successful bloggers and online marketers in the game today.
4. Which are the tools you are using and how much time you are spending to do SEO for your blog? Please recommend some tools.
I’ve never been a huge addict of tools and services that I absolutely need. Instead it’s a matter of building your own day-to-day tasks and knowing how to run your business.
Some cool tools that I have been using lately are Long Tail Pro and SerpBook. I like tools that make the process of researching and tracking information simple and fast.
As for SEO, it’s not something I focus on very much. I focus on building quality content that people want to read and make sure it’s building my brand in the process.
5. How important is ‘making connections’ in blogging or online world? How these people are going to help us achieve our dreams?
This is absolutely the most important aspect to becoming success and running a great business online. When I made that first trip across the country to CJU, I also made some connections with great people who I still talk to today (nearly 15 years later).
I make it an effort to attend a decent amount of conferences and speak when I find the time. There are always going to be new people you can meet and learn from. It’s definitely the most important way to expand your knowledge and growth online.
6. Have you joined any ‘Master Mind’ group till now? How was the experience and how it helped to boost your business?
I’ve always been more of a self taught and learn type of guy. I talk to people and attend conferences, but never joined or participated in any master mind groups. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great groups out there… but I just don’t find the time or interest to partake in many of them.
7. Your readers earned over one million with NeverBlue. How it happened and how you helped them to achieve this?
I’ve been with Neverblue for what seems like forever, way back when they first started. I knew all of the initial people at the company who are long gone now.
Neverblue has a referral program where you can earn a 2% commission on all referred affiliates to their network. If you refer an affiliate who earns $100, then you would make $2. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you have referred nearly $3 MILLION (which I’m currently close to), then the earnings definitely add up over time.
So how is this possible and can anyone do it? I would say it’s extremely hard and very unlikely for the majority of people to replicate.
What I did was build a brand that people know and trust, then use Neverblue in many reviews and tutorials that I would write on the site. When you walk users through a process and tell them what to do, it’s much easier to find results.
$3 million in referred earnings is very powerful for the ZacJohnson.com brand, but also shows that Neverblue is still one of the top ad networks out there as well.
8. Please tell us about your blog BloggingTips.com (I was amazed when one day I searched on Google with keyword “Blogging Tips.” I was seriously amazed to imagine the traffic you might be getting with this primary keyword). How you found this awesome domain and why only this?
I ended up acquiring BloggingTips.com almost by accident. I knew the previous owner, Kelvin Muldoon, from emails that we would send back and forth to each other about making money online and blogging.
Then one day Kevin sent me an email and said he was putting the site up for sale on Flippa. I was really interested and watched the auction for a few days, then it started to get pretty serious when I put a $30,000 bid in the for the site.
Long story short, the bidding got pretty intense between me and another bidder and I ended up clicking the BUY NOW button to fully purchase the site.
A few years later and I have a nice writing team who contributes to the site and I am continuing to grow it out over time
Unfortunately I didn’t have much focus for building the site up over the past year or so, but it’s one of my main interests in 2013 and I have a lot of exciting stuff in the works.
“Blogging Tips” is a great keyword to rank for… but I’m just getting started!
9. Where is affiliate marketing is going to reach in coming 5 years and how you are going to monetize it?
When I think back on the past 15 years and how affiliate marketing has changed, it’s mind blowing. I’ve been in nearly every facet of online marketing in some form or another and have always had to adapt with the changes to make sure my business succeeds.
In the coming years I see affiliate marketing only getting bigger, but I am sure we will see a lot of successful affiliate marketers continue to leave the “middle man” concept and start their own ad networks, businesses and brands. This is exactly what I have been doing over the past several years.
With mobile and technology growing amazingly fast, we can only imagine how drastic things will change in the coming years, but you can be sure people will get creative and think of ways to use affiliate marketing to make money from it.
I wrote a really fun post a while back called “Affiliate Marketing: Then & Now” which is a great look back and how affiliate marketing has changed over the years.
10. Which are your favorite bloggers/blogs?
I have a bunch of bloggers who I am personally really good friends with, such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel, Jeremy Schoemaker (Shoemoney) and John Chow. These are the guys I am always interested in and seeing what they are working on.
Then I also have a set of blogs that I like to continually visit and see what’s new, such as SmartPassiveIncome.com and QuickSprout.com, but I’m also a big fan of sites like AffPosts.com, which makes it easy for me to see the latest posts in the industry and quickly read the ones that interest me.
11. How much time you are spending on social media and how this is helping you?
I’ll be the first one to admit that I am not a big social media user. I have Facebook, twitter and Google+ setup, but I am rarely on there and actively updating about what’s going on.
Of the three networks mentioned, I’m most active on Facebook and have actually been quite active lately. It’s a great way to connect with readers and fans from all over the world. It means a lot to hear from people that they are reading the blog and how I may have been able to help them.
12. Suggest some affiliate marketing/CPA networks which we should join to make some money.
As mentioned earlier, the affiliate marketing world is always changing. It’s safe to say that you can stick with the big players like Shareasale.com and CommissionJunction.com and not have to worry if your next affiliate payment is going to come through or not.
It doesn’t take much to start an affiliate network of your own, so make sure you always do the necessary research about an ad network before you start spending money to promote their offers. Too many ad networks are not what they seem and you can easily get screwed if you aren’t careful.
13. Please define term “Niche Blogging” and guide us to make a perfect Niche blog to make some money.
Niche blogging is the concept of going after a small keyword or market instead of a generic phrase. A good example of this would be “senior medical alert systems” versus “medical alerts”. This allows you to tap into a much tighter niche audience who knows what they are looking for and also eliminates a lot of your competition, making it easier for you to rank in the search results.
14. What are your views about theme of any blog? Which was the main reason that you chosen ‘Genesis Framework?’
When creating a site of the WordPress platform, I’m always dedicated to making sure it looks great. I will spend a good amount of money on a custom theme design and creating a logo for the site.
I was working with the Genesis design team and they offered to create the theme for ZacJohnson.com, as they knew I had the audience that could help grow their brand and reach for their new Genesis framework.
If you can’t afford to get a completely custom design, go for a premium design and find a designer that can clean up and customize the design for you. It shouldn’t cost much at all.
15. What are your future plans?
Right now (as always it seems) I have a lot in the works. In addition to focusing on ZacJohnson.com and growing out BloggingTips.com, I’m also continually working on PPC.org and Blogging.org and moving towards whatever angle we decide to go with on these sites.
The main focus is to continually grow my brand, help others discover new ways to make money online and do the same for myself while enjoying the entire process.
16. Message for my readers.
This was probably the longest interview I’ve taken the time to respond to, with over 2,500 words of content and over an hour to respond. Why I take the time and effort to respond to interviews and meet people all over the world is because we all have an amazing opportunity at hand, which is the world of internet marketing.
Take your blog and online business seriously and you will be able to grow it to new leaps and bounds that you may never even have thought were possible.
One of my favorite posts of mine is the “How Blogging has Changed My Life“… be sure to check it out and see what’s possible through being your own boss and running your own business on the internet.
Best of luck and I hope to meet you soon in the future!