Let me tell you a little about me first just to bore you. Im 52, well above the average age of most of you guys. I have owned a couple brick and mortar businesses, some failed and a couple successes. One of the success stories was that I saw the Internet taking off in 97. I started looking for opportunities. I was trying to buy my girlfriend a used car at the time and spent time driving from car lot to car lot. I decided to start an Automotive Portal 3 years before cars.com or autotrader.com got in the business. I taught myself basic HTML and hired a salesperson. I did 23 of the 55 car dealers first websites in San Diego. We offered to list their used car inventory on our site for $500/mo if we did their website. When I started doing webpages, we would have to convince the dealers they needed one. By the time I sold the company, they knew if their website was down for more than 10 minutes. I was able to sell the company AFTER the dotcom bubble burst for low 6 figures in 2001.
My point of telling this story is that I do know a little about HTML and running a business.
I have been playing around with adsense and SEO for the past couple years without much luck. I spent time on the blackht sites and a lot of time here. I had very little success, I make about $100/quarter but I don't spend a lot of time working it.
I started reading the CPA/PPC threads. One of the things I came to realize was that most IMs want to make money without making an initial investment. They spend a lot of time writing articles and doing back-linking not knowing what the success ratio is going to be. You can spend literally months not knowing if the time you put in is actually going to pay off. Then you have to keep adding more time and articles to keep it ranked high on the search engines if you ever get there in the first place.
If you start a brick and mortar business, you will have a minimum of $5K invested before you open the doors.
I read through Sajnish Gupta's posts and decided to invest in his Adwords Reinvented. He claims he quit his 6 figure/yr job to focus on PPC marketing. His course is a solid foundation. Im not flogging his stuff. In reality, you can find about 80% of it on the forums but I wanted something that was organized and step-by-step. I was not disappointed. He also had some insights that are invaluable for someone starting out.
Most of the posts I read about PPC successes immediately ask how much the poster had to spend to make money like its some negative aspect. In any business, whether you are selling shoes or cell phones you have an investment. If you are selling groceries, you are lucky to get a 5% profit margin. If you can get a 30-40% return, you'll soon have so many competitors that you will see your margins fall. I know, I owned the largest independent pager company in San Diego in the 90's. Competitors would constantly come in, undercut prices, screw up the market and then go out of business.
Ok, here are some basic tips for CPA/PPC I have gleaned for a complete newbie.
1. Don't use Google. Its too expensive for just starting out.
2. Yahoo has a free $60 coupon just for signing up. Minimum to open a Yahoo account is $30. So you can start your business with $90 in the account, $30 from you, $60 from them.
3. Set your daily spending limit at $10. Yahoo automatically debits your account for 3 days budget ($30) anytime you fall below 3 days of budget. This means you can test for up to 6 days without danger of Yahoo automatically debiting your account for another $30. If you say you are going to budget $50 per day, they will take it in $50 chunks and you will probably hit your limit on the 2nd day.
4. Set your keyword bid price at the absolute minimum of 10 cents. When you load your list of keywords, most will come up with "bid too low". They will tell you what the minimum bid is for each keyword. Some of them will show up at 10 cents tho. I adjusted mine up about 5 cents over the minimum. Let the campaign run for a while. It will show you the number of times your ad was shown (impressions) and the approximate placement. You can then adjust your bids up if you want to placed higher but remember YOU DONT HAVE TO BE ON PAGE ONE TO GET CLICKS. Im testing in a highly competitive industry. I got the most clicks on a keyword with my average ad position of 20.8. I'll bid this one up and take some notes. If I get more hits at a higher position, I'll pay more. If not, I'll drop my bid back down
5. Test Test and Re-Test. Don't make just one ad, make 3 or 4. Yahoo will rotate them evenly for a while and then start using the better converting one. You don't have to make big changes. If your ad reads "Instant Approval, 5 line form" make a second ad with the same title but reads "5 line form, Instant Approval". You'll be surprised how much a small change can affect click through rate. I have two ads that are virtually identical except the order of the features. One gets twice as many clicks as the other. If you are using landing pages, make 2 or 3 and see which one converts better.
6. Join a couple different CPA networks. I have been with CJ for a couple years. I ran my first CPA ad with one of their advertisers. It was supposed to convert on finishing a 9 line application. I sent them over 50 clicks but no conversions. I called the affiliate manager. He told me "we dont consider it a conversion unless the loan funds (payday loans). We would go out of business if we just paid for aps". Rather than arguing with him, I switched to another network. I sent the new affiliate 20 clicks today and earned $50. Not a lot of money but considering it only cost me $7.34 (36 cents each) I think its a great victory.
7. Research - Read every post in this forum about CPA, join other forums about CPA/PPC. Most times you will get nothing, only arguments and boasting but every so often you'll pick up something you can use. Sign up for everybody's newsletters. Create a separate email address to get the loads of junk mail but as above, every so often you'll get a golden nugget you can use. Go to Youtube and search for CPA marketing and watch all the vids. When you pick a market, go read every ad from your competitors. Don't read it as a competitor, read it as a shopper. Who's ad would you click on? Copy it if you have to and make a minor variation. Then click on the ad and see where it takes you. Are they using a landing page or directly linking to the advertiser. Take notes. Steal all the info you can.
8. Tracking -Track everything. When you find an ad that doesn't work, pause it but don't delete it. You may end up forgetting what didnt work and make a similar ad in the future if you delete it. If you pause it, it will always be there to remind you what doesnt work. I signed up for a free report from Gauher Chaudhry. Good info. Then he sent me a free tracking spread sheet thats excellent. I may end up buying something from him because his tools so far have been great.
9. Dont give up. For me it is happening very quickly but remember, I have a lot of real life business experience and advertising experience. Your learning curve may be a little steeper than mine but the fact that I am seeing success in the first week tells me this is a gold mine.
I hope this helps someone. I havent made a great deal of money but my stats are what has me excited. Today I made $50. I paid out about $8 in clicks. Yesterday I spent about $10 and didnt make anything. The day before I made $20 on an investment of $6. Do you see where Im going with this? Once you (I) get a solid track record, I can increase my income by increasing my spending to $20 or even $200 per day. Or I can move over to Google. My costs will be higher but I should get 10 times the traffic. I have never had a business take off so quickly with these kind of margins. You can test CPA/PPC for less than $100 to see if its for you. I can already tell its for me. Good Luck!