Mr. “On To The Next” Earns $1 Mil In Affiliate Revenue – with Nicholas Reese

How does a digital nomad earn $1 million in affiliate revenue while traveling the world? Nicholas Reese is an ethical affiliate marketer and author of How to Turn Traffic and Trust into Sales who pulls $1M in commissions alone.

If you have affiliate programs for your business or are an affiliate yourself, you’ll want to grab this interview.

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About Nicholas Reese

Nicholas Reese is a digital nomad and author of How to Turn Traffic and Trust into Sales, an inside look into how a top affiliate marketer pulls close to $1M in commissions each year.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Three messages before we get started. First, who’s the lawyer that tech entrepreneurs trust? Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. Here’s what Neil Patel, founder of KISS Metrics, says about him. Scott is a great lawyer. He is affordable, responds fast, doesn’t charge you for 5 minute phone calls, and always gives great advice. Walker Corporate Law.

Are you still coordinating projects by email and wondering why you’re not productive? Would you check out teamworkpm.net? Teamworkpm.net is trusted by Universal Studios, the University of Texas at Austin, the U.S. Army, and other large organizations. But, if you’re just trying to coordinate with a small company, maybe just two people, it’ll still make your team more productive. How much more productive would you be if you used teamworkpm.net?

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Andrew:My name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How does a digital nomad earn almost a million dollars from affiliate revenue while traveling the world? Joining me is Nick Reese. He is an ethical affiliate marketer, who’s also the author of How to Turn Traffic and Trust into Sales. An inside look into how a top affiliate marketer pulls close to a million dollars in commissions each year. Nick welcome.

Nick:Thanks. I appreciate it.

Andrew:Nick, I have to get tougher on myself and just practice reading, over and over. Somewhere in my head, I got that, I think I must have made a mistake a few of weeks ago. We’ll get into the interview but I have to say this first. A few weeks ago, I made a mistake as I was reading the intro and I said, oh man, I am terrible at reading these intros. So, the next time I did it, I said, am I going to screw up again. As I’m reading it in my head, I’m saying, am I going to screw up again. So, of course, I screw up. Then it just builds and builds and builds. I’ve got to just keep reading on camera, on my own, before I do it within these interviews, to get it smooth. Enough about me, we have to talk about you.

Nick:That sounds good.

Andrew:Have you cracked a million dollars? Saying almost a million dollars feels a little bit, it’s not as powerful as saying a million dollars. Have you done it yet?

Nick:Yes, we have.

Andrew:You have. OK. And you’re still traveling the world? Where are you?

Nick:I’m actually not a digital nomad anymore. I am actually based in New York City. I decided that, I picked up a month to month lease here but I’m only going to be here a couple months and it’s growing on me quite a bit. So I am going to end up moving. I bought 23rd and 7th and I’m going to move down in Soho. I’m going to get a year lease but the goal is to keep it under 3 grand, 4 grand and I can still travel on that.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:Based on the other incomes. So, I figured, why not be based in New York because high quality people are here and that’s half the battle.

Andrew:While you were building that almost number, the one that the book subheading, the one that I screwed up, refers to. You were traveling the world.

Nick:Correct. Correct.

Andrew:I want to hear your story. I want to hear how you picked up on affiliate marketing, how you built up your business, and at the same time, I want my audience, because they care about your story and they’re going to learn from it but they care even more about themselves and they want to learn more directly. I want to pick some ideas up from you that they can implement right away. My audience is pretty sophisticated. There’s the people who either have affiliate programs for their web apps or for their other businesses or they’re affiliates themselves. They’re going to be listening and saying, I already know this stuff, what’s Andrew going to give me that’s new? So let me ask you this, let’s right away answer that question. What could you tell them, that they might not be aware of? What can we say that’s a little bit new that might make them perk up and pay attention to us?

Nick:Let’s first talk about what the idea for your product is. I had a friend call me up, he runs a web app and he says, I’m looking at building another one. I’m interested in moving more into the affiliate space. I want to do something in the job search space. I said, the people who are in the job search space, are they trying to spend money right away to solve a problem, or are they trying to spend their time to solve a problem. So anytime I’m approaching affiliate projects, to pick the right product, I always look at, are they going to spend their personal time or are they going to spend their money to fix the problem? So, for example, in New York it’s been hot this summer. If your AC unit goes out, and most places have an in the wall AC unit; you’re going to go to Home Depot and you’re going to buy a new one. If you don’t have one you’re going to buy a fan. You’re going to solve that money because it’s miserable and there’s urgency there. So where can you find a problem where there’s urgency? Often in affiliate programs, a lot of people like digital products because there’s often larger margins. But, for many people where there are physical products where there’s a problem, where you can still get a large margin. Often that may be working directly with a merchant or however it is. If you set up your own affiliate projects, that’s even better but there is plenty of opportunity in the physical space as well. So, urgency.

Andrew:So urgency and we shouldn’t just think about high margins necessarily because most affiliate marketers I guess are looking for those digital products because they offer high margins. You’re saying take a look beyond it. Look at physical products. Nick:Right.

Andrew:How do we quickly, for the people who don’t know what affiliate programs are, is there a sentence or two that we could just throw out there and say, “Hey, guys, catch up and pay attention to the rest of the interview?”

Nick:Pretty much it’s performance marketing. Essentially you have a product that you want to be sold. You know what your customer acquisition cost is. You give me your customer acquisition cost and I deliver you a customer.

Andrew:Perfect, great. What’s the product that you sold that earned the most money; the biggest share of this million dollars?

Nick:I have multiple businesses. This is one of the questions I always get asked. This is the problem with the affiliate industry – is it’s hard to talk about the things you compete in because you automatically invite competition. So if I say this is where I make the most money, my business is impacted. That is the problem with affiliate marketing. Going forward, this year is all about building projects where the more I talk about them people can’t compete and so it actually grows the business. That’s the problem with affiliate marketing but traditionally it is consumer electronic goods.

Andrew:Consumer electronic goods. And if you were to tell me specifically what it was, like air conditioning units by this company sold through that affiliate program, many people in my audience would go out there, sign up for that affiliate program and start chipping away at your sales.

Nick:Exactly, or they try to figure out my domain. They figure out what keywords I was ranking for. They’d do some simple searches and figure out what traffic I’m bidding on and then from there they can just reverse engineer the campaign. That is the problem.

Andrew:They figure out the keywords you’re bidding on. Is that where you’re getting most of your traffic, through search engine optimization?

Nick:Right now across our entire network, 80% or our traffic is organic and 20% is paid. Of course, the paid traffic converts better because it’s paid and we’ve targeted those keywords down to we know exactly how valuable they are, how much we’re willing to bid, everything. So we’re able to scale those much better so the margins come from paid traffic and then much more of the authority and ranking is organic obviously. So on our top keyword we rank number one through three in our most competitive niche and organically. Then we also bid on it. It’s being able to target what keywords perform well for you.

Andrew:Where do you get your affiliate programs? Where do you find them?

Nick:Everything from Share a Sale to Commission Junction to setting up our own to small, little programs as well that are run on custom software.

Andrew:You mentioned setting up our own. What does that mean? You said that I think a couple of times here so far.

Nick:Basically this is an idea that’s nothing new. Essentially business aren’t familiar with affiliate marketing but if you say I’ll bring you a customer for this much and if they know what their customer acquisition costs or about how much they spend on advertising, they see that’s a good deal.

Andrew:You’ll actually go to a merchant and ask them to send sales in exchange for getting the commission from them? That’s how you do it?

Nick:Right. Exactly, and in some cases that could be like a small marina in a city and if you send them leads or phone numbers so people call them and you can track what phone number it comes from, sometimes let’s say they book a houseboat. You have another commission there.

Andrew:If a small marina, I know how you can give them a phone number that’s trackable. There are lots of services – everything from Twilio to Grasshopper that will let you do that. But at the end of the day the sale gets done on their side and they have to report it back to you. So how do you know for sure that you’re getting credit?

Nick:It comes all into trust. The same thing feeds right into how can you trust affiliate networks? Skimming is pretty prevalent in the affiliate world so I would much rather trust a small business where I control a website that could damage his reputation. I feel like you have the same problem. We’ve never had a problem with that and I could definitely see how it could be, but traditionally we only do that with people that we know, or that we have a contact with. It’s not like I’m going to call up every marine in the United States to set up an agreement, it’s very selective. Basically what I’m saying is there’s opportunities in the physical world to set upaffiliate arrangements or affiliate like arrangements which can be extremely profitable.

Andrew:OK. So I now understand where you are getting the products that you sell, I understand where you get the traffic. Let’s talk about what happens in the middle. What do you do? Do you send traffic directly to the merchant, do you create your own websites? Do you create multiplesites, tell me the process. What do people see after they land on your site?

Nick:[??] Like I said, the majority of our traffic comes from organic traffic. We own hundreds of sites and if I really had to narrow it down, we own 15 large sites that get over let’s say 20,000 hits a month. Basically people come to those sites for a majority of different reasons, often it’s solving a problem.

Andrew:What kind of sites do you have?

Nick:It could be blogs or it could be static websites. Just because you run a blog doesn’t mean it always has to be updated, blogging is just a way to get attraction in my eyes. So what type of sites are you asking specifics or. . .

Andrew:Yeah, how specific can you be? Can you tell us the names of thesites?

Nick:Yeah, one that we’ve talked about quite a bit is in the word pristine market and it’s called art blog. That site right there gets around 20 or 30 thousand uniques a month and we rank for most of the premium theme key words. That’s one that I’m not afraid to talk about.

Andrew:Art blogs, it’s a blog about web design and you make money by sending traffic to theme sites that you give an affiliate commission on those sales?

Nick:Exactly. We haven’t managed that, in 2009 I picked that up basically out of our portfolio and built it out and it took from $500 a month to the end of the year. Roughly 4 months later it was grossing $6,000 in affiliate commissions with zero pay traffic.

Andrew:$6,000 a month in affiliate commission and it’s just articles about design and SEO? How do you build up SEO for a site like that?

Nick:Traditionally, there is a saying in the SEO community that you either have to fund the link equity or you have to have site that already has the link equity. Art blog already had a link equity because the site has been around for several years and was originally linked to from a lot of the old blogs. We already had traction, so this all feeds into what I called the shell method. This is something I haven’t talked about much, but this is something that we practice actively. This build-a-site is awesome and figure out how to monetize it later. That’s the majority of what our time is spend on now is launching awesome things, and we’ll figure out how to monetize it later. And this is a perfect example of that.

Andrew:I see, OK. All right, if somebody has a website right now and they want to make it awesome first, what should they do? What’s the first thing that they should do?

Nick:Do something unique, if you see that there’s a gap in the market and that you can fill, obviously fill it. You can use traditionally link back tactics or info graphics or contests, traditional PR stuff. You have a million options, as long as you’re doing something unique. Our goal is to create something that’s at least news worthy.

Andrew:How do you make something news worthy? Can you give me an example of something that you did and then deconstruct it and show me how you did it?

Nick:OK. I’m not going to give you a specific example but I’ll give you something that’s coming. We have some travel sites, for example we built an info graphic based on the flight delays. We calculated how much flight delays costs the average American. As soon as flight delays hit the media we’re going to be on top of that, available for interviews and basically launch this info graphic while there’ s already a media firestone.

Andrew:So you already create the info graphic, you wait for someone to make a news story of it or you wait for a news story to develop. Then you publish it and you start alerting the media? You alert the media that you got an infographic and people are going to start writing about you? Is that enough?

Nick:Yeah, but we also have an in-house media system that is similar to Harro but it’s in-house and works a lot better.

Andrew:How does that work?

Nick:I don’t want to go into that, maybe in a few years we can talk about that.

Andrew:I see, all right. Basically so what it is, is a call out saying, “Well, how would it work? It would probably be…” Is it just a list of media that you call out to? Could that be it or do you mean the… I just want to find out how much you are willing to say. I don’t want to go beyond what you’re comfortable with but I do want to go to the level of comfort that you’ve got.

Nick:We’ll revert this back to the traffic and trust talk. The big point that I wrote that book for was to identify this idea of value chains. So if you look at a traditional media outlet they have two audiences. They have their advertisers and they have the people that are actually their audience but the advertisers wouldn’t be there without their audience. So their audience has problems. If you can solve the problem of their audience and align it so that you get a link or you get exposure, it works very well. That is essentially what our system does.

Andrew:You can’t be any more specific than that though?

Nick:No. It’s not super technical. That’s about as specific as I can be but it works wonders. I can give you a very specific example that we did in the past.

Andrew:Yeah, go for that. I love specifics, even if they’re older.

Nick:So this is like one of those problems with having too many email accounts and all of that stuff. In 2008, we built a site called DTV Deadline. This was based around the DTV transition so there was a big problem where all of the TV stations in the United States had an opportunity to lose part of their audience because they may not be switching from analog to digital.

Andrew:Right, if the audience didn’t have the new digital boxes then it meant that they couldn’t watch certain shows. In fact, they couldn’t watch anything I think.

Nick:Right, and so the TV stations had a problem and no one had solved that problem. So basically we built this site and we gave them the information that they could empower their customers to know where they could buy the actual converters. Where were their coupons good? We reached out to all of the TV stations in the United States and said, “Here’s what this is.” In a matter of three months, built 120,000 back links.

Andrew:Ah, I see. The TV stations needed some place to send their viewers so their viewers would figure out where they could go locally and buy the converter. Actually, it’s basically take their coupon and go get it for free. You created that page. You told the media about it. The media linked back to it. The page had high page rank I’m guessing.

Nick:It grew very fast. That’s one of those things. Build an awesome product and figure it out later. So we set it on the back burner. We set it in the queue of things we have and the domain actually lapsed because it was going to an email that we didn’t have updated.

Andrew:No way.

Nick:So this was one of those things that at first I thought the site was hacked. I was like, “What is going on? What is going on?” It’s exactly the same but it’s got ads. I’m like we haven’t put any ads on this site. There’s like another directory with a WordPress blog on it. I’m like what is going on? We started looking and some Russians picked it up.

Andrew:What’s that domain?

Nick:That was DTVdeadline.org.

Andrew:.org, okay. So if you had it today, what would you do with it?

Nick:I would probably move more into… you’re putting me on the spot but Dish Network or something along those lines.

Andrew:But people are looking for DTV. I guess you can convert DTV to Dish Network TV? Or what’s the connection between DTV and other products?

Nick:It’s vertically related. It’s related exactly to they want to watch TV.

Andrew:Okay. And the audience, wouldn’t they be coming for something else completely? They would be coming in for… actually, would there even be an audience anymore because the whole DTV issue is gone.

Nick:The whole idea is you’ve built a shell that has a lot of link equity. Remember we talked about finding the link equity or if you have a site that already has it. Suddenly you can write reviews of Dish Network.

Andrew:I see, got you. And then those reviews are affiliate links that get you paid.

Nick:Yep, exactly. So like build the best review out there for that. Just an example. I mean that’s one way you could do that.

Andrew:All right, let’s go back in time and figure out how you figured this all out. How did you get into this space?

Nick:I was in college and I was running an email marketing business out of fraternity house. I was consulting with Sotheby’s and it was a great business but I had to interface with a friend named Marcus Irvin because he was building the website for the company and I was basically dealing with all of the email marketing that ran on top of the website. I met up with him for lunch, and he was telling me, “Oh, I have this website. It makes eight bucks a day from AdSense” and I’m like, this sounds like a good idea. He’s like, I haven’t had to do anything from it. So, I started venturing down that road. I had a lot of failures. I had like, one success. My first success was this little known fish in the Amazon called an arowana. I built a website around that, and it was a ClickBank product. I made some money on that. And then, I moved in…

Andrew:Let’s pause for a second and understand that. What was it on ClickBank that you were selling?

Nick:Here was a product that basically explained how to take care of an arowana, which is a fish that’s pretty big in Asia.

Andrew:I see. So, it’s how to take care of it. It’s an e-book essentially.

Nick:It was at the time, and now the site is defunct. It’s no longer there.

Andrew:It’s gone. It was an e-book on how to take care of this specific fish that I never heard of. Many people in our audience never heard of, but in Asia it was big at the time.

Nick:Exactly.

Andrew:You saw it. Do you remember what it was selling for, and what the commission was on it?

Nick:It was selling for $37, and it was 50% commission.

Andrew:Why would you think that this would have potential? What was it about this product?

Nick:I knew that I had to stop reading about affiliate marketing and build something.

Andrew:But why this?

Nick:I did a random query.

Andrew:This is so random.

Nick:I saw that there was high search volume, and I was like…

Andrew:Ah, tell me about that. What kind of research did you do?

Nick:I did some keyword research, and the book was being sold on a domain, and it had a dash in the name. I picked up the non-dash version of that. I was able to outrank that domain and basically push them to it and review the product. I had no real interest in these arowana fish, but they have a huge following, and basically they’re these fish that jump out of the water and grab bugs off of leaves.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:And so, I knew that they had a following, and I knew that there were some passionate communities, and the main problem was that they didn’t know how to take care of this fish.

Andrew:OK. I’m imagining you just put up a WordPress blog, right?

Nick:Yep. I put up a simple WordPress blog with a free theme, and roughly just six months of tweaking it and playing with it as I was building my e-mail marketing business I…

Andrew:Can you tell me about some of the tweaks you made to it?

Nick:All I did was I put up a simple Wiki originally and had people submit to it, and then I got a little active in the arowana community, just saying, “Hey, my friend had one”, and my friend actually did have one so that was the in. That’s how I knew what an arowana was and had people start building up the Wiki and got a little bit of traction, and then from there just made the home page… It basically had links to this book that it recommended.

Andrew:OK. Did you build a Wiki on top of WordPress?

Nick:Yeah.

Andrew:You did.

Nick:It was actually in another folder.

Andrew:Gotcha. OK. And when you say you went into the community, I didn’t even know there was an arowana community.

Nick:Yeah.

Andrew:You found it, and were they speaking English on these message boards?

Nick:Yep.

Andrew:They were.

Nick:I learned a lot about arowanas at the time. There’s several different types. There’s really rare red ones that will go for thousands of dollars in Asia, and they’re illegal in the United States. So, they have this massive following, and I just kind of got involved in that and figured out what this is all about.

Andrew:Beyond getting people to add content to your Wiki, what else did you have them do, or what else were you in the community to do?

Nick:That was pretty much it.

Andrew:I see.

Nick:I built links on the forum, and that was it.

Andrew:You were just going into the forums, responding, having links coming back to your site from the forum, getting people to add content. You were also writing your own content. Beyond the review, what other content did you write?

Nick:I actually paid for the content to be created via Textbroker at the time.

Andrew:Textbroker.

Nick:Yep which is actually really funny because I never tell that story. C’mon, who cares about a small fish? At the time I realized that if I didn’t start doing this and get my hands dirty, I wasn’t going to get anywhere. I was just gong to keep reading and keep reading. And so, I just took action there.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:From there, the site did pretty well for a few months.

Andrew:What’s pretty well? How much revenue could something like that do?

Nick:Like starting out, it was doing $300 a month, and I was like, yes. I was in college. I was like, this is fun. This is drinking money.

Andrew:What did it cost to build it?

Nick:Just my time.

Andrew:Just your time. Hosting was, what, ten bucks a month, if that.

Nick:Well, I already had a Dream Host account so it was just add another. It was $9 a year and a bunch of time and research, but I got my hands dirty, and from there I got into a ton of other failures and just kept learning from everything.

Andrew:I got to say, Dream Host is an incredible hosting company. I don’t host with them anymore, but I started out with them. The great thing about them is if you pay them $120, I think that’s what it is, you can have unlimited websites on there. I still have unlimited websites on there, I still have unlimited websites with them. I have andrewwarner.com if I come up with another domain I just stick it there. I create a ton of sub-domains when I want to test, it’s just a great hosting plan.

Nick:Yes, I build all my demo sites on Dream Host because I can have unlimited sub-domains.

Andrew:Yes, exactly it’s terrific for that. All right you also mentioned that you’re in email marketing, what does that mean? What did you do?

Nick:Basically I worked with Sotheby’s, which is an auction house here in New York, but they also have branches of luxury real estate firms all across the United States. I was a standard freshman, I just joined a fraternity and I got out and I knew a little bit of Photoshop because I built a T-shirt company, and it folded and I got sued by my school but that’s a whole another story, I knew Photoshop and I saw an add in the paper that this real estate firm was hiring, you needed Photoshop skills, so I applied, got the job for about three months, I told them it was only going to be for three months because it was summer. Streamlined all their business processes, I like building systems and I was basically managing all the work for three people it was all me, and then their email marketing system sucked, it was just bad and I didn’t know at the time if there was politics involved, but basically they were building this email template and then they were sending an email out to a bunch of realtors and they were paying a company to do that and I was like we can do exactly this and I went home, solved the problem, came back, and got hired as the consultant and worked on it while I was in college.

So built that company to serve the same 400 realtors and the average property that I marketed was roughly $2.2 million. That was my business that I grew through college and while I was building my affiliate business, that was like my transition business.

Andrew:I’m sorry, I don’t understand how you go from helping them internally as an employee to change this software maybe and the systems they have for sending out email, to someone running this business that was bigger than that, what was it? What did you end up doing?

Nick:Essentially I streamlined their process in-house and I said, ‘If we set up a constant contact account,’ I knew each email at the time and I just built this email template that was much better. So what’s the problem with real estate? They got pictures of realtors and you don’t want, unless you come with the house and you’re going to cook me dinner, I don’t want to see a picture of you. I want to see a big image. I basically embedded an animated gif into the email and this is before Outlook 2007, which doesn’t support animated gifs and I was able to show five large property images and they converted really well, we’re able to track that, so I built that in-house. I went back to college and I trained someone to do all that because I didn’t see the value in that right away, I was 19, naive, and the person I trained quit. I came back and talked with the president of the company and was like, I’ll do this from college and I totally low-balled myself. They were paying another company to do it $60 and I offered for $15 and I did more work I was like total [??]

Andrew:So basically you just managed their email systems for them?

Nick:Well actually, there was a system that I built on top of their email system. I took what someone was doing in-house, cut the cost they were paying another company by like into a fourth, and then managed everything for me. I ended up [scaling] with that company and then duplicating that with a bunch of other companies.

Andrew:All right, before we get to the good stuff that you did, you said that you made some bad mistakes. Tell me about the dumbest one at the time you seemed smart, but man you look back and say, ‘Of course that failed.’

Nick:My dad is a programmer. My dad built autoloans.com back in 2002 and the site hasn’t changed since then I don’t think and I had access to a good programmer. ‘Dad, I hear the proxy networks are doing really well, we should build a proxy network,’ which is basically, a proxy is a bunch of high school students that want to check MySpace at the time and they couldn’t get on because there was a firewall. So they visited another site that visited that site. So we got a dedicated server and my dad customized like PHP proxy and we did all this advanced stuff to streamline it. We launched a network of 50 proxy sites and it was getting great traffic. I was trying to monetize with a few ads, I was still AdSense is the way, right, and looking back I should of known, and I it ran for a month and our AdSense account cost us like a $1,000 to get setup and our AdSense account had $2,000 and we’re waiting for the check, yes we printed money, this is like if we can do this we can keep duplicating and my AdSense account got cancelled the day before the check was supposed to be cut.

Andrew:Why?

Nick:Because they said we had suspicious activity. We were serving ads on a site that had a proxy. The ads weren’t incentivized or anything.

Andrew:Were you replacing the ads that were on the page with your ads?

Nick:We were not rewriting because I knew that that was against the rules.

Andrew:So, you were popping them on top somehow.

Nick:So, there’s the URL where you just put in the URL and, below it, there was just an AdSense banner.

Andrew:I didn’t know that was against the rules. I thought that was OK.

Nick:It was OK, but I e-mailed them several times, and you know how Google is, especially back then. You couldn’t get through to anyone. So, we shut down the dedicated server that we had and everything. We just kind of folded. If I did it today, it would obviously be affiliate offers because high school students could convert on affiliate offers. I’m pretty sure I could do it today and I was naive back then.

Andrew:What kind of affiliate offers do you show high school kids that they’d convert on?

Nick:I don’t market to high school kids, but if I did, anything they could pay via their phone.

Andrew:I see, because they’re not paying themselves, their parents are paying for it and it’s an instant buy.

Nick:Exactly. So, it’s an instant commission and it may only pay out a couple bucks, but when you have them sitting at school, you have a captive audience, their bored, send them a funny joke on their phone. This would have worked back then. I see it back then and I’m just like “Man, that was a missed opportunity”. But, you learn something from all of them. So, we moved forward and… do you want me to transition?

Andrew:Yeah. Go for it. Tell me about the next big one.

Nick:The big one was, I got into the auto loan industry. My dad had built AutoLoans.com and we decided we might as well use that expertise to build another system. So, essentially, how the auto loan lead market works is you have someone come to the site and they submit their application for an auto loan. You have a system that’s built in the back end that’s called a ping-post system. What this system will do is it will ping another server and say “this is the data that we have available”. From there other people will bid on that data and you’ll send them the data, so it’s kind of like a free market approach. So, we ended up building a network of 50 sites to rank for the city name keywords.

Andrew:Like “Santa Monica Auto Loan”.

Nick:Exactly. So, we did this all over the United States and we did it really successfully. So, this took several months to build and we were doing really, really well and we were getting anywhere between $16 to $26 per lead. I started getting this feeling and I learned more about the industry and I was like “We’re doing great and this is great money, but I feel bad. I can’t sleep at night because I feel like we’re screwing people over. We’re part of a problem” because often, when people have bad credit, they’ll go online to apply for it. They’re coming there because they can’t get a loan from a bank. So, the first thing that came to mind is “Are we sending them to loan sharks?”

It turns out that some of the people who were buying the leads were. And, I was like “This is a problem. I’m not dealing with this”. If I don’t have my ethics, you can’t buy my ethics from me for any amount of money. We spent three to four weeks actually revamping a system to reach out to the auto loan people that applied to find out if they felt like they got sent to a loan shark. So, we were able to connect who were the actual loan sharks and cut them out. It killed my business.

Andrew:It killed your business. Well, first of all, how do you find out whether someone’s a loan shark or not? When you say “loan shark”, do you mean the guy on the corner who breaks your knee cap if you don’t pay? Were those guys were buying from you?

Nick:So, the specific criteria that we asked is “Do you have a weekly payment?”

Andrew:”Do you have” what?

Nick:”Are you forced to have a weekly payment on your auto loan?” So, “Are you having to come in and pay weekly?”. If so, that is a standard criteria of a “buy now, pay here” sort of a place. We don’t want to be a part of that. We want to be actually dealing with legitimate dealers. So, instead of the small place that has 10 cars, we’d rather send them to an actual dealer, but the other dealers don’t pay nearly as much.

Andrew:So, what did that do to your business? Where did the pay outs start and where did they go to?

Nick:They stared at $26 and they went down to $6. We actually get paid $6 today, which is ridiculous.

Andrew:And, can you make a business on $6?

Nick:Yes. So, right now, we’ve revamped all that and we haven’t really touched the business actively since 2008 and right now it makes about $36,000 a year.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:Off $6 a week.

Andrew:Off $6 a week.

Nick:Right. But what we actually…

Andrew:What can’t your ethics be bought? I mean, in fact, why does it even have to be an ethics issue? Why is it that the two people want to make a deal they can’t just make a deal and you get a cut of the revenue? And if you want to do good in the world, then make all this great money and then donate it to people who are in need, right? Three dollars gets you a mosquito net somewhere in Africa that could actually save a life, right? How many nets could you get in return for this?

Nick:Well, exactly. And so, that was one of the questions that I had for myself when I was going through that. I was fortunate that I had my parents taught me a lot about finance growing up, and I went on to get a major in finance, or I’m one credit short of a major because they wanted me to stay for an extra semester.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:But anyways, I had a financial education. I was like, not everyone’s this fortunate, and they don’t know the impact of having a seven auto loan versus a five year auto loan. People are pulling the wool over their eyes, and I’m not going to be a part of that, so we put in an education system that said, “Here’s what you need to look for. Here’s what you need to watch out for. If you have a five year loan, you’re going to be upside down probably” or a seven year loan, pardon me.

Andrew:I see.

Nick:And so, it was more about education because I feel like education is… If they make a dumb deal after they’re educated, great. But if I pass them and I didn’t educate them, I added no value to the equation, to them or to the person on the other side.

Andrew:Why not pass them on the loan sharks with some knowledge and then let them make up their own minds? I’m not pushing you one way or the other, saying there’s…

Nick:Right.

Andrew:I don’t want to be in a position here to make a judgment call. I can’t be an interviewer at the same time and have a point of view that I’m directing you towards. I want to understand you, and that’s why I’m asking this. Why, why take the direction you did instead of any other number of more profitable directions?

Nick:Because it was one project that I worked on. I learned a lot from it, and it still runs, and it was on to the next. Like, once that was streamlined and I wasn’t hurting people, I was like, yes, we can continue to grow this for marginal gains.

Andrew:When you say it’s streamlined, one of the things that you and I talked about in the pre-interview is your love of systems. Tell me about that. When you say it’s streamlined, somebody else runs it?

Nick:No, pretty much all we do is answer e-mails.

Andrew:That’s it. You just answer customer service, but you’re not trying to get blog posts written about it or on it. You’re not trying to find new leads or trying to find new places to sell. No, it just runs.

Nick:It just runs.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:Correct. Essentially the auto loan sites, we spend less than an hour a week monitoring it. And so, that’s a system.

Andrew:How does that sustain itself if it’s SEO based and someone in my audience could come up with a brand new Santa Monica loan web page and just keep working it every day when you’re letting your system just run itself?

Nick:I mean, I have no problem with that.

Andrew:Really? So, you don’t have a system built in to grow. You just say, “I’m building these sites. They have to survive on their own, and then my interest goes somewhere else but they just need to live.”

Nick:Right. They need to survive. For a little while we did some back link building, and we had some articles written through some traditional article marketing for all the sites, but from there it’s like it’s onto the next bigger thing. I don’t know. I could definitely spend time streamlining that, but that’s not what I’m interested in. I like learning a lot about other things. So, my mom told me when I was young and this is funny, she’s like, “Whatever your job is, it has to change every 30 days.”

Andrew:Really?

Nick:My attention span’s pretty short and once I get to a relative expert status, I would say in a field, I would want to move. I want to learn what’s next. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over, so there has to be a system there or else I’m not going to run it.

Andrew:How do you make a system for something in a space that’s so competitive? What do you do to create your systems? Tell me about how you think about systems and how you put them together. I’d like to get better at that.

Nick:The auto loan stuff is based on a SEO system, and there’s a back end system that builds it all. We made sure that there was no human interaction on the back end system that pairs the person with the lead buyer. We made sure there’s no interaction required there, all automated, and then market driven.

For example, if it was going to free market like it was originally and we’d cut out all the loan buyers, what we’d have is a moving average of what we required people the minimum bid to be.

Andrew:OK.

Nick:Based on the market, we would adjust that. That was one way we would set up a system, and now we just go with the straight flat rate. Systems, it totally depends on everything. I like understanding how the whole problem woks, looking out from above and saying, “What if technology was an issue here?” And then, going in and figuring it out.

Andrew:You mentioned earlier the Ping Post system, I don’t understand it. Is it you posting now when you have a lead? You post it to your own buyers? Or do you plug into another system, another marketplace where you submit your leads and they send you payment?

Nick:In the auto loan industry and I’m not afraid to talk about this cause it’s low margins. So in the auto loan industry there is a network known as Detroit Trading Exchange, which has many different lead buyers, and you can ping into their network and everyone will bid on it and they’ll ping you back and say it’s sold, send it to us. That’s how the Ping Post system works.

Andrew:I see, Ok. The system is just built and anyone who wants to be a part of it can be a part of it. They just need to build an intelligent front end.

Nick:Right, and so after years of being in this we don’t sell all of our leads to Detroit Trading, we have our own customer relationships. So if we’re going to talk about big wins for affiliates how do you go from making 100,000 to a million.

Andrew:Uh huh.

Nick:How do you make that jump?

Andrew:Yeah.

Nick:It’s all relationships.

Andrew:So at first you’re just building into marketplaces, meaning you’re getting your affiliates from marketplaces, you’re dealing with reporters in HARO, Help A Reporter Out, that kind of marketplace. It’s all general marketplaces, but when you want to go bigger you have to have the relationships with the buyers, you have to have the relationships with the merchants.

Nick:It’s more like you have the asset. I have sites. I have sites of many different verticals. I have to have the sites and it’s the relationships that will make those sites go from making 1X to 10X. It’s those relationships you can have that can increase your affiliate commissions. You can set up your own arrangements; it’s what you offer to both sides of the equation.

Andrew:Ok.

Nick:In the future, I think there’s going to be a lot more where you can talk about your actual affiliate plays [??] where it doesn’t invite competition, because I know just talking about all other ones, I am inviting competition. I’m not worried about that because I feel good about what we offer. In the future I feel like you have to be able to talk about your affiliate things and have your reputation and your ethics on the line or else you have nothing.

Andrew:I mentioned in the intro that your digital no matter [??] were. Tell me about that.

Nick:So basically, I packed up all of my stuff, I lived in Austin, Texas after college. I got into a bad car accident and I was like man, I could die crossing the street- it’s time to see the world. From there it was tossed everything in storage, booked a flight to South America and spent 4 mouths traveling total. I spent a month in Florida and then several months in South America and then back through the United States.

Andrew:Ok, and the whole time you were working where?

Nick:I was working on my laptop. I actually went back to windows because hey had better, lighter computers that had pretty good processing speeds so I went back to that and just worked digitally wherever I was. I was able to keep it around 10 hours of work a week, if that, and just travel and enjoy myself. I brought my girlfriend at the time along and it was just a good time.

Andrew:How much of the time that it took you to earn the 1 million dollars that I referred to in the intro was while you were traveling?

Nick:All the leg work was before that. To get the marginal gains, it’s relationships. Or to get the gains it’s relationships. You have to have a base there, haying those 15 different sites in our network give use a base. We have opportunities, we know everything about those industries, we know a lot about those verticals. Can we watch all of them at once? No, but we have relationships in those verticals, so we have a competitive advantage. So a person is just going to hop into one of those verticals that we play in, we’re established, and they don’t have relationships- it’s a numbers game.

Andrew:Ok, how did you find working on the road? Sometimes it’s a little hard to stay focused and to get up and to actually look at your work when it’s so much fun outdoors to explore a new country and maybe the night before you were out at some club. What was that like for you?

Nick:So, it’ interesting. One of the things is, if I could be doing anything, it would probably be internet marketing. I enjoy this space, it’s a lot of fun. The hardest thing about traveling and working was actually the internet connections. So we went to El Salvador, Peru and Argentina for 56 days total. In El Salvador they actually steal the copper out of the wires to sell on the scrap market.

Andrew:Wow.

Nick:So we had the equivalent of, I don’t know what they would call it, a 1-G card? You plug it in and I got 8 kilobytes a second, that’s what I had. At the time I was launching How to Turn Traffic and Trust Into Sales and I was doing all the pre-work and I would just log on, write all of my emails beforehand, send them all at once, and then I had to do proofs for the book design. It would take me like four hours to download the book. Then it was like, all right now I’ll go surfing.

Andrew:And just leave it to run in the background while you’re surfing.

Nick:Yep, and it actually timed out two times like while we were out so it took several days to get back and forth on big files. That was the hardest point of it but I’m pretty good at segmenting my time and I enjoy what I do.

Andrew:How did the book go for you? $97 for an e-book? How did you do with it?

Nick:It’s done really well. Total sales are over $30,000 this year in revenue.

Andrew:Total sales of the book that you launched in 2011?

Nick:Yep, in February.

Andrew:$30,000?

Nick:Over $30,000 with the books sold. Part of that is through App Sumo and part of that is through the initial launch.

Andrew:How much through App Sumo?

Nick:I don’t know if that’s something I’m supposed to…

Andrew:I think you can talk. I know one of my past guests is working on a blog post about it to share her numbers.

Nick:Cool. So we did $12,000 in sales in a day.

Andrew:Get out!

Nick:Yeah.

Andrew:And how much of that comes to you? Like a third, right?

Nick:You have to work out your own deal.

Andrew:Oh, got you, right. That’s different for everybody but it’s roughly around there. You’re not getting half or more.

Nick:Right. There’s that and then Chris Brogan approached me to write it. If he hadn’t asked me to write the book there’s no way I would have.

Andrew:Yeah, what is the deal with that? I think in the book you say that Chris Brogan suggested that you write the book. He wanted you to write it for his publishing company or just said, “Hey, I like your stuff. You should go write a book?”

Nick:It was kind of vague. Originally it was going to be a publishing company and then I wrote it and then there was some back and forth. We ended up just launching it as an e-product. So it did really well. I haven’t pushed it hard it all. I pretty much put it up and it was one of those, “This is done. What’s next?” There will probably be a revamp of it in some aspect.

Andrew:It is a great book short of you. I mean I knew about you a little bit but the book gave me a way to really get to know you and to just spend some time with you and to read your ideas. You are not a huge blogger. I’m looking here at my notes here on the research on you. We have a PR web article. We have a Johnathan Fields article, you sent me a few articles, Skimlinks article; so there’s not that much written about you. We were doing some research here. So the book helped me get to know you a lot more. $30,000 is pretty impressive for that. How did you come up with the price? $97?

Nick:It was kind of one of those things. We pre-launched at $67 to create some urgency and then we moved it up to $97 because those were to two best price points to sell e-books through. It was just…

Andrew:It was just another product for you?

Nick:It was just another thing I was working on at the time.

Andrew:How long did it take you to write the book?

Nick:It took me way longer than I expected. I expected to bang it out in like two months and it took me like six. I ended up rewriting it three times. An interesting observation for me when I was writing the book is I was writing it originally for like me; which was totally wrong. It was way too advanced and I started realizing that any time you’re writing… I’m very logical so when I go over and I’m reading it, I’m just like writing this for me and I’m analyzing it with my knowledge. So I had to rewrite it for beginners. So the goal was to create a beginners guide that is based on everything that my success is on that I could have had in 2007. If I had this in 2007 I would have been so far ahead. That was the goal and it took me a lot longer to write that book then it was to write this is the tactics to do this, this is the tactics to do this, this is the tactics to do this. So I spent a lot of time thinking about it. If you knew the theory behind it and you had some actionable tips you’re much better along. My goal was to create something that was more timeless – something that I didn’t have to update every six months as the tactics changed. That was the goal in it. That takes a lot of scoping out and seeing where people are and what they need to do well in the future.

Andrew:It did do that and I’ve got to say it’s frickin’ beautiful. Who designed it?

Nick:Her name is Andrea Goodlin. She’s awesome.

Andrew:She is awesome. Did she do the website too?

Nick:She basically set up a mock-up and then Rich Stets actually helped me CSS it and then I tweaked it even more.

Andrew:That was phenomenal. It looked great. I love that. It actually makes the book feel more valuable when it has that kind of design on it.

Nick:Yep, and it’s amazing what a good design can do. Never underestimate the design.

Andrew:I was actually talking to a listener earlier today who’s just killing it with sales but will not do any interviews with me yet. He says, “No way, Andrew.” But he was showing me his site, how beautiful design increased his sales. He says, think about a Ford dealership versus a Porsche dealership. When people walk in, there’s a certain atmosphere. There’s a certain quality to everything there. That’s what you want to communicate just with design. And then it make the whole product feel like a Porsche when people are driving it, when they buy it.

Nick:I think I know the person that you were talking to.

Andrew:Do you?

Nick:I’ve heard this analogy.

Andrew:You’ve heard him say it a lot? OK. I don’t think I’m doing justice to his ideas, but the guy’s phenomenal. I’ll ask you after the interviews over, to make sure we’re talking about the same person.

Nick:OK.

Andrew:What else worked for you for selling the book? Chris Brogan linking to you, is that big?

Nick:So, Chris Brogan didn’t linked to us with that [??] link. He just straight linked to it. He had wrote a little bit about how [??] marketing pays his mortgage. So he kind of preps his audience. He wrote one post about it. That’s it. And then I had a lot of relationships with names in the [??] industry, like Ray Hoffman, from Sugar Ray. She wrote a great post about it. And then, I mean, it’s just picked off some people on ClickBank that saw it was going well.

Andrew:How did he prep people for it? What did he do psychologically to get people ready to buy from you?

Nick:It’s kind of like, if you’re playing volleyball. There’s someone who sets the ball and then somebody spikes it. He basically was like, [??], this is a big tip. This is how I pay my mortgage, create interest and then this is how you solve it.

Andrew:So, in one blog post he did both of those things?

Nick:Two different.

Andrew:Two different ones.

Nick:About thirty days apart.

Andrew:Ah, so one blog post saying this is how I pay my mortgage, do affiliates, blah, blah, blah. No reference to you? And then a month later says, hey, there’s this new book out.

Nick:He pretty much says I’m working with someone to help, whatever. And then there’s this new book out.

Andrew:Ah, in the first one, he sets it up that way?

Nick:Yup.

Andrew:By saying, hey I’m working with this guy Nick Reese on this book.

Nick:He didn’t mention me.

Andrew:He just said I’m working with someone. That’s it?

Nick:Yup.

Andrew:And his audience remembers it thirty days later?

Nick:Well, I guess so. It did really well. So, besides that and a lot of articles you mentioned, we haven’t done any push for it. And it still sells one or two copies a day.

Andrew:What have you done for the people who gave you all those great quotes? You had phenomenal quotes in the book. I’m not looking to sell a book here. This isn’t why I’m doing it. But I feel like this is finally a product you and I can actually talk about and understand how you market and what works online for you. So, what do you do for guys like Chris Brogan, who, as you said, gave you free traffic that converted for you? Or Yaro Starek [sp]. What did you do for him? He gave you a quote. What did you do for Ray Hoffman?

Nick:It’s knowing people. That’s it. So Chris Brogan approached me to write the book.

Andrew:But he also said that you helped him somehow. It felt to me like he owed you, because you helped him with some big affiliate.

Nick:Derek Kelpburn [sp] made the introduction, and that’s pretty much it. So Derek made the introduction to Chris. Chris said, do you want to write the book? And I said, writing a book is a thankless task, I think is the words that I used. And a little bit later, I changed my mind, and talked to him.

Andrew:What’s in it for him with this book being written?

Nick:So originally there was the whole publishing deal. And there were some miscommunications, so we just set it up, launching it as a e-product.

Andrew:So he wanted to publish it himself?

Nick:You’d have to ask him. But it was up in the air. And there were several months after it was written that we were, like, what’s going on with this? And so we ended up just getting it out.

Andrew:All right. How about one last tip? Something that you were going to include in the book that was for the advanced people that you just couldn’t put in this first version. Give me something that was knock down so good that you were pained to take it out, because you knew your closest friends, the people you admire, would have admired you even more for writing it, and for knowing it.

Nick:You’re good at PR, if you going to be in the affiliate world.

Andrew:Tell me about that.

Nick:Have sites that solve the problem for newspapers, TV stations, radio stations., a traditional PR magazines that can be referenced. Create a micro brand behind it. That’s the biggest thing. Be willing to put your face on everything going forward, because being a place where you’re not adding value to the whole transaction, you’re essentially extracting value. And if you’re extracting value, you don’t have a long term place there.

Andrew:So don’t just create a site that links out to the affiliate programs. Put your face on it and your reputation on the line. I mean public.

Nick:Right.

Andrew:On the same site, so today, if you were creating a website about fish, so that you could see a fish book, you’d put your face on there and do what? How would you do it differently, using what you just told us?

Nick:Today I probably wouldn’t build a site about a fish, I mean the market’s too small. How would I do it today? Can I use an example?

Andrew:Yeah.

Nick:In the pre-interview we talked about, going forward, putting your face on Everything is really important. And so there’s a problem that every small business has and they have a problem with taxes. No one likes to deal with taxes but everyone pays them. It’s like water, you have to have it, you have to deal with it.

Andrew:Right, it’s like that air conditioning example you gave earlier, there’s money on the line and the people are desperate.

Nick:Right, exactly so I’m working with a tax attorney to simplify taxes for small businesses. There’s an affiliate program involved, which is known as Shoe Box which takes tax receipts and scans them in. So what we did is created a guide that’s very simple to use, condenses over a thousand pages of tax documents to a business card. Every business expense that you’ll encounter while you’re traveling, or meals and entertainment purchases because those are the two that people screw up the most on. So that solves the problem, I’ll put my face and reputation on the line for that.

Andrew:So now there will be a website with your name on it that we can actually talk about and see it?

Nick:It’s up. It’s taxreceipts.com

Andrew:Taxreceipts, hang on let me go to taxreceipts.com and when I do that I bet you that our Internet connection is going to go down a little bit so your video is going to suffer for it, all right, this is a standard WordPress blog, right? And I see on this page, let me try this, let me try showing, instead of my screen, I’ll show, instead of my video, let me see if I can show my screen here, let’s see, this could completely backfire but it’s worth it, no, I don’t want to take a risk, they can just go over and log themselves into taxreceipts.com.

Nick:So I’m a big fan of launching [Internet] so this is something big for us I bought the domain just a few months ago, I saw that it was for sale and picked it up, knew there was an affiliate program and I was figuring out, how do you create a win-win situation for everyone involved? Complete strangers win, I win, and then another company wins.

Andrew:So you created this card, I see it right here on the screen two-sided, that’s what you’re showing us on the screen, the front and the back of it, in order to get it I have to give you my first name and my email address and I can even check a box that says send me a physical copy limited to the first 250 people, so I do that, let me do it right now.

Nick:It’s going to send you the cards. This is like a pre-launch, in September-October time frame when taxes are approaching and it’s going to get a lot more interest, the goal is to simplify all of the tax code and let that be free. We’re still trying to figure out the exact station model we’re going to actually sell something probably at some point, but right now we’ve created a partnership, I can’t call it a partnership, an agreement with Shoe Box which solves the tax receipt problem.

Andrew:So you’re going to email people first the card, which will be a PDF document front and back, they print it out themselves and then you might email them afterward and say, ‘Hey here’s an easy way for you to get all your receipts organized online, shoebox.com, click here sign up,’ and when they click there and sign up you get a commission.

Nick:Exactly and what’s in it for, so I said it had to be win-win-win so the big thing is with Shoe Box we set up a free trial where they get 150 free scans to test out the service. We get an affiliate commission. The consumer wins there’s no risk at all. It’s win-win-win, like I don’t want to touch it if it’s not. I don’t want my name associated with it or anything unless it’s win-win-win everyone involved wins. So the goal there is so these people may just download the card and unsubscribe, great, it’s simplified their life, I’m happy.

Andrew:The reason this is different from what you’ve done in the past is because you can put your name on this because you could be upfront about this. How do you get traffic to this?

Nick:It’s, the whole idea is it solves the problem, if it solves the problem you –

Andrew:You know what, I’ve got a lot of listeners right now who are solving problems and no one’s coming to their websites and their dying for people to come in and at least see that they have a solution, if not love their solution then be married to it, how are you going to get traffic to this? They can’t get traffic, how are you getting traffic

Nick:So we launched it yesterday actually, we just put it up yesterday and it’s got roughly 500 opt-ins that have actually downloaded the card. Our conversion rate is not great the whole idea was to get it up, how we got traffic is friends. So most of it is social media traffic right now, we had some friends send out a couple of emails that have small business audiences, and ultimately we’re going to be reaching out to everything from magazines to newspapers to whatever, and my business partner is willing to talk about tax receipts and tax deductions and how to optimize your business. It’s information that everyone needs and there is a problem there because tax attorneys go to school for a really long time, CPA’s go to school for a really long time. Tax code is hard you got to pay to have knowledge, well if you can break it down to general rules and say this is not tax advice and this is not legal advice and you give them readily applicable things that they can use in their business. That’s something people will talk about, especially if you have the right outlets. It’s building a snowball. How do you build a snowball?

Andrew:All right. Here’s your final question. There’s a lot that you couldn’t talk about in this interview. I feel like I pushed before the interview. I pushed during the interview, and we got some good useful information, but there’s even more. My audience wants more. If they e-mail you, will they get more? If there a way for them to connect with you directly? I’ll tell you why I say this. Oren, the author of–where’s the book–Oren Klaff, “Pitch Anything”, he gave out his e-mail address here.

I noticed that some people e-mailed him directly, and he gave them his personal stuff. He felt too guilty to say no to them, so he started sending his own personal pitch tech and all kinds of stuff that they asked for. How do they connect with you? I want them to get to know you and then maybe you feel the same sense of obligation to respond with super useful private stuff for them, too.

Nick:The biggest win and I’ll just keep saying it again, is PR stuff, like figuring out where that value chain is and figure out how to add value to both sides.

Andrew:If they want to connect with you personally…

Nick:And I’m willing to talk about that if they reach out.

Andrew:In private if they reach out to you.

Nick:Correct. If it’s the right fit, yeah. They can find me at nick@nicholasreese.com. So, N-I-C-K@N-I-C-H-O-L-A-S R-E-E-S-E.com. It’s going to be on a case by case basis, but I want to see… I’ve said this my entire life, winning’s no fun if your friends aren’t winning.

Andrew:Well, I’m seeing the collection of your friends are clearly winning, and they seem to love you. All I see is a lot of compliments for you. I did a search for you in my inbox just to prep for this interview to say, “How did I get to know him? What was it that led to this interview? What do I know about him?” And I just saw a ton of references to you in past e-mails. I said, “All right. This guy’s got good friends.”

Well, Nick, thanks for doing the interview.

Nick:Definitely, definitely. I feel like I went much deeper than originally expected. I never thought that the arowana story would come out.

Andrew:Good. I like that. I want my guests to feel that way, that they went a little bit further than they expected. This guy who introduced us, we’re still in the interview here. We’re still recording. This guy, Kade. How does he know you?

Nick:Kade’s working. I know him. I met him at Southwest by Southwest in 2009.

Andrew:All right. Kade, thanks for making the intro.

Nick:We just ended up keeping in touch and I was in New York, and the one thing you didn’t ask me about is…

Andrew:What did I miss? Hit me. Yes.

Nick:The Twitter vigilante story. I can’t believe you didn’t ask me about that. Did that fall off your radar?

Andrew:Tell me about that. I saw it. I wasn’t sure how to connect it in here. This is the Twitter vigilante reclaims a stranger stolen laptop after police refuse to help.

Nick:Yeah. I moved to New York after being in Austin for Southwest by Southwest, and it was my fourth day here. This story ends up blowing up. Basically, I come home. It’s late at night, and I open up my laptop, and someone has lost their laptop on Twitter. I don’t even know about them. My friend, Michael Strako [sp], reaches out and he’s like, “Yo, do you know this guy?” And I’m like, this isn’t my problem.

Long story short, I ended up going to a bar, meeting this girl in a purple sarong, taking out a picture of the guy that he had posted that had stolen the laptop. You see it’s the software on his Mac that could take a screen shot, use the picture, the screen, everything. You put in the GEO coordinates, ended up going to a bar, retrieving the laptop.

Andrew:You went to a bar you found based on the information in the photo, the location information in the photo.

Nick:Right. And the GEO coordinates, and it was just like, confronted the bar owner and got this laptop back. It was like the most stressful situation. It was like three hours, but it’s funny how going the next mile definitely helps and helping complete strangers.

Andrew:You know why I didn’t ask you? Here’s why I didn’t ask you about that. I already had kind of a clever hook to get people interested, the whole digital nomad. To be honest, it’s kind of a weak hook that I picked, but that’s what I came up with.

Beyond that, now that I had my hook I figured I’m too greedy for information that my audience can use. There’s no way that my audience can hear you talk about how you recovered a stolen laptop and go replicate that. So, I said, “What can they replicate that Nick did?” I started fishing around for stuff that they could replicate, and that was my mission for this interview.

Nick:Gotcha.

Andrew:Now, I probably should have done, “How does a vigilante earn nearly a million dollars a year from affiliates?” I just needed some hook so that it’s not just another guy who does another set amount of money from affiliate marketing. I wanted to say here’s a guy who’s a little bit interested, and as we did this interview and I found out that it was just like 56 days you said that you were traveling?

Nick:Yeah.

Andrew:Maybe, that is kind of a weak connection, screw it. It’s not really about that. I just need a little bit of color so that I humanize my interaction with people. And I hide the fact that I’m not really that human. I’m very much like a data monster. I want to come in and attack you and say, “C’mon, Nick. Tell me more data. What else can my audience use? What else can we teach them? What other information can I take for myself?”

Nick:Gotcha. All of that was going on, I was hanging out with Kade at the time. He was like, do you know Andrew? And so, he connected us. That’s how all that ties together as I just moved to New York.

Andrew:Kade, thank you so much for making that introduction. I want everyone, whenever they see somebody interesting, someone who’s accomplished to just think of me the way that Kade did so that we can get the interview up here on Mixergy. Don’t promise them that you’ll do the interview because I don’t want you to put yourself out. Not you, Nick, you can do it.

I don’t want someone in my audience to say, “Don’t worry I can get you on Mixergy.” They make the introduction and then, uh, they don’t really fit and then hurt the guy’s reputation. Say, I think I might be able to pull some strings. We’ll see. Don’t promise them anything.

All right, Nick, this was fun just kind of hanging out here with you. There’s a lot I didn’t get to ask you. I didn’t get to ask you about your necklace. I see that it’s on the same link. I get research here. In the research here I see you and the necklace and a note to maybe bring it up. I didn’t get to ask you why you have a big mike that’s even bigger than me and you’re not a podcaster. We’ll bring it next time. My audience can’t do that much with that information, so I chose to pass it up.

Nick:Gotcha.

Andrew:All right.

Nick:It’s been fun.

Andrew:Thank you. Thanks for letting me ramble. It was kind of fun. It was really fun. I appreciate you doing the interview.

Nick:Definitely, likewise, cool.

Andrew:Thank you. Thanks for watching.

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Share

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Andrew when it comes to affiliate marketing..then I’m all in and have my ears wide open..this is how I make a good chunk of my income.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • BusinessDreamer

    loved the interview and the subject. Note to Andrew – avoid the tangential notes where you talk about yourself (interview logistics, etc.) – its awkward for the interviewee and is a big speed bump to the interview as a whole. But your comments about yourself are interesting in and of themselves, so I wonder if you could save them up for an interview where you interview yourself?

  • Anonymous

    Love it!

  • Cristian

    Hey Andrew, just wanted to thank you and your team for all your hard work, I am very grateful!

    Your site is like the Khan Academy for entrepreneurs

    Keep it up!

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  • Guest

    Is that 1 mil profit or revenue? There’s a big difference. 

  • http://twitter.com/chrisbrisson Chris Brisson

    Wow. Outside the box thinking. Great interview Andrew and Nicholas. Nicholas, do you create your own products or just promote affiliate products?

  • http://www.twitter.com/arthurcundy Arthur Cundy

    Nice! I like the new intro for your videos. Good content as always.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thank you!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Revenue.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Really? I’ll pay attention for it.

  • Anonymous

    I feel this interview left a lot to be desired.  I turned it off about 20 minutes in.  Nicholas didn’t want to give any information about his projects, past or present.  The things he did talk about were very vague.  What did he expect to talk about when he agreed to do this interview?

  • Meegan

    Gotta disagree with the business dreamer, I like when you let us in on your thoughts. It adds a very personable side to your interviews, so please keep it up. I’d love for you to do another interview re affiliate marketing for us viewers who need the super basics. I’d like to learn how I can create a non-sleazy affiliate set up that could pull me in $50k a year. Is this asking alot?

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  • http://Brianmarsh.com Brian Marsh

    You’re kidding, right? I loved this interview. You should have hung around. There was lots of extremely useful information: PR for links,ping/post,niche advice, etc. I wish Nick had of been specific too. I would have been backward engineering his sites and methods during the interview!  But you’re a smart guy for keeping that to yourself Nick.  Now, moving from Texas to New York? Really? Did that sound like a good idea?  (kind of kidding)

  • http://twitter.com/nickreese Nick Reese

    The vast majority of our income comes from affiliate products. Besides Traffic and Trust, which launched in February, we only promote affiliate offers. 

    I have a feeling this balance may change in the future.

  • http://www.adbeat.com Mike Colella

    Andrew, great interview. Good to see more affiliate marketing talk on Mixergy.
    Nick, thanks for sharing some specifics about your business.

  • Zak

    This interview was ace. Andrew you pushed him quite hard, Nick opened up at the end. Learnt a lot of fab stuff from this.

  • IH

    Hey Andrew, you mentioned you used to use Dreamhost but no longer do. Any reason why, and which web hosting company do you use now?

  • IH

    Never mind– just saw the (mt) link way bottom :)

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yup ;-)

  • Jorgos

    That’s funny, I’m of the complete opposite opinion. Making a good interview is very much about building a relationship, not making business. Being yourself very often creates an atmosphere where the interviewee feels relaxed. And it’s under these conditions you discuss things really freely.
    And personally, this is as well the main reason I love Andrew’s interviews. The very personal style, far from the usual uptight and cliché manners in 99 % of other radio shows/podcasts.

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