Episode 39 | How to Learn Marketing Without Owning a Product

Show Notes


[00:00] Robot: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 39.

[00:04] [music]

[00:13] Rob: Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the Podcast that helps developers be awesome at software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it.  I’m Rob.

[00:22] Mike: And I’m so embarrassed to be on this podcast.  [laughs]

[00:25] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made.  You love it!  You love the robot intro!  Admit it!

[00:32] Mike: We were totally scraping the bottom of the barrel with this stuff aren’t we?

[00:37] Rob: [laughs] So we were supposed to record a couple days ago and you cancelled on me.  What was your lame, made up excuse?

[00:42] Mike: Yes, I was outside shoveling snow off of my roof.

[00:45] Rob: And why would you be doing that?

[00:47] Mike: Because it was three feet deep on my roof and we were expected to get another storm.  [laughs]

[00:52] Rob: That’s crazy.  What else has been going on?

[00:54] Mike: Before we were talking a little bit about my Audit Shark product and how I was planning on launching that.  What was it?  We said 8-12 weeks, something like that?

[01:01] Rob: Yeah, for now.

[01:02] Mike: Yeah.  So what I decided was that I actually have to buckle down and put a hard date on it.  And whether that date is realistic at this point or not still kind of remains to be seen.  But I’m targeting June 27th.  It’s the week before the 4th of July.  The 4th falls on a Monday so that will be a short week the following week.  But gives me a full week to get the product hopefully out the door, and then the following week with the long weekend I should be able to work on bugs or address any issues that come up.

[01:31] I’m hoping for that date mainly because it gives me a date to shoot before.  And it’s a little ways after my vacation trip scheduled earlier in June.  So I’m hoping to have everything cleared out of my inbox and all the stuff that needs to be done earlier in June, so that way I can take a vacation and then I come back from the vacation and then deal with the product launch.  Because you know product launches are a lot of work.

[01:51] Rob: Right.  Well cool.  I like that.  I think it’s good that you’re setting a date, because otherwise I think 8-10 weeks would just keep going on forever, you know?

[01:59] Mike: And that’s why I’m setting the date.  I’d really like to just draw a line in the sand and put that date on it.  And if I have to cut features I’ll cut features, but I want it to be done on that date and out the door and have all my marketing ready.  And plus, it gives me a lot of time between now and then to actually get the marketing engine rolling, because that’s going to take a little while.

[02:18] Rob: Right.  No, that’s cool.  So you’re going with more of an Agile methodology.  Yeah, Agile like sets a date and then does sprints every week or every two weeks, and then essentially cuts features if they want to hit the date.  So sounds like that’s the way you’re going.  I think that’s a good call man.

[02:31] Mike: Yep.

[02:33] Rob: Well cool.  So on my end I have several things.  The first one is I don’t know if you’ve heard of Hacker Monthly.  I think I brought it up before.

[02:39] Mike: Yep!

[02:39] Rob: Yeah, it’s basically a magazine that comes out once a month that gathers kind of the most popular stuff that was on Hacker News from the month.  And there’s an editor who does a really nice design and actually puts together a PDF of it that is $3, or you can subscribe to it for a year, or you can order the print version for like $10 a piece.

[02:59] But anyways, I got my first story published in their special edition.  There was a startup marketing edition.  And I’ll drop a link to it in the show notes.  But I thought it was pretty cool.  I actually got the PDF.  It’s a free…this one’s free, so you don’t even pay for the PDF at all.  But it looks like there’s some really good articles in there.

[03:16] And then the other thing I want to throw out, I heard a really good episode of The Lifestyle Business Podcast.  Episode 51 is called: Five Signs You Might be a Loser.

[03:25] Mike: [laughs]

[03:27] Rob: But it’s really good.  Yeah, when I heard it I was like, “Wait, what does that mean?”  But Dan and Ian are the guys on that podcast.  I like them.  I’ve emailed them before and stuff.  But they just did a really solid job.  Basically, what they addressed is when they say loser, they mean someone who kind of doesn’t achieve their goals, or doesn’t launch their product, and doesn’t do all the stuff we’re all talking about doing.  And they just do a really good job addressing a lot of psychological issues of people that stand in their way.

[03:52] So it’s along the lines of some of the episodes that we’ve done and I just think they did a topnotch job of it.  So I highly recommend people who aren’t listening to Lifestyle Business Podcast should check it out.

[04:01] Frankly, micropreneurship that we talk about is more of a lifestyle business that anything.  We just don’t happen to use that word for it.

[04:07] OK, so I have three other things but I’ll be quick on them.  The first one is there is a really cool post called “Productivity hacks for bootstrapping a company in two hours a day.”  It’s a pretty short post but it’s got some nice tips, and it’s done by a guy named Brian Marble.  We’ll put a link to it in the show notes.  But he’s a fan of the podcast and he emailed me, and I definitely think this is something folks who listen to us would like to see.

[04:33] And the other thing is there’s an iPhone app.  After we did our iPhone episodes someone mentioned they created an iPhone app called Mark’r.  Essentially, what it does is it lets you put bookmarks in your audio files, like your podcasts, as your listening to them.  So you just hit a button and it bookmarks it, and then you can later come back and look through all your bookmarks, like when you get home.

[04:58] And actually, this wasn’t the iPhone app that he mentioned it.  It was when you and I talked about doing a running, or I said I was running, and he basically said you could do this instead of trying to carry a notebook or something.

[05:09] Mike: Right.

[05:09] Rob: So I tried the app out and it’s cool.  I was a little confused by it at first.  You either have to listening to a podcast on your iPhone or iPod, and then you like switch into Mark’r and it figures out what you are listening to and where it was, and then you can like hit the button.  Or you just listen to it through Mark’r the whole time and then you just hit the button at any time.

[05:30] Obviously, I wish you could somehow add a button, you know, just a bookmark button into your iPod software.  But certainly Apple isn’t going to let him do that.

[05:39] Mike: Right.  Yeah, I actually downloaded it as well.  I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, so I was interested to see here what you thought about it.

[05:46] Rob: It was cool.  Again, it worked; it did what it needed to do.  But it was a little tough because it would be out of my process.  You know, my process is to listen to it on the iPod software, and so I would actually have to look at it, flip over, and then bookmark it.

[06:00] Mike: Yeah, you’re kinda doing a little context switching no matter what, though.  I mean you’re listening and then you have to pause it and then make your notes or what have you.  But it’s nice if you want to come back to it later, I guess.

[06:12] Rob: Right.

[06:13] Mike: I did realize one other thing.  I’ve been kind of, lately, not necessarily intentionally avoiding Twitter, but I haven’t really been paying too much attention to it lately.  And I checked it a couple of days ago and realized there were all these people who had listened to the podcast from before.  And when I had first started mentioning about some of my database issues that I was going to be running up against, some people had commented saying, “Hey, what kind of things are you looking at?  What sort of problems are you running into to?”  Somebody else had commented that anything below 10 million rows is really not going to be a problem for the database.

[06:46] I just wanted to apologize to everybody for actually slacking off on my Twitter feed lately.  So I’ll be a little bit more diligent about keeping track of what’s going on there and answering people. [laughs]

[06:55] Rob: Nice.  And then I think the last thing for me is I’ve been trying to set up an affiliate program for The Micropreneur Academy, and I’ve gone through and looked at a bunch of different software.  And finally…I mean I spent hours researching it and then I finally decided on iDev Affiliate.  And then I spent a couple hours working with them figuring out if it would actually work, because we have kind of a long process before we sign someone up for The Academy.

[07:18] And it turns out I need to write custom code, which is fine, but I really wanted to make sure everything would work before I did.  So there was a big time investment there.  And then I buy it, I download it, I install it, and it doesn’t work.  And the reason it doesn’t work is because they have anti-piracy stuff built into it, and it’s some…I don’t even remember what it’s called, but it’s a PHP loader component that you need with this anti-piracy stuff.  And it just doesn’t work on like a lot of the big web hosts.  So it doesn’t work on Yahoo, and it doesn’t work on Dreamhost, and I think it doesn’t work on Godaddy.

[07:50] And you can basically do the equivalent of a jailbreak of my hosting account, and I could hack my PHP.ini and do an unsupported mod, basically, and I think that’s the worst idea ever.  So I’m not going to do it.  But it was just so disappointing and I’m really frustrated.  The anti-piracy stuff—it’s just so rare that it actually is worth it.  All it’s doing is making me mad at this point.

[08:12] And I think we’re probably going to go with another option.  I’m either going to host another hosting account, just a cheap $3 or $4 hosting account, or we’re going to have iDev Affiliate host it.  They’ll do it for $5 a month and that might be the best way. But such a bummer, man.  Anti-piracy stuff pisses me off.

[08:26] Mike: Yeah, when you’re talking about the options for anti-piracy, people seem to think that they’re going to lose a lot more than they probably will.

[08:35] Rob: Yeah, I think our stance…We’ve talked about it before, but our stance has always been not to do it.

[08:40] Mike: I wasn’t always of that persuasion, I’ll say.  There was a time that I felt, “Oh, I’ve got to make sure that I lock it down and make sure that we’re not losing sales, and this and that.”  And I realized after a while that it was not only a lot more trouble than it’s worth, but you’re actually hurting your legitimate customers.

[08:57] Rob: Yeah, that’s the problem I see with it.

[08:58] [music]

[09:01] Mike: So today we’re going to learn how to market through affiliate marketing.  And basically, what that means is that one of the issues that a lot of people run into is they decide to build a product or they want to start getting into running their own business and selling their own products, but the problem is they don’t necessarily have a product yet.

[09:19] And because learning how to do marketing takes a fair amount of time to kind of get used to and comfortable with, there’s a lot of time that is lost in developing your product and building something before you even get to the point where you’re trying to market it.

[09:32] And that’s a probably because you’re not marketing something and you’re basically just not learning anything.  So you’re building this product that may or may not sell well because you aren’t learning how to effectively market it.

[09:44] So with affiliate marketing, what affiliate marketing does is it allows you to jump right into marketing a product without having gone through the time, effort, and expense of building that product.

[09:55] Rob: Yeah.  And, you know, I think affiliate marketing has a bad name, but only because there are people who do it poorly using spam and scams and stuff.  You can absolutely do affiliate marketing well.  You can do it ethically and you can do it in a way that provides a lot of value to people looking for a solution, especially if it’s a crowded marketplace; if it’s like web hosts, or telecom providers, or certain types of business software.

[10:20] Because, frankly, those kinds of things are really hard to understand for someone just coming into the market.  And if you get an intimate knowledge and you write up helpful reviews that are authentic and that really point out the plusses and minuses, and then you happen to put affiliate links in there, that’s like a…you’re providing real value to someone there.  And that’s just one example of many different ways that you could do it.

[10:44] I think the thing is marketing is really hard to learn by reading.  You can get some ideas of some concepts, but it’s so much easier to learn once you do it.  And the more experience you get the easier it becomes.

[10:55] The problem is, is that building your own product comes with a ton of market risk—that there might not be a market. We talked about this before.  And it also takes hundreds of hours that you may not be able to invest.

[11:08] Mike: That’s one of the reasons why marketing somebody else’s product as an affiliate can be such a good solution to that problem.  I mean it’s obviously not for everybody, but it really removes a lot of the big roadblocks that Rob mentioned before, such as the market risk and the lack of time to build a product.

[11:22] And if you know anything about marketing or building products, you’ll know that the lack of marketing or bad marketing can kill an idea or a product no matter what.  I mean you can have the best product in the world, but without some solid marketing behind it, you’re going to fail.

[11:37] I mean if you’ve ever looked at a lot of the enterprise software out there, there are some God-awful products out there and people pay a lot of money for them.  And the reason they pay a lot of money for them is because they have great marketing engines behind them.  And don’t get me wrong, they spend a lot of money on those marketing engines, but the fact is that those marketing engines work and that’s what sells products.

[11:55] Rob: Right, exactly.  And I think I want to throw out a couple examples of products that I’ve done affiliate marketing for.  And it’s not things that I’ve specifically gone out and built websites for per se, but it’s things that as I’ve maybe built an audience on my blog and I recommend something, where I genuinely use it and recommend it, but it happens to have an affiliate program.  And that’s the kind of stuff that I’ve done here.

[12:21] So I’ll throw it out.  Like Mozy, which is an online backup service, I have used it for a couple of years and I recommend it on my blog.  And yes, I have an affiliate link and I make a little bit of money from there.  I also recommend web hosting based on what I use and what I’ve had experience with.  I recommend Legal Zoom, which is a cool online service that helps you get a lot of the business legal stuff done.  Tons of books on Amazon, MailChimp, which you and I both use and like, and those types of things.

[12:50] So these are other examples, not just specific products that you’ll maybe find on Clickbank or EBooks, or stuff that people might have in mind, but actual big name services that we all know about that really just offer an affiliate commission, and that if you build up an audience, basically you can recommend to people the things you use, you can tell them why, and you’re actually, again, providing a service to people because you’re helping eliminate some confusion and you’re helping save them time by recommending some products that are actually working for you and that, therefore, will probably work for them.

[13:19] Mike: So one of the things you’re probably asking yourself at this point is, you know, “Why should I bother listening to the rest of this podcast?  Because affiliate marketing really isn’t for me or it’s not my thing.”

[13:29] The real question you should ask yourself is why is it that you do not want to do this?  Because through the process of doing some affiliate marketing, you’re going to learn about marketing.  And one of the things that you’re doing now just by listening to this podcast in general is, probably, you’re learning a little bit here and there about marketing.

[13:45] And that’s what doing affiliate marketing can do for you.  It can help teach you about how to do marketing and what sort of things are effective, what sort of things are not effective.  So when you go about marketing your own products, you’ll know what is effective and what’s not effective and stop wasting time on the things that don’t work, and you’ll have a better overall view of how the marketing world works.

[14:06] And you really have to think about why is that you don’t want to do this?  What’s the real reason that you don’t want to do this?  And it has to come back to your goals and what it is that you’re trying to do.

[14:15] Rob: Yeah, I think there’s a stigma against affiliate marketing for a couple reasons.  One that I mentioned before of some people who do it do it in a scammy way.  And I think that’s a bogus excuse.  I mean I think if that’s why you don’t want to do affiliate marketing, I think you kinda need to get rid of that attitude right away, because you can do it ethically, like I said.

[14:33] The other thing is a lot of developers will say, “No, I have this great idea!”  Or, “I want to find a great idea.  It’s really important for me to have this idea and to own it and to build it myself.”  And I would really question that instinct.  I would ask you, where did that come from?  Has that been beaten into you by all the magazines you’ve read or by the interviews you’ve read and you feel like in order to be successful that you have to build your own product?  I don’t know.  I question that.

[15:00] Even if to be successful you need to build your own product, I question if it’s the first thing that you should do, because I think your chances of failure are a lot higher if you don’t know the marketing side of it, and that’s something that affiliate marketing can teach you.

[15:13] When developers come to me and they say, “I need to learn online marketing.  How can I do it?”, the last thing I tell them to do is build a product, right?  That’s no way to do it.  I typically suggest doing something like this; like either starting a blog and building an audience or just figuring out another product that someone has already built so you don’t have to go through the time of doing it and figuring out a way to market it better than they do, because there are a lot of products out there with bad marketing and you can improve on it pretty quickly.

[15:40] So with that in mind, there are obviously some limitations of affiliate marketing; I mean there’s some drawbacks to it.  And I think the first one is that your choice of products is a bit limited.  So if you have a completely unique idea that’s just burning inside you, then yeah, affiliate marketing isn’t for you.

[15:56] Personally, like I said, I think this reason is a bit of a copout; it’s a bit over exaggerated.  I think there are some people who have to work on their idea and have to get it out.  But I think for most of us there are plenty of good products that you can become an affiliate for in almost every niche that you can think of; even like comic book collecting, wine collecting, tracking an inventory.  I mean you start getting into some smaller niches and there’s still some stuff out there that you can be an affiliate for.

[16:24] Mike: Another limitation is that you really aren’t creating anything.  And there’s people out there who really want to build something new.  And affiliate marketing really kind of flies in the face of that, because what you’re doing is you are building kind of a marketing engine, but you’re not really building a product of any kind; you’re not really responding to customer requests or customer demands about what a particular product can do for them.

[16:47] One of the problems people might identify with affiliate marketing is that you don’t actually own the products.  So you’re kind of at the whim of whoever is offering the product as an affiliate to you. But chances are that if you’re doing well, they’re not going to cut you off at the knees.  I mean they’re going to do whatever it takes to help you out.

[17:05] But again, I mean you don’t actually own the product.  So you’re doing a lot of the legwork upfront and you don’t necessarily own the product.  So if you want to take things in a different direction, you don’t necessarily have the product management responsibilities to do so.  I mean you can kind of guide it through your marketing efforts and help try and position it to be doing something, and hopefully that will encourage the developer or developers behind it to go in that direction.  But you can’t force them to do that. Whereas you could if it was your product.

[17:33] So that is one of the other limitations you do have to be aware of.  But as long as you’re OK with the fact that what you’re doing is you’re trying to learn how to market a product and that’s what your real goal is here, then doing affiliate marketing is definitely a step in the right direction.

[17:48] Rob: And realistically, there is some competition in most markets that you’ll be in.  So, as an example, I have done some affiliate marketing, or, as I said, linked to Mozy before.  And if they started doing stuff that was weird or that I didn’t like, there’s like a zillion others in that market.

[18:05] And same thing with, obviously, web hosting and MailChimp.  You know, all these companies have competitors, and so you can always find, basically, a better provider if there is something wrong.  I shouldn’t say always, but you can almost always find a better provider.

[18:20] [music]

[18:23] Mike: So there’s three basic steps to doing affiliate marketing.  The first step is that you need to find a product.  And one of the ways that you can do this is you can go out to some affiliate websites such as Clickbank.  And Clickbank.com is a place where you can go and you can sign up and you can look for products that will actually have affiliate programs already attached to them, and you can simply look through those.

[18:46] There’s tens of thousands of products out there that you can choose from to try and promote.  And you pick one or two or 10, or 15, or 20 that you like and you sign up for the programs and you start marketing those.

[18:58] Rob: Yeah, and the other popular one is Commission Junction.  It’s CJ.com.  As Mike said, I mean Commission Junction and Clickbank are pretty similar.  It’s just a big repository of products that other people have built.  There’s some software in there, there are some physical products, and there are a lot of e-books.

[19:15] And, you know, as a warning, a lot of the stuff, a lot of the e-books, especially, on Clickbank are kinda junky.  So you kinda gotta either read through the stuff and ask for a review copy or purchase a copy before you basically commit to putting your name into promoting it.

[19:30] But what these give you, the benefit of these, is they’re just really big repositories and they give you kind of an idea of what you should expect from promoting an affiliate product.  And typically, if it’s a digital good, you’ll get anywhere between about 25% and 70% commission.  So it’s pretty substantial compared to, like, Amazon’s 4% or 5% commission.  There are really big margins here. With physical goods it’s a lot less because the seller’s margin is a lot less.  So you’ll often see between, I’d say, about 4% and 15%.

[20:02] And then the other advantage of using these services is you search through and you can just get an idea of a lot of different niches.  And even if you don’t specifically use a product from there, you can often go off and, once you have a niche, just search for products on Google and go down to the bottom of every product’s page and it usually has an affiliate link.  So you can just go that route.

[20:22] Mike: So an alternative to, obviously, just finding a random product is if you are planning on building a certain product type, what you can do is you can go to Clickbank or Commission Junction and you can find another product that is already selling to those customers and start marketing it to them.  And what that will do is it will help you to understand how to reach the target market you are eventually going to be building your product in so that you can address their needs and can convince them to come to your site and market to them effectively.

[20:53] Most products have an affiliate program of some type, and you just basically have to look through Clickbank and Commission Junction to find them.

[21:01] Rob: Or you can go to the product’s website itself and scroll down to the bottom and there’s often an affiliate link.

[21:07] So I think a good example of this would be something like Visual Website Optimizer and Optimize.ly; those are two split testing engines.  And if you wanted to market to kind of startups and you had a service, maybe, that was an analytics service or that just had something to do with someone starting their company, you could start off by trying to figure out a way to market either of these products, either Optimize.ly or Visual Website Optimizer.

[21:31] Both have affiliate programs, as I said.  And if you built kind of an audience around it and started providing people with value and then essentially sold this software to them, then when it comes time for you to build your app, then you already have this audience that you’ve built, and it makes it a heck of a lot easier.

[21:46] So that was step one; that was finding a product.  Step two is to decide on your approach.  Mike and I are going to toss around two approaches.  There are a bunch of them, but we’re going to toss around two, and they depend on your interests and abilities which one you want to pursue.

[22:01] So the first one is to just build an audience.  It’s to start a blog or start a podcast.  This is best for kind of a multi-product strategy.  It can ideally lead you to creating your own products later.  But affiliate marketing is a great way to make a bit of money before you have the time to build your own product, as we’ve stated.

[22:17] But this approach is less standardized.  It’s not the affiliate marketing approach a lot of people think of.  But when you look at a log of bloggers, especially in the blogging niche, like Pro Blogger and Copy Blogger, and people kind of talking about online marketing, they actually build an audience and then will recommend resources that they use, and do a pretty good job of it.

[22:37] And even if you look at most startup blogs, they often have links to stuff that they use, like web hosting, as I do with Mozy and Legal Zoom and all that.  And they can make a little bit of money off of it.  So that’s the approach, is to build an audience.  And, of course, building an audience is pretty hard.  It depends on your interests and abilities.  It takes a lot of work.  But if it’s something that excites you and you really want to do that, then it is absolutely a decent approach to affiliate marketing.

[23:01] Mike: So the second approach we’re going to talk about is driving traffic.  And typically, when you’re talking about driving traffic, you are focusing on either SEO or PPC, which is pay-per-click, and it’s best for single-focused affiliate marketing strategies.

[23:16] So there’s two main approaches that you can try here.  The first one is a one page sales letter approach, and the second one is using a traditional sales website.  And it might be easy to look at these two different approaches and say, “Well, it’s going to be a lot easier for me to build a one page sales letter as opposed to a full blown website that’s going to have several different pages.”

[23:36] And that’s not necessarily true, because there are a lot of things that you put on a single page, and those same types of things are going to have to appear on this website, just in multiple places.  And what you’re going to have to do is you are going to have to figure out where to put everything.  And where you put things is going to make a huge difference in what your conversion rates are going to be.

[23:56] Depending on where you put a particular button a one page sales site, that may have an effect, what color that button is, if you have a multi-page sales site, that’s going to make a difference, where you put some of the different content, how you word it.

[24:11] All of these factors really relate to one another.  And it can be very difficult to figure out exactly how to put together the sales website in such a way that is going to drive traffic for you.  In addition, you also have to pay attention to the SEO capabilities of the single page versus a traditional sales website.

[24:30] So those are the types of things that you’re going to learn as part of going through this process.  But which approach you decide on the product type and the audience that you’re trying to get into.  There’s been some very successful review websites that provide a lot of detailed review of several different affiliate programs or products in the same niche, but you have to be really careful, because you have to be honest about what it is that you’re trying to sell and not simply promote something that gives you the highest commission, because those things tend to be obvious.

[25:00] If you are trying to sell something and your sole goal is to make as much money as you possibly can, it’s going to come through.  And whether or that’s intentional or not, it doesn’t matter.  It’s still going to come through that you’re focusing on selling something with very little regard as to whether it’s a decent product.

[25:17] Rob: Yeah, and there are other approaches to affiliate marketing, obviously.  We’ve just laid out two of them here and we’re actually running out of time.  So I think that we have a resource to recommend at the end.  If you are really interested in this, that might be your next step.

[25:30] So those are the first two steps, and the last step is to get started.  As with anything, it’s really easy to sit and do research and think about it.  But to actually register a domain and to get started writing copy, those are the hard parts.

[25:43] And that’s why I would almost encourage you to pick a pretty simple product, low-priced, and to do a one page sales letter, because it eliminates the option of procrastination, because you should know how to do that.  You should know how to install WordPress.  You can find the one page sales letter themes.  There are several of them for like $20.  You buy one, you install it, and you write some copy.  I mean this is a couple hour process.

[26:05] So it really gets you kind of to the nuts and bolts, where the rubber meets the road quickly so that you have to then focus on the real work, which is doing the SEO or doing the pay-per-click.  And there’s going to be a huge learning curve there, but that’s why you’re doing this is so that when you decide, if you decide to build your own product after this is over, or once you have this automated, then you really know how to do it.

[26:24] And so, that’s the third step, is to really get started and to not sit there and focus on doing research.  Because all of us, I think, tend to do research just as a procrastination tool.

[26:32] [music]

[26:35] Rob: The last thing I want to throw out is a resource.  It’s kinda hard to recommend something in the affiliate marketing space because so much of it is junk, like if you search online.  It’s basically a lot of people trying to promote an expensive product to sell you.

[26:47] But the one book that I’ve found…I’ve probably read six books on affiliate marketing and they were terrible.  And the one that I’ve found that’s decent has a terrible title.  It’s called “How I Made My First Million on the Internet and How You Can Too”.  It sounds like the worst book ever.

[27:00] But this guy actually made a million bucks on the internet as an affiliate.  He taught himself and he has a very specific approach that he outlines in this book.  Now he also, of course, tries to upsell you later to his $300 info product.  But there’s a lot of stuff in this book that I didn’t know beforehand.  And I think if you really want to go down this road, you should read this.

[27:18] And then beyond that, there are a handful of blogs that I will link to in the show notes.  And that should be it.  If you are interested in getting started, I think following some further resources is probably your best approach.

[27:29] [music]

[27:32] Mike: And now it’s time for a listener question.  The listener question we have for today is from Brad Marsh, and he says, “I recently built a side project website called LitLift.com.  It’s a novel writing application that I created in order to allow me to make better use of my limited writing time.  I released version one of the application as a free web service and have been able to get quite a few signups to the site.

[27:54] My question is now that I have an idea for monetizing the site, what are the legal steps I need to take to turn the project into a product?  I personally bought the domain name and signed up for the hosting service.  Would I need to transfer that stuff to a newly formed company?  And if so, how?  Love the show and keep up the good work.  Thanks, Brad.”

[28:10] So typically, we don’t like to answer questions that are more legal in nature, but in this case I believe we’ll makes something of an exception.  And again, as always, this is not legal advice.  But what I found when I was in this particular situation is basically all you do is when you actually create your company, whether it’s an LLC or a Sub-Chapter S or Sub-Chapter C, however the legal entity comes about, essentially, all you need to do is you need to transfer those assets.

[28:39] And it can be as simple as one sheet of paper that just says, “I, so and so, transfer my rights and titles of this to the legal entity of X”, whatever your company name is.  And then you sign it, and then you sign it again as the company president.  And pretty much that’s basically the end of it.

[28:58] But really, all you’re doing is you are establishing ownership of that intellectual property.  And in my mind, all that really is, is just putting it in a very specific place so that if you were to get sued, for example, you could say, “No, I don’t own it.  The company does.”  And in most cases that would be self evident.  But in some cases, if your company is newly formed and somebody files a lawsuit the day after the company is incorporated, that may not be the case.

[29:28] But you should check with a lawyer just on the details of the logistics of how to get that done.  I think a simple phone call would probably do it.  I mean it could also be something that as you incorporate your company, you just ask your attorney and he’d probably just answer it for free on the spot and just say, “This is exactly how you do it.”  But that’s the approach that I would do, is when you go out and you actually incorporate, just talk to your attorney and say, “How do I go about doing this?”

[29:51] [music]

[29:54] Mike: Well that wraps it up for today’s episode.  If you have a question or comment, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690, or you can email it in MP3 or text format to questions@startupsfortherestofus.com.

[30:08] If you enjoy this podcast, please consider writing a review in iTunes by searching for “Startups”.  You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com.  A full transcript of this podcast is available at our website: startupsfortherestofus.com.

[30:21] Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons.  We’ll see you next time.

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4 Responses to “Episode 39 | How to Learn Marketing Without Owning a Product”

  1. Hi guys,

    I’ve listened to all your podcasts, great stuff; thank you!

    Rob, I was wondering if you have an affiliate program set up for your book, “Start Small, Stay Small”?


    • Aside from the Amazon affiliate program, I don’t have one setup. It’s been on my to-do list for a while, but there are a few issues that I haven’t had the time to resolve. If you have a platform and are interested in serving as an affiliate drop me an email via http://www.softwarebyrob.com/about.

  2. Ordered “How I Made My First Million on the Internet and How You Can Too!” through your site. Sketchy name, not sure if I would have ordered it without your recommendation. @ReadTree

    • Yeah, the title is terrible. The writing isn’t fantastic, but the guy is a very knowledgeable (and successful) affiliate marketer.