Famous Bloggers

How I Got on Ryan Deiss’ Leaderboard AND Won an IPad with a Tiny Email List

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing sounds easy. After all, how else can you start making money online without a product, a store, a website, right?

Plus, there are so many folks out there who are making it HUGE with affiliate marketing. They are at the top of their game. They make $150K+ per month just by sending out a few emails to their massive lists.

And they can teach us how to do it.

However, let me put some brakes on this runaway train of thought.

You CAN’T and you SHOULDN’T learn affiliate marketing from Super Affiliates.

You know why?

Because you are not them, so you can’t sell like they do.

When an email subscriber gets a promotional email for any given product from you AND a super affiliate, who do you think they are more likely to buy from?

The odds are stacked against you because a super affiliate:

Still think you can compete with that?

Not a chance.

Super affiliates know that when it comes down to promoting the next hot launch of the month, the odds are definitely in their favor.

Also, consider this: those top dawgs have huge lists, so they can afford low conversions.

After all, if they have a list of only (he-he) 1ooK subscribers and a miserly 1% of them will buy a $50 product with 50% commission, that’s $25,ooo in their pocket with just one email.

And what’s your take for the same promotion if your list is MUCH smaller than that?

With 500 subscribers on your list and the same conversion rate, you’ll make a whooping $125.

And if your list is 200, then your take is $50.

Doesn’t come anywhere close to their $25K, right?

It’s commonly said that you should work towards earning $1 per subscriber per month from your list.

A super affiliate with 100K subscriber base will, no doubt, be very happy to earn that – all with a minimal effort on their part.

Do you make anywhere close to that with your list?

Still think affiliate marketing is something you want to go for? LOL

I hope I didn’t scare you straight because believe me, there’s some hope for the rest of us (i.e. not super affiliates) in this post.

The trick is that we have to work a lot smarter than they do.

My Recent “Competition” with Super Affiliates

Despite everything my common sense told me, I recently chose to promote one of Ryan Deiss‘ affiliate offers.

Just in case you don’t know who Ryan Deiss is, he’s “up there”.

He’s the guru. He’s the top dawg. He’s the guy that makes enough money to afford to maintain a staff of experts that cost him about $200K PER MONTH.

For most of us in online marketing, it’d take years to make that much money with all our online efforts combined.

With a reputation like that, Ryan Deiss’ affiliates are the cream of the crop as well – the super affiliates that we can’t touch.

And yet…

Take a look at this screenshot of an email Ryan sent out announcing the leaderboard of his recent launch of Digital Marketer Lab:

Dan Kennedy? Eben Pagan? And… Ana Hoffman?

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this.

And I was absolutely speechless when, some time after the launch, I received a package containing my brand new IPad! I actually won an IPad… competing with all those super affiliates… all with about 1,400 subscribers

No, I am not saying all this to blow my own trumpet. Well, maybe just a little bit.

My not-so-secret secret lies in the fact that my email list, although small (it’s just about 2,500 subscribers right now), is very TARGETED and RESPONSIVE.

In the screenshot above you can see the four pre-launch emails I sent out to my list. You see the total number of recipients in the first red box. The second red box shows the open rate (about 60%, which is exceptionally good) and the click-through rate (about 18% on average).

All in all, my email marketing efforts yielded 335 opt-ins, a nice paycheck, an IPad, and bragging rights, which I am very happily bragging about right now.

How Did I Do It?

The good news is I am no super affiliate – far from it, so all the tips I am about to share with you are actionable and can be applied to ANY blog and list size.

Some of them are very common-sense and you already know about them (BUT do you apply them?) and some of them might be completely new to you.

Either way, here’s how you can dominate affiliate marketing with very little resources:


This is one of those obvious points, but the one that is the foundation of successful affiliate marketing.

A lot of newbies ask me why they aren’t making much money with affiliate products.

My common response to them is to ask these questions in return “Have you built relationships with your readers? Do they trust you? Do they even know who you are?”

It goes without saying that if their answer is no, then they know exactly why they are not making much money.

I work very hard to build relationships with my readers and my list. I know many of them by name. I know what they do for a living. I know how many kids they have. I know what their struggles are.

In turn, THEY know they can come to me with any questions and I will ALWAYS respond to them.

That’s why they trust me.


It does help to be an authority of sorts in the blogosphere, I won’t lie.

Many people know who I am before they ever come to my blog for the first time: they see my guest posts, comments on other blogs, they read posts mentioning me on other blogs. They are already familiar with me before they ever “set foot” on my blog.

But before you throw your hands in the air and say “I can’t compete with that; no one knows me!”, let me tell you this:

Traffic Generation Cafe was started in July of 2010 – it’s barely a year old. NO ONE ever heard of me before then.

FamousBloggers.net isn’t even 2 years old.

And I can go on and on with the list of blogs that we would consider to be an authority in their niches, yet they are baby-blogs of the blogosphere.

Building a popular blog doesn’t involve magic. Just plain old-fashioned hard work and a little outside-the-box thinking will do.

So don’t go crying that no one knows you; do something about it and, who knows, maybe in a year or two you’ll have a FamousBloggers.net in your hands.


There are two sides of the coin for this one.

Sure it makes sense to pick affiliate programs that are relevant to your niche, that you’ve used before yourself and know for a fact that these programs are the real deal and will definitely benefit your subscribers.

The most sure way to lose their trust is to do otherwise.

However, there’s a different side to this equation: YOU.

After all, you are in it to make money, right? So you need to learn how to find the best affiliate marketing programs that pay and make sure you promote only the ones that benefit BOTH you and your readers.


There’s a lot of talks in the blogosphere about not needing to build a list any longer.

It’s an “old-fashioned way of doing things”.

I say that it’s the people who don’t know how to build a list, never built a list, and never experienced the power of having one that say that.

The proof? Just see the screenshots above.

I would have never been able to achieve these conversion rates if it hadn’t been for my list. As a matter of fact, that was the primary way I generated all those leads and sales, period.

BUT not just any list will do.

I know of plenty of bloggers who are obsessed with list building and have 10K subscribers. However, they’ll never achieve the same open and click-through rates as I do with my miniscule, compared to theirs, list.

If you wonder where on your blog you should add optin forms to maximize your list building efforts, take a look at which pages bring me the most subscribers.


This is truly one of my secrets that allowed me to effectively communicate with a targeted number of subscribers who trust me.

Here are some of the ingredients of maintaining a healthy email list:

  1. Don’t sell – much. Obviously, you have to be cautious about sending out too many promos and not enough value. Too much selling is the easiest way to lose trust and subscribers.
  2. Do sell – some. But don’t be afraid of occasionally sending promo emails either. If some people end up unsubscribing because of it, good riddance I say. After all, you are in business to make money and your list needs to know that.
  3. Don’t do “canned”. There’s nothing worse than getting automated emails in our inboxes, wouldn’t you agree? Forget canned. Talk to your readers. For instance, I send only one canned email to my subscribers – my very first one, in which I tell them that this will be the only auto email I send, what to expect from being on my list, and a fair warning that I might occasionally send out promo emails (getting them used to the fact that I am in it to make money AS WELL AS provide pure value.)
  4. Stay in touch at least once a week. Twice is even better. Anything more than that and it’ll get overwhelming. Anything less than that and they’ll forget who you are – really.
  5. Be to the point. No one wants to read mile-long emails; who has the time or the energy, right? Be precise and to the point. Make sure you have one call to action per email (although, to be honest, I break this rule all the time).
  6. Deliverability. Your email autoresponder is in charge of getting your emails out to your subscribers, and you’d better make sure yours does a good job at it. Both Hesham and I highly recommend Aweber as our choice of autoresponder service. Feel free to see why I chose it in my full Aweber review.
  7. Clean your list. This is the reason my list is so small, but so responsive. Every once in a while, I do some “spring cleaning” of my list: get rid of unsubscribes, undeliverables, and those who haven’t opened your emails for a while. Plus, keeping your email list lean saves you money since most autoresponders charge you by the number of subscribers you have, including those who unsubscribed, etc.

For step by step instructions on how to do list cleaning, DEFINITELY read this post:

Bottom Line

Affiliate marketing is never out of reach, whether you are a newbie or a seasoned blogger.

You just need to find ways to promote yourself better that the other guy or gal that works for YOU and YOUR niche.

Don’t be a copycat. Make others want to copy you.

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