In my first year of university I was obsessed with finding a way to generate passive income. Eventually, I settled on digital marketing and affiliate marketing as the area that I would pursue my new ambitious goal. So as I regularly do when I have a new shiny goal to work towards, I completely immersed myself in everything I could find. But this time I did something a bit different. After a brief period of research I jumped straight in, starting my first affiliate site and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
During the first 3 or so months where I was working on this for sometimes up to 12 hours a day (instead of having a summer) I can confidently say that I learned more than I did during my entire formal university education.
At the start I could have spent weeks rethinking the design for a perfect logo or whether the width of the content should be full page or not. But instead I opted to go for a lean-esc, unoptimised approach. An approach that didn’t mean I got bogged down with analysis paralysis. It’s where I started with incomplete knowledge and learnt as I went.
For me, the best way to make something stick is by tackling a difficult, related problem and having to work my way through to a solution. On my first site I employed this method and learned from mistake after mistake. After each I knew that I was getting closer to the right answer and also knew what not to do. Taking an active learning approach such as this is even scientifically backed up as the most effective form of learning.
Not only did I learn more than I would have if I had taken a bloated $2,500 affiliate marketing course, but it was also considerably more engaging and rewarding because I knew I had to, and eventually did, figure it out myself on my own creation.
I definitely think that there is obviously a lot of value in thinking and analysing given the right circumstances. For my first site I spent about a week researching and I would say that that week is arguably the most important week for the success of the site as that allowed me to gauge the niche and see how much opportunity there was there. But as a learning process, just starting was much more valuable. (However, you could also say that the research was in fact me ‘just starting’ as I wasn’t analysing the situation, I was working on the project)
Everything that I learned on my first site, which is still making me up to $100 a day for virtually no work, I then managed to employ on my second site during the next summer. This time the process was very similar, a week or two of research and then a very busy couple of months building the site, creating the content and optimising it through SEO. I think this website was the best proof of how ‘just starting’ something can accelerate learning. This time I managed to set up the site in less than half the time I did before, the content was created in less time and it was optimised considerably better this time around.
Here’s some quick examples and numbers from the second site:
- After about 6 months I had a click through rate to affiliate partners of between 100% and 150% depending on which month you looked at. This was consistent until I sold the site.
- Instead of the roughly $1,500 a month the first site was making, this had an average of about $3,500.
- The second site was eventually sold for over $100k after less than 2 years.
For me the best aspect of learning this way is that if I’m working on the right projects they can not only help me learn but also can have additional benefits to me and real value to other people. From my examples, the websites I created brought in a sizeable financial benefit for me and helped real people in their buying decisions. Whilst maybe not the most noble or philanthropic venture, it was certainly something that drastically changed my life for the better in numerous ways and, I’d like to think, helped people with decisions that could have been long and frustrating.
So next time you’re thinking of learning a new skill or setting out on a new venture, whether it be digital marketing, making passive income, learning to code or even something different such as exercising or eating healthily: Just Start!
Location: Peterborough, UK