Last night I had an opportunity to interview super affiliate, conference speaker, SEO expert, blogger and popular Twitterer, Rae Hoffman, AKA Sugarrae.
Alone or with her website publishing company she has managed to dominate and profit from all sorts of competitive niches. This is one lady you need to be listening to if you want to make serious coin from affiliate marketing.
Read on after the jump to hear about networking, creating super performing affiliate sites and how to properly approach social media.
| Thanks Rae for agreeing to be interviewed
I know you are busy flying around the world
|>|| lol, no worries… yeah, my friends call me
carmen sandiego all the time
When I see your name I usually expect to see
|>||why is that?|
|>|| You seem to have done every conference?
Or is that just my perception
|>|| lol, well, PubCon I do regularly… I owe
that series a lot
I’ve done SES I think twice … it was a bit
I’m doing SMX this week, but it is a Q&A
that said, yeah, there was a time when I did
but I’m tired… on top of that, I’m doing
so you’ll probably be seeing me at a few less
|>||That’s a shame but I can understand it|
|>||yeah, it’s a tough life we lead|
|>||Do you think that networking helped you?|
|>|| oh, definitely
my first pubcon
it was Boston 2003
I had been an affiliate for quite a while
a good friend convinced me to go
I learned a lot of things at that conference
the second was that the affiliate marketing
and the third was I made not only contacts,
I came home with such fire too
that feeling is something that I think starts
|>|| I have done way fewer networking events than
you but I have had similar positive experiences of networking
|>|| I miss feeling that kick in the ass
but am still meeting tons of great new people
|>|| Do you think you can get some of the benefits
or has to be face to face?
|>|| I think you can get some of the benefits, but
definitely not all
looking someone eye to eye has a lot to do
take the mad hat …. I knew of him from
but I finally met him for the first time at
now he’s on my IM and someone I’d trust to
you need human interaction for that type of
that said – I have a few "online
who have a trust level with me
but it took way longer to earn (and I’m sure
|>||Yeah I can see that|
|>|| the other thing too
is that some people are much different online
someone told me at this past PubCon that I
as if it were an unusual thing
I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not
|>|| heh, I think compliment
Did you make direct profit from all those
In business deals or consulting?
Or was it more contacts
|>|| Well, direct as in walking home with a signed
deal that day?
But have I made money off the relationships
I don’t do much consulting
I’m very limited in that regard
as hokey as it sounds, I speak more to give
if some of the old schoolers hadn’t been
I wouldn’t be where I am now
I’m very grateful for the free education I
and it was up to you to put the puzzle
|>|| If you do not do much consulting, would you
say your job is full time affiliate marketer?
|>|| I’d say I’m a full time monetizer
I probably take on four audit clients per
outside of that, I build websites, give them
|>||POD = Point of Difference?|
|>|| yes… why people should visit your widget
site over every other
every site I have has some kind of hook to it
meaning "oh, yeah, widgetworld.com – you
everything else is the core basics any site
but with one, two, three or however many
|>|| Like Ryans PopCrunch show – something that
makes you take notice, right?
oh, popcrunch – you guys are the ones with
it seperates him from every other celebrity
|>|| same thing – with sugarrae – for a long time,
people would go "oh, you’re the site with the spy chick and the
‘colorful language’ right?"
I didn’t intend for that to be a POD – but
|>|| I advise people to choose their positioning,
differentiation, and also have "flagship content" – content that
goes out and brings people back
|>|| exactly… that flagship content – to me – is
what I mean by POD – what are you doing differently
the days of building thin aff sites is
|>|| so you have your brand, the armed and dangerous,
plus you have the knowledge you share
|>|| yes, there are exceptions
but I’m choosing to focus on long term
aka, the affiliate evolution
lol, armed and dangerous
|>|| How do you choose a new niche? Do you
"follow your passion" or go where the money is?
|>|| I’d say I’m smack dab in the middle
I don’t care how much I like something, if
vice versa – I won’t bore myself to death for
I go where I see traffic, money and the
now, some may take that to mean I stay away
which would be completely false
the large percentage of my sites fall into
we just find a POD and do our best to exploit
|>|| When you started did you intend to do the
Or did that come later?
|>|| no, totally not
I started because I had a child with serious
I got a computer to research his condition as
and built a webpage about my son
long story short – for the first few years, I
I marketed the hell out of that site – but
I was just trying to get the people who
|>|| So the content and traffic were a consequence
of your passion, and obviously POD
but after several years
I was hoping there was a way the site could
I fell into affiliate marketing as a result
I decided I wasn’t comfortable monetizing the
but decided to give building some new
the full story is here
|>||You had learned the ropes at that point?|
|>|| yeah… I ran into some "pro"
marketers early on
they took me under their wing
and started showing me the ropes of
again, always by teaching me to fish and
I’d give you their names to put in bold, but
but I owe them the world
|>|| It is always golden when you find someone
|>|| I finally met both of them via my first
PubCon after a few years of being an apprentice to them online
yeah, they were rocks in the early days
|>|| is that partly why you give back with the
|>|| yes… that first pubcon was what showed me I
actually had a *skill*
family referred to my new career as me
|>|| If you were to start now, what would be your
approach? How do you choose a new niche? Do you "follow your
passion" or go where the money is?
|>|| you know what’s funny….
I start over again every once in a while –
I just bought a brand new domain… I’ve
I’ve set goals for it to reach within a year
friends think I’m nuts when I do things like
"why handicap yourself?"
well, I don’t for every site obviously – and
it’s good to get your ass back in the
and know you’ve still got it
|>|| Keeps you sharp?
I guess also confirms your strategy
|>||You know for real what works|
|>|| old sites can get away with having nothing
but reciprocal links and still rank
a new site? not anywhere near as much
|>|| How did you select this new domain and niche?
Are they middle of the night inspirations?
I have a rule
no buying domains after 2 am
|>||I need that rule|
|>|| the number of useless domains I own as a
result of a great idea at 3 am is nuts
usually, picking a niche isn’t too hard – as
|>|| Even with the amount I have lapsed I have
well over 30 unused domains because of "great ideas"
|>|| choosing the POD is much harder
but finding smaller niches is usually a
1. total dumb luck
2. experience in an area due to personal
3. the hundreds of business cards I get at
"what the hell is _____?"
I look it up, check the traffic, check the
though, I have a rule of not poaching client
and refuse clients where I’m a competitor of
that’s never much of a problem
|>|| Do you have a qualification process you
follow or go by gut instinct?
|>|| a little of both
I check traffic, number of advertisers,
but nothing scientific
line them up largest to smallest and start
|>|| So a little competitor analysis but you kind
of already know which industries you will be able to work?
|>|| yes… since knowing finance is a profitable
industry isn’t much of a result of any type of analysis
|>|| Are there industries you just won’t touch?
Like many people will not do porn pills poker
out of distaste
|>|| haha… there’s a story from years ago, where
a bunch of us were sitting around a table at an event
and that question was asked
and I said I didn’t do gambling
and someone said "yeah, I don’t like the
and I said, "oh, it has nothing to do
|>|| so I guess the answer is, yes, there are
certain industries I won’t touch… but not due to distaste as much as for
that said, I obviously have some standards
like, I wouldn’t do beastiality (though you’d
but if it’s legal
doing it or not is merely a business decision
|>|| What kind of sites do you routinely build?
Mini-sites vs blogs vs one big authority site?
|>|| kind of a hyrbid model
we like to have up to date and fresh content
picture several mini sites and a blog that
|>|| When you say several mini-sites, are they
connected as satellites?
|>|| no, never
we don’t "game the system"
if a site has a natural connection, we’d
so as an example
lets say our main topic is red widgets
we’d have a blog covering all things relating
but then we’d also have a section reviewing
each section could stand as it’s own site and
but we merge them all together under one
and market it as once force
|>||So less buy-red-widget.com more widget-world|
|>|| no, less buy-red-widget.com and more
|>|| if red widget world goes well
we eventually build widgetworld
and instead of covering red widgets on widget
we simply link to red widget
they are two totally distinct sites
massively different information
nothing is duplicated
and we only build redwidgetworld’s for sub
|>|| When it comes to conversions, the actual aff
sales, is that mostly done through reviews or do you have specialist tools
like price comparisons, and such?
|>|| we’ve built price comparison tools
when the sites have enough traffic where we
we have some merchants that build us
they also make sales based on
we have some sites where we won’t even run
|>|| So you link to the merchant in content as
well as more salesy pages?
well, not "sneakily" in content
we’ll usually create a page tailored to that
and link to that from within articles
we want to be transparent
we want to earn and retain trust
we’re going more for a fewer sales from a
our credibility is the most important thing
its why we earn the links to rank where we do
we also don’t not cover content based on ads
meaning – we cover whatever a consumer would
any content that isn’t "highly"
long term, long term
I don’t build any site without a long term
|>|| So these are more editorial sites and you are
not chasing the "buy" terms?
the business plan is here in black and white
these days, you need to deliver some
I can still rank buy-red-widgets-online.com
but for how much longer?
and what is the exit strategy with a site
|>|| So you build your resource site and grow the
Does social media come into play?
With traffic and links?
|>|| yeah, social media plays a part – for sure
but not for the reason so many social media
we don’t submit every article we do to digg
I don’t care about the backlink from digg at
or any social media site
we use social media to put our brand in front
example… if we write a killer piece on
you think I care if I get a digg link?
that would be a complete failure if all I got
what I am looking for is a big site with tens
I’m looking for social media users to see it
people like to complain affiliate marketers
we do and we don’t
we can push our story to the homepage of digg
the purpose of social media – to me – is
and hoping to god they like us enough to hit
|>|| most people don’t truly get social media
they think they do, but they don’t
|>|| So long term aff sites and authoritative
blogs are not so different after all
|>||the best is when they’re one in the same|
|>|| Excellent point to finish on I think
thanks for your time, I appreciate it
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