Disclaimer: The following is a “paid plug” and was not written by me, but by the advertiser themselves. If you’re interested in purchasing a paid plug, please visit my advertising page.
I’ve decided to arrange with Tyler Cruz a guest post to help people unblock online services, so you can access Netflix, Spotify, Pandora and any other streaming service from anywhere in the world.
Netflix is one my favourite video streaming services available today, it gives me access to thousands of TV shows and movies, from Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, to House of Cards and Battlestar Galactica. It’s definitely the king of video streaming. Whilst this is great news for those of us in the States, if you live or you are traveling on business outside of the US, you’ll be greeted with this rather depressing message “Sorry, Netflix is not available in your country yet.”
Netflix, as with all websites, can detect where you are in the world by your IP address. Every time you visit any web page you reveal which country you are visiting its page from. This is the reason you cannot access Netflix when you’re outside of America – Netflix’s system knows you’re abroad, it sees your non-US IP address, and blocks your access.
The Secret to Unblock Netflix
The key to unblock Netflix is to fool it into believing you are in the States, and if you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that’s exactly what you will do. VPNs have received a lot of press over the past year as more people are using them to secure their data when using public Wi-Fi, they know that can hide their online activity from governments using a VPN, and of course, people are using them to bypass restrictions set by video streaming sites – namely Netflix.
How to Change Your IP Address
If you’re based outside the US then you need an American IP, and you can obtain one of these by using a VPN. I’ve been using the VPN provider Hide My Ass! (I love the name) for a few months now, and I have found them to be the easiest one to use.
How to Use Hide My Ass!:
To get started, you will need to sign up to Hide My Ass! and purchase a subscription. They have three different ones to choose from, a monthly, 6 months and yearly subscription – saving you up to 43% off!
Downloading their software only takes a few minutes, and you don’t need to be tech savvy to be able to do this! Next, simply choose an American server because remember – you need an American IP address to be able to watch Netflix. Then click connect, and that’s it! Now you have an American IP address you can watch all the shows Netflix has in its database, and you can also access a multitude of other video streaming sites as Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.
In the screenshot below, you can see how easy it is to connect through the HMA! VPN network.
Now anyone, not only US citizens can receive all the benefits Netflix has to offer! Pretty cool stuff!
Why is Hide My Ass! the Best VPN Provider?
I simply cannot recommend Hide My Ass! enough – they are worth every penny! They have more servers in more countries than anyone else – at the time of writing this post, they have 641 VPN servers in 168 locations in 76 countries, with an impressive 80,787 IP addresses. Speed is critical for your viewing pleasure, and their servers are fast, I’ve not encountered any disruptions. I haven’t had the need to contact their customer support, but if you do, it’s great to know that they are available 24/7 via LiveChat, email or you can call them up.
By the way, if you encounter a problem registering for a Netflix account, you can easily fix this by entering an American ZIP code. You can perform a quick Google search to find one, for example, a New York ZIP code is 10010 or check out http://www.unitedstateszipcodes.org/ for thousands of others.
Let’s get back to business folks.
With May 2014 being a great month for me, I was once again motivated to put some effort into my campaigns in order to keep my numbers up. It seems that that effort didn’t go unnoticed, as June 2014 ended up being another great month for me.
It’s interesting… at one point I was almost starting to get a bit "bored" of any month that did well, but didn’t set a new personal best, due to my competitive nature. Part of this stems from the fact that I’m still on a fixed salary that I pay myself; I haven’t increased it for about 18 months now or so. As a result, my corporation could be making $100,000 profit a month and it still wouldn’t affect my daily life.
But now that I’m looking to get into real estate, I want every extra penny I can get so that I have that much more to put on the down payment, which will in turn improve cashflow and make things a lot less stressful once I do buy a place.
With the obligatory introduction done, let’s take a closer look:
June 2014 Affiliate Campaign Income:
This was actually my highest grossing month in 11 months!
Affiliate Network Breakdown:
- Affiliate Network #1: $21,337.27
- Affiliate Network #2: $2,188.00
- Affiliate Network #3: $36,891.50
- Affiliate Network #4: $336.81
(This includes conversion from foreign currencies to USD)
Again, this was also my highest month of expenses in 11 months (not so proud of that one, heh). Unlike May, I cut the number of traffic sources from 8 down to 3; keeping only the ones that worked.
Traffic Source Breakdown:
- Traffic Source #1: $34,716.12
- Traffic Source #2: $3,865.19
- Traffic Source #3: $4,514.04
Nice! That’s just under $600 less than what May 2014 did.
2014 Affiliate Marketing Results
First, here’s a recap of how 2013 fared for the entire year:
And here’s a monthly breakdown of 2014 so far:
Ahhh… that’s more like it – a combined total of $35,900 profit over the past 2 months.
The bad news is that we’re already 6 months into the year and it looks like I may only do around $100,000 profit…
I Hit The $1,000,000 Mark!
Woot, here’s a bit of a milestone:
Taking a look at my Excel spreadsheet, since I started recording my numbers in January 2013, I’ve grossed a total of $1,006,205.97! That’s a million dollars that was transferred into my bank account!
That works out to an overall average month net profit (spread across 18 months) of $17,552.96.77:
|January 2013 to June 2014||Gross||Expense||Net||ROI|
I’m going to start including that little table above in future reports from now on as it’s actually pretty meaningful due to how up and down affiliate marketing can be month to month.
While I’ve hit the $1,000,000 gross milestone, I have a long way to go to do that in net numbers. Here’s hoping that I can actually manage to do that before not too long…
I spent the majority of June working on two things.
The first was doing a lot of split-testing trying to learn and understand the new traffic source that I started in May (which I spoke about in my last report). Most of the campaigns I launched there were misses, but a few have been profitable. The problem is that the profitable ones do such little volume that they’re almost not worth finding…
So, that took a fair bit of time, launching and trying new campaigns on that traffic source. It also wasn’t self-serve, so e-mail discussions back and forth with my traffic manager definitely slowed the process down a lot.
Secondly, I did some work on my landing pages again, modifying my existing winners and trying some small variants of them which ended up being successful (I found a new winner with a higher average CR).
That, coupled with regular maintenance of my campaigns (such as going over my numbers, pausing targets, allocating budgets, etc.) is what I worked on in June.
July Plans and Predictions
Normally in this section I list the plans I have for the upcoming month as well as predict how I think the month will fare profit-wise. However, since July has already come and gone, I will be skipping this section in this report since I already know how it went.
Stay tuned to see for yourself!
To think one day, lil ol’ affiliate Mateen would be guest posting on TylerCruz.com…
Who’s Mateen and What is He Doing on Tyler’s Blog?
Before I forget, let me introduce myself, I run a blog called AffEngineer.com. I’ve been monitoring my progress from the day I spent my very first dollar on paid advertising up till today. From seeing 20 days of continuous red, to making a small profit, to turning an 85k profit month in March all within a year of being in this industry, it’s been a crazy roller coaster ride!
AffEngineer was inspired by Tyler’s blog in an attempt to document my progress and give back to the affiliate community, especially to those who are still on the steep ‘making money online’ learning curve. I make monthly income reports, just like Tyler, trying to be as informative as I possibly can.
In many ways I’m still a massive newbie to all this but I’ve had some experiences I’d love to share with you guys. This July marked one full year for me doing this full time. Looking back, SO much has happened. I thought it would be a good idea to share a short summary of my journey from the start of all this to today. I hope you guys enjoy it
The Stages of the Entrepreneur Struggle
I’ve always been told to get a good education and a respectable job. I was told this will result in a happy, financially stable lifestyle. What I wasn’t told was that I’d have to sacrifice all my aspirations, all my innate loves and abilities to make this happen. That I’d have to suppress away all that entrepreneur drive I had in me all through school and university, something I just loved doing.
After spending 2 years as a Civil Engineer in Melbourne, Australia, I had realized this. Life was passing me by and conversations with close friends had become so boring and repetitive. We’d have so much to say before but now there was nothing new. Just complaints about work and how we all hate it. Was this all there was to life? Was there no other option?
If you were to look around you in the office then yeah, it seemed like there was no other option. But one thing always stood out to me here in Australia. There are so many people that come here from other countries that struggle for a while, but then, eventually end up owning massive franchises making more money then anyone in the corporate field. They didn’t know much english and had little idea of Australias business policies yet they made it happen. This made one thing very clear.
There’s a LOT of ways to make money in the world but you have to be prepared to struggle hard for it. With this in mind, in November 2012, almost two years into my career and less then a month before I completed my graduate program, I quit. I had made up my mind that I was going to make this work no matter what. I had a good amount of money saved up in the bank and I didn’t care if it took me every single cent of it to find a self sufficient way of making money. I had no idea what I was going to do, little to no plan, but I was determined to make this work.
This is when the real struggle began.
For a good six months I was trying everything I could think of. Buying random things from garage sales and selling them on eBay, making phone apps, flipping cars, a bit of blogging here and there. I was making some money, but nothing consistent at all. All these “trying to start a business” experiences taught me something though. They all had the same reasons for being so short lived. Marketing – It was a mystery to me. I had no idea how to get more eyeballs on my blogs, my products on eBay or mainly my phone app(s).
This is where I realized how important marketing was and soon after found Tylers blog which introduced me to the wonderful world of affiliate marketing via paid advertising. I knew about seo affiliate marketing before. Greyhat, mainly blackhat spammy stuff but when I saw Tyler pushing 5 figures a month, I was hooked like a fish. What better way to fix my marketing problem then to just jump in and do it while earning loads of money at the same time? I had always been hesitant to spend money, mainly because I still doubted people making any ‘real’ money online. But after stories like this became more and more popular and it became clear that people WERE making good money on the net, I knew I needed to start getting serious with it.
Tyler doesn’t know this, but he’s been my inspiration ever since I’ve seriously thought about affiliate marketing. I’m sure a lot of Tylers readers can say the same. I’ve read his every monthly report and a huge amount of his 1000+ posts!
I remember sharing around his monthly reports on FB or word of mouth to my friends who were into affiliate marketing. Each one had the same shocked expression as I did when I told them the numbers Tyler was earning.
Anyway, 20 days in and all I had seen was red.
Not a single conversion. I was trying Google PPC at the time and had little to NO idea what I was doing. I’m surprised I wasn’t banned as I was linking to everything and bidding on trademarked keywords lol. Again, no idea what I was doing. I was learning though and this was enough for me. I knew, as long as I was learning, I was on the right track. That is where the real value was, internal growth, and it would all pay off some time.
I also remember this period of 20 days being the most longest, difficult 20 days for me. Being disappointed every morning with no conversions and in total doubt of whether I was capable of this or not. My room smelt like food as I never left it, I looked like Doc from Back to the future and had lost 3-4 kg’s as I was working 10-12 hours a day. I wanted this so badly and was not going to give up. I had 20-30 motivational notes stuck around everywhere to keep me going and for the most part, especially near the end of it, I was forcing myself to continue working.
It’s not fun learning everything from scratch. From basic coding/html to design, setting up tracking, learning how to navigate different ad platforms, there is just SO much you have to learn at the start. I kept telling myself that these hurdles are there to separate those that deserve this lifestyle with those that don’t. The warriors from the wimps. The day finally came though.
12/8/2013, it was a Monday, I’ll never forget it. I made 3 conversions at $5.75 each! I was totally over the moon. Still made a loss, but just soooo happy. It was like passing your driving license, no one can take that smile off your face for that day. Pure bliss. It’s funny though because I’d tell my parents and friends and they’d be like…”but you lost $2 so you’re still in red”. I’d tell them “But I made 3 sales!”. They’d just give me a courtesy congratulations lol.
A couple weeks later I had my first profitable day at +$27. I bought all my friends lunch that day haha. Again, they thought I was whack. I kept going though, continuing to expand and grow my campaigns. Testing other traffic sources and just devouring information from absolutely everywhere. I always stressed ACTION with whatever I was doing, making sure I was doing more than I was reading/learning.
A lot of people suffer from PTBB, ‘Pretending to be Busy’. They spend the day reading, watching, doing a bit here and there, taking breaks often but if they were to stop and look back at their day and see what actual, valuable, action oriented tasks did they complete, it would be near nothing. Maybe an hours worth if they’re lucky. If you can beat this, you’ll be great at affiliate marketing. I make sure to do a minimum of 4 hours of work without a single distraction. No Facebook, instagram or tv, just pure work. If I stuff up I punish myself by not allowing myself to work the next day. Trust me, it works for workaholics like me!
I had joined the popular Aff Playbook forums a couple of days before I made my first conversion. It’s a private affiliate marketing forum where a lot of affiliates just hang out and share ideas. Tonnes of case studies, tips and tutorials, that sort of stuff. I had a ‘follow along campaign’ type thing where I’d post my progress and affiliates would give me advice on how to expand/grow it. I took all this in and a month or two later was making $150 a day with PPV!
You never stop learning lessons though and this eventually dried up and my income dropped, teaching me the importance of diversification. Never put all your eggs in the one basket because that basket WILL fall, and your eggs WILL break, it’s just a matter of when.
As time went on I kept exploring, kept reading, kept trying completely new traffic sources, new techniques. At the same time I went on a few holidays. I’d come back every time with a totally fresh mind ready to hit this with full force. I started making waves with Google PPC and PPV but it all reached a completely new level in March this year. The month I made twice my yearly salary in 19 days.
Almost every affiliate has heard of teespring. I’ve always made it a point to be focused on one thing till I make it work. At the time I was focusing on Google PPC but every now and then on forums I’d hear peoples’ stories of making massive numbers on teespring. The temptation got too strong and I started making some teespring campaigns. I was relatively new to FB advertising and had to learn everything from scratch. It was like when I first started affiliate marketing. I was pumping out campaign after campaign, learning from my mistakes, tightening my targeting, making better designs, and eventually, 50 campaigns later, I started to see some success. a few campaigns later I had hooked in monster! An idea that was massively expandable.
If you’ve been monitoring teespring campaigns you would have noticed a lot of shirts based on names, age, locations, sports etc. Mine was something similar. It had the ability to be have a ‘this shirt is special’ factor to the audience that saw it. I expanded it in every way I could think of. The challenge was just keeping track of everything. I’d spend a full hour or two just figuring out my profit/losses! I made around $82,000 in 19 days, see below.
The most important takeaway, apart from the money, was that it had completely shattered my mental block of wanting to just make $200 a day. I mean, I nearly hit a six figure month, why was I aiming for something so low? The sky is the limit now and instead of aiming for 3 figure days I want to be hitting 10k+ a day. I know I can do it as I nearly did it before. It’s not just possible, it’s probable, again, just a matter of when. I DO have a good 50+ years to do it :P, (well, hopefully lol).
Now days, I’m doing a lot of the same. A large part of my day is split into trying new strategies and recently these ‘new strategies’ have been aimed at growing something organic. In my monthly reports I show a daily breakdown of my profit loss, you’ll notice things have slowed down heaps and I still hit some negative days. Eventually you realize this is the nature of the business. Relying on affiliate marketing income solely through paying for advertising, you’ll always go through ups and downs.
Below I’ve listed some habits of mine that have worked wonders for my business.
Don’t be Afraid to Jump right in: A lot of people wait to get things 100% right before they get started. This is not the right mentality to have in my opinion. Once you’ve got things somewhat figured, start testing. Test your theories with real $$ and you’ll learn lessons faster then anything else.
Keep connected to communities and blogs: People love to share experiences, whether it’s a story like mine, a case study or just a random experience they’ve had. Keep connected to the affiliate marketing communities/blogs so you can be part of all this. It helps you realize how real affiliate marketing is by being surrounded by it so much. AffPlaybook is a good forum to be part of. I’ve heard great things of IMGrind and Stackthatmoney but I’m personally not part of those two so can’t comment.
START SAVING: You can’t expect to make money in anything unless you save money. You don’t need a big savings account to get started. You just need the ability to set aside a set $ value consistently solely for affiliate marketing.
Monitor your numbers: Affiliate marketing, or business in general is a big numbers game. It’s great to be motivated and get stuck into a whole lot of action but if you’re not pulling yourself back every now and then and seeing if you’re making a profit, you’re going to have trouble. One of the biggest reasons I do these monthly reports is because I can evaluate myself financially and see where all this is heading. After all, We’re in this to make money right? Train yourself to be a numbers guy. This is a good reason why Accountants make great Managers.
Don’t be scared and shove aside your ego: Fear of failure and embarrassment is the biggest factor I see contributing to people not giving affiliate marketing a go or entrepreneurship in general. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there in the cold and have faith in yourself and your abilities to change things around. It’s not going to be easy, but it will happen if you go about things right.
We’re no one special, just stubborn people: I don’t know about Tyler, but there’s nothing special about me. I’m not talented at this or have any advantages over anyone else. Heck, I had no clue about making websites or marketing before any of this. The only thing I DO have is the ability to just keep going. Keep pushing, keep grinding and faith that it will work out. I’ve had many instances where I’ve had a week or two in solid red, only to have a massive week in green that more than covers my losses.
20+ Teespring Tutorials Videos
One of the biggest things I’m working on at the moment are a huge set of free tutorials on Teespring/Fabrily. It will cover everything from design to targeting to monitoring and expanding your campaigns. I’m hoping to have all videos and articles out by the end of this month, (August). Keep checking up on this page as I release them slowly.
Note: – Once you’ve watched the videos, it doesn’t mean that every campaign you launch from now on you’ll be successful with. Affiliate marketing is a game of quantity with an adequate touch of quality. It’s about throwing out a bunch of things every day and seeing which work, then honing in from there. Expect to see profitable campaigns now and then but still a good amount of failures. For me, 1 in 8-10 campaigns will turn a profit and I’m pretty much using the techniques covered in these videos.
Some of my Proudest Posts
- Teespring Case Study: Cute Enough to Stop your Heart
- March Monthly Report: $85,301.97
- 7 part total affiliate newbie series
It’s always important to keep in touch with bloggers like myself and Tyler and communities that share real time information. The space is always changing and you want knowledge that works for you today, not something that made someone a pot of gold 3 years ago.
The road is long and difficult, but is well worth it. It won’t come easy, it make take months or even years to see the light but if you’re serious about this and give your self no other option but success, you WILL get there. I still remember being asked if “I’m sure I want to do this” by my area manager at work. I knew he was thinking of me of being naive, and I probably was. All I knew is if I put myself in a situation where the only way out is to be successful then my survival instincts will kick in.
The more desperate you are for it, the quicker you’ll make it.
All the best
~ Mateen aka AffEngineer
There was a time, around 6-7 years ago, when I was extremely productive when I worked. All you have to do is take a look at my archives page from 2007-2008 and you can see that I used to average a new blog post every day. I’m lucky now if I get a new one up every week.
Go back even further, and I was even more productive. I could basically work the entire day, focused on my work, and be happy (albeit drained afterwards) about it. In fact, going back to around 2001-2002, back when I was still actively developing websites with HTML and Perl myself, I would even work on my own stuff while at my day job (I worked at an Internet Access Centre at the time).
Recently, I’ve been noticing myself become increasingly distracted… to an alarming degree. I could only tackle handling 2 e-mails before needing to peruse Reddit or sneak in a quick game of Hearthstone, and my work was suffering as a result.
So what’s the difference between now and 7 years ago? Quite honestly, it’s because I’m not as passionate about work as I used to be. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still love my job – making money online and working for yourself from home is one of the best jobs in the world. But I’ve also been doing it for 10+ years now, and it’s simply a lot easier to get distracted and lose focus when you’ve been doing it for this long.
When online poker began to soar around 2005 and millions of players raced to the virtual tables, the problem of chronic gambling was starting to be an issue for a lot of new players.
To help address this (and to make regulatory bodies happy), many online poker rooms started offering "self-exclusion" features which would allow a user to "self-exclude" from logging in and using their website for a specified period of time of their choosing. So, a player could choose to self exclude for 24-hours or even up to 6-months which would prevent him from being able to log in and gamble away his life savings.
I personally love this idea and hard-lined approach. If you have a problem, you need to address it, simple as that, and so I immediately thought of self-excluding myself from distractions in order to boost my productivity.
No Shortage of Software
Fortunately, there is actually already software (mostly free, too) out there that does just this.
I wasn’t interested in the browser plugin ones as I use 3 different browsers everyday (for cookie, session, and toolbar reasons), and the browser ones only supported the specific browser.
In addition, I wanted something that would not only block out URLs in a browser, but also software so that I could block things such as games.
I scoured the web looking for the best one for me, and the best one I was able to find was ColdTurkey.
ColdTurkey is pretty awesome, and their simple website does a great job of explaining what their software does so check it out.
Here’s a list of pros and cons list that I wrote out to give you my thoughts on it:
- 100% Free (You can also donate to the owner and decide what % goes to charity and to him)
- Blocks both URLs & software
- Computer-wide (affects all users and browsers, etc.)
- Very difficult to cheat (the program can’t simply be closed down and the blocks work even in incognito mode in Chrome. I did find a way around the system by using a proxy software called GeoEdge, but the beauty is that I can probably just block the GeoEdge software too!)
- Open source
- Basic scheduling in 30-minute increments up to 1 week
- Windows only (Sorry Mac users, although I think there is alternative software out there for macs)
- Poor/no support (there is no support forum for it, and I never received a response after contacting the owner with my bug questions)
The software is buggy, and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t appear to be actively supported by the developer. I’ve gotten used to the bugs so far and hopefully they are isolated to the following 3:
Applications not blocking
I’m not actually sure if this one is a bug or a feature, but the very first thing I tested when I installed ColdTurkey was by blocking out WordPad (just to test). It never did block it, but I’m wondering now if maybe it simply has coding to prevent it from blocking Windows system files for safety reasons. It would make sense, too, since there’s not much there that is very distracting (unless maybe Solitaire or Minesweeper for those with no sense of fun).
Nothing is blocking
Sometimes (maybe 40-50% of the time), after initiating a blocking session, nothing is actually blocked. I believe this is partly due to the fact that the program is configured via the browser (locally) and might be having an issue with cookies or sessions.
This bug is fixed by hard-refreshing the home page of the main ColdTurkey config screen a couple times and the test URL you have blocked, so it’s more of a nuisance than anything else, but it is annoying since it happens so regularly.
Unable to delete entries
This is by far the biggest bug and the #1 downside to ColdTurkey, and I really hope it gets fixed. Basically, on the step that allows you to choose what to block, you enter the websites and software entries that you want to be blocked during your session. It keeps these entries there for future blocking sessions which is fine and handy.
The problem is, there originally used to be little closing "X"s within each green box which would let you delete existing entries, but they disappeared! So now I can’t remove any existing entries… and since there are no "profiles" for blocking, when I do block, I am forced to block whatever I put in there before. Good thing I didn’t add Google.com or Gmail.com…
This really needs to be fixed… if anyone out there knows a fix to this (going into Inspector mode didn’t work for me since it found no links) or can even go into the open source code and fix it yourself, please let me know!
Overall, the pros definitely outweigh the cons and since installing the software a few days ago I’ve already gotten a lot more work done that I otherwise would have simply because I’m actually working more instead of perusing the latest viral video.
As you can see from the screenshot above, I’m currently using ColdTurkey as we speak. Since I already work in pre-determined 1-hour increments (3 hours in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, 2 more in the evening), this works perfectly for me.
So, if you’re having focusing issues like me and find yourself too easily distracted by non-work elements online, give ColdTurkey a try. It’s been working great for me so far.