Affiliate Landlord: Hitting the Streets

December 9, 2014 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Heh, this title sounds like a reality TV show.

As you know, I’ve been seriously looking into acquiring an investment property, specifically a buy-and-hold cashflowing rental.

On Friday, after a lot of research and analysis, I finally went out with my investment agent to take a look at some of the leading properties on my list in person.

I’ve always enjoyed looking at properties in person (having only done it for personal purchases before though), and looking at investment properties was no different. It’s just extremely fun for me… I get a huge high from doing it.

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Anyhow, I thought I’d share how things went. We looked at 4 properties. For privacy reasons, I will not be including the address or any actual photos of the properties (Once I purchase a property I can include photos though).

Property #1: The Feud Duplex

On paper, this was my favourite property. It cashflowed nicely, was in a decent location, and looked like an overall good property.

However, and this is only something that could ever be learned by visiting a property in person, there appears to be an issue between the upstairs and downstairs tenants. Apparently they do not get along… at all. One of the tenants claimed that the other threatened to attack him if he kept gardening.

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The feud must be pretty bitter, considering that the tenant appeared to quickly volunteer this information after some short friendly banter from my agent.

Even though I’ll be hiring a property management company to handle any such situations such as feuding neighbours, I don’t like the fact that the tenants do not get along. I know that this situation is not really under my control and will happen regardless eventually, but it may just sway me from purchasing a property where I know that a feud is currently in place.

Anyhow, here are the numbers for that place:

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Property #2: The Hobbit House

This is a very interesting one.

Normally, I would never consider a property such as this one. It’s in one of the worst (if not the worst) areas of my city and is a very cheap property.

But looking online, there was just something about it that drew me to it. I think I saw the income potential of it – unless the photos were completely deceiving, it looked like it might cashflow nicely.

My agent was very vocal in telling me how cautious he was of this place, because of its age and location, but I still wanted to see it.

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I nickname this one the Hobbit House because the basement has a round entrance door, and the ceilings are low, and it has wooden exposed beams.

Anyhow, arriving at the house and walking up to the front door, I smelled a strong odour of marijuana. When we later went in, the smell was completely gone, so it must have been from the wonderful neighbourhood… as if to remind us where the property is situated.

The main floor was very small and basic, and I noticed some water damage with mold in the corner of a ceiling, but we’re pretty sure we know what it’s from and it should be a pretty easy fix ($200~ I’m guessing). Otherwise, the top floor was in okay condition overall though.

There is a large detached wooden garage as well.

Downstairs was interesting. It had a separate entrance, and was very small and quaint inside… just like you’d expect a Hobbit Home to be. The ceiling was low, which my realtor told me would make the suite illegal. It had a rather large bathroom (in proportion to the rest of the unit), and the whole unit was recently renovated… which was most notable in the new tile that made up the entirety of the floor. Get this though, it was all radiant floor heating! It felt so cozy!

Overall, I was really impressed with this property. It does needs a new roof – cost estimate is $6K-$10K, is in a bad neighbourhood, needs some basic water damage in the ceiling repaired, and has an unauthorized suite (my biggest con), but the numbers are good.

Check them out here:

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With all contingencies in place, and allowing myself a $10K budget for a new roof, the place will cashflow at $575~ a month, close to $7K a yet in profit.

However, the resale value of this property is very poor due to the neighbourhood, my agent warns me.

I’m not going to go out and make an offer on it this moment or anything, but I’m definitely watching it closely. If it drops in price again, there’s a good chance I will put an offer in. However, it did just drop last week after being listed 3 months prior, so it probably won’t drop again until the spring, if it doesn’t sell before then.

Property #3: The Frat House Duplex

This was another property where the numbers on paper were fantastic.

It is another duplex, but a larger one than the first property we looked at. It’s located close to the college here and is really quite large. The listing mentions how both sides just finished having lots of renovations.

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Good Lord! I won’t go into any great detail, but basically the renovations were absolute shit! You could tell the owner did it himself, and it was basically beyond belief. The ceilings throughout the entire unit (we only looked at one side) were completely wonky – sagging, curving, and looking like there was 500 tons of water in the attic or something. Every other reno job was just as bad. The tiling was horrible, the floors had huge lumps and crazy slants… it was really bad.

I mean, I even spotted one room where you could tell it had wallpaper before and they literally just painted over the wallpaper – you could easily see the texture underneath.

No thanks. I don’t care how good the numbers are, not interested in the place in the least.

I won’t even show you the numbers because this place is not on my list anymore.

Property #4: The Overpriced Duplex

The last property we looked at was yet another duplex.

This one was extremely clean inside (it helps that the tenants themselves were very tidy and minimalistic), and in superb shape. It was also quite large. Overall, a great property.

However, the numbers are not as great as can be seen here:

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The rents could probably be increased… but even at $1,000 per side it would only cashflow at $392.80 a month. Hmm… I guess that’s not that bad, but really what I need is for this place to drop in price. The last drop was 2 months ago, so it might drop again soon.

Also, while it’s in a nice safe neighbourhood, it’s not all that close to a lot of places, so it could possibly take a little longer to fill up any future vacancies.

Anyhow, there you have it. As expected, you learn a hell of a lot more by visiting a property in person than what you see on paper.

I have another 4 properties lined up to look at, and I can’t wait to see them! Let me know if this post was interesting and if I should do a report on the next 4 properties.

Posted: December 9th, 2014 under Miscellaneous 6 Comments

Affiliate Marketing Income Report: September 2014

November 25, 2014 Posted by Tyler Cruz

It’s time for another affiliate marketing income report!

Hmm… how should I fill the next few introductory paragraphs? I know! How about we go back in time 1 year ago and see how September 2013 did?

September 2013 was an interesting month because it was a complete shock to the system. Only 3 months prior, I generated over $52,000 in profit in June. Then September ended up bringing in a measly $467.12. You can view the September 2013 income report here.

So, was this a seasonal thing? A September curse, perhaps? Let’s find out!

September 2014 Affiliate Campaign Income:

$29,935.71

Affiliate Network Breakdown:

  • Affiliate Network #1: $22,253.61
  • Affiliate Network #2: $21.60
  • Affiliate Network #3: $294.00
  • Affiliate Network #4: $7,366.50

(This includes conversion from foreign currencies to USD)

Expenses:

$22,872.08


Traffic Source Breakdown:

  • Traffic Source #1: $17,838.40
  • Traffic Source #2: $419.17
  • Traffic Source #3: $2,583.40
  • Traffic Source #4: $1,671.33
  • Traffic Source #5: $359.78

Net Profit:

$7,063.63

Not too bad! Definitely better than September 2013 Smile

2014 Affiliate Marketing Results

First, here’s a recap of how 2013 fared for the entire year:

Year Gross Expense Net ROI
2013 $823,884.01 $555,024.33 $258,859.68 46%
Total: $823,884.01 $555,024.33 $258,859.68 46%
Monthly Average: $68,657.00 $47,085.36 $21,571.64 46%

And here’s a monthly breakdown of 2014 so far:

Month Gross Expense Net ROI
January 2014 $10,922.80 $8,908.47 $2,014.33 23%
February 2014 $25,941.97 $15,900.52 $10,041.45 63%
March 2014 $24,202.06 $15,408.95 $8,793.11 57%
April 2014 $3,486.55 $3,150.00 $336.55 11%
May 2014 $57,015.00 $38,765.01 $18,249.99 47%
June 2014 $60,753.58 $43,095.35 $17,658.23 41%
July 2014 $50,162.81 $37,073.59 $13,089.22 35%
August 2014 $27,317.35 $21,291.31 $6,026.04 28%
September 2014 $29,935.71 $22,872.08 $7,063.63 31%
Total: $289,737.83 $206,465.28 $83,272.55 40%
Monthly Average: $32,193.09 $22,940.59 $9,252.51 40%

I’m at $83K net profit so far this year after 9 months in. That puts me on pace to hit $111K profit this year – which may sound good, but would still only be half of what I pulled in last year.

Hmm… can’t be greedy though… $111K/year is still pretty good!

The Larger Picture: 21-Month Analysis

Below are my overall numbers from my campaigns since I started recording them in January 2013:

January 2013 to September 2014 Gross Expense Net ROI
21-Month Total: $1,113,621.84 $771,489.61 $342,132.23 44%
Monthly Average: $53,029.61 $36,737.60 $16,292.01 44%

Getting close to 2 years of recording my affiliate marketing stats, my monthly average sits at $16,292.01. I’m quite happy with that. It will be interesting to see what that number is in another 6 months from now.

September Recap

Nothing notable happened in September. I was pretty much on auto-pilot in terms of maintaining my affiliate campaigns with nothing too interesting occurring.

I revisited a couple of older traffic sources again, which I will often do from time to time, but they didn’t end up panning out. I will often revisit old traffic sources even if they were not so great before, because traffic sources often add new features and improvements, and competition can (although rarely ever does) actually reduce on them. As long as the source wasn’t absolute crap, I’ll almost always retry past traffic sources every 6 months or so.

And that was really all that happened. Sorry. Basically, just kept my campaigns on auto-pilot.

October 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 October 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!

Posted: November 25th, 2014 under Affiliate Marketing 15 Comments

What I’ve Been Doing The Past Month

November 22, 2014 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Sorry for the lack of posting.

And sorry if the title of this blog post led you to believe that I had some juicy secret to reveal, because I don’t. In fact, I’ve been doing nothing extraordinary at all. I’ve simply been working as usual.

So why the lack of posts then? Well, my priority has been to focus on my campaigns and e-mail, and by the time I tend to those things I don’t feel like writing a blog post. If you go back a few years, my priority was 100% on my blog, and so I’d have great post frequency and content, but then my other projects were neglected as a result. I have a really hard time balancing things, as you can see.

Anyhow, I thought I’d provide a breakdown as to what I’ve been doing the past month since it’s been while since I last posted.

Server & Tracking Issues

I started experiencing severe server and tracking issues in late October. My server loads kept skyrocketing and I was having trouble viewing reports in CPVLab.

I spent a lot of time and effort trying to resolve this and communicating back and forth with CPVLab support and my hosting provider, but the problems still continue. I’m still investigating into this, but I believe the signs simply point to my server not being able to handle the amount of traffic I have been sending to it this month – arguably the most traffic I’ve ever run.

… Which leads me to…

Mobile Campaigns

I’ve really been focusing on mobile lately. Apart from a couple of small attempts here and there in the past, I’ve basically only run mobile for around 6 weeks now, so I’m still a n00b and have a ton to learn.

However, things have been going well. You’ll find out just how well when I post my November income report, but I’m very happy with the results so far.

I had been pushing a fair bit of volume through my mobile campaigns though, which, when coupled with my existing web traffic, may have stressed my server enough to the issues mentioned above.

I paused my mobile campaigns a few days ago while I "regroup", but hope to continue again soon.

E-Mail / Other Projects

Of course, I’m constantly dealing with e-mail and my other online projects.

I always have stuff going on the side, but have made a real effort to reduce side distractions. I’ve already sold off a good portion of my network of websites, and hope to sell the rest soon enough.

I’m also in the midst of researching, testing, and reviewing a bunch of cool services, tools, and websites which is always very time consuming.

Tiling & Home Projects

A big chunk of my time lately has been spent on various home improvement projects.

One year ago, when I still lived in my condo, I had absolutely zero handyman skills. The most I could do was change a light bulb.

Now, after a year of owning a house, I’ve already learned so much. I’m no Mike Holmes – I’m still mostly useless – but I’m far more confident in tackling new projects now and have already done a fair bit around the house such as drywall repairs, light fixture replacements, fixing the doorbell, fixing the gas fireplace, fixing the kitchen faucet, etc.

Again, all simple things so far, but seriously, all I could do 1 year ago was change a light bulb.

Anyhow, my latest project has been adding a kitchen backsplash. While relatively easy in theory, I’ve been having a hell of a time despite studying and researching how to do it properly for a very long time online beforehand.

It’s going a hell of a lot smoother now that I am 90% done setting the tile and bought a wet saw with a proper glass-cutting diamond blade, but I’ve already made countless mistakes Sad smile. In fact, the worse part is at the very beginning – you can see the progression of skill as you look from left to right, as the very beginning is pretty horrible and where I am now is pretty good.

Anyhow, while professionals can do a kitchen backsplash in like 2 days, it’s been taking me forever since it’s my first tiling job and I also don’t want to spend all day working on it, so I’ve been allocating a bit of time each day to work on it. I hope to be done within 3-4 days by now, all grouted and caulked.

Okay, so why did I bother with doing this myself instead of hiring Home Depot to do it for $500 labour costs? I’ve definitely wasted FAR more than that in tools and my own labour hours.

The main reason is so that I’d know what is exactly involved: the skill required, time investment, tile and tool costs, etc. for when I purchase my rental properties. Apart from learning a new skill, I am now in a much better position for when/if I decide to outsource the labour in the future.

Real Estate

I’ve been continuing to chug along with my real estate.

I had been waiting for my Corporate Notice of Assessments from the Canadian Revenue Agency for a while in order to give to my mortgage broker, and finally received them last week.

I am now on the verge of getting an official preapproval, but there has been another setback. Basically, I’ve learned that virtually all lenders here require a personal guarantee for corporate real estate investments. This is something I am not willing to do… at least not unless the terms are extremely tame.

I am 99.9% certain that my business would not default on the loan, but I am very adamant about separating business from personal.

So, I basically have 4 options:

  • Purchase a property with $200,000 in cash, which really limits my investment opportunities and will give me a low-end rental
  • Find a private lender willing to lend without a personal guarantee
  • Find a bank willing to lend without a personal guarantee, despite my broker telling me that this is not possible
  • Agree to the personal guarantee but don’t allow them to take my house or bank account

Health Issues

For those who care, the past few days I’ve been having some health issues. 2-3 days ago, I woke up with a plugged ear which continued off and on since. While annoying, it wasn’t too disruptive.

But then last night I started feeling really light-headed and dizzy, and this morning I woke up with a ringing in my right ear and still feel a little bit light-headed and dizzy. The ringing is still present as I write this.

I’m not sure what it’s from; when I use my wet saw I use ear protection (and eye protection and a mask), so I really hope it’s just temporary and will go away on its own soon.

Not feeling well really takes a toll on productivity!

Anyhow, there’s an overall update for you guys.

I think I’ll publish another affiliate marketing income report as my next post so that I can start to get a bit caught up with those again.

Posted: November 22nd, 2014 under Miscellaneous 8 Comments

Start a Logo Contest with LogoArena

October 27, 2014 Posted by Michael Kwan

The following is a paid review for TylerCruz.com written and reviewed by Michael Kwan. It is completely of Michael Kwan’s opinion and is not influenced by being paid. If you’re interested in having your site or product reviewed, please view my advertising page

The monumental importance of good branding cannot be understated. The huge success that companies like McDonald’s, Apple and Starbucks have been able to enjoy can be partly attributed to just how recognizable their brands are in the marketplace. When you see a couple of golden arches or a characteristic white and green coffee cup, you know exactly what you’re getting. And at the heart of good branding is a good logo.

This is true not only for massive multinational corporations, but also for small and medium-sized businesses both online and offline. The good news is that getting a fantastic logo for your website or company does not need to cost an arm and a leg, particularly when you take advantage of the logo contests powered by LogoArena. By taking this route, you can work with hundreds of designers and simply choose the logo concept that you like the best.

Crowdsourcing a Logo Design

The fundamental principles behind LogoArena aren’t exactly novel. When you are in search of a new logo for your company, you simply set up a logo contest through LogoArena, filling out a design brief to provide some direction in terms of what you want in your logo.

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From there, the community of graphic design specialists at LogoArena get to work, drumming up design concepts for your perusal. You can then provide feedback on these concepts, giving the logo designers an opportunity to revise their submissions to better align with what you want to have. At the end of the contest, you choose a winner and download the corresponding logo files in EPS format to use as you wish.

LogoArena says that you can request unlimited revisions (within the timeframe of the logo contest) and they guarantee that you will receive 100% original concepts. The logo designers are forbidden from using any clip art or image tracing. And once you accept the winning design, you receive a document confirming your full legal ownership of the chosen logo design.

The real value proposition here is that you are not tied down to the creative vision of a single designer. Instead of settling on a small handful of options that a traditional design firm would be able to provide, you can choose from an average of 50-200 designs possibilities from dozens of logo designers. And hosting a LogoArena contest can be even more cost-effective than hiring a single designer in many cases.

Setting Your Contest Parameters

The biggest key to getting the logo that you want is providing good instructions to the team of professional designers at LogoArena. There is a handy multi-step wizard to complete when you want to start a logo contest, ensuring that you provide the information that the designers would want to know.

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First, you’ll provide your business name, slogan and description. This way, the designers will have an idea about the kind of work that you do. The next step establishes the target market, so they’ll know the kinds of customers you want to attract. This also includes the industry type and the top three things you want to communicate through your logo.

The third step may be one of the most important. It establishes the style of logo that you prefer. You choose from the “abstract marks” of companies like Mercedes and Sprint, the “characters” of Michelin and Geico, the “web 2.0″ designs of YouTube and Blogger, and so on. There are also a number of sliders to indicate values you wish to communicate, like feminine/masculine, luxury/economical and playful/serious. Optionally, you can include additional documents that might be helpful to designers.

How Much Does a Logo Cost?

As a prospective customer of LogoArena, it is not immediately obvious how the fee structure works for running a logo contest. You need to navigate your way through the help section to learn a little, but it’s only when you go through the contest wizard that you get more of a breakdown.

Logo design contests have three recommended prize levels: $249, $349 and $499. Alternatively, you can set your own custom prize amount. LogoArena takes a 15% commission from the prize amount, so the winning designer would then receive $211.65, $296.65 and $424.15, respectively. In addition, LogoArena charges a $10 admin fee to the contest holder.

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Two additional options can further increase the price. First, you can upgrade to a private contest–which hides your logo contest from the public, search engines and competitors–for $50. Second, you can add a 15% tip such that the second best designer gets 10% and the third best gets 5%. In a hypothetical example of a $349 contest with both upgrades, the total cost came to $461.35.

The contest length can be 5 days, 7 days (default) or 10 days. It is during that period that you can provide feedback and receive revisions from the entire community and then you have 7 days following the contest to choose a winning design.

The Winning Designs

To get a sense of the quality of submissions you can expect when you run a logo contest through LogoArena, have a look at the page with examples of logo designs. This page can be filtered based on industry, as well as displaying only winning designs or only top three designs.

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You’ll notice that the range of styles is quite diverse and the designers come from nearly every part of the world. There’s no denying that these are high quality, professional logos that can easily rival (or beat) what you’d get from expensive design firms.

100% Money Back Guarantee

LogoArena is so confident that you’ll get a logo you love that they offer a 100% money back guarantee. If you receive at least 50 entries in your contest, however, you are not eligible for the refund. That said, you can extend your contest for three more days at no extra charge.

Realistically, you probably don’t need to worry about that. LogoArena is proud that its satisfaction rate is around 98% and the customer testimonials can attest to just how happy people have been with the logos they received and with how easy it was to go through the process. Customer service is top notch and the logo quality is very high too.

Chances are that you’ll be very happy.

Posted: October 27th, 2014 under Paid Reviews 7 Comments