An interview with Derek Hales

Who are you, and what are you currently working on?

My name is Derek Hales. I am a 30-year-old guy currently living in Phoenix, Arizona. My current project is ModernCastle.com, a platform designed to help our visitors discover, research, and select the best products for the home.

How did you get started in affiliate marketing? What keeps you excited you about it?

I originally got started in affiliate marketing while in college. During college, I built a large content website about a popular video game. I helped teach my readers how to take down the hardest game bosses, how to earn currency, and how to dominate other players in PvP (player-vs-player). To monetize that site (and help pay my way through college) I wrote and sold an eBook, and also participated in various affiliate programs (mostly via ClickBank, which was the biggest player for my industry at that time). Affiliate marketing is exciting because it really doesn’t feel like marketing. I can create content that I find interesting and chances are high there is an affiliate program to help monetize it.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a newbie affiliate marketer? And what is one piece of advice they should ignore?

Stop thinking of yourself as an “affiliate marketer.” So many new affiliates get caught up in this sell, sell, sell mentality. I really think that’s the wrong perspective. Instead, think of your job as educating or entertaining your audience (or both). I’ve never really thought of myself as a marketer. I try to simply create a fantastic resource that’s so good I would want to use it. Unsurprisingly, there are others out there who will find that type of content helpful. The most significant piece of advice to ignore would be virtually any advice coming from affiliate marketing gurus or for that matter, any marketing guru. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts in life and no special systems that make the process straightforward. The same is true for affiliate marketing.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress in your affiliate marketing?

Perhaps my favorite mistake has been using the WordPress theme Divi. While Divi is an excellent platform for small sites, especially those that don’t produce a lot of new pages, I think for large and growing platforms, it creates a lot of problems. These problems aren’t exclusive to Divi, but instead, are problems that all page builder plugins and themes that utilize a page builder have. It simply bloats pages, makes the backend slow, can make the front end slow, and can make it more difficult to maintain and update site-wide elements (unless you are incredibly diligent with how you build out your customizations). My team and I moved off of Divi earlier this year. It was a painful and challenging process, but it forced me to really dive back into performance and optimization focused web development. As a result, we came out with a site that was faster, leaner, and easier to maintain.

What is one piece of software or a web service (besides Geniuslink) that allows you to be more effective as an affiliate marketer?

Ahrefs.com is probably my favorite service. It’s a platform that helps monitor organic rankings, growth, and overall SEO performance. It also allows you to quickly research competitors, keywords, and content. It’s incredibly fast and easy to use the tool and is useful in virtually every industry.

How do you continue to educate yourself as an affiliate marketer? What are some of your favorite resources for learning?

I am always trying to improve myself and what projects I’m working on. That may mean improving my writing, optimization, photos, graphics, web dev, page speed, etc. Each of those requires continued reading and learning. I think as long as you are always trying to improve then, you’ll always find yourself learning new stuff.

https://backlinko.com/ – one of my favorite SEO education platforms

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/ – a great content repository for learning photography, videography, lighting, audio, and more

https://kinsta.com/blog/ – in addition to being where I host my websites, Kinsta’s blog is an incredible resource of tutorials and guides related to web dev, page speed, performance, WordPress, and more

If people wanted to connect with you, where should we point them to?

Please direct them to our contact page here – https://moderncastle.com/contact/

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