An Interview with Tommo Williams

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

This is Tommo from https://foodfuntravel.com

I’ve been a full time digital nomad since April 2013. But prior to that I had jobs which took me to destinations all over the world, including working on cruise ships for 3 years. So, in 2012, when i decided I wanted a little more control over travel and work, I thought I would try my hand at the travel blogging industry.

Starting with zero experience in blogging, I spent a couple of years learning SEO and affiliate marketing. Today, these are still the two main models I use to generate revenue, along with advertising as the third.

As well as actively running a well established food & travel blog, I also run 2 niche sites on the side which both involve minimal maintenance whilst being regular passive income generators. I’m currently working continually to increase traffic on all 3 websites and test new affiliate products.

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

When researching what sort of models to implement to best grow a blog, back in 2012, I stumbled across the idea of passive income. Having always worked in the service industry, I’d been used to exchanging my time directly for wages. I realised that with an effective affiliate strategy, you could put the time in initially and then watch the money flow in later down the line. Done well, a small amount of time and effort could eventually pay back regular income every month.

I have to be honest, what keeps me most excited about affiliate marketing is watching the pay-checks still appearing for work I did years ago – and now being able to work just a 25 hour week, remotely from destinations all over the world. The freedom of lifestyle is certainly a bigger draw to the affiliate industry than the work itself.

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

Pay close attention to the buyer cycle and buyer keywords. The best way to optimise affiliate sales is to target people who are actively looking to purchase something. An article which targets “Best Ride-on Lawnmowers” or “Ride-on Lawn Mower reviews” is much more likely to quickly convert sales than a term like “How to cut my lawn better”.

People actively searching for information on a specific product are considering making a purchase. Those just looking for information on an associated topic may already own the product, and just want tips. Or, they may still be a few steps away from choosing to make a purchase, and leave your site looking elsewhere to actually buy something, and use someone else’s affiliate links.

One piece of advice to ignore is Diversifying social media. For huge corporations it makes sense to be on every social media platform, and they have the budget to hire people to manage all of that. For an affiliate site, where your primary goal is to get clicks to a page, and then clicks on an affiliate link, don’t invest huge amounts of time in fluff across multiple social platforms. SEO traffic directly targets buyers, at the time they are most interested.

Most social posts (well, free social posting rather than paid, targeted social advertising) reach people who could be at any point in the buyer cycle, and it’s massively time consuming to grow an audience and maintain across many platforms in the hope that at some point the user may eventually be ready to buy, when you could just put that time into directly targeting new customers who are already willing to buy.

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

Paying over $1,000 for an affiliate marketing course that barely taught me anything useful, I’m pretty sure the whole course was set up as a way to help complete novices learn what an affiliate link was and then confuse them for long enough for the refund period to end.

Although I didn’t learn much from the course, they did provide some niche templates for some popular niches which inspired me to start a new niche site that I probably would not have considered otherwise. That niche site is my longest running and has been making a steady income for almost 4 years now and is still growing. The initial investment in the course seem tiny after the amount of money I’ve made back.

But the lesson I learnt from this is one I’ve actually heard from other entrepreneurs too, sometimes it takes investing in something financially, or publicly to give you a sense of accountability to make you put in the effort to achieve something. You don’t want to feel stupid or like a failure, so you do everything it takes to make something work and save face.

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

Convertkit, or any good quality email marketing system. Although I mentioned before that targeting buyer keywords is by far the most efficient affiliate model, you still have users who are not quite ready to buy, and within any niche there are also likely to be outlying keywords that are people close to wanting to purchase, but not as close as for buyer keywords. Once you’ve covered the buyer keywords in your niche, if you want to expand further, targeting related keywords is a smart plan, and the best way to convert people who are on the fence about buying things is to keep in contact with them about relevant information and products.

A well crafted email sequence can turn a cool lead into a warm lead and eventually get them click on affiliate products. Why let visitors to your website head off somewhere else to click affiliate links when you can build trust and eventually make sales direct to their inbox. For certain niches, you can also contact them about up-sells and related products once you know they have clicked to learn more about a certain product. Because, with convertkit if a user clicks a link in an email that can trigger the system to send the user different emails than they would have got if the did not click the link.

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

The only person I actively follow is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income because he has a podcast https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/podcasts/
Otherwise I just pay attention to a few private facebook groups I am in with other bloggers and marketers to keep updated on important news, or I search on google for specific answers to things I am trying to achieve.

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

All my contacts and social accounts are linked from my main website at https://foodfuntravel.com and email is the best way to get a response.

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