Hi !

Okay, I have a LOT to say today.  A LOT.

Apologies for the length of this, but for anyone who is struggling right now, this should really come in handy.  Yes, I need to pivot some more and I’m shifting my priorities.

Originally, I was just going to do a quick email today because I am so honored to be included in Suzi Whitford’s video series.

This was filmed earlier in March…before we all knew how much the world would change. I had just started my self quarantine and made a quick mention of it (not sure if it made the final cuts as I can’t watch myself).  Now, I’m on Day 42.

I discuss some SEO tips in the video.  And, as you’ll see (I think) it’s unpolished and real as my computer’s battery power runs low.   You can see the video here.

Also just a quick reminder, you can still get the awesome DepositPhotos deal at AppSumo. 

That’s 100 photos for just $39. I got 2 packages.  I love these photos and love that they never expire.   I’m not sure how long the deal is good for, but they will probably run out by the end of the week.  Check it out here.

Okay, so let’s get back to the Amazon Announcement. I’m sure you’ve read or heard about the major commission cuts.

And, there has been a LOT of bad advice out there on Facebook and Youtube, and I don’t want you to fall prey to this terrible advice. It is easy to get emotional about all this stuff. DON’T. 

This has a huge impact for me (and probably many of you). I was on track to make well over $8,500 this month from Amazon. In fact, so far this month, I’ve earned $4,975 from Amazon…so if you double that…close to a record of $10,000.

This represents a $5,000-$6,000 loss per month over night.

Not fun.

And, of course this comes on top of losing a $2,000 per month affiliate (that one appears to be temporary as they can’t get the supplies due to the virus, but they do intend to come back…so I’m guessing maybe in 3-4 months). 

And, of course I’ve lost at least $3,500 in ad revenue, too.

When it rains, it pours.

Yes, that’s an $11,000-$12,000 a month loss.

Not fun.

While I am well diversified, many things are going downwards as the economic problems are fairly universal.

While, I will still do well in April (prob $18-19K in total), my problem will hit hard in May where I’m on track to only make $12-13K.

While this may sound high to many of you, this approaches my waterline…the amount I need to pay my bills (including minimum debt payoff and taxes).

Thankfully, I have 6-8 months of savings, so I’ll be okay and have some cushion. But, I still have $50K in debt (totally excited that it’s that low) and that will be hanging around for a long time now). And, I need to make sure things don’t get worse.

Yes, I made almost $24K in Feb and would have made at least $25K in March and April had none of this happened. But, let’s not cry over spilt milk.

So let’s talk about this…and what I’m going to do about this.

First, let me tell you what I’m NOT going to do:
1.  I’m NOT changing my Amazon links
Does this suck? Yes

Am I mad?  Of course!

Am I surprised?  No.  I knew it would be coming, but I didn’t realize the cut would be so steep and so fast  And, I’m glad it didn’t happen in March (as many other programs were cut then and Amazon cut ties with other places).  And, am relieved that the program still exists (unlike many others).  Many/most businesses are struggling.  They may be struggling for different reasons, but this thing is impacting everyone.

Do I think Amazon’s communication sucked?  Yes.  You see I listen to the radio a lot (unfortunately), and I’ve heard many reports that while Amazon’s volume has been increasing, their margins are decreasing. They are hiring more people.  They need to pay their workers more (hazard pay, sick pay…even when it’s just a precaution), pay for PPE (personal protective gear), sanitizing the warehouse (and shutting them down at times) and more for shipping (because the UPS warehouses have to shut down often and sanitize).

So I get it. It doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.  But it is what it is.

There is bad advice out there to punish Amazon for this (by switching your links) – bad advice.

No, to quote the Godfather, “This isn’t personal; it’s business.” Repeat that 10 times.

Do not let your emotions run your business.

And, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face! And, don’t be like Medea who killed her children to get back at her husband.

This is just plain stupid.

It will hurt you way more than it will hurt Amazon!

Amazon doesn’t need us!

They don’t.   They built their business themselves.  If we all went away, they would do just fine (and in fact probably be more profitable).

This is business; it’s not personal.

Now, let’s just look at this mathematically.  I’m an analytical person, so this is how I always look at things.

Amazon has way higher conversion rates than any other equivalent retailer.  Usually they are at least 8x higher!

My personal conversion rates on Amazon fluctuate between 8 and 11%.  I usually see 8% in January and 11% in November/December.  Currently, for this month, it’s 9%.

My conversion rate in all other equivalent retailers – 1%!

Big difference.  And conversion is everything.

So, while I may only get 3% on Home Improvement items on Amazon, I need to get a 24% commission from another place just to be equivalent.

And, you won’t find those commissions in retail products (sure you’ll see higher % on digital products, but that’s a different ballgame which I will discuss later).

The margins in physical/retail products are lower. There isn’t room for a 24% commission. Also, by the way, I have come across a few retail affiliate programs that have higher commission rates (e.g. 10-15%).

While these are few and far between, I have noticed that they get there simply by raising the prices and the shipping costs…so they convert much lower (like less than 1%). This isn’t good for your customer and I refuse to recommend the same product for a higher price so that I can supposed make more money.  Nope, not going there.

If you change your Amazon links to another retailer, please understand that you will be losing even more money vs leaving them in place.

Don’t act on emotion. You run a business! Do what’s best for you and your audience. This is business, it’s not personal.  Treat your business like a business. Don’t treat it like a hobby or a middle school clique (sp?).

And, think about your time!  I now have so many things I need to do to make up these lost revenues (which I’ll discuss in a minute). And, I can’t waste that time on swapping links…links that will make me less money vs leaving them!

And, don’t waste your time sending emails to Jeff Bezos. It won’t make a difference…and you can better use your time as you’ll see.

2.  I’m not using skimlinks or viglinks
These programs may appear to be easier, but you will make way less money with them vs. going direct to affiliate program.

They may work better if you get rejected from programs (as something may be better than nothing), but you will earn much less from them (and they often add spammy links and slow your site down due to the plugin). And, amazon cut ties with them in March.

Whenever possible, go direct to the affiliate program or places like ShareaSale, etc.

3.  I’m not adding in more ads
To make up for my short falls, I could theoretically add more ads. But, this is terrible for user experience and will most likely hurt your site in other ways.

Now, RPMs are so low (often down 50+% and they may go down further). So you hurt your site…and for very low income “gain” and at the expense of use conversion (email, affiliate, product revenue).

4.  I’m not going to sit back and do nothing
Yes, I have a plan and it’s becoming more and more clear every day that passes.

Okay, so let’s talk about what I am going to do.
Yes, I screamed and panicked for a few minutes. Then I went straight into solution mode.  (see below).

I’m then calmed down, then panicked for a few more minutes…and then called my CPA.

I asked, what if thing get worse?

He said that since my income has gone down by 50% and because I’m an S Corp, I can apply for one of the new loans/grants. (There are a bunch of them and it depends on your situation…so don’t ask me, ask an expert (your CPA, bookkeeper, financial advisor, etc.)

He said there’s no guarantee on any of this and so far it’s a black box and make take months to hear,but he did all the paper work for me in 30-60 minutes. I was happy to pay him for this, although it may actually be included in what I already paid him.

While he did that, I worked on my own work.

If I do get it, I may get up to $9,500 in total. While I don’t have to pay any interest on that or regular income tax on it, I will need to pay payroll tax on it as it will go to payroll, so IF I get it, I will net around $8,000 and that would make life easier even if it comes 3 to 6 months later.

Do NOT ask me any questions about this because I don’t understand it.  But, ask someone who knows or do your own homework on it.  It will all depend on your business type (or lack thereof) and your personal situation).

Ask a professional.

Now, I can’t count on this money, and I’m of course going to try to grow my income.  I’m a fighter.

So here’s what I’m doing to grow profit:
·     I’m going to improve the SEO on my most profitable affiliate posts.  Yes, some of them will be Amazon posts and some of them won’t be.

Diversification of affiliates (and income streams) is important. And, the way to make more on Amazon (and any other affiliate) has and always will be volume and especially SEO.

So, if I can spend an hour a day on this, each day, for the next 7-10 days, I’m pretty sure, I can grow that income 20-30% without a lot of effort leveraging my existing posts.

I go over how to do this in my Easy SEO Revamp course.  And, you can still use the $20 discount with coupon code LUCKY20.

If you’re new to SEO, start with my SEO ebooks. If you buy them both at the same time, you get a $20 discount.  Use this link to get the already discounted price.

Or, for a limited time, you can get the Ultimate bundle with all 3 SEO books/courses for just $147 (rather than $201). Pls note that this is just a check out page. I haven’t done a landing page yet, but you can use above links to see what’s in there.

·     I’m focusing more on products. This income is more controllable and can ultimately be much more profitable. This is my focus (along w/ email) over next 2-3 months.

a.   I will be developing a Printables binder for my home décor audience. I will be using these awesome templates to speed things up and make them look prettier.  It was just taking me too long to do myself and I don’t have time to waste now.  Afterall, I have a lot of money to make up for.

And, Tracie’s Product Perfection is super helpful to show you how to do printables and very importantly how to sell them. (Use 30FORALL to get 30% off).

b.  I will be creating a new ebook for you for May. It will be low priced.

c.   I will be adding to my Easy SEO Revamp course – both some lessons and bonuses.  I will be raising the price. But, anyone who has bought it or buys over the next month or two will get all the upgrades for life.

Next, as I’ve mentioned many times, I’m amping up my game on email and email funnels.
I will be implementing my learning and action steps from 6 Figure Blogger and Suzi’s List by Number. This will be a 2 month process I believe and I can’t wait to see the results.

Next, I will be doing a few more affiliate posts (probably non Amazon) using the methodology in 6 Figure Blogger.

And, in general, I’ll be focusing more on digital products (not sure which yet) as these have higher commissions and are more virus resistant as they don’t involve people interaction or shipping.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned to you before, freelancing work tends to be the fastest way to earn money if you need some extra. 

Last week I recommended Laura Briggs’ courses and I stand behind those.

And, today I want to recommend a free webinar on proofreading. This is from Caitlin Pyle and I did get to meet her in September.

Finally, I’m considering offering my coaching services again, but just for a bit. I charge $150 per hour (and you can do ½ and hour for half that).  I will probably limit my time to 1 hour a week (potentially 2) because as you can see, I have a lot on my plate.

My goal is to earn at least an extra $2,000-$3,000 a month by end of May.  And, then hoping an additional $1,000-$2,000 per month on top of that in June.

I don’t know if I’ll get there. But, that’s the goal I’m setting for myself. As Leo Burnett said, “Reach for the stars, you may not get one, but you won’t come up a hunk of mud either.”

Focus on growth!  Don’t focus on these distractions.  “It’s not personal; it’s business.”

Blog On!
Debbie, The Flooring Girl


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