At the age of 15, Zac Johnson began making money online designing web site banners for $1 each. A self taught entrepreneur, Zac’s been making money online for nearly 20 years and has been involved in nearly every facet of affiliate and online marketing. One of Zac’s many successes includes his story of “How I Made $860,538.38 Profit in 4 Months!” from one web site, which can be read at his blog at ZacJohnson.com. Zac continues to focus on his blog, where he provides readers with firsthand accounts of his experiences, successes & failures. In addition to his own success stories, Zac reviews affiliate networks and informs readers how & where they should be making new money. Zac’s social reach and site traffic is now over 100,000 strong and has referred over $5,000,000 in new business to his advertisers and network partners.
Here are 10 questions with Zac:
1. Zac, you mention how you’ve always been business oriented, even at a young age. Was there anyone in your life who influenced you to become that way? And if so, how?
Oddly enough, no. I don’t know where the passion and desire for business and entrepreneurship came from, but it was always there from a young age. One of the first games I would play with my friends and family was “Store” and “Buy and Sell”, where we would have our own little stores and buy stuff from each other. Then in school I was able to sell comic cards and soda cans for money during lunch. After that, the internet came into focus while I was in high school… and from there, the rest is history!
2. You and I are of similar age in that we first used the internet in high school. At what point did you realize that money could be earned online, and did you ever think you’d be doing what you do today?
I knew there just had to be a way to make money online… I just had to figure it out. I remember first trying out the “get paid to surf” (AllAdvantage) programs where you would download software and let banners run on your computer while you browsed the internet. It was silly, but it made a few dollars. That’s all you needed to see in order to figure out some people were making money online. It wasn’t til I came across the Amazon affiliate program that I really started to see the potential in making money online. The great thing about Amazon was that I didn’t need to buy any products, hold inventory or even sell anything — I simply had to send traffic to their site and earn a commission on any referred sales. This worked extremely well, as I created a celebrity resource site with all of the books, movies and music products that Amazon was selling back in the day. It ranked really well in the search results and allowed me to push over six figures in sales to Amazon while in high school.
3. Tell us more about Pacific Coast Feather Company, your first affiliate venture….
Pacific Coast Feather Company was one of the first pay per click ad programs out there. I had a bunch of entertainment / hobby sites, and I put these horrible 468×60 banner ads on my site for pillows (that no one wanted). PCFC was paying .01 per click, and they wouldn’t send a check out until you hit $100.00 in earnings — which is 10,000 clicks! Needless to say, I never came close to getting paid from them, but it was cool to see a few cents adding up each day in the account. Haha, this was sooo long ago (mid-to-late 90s)
4. How do you think Affiliate marketing has changed in the 10 years you’ve been involved?
Affiliate marketing has definitely changed a lot. It was very exciting to be there in the beginning when it first started. Now it’s pretty much everywhere — though people like to call it ‘permission based marketing’ or ‘publisher marketing’. The core of affiliate marketing is still the same, but there is also a lot of junk out there giving it a bad name as well. Stick with any of the major networks like Commission Junction, Shareasale and Linkshare/Rakuten and you’ll see all the big players and legit names using affiliate marketing. Move down to the individual ‘affiliate networks’ and that’s where you tend to see lower end offer and more shady stuff being promoted.
5. Where do you see Affiliate marketing say 5-10 years from now?
It will definitely still be around, but the industry tends to keep renaming it to different things. Either way, the concept of getting paid a commission for a lead or sale is still going to exist. Amazon.com wouldn’t be the massive company they are today without — which is why companies will continue to use such forms of online marketing — and it works!
6. What’s the most you’ve ever made from an affiliate marketing campaign in one day?
One of my favorite and most exciting projects was a myspace resource site. In short, if you ever put glitter images or clip art on your myspace page, you probably grabbed one of them from my resource site. I made it extremely simple for someone to grab and an image code and place it on their profile page. Long story short, the site was getting over 100,000 uniques per day at it’s peak and it ended up making up $800k profit in 4 months. One of it’s best days was $35,000 profit, and I wasn’t even on the computer the whole day. I remember coming back from the city with my girlfriend at the time, going on the computer to check my stats and just start laughing. It was a fun time 🙂
7. What advice do you have for aspiring affiliate marketers?
It’s not easy, and stop thinking it is. If you want to create a business online, treat it like a real business. There are over a billion active sites on the internet. If you want to find success and compete against all of them, you need to have a real business that offers something of value.
8. What do you think the most important business lessons you’ve learned over the years are?
Appreciate everything and don’t let time pass you by. It’s as simple as that. Way too many people are just working their lives away and putting in little-to-no work. You get what you put in. I’ve been working my ass off for more than 20 years now, which is why I’m still here today.
9. What is your favorite product that you’ve ever marketed and why?
In 2007 I decided to launch my own site at ZacJohnson.com. This was the best decision I ever made. It was at this point I made the choice to go from an affiliate marketer, to a brand. The opportunities that have come as a result of the site have been priceless, which also completely changing my life and business in the process.
10. If you could go into any business other than affiliate marketing what would it be and why?
Education space. I’m not talking about becoming a teacher or getting a job at a local college, I’m talking about providing the necessary tools, learning material and becoming and authority figure for others to learn from. This goes back to the ZacJohnson.com move (and also why I created Blogging.org), and more in line with what I do today. No matter what happens in the world today, people are always going to learn how to do something new. Figure out what you are awesome at, then create a business around it by teaching others.