How To Spot Opportunity (or Quit Complaining and Make Money)

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I get this question a lot: “How do you support yourself?”

My answer of “marketing” I guess is a little vague. :)

Today will be the first in a series of how to make money articles. My goal with this blog isn’t to be a “make money online” blogger, but it’s an integral part of Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom, don’t you think?

That said, I have no intention of doing these types of articles too often, unless it’s what you want. This Web site is about you, after all.

The following info, which I actually sold about a year ago to my very small private e-mail list, I’m going to share with you freely. (I haven’t accepted new subscribers into my private list since 2008.)

I sold about 100 copies (like I said, it’s a very small e-mail list), so understand this information has real value and other people besides me have used it to make money.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t just read it, act on it.

In December of 2008 a friend of mine was telling me how expensive tickets were to an upcoming NHL hockey game called the Winter Classic. I don’t watch hockey and know nothing about it. Yet I still profited from this info.

Let me repeat that.

I knew almost nothing about the market yet I still made money.

Do you see what just happened?

Somebody complained about something costing too much money and Karol profited. wooohooo

The most important lesson in this whole article:

If somebody is complaining about the high cost of something you can make a lot of money online with that information.

Can you guess how I did it in this situation?

Scalping?

No.

But close.

I promoted NHL Winter Classic tickets through the StubHub.com affiliate program using Google Adwords. I sold thousands of dollars worth of tickets in just a few weeks.

StubHub is basically an outlet for scalpers and they pay 4-9% commission through their affiliate program.

For NHL tickets they pay 7%. That means if the people I send to StubHub buy $1,000 worth of hockey tickets I get $70. Pretty sweet deal, huh?

It’s essentially a form of arbitrage. Like trading oil or other commodities, but on a much smaller scale.

I don’t have to fulfill any products and I don’t have to deal with any customers. I just send potential customers to the StubHub Web site through my affiliate link and if they buy I get paid.

That’s all well and good, but you’re probably wondering how I sent those customers to StubHub.

That’s where Google Adwords comes in.

Adwords (and its “sibling” Adsense) is how Google makes their billions.

How it works is you bid on a keyword, for example “Winter Classic hockey tickets,” and if a Google user clicks on your ad you pay for the click.

My cost per click (CPC) for the Winter Classic Tickets campaign was $0.48.

That means for every visitor I sent to StubHub I had to pay 48 cents USD.

There’s a lot of info on Adwords out there, and there isn’t enough room in one article to get into the specifics. If you want to learn more, check out the free Google Adwords Learning Center. Please don’t ask questions about Adwords until you have gone through the whole training. It’s there for a reason. :)

Keywords I bid on:

“nhl winter classic”
“nhl winter classic 09”
“nhl winter classic 2008”
“nhl winter classic 2009”
“nhl winter classic at”
“nhl winter classic chicago”
“nhl winter classic in”
“nhl winter classic ticket”
“nhl winter classic ticket prices”
“nhl winter classic wrigley”
“the 2009 nhl winter classic”
“the nhl winter classic”

Where did I find these keywords? Google’s own Keyword Tool. It’s free.

Google allows you to write a multiple number of ad variations. I only wrote 3 ads for this campaign because I was in a rush to get it up. Here is the ad that made the most money:

Winter Classic Tickets?
BlackHawks vs RedWings
Get Them Here
WinterClassic.StubHub.com

I did something known as direct linking here which I don’t do anymore. Direct linking means I linked directly from my Google Adwords ad to StubHub.

Your best bet is to use a Landing Page (i.e. Web site, which can be a blog) that you control. Again, I don’t have enough room in this article to cover landing pages, but you can find a lot of info about them online.

How you should run this type of offer today:

1) Bid on keywords.

2) Send visitors to a landing page.

3) Offer a free report about getting great deals on tickets if the visitor subscribes to your e-mail list. I use Aweber, the best in the biz as far as ease of use, tutorials, and most importantly e-mail deliverability (yes, it’s an affiliate link).

4) Send the visitor to StubHub to get their tickets immediately after they subscribe. (Also include an affiliate link to StubHub on your landing page for the visitors who will not want to subscribe to your e-mail list, but just want their tickets.)

5) Send them their free report.

6) Regularly send them e-mails with related offers.

There are a lot of steps involved, but when you break it down it’s easy.

Now take a few minutes and think about where else you can use this information.

Superbowl tickets? Check. March Madness tickets? Check. NBA Finals tickets? Check.

Focus in on any high cost tickets that are either sold out or difficult to obtain.

OK, now fire away with questions below. ;) (If it’s an Adwords question, please go through their free Learning Center first.)

I will answer all questions in a separate article or via video/audio.



72 COMMENTS

  1. Great detail in this post.

    So if you sold thousands of dollars of tickets, does that mean you made a few hundred dollars from this idea?

    Can you possibly provide a more detailed breakdown of your investment in time and money for this return?

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for asking.

      I deliberately left out specifics because the possibilities is what it’s about.

      But here are the details:

      1) Time invested in campaign: ~1 hour! From a friend’s computer. :)
      2) I launched it 2-3 weeks before the the Winter Classic.
      3) I spent about $50 in Adwords with revenue of ~$300. So about $250 for 1 hour of work.
      4) I know somebody who took this info for the 2009 SuperBowl and made over $2k. They spent about a full day putting together their campaign instead of just rushing it up in an hour like I did.

      This is a micro niche. It’s important to realize the potential of doing this on a larger scale. That means with more than tickets for just a single hockey game. Most importantly, this is doable, repeatable, and easy to get started.

      Thanks!
      Karol

  2. Hey Karol,

    did I get that righ?
    The ads you wrote didn’t appear on your blog, which – obviously – is ad-free?
    You bid for keywords and if somebody searches via google for that term google’s inline-ads appear. And this is where your texted ads got used, right?

    So there is a risk…you pay much for clicks (to mee 048$/click seems expensive), but don’t have got any kind of guarantee that the visitors will trust the information on your landing page.
    As for me I never bought anything via a third party site.

    This looks to me a little bit like gambling, instead of a serious way to earn money with internet.

    With best regards,
    Nym

    • Hi Nym,

      Thanks for your question.

      No, the ads didn’t appear on my blog. They were placed through Google Adwords and appeared when people did Google searches on my keywords.

      Yes, you pay for clicks. The cost per click is only expensive if you don’t make money. If I were to tell you to give me $1, but in return I’d give you $2, would that be worth it?

      “As for me I never bought anything via a third party site.” You’ve never bought anything online? Or maybe you meant you would never buy tickets online. Either way, it’s about knowing how to market and not succumbing to your own limiting beliefs. Don’t worry, we all do that, but it’s important to be mindful of it and not let it stop you.

      You’re right, it can be like gambling if you’re doing it wrong. Starting any kind of business is a gamble, don’t you agree?

      “instead of a serious way to earn money with internet.” This is just dead wrong. If it wasn’t serious business there would be no Google. They make all of their money from advertisers and partner sites that display those advertisements.

      Thanks!
      Karol

    • Life is a gamble … we all just try to weigh the odds and take worthwhile, calculated risks … sometimes you lose, but when you win, win big!

      • “Life is a gamble” <– exactly. I would much rather swing the bat than watch the ball pass me by. Who knows… maybe I'll hit a home run. Maybe I'll hit a single. Maybe I'll strike out. But at least I swung.

  3. Here in Spain the addword business is strange: lots of people put money there but few spend. Even that I celebrate your post: it is true that you can make money on the Internet!
    Right now I am focusing on my term-exams but when March comes around I will begin something on the side. Thank you for the advice and encouragement!

    • Hey Pau,

      You don’t have to use Adwords if you don’t want to. The main takeaway with the article is that opportunity is there for you to take.

      Let me know how it goes!
      Karol

      • Sure, I understood that the motivation of the article comes from kicking my ass and say «hey dude, there is opportunity out there, take it!».
        There is some stuff I will probably sell on eBay. That’s is not a business, just «recovering» money.
        I have not started to squeeze my head on beginning a real work, thought. First goal is studying!

  4. Hey Karol…again—

    Did my first campaign just as you said. Took the step by step process you suggested. Took about an hour, but could take less as I learn. I didn’t set up a landing page for now, but will depending on how this one goes.

    Ad used:
    Jets vs Colts Playoff Tickets

    Thanks for the advice and I will get back to you on my success.

    David Damron

    • Hey Dave,

      “Did my first campaign just as you said.” Whoa, no you didn’t. I highly recommend you do it the right way, with a landing page.

      If it’s not successful don’t tell yourself “this doesn’t work” because it does.

      Karol

  5. I was searching for affiliate directories to see if there were other programs that interested me. Most of these sites are set up horribly. Is this typical of how you find affiliates or do simple business ideas drive your interest to start looking?

      • Have you had any luck setting up a partnership with a company that doesn’t offer an affiliation like stubhub selling their products with a landing page/marketing better than their own?

        If so,
        Would you track your own clicks? How would you track sales?

        • I have not tried that although there is incredible opportunity in that approach for Web sites and for local businesses. Yes, definitely track your own clicks/sales. I don’t specifically know how you would do that, but where there’s a will there’s a way, right? :)

          • How much competition did you have for the nhl winter classic ad campaign? I’ve been looking for some niche ticket events, yet it seems like there are already 8+ ads running. Is this normal competition? A lot of the ads are also linking directly, is your idea for the landing page to set yourself apart from the others?

            • Hi Tim,

              Competition is good. :)

              That said, if they’re direct linking, check to see if those are affiliates or actual resellers of tickets. If they’re resellers that’s why they’re “direct linking” because they’re linking to their own tickets for sale.

              Karol

    • First step: go through every piece of info in Google’s Learning Center.

      UltraHD: Haven’t really used it yet. My computer can’t handle HD video although my new computer should be here soon (I think tomorrow actually).

      • Hey Karol—

        So I had some success selling the Flip through an Amazon affiliate link. I need to work on landing pages now. I didn’t see the landing page info at the Google Learning Center but I will look again.

        I got my UltraHD and it is cool. Very simple and great quality. I will be working on some video stuff soon.

        What computer did you pick up?

        Dave

  6. Karol,

    Great post! I plan on implementing this but I have one question. It might be hard to explain but maybe you could give me a link that explains it.

    When you get your visitors to subscribe to the email list how do you make it so that it takes them to an affiliate website and signs them up for the list at the same time?

    • Hey Austin,

      AWeber makes it easy. You can set it so the page your new subscribers are redirected to after submitting the form is (in this case) your StubHub affiliate link.

      Karol

      • Hey Karol,

        I am working on my first landing page for the upcoming nba all star game right now and it’s going slow. I have tried to search around a little bit for tips or advice on making one but I can’t seem to find much. I was curious if you could point me in the direction of some good reading material for landing pages. What are key things to have? Things to say? etc….

        Austin

          • Karol,

            Thanks for the speedy reply. I have it all set up now on my site. (luckily the game is in Dallas so it goes well with my existing site) I didn’t do a newsletter but if this works I plan on implementing it to several other events and using a newsletter. I will report back in a few weeks with results!

            Austin

            • Hey Austin,

              Awesome. I commend your action. But…(is there always a but?)…”if this works” is a difficult mindset for success. It implies that you don’t believe it works and that’s difficult to overcome.

              This is a good alternative: “If this doesn’t work I will…”

              Try different keywords?
              A new landing page?
              An e-mail signup form?
              A different affiliate program?
              A different PPC engine (the other big ones are Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter)?
              A different offer? (Are people paying premium prices for NBA AllStar tickets?)
              A different niche altogether?

              With the the mindset of “I will try until I succeed” failure won’t be an issue.

              Karol

  7. Can I ask what was your conversion rate on such laser-targeted offer?

    P.S. It’s my first comment here so let me just say that it’s an interesting blog you have. Greetings from Poland.

  8. I’ve done this before and it’s not too hard but the temporaryness (not a word, you get what I’m saying) of it makes it not worth it to me. I’m curious if you have a more consistent, long-term stream of income that you do?

    • Hey Shannon,

      The answer is yes.

      And I understand there are already people who make hundreds of dollars/hour. But to most people even $10/day extra is life changing. I’m using $10/day because the campaign above made about that averaged over the 2-3 week period it was up.

      The ultimate goal is to find a good niche that not only interests you, but that you can make money from, and then treat them well. By starting a newsletter/autoresponder series in the niche (as I suggest above) you are creating the beginnings of a business instead of simply a one-time money maker. I’m writing an article about the difference between the two although I’m not sure when I’ll release it yet. For people just getting started, a one time money maker is great to break the pad. It gives them the “aha! it is possible to make money online!”

      I’ll have an example of something else I do in another article. This particular thing doesn’t make as much money, but it has been consistent for about 3 years.

      Karol

  9. This post is helping to make your case that I should reveal my product. While you’ve basically laid out your entire money-making strategy here (for this micro niche), I don’t think I would ever do exactly what YOU did for myself. But I like how the community has responded and is offering feedback, asking important questions, etc. Hmm…

    PS Thanks for your comment on my blog!

  10. Aha! It just made sense. Thank you very much for this post. You have laid out such a simple real world example explaining a successful adwords campaign. I am looking forward to getting more posts similar to this from you, I love real world examples.

    I used to live next to Wrigley Field and people were definitely going nuts for this game. What are your thoughts on concert tickets? Are there any other products besides tickets that you can recommend for the same type of campaign?

    • Thank you Royce!

      You probably already know how I’m going to answer your questions. Opportunities are everywhere. It is your job to keep yourself open to them. Take action.

  11. Hey Karol – found your site thanks to Everett Bogue. Thanks for this great post – I’ve been researching online income opportunities over the past few weeks, and your post actually offers some concrete, specific information on how to get started in the AdWords arena. Definitely taking your advice and experimenting. Gotta take advantage of the opportunities around me!

    • Thanks for coming by Rob!

      “Definitely taking your advice and experimenting. Gotta take advantage of the opportunities around me!” Awesome. Experimenting, testing, failing…that is how you will learn. Let me know how it goes!

  12. I know you mentioned you didn’t want to get into landing pages, but can you share an example of a nice landing page that includes the aweber sign up and affiliate link? Thanks. Enjoying the blog.

    • Hey PT,

      Thanks for asking. In your research you will find a lot. Basically, just test what you see others doing. Simple. :) There is no “this always works” landing page. It’s all about testing.

      Thanks!
      Karol

  13. Hey Karol,

    Why did you stop doing direct linking? It seems like that would be much easier than making a landing page.

    • Hey Tim,

      Thanks for the great question! It’s a lot more difficult to direct link through Adwords and it’s a more short term strategy. Having a landing page gives you so many more options. Besides getting newsletter subscribers (which, if treated well, will buy your stuff forever) you can also promote more than 1 affiliate program on the landing page. StubHub, eBay, Ticketmaster, etc.

      Karol

  14. Hi Karol

    you mention that you now prefer to create a landing page rather than send traffic directly to site from your adwords campaign.

    Is that still the case if the site you are sending traffic to has a good, in your opinion, landing page?

    Thank you

    Aldo

    • Hi Aldo,

      Yes, as it doesn’t have as much to do with the merchant’s landing page as it does with Google Adwords itself. The fact of the matter is direct linking just isn’t easy on Adwords like it was a few years ago.

      Karol

  15. Karol,

    Really interesting to hear about some of the other things you get up to! I’m also surprised I’ve never heard of this before. Is it done commonly and people just keep quiet?

    Makes me excited for the other opportunities that are out there waiting. :)

    -Nicky

    • Hey Nicky,

      Yes, it’s common, and I don’t think people keep quiet about it. Maybe the specific niches yes, but there are tons of people with blogs about PPC advertising in general.

      Karol

  16. Sorry for the extra comment but it would not let me reply to our same thread…guess it was too long.

    My ad has been running for a few days now and i have a question for you.

    How do you feel about running ads for content vs search. It seems to me that something like this would be better just on search. I was curious if you have ever tested anything like this.

    Thanks,
    Austin

    • Hey Austin,

      Best practice is to split your content and search campaigns so you can track where sales are coming from. As far as knowing what’s better on search or content it’s impossible to know without testing and tracking each campaign. :)

      Karol

  17. Hi Karol,

    Thanks for the ideas affiliates and landing pages. It seems I have misunderstood these until I read this post. I tried a few affiliate products (through shareasale) when I first put my current website online. But the products were unrelated, general items, and nothing happened. I have some ideas now to try landing pages with specific items. I can’t do google adwords right now, but I am trying out a landing page this weekend – any one reading this is welcome to participate. It’s an offer to get 2 of my own creative works for 1 cup of virtual coffee.

    http://fromoutoftheblue.com/peepscafe

    For people still wondering how a landing page differs from a regular page, compare it to the main site.
    Feedback is welcome, as well as participating in the “campaign” !

    Thanks,
    Peter
    @ACIM_Speaks on twitter

    • I have updated that page, Peep’s Cafe (and for a while it was not a landing page at all). I have learned a lot since Feb and there is a new landing page. The old link will redirect to the new one now.

      Feedback welcome!

      Thanks!

  18. KAROL: you said that first you find hungry market then you match it with the affiliate
    product, my question is how do you find your HUNGRY MARKET?
    By the way, great place to hang out!!!!!!

    • Hi Mario,

      That’s a great question. Become an internet snoop. :) That is, start paying attention to where the money flows as far as advertising is concerned. Usually (not always) if something is being heavily advertised it’s because people are buying. A hungry market, in simpler words, is a group of people who buy. Google, eBay, and Amazon are all good research tools. As well as Quantcast.com and a few other places for demographic data.

      Karol

  19. Hi Karol,

    Where did you get your free report on getting great deals on tickets? Did you write it yourself? Where did you get that expertise if so?

    • Hi Phil,

      Thanks for asking, great question.

      Elbow grease. :) Take some time to research and write it yourself. Or, if you’re so inclined, interview somebody who knows about the topic and release that interview as your free report. Get creative.

      Karol

  20. This sounds good. Maybe I’m greedy but I’m thinking what could you advertise that would be more expensive so you could make a much bigger profit for the one hour investment. Maybe some of those ridiculously expensive designer handbags you read about in Vogue that celebs buy and apparently sell out fast? Or something even dearer… thinking:) Thanks!

    • Yes, Annabel, it’s definitely good to think about high dollar products to promote. I don’t know anything about handbags, but I do know there is a way to make money promoting them. :)

  21. I wish I had remembered reading this before the Winter Olympics came around. Well, probably 6 months before, when all the tickets were being sold :P
    I got a chance in 2 years though. I just have a feeling that with the amount of people that go to the Olympics, there’d be a chance to make a killing (or even a…small killing. haha)

  22. Karol-
    Just started digging through your site and came across this. You do know that Google has been cracking down on affiliates for a while now, right? In fact most affiliates are trying to transition to other ways of passive income because of the backlash from Google.

    Wondered if you had any thoughts on that.

    • Yeah, they’re cracking down on garbage affiliates selling weight loss garbage and face cream garbage and rebill garbage. ;)

      Legitimate affiliates selling legitimate stuff that people legitimately want to buy is still all good.

      That said, Google isn’t the only game in town so no need to use them if you don’t want to.

      Cheers,
      Karol

      • From what I’ve heard, it’s been more across the board for affiliates in general. It seems Google is trying to create it’s own affiliate programs and only allowing those that are adding some sort of additional value to whatever produce they’re an affiliate for and banning lots others.

        It will be interesting to see how this all plays out…

  23. Outstanding effort sir! Not only are you supplying quality, useable information with real world examples to bucket loads of people, you’re interested in their efforts, refining your points and answering questions through the comments. What’s not to love? I guess that’s why this article has been generating comments for the better part of year! I found it through the link from Day 3 of your Freedom Fighters course. Have to say, I’m impressed and very excited about the possibilities. I have no insights to offer or hot questions to drop at this moment, so I’ll just satisfy my urge to comment by congratulating you on your enthusiasm – it just drips from every response you make! Good stuff, and thank-you. I’ll keep following, and perhaps next time I comment I’ll be able to contribute something interesting!
    Take it easy Karol,
    Kind regards,
    Tony :0)

  24. Thanks for the info! I sat down to attempt this for myself, and it appears both StubHub and Ticketmaster have discontinued their affiliate programs. Any ideas on other sites to use?

    Thanks,
    Rodric

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