Shane MelaughToday we talk to full-time internet marketer Shane Melaugh, who creates and monetises websites as well as creating and selling information products and software applications. Shane runs http://imimpact.com, an internet marketing blog. Shane describes the blog: “sometimes, I write product reviews, sometimes I write a lot about SEO and link-building, sometimes I go on about marketing fundamentals and marketing psychology, sometimes I rant about all the crap in the IM niche.”

How long have you been doing business on the internet for?

In total, about four years. However, I only discovered what most people know as “internet marketing” a bit over a year ago. You see, I started with offline businesses. For example, I was selling computers and specialized computer hardware for a while. I was completely Internet-ignorant at the time and while I did have someone build an online store for me, I just didn’t “get” it. Only after several years and several failed or only semi-successful businesses did it occur to me that I needed to really learn about marketing and about utilizing the Internet for my business. So, while I did have online businesses of sorts since a long time ago, I’ve only been doing actual online marketing since late 2009.

Why the internet as a channel for your business?

It’s the one that’s worked best for me. Although it took me a long time to catch on, ever since I started to take marketing seriously, the Internet has been the ultimate marketing platform for me. The potential is just amazing, now that we’re all inter-connected and constantly online.

What’s your main market?

I started out offline, as mentioned above. Online, my first ventures were in the specialized computer hardware market, but as of recently, I’m no longer active in that niche. I have a few affiliate sites on various topics (e.g. several in the fitness niche), but currently, my main focus is on the IM market and will remain so for at least the first two quarters of 2011. I have many projects for products and software for the IM market and I want to give them my full attention before getting deeply involved in a different niche.

I do have plans to get into the productivity niche, later on.

I’d like to ask you about your product Backlink Battleplan. It is a product that helps internet marketers to build backlinks. What format is the product in?

The product is basically a membership site, but you don’t have to pay a recurring fee. The reason I’m delivering the product as a membership site is that I find this is the most elegant and most attractive solution for delivering multi-media content. The product consists of many videos, a few PDF documents and a few bonus products. If I delivered that as a .zip file, it would be a massive file and it’s just not the same level of quality if you have to download everything and click on files to watch videos – having a beautiful website with streaming videos and a logical structure for the content beats that by far, in my opinion.

If you want to see the sales page, you can find it here: http://whitesquareim.com/bbp/backlink-battleplan-conquer-your-competition/

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks are the main factor needed to get to the top positions in Google search results. The logic behind it is this: A link from one site to another is like a “vote”. After all, you tend to link to things you like and recommend, right? So, the more backlinks a site has, the more people “like” it and “vote” for it. Building backlinks is essentially a way to manipulate the search results in such a way that your site appears on top for a specific search term.


How did you decide on the subject matter for your product?

This is actually a hugely important question. I decided on this particular topic after doing several surveys and generally talking to many online marketers. This helped me identify a topic that was very specific and where I knew there was demand for a product.

The important point here is that I created a product based on demand.

This is the number one step to take in marketing anything: You have to make sure that it’s something people are actually looking for. Just trying to think of good product ideas all by yourself is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, in the process of creating a product.

What kind of research and preparation did you do?

Next to the fact that I knew there was demand for a topic like this, it was also something I had personal experience with. Building backlinks and experimenting with different link-building techniques is something I had been doing for my own sites, for about 6 months, before I ever started on the product. Once I had decided on the topic for the product, I also invested a lot of time into refining and filtering out the best techniques for this particular product.

Here’s the thing: If you look at products about product creation, they almost all have the same premise. That premise goes something like this: “Learn how to create a product extremely quickly, with zero effort and zero expertise and then sell it for a high price.”

This is what almost everyone teaches, because that’s what most people are looking for: simple, easy, quick money.

I took the exact opposite approach to that: Focus on quality, quality, quality. Because I know that so many product creators (especially in Internet marketing) are only after a quick buck and create their products as quickly as possible, I knew I could stand out from the crowd by going the extra mile.
Plus, I really don’t want any half-assed products out there, with my name on them.

At any rate, this focus on quality and the fact that I took as much time as I needed to get everything right has a lot to do with how successful my first product launch was.

You made a number of videos to introduce your product to market. What were your main marketing methods to push people to the videos?

Mainly, e-mail. My own list was still very small at the time, but I did invest quite a lot of effort into recruiting affiliates for the launch, so I did get a decent amount of visitors that way. Nothing like the typical “guru” launches, of course. But even a handful of affiliates can make a big difference.
SEO is more of a long-term strategy and I’d only use it for a product that I know is performing well already. As for paid traffic and social media: those are simply areas that I don’t specialise in. The only social media kind of thing I did was have a contest where I rewarded people for tweeting about my product launch.

If you knew then what you do now, what methods would you have concentrated on?

I didn’t realise how much work the affiliate recruitment would be. I would now allot more time for that. Apart from that, I wouldn’t change much. Affiliates were my main traffic source and they remain so, for my products and launches. It’s simply the best traffic you can get.

Any other techniques to create buzz about your product?

Apart from the contest that I mentioned before, the only other thing I did was run two WSO (Warrior Special Offers) before the launch. I gave away some free information in the first one and made a special pre-launch offer in the second one, mainly to test the conversions on the sales-page.

Can you tell me a little about how you created the product.

My main tools for product creation are PowerPoint and Camtasia. I create slideshows with the info I’m teaching and do screen-recordings of these slideshows. I also want to point out that you can do this with entirely free tools like OpenOffice Impress and CamStudio or screenr as well. Just so that no one thinks they have to spend lots of money to create videos like that.

I also had to get familiar with Digital Access Pass, which I used to create the membership site.

Any horror stories with customer service or was it all automated?

No horror stories. The payment and sign-up processes are fully automated. The only thing that happens (and that you can’t really do anything against) is that from time to time, the order confirmation e-mails or login e-mails go lost, so you have to resend them manually. But that’s just the way it is, with e-mail and spam-filters.

Is there anything you would do differently when launching another product? Have you launched any other products since?

I have launched and pre-launched several products since. Apart from minor refinements, the approach has remained the same. My basic principle is that I create products based on user demand and that I expand and improve products based on user-feedback. This is a formula that simply works, so there’s no need to change it. Of course, my goal is to do better than last time, for each new product, but that concerns details rather than the overall approach.

What are your future plans, either in internet marketing or otherwise?

In 2011, I will be releasing several info-products and software applications for Internet marketers. I will also be releasing more free content and with both the free and the premium products, my main goal is to make a difference. On the one hand, I want to make a difference to people’s businesses. I want you to earn more money thanks to the stuff you learn from my products. On the other hand, I also see some disturbing trends in Internet marketing and I see a lot of misconceptions being spread. I hope that I can make at least a bit of a difference to those as well.

If I asked you for the names of 3 internet marketers who you respect (that the readers might not have heard of­) and would like me to interview, who would they be?

There are actually quite a lot of people who’d deserve a mention here. Narrowing them down to 3, I’d say: Andy Fletcher, who’s a product creator and very smart marketer, Andrew Hansen, who’s the guy to talk to about ethical marketing and Kim Roach, who I’m mentioning mainly because I’ve been very impressed with some of the emails she’s been sending, lately (although she’s also a well-known product creator and “traffic guru”).

If you want to see more of Shane’s stuff or get some of his awesome free products, check out http://imimpact.com

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