Meet Ryan Robinson, a popular blogger, podcaster and a self-described expert on setting up profitable side projects. As you read this, he has over 400,000 monthly visitors on his blog ryrob.com where he writes about his two passions; blogging and generating side hustles that pay well!
Let’s talk to him.
Cloudways: Hi Ryan, let’s start with a traditional question – who is Ryan Robinson? What’s his story?
Ryan Robinson: I would like to describe myself as a blogger, podcaster and side project aficionado.
That being said, I’ve been doing many things for the past 10 years. I had started my very first business while I was in college when I made my own product called the iStash. While that business eventually ended up costing me over $6,500 in losses at the end of the day, I was still able to sell more than 5,000 units of my product to a large number of customers in most states in the US, thanks to a few well-timed press articles on major gift and gadget websites. That first business taught me a lot about the importance of margins when creating a physical product, and reinforced the belief why I never wanted to run a physical product business again.
I started my blog shortly after closing down my first business, to serve as a destination to document the lessons that I learned while experimenting with other types of side businesses, as I graduated from college and began working as a content marketer for startups. Eventually, my blog began to build a sizable audience of its own, and now I’m working full-time on my own content.
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Cloudways: How did you get involved in affiliate marketing? What challenges did you face in the beginning?
Ryan Robinson: I started learning about affiliate marketing while I was working at CreativeLive, and was able to start implementing what I was learning at work, over onto my own blog as well.
The most difficult thing for me – to figure out in the early days as an affiliate marketer – was how to increase my conversion rate. Getting traffic was never a major challenge for me, but learning how to better promote products and give readers a compelling reason to click through and take the offers I’d gone out and brokered, has been a constant learning experience.
Cloudways: Affiliate marketing industry has witnessed tremendous growth over the years. In your opinion what are the reasons behind this? How would you compare the affiliate marketing practices of today and say, five years back? What is the one thing you would like to change about the current affiliate industry?
Ryan Robinson: I think affiliate marketing has grown a lot because of how important influencers have become as tastemakers in every industry across the board. People trust other people more than they trust brands, and the rise of the influencer is a direct side effect of people expressing that they want to learn directly from other people and their industry.
The biggest change I’ve seen in affiliate marketing in recent years has been how important it is to create authentically great content today. It’s no longer the case that you can spin up a brand new website purely to generate affiliate sales and be successful with it. Today, you must invest in creating high-quality long-form content that actually benefits your readers, and that is something that I’m very glad is a part of today’s industry.
Cloudways: In your point of view, what strategies are a must-follow for the affiliate marketing beginners?
Ryan Robinson: My most important recommendation to new affiliate marketers is to keep your eye on the metrics that matter the most. And when you’re just getting started, the only thing that really matters is driving traffic to your blog. When the volume of traffic coming into your blog is very low in the early days, I recommend not worrying much about conversions yet. If you can instead focus on building up a sizable, repeat audience of readers who enjoy your content, you’ll have many more opportunities to sell to them affiliate products in the future.
Cloudways: Niche selection has always been a challenge for beginners. What are your three tips for selecting the right niche for affiliate marketing?
Ryan Robinson: By far, the most important thing to remember when selecting a niche to blog about – as it relates to building an affiliate business – is to ensure there’s real market demand already. You don’t want to be the person trying to create an industry or engineer demand for content that doesn’t yet exist—that will take a very, very long time and success is not guaranteed. However, if you instead focus on creating content that is 10X better than anything else already there on an industry that has proven demand (i.e. there are already affiliate bloggers making real money in this niche), then you’re on something.
Cloudways: Events and Meetups are great for networking. What events would you like to recommend for affiliate marketers? Do you have any personal favorites that you never miss out on?
Ryan Robinson: To be honest, I don’t go to many in-person events.
Cloudways: What are the top two mistakes affiliate marketers make, and how they can avoid them?
Ryan Robinson: In my opinion, two things things that can be avoided are:
- Pursuing keyword phrases that are WAY too high volume, with a brand new website that doesn’t have significant domain authority.
- Trying to build a business in a niche they don’t personally care about or have a deep understanding of.
Cloudways: Hosting is an essential part of Affiliate Marketing. How crucial is the role of Managed Cloud Hosting providers for the online marketing and blogging industry?
Ryan Robinson: I’ve been using managed cloud hosting for my blog for several years now, and the biggest benefit has been the reliability, speed, and very hands-on support from hosting companies that offer managed hosting. As search engines continue to place more importance on having a reliable, trustworthy website that remains online and loads quickly, managed hosting is increasingly more important.
Cloudways: What is the importance of content for an affiliate marketer? As an established content marketer, what is your one top tip?
Ryan Robinson: More than ever before, content is king. If you hope to grow your affiliate site to a point where you’re generating a meaningful amount of revenue, then you’ll need to be consistently creating long-form, high-quality content that’s designed with blog SEO best practices to ensure you rank well in organic search and bring readers to your site.
Cloudways: Let’s step away from work. What are your hobbies? What do you do to relax and unwind?
Ryan Robinson: I’m a big runner and try to get out for a few miles every other day or so. Living in San Francisco, I’m lucky to be close enough to Golden Gate Park, which spans for several miles across a large section of the city, so I get to run through one of the most beautiful settings as a part of my weekly routine. Other than that, one of my favorite things to do when I’m relaxing is to listen to podcasts. I’m a huge fan of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, which explores military history ranging from Genghis Khan, all the way up to present times.
Cloudways: While doing the research, we found out that you have visited all 50 states. Seems like you love traveling. How has this exposure contributed to your work?
Ryan Robinson: That’s right! I was lucky enough to visit many countries and all 50 states here in the US, by a young age. My parents taught me a lot about the importance of traveling to expose yourself to both new environments and different ways of thinking about the world. I think this has had a positive impact on how I write, the business decisions I make, and in my understanding of how I can best help my readers. I know that not everyone’s the same and that nobody else has experienced my exact same life trajectory, so creating content that is relatable to all kinds of people is something I try and actively think about as I’m writing.
Cloudways: Who do you consider your best buddies in the affiliate marketing crowd?
Ryan Robinson: I’m very good friends with Adam Enfroy, who’s run affiliate programs for brands like BigCommerce and we actually run a side project blog together called (MoneyTalk). Several other affiliate bloggers I keep in touch with include, Michelle Schroeder of Making Sense of Cents, Grace over at Chasing Foxes and many more than I can remember!
Cloudways: So what’s the next conquest for Ryan? What are your future plans?
Ryan Robinson: Diversification! With my blog, I’m focusing 100% on growing my traffic (from organic search) to “blogging” related content and aiming for the 1 Million monthly reader mark by this time next year. I’m also working hard to partner with more friends and bloggers I’ve known for over the years, including my friend Andy. We have recently launched SmartWP together. The plan with SmartWP is to eventually own a sizable segment of the “WordPress” content market, and test our way into offering themes and plugins as our audience grows.
Cloudways: Can you please send us an image of what your desk or workspace looks like!
Cloudways: Last question. Who should we interview next in this series on Affiliate Marketing Experts?
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Usman is a Digital Marketer at Cloudways- A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform, where he looks after affiliate partnerships and helps digital nomads in generating passive income. He is a foodie by heart, who loves to explore new eateries around his vicinity.