The Biggest Secret to Online Success

By James Pruitt
The Biggest Secret to Online Success


Originally a YO Blog submission from Affilorama member James Pruitt, this is a must read post for all affiliate marketers!

The more time I spend around the web, the more I see people talking about their own secret to online success, and usually, what they are telling people is so full of rubbish that it makes my head spin.

You see, the reason most people fail is not because they used the wrong system, or didnt buy the right tools. That's all hype that people spew to make you feel bad and buy their latest new product. The fact is that the reason people fail is because they focus on the wrong things.

In order to understand the real secret to online success, I have to strip away the lies that people have used to deceive you. Before you can understand what is really going on, you have to STRIP AWAY all the bad information that people have told you so that you rip out your wallet and spend some cash.

The biggest secret to online success has nothing to do with how you market your site but it is about what you spend your time doing. In order to illustrate my point, I am going to break some of the biggest marketing myths online. I am going to touch a lot of nerves here, but please, keep on reading and you will see what I am talking about by the end.

The Money IS NOT in the List

Email marketing is really popular, and if you have been online for more than a day or two, you have probably heard this said before. In fact, I have said it myself.

However, the fact is, I know people with lists 100 times the size of mine that make less from that list than I do. So, obviously the money is not in the list, or else those people would never have to work again.

Highly Searched Keywords Are NOT The Secret

Keywords are important, but you need a new understanding of keywords in order to really succeed. You see, when most people look at keywords they are looking at what was popular LAST MONTH, not what will be popular in the future. Although some topics tend to be popular over time, you can actually make a lot of money by creating a keyword.

This is especially true when creating a domain.

I see people every day saying you have to buy a domain based around popular keywords. But, if you look at the most popular names online, they are NOT keyword optimized (at least they wern't until the buzz around them became so HUGE everyone was talking about them!)

Now, I have been called a liar on this count, but let's take a look at some of the most popular names online, and see how people have created keywords.

One example relates to search. 10 Years ago, if you were trying to learn about how people search online, who would think to look for a name like GOOGLE? It's not even a word, and says nothing about online search. But, today, it is synonymous with online search, and you wouldn't even think about search without the name coming up.

Two more quick examples come to mind when it comes to social networking as well. One is Facebook, which I do not believe was a highly searched term more than 5 years ago, and the other is Twitter. These two names are now big daddy's of social networking, but they were NOT highly thought out keyword domains.

The reason they are popular has nothing to do with their keywords, it was because of what they did that impacted people.

Owning Your Website is NOT a secret!

Many people will tell you (and I often agree) that for long term success online, you need your own website. But, at the same time, I personally know about a dozen people that are making a full time living online, and see no reason to go out and build their own site. Now, personally, I would rather have that asset, and I think everyone should have a site of their own, because it is really helpful in leveraging the real secret to online success. But, you can find success online without spending a dime.

Search engines are NOT the best source of free traffic!

Now this one will spark off a round of debate that will never be resolved. But, the fact is that although search engines are a great source of traffic, and you should try to get at least some of your traffic there, if you are willing to spend some time on your business, you can find a lot of traffic without relying on the search engines. In order to do that, you have to understand the real secret.

Now, What is the Real Secret to Online Success?

Now that I have everyone up in arms, I want to talk about what you really need. You see, everything that I mentioned above will HELP you to succeed, but they really are not the true secret behind online success. These are simply methods that we use to achieve success in our efforts.

The real secret to online success (or ANY business really), which all the gurus know is really simple. It is the one thing they have that you don't if you aren't making any money. This one tip is going to take a whole new way to look at your business. SO, here it is...


Did I say that loud enough?

That's all it takes to make it in this business. One reason I succeed where others fail is because I see the relationships that I am building. What I see most people doing online does more to destroy relationships than to build them.

Everything that you do should center around the relationships. I know people who own their own sites getting loads of traffic and yet not making any money. Yet I know people without a website of their own making loads of cash every month.

I know people with hundreds of thousands of people on an email list, yet they are barely able to make a few hundred dollars a month. Because they don't have a good relationship with their list. It doesn't take much to get a subscriber, but it takes a lot more to keep them and get them to trust you over time.

When it comes to search engines, you can get all the rankings you want, but if you don't build trust with people when they land on your site, you have wasted your time and theirs. Also, you can get loads of traffic without any rankings in the search engines at all (and without spending hours and hours, or thousands of dollars, spinning articles and slaving away over boring SEO tactics meant to trick the search engines into believing people like the pile of junk you call a website).

In fact, this attitude that 'it's all about the sale' and not about the relationship, is a huge factor in the HIGH failure rate. I have seen people come out and make thousands of dollars, and then disappear forever because they got caught scamming, promoting garbage, and nobody would trust them.

The money isn't in your email list, it's in the relationship you have with your email list. If you provide a lot of value and quality, you build trust. If you always make sure that you promote products that deliver what they promise, and don't over hype themselves (which is, unfortunately, getting harder and harder to find) then you build that relationship. If you promote junk just because it has a high commission, or promote something based solely on the name of the product, without knowing what is inside, you can destroy your relationships, and those people won't buy from you again.

Also, you can get all the high search engine rankings you want. I see this one all the time. I have watched people spend months to get a ranking for a really big keyword, and one HIGHLY targeted to buyers, yet fail to make a dime from all their efforts.

These are the people who you will see daily in the forums claiming that IM is all a scam, and you can't make money doing all this. The reason why is because they can't take responsibility for the fact that THEY failed to build trust and respect with people along the way.

Now, I have built sites using Mark's Affiloblueprint and Affilojetpack systems, I have made money with BlogSuccess, I have built sites with many other methods. I have used article marketing, article spinning, forum marketing, blog commenting, and many of the popular methods to get people to my sites.

I am no guru but I do consider myself to be successful - although I could be making a lot more than I do right now.

But, I think the reason I have succeeded where others fails is because my focus has always been on building the relationship wherever I go. In forums, blogs, articles I post on directories, I am always asking how this affects the relationships that I have or want to build with the people who will read it.

Because of that, I don't spin junk just for backlinks, (although I do like article spinning, and by spinning high quality articles I get a lot of leverage out of everything that I write). And, I wind up getting higher rankings faster, and usually don't even need search engines to get traffic to my sites. I actually pay attention to the sites I use for link building, and figure out how to engage those people on that site. I often don't even worry about search engines for most of my sites anymore.

I focus on building relationships, and sending people to my sites. This helped me to develop a social marketing strategy, that explodes traffic to my sites, as well as increasing my search rankings.

Now, that is not to say that you should ignore SEO, email marketing, the benefits of building your own sites, or picking the right keywords. However, you must realize that all those things are simply techniques you can use to do what is really important. For example, I know people who rely on SEO to build a list, and focus all their attention on building the relationship with that list.

These people make a lot of money doing that. But, it's not about the list, or the keywords they targeted. What made them succeed where others failed at the same thing is the relationships they built in the process.

Another important point is to remember that relationship building is not JUST with potential customers. You need to build relationships with other website owners as well, especially ones in the same or similar niches.

Most people see another website, and all they think about is competition, and someone they have to beat. This makes the industry a cutthroat world, where it is every man for themselves. If you have this attitude, you are dooming yourself. You may make millions of dollars, but you will still be a failure in my book. It's not about how much money you make, but how fulfilled your life is at the end of the day. The real secret to online success is in how you build relationships and get people going.

So, what is hampering your relationships? What are you missing that could improve the relationships that you have built online?

David Britton 13 years ago
Great post James as always! Thats definitely one thing i'm going to remember, and build relationships and actually try and help people. Because at the end of the day thats what people visit your site for.
Kim Ross 13 years ago
This is an excellent post James. You spelt it out loud and clear, but unfortunately there will always be some people who don't hear it/choose to ignore this key to success lol!
13 years ago
great to read someone has the guts to say it like it really is real= lations kool!!!LOL
Tod Woodward 13 years ago
Thanks James, great advice.
Tim 13 years ago
Hey James,

I totally agree with you that building relationships is an important step...

And by the way, congratulations for another great post !

Wajidi Zen 13 years ago
Big thanks for you James,
This has really given me the right path for my focus on what should be done...It's really really a great advice for me.
unit holland 13 years ago
Great job James!! Wish there were more like you on line nowadays, seems like everday another bright shiny object pops up sold by people who could care less about anything but the money. I must say it's refreshing to hear someone speak honestly and not have sales pitch at the end, good job again. look forward to your next post.
James Pruitt 13 years ago
Thanks guys. Just realized this was posted to the main blog. Awesome.

Hope you guys get some value out of it. I know it comes off a bit harsh in the beginning, but sometimes people need a wakeup call so they can grow.
Roxanne Gwyn-Kabayama 13 years ago
Thanks James. Your advice always seems to hit the mark. :)
Tony Wang 13 years ago
Great Post James. Great advices. I can always learn some new stuff from your post.
John Perkins 13 years ago
Very interesting post James, challenging line of thought!

Fortunately for those of us not gifted with relationship skills SEO is still pretty effective.

Now I'm off to look at a couple of under-performing sites while this is still fresh on my mind :-)
Ginesta Lee 13 years ago
Thank you James for the post. One of the reasons I started my affiliate/internet business
is because I want to give back to my community. James, I have been doing this for over 5 years and I have not made any money, but refuse to give up. I do get a little frustrated. I know that I must keep going because I see so meany people that I can help. I do have a heart for helping people, so for me it's not all about the money.

I hear about how so meany people lives have been changed through starting an online business and if it can happy for them why not me? I know that when God bless me to be able to get this IM stuff so meany other people will be blessed.

Thanks again James for reminding us that its more then a money business, it's a people business, it about relationships.
Paul Hatugari 13 years ago
Hhmmm . . . makes you think . . . how true! this is really enlightening and thought provoking -- even to a newbie like me! Sincere relationships and generous giving are the pre-requisites for long-term success in this business as in all successful endeavours!

Many thanks.

Note Taking Nerd #2 13 years ago
Love it James!

I'm plowing through finally taking notes on my Guru Blueprint Course by Eben Pagan and here's how he addressed one of the tools people sell you on -- follow up newsletters. Here's a small piece of what he has to say about...

What are newsletters and follow-up content really about?

They’re about building a relationship with a customer.

When someone first shows up to your website, they don’t know you, they don’t like you, they don’t trust you yet, they don’t really know anything about you for the most part and they’re very likely skeptical which means they’re highly unlikely to buy.

But if you consistently follow up with interesting content, what you’ll find is that the sales that you’ll make cumulatively on the back of your follow up content are much higher than the sales that come upon a first visit.

What makes for interesting content that builds a relationship, that builds trust, that makes you more credible and ultimately makes people want to come back and buy your stuff?

1. Relevant – Google has brought the whole concept of relevancy to the forefront of online marketing. Relevancy means it’s a good match for what the person’s interested in. In google they use their super computer network so that when you type in your word or phrase, a list of results that are relative to your search term show up. You want to make sure that what you’re talking about in your newsletters, videos and other follow up content is a fit with the prospects interests. This is going back to what the prospect is afraid of, what the prospect’s frustrations are what their anxieties are, or what their desires are. The next thing you want in newsletters and videos is…

2. Specific Techniques That Lead To Specific Results – People love techniques with action steps. They love tricks. An idealistic prospect thinks that they can probably solve their problem if they just had the right magic trick to do it. So if you’ve got a great technique, you want to give that to them.

3. Involving – Well how do you involve someone in a video they’re passively watching or a newsletter that they’re reading. One way is to ask them to contribute. You can ask them to write in and ask you a question or contribute some of the content in some way. Another way is to have them do exercises that they can see positive results from.
Michael 13 years ago
You hit the nail on the head with this article.
Marty Saposnick 13 years ago
It is clear to me that the relationship building focus is most important. By definition, relationship building doesn't mean just go onto Facebook and follow thousands, so that you will ultimately build up the number of followers you have.or twitter to build up your friends, It doesn't mean that you should tweet a gzillion times or have friends added everyday. You also have to look at building relationships.

In my mind, while I can work to build exposure on social networks, once a following is established you must be proactive, and first relate or give something of value which will identify you as an authority. It follows that once people know that you are distinguishable from the hard sell promotors, and you have a product that is of good quality and offered at a reasonable or competitive price, This is a smart direction.
James Pruitt 13 years ago
@ JJ it doesn't matter where you get customers or how you do it. those are jus the tools we use. You should look at the relationships through the content on your site, the articles you syndicate, relationships on forums, or Facebook, or anywhere you go.

I went to the store today and gave out 10 business cards to my thoughts on life blog, because I think there is info there that will help the people I met.
Terry Sahlin 13 years ago
I couldn"t agree more. I think that in order to really succeed online or in anything else for that matter is we need to always remember the golden rule; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Just do the right thing and treat people how you want to be treated, It's really not that hard but it is so hard to find people you can trust this day and time.
Charisse Eaves 13 years ago
Great material thanks for giving!
Michael Cash 13 years ago
Interesting post. Since people are always dealing with clients or "list" through the internet, I think we forget about the real person on the other end. Its good to be reminded about that simple factor in a good business.
Jorge Delgado 13 years ago
Great Post James... I agree with You... from my own experience after I started building relationships my biz went to the roof! btw I believe skype is a great tool that not too many marketers mention ;)


Larry 13 years ago
Excellent article, good insights into e-commerce - thanks! Honesty, clarity, value and quality build good relationships on and off-line.
Neo Kanobi 13 years ago
Hi Jame

Great points !!! as always !

Wish you all the best.

Bill Gibb 13 years ago
Thx James. Wise and true thoughts on what everything 'selling' is about. My mentor always said "People buy from people, not shops!" Took a while to sink in but it has proven so true in everything I have done so far. Even I will not spend in a hop if he sales team/person is or apprears to be insincere, only for the sale, or similar.Will go give it somewhere else. I also find I often up-buy if I really like the sales team/person (no matter how hard I resist) . So, a great post. Thx. Bill
Elinking 13 years ago
@This is especially true when creating a domain.
The example that you have given about domain , i must say i disagree.
Name like Yahoo, Google,zappos are branding but If you don't have enough $$$ for branding then keywords domains are important for organic search.
The rest of of you post. I love it.
Geeva Nathan 13 years ago

I really like the word 'relationship'. I got into buying things online, not because of the product itself but due to some kind of obligation towards the affiliate for being so nice and helpful.

Thanks, James has pointed out this and I should use it as my foundational strategy in future.
Haden de Boer 13 years ago
James, not only is this article right on the money it's also written really really well. I think others could learn a lot from studying your style. Good job.
Jaye Evans 13 years ago
Great stuff James. After six months of reading free reports, some not so free and being a member of Affilorama since Aug 2010, I came across a report called 'The Google Switch' by David Schwind and Jim Yaghi. It blew my mind! It was touching on the same concepts that you touched on above. I think everyone trying to irk out a living on the internet needs to read The Google Switch, your message would have great context.
jahanzeeb khan 13 years ago
great post by jmpruitt.
alasdair smart 13 years ago
Hi, At 70 yrs 8 mths and looking at sites and buying into pushbutton ,free, then $37:00, $2:00, etc, and pretty new and sceptical and not your usual quick thinking "rip it up" bloke, i find your comments very interesting. And to think there is so much, FREE information, i hope to follow and do some good things with this information. Whom do you trust these days??from a pensioner in a govn,mt house perhaps with this information on your site there is hope for both of us here and you.
Thank you, God bless
William King 13 years ago
In past days most of the link building projects of US and UK was outsourced to the asian countries where mostly the people does not have any sense of internet marketing they were told to throw links in blogs and forum so they started to spread spam like thanks, that's very good post etc etc as a result the link popularity decreased and they even got penalized by search engines I think here we need to spread article like these so we can educate the people of internet marketing what is really the importance of building relationships rather than messing up in the forums, blogs and twitter
Brad 13 years ago
I like how you look at things. If I get it right, it doesn't matter if you sell ketchup popsicles to a person in white gloves, it is your relationship with the person, the value and care you give that person and of course the selling?
jane snowberger 13 years ago
Hi James, Thank you so much for your post. I am new and struggling. I am so sick of all the emails I receive that do nothing but pitch sales. I need help to understand and get traffic but you have helped.
michael kent 13 years ago
I think you have hit the nail right on the head, you must form a relationship with the customer, and alsoits better to give than recieve sometimes.
facts101 13 years ago
Great post! Thanks for cutting through all the stuff and sharing what it's really about. You've shown that core values are still, as they always have been, important.
13 years ago
Wise and true thoughts on what everything 'selling' is about. My mentor always said "People buy from people, not shops!" Took a while to sink in but it has proven so true in everything I have done so far. Even I will not spend in a hop if he sales team/person is or appears to be insincere, only for the sale, or similar.Will go give it somewhere else.
Jack Ernissee 13 years ago
Great topic - Everyone doing online marketing of anykind should take this terrific info to heart. It's not about how big your list is It's about real people and your relationship with those people that spells success.
Carlos 13 years ago
Thank You for the article, very instructive, and surely i will use many of your tips.
Keep it up!
Ed Jackson 12 years ago
I am just starting out at this and I am truly glad to hear that there are marketers that are as interested in the customer as their bottom line! I have always beeen frustrated when I try to find useful information only to find some "hack" simply trying to make a buck off of me! It is my intention to find the best of both, making a lliving and providing a true service! Thanks for the post!
william turner 12 years ago
Very interesting/educational article James. Thanks for the advice