This past week, I made a mistake that cost me money. The funny thing is that it was not a huge mistake by any means…just a small oversight that was caused by not taking that extra couple of seconds to make sure everything was in line and ready to go.

This story starts with Black Friday. Like I pointed out in an earlier post, I take great care in timing my Black Friday promotions so that my cookie will be recorded within affiliate programs when my readers start buying their products online (read how I do this here). By planning ahead and timing my articles correctly along with timing an email to my newsletter subscribers through Aweber, I am able to capitalize on large buying days and sales throughout the year. That is…of course…minus this one mistake.

First: My Small Mistake

Just before Black Friday, I wanted an email to go out to my newsletter subscribers on Bike198.com that they were already used to that provided value and contained my affiliate links to setup for Black Friday. I had timed everything perfectly so that a blog broadcast email was going to hit on Thanksgiving morning just in time to record the Amazon cookie for the next 24 hour period of buying.

The blog broadcast feature in Aweber is the source of my highest traffic days and those emails see the best open rates out of anything I send out. It was the perfect way to promote my articles and Black Friday deals. I used a method that I have previously outlined on this blog (article: Are you leaving serious money on the table?) and edited above and below my blog broadcast feature through Aweber to include reminders to check out the Black Friday deals on Amazon and the largest online bike retailer JensonUSA as you can see below.

Formatting HTML Email in Aweber

As you can see by the screenshot above, everything was set and ready to go. However, I only linked my affiliate account to the links you see underlined and left the brand names of the online retailers untouched and unlinked. Not giving it a second thought, everything looked good to go at first glance and I set the email to blast out to my newsletter subscribers.

The Mistake That Cost Me Big Money

As the email when out, I started tracking clicks, open rates and responses on the blog just as I would with any other broadcast email. When I went into my email inbox to delete all of the “out of office” responses and check for any reader responses, I noticed something strange.

Email As It Showed Up In Email Program

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Amazon and JensonUSA links are linked to the online sites, but they are not linked via my affiliate link…they are linked to the respective homepages! Worse yet…they are the first two links in the email!

What I forgot as I was drafting up my email for release was that most email applications will automatically link anything with a .com, .net or .org within the email body. This means that anything you put with an ending will not give you credit for the referral and subsequently not give you any affiliate sales. My readers clicked on those links, bought items from the online stores and I did not receive commission all because I put the .com ending on the brand names in the email without linking them up with my affiliate link.

So…like I alluded to earlier…stupid small mistake that ended up costing me a large sum of money. Did readers still click on the other links and purchase? Of course, but the amount of income I brought in during this 48 hour period would have been higher if I would have taken one more step and made sure everything was in line.

I write this article hoping that it helps other bloggers out there but it is also done for a self reminder to slow down to dot my eyes and cross my t’s. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not…what I learned from this little mistake has me better setup for the future and hopefully my experience can help you guys not make the same mistake.

So as Miles Davis says…”Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” We learn from our experiences and apply that knowledge to the future.

Products Mentioned: Aweber and I use PopUpDomination to grow my newsletter subscriber list.


In the blog world, your #1 resource for traffic and making money online is your list. While some are hesitant to start an email newsletter, the fact remains that if you want to be successful online, it is a necessity…not an option. Since the number of targeted subscribers to your list directly correlates to your success online, bloggers like myself are always testing new ways to get people to signup. Up to this point, a Lightbox Hover has been the highest converting method to convert casual readers into newsletter subscribers and long time readers and…as you have probably noticed…the lightbox hover on RobbSutton.com has drastically changed.

How I Increased My Newsletter Signups by 150% and Higher

It shouldn’t be surprising that people really protect their email address online. With as much spam that hits our inboxes on a regular basis, online security has become a growing problem over the years. As an online entrepreneur/blogger, it is your job to show professionalism and poise when asking for email addresses. So…your first impression is everything in converting that causal first time reader into a subscriber and first impressions all come down to design.

Unfortunately for most bloggers, design is one area that is often too expensive or overlooked in the pursuit of online superstardom and even though Aweber has made drastic strides in making lightbox hovers, you still do not have a high converting, easy to setup design process that will drastically help you grow your blog…

Until now…

A friend of mine in the blogging world, Michael Dunlop, hit me up to start testing a new plugin that is now available to the public. PopupDomination is an extremely easy to configure plugin that takes your newsletter subscription service (I use Aweber) and inserts that into a fantastic Lightbox hover that goes live on your blog. While I was going to throw up some screenshots of how I configured this plugin in 3 minutes and had it live on the sites, I thought it would be better to just show you with this short video.

Product Links: PopupDomination | Aweber

As you can see by the video…I custom taylored the Lightbox to match the site, and the conversions went through the roof.

Does that mean I recommend PopupDomination? Absolutely and I think you are going to see a lot of bloggers do the same.

The $37 dollars this plugin costs has already paid for itself and more on my blogs in only 3 days of operation.

The only thing I wish it had (which is already in development) is split testing and when that feature goes live…it is going to add an extremely strong foundation to an already fantastic plugin.

Buy You Own Copy Of PopupDomination by Clicking Here

Still not sure you need an email list? Check out this article series to see why you need to get started today: The 1 Thing Your Blog Can’t Live Without

Buy PopupDomination


Over the past week, I have covered a lot of ground on newsletters and why your blog must have one to be successful online. Even with the overwhelming evidence and personal experiences, there are still bloggers out there that are not willing to take that first step to success with a newsletter on their blogs. Why do they not want to take that leap of faith?! They are not willing to spend the small amount of money a month to make it happen.

If You Are Not Willing To Reinvest…You Will Fail

This is a simple business principle that carries outside of just newsletter subscription services and is at the core of successful business building. If you really want to make a successful run at blogging, you have to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a business owner.

If you are not willing to reinvest your earnings or drop some out of the personal bucket into your business, you are going to fail or not see the growth you are seeking.

Owning a successful business, online or brick and mortar, is about managing expenses against revenues and reinvesting profits. Yes…you have bills in the house that you would love to pay, you have that incredible new 3D TV starring you in the face, a new car would be fantastic, but…the harsh reality of business owning is that if those items do not increase your bottom line…they are worthless.

Blogging is not a 100% profit business. This is not an atm where you are just drawing out cash without having to put anything back in. If you are thinking you can get away with a free theme and your articles, you are going to be one of those unsuccessful bloggers that believes the rest of the successful blogging world had a secret you didn’t.

Well..they actually did have a secret. The secret is investing back into your business brings you faster growth over time. By making smart investments (a newsletter subscription service like Aweber), you are insuring long term, positive growth over time.

Make That 20 Bucks Work For You

As you look at your blogging, even if you are just making 20 dollars per month, how can you use that 20 dollars to reinvest into your blog so that next month you are making 80 dollars? Do you want to make another 20 dollars next month or do you want to put that 20 bucks to work for you and increase the number generating a higher profit? Those are the questions that business builders ask while employees are glad they are able to go out to dinner one more night this month with their earnings. See the difference?

When assets like newsletters bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for bloggers each year, do you think they are really worried about the small expensive per month they have to pay to generate that revenue? Before you jump in with the excuse that they are making that much money to cover it and you are not…remember this…every blogger (yes…even the ones with 100’s of thousands of subscribers) started off with nothing. They started off with a “hello world” post and their mom subscribed to their rss feed with a dream of making something better for themselves.

Their willingness to take that extra step that the competition was not catapulted them into blogging super stardom. By making smart investments back into their efforts, they were able to build upon their small successes to make larger ones. Not all of the investments were smart ones (no one has a 1.00 batting average), but smart decisions over time add up.

Do you want to be successful? Start looking for smart ways to invest your earnings back into your business. I would suggest starting off with a premium theme, some kind of logo and a newsletter service like Aweber right away. Locked and loaded with those three assets, you will already be 3 steps ahead of where I started back in the day…

Newsletter Series Recap

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