Knowing What to Sell (and Upsell)

what to sell

Rick Porter, my Search Engine Optimization guru, and I ran an interesting experiment this week.

We wanted to see how well we could do in a product launch using only SEO traffic.

Here’s what we did. I wrote a bunch of articles, including a product review for the launch, and Rick put them up on a site and did his SEO-voodoo to get them ranked in the top of the search engines for all the key terms.

As a result, we did 39 sales for $1112 in commissions.

Not bad, but not as good as I was hoping for…

The bottom line is that there a lot of ways to make money online. You don’t just have to sell your own products. You can be an affiliate. But even more importantly, if you are serious about having a website business and internet independence, you need to build a system that has “multiple online oil wells“, as my friend Yanik Silver once said.

Create systems so that you are making money from many different ways. Never just rely on one thing.

And this brings me to my first reader question of the week…


Thanks for this list Craig, there’s some great advice here. I’ve started compiling a list of potential affiliates in my niche, so that’s a start. But I have a question. I’m following your $100k in 12 months plan and I plan to price my online course at $19.95 + upsell and then raise the price to $49.95 + upsell in the future.

This is my main product and I don’t have many ideas for products to sell on the back end, so I’m thinking I’ve picked the wrong niche. Is my website doomed from the start if I can’t come up with a back end product to sell? – Dan


Great question, and it’s tough to say without knowing your niche, but I’m sure there has to be something you could use as an upsell.

There was a great comment on the blog from a gent named Peter, who assumed you were in the fitness industry and said:

“Dan, There are many types of products you can create for upsell. Having a been a fitness product developer for over 10 years I thought would give you some ideas below:

  1. Create a hard copy version of your ebook – e.g. create a DVD of your fitness ebook
  2. Create a monthly version of your products e.g. a new workout each month.
  3. Sell one on one coaching with you.
  4. -Sell access to a member’s area.
  5. Sell monthly webinars
  6. Etc.

There really are so many ways you upsell someone. I hope these samples maybe gives you some ideas on what you can do too. Good luck.” – Peter

And even if you aren’t in the fitness industry, you should be able to use some of Peter’s ideas.


Hi Craig, I’m wondering… how do you keep under control the selling situation with your affiliates? And how do you find them? – Niki


  • You can’t control everything. If you see someone doing something you don’t like, you can have them removed as an affiliate. If you are selling through Clickbank, you can contact Clickbank and report “bad” affiliates. If you are selling through, you can shut down their affiliate link on your own.
  • To find affiliates, you go online and see who is selling products similar to yours.

Then contact that person and build a relationship with them. Also, doing a launch and building up affiliate support will attract other affiliates to you. Be remarkable. That’s the best way to get attention.

Have a great weekend,

Craig Ballantyne

“If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you are wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other people’s lives better.” – Will Smith

  • I am guessing this is the review site:

    You can see the 1231 backlinks to the page by using this:

    Looking at the backlinks, like Rick says, diversity of back links. Impressive system.

    Rick Kaselj of


  • Hey Craig – I’m wanting to do it right as far as building relationships with potential affiliates. My question is this – when I finish my product, should I go ahead and get it on the market to sell as soon as it is finished (no squeeze pages, no bonuses, etc)? And then roughly 6 months later, when I have established relationships with affiliates, do an official launch with squeeze pages, free reports, and of course, some bonuses offered during the official launch? I would want to take care of previous customers of course, by sending them the bonuses as well. My first guess is to be patient, finish my product, establish relationships, and do the launch once I have affiliates on board… all at once. My potential web designer was asking when I’m planning on launching the product, and of course, this is what hit me. Sorry to be so long!

    • Anonymous

      I would start selling it as soon as it is ready so that you get feedback on the process and the product. Use that to improve the site and sales before you go to affiliates.


  • Brilliant Craig! Thank you so much!

  • Dan

    Craig thanks for answering my question, I actually got a few ideas from Peters reply. My niche is photo restoration which has been an interest of mine for a long time and now I’m trying to turn my expertise into a source of income. There’s probably lots of better niches than photo restoration to invest my time in for the highest ROI, which makes me having second thoughts about this project. If I only knew if people would buy my product before I create it! Any advice on how to test my idea before investing lots of time on it?

  • This is very interesting! I checked out the links Rick provided, and it helped me understand a bit more of what was going on in your experiment;
    You were selling a $47 eBook/Course with a 60% commission.

    I’m still not understanding the SEO voodoo that is going on here. I mean you put up a brand new site with just a few keyword specific articles and it ranked on top of the search engines within a few days?! How on earth did you get out of the sandbox so fast?

    Rick seemed to have indicated that this had to do with the number of back-links. I looked at those backlinks and I see some of them are from Craig’s other websites – that makes sense. However there are many that are totally unrelated, or even junk-sites. What is the purpose of that? And how did that work? My understanding has been to create backlinks that actually makes sense (within your own niche, or from a review of your product or service, etc.) And how were the links added? They are not comment backlinks.

    Or maybe there is some other factor that created those sales besides the number of backlinks?

    Also, I guess the only way to create such numbers is to work with affiliates that offer such huge commissions. With Amazon’s 4% or Adsense it would be hard to get there. But what if your niche is not “ebook friendly”?

  • One thing to note is that Yahoo Site Explorer only shows about 25% of the actual links. If you want a more accurate representation of a site use Magestic SEO and you will see there is actually about 6,700 backlinks to the site and 4,000 to the root domain.

    The site never went into the sandbox and probably won’t go into the sandbox because it has high quality content, a low bounce rate, and a lot of quality links from PR1 to PR5 blog sites.

    There is a huge myth about that you need your links from relevant sites. If everyone had to get backlinks from only their niche it would be very hard because they are mostly in competition with each other. You can get backlinks from any site but there is a powerful formula I use to make sure those backlinks have a very high valuation.

    here is an example – let’s say the keyword is ‘bodyweight exercises’

    To create a “relevant” backlink I’m really going to create a relevant page on someone elses site. How do you do this? Post to a blog network and follow this formula.

    1) Create an article about the keyword
    2) Make sure the keyword is in the Title
    3) Place your 1st backlink in the first paragraph to your main domain or inner page
    4) Place a 2nd link in the 2nd or 3rd paragraph linking to one of your inner pages or the main domain – whichever you didn’t do in step 3
    5) Make sure the keyword is mentioned a few times in the article (1st sentence and last sentence are good)

    There is a big reason why backlinks coming from an article about the keyword have more value. You have to look at how Google actually analyzes a page and break it down to the most simple factors and make sure your keywords are in there.

    So let’s say I submitted an article to a blog network called ‘Shapeshifter Bodyweight Exercises’ – there is a good chance the name of that page on the blog is going to be:

    As far as Google is concerned when it looks at this blog and analyzes your link it is looking mostly at the page the link came from. Notice the keyword in the URL? That is how you want to write your own articles for your own websites and the same thing applies when trying to create more powerful backlinks. That is why when submitting articles it is super important to put the keyword in the title.

    When you have backlinks that look like this

    keyword:bodyweight exercises
    ——— sample blog post submittal——
    title:Shapeshifter bodyweight exercises
    content of post: bodyweight exercises mentioned 3 times
    anchor text backlink: bodyweight exercises

    See how the keyword and your anchor match several points of the Google algorithm when doing this?

    You will get the very strongest highest quality backlinks by doing this, but you can also throw in some non relevant links and still get some credit – just not as much credit.

    So I might also have a PLR article losing weight with diet and the title might be ‘Losing weight with Diet’ but somewhere in the article I take the liberty of adding my own extra sentence that would be like this:

    Along with healthy diet you can do Shapeshifter bodyweight exercises to lose weight fast.

    now you may see this and say that the link fits the article because it’s talking about weight loss, BUT, the algorithm doesn’t see it that way when slapping a value on the backlink. I still get credit for the link but it is much weaker than the backlink in the first example.

    How do you get blog backlinks you might ask:

    1) Join a blog network or two with a good reputation
    2) Get some SEO Hosting, buy domains and create a blog network
    3) Get Article Marketing Robot and submit to the hundreds of WordPress article directories in the database
    4) All of the above

    To take it to the next level take a bunch of those high quality backlinks you just created and build a layer of links underneath those from blog comments, profile links, social bookmarking posts, and even more blogs and article directories creating a virtual mini net funneling right up to your website.

    What about building links too fast? Build links fast and build them often, just don’t stop building them. If you start building at a rapid pace you need to keep building them at a rapid pace or you will risk sandboxing. Then after 1 or 2 months you are usually in the clear.

    You’ll always be told not to build links too fast and don’t build too many, but if you aren’t you are definitely going to be beaten by people that don’t believe those myths. If you take the average of 6,700 links that are showing up and divide that by 30 days I was averaging 223 backlinks per day. I may have some heavy powered tools to do this with but it less than 2 years ago that I was submitting articles manually to article directories because I couldn’t afford the tools yet. The tools just help you do everything much faster.

  • Rick, that’s a pot of gold right there! Amazing! I’m gonna print it out! 😀

  • Dan

    Pot of gold indeed! Thanks Rick, you’re awesome. I’m also gonna print it out too and put it up on my wall!

  • Oh an other note; Craig, would you PLEASE, PLEASE add comment subscription to your blog? You could just add this simple one that most WordPress users use:
    Thanks! 8)

  • Regarding back end products: When in doubt, do a continuity coaching program: a weekly call and a monthly webinar, $X per month ongoing, and boom, you’ve got your back end product AND recurring revenue. Oh, and what do you know….those call recordings and webinar recordings can get bundled up later into other products. 🙂

    Rick: WOW! Good stuff, my friend!

  • oliver

    once again awesome post craig. I am subscribed to various blogs (we all are right) on this topic and yours is the only one I really pay attention to, top quality stuff.

    I am in the fitness industry and want to start doing stuff online, as i live in spain I was thinking about writing/blogging in spanish, and later launching a product. What successes have you had with “entrenamiento turbulento”, is there a market in the spanish speaking world?

    thanks again

    • Anonymous

      Hey Oliver, we do okay in the Spanish market, but I don’t put much time or effort into it.

  • I guess it was not bad at by earning over $11oo during a launch with no affiliates and email marketing. And I loved the quote by Yanik Silver to have “multiple online oil wells”.

    Having several streams of income is key to anyone who wants to live the internet lifestyle.

    Keep up the good work 🙂