On 10 Feb 2017, I interviewed Cindy Donovan. Cindy is a very successful Internet marketer. She is the owner of Wildfire Concepts. And she is also one of the top vendors and affiliates on JV Zoo and ClickBank.
To find out more about Cindy, visit www.WildfireConcepts.com
If you’ve found this interview helpful, and would like to support a cause which Cindy cares deeply about, please donate to the McGrath Foundation. The McGrath Foundation raise money to place specialist McGrath Breast Care Nurses wherever they’re needed, and make breast health understanding a priority.
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Interview with Cindy Donovan
Hi, I’m Kristina Coyne and today I’m interviewing Cindy Donovan. Cindy is a very successful Internet marketer. She is the owner of Wildfire Concepts. And she is also one of the top vendors and affiliates on JV Zoo and ClickBank.
Kristina: Hi Cindy, thank you very much for your time today.
Cindy: Hi, thanks for having me here, it’s always fun.
Kristina: I did some research on you, and found out that you started off with building a couple of membership sites, and then you moved into doing some affiliate marketing, and now I know that you do an awful lot of product creation. Can you explain why you started off as you did, and how and why you made each of those progressions and different ways of Internet marketing?
Cindy: So first off, I don’t have any training, I don’t have any expertise, I am by far, I mean I know stuff now because this has become my life, and it’s an exciting life, but when I first started out I knew nothing. I fell into it completely by accident. I don’t know if you read very much but I was studying to be a teacher because we were pretty dirt broke poor and halfway through my degree I was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you know anyone who’s been through cancer, a family member, it really does wreck your body. I was 29 at the time. The cancer was super aggressive so they hit it with the harshest treatment ever. I had a ton of surgeries. I had a ton of chemotherapy. And while I was having chemo there was a lot of sitting around time because that was all I had energy for at the time. So I just googled heaps and I fell into memberships a little bit by accident. I was kind of just playing around, see everyone has websites. And even back then people were starting to do websites. And it was like everyone has a website so I was trying to find out an idea of what people who had websites, what they need. Kind of second level thing. So I created a membership website and that was my first entry into Internet marketing. At the time I mostly did it because I wanted to, I was interested in affiliate marketing but I needed a mailing list and a free membership website was quite easy to get people to sign up to and you can promote things to them that way.
Kristina: What was the content of your membership website?
Cindy: It wasn’t even content. It was software. It was what’s called a traffic exchange. What happened is, people sign up for free if you have a website that you want people to visit and then you go visit everyone else’s in the community. When you visit someone’s page you get a point and then you can use those points to get other people in the community to come and look at your website. At the time it actually worked quite well. Now it doesn’t work so well because there are a lot of people who try and hack the system so they create bots that will do it automatically. So usually you don’t actually get a lot of views. But back then it worked quite well. It was kind of my entrance into seeing how this worked. I met a couple of guys who were doing a similar thing in an Internet marketing Forum and then we started working together. We created a product together, this was on ClickBank. We created a product called ClickBank Pirate. We’ve sold that company since. And then went on to make its first $100,000 of sales in 14 hours. It was just like, it was just wild. Things have been just exploding since then. Because of that I was able to meet a lot of people. But at the same time, you know, it really is something that anyone can do, if you apply yourself and if you’ve got an idea that you want to get out there.
Kristina: Out of all the different things that you’ve tried, what do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each one of those?
Cindy: Okay let’s break each one of those down, shall we? Can you like throw one at me? The first one I guess is membership sites. I found that really great because first of all you can… There’s so many benefits to membership sites. You can build a list. You can have a community. There’s a lot of psychological benefits that come when people are connected with a community, rather than just being on someone’s mailing list. They are more connected, they feel like part of the group, they feel… They’re connected. Also, with a membership site, it gives you a lot more benefits. You can put, like, thank you page bonuses for extra affiliate commissions. You can do different levels, so you can give away free content and then push them into, you know, like paid stuff. We just have a whole lot more. And you’re building, which is going to bring me into the next one, which is affiliate marketing. And I still do, I’m still heavily into affiliate marketing. Even if you start with a very small list, a membership site is a great way to do it because you can leverage what you have with swaps from other people that are doing a similar thing. So if they’ve got some great content you can promote to your little baby list and growing list, to them and then they do the same. And you do swaps, and your list just continues to grow. And if you’re looking after your guys, and you’re excited about your topic, it just excites you, then it will keep growing. So that’s a really good way of affiliate marketing. If membership marketing sounds too scary because you’ve got to have a membership website, products, if that sounds like too much, then just, chill, you can still do this Internet marketing thing, but start with affiliate marketing. For people who are listening to this, are they going to be familiar with affiliate marketing, and the concept of affiliate marketing?
Cindy: Affiliate marketing is the easiest way because you don’t have to have products. You don’t have to manage the products, you don’t have to do any follow-on after sale. All you have to do is provide the traffic. You just get the traffic and you send it to an offer that is nice and targeted to what your audience wants. And then you get paid. You don’t have to go and spend $10,000 making a product. You can just get paid. So I love affiliate marketing and I will still always work that in with my marketing at whatever stage I’m doing because it makes sense, it’s a great extra stream. It’s like if you go to McDonald’s and you go in there and you have a burger and it’s like “would you like a drink with that”? It’s finding things that people want and need and then partnering them up with it.
Kristina: Fabulous. And what do you like about product creation, which I know is something that you’re doing a lot of these days?
Cindy: I’m loving product creation. Part of being an online entrepreneur, because I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now, because I’ve been in different areas, I’ve been in different marketplaces, you really have to stay flexible. If you’re not a flexible kind of person, you really going to struggle online because technology moves at a massive pace. If you get stuck and overly focused on something you’re going to find yourself in trouble. Building a list, that’s always going to be solid. There’s going to be different ways you can build your list for example text marketing or notifications. Things change, technology advances, but having an audience is always going to be a thing. Knowing your traffic sources, but you need to stay flexible because things are going to change. If you were locked into MySpace, do you remember MySpace?
Kristina: I never used it, but I know the name.
Cindy: But if you were, like, because MySpace was it. If you were so gung ho and inflexible and kicked ass on that platform, but it …. then everything evolves. So you’ve got to stay flexible. Part of my evolution I guess is product creation. First of all, it is more work but I love the creativity side of it. I love being able to spot something that people could really use and benefit from and have on their blog or use on their website to get the attention of the audience or make more money. Or automate things that previously they’ve had to do all manually. I love the idea of coming up with that concept and then bringing it to market and seeing it used by people. I really love that. And it does make more money. It does cost more money but it does make more money and you get a list of buyers. So the people that buy from you, they’re more connected with you, your brand, your product. If you put your heart and soul into your products, and I really try with mine. I try and look at it from a user perspective, try and make sure that the products are great quality, that people can use and benefit from fairly easily, as easily as possible.
Kristina: Thanks Cindy.
Cindy: I hope that’s answered your question.
Kristina: Yes, it has. And a lot of information along the way that’s really helpful for people who are starting out, and ideas for them to look at. That’s really wonderful. I asked Facebook friends for some questions and this was one that someone suggested and I thought, yeah, this one’s really… It’s not really hard, but it’s certainly something that so many people struggle with. As an Internet marketer, how do you keep going, dealing with lots of setbacks? What do you do when you just want to throw the whole thing in?
Cindy: You just do the Taylor Swift thing, shake it off, shake it off. I don’t know… Sometimes it’s hard, especially when life gets in the way. Internet marketing is a lifestyle and you need to work… Everyone talks about balance, you’ve got to have balance. I think balance is kind of bullshit. I think it’s great in theory but when it actually comes down to it, no one is perfectly all rounded in every area. It’s impossible. Those people who are, I don’t even, I don’t like those people. I’m sorry if you’re one of them. It does not make logical sense to me. I think first and foremost you need to know yourself, you need to know how your brain works, what excites you, when you are passionate about something how to make the most of that energy and that time, when you’re right in that moment. And just work with yourself a little bit more. I think I’m getting older and stuff so I’m getting a little more aware of, so just getting a little more aware of yourself, just basically kind of work with yourself. When you know… I know I go through ups and downs. When I am excited about a product I will work, I will just do what ever I can to get as much of that idea and excitement down on paper or down on, like planned out so that when I’m losing momentum then it will carry me through. So if I have an idea that I’m really excited about, I will list out everything that needs to happen in order to bring it from concept to actual release. So, everything. And then when my energy is fading cells good or if I get it to that complete, you know, I’ve gone through that whole emotional rollercoaster of creating and releasing, and doing all of that, and I release it and then it flops, people don’t like it or something like that… It can be really hard to get that energy back up again. So you kind of just need to work with yourself, yeah. For me, I list everything while I’ve got that energy and then I just stick with it until it’s released. Which can suck at about, like, the 75% part. And then sometimes you can go, Oh I’ve got a great idea. You want to just go and do that instead and that really derails everything. And then you’ve got 20 things that are about 75%-80% done and you never get anything done. It’s really important to stick things through even if you get right to the end and you release it and it sucks. It’s not going to 100% suck. It’s going to, like at the worst-case scenario it will, like 90%, 95% suck, I don’t know… Even if it’s the worst thing ever, you still learnt things through it, you gotten better at writing, you’ve gotten better at creating things, you’ve gotten better… Take away, just do things to completion. Find out the good things. It’s more likely that it might 50% suck so, you know, find those bits that are actually good and then take those bits and then use them for the next thing. Stick with it. I mean if this was easy, everyone, absolutely everyone, everyone and their dog would be doing it. Everyone kind of at the excitement part, the excitement phase, I have an idea. I want a website and I want to… This bit’s really easy, everyone can do this part. Actually completing it, that’s what really separates the men from the boys. Such a stupid saying but…
Kristina: Those who make it versus those who just want to make it, yeah. So the next one sort of goes on from there. How did you make it to the level that you’re at?
Cindy: Basically persistence. Actually my mum used to tease me because when I was in high school, around there, I would never complete anything. I would never… And that actually sticks with me because I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the person that only half asses things. I’m not that person now. There is so far removed from me now. But I used to really struggle with that and struggle with actually finishing things. I use a website called asana.com. It’s a free resource. You can actually just go and organise your thoughts. Like if you’ve got a project you can take it and itemise everything. What you need to do from…, as far as a product thing, as an affiliate, for creating the website, your list management or whatever it is you’re doing. Even if you’re just like getting a squeeze page ready so that you can capture leads and start building your list. Put it down. And as frustrating as it is, because we all get told – make a list, plan it out, if you fail to plan you plan to fail – it’s like… But at the same time, if you don’t you’re going to get distracted, you’re gonna get, yeah…. So Asana is great for that. You can go through… The fact is even if it takes you 10 days to work out how to set up an auto responder, you are at it and you’re trying. Even if it takes you 10 days, you’ve done it. And you can check that off. You’ve done that. You’ve completed that. And you can move forward towards your end goal. It’s inevitable. I mean as long as you stay focused and you knock one of these off once a week, once a day, once an hour if you’re like kicking ass… Yeah, I know right? Just keep at it. And then you’ll actually get to the end.
Kristina: What makes your products and services outstanding?
Cindy: Well, I was just, I was going to say “me”. (laughs)
Kristina: Well yes, of course!
Cindy: I mean, it sounds… I kind of have developed a bit of self-confidence through the last years. And it’s kind of great. I think, when I say me it’s not an ego thing. It’s an attention to detail. Now, when I put my name on something I want it to be good. And I’m always at my kids – don’t half ass your way through life otherwise it’s bad. Basically embrace those little OCD traits and just run with it. My daughter used to tease me about how I’m so “extra”. Extra, over the top. I do, too extra. And I’ve learned to embrace that. I like the extra, and so I’m…
Kristina: It works for you.
Cindy: And I think once you kind of embrace who you are, learning… You know, I’ve been talking a bit about that… Learning who you are, what excites you – do more of that. And also when you’re managing your list and stuff, you know put your personality into it. So you might not be as bubbly or you know… Everyone has their own spin but that’s the beauty of the Internet. Because we have billions of people out there and there’s going to be people that don’t like this [Cindy]… Because I’m… I talk too fast and I use my hands too much and I… Not everyone’s going to like it. But people are going to like you. They’re going to identify with you. Be yourself. I’m probably talking too much…
Kristina: No, no, not at all.
Cindy: I don’t know that I answered that at all.
Kristina: You did, it was great. And again this is a question that someone suggested I ask. For those of us who are starting out, we don’t know as much as you do, we don’t have the experience you do, so we don’t necessarily know what’s going to be the most helpful question for us to ask you. So what do you think we should ask you?
Cindy: What do you think you should ask me? Oh gosh. Yeah, I don’t know. I think anything that actually just causes you to take action. Too many times people get distracted and they get excited by the latest thing and they don’t really have a goal. Which sucks. Goal selling, like I’ve said, sucks. It’s boring as bat shit. Like, you’ve got a have a plan, you’ve got to write stuff down, set goals. It sucks. If you want this to be a hobby, treat it like a hobby. You know, when you’re on Facebook have a bit of fun with it. But if you actually want to make money with this, you know, you need to actually set some goals, set some plans. If you’ve never done this before but you see everyone else doing it and you’re like, yeah that would be cool, plan to start building your own mailing list. Then just start googling, Google so much crap. I don’t know what I would ask myself. I just annoy myself probably…
Kristina: Just get in there and do something.
Cindy: Yeah just do something. Do something and stay focused. Actually as early as you can try and find a focus and commit to that for maybe like 6 months when you’re starting out. Maybe 6 months of committing to that. And you’re going to get distracted. If you get distracted and you see something else that would be really awesome, that you’re really, you know, it looks so much more fun than what you’re working on right now, make a note of it. And come back to it. Just be focused and get dedicated. In 6 months time when I’ve learned my way around Facebook marketing, or whatever, once I’ve got my way around that, if this still excites me then I’ll go through my list and have a look. But 6 months is, you’ve just got to stay focused. Focus on list building. Focus on getting some kind of giveaway thing and really just connecting with your audience. Do something and commit to it for at least 6 months.
Kristina: Wonderful. Okay, I’ve got a lot of work to do in the next 6 months.
Cindy: Yes, do it.
Kristina: Somebody else on Facebook asked this really interesting question. How can I beat you at your own game?
Kristina: I thought it was fabulous.
Cindy: Beat me at my own game? Actually, I think one of the reasons that I really love Internet marketing is that it’s not a competition. It’s actually not a competition. And once you start going down the track of product creation or affiliate marketing, at the end of the day if you, or your reader, or that Facebook person creates a product that is better than mine, that sells better than mine, I’ll promote it. I want to make money. It’s not like, is not a backstabbing thing because it doesn’t need to be. I mean, you want my products to do well because first of all you want to have great products to use and you would recommend them to people and make some money doing that. It’s not backstabbing thing. It can be, everything can be horrible if you let it. But I never look at it as a backstabbing thing. I think everyone in the community is there to help each other. If you can give advice to make something convert better, or you come up with a tool that helps manage things better, it’s good for everyone. You know, try and beat me.
Kristina: That is so fabulous Cindy. That’s just, it’s a really helpful and lovely way of looking at it. And yes, from what I’ve seen that is how it looks. People are, mostly, out to help each other. Yes, it helps everyone.
Cindy: Everyone has their own personalities. And sometimes if you’re doing a product launch, it’s difficult once you have a lot of friends to schedule them and that kind of thing so you’re not going to butt heads. But at the end of the day we are all in this together and if your stuff does well, my stuff is going to do well. And so let’s keep doing well.
Kristina: Wonderful. Thank you. And just a fairly random question to finish off, if you weren’t an Internet marketer, what would you be?
Cindy: What would I be? Okay, I would either be… I love putting together Ikea stuff. I would like assemble Ikea every day, all day every day. Or I would busk. I don’t have tons of talent but I think it would be really fun to just. like. dance around them mall and get paid for it.
Kristina: Wow. If you did dance Cindy, I’ll come over and throw you some money. That’s wonderful. Thank you Cindy so much for your time. I have certainly learned a lot from talking to you and it’s just been a wonderful experience. Thank you.
Cindy: Thank you, it’s been a lot of fun.
Over to you
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