Zero to $150,000/Year on YouTube (Affiliate Marketing Story)
Note: for those of you are not familiar with affiliate marketing. It basically means you get a commission from promoting someone else’s product. (it can be a physical/virtual product)
For example, a real estate agent will normally get a commission for selling houses. Affiliate marketing follows the same principles but is more of an online term.
There’s not many people you can trust these days…
Most “Gurus” are making money by teaching you how to make money.
Don’t get me wrong… I don’t have a problem with that if they’ve actually done it. But what I see is many of them are teaching you when they haven’t done it themselves other than from teaching you how to make money.
Imagine learning how to get six pack abs from someone who has never done it themselves… Or learning how to play basketball from a coach – who has never played.
And this information misleads people, so you get taken around in a circle and you end up back where you started.
On the other hand, you have big stars (the same people that you watch and follow) who are making 1000’s or millions but aren’t sharing how they got to the top.
So, people who look from the outside see it as something they can’t get either.
My mission is to change that.
Why share my story?
A bigger purpose.
I feel the common path that society pushes you into is to – go school, get a stable 9-5 job to pay the bills, buy a house, get married and have kids. And to ensure they have a good education and it becomes this never-ending cycle.
But I’m guessing since you’re reading this, you probably want something different.
Personally, I think humans are sort of like “animals” – some fly, some swim, some are on the ground or even in the ground. We all have different talents and skills but because of pressure that society puts on us – we give up on what we really want to do.
We have people who could have become singers/actors end up being an accountant or a lawyer. Or Vice versa.
So, I hope to inspire a different path, a different possibility.
Let me begin…from the very start…in the 1980’s.
My parents migrated to Melbourne, Australia in the 1980’s from Malaysia. It was quiet a funny story, maybe romantic. Lol.
Apparently, my dad met my uncle (my mums brother) while working as a chef in a restaurant. And he introduced my mum to my dad. They wrote letters at first, visited each other a few times and eventually they got married and settled in Melbourne, Australia. Obviously, there’s probably a little more to it than that, but yeah this isn’t a love story 😉
Anyways, I was born in 1991 and later my brother and then my sister came last.
During my childhood, my parents would always be working. Working to provide for the family and to create a better future for us. My dad would go out early and come home late around 2-3 am.
When I was very little, I would normally be dropped off at my aunties place for a whole week and maybe see my parents once a week.
When I was 10 years old, I started taking care of my brother and sister. So, we stayed at home by ourselves. Yes, I was cooking fried rice for them and giving my sister lollies when she would cry when our mum left for work and she’d instantly stop.
I remember when I was 10, very clearly. I was in my room, always thinking of ideas of how I could become rich. I wanted to become rich that we didn’t have to work anymore, travel and could chill on a yacht. I was drawing phones, flying cars and calculating how many I would need to sell to make a billion dollars.
I thought being rich would solve all the problems, bring happiness, less stress and arguments and that my parents wouldn’t have to work so hard and we could finally go on holidays.
We lived in a flat/apartment until I was around 15. I was scared what my friends (who normally lived in a house) would think, so never really invited them over. And my mum being Asian – I wasn’t allowed sleepovers.
I also never told my friends that my brother was mentally disabled and goes to a special school, as I thought they’d laugh.
It was fairly common for people to use the phrase “are you retarded?” in school. So, I kept it to myself and didn’t share much about my life.
So, I was sort of more introverted and didn’t really fit in. But at the same time, I was fine with it. I kept on dreaming. I kept on believing one day, I will have it.
Most kids were going to their holiday houses or going overseas for holidays but we couldn’t – my dad was working and my brother doesn’t like flights and can’t walk around too much.
Most of the time at the dinner table, my parents would be talking about problems at the restaurant, this and that needed to be fixed, need to hire staff etc.
So, as I got a little bit older (in my mid-teens) – I was always chiming in on ideas that would help the business make more money or give my dad more time. I also become a waiter at my dad’s restaurant earning $10/hour.
For me, early on (around when I was 15) I knew for sure that formal education and just getting a job was not for me (nothing wrong with it) but didn’t feel like it will get me the lifestyle I wanted.
From my childhood, I didn’t get much freedom as the rest of the kids or travel much.
So, for me, I wanted freedom…I wanted to travel…I wanted to help my parents. I wanted to make sure that I had enough money so I could take care of my brother when they got old.
My calculation was that I had to spend 4 years paying $20,000/year for university then get a job that pays $50,000 year. And It would take me 10 years to make $500,000 and that’s if I don’t have any expenses or pay taxes. And I’d be around 35 and my parents would be 65, which to me (at that time) is very old! Not to mention the $80,000 – I’d have to pay back to the government.
I wanted to have money, nice cars, holidays and all that stuff and enjoy it in my 20’s.
That’s why I was never interested in getting a job. I went from an A+ student in year 7 and 8 to getting C’s and D’s by year 12. I just scraped through high school and graduated with an Accounting and Finance Degree. (I picked that, because I thought maybe I’d be able to use it in business not to get a job)
I did that for my parents, it was their dream for us to be educated because they didn’t want us to work as hard as them.
My first book I read, was Think & Grow Rich – I think I was 18-19 at the time. Then since then I’ve probably read a couple hundred of books/audiobooks related to business/self-development etc.
The first venture I had was selling on eBay…
I had watched on the news of how a couple in Queensland where making millions from selling things from eBay and they had a warehouse in their backyard.
I bought their course, along with a $500 membership to access suppliers in China.
So, then I went to start building my ebay reputation by selling my high school text books. But that’s as far as I got with it.
At that time, I don’t know how but I ended up on the Warrior forum. (Internet marketing/Make money online forum)
I felt that eBay was going to be hard. Maybe there was an easier way. I was jumping from course to course. I had the shiny object syndrome.
At that time, it was the time of creating small niche websites and ranking them on Google for affiliate commissions.
This idea sounded good.
I setup a WordPress website, wrote some content and added the affiliate link to a dating product from Clickbank. Then I bought some backlinks from the blackhat forum and it started ranking on the first page of google. And It ended up making a few sales!
But what I realised was that, it wasn’t very stable and at that time I was re-reading think & grow rich. One thing that really stuck with me. Was that during the gold rush, it was not the diggers but the people who were selling the shovels.
So, I decided, that this was like the gold rush…So instead of creating my own niche sites, I would create an SEO service to help people with niche sites rank.
(21) 2012 – Made my first dollar online selling SEO Services ($29 for one, $50 for two)
– Quit Job Shortly After making $200-300/Week (Enough for me to pay for petrol, go partying and dates on the weekends)
– After a few months in I had dozens of raving reviews …On average, I made about $800-1000 a week, sometimes $1500+ per week – If I had Bulk orders.
– It was nice, but ultimately – I didn’t believe 100% in what I was selling because Google’s algorithm changed, so I wanted to stop.
(23) 2014 – Help Dad Market a Restaurant. For me, I really wanted to help him make this successful – because I’ve seen a few failures before and I knew the reason. There was no unique selling proposition, no systemization to reduce errors, no training to increase customer satisfaction.
So, I helped a bit in that aspect of the business. I even made a video for it that has received over 450,000 views!
Then decided I wanted to start a night market stall selling fried Ice-cream (Thai style) so I needed some cash. Around $30,000 or so.
And just at that time, I needed to re-do a local website – which I made using Weebly. (I had tried WIX years before, it was terrible. I think it might be better now but I wouldn’t want to go back anyways.)
I was searching for days and finally found Themify, it was exactly what I’ve been looking for. Something that was SEO friendly, able to let me to customize every aspect of the design without code.
I built that website and loved the builder. And I noticed the solutions on teaching people how to make a website was very poor. The video tutorials were either coding, or used very limited WordPress themes that weren’t good long term solutions.
Because in the early days, I had been following Smart Passive Income and Entrepreneur on Fire. I knew it was possible to make money by becoming an affiliate and recommending hosting services.
– So, I knew I could help people build websites using this amazing builder and also get some affiliate commissions from promoting hosting.
– And if I had enough affiliate commissions. I could have enough money to start a night market stall.
So, in mid 2015 – from this tiny office area at my parents house and this tiny Samson go mic, I decided to make a video tutorial showing people how to make websites.
This is the first tutorial I uploaded in 2015.
Since then it has gotten over 560,000 views.
From most standards, I guess it did quite well but not as well as I thought.
– Well it wasn’t as much as I imagined. For a few reasons.
1) Not everyone who signs up for the hosting – will actually continue paying. Hence that commission will be void. There quite a few fraudulent sign ups too.
2) Not all views are from United States – where most of the commissions come from.
3) Most people who view the video, don’t need hosting. They already have it.
4) It takes longer than you think because You need more views/rating/comments/subscribers for social proof.
5) The hosting companies have their own discounts which are bigger than the coupon I can give viewers. Hence, people won’t use my coupon code.
6) People might go out and search for higher discounted coupons
7) Australian accent – people are probably more used to an American Accent.
I persisted…then as the views started to rack up after a few months and towards the end of the 2015 I was making more than my SEO business made me.
I felt great because it was something I believed in! And people seemed to really enjoy the video, despite the 3-hour long video and my very monotone voice.
But I really believed I was providing a good solution to people who wanted to create a website. Cause it featured the best drag n drop builder – along with the flexibility to change header, footer and layouts. It was an all-in-one solution.
Other solutions were way too complicated or too simple, that it wasn’t a good long term solution.
Instead of doing the night market, which I missed the deadline for – I decided to continue. I knew I could improve the video a lot more.
So I made a few more videos…
I hit $10,000 USD+/month towards the end of the 2016.
I live in Australia, so it would normally be x 1.3 – which is awesome.
This is some income proof, that you can ACTUALLY make money on the internet and not some scammy infomercial that we’ve all seen!
The screenshot above in from one of my main affiliate accounts.
This is from YouTube Ads (Google AdSense)
And other affiliate commissions.
What did I do after I hit 5 figure/month?
I visited many countries I wanted to go to. Below are some of the pictures below.
It was my 3rd time in Hong Kong at the end of 2016, definitely one of my favourite cities. Amazing vibes.
Stay at Hotel Icon – This is still the best hotel I’ve stayed at – the views were spectacular. To make it even better we got upgraded to the top suite!
2017 – I moved into my renovated apartment & travelled some more.
Visited Canton Fair (Guangzhou)
Something I always wanted to do, start an ecommerce business.
I went there for some inspiration and ideas. What I learn is that – the products are super high quality and that most brands we buy today charge way too much. I now shop mostly on aliexpress.com if it’s something I don’t need urgently, because shipping is normally 2-3 weeks. But it’s a lot cheaper than retail or even places like amazon/eBay.
The Mulian Urban Resort Hotels Huadu
After the small business trip, we made a stop at this awesome resort in Guangzhou called the Mulian Resort. It’s like a tropical paradise and there was no one in this pool! I have not been to Bali yet, but I dare say – this is on par with the best!
I had been to KL maybe a dozen times, mostly stayed at my aunties or cousins place. But this time I was able to stay at the Face Suites which overlook the Petronas Towers (aka Twin Towers). This was fairly affordable for a very big apartment with 2 bedrooms for only around $150/night compared to the Marina Bay Sands which is around $550/night last time for a normal hotel room.
I also went to Penang. I wanted to see what the fuss about – with the famous chendol and char kueh teow 🙂
Test drove a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and an Aventador, which was blast! It’s always been my dream to own one – which I will soon but I realised I am a low key type of guy – so a Porsche might be a better daily driver?
W Hotel Sentosa
Shanghai – the view was awesome!
Visited the Great Wall of China – Yes, I know probably should smile more haha.
P.S. Europe/America will be on my list in 2019/20!
After I travelled and did almost everything I wanted. Gained the freedom I wanted. Having the option to travel anywhere at any time.
I was thinking hard, what was the next step…
I asked myself – One question.
What would you do – if you had one day to live. What would you do?
That really put things into perspective.
And the answer was to help others achieve the same as I have done.
It sounds so cliché. But I guess Maslow was right.
But to me simply, I want to help you on a more meaningful way like money, freedom and happiness because I know exactly how it feels.
I had people say “he is just at home doing nothing…”
You get weird looks when you tell people what you do…
Everything you can think of…
And this isn’t something they teach you in schools, your friends don’t tell you, your parents don’t tell you. I want to show you that there is another path. You can make a living doing what you enjoy, in your own hours and you can do it from anywhere in the world.
So that’s my story. How you can you start?
There a few main ways to make money online, nothing is “better” but each one does have its pro’s and con’s.
It’s sort of like choosing a sport. There’s not really one sport that is better – it just depends on which one you like to play, which is more your style.
This is the most common path everyone is familiar with – selling stuff online.
Your own branded products – You can import your own products sourced from reliable suppliers from China and sell it on your own ecommerce website.
Amazon FBA – which is selling on amazon and allowing amazon to ship/fulfil your orders from their warehouse.
Dropshipping – where you are connecting buyers and sellers. You are acting like a middle man, where you don’t hold an inventory and only order from the supplier to ship to customer if they buy from your website.
There are also other ecommerce platforms such as ebay, etsy etc.
This model requires more capital, around $3-5k for your own product or at least $1000 for Dropshipping.
- Affiliate Marketing
This is my favourite method. This is where you are promoting someone else product for a commission.
When you are doing affiliate marketing – what you are really doing is being a content creator and creating your own personal or business brand.
You don’t have any physical product, you don’t need to hire anyone, you can start with 0 capital. You don’t need any special skills.
All you need is to showcase the product. This can be down through video tutorials (like me), reviews on products, cooking videos (where you can recommend frying pans etc), just normal lifestyle videos (where you can affiliate links to the cameras you use)
This is very simple but will take some time for you to learn how to create great content – but it’s worth it!
You can learn a skill and provide services on places like freelancer.com, upwork and fiverr. Or you can offer your skills to local business.
If you have a skill already – such as an accountant or graphic designer you already have the skills – you just need to sell it online.
- YouTube Ads/Google Ads/Sponsorships
If you create a YouTube Channel and create videos. There are ads that run on your videos. And advertisers will pay to run them there.
What most people need to understand is that you can be your own media company. Before there was TV. Now you can literally be your own TV network. All for free.
You can also put ads on your website and blog. And if someone clicks on the ad. The advertiser will pay you.
- Software as a Service
If you are more technical inclined, then this is something you might consider. You can create different software’s, themes, plugins for people. And for people to use it – they can be charged a one-time fee, monthly recurring.
- Informational Products
If you have a skill – you can package it into an ebook, video course or some kind of digital product and either sell it directly to customer via your own website or on educational platforms like udemy or skill share.
- Lead Generation
With this, you can send qualified customers to a business. And that business will pay you per lead.
For example – You can create a directory sort of website and rank it on Google. People can submit their details, then you can pass on those details to actual businesses. And they will get in touch with them.
So, you don’t have an actual business that provides the service – but rather you use your marketing skills to get qualifies customers and sell it to businesses.
Which one should you choose?
If you want to make money online fast – I’d say the best way is to learn a skill and sell that as service to local clients or on places like fiverr or upwork. This is how I started and made $1000+ week in 2012.
For example, you can learn how to make a website and provide that as a service. Or you can learn how to use Facebook and help local clients.
In my opinion, this has some scalability limitations. To make more you generally have to hire and manage staff.
But you learn a lot about business and everything you learnt you can be applied to your ecommerce or personal brand.
If time is not an issue. I’d go with starting a brand and creating content – whether that be written, video or audio or all. (best to focus on one main). Then monetize by being an affiliate, YouTube ad revenues and perhaps selling your own merchandise.
Your content can be around a topic you are passionate about – like cooking, travel, music, food or even just entertaining vlogs.
If you aren’t really sure – think of a problem that you had/have and want to help solve.
That’s how I started.
My problem was that I wanted to build my own website without coding, so I create a solution (video tutorial) to solve my own problem.
Now I realised there is a bigger problem. People don’t know that you can make money online.
So, I hope to show people the different possibilities, so that I can help people live a better life.
With a personal or business brand, you can make money from all the methods I started above. And then you aren’t really competing on price either, which gives you an edge.
Kylie Jenner has built her own billion-dollar empire by creating her own brand. Her content? Lifestyle videos & pictures.
Don’t want to show your face?
That’s possible too, in fact my initial videos I didn’t show my face at all. And in my first initial websites and blogs, I didn’t want people to know about me. But that is fear on my behalf, fear of what people will think. You will succeed a lot faster, if you do put your face out there. People just like to interact with a real person, then a “corporate entity”.
Ultimately, the best way to find out which one you like is to try it.
You won’t know until you try it. It’s like food!
With eCommerce, normally your budget would be around $1000 for Dropshipping (you need to setup your store, buy apps, run ads) and if you want to white label your own products that would be anywhere between $3000-$5000 at a minimum.
Many suppliers you find on Alibaba.com will have a minimum order quantity, you will also have to take into consideration shipping, custom and taxes.
To start your own personal brand, you have everything you need.
2) Phone with camera
3) Create a YouTube Chanel – All you need is a Google Account. (Free)
All you need is the desire and belief.
I could have decided to pursue a normal career but because I believed it was possible – I didn’t stop until I got it.
You can have it too – if you decide. But really you have to decide for yourself. I can’t help you start, it’s gotta come from within.
What you do now – will really determine where you are in 5 years’ time.
There is no greater era than today, with the internet – everyone is able to reach an audience. There are no boundaries. There are no excuses.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
– Mahatma Gandhi
P.S I’ve received a lot of emails & messages of people wanting to learn more about making money online. Most of the time I try to help. But if you’d like more 1-on-1 time where you can ask me anything, you can schedule a coaching by emailing me at [email protected]
September 9, 2020 @ 11:10 pm
Let me know if you guys have any questions 🙂
July 1, 2021 @ 2:07 am
Wow. I come from viet nam and i hope you will come
July 1, 2021 @ 12:42 pm
I was there last year 🙂
September 23, 2020 @ 12:03 am
You’re such an inspiration Hogan, I am working to achieve that kind of lifestyle. I am just getting started and don’t know long it’s gonna take but maybe someday I will get to remind you about this comment when I am in a much better position.
September 23, 2020 @ 9:26 am
Thank you, it will take some time to get good at it. Check out my recommended books – https://www.amazon.com/shop/hoganchua (they will really help)
April 14, 2021 @ 6:31 pm
Hi Hogan, Its really nice reading your story! And its nice to also know that you’re originally from Malaysia, I’m so proud and happy for you! Anyways, your affiliate Youtube tutorials brought me here. I started Themify Ultra through your tutorial and recommendation, however I am having some hiccups with one feature, which is customizing a WordPress category page which free Themify Ultra doesn’t seem to do the work. I was wondering do you know more about customizing WordPress categories with Themify tool services?
April 18, 2021 @ 4:47 pm
Thanks Sing 🙂
To customize the category pages – you may need the Themify Builder Pro plugin – https://hoganchua.com/update – with that you can edit it. You can check out some of the latest videos about the “Builder Pro” on the themify channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/themifyme/videos
Hope that helps, Cheers
July 24, 2021 @ 1:58 am
Keep doing what you are doing! Lots of love from Denmark. I’m currently trying to succeed at affiliate marketing and your content is really helping! Thank you
August 18, 2021 @ 12:49 am
Damn. Hogan Chua, you really are an inspirational figure after all. Never knew your story but reading it made me think to myself that I might be living below the ”middle class” but, reading your story made me think that my life is not that bad at all. I will keep on working hard to achieve real freedom as you did, it almost made me cry to think that my mentor had the same dream in his head.
December 23, 2022 @ 9:35 pm
Hi Hogan, I followed you on Youtube. Please can you give me 30 minutes audience as I am stuck? I need someone like you to put me through. My website is Womibablog.com, and I would like to speak to you about it if you don’t mind. I am based in the United Kingdom.