The Success Ladder: How To Leverage Each Small Success As A Stepping Stone To Greater Success

The day I made a $700 affiliate commission for the first time…

One of my favorite stories to tell during interviews is my first attempt to make money selling an affiliate product.

My campaign started off as a failure as my blog post promoting the product netted zero results. I briefly doubted my decision to blog and considered giving it up for all of a few hours, but decided to stick to it because I enjoyed it. I then later made my first sale from the blog post, earning $20 in commission, which led to more sales and cementing of my belief that affiliate marketing could become a serious source of income for me.

Later that same year (this was my first year of blogging) I did another affiliate promotion, but this time for a live event that cost $1,500 to attend. The commission was $700.

I did my promotion with a couple of blog posts and eventually was blown away when I actually made a sale. $700 from a couple of blog posts was a big deal for me as you can imagine, and when a second sale came in a week later I was seriously excited. I had just made $1,400 US dollars, which for an Australian at the time with the exchange rate was over $2,000 Aussie dollars.

Bear in mind all this happened without an email list, with around 400 daily visitors to my blog and somewhere around 500 to 800 RSS subscribers. Obviously one or two sales is not a great conversion rate, but considering the commission amount I was very happy. This also happened to be the first time I had made more than $1,000 in a month from my blog.

I Had A Story To Tell

One thing I learned early on as a blogger, especially in a niche like blogging about blogging or blogging about making money, is that you have to actually have success stories to tell. You need to do stuff, get results and then use that as your best content.

The reason this works so well is that it’s practical, real life and exciting for anyone who wants to replicate your success. It also happens to be rare, as most people don’t actually get a result and thus spend most of their time telling stories about other people (the difference between being a reporter and being an expert as I wrote about in – Reporter vs Expert – Why Most Bloggers Are Stuck Reporting).

Credibility is absolutely critical and at the end of the day there really are only two ways to prove your are more than just talk. You have to do it and get the result yourself, and if you can then teach it and have other people get the result because they followed your instructions, you have the best proof you will ever get.

People gravitate to great stories, especially when it comes to working towards achieving something someone else has. When I started blogging I had about seven years experience of starting websites and businesses, some of which made money, some didn’t – but they all made for great content – great stories. There’s no way this blog would be what it is today without the I time spent before blogging learning the ropes and the continued action I took while blogging, some of which made for more great stories you may have read during the previous six years.

Of course when you start out, you may not have all that many stories, and for me as an affiliate marketer, those first two $700 sales were a big deal and one of my first blogging for profit stories. This was my first real point of credibility as a blogger who could make money, and since I had experienced quite a bit of doubt leading up to the result, I felt elated that I had actually made some money (perhaps ironically the emotion felt for these early successes was much stronger than subsequent financial success of a much greater magnitude I enjoyed later on).



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Climb The Ladder

What’s a good blogger to do when he has a success? Use it to build more success of course!

I spent quite a bit of time around this period in a couple of forums related to Internet marketing and web hosting, including the Digital Point Forums and Sitepoint Forums. I was mostly chiming in on any discussions related to blogging and Internet marketing to help where I could and build my profile.

When this early affiliate marketing success was achieved I decided to conduct an experiment. I wrote an article of about 1500 words telling my story of how I made these initial affiliate marketing sales and the lead-up full of doubt before that. I then published the article to the two forums.

Immediately after publishing discussions broke out in response and my posts in the forums remained popular for a few days. I don’t remember specifically how many people came from the forums back to my blog, but I know it did something positive simply because of how many times the forum threads had been viewed.

I used one financial success as a springboard to bring more audience to my blog.

Leverage Each Success

That was not the first nor the last time I would use this technique of taking one success and using it to create more success.

Here are a couple more quick examples to demonstrate how I have applied this method.

  • This technique probably won’t work now, but years ago I was able to achieve a first page Google ranking for my proofreading business by using entries in the classifieds site Craiglist. I would look up certain keyword phrases and notice that people who had placed entries in Craiglist ranked well, even in the first position on Google, so if I created entries in Craiglist I could do the same.

    It wasn’t a technique with lasting impact as you needed to keep going back to Craiglist and re-add your entry after it expired in a couple of weeks, but it did prove successful for a while. In less than 24 hours I could have my site linked from the Craiglist page which ranked number one in Google.

    Of course once I achieved this result I immediately went and wrote a blog post about it and that blog post proved really popular. It spread around the blogosphere in my industry when it was first published, bringing me new readers and links. Again I used one successful technique to create more success for my blog.

  • This next one might seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing it out because you can do it too and so many marketers already do it and profit greatly. Once I was making money with this blog, I created a course on how to make money from blogs. I had just spent two years learning how to do something and I decided to use that experience, especially while it was still fresh in my mind, to create a new income stream.

    My proof in this case was that my blog was making $5,000 to $10,000 a month and that was a very desirable goal for a lot of people. However in your case this doesn’t need to be about making money. If you figured out a way to cure your bad back, that could be something you can teach and sell, or at least leverage as a story to build more success and exposure. The same goes for anything that you’ve achieved and other people would know doubt love to achieve as well.

Make Money Teaching How You Did Something

I remember clearly a comment from John Childers during one of his stage presentations. He talked about how he had made $250,000 a year from investing in property. He then translated that success into a training system he sold on stage and other places, which netted him a million dollars a year. He was able to make more money teaching how he made money, and as he says, there is nothing wrong with that.

People often bear a grudge against those who make money teaching how to make money, like it’s some kind of con. Unfortunately this skepticism is no doubt warranted and plenty of people profit by selling a dream of financial freedom and that’s the only way they ever have actually made money themselves.

I’ve written about this subject before in – How To Make Money Teaching People How To Make Money – so I guide you there if you want more advice.

The most important thing is that you realize your potential to build on whatever you have done in the past or what you are currently achieving. Each success is a stepping stone to next story even if you just use it as a story to tell to your people.

The Real Power Of The Success Ladder

So far I’ve talked about the success ladder in a practical context where you can see how I used one result in my life and/or business to stimulate another. That’s a powerful technique that I know you can apply immediately.

However there is a more exceptional underlying principle behind the success ladder when it comes to your mindset that must not be ignored.

The reason a success ladder is so brilliant is that it can take you to what you really want, something that you very likely only dream about as a possibility right now, a perhaps unlikely one.

Outcomes that seem very “big” and very challenging, like becoming financially free, or losing a lot of weight, or gaining a lot of muscle, or finding the love of your life, or attaining a certain position of authority, or a new job, or becoming famous, can seem incredibly distant because of the magnitude of changes you see as necessary for that result to become reality.

It’s not a case of A leading to B, it’s going through an entire alphabet of necessary changes for something to finally happen, which because of the multitude of tasks, is enough to make people give up before they start.

Worse still, we see many of the changes required to meet these big goals as completely out of our hands. As a result we believe that we need a lot of luck to ever have a hope of experiencing these desirable outcomes.

It’s it’s easy to be “defeated” by life if you believe that random chance is entirely in control of your outcomes. I for one believe you can do a heck of a lot to help bend the will of random chance in your favor, and defeat is definitely not an option. There’s enough proof in my life, not to mention the lives of so many people who on first inspection because of their “life situation” should never have achieved what they did, let alone far exceed these things, yet have become what we consider great – icons to be admired and emulated.



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How To Apply The Success Ladder

The key to applying the success ladder in your life is to remember two incredibly important elements –

  1. You must have a big goal that is tangible to you, that you at least conceptually understand, if not fully “know” because you haven’t experienced it yet.
  2. You focus on incremental improvement.

For this to work the most important factor is how you think and react emotionally to each little success.

People always say life is all about the journey and not the destination. One of my all time favorite books, The Alchemist, is about exactly this, and I wholeheartedly agree that every success in life worth celebrating is already within you. There’s no need to look outside, you have all the tools you need to be happy.

However there is a practical reality that many of us on this planet, myself included, wish to live through. We want to have certain experiences in the physical world. It’s okay to be content, peaceful and calm about who you are and what your purpose is, but it’s darn fun to chase experiences too.

What I am saying here is that yes, the journey is important, but the destination is too. If you don’t have a goal, an outcome, a desire for change in mind, then the journey will not inspire you. There is a symbiotic relationship between your ability to enjoy the journey and where that journey is going. You have to want both and relish the all of it.

The Little Successes

So how does the success ladder come in? If you have a powerful destination, something you want from your life that you will not rest until you have, then you can focus on each of the little successes to lead you there.

Why are the little successes important? It should be obvious – they are much easier to attain!

It’s much easier for me to make a $20 affiliate commission from my blog than consistently make at least $5,000 a month from my blog for an entire year. However one goal leads to the other and in order to reach the big goal, I must use the success ladder to bolster my self belief.

It’s also a case of practical experience leading to awareness and understanding. I didn’t truly believe that full time income from a blog was possible for me until I made at least that first sale. Once that sale was made, I could see using simple mathematics that if I could reach more people and improve conversion, I could make more money.

The same goes for anything in life. If you’ve never had a girlfriend or boyfriend, it might seem daunting to get one, especially if you have never been on a date. But how can you get a date if you’ve never actually asked someone out? How can you ask someone out if you’ve never talked to the opposite sex with that intention?

There is a success ladder to everything and as my experience dictates, it’s almost always a much bigger and more complex ladder than I initially thought. However because I can celebrate and use each success as motivation to strive for the next, I actually become a much more complete person as a result of climbing the ladder.

This is why ultimately the journey is, at the end, more important than the destination. It’s because you personally transformed as a result of climbing each step to achieve the goal. That growth has changed you completely in ways you could never imagine, giving you the groundwork for even greater achievement.

It’s the transformation that matters, the sum of the changes making you a better person, which is a much greater benefit than the original goal you were striving for that set you off in the first place.

Here’s to you climbing your own success ladder.

Yaro Starak

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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  • I guess most people including myself don’t normally promote expensive products. We have this idea that if something is too expensive, less people will buy it. Of course the commission is huge.

    Reading about your first successes really is an inspiration. I’m sure it is to all of us. As reader, I particularly like to read income reports and posts with title that goes like ‘How I Did…’, ‘How I Started…’ instead of the many ‘How To-s’. The latter has a vagueness about it. Members of Digital Point must’ve agreed.

  • Nice article Yaro. I always tell my client’s that we should first make our first €10 before aiming for €1000, because making the €1000 is not the problem but making our first sale. When there is a system in place to make out first sales we just need to tweak it a bit to make our next big sales.

    Love reading about your first commission online. At least you started from someway before you started making a good living online. We all need to just set a goal for something reasonable. achieve it then set bigger money goals, then we wouldn’t feel defeated.

  • Like it Yaro! What interested me is the figures – making a healthy affliliate commission from a blog with only 400 or so subscribers and 400 daily visitors. So the real wealth here in the post is that making extra income is achieveable from a small platform and that from tiny acorns great oak trees grow. Money can grow on trees is you plant them yourself.

  • Joy

    Hi Yaro, I for one love hearing other people’s story, especially their beginnings. I am at this stage, very early in my journey and often having doubts, but am encouraged by the possibilities this industry offers me. I am a big believer of “one step at a time” to get where you are going. Thanks for a very enlightening and encouraging post.

    • I am subscribed to the comments for this post so I get all the new comments in my email.

      @ Joy: I just wanted to say that I subscribe to your belief ‘one step at a time’. It was a problem I had a hard time dealing with. I switched my interests, projects, one thing now and another thing then. Of late however, ‘one step at a time’ is my guiding principle.

  • That is Great Yaro. Most of the times, i really do not make sales with blogposts. You have done excellent sales. $2000 Aussie dollars is not very low when compared to people who earn $2000 per month.

    You have just done it in single day. How much did you made in one month, with that type of promotions. I really love to make money like this.

  • […] The Success Ladder: How To Leverage Each Small Success As A Stepping Stone To Greater Success […]

  • Thanks for sharing your experience as a novice blogger. That is where I am and your story gives me great courage to continue! Thanks again and keep it up!

  • wow Yaro your story really deep!!! I never read blog like this one!! you give the real life example.

  • Great reminder for me. I’m a dermatologist blogging about skin care and skin health. As such, I always blog from the perspective of experience and being an expert. Interestingly though, when I include a story about my own personal skin care/health experience, answer an Ask Dr. Bailey email about a reader’s skin question, or use an example of a skin issue from my practice (maintaining confidentiality of patient id of course) I get more comments. People like reading about people more than subjects. I forget that sometimes and your post is a good reminder.Your Message

  • Well, this certainly encourages me to look for high dollar products that have healthy commissions. Not setting my sites too low.

    • “Not setting my sites too low.”

      No pun intended! 😀

      • I just wanted to say that I subscribe to your belief ‘one step at a time’. It was a problem I had a hard time dealing with. I switched my interests, projects, one thing now and another thing then. Of late however, ‘one step at a time’ is my guiding principle.

  • What a great story. I fully agree that promoting high paying products can be very rewarding even if your traffic is low and your conversions even lower. One sale and BAM! Your in the profit.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  • I chuckled to myself as I was reading the craigslist part of this article. Posting craigslist ads doesn’t work well for everything but, it has worked for some products I have promoted in the past( a little over a year ago).

    I chuckled to myself because for site I built about a year ago, I posted multiple ads in craigslist, and guess what? The only sales I have ever made from that site come from the craigslist ads. Just recently I sold the site and it is all a distant memory.

    No, it did not help my google rankings. I have heard of that working years ago though.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  • My first big pay day online happened a few years ago in college when I was just getting started and generated a little over $350 in sales in one month. I was jumping in the air with amazement.

    It’s funny that no matter how far you go, even to making enough to live on as do I now, you still look back on those simple moments as your finest.

  • Appreciate the inspiring post as I get ready to re-launch my membership site in a few weeks. Hopefully applying the lessons I learned from the first effort last year will result in a bigger payoff this year.

  • Awesome post Yaro.

    I love your reference to the Alchemist as well, I have read it multiple times.

    One relevant thing I just thought I’d mention from my personal experience – it’s important to plan for success.

    If you are not ready for success you might miss your opportunity to leverage it.

    I remember back in 2006 I wrote a post on Digital Point that went completely insane – it was called My 2006 AdSense Summary. Even you gave it a mention back in the day –

    (just had a quick look – it received 89,000 views and over 500 replies – – and still ranks above Shoemoney’s AdSense Tips thread)

    Of course the thread was never meant to go viral. It was just a summary of what I had learned in the last year or so, but of course like you mentioned in this post, when people saw my success they instantly gave me their attention, but I had no where to send them – I had no blog, I had no product or service for sale, I had no ebook.

    I failed to plan for success.

    • Hey Chris, I remember that post – that’s some incredible numbers demonstrating how good forum marketing can be, even when unintentional.

  • Thanks for great blog with great advices!

  • Good for you. I haven’t had the nerve to try a book yet but that is still in my future

  • Great post, Yaro, and totally agree with you. 🙂

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. 😉

    Climb the steps one by one, and you will reach there eventually…

  • Yaro your first blog was very impressive. $2,000 income is something to be very proud of. I made no where near that amount in my first couple of attempts with blogging. I too had thought I may quit when I simply thought it would be too hard to make consistent sales online. I am glad I decided to stick to it as I have found some success in the last year.

    – Robert

  • Hi Yaro,

    Great post! I am blogging right now about my journey of creating my affiliate marketing business. My blog is just over 3 months old and I share what I’m doing with my readers. I show my traffic stats, share what I’m doing, how many visitors I’m receiving on my sites and how many sales I’ve made. 3 months down, $155 made and I’m on my way. Sure, it’s a slow go but well worth all the time and effort I am putting into this venture.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with me. I really enjoyed this and it makes me see what the future holds for me. I am definitely on my way!


  • Affiliate marketing is indeed an easy way to have lots of money. I know it is hard when you are just starting out but perseverance will pay off after some time. Very inspiring Yaro! Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post Yaro. First paydays no matter what the amount are motivational. My first ever sale online was for $69. I thought I struck oil!

  • Yaro,

    This is a great post and information. I think too often we forget about our little successes and the journey, but like you said, it’s important to share the story along the way.

    Thank so much,


  • Rob

    Thanks for keeping it real. It may not happen overnight. But, it will happen if you just keep plugging away.

    Live it LOUD!

  • […] The Success Ladder: How To Leverage Each Small Success As A … […]

  • Yaro. Excellent post. $700 in a day is not very less. But compare to some affiliates, it is the highest money, we can earn in day. Because $700 in day means $21000 in month. That is huge and huge.

  • great stuff , i bookmarked it. very knowledgeable article.

    Misbah Mumtaz

  • Great article. Will you it to spring off a couple of my own successes

  • Great article, inspirational stuff. I was referred to your site from Pat Flynn and will definately be checking out some more of your content!

  • Inspiring! Great blog and this post shares the same sentiments – small steps leading the big achievements, in trading and life in general. Thanks Yaro!

  • […] Sustained action executing the right techniques, which follow the right strategy, leads you to achieving your vision. It’s all about climbing a success ladder. […]

  • […] you believe in climbing the success ladder and Kaizen (gradual systemic improvement), then any sign of progression is a big […]

  • […] Trying to connect through a generic email just makes people feel that the only reason you’re contacting them is because they happen to be someone whom you thought would be useful to you and give you a leg-up the blogging success ladder. […]

  • This is a great article! I can’t wait until I get my first sale. My niche is making money online as well. I love your page and you’re articles are awesome and super helpful!

  • Perhaps that’s why men are more successful in business than women – you are all going through the huge thing – approaching a woman, asking for a date, or picking up. I can imagine how difficult that is and what you need to overcome to achieve success. But when you do, you are immediately gaining power to achieve and overcome difficulties, which is extremely needed in business.

  • Hey Yaro,

    Great article which again shows that anything is possible if you have that possibility mindset. Not only should you have the possibility mindset but you should understand that money goals, just like any goal should be tackled in steps. Start where you are move up gradually. In other words, only bite off what you can chew, and of course, as your capacity to chew increases you can gradually bite of more… keep it coming

  • […] It took many years, but I met each of those goals, building on previous results to climb my own personal success ladder. […]

  • Yeah it is right that small success is a big boost in our confidence.Everything you try from study to business,confidence is most important for success.Thanks for such a good article.Keep it up.

  • Jay

    Everything is possible if we take right steps or moves step by step for reaching on the goal. This article is really inspiring.
    Thanks a lot..

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