How Selling Less Sells More

Filed in Affiliate Marketing by on January 24, 2015

Make More Money Concept

This is a guest submission by Dom Wells.

You might think it counter-intuitive that selling less actually sells more, but over the course of this article I'll show you exactly how this can be true.

I'll also show you evidence of how sharply my income increased after I STOPPED trying to sell on every post, and I'll introduce you to a few different methods you can follow to learn to do the same.

I'd like to point out that these methods are all instantly actionable, but like most things in online business, it might take time for you to notice tangible results.

If you do it right though, good things will come.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)


What You'll Learn:

  • How to sell more products (and make more money) by selling LESS.
  • How to use the "affinity pyramid" method to push your audience further up your trust ladder.
  • How to gain the respect of your peers and other authorities in your niche.


The Affinity Pyramid

Like many of you, my mind is blown by Pat Flynn on a regular basis.

The first time it happened was some months ago, when I listened to his podcast about his speech at New Media Expo.

In it, he introduced me to a concept known as the affinity pyramid.

This fundamentally changed how I treated my blog content, and if I explain it right, it will change how you do it too.

You've got to imagine your audience as a pyramid.





The Base Level.

This is the largest level. It represents the majority of your audience.

For the most part, it consists of your first time visitors.

They don't know you, they don't trust you, and even if your content is fantastic, they're unlikely to buy anything from you (or use your affiliate links).

Don't sell to these people.

Instead, move them up a level in the pyramid.


The Second Level.

These are your return visitors.

They're still quite a large part of your audience, but they're beginning to trust you.

The fact they've returned shows that they know you provide value, or that they've found you in Google for a new term and are starting to get an idea that you're an authority.

They're more likely to buy something from you, but it's still better to keep moving them up the levels.

This tier of audience member is the easiest to move up; they already came back once, give them chances to get even more involved.


The Third Level.

This is your engaged community.

These are the people who are engaging in what you do, and are most likely to be like-minded individuals.

They love your content, read almost everything you produce, and will join in the comments as well.

It's probably ok to sell to this group, but even better if you can promote them to the final level:


The Top Level.

Your raving fans.

These guys are on your site all the time and love everything you do.

They're not quite knocking on your door with their wallets ready, but if they knew where you lived, they might be ;).

When you produce new products or recommend something, these are the first people to buy, because they trust you, you've not steered them wrong, and they want to feel a little bit closer to you.

Ok I made the last part up. Maybe.

You don't really even need to sell to them either.

You just have to let them know about what you can do for them or what your recommendations are.

Some of them will likely reach out to you all by themselves.



How Do You Move People Up The Levels?

This is probably your first question and it's the one that requires you to stop selling.

If people are arriving at your site and finding a bunch of promos or self serving content, they're not likely to return.

Not many of them anyway.

The first thing you have to do is to focus your blog posts on just solving people's issues.

This isn't a new concept by any means, but most people who do this are still trying to put a promo into their content.

Looking back at some of my older content, I cringe.

Instead, here's some suggestions for moving people from the base level to the second level.

  1. Focus on growing your list. Stuart has a ton of content on this. If you're adding value, they'll be happy to join your "tribe".
  2. Centralize your promotions. Stick affiliate links in review posts and link to them from other posts only where relevant. This allows audience members who are interested to follow them, without getting in the face of those who are too new to your site. Gael Breton talks about this a lot at Authority Hacker.
  3. Remove adsense and banner ads. They probably weren't making you any money anyway.
  4. Make it easy for people to find your content. Use your menus, email lists and social profiles smartly and recycle old content.
  5. Mention your services, but don't bang on about them. This goes for your emails, your one on one interactions, and your blog posts. Sell hard on your sales pages, but let people find those pages by themselves and don't mention them on every post.

Once people are on the second level (they've returned to your site at least once), things get easier.

If you keep doing what you're doing, they'll naturally move up the levels anyway.


Here are some things you can do to speed it up.

  1. Let your subscribers know about other killer content you have. Stuart does this by using his Autoresponder to send you a 7 day course, and even after that he is regularly emailing out his old content. The more your content is in front of your audience's eyes, the higher up the pyramid they'll climb.
  2. Offer a forum or Facebook group for people. Again this is something Stuart does well. What matters is that he's not asking people to join right off the bat. They need to have demonstrated that they're not on the base level of the pyramid. This is done by opting in or following links on the site.
  3. Use list segmentation and automation rules. Let people show you what they're interested in by which links they click.
  4. Offer as much value for free as you can. Really over deliver with your content and people will wonder about how good your paid stuff must be. Let them find out.


Moving people up to the higher levels is mostly a case of time.

Once people have opted in to your list, joined your forum, or done some other engagement, how do you know whether they're on the second level of your audience, or on your highest level?

Furthermore, how do you ONLY sell to the highest level?

It gets a lot harder to properly identify them at this stage, so the best thing for you to do is just put your promotions in places where newcomers aren't going to be too exposed to them, and let them find them as they become more and more familiar with you.

You could always ask people to fill out a questionnaire, and pitch to those who respond, afterall, these are your most engaged audience members.

The key point to remember is that by removing obnoxious ads and promotions from your regular content, people will be much more likely to follow through and find your promotions when they're ready.

Cha Ching.


Pitch To Your Level Of Trust

Another excellent piece of inspiration from Pat Flynn came via Michael Porter's appearance on his podcast.

Michael said that you should pitch to your level of trust. If someone has never bought anything from you, they're not going to buy your $1,000 training product.

No matter how good it is.

Give people a chance to move through the funnels and get their feet wet with your smaller offerings first.

An email list is essential for this.

As people buy products or opt in to lists. You can expose them to your offers gradually.

Note that this is slightly different from Ryan Deiss's tripwire method.


The Matthew Woodward Method

Another classic example of selling without selling is the idea of just showing people how things can benefit them. AGAIN this is something Pat Flynn blogged about, but Matthew Woodward is a brilliant example.

He's got dozens of insanely good tutorials showing people how they can benefit from various tools.

In many cases he even shows you a way of using it that others don't.

Spencer Haws did this with his use of Long Tail Pro in his niche site project as well.

Both of them make a killing off these methods and all they're doing is showing people the benefits of tools/services, and letting them make up their own minds.


Implementing The No Sell Philosophy

At the time of implementing it on my own blog, I was making less than $1000 a month, nobody was really interacting with the content, and Humanproofdesigns was just another "me too" make money online site.

A few months later, I've more than tripled my income, have a lot more engagement and trust on my blog, and regularly have people filling my inbox with questions and requests.

This is fantastic.

I can pretty much draw a direct line from the day I changed my philosophy to my current level of success and growth.

None of this is particularly life changing, but it's enough to make me never "sell" on a blog in the way that most people do.

The best thing is, my traffic isn't huge either.

From the 1st to the 15th of January 2015, the site has made over $2,000 from 2,500 unique visitors.

That's crazy.


What You Can Do

I can't tell you exactly how to add this to your own business or niche, but hopefully the examples provided should get your brain gears whirring.

It takes patience and a bit of creativity to pull off, but the payoff is infinitely worthwhile.


Bonus Benefits:

It's not just your sales that will increase when you stop selling, but also your respect from your peers. It's hard to run a successful outreach campaign if the people you contact only see sales pitches and a site with little value.

Outreach is everything, so don't underestimate this.

Do you feel confident reaching out to others? If not, maybe this is why.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)



I've covered a lot here and hope it's hit home.

The methods above are all executed differently, and there are a few other variations around too.

What they all share is the philosophy that when you stop trying to sell, people buy more.


Author bio: Dom Wells is the owner of HumanProofDesigns where he blogs about niche marketing and offers ready-made and custom-built niche websites along with training to help newbies get started. 


To date, Stuart has revealed well over 1,500 hot niches.

He's living his dream of being location independent, and having traveled the world, thanks to internet marketing.

The aim with Niche Hacks is to help you live your dream thanks to online marketing, whatever that may be.
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Comments (14)

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  1. NicheHacks says:

    I really love this post Dom, whilst I do some of what's mentioned in the post I'd never heard of the term "Affinity Pyramid" before.

    $2K from 2,500 visitors is REALLY good. Can you break down what the income came from?

    • Dom Wells says:

      Thanks man, enjoyed writing it.

      It's closer to 4k now the month has worn on, but either way it's impressive! The majority of the income comes from the custom niche sites I build for people.

      They aren't super cheap, but the quality is good. Because I've stopped "selling" with my blog posts and been focusing on quality, building an audience, and generally showing what I'm about, more and more people are reaching out to use my services.

      Trust goes a long way.

      I don't get a whole lot of affiliate sales from HPD though, so the way Pat and Matt get income from tutorials etc is still something I'm yet to master.

      • Ron S says:

        Hey Dom,
        That is a really great piece of information, thanks so much for the posting. I've tried in the past to not oversell, but the idea of actually not selling at all is quite thought provoking and I do agree with the philosophy behind the idea. I will begin to implement it immediately.

        I'm interested to see you develop niche sites as part of your business model. It's omething I've been thinking I should get done for me so I can see how a professional site is developed. Can you let me know how I go about getting this done and how much it will cost me.

        • I wouldn't go as far as saying don't sell "at all", but definitely keep the places you sell to a minimum.

          I think Pat Flynn said something along the lines of "I don't sell much, but when I do, I sell hard".

          Assuming you'd prefer me to develop a custom site for you rather than pick out a ready-made one (we've only got 1 available at the moment anyway), then the best thing for you to do is to visit this page and fill out a contact form with your ideas, and I'll get back to you there.

          • NicheHacks says:

            I think Pat Flynn said something along the lines of "I don't sell much, but when I do, I sell hard".

            Derek Halpern of Social Triggers said the exact same thing. He doesn't promote often but when he does he goes in hard.

            He's a firm believer of not promoting much at all so that when you finally do release / promote something your audience can't wait to buy it. Most people just don't have the belief in themselves to hold off for 6 months without promoting anything though.

  2. Hi Dom and Stuart!

    Interesting concept. I have heard the idea of it before but did not know what it was called. My experience has proven that it's definitely true.

    There's a saying that all you need is 1000 people in the top level of the affinity pyramid and you're set.

    I don't do much selling on my blog and instead focus on really over-delivering to get people onto my email list, where the trust is built and people move further up the pyramid. Now, I do mention products within my blog articles but that's primarily because I send email subscribers back to my blog consistently, and helps expose the product multiple times while showing that I actually use the products I promote instead of just blasting whatever I think will make me the most money.

    I really agree that trusts goes a long way. Great post!

    • Hey James,

      I think it's fine to mention products in your posts, especially when you're sending subscribers back to them.

      There's a difference between mentioning products and harping on about them, and it sounds like you get that concept.

      I definitely don't have 1,000 people in the top level of my pyramid, but it's growing, so who knows 🙂

    • NicheHacks says:

      Nothing wrong with mentioning products on the blog, particularly relevant and useful ones (would be crazy not to) but not hard selling on the blog makes sense.

      I've been meaning to experiment even further with this and only promoting products to my list after they've been a subscriber for 'X' amount of time but haven't got round to testing it yet. Would be interesting to see the results.

      • Yeah let me in on those results Stuart, I really need to utilize my list better anyway. I mostly just share my new posts and releases with them. It's on a very long to-do list right now to fix my autoresponder.

  3. geoff says:

    Great post.
    Brilliant idea. Keep it up man. Hoping someday I will become like you.
    Harvesting money through online. Hehe

  4. Mark says:

    The ability to draw readers onto an email list that provides unique quality emails that then promotes products that SELL is not a process everyone can get first time off. I have been working on this for a few months trying to write content that doesn't switch folks off.

    You can get carried away with dropping links at every opportunity. The concept of selling on the low is one I have come across and am trying to master, great post Dom as usual. Thought provoking!