• Stop Selling. Start Solving.


– Before I start, I gotta give credit where credit is due…

This post is party inspired by something I read on my friend Mark Ling’s website about how to create content. Below is my twist on how to make your content actually sell.

Mark is someone who I greatly respect and admire and continue to learn from. I recommend his 20-some page report on becoming a super affiliate, which he gives away on his website: Super Affiliate Secrets

Last week, I was presently surprised when a group of high schoolers from my old youth group stopped by to see me in Indiana while they were visiting the nearby university on their annual college trip. One of the guys who I have been particularly fond of ever since he was in kindergarten, has been researching affiliate marketing and occasionally comes to me with questions. His most recent was among the most common questions I’m asked (besides, perhaps, “how are you?”): “How do I write content about products that I don’t know anything about?”

As he elaborated on what he was doing, I realized that he had the same mental block that most affiliate marketers have when trying to “sell” products through article writing or any other content-based affiliate strategy…

This mental block comes from the belief that your job as an affiliate is to make people buy stuff.

For the record:

* Your job as an affiliate is *not* to sell products, it is to solve problems. *

Without this understanding you will fall into the temptation of “selling” products instead of creating content that solves problems.

Of course, I do not take away from the importance of making sales. The end goal is obviously to make sales through your affiliate link so that you get paid. To achieve that end goal, however, the emphasis of your content must be on solving problems and allowing readers to make the connection that the product you are selling is the right solution.

In other words… you are not selling a product, you are selling a solution.

Very few products survive as a result of selling their own features. For example, you would never buy an ebook based on the fact that it has 108-pages, but you may if you believe that it will help you to increase your vertical leap, cure your eczema, or get your kids to stop talking back to you. Products sell as a result of problems being solved or some other benefit.

If I called you on the phone and told you that I had a new widget that was 14 inches long, greenish in color, shaped like a chair, and offered to sell it to you for $47, would you be interested? Of course not! You’d ask, “What the heck does it do?”

Unfortunately, this is the approach that most affiliate marketers take when they attempt to sell products. In the case of my friend, for example, he was attempting to write articles about Clickbank products in hopes that people would find them and buy through this affiliate link.

As I told him, it would be much better if articles were written that explained how to solve a problem and allow the reader to conclude that the product in your affiliate link is the completion of the puzzle. It is much more powerful when someone decides for themselves that a product will solve their problems instead of it being jammed down your throat.

In the case of my friend, he needed to stop writing about products and start writing about problems and how to solve them. If the product was about raising your kids, the reader doesn’t care about the product unless he subconsciously decides that it will allow him or her to be a better parent. Writing an article about a product is the same as cold calling someone who has shown no prior interest. An article that solves problems, on the other hand, warms up the reader before the sales letter closes the deal.

Take my most recent email promotion, for example: I created a product that outlined the steps that I took to take a website from $0 to $100/day in about a week, and before I sold it on its own, I offered it as bonus to very traditional (and very good) affiliate marketing guide. I called this the “Get-Outta-The-Mountains Bonus,” and it was wildly successful as a promotion, not only because I gave away a $97 bonus for something that paid me only $21 per sale, but also because of the “reverse sales” that I used…

Rather than jam down the product down people’s throats by saying, “You need to buy this,” I told a story about being lost in the mountains, related it to the feeling of being lost in the world of affiliate marketing, and then allowed the reader to decide that that product was their map to get out of the mountains… thus, solving their problems of feeling lost.

(Just a disclaimer, the product was very good and was exactly what was needed for those who purchased, which is another important element to success. I never recommend selling bad products, ok?)

Do you see the difference? When you write “content” that really just jams a product down people’s throats, it will only make them feel uncomfortable, you feel like a pesky salesmen, and will ultimately make you less money. But when you offer solutions to problems, it allows readers to make their own decision to buy, rather than feeling pressured to buy what you’re selling them.

This is equally (if not more) true when you are doing email marketing. When you email someone, you need to focus even more on solving problems, because email is a personal interaction. If your email is a “buy this” sales pitch, the reader will simply unsubscribe. But if your email is a solution to their problem, then you earn their trust, and the decision to buy is a result of providing value, rather than hype.

Not only will you make more money when you solve problems, but the annoying process of creating sales pitches is removed. Instead, you can focus on actually helping people, and they will reward you for solving their problems.

Facebook comments:

41 Responses to “Stop Selling. Start Solving.

  1. Jamie Krause says:

    Very true Ryan. Nice post.

  2. kevin richardson says:

    Hi Ryan as always an informative and inspirational post. But i am wondering is the ” get me outta the mountains product” still available?

  3. James Radley says:

    Hi Ryan

    Brilliant angle for everyone to consider when writing content for articles. I totally agree we all fall into the trap of selling.

    Nice Post.


  4. Daniel says:

    Nice job explaining the difference between features and benefits. For any business to succeed they definitely have to solve someone’s problems.

  5. Bryan says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Great post. Would you mind showing us the emails that you sent out for your promotion? I think this would help bring the puzzle together to actually see what you promoted and how.


  6. Ian says:

    Without knowing this you’re definitely fighting an uphill battle. Personally I like the idea that I’m helping people solve problems so it’s not a struggle for anyone.

  7. Sam says:

    Always great content….and yeah…. True that!

  8. Fred Williams says:

    Love the way you got the readers of this post to switch their mindset to something else rather than selling. Its no wonder you are doing so well! Glad I found your blog and I look forward to learning from you.

  9. i agree 100% this was a lesson i had to learn on my own the hard way. i wish i would have read something like this a year and a half ago.

    it would have saved me a lot of time if i could have just got this concept down out of the gates

  10. Jerry says:

    Hi Ryan
    You hit the nail on the head. I don’t like to try to sell and writing an article or post has always given me problems. I just want to show people a good product and let them decide for themselves. Your post is making me think of how I can write on the solution side and not the sell side.
    Thanks keep the advice coming

  11. Greg says:

    This Very True Ryan Great Article. Thanks for the great advice

  12. Maria Palma says:

    I made this same mistake when I first got into affiliate marketing.

    When people are considering a purchase, they’re thinking, “What’s in it for me? Is this going to solve my problem?”

    Your job as a business person is to help people. The money comes second.

  13. Frankie says:

    Nice and very useful post, Ryan.

  14. Hi Ry,
    Great advice and very true
    Thanks for the info
    keep up the good work…you are very helpful….
    This actually works for any product or situation..Allow the person to feel it was there thought or idea and it is a done deal

  15. James says:

    You know…I do a job where I hard sell all day long and I have lost faith in the products I sell which makes my life miserable. One reason I love Affiliate Marketing is if you do it in good faith you really can help people and make a living while doing it…With all the sleazy marketers out there I enjoy reading your stuff Ryan as in the 3 or 4 years I’ve been following you always seem to make valid points.

  16. Michael L. says:


    Thanks for the post. I certainly agree that helping people solve their problems or answer their questions is very important in developing trust that will more than likely lead a person to make the decision to purchase.

  17. apicha says:

    Hello Ryan,

    Thanks for your informations.I will as your recommendation…release new value post for us.

  18. SurfCocoon says:

    Admittedly I overlooked this concept of problem solving versus selling but in my case, I’m a bit lost as too problem solving products such as Snowboards, Surfboards, Skateboard and Wakeboards…Help!

  19. Ray says:

    Great Concept Ryan! I agree with your conclusion that you have to find a solution to the customers problems rather than trying to sell them something. Usually the product will sell it self if you let the customer make the decision.

    Keep up the good content.

    Ryan You the Man!!!!!!!!!


  20. Jackie says:

    Good post. I have never liked being a salesman anyway so I just need to remember this as I’m writing content. Should be a lot easier for me.


  21. Great point. I always turn to the internet for the solution to any problem.

  22. stephen says:

    hey this is one mistake i have made and it cost me a lot and reading it from here will heal the process.thanks

  23. Not only are your providing value to your readers by giving them info but you also give them a reason to come back to your site
    Great article!

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