Over the last few years, I spent numerous hours and thousands of dollars experimenting on various marketing tactics to create affiliate sites that make money.
I tuned into various online marketing / online business podcasts and kept up with the latest tactics and software products. As it turned out, I was just wasting my time.
Now that I have built a site that has been bringing in stable low 3 figures for the last few months, I came to realize that I did not need most of the things I thought I would need to get to this stage.
In this post, I am going to share with you the things that I found the most useful in helping my sites making money. You may be surprised at its simplicity but when you have a limited resource, keeping things simple is the best.
Number 1: DON’T get banned by Amazon
You really need to watch out what Amazon doesn’t want you to do as an Amazon affiliate.
As I documented in this post, getting banned by Amazon was such a devastating experience that I do not want to repeat EVER again. Authorityhacker.com recently released a podcast (#41) about what it takes to make money as an Amazon associate and it contains some really good informaion such as don’t modify Amazon product images (if you happen to use them on your site) or why link shortner tool such as Geniuslink might be a bad idea.
I have also created a post about what to watch out for to not get banned by Amazon in case you are interested.
Number 2: Figure out a way to find low competition keywords (easy to rank keywords)
Google traffic is really the only realistic and sustainable traffic source for your affiliate sites, especially if you have a low budget. This is also true if you want to build a hands off passive income types of sites.
I know some people might argue that having only one traffic source for a site is dangerous. I want to counter that argument and point out that when you have a limited resource, focusing on multiple things is the real danger.
I personally have tried social media marketing using Twitter and Pinterest to drive free traffic, using Facebook paid ads to hyper target a specific audience. The results I got were very poor and not only I wasted time but also substantial money (Facebook Ads expense plus I hired contractors to help me).
The reason I love search engine traffic is the user intent. People go to search engines to find solutions. They are ready to buy and we are providing solutions (products). Whereas for social media platforms, people are not necessarily thinking about buying products but rather they are there checking on friends’ status or browsing to get ideas on something that they might eventually buy someday.
Focusing on gaining search engine traffic means that finding easy to rank keywords is the key. This goes hand in hand with finding the niche for your site. If you pick a large niche but only has super competitive keywords (such as technology, financial, and insurance related niches), you will need to do A LOT of backlink building to be competitive. On the other hand, if you pick a niche with a lot of low competition keywords, you don’t need to go crazy with backlink building and still see results.
To prove this, I built a site targeting only low competition keywords and built backlinks with only blog commenting and saw increase in search engine traffic. Generally, blog comment backlinks have no-follow attribute and provide no SEO value. The blog comment links built for my site were also no-followed (we did not look for do-follow links) yet when my site acquired those no-follow links, the site increased in traffic.
The thinking behind this is that, competitions for the keywords were so low that all we needed was just to be a little bit better than the competitions. In other words, even by building backlinks with no SEO value, it was enough to out rank the competitions.
Number 3: Create content that convert
Amazon does a really good job converting the traffic we send to it. However, some people complain the low commission rate of Amazon because despite their large traffic, they are not making money.
I have not personally checked these sites but based on my personal experience, it is likely that their content is not optimized to bring people to Amazon.
I had two sites with similar traffic yet one site converted better than the other. Since they both are in different niche, it’s difficult to do an apple to apple comparison but, when I implemented the call to action button on both sites, I did see some improvements. Especially, when it was implemented more on one site than the other, the site with more call to action buttons did much better.
Another demonstration is the ASS site‘s Amazon progress report that I share with you every month. It showed that the ASS site had 25% Click Through Rate for sending site visitors to Amazon.com in April 2016!
Number 4: Have a link building process in place
Let’s face it. Nobody likes link building. It takes time and efforts. There is no guarantee that the links built will be there next year. Google keeps changing their algorithm and who knows one day they might stop counting backlinks as a ranking factor.
I must admit I hate link building but it is a necessary evil for SEO (so to speak). This is why many people turn to built their own Private Blog Network so they can control the backlinks and rank fast.
I personally have tried building PBN and hated it. It costs a lot of resource and Google keeps cracking down on them. This is why I only focus on white hat link building.
There are so many ways to build backlinks but I have decided to only focus on two kinds of link building methods; 1) simply ask a backlink from blogs that are in similar niche, 2) Ask to add my site in a resource page from sites that are in similar niche.
The reason I chose these two methods is simple. Unlike other link building methods, I do not need to create any additional content. If they like what I already have on the site, I would get a link. If not, move on.
Number 5: Be profitable
I recently came across to a book “Profit First” and it has changed not only my online business but also my life.
At the beginning of this year, I came up with an Amazon affiliate revenue prediction model. It basically shows if I create X articles, I should be able to get Y amount of revenue. The whole idea relies on “The more money I can put into this online business, the more money I can make”.
The problem is, I did not have that money to start with. In the end I went ahead anyways. I gathered the little money I had and went full force with it. Hired people then started cranking out articles, and soon enough, I run out of money.
That’s when I came across the book.
What it taught me is not something out of ordinary. “Think about how much you are making and pay yourself first”.
Ever since then I started cutting down all the unnecessary spending. Now the business is profitable and run on a very lean budget.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with using a bit of money to start a business. But it needs to have a realistic plan of making profit. The prediction model I came up with showed that whatever I put in would not come back for many years. The business wouldn’t break even for several years. The only upside was, if everything went well, I would get 4 figure income every month, but that would be after I spend tens of thousands of dollars up front.
Be realistic and profitable.
My plan now is to grow organically. Use only the money generated from the business.
Number 6: Keep your focus
Don’t chase after the next new thing. Figure out the one thing that is working for you. Focus on that and make sure you get the most out of it.
Once you squeeze the last drop of juice out of that “One Thing”, only then, move on to the next. Otherwise just stay focus.
In my case, now that I have developed enough content on the ASS site, I am just focusing on backlink building. I am not 100% sure how far I would go with backlink building, but as of now, the more backlinks I build, the more results I see.
I will just keep building backlinks until I ran out of easy to do backlink building activities, or until I see no increase in traffic, keyword ranking, and revenue increase. Only then, I will start creating more content.
What do you think?
Do you agree with the 6 things I pointed out? What’s on your list?