I finally managed to do it! I made my first $200 in affiliate commissions in a “non-internet marketing” related niche.
I wish I could tell you that I made these commissions by throwing up a site and voila – 30 minutes later I got these sales…but
(that is what most gurus would have you believe on their sales pages for their latest course or software)
The truth is that it took a lot of hard work and many moments of frustration.
The short of it is..
This is income from 1 site over 7 months! Yes, I started this website in April 2011 and 7 months later, it has made me $206.90 in commissions.
While $200 in 7 months is nothing to write home about, this was a challenge to myself to see if I could make money outside the “internet marketing” niche. And I’m happy to say that I achieved it.
When I Started The Site…FAIL!
To be honest, when I started the site, I had no idea what I was doing for the first 3 months – but I managed to make 2 sales (about $20) those first 3 months.
It was only after learning how to make proper affiliate niche sites from Andrew Hansen and his Unstoppable Affiliate course in August 2011, did I realize I had made my site wrong!
It turned out that my keywords were wrong. My content was written wrong, my site design was wrong.. pretty much everything was wrong.. even my niche choice wasn’t the best which you’ll see why later.
I thought about starting over with a brand new site but I decide to completely re-do the site I had started. I re-wrote the content, found a new theme, set up the pages right – and found my keywords.
Getting Traffic But No Sales!?
A few hundred backlinks later, I started to get high rankings and traffic. Before I was getting traffic, I thought… “ok, as long as I get traffic, I should make the sales.”
Wrong again. I was getting traffic and click-throughs to the merchant page, but sales are far and few between!
As you can see by my EPC, I’m making about the same as I would with very cheap Adsense clicks – from $0.02 to $0.09 per click.
It’s just my rough estimation, but I calculate the merchant’s conversion rate is around 0.05%
That means, for every 200 visitors I send, I make 1 sale.
This is up there with the worst conversion rates I’ve experienced in all my 5 years of internet marketing!
I put this down to me choosing a very difficult product/niche (hint: a type of camera) and a merchant who’s website and order pages are slow to load and not really optimized for sales.
Do I call this site a failure? Well, I can’t see it making me a millionaire, but it is making sales as it is and I have learned a LOT along the way.
Things I Have Learned
If I wrote everything that I’ve learned here, it would take me days to write. But here are some of the bigger ones that maybe you can learn from too.
Niche choice is everything.
This finally stuck me like a sledgehammer to the face. The difference between say a “recreational product” and a “product that solves a problem” is like night and day.
Andrew Hansen’s UA course touched on this, but the importance of choosing a “hair on fire” niche was reenforced when I went through Jimmy and Pete’s IM Game changer course (another awesome course for the money).
SEO is such a huge topic with so many different theories about what works and what doesn’t, what will harm you and what will go you good. It’s actually hard to know who to believe.
But I have learned that if you get your keyword research done right – i.e. choose buyer or “hair on fire” keywords with little competition and your job is going to be a whole lot easier to get rankings.
I also learned that I started getting into SEO at perhaps the most difficult time in the history of the internet – right after the Google Panda and several other consequent updates that are making it harder for mini affiliate niche sites to rank.
It’s not ALL about Backlinks
I sometimes feel that I (and a lot of SE/affiliate) am just striving to get backlinks, backlinks, backlinks. But in reality, what I (we) really need is traffic.
Yes, backlinks are essential to getting your site ranked in Google.. that I am sure of. But that is just a means to an end. Backlinks don’t make you money, traffic does.
I noticed this when I was submitting some videos to video sharing sites primarily for the purpose of getting backlinks. It turns out those video sites were actually sending me traffic because viewers clicked on the links in my video description.
I also noticed this from a blog comment I left on a high traffic blog. Significant traffic came from that one blog comment alone!
So you need backlinks – but don’t overlook other ways to get traffic too. If you can get a backlink great.. if you can get traffic from that backlink too, that’s even better.
Where To From Here?
As of now, I have a pretty good base knowledge of how to build niche mini sites and get them ranked.
So I am now working out my own systems for building each part of the sites and getting outsource staff to help me.
I just took on a VA to help with backlinking this week actually. I hope to eventually get other tasks outsourced (e.g. content writing, site set up, keyword reasearch) too so I can get more done and lower the word load. It’s too much hard work doing it all yourself!
I have a couple of “hair on fire” niches that I plan to build sites for next. That should be exciting to compare those to this current site.
I think I’ll leave my first niche site where it is and hopefully in another 7 months it will have made another $200… but the good thing it is out there working now so from here on out, any income it makes is passive income 🙂
Thanks for reading!