Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?
A little over one year ago, I launched a brand new site on a brand new domain name. It's not a blog, but more of a commercially geared reviews site like others I've created in the past.
Last month that site made over $3,000.
Today, I'm going to walk you through exactly what I did to make that happen. To be honest, I did nothing more or less than what has already been covered in depth in the Niche Site Project 3 series of posts.
However, I think that sharing a review of the strategy and tactical steps I've taken to grow the site, all in one article, will teach you how to build an Amazon Associates website, even if you are not willing to read all of the posts in the last project.
Oh, and as an added surprise for you…this site is sending traffic to my Amazon FBA listings. So, the amount of revenue generated by this website is actually much more than $3,000. I'll explain more below.
So, let's jump right into it.
First, The Results
I know that people like to see the “money shot”, so rather than make you wait in suspense, I'll share the earnings screenshots first. Then I'll dive into exactly I achieved these results below.
In July, the website made just over $3,000. In August, the earnings have continued to grow. Here's the August 2016 earnings.
So, $2,411.86 from the main tracking id on this site. However, I have a couple of tracking ids.
The earnings from the second tracking id was $371.15.
We have also been using a really cool service called Genius Links. Genius localizes my amazon associates links to the country of the person visiting my website. So, if someone from Canada clicks on my Amazon affiliate link, they go to Amazon.ca product listings, if someone from the UK clicks on my link, they go to Amazon.co.uk, and so on.
As a result, I earn more commissions from a few different Amazon locations.
Amazon Associates UK
(Approximately, $29.49 in USD)
Amazon Associates Canada
(Approximately, $60.01 in USD)
So, Total Amazon Associates in August 2016 = $2,872.51
The site also made a decent amount of money via Google Adsense. Here's how much the site made from Google Adsense in August:
The site also made some money via some independent affiliate programs managed by Commission Junction.
The site made $43.20 via Commission Junction affiliate sales in August.
In total the site made:
- $2,872.51 from Amazon Associates
- $515.13 from Google Adsense
- $43.20 from Commission Junction
- $3,430.84 in Total Earnings for August 2016
How These Results Were Achieved – A Timeline
Here's a quick timeline of how I started and grew the site to where it is today. After the timeline, I'll share some more in-depth points about some of the things that I did.
I'm also including a Google Analytics screenshot that shows the traffic by month since May 2015.
- February 2015 – Purchased domain name; but did nothing with it for a couple months.
- May 2015 – Published the first article on May 8th, 2015. I decide to find 10 or so keywords to target and publish articles on. 2 articles live in May.
- August 1st, 2015 – By August 1st I have a total of 12 articles published on the site. This site starts getting around 5 or 6 visitors a day from Google.
- August 2015 – 25 articles published. I decide that I see potential in this niche based on sales from my own FBA product, and I find 100 keywords that I want to target and publish articles on right away. I figure that more content targeting low competition keywords = more traffic. A year later, I am proven correct.
- Sept 2015 – 11 articles published. We primarily focus on getting content written and up on the site. By the end of September we have a total of 48 articles on the site.
- Oct. 2015 – 16 articles published.
- Nov. 2015 – 37 articles published.
- Dec. 2015 – 19 articles published.
- Sept to Dec 2015 – Around early September, we decide that we should get a few links to the site. So, during Sept to Dec we focus on a few strategies. We get a few links from quality directories. We get a few guest post links. We use the Tailwind App to get some Pinterest traction and links going. We also did a contest which resulted in a few links. And finally, we used Tomoson to give away some of our FBA products and some bloggers mentioned and linked to our site.
- Jan and Feb 2016 – 0 articles published.
- March 2016 – 3 articles published.
- April 2016 – 1 article published.
- May – July 2016: 0 articles published. To be honest, I hadn't really been paying attention to how much this site was making. I knew it was doing well, but I was shocked in July to see exactly how well it was doing on its way to a $3k month. So, in July I decided its time to refocus on the site (only 4 articles had been published in all of 2016 and yet the site continued to grow really well). We decide to find another 100 low competition keywords and start publishing more content. My hypothesis is that more low competition content = more traffic! I was right before, and I suspect I'll be right again. The plan is to have these additional 100 articles published between August and December 2016.
- August 2016 – 10 articles published. Site earns over $3,000 in affiliate income.
As of the end of August 2016, the site has a total of 134 articles published.
My Keyword Research Strategies
I've laid out my keyword research strategy a number of times on this blog including here and here. I did not really do anything differently than I normally do. I'm going to lay out 5 keyword research principles that I follow when building my sites.
In general, I am more concerned with low competition than traffic volume. In fact, I set no minimum limit for monthly search volume for the keywords that I found. So, if the keyword only had a KC score of 25 and was searched for 1,000 times a month…great! Or if a keyword had a KC of 20 and was only searched for 50 times a month…that's great too!
In other words, I targeted some keywords that had over 1,000 monthly searches and other keywords that had less than 100. However, ALL keywords had a KC of 30 or less.
I always use Long Tail Pro to do my keyword research and of course get the keyword competitiveness score.
I also tend to do better with longer phrases (4 or more words) than I do with shorter phrases. Yes, I do target some 3 word phrases, but I rarely target 2 word phrases.
I like to look for keywords that include certain words in them that I know affiliate sites can rank well for. I usually call these “modifiers”.
For example, here's a short list of modifiers I've used in the past:
- under $100 (or other price points)
- in 2016
- and of course many others
So, if your root keyword is “folding chairs”. You might consider phrases like, “best folding chairs”, “folding chair reviews”, “best folding chair under $50”. These are a just a few ideas, and many other modifiers exist that you can add to your root keywords to come up with lots of low competition keywords.
I like to see other weak sites ranking with lower Trust Flow and Citation flow (or domain authority and page authority). So, first I just look at the overall KC score and try to find keywords under the 30 mark. Then I double check to see if there are some weak affiliate sites, forum posts, article directories, or other weak sites that have poor metrics.
If I see a couple of weak sites ranking in the top 10 results in Google, then its a green light for me to go after that keyword.
In addition, to using Long Tail Pro, I sometimes use SEMRush and Ubersuggest to come up with additional keyword ideas. SEMrush is great if you find a new or weak affiliate site ranking for lots of keywords, then you can cherry pick some of their best keywords to try and outrank them.
Ubersuggest is great to come up with lots of variations of keywords. This essentially adds modifiers to the root keyword for you, then you can take the ones you want. I then run them through Long Tail Pro to check the search volume and competition level.
Overall, that's 5 quick principles that I follow when I do my keyword research. Yes, I could go into more depth, but these strategies should give you a good insight into how I did my keyword research for the Amazon affiliate site.
My Link Building Strategies
As listed in the timeline above, we went through a link building “phase” on this site from about Sept to Dec of 2015. Since that time, we have not done ANY link building on the site. The site still attracts a few new links here and there without our involvement when we publish new content.
For good or bad, this is always how I've approached my niche sites. I put a little bit of effort into building links after the site is a few months old, and then I just focus on the content for the site. Now, its possible that I may go back and do another link building push at some point. However, the site continues to grow in terms of Google rankings and traffic, so I see no reason to go out do more active link building.
So, unless the site stops growing, I likely wont do any more manual link building.
Here's a quick look at the number of links that this site has achieved over time:
As you can see the site has just over 100 linking domains pointing to it. Or put a different one, about 100 sites are linking to my niche site.
In case you didn't know, 100 linking domains is really not that much. I would guess that almost half of those links came naturally to the site without my involvement. The other half were acquired using the strategies below.
We submitted out site to a few directories, including places like JoeAnt.com and others. I don't know the exact number of directories we tried to get links from, but it was probably less than 5 total. The idea here is to focus on quality (high authority) versus quantity of directories.
Yes, this is old school. However, we were able to reach out to a few people we knew to write a guest post on their blogs. Again, this was a small number, probably around 5 guest posts or so.
Tailwind is simply a way to make it easier to post and schedule posts on Pinterest (and Instagram). We only used Tailwind for its Pinterest capabilities. The main idea here (and it does take some work) is to start a group, join some groups, and post relevant images. With a little bit of effort, people will start re-pinning your images and this leads to links from Pinterest.com, but can lead to secondary links if people repost of their own sites.
We now have tons of links from Pinterest (counts as 1 linking domain). It's hard to tell how many links came from people using our images from Pinterest on their own sites (with a link to ours).
As mentioned, we sell a physical product on Amazon that is related to this niche site. We held a contest using Contest Domination, in an attempt to get email subscribers. We didn't run the contest in an attempt to get links; however, it did indeed lead to few links. One of the contestants posted the contest on a couple of sweepstakes type sites, and this gave us a few links to our site. This didn't lead to a lot of links, however, as it was shared on social media and other places, it did indeed generate a few links.
In order to get some Amazon reviews, we used Tomoson. In the process, we found out that lots of the reviewers have blogs and are willing to write a blog post review of your products. So, we gave it a shot and asked for maybe 10 people or so to write a blog post reviewing our Amazon product. Because our niche site is one place where we sell our product, we got a link back to our niche site with each of those product reviews.
Overall, we did some things for link building that seem to have worked. Again, we only have 100 linking root domains, so its not some huge amount. And like I said, if I were to venture a guess, about half of these came through our own effort with the strategies listed above, and the other half just came naturally without our involvement.
Early in 2016, I could see that this site had good potential and so we wanted to optimize the average earnings per visitor. We did this in 2 ways: optimized Google Adsense placement and created more shopping comparison charts for Amazon products.
We realized the earnings per click for Google Adsense was pretty solid, so we made some of the ad units more prominent near the top of articles and added units in other locations.
We also saw a big increase in Amazon Associates earnings when we went back to some of our older articles are started adding more shopping comparison charts. The theme we used has comparison chart functionality built in. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I wrote a pretty comprehensive guide on how to create a Amazon shopping comparison chart here.
Adding these charts led to more clicks through our affiliate links to Amazon and more sales. These types of charts provide a ton of value to users because it makes it easy for them to compare product side by side.
If you make it easier for people to buy products, they buy more products.
So, these couple of steps that we took starting in March of this year really started to increase our earnings per visitor by quite a bit.
The Added Bonus…Amazon FBA
As I've mentioned a couple of times, this niche site actually links to and sells my own physical products through Amazon FBA. So, the $3,430.84 income that I listed above is ALL from affiliate revenue…it does NOT include income from my Amazon FBA products.
In other words, if I send someone from my site to Amazon and they buy one of my products, I am not counting that revenue in the screenshots above. So, in addition to the $3,400 that this site made in affiliate revenue, it also generated roughly an additional $4,000 in revenue from my own Amazon products being sold.
This additional revenue is tough to calculate and track; however, my best estimate is that my niche site sent about $4,000 worth of business to Amazon FBA business in August.
However, starting your own private label brand and launching a product on Amazon is an entirely different animal to tackle. Luckily, I've written a little bit about how I started my Amazon FBA business right here is you are interested in that.
Overall, I'm very happy with the income this Amazon affiliate site has generated over the past year. I've cracked the $3,000 in affiliate income in each of the past 2 months, I hope to cross the $4,000 a month mark very soon.
Hopefully, you've enjoyed reading the timeline, my keyword research strategies, and the link building strategies that I've followed as I've built this site.
Honestly, there is really no other “secrets” that I am keeping when it comes to what was done to make this site a success. As you can see from the Google Analytics screenshot above, the site took several months to really gain any traction, but then has just slow grown over the past year.
So, it's important to stick with it, and not give up on your new niche site after the first couple of months. The real growth happens after the site has been around for a while.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you have any additional questions for me? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
My Top Recommendations:Host your sites with Bluehost for only $3.95 per month
Build Amazing WordPress sites with Thrive
Find Profitable FBA Ideas with Jungle Scout
Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?