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How Building Relationships with Manufacturers Can Get You Free Products, Quality Backlinks, and Increased Earnings

This is a guest post from Kyle Holgate of AffiliateCoaches.com.  He is also the creator of Affiliate Link Finder, which is a unique WordPress Plugin to make sure all your affiliate links are working properly on your site. (I tried out the tool and found a few links that needed fixing!).

I really love some of the ideas presented in here for Amazon Associates. If you have an Amazon review type website, these are ideas that you can start trying right away.  Here's Kyle…

Plenty has been written about how to create a successful, profitable niche site. Many experts have shared everything you need to know from picking a niche to writing your content, I'm sure you can find everything you need to know on those topics here on Niche Pursuits explained better than I could.

How I can help you with today is by showing you some ways you can utilize your established site to pull in some great benefits.

These benefits are-

  1. Getting some free products and insider information.
  2. Landing some high authority, high relevancy backlinks.
  3. Making a few extra thousand bucks per month, for little to no work (no joke, you'll see the proof later).

And the way I will go about achieving these awesome benefits? By building a relationship with manufacturers in your niche.

Now when you hear the phrase “building a relationship”, you might be imagining something complex or time consuming like arranging meetings or attending trade shows. While I'm sure these methods could work, my idea of “relationship building” is much more simple – simply “cold emailing”.

I'm going to break down exactly how I have been able to repeatedly build relationships with manufacturers across different industries and niches to reap the benefits below. As you read on, keep in mind this might be more difficult to pull of in some niches compared to others.

Larger, more established companies are going to be much less likely to work with a niche site than one in a new and emerging space. For example, building a relationship with a drone company will likely be easier than building one with a major kitchen appliance company. 

Also, if your site is brand new with only a few pages of content, many manufacturers will pass. You're site doesn't have to be anything spectacular – I have had success with as little as 10,000 visitors per month – but the better your site is in terms of monthly visits, social network followers, and search engine rankings, the more likely you are to have success. It's also important your site's content is high-quality and feels authentic.

 

The Anatomy of an Introduction

I've seen it recommended to simply introduce yourself to start building a relationship slowly with a company before making any sort of “asks”, but it's hard for me to imagine doing this without feeling disingenuous or fake. Instead, my approach is to be upfront and straightforward in how we can both receive value from a relationship. I find this fits my personality better, and is more likely to get a response as your recipient doesn't have to wonder what exactly you're after.

Another tip – try to find a sales/advertising/media/PR email address on the company's website. Avoid sending to a general “contact@” or “help@” email address, as those will likely go to a customer support agent and might not making it to the advertising team that would actually be making the decision.

Here's the gist of what my email outreaches look like.

  • Introduce yourself and your website.
  • Share your key data points that make your site attractive.
  • Ask for what you want and explain what they will get from the exchange.

Pretty straightforward, right? Let's see it in action in the 3 steps below. Keep in mind you don't need to do these steps in any particular order and doing options 1 and 2 aren't a prerequisite for option 3, but I have had success going in this order in the past.

 

1. Get Insider Information and Free Products

If you're running a niche site, you're probably reviewing some physical products. Without a doubt, getting your hands on the product for pictures and hands-on experience will lead to better reviews and increase the authenticity of your website. This can be pretty expensive if you're reviewing high priced items, so why not see if you can get some of these products for free?

Companies spend a ton of money on advertising to get their product in front of an interested audience. You can provide a very valuable service by reaching out to them and giving them the chance to get some very cheap advertising simply by sending you a product to review. Here's one way I went about it recently –

FYI, I have never been asked to prove any of the metrics I provide in these emails but it's best to be honest in case they ask to see your Google Analytics.

Here's their response –

review response

Not only will I get a free review unit out of this (this one retails for over $800!), it looks like I will also get an interview with a founder of the company which will be great original content for the site, and will also feed in nicely to our next benefit of building a relationship.

It's also worth noting that this person actually looked through my website and referenced an interview done many months ago. Site quality is a big factor in success here.

2. Build Your Authority

You'll be building your authority in two big ways here – the first is by producing great content through your hands-on reviews that makes your site look a lot more legitimate than something that only uses stock photos.

The second and more powerful benefit is landing backlinks on these high-authority sites. The site from the example above has a Moz domain authority of 53, and it's incredibly specific to my website's niche.

Once you post your review of their product, you can shoot an email back to the company asking for them to link to it on their website. Many companies have a specific “In The Media” or “Press” page where your review can be filed under.

Here's an example below where I was able to land a backlink on a DA 47 website in my niche. This is after the company sent me a product already, and you'll also notice with my foot in the door, I'm looking for more opportunities to review more of their products in this same email.

And here is the response –

Pretty easy and straightforward, don't be afraid to shoot your contact a follow up email in a few days if nothing is posted when you expect it.

 

3. Increase Your Revenue

When many people are building niche sites, their focuses for earning revenue tend to strictly be on affiliate programs. Affiliate earnings are the bulk of my sites' focus, but over the past 6 months I've come to find a new way to add thousands of dollars per month to my revenue – and it's shockingly simple.

This “new way” is actually an extremely “old way” – direct advertisement with the manufacturers.

I wrote up an extremely details case study of how I went about doing this on two of my different niche sites, but let me give you a quick rundown of what exactly I'm talking about and how exactly I went about setting it up.

Prerequisites for Landing a Deal

First of all, your site has to have some traffic and great content. I know I said this before, but this is a bit more serious than getting a company to send you a free product, now you're asking for money every month.

Your site has to be something the manufacturers would actually want to be associated with, so if your site is only stock photos and thin content, you're going to have a hard time landing one of these deals.

Second, the better your site ranks, the more likely you are to land a deal (and for bigger bucks). Ideally your site should rank in the top 3 for high buyer-intent search queries. For example, if you're in the drone niche, “best drones”, “best drone for photography”, “best drone for beginners”, “best drone for gopro”, etc.

These are phrases that the manufacturers themselves would love to rank for, so you have something they want. It's similar to the “rank and rent” method, but we won't be renting out our site – only some advertising space.

Most niche sites should be able to achieve this kind of status after 6 months to a year depending on how competitive the industry is. If you're top search queries aren't that great but you're still getting decent traffic (in the examples below I was only getting ~15,000 visitors per month), still give it a shot.

The Target

When looking for a company to pitch to, there's a few criteria I use –

  • Is this company likely to work with a small affiliate site?
  • Do I provide enough value to this company for them to consider the offer?
  • Is this company a leader in their industry?
  • Do they make a high-quality product I would stand behind recommending?

If you are only pitching ad space then maybe your criteria would be more relaxed, but since I will be pitching their product as a “recommended buy”, I want the product to truly be the best in the industry and something I would recommend regardless. It also might be easier to pitch a company you have worked with in the past to review their products. You should have a great point-of-contact that way which makes it more likely for your email to end up in the right inbox.

The Pitch

I use the same exact format as when I pitch for free products, only this time I'm going to be adding some more metrics and pitching my advertising package as well.

It's important to note here that when you're doing advertisement deals like this, you must be very careful with how you present your content. According to FTC guidelines, your readers must be made aware when something has been sponsored, so I would read up on these disclosure guidelines from eBay.

Now, getting into the pitch, take a look at my initial email to the company and their reply-

Again, using your website's metrics as well as Amazon Associate sales numbers are great ways to demonstrate your website's value. Their reply indicated they were interested and wanted to jump on the opportunity since I set it up as something they should move quickly on in the 2nd paragraph.

I sent back over some more details as to the website and what exactly I was offering, and for how much.

 

And within a few days…

In total, it took just 4 or 5 emails (and a great niche site) to make $11,500, which is roughly $1,600/mo.

 

Just Do It!

If you've got anything resembling a niche site, I highly recommend you find some companies in your niche that are potential targets and send out some pitch emails today. The worst case scenario is they ignore you so there's nothing to lose.

23 Comments for this Post

  1. Fred Harrington

    Fred Harrington

    Nice. I love asking manufacturers for links – the positive response ratio is pretty high if you’re selling their product!

  2. Chris

    Chris

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing this great story along with email examples!!!

  3. Brett @ Niche Laboratory

    Brett @ Niche Laboratory

    Nice post. I’ll remind everybody that it’s worth reaching out to the vendors in your niche (not necessarily manufacturers).

    A few years ago I got into a bit of AdSense grief and had to take it off one of my best sites. So I emailed one of the biggest vendors related to my niche and asked if they had an affiliate scheme. Much to my surprise they actually did, they just don’t publicise it. That relationship is now my biggest single monthly passive income source.

  4. Lisa

    Lisa

    Generally in niche sites we have tables on ftont page n listed the best selling products already. Is it worth to reach out to that brand which is already on top in our comparison tables. Why would that be willing to pay as it is already on our page.

  5. Aryan

    Aryan

    For instance, if the product of the manufacturer is already in the list of best selling ‘product name’, then I would like to know, in this case, can i reach to the manufacturer or should i reach to a different manufacturer who isn’t in the list

  6. Mari

    Mari

    Great content! That’s exactly what I wanted to know, and I’ll do it, thank you very much!

  7. Matthew

    Matthew

    This is very helpful—but does getting free merchandise from a manufacturer comply with the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement? That’s always the first thing I’m concerned about.

  8. Scott Spencer-White

    Scott Spencer-White

    Such a great guide with plenty of explanation and detail – Lets give it a whirl! Thanks so much!

  9. loqman

    loqman

    Thank you for this guide Kyle. I’ve read about getting free products from manufacturers and forming good relationship with them somewhere. However, I’ve not been able to put it into practice since I don’t have a review site at the time. Now, I’m working on a site I’ve abandoned in the past. I hope to come back to this guide and benefit from it once my site gets some traction.

  10. Max Perzon

    Max Perzon

    Thanks for sharing!
    Always nice and interesting to read new kinds of pitches.
    Great guide with a lot of detail, thanks!
    – Max

  11. John Celvin

    John Celvin

    Thank you for sharing such nice case study with email examples. Looking forward to try them.

  12. Pim

    Pim

    I have received multiple products from brands by just sending an email to their marketing department and just tell about your site and your visitors you’ll get. And end it with the question if you can review one of their products. Most fun part is that you can keep the product as well 😉

  13. Shopify Expert

    Shopify Expert

    Thanks so much for share your ideas and tips. Now many people are building webstores and selling products online, we use Shopify.

  14. Poot

    Poot

    Hi Spencer,

    Is nichepursuits dead since you launch Niche Pursuits Insider?

    Regards

  15. Ryan Smith

    Ryan Smith

    Excellent information and thank you for taking the time to share with us. Amazing insight you have on this, it’s nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists.

  16. RACHEL

    RACHEL

    Products which are already on the top, do we need to publicize them even more? I have been trying to gather vendors or manufacturer who can provide me some extra benefit but somehow I am missing some parts and didn’t get a chance to get the extra benefits. Though I did manage to have some physical product but intend to gather some cash benefit. Hope your detail information may help me. Thanks!

  17. All blogroll

    All blogroll

    Hello,
    Very useful information, thank you for sharing. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, but I did not know how. Your great article will help me a lot.

  18. DJ

    DJ

    Great information as always. I’m going to be trying something similar out this week. On the ad space deal I think the nail in the coffin was the high month to month rate and the discounted all inclusive rate. Way to go, I’m inspired.

  19. Linda

    Linda

    Thanks for sharing your great concept with examples.

  20. Julius

    Julius

    Wow! Nice content. That’s exactly what I wanted to know, and I’ll do it, thank you very much!

  21. Kevin

    Kevin

    Nice

  22. Rubinho Blog

    Rubinho Blog

    Hey Ryan!

    That are some useful examples of pitches to use. I’m not working with Amazon (because I’m from Brazil and wrote in portuguese), but I use this techniques to reach some new ecommerce owners.

    Thanks for these tips!

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