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Perrin & Colleen Coaching Call #3: Branding, Content Strategy & Not Being a “Thin Affiliate”

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Perrin & Colleen Coaching Call #3: Branding, Content Strategy & Not Being a “Thin Affiliate”

Hey guys! Perrin here again, and, we are back with coaching call #3…

Before diving into the techniques and strategies Colleen and I explored in this coaching call, let’s do a quick recap of the progress she made in the last week or so.

We’ve got some exciting news…

No, I’m not pregnant. But Colleen did pick a market!

If you’re one of the hardcore Perrin & Colleen fans saying, “But I thought she already picked a market?!” you’re not wrong. In our second coaching call, Colleen surprised me by saying she’d settled on a market and was good to go.

And we were stoked! But the more we looked at it, the more it just didn’t sit right with us. Maybe it was that the market seemed a bit tough to monetize. Or maybe it was that parts of the market seemed totally saturated with major websites. Who knows. But there was just something about the market that didn’t feel right in my gut.

So we dove back into some market research…

…and Colleen found what we both think is an amazing market with some massive opportunities.

Of course, we’re not going to show it to you yet, but it’s got pretty much all the things we’re looking for:

  • Very easy to find low-DA blogs with high traffic (…almost too many)
  • A good mix of informational and product/affiliate blogs
  • Lots of the blogs were outdated, ugly, short… or all three!

Here’s a screenshot of some of Colleen’s data:

So that’s the big news: using a combination of market research and keyword research, we found what we think is a very cool niche that should be wide open for Collen to break into.

Now what?

Team Colleen is now changing gears…

We chatted, and we feel like we’ve got a good market, and we’ve got good keywords. We also have quite a few sub-niches, and we’re confident we know how our categories are going to pan out (at least the first ones; we can always add more later).

We have a few loose ends, but we figure it’ll be more efficient to tie them up as we go—that our time is better spent moving to the next step.

So, now, officially… today… Colleen’s site is live and online. She has a web presence, and all systems are go.

…of course, it’s empty.

So that’s the first thing we’ve got to fix. But before we start going nuts adding content, there are a few nuts and bolts to nail down first.

And that’s what we covered in this call. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the lessons learned.

You need good branding and good design.

Of all the mistakes I see people make, I’ve come to believe that the single biggest mistake for 90% of new site builders is bad design.

I’ve written about this elsewhere, it be bears repeating, especially if you’re following along with your own project and are getting ready to put up a site.

You need good design. If you don’t understand good design, hire a designer. I won’t go into all the fun details, but if you want a quick study of the impact good design can make, Spencer has a great write-up on the impact of his redesign of this very blog.

But this is 2016. There’s no excuse not to have a website that looks night. For us, it’s going to be incredibly simple: we’re just going to buy a nice theme.

Specifically, we’ll be looking for something that:

  • Is fast
  • Looks clean and/or simple
  • Looks nice and professional
  • Is easy to read

And that’s it! But it’s important! Good design converts better. Good design builds trust. Good design helps you establish yourself as a brand—even before you do any real branding.

So, as Colleen ventures out to flesh out her site, she’ll be looking for a great theme to build on. We’ll likely do some more in-depth branding as she grows, but for now, that’s really all we’re going to worry about.

You need to avoid being a “thin affiliate” at all costs.

Here’s the funny thing about SEOs: most of them will defend their strategies to the death, even if they’re risky, and, sometimes, even if their businesses get destroyed.

…I am not one of those people.

I only needed to get my business destroyed once to totally change the way I approached my sites (if you don’t remember, just read this blog post).

After that, I vowed not only to follow Google’s rules—but to create real, legitimate, high-value sites. I was kind of doing that before. The writing was good. But even then, I wasn’t creating the kinds of sites Google (and other powers that be—more below) really want to represent them.

Here’s another reality… Amazon is banning people left and right.

They’re banning people for cloaking links. They’re banning people for not having enough original content. They’re banning people for deceiving users. And, in some cases, their manual reviews are even—allegedly—banning people for stuff that’s not against the rules.

As far as I can tell, there is a serious affiliate crackdown happening right now.

…so I want to be as certain as I can that we’re following the rules.

The “classic” aPennyShaved-style site—the one I see emulated so often—really does not follow the rules. The site’s been taken down now, but if you remember, 95% of the pages on that site had affiliate links, and 90% of the articles simply rehashed Amazon reviews.

That’s not value. It’s just a poorly built money-making machine—one that sputters and threatens to fall apart every time it turns over.

Here’s a quick quiz I think everyone should be asking themselves:

  • Does almost all of my content include affiliate links?
  • Can the majority of my content be found (in different words) on Amazon product pages and/or in their review section?
  • Am I doing almost nothing besides trying to make money on my site?

These are important questions, and if you answered “yes” to any of the above, you might be at risk (P.S. Before you guys roast me in the comments, I know the definition of “thin content” is up for debate, and I know there are counterexamples—TheWireCutter, etc.—and I address this in the coaching call! Let me live!).

So, I want to make this as clear as I possibly can: Colleen and I won’t be building a site that only has affiliate content. This site will be chocked full of great information. It’ll have lots of different kinds of content. It will be monetized in a number of different ways. And, above all, it will provide value to its readers.

…and we’re going to achieve this mostly through our content strategy…

You need to have a robust, diverse content strategy.

And it doesn’t need to be complicated.

But here’s the general idea:

  • We want affiliate content to be a small percentage of our site’s content
  • We want to provide value and educate people
  • We want the site to be fun

To do that, we’re going to have two goals. First, we’ll be “launching the site” with about 60 articles, and only about one third of them will contain affiliate links. The rest will be either fun or educational.

Second, we’re going to push our fun, educational content—the stuff most likely to appeal to people simply browsing—to the front of the site, and we’ll leave the more specific affiliate content to people searching for it in Google, since these articles are often only interesting to the people asking that specific question. We’re not going to hide our affiliate content, of course. We’re proud of the value it provides. But we’re going to feature the fun stuff, which mostly means we’ll build a custom homepage that shows off the content we think is most engaging.

Lastly, you need to understand how to CREATE a good content strategy you can actually implement.

But I’m not going to tell you about that here..

…I have to get you to watch the video somehow, right?! So check it out:

If you would rather listen to the audio only, you can download it here.

Wrapping it up…

All in all, I’m super excited, and I hope Colleen is, too. To me, this is one of the most fun parts of any site: lovingly shoving it out of the next.

What do you guys think? Where are you at with your own sites? Let me know in the comments!

Yes! I Love to Learn

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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31 Comments for this Post

  1. Ray

    Ray

    Hey Perrin,

    I can’t hear Colleen’s audio at all, you come in loud and clear?
    Just thought I’d let you know.

    Thanks for the great info! 🙂
    Ray

    • Andy

      Andy

      Hi Ray
      I can both hear Perrin and Colleen
      I don’t know if this helps you but when I listen with headphones
      Perrin is in the left channel and Colleen in the right

      • Ray

        Ray

        Hi Andy,

        After reading your comment I tried listening without my headphones,
        and I can hear both Perrin and Colleen perfectly.

        Time to purchase new headphones, right side is not working. 🙁

        Thanks!

        • Savvas

          Savvas

          Yeah that is funny. I listened without speakers and Colleen’s voice came b the right speaker whereas Perrin’s came from both speakers. That has to do with the recording I guess.

          Anyhow that was a eye-opening podcast! Thanks a lot!

  2. Tommy

    Tommy

    Hi Perrin/Colleen,

    That was such a great call and very informative. I can’t wait to hear more. I’m sure you are going to crush it Colleen!

  3. Chloe

    Chloe

    Hey Perrin/Colleen,

    Excited to get such great info. It seems the content strategy has changed a lot compared with the NSP2. But there are some traditional affiliate blogs (static content homepage, articles with no outbounce links other than amazon) which ranks high on Google… Does it mean, we can do something in advance to replace them?

  4. Another Mike

    Another Mike

    Hey Perrin,
    It’s great to watch the videos of niche pursuit coaching, reloaded. Addictive and informative stuff!

  5. Alex

    Alex

    Hi Perrin and Colleen,
    You are doing quite good work there. Thank you for the massive info..
    Cheers!

  6. Tim

    Tim

    What a great post you have here, Perrin. And it proves of a great marketer to just say that your old site is not good anymore. I love the new mindset.

    My site’s strategy is all about making money. And that is wrong. I need to change my attitude.

    But it is so difficult to spend time writing or making content with you knowing that there will be 0 change of affiliate sales via that piece.

    Most people want to invest time in their content. And want to put in aff links to justify their work and time. People want te see back revenue.

    We need to let this go. We need to build a site for the user. Provide the stuff they want to know. Don’t think about making money all the time.

    I’m now going to watch / listen to the coaching call. Once again, thanks for all this information.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I actually disagree a bit with Perrin here. I think his aPennyShaved.com is still a great example of a well put together niche site. The only problem it ever had was that we used a PBN. He may have forgetten, but he had a wide variety of types of articles, like “cool beard styles”, etc. that were not affiliate in nature.

  7. chris

    chris

    This is really amazing.

    I will keep following you guys as i am running my site on the side. It pretty fun investing time and money into niche and authority sites. Lets see how it all goes.

    Keep inspiring us out here, God bless you all

  8. Simon Klartilbolig.dk Nielsen

    Simon Klartilbolig.dk Nielsen

    Another good post on how, to start a new site!

    I can’t wait to hear mere from your projects!

  9. Sandra

    Sandra

    Hi perrin, in the podcast you say that you prefer putting the informational posts on the homepage and sidebars etc, but don’t you think you’re missing out on internal linkjuice going out to the affiliate content which you want to rank for? I agree that it looks better for the user if he sees all kinds of helpfull articles surrounding the content and on the homepage, but the homepage and sidebars are also a strong location to place internal links right?

    Personally i have 60 articles (20 informational and 40 affiliate) and from my homepage i’m trying to find a good balance between the 2. I tend to highlight the informational ones with a bigger image so they stand out more on the homepage but there are links to the affilliate articles as well…

    Could you give us your thoughts on this and the whole internal linking structure you apply to your site(s)?

    If perhaps you were planning a piece on internal linking in a coming podcast….. That would be awesome!!

    Thanks,

    • Doug Cunnington

      Doug Cunnington

      You can put a lot of the internal linking in the non affiliate articles and that can get the link juice over to the affiliate articles.

  10. Brian

    Brian

    Hey Perrin….first a big thanks to you and Colleen for the videos. It’s inspiring and I’m definitely learning a lot about picking KW’s and niches.

    One question…regarding your own new site that has been mentioned is doing very well with Amazon/Adsense, when it came to picking that particular niche, what specifically (without giving away your site/niche) did you see in the market that made you think that you would be able to carve out a piece for yourself and make it profitable?

    I think my biggest issue now is niche selection. Every one I investigate sort of looks good…and sort of looks not so good. Some competitive blogs downright stink or haven’t been updated in months/years and I know I can do better and then there are others that appear to be dominating which makes me rethink the idea.

    Just wanted to get an ‘insider’ scoop on what went through your head as well when picking your niche.

    Thanks!
    Brian

  11. Chloe

    Chloe

    Hi Perrin,

    Do you have any suggestions on how to write titles of the following articles?

    I mean, if I found KEYWORD A which has a LOW competition and LOW local search, while the KEYWORD B has high volume local search but HIGH competition. Which one can be the best choice to be used in the title?

    Thank you in advance.

  12. Paul

    Paul

    Hey guys, some of us are intimidated by Theme and WordPress intalls. Would using a sitebuilder be an alternative?

    • Tim

      Tim

      You can always ask you hostingprovider to install WordPress for you.

      Most providers have a Installatron in the PHPmyAdmin, which is an easy install wizzard for WordPress and other CMS.

      Installing a theme is very easy to do in WordPress,

      It shouldn’t stop you in creating a WP site. Also check out some YouTube beginner video’s.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Installing themes and plugins takes about 30 seconds. If you are intimidated, just do a youtube search on it, and the videos will walk you through. Its all point and click, nothing technical involved.

  13. Rajat Sharma

    Rajat Sharma

    Awesome tips 🙂 one of my favorite . thank you

  14. Another Mike

    Another Mike

    I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned in the facebook page (not on that), but there has been this ongoing debate about whether the SEM volume indicate monthly, weekly, or daily (BIG DIFFERENCE). The volume you listed on Colleens spreadsheet corresponds to the volume mentioned on the top left of the SEMRush page… and is monthly figures… right?

  15. Another Mike

    Another Mike

    Just to clarify, if we find potential good subject matter themes to mine, because competitors are gaining high volume at low DA, then does it matter too much if there is not much product affiliate potential (Perry did mention the benefit adsense alone can provide)? I’m talking about 10k+ volume on SEMrush (top left).
    Also… if we find competitor sites that are high volume but low DA .. BUT… appear very well designed, meaning their DA could double in another year, is it still worth entering this niche (or should we just aim to go against high volume low DA sites that seem old fashioned and poorly designed).

  16. Another Mike

    Another Mike

    Is it possible that some of these newer high volume low DA websites (Perrin and Colleen spotted) are gaining a lot of their volume through links from ‘social sites (example facebook) as opposed to SEO methodology (which would suggest that a regular SEO strategy for Colleen’s proposed website would not be so effective as envisaged)?

  17. Julia

    Julia

    Hi Perrin,
    Very informative discussion on the call.
    Lot of things to learn.

    Regards,
    Julia.

  18. Mahendra

    Mahendra

    Hi Perrin,

    Nice guide. I am here to request you to check video before posting. I am talking about colleen voice. I cant hear or I am alone who is facing this problem ? 🙁

    • Tim

      Tim

      Mahendra,

      The issue is that you hear Perrin on the left and Colleen on the right. So if you can’t hear Colleen. Then you should check your audio balance. Or put in the right earphone bud.

      Tim.

  19. JerBear

    JerBear

    These videos are incredibly helpful (the blog post too). I love listening to them while I’m actually working on my authority site.

    Using SEMRush has been a big help. If you give them your email address, they give you one day free with full access. I used that day to put in all of the competitor (doppelganger) websites for my site and exported the keyword data to analyze later. Of course, once I am generating revenue, I plan on paying for that service 🙂

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Awesome…good luck JerBear!

  20. Tim

    Tim

    Hi Perrin, when do you upload your next coaching call?

  21. Jagger

    Jagger

    Hi,

    I hope I’m not too late to comment and still get a response.

    But, in the video, you showed the spreadsheet of “Model blogs” that Colleen found. Every one of the sites had at least 1,500 pages. And, most a LOT more than that.

    I guess, first of all, I’m very surprised that the DA was low for all of those sites. But, ignoring that, I would think that these sites are either forum sites, or huge company sites that have a staff, or just very old sites that have had enough time to accumulate that many pages. Or, all of the above.

    Anyway, why wouldn’t the large number of pages concern you?

    I’m thinking that Colleen isn’t going to write 1,000 pages of content any time soon. So, if Google is ranking mainly for sites with a LOT of pages, wouldn’t it be difficult to rank without a comparable number of pages?

    Regards,
    Jagger

  22. Vinu

    Vinu

    Can you Perin share the excel sheet collated by Coleen in this video once you make the site live. Just wanted to get into the thought process of things if you dont mind sharing.

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