How Austin Tuwiner Negotiates A Higher Commission Rate for Amazon Products
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This week on the podcast Jake Cain is interviewing Austin Tuwiner.
Austin is a marketer who dropped out of college at 19 to pursue an online business. He wanted to focus on his niche site in the crypto space. He had bought the domain, which had many great backlinks, in a private deal, and grew it to an estimated 150K traffic per month (Ahrefs).
He has since sold this site and is now working on another in the scuba diving niche. He is also bootstrapping an affiliate marketing SaaS tool called Afflytics, which is perhaps his main focus right now.
Jake and Austin cover a lot of ground in this podcast, but the theme throughout is affiliate marketing! There are some excellent tips and strategies on how you can grow your niche site and increase your earnings – even with Amazon Associates!
If you'd like to try out Afflytics to track all your affiliate commissions in one dashboard, they currently have a free trial right here.Try Afflytics Free
Interview With Austin Tuwiner
In the podcast, Austin shares how he sold his crypto site, Bit Premier, to his brother who also runs a large site on cryptocurrency. His brother 301 redirected Bit Premier to his site.
In the interview, you can hear about:
- Crypto exchange, wallet, and mining affiliate programs
- Recurring and lifetime commission affiliate programs
- Being hit by Google updates despite having a ‘white hat' approach
- Traffic and earnings volatility that matched crypto volatility
- Why he ultimately sold the site
At first, Austin wrote all of the content himself for his crypto site because he was genuinely interested in the niche. However, towards the end, he found other experts to write for him.
The same thing goes for his Scuba site, Scuba Otter. Austin shares how he finds topic experts to write for his niche sites, and why he uses them over generic content writers.
The reader can tell if a writer knows what they’re talking about. They’re mentioning things in their content that you’re not going to find elsewhere. That’s what allowed Scuba Otter to take off: having content written by those who love what they're writing about.
He does little to no link building for his sites, but he shares a great tactic on how to get links from affiliate product sites (you'll have to listen for the details).
Other fun discussions in the interview include:
- A ‘common sense’ approach to keyword research – no tool required!
- How he built online calculators that are great for links and traffic
- The types of posts which get the most traffic on his site
- How he experimented with display ads
- The Scuba Otter traffic explosion in Jan 2021
While building Scuba Otter between Dec 2019 – Oct 2020, Austin posted all of the traffic and earnings metrics here. Because the site is now making a lot more money, he's decided not to continue with this. However, it's still interesting to look at that early growth.
Jake and Austin spend a decent amount of time talking about how to increase your affiliate commissions by asking for a raise! Austin has a great tip, for which he credits Mushfiq Sarker, on how to get a higher commission rate for the products you sell on Amazon.
I won't share it here, because I want you to hear it straight from horse's mouth, but Austin states it's the main way he's been able to greatly increase his affiliate earnings.
The last major topic of discussion is Austin's SaaS tool, Afflytics.
This tool links up with all of your affiliate programs (Amazon, Shareasale, CJ Affiliate, for example) and brings together the earnings data into one dashboard. It's a helpful way to save time each day by not having to log into each dashboard separately.
Here are Austin's final 3 points of advice for affiliate marketers (with more details in the podcast):
- Negotiate for higher commissions
- Buy an existing affiliate site rather than starting from scratch
- Work in a niche you’re passionate about
You can reach out to Austin Tuwiner on Twitter here.
View The Full Transcript
Spencer Haws: Hey everyone, Spencer here. And welcome back to the show. I am excited to introduce an interview here between Jake. And Austin Austin owns affylitcs.com, which is an affiliate commission tracking tool. Basically a place you can go to sync up all your affiliate accounts. And so you can log into one dashboard and see how much you're earning across.
Your sites all in one place, instead of logging into all the different affiliate dashboards that you might have. And so Austin is going to tell the story of how he actually acquired athletics and what he's doing now to grow it. But that's actually a very small portion of the interview. Austin also has a lot of experience in building affiliate websites.
Of course that's how he got introduced into the space and understood the need for this type of software in the first place. But he's a relatively young guy just out of college, did a couple of years of college and then actually quit and built a cryptocurrency blog and website that what did pretty well and I'll let him share what he did there, how he scaled it and some of the challenges involved and eventually how he moved on from that and has now been working on scuba otter.com.
And he's built that really in public. Do a good amount of money. And it's not a lot of really interesting things there from keyword research link building. And he talks about some of the specific strategies and tools that he uses to attract links. But then also how he's negotiating affiliate commissions.
And there's, I think some really great takeaways for everyone, how you can earn more money from your site, even if you're referring people to Amazon. What are some things that you can do to earn higher commissions? And so Austin has a great story to share from his experience, building all of these websites some great strategies that you can apply into your own business.
And then it has built an interesting tool with AF Lytics. And so if you actually want to check out athletics, you can use my affiliate link. It's niche, pursuits.com/af Linux. And other than that, I really just hope you enjoy the story and the interview here between Jake and Austin. Thanks again for listening.
Jake Cain: Welcome back to the niche. Podcast. My name is Jake Kane, and I'm going to be your host today. Today. I'm having a talk with Austin, two Wiener, and we're really excited about that. Austin is going to have some great tips for affiliate marketers out there. He's going to talk about a website that he sold.
Some SEO tips, a website that he's working on right now. And so a lot of really actionable stuff. And we're excited to get into. Austin story. So Austin, welcome to the show. First of all why don't you start by giving people a little bit of a background on you with your education or professional background before you got into online business.
Austin Tuwiner: Okay. Awesome. Thanks Jacob. And I'm happy to be here. So yeah I went to university of Maryland called Towson university for two years, I had a software engineering degree. And yeah, college just wasn't for me. A lot of people were drinking, partying, just, just doing dumb stuff. And for I've always had to kind of a business mind.
So being around that was, was really tough for me. So after two years I left I moved to Austin, Texas and did a full stack. Web development bootcamp there. And, you know, got a diploma certificate from there. So that shows, I know something. But yeah, so that that's, as far as my education goes.
Jake Cain: Yeah. Cool man. Very nice. So when you went to Austin, Texas, I mean, you got that certificate, like, were you kind of looking for that first job, like you were trying to break into a career at that point, or were you already thinking like, I'm going to start something on
Austin Tuwiner: my own. I was actually working on my, my first affiliate site that premiere at that point in time.
So I was working with developers to do some pretty basic stuff, like make some calculators, you know, CSS changes. And I, I wanted to know how to do it myself. Part of the deal is kind of my, my, my parents said that. I'm only gonna let you drop out of college if you get a degree or certificate somewhere else.
So that's kind of why I did the bootcamp. So I wasn't really looking for a job. I just wanted to apply to my own businesses or future businesses and stuff like that.
Jake Cain: Okay, cool. So you mentioned a bit premiere, which I know you've shared about publicly a little bit. So let's talk about that was a bit premiere, like your very first website.
Was that how you kind of made the first dollar online and talk a little bit about the site and like why you started it.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. So I actually made my first dollar online when I was nine, maybe a bit earlier, if you, if you count like selling stuff on eBay, but I had a blog about animals that I'd just write about and I made some money from Google ad since then when I was nine.
Eventually it was banned because I went to the apple store and click the ad on every single computer there. So my, my Google AdSense account got banned. So then the premiere is probably my next, my next. Money online, I guess you could say that was maybe 17, 18 years old. It wasn't started on an expired domain but it was a domain that was previously used for something else.
Tons of great backlinks there. Just it's, you know, very on topic in the cryptocurrency space was used for something forehand. So I took that opportunity. Bought it started pumping out a lot of educational content, how to buy cryptocurrency most, mostly Bitcoin content, a few once a month coins how to buy, how to mine, how to store it and was a pretty big affiliate for cryptocurrency exchanges wallets some mining hardware, but that it's a bit difficult to affiliate for.
So yeah, that's, that's how I was monetizing the site. Never put any advertisements on that.
Jake Cain: Okay. And what year was that? Like when you, you got that purchased and started working on
Austin Tuwiner: it? That was around like 2016, 2017. So that was, I was still in school. Yeah. College.
Jake Cain: Okay. And do you just buy it on Flippa or something like that?
Or how did you acquire it?
Austin Tuwiner: It wasn't through a marketplace. It was kind of through just someone I had been known just talking to a mind for a bit, and they had a business built on the domain and it wasn't I don't know, I guess he wanted to do something else or it just wasn't going well. So he, you know, I knew he was selling and I said, Hey, you know, I'll buy it.
Jake Cain: And so crypto, it sounds like crypto is you were into that a little bit. Like, were you just doing all the content yourself or were you, did you have anybody helping you with the site?
Austin Tuwiner: At the beginning, I did almost all the content myself. I enjoyed writing about it. In college, you know, people would always ask me, you know, how to, how to buy Bitcoin, mostly it's to get fake IDs, but also you know, cause they wanted to invest I guess.
So I was, you know, teaching people about one anyway. My older brother also had a, a, a very large Bitcoin cryptocurrency affiliate website to buy bookrunner worldwide. So, you know, it definitely helped to learn from him and, you know, seeing how much potential is in the niche. But as far as content writing it was all done by me.
So towards the end I found some people that knew what they were talking about paid them by the word and started pumping out more content that way. Okay. All
Jake Cain: right. And so talk a little bit about I know you eventually sold that site, so I mean, whatever you're comfortable sharing, as far as just the success that you saw with bit premiere and then, you know, talk a little bit about the sale.
Like, why did you sell it? How did you sell it? That
Austin Tuwiner: sort of thing. Yeah. So a cryptocurrency Bitcoin, as most people know, is like pretty, pretty volatile price wise. And what people have to keep in mind is that. Google trends or searches are going to follow price. So it was really volatile in that manner that, you know, you could have a hundred thousand hits in one month and, you know, 20,000 the next, and then on top of that, it's like a Y M Y L or E era niche that requires a lot of EIT.
So the site just got wrecked by an algorithm update, even though, you know, completely. A white hat site just got wrecked and that was frustrating. It ended up recovering like five, six months later and was back to hitting traffic all-time highs. And then I think it was like a May, 2020 update or something that came and just absolutely destroyed me worse than the first one.
Tried to recover for a long time. I waited and waited like eight months for an algorithm update to come out. It finally came and didn't really do too much. And I ended up just, just selling the site just kind of. I, I did my best to kinda kind of, kind of a surrender at that point and just realize it wasn't happening.
Jake Cain: Let's think so. Were you able to did you just find another private. Buyer that wanted to buy it, or did you go list it with a broker?
Austin Tuwiner: Like what'd you do? I actually sold it to my brother. He had a, he has a larger Bitcoin affiliate site, Bible corner wide. So he just bought the site and three oh one redirected into his own cause they had tons of great links, some really informational pages.
Tools and stuff like that. Yeah.
Jake Cain: Okay. So it sounds like it was, you know, some volatility there in the crypto market and that sort of thing, but I'm sure, probably a lot that you picked up and took with you as far as just, you know, learnings and things like that about SEO, content, you know, some other things that you were able to take into your next project.
So maybe talk about like, once you sold that site, Did you already have other things going on or did you know what, what you were going to do next? Like how did you, how'd you figure that out? Cause I, I think you went into a little bit of a different direction. You kind of went away from crypto after that,
Austin Tuwiner: right?
Yeah, exactly. I actually started my second and main affiliate site now scuba otter.com. It's a, a scuba diving travel education website. So I started that while it was running the premier, but I didn't really. Put much attention to it. I was just hiring writers. You know, I put a format for the site, but I wasn't really focusing on that much.
Then once I sold been premiere, I kind of saw an opportunity to spend more time on that. On top of that, I kind of jumped of the idea of athletics.com, which is my SAS tool that I launched in January. I had known I wanted to do something like that for a long time. I didn't actually start it until after I sold the site, but it had been in the back of my mind and I had been looking for.
You know you know, existing websites that did a similar thing or researching if I was gonna start it from scratch or stuff like that. So I kind of had those two options. So I wasn't like, it's not like I had nothing to do. Like I, I kept myself busy.
Jake Cain: Yeah. And then, and this was like your, your full-time thing at this point, right?
Or were you working on the side doing anything else or you just running websites and this is how you're making longer
Austin Tuwiner: living. Yeah, no, a bit premiere was I was doing it for a living. It was, it was I was, didn't have a college degree. I just was, I was living in Austin, Texas running the site. And yeah, that was pretty much it.
I experimented with like a concept writing service that I started a little bit. But it, it didn't, I wasn't really interested in working for clients and just too much of a headache. I prefer affiliate where you don't really have to deal with too much besides a Google algorithm, I guess. So
Jake Cain: I'm just curious, I mean, taking a step back, like with premiere, it sounds like you had some volatility, like you mentioned swapped a couple of times by Google updates.
I mean, with that being your. Full-time source of income, like where there some tense moments there where you're trying to pay the bills or were you like when it was good, it was really good. And then you didn't have to worry about it. I mean, what was it like?
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah, I mean, it w it was really good. You know, so that, that definitely helped.
What's awesome about the cryptocurrency niche that maybe a lot of people don't know is that there's a lot of recurring affiliate programs. And on top of that, there's also a lot of lifetime. Affiliate programs. So I just had so much traffic that even when I was getting wrapped in a few thousand hits a month, I, I just was doing pretty well from these lights on their current programs.
Like you wouldn't really be able to tell that I got hit until, until some of the recurring periods dropped off. You know, the lifetime is always there. But. Yeah. I mean, you wouldn't have really been able to tell you just wouldn't have seen growth. Cause the recurring wouldn't have kept stacking and stacking, but I was never like worried I was going to pay the next, the next month's bills or anything.
I was actually, you know, traveling and like Southeast Asia and south America. So I wasn't, I wasn't spending that much money in the first place, so. Okay. All right. So
Jake Cain: tell me about what is I've heard of recurring commissions obviously, but I've never heard somebody talk about lifetime commissions.
Like how does that work? What is that?
Austin Tuwiner: Right. So if you send people to like a cryptocurrency exchange they sign up they add some funds there, whether they're depositing like Fiat currency or cryptocurrency they send some money there. They, they do some trades and you know, let's say the exchange takes 0.1% of every single trade.
You know, that you'll have a commission rate you know, some common ones where like 15%, 25, and even I have some with 50% commission. So for the lifetime of those exchange accounts when people trade you'll you'll, you'll take a piece of it so that it would be like lifetime. So obviously if the person stops trading or the business goes out of business and it's, I guess it's not really lifetime, but, you know, and sometimes some companies it's happened recently, try and go back on their word on, on lifetime commissions and, you know but for the most part, you know, as long as the accounts active, you know, they they they'll give you a commission.
Jake Cain: Yeah. Like after a few years, like on second thought.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. They're like, you haven't, you haven't sent us traffic in two years, so actually we can't serve you anymore. I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's all nonsense. I'll get it. I'll get upset talking about it, but that's how it that's. That's pretty
Jake Cain: cool though. I mean, I can see that.
I mean, that would be like a nice niche to be in, at least at the time, maybe for sort of way, you know, kind of I guess weathering the storm a little bit. When traffic goes down, when you've got recurring commissions, that's, it's not a bad situation. So talk a little bit then about let's go back to to scuba Otter, which was sort of, yeah.
Big project. And I think this one you started from scratch. Right. So talk a little bit about your strategy there. As far as just, what was the game plan? Like where are you coming in, just from the content, were you building back links? Like how do you attack it when you're first starting out a
Austin Tuwiner: site?
Right. So when I started it, I was like I said, not paying too much attention to it cause it had the other projects. Once I kind of had a clear head. And put a lot more time into it. What I did is I went from like a Upwork or what's the other one Textbroker writers to actual Dive instructors writing my content.
I found them through like a, a scuba diving marketing school. It's kind of a long story, how I found them, but I managed to find a few English speaking, dive instructors that were living in Indonesia, Thailand. So their, their expenses were very low, but they spoke English and I taught them SEO. So I was able to pump out a lot of really high quality content written by dive instructors.
And you know, a lot of people say Google can tell which they can, but more importantly, the reader can tell if the person knows what they're talking about. I mean, these dive instructors are mentioning things in their content that you're not, you're not going to find elsewhere. So I think that's really what allowed the site to take off is just having like actual writers that love what they're writing about.
So I did, I did a decent amount of link-building at the start. You know, I do like you know, some mail merge campaigns and, you know, I got some links like that. I've never really bought links, but when I really started to see liftoff is when I stopped link link-building and I just focused on some, some really big, quick wins, like within my network or companies I affiliate for.
Those was a more of like the 60 to 80 to 90 DRS that, you know, really are going to move the needle. When, when, when Google sees that you, you have that link. So I do little to no link building. It's, it's always, like I said, just within my network or, or a company I affiliate for is the most of my link building.
Jake Cain: So when you say a company that you're an affiliate for, like. The sort of reach out to them like, Hey, you know, I know we're promoting you guys, like, can you add a link to us on your site? Is that what you mean? Or,
Austin Tuwiner: yeah, exactly. I'll say like if they have a blog, you know, propose a blog post or if they just, if the only way, the only angle is really a testimonial, I'll go that way.
But these, these are the links that, that really move the needle. They don't, they don't care. If you're mentioned on a 20 Dr. Travel blog, that's. Clearly a paid for link or guest was like, it's not going to do anything at least in my experience. So yeah, that's all I've done it.
Jake Cain: Okay. And I mean, people generally receptive to that.
Like it's, you know, when you go back and ask for that, they're like, yeah, no problem. Or.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. I mean, what I like to say is traffic talks of, if you're, if you're, if you're sending, if you're sending them traffic, they'll do, they'll do pretty much anything for you. So and if they, and if they don't, you just, you just move them down on your, on your best list in someone else that, you know, wants to work with you more, we'll give you the link.
Jake Cain: yeah. Well, we asked your competitor and they, they were more I'm open to that.
Austin Tuwiner: Right. They usually can do it like after that.
Jake Cain: Yeah, no, I like that because you know, you're already, you already doing something for them. Right. So which is good. Like that's, you know, that's a lot better, I would imagine success rate than just total blind outreach, right?
Like, Hey, look, we're sending you some business, like. You know, and we'll look for a good link placement. That seems to make sense. That's a pretty smart idea. I wanted to ask you about the on the content writers, you found G throughout the eat acronym before. And for those that aren't familiar with that, maybe talk a little bit about what that update and what that terminology is all about.
And then with the scuba site, I mean, since you got hit with that on the crypto site, like, obviously it sounds like you hired people that really knew the topic well but did you do anything beyond just the fact that. They were writing good content, like with an about us page or anything like that to sort of guard against, or to show Google, like, Hey, we do have some real experts writing this content.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. So I guess EIT, I'm probably gonna butcher the words. I think it's X expert illness, authoritativeness of trust on my end is wrong, but it's up. Sum it up. Yeah. Like who you are. Do you know what you're talking about? Are you displaying trust in a good way? And another important acronym, especially in a site like a cryptocurrency or finance or health is why am I, oh, it's your money, your life.
So any website in that niche is, is. You know, I can affect someone's life pretty greatly. So they Google heavily monitors that nation. That's why the premier, I think, was more prone to getting hit by updates, scuba diving. On the other hand, it's like, it's not really that competitive. It's more competitive than you think, but it's not, it's not as competitive as cryptocurrency.
It's not really eat or why am I, so it's really just a EIT component. And so, you know, I, at the. On the about us page, you know, I listed every single writer who they are, where they learn to dive their, their current certification level on every blog post, you know, I've put a really cool looking, you know, author bio is with social media handles.
So people know these are actually real people and they get, you know, if they click their Instagram, they're going to see that they're just on a dive or something like that. So you know, really high levels of the at T, which I think helps a lot So yeah, that that's like, it's, it's, it's not going to get monitored as heavily because it's a different niche, but eat still matters.
Jake Cain: Very cool. So talk, I know you said it was kind of a longer story, but I am curious, like I loved your idea for how you found these writers, finding expert writers outside of where, you know, maybe a lot of folks go off the bat and you know, I, I do to go to Upwork and some of these places, job posts, boards any advice or things you learned from that on.
People may be in other niches, like how they can do something similar, like maybe take the off the beaten path route to finding an expert that turns in to be a pretty good content writer for you.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. So I think upwards is fine. As long as the person you hire there is actually knowledgeable what they're writing about, but you wouldn't just hire like a general English writer to write a niche content.
It doesn't make any sense. So the way I did it, it's not, not really scalable. I mean, I can tell the story, but basically I was at a digital marketing conference in Bali, Indonesia. I at the conference was ahead of this scuba diving marketing school. They told me they had interns and, you know, I said, oh, I'd love to hire them for this, for this site.
So, I mean, obviously. People aren't really going to be able to replicate that, but what you can do and is another site I've done on other or another tactic I've done on other projects is, is find out where your ideal writer hangs out and lives on the internet. A lot of times these are like social media pages, subreddits, or discord channels.
Mostly I've actually found some really good writers in some niche, discord channels. You don't want to just like pop in there and say, Hey, I'm paying writers, but you know, Join there. Pretend like you care about the niche a little bit and you probably should, but I, you know, become a member. There have friends with people it's going to take.
You know, few days and that's probably too long for a lot of people, but it's going to lead to some, some really good writers that know what they're talking about. And at a rate that is just unheard of, because these people don't even know they can make money on the internet. So when you say, Hey, I'll pay two, 3 cents a word.
I mean, that's to write about what they love. I mean, it's, it's amazing. So that's what I'd recommend for people that can't go to conferences and other countries and meet head of companies. You know, it's, that's, that's not scalable, but you know, anyone can do this other tactics from, from their desk. Right.
Jake Cain: Yeah. I love it. Very cool, man. So talk then I know you said you were a little bit didn't do a ton of backlink outreach, you know, some very strategic stuff. You've got these writers that really know the topic. Well. Did you have any particular strategy you following as far as keyword research is concerned or like, how did these guys, how are you telling them what to write about and that sort of thing, like, cause you're rolling out new content.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. So as far as content planning. I did do keyword research pretty much exclusively on HRS. On top of that, you know, you can study some competitors and you can look at, you know, the, the SERP search engine result pages and see kind of what people are putting a lot of effort into. If a competitor sending a bunch of backlinks to a page is probably pretty important to them and they make a lot of money.
So that's how I did the keyword research, but I mean, You know, if you're writing a scuba diving website. I mean, why not just put an article best X slot? Like, you know, every single piece of scuba gear you're going to use. Why not just put an article about each one it's common sense. You don't need like a keyword research tool to say that's a good idea.
Right. And then you know liveaboards is another big piece of scuba water. It's basically a scuba diving cruise. That people can go on, they cost several thousand dollars and they pay decent commissions. So, you know, just put up a page for each location, each common travel location, or I also did like just overall dive site overview.
So if I went to a dive location, I would blog about it. Or if I had a, you know, if one of my writers has taught scuba in that location, they're probably pretty qualified to write an article about. You know, diving in that, in that country or that and that area. So that's kind of how I did my constant strategy is just kind of like having, I don't know if common sense approaches, right.
A way to say it, but I mean, just, you know, you can confirm your, your keyword research ideas using a keyword research tool. I just, I just wouldn't really start there. I wouldn't just be typing in queries. And then seeing what you can do. I would come up with ideas because you know, the niche so well, and then confirm that that has volume or something to it using a tool like that.
Jake Cain: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. So the part you said makes sense, right. About just. You know, best, whatever, you know, fill in the equipment and just sort of having a list of like all the stuff you're going to use for scuba in this case. But the rest of it, it sounds like you were just like flying by the seat of your pants a little bit on, Hey, you know, what's some dive locations we can write about and just throwing it up there.
Like, did you see anything as far as like traffic was concerned with certain content outperforming others, like, was your affiliated content bringing in most of your traffic or were some of these more like. You know, dive, location, type articles, bringing in a lot of traffic or was it just all over the place?
Like how did it play out once you started rolling out all this content?
Austin Tuwiner: So most of my traffic and traffic, not, not income comes from some, some link magnets or tools that I built. Some of them are like a scuba diving weight calculator where, you know, you put in some different metrics or conditions and it tells you how much weight you need to sync when you're diving.
So, you know, people really love that tool builds links, gets traffic. Another one is like a, a bar to PSI as are the two main metrics for. Scuba diving in, in, in to measure air. So, you know, people just use my calculator to convert between the two. So those really bring a lot of traffic. But after those luckily the, the affiliate style posts get a lot of traffic a lot more than the location.
Posts. I, I'm not really sure why I've never really ranked too well for the location stuff, but that doesn't really make too much money. So that's, that's fine with me. But the gear view is some, some, some pretty solid volume. Okay.
Jake Cain: And then are you doing, are you doing display ads as well, or is it all just affiliate
Austin Tuwiner: revenue?
Yeah, for like the first two years of the site, I didn't know display ads and everyone, everyone I knew you know, St. Dude like display ads or the thing I've always hated ads. I've had ad blockers on my computer for, for years. Right. Finally, you know, I decided to dabble into it. I tried Zohak I tried one other one that claimed they have higher earnings and own OIC, and then I switched and turns out they don't.
It's a little frustrating. So I've experimented with it and kind of what I've concluded is that it, it is, it is worth running display ads. There's basically two types of people. There's people like me that, that hate ads and have ad blockers anyway, or that, you know, there's people's grandmas that have.
Been seeing ads all their life and don't really know the difference. So I've you know, I've just put ads on my site and, you know, it's a mixture, it's pretty good extra income, but I just, I just don't want to see myself. I pretend like they're not there I guess. And if they are, if they harm the user experience, you know, I'll go in and check on a browser, a phone that doesn't have an ad blocker.
And I'll just make sure that they're not pushing content weirdly, especially on high traffic pages. But I think, I think for the most part display ads is the way to go.
Jake Cain: Okay. I think Spencer should put a graphic with this podcast about the two types of people, people like you with ad blockers or somebody's grandma, right?
The two types of web browsers to be thinking about
Austin Tuwiner: it's maybe an extreme on each end, but I think, I think people get one I'm right. So,
Jake Cain: yeah, you're right. You're right. People get kind of blind to them and, yeah. That's cool. So talk then about the I know you've been blogging about the journey with the site.
Maybe just give a quick rundown on like the timeline, like when you started making money with the site, it started picking up some momentum and then whatever numbers you're comfortable sharing as far as how well the site's doing today. And if you want to talk about maybe how that breaks down, as far as just affiliate revenue versus display ads.
Austin Tuwiner: Sure. So I started blogging. We could put a link in the show notes. I don't, I don't update the article anymore. I'm considering kind of catching up historically and adding each month. But basically I started in December, 2019. I publicly posted traffic earnings, email list numbers, Instagram followers, Pinterest pins, everything on the site.
And I did that every single month from December 9th, December, 2019. Two, I think October, 2020, because I basically said that once the site hits a thousand dollars a month, that I don't really want to share exact numbers, you know, it's starting to become a decently valuable asset. And I don't want to just put that information out there.
Yeah. So yeah, I started, I guess that's about nine months or so something like that 10 months maybe where you can read what I did on the site to improve it, upgrade it where the income came from, the money breakdown. Every single month and, you know, people, you know, I don't think too many people kept an eye on it, but you could follow up month by month and see, you know, how is it growing?
So since then, like I said, I stopped it and maybe October, 2020, and I was pretty much ready to sell the site in. In January. Cause it, it was, you know, S you know, 800, a thousand bucks a month for how much I was paying attention to. It was not, not really worth it. And somehow just in January, I mean, people can go in HS.
I mean, it see what happened. I mean, the traffic just exploded. And the site just did a lot better. I was ready to move on. And then finally I realized that it was, it was doing well. So yeah, around. Yeah, I think I made like four, four, $440 in January because between COVID and it not being scuba season was doing well.
And February, it was like 1.2 K and then I think March was like 3.9 K and it just kept climbing and climbing and climbing. So, you know, it's definitely some potential or it's, it's pretty good now.
Jake Cain: Nice man. Yeah. Graduations on that. That's that's always good. When you get a little update or something, you just see an uptick in traffic and you're like, I don't know why that happened, but I'll take it.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. I mean, I have, I have a few theories, but mean, like I said, I'm not going to complain about it, so it's a little bit one time coming, so yeah. Yeah. And I
Jake Cain: know, you know, with the writers that you had, it sounds like you have maybe just, just a handful or a few writers that writing, like, just give people an idea.
Like how big is the site as far as how much content do you have up there at this point?
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah, I haven't been paying as much attention to it as you know, I've been doing a Politic's mostly, I haven't published an article there three, four months. But if I had, if I had to guess there's maybe 70 to 90 articles on the site, I'd say maybe, maybe like 50, 50 affiliate articles 20 location and scuba diving education articles there.
So yeah, that's, that's probably the breakdown of affiliate to education. Interesting. How many articles are on the site? Yeah,
Jake Cain: so probably, I don't know much about scuba, but I mean, it sounds like if you really wanted to dig in and you could probably add quite a bit more content to that site, I mean oh yeah.
Room to grow there, right? Yeah.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. There's, there's, there's, there's, there's tons, tons of room to grow it. You know, I like scuba diving. I don't love it. And I kind of realized that I want to move on to the site. It's like, you know, Bought and started the fluidics way more potential in a SAS tool than there is a blog.
So yeah, I realized I'm moving out, so I haven't done it too much and probably sell it sometime this summer. But you know, there's, there's lots of ways anyone can take the site and add content and increase its income. Very cool.
Jake Cain: So before we shift gears, we're going to talk about athletics, which you've mentioned a couple of times and just sort of some of the things that you've seen and learned and why that's a helpful tool for those that are in affiliate marketing.
At first I know you had a pretty cool strategy that I thought was interesting that maybe a lot of other people could use as well. You saw with the scuba site. About how to make more money in general and maybe find some better deals, those sorts of things with the products that you're promoting.
You want to talk about that a little bit and how you, how you stumbled upon that and how that's working, you know?
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. I can, I can talk about that. So basically most people that do like a physical product affiliate, or are sending their traffic to Amazon, you know, they. Slash the commission rates time and time again.
And as much as people complain, they still stay with them. The commission, the commission will do that. Right. So the commissions guys, yeah. There's that toxic relationship, but you know, as much as people complain about them, you know, apparently they still pay the best. You know, they're, they're very, well-trusted they pour infinite money into AB testing it.
You know, people have a membership there with Amazon prime, so people clearly want to shop there. I had a tweet or like a, a story where basically I had the exact same product paying 3% on Amazon and 10% on their official store. And I still earn more money per click on Amazon because it converted three times better.
You also get a, you know, In the shared cart commissions. So yeah, it's not exactly three to 10%, but it's, you know, somewhere, somewhere in that range.
Jake Cain: Yeah. And just real quick buy shares or commissions, you're just saying like, When people are on Amazon, if they buy other stuff, you're
Austin Tuwiner: those commission.
Exactly. Exactly. So you can't just compare like 3% commission, 10% because it's not really 3% commission when you have that. Right. So basically what I started doing and I actually have to give this credit to mush. Fuck. He was on the niche pursuits podcast a while back. He's the website flip basically taught me this tactic where you reach out to, to either.
You know companies that you already sell a lot of stuff for in the first place, you look at your Amazon commission reports and see who you're selling a lot for, or you can Google keywords on some of your most prized traffic pages and see who's running paid ads to that keyword you know, lots of stuff like that.
And you can find brands that are, you know, more aggressive with the traffic. So then you send them a cold email, you know, introduce who you are and should be is how much traffic you have. You know, you can bring up what you've done for other brands using this tactic. And say, like, you know, I want to set up a deal with you where we agree in a commission rate.
At the end of every month, I'm going to send you a report of what I've sold for you. And then you're going to pay me that amount. So that way you get on Amazon's conversion rate with the commission rate of a. An exterior or a different affiliate program, you know, I've been able to get 15, 20, 25% on top of Amazon is 3%, which is, which is, which is pretty cool.
And yeah, I mean, one thing to keep in mind is that Amazon takes usually around 15% from that, from that company. So if you're taking a 25% commission, you know, you're getting 40% of the, or they're losing 40% of the value, right? So it's, it's a case by case basis depends on their margins. They'll let you know, I guess, but it, it's a really powerful strategy.
It's really how it transformed. Scuba ladders income race.
Jake Cain: Interesting. So just to break that down a little bit, I think I get what you're saying. So you would go in if somebody wanted to do this and they're already an Amazon affiliate, you would go into your Amazon affiliate dashboard, maybe go to like an orders report and sort by the products that you've sold the most of let's say for the last 30 days.
And some of those products that aren't, you know, household name brands, you would go, would you go look for their website or would you just go on Amazon and like contact the seller? Like what would you do from
Austin Tuwiner: there? Now you definitely want to look at their website, just copy and paste the brand name, Google it, you'll find it.
It can be what you find in your Amazon reports. It can, it can, it can be a, you know, if you have a 10 best. X, whatever, you can email all 10 of them and offer it. And I guarantee you, one of them would be interested. So that's one way to do it. You can also mention companies that aren't, you don't list at all.
That gives you a lot of leverage, because then you get to say, Hey, I'll add you to this list which is better than, you know, if someone's already on the list, it gives you a lot more leverage. One thing, you know, you don't want to just list anyone. I highly recommend that you. Have if it's a physical product, have them send it out to you, test it, see it's legit.
Check the Amazon reviews and make sure they're a legitimate company. You know, I would, I wouldn't just list anything. But other than that, I mean, it's a very powerful tactic.
Jake Cain: Yeah. That's, that's smart, man. That makes sense. So then do you, so you get in touch with them, like you start by suggesting like an extra commission, like, so they, they probably know that you're making 3% or maybe they don't even care from Amazon.
Right. Do you say like, Hey, will you pay me 7%? Or like, do you just say like, like how do you get into that negotiating? Cause it sounds like there's a pretty wide range of what people are willing to.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. You know, I can publish my script somewhere, whether it's in the show notes or, or something on Twitter analytics or something like that, or you can must fix article as a pretty good script there, but you basically say like, we'll agree on a commission TBD and you know, they're going to be, of course interested.
I shoot for a lot more than seven. The lowest I've gotten is 15. So Yeah. You know, you, don't, obviously this isn't the only script that works. You just need to convey like pur why you can help them, how much you're gonna be able to help them and stuff like that. And then just after that, like, you know, they might say like, Hey, do you want to do a contract or something?
I usually say, no, I don't really want to get lawyers or legal documents involved. You know, if they scam you for 30 days worth of traffic, you know, I guess good on them. I mean, it's, you know, they're that desperate. They probably need more than you do if you're, you know, if you're a good building, a relationship with the company, they're not going to cheat you off there a month, a month.
And if they do, I mean, you're just out amongst traffic that you're in a commission on any way. So it's, it's, it hasn't happened to me. I'm sure it's happened to some people, but it could happen. Cool.
Jake Cain: So then to close the loop. So let's just say you agreed to something with somebody that, Hey, we're going to pay you the 15% commission for sales and you would come back to them after the next full month and maybe send an export or a screenshot or whatever.
Maybe I guess you'd have to do that. I
Austin Tuwiner: do. I D I D I do a video just so they like, like a screenshot, I guess they might think. You can edit the numbers over. I'll just do a screen recording where I in the Amazon, I download the report. I open that report in live. I use like loom a screen recorder, just show how I'm calculating everything and say, this is what I've found, match it with your numbers.
And it's, it's pretty, it's pretty easy to do. And if you do it that way, you know, there's no reason they sh they shouldn't trust your numbers.
Jake Cain: Yeah. And then they just send you what PayPal or something, or like PayPal
Austin Tuwiner: pay in the air. It just depends on the company. Really. Yeah. That's pretty cool,
Jake Cain: man.
I love that.
Austin Tuwiner: They'll try it out. I think you'll be able to, yeah,
Jake Cain: no, that's good. That's really good stuff. Cool. So let's talk, I've been about athletics a little bit. So first of all, like what, what put this on your radar and then you can talk about what athletics does and I believe it was an acquisition as well.
You can correct me, correct me if I'm wrong, but maybe just tell a little bit about that story of like, Where are you looking for a SAS company specifically? Was this came about through like trying to scratch your own itch a little bit with being an affiliate marketer. And then how did you find it? Like, how'd that all come about?
Austin Tuwiner: Sure. So like I said, I was running scuba water and the premiere at the same time and I found it like really difficult that, you know, I'd wake up every single day. I'd go in and check all the different affiliate programs. You know, when you're running two sites, it's, it's a decent amount. Obviously, or I guess not obviously, but a majority of them came from bit premiere.
Cause it was a much larger site at the time. Lots of, you know, income from coming from different places. And, you know, I'd spent 30 minutes a day checking out. I didn't want to do that. So, you know, I kind of thought of something that could solve this problem. I did some research. I found a few people who are doing it.
You know, I, I sent, you know, some feelers out and, you know, ask that they're selling and. Most people weren't theirs. You know, I the athletics owner was, was interested in selling, but the price wasn't really there. It was just kind of not a good price. Then I just, you know, just six months went by, just kept working on bit premiere and Sue water.
I checked, you know, see what other sites are doing that again. And the guy was originally talking to, had actually shut the service down. He. Who's was working on something else. So then I reached out again and that, and the deal happened. So it was took over the course of six months. It wasn't through a marketplace or anything like that.
You're always gonna find the best deals privately like that. Where less people. Have have eyes on it. So yeah, I mean that, that's how it went down.
Jake Cain: Okay. So talk a little bit about what athletics actually does and you know, how I can help somebody that will make you, you know, maybe you've got a dozen different affiliate programs.
You're a part of like, what does it actually do? How does it work?
Austin Tuwiner: Right. So after you create your analytics account we, it was a two week trial. Won't even ask for a credit card, but you come in, you have an empty dashboard. You're going to go in and collect connect and affiliate network. Based off of our list of, of all the different networks that we support.
And then every single network has a different integration method. Ideally they have API keys. So we show you how to find the API key for each network. And then you go in, you grab the API key and put it into analytics and click connect. And then after that, it's going to pull all your data based off of the plan you have.
And then. Every plan has a different refresh rate too. So if you're on a one plan that has a four hour refresh rate, then every four hours, it's going to crawl the check the API, see if there's any sales transactions and it's going to pull it into your dashboard. So that way once you integrate all your different affiliate programs, now you only have to log into flicks every single day, as opposed to logging into you know, all these different programs.
And it's going to display the data in a very simple and easy way to understand. Comparison charts, pie charts. And then on top of that not, not every single affiliate program sends you a daily email or a weekly email on your sales. Some of them do, but this thing, this way, anything that is connected with athletics, we'll send an email out to you so that you can get notified of when, you know, you made a sale instead of, you know, having to even vote.
You don't even have to log into athletics. So you can just check your email. Yeah to see your your sales. So that's kinda what it does. It's, it's very, you know, very simple, not, not crazy over the top features, you know, obviously adding stuff all the time, but right now just a great dashboard for viewing all your affiliate programs at one place.
Jake Cain: Cool. And you said software, software development was kind of your background, right? So are you just like, is this just you running this thing? Like, are you the one that's doing all the updates and whatever else?
Austin Tuwiner: Not, no. I, I would consider myself more of a marketer, even though I, you know, I went to college for two years, software engineering and coding bootcamp.
You know, I have a pretty good understanding of it, but I'm definitely not the person to deploy full-scale web applications. It's it's, it's, it's it's I love to learn, but it's not exactly my strength. So I handle all the marketing and I have Development team that, that builds it out. And like I said, I acquired it.
So I had a pretty solid foundation to, to start out with.
Jake Cain: Yeah. Yeah. So, and how long ago was it that you acquired?
Austin Tuwiner: Athletics? I acquired it and October of 2020, and I relaunched in June. End of January, 2021. Yeah. Pretty new. Great. Yeah.
Jake Cain: Cool. Very nice. Just curious. Do you have anything like on the roadmap, I mean, is that, are you just adding, trying to add integrations or is there anything else that you're kind of hoping to do with the tool that it doesn't do today?
Like what's sort of your longterm vision for, for UC
Austin Tuwiner: athletics heading. Yeah, so some cool stuff we have being made right now is obviously just new integrations. We just added like three or four, like ever flow Refersion web games recently. We're also gonna support like EPC tracking. We're going to get clicks in there so that you can see, you know, which programs are sending clicks to.
And once you have commission and clicks, you can come up with EPC and that's really going to tell you which programs actually pay the most per click, which is the most, one of the most important things. Cause that. Gets you conversion rate and commission kind of the same, same picture. So we're doing that.
And then we're also doing manual ads so that you can get commissions in here. That is from integration. We don't support, you know, as much as we'd love to support every single place, if they don't have an API, you have to scrape it. And scraping is, you know, can be a nightmare sometimes. So manual adds a good solution to that.
And yeah. You know, in the future stuff like link attribution, you know, seeing which links and which pages are earning what money and, you know, viewing each page as value based off its traffic all sorts of stuff like that. It's kind of what we're looking to do. And then one other big thing that I think will be pretty popular with the niche pursuits audience is.
Supporting ad networks. You know, I'm in touch with a lot of these ad networks trying to get them to add APIs so that once you have API APIs, you can pull that into analytics too, and get really the full picture of what your your site or YouTube channel or Instagram account is making not just affiliate programs.
Jake Cain: Wow. Okay. So in the, the, the, the grand vision would be that. You know, if you've got a dozen affiliate networks and one ad network that one day you all going to athletics and you see like the full earnings picture of your site in one single dashboard. Right? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Love it. Hey, I want to ask you we're about to wrap up here in just a minute.
I thought of one follow-up to that tip that you shared earlier about reaching out to directly to manufacturers or sellers on Amazon and their products. I kind of made an assumption in my response that that may not work for like big brands, but maybe I'm wrong about that. I was just kinda curious, like when you're reaching out to these people, like, are you reaching out to.
Brands that you've heard of, like, I don't know who those would be in the scuba, but you know, something, you might see a brand that's in Dick's sporting goods or Walmart or whatever. Or do you find that like, you're going to have the best luck reaching out to brands that are kind of Amazon only like small, tiny brands that are willing to do that extra commission?
Like what have you seen
Austin Tuwiner: on that? It really depends in how much traffic you have. If you have a lot of traffic, you'll have you'll have no problem. Getting a hold of someone like I've, I've managed to, you know, set a deal up with you know, probably one of the top five biggest scuba gear manufacturers.
So it really just depends on traffic really. If you can get anyone's attention, if you have enough traffic. So that's, that's kinda how it goes. You know, they maybe don't want to do some sort of like, Aim, Amazon export deal for tracking. They may have a different way to do it, but now they'll, they'll work with you if you have travel.
Jake Cain: Yeah. That's awesome, man. Well before we wrap up Austin, I just wanted to see if you had any other Obviously you are knee deep maybe even further into the affiliate marketing world at this point. Obviously you've got to site that you've sold. You've got the scuba site that you're still running on.
And then of course now you've got the athletics dashboard that you're building on that software tool. So anything else, obviously, a lot of people listening to this are a part of affiliate marketing, either as an Amazon affiliate. Or some other way. So anything else you've got that you've learned over the years that you would share?
Just tips and advice for increasing affiliate commissions or other things you've seen that have just moved the needle for you that other folks could implement.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah, I guess I got three, three, three points there. The first one is like don't be afraid to negotiate commissions. I guarantee you, you could go out to anyone, you fill it for now and ask for more commission.
You could get it. You just got to do it at the right way. Second is I would not start a site to start a site from scratch ever again. I would buy an existing one. As much as Google says, there's not a sandbox period. There definitely is. And you're just. You're going to get frustrated.
You're going to wait three to six months, not see any results and give up. So if you go out and buy an existing site, not you're putting money down, which is definitely going to commit you. If you're. Seeing money, leave your bank account. You're going to, you're going to work on it. You're going to get to skip the sandbox period.
It probably already has some, some income going and even if it doesn't have income, it's fine. It's, it's, you know, you'll, you'll have a really good platform to start. And then I guess the third thing would just be don't do, in my opinion, don't don't do any site of project that you're not passionate about.
It's, it's, it's going to show you'll probably give up and, you know, you want to, you want to be writing and running a business about something that really excites you and something you're going to be proud to tell people about, you know, I'm the owner, I'm the CEO of this. You know, you don't want to be ashamed and hide your, you know, 15 site portfolio of, you know, mom blogs, you know, at least my perspective.
It's kinda how I, how I've done it. So that's my approach. Okay.
Jake Cain: All right. Very nice. You mentioned on the, on your first tip there about negotiating commissions and you, you said as long as you do it the right way, I'm just curious, like what you feel like the right way is, or like what what's been successful for you when you go to negotiate that commission rate, you're getting.
Austin Tuwiner: Yeah. So obviously with Amazon, you can't really negotiate with Amazon outside of the method. I just said, Jeff doesn't apply to you. He doesn't know. I sent emails. He never, he never gets back to me. Yeah. Mostly busy. No, I mean, if anyone else you'll be able to you'll be able to get ahold of, like I said, if you have traffic, just, you know, say, you know, you've been working together for, you know, one approach say, you know, I've been sending you traffic for a year.
I've never asked for a raise. You know, I like working with you. Can you increase my rate from, or, you know, I want my rate increase from this to this. I wouldn't ask. I would say, you know, that you're having your, your commission rate increase. Another way you can do it, if you have a lot of traffic is just say you have a best.
Five best something posts move them down from number one to number four and wait for them to send you an email saying, Hey, like where'd our traffic go at? Oh, this program pays more in order to get that spot back. I need, I need this, this commission rate is, is what you can do. That'll get their attention pretty, pretty good.
Cause it's obviously better if they approach you as opposed to you approach them for a commission increase. So there, there's a few ways you can go about it. You know, if you could, if you ha, if, if your negotiation is based on math and data, it's, it's really easy. Like you say, Hey, like I like working with you, but this program pays more.
So that's why I promote a higher, I mean, you have a logic that they can work with to increase their commission rate. But if they're already the most profitable program you work with and you ask them for more and they know that you're not going to get a raise, you know, maybe if they like you and you have a good relationship, they'll, you know, they'll do it, they'll do it for you, but really you need some leverage and you don't have much, much leverage and.
Some of those other scenarios. Yeah.
Jake Cain: No, I like that, man. Very nice. Yeah, no, I I've, I've had some success doing that over the last year or two. That's a, that's a great tip. That's when I share with others as well and similar kind of story, a lot of times I'll say You know, you do get people reaching out to you, like, Hey, how do we move up the list if you've got sort of a list, you know, order.
And a lot of times I'll say, you know you know, obviously we, we use our user feedback. I forget the wording I used, but essentially I say like, it's not just pay to play. So it's not just about you pay me X and I'm going to move you to number one. Like, we don't do that with our products. We like, and we like products.
Our audience likes. Right, right, right. You know, when people go to this, it converts really well, you know, and just like, unfortunately, you know, with what what's going on with you right now, it's just not very competitive with the people at the top of that list and try to leave it a little bit open-ended and I've been surprised the times where instead of naming, like, Hey, if you come up to X, we'll put you at number one or two or three or whatever, just say like, Hey, what you're offering?
Just, isn't very competitive with the people at the top. Sometimes people may surprise you with. You know, coming back with something that was even bigger than what you thought, you know, so. Definitely a few ways to try it, but I think maybe one of the key takeaways and she would agree is definitely, don't be afraid to ask.
I mean, the worst that happens is they're saying no, or just don't respond or whatever, what do you lose? But you can send a quick email and all of a sudden double the amount of money that you're making from a certain affiliate. You're kind of crazy not to.
Austin Tuwiner: It's it's one of my favorite ways to increase any sites, income.
I mean, you don't, you don't really have to deal with algorithms. It's just people and that's, that's, that's a lot, it's a lot easier to deal with. For most people, yes. Maybe, maybe, maybe some others not, but it, it's a, it's a really underused strategy and it's, it's, you know, there's, you know, there's a formula that you can plug in, you know, traffic times conversion rate times commission rate.
Either you can get an idea of. What a given program will promote. And it's just one of the easiest ways to, I guess, affect that equation and increase the earnings. And then, you know, once you you're dealing with like selling sites or flipping, I mean, you know, it, it adds, you know, with the leverage and that type of a deal, a small negotiation can really result to a lot of money.
Jake Cain: Yeah, no, that's great advice. I appreciate Austin. So people want to follow along with you. Obviously you've got the athletics going on. We'll post a link to that. You've got the scuba site is still going on that you're still sharing about maybe other projects you have going on. So where do people find you out on the internet and just any sort of final thoughts that you want to leave anybody with?
Austin Tuwiner: As far as, as far, as far as final thoughts, I think we kind of covered a lot, not, not too much there. But as far as following me, I'm not the only social media have is Twitter. So I used to tweet a lot more, but now I'm kind of focused on just building stuff. So I don't tweet there. You might see occasional tip or something like that.
I have my, my name.com Austin, two hundred.com. I post updates there. Occasionally you can find stuff in. And then other than that just on the Flix blog in a YouTube channel coming soon. You'll see a lot more like educational affiliate marketing content there. So this is probably the best places on Twitter and anything athletics related to, to hear from
Jake Cain: me.
Very cool Boston. Thanks for being on the show, man. Thanks for all the the great tips and advice and for sharing your story. And I wish you the best of luck.
Austin Tuwiner: Thank you very much, Jake. Thanks for having me.
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