UPDATED OCTOBER 2018
It's been a while since an idea for a post really struck me, and this one snuck up on me earlier today.
I was thinking about a discussion several people were having in our Facebook group and I realized that I needed to blog about it.
With that in mind, what I'd like to talk about in today's post is something that I've constantly found myself thinking:
The TYPE of site you start with is just as important as the niche itself.
Until now I didn't quite know how to articulate this thought, and as is always the way when you're running a blog, a business, plus dealing with customers - you forget about it until one day...
You're sitting on a bus, the thought slaps you in the face and you think: "THAT'S what I need to tell my audience about today".
So with my face a little raw from the metaphorical slap, I'm sitting here now hoping to finally explain something that's been clear to me for a while.
Is Passion All We Really Need?
Choose a niche you're passionate about.
This is all well and good, but recently a reader mentioned something in an email to me:
If your passion doesn't make you any money, it soon stops being your passion, but if a completely random niche started making me money...I'm pretty sure it would fast become my passion!
I'm sure this is something we can all relate to.
Passion is important.
It's what separates the mundane, mediocre bloggers from the ones who really want to help people.
If you want to be a success with the affiliate business model, then you're going to have to niche down.
And maybe niche down again after that...
It's also what helps someone demonstrate their authority.
Relevancy is a huge thing in the eyes of Google and it will help you get rankings easier in your niche if your site has more focus.
The Affiliate Business Model
There's a Reason Why Most People Start with Amazon Review Sites
A few months ago, we changed how we build niche sites for customers and shifted the focus to Amazon affiliate marketing sites.
(Clickbank sites are now custom sites.)
Did we change this because Amazon products and their affiliate program are trustworthy?
Well yes, a little.
Is it because Amazon sites are easy to set up and replicate?
It is because there are lots of buying keywords and opportunities for traffic to product reviews?
We know that the Amazon affiliate business model is one of the easiest to start with and this is mostly due to the fact that every product is on Amazon.
Is passion for the topic necessary? No, not at all.
But of course, it helps!
I think the main reason that most people start with Amazon sites, is because they're the easiest way to get started.
And that's really all that matters. JUST START.
Nobody is born a successful niche marketer. Nobody strikes it rich with their first website. Nobody can produce sensational content right off the bat.
You have to learn how to do it.
You have to get a bit of traffic here, get a few sales there, increase a few conversions over there and receive a few cheques here.
The most important reason for starting out with an amazon niche site, for me at least, is because it lets you make regular deposits into your confidence bank.
What's The Confidence Bank?
Online business is full of ups and downs.
Even when you've been doing it a few years and had lots of successes, you'll still be hit by times where your income is in a downer, your rankings don't seem to be going anywhere, and you're generally feeling demotivated.
This is where the confidence bank really comes into play.
Every little success you have adds up, and when you find those down moments hitting you, your reservation of past successes will keep you going.
HumanProofDesigns was a grind when I first started it. It took me close to a year to get any real traction.
Luckily, because I'd had success with my niche sites previously, I knew it could be done.
I KNEW the process worked.
I KNEW I just had to keep at it, and I knew that I COULD DO IT.
This is perhaps the most powerful part of success online.
We all know the various processes required, but how many of us can knuckle-down and get on with it for a few months without quitting?
For those who failed, most of the time it's not because the process failed, but because they didn't have the confidence in themselves or the system.
If you're able to just make a little bit of money online with an Amazon site (and it's the easiest way to do it), then you'll have the confidence to step it up, grow, and really make a living online.
You won't even realize you've built up this confidence until you're having a bad day.
But it's a godsend, trust me.
The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing with Amazon Associates
Amazon associates is just the technical term for the affiliate program. Anyways I've touched upon some of these already, but let's focus more on the pros and cons.
Pros of an Amazon site:
- Clear path to monetization
- Amazon is an easy sell for your audience to buy from
- Universal cookie makes it easy to get commissions
- Review posts are quite easy to do, and easy to get traffic and rankings for
- Plenty of buying keywords
- It's easier to build up "authority" with your readership
- Lots of information already exists on the products.
- You can review products easily, without buying them.
- Easy to scale by adding more products or creating more sites
- Many of these sites make HUGE income (see some of our success stories here and we'll have some additional examples below)
Cons of an Amazon site:
- Amazon commissions are quite low (but can add up)
- Only a 24 hour cookie (there are ways to get a 90-day one)
- Sites can appear "thin" if they're just full of reviews
- Can get repetitive because the processes are repeatable
- Takes time to rank and can be difficult to link build to reviews with white-hat methods.
Did I miss anything? Let me know below.
I'd like to focus on a few of the above points in more details now.
Can An Amazon Site Make You Rich?
A lot of Amazon sites will only ever earn you a few hundred dollars a month.
The strategy for most people is to just keep building new sites, and it can work.
However, that can get confusing.
What if you wanted to start out with an Amazon site, and then grow it into something bigger?
Is it possible?
The best amazon affiliate sites make thousands and thousands.
If the latest listings at EmpireFlippers are anything to go by, then there are still plenty of Amazon sites making huge incomes monthly:
- click to enlarge
This is just a small selection of turnkey websites for sale that are available to buy at EmpireFlippers.
As you can see, some of these sites are only around a year old and are making over $1,000 a month net revenue.
If you get started the right way, an Amazon site can make you a good income all by itself.
What About The Bigger Problem-Solving Niches?
For a lot of people, the best niche is one where you're solving a lot of problems.
Is an Amazon site on kitchen knives really solving many problems?
Probably not, but that doesn't make it a non-viable niche though...
Stuart Walker does some really good niche reports and one of the things he focuses on is solving problems. Check out some of his reports here to see what I mean.
A lot of those niches can also be monetized with Amazon.
However, I'd say that ultimately it's probably better to make a full-time living with a problem-solving niche, than with an Amazon product review niche.
It's just as hard to get started with a problem solving niche as it is with a product specific niche.
So why not go with the one that has better prospects of being a long-term success.
How To Build An Amazon Affiliate Website - Types Of Amazon Sites To Avoid
Whenever something gets popular, there will always be someone who comes along selling junk products to make money off the hype.
There are literally dozens of people selling Amazon autoblogs and duplicate content sites out there.
On almost a weekly basis I get a mail from somebody with an Amazon site that they'd like help with, and the first thing I do is tell them to get all the junk duplicate content off it and get something unique up there.
There are also PLENTY of these sites on flippa as well, as I reviewed here.
So please be careful if you're exploring over there.
Don't view an Amazon niche site as a shortcut either, it still takes work to succeed.
You can't just throw up a few reviews and hope for the best.
You'll need to create fresh content on a fairly regular basis.
You'll need to keep building your network and gaining backlinks to the site.
And you'll need to keep growing it however you can.
It's a very straightforward and repeatable process though.
Sidenote: In light of all the poor content issues and Google penalties resulting from it, we've opened up a solid content writing service specifically designed for SEO affiliates.
Amazon Affiliate Website Examples
One of the best things you can do while growing your site is to take a look at how competitors are growing.
What keywords are they using?
Who's giving them backlinks?
How are they structuring their articles?
I wanted to give you guys an example of few niche sites that are both old and new(ish).
We can go through them together and see what they've done to achieve some success in the rankings.
To be honest, we won't ever know how well these sites are truly doing but given their traffic estimate, we can assume quite well.
If you click on the subtitle of each site's name, it'll take you to an archived screenshot of the site from "Wayback Machine"
A quick look at this site shows that the homepage hasn't really changed much since 2014.
The original word count back then was 2700 and it's still floating around the same.
One thing I did notice was their bolding of all "juice" related words.
I haven't personally heard of anything related to bolding keyword phrases inside of your content, but you should certainly be looking at the bolded keywords that are in the meta descriptions of your competitors.
The structure of the homepage article is something I think we can all take something away from.
Here's how it goes:
Comparison table -> Things to consider -> Types of juicers -> Individual Juicer reviews -> Shop related products (new).
I think it's got a nice flow and isn't too overwhelming.
Although I definitely agree that longer articles tend to perform better in Google...
They aren't always built with creating the best reading experience.
On another note:
With 40 pages indexed in the top 100, this shows you that you won't necessarily need a big site to perform well in Google.
After a quick look at the sites 178 referring domains, it's got a mix of Web 2.0 links and there definitely is a PBN involved.
The first take away from looking at this site's old screenshots is that it started with purely reviews.
Starting with only commercial articles that were targeting buyers.
Now you can see the site has grown much further.
Not only are the commercial keywords still being targeted, but now the site is starting to become an authority in its niche.
They have interviews and are collecting email addresses too.
This is a great example of a site that has grown from a standard niche affiliate site to a small authority.
Another thing I like about this site is their proper use of the silo structure.
You can tell by looking at their URL's that everything is very well organized and setting up your site in this way helps Google understand what it's about easier.
An example would be: https://www.topfitnessmag.com/home-gym-reviews/bowflex-pr1000-home-gym-review-2018/
You'll also notice that out of all the 564 pages of the site - they always try to direct you to individual reviews.
Their best-performing pages are "best" types of posts with around 2300-3200 words.
Again, with the previous example - this site also included purchased links.
I found a whole bunch of homepage footer links that were very obviously "out of place" on another domain - but hey, it seems to be working.
One thing we can all agree on is:
Treadmills are expensive. It's likely a big investment for many folks.
This site shows how pure focus on a specific product can also work. Although we definitely prefer sites like Top Fitness Mag since you could essentially plug this Treadmill site into it.
One thing this site represents is quality.
You can really see how well the branding is put together.
It's interesting that the site grew to a point where the owners were able to bring on a "face" to represent the brand.
They used the authority of a well-known blogger to add upon their sites trustworthiness.
One thing you might notice is that they are a part of many private affiliate programs.
Remember there's more than Amazon available for you to monetize your site with - although Amazon is our favourite and recommended path.
Another cool thing we can borrow from this site is their use of quizes to increase engagement.
Thrive Themes has released their Quiz plugin so be sure to check it out when the time comes.
Let's more onto their "best" types of articles.
These are "best treadmill for home", "best folding treadmill", etc.
In most cases, they've structured the page to showcase the best 3 treadmills in every single category and instead of directing you to a separate page for each category, they make the decision easier for you by showing less.
If you look at the backlinks, I found a lot of web 2.0 properties linking to them.
Almost exclusively actually.
It looks like at one point they underwent a link building campaign by creating top lists for running blogs - then giving them a badge to add to their site.
That badge just happened to include a link back to their site too.
Not a new technique in any way and I'm not quite sure I would try this in the above form, but it's definitely something we can adapt.
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Just like our first example, this site started with a very long home page article and has now transitioned to a more "brandable" look.
There really isn't a right or wrong approach to this since we can see that both types of home pages work, but personally, we prefer a homepage with featured articles like theirs.
In fact, this is how we build them now for customers and ourselves.
This site has grown in categories but not as elegantly as one would hope. It looks a bit hacked together (especially with the fake persona) but hey it works in Google's eyes.
One thing this site could do better is show off it's buying guides more and really push those in front of people.
They seem a bit hidden from the home page.
They're using infographics a lot as a link building technique which makes me think they're highly white hat oriented.
But after looking at their backlink profile quickly, I might have some doubts.
So let's put this site under the grey hat category.
This site has the longest homepage article out of all of them.
The front page touts a whopping 12,000 words!
That's 10,900 words more than the original homepage from 2013.
Here's a rundown of how the homepage article is structured:
Quick top choices bullet list ->
Expanded intro ->
What is/Parts/Standards ->
Why use the product ->
Tips for new buyers ->
"Number 1 choice" review of each category of product ->
Course Opt-in ->
Guide based on Budget ->
Guide based on use cases ->
Guide based on personal preferences/product specifications -> Feature Table based on specs.
I can't personally say that an article this long is very user-friendly, but that's unfortunately the name of the game right now.
Google does favor longer articles. For now at least.
Another amazing aspect of this site is it's comparison table.
I wasn't able to count from a quick glance the number of flashlights in it - but I would safely say more than 50.
There are two things that we can take away from this site:
1) The site already has it's pages set up for growth.
You can see bare-bones posts with just a video and the title includes "best" in it.
Meaning that the owner published the pages with the intention of adding to them later on.
2) After looking at the backlink profile, there were tons of comments left all over related sites in the niche.
Everything from Camping to Flashlight forums (yes, that's a thing.)
So don't let the fact that you only talk about 1 certain type of product stop you.
Even though, we recommend starting with a topic and problem-solution type of niche, it's easy to see that it's not the only way.
We just think it's the most future proof way of building affiliate sites.
We're all here to attract and convert our site visitors into buying more and more so don't be afraid to steal these tactics because there's plenty of traffic to go around.
I'm not saying an Amazon site is a one-size-fits-all answer for the affiliate business model, but it's definitely where I'd recommend you get started.
If you're completely unsure of HOW to get started... We have 3 options: