In today's post, we're sharing a story from one of our customers, Rob. He first picked up a site from us in late 2015, and has become an active member of the community, now running several sites on top of that first one.
Rob's story is great, not only because of the success he's now experiencing, but because it wasn't a walk in the park for him. In the early days, he was just as frustrated as anyone.
As you can see, it didn't start off all that well for Rob, but thanks to a lot of other members joining in to reassure him (17 comments, great stuff!).
His biggest skill at the beginning was his tenacity though, and as he soldiered on and kept on learning, his frustration eased, he kept going and before long had this to report:
Personally this is something I went through myself when I first started out, and I've seen it happen with virtually everyone. If you can stick to it and get through those frustrations, then you are going to be a lot more likely to succeed.
I know for a fact that many people have doubts when they first start, but those doubts are actually in themselves. You might believe our testimonials and case studies, and have no doubt that people can have success with us, but do you believe YOU can do it too? That's a hugely unaddressed area of entrepreneurship, and is the death of many dreams.
This is why I'm so happy to share Rob's story with you all, and why he agreed to be interviewed. Rob started from zero, and is now on his way to becoming a great success. He's already an inspiration too.
I sent Rob a few questions and he kindly agreed to answer them, so what follows is the interview:
Q. How much experience did you have with affiliate marketing prior to starting with an HPD site?
Q. What attracted you to HPD in the first place?
I’d been procrastinating about getting an online business going for years but was lacking the conviction of a solid idea to get started. I’ve been interested in developing other sources of income other than my full time job for many years and do a lot of reading and listening to podcasts on passive income.
I think I came across HPD in 2015 whilst reading something online about building a website and I think this is where I discovered affiliate marketing, which was a new concept to me and sparked my interest. As I read further I discovered the “done for you” sites, which seemed very attractive as it would allow me to get started with an online business and then learn on the job. I took the plunge with the purchase of 2 websites so I could finally get going without having to wait for that one great idea that I’d always been searching for.
Q. What attracted you to the niche you started with?
One of my niches I’d had a fair bit of experience working in when I was growing up so that was an immediate good fit. The other niche I had no experience in other than being a consumer myself. However I thought the price was worth the risk and as I said it would allow me to get started online and learn on the job.
I was more attracted to actually owning a website than the niche itself to be honest as this is something I’d wanted for ages and I was more interested in the learning experience of developing a website.
Q. After receiving your site, what did you do first? How did you decide this?
Obviously I read through all of the articles and gave some feedback to HPD on queries I had. Then I set up separate social media accounts for each of the two sites. Set up google analytics and Amazon associates accounts. Watched all the HPD training videos, which helped a lot with what to do next.
Then I started researching the niches myself and made a big spreadsheet of stuff like, related niche sites, article ideas, keyword research, outreach log etc.
I started writing articles myself and quickly learned how time consuming this is! I’m a bit of a control freak so I was reluctant to outsource article writing on my brand new shiny websites but due to time constraints I decided to put some funds towards this.
I tried out iWriter and was hugely disappointed with the quality of the articles and this took even more time reading and rejecting than writing myself! Even the full price articles weren’t great.
I also paid for a subscription to get some high quality images for a month and bought a Hoth mini package for each site in the first month after getting the site.
Q. What did you struggle with the most at first? How did you resolve this?
So many things! Time is definitely my problem. As this was all new to me I was having to learn and produce at the same time. It is a difficult balance trying to juggle family, full time job, social, fitness as it is then trying to squeeze in some website time! My strategy is to just keep chipping away and not worry too much about the speed of progress so long as I am making some progress I’ve got to be happy with that. Its also made me more efficient with my time and I no longer waste any time watching TV or mindlessly surfing the web or social media. When you cut this out completely it's amazing the time you can free up.
I have outsourced a few things, mainly articles and SEO. As mentioned above, using iWriter for me was not a good experience and I won’t be wasting anymore time on that. I have tried out the HPD bulk order articles a few times too and these articles were pretty good for the price. My one learning from this though is that it's crucially important to make sure the instructions are clear if you have a definitive idea about what you want written. If you don’t do that then don’t be surprised when the article is not written in the way you’d envisioned it (but not put down in writing).
SEO is the main thing I need to outsource as I simply don’t have the time. I’ve tried out various companies (Hoth, Rank Guardian, Fat Joe, PBNs) for link building and guest posts with mixed success. This is expensive too and another struggle is being mindful of how much I’m spending on the websites as I’m cautious of things not working out and wasting a ton of money that I don’t ever get back. So I’m tracking all my expenditure and not going overboard.
Outreach is another struggle. I’ve not really made enough effort, mainly because of time, but also it appears to be one of those tasks that you need to approach 20 people to get 1 response. The people I have contacted have not responded and so I’m doing zero outreach currently. I’m hoping the outsourcing of SEO will be sufficient but ideally would like to do some more natural link building through outreach as I think all of the outsource SEO companies have their limits.
Another struggle is that both of my sites are in highly competitive niches and its very difficult to differentiate yourself from the crowd – something I continue to struggle with. I want to have a brand that stands out for adding value and not just another Amazon affiliate site offering nothing special. It's quite hard to do this and I’m always thinking about how the sites can offer more value.
Q. What are your thoughts on the support you got from HPD? Technical support, Facebook Community etc? How important do you think these things are to any affiliate marketer, whether they use HPD or not?
The support has been pretty good overall. Technical support from HPD has been excellent – speed of response and ability to resolve issues quickly, full marks to the team. The Facebook Group is a good interaction and growing, although the functionality of the platform isn’t great so its good that HPD are moving to a forum in the new year, which should improve the searchability and categorisation of conversations.
The HPD training videos are also useful when you are first starting out.
Q. You had a fair bit of frustration in the early months, but now you’re having some decent success. What, in your opinion, led to the change?
I think it's just a natural evolution over time. I think you only start to get acknowledged in the search engines once you’ve been established for at least 6 months (sandbox) and once you’ve built up a significant amount of really good quality articles, keywords and links. I have made a real effort to write really high quality articles myself – if I would have outsourced these they would have cost me hundreds of dollars as they are 3-4,000 words and have taken a significant amount of research on my own part. These articles have taken me weeks to write due to my limited time capacity (I’ve been spending around 1-2 hours a day on the sites).
Another key has been spending a massive amount of time doing my own keyword research to really find the gold. As these are competitive niches this is not easy but if you look hard enough the golden nuggets are there. When you find them and then produce knock out articles you've got a good chance of getting to page 1 with a small amount of link building.
Improving the speed of site has also recently had a big effect on my rankings as I realised my server was located in Singapore – miles away from the US where my target audience is! Once I corrected this I saw a big jump.
Q. Can you tell us some details about your current stats? Monthly traffic, monthly sales and income, monthly expenses, total income, how long has your site been going, anything else to include.
Both sites were completed by HPD and issued to me in August 2015. One of my sites is approaching 20K unique visitors a month and the other one is much less at around 2K per month. I think the difference is in part is down to it receiving less focus from me but I also think is in part because of the strength of the competition. My aim is to get both to around 50K per month which should be achievable in a year or so hopefully!
Monthly expenses has been up and down but overall I’ve spend about $1,500 on each site so far. I got my first sale of $3.50 in Feb 2016 and there was very little action until May when I made $70 for the month. It's been a steady increase since then and I did around $300 a month for Aug, Sept & Oct before things have gone a bit crazy in Nov & Dec, which is obviously Xmas and Black Friday related. I’ve cleared $1,000 in Nov and Dec but expecting it to drop back down to the $300 level again in the new year. These totals are for both website so to get an average for each site you’d need to divide these numbers by 2 (but one is doing much better than the other as already mentioned).
Q. How do you plan to increase these numbers?
Just keep chipping away as I have been doing! I’ve actually just ordered a couple more HPD sites so things could get interesting timewise in the New Year! I really need to find some high quality article writers that won’t break the bank. The HPD articles are ok for the cost but I only want really high quality stuff going forward as I think this is the only way to stand out for my highly competitive niches. In the meantime I’ll need to keep writing stuff myself to ensure the quality is there.
Q. What’s the number one thing that you think most people will struggle with when following in your footsteps?
Not giving up. It's so time consuming and effort does not equal reward at all and there’s no guarantee of success. My wife thinks I’m crazy and doesn’t really appreciate all the time spending working but I’ve got a long term vision in mind. I’m an impatient person by nature so nothing will ever happen quickly enough for me but you just need to keep chipping away, adding value to the site and learning as you go.
Q. What kind of strategy have you employed to get your site ranking and earning? What kind of things will you do in the future?
I think I need to be a bit more strategic overall as I’m a bit random in my approach, doing a bit here and there when time allows. If things continue to grow I will need to take a bit more risk on perhaps in terms of outsourcing more – but the trick is finding the quality for a good price!
Q. What else would you like to add about your experience?
I have to say I’ve been loving the experience. I work full time in a high paying job but it's amazing the thrill I get from seeing a website grow its audience and actually earn money from reviews I’ve written myself. I actually enjoy learning about websites, the technical stuff and also the intricacies of my niches!
Rob's story is a pretty typical success story from the wider affiliate marketing world, not just within the HPD community, and I think it highlights some key things:
- Patience is very much a virtue
- Relying on others for support and guidance is important, but so is learning to figure things out yourself
- As long as you are making progress, that is something to celebrate.
If you have been struggling with affiliate marketing or are even yet to get started, then you might want to check out our done-for-you affiliate site service, and start down the path Rob has been on and is now loving!