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  1. #1
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    December 10th, 2011
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    Where do I go from here? (Warning! Long post!)
    Hi

    About this time last year I decided to do something to put an additional income stream in place. I did a course called the Consumer Wealth System by a couple of guys called Marc and Daniel and put up a couple of Wordpress sites that gave information on sporting goods marketed by a US online manufacturer/retailer. I spent about two and a half months of full-time equivalent effort building them up to a compbined total of 296 products. To market I am exclusively using a product called articlemarketingautomation (AMA). I have no financial connection with AMA other than as a user/subscriber. I have found it pretty good at getting placements even for short-tailed keywords and have actually placed higher in Google than the original equipment manufacturer on some high priced (>$1k) equipment.

    The supplier gives 5% commission, the average sale over 12 months I have experienced is $146.98 for $7.35 commission a sale. In the last month I had 1677 click throughs. Over the last year the click through rate has been 3.58% and the conversion rate 1.96%. My gross profit (before knocking off the $67 that AMA costs me and my hosting cost) is $241.59.

    Now I'm very happy to have this income coming in, but I'd like to take it to the next level so that I can give up my dayjob. I recently inherited about $100k so I will shortly have the resources to throw at expansion. I find making the pages and writing the articles pretty boring to be honest - all the more so given the very moderate income it generates. I would be happy to pay someone to do both, the problem is I'm not sure it makes economic sense.

    Getting and intelligent person with decent English in the Philippines is going to cost me around $500. If they put on six products and write and 'spin' (come up with three variations of each sentence) two articles each containing three product links, it will take them 100 days of actual work simply to get to the point pay their own salary. Allowing for weekends etc. that's about five months - then another couple of months to repay the loss they made whilst getting up to the $500 point. From then on, they'll be increasing my income by about $100 a month, barring Google etc. doing something to mess things up or the merchant closing their affiliate programme down.

    Now income increasing by $100 a month isn't bad and I'd never be more than a couple of grand down as a result of hiring the one virtual assistant. I'd ideally like to hire more. I can't help but think there must be a better way of doing this. I know there are some (sometimes disreputable) companies out there with products that offer 50% commission and which claim >50% conversion rates, but even those that advertise on TV and only give 10% often still show affiliate sites on page 30 of a google search on their names.

    What I'd like to know is what can I do to improve things? I can't go out and buy the products and write my own reviews because the products are expensive and many of them attach to things that are even more expensive and/or not legal in the UK. I wouldn't mind going back to evenings putting six products on a night and article writing if it actually made decent money. For that matter, if it showed real promise after a few months, I wouldn't mind going full time at it myself. Outsourcing, however appears to be the most realistic means of scaling the business up, but will take a painful amount of time to become profitable at this rate. I'd really grateful for your opinions.

    Many thanks

    Toblerone (Chris)

  2. #2
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    April 6th, 2006
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    2,689
    Once again, welcome to ABW

    I'm not familiar with the product you mention, but I would steer clear of anything related to "article marketing"... you may receive the occasional bump in google, but you run the risk of being flagged with a duplicate content penalty.

    It sounds like you're off to a promising start, but as a content affiliate, I would never consider outsourcing the content of my site - to be honest, I would scrap the idea of any virtual assistants.. affiliate marketing is all about finding a niche, and your own voice. That's what will make your site unique.

    I don't think you're big enough to consider outsourcing yet - you need to spend time on your affiliate business model, ie. testing the waters with different suppliers, fine-tuning the niche, etc. Once you know exactly what works, then you can outsource the mundane tasks... but I would be very hesitant to outsource content at any time.

    You mentioned sporting goods as your niche - product reviews are certainly one segment, but how about combining your own personal interests with products? Something that would make for interesting reading...

  3. #3
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    December 10th, 2011
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    Hi Teezone

    I understand your concerns re article marketing, but it has gotten me the results I wanted thus far. I realise spinning is a dirty word here, but I have tried using the blog submission service via which AMA's own subscribers accept the articles and only a small fraction accept unspun articles - the main point of joining for many members is to build unique content on their own sites by accepting spun (intelligently spun - not garbage) articles from other subscribers. I only have my own content on my own site. I simply don't know how to do any other form of marketing except blog posting and don't want to destroy my credibility on those blogs by posting links to an affiliate marketing site.

    I really do share your worries re content writing. Without wanting to be prejudiced, what are the odds of someone from a tropical island in the Far East grasping an outdoor pursuit in the UK and US and really being able to write about it? The reverese would be just as problematic.

    I agree wholehearteldy about personal content! I would love to buy stuff and genuinely review it after use and I think I could write some pretty good articles (I'm a former professional sales and technical writer/communicator). The problem is that the products are invariably expensive. I would need to buy items in to review (and I don't see the manufacturer sending 800 of product X to reveiew on a brand new blog). If I buy them to review, I'm going to have to sell them on at a loss or, worse still, will want to keep them. I'm also not going to be able to put on anything remotely like six products an evening that I can manage now. Hobbies also sap time that could be spent putting products on (sad but true!).

    What I also take on board is the bit about fine tuning. Just looking at avantlink there are other outdoor pursuits merchants that, if the stats there are to be believed, have much better commissions, minimum orders and conversion rates. Is that where I should best focus for the moment.

    Many thanks Teezone - I really do value your input!

  4. #4
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    I share your view about working with something that has produced results so far... but I forgot to address one more thing mentioned in your thread!
    barring Google etc. doing something to mess things up
    It's not a question of if.. it's when the changes will occur... Google has been rolling out major changes to their algo since early 2011 (search the word Panda for interesting reading), in many cases putting affiliates out of business altogether.

    That's not to say your current formula won't continue to work - but your goal should be a site independent of any platform, article marketing or otherwise. I speak from experience when I say that search engines giveth.. and taketh away.. in most cases, it happens overnight, and all you can do is pick up the pieces and start over. I'm just trying to pass along the experience.

    Product reviews would be an ambitious goal for all the reasons you mentioned, which is why I suggested incorporating personal passions into the site. Avantlink is well respected here - I'm not involved in the outdoor sports niche, but I'm sure others here will vouch for their merchants (and support tools!).

    As for your own content,
    don't want to destroy my credibility on those blogs by posting links to an affiliate marketing site
    I don't really understand this comment. How else do you link to products..? Yes, your site will be flagged as an affiliate site, but that's the reason you want to have unique original content, ie. added-value.

    If I can give you one more piece of advice - in this tough (search-engine) environment, a site based on personal opinions & passions has a better chance of making it compared to an impersonal site based on generic (albeit helpful) articles.

  5. #5
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    I share your view about working with something that has produced results so far... but I forgot to address one more thing mentioned in your thread!It's not a question of if.. it's when the changes will occur... Google has been rolling out major changes to their algo since early 2011 (search the word Panda for interesting reading), in many cases putting affiliates out of business altogether.
    Yes! I'm well aware of that. I thought I'd been had back in June, but it turned out it was just a couple of statistical blips that had put my turnover up prior to a fall (beware the statistics of small numbers!)

    That's not to say your current formula won't continue to work - but your goal should be a site independent of any platform, article marketing or otherwise. I speak from experience when I say that search engines giveth.. and taketh away.. in most cases, it happens overnight, and all you can do is pick up the pieces and start over. I'm just trying to pass along the experience.
    Again, I'm aware of that and think about it a lot. I believe the way AMA works leaves it less vulnerable than some other methodologies, but it's certainly not invlunerable.

    Product reviews would be an ambitious goal for all the reasons you mentioned, which is why I suggested incorporating personal passions into the site.
    Not sure what you mean by that. I can talk about hobbies etc. but these would of necessity only cover a limited number of products.

    Avantlink is well respected here - I'm not involved in the outdoor sports niche, but I'm sure others here will vouch for their merchants (and support tools!).
    Both my merchants are with Avantlink (among others) and I work via Avantlink - I love their analytical tools and the look, feel and general userfriendliness of their system.

    As for your own content, I don't really understand this comment. How else do you link to products..?
    The products are linked to blogs of AMA subscribers. I am given to understand that those blogs exist for the sole purpose of generating traffic (and, yes, I know that smacks of 'link farming'). I would rather not make known the fact that I have any affiliate marketing assiociation, let alone a very basic product information site, to those who frequent the main sites dealing with the hobby where I do have a certain amount of credibility to maintain. I know that sounds terrible, but I don't know how to euphemise it.

    Yes, your site will be flagged as an affiliate site, but that's the reason you want to have unique original content, ie. added-value.
    If I can give you one more piece of advice - in this tough (search-engine) environment, a site based on personal opinions & passions has a better chance of making it compared to an impersonal site based on generic (albeit helpful) articles.
    Indeed, and I'd love to do that. Up to now I've just been caught in a Catch 22 situation of needing to spend time and money affiliate marketing that I'd rather be spending doing hobbies about which I am passionate and which would give me material for blogs. Now (for unfortunate reasons) Ipotentially have the time and money to adopt a preferable approach.

    I hope none of this sounded negative or terse - it wasn't intended in that way. Many thanks. Toblerone/Chris. PS Sorry I messed up the quotes!
    Last edited by teezone; January 3rd, 2012 at 03:01 PM. Reason: fixed quotes for readability

  6. #6
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    It actually does sound like a link farm.. so you should work towards a Plan B once Google figures out who links to who.

    One could argue that legitimate link building should not be penalized by Google - heck, I used to love webrings back in the day (it was a fun way to discover new sites!). But that's not our reality now... once a site gets flagged for 'something', it's very difficult to reclaim high organic rankings. That has made me much more cautious in my approach.

    It sounds like your plan is to build a "business" website rather than a site based on personal interests. It's possible, sure, but without the passion of personal interests, you have a long road in front of you.. and I would hate to see anyone spend money without the knowledge that is gained from personal experience (your approach appears to be formulaic).
    I'd rather be spending doing hobbies about which I am passionate and which would give me material for blogs
    That is actually MY definition of affiliate marketing.. and it's what I spend my time doing

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by teezone View Post
    It actually does sound like a link farm.. so you should work towards a Plan B once Google figures out who links to who.
    I'm trying to find a Plan B now rather than leaving it until then.

    One could argue that legitimate link building should not be penalized by Google - heck, I used to love webrings back in the day (it was a fun way to discover new sites!). But that's not our reality now... once a site gets flagged for 'something', it's very difficult to reclaim high organic rankings. That has made me much more cautious in my approach.
    Indeed. That's why a totally new site is the way forward.

    It sounds like your plan is to build a "business" website rather than a site based on personal interests. It's possible, sure, but without the passion of personal interests, you have a long road in front of you.. and I would hate to see anyone spend money without the knowledge that is gained from personal experience (your approach appears to be formulaic).
    Formulaic isn't necessarily a bad thing. A plan you could write down in a paragraph worked against cholera in the 19th century and smallpox in the 20th. If, by formulaic, you mean a 'black hat' ploy easily detected by google I can see where you're coming from.

    That is actually MY definition of affiliate marketing.. and it's what I spend my time doing .
    Me too! It's how I get from here to there that concerns me. Although I've inherited enough to keep me going for a few years, I've seen quite a few friends 'retire' up here only to have to seek jobs a couple of years later. I don't want to go from a well paid, good job to a poorly paid crap one with a couple of years of struggling on something that's not really going anywhere in between.

    Many thanks for fixing the quotes in my last post BTW!

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