Affiliate Marketing: My Journey to First $10,000 Online

I have repeated the process outlined in this article with several websites, and have seen great success with all of them. Trust the process and you will see results too, even without any link-building.

I still remember the rush I felt in my body when I earned my first $ online. It was the winter of 2017 when someone bought a product on Amazon.com through my affiliate link, and my account was credited with $1.40.

A year forward, by the end of 2018, I was able to cross the $10,000 mark in total earning online. The money was an excellent reward for the hard work I did, but the real treasure was the lessons learned throughout the journey. Truly Priceless!

In today’s article, I want to give back to the industry by sharing everything that I have learned about making money online with affiliate marketing. Hopefully, it will reduce your struggle period and speed up your journey towards success. Enjoy!

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s products and making a commission off every sale closed.

As an affiliate marketer, your job is to drive qualified traffic to the product page. Then it is the merchant’s job to convert the traffic, process the payment, ship the product, handle the returns, and provide customer support.

Thus, affiliate marketing is a relatively hands-off model to earn money online. So, I recommend every beginner to start with it before looking into other online business models such as dropshipping, Amazon FBA, list building, etc.

Money Projection- Maximum Earning With Minimum Effort

money projection

Before I share my step-by-step approach to doing affiliate marketing, I want to explain a very important concept- Money Projection. Money projection is the difference between a blog earning $200 per month and a blog earning $2,000 per month.

As a blog owner, you will be monetizing your traffic by selling mainly physical products, info products, or space for display ads. While nothing is wrong with using any of the three monetization methods, I usually recommend you stick with physical products only (especially during the start of your blog). Reason being? Let’s discuss:

1. Physical Products

Physical products are easier to sell and don’t need much pre-selling. That makes it a perfect monetization method for beginners.

For example, if someone searches for the “best headset for gaming”, he is already looking for the product and is in buying mood (the phrase “best” contains a strong buying intent). All you need to do is write a good roundup post (more on this later) and send the visitor to Amazon through your link. Rest, Amazon does a pretty good job at converting the visitor into a buyer.

As you can see in the screenshot below, my site did close to $11,000 in a year by selling physical products. That’s a decent number, to be honest.

amazon earning 18

2. Info Products

Info products usually offer a higher commission per sale than physical products do, but selling them is a lot more tedious than physical products.

Selling info products is not as easy as sending a visitor to the offer page through your special link. It rarely results in a sale. A person coming to your site via a “how-to” query is looking for finding free information rather than buying an ebook or video course. (the phrase “how to” does not contain a strong buying intent)

To make info products work for you, you have to capture emails of your visitors, warm them up via an email-sequence, and then move them deep into the funnel by offering products of different pricing tiers. That’s not a very beginner-friendly move. So, I don’t recommend you doing it.

As you can see in the screenshot below, my same site did a little over $2,000 in a year by selling info products. The earning is not as good as the earning from physical products.

cb earning shot

3. Display Ads

Display ads are probably the simplest way of monetizing your traffic but not the most profitable one. A visitor comes to your blog, sees the ad, and if he clicks on the ad you get a small amount of money (mostly a few cents per click).

As you can see in the screenshot below, my same site could hardly do $1100 in a year with display ads. This difference between earning from physical products and earning from display ads is huge (almost $10,000).

Bottom Line: We want to make as much money as possible with as little effort as possible. To make it happen, we will sell physical products only, target keywords with the phrase “best” in it, and won’t focus on monetizing our blog with display ads or info products. This way, you will be making good money even with low traffic. I hope, we are on the same page now.

Niche Site System- My Approach To Doing Affiliate Marketing

Although it took me a few years to hit the goal of earning $10,000 online with affiliate marketing yet If I am to start over today, I can start a blog from scratch and take it up to making $2000/month in a year and $10,000/month in a couple of years. This guide is aimed at teaching you how you can do the same for yourself. Let’s start:

Step 1. Niche Research

It all starts with a niche. A niche is nothing but the topic you choose to make a website about. Golf, basketball, bbq, parenting, etc. are all examples of niches.

Don’t make the mistake of spending an eternity finding the perfect niche to start a website about. Almost any niche could be profitable. These are the keywords (more on this later) that you must spend time on qualifying, not the niche.

1.1 Choose a Specific Niche and Avoid Too Broad or Too Narrow Niches

Too BroadSpecificToo Narrow
SportsGolfRangefinders
HealthSkin CarePimples
OutdoorCyclingFolding Bike

You should not start a website in a too broad or too narrow niche. Always start a site in a specific niche only. In the table above, you will find some examples of each type of niches.

  • Too broad niches will take a long time to rank for anything significant due to the lack of relevancy signals. You will need to put in a lot of resources (time and money) to make those niches work for you. That’s not a beginner-friendly move. So, avoid them. Here’s an example of a broad site- https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/ (too broad, focus on all things outdoor).
  • Too narrow niches are hard to grow once your blog takes off and starts getting traffic. They rank fast but have a ceiling on growth. Moreover, it’s always challenging to get high-quality backlinks for such sites because they usually look spam. So, avoid them. Here’s an example of a narrow site- https://www.bikefolded.com/ (too narrow, focus on a particular product only- folding bike).
  • Specific niches are the holy grail of making decent money online within a reasonable timeframe. The entire website sends strong signals of relevance and ranks a lot quicker than broad sites do. Moreover, down the road, you can grow the site into many relevant categories. Here’s an example of a specific site- https://allcampingstuff.com/ (specific, focus on a topic- camping)

1.2 Where to Find Niches

niche collection

Browsing through different categories of Amazon.com is the best way to get some niche ideas quickly. Look deep into sub-categories as well. Keep drilling down until you have collected 20 or so specific niche ideas. To grease your creative wheels, here are a few niches that I consider are specific and fit our model:

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Cycling
  • Shaving
  • Bodybuilding
  • Running
  • Parenting
  • Golf
  • Veganism
  • Board games

Step 2. Keyword Research

This is where all the meat is. If you do the keyword research right, I can literally guarantee that you will make money with your website (even without any link building).

Do not do any guesswork. Instead, find keywords where small sites are already ranking and getting traffic (any website with a DR less than 25 is considered a small site. DR is ahrefs metric of calculating a website’s overall strength). If other small sites are on page 1, we can also break into page one and steal some search traffic. Here’s how to do it right:

2.1 The Step By Step Process of Doing Keyword Research

1. Enter your niche name into the “keyword explorer” tool by ahrefs (not an affiliate link), and hit search. In this demonstration, I am using “Golf” as my niche.

step1

2. On the resulting screen, in the left sidebar, click on “Having Same Terms” and it will spit out tons of keywords related to your niche.

3. Since it’s not practical to evaluate all the resulting keywords manually, apply a few filters to reduce the number of resulting keywords. The filters are as follow:

  • Set KD Min 0 and Max 10 (KD is ahrefs way of calculating how easy or hard a keyword is to rank for. Anything less than 10 is pretty easy to rank for).
  • Set search volume min 100 and leave the Max field empty (volume means the average number of people searching for the keyword per month)
  • Set include to “best” (it will give you keywords that have the phrase “best” in it. As you know, the word “best” indicates a strong buying intent)

There you have it. After following the process outlined above, you will get a list of keywords that are easy to rank for, have decent search volume, and a strong buying intent- The Secret Sauce of Success in Affiliate Marketing!

step3

4. Very Important: Before finalizing any keyword for your website, you must give it a round of manual analysis. It will weed out any keyword that slipped under the radar of ahrefs despite being hard to rank for. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Click on the “SERP” button located on the right side of each keyword.
  • Check the top 10 websites to see if they contain at least two small sites or not (DR 25 or less).
  • If yes, check if small sites on page 1 are getting traffic or not (100 or more).
  • If both conditions fulfill, mark the keyword as qualified.
  • Repeat the process until you have found 20 such keywords.
  • Note: In most niches, you will be able to find 20 keywords that meet the criteria. If you fail to find them, discard the idea and repeat the process with a new niche.
step4

Step 3. Content Creation

We will be writing a maximum of 20 round-up articles on our blog. Then we will create 4-5 link articles that we will use to get some backlinks. Here are the two types explained:

1. Roundup Articles: We need these articles to make money. These articles are written around the keywords that you have found during the niche research. A total of 20 such articles should be enough to earn $2,000/month. Here’s a good example of such an article: https://www.outsidepursuits.com/best-camping-cots-reviews/

2. Link Articles: We need these articles to attract backlinks. These are big-meaty-informative guides that create a “wow” effect. Such guides are so useful that once you put them in front of other webmasters, they happily link out to these guides. A total of 5 such guides should be enough to get some strong backlinks pointing to your blog. Here’s a good example of a perfect link asset: https://www.golfinfluence.com/skill/17-best-golf-tips/

That’s it. These are the two types of content you need to create until your site is earning at least $2000 per month. Once the money starts rolling in, you can hire writers and VAs to help you grow the site.

Step 4. Link Building

Our keyword research criteria is set in a way that even if you don’t build any backlinks to your website, it will still make you decent money. Building backlinks speed this process up and help you rank for more competitive terms. Here’s how to pick backlinks like a child’s stuff:

1. Skyscraper: This is the easiest way to build backlinks. I create 80% of my backlinks using this strategy. All you need to do is find a page that has already acquired a lot of backlinks, create a page better than the existing one, and reach out to the same people for a link who linked out to the original page. Simple as that. Here is a detailed guide on how to do this right- The Shotgun Skyscraper Technique.

2. Guest Posting: Guest posting is writing an article and publishing it on other webmaster’s blogs in exchange for a link back to your blog. Try to do 15-20 guest posts but only on high authority websites (sites with DR 50+). Here is a detailed guide on how to do this right- Guest Blogging for SEO.

The two techniques I mentioned above are enough to earn you 50 or so backlinks to your site. That’s all you will need to break into page 1 and start getting traffic & sales.

Over To You

That’s pretty much everything that you need to know to start a blog from scratch and take it to earn $2000/month or more. Once you have some money rolling in, you can hire writers and grow the same blog to earning $10,000 or more.

In case, you are looking for interactive training and want me to mentor you then check my digital marketing course. It will give you the right headstart. P.S. I offer online classes too.

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