Tis’ The Season for Affiliate Marketing

Entrepreneur 17 Comments

Holiday Shopping CartoonRecently I read a post over at Blogging Fingers, where Matt proposed an idea where he creates a simple storefront using WordPress to sell products through affiliate links. His ultimate thinking is to cash in off the site for the next month to 2 months (prime holiday shopping time) and then sell the blog/site in late January for the standard 10x monthly profit. Assuming he can get $100/mo or so during the holidays he could be sitting on $1000 come January.

At the end of his post, Matt challenged anyone who was up for it to do the same thing and see what they could do in terms of profit per month as well as the overall sales figure in January. So given the challenge, little risk and potential profit, I decided to take that challenge and develop my own niche storefront.

1. Pick the Right Niche
The first step is to find the right niche to exploit. One of the keys to picking a good niche will be to find one that is exciting and the reader will need to buy a product to get involved with the topic. Matt talked about this in his post too. It’s important that those viewing your site will be in BUY mode, not just reading mode. This niche blog won’t be like other blogs with tons of content. It will be limited content and lots of affiliate links and images. The key is to push the reader into the buy.

Another important aspect to think about when it comes to picking your niche is how web-savvy your intended customer is. Chances are you should stay far away from the technology niches because those who know anything about technology will likely know a little bit about web sales and steer clear of your semi-obvious affiliate site. Make sure to spend a bit of time picking the right niche, it will be the hinge for all the sites success.

2. Buy The Domain
Once you have a niche, you’re going to need to buy a domain. Try and pick a domain which is keyword rich and further emphasizes the fact that your blog is actually a store (a place to buy). Domains with shop, online, discount, and store coupled with your keywords should do well.

3. Setup the Site
I think Matt had the right idea when he chose WordPress for his storefront. It’s perfect because it’s already a fully featured script capable of almost anything. Couple that with the fact that there are a plethora of plugins available and the thousands of themes and you can put a store together in no time. What I recommend is to install the latest WordPress, find a relatively simple WordPress theme (2 columns, 1 main header) and install the All-In-One SEO Pack and Google Sitemap Generator. This should make the blog nice and SEO friendly and give you the best chance of establishing some organic traffic.

Once you have the blog setup (design completed and domain setup) you should start adding content. I would recommend that you write 2-3 simple review style posts detailing specific products with affiliate text links embedded within the post. I’ve found that it’s giving a better CTR than plain old affiliate image boxes.

4. Choose an Affiliate
In terms of which affiliate program to use, you can choose any you like and that fits your niche. In both Matt’s and my case we used Amazon’s affiliate program to place both links and product boxes on our sites to sell the products. I would recommend you try this first as we did. I am going to let this method run for another couple days and gauge how many sales it generates and move on from there. If I don’t see enough revenue coming in I am planning on switching over to eBay’s affiliate program to see how it differs. (note: Amazon’s affiliate cookie only lasts for 24 hours only, while eBay’s lasts 7 days)

5. Promote It
In order to keep the costs that it takes to create this site low, the only methods I am going to use to drive traffic to the site are going to be free. This will include the use of social networking traffic, primarily StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Squidoo, etc and other sources such as forum postings, craigslist, blog commenting, etc. So far, 1.5 days into the sites operation I’ve driven close to 1,000 unique visitors to the site and I’m eagerly awaiting the update of my affiliate statistics.

How Much Time & Money?
The great part about this holiday niche site idea is that that the only real cost involved is the $8 it cost me to register a domain name with GoDaddy. Of course you will need hosting, but I already have several hosting accounts so I just tossed it on one of those accounts as an Addon domain. In terms of how long it took me to set the site up, it took the better part of a day. This included all of the steps I listed above. Besides that, I continue to make a single post per day on the blog highlighting a new product and I also spend a bit of time each day promoting it as I’ve listed above.

The way you have to think about this is that it’s a guaranteed win no matter what. You spend $8 and some of your time creating a site that will undoubtedly sell for at least $25 no matter the sales statistics and you learn a lot about site creation, affiliate marketing and traffic building. That plus the possibility of making well over 20 times your initial investment makes this something that you should definitely try. Matt encouraged me to give it a try and now I’ll encourage you to do the same. If you go ahead and create your own site and sell it in January, I’ll link to your progress and sales post in January.

Good Luck!

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    1. 1 Matt Jones December 5, 2007

      Great job Erik! Id be interested in having a look at your new little site you could shoot me an email with its URL if you like. You are right about the risk, its just a great project to have going on the side.

      Those are some great tips, I view those 2 plugins as the most important ones for WordPress.

      It is a bit late to start (I made that mistake myself) but its better than not doing it all!

      Good luck!

    2. 2 Erik Karey December 5, 2007

      Hey Matt, thanks for commenting. I just sent you an email about the site. It is kind of late to get into the game (a lesson learned for next year), but like you and I both said, it has very little risk involved.

    3. 3 Andrew December 6, 2007

      Good idea. As Matt said, if you could shoot off the link I’d be interested in having a look.

      Kudos to you on all the uniques too… I’ve been making websites for years and haven’t yet managed to get 1000 genuine people that fast into a day-old site ;-).

    4. 4 Chris December 10, 2007

      Matt is promoting only Amazon, I think it’s a waste. He should also consider putting in eBay’s, one of the most generous paying affiliate programs.

      I respect his build-and-sell idea, but I would rather keep the site, let it run for a couple of months, if the traffic is good, he can easily earn that $1000 from the affiliate programs without having to sell the golden goose.

    5. 5 Susan Suarez December 11, 2007

      Setting up a storefront – have you tried Joomla instead of WordPress?

    6. 6 Erik Karey December 11, 2007

      I have not. I’m so familiar with WordPress that it’s quicker for me to use that than learn Joomla right now. In the future maybe I should try it.

    7. 7 Deron Sizemore December 12, 2007

      Good ideas there Erik. I know a ton of people make serious cash around the Christmas time.

      That said, I just got into doing some Affiliate Marketing myself. So far I’ve just been promotting offers through PPC but haven’t had much luck yet. That’s no one fault but my own there because I’ve really not given it the tender loving care that it needs to be successful.

      I agree with all of your points except for the “win” no matter what. I don’t know for sure but I assume it takes at the very minimum a couple hours to get the site up and going, a couple hours to write some content with the affiliate links, a couple hours to do some social networking and get the site out there, and maybe a couple hours to do some odds and ends stuff. If that’s true you’d have spend minimum of eight hours working on the site and to get $25 back (if the site fails)? That works out to be a little over three bucks an hour…

      Like I said though…never done it myself, maybe I’m wrong on the time it takes?

      Good write up Erik

    8. 8 Erik Karey December 12, 2007

      Hey Deron, you’re right that there is time invested in it, but the way I look at it is I’m learning a lot of things while I go. There is more than just monetary gain here and if the store doesn’t hit it off right away I can always hold onto it for the long term investment.

    9. 9 Deron Sizemore December 13, 2007

      Yeah, that’s a good point. Even in your failures there are always lessons to be learned. Maybe I should go back and read my own blog post about trying and failing a did a couple weeks ago? ;)

      Do you have any experience with PPC Affiliate Marketing?

    10. 10 Erik Karey December 13, 2007

      Haha, maybe that would work. I’ve done a little bit with PPC affiliate marketing, but I’m not sure I have the patience for it all. I wasn’t extremely successful with it, I think it takes more time and money than I could commit to it.

    11. 11 Deron Sizemore December 13, 2007

      Yeah, the money thing is what worries me. A lot of the people I talk to talk about putting thousands into it and I just don’t have thousands to throw into something like that…my wife would kill me. ha ha.

    12. 12 Malignition.com December 15, 2007

      Quite an interesting idea to make some extra money during the holidays. $8 and a little elbow grease is a really insignificant investment when you factor in how much money the blog storefront could make you.

    13. 13 JC December 15, 2007

      I’d say it’s better to focus on content and traffic than taylor around an affiliate. You can make decent money from banners and intellitxt especially with the content rich postings you have, as opposed to brief blurbs in each post.

    14. 14 Ben Barden December 16, 2007

      Have you tried Zen Cart? My wife has set up stores for a lot of websites and Zen Cart is the one we recommend. :)

    15. 15 Matt December 18, 2007

      I agree..some may look at the 8 dollars as a lot…as dumb as that sounds when one sale can make you 25 like you stated. Affiliate sales are great, and getting better…especially around the holiday/winter times.

    16. 16 Paypal2u Bloggers December 26, 2007

      I will follow you… hahaha…

      This idea is great and I think it can generate as much income as it can be.

    17. 17 resort for couples November 2, 2009

      I am desperate to find a way to start my own home based business, and affiliate marketing seems good because there is virtually no start up cost (I’m broke). Is this something likely to bring in a real income?

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