Planning an Amazon Affiliate Site

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  ― Warren Buffett

Download the NSP Task List for Amazon Affiliate Sites here.

Introduction to Planning

Planning is the first step in any project, whether you’re going to the moon, building a birdhouse or creating a niche website that sells bird seed. Bird at a feeder

The problem with planning is that we think we don’t need to do it.

Me included.

We skip planning because we know all the steps in our head. But it turns out that we don’t know as much as we think, or things change along the way.

Planning involves every aspect of a project, including:

  • The scope (what is included and what is NOT included)
  • Schedule (when will tasks be completed and in what order)
  • Cost (budget considerations)

Let me explain a common scenario:

  • A person, Lindsey, finds a blog posting from Smart Passive Income (It’s all out of date by the way…) from early 2010 that talks about link building for a niche website monetized with Google Adsense.

From Smart Passive Income...

  • The next day, Lindsey gets inspired and starts researching keywords, buys a domain, starts building a website, and applies for Adsense.
  • A week after that, Lindsey finds Podcast Y from late 2012 and learns that things have changed since Website X published the blog posting.
  • Lindsey realizes that the niche might not be a good one but reads on Podcast Z that starting a podcast could be a good way to get traffic.
  • The next day, Lindsey orders a microphone so she can start a podcast to promote her first website.
  • A day after that, she buys another domain so she can target a better keyword in another niche.

It might seem like Lindsey is a lady of action and can get things done. After all, she started 2 websites and a podcast in just a month!

She isn’t afraid to pivot, change directions, to follow a better strategy.

In reality, she started three projects without planning appropriately. The results is three unfinished projects with little to show for it.

She never took the time to plan out her ideas or think ahead.

In project management, SCOPE means the things you’re going to do. Something that’s OUT OF SCOPE is what you will NOT do.

What is Scope?

Let’s focus on scope planning today. Again, in the project management world scope means what you are going to do. Something that’s out of scope is what you will NOT do.

At at minimum, you should be able to define the scope as it applies to creating a (birdseed example) niche website:

  • What is included in the project?
    • Spend time brainstorming for a product niche – YES
    • Decide on a niche – YES
    • Creation of an affiliate website that sells bird seed from other suppliers – YES
    • Creating useful content related to birding topics – YES
  • What is NOT included?
    • Sourcing or selling bird seed directly – NO
    • Selling bird houses – NO
    • Selling squirrel food – NO

I know what you’re thinking…

“Doug, I don’t want to be so rigid. What if something changes? What if I need to adapt to the market because of XYZ? I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-kinda-person… And, I basically know exactly what I need to do because I read about creating Amazon Affiliate Sites. Plus, I listened to hours and hours of podcasts on it.”

Okay, I get it.

You might be concerned that this type of plan will tie you into a very specific website without any flexibility.

Never fear. Your plan isn’t written in stone or anything. You can and should change your plans.

Project management has a process called Monitor and Control – that’s where you look at how things are working (monitoring), then change your actions (controlling) as needed. You can think of it as a feedback loop.

This process occurs throughout the project lifecycle. Corrective actions are taken to control the project performance.

Let’s look at an example…

You discover that the squirrel food market is HOT due to a Pixar movie series with a squirrel in the lead role. No problem since you can adjust your focus to include squirrel food in the scope of your niche website.

In the example, you monitored the performance of the market and discovered that squirrel food is selling well. Squirrel food was previously out of scope for your website project but can take corrective action to take advantage of the change in the market.

Here is what to do…

It is critical to plan before you take action. Literally, write or type it out.

  1. Figure out what the goal is.
  2. Determine what’s included and what isn’t.
  3. Write out all the steps to reach the goal.
You can do this for any process. If you are building a niche site, then here is a list that will jumpstart the process for you. See the task list for an Amazon Affiliate Site.

I prefer to write it out. I get out a sheet of plain white copy paper and a Pilot G2 Pen. It’s messy and I can barely read the first draft.

The second draft looks considerably better. And by the third draft, I can type it out and feel good about the plan.

Just doing those steps will add clarity to whatever it is you’re doing. It’s amazing. It actually removes that feeling of overwhelm when you have some much to do.

Do you have a planning phase for your projects? What do you do? Let me know if you don’t consider yourself to be a planner and why.

11 comments… add one
  • Kevin G

    Hey Doug,
    Found you on Spencer’s blog. Your post gave me an ahh hah moment. I have three different niche sites, all in various stages. I have a difficult time setting dates and measurable goals so I’m all over the place with a project. I’m looking forward to reading new posts when they come out.

    • Hey Kevin, Thanks for coming by. Have you signed up for the newsletter yet? There is a free gift (secret) that might be a great for you. Once you start using the technique, let me know how it goes.

      • Kevin

        We did stand ups at my last job. I’ll try it out for the week and see how it goes.

  • Hey Doug, good post – I often have the same issue, too many ideas. I have about 20 or so projects I have going on in some form, and because I have had little in the way of formal project management training (and its expensive to get training)I don’t plan effectively. I am getting there, but PM training is something I will work towards. 🙂

    • Hey Stuart – Thanks.
      Have you signed up for the newsletter yet? There is a technique that you might find helpful.

      Currently, what do you do for planning?


  • Voon

    Hi Doug, good post. I am indeed overwhelming with new niche site project and your site comes out just in time. Hopefully you have something interesting for me.

  • Hey Doug.Useful information. Definitely planning is important as I have seen many people starting off with too many things with out much success.

  • I consider myself a planner, probably to a fault! My brain pretty much never stops working and scheming. I used to find it really hard to focus because I always had so many great new ideas.

    I owe a lot of my current success to reading your blog and learning how to manage my project better.

    Proper planning & focus is how I have taken my own online business from $200/month to over $1500/mo in less than a year. I planned it all and I stick to my plan.

    Any new ideas get recorded though for later.

    I also allow myself a little time each week to UN-focus and play around with whatever I want. It’s like a cheat day on a diet. It’s kind of a fun day and it makes it easier to FOCUS the rest of the week without distraction.

  • Hi Doug nice post man,
    Im completely agree. I’m actually building a new amazon affiliate niche and I’m in the planning phase. I also think is an essential part of the work, probably the 50% of success. It gives you the path to follow and makes you know how to work step by step.

    Actually I also plann every website I want to comment on or link from to my Web in an Excell document.

    The think is that sometimes I think I spend too much time instead of actually get into it.. How many time do you think it would take you to plann a niche site with let’s say 20 main keywords in their own category with four posts each?

    Thanks 😊

    You have earned a new subscriber from Spain by the way.

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