I asked my email subscribers about success stories recently, and Asen replied back with his story. This is a great one because:
- The site is public so you can check it out now. It’s noted below in the ‘choosing a niche’ section.
- Asen and I had a short coaching session in early 2019. (I do very limited coaching. Learn more here.)
- The site was a done-for-you site and was grew over 2 years before selling. Earnings were up to about $1,300 per month with seasonality.
- Asen sold the site so it’s a great example of flipping a done-for-you site.
What is your name and current job/profession?
My name is Asen and I’m a former software support engineer. The company I worked at moved its operations outside of my country so now I’m fully devoted to affiliate marketing.
How did you get started building niche websites? How long have you been building websites?
I’ve been building niche websites since 2017. I remember that I was at my workplace searching in Google “make money online” when I found out about Wealthy Affiliate.
In short, it’s an online university where you learn about building websites using WordPress and monetizing them with affiliate marketing. That gave me a solid foundation. But I haven’t been a member for 2.5 years.
It’s great for beginners but after you learn the basics there is nothing else you can learn to expand that knowledge. At least back then — I don’t know how are things now.
Tell us about one of your successful websites.
I’ve owned 3 niche websites so far. I sold all of them.
The last one I sold a little over a month ago on Empire Flippers for $42,081.
That was my most successful website so far.
It was in the outdoors niche. It was averaging roughly $1000 per month net.
In May 2021, it made close to $1700.
Here are screen shots from the two main sources of income that month – Amazon Associates and Avantlink.
The rest is from Display Ads and two more private affiliate programs.
What is the reason for this website’s success?
In my opinion, the main reason behind this website’s success is the passion I had (and still have) for the niche.
That allowed me not only to work relentlessly on this side hustle every single day (despite having a demanding full time job back then) but it provided me with the needed expertise to craft better articles than most of my competitors (of the same size).
In addition, since I’m a practitioner of the niche, I owned and used a lot of the products included in the round up review articles. I was also making original pictures of me using the products and I even shot several Youtube videos.
While this kind of originality and trustworthiness (or in other words EAT) is not required for websites that don’t cover YMYL niches, I’m convinced that it gives you an edge over competitors with more generic affiliate websites.
That’s especially true in the light of the recent Google Product Review Update that targets websites with thin review content.
To summarize, I tried to give the websites as much EAT as possible by doing diligent branding. I put my face all over the websites so that the visitors could see that there’s a real person writing articles and testing products.
When I started outsourcing content, I made sure to hire knowledgeable authors and put their bio and credentials on the About Us page as well as their author boxes in the end of each article they wrote.
That resulted in another perk – seeing the credibility that the website demonstrated, more and more brands started approaching me asking for placement of their product in my review articles either in exchange for a juicy commission or a free sample of the product.
In regards of income, I tried to diversify. And that led to a significant increase. At the beginning, the website was using only Amazon Associates for monetization but later on, I added a few more affiliate programs including some private deals with some brands whose products I promoted on the website.
That included a $380 product for which I collected a 10% commission for each sale.
Please share your overall strategy for finding a niche, getting traffic to your site, ranking in Google, and making money from niche sites.
When it comes to finding a niche, in my opinion, that’s the most important process, followed by keyword research.
There are a lot of people that will tell you that you should follow your passion when searching for the right niche. Take this with a grain of salt.
All the passion in the world won’t bring you any money if the niche doesn’t have enough monetization options.
With the particular website of mine (gearuphiking.com), being passionate and knowledgeable about the topic really helped. But I wouldn’t “made it” if the niche didn’t have any money in it. Or more precisely, different monetization angles and products.
I will explain what I mean with an example.
My first website was in the movie reviews niche. I am a movie fanatic and I decided to start writing without thinking how to monetize this website.
Soon I realized there weren’t many affiliate programs in that space. Plus, the commissions were super tiny.
Not to mention that the average RPM from Display Ads was pretty low too. Another major difficulty was obtaining permission to use celebrity photos and movie posters. All in all, it was very hard to make money from this website so I eventually sold it for $3000.
So when searching for a niche, I first look at factors such as competitiveness, product price range and affiliate commissions. Are there any programs except for Amazon? If yes, that’s a good sign as well. I don’t blindly follow my passion any more.
When it comes to keyword research, it’s crucial for bringing organic traffic to your site. I put a lot of effort on that process.
There are many strategies that worked and I will mention most of them.
Since I wasn’t building too many backlinks, my chance was to go after low competition keywords. I didn’t care about search volume. If those were typed in Google, that means they will bring in traffic.
First, the popular KGR method taught by NSP worked like a charm for me. It’s an easy to follow and effective method of unraveling low competition keywords that move the needle.
Another strategy that gave decent results was finding similar websites with lower domain authority than mine and “stealing” their keywords. That’s the so-called “keyword competitor gap”.
Of course, targeting their keywords is not enough. You have to make your articles better too. For me, that translated into writing more comprehensive, well-formatted articles and adding videos and infographics.
Another great strategy for me was playing with the Ahrefs’s filters in the “Keywords Explorer” section. I entered some seed keywords or phrases and then filtered by low Keyword Difficulty score.
Usually between 0 and 3. I also love their “Questions” feature that yields some niche-related questions.
Another filter that’s awesome is the “Word Count”. By setting it to include at least 3 or 4 words, I was able to find long phrases that other websites wasn’t targeting.
Here’s an example search with this criteria:
Finally, the Answerthepublic.com tool is a fantastic way to find keywords, often in the form of questions.
Any mistakes that we can learn from?
I am the king of mistakes.
At the beginning I was buying links from Fiverr. I didn’t know how to vet links back then so I ended up buying links from some PBNs.
I was also installing many useless plugins that slowed down my website. I was definitely a victim of the shiny objects syndrome.
But mistakes along the way are inevitable. What’s important is to learn from them.
What keyword tips can you offer?
I already mentioned some of the techniques that provided good results for me. Just know that you don’t necessarily need expensive tools to do proper keyword research. Want a secret – I use Ahrefs on a group buy and it does the job pretty well for just $5 per month.
Other than that, don’t concentrate too much on keyword volume. What matters most is the competition. Try to find obscure, long-tail keywords/phrases with low competition score or keyword difficulty.
Tools such as Power Suggest Pro and Keyword Chef allow you to use a wildcard feature to brainstorm long tail keyword ideas.
Example: best * camera for * might give you results such as “best security camera for cold weather”. Pretty cool.
What content tips can you offer?
What I found very important is having a content schedule. Schedule your articles for the month based on your keyword research.
Since this is a laborious task, putting a checkmark next to it on your to-do list will give you the freedom to work on other aspects on your website.
When it comes to crafting an article, we all know the famous cliche – content is king. It really is. Go through the top 5 results on the first page of Google and see how the websites that rank there have structured their articles. What information have they featured? What headings they have used? Try to mimic them in an original, better way. SurferSeo helps a lot with that.
Avoid writing boring articles with regurgitated information. I strongly suggest checking out this book “Affiliate Content Secrets: Proven Affiliate Marketing Tips & Strategies You Can Use to Maximize Your Earnings”. It’s a goldmine.
Write a lot of informational content. It should make the most of your website’s content. Google frowns upon websites with purely money content and smacks them hard.
Don’t believe me?
Just check out the sites listed for sale at Motion Invest. I’m serious.
Plus, informational content tends to rank easier and you can monetize it with ads.
Last, I noticed that including an infographic in the important articles you want to rank boosts rankings. The website Visual.ly contains plenty of infographics pretty much for every niche. And they are embeddable.
What link building tips can you offer?
That’s my weakest point. I’ve never done a lot of link building. Just be very wary of buying links.
Most link building agencies, no matter how shiny and legitimate they might present themselves, contain the same websites.
And Google knows that and devalues those links.
The genuine way of obtaining links is to establish relationships with fellow bloggers and offer them plenty of value. I will concentrate on that for future projects.
How has the success of this website impacted your life?
Well, I learned a lot about affiliate SEO when working on that website. You don’t learn solely by relying on courses.
You learn when you take action and make mistakes.
Selling the website also gave me that financial injection needed to explore other, more profitable opportunities.
Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to replicate your success with their own websites?
When starting out, take your time to explore various niches. Don’t blindly follow your passion. Investigate the niche to make sure it’s really profitable.
Then just start and don’t worry too much about the final result. You will learn along the way. It’s like riding a bicycle.
And make a good-looking, trustworthy website. Try to make it look as legitimate as possible, like a real business. Gone are the days when you could rule the SERPs with a generic affiliate website.
Where can people find you & follow along with what you are doing? If you want people to follow along.
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Recommended Done-For-You Services
I’m an affiliate for these companies so I get a commission if you buy something. So thank you if you do!
🔥 Niche Website Builders (Use my affiliate link to get more content) – Full service and white glove treatment. The founders are my friends and have been on my podcast numerous times sharing stories of their own success, plus their clients. They’ll often use the Tomb Raiding Method for keywords.
🔥 ODYS (join with my link to get $100 in your account) – Get an aged domain and skip the sandbox (or at least, raise the probability to get rankings, traffic, and revenue sooner.
BrandBuilders – Full service done-for-you service. They have a bunch of sites that are done to choose from so you can have a site in a day or so. Or they’ll work with you to create a custom site.
Human Proof Designs – Another full service company that has sites ready to go. This link might not be an affiliate so let them know you found them through Niche Site Projec.t