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This is smart advice for anyone just getting started, so pay attention!
You’ve decided to become an online entrepreneur, and make money through affiliate marketing.
You chose affiliate marketing because you heard it’s pretty easy to get started: you don’t need to build your own product (you just promote everyone else’s), the money can be fantastic, and it’s much easier to build a passive income than most other ways of making money online.
Imagine waking up in the morning and logging into your affiliate account to check how much money you’ve made overnight.
“Hmm… only $150 last night… it was a bit of a slow one…”
You lounge around in bed with your laptop, drinking a coffee and reading the news sites, before padding across the hall into your office around 10am to start “work”.
“Work” involves adding some new content to your website, or sending an email to all the people subscribed to your newsletter. Or you might be chatting back and forth with the guy who is creating content for your new project. Or approving a graphic created by your designer in the Philippines.
It’s not hard, but then, you don’t really need to do much. Your site basically sits there, making money on autopilot.
You stop work at around 2pm so you can meet a friend for coffee. He’s complaining about his job — he’s overworked, his colleagues aren’t pulling their weight, and his boss is an egomaniacal jerk who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.
You feel pretty glad that you don’t have to deal with that anymore.
He goes back to work and you spend the rest of the day seeing friends and family.
You check your earnings again just before you go to bed, and see that you’ve made another $300 today. Not too bad for a day’s “work”. In fact, you think you might take tomorrow off…
This is what my average day looks like. I’m not one of those high-profile “look at me!” affiliates, flaunting my cars and mansions. (I drive a 10-year-old hatchback and I rent my apartment.)
But I run three reasonably small affiliate sites, and from those I earn more than a full-time income.
The best part about it is that I don’t really need to do anything to my websites.
My only ongoing costs are my monthly hosting charges, and the fees for sending out my newsletter. It’s less than a hundred bucks a month.
I don’t pay for advertising.
I don’t have to keep adding new content to my websites.
They just work.
And I’m going to show you how to make an autopilot affiliate site, just like mine.
I built my first affiliate site in 2007 after going through a training course for beginner affiliates.
The course focused on building “search engine optimized” websites — Websites full of content that attracts visitors from search engines like Google. Those visitors come to read your articles, and then BOOM! You promote affiliate products to them and earn money.
I liked the idea of building a site that would get traffic from the search engines because search engine traffic is free.
I could have taken a faster approach and just paid for advertising to get visitors — lots of people were doing that. If you’re paying for your visitors you can basically jump straight in the deep end and you have the potential to start earning straight away.
But… I really wasn’t sure what I was doing, and I was $4000 in debt on my credit card, so I wanted to get my feet wet in the free-est way possible.
Also if we’re being honest here, I wasn’t even 100% convinced that affiliate marketing would work for me.
And to tell the truth… it didn’t work for me.
I made one sale in my first year as an affiliate, and barely anything for the next couple of years after that.
Looking back now, I can see why I failed.
I was lazy.
Lazy how? Well here’s a flashback for you: Back in 2007 you could just build links to your own site by submitting things to directories, “spinning” articles, building “web 2.0” properties, and a bunch of other things.
Links are important for getting your website to the top of Google. So if you had the time (or the money to hire someone) you could use these methods of building links to get your website to the top of the Google search rankings reasonably reliably.
And with those top rankings, you could get lots of visitors, and turn them into lots of money.
Traffic = money!
But lazy old me couldn’t be bothered going out there and building links. I just didn’t have the dedication for that.
To add insult to injury, I went rogue with my website content. I was supposed to create my content around words and phrases (keywords) that lots of people were searching for in the search engines.
But to me, those topics were too boring and vague to be useful to anyone, so instead I just created the kind of stuff that I would want to read myself and ignored the keywords.
And the result?
An embarrassment. I’d done everything wrong.
After about a year online, my site was averaging around 150 visitors a week. I kept it online because it wasn’t really costing me anything to run, but I didn’t put any more work into it.
After FIVE years of just sitting there it was it was getting around 7000 visits a month.
It was growing slowly, but it made so little money that I started calling those earnings my “couch money” — it was like the spare change you find tucked down behind your couch cushions when you vacuum: kinda fun to find, but not exactly enough to live on.
I figured that I simply wasn’t evil enough to be an affiliate marketer. I couldn’t play the game.
In 2012 Google released their “Penguin” update, which changed the way Google looked at certain kinds of links (and therefore it changed the way they ranked websites).
Remember all those links I was supposed to have built if I had wanted to get my website ranking well in 2007? Yeah, Google decided it didn’t like those anymore.
Those “easy to build” kinds of links were “devalued”, and sites that had used those kinds of links to boost their search engine rankings found that their rankings plummeted overnight.
Some sites that had built a lot of these links were even penalized. Lots of previously successful affiliates lost their rankings and their incomes.
It was basically the apocalypse for affiliate marketing as we knew it.
But there were also some winners who emerged from the rubble.
And it turns out that my miserable failure of a website was one of them.
Since I had been too lazy to build all those backlinks like I was supposed to, my website passed through Penguin unscathed.
But it wasn’t just that.
While other affiliates were desperately scrabbling to find new ways to get links that would not get them penalised by Penguin, my site was naturally gaining more and more links. Other sites were voluntarily linking to me left, right, and center.
As a result, my rankings kept going up and up and up. It was actually easy now that all the serious competition had been removed.
(And remember — I am supremely lazy. I still wasn’t lifting a finger to get these results.)
So what made my site different to all the other affiliate sites that got busted and couldn’t recover?
It turns out that in my laziness, I’d accidentally stumbled upon a strategy that works in the post-apocalyptic SEO landscape.
It involves using a combined system of content types which (when used together) make a powerful website that ranks easily, makes money, and is extremely easy to promote. (In fact my sites basically promote themselves.)
It also steered me away from the mistakes that most new affiliates make. (And affiliates are still making these exact same mistakes today.)
I accidentally put this strategy together, and now I want to share it with you.
But first, you need to understand why the “old” methods (that you might have tried already) don't work…
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of affiliates fail, and it almost always comes down to two big problems:
99% of the time it will be one of those problems, or both.
So what’s going wrong? (And more importantly: How can you avoid this happening to you?)
You’re not going to make any money as an affiliate if you can’t get your affiliate link in front of people. And this means you need to get visitors to your website.
Let me just say this first: You could get thousands of visitors to your website today, while barely lifting a finger — If you’re willing to pay some serious money for it. (And then you better hope you make a profit — it’s not as easy as it sounds!)
The thing that’s hard is getting visitors to your website without paying for them, either through the search engines or social media.
So why can some people do it, but other people just seem to suck at it?
The big thing to understand is that if you want free visitors, it’s pretty much always going to come down to whether you can get other people to share your stuff.
So you need people to share. Got that?
But here are the problems I see with affiliate sites that can’t get traffic:
Back in the old days, none of this mattered. You could just go out there and build a bunch of links to your own websites, and you’d be able to rise up the search engine rankings. But since Google’s Penguin came along, you need to go out and convince real people that your content is worth linking to.
And guess what? Real people don’t want to link to crappy websites or crappy content.
And who’s really good at building crappy websites? Affiliates. Because we’re not building them out of love. We're in it for the money.
And it shows.
So that’s the (very simplified) reason why you can’t get traffic. Basically, because your website and content aren’t very good, or because you’re going after keywords that are too competitive (AND your content isn't very good.)
But this is also good news for you.
How could this possibly be good news? Well, it means that if you can step up your game just a tiny notch, then you’ll quickly start beating all the other crap websites out there.
If you’re prepared to do a little bit more than the bare minimum, it actually becomes quite easy to make good money.
So how do you build content that doesn’t suck? I’m going to talk about that shortly.
But first let’s look at the second problem affiliates end up facing that is just as bad as not getting any traffic.
The painful situation where you can get traffic, but you can’t make money...
If you’re one of the ones who can get visitors to your website, you might end up like this affiliate:
There are a couple of really big reasons why you might be getting visitors to your site, but you’re still not making sales.
(Sometimes you just need to make a couple of quick tweaks, and other times it might be because you got things wrong from the very beginning.)
If you don’t choose the right products to promote, then no matter how great your website is… you’re going to have trouble selling them.
You might have chosen products that just don’t sell well. Or you might be promoting great products, but you’re promoting them to the wrong people.
Either way, you’re going to have a hard time making money.
Just because you get someone to your site, it doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to want to buy something. The best affiliate sites are ones that effectively move their visitors closer to a sale through different kinds of content and subtle psychological tricks.
Marketers like to call this a “funnel”, and that’s really what an affiliate site is — it’s a big funnel. Every page on your website should be leading your visitors towards a sale.
(But that doesn’t just mean slapping a big link or a banner in the middle of the page. Some of the best funnels are ones where your visitor can’t even tell you’re trying to sell them something.)
If you’re only attracting the kind of visitors who are never going to buy anything… you’re probably not going to make many sales.
I see a lot of affiliates focusing too much on getting traffic, and not paying enough attention to whether that traffic will buy.
Newsflash: Not all traffic is equal. Some kinds of traffic is much more likely to buy than other kinds. So if you’re focusing on the wrong kind… you’ll get lots of visitors, but still no money.
Find products and niches that are going to perform well.
Target them with the right choice of keywords, and the right kind of content.
Say the right thing at the right time to build their interest in a product.
Build content that gives people what they want, and the job of promoting your website becomes ridiculously easy.
In this guide I’m going to show you how to build a website that ticks all of these boxes.
When this is done right, it means that your website becomes self-sustaining:
Here’s what it’s going to look like when it’s finished:
If that looks confusing (or intimidating, or both) right now, don’t worry: I’m going to break all those pieces down and show you how to create each one, how they all fit together, and most importantly — how it’s going to make you money.
Grab yourself a copy of Pathway To Passive for an all-in-one look at how to build a successful, high-quality, long-lasting affiliate website, and a great passive income.
This is the ultimate "READ ME FIRST!" guide for new affiliates.
This has opened my eyes to a simple, effective but informative way to not only provide great informative content but increase your earnings. I'm looking forward to applying it to my website/blog.
- Tommy J.
Chapter 5 - Wow Content is killer. The blueprint for engaging traffic drawing content is spot on. Best plan for longterm free search engine traffic.
- Greg G.
This is smart, advanced stuff that I haven't read before in such an explicit and detailed manner... You get all the pieces of the puzzle together and understand how it works and what to do. Brilliant! Best affiliate blueprint I ever read.
- Gerard S.
...An in-depth perspective of the philosophy and exact details that are involved with creating content that attracts traffic.
Every day I read expert opinions on the right and wrong ways of affiliate marketing. This sums everything legitimate up in one guide.
- Darcy F.