How To Make Your First 100$ Online In 45 Minutes Through Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

This monster posts content was updated and turned into PDF format. Check it out here.

A word of warning: This post is very long. It’s more than a post, this is a manual. I recommend that you bookmark it and use it as a workbook.

There are some affiliate links in this post (that means I get a commission if I refer you to that service/product). I only link to products that I truly recommend. If  this post helps you and you want to purchase any of those valuable products or services, I’d be grateful if you do it through my link. It’s not going to cost you anything and supports and motivates me to keep posting valuable content in the future.

Introduction

If you want to be able to earn anywhere, online marketing is the best way to reach that goal. The biggest stepping-stone for everybody who wants to make money online is getting their first sale. This post describes a straightforward-approach to making that first sale and more.

A note before we start: The number 1 problem that most people who want to break free have, is that they never get started. If you are serious, get started today, commit to one method and keep going until you succeed.

Online marketing is a real business. As soon as you start treating it like one, it will start paying you like one. You have to be willing to put work and money in if you want to succeed.

What’s Affiliate Marketing?

Timmy goes to your website for advice. On your website, he clicks on a link to Johnny’s site. Timmy likes what he sees at Johnny’s website and decides to buy it. Johnny is happy that you sent him a customer and pays you a handsome commission (in case of information products usually between 50-75% of the revenue).

On the technical side, this is realized through cookies. Once Timmy clicks on the link, a cookie is stored in Timmy’s browser. If Timmy decides to purchase, the payment processor knows that you sent him the customer thanks to that cookie.

Before we start here are two common misconceptions about Affiliate Marketing.

“Affiliate Marketing is unethical.”

It’s only unethical if you make it unethical, namely trying to sell your audience crappy products. And even if the product is crappy, every product comes with a money back guarantee. So at the end of the day, if the consumer likes the product, he will keep it.

“Affiliate Marketing sucks because you don’t control the product and give 30-50% of profits away.”

True. That’s a big disadvantage. However, if you never made money online before, Affiliate Marketing is the easiest and best way to get started.

Why Affiliate Marketing is the best way to get started online

Many people who want to get started online just can’t get over the big barrier of creating their own information products – it’s pretty daunting. Some tasks, like finding the right niche, can be a big roadblock in the beginning.

On the other hand, if you promote a product that already sells well, all the market research has already been done for you. As well as the copywriting, the support and managing refunds. All you have to find are a few decent keywords.

That’s why it’s so much easier to get started with affiliate marketing.

When you become experienced and successful at affiliate marketing, it will be so much easier for you to create your own Information Products from there. If you have a site that makes you lots of money you could also swap the Affiliate-Product that you are promoting with your own product. If you know how to research information, you can pretty much get into any niche.

1. Brainstorm Niches

About passion

Your niche doesn’t have to be a passion of yours, but you should at least be interested in it. If you are not interested at all, the upcoming creating-content and linkbuiding-sections will be a pain. Thus, I’ll probably never go for the hemorrhoids niche, even though there might be some good money.

Get a list of potential niches

To get started, you need a list of potential niches.

One way to come up with niches is to write down a list of fears, problems or passions that you have. If you have a problem, chances are very big that someone else also has this problem. Passions are also good.

People are likely to spend money on something that they are really passionate about. The golfer who is obsessed with improving his handicap is likely to buy.

Someone who has a problem/fear and is desperate or passionate about solving it is someone you want to sell to. Evergreens in online marketing are the weight loss, dating and making money niches. Note: I don’t recommend starting out in the make money online niche because it is really competitive.

Getting laid is a powerful motivator.

Other great niches are really icky ones, where the prospect would rather type something into Google than ask his friends for advice. Examples:

  • Penis enlargement
  • Hemorrhoids
  • A guy that can’t get laid
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pregnancy stretchmarks
  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • Bedrest pregnancy (not really embarrassing, but the woman will be bored out of her mind and google it)

I’m sure you can see how affiliate marketing can be actually something of real value. You can provide people that have some real embarrassing problems with free, well-researched information and refer them to products that can genuinely help them in feeling better.

Once you have a few niches in mind, proceed. If you still have problems coming up with potential niches, proceed to Step 3 (choose products to promote) and then go back to Step 2 (Keyword Research).

2. Keyword Research

A keyword is the search term that someone types into Google when she tries to find information. An example for a keyword is “scuba diving”. There are two main groups of keywords, short-tail and long-tail keywords.

A short-tail keyword is very broad, e.g. “scuba diving” or “weight loss”. Short-tail keywords are really hard to rank for and are not as commercially relevant.

A long-tail keyword consists of at least three words and is highly relevant, e.g. “learn to scuba dive in Miami” or “how to loose weight fast without exercising”. It is relatively easy to rank for long-tail keywords and people, that use those keywords, are usually looking for solutions (which often involves buying something). We want to go for long-tail keywords.

Our goal is to find a Keyword that has decent enough volume but seems easy to rank for. For that, we are going to use some free tools.

Google Keyword Research Tool

To determine the search volume of a Keyword, we are going to use the official Google Keywords tool. Don’t bother buying any sophisticated KW-research software just yet.

SEO Book Tools

If you don’t have Firefox already, download it. Firefox is the Search Engine Optimization and Keyword Research-Browser of my choice due to some great plug-ins.

Go here, and sign up to the SEO Book mailing list. In exchange for that, you’ll get 3 Firefox plug-ins. Install the SEO Toolbar, SEO for Firefox and Rank Checker plugins.

The SEO Toolbar is pretty handy. It shows you all kinds of useful stats about each site you visit.

SEO for Firefox is what we will be using for competition analysis. It shows you metrics about every website that shows up in the Google search results.

Rank Checker is useful to track you rankings in the search engines, more on that later.

The Research

  1. Go to the Google Keywords tool.
  2. If you have an Adwords-account, log in. If not, don’t bother.
  3. Advanced Options -> All Countries & English
  4. Type your niche (e.g. weight-loss) into the textbox and hit search.
  5. In the left column there’s an option called Match Types. Check “exact” and uncheck the rest. (“Exact” delivers the most realistic results.)
  6. Choose long-tail KWs, if possible with at least 1000 Global Monthly Searches, and proceed to competition analysis.

Competition Analysis

We’re going to use multiple criteria to analyze the competition.

I’m using a Spreadsheet to analyze the competition. I put a sample on Google Docs, download it and copy your keyword in the Keywords-Column and the Monthly Global Searches in the Monthly Searches-column.

Moneyword Matrix

Moneyword Matrix

The Moneyword Matrix (pictured above) is one of those criteria. Enter the keyword that you are analyzing with “quotes” into Google (e.g. “learn to scuba dive in Miami”). This returns the total number of websites that Google has indexed that mention the exact phrase “learn to scuba dive in Miami” (Google will say: About X results (0.09 seconds)).

If your keyword has more than 1000 monthly searches (according to the Google Keyword Tool), but only between 0 and 10,000 results show up in Google, the keyword is rated excellent and so forth.

Enter the “Search Results” and the Moneyword Matrix – rating into the appropriate columns.

Page Rank Analysis

Now the SEO for Firefox plug-in comes into play. Make sure that the plug-in is enabled, go to Options and set “PR” to “Automatic”.  PR stands for Google Page Rank and basically describes how much authority a website has with the Search Engines (the higher, the better).

Google your keyword. This time, don’t use quotes. The sites that show up here are your real competition – nobody searches with “quotes”. SEO for Firefox gives you the Page Rank of every result. Add the Page Ranks for the top 10 results and divide them by 10. That’s your average Page Rank. Enter it into the appropriate column of the Spreadsheet. You want the average PR to be as low as possible, below 2 would be great.

Note on YouTube-results: Ignore the videos for the Page Rank calculation, but keep in mind that too many YouTube-results on the 1st page will make it harder to rank for you.

Onsite SEO Analysis

Onsite SEO(=Search Engine Optimization) describes how well a site is optimized for certain keywords. Even if a website is high in Page Rank, you can easily outrank it if your site is optimized for your keywords and your competitor’s is not.

The three most important factors for Onsite SEO are

  1. Keyword appears in URL
  2. Keyword appears in Title (That’s the text in your Browser title bar. Google shows the title as the headline of the search result – big hyperlinked letters.)
  3. Keyword appears in meta-description. That’s a website attribute that Google shows as the black text below the search result – headline.

Search Engine Result

Just have a look at the Top 10 results and note how well they seem to be optimized. If most sites have a high PR (see step before) and seem to be optimized, drop the keyword.

Insert your opinion into the spreadsheet.

Domain Search

As you just learned, one important factor of onsite SEO is that the keyword appears in the URL.

Head over to GoDaddy and check domain-availability for your keyword. If your keyword would be Hawaii Scuba Diving, you should try to get www.hawaiiscubadiving.com. If that’s not available, go for .net or .org. I would stay away from .info. If you can’t get a .com, .net and .org, go for something like iYourKeyword, eYourKeyword or YourKeywordHQ. Write the best available domain into your spreadsheet.

Repeat

Repeat this process multiple times, then select a winner from the spreadsheet. Keep in mind: Since this is about getting your first sales, I’d choose a low traffic keyword (could be even below 1000 searches) that is easy to rank for over high-traffic keyword that seems hard to rank for.

Once you have your main keyword, search for a couple of sub-keywords with a couple hundred searches that seem to be easy to rank for. A sub-keyword to “how to lose weight fast” could be “lose weight fast without pills” or “lose weight fast without exercising”.

3. Select a Product

We’re going to use Clickbank. Clickbank is probably the biggest online marketplace for digital products. You can find almost anything imaginable at Clickbank, from simple 27$ e-books to software, from the self-improvement to the make money online niche. Clickbank makes a sale every 3 seconds and processes 26,000 transactions a day. When you check out the best selling products at Clickbank, you can in one way or the other see what is going on in the world.

Top-selling Clickbank products

The absolute top-selling products at time of writing are in the “make money online”-niche. However, there are thousands of products in other niches that sell really well too.

Clickbank provides the infrastructure for vendors to offer their products and for affiliates to sell them. They process payments and provide the affiliates with affiliate-links (also called hoplinks).

A hoplink is a URL that identifies the vendor and the affiliate. If someone uses your hoplink (with your affiliate-ID embedded to buy a product), Clickbank will give you credit for referring the sale, as long as the product is bought within 60 days.

A hoplink looks like this: http://YourCBUsername.VendorUsername.hop.clickbank.net/

Once you start making money, Clickbank willl start paying you out per checks. Checks suck for people who are traveling or live in Europe. Thankfully, once you received 2 checks, you will be allowed to recieve payments by bank transfer (Available for most European countries in the Euro-zone, US, Singapore and more. A full list is here.).

Register at Clickbank.

After registration, go to Clickbank, click on Marketplace -> Advanced Search. Select an appropriate category for your niche. Check Gravity and set it to higher than 20. Gravity basically means, how many Affiliates recently made sales for that product. You don’t want to promote a product that is not selling at all. There’s a reason that it is not selling (e.g. bad copywriting, small market). Hit Search.

When evaluating the results, the following is important:

  • Gravity
  • How’s the sales page? Are there typos? Does it make you want to buy the product?
  • Is there a buy-button at the sales page or just an email-opt-in? Many affiliates don’t want to promote products with email-opt-in. For example, it could happen that a prospect signs-up at work and buys the product at home, when he gets an email. You won’t get commission for that because your affiliate-cookie is still in the consumer’s browser at work.

Choose 1-2 products and write down your  hop links. They should look like this: http://YourCBUsername.VendorUsername.hop.clickbank.net/

4. Set up Website, Domains and Hosting

Now we’re at the point where it is necessary to spend some money. Start up costs of online businesses are extremely low compared to every other business out there, but there are some costs involved. The good news is: once you covered the start-up costs, every additional site only costs you 10$ for domain registration.

I recommend choosing separate companies for web-hosting and domain registration.

Web hosting

Web hosting allows you to make your websites accessible via the WWW. Web hosting corporations provide you with space on a webserver. There is dedicated and shared hosting.

Dedicated hosting means that you get your own server. Shared hosting means that you share a server with other people. From the outside, it looks like your site is hosted on a stand-alone-server though. Shared hosting is what you want to go for, there’s no need to get a dedicated server for our purposes.

Choose a host

There are hundreds of hosting companies out there. You want a host that allows you to have many domains without paying extra. Don’t worry about stuff like dedicated SSL or IPs.

I’m personally using Hostgator. They are competitively priced, have high levels of uptime (I never noticed any of my sites being offline so far) and provide an easy-to-use control panel to manage your sites.

Tech-support is really important in web-hosting. Sooner or later, you will run into issues with some of your sites. The Hostgator support is world class. At any time of the day and at any time of the year, there are dozens of technicians on stand-by, available on the phone or support chat.

I recommend Hostgator’s Baby-Plan. It enables you to have unlimited sites.

You will automatically get the most valuable Hostgator coupon during sign-up.

Register your Domain

Go to GoDaddy and register your domain.

Click on your domain to go to the settings, go to -> Nameservers -> click on “Set Nameservers” and enter the appropriate server-addresses (If you are using Hostgator you get them in you welcome-email. E.g.: NS12.hostgator.com & NS13.hostgator.com).

All you need to know about nameserververs is that they are responsible for redirecting people who go to your domain to the IP-Address of your server. The’re just performing a lookup-operation: they look which URL is pointing to which IP-Address. It’s comparable to a phone-book.

Install WordPress

WordPress is the plattform of our choice. It’s not just good for normal blogs, it’s also great for Affiliate Sites or even corporate websites. With WordPress, it is easy to get a good-looking, Search Engine-optimized site that is easy to manage and is up and running fast.

Log into your hosting account and install WordPress. If you are using Hostgator, go to CPanel -> Fantastico De Luxe -> WordPress. While installing, choose your main keyword as your blog-title and some catchy phrase that contains your keyword as the tagline.

After you installed WordPress, log into your WordPress Admin area.

It sometimes takes a few hours for your nameserver-changes to be effective. That means that your WordPress-site doesn’t appear and you see a spamy, ad-plastered site instead. If that is the case, take a break and continue tomorrow or later today.

Get Thesis Theme

A WordPress theme is responsible for your site-design, but some premium themes go far beyond simply looking good.

If you are serious, get the Thesis Theme Developer’s Licence. Trust me, you don’t want to mess around with anything else.

Thesis gives you lots of flexibility, design options and makes life so much easier. It is easy to manage, search-engine optimized and gets updated with each new WordPress version.

Thesis comes with great support. There’s a huge community of Thesis – users, therefore you will find answers to any questions that you have.

Building sites is so fast and easy. The WordPress+Thesis combination allows me to to crank out new websites within minutes.

Many successful bloggers and online-marketers use Thesis. I personally run all my WordPress-sites on Thesis.

I don’t recommend free themes. Making even subtle modifications to them is a real pain and they are not updated regularly.

You will have many sites in the long run, instead of just 1-2.  Just imagine what would happen if you have free themes on 20 different sites, and a new WordPress version will be released and half your themes break. A high-quality, premium theme like Thesis will save you lots of headaches.

WordPress running on Thesis also has a huge advantage over other non-Wordpress solutions that are geared towards micro-sites. If your site takes off and you decide to turn it into an Authority site, WordPress easily scales to that size.

Go for the Thesis developer license which is well spent money and will make your life so much easier.

In the following paragraphs, I’m going to show you how I customize Thesis and WordPress for my affiliate sites. It’s impossible for me to describe this process for each other theme out there. If you don’t use Thesis, Google is your friend (you might need some plug-ins to do the job).

Customizing WordPress

  1. Install/upload your theme.
  2. Install the Google XML Sitemap plug-in. A sitemap makes it easier for the Search Engine robots to find every page on your site. Be sure to go to the Plug-in options and build the first sitemap.
  3. Go to Settings->Permalinks and set the permalinks to /%postname%. That puts the title of your posts and articles in the URL (as already explained, that’s an important part of onsite SEO).

 

Customizing Thesis

The following instructions are exactly what I do with my sites. Feel free to change any of those settings to your liking. All these instructions are for Thesis 1.8. In the future, some of those options might change slightly, but it will still give you a roadmap of what to do.

Insert Analytics-code

Google Analytics will allow you to track website-statistics like number of visitors or traffic sources. Go to Thesis->Site Options->Stats Software/Scripts->Stats and Tracking Scripts and paste your tracking-code into the textbox.

 

Stat and Tracking Scripts

Set up Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools are a collection of tools by Google. They range from crawl-reports to keyword reports to sitemap-submit tools.

Sign Up for the Google Webmaster Tools. Add your domain-name and verify it.

I’d recommend using a meta-tag for verification. To verify with Thesis, paste the Google Webmaster meta-tag into the textbox at Thesis->Site Options->Document Head->Additional Scripts.

Google Site Verification

After your site is verified, submit your XML-sitemap. You should find that option right at your dashboard. Your sitemap should be located at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. This will help Google to find all your pages.

If your site for any reason doesn’t target the US for any reason, change your geographic target at Site configuration -> Settings -> Geographic target.

Setting a geographic target.

 

Onsite SEO

Onsite SEO is really important to make your sites rank well. Set your <title> and <meta> description to something appropriate.

To do that, go to Thesis->Site Options->Homepage SEO.

Home Page SEO

Both your title and meta description should contain your main-keyword at least once. Make sure that they also sound good to humans, because those attributes show up in the search engines and could decide if someone clicks through to your site or not. Once again, Hawaii Scuba Diving is a good example:

Search Engine Result

Search Engine Result

 

Column layout

I suggest having 2 columns. Put the sidebar left and the content right. We want our visitors to interact with the sidebar. Studies have shown that click-through-rates are higher if the sidebar is on the left side.

Go to Thesis->Design Options->Site Layout->Columns. I’d recommend 2 columns (Content=612px, Sidebar1=378px). Column order: Sidebar1, Content.

Column Options

Add header logo

Don’t waste too much time on a header logo. I personally do them in Photoshop (plain text: site-name + tagline), give them some nice looking shade, color and select a cool font. That’s the same thing I did with my current logo at this site, Live Life Big.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend using creatr.cc to quickly create a decent logo. Once your logo is done, simply upload it to your site by going to Thesis -> Header Image.

Header Image Uploader

Header Image Uploader

Cloak Affiliate Links

Cloaking affiliate links means that your visitors perceive your affiliate link as an internal link when they move over a link with their mouse. Instead of http://YourCBUsername.VendorUsername.hop.clickbank.net/, the link will read like http://yoursite.com/product/.

Cloaked links look nicer and improve Click Through Rate.

To cloak affiliate links in Thesis, do the following:

  • Create a new page (name = productname).
  • Scroll down after the textbox and look for a settings-box called “301 Redirect for this Page’s URL”.
  • Paste your affiliate link in the textbox ad hit “Publish”.

Thesis link cloaking

Misc. Design Settings

We’re going to change some Thesis default settings that we don’t want for our site. That’s just my personal preference. Feel free to do what you want.

  1. Byline settings. Go to Thesis->Design Options->Display Options->Bylines and uncheck every check-box there. (E.g.: We don’t want anyone to see 1 year from now that our content was published a long time ago.)
  2. Display full post content. Go to Thesis->Design Options->Display Options->Posts and choose “Display full post content”.
  3. Hide default widgets. Go to Thesis->Design Options->Display Options->Sidebars and uncheck “Show default sidebar widgets”.
  4. Remove admin links. Go to Go to Thesis->Design Options->Display Options->Administration and uncheck both “Show edit post links” and “Show admin link in footer”.
  5. Teaser options. Go to Go to Thesis->Design Options->Teasers->Teaser Display Options and make sure that only “post title”, “post excerpt” and “link to full article” is checked.
  6. Hide Mulitmedia Box. Go to Go to Thesis->Design Options->Multimedia Box->Default Settings and set it to “Do not show box”.

Congratulations, we’re done with setting up the website.

5. Creating Content

Now it’s finally time to get down and dirty and create some content. You really want to create some highly valuable content. If your site is spammy, your readers will hit the back-button of their browsers within seconds.

How to promote your affiliate products

You can choose between 2 options: Having a newsletter or linking directly to the salespage.

Direct link to salespage

Linking directly to the salespage is the easiest way to get started.

To do that, place your affiliate-links at the end of each post and in the sidebar. Include 1-2 paragraphs of copy promoting the link (more on that below).

Most products come with some sweet-looking virtual covers. Download them from their Affiliate-central and put them into your articles and into your sidebar. Be sure that the images are hyperlinked with your affiliate link.

The advantage of this method is that you’ll be able to get started fast. The biggest disadvantage is that you most likely will have less sales then the newsletter-version.

Newsletter

I’d recommend using a mailing-list to increase the revenue of your affiliate sites. The big advantage of a mailing-list is that it allows you to build a relationship with your prospects. Once they trust you, you can send them your affiliate link. This will result in higher Click Through Rates (CTR) and conversion rates than just posting an affiliate link on your website.

Another advantage is that people who give you their e-mail address are not gone once they click on your affiliate link. You will be able to contact them with other deals in the future that might interest them. E.g., a guy who opts into your “How to date hot girls” series might not just be interested in products in the dating niche, he could also be interested in products on “How to give girls mind-blowing orgasms”.

The most popular and best email marketing software is Aweber.

Aweber avoids spam through double opt-in. Aweber’s servers are white-listed and the mails sent have an incredibly high delivery rate. Aweber allows you to pre-configure all your messages in advance to auto send. It allows you to completely customize the messages by inserting the receptor’s name into the message body.

Aweber opt-in

It also comes with many good-looking forms that you can easily put on your website. I’m personally using Aweber on my affiliate sites.

Once you signed up for Aweber, plaster your email opt-in boxes all over your site. You want to be really aggressive. Put an opt-in box into your sidebar and after every post.

Of course, nobody is going to give you his e-mail address for free. Offer them something compelling that they can’t resist. E.g., a 5-part e-mail series that helps them to overcome their problem by giving them well-researched, free information. Send them one helpful e-mail per day for a few days in a row to establish trust. Then send them their affiliate link.

You could send them some articles that you already released to article directories or link-wheels (provided, they’re not already posted on your site). Many vendors have promotional articles that you can use for your e-mail list. The beauty about e-mail marketing is that you don’t have to worry about duplicate content.

Some vendors also have promo-ebooks (a combination of helpful information and sales-pitch for the product) that can be rebranded with your own affiliate links. If they are available for your products, offer them as a opt-in bait.

Copywriting

I’d recommend experimenting with how hard you try to sell your affiliate link and your newsletter-sign-up.

There are variations from not selling at all (“You might be interested in this book.”) to selling the product as THE #1 cure for your prospect’s problems. If your salespage is a video, labeling the link something along the lines of “Click here to watch a free video about why most weight-loss strategies don’t work.” could also be effective.

I personally prefer selling not too hard, but not too soft either.

The book Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy That Grabs Their Attention and Compels Them to Buy (highly recommended if you’re interested in the topic) lays out a 5-step formula on how to write compelling salespages:

  1. Write down your target audience’s problem. (E.g.: They can’t find a girlfriend and are not sure if they ever will find one.)
  2. Write down the reason(s) why the problem persists. (E.g.: They don’t know how to approach girls, they don’t know what to say, they are shy, …)
  3. What’s possible? (E.g.: Getting a smoking hot girlfriend, becoming a playboy, …)
  4. What is different now? – They found you/the product. Explain how your product will help them to solve their problem.
  5. What should you do now? Sign up for your mailing list or buy the product that you  promote.

Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration on how to write the copy promoting your affiliate link or newsletter sign-up. Keep in mind that you’re not writing an entire salespage, I definitely wouldn’t write more then 1-2 paragraphs.

Posts

Write a unique, high-quality post on each of your chosen keywords. I’d make it at least 300 words. If you don’t know anything about your topic, do some research via Google and Wikipedia (don’t steal any content to avoid Google’s “duplicate content penalty”).

On SEO: I’d mention your keyword every once in a while. But make it natural for the reader and don’t spam, this is only going to get you penalized by the search engines. When you publish your article, be sure that your head and meta-description tags match your keyword. Using Thesis, you can find those options right below the content-box (SEO Details and Additional Style).

Include an image for each post. Go to the Flickr Advanced Search. In the creative commons section, check “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”, “Find content to use commercially” and “Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon”. Search for a fitting image that creates desire (e.g.: When in weight-loss, take an image of a hot girl. Every woman will want to look like her and every guy will want to lose weight so he would be able to get her.).

Download it, rename the file to your keyword (e.g. how-to-lose-weight-fast.jpg). Upload it to your blog and make the sure that the alt-tag and image description are your keyword as well. Don’t forget to give credit to the author (mention his/her name) and link to the image.

Add pages

The more content your site has, the more Google will like it. Add some or all of those pages:

  • About

Just write something like: “Hey, I’m Mike. I struggled with being overweight for a long-time, but now I finally lost weight successfully. I hope this site helps you to accomplish your goals. To get started, check out some popular posts: <Link to posts>”.

After those links, create a section called “Further reading” and link out to some Wikipedia-articles on your topic and to 1-3 legit sites that don’t compete for the same keywords. The reason for that: Google thinks it’s unnatural if a website doesn’t link out to neighboring sites.

  • Affiliate Disclosure

You have to mention on your website that you make money if someone buys from your link (it’s the law). You can either make a serious-version, stating that the reason for linking to some products is commercial intent or a not-so serious one like I have here.

  • Privacy Policy

You don’t need a privacy policy unless you use Google Adsense on your site (not recommended). But it’s a commonly used page, and the more pages you have, the better. You can create your privacy policy with this plug-in.

  • Contact Form

You’ll probably never get contacted if your site stays small. But it helps your site seem more legit. I use Contact Form 7.

Awesome! You’re done with adding content! Way to go.

6. Linkbuilding

We already talked about on-site SEO. The other part of Search Engine Optimization is off-site SEO. Whenever a site links to you, the search engines count that as a vote. The more votes you have, the more important the search engines think you are.

Backlink 101

A link from a third-party site to your site is called backlink. A backlink is like a vote. On the web, sites usually link to others because they like their content. The more incoming links a site has, the more interesting and valuable its content must be – that’s Google’s assumptions. For example, Facebook has the maximum Page Rank of 10, because tens of millions of people link to Facebook because they like it so much.

Our goal is to build as many quality and relevant backlinks to your site as necessary, with the result of you hopefully ranking #1 for your keyword. Relevance is important because a link from a site about programming-languages will not be counted equally for your weight-loss site compared to a backlink from a site in the same niche. High quality means that we want links from pages that are high in Page Rank and don’t link to 1000 other sites.

You want to build your backlinks slow and steady. Don’t use any software that blasts out thousands of backlinks one day and stops on the next day.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. It is usually blue and underlined.

If a link to your site is like a vote, a link with your keyword in the anchor text is like an extra strong vote. The site linking to you is not just telling Google that you have valuable content, it also tells Google what your site is about.

To rank for your keyword, you want the anchor text of your backlinks to be your keyword.

Caution: Google and other search engines are very good at detecting link spam. You want to vary your anchor text a little bit. If all your backlinks have the exact same anchor text, the value of all those links will be decreased because Google suspects linkspam.

Where to link to?

You want to build backlinks to both, your homepage and your articles. Each article you wrote should be tailored for 1-2 keywords. Build backlinks with relevant anchor text to those articles. Also build some backlinks to your homepage.

At the end of the day, many links to your homepage help your small articles rank, and many links to your articles help your homepage to gain authority.

Backlinking Strategies

Pinging and Social Media submissions

The best way to get your site indexed fast is pinging and social media submissions. Repeat the following for every site and every backlink you build:

Ping them

Pinging notifies the search engines that something happened on your site (new content, content updated, …). Go to Pingomatic and submit your link.

Social Media submissions

You can submit your links to social bookmarking sites either manually or automated. In the long run, you probably want to do it automated.Here’s how:

  1. Sign up for Onlywire (go for the free account). Onlywire allows you to submit links to dozens of social media sites from one application.
  2. Sign up for some of the social media sites supported (e.g. Digg, Delicious, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, …).
  3. Enter your account details into Onlywire.
  4. Submit your links. You will have to solve captchas for some of the sites.
If you don’t want to use a service like Onlywire, you can submit your links to the following sites to get indexed fast:

Article Directories

Article directories are sites that are high in Page Rank and allow anyone to submit articles. In the author biography, you can include backlinks to your websites.

You want to post unique content to those directories about topics in your niche.

Some popular article directories:

Linkwheels

linkwheel

linkwheel

Linkwheels are often used in SEO. A linkwheel consits out of multiple (at least 5) web 2.0 properties. Each property has one link to your Site and one link to another property. The properties are linked together in a wheel, like above.

Those web 2.0 properties are used because they have a high Page Rank and their pages tend to rank really well in Google. Thus, your backlink will be more valueable. Additionall, you might actually have some people landing on one of your linkwheels through organic search and click through to your affiliate site.

Post an article that is relevant to your keywords to each property. Linkwheels are popular because the properties give each other a boost in rankings by getting a backlink. It also makes the Search Engines think that your site is an authority site by emulating a natural linking pattern: Some small sites linking together and each of those small sites linking to a really important site. For example, in the “Lifestyle Design” niche, there are dozens of blogs linking to each other, but there probably is no blog in that niche that does not link to the Four Hour Workweek at some point.

Popular Web 2.0 properties for linkwheels are:

Get yourself a spam-email address if you haven’t already to sign up for those.

Once you completed a linkwheel, check if everything worked out. Click through the wheel once and check if all the sites are linking together correctly.

A ‘nofollow’ link is a link that will not be counted by the search engines. Google introduced this attribute to prevent link-spam.  Go to the SEO for Firefox – Settings and check “Enable/Disable Highlighting” for ‘nofollow’ links. This will highlight all ‘nofollow’ links. Make sure that none if your links in the wheel are ‘nofollow’ – it breaks the wheel.

If your linkwheel works, ping every single page. Additionally, you can submit each page to social media sites if you have Onlywire set up.

Forums

Another good way to build backlinks is to post in topic related forums. Google for “your niche forum”.

Don’t spam the forums. Put a backlink into your signature and your user-profile and then post in some normal threads (don’t put your url into your post – signature is enough). You will get both the benefit of curious people clicking through to your site and relevant backlinks.

Article Spinning

If you want to create lots of relevant content without writing too many articles, article spinning is what you want. An article spinner generates multiple drastically different versions of one article by utilizing synonyms.

You could take an article from your site, spin it and build a linkwheel with it.

Currently, I’m using an article spinner called Content Professor. It’s in Beta and free right now. It seems to launch in a few weeks. I have no ideas if there will still be free memberships once it launches. Take advantage of it while it lasts.

One thing that I recently started to do is the following:

Let’s say you put 5 articles on your website. Spin all those 5 articles 5 times (proof read them to make sure the content makes sense). Now build a linkwheel. But instead of linking 5 versions of the same article together, link the 5 distinct articles together.

(Link like this: article 1, version 1 -> article 2, version 1 -> article 3, version 1 -> article 4, version 1 -> article 5, version 1. Next link: article 1, version 2 -> article 2, version 2 -> article 3, version 2 -> article 4, version 2 -> article 5, version 2, and so on. )

Even though each spun article is unique, Search Engines are smart and my guess is that they still figure out what you’re up to when you link 5 versions of the same article together. When someone finds one of your linkwheel-pages through organic search, if they click through to your next article, they might read it in this case (they would hit back if they land at the same article again). If they read it, they might click on the link to your site this time.

7. Monitoring your Progress

Checking your search engine rankings

Your goal is to reach number 1 in Google for your keywords. To do that, you have to track your rankings. If you don’t want to spend money on a tool for that, here are 2 free ways to track them:

Rank Checker Firefox plug-in

The Rank Checker Firefox plug-in from SEO Book that you installed in the beginning. As much as I love the SEO Book tools, I’m not really satisfied with the rank checker.

Using Google

We’re actually using Google. There’s only one problem: depending on your geographic location and the information that Google gathered about you through your previous searches and your account, you won’t get objective results. Go to Scroogle.org. Scroogle will deliver objective search results, no matter where you are and what Google thinks about you.
Choose “number of results: 100”. Search (ctrl+f) for your domain.

Keep going

Keep building links until you rank 1st. 50-60% of all searchers click on the first result. It’ll probably take you a few months to get there. Unfortunately, making money online is a long-term thing.

It could turn out that the keyword is just too hard to rank for. In that case, give it up and try another one.

Google & Clickbank Analytics

Google Analytics

Watch the following video to get started with Google Analytics.

Important metrics for Affiliate sites are:

  • Number of daily visitors (at the dashboard). You should to know how many people visit your site daily. That’s one of the biggest factors in how much money you will earn.
  • Keywords (Traffic Sources -> Keywords). This report shows you which keywords people type into search engines to end up on your site. You might be surprised that many of those keywords seem to be random and not the ones that you optimized for.
  • Landing pages (Content -> Top Landing Pages). Each post on your site is optimized for certain keywords. This report shows you the top pages through which visitors enter your site.

Clickbank Analytics

Log into your Clickbank-account and view the analytics (log in -> Reporting -> Analytics). There are many metrics, but the most important ones if you’re getting started are hop count and conversion rate.

Hop Count

The default graph at Clickbank Analytics shows you your daily hops. When you relate your daily hops to the amount of daily visitors, you can determine Click-Through-Rate (CTR).

Conversion rate

Conversion rate describes what percentage of people buy from the sales-page you send them to (conversion rate = # of sales / total visitors). Usually, the conversion rate of digital products is between 1-5%.

The conversion rate depends on numerous factors, including copywriting and how much the visitors you send there trust you (Did they just click through after reading one page of your site? Or did you send them a handful of valuable articles per email before you gave them your affiliate-link?).

You can calculate your conversion rate with this formula:

Conversion Rate = Gross Sales Count/Hop Count

This does not include refunds.

If your conversion rate is extremely low or you have too many refunds, try experimenting with another product.

Acting on metrics

Those metrics will probably give you ideas on  how to improve your site. Actionable steps could be
  • Do more link-building to rank better in search engines and get more visitors.
  • Getting new keyword ideas.
  • Analyzing high-performing landing pages.
  • Change the copywriting of your site (to improve newsletter sign-up or click-through-rates).
  • Analyzing Conversion Rates and replacing poor performing affiliate programs.

8. Conclusion

That’s it. You’re done. Too cool. Congratulations for completing your 1st affiliate site. I’m sure you learned a lot in the progress.

What’s next?

Instead of just waiting, I’d urge you to build the next site right away. Not every site might be a success. Keep going and build a few sites, you will start making sales. The first few dollars online are always the hardest. Once you break through that barrier, you will start to get momentum, get more experience and become more and more successful.

Once your site is making you some money, some advanced steps could be to build your site into an authority site or even sell your own products to your audience.

Keep going, no matter what

As you’ve seen, there’s actually hard work involved in making money online. Everyone who does not agree on this just wants to sell you some bullshit. There’s no magic pill for anything in life other than working hard, taking action daily and being persistent.

Mathematics is on your side: If you send enough traffic to a sales-page, you will make sales. Keep that in mind whenever you are not sure if this whole “affiliate marketing-thing” will work out for you.

It takes weeks if not months for your sites to rank well. That’s why it’s important to get started today. Keep going and believe in yourself, it’s not rocket science. Start taking action today. Otherwise you might still be in the same situation 1 year from now.

Once you start making some sales, all you need to do is scale the process.

Take action. You can do it.

===========================

I hope that you enjoyed this post. I would be even happier than usually if you spread the word and share this post this time. I truly believe that this post has the potential to help some people to get started working towards financial and location independence.

Do you have any questions? Ask them in the comments.

===========================

Resources

Here’s a list of the most important resources:

Keyword Research

Products to promote

Hosting

Domain Registration

WordPress Theme

WordPress plug-ins

Google Tools

Email Marketing

Pinging

Bulk Social Media submissions

Article Spinning

Image Credits: room66, xdjio, abnelphoto.com

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

David Crandall November 9, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Dude! This is amazing. I started scrolling and it just kept going and GOING AND GOING!!!

I can’t wait to dig into this!!! Amazing!

Reply

Larry Clark November 9, 2010 at 10:54 pm

It’s the Crandall…

Reply

David November 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Thanks for dropping by, David.

Reply

Larry Clark November 9, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Nice article, in depth, and maybe a lot for beginners to digest, but good article. oh and that money word matrix, isn’t that from NPC? Sooo…45 minutes huh? hahaha gonna take some people 45 minutes to read all that.
🙂

Reply

David November 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Thanks for your comment.
I tried to find a balance between not getting too complicated and still talking about the important stuff (e.g. Competition Analysis).
I didn’t come up with the Money Word Matrix, it’s from Niche Profit Classroom, as you said.

45 minutes is about as realistic as a “4 hour work week”, it’s just an evil title to increase CTR.

Reply

Larry @ The Niche Think Tank March 8, 2011 at 12:53 am

I’m going to send you an email question…Very good article though, even if it is a bit long, as you say, bookmark it and come back and use as a workbook…hint hint, package it up and give it away…

Reply

David March 8, 2011 at 7:32 am

Thanks, Larry.
Just sent a reply.

Reply

Randall November 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm

David, you really put a lot of work into this.
It’s gonna make you an expert in the field.

Reply

David November 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Thanks for your comment, Randall. I put a shitload of work into this. I hope you enjoy it.

Reply

David Damron November 9, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Very thorough. I have done this for a while now. I think anyone can do this and your post clearly outlines everything to do. Unfortunately, I am reading it now instead of 12 months ago. Damn my lack of time machine to gain the hours I wasted learning and testing all these steps.

David Damron
http://lifeexcursion.com

Reply

David November 10, 2010 at 5:35 am

Thanks for your comment, David.
It took me some time as well to put all the bits and pieces of information into one holistic image.
Awesome name by the way 😉

Reply

Alan November 11, 2010 at 6:20 am

Wow. Echoing David’s comment, I wish I would have had something like this when I got started. What a whopping resource. Concise and chock-full of all the necessary info. Well done.

ap

Reply

Dan November 10, 2010 at 5:37 am

Excellent effort David, you could charge for this post… hmmmmmm

Reply

David November 10, 2010 at 5:50 am

Haha, maybe I should.

Reply

John Paul Grant November 10, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I smell an ebook

Reply

David November 10, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I might turn this into a PDF at some point. But it’ll definitely stay free.

Reply

David Crandall November 23, 2010 at 3:53 am

I often bookmark posts that I don’t have time to read but WANT to…but most of the time I never get back to them. However, this exact post is one that has been on my mind non-stop since I first bookmarked it the day this came out. Finally, two weeks later after sick babies have gotten well, I’ve taken a week off of work, and it is almost 4 in the morning…I have my chance to read this.

HOLY SHIT!

Dude, this is awesome. Between this and the post you recommended on Pat’s site about backlinking I feel like I know more about niche sites than the average person will ever learn. I am taking tomorrow to do this (I’d do it now…but that whole 4 in the morning thing is getting even my zombie ass tired).

Absolutely top notch, my friend. Love this!!!

Reply

David November 23, 2010 at 5:27 am

Wow, thanks for the nice words.
I was already thinking that it might be too long for a post. Not just because it’s a long read, but because it takes lots of time to implement.
It’ll probably be up as a slightly updated PDF within a few weeks (maybe an email-opt-in bait).

Reply

Firman January 5, 2011 at 12:31 am

This should be an ebook. I once tried affiliate marketing but no luck, but after reading this im gonna give it a shot one more time. More post like this please

Reply

David January 5, 2011 at 9:23 am

Thanks for the kind words. In fact, within the next few weeks, I’ll release an updated version of this post (includes new findings and gets rid of a few unnecessary parts) as a free ebook.

Reply

awesomenyn January 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Absolutely all methods using link building is effective and is very important factor in achieving high page ranking.

Reply

Pierre Bastien January 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

Hi David,

Question for you: what are the things to watch out for if your keyphrase has a trademarked word in it. Just making this up but let’s say you were targeting “rebuild a Ferrari”. Is this usually OK or do you want to stay away from that kind of thing completely? Thanks, and great article.

Reply

David January 29, 2011 at 3:25 am

Hey Pierre,
thanks for your question. That’s a tough one. In general, you probably should not target a keyword like that via exact domain match. Depending on how stuck up the company is and how much you show up on their radar (eg outranking their own sites), they might not be happy with that.

On the other hand, I’m currently experimenting with some domains that include company trademarks because the keywords looked just too promising.

I’ll see what happens.

Reply

Rob March 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

David,
Sign me up for the free ebook. I would pay for it. I have read a lot of ‘free ones’ that weren’t free. I had to read them and that cost precious time. And, they were just an advertising ploy with no substance. I echo what has been said already. It would have been nice a year or two earlier, but truth be told I wasn’t ready then. I am now, so thanks.
You’ve given a good thing.

Live it LOUD!

Reply

David March 8, 2011 at 7:31 am

Thanks man. The ebook is already sitting on my hard drive.
I’ll publish it within the next week or so.

Reply

Scott P April 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Great post! I keep rereading it over and over again! lol

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Erik December 31, 2011 at 10:34 am

Your english looks pretty good. How did you overcome the difficulties writing content in english? Do you outsource?

I’m estonian who is currently making a living from online poker, but I’m looking to diversify my income. I’m thinking about starting a blog to document my process and to find people with similar interests, but sometimes I think that my english looks like its written by a five-year old.

P.S. I’m taking a mini retirement of 50 days to Thailand to get a taste of travelling. I have been reading blogs/books and you internet marketing guys travel a lot and it looks damn cool life. 🙂

Reply

David December 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Yep, being good at English is super important.

I used to write content myself but I don’t do it anymore (most of the time). I don’t enjoy it and it’s a waste of my time. You can get some good and cheap content from sites like WickedFire.

Definitely set up your blog, I don’t think it’s a big issue if you have some grammar/spelling mistakes. Writing your blog would probably improve your English even further.

Thailand’s highly recommended. Where/When are you going?

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Erik December 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I’m arriving in BKK at 28.02 (can’t go earlier because I’m finishing my masters degree). I haven’t made any specific plans, but I would like to see BKK (obviously), some islands (Ko Samui or Phi-phi or maybe Full Moon Party at Ko Pha Ngan) and Chiang Mai. But I think it’s just better to go with the flow and not to rush. If you have suggestions then I’m all ears. 🙂

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David January 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

Cool. Let me know if you ever pop over to Bali, that’s where I currently live.

Definitely check out Railay/Krabi in southern Thailand. If you are up for a real adventure, 100% cultural immersion check out Isaan (e.g. Udon Thani or Ubon Ratchatani). Nobody speaks English there and there’s not much too see, but good times guaranteed =)

Reply

Erik January 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

I’m going to check out Bali for sure. Thanks for the tips, David and happy new year!

Reply

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