Simon’s Guide to creating successful affiliate blogs is an internal learning material of Simon’s Online Marketing Kft..
This guide will teach you how to create a successful affiliate blog with which you are guaranteed to make money.
Quite a lot of money actually.
This was written by me (Simon) exclusively for my new employees, to be used as a learning material (specifically for people hired to be “Content managers” or “Content manager interns”).
However, I’ve decided to share it online, to help people who are trying to make money online with their affiliate blogs.
Feel free to use it as long as you don’t charge people money for it, don’t claim it as your own. It would also be nice if you would give me credit and link to the original source of the material if you mention it on your website (or on social media). This took a lot if work to put together, so it’s greatly appreciated.
If you find it useful please give it a “+1”:
If you follow this guide, and practice, you will be able create successful affiliate blogs from scratch. Just like I did.
Keep in mind, that even if you do everything in this guide, it will take approximately two years till your blog start to generate a substantial amount of money (more than $3000 per month), if you are just starting out.
This is definitely not a quick rich scheme (e.g.: it took me 1.5 years working on my blog on the weekends to be able to quit my job and do it full time). But I can guarantee you, that it works.
Question – What makes you think you can give good advice on how to create a successful affiliate blog?
Good question! And very easy to answer. Apart from working as an online marketing professional in various positions for 4 years I’m now an independent online entrepreneur for over 2 years.
I’m creating and maintaining affiliate blogs full time since I quit my job in 2014.
I’m at a point financially, where I can hire two full time employees and an intern. All this from the revenue of my affiliate blogs.
I think I have the necessary experience to give useful and valuable advice for those who are thinking about making money online this way.
First of all, I’m very fortunate to be able to do professionally what has been my dream since my teenage years.
Coming from a poor family I did not have access to the internet at home till I was 18.
But as soon as I had, I knew I wanted to make a living online.
At that time, I did not know how it will happen, and how long will it take.
It’s been a bumpy ride, to say the least. But I’m forever grateful for being able to do what I dreamed of doing.
And now, I’m a financially stable, debt-free online entrepreneur and I’m writing this sitting in the office of my small business.
I hope you will find this guide useful. Perhaps one day you too will be able to quit your day job to pursue your dreams.
If you follow this guide and put in the necessary amount of work, you too will be able to create successful affiliate websites from scratch, affiliate websites with the potential to generate a significant amount of money. I sincerely wish you good luck!
How to create a successful affiliate blog
In this guide I will focus only on affiliate blogs, with a special focus on difficult niches*. Because that’s my specialty. And as I mentioned, this will be used as the learning material by my newly recruited employees.
/* Difficult niches: I define difficult niches as the following. Difficult niches are niches barred from many forms of online marketing activity. E.g.: a porn blog is not welcome on most PPC networks (ergo, limited referral traffic potential) and not welcome on most social network (ergo, limited opportunities to increase social traffic) and even when it is allowed to advertise it is unwelcome and often charged extra (e.g.: Facebook’s policy on gambling ads). Other difficult niches are: gambling, binary options, Forex, legal highs, Viagra etc…/
Creating successful affiliate blogs is certainly not rocket science. However, it’s a lot of work.
So if you shy away from hard work, you might as well leave this webpage right now.
If you do decide to give it a shot, start practicing right away after reading this guide. Start your own website, practice, and practice some more.
This guide is very practical. You will find actionable steps and instructions in every section.
The following is the suggested reading order.
They are called basics, but even if you think you know the basics you should read them. I put plenty of practical and useful advice in these sections as well.
It’s best not to skip any of the sections.
/Note to employees – Follow the recommended reading order! Don’t skip any of the sections./
Online marketing basics – Types of traffic (referral, direct, paid and organic) and their roles are explained in this section. By reading this part you will know which is the best traffic source for an affiliate blog focusing on a difficult niche and you will partially understand online marketing jargon.
SEO basics – In this section I explain the most commonly used SEO technical terms. And I introduce you to the basics of the search engine market.
Website structure – In this section I will show you the proper website structure of an affiliate blog. And I explain why and how to create multi-niche websites.
Affiliate marketing basics and ethical affiliate marketing – What is the role of an affiliate blog? What value does an affiliate blog create? Are affiliate blogs unethical by nature? If you want to know the answer to any of these questions read this section.
Website stages – The three different stages of an affiliate website, the difference between them and the right online marketing approach in each of these stages.
These are the processes you will repeat over-and-over again as a content manager. Most of your time will be divided among these tasks as long as you are working on a stage I. affiliate blog.
This is the most important part of the guide.
Keyword research – This is the keyword research process, with advanced keyword research techniques and SEO keyword competition analysis.
Content creation process – This is the full content creation process.
Don’t forget to have the on-page optimization guide open at the same time as this one!
On-page optimization process – This is the on-page optimization process you need to repeat every time you create a new webpage. Additionally, you will also find an advanced on-page optimization techniques in this section.
Don’t forget to have the content creation process open at the same time as this one!
Everything else that’s important.
Link building and link earning – In this section I explain why you should avoid link building and focus on link earning instead. I will also show you how you can implement link earning strategies with a blog focusing on difficult niches.
Google Plus and social search – In this section I explain the concept of social search and how Google Plus can help with non-paid search traffic (the only social network that can actually help your SEO).
Links, redirects – This section is dedicated to the different types of links and redirects a content manager should know about.
Technical SEO – Technical SEO essentials for affiliate bloggers using WordPress (I don’t focus on other CMS because WordPress is simply the best when it comes to technical SEO, I use it too and I recommend it to every affiliate blogger)
And that’s it. If you have read all these sections you only need to create your first website and practice till you know the ropes.
After that, it’s “only” hard work.
The guide will be here, helping you along the way. Good luck!
These techniques are not essential to create successful, profitable affiliate blogs. If you read the main guide you already know enough to create successful stage I. affiliate blogs. These techniques are mostly for stage II. and stage III. affiliate blogs, but if you have some time you can experiment with these as well.
I divided the supplementary techniques in three categories (+ “Other”) depending on which source of traffic they intend to boost.
/Note to employees – These supplementary techniques are not part of the everyday tasks of a content manager. You will do them ad hoc, on a project basis. Many of these techniques have questionable ROI (e.g.: social media marketing for affiliate blogs in difficult niches), therefore these tasks are going to be done exclusively by interns and will be largely automated./
Pagespeed – Not only does an affiliate blog need to be useful, mobile-friendly and properly on-page optimized, it also needs to load as fast as possible. Among hundreds of other things, page speed is also a ranking factor. In this guide I will show you how you can maximize the pagespeed of a WordPress affiliate blog.
Rich snippets – Even though rich snippets currently provide no ranking boost, they can greatly improve CTR and can get your website appear in various special SERP types.
Google authorship – Google officially shoot down Google Authorship. However, recent remarks by high-ranking Google employees and the recent Google + update makes it obvious that this was only temporary. Right now, my advice would be to implement Google Authorship again, because it’s only a matter of months till its return. google Authorship can be extremely beneficial for smaller, quality websites.
Optimizing for the other big search engines: Baidu, Yandex and Bing – Even though here in Europe Google is still in a monopolistic position (90% of the search market within the EU), but in the US Yahoo and Bing have a considerable market share (Google only has 67% market share in the US). And even though Yandex (important in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe) and Baidu (dominates China and much of Asia) are not crucial for an English affiliate blog, but with a few simple SEO tricks you can boost the traffic from these sources as well. These few, simple tricks only take a few hours and they will permanently increase non-paid search traffic from these search engines. Don’t expect a huge boost though.
Social media marketing and social media marketing automation for affiliate blogs – The key to a social media success is achieving a positive ROI. And that’s very tricky. First you have to know how to track the effectiveness of your social media activity, which is difficult in itself, and then you have to automate the whole (or most) of the process. In this section you can learn both.
Apps (strictly stage III. coming soon) – Facebook apps (e.g.: free games, quizzes) supported by a paid social media campaign can generate enormous amounts of publicity. However, to make sure this type of campaign has a positive ROI you need experience with paid social media campaigns and you need to monitor the performance closely and optimize the campaign throughout its lifecycle. This kind of campaign is also very expensive ($ 50 000+) so it is not relevant for stage I. or stage II. websites.
Paid search and paid social
Warning! I have only a little experience with PPC and I definitely do not consider myself an expert at paid online marketing campaigns. The reason for this is that there is very little opportunity for any kind of meaningful PPC activity for an affiliate blog focusing on difficult niches (examples below). Not to mention, PPC campaigns are very expensive, there is just no room for error, and right now the company has a very limited PPC budget (we are just experimenting with it from time-to-time).
If you are a PPC specialist please let me know what you think of my thoughts on PPC in a difficult niche. I would love to hear the opinions of an experienced PPC professional.
Basic PPC for affiliate blogs in difficult niches (strictly stage II. coming soon) – In this section I will explain how to create landing pages, the process of A/B testing, Adwords quality score, the bidding system and I will introduce you to the long-tail networks you need to be aware of as an affiliate blogger focusing on difficult niches.
PPC campaigns for affiliate blogs are very tricky to optimize, positive ROI is very hard to achieve (mostly due to limited advertising opportunities and inflated click prices). Only experiment with PPC if you are in stage II. and you have considerable ($10 000+) to spend on a PPC campaign. Right now we don’t have any stage II. website or the necessary budget. I will finish this section as soon as we do.
Paid social media advertising for blogs in difficult niches (strictly stage II. coming soon) – Right now we don’t have any stage II. website or the necessary budget. I will finish this section as soon as we do.
Advanced PPC techniques (strictly stage III.) – Retargeting, adwords keyword tool, Bing, Yahoo PPC, video search engine marketing. Right now we don’t have any stage III. website or the necessary budget. I will finish this section as soon as we do.
Warning! – Online marketing agencies trying to pass off nofollow link building – especially guest posts – as a content marketing technique. People who are not familiar with the online marketing scene might actually fall for these. However, these campaigns never have a positive ROI, these are just simply repackaged link building services of online marketing agencies trying to adapt to a post Google Guest Post Update (2014 February) environment.
/Yes, I can’t really imagine it ever working, if you know of an example, where ROI was measured throughout the campaign and it was positive, let me know in the comments section below, I would love to take a look at it./
Don’t fall for it, content marketing is the newest buzzword, but it’s really is just a combination of the techniques you can find on this page (of course, we are only focusing on affiliate websites and difficult niches here, there are much more techniques, they are just not relevant for us).
Newsletters – A simple, referral traffic boosting technique for affiliate blogs, with a positive ROI. In this section you will find practical, easy-to-implement tips to maximize the effectiveness of your newsletter.
Giveaways, vouchers, coupons, aggregator sites – Questionable ROI if done ethically, but there is an unethical way to make this work for an affiliate blog. I will show you how to do it (I only show how it’s done because it’s only unfair to the owners of the aggregator site but it’s not unfair to your visitors or the people who click on these coupons and giveaways). You can decide whether you want to do it or not. I no longer do it, but I have to admit I have done it in the past.
“Riding the news”, news websites as sources of traffic – The technique in short: you find trending news with news aggregators (e.g.: Google News) and then, as fast as you can, write an opinion piece about a chosen trending topic on your blog. The challenging part is to write an interesting – maybe even controversial – opinion piece, which is relevant to the news in question and also somehow relevant to your niche. If the opinion piece is completed you put affiliate links into it and in the sidebars as well, then you take advantage of the comments sections of the biggest news websites.
You probably have already noticed that the comments sections of news websites are largely unregulated, and if there is trending topic it’s chock-full of people. You simply just have to become a part of the conversation and insert your relevant link to your opinion piece in a way that is not seen as spamming. If done right you can expect, not hundreds, but thousands of visitors to your webpage, in a matter of hours! I have done this successfully a couple of times already, ROI varies.
The biggest challenge of this technique is to be able to produce, interesting relevant content very fast, which is also somehow relevant to your niche. In this section I will show you how to “ride the news”.
Q&A sites, a.k.a “discussion marketing” – This is a very easy technique. You find questions relevant to your niche (just use Google, really, it’s very simple) and then answer them. And if you can, put a link to a content on your website that further explains the topic (a content that has an affiliate link in it preferably).
ROI is questionable, you have to experiment and see whether it works for your niche or not.
I only advise using Quora, better quality and more traffic than the other Q&A sites. Be careful and avoid spamming at all cost, otherwise you will be banned, and all your answers will be deleted at once!
User generated content (strictly stage II. coming soon) – All of the company’s blogs are stage I. right now. In stage I. the only kind of user-generated content an affiliate blog focusing on a difficult niche will need are comments. However, user-generated content can be a great, free source of content for stage II. websites. If properly structured and managed, it can drive some non-paid search and social traffic beside its usual advantages.
Conversion rate optimization(strictly stage II. some techniques are strictly stage III. coming soon) – A/B testing, heatmaps, CTA WordPress plugins, conversion funnel mapping and optimization, integrating market research and visitor feedback into website design and layout, mobile CRO, rich media supplementary content, critical path CSS with CTA.
The biggest problem of any conversion rate optimization is ROI. You can’t optimize what you don’t already have. CRO needs, at the very least, a stage II. website with a very good level of non-paid search traffic. Otherwise, you won’t have a positive ROI on the amont of time you spend on conversion rate optimization. Many of the techniques mentioned here (e.g.: critical path CSS with CTA, rich media supplementary content) need a stage III. website to have a positive ROI. Conversion rate optimization should be the last element of your online marketing plan,.make sure everything else has been taken care of first.
Last updated: 2015. 11. 28.