Alright! Month number-two of the affiliate case study has been completed, and quite a bit got accomplished.
Starting a website from zero is tough work, as you can see in the image above. Lots of research and momentum building has been going on, all without ANY traffic results to show for it!
But that’s alright. We are still in the early phases!
As you know, the hypothesis for this project (as outlined in the month-one blog post), was this: My team and I can build an affiliate marketing website from zero to $3,000 a month revenue in one year.
Now, with that being said, keep in mind that most people do not have access to a large budget to outsource the work required to build an affiliate marketing business from scratch!
In fact, almost 10 years ago to the day we started our basic blog on Wordpress for less than $100 and a lot of hustle!
This can work for anyone. You just have to figure out what pace works well for you, and keep moving along consistently… leveling up and learning as you go.
Now that month-two is complete, here is what you need to know about how this process is coming along.
Two Kinds of Affiliate Marketing Website Research - Best Products and Long Tail Keywords
The name of the game this month was research. As it turns out, there is a lot of research that needs to be done to get a niche authority website up and off the ground.
The thing about affiliate marketing is that you need to know what you are talking about. You need to deliver actual value, which means that you actually need to have some consistent level of knowledge about your topic.
If you don’t have this, you probably won’t get a lot of positive attention from your audience.
This means that you need to do lots of research on your topic as you are cranking out content… especially if you aren’t an expert on your chosen topic.
But even if you do know a lot about the topic, you will still need to do some keyword research anyway.
There just isn’t any way around that.
So, we handled this by outsourcing both types of this research in different ways.
Found a “nerd” in the research space to help us find the top industry picks in our niche
Let’s talk about these a bit more in-depth for a moment.
KGR Keyword Package
For the keyword research, we purchased the KGR keywords "keyword Golden ratio" pack. They basically analyzed 1000 keywords to find the super low hanging fruit… the best results in our niche… and this turned out to be an incredibly profitable decision.
This went really, really well. For $100, we got over 100 awesome, researched, long-tail keywords.
As a result, the first year’s worth of blogs for the site are effectively planned out and ready for the product research, writing, and publishing phases of the process.
This was a big win, and turned out to be well-worth the money!
In order for this process to work, you basically need to fill out a list of ‘seed keywords.’
It only takes 3-4 days to get your completed keyword research back.
You won’t necessarily know exactly what the keyword seeds were in this case, because nobody is going to learn the identity of this case-study site until much later on in the process.
But to give you an example of the types of seeds that were chosen, ‘drones’ will be a substitute keyword that will work well for showing you how basic this process is.
The seed keywords were terms like: Best drones for, Best drone for, Flying drone, Flying drones, etc.
Obviously, these are not exactly the keyword seeds that were used.
But the idea here is that you get kind of specific with what you are looking for, find the different variations of those short-tail keywords, and then give those to HPD to find longer-tail keywords that will help you to really compete in the space to snag a lot of that traffic that isn’t being grabbed by anyone else at the moment.
This keyword package did a great job of this.
We Found A Product Researcher
Research is super important to this process.
If your audience doesn’t believe that you’ve done the research, they aren’t going to click-through and buy anything.
So to save time and really fast-track this process, a product researcher was hired.
We are paying him to find the best products in our chosen niche for each article being written. We want to know which ones to write about, which ones are the best for different types of scenarios, which ones compete for the top spots, etc.
You do not want to fake this part.
Do the research! Try the products! Research the products! Find out what actually works, and design your content to actually help your audience!
We found a niche researcher who needed some extra work, so we set him loose with our topic… and it actually worked out pretty well! For about $90, he did enough research to create 5 blog posts.
Within these posts, he researched somewhere between 50 and 75 different products! So, this gives you an example of how much it can cost to farm out some of this work to someone else.
If you are doing the work instead of outsourcing, you simply do this research yourself like Samantha Bagwell explains in this interview.
We Discovered Some Additional Gems with HPD
As you probably read in the month-one post, we bought a turnkey WordPress site from Human Proof Designs to start this project.
But during month-two, we found some additional gems that we didn’t expect!
We found out that, along with a completed, turnkey, niche WordPress site, they also give you a full-blown branded PDF "how-to guide" to help you have a lead magnet on day one… and they did a WONDERFUL job on this!
You can start building your email list immediately with this guide because it is written specifically for your niche site.
It is a 20-page, deep dive that’s not only branded, but also looks super-sharp and provides a lot of value.
So, kudos to HPD for that! As it turns out, the investment in the WordPress site brought us even more value than we expected!
We Started Publishing Content
The next big step that was taken in month-two was that we started publishing content.
For content, we decided to hire a firm. We ordered the first 12 blogs from them… but this didn’t go quite as planned.
As it turns out, communicating specific directions for blog posts with a writing firm can be a challenge. It is still a bit unclear how the instructions were missed… but in the end, several consistent errors in the blogs kept us from getting them published as quickly as we would have liked.
We are paying writers to fix this batch, and will then be moving on to try two different third-party writing services for the next batch, to see if we can get it really nailed down and crush it.
Outsourcing vs. DIY
One thing to keep in mind when you outsource is that stuff like this can happen.
You have an advantage when you create the content yourself because you will know exactly what is going on along each of the many steps along the process.
But if you choose to outsource, keep in mind that mistakes will be made… and that they can set you back.
Quality control is really important, it is important that the completed content not only looks good and reads well, but that it is factual, unique, and helpful to your target audience.
One thing that you will want to be aware of here is that it is super-crucial to have your affiliate links correct in your published articles!
If these are not correct, you won’t make any money from the sales.
Interestingly enough, this was one of the problems we ran into with farming out articles to a writing company. Some of these were not correct, and they needed to be fixed before they could be adequately readied for publishing.
We also published our first blog post, which was a huge milestone! But this step also told us something very important about our site that was crucial to learn.
The Google Crawl
One thing that you want to keep an eye on is how often Google crawls your site for new content. Google will crawl your site more frequently if they think that you will have more valuable content to offer on a regular basis.
One sign of a healthy website is that Google will crawl it every day for updates.
And the best way to get Google to do this is to consistently publish new content on a regular basis!
The day after we published the first blog post, the site was checked… and Google had not indexed that new post yet.
This essentially means that Google doesn’t think that there is new content being added to this website and it does not need to come back every day and check for updates. And the takeaway from this, for us, is pretty simple.
There is a lot of work to be done. Google needs to be shown that this website is valuable, and that it publishes content consistently and regularly.
Other Stuff That Was Accomplished In Month Two
Pretty much no search activity on the website… YET! Here is the foundational work that was done in month two to begin dominating with content marketing.
How to do each of these steps is outlined in this how to start a blog article.
- Created a Google Analytics account
- Installed analytics script
- Changed from http to https
- Tested https with whynopadlock
- Got mixed image results
- Installed really simple SSL
- Re-tested with whynopadlock
- SSL solid
- Setup admin email account with our domain in A2
- Went through Yoast search appearance settings
- Submitted our sitemap to Google
Expenses For Month-Two
Here is the total amount of money that was spent on the site during month-two.
- $750 was spent on project management
- $99 was spent on long-tail keyword research
- $598 in 4 new articles, trying out a new writing team
- $18 was spent paying an editor to fix some content
- $90 was spent paying our niche researcher to research products for 5 new articles
- $75 was spent on post template design & publishing 1st post.
Of course, as you can quickly tell, a lot of this cost could be negated by opting to do the work yourself.
For example… the $750 spent on project management could be avoided by managing your own site.
The $598 for content and $99 for keyword research could be avoided by doing your own keyword research and writing.
The $18 spent on editing could be avoided by doing your own editing.
And you could also skip the $90 research cost by opting to do your own research.
As you are probably noticing, there is a mindset here that you can really tap into… and that is a mindset of self-sufficiency. The more you opt to do on your own, spending your time instead of your money, the better control over quality you will have… and the less you will spend.
This reinforces the fact that affiliate marketing is truly accessible to anyone.
As month-two of this case study came to a close, I spent some time reflecting on what we had accomplished.
I’ve done a lot of affiliate marketing in my time. In fact, that has been my predominant focus for the past 10 years or more!
But even so, this case study is a level above anything I’ve ever done. Never have I attacked a project so intensely, and with so much knowledge and experience, as this one.
And with that being said, the pace has been incredibly fast. So fast that I am beginning to see the big problem-areas where issues tend to arise.
For example… I thought that with the amount of work that was done in month one, it would be a little bit more easy coasting in month-two. We had, after all, found a bunch of keywords, created a template guide to follow, and spent a decent amount of up-front time and money on research.
But the research is what surprised me. As it turns out, it is taking a lot longer than expected… and we are still in that phase. Research for internet marketing just takes longer than most people realize!
It is also important to point out that nobody cares as much as you do!
And if you are doing this on your own, from scratch, then the quality is going to be so much better than it would have been if you had chosen to outsource it.
Finding someone who cares as much about your website and your success as you is nearly impossible.
And if you’re not careful, outsourcing can eat your lunch with the problems it can cause!
One big tip that I walked away from month-two with was this: Don’t expect to make money in month-two, at all.
Surprises are still coming up, and it is going to take longer than you think it does. But don’t give up! Once the blog posts start going up consistently, things will start to change!
It just takes time.
But… there is also no time like the present to get started!
So once again, I implore you… if you are thinking of starting your own blog and following along on this project as well, it is not too late to start!
Startup a blog, create content fast, get writing, and join us in this awesome case-study journey on affiliate marketing!
If you are new to this affiliate marketing case study series, you can check out month one's affiliate marketing case study post here.
Well, that’s all I have for month two. Stick with it, and don’t give up! If you have any other questions or comments, please leave them for me below!
I always love hearing your thoughts and keeping the conversation alive!
See you on the next one!