So this month… we had a big scare!
And unfortunately, it could have been pretty bad… had it not been discovered and fixed!
But before we get too far into that, let’s spend a moment talking about exactly what this is.
As many of you know, I am conducting an affiliate marketing case study, the goal of which is for my team and I to build an affiliate marketing website from zero to $3,000 a month in revenue in one year, and document the entire process.
This way, you can learn along with me, and see how to do everything that’s required to start, run, and succeed with your own affiliate marketing/authority website, using the exact same methods that I used to turn my own online business into a 6-figure digital marketing empire!
You can read the pilot introduction to the study here, if you want to get caught up from the very beginning.
This month… we solve a MAJOR image/compliance scare, we continue to build our team, and we keep moving forward with content publishing.
Let’s get into it!
The Big Thing That Happened In Month 4 Was An Image/ Compliance Issue Scare With Amazon
The affiliate marketing website that we’ve started obviously uses Amazon affiliate links to generate commissions and revenue from our content, and we had a scare this month that really made us take a second look at how we are doing things.
Let’s go back a ways and start this story from the beginning.
For this new authority site, we tried to bring in another virtual assistant and train them for the role of publishing our blogs on the website.
I currently use a service called WPPublishPRO when I publish content on my own blog. I get a baller deal on this service… and for just around $100, they will publish a blog per day for me, so that I don’t really even have to go into my dashboard or anything.
I deliver the content to them, they publish it on my blog for me.. It is a super good deal.
This Won’t Work For The New Site… At Least, Not Yet
The reason for why we aren’t ready to use this system for my new affiliate niche/authority site is simply because the blog style/layout we have chosen is just more complicated than the style I use on my own blog.
It really all comes down to that.
We custom crafted/custom built a layout on the new site that we really liked, that we felt worked really well with the niche and how we are laying out all of the products we are reviewing.
And we are just not quite ready to go to a blog layout on WPPublishPRO that is so much more complicated.
My own blogs can be laid out so simply that they can basically be copy/pasted right into WordPress.
But these posts that we are putting together for the new blog have a lot more ‘parts’ to them!
There are images, there are graphics with buttons, there are blocks of text, there are bullet points laid out in certain ways, there are images embedded in certain places, etc.
The layout is custom, clickable, and formatted with a very on-purpose design, intended to provide enough compelling content to get people to click from the blog, to Amazon, to purchase the products they need.
And we just aren’t ready to deliver that kind of content to my usual publishing service for publishing.
What We Did Instead: We Hired Another VA To Publish For Us
As an alternative, we hired someone to publish the content to our WordPress site in-house.
As you know, I’m outsourcing basically everything on this site. That makes it more time-efficient for me… but it also makes everything a lot more complicated as well!
Thus far, we’ve been using one in-house virtual assistant to publish these posts, and it has gone pretty well. With practice and experience, the teams are getting in-sync, and things are starting to move along at a faster, more efficient rate.
But I also strongly believe in strategic outsourcing and having two of everything! One thing I always say is that “If you have two, you have one… and if you have one, you have none!”
In other words, you need to have your bases covered… so you want to have 2 versions of every piece of your content machine working, to avoid running into problems with people not showing up, teams not messaging back, VAs going AWOL, etc.
It happens… and if it happens to a central ‘cog’ in your machine, you may end up facing a setback!
So, with all of that being said, we started training a second VA to help with WordPress publishing… but this is where things started to go a little south!
Mistakes Were Made!
Here is what happened. The VA we hired ended up going the ‘easy route,’ downloaded the images for our articles straight from Amazon, and then uploaded the images to the website as images for the blog.
Basically, images ended up getting stolen from Amazon… which, if you didn’t know, is a HUGE never-ever thing to do!
Well, it violates a number of rules. I’ve seen good friends get sued for thousands of dollars over things like this.
But even worse than that, it violates the Amazon terms of service… and as a result, you can literally get banned from their affiliate program for doing this!
I talked about this more in a post I did on royalty free images. Check it out if you want to hear a deeper-dive on this topic.
But let’s just say that I am very happy that we caught this mistake when we did, and that we were able to correct it without a major issue!
How We Fixed The Image Issue
Obviously, we needed to find an easy, plug-and-play solution to the image problem. You do need product images if you are marketing products on Amazon, after all.
And we wanted to find a system for images that was so easy, that it was virtually impossible to get wrong!
So we did some digging, and this is what we came up with.
We found an Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin called AmaLinks Pro, and it was exactly what we needed!
You put in the product, it grabs the images from Amazon, and puts them on your website… all legally!
Not only that, but it also puts tracking on the images… so if people click on the images and go to the website, your affiliate cookie will be dropped on them, just like if they had clicked on a link.
It is super, super awesome… and I highly recommend it as a solution to the Amazon images problem!
This gives you awesome images of Amazon products, keeps you in compliance, and drops your affiliate cookies at the same time.
Priming the Link-Building Pump
We bought links?
As you know, I’m an organic content/link building kind of guy. I do not like to buy links, nor do I recommend to do so.
Since all of this is being outsourced, and systems are being optimized, the content systems need to be optimized first, before the link-building system. And in the interim of that process, yes… I have bought some links.
Long term, we will build them organically, the way that I teach you to do them on my website. But I wanted to get a jumpstart on the links in the interim of being able to build this system.
We bought 5 of what are called PBN links, for $175, this will give us some website authority faster than if we had chosen to wait for it to all happen organically.
This is also not our only backlinking strategy. Our long-term strategy is actually using the Authority Hacker system to do manual outreach, to build our links organically and white-hat… the old fashioned way!
Scaling, Scaling, Scaling…
As I continue to scale this business, and continue to learn about how to get an affiliate site running from the ground-up while contracting out basically all of the work to different people, freelancers, services, and teams, I am beginning to realize just how much simpler this could be for someone doing it all on their own.
So please… if you are a solopreneur, hoping to get your own niche affiliate marketing site up and running, do not despair if you have far more time than money to invest in it!
At this point, things are getting dialed in with my teams… but I also have a new appreciation for those days when I could just be in charge of everything myself!
At any rate, things continue to move in a positive direction.
Big Strides We Have Taken In Month 4…
Here are a few other notable steps that we’ve taken in Month 4…
- We found a new researcher, because our first researcher was having a little bit of trouble keeping up with all of the topics
- We are trying a new content team, one that does the research and the writing for us (We continue to try to speed-up the content creation process as time goes on. Right now, it takes about 14 days to research, create, edit, and publish a blog post!)
- We have more blogs in motion, and continue to dial in our content/writing teams
- We have scaled up our management tasks, and have some new hands working on some of the management-parts of the process… especially in the scheduling department
- Our content teams are getting good enough that we have now been able to put together a content calendar and schedule, so that content can start getting researched, written, edited, and published on a consistent, regular, scheduled basis
- We have a publisher dialed in
- We also have an image-check in place
Sticking To My Core Philosophy…
As always, we continue to stick to my philosophy…
“If you have two, you have one… and if you have one, you have none.”
So at this point, we have…
Working on multiple publishers, etc.
The plan is to continue to find good, professional help… from the bottom-of-the-ladder on up... get them trained, and get this all dialed-in so that, rain or shine, no matter what is going on, high-quality, valuable content will still be getting published on a consistent, regular basis.
Here is what I spent, in month 4, on the website.
- $584 on article writing
- $750 on management
- $477 on product research
- $175 on link-building
- $659 getting 8 content posts researched and written by a content service
- $67 on Amazon affiliate link management plugin
- Total spent on month 4 - $2712
That about sums up Month 4 of this affiliate case-study, where I attempt to launch a brand-new affiliate site, from zero to $3,000-a-month-hero… proving that anyone can make money and level-up their life with this business, if they will just stick with it and not give up!
In fact, if there was one thing that I really took away from the project this month, it was this…
If I didn’t know better, and if I hadn’t have already experienced a lot of similar struggles when building my first site, last month was the month when I would have been most likely to quit.
Last month was just pure struggle, with very little to show for it.
You may face a lot of discouragement around months 3 and 4… but the most important thing to remember is that, soon after the initial ‘discouragement stage,’ you will reach a stage where it will just be a lot more fun.
This was that month for me. During month 4, it went from being kind of a ‘headache,’ to being a fun project!
Feel free to start at the beginning and follow along if you would like to catch up. We still have 8 more months to go… so that gives you plenty of time to pick up the steps you missed and come alongside us in this awesome, action-packed adventure!
Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions! I always love to continue the conversation, and am looking forward to hearing how your affiliate sites are going as well!
In the meantime… be well! See you on the next one!