Public Case Study: Starting An Amazon Affiliate Niche Site
After having a lot of requests through email and comments on my other Amazon Affiliate Niche Site, I decided to open up a public case study and guide you through exactly how I set my site up, and what steps I took.
Many of you will have read my shock at earning money through the Amazon Associates Program through my half baked niche site. I literally fell off my chair when I saw commissions from that site – not least because I had literally only put 2 or 3 articles up and left it at that.
That site continues to do really well, even though I still only have a handful of articles on it (Up to about $150 in commissions from that site now, with 20-30 daily visitors).
In this case study, I want to show you exactly how I researched that niche, and how I went about setting the site up.
This post then doubles up as case study, and also shows how you too can create an Amazon Niche Site in a short amount of time.
I have two principles that run through this case study, and they are principles that I’m sure you’ll appreciate.
1. Low cost start up. You can do this whole thing very cheaply (even cheaper if you already have a hosting plan).
2. Simplicity. Keeping things simple is key to Amazon Affiliate Niche Sites, so I keep things very simple.
Keep up to date: Get subscriber only reports on how this niche site performs – become a subscriber by CLICKING HERE
NICHE SITE: REVEALED
Before I go any further, I want to reveal the site I have created.
I have a natural interest in listening to podcasts (listening to them in the gym the car, and even in the bathtub), as well as an interest in creating them (I’m at the stage where I could easily create one right now as I have already done all the research and purchased all the equipment).
So creating a site around podcasting equipment was perfect for me, and I got to this niche by doing the below.
STEP #1: RESEARCH
Before you start buying domain names and the like, it is crucial you do some solid research before you commit to this project. Going in blindly will not get you results, and will ultimately lead to failure.
The research is in 3 stages:
- Choosing a product area/niche.
- Analyse the keywords.
- Analyse the potential profitability.
But of course, before doing any of this, you need to decide on product areas you want to focus on.
Here’s my best advice on choosing the products you want to focus on.
Get a pen and paper, and make a list of things you are personally interested in. The key phrase in that last sentence is ‘what you are interested in’.
Ideally (but it won’t always be possible), it’s always a good idea to enter into something that you have an interest in and prior knowledge of.
For example, here is my list:
- Football (soccer to my American friends).
- Video Games.
Women(nope, not anymore, I’m married).
- Weight training.
- The solar system.
YOUR ACTION #1 - Write Down Your Interests
Grab a pen and paper, or create a quick Word document, and list down all your interests and hobbies - no matter how broad they may appear.
CHOOSING A PRODUCT AREA
Now you have a list, your next task is to shave the fat off those items on that list.
By this, I mean focus on one particular area.
Let’s take an example. I’m interested in running, and I have a lot of gear that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on.
But running is just too broad. We need to narrow it down and focus on individual niches within the running niche. We need to super focus our efforts on one area.
Off the top of my head, here’s four different areas of running;
- Trail running.
- Marathon running.
- Treadmill running.
- Fun running.
So why do we need to narrow things down?
Simple really. With each of these levelled down categories, comes different equipment and different types of visitors looking for different solutions.
A trail runner will need different equipment to a runner who wants to run on a treadmill for example.
So why don’t I just create a general running site then, which caters for all of the above mentioned?
You can. However, a site catered for a specific runner is far more likely to succeed than a general one, plus it takes a lot less work. Can you imagine trying to build a site around running in general? It would take hours and hours of research – and that’s before you even begin to start writing your first pieces of content.
This is perhaps the most crucial step of them all. Whatever you do, don’t neglect this part.
You’ve written your list, and you have narrowed down the subject area to focus on one particular area. Your next step is to create a list of keywords and analyse them.
From here on in, I will explain what I have done. feel free to copy the exact methods if you wish.
My keyword research is maybe a little different to what others teach.
I use two free tools.
1. Ubersuggest. This is one of my favourite sites for getting keyword ideas. Simply type in your keywords and Ubersuggest lists your keywords and all associated search terms from A-Z.
Once you have scraped and downloaded all of your keywords from Ubersuggest, take them over to the 2nd free tool I share below.
2. Google Keyword Planner. With this tool, we can see the figures for average monthly searches for our keywords.
If you’ve never used the planner before, I give a very brief overview of it below.
GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER
It is here where we will get a good indication of whether our initial keywords have enough searches done on them to consider building a site around them.
– STEP 1
Navigate to the keyword tool, and sign into your account. If not, sign up when prompted (it’s free).
Select the very first option ‘Search for new keyword and ad group ideas’.
– STEP 2
On the next page, copy and paste your keywords and phrases that you got from Ubersuggest. In this example, I enter ‘podcast equipment’, though it’s advisable to enter a bunch of keywords in at a time, separated by a comma.
– STEP 3
You are now presented with your keywords. There’s two tabs at the top, I use a combination of them both to suss it all out.
– STEP 4
Once you have the results, it’s now time to start copying them over to your spreadsheet. You can do this easily by clicking the arrows to the right of the results and adding them to a plan which you can download in .csv format. Or you can do it manually using copy and paste.
NINJA TRICK: ‘ALLINTITLE’
This is a nice little trick that will quickly measure the amount of competition for your keyword.
Open Google, and type in allintitle: ‘Keyword’. Here’s how it looks:
And here’s how it works. By using this tag in a Google search, you are essentially asking Google to tell you the number of pages that have that exact keyword in their title tag. Make no mistake about it, title tags are extremely important in SEO, so this is a great way to determine how many other sites are also using those keywords.
Of course, the more sites that use those keywords, the more difficult it will be to have a page one ranking.
In the example above, I have used one of my keyword phrases and asked Google to tell me how many competing pages there are with this exact phrase in the title tag. There are just 5 competing sites, meaning it may well be easier to rank for such a keyword phrase that’s included in the title tag.
It is important to note that you should couple this type of search with your Google Keyword data. This particular search term is searched for on average 90 times a month.
Another crucial part is the profitability analysis that you should do before going into any niche. Remember, you only earn between 4% – 8.5% of the total basket price, so this is really important to consider (little point in going into a niche where the items are under $10 for instance). While it’s fine to have some items in this price range, you really should look at the overall picture.
1. Does the niche have at least a handful of items that are high ticket? (I class high ticket over the $100 mark)
2. Do these high ticket items have a decent popularity on Amazon? (i.e, 10 reviews+)
YOUR ACTION #2: Complete Your Research
Use the methods above to complete research in your chosen product niche. Create a specific folder on your computer where you can save all of this research for later.
STEP #2: PUTTING YOUR SITE TOGETHER
Once you have your niche pinned down along with a spreadsheet of your keyword ideas, the next step is to sort out your site.
Before we go any further, we now need to purchase some hosting and a domain name. I know most of you will already have hosting, great. If not, I recommend:
Cheap & Cheerful: Bluehost Hosting. Incredibly cheap, but yet incredibly reliable. I started out with Bluehost and still have some sites running. If you are on a strict budget, then this is the host to go with.
Pro & Superior: WPengine. This site runs on WPengine (as does podcast-equipment.com). The cheapest hosting plan at the minute is $29 a month for 1 site.
– DOMAIN NAME
If you already have hosting, then all you will need is a domain name. Choose your domain name very carefully. Ideally, you will want the name to convey the sort of product your site is about.
Here’s the domain I registered:
PodcastEquipment.com wasn’t available (well, it was, but I wasn’t prepared to pay $2.5k for it). So I went for the next best thing.
Yes, it has a hyphen in the domain. And yes, I know it is not recommended. Moz says that you shouldn’t have hyphens because these domains are often associated with spam.
However, it is a debatable subject. I don’t think for one moment that any future site ranking will be affected because there is a hyphen in my domain. As long as I provide a high quality experience with high quality content, I can’t see it being a problem.
On another note, using a hyphen actually helps break up two reasonably long words, and makes the name of the site legible quicker than if it was the two words stuck together.
Ideally, you want a theme that is simple and straightforward. Trust me when I say this – you don’t want to buy one of these all round themes that has a zillion layout options. I’ve been there and wasted the time and the money.
For complete simplicity, I will be using the exact same theme and layout I have used on my other Amazon Affiliate Site.
I use the Magazine Pro Theme on the Genesis Framework, and it looks like this:
This theme is elegant, professional and looks the part in my opinion. As the title suggests, it has the layout style of a magazine type of site.
– PAID PLUGINS
I’m using just 2 paid plugins for this site.
Easy Azon 4: This is an essential plugin when creating an Amazon Affiliate Site. Forget messing about on Amazon getting those links, EA4 cuts your time right down, and allows you to insert different CTA’s, tables, best selling tables, images with CTA’s embedded and more (My review is here). Also offers localisation, cloaking, open in new window, and an add to cart function (giving you a 90 day cookie period). No need to visit Amazon, everything is done through your WordPress dashboard.
Find out more about Easy Azon 4: Features Page
Thrive Leads: Whilst this is not essential, I’m using Thrive Leads because it is awesome. I have signup options in 3 places: as a ribbon at the top of the page, an optin box in the sidebar and at the end of every post.
Find out more about Thrive Leads: Features Page
YOUR ACTION #3: Get Your Site Up & Running
Get your house in order. Get yourself some hosting, a domain name and a theme. Alternatively, let indigo Heights do it for you. Click here.
CREATING A LOGO
As I said at the beginning of this post, I like free, and I like simple. And I said you would probably appreciate that as well.
Thankfully then, creating a simple logo is both free and simple if you follow my advice below.
To design the logo, I used 2 free to use tools.
- Canva – a site where you can create graphics, and then download them for free.
- Iconsdb – a site which lets you download simple icons in any colour, size or format.
Within 10 minutes, I came up with this very simple, but elegant (I think) logo that I could use on my niche site.
I’m really, really pleased with it. Immediately the visitor can see that they are in the right place with the icon image of the microphone taking central position, with the clear fonts capitalized. The logo is clear in that it communicates exactly what the site is about.
TOP TIP: I’ve used the term ‘#1 Resource Site’ at the top left of my logo. Strictly speaking, this isn’t true because for one it’s a brand new site. However, I couldn’t find another site out there that dealt solely with podcast equipment. Therefore, that makes my site the number one resource 🙂
ADDING THE CONTENT TO YOUR SITE
So the site is up and running. By now you should have:
- Your spreadsheet of keywords with average monthly search number.
- Some ‘allintitle’ research complete.
- Your logo complete.
Now it’s time to put things into action.
It’s one of those things I don’t like, and I bet you don’t either. But nevertheless, it’s always best to get this part out of the way first.
Having a bunch of pages with terms and conditions, privacy, disclosures and the like serve to increase the perceived professionalism of any site.
Although we don’t actively look for such pages when we visit a site, I think we do subconsciously notice them. So it’s important you start with the boring stuff.
I have these pages on my niche site:
Contact: http://www.podcast-equipment.com/contact/ (It’s always good to have a simple contact page on any site you have. I use Contact Form 7 which is free)
Disclaimer: http://www.podcast-equipment.com/amazon-affiliate-disclosure/ (You need this. Amazon says you must have it. This is the official disclaimer you must show on your site).
Privacy & Cookies: http://www.podcast-equipment.com/privacy-cookies/
Terms & Conditions: http://www.podcast-equipment.com/terms-conditions/
The most important part of your niche site.
It’s also time to dig that keyword research spreadsheet you saved a little earlier.
Posts should be:
1. Between 300-600 words.
2. Keyword rich.
3. Focused on getting the click.
To start with, I advise you go through your keyword list and choose 5 keyword phrases. Use those keyword phrases, and copy and paste them into 5 separate posts, and then save them as drafts.
This gives you 5 articles to work on gradually. I set my target for 2 posts a day, over a period of 5 days, giving me 10 in total.
My next target is another 5-6 per month, which is easily achievable especially if your posts are 300-600 words.
The key here is not to overdo it. I don’t mean on an energy level either. I mean on an enthusiasm level. I’ve often found when working on new projects that the more I work on them in a short space of time, the more my enthusiasm and interest in the project declines.
Don’t rush, and don’t overdo it. Keep your interest up by having a break and working on other projects. This isn’t an overnight thing.
TIP: ADD ‘REVIEW’ SECTIONS
One of the things I decided to add was a review section into the majority of my posts in my Amazon Affiliate Niche Site.
A review section is advantageous because it offers another Call To Action area (see below screenshot).
Of course, I don’t own most of the products on the affiliate site (and you won’t either), so all we need to do is take real reviews from Amazon and use good old copy & paste, as you can see below.
You’ll notice I’ve formatted these ‘reviews’ slightly different to how you might normally see a review formatted. These are little ninja tricks that I implemented on my first Amazon site, and have proved to work extremely well for me. I now want to share these ninja tricks with you. These tricks will help with click throughs and conversions.
– NINJA TRICK #1
1. Copy and paste only a sentence or two. The idea is to give your visitor a glimpse of the review. The aim of course, is to get your visitor to click the ‘read more’ link to go and read the full review (with the link being your Amazon affiliate link).
2. Cut off the review mid sentence 50% of the time. You will notice I use dots. Again this leads to the ‘read more’ link (which will be your Amazon affiliate link).
3. The ‘Read More’ link. This is your Call To Action (CTA). This link is your Amazon affiliate link.
4. You will notice a symbol at the end of the ‘read more’ part of the link. That symbol is this: ▼. Generally speaking, this symbol is associated with expanding something (usually, click a downward pointing triangle opens up further content without straying from the page).
Amazon Affiliate Niche Site - NINJA TRICKS EXPOSED
– NINJA TRICK #2
If you want to include a review section, Amazon of course already have a ready made resource, ready for you to use.
Depending on your niche, you may want to find reviews that mention your niche.
My niche site concerns audio equipment for the podcasting niche. A lot of reviewers I found were DJ’s, or amatuer guitar players revieweing the equipment. I didn’t want reviews from these people, I wanted reviews from people who were using the equipment for podcasting.
So this trick shows you how to search for keywords inside of these reviews.
At the bottom of any product page on Amazon, you’ll usually find plenty of reviews. Usually they only show a couple of reviews, then a link that says ‘See all customer reviews’.
Once you have clicked that, Amazon offers you the chance to sort through the reviews.
It also has a really handy search box where you can type in your keywords. So for my reviews on Podcast-Equipment.com, I want to look at reviews that specifically mention podcasts.
So I type in ‘podcast’ into the search box.
After clicking ‘search’, all the reviews shown now have the word ‘podcast’ in – which is perfect because it saves time scanning through reviews and it also makes any reviews we include in our niche site highly relevant to the niche we are in.
Note: Depending which Amazon site you are on, the search feature is in a slightly different place.
ADDING TABLES TO YOUR POSTS
With EasyAzon 4, you can easily set up pricing tables with just a few clicks. Just enter a product area (for example ‘USB microphones’) and Easy Azon 4 will list all products with this keyword in it right in your editor. All you are left to do is click ‘Add to table’ and select what info to display in the table.
It’s an excellent feature. Here’s a table I built in just a few seconds:
Here’s an additional ninja trick for you when building these tables. Easy Azon will automatically fetch the title and price from Amazon for you, but you can easily edit the table from your WP post editor.
I edit the prices for some products. I don’t change the prices (as this is against TOS anyway), I simply delete some of them and place ‘Check’ where the price should have been. Again, this is a good way of getting your visitor to click through to Amazon to check the prices for themselves.
(NOTE: Easy Azon 4 also allows you to import ‘Bestseller’ Lists into a post with one click.)
YOUR ACTION #4: Populate Your Site
Get your keyword research out and start churning out some posts, start creating your pages and start making your site look like an authority niche site.
GETTING TO KNOW AMAZON ASSOCIATES
One thing that surprised me was the sheer amount of content Amazon provides their affiliates. There’s a huge amount of additional stuff you can do to make your site even better.
For instance, I’m part of the mobile popover beta. I became aware of it through a banner on my dashboard, and signed up.
Basically, it’s a little bit of code that you insert into your head tag, and it enables mobile popup when someone views your site on mobile. If you take a look at podcast-equipment.com on your mobile, when you scroll past an item, a popup appears showing that item, a little bit like this:
TOP TIP: If you are new to the associate program, take your time to explore the different tools and options Amazon has made available for you.
The site is now live: Podcast-Equipment.com
I have about 10 articles on there at the time of writing. For this to go anywhere, I know I have to ramp this number up considerably, and then get some quality backlinks.
Just before I was ready to publish this article, I also did the following (and recommend you do the same):
In addition to this, you can also set up the same thing with Bing.
As with any project, I usually give it a minimum of 12 months to see if it is working. After 12 months, if I’ve seen nothing or very little in return, I bin it. Bag it up, wrap it up, and bin it. Shout at it. Set it on fire. And list it under the category of failures (of which there is many, I can assure you). Or, sell it on Flippa, which is always an option.
Time investment is crucial to me and my life. I don’t like to over commit in the first instance. It sounds the wrong way around, but I like to scratch the surface of something I am doing before I go full steam ahead on it.
There’s stories across the internet and the world of even the biggest companies investing millions of dollars in new projects and investing thousands of hours on something that just…well, fails.
I don’t want to be that person, and I don’t want you to be that person either.
Some will disagree with me here, but like I said, I just want to scratch the surface to see if it is worth scaling up and firing up – small earnings at the start will tell you this.
So first of all, I set some very realistic targets, going on a 6 month initial plan. I believe they are both realistic and achievable:
In short then, I’m looking to earn $150 over the first 6 months. I’ve set this target because that is near enough to what I’ve earned from my other Amazon Affiliate Site in the same amount of time. However, the other site only had 4 or 5 articles on it for the first few months, so I am secretly hoping that these target are met – and easily beaten.
For those of you who are interested in this 6 month plan, June 11th 2015 will be the end of month 1, and November 11th 2015 will be the end of month 6.
Want to see how this goes? Get monthly reports on the progress of this Amazon Affiliate Niche Site, as well as access to my VIP Subscriber Vault by CLICKING HERE
MY FINAL THOUGHTS & SNIPPETS
I have absolutely no idea how this site will perform. Absolutely none. However, if it performs as my other Amazon affiliate niche site is performing at the moment, then I will be coming back reporting a success.
And to finish off, here’s a handful of other tips and tricks for you:
- Interlink heavily within your site, and include links in as many places as you can to your internal content (including the sidebar).
- Don’t be afraid to create your own adverts in the sidebar. You’ll notice the Heil advert was created by me.
- At the same time, don’t include too many adverts in your sidebar.
- Do include content that is graded on price (like ‘Best XYZ for under $100, Best XYZ for under $200 etc). On my other site, these are my most popular articles.
And finally, if you want your own site set up, for just $69, Indigo Heights will do it for you. Included in this is all the basic set up you see on the Bronze Package, the Perfom Mag Theme from Thrive, and Easy Azon 4. All you need is your hosting and a domain name. You will be set up with that theme and the plugin, ready for you to add your content.
Just start a free email consultation and mention this offer.
Alternatively, Easy Azon 4 also comes bundled with some speciality affiliate themes that you can use.
SPECIAL OFFER 2
If you want Easy Azon 4, use my link to get special discounted pricing.
It’s $47/$67 if you get to it through searching Google.
It’s just $29/$49 if you use my link – which is right here.
I will earn a small commission on it if you purchase through my link (thank you) but won’t affect the price you pay. I also have a full review on it coming in the next few days.
Interested to know your thoughts on this.
Have you tried the Amazon Associate Program?
Have you got an Amazon Affiliate Niche Site that you want to share with us?
Whatever your thoughts, drop a comment in the section below.