Amazon Affiliate Success Story
A question that we get asked all the time is ’can you actually make money as an Amazon affiliate?’. And the answer is always a resounding ‘hell yeah!’, although it can depend on the time and effort you put into it. Oh, and sometimes, a little bit of luck.
We all love a good affiliate success story. In fact, we regularly seek them out. It gives us inspiration and hope. And last week we had a chat with WP Eagle subscriber Tim, whose success definitely makes us feel warm, fuzzy and just that little bit more determined.
Tim has been following the WP Eagle tutorials and launched his site, onesmartcrib.com, in May last year (2018). It’s in the smart/networked home technology niche. We caught up with him to find out a bit more about him and how he has started achieving success with his Amazon affiliate site. We think you’ll find his story pretty inspirational…
Tim started off with the Kingdom videos and built his site through sheer trial and error, hitting a few snags along the way but building his experience up as he went along. In Tim’s own words “it’s been a ton of work” and “a rollercoaster-ride”!
The effort is starting pay off. He has been seeing some great results over the last few months, building up an affiliate commission month on month, with an income of over $1,000 in November and December, where he really profited from the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas periods.
Content is the Main Focus
His main focus has been on building some good quality content. Currently he has around 35 solid pieces of content on his site. Now this doesn’t seem like a lot. Experts like the guys over at Income School regularly declare that to generate enough traffic and to start seeing return you need at least 150 pieces of content on your site. Although he’s not quite there yet, Tim does agree.
He truly believes that if he had four times the content he has currently, he could probably quit his day job and make this a fulltime job. He thinks aiming for 150 articles is about right for a website to start really making money.
Going forward Tim really wants to focus on content. He’s a self-confessed perfectionist, so instead of regularly writing new blog posts and articles, he spends way too much time tweaking and perfecting his already published posts. He admits he needs to address that and find the balance between quantity and quality.
How Important is Picking Your Niche?
We asked him how he came up with his niche? One word – Alexa. He was an early adopter of Amazon’s now infamous virtual assistant. He loves it. He used it every day and then started looking at other smart home products and bought a couple of smart plugs and thought ‘this the future’ and the idea grew from there.
This kind of backs up the theory that it is easier to build affiliate sites around subjects and products that you are genuinely interested in yourself. Tim found it easier to sell things he was digging on himself. This doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with a site built about products that you aren’t personally interested in but perhaps to start with, it does make it all a little bit easier.
Keyword and Competitor Research
We asked him if he had done any research or looked at competitors in the same niche. And like a good boy he had. He actually did quite a lot of research, both keyword and competitor research.
You might remember that we worked with Doug Cunnington (Amazon affiliate expert) a while back and he showed us his Keyword Golden Ratio formula that helps you find the best keywords to target (and the ones to avoid).
As for the competition, it’s not for the faint-hearted. He’s up against the big boys – established PC magazines and the likes of CNET, so there is a lot of competition. And as time goes on, Tim is starting to see that he can’t compete on a more generic level. He is seeing that to be successful he is going to have further narrow his niche. More about that later…
The Theme and Plugins
We wanted to know a little bit more about the nuts and bolts of the site. What got Tim started with WP Eagle was the videos we did on the Kingdom theme. He watched and followed the videos and started building his site on WordPress with Kingdom and it’s safe to say he hit a few issues along the way. He realized that Kingdom would not allow him to do the things he wanted to do with his site and so he changed the theme to X, using the Ethos stack. Interestingly, as soon as he switched to X he saw a big uplift in conversions. X theme allowed Tim to build a better brand identity and improve the overall user experience. He found that the slider on the home page particularly helped improve engagement, so people were hanging around for longer on the site.
He did however run into an issue with Woozone. Tim was using Woozone to pull in and display the prices of the products on his site, but after he had installed X he noticed that the prices were appearing in the Google search results. That made him nervous. Some of the prices were going out of date and he was worried that he would get penalized by Amazon so he de-indexed all of his product pages. Once he stopped panicking and realized that he’d be OK as long as the right prices were appearing on his product pages on the site, he started to re-index them! He currently has around 1,000 products on his site.
A few months in and Tim was getting some good traffic, mainly from organic search. But then disaster struck… the site was hacked. I remember the first time this happened to me and it seemed like the end of the world. It’s not but it is a gigantic pain in the ass. And there was no extra security or security plugins on the site. The hackers left malware in the root directory and subsequently, Tim was penalized by Google and traffic to the site dropped significantly. It’s on the up again but the site had to be cleaned up and new content added to push organic traffic and earn back the trust of Google.
Another good source of traffic for Tim was Pinterest. He was using Pinterest by creating custom pins but that was time consuming, so Tim subscribed to Tailwind. Tailwind is an app that automates the pinning of pins. At that point Tim was manually pinning 10-15 pins a day with Tailwind doing 30 per day. Turns out, that was too many for Pinterest and they called spam, so Tim was banned from Pinterest! It was driving 300 – 400 visits per day. Tim was pretty disappointed by this and in true social media giant nature, there was no reasoning with the decision. Tim did open a new account, but Pinterest is still denying access to Pinterest users.
Tim has been using Facebook and Facebook groups, but his social media focus has been on Pinterest. He is active on Twitter but less so and finds that Twitter helps with branding.
More About Content
Tim is writing his own content at the moment. He did try a couple of content writing services like Textbroker but found that you get what you pay for and that the quality wasn’t really up to his standards. It has been hard for him to find a content writer that gets him and can replicate his voice.
Tim mixes general product reviews with product comparisons, which are more successful than the flat product reviews. He does try and test all the products himself and in the near future he is planning his own YouTube channel where he will test the products out in front of the camera.
Tim reckons it takes him 10-12 hours to complete a single article, including the research and writing. He then spends another 4 -5 hours tweaking and optimizing. That’s a whopping 17 hours!
For the first few months the site generated $5-$25 per month income. Then it slowly started to pick up and build. Black Friday and Christmas were good times for the niche. November resulted in $1200 for the month, mainly due to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
His timing was right, and he created quite a few holiday posts, like ‘10 cool things to ask Alexa over Christmas’. Tim spent a bit of time watching Amazon sales and what Amazon was focusing on over those holiday periods.
What Does the Future Hold?
We wanted to know what Tim’s plans for the site going forward are. His answer was simple. Content. He wants to follow Income School’s recommendations and build up to 150 articles over the next few months. He is going to try and outsource some of the writing again, which we think is a good idea if he has any hopes of meeting his target when it takes him 17 hours to write one article!
Tim had mentioned how it was hard to compete with the likes of CNET on the more general smart home products in the market. He currently writes about products like Alexa, smart lights, and universal remote controls, but plans to niche-down even more in the future and is currently getting into areas like smart hydroponics.
We’re really pleased for Tim and are totally inspired by his Amazon Affiliate success so far. We’ll be watching him and will bring you updates on his journey. There are lessons to be learned too from his experiences. Make sure your site is secure, be mindful of your social media activities and how they could be construed and when it comes to content, find that balance between quality and quantity.
If you’ve got an Amazon affiliate success story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks again to Tim for sharing his site and being open about the challenges he has faced so far.