From $0 to $4,000 A Month In Less Than 10 Months

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affiliate earnings

Passive income has long been the holy grail for entrepreneurs. 

And one of the most popular ways to generate passive income is through building a website centered on affiliate marketing.

Just the other day I scrolled past an ad on my Facebook feed promising to help budding entrepreneurs make money online, and decided that it was my turn to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the last three years of building websites that generate income.

Amazon Dashboard Profits
Amazon dashboard: Sleeping Culture Yearly Earnings
Site Page Views - Google Analytics
Site Page Views - Google Analytics

Here are the key stats:

  • Soft launch Feb 2018 – Created 10 articles
  • Formal launch April 2018 – Started creating around 10-15 articles per month
  • May 2018 – First sale, the site generated $3.45. Hooray!

Here’s the revenue breakdown of the following months:

MonthsPage ViewsRevenue
Jun1,661$36.67
July1,108$92.86
Aug3,962$512.95
Sep9,555$1,512.62
Oct14,536$2,407.86
Nov17,360$3,359.29
Dec16,523$3,910.15

And here’s my promise:

In this article, I’ll share my step by step process to building a cash flow positive affiliate websites that generate passive income revenue. 

I’m not holding any secrets back, instead, I’m going to take you right into the lion’s den.

I’ve used this process over the last few years to build multiple successful websites that generate traffic with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). 

And if you’ve ever considered making a website to generate passive income, I hope you’ll be able to use my insights to build a website that will generate revenue for you in the long run.

In this case study, I’ll be lifting the hood on one of the sites we’ve built in early 2018: Sleeping Culture. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump straight in.

Step 1: Select your niche

Niche selection is key, as competition in the affiliate SEO space is constantly increasing. 

In the last few years, even the big publishers such as The New York Times (Bought The Wirecutter), Business Insider and Entrepreneur have decided to enter the affiliate marketing space.

Here’s what you should look for when choosing your niche:

Look at the overall Search Volume of the keywords, and those with “buying intent”, or what we call “Money Keywords”. 

I like to look at a combination of words like “Best ” or “Review” along with my main topic (in this case sleep).

For this part, I use a Semrush tool called Keyword magic tool. There are other keyword tools you can use like Google Keyword Planner, LongTailPro and more.

Let’s look at why we choose the Sleep as our niche:

Checking the Sleep Keywords

Based on my experience, I use 50,000 monthly search volume is a benchmark for a new niche.

The next thing to do is look at Google Trends to see if this is a niche with growing visibility in the online space. Let’s look at a few relevant phrases:

“Best Mattress”

Best Mattress Google Trends

“Best Pillow”

Best Pillow Google Trends

As you can see, there is a growing demand online for sleep-related products.

Now a quick look at monetization; most of the sleep products on Amazon belong to the “Home” category on Amazon.com which means an 8% commission rate which is one of the highest rates available on Amazon.

Rates on Amazon for different products

Step 2: Keyword research

Remember Semrush’s keyword magic tool? 

Let’s take a deeper look at how to use these insights to build a winning content strategy. Let’s go back and take a closer look at the search results we got by including the words “Sleep” and “Best”.

I like to view all the categories on the left-hand side.

Sleep Keyword Research

This is extremely helpful when building your site architecture and content categories. 

However, this is still a time-consuming process and takes time and experience to do right. 

There’s also a massive amount of information you have to process, so to help with that you can exclude keywords that you find as less relevant to the kind of content you would write. 

In this case, I’ve excluded words like “time”, “app”, “way” and more.

Step 3: Content strategy

After identifying your main group of keywords and their search intent you can start to build to content categories. Again, it’s a complex process and there is no one size fits all here.

I’ve chosen to break down the content to three large groups:

  1. Sleep products – Mattress, pillows, blankets, sleep trackers and sleep aid products
  2. Sleep disorders – Informational articles on different sleep disorders
  3. Miscellaneous – Other general articles like “Best music for sleep” “Or best sleep podcast”

After you’ve done this, I recommend creating a spreadsheet with a list of topics per category which you can use to track the progression of your content plan.

Step 4: Find content writers

This might be the most important aspect that tends to be overlooked by most SEOs.

Your product is your content; the better the product, the more traffic you’ll have and the better you are going to be able to convert your readers into buying the product which you are recommending them to purchase.

Let me say that again: YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR CONTENT.

With that in mind, it’s time to find the best content writers for your niche.

Here’s how I do it:

Direct outreach

Google the search results relevant to your niche, in this case, sleep-related search. 

See if you can find freelancers/ professional writers that already have authority and are ranking well for the type of topics you would like to rank for. 

See if they have their own sites or LinkedIn profile where you can contact them directly and offer them a writing job.

Upwork

Upwork is one of the leading platforms online for finding the talent you can work with, from Web developers to Marketing specialists and in this case content writers. 

The only to downside to Upwork, based on my experience, is that most of the content writers we found were looking for part-time income and could only write around one article per week. 

This means that if you’re planning to build a content-heavy website, (100 plus articles in this case), you would have to hire multiple content writers and keep track of them as their availability tends to change from week to week.

*Pro Tip: Hire writers that are native speakers to the Geo you are targeting. If you’re targeting the US market hire American writers. If you are targeting the UK or Australian market, hire content writers native to those regions.

Step 5: Clear writing guidelines

Here’s another pro-tip: the more concise your guidelines and instructions are for your writers, the more efficient they are going to in terms of delivery and overall quality of the articles they submit.

Here’s a content guidelines example:

Hi, [Name]

1)      Topic: [Name of Topic]

Main keyword – [Name of Topic]

Secondary keywords –

  • [Secondary keyword #1]
  • [Secondary keyword #2]
  • [Secondary keyword #3]

Please see the following guidelines for this project.

The article should consist of 1200-1500 words.

The content will be published on this site: sleepingculture.com

Here are some good format examples:

  • [URL #1]
  • [URL #2]
  • [URL #3]

Please structure the article:

  1. Intro paragraph
  2. Key considerations
  3. A product description for products including pros and cons
  4. Considerations when buying a [Name of Product]
  5. Features like warranty, durability etc…
  6. Closing overview

Additional requirements:

  • Use questions in the subheadings.
  • Use the secondary kws as subheadings as well.
  • Use bullet points in the “answers”

*Please add sources at the end of the article.

How to pick the top products:

Look for the product on amazon and pick the products according to overall best rating and items that have the highest amount of reviews. Include products with Amazon badges like “best seller” or “Amazon Choice.

The content should be backed up by research and Amazon reviews of people who have already bought the products.

*You should read the reviews to make the selection as to the top mattresses.

The basic structure therefore that we use for a review article is:

Short intro: Keep it short and sweet, remember readers have zero patience. Most of then want to jump right into the product comparison part as soon as possible.

Quick look section: Here’s the product comparison I was talking about, a chance for readers to get a quick summary of the product they’re looking for.

Buying Guide Table Example

(Credit- Shout out for the guys from Convertica for the table design.)

Key Considerations Section: Here’s where you explain to your readers why you chose this product and what they should be looking for in order to find the right product for them.

Mini-Review Section: In this section, you breakdown the pros and cons of each product. Make sure you have a detailed product description that helps your readers figure out if this is the right product for them

Additional considerations: A chance to dive deeper into the topic talk about other issues your readers might be interested in.

Step 6: Create outreach campaigns

Google has been downplaying the importance of outreach recently, but make no mistake, links are still very much a key factor Google’s algorithm takes into consideration as part of your site’s authority on the web.

So, the more quality links you have from trusted sites, the more authority your site has in Google’s eyes, and so the better it is going to rank for your money keywords

If you need more help figuring out exactly what might qualify as a good link, I strongly recommend reading this article published on Moz.com.

Steps for a successful outreach campaign:

  • Identify the type of content that is most often linked to by other websites

Here’s how I like to do it, I use Ahrefs (The leading tool for backlink research in my opinion).

This time I’m looking to see which content get the biggest amount of links at one the most trusted sleep sites online sleep.org. Than under Pages => ”Best by Links”.

Sorting in Ahrefs Best By Links
Best Links for the website

As you can see there are a lot of great ideas here to create new content around.

Here are the next action items you need:

  1. Make a list of relevant websites you would like to contact
  2. Make a list of topics that you could suggest to these sites as a guest post
  3. Make a list of resources on your sites that you can offer to other sites as a useful resource
  4. Cross-reference guest posts and resource suggestions so they don’t overlap
  5. Create an email template

Here’s the outreach template we used:

Hi [insert name],

Hope you’re well.

I wanted to get in touch as we’re a big fan of your site at [Your site name] and we were wondering if there’s a chance we could work together.

We’ve just spent the last few weeks putting together an in-depth resource on sleep disorders. You can find it here: [insert URL]

Would you be able to include a link/reference to the guide on your site in a relevant article?

Alternatively, if you’d prefer a high-quality guest post, let me know! We have a team of sleep experts who can write to your requirements. Here’s a couple of our recent guest posts as examples:

[Example 1]

[Example 2]

Thanks, and hopefully speak soon.

[Your name]

Summary

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far!

The title of the article is “From $0 to $4,000 in less than 10 months” but to be honest, not all of the sites we have built have hit the $4,000 mark – yet.

The thing with SEO is that it requires a lot of time and patience. Some sites only reach their full potential after two years or more. Some of the sites we’ve built did not succeed and some were a complete failure.

But if you follow the process detailed here, and if you think about your content as your product, I think you’re likely to succeed.

Doron

About Doron

Doron Worffberg is the Head of Digital Mergers & Acquisitions @ yellowHEAD – Performance Marketing Agency. Doron is an Experienced SEO Specialist with a proven track record in building and growing online businesses in the field of Affiliate Marketing.

16 Comments

  • Reply
    Vijesh
    November 4, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Doron nice insights, can you tell me what theme have you used for your site?

  • Reply
    Doron Wolffberg
    November 4, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Hey Vijesh,

    We’re using a custom WP theme for this site.

  • Reply
    Eko
    November 4, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Doron,

    Very inspiring.
    Can you tell me how much you pay the writer for a review post?

    • Reply
      Doron Wolffberg
      November 20, 2019 at 9:50 am

      Hi Eko,

      That’s a bit of a tricky question to answer since we used multiple content writers for the project.

      I would say we paid anywhere from 0.03$-0.12$ per word

  • Reply
    Karen
    November 4, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    Hi great read! How do you do your keyword research?

    • Reply
      Doron Wolffberg
      November 20, 2019 at 9:49 am

      We used SemRush keyword magic tool which is is my favorite keyword tool by far

  • Reply
    samsul
    November 4, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks Doran, it is very honest guidance. I just built my blog. autoarenarev.com. Maybe not for amazon aff. I hope it will be get succeed getting visitors. The main problem is finding the writer because my mother language is not english.

    • Reply
      Doron Wolffberg
      November 20, 2019 at 9:52 am

      Hi Samsul,

      We all have to start somewhere 🙂

      I’m not a native English speaker and some of the most successful affiliate marketers I know are not native speaker as well.

      Don’t let that stop you!

  • Reply
    Rajesh
    November 4, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Excellent article, very nice, I would like to ask you about health niche. Do you think I should run a health blog if I am not a expert in that niche. Should I try my luck in affiliate marketing with health niche

    • Reply
      Pim
      November 5, 2019 at 3:15 am

      Rajesh, considering YMYL – that is not a good niche to put your time into.

  • Reply
    Muhammad Fahad
    November 5, 2019 at 5:53 am

    Excellent Article
    I have learned a lot through this.
    I will surely apply these techniques in my next project.
    Keep sharing such stuff

  • Reply
    Miles Beluga
    November 5, 2019 at 6:12 am

    I have tried this technique with several sites and had no luck at all.
    My sleep site was created in march 2018 and still has hardly any visitors from Google.

    I think content is good so no idea what I’m doing wrong other than no backlinks. I had no backlink stragety. Could it be as simple as starting a backlink campaign do you think?

    • Reply
      David
      November 7, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Hi Miles,

      No offence, but I took a look at your site and your content or at very least the overall look could be greatly improved. The homepage looks cheap and quite dated. That to me would put me off straight away if i were a reader. Some of the articles I looked at were styled and optimized poorly (ie walls of text and no sub headings either).

      Plenty of room for improvement with your site. Seeing as you’re obviously invested a lot of time and possibly money, I would look to making improvements on the the UX and also updating the content you already have (which is evergreen) and focus on presenting it better. This would be better use of your time and money than continuing to pump out content imo.

      Sorry hope you don’t take this the wrong way. Just my 2 cents, seeing as the impression you were giving was that all is well with the content on your site.

    • Reply
      Doron Wolffberg
      November 20, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Hi Mlies,

      That’s hard to say without looking at the site, but it could be as simple as launching a good backlink campaign if your content is on point written by writers with authority in your niche

  • Reply
    Doron Wolffberg
    November 5, 2019 at 7:07 am

    Hey Rajesh,

    You don’t have to be an expert in your desired niche, you can hire content writers that are experts. Having that said the health niche as a broad topic is extremely competitive.

    Unless you’re going in with a big budget I would recommend selecting a micro niche within the health niche where you can compete with a smaller budget and grow from there.

    Hope this helps!

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