SEO Meetup Liverpool
Hi guys. So I was asked by Gareth Daine to speak at the niche affiliate empires meetup in February and my talk was about affiliate marketing. So, rather than just give you slides because it doesn’t explain everything in full detail, I’ve decided to do a video on the talk that we had there so you can fully understand the meetup and the information given. Sadly, I was only asked to speak with less than 24 hours before the event, so the slides were rushed to get them together for the speech the following night. The talk was about affiliate marketing in my Amazon journey, and some of the other stuff that I’ve dealt with along the way on my journey with affiliate marketing.
A bit about myself if you don’t know who I am. My name’s Craig Campbell. I’m a UK based SEO consultant. I do SEO training, affiliate marketing, and I do have a small agency that still does a handful of clients that we have dealt with for a long period of time. You may also have seen me on SEMRush webinars, SEO conferences such as Search Leeds, Brighton SEO, Chiang Mai SEO conference.
My Journey with Affiliate Marketing
So, with affiliate marketing where do I start? The first thing I ever did was start with private affiliates. That’s different from Amazon and various other affiliate marketing opportunities that are out there, so what I was doing was dealing with private companies who sell tools and stuff like that and I get a specific percentage of every sale that I drive through my affiliate link. An example of a private affiliate would be SEMRush.
They have an affiliate program which is on the domain name digitaldownloadbooks.com and you can get 40% recurring commission on an ongoing monthly basis for anyone you get to sign up to SEMRush and because I do training and because I’ve got a blog and stuff like that, it’s quite easy for me to get people onto SEMRush and get them to buy into the tool. It is a great tool, it’s not a sales pitch and it’s something that I find quite easy to sell.
So, it’s something I’ve done for a while now and that is an example of a private affiliate marketing program. There are various other tools out there as well. They don’t always pay as much as SEMRush do even although SEMRush is 40% recurring. Ninja Outreach, for example, is offering 20% monthly recurring for every customer you refer at the moment which again still isn’t that bad, still a good percentage and the fact that it’s recurring and you’re dealing with other markets, well, I’m dealing with other marketing people, it’s quite an easy sell. So, that’s another example of a private affiliate.
Selling Digital Affiliate Courses
There are other guys out there where they authority hacker here, you can enrol as an affiliate and you can get a fairly decent commission on selling the authority hacker of various other training courses and stuff like that’s out there. So there are SaaS tool providers, there are training courses and there are loads of various options for a digital marketing expert to make money through affiliate marketing.
I speak at a lot of events, I’ve got a big mailing list, I do a lot of networking and I do a lot of meetups. So, you might go, “What is networking or meetups or speaking at events got to do with anything?” Obviously it buys trust when you speak at certain events as long as you come across well and obviously when you start to get trust you will then get people listening to what you’ve got to say and if you say that Ninja Outreach is the best outreach tool to use then people will hopefully follow that and it turns into sales. Obviously, a mailing list still works very well to this day and a lot of people think email marketing’s old hat with GDPR and everything else, the general consensus is it may be not as effective as it once was.
Certainly, that’s what I pick up from speaking to there people. It still works very well for me and it makes a lot of money and that’s what we’re all here for at the end of the day.
Other Affiliate Marketing Opportunities
You can also go to websites like booking.com who have an affiliate program. They’ve got loads of hotels, properties on there and you can set up a website and earn unlimited earnings depending on how good your SEO marketing strategy really is.
Buy Affiliate Sites via Empire Flippers
You can also look at a website like Empire Flippers which I’ve got a screenshot of there. Now, you can look at websites to buy on there. Now the reason I’m showing websites to buy is it’s an option that I looked at. So, on my affiliate journey, I wanted to try out some stuff and I wanted to see what was out there and what the costs were and obviously you can look at websites that are doing it, AdSense, Affiliate, Amazon Associates, Amazon FPA, eCommerce, Saas, Info Products and all that kind of stuff, so there’s a lot of stuff on there.
Now you can start your affiliate marketing journey from scratch. I personally, when I was getting into trying out Amazon, I wanted to buy something that was kind of halfway there, someone had done a lot of the grunt work and yeah, I didn’t want to start from scratch because it’s a hard old game. So, you have a problem. You hate your client. Whose fault is it? It’s your fault.
You’re not utilizing your skills to the best of your ability and at one point in my career I had a good client, it wasn’t a client I hated and he said to me, “Craig, you’re doing a really good job for me, you’re making me lots of money but why are you not selling products or something out there that doesn’t rely on me having to … you know, you having to chase me up for an invoice and all that kind of stuff” and having to report to him and jump through hoops.
So getting away from client work
So, whose fault was that? That was my fault. So, one of the biggest mistakes that I did after having that conversation was, I’m an impulsive guy anyway and what I’d done was jumped into a website called vapourinfusion. It was an E-Cig business and what I’d done, I’m a non-smoker.
I’d done some research so I’d jumped into SENRush checked out a search for vape, E-Cigs, all that kind of stuff and it was hundreds of thousands per month and I thought, “oh, that’s easy. I’ll be able to rank that well and I want a snip of the action.” Never gave it another thought. So what I did was jump onto WordPress, got Woo Commerce, got the products, whacked a website together, I found a drop shipper.
What a drop shipper does is, someone buys from my website, we get it at cost price from the drop shipper and the drop shipper ships the E-Cigs in that instance and we keep the profit. So basically, if someone was to buy an E-Cig at 20, you know, the E-Cig package at 20 pounds, we’d probably get billed 12 or something. He ships it and we pay the 12 pounds and keep the 8 pounds and obviously you would need good volume to make some decent money there.
Affiliate Marketing Mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes we had there was we had buyer complaints. We had no control over the product. Now, we could fully control the SEO and the website and everything else but if that drop shipper doesn’t fulfil the orders properly, we were then having clients who are complaining and reversing payment and all that kind of stuff which was a problem.
You can also see here, we had an order there and it was for Hangsen E-Liquids and it wasn’t for a huge amount of money, you can see where the costs of it were very cheap. So, we were looking at decent volume here, seamless process to get this off and running and what we had is the drop shipper who agreed for us to pay her invoice every Friday. This guy would sit there and request payment for every order, so it was becoming a bit of a hassle with the drop shipper and the drop shipper was also on that order I showed you previously from Scott Patterson who ordered Hangsen.
They just sent out Jacks instead which was another flavour that the client didn’t ask for, so the guy just took it upon himself to send out the Jacks and will charge us for Hangsen instead but the client wanted Jacks and that was all there was to it.
Payment Problems in the Vape Niche
There were other problems where we could only take payment via PayPal because of the government and banks and all that kind of stuff don’t really want to be dealing with nicotine or anything like that. You also can’t do any paid search or any paid social in the E-Cigs industry or you certainly couldn’t at that point. I’m not sure if the rules have changed or opened up any since then. It was a few years ago. What I didn’t do was do my research properly and that had a massive impact on the business.
I’d just seen the search volume, threw a website together, never gave anything else a second thought. I was confident enough in my own ability to get traffic to the website and get sales, which I’d done, but then it failed when the drop shipper, they payment problems and all the kind of legal other stuff, it made it an industry that just did … the heart wasn’t in it for me. There were too many restrictions but because I dive in two feet first, I made a hell of a mistake and didn’t do the research properly.
So, what I would say to anyone going into any affiliate, whether it’s drop shipping, anything else, do your research properly. It’s really, really important. Understand everything. Check it all out. Test things. Do proper research. I basically had to throw that business in the bin. It was rubbish and it was a learning curve that cost me a few quid and yeah, I put it down to experience. I do have other … I wasn’t a complete novice. I do have websites there over the course of a month, pull in over 100,000 in revenue.
There’s another one there 174,000 in revenue over the last month. So, I do have experience but that was a good drop shipper that I’ve dealt with for years and maybe I fell lucky, so do your research as I say. But you can buy and sell quality businesses online and Empire Flippers is something that I wanted to try out because I want to continually build up affiliate marketing businesses for myself and get good money for the skills that I’ve got to try and eradicate all the hassle and humans and everything else that causes problems in between.
Type of sites that Empire Flippers sell?
So, Empire Flippers, you can look at domain brokers and various other options to buy websites. Now, you can go on here and there are websites that make 30,000 a month that Empire Flippers will sell for $1.1 million and so on, but they also do have websites at the lower end of the scale as well but I’m going to use this one as an example. It’s a photography Amazon Associates info product and it gets $37,000 a month and $30,000 of that is profit.
The list price of that is $1.1 million and the multiplier is 38 times. So, some of these websites sold on Empire Flippers can go for anything between 20 and 40 times their net profit. That’s how they kind of work out the figures. In order to be able to see that website, what you can do is make a fully refundable deposit, so you’re not going to be looking at a website that is not making that kind of money, so they ask you to make a deposit which is fully refundable.
You get access to the URL, detailing proof of earnings and all that kind of stuff and you can ask questions and all that to the owner. So, Empire Flippers is a great option for anyone who is looking to potentially buy or sell websites. They have 15% for their fees and advertising and that’s something, they do extensive research on that as well and do a lot of stuff, so a lot of people go, “I don’t want to use Empire Flippers. They’ve got a 15% fee on there.” In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big fee and they’re doing all the donkey work for you, eliminating all the crappy websites and then listing premium websites on their websites.
Private Groups to Purchase Affiliate Sites You can also go to guys on Facebook and stuff like that and there are guys on there selling websites, this example 850 pound for a website that earns $34. It’s not a great website. There are loads of websites for sale on here. You can go on to a group BHC PBN Marketplace and marketplace and there are guys selling websites and all that kind of stuff on there and it’s something you can have a look at. I bought a golf website that had some good content and stuff like that on it.
This was my first dive into affiliate marketing on the Amazon site and the website looks plain, clean, tidy, it does its job. It’s got all sorts of links, it ranks really well and it’s all kind of just golf clubs and stuff like that as well. So, it’s got a lot, well not a lot, but it’s got a fair amount of blog posts and stuff on there.
Now, one big mistake I did when I was buying this website was the chap that I bought it from, he wasn’t experienced, well he’s a web developer and had experience and a very nice guy but he used Amazon URL shorteners on all of the products. So when I bought this website, I couldn’t just go into better search and replace and replace his affiliate URL with my URL, I had to manually go into everything including all the tables and everything else on the website which was a massive mistake. Well, it wasn’t a massive mistake but it took me a lot of time and effort to get all my affiliate stuff on to that particular website.
That was one wee thing but it’s … Amazon. I hadn’t dabbled in it before. Heard good and bad things. I know the affiliates are quite small but I signed up, got the website and went in there, changed all my URLs and that’s it. You can get your link on Amazon. You can use the standard link or you can get a short link. Always use the standard link especially if you’re going to sell it onto someone else. Save them that job of having to do what I had to do. That is an example of a URL shortener there which is no good and that’s the one I had a problem with. So just be wary of that in case any of you go in blindly because it was a real pain going through that and having to do it all manually.
Typically, as I said, you can use better search and replace and you could search for a particular, you know, the last guy’s affiliate URL and replace it with mine but it didn’t work. But the website, as you can see on AH Refs, it gets 4,500 hits a month at the moment, something that has scaled up over the last 12 months and it ranks for 7,602 keywords at present as well. So, the website’s going nicely, it’s getting decent traffic. It ranks on page one for a lot of different search terms, I believe it’s over 1000 and some of these search terms do get decent volume. So, I’m quite happy with the progress that’s on there, yeah, 1,088 keywords over in the US that rank well forward on page one.
The website loads really fast. I could obviously fix the leverage browser cache but the website loads fast, it’s technically sound, it does really well. It’s not got any real errors, it’s got a couple of warnings as you always do with SEMRush but in general, the website was in very good health and overall, what I wanted to do was inherit a website that was set up properly, reasonably fast, had a bit of content and was earning some money.
Amazon Affiliate Fees
The only downside to this is Amazon’s fees and I’m not an Amazon expert, as I said, but the standard program fee rates are in front of you just now and they’re not great, to be honest. The percentages are very, very low and that’s something that I find quite difficult. Last month, it earned $404 per month, that was for January to February and at that time of year, buying golf products is really, really quiet.
At certain points throughout the year, the website did make over $1,000 a month and that’s something I obviously want to scale up and improve on because it is not a huge amount of work to maintain that. But when I go out and buy links, say I went a bought myself 10 links from a website. It’s going to cost me the best part of 1,000 pounds. You can buy them from money that, you can buy them from Done for You Links, you can buy them from all over the place, and if I’m buying 10 links, which isn’t an outrageous amount of links to buy and I’m spending $1,000 on it but my website’s only making me $400, I would go bankrupt very, very quickly.
You would need a sheer volume of websites to make that work for you and people can make it work very, very successfully but you’re really going to have to look at something like online jobs to get links at the cost where you could actually still make any kind of profit out there.
Scaling up and outsourcing the work
You can also use People Per Hour and stuff like that to get people to do bits of the work, get bits of content, stuff like that and People Per Hour is a place that I do get some of my blog posts done. I’m not a golf enthusiast at all, so I need someone that can write about golf and getting someone on People Per Hour’s quite easy. So, that’s a place where you can get content. Same as UPWork, but what I want to say is, I don’t personally feel that Amazon’s going to be good for me and what my plan is, is to potentially monetize the website in other ways.
Monetising my Amazon Affiliate Site
Now, I can use the website that I’ve got and drive the traffic to a private affiliate who can fulfil the orders and probably get 15% – 20%, which is a lot better than the 5% that Amazon are paying me or I can flip everything over to Ali Express and make money that way. So either way, I’m going to make a lot more money with that Amazon website and potentially the resale value would be far higher and I would make a hell of a lot more money than I paid for the website.
So that is just an option I’ve got but I don’t want to totally dismiss Amazon. They’ve got guys on here like gearhungry. If you look at this website, this website’s got a serious amount of referring domain names. It gets 805,000 hits a month and I believe these guys have got multiple websites like this, so Amazon can be very lucrative if you do throw enough time and effort and money at it, it will eventually come good.
But as I said, I’m probably going to monetize mine using Ali Express or a private affiliate or Ali Drop Ship. I’m going to do something because using the Amazon Affiliate percentages isn’t going to work that well for me given the costs are more than the revenue, so although I can throw money at it and time and effort and all that kind of stuff to get better rankings and stuff like that, how I’m going to monetize it’s a bit of a problem just because of the Amazon commission.
That’s a wee mistake that I’ve learned along the way with affiliate marketing but I could go back, make the website more profitable and then go and sell it on Empire Flippers again at a much higher fee. So, that was my talk from Liverpool. It was just a few pain points, a few things that I’ve done along the Amazon way and a few of the issues I’ve had, as I say, more importantly, the mistakes I’ve made along the way by diving in headfirst or not looking at things properly and even just diving into Amazon thinking I can do but it doesn’t always work out that way, you need to do research. Hopefully, you enjoyed the slides. I think the people in Liverpool certainly did and hopefully, you guys can come along to one of the other meetups in the future because there’s always good information at these things so get yourself along.