Archive for February, 2009
Posted on February 4, 2009 - by Kelly Verge
But you have to start somewhere.
We probably all have sites that are just barely doing anything at all – sites that are part of our “stable” but nothing we’re proud of. This is a slice of the life of one of these sites:
A while back I started a new niche blog. This blog is targeting potential customers for a certain product. I set up a simple blog on WordPress with a clean-looking template. I dropped an ad for this product in a text block on the sidebar and wrote a soft pre-sell article for the product which I made a sticky (using a plugin that keeps a specific post at the top of the main page).
I wrote 15 blog articles and 20 articles for article directories. I trickled the articles onto the blog at about one per week. I posted 10 of the other articles to Ezinearticles over two weeks, and I spun the remainder using SENuke and used them on Squidoo, Tumblr, Hubpages, Wetpaint, Blogger, WordPress and a couple of other sites. Also using SENuke, I bookmarked everything.
I could have used more spun articles on all of the article directories built into SENuke (and still might – see below). I also could have turned these articles into Powerpoint videos and posted them to the video sites built into SENuke (I still might).
Since then I have been re-posting the Ezinearticles content one at a time to the blog every few days. Other than that, I haven’t worked on this blog.
Today the blog reached 1500 visitors (averaging 15-20 visitors a day). Not stellar numbers, and fairly low growth, but considering that I haven’t done any link-building beyond posting a few articles and using SENuke, it tells me what I need to know.
Now for what I’ve learned (in no particular order):
1. But I’m No Rembrandt
Don’t be afraid to make your own product image/banner. I wouldn’t recommend creating a unique ecover that doesn’t match what the customer will see on the sales page, but in this case, while the sales page looked good, the ecover was too plain and the banners they provide for affiliate use didn’t really do anything to encourage clickthrough. In 10 minutes I had a nice text banner that had a better chance of getting clicked. You don’t need Photoshop, either. Gimp will do everything you need and doesn’t cost a dime.
2. It’s Insignificant…
0.5% is often thrown out as the worst-case conversion number for affiliate marketing. In other words, if you aren’t getting a sale for every 200 visitors, something big is wrong. Obviously the goal is much higher than that, but 1/2% is a measuring stick for the beginning of the process. However, you can’t make this decision after 200 visitors. 2000 is a better number (statistical significance) . I’m making a change after 1500 – This site is at 0.26% conversion.
3. “But I Love ClickBank!”
Look at more than one marketplace before deciding on a product to promote. Today I found a product that’s a much tighter match with my readers/customers. They offer better much affiliate tools. The gravy is that the product is slightly higher priced and has a higher commission percentage. The end result is that even with the same conversion rate, I’ll make twice as much. If I get 0.5% conversion, I’ll be making four times as much as I did with my first 1500 visitors.
4. Made for Adsense
Adsense is easy, but do the math. In my case, I made $140 with 1500 visitors which comes out to roughly 9 cents per visitor. As poorly as this site is performing, it’s still likely miles ahead of Adsense. Does that mean that in every market it makes more sense to promote an affiliate product? Not necessarily. Does that mean Adsense doesn’t have a place? Absolutely not. Just make sure you run the numbers.
5. “Will You Be My Valentine?”
Don’t fall in love with your sites. If the change in products doesn’t make a significant change to this site’s performance after another 1500+/- visitors, I’ll flip it. With proven traffic and proven sales, it would sell well enough that I’ll get a decent return on my time.
6. *Thud* *Thud* *Thud*
Repeatedly planting your forehead into the wall gets you nowhere. While I completely agree that there is merit to sticking with a project/site full bore, I would rather do a burst of work, wait for actionable results, and then either tweak or dive in with heavy effort. Many believe that you shouldn’t pause like I did/do, but this type of effort just makes sense to me.
7. Still Writing…
Constant and consistent article submissions drives traffic, but it’s not the only free game in town. I’m also pretty sure that today you have to do more than just a bunch of social bookmarking in order to get lasting traffic (although social bookmarking works great for fast indexing). However, the number of visitors I’m seeing to this site is still rising (albeit slowly). A mix of backlinks is likely the key. If this site reaches a decent conversion rate, I’ll start a full blown backlink campaign including more articles (starting with the spun articles above), blog comments, and forum posts.
8. AdWords, Here I Come!
As poorly as this site is doing, it could still be a candidate for PPC. Crazy, I know. If I could get visitors for $.05 each and maintain the $.09 conversion, I’d make $.04 per visitor. Never ignore PPC.
Always use redirects for affiliate links. Always. It’s not just about making your links look pretty. It’s not even about cutting down on affiliate theft (Outside of the IM niche, most don’t know what an affiliate link is. Inside the IM niche, a cloaked link won’t stop them.). It’s about making your life much easier when you have to change products.
10. “I guess… I think… I hope…”
Track and analyze. If I hadn’t run the numbers, I might have just deleted the ad for the product I’ve been promoting, dropped in an Adsense block and moved on. If I’d done that, I would have been leaving money at the table, at best. At worst, I could have missed an opportunity of an “almost-there” money maker.
After this site gets another 1500 visitors, I’ll look at the numbers again.
If the conversion is still abysmal, it’s likely that either the crowd isn’t buying (not likely, given the niche) or that I’ve missed the mark with my articles and the pre-sell. In either case, I’ll flip the site and move on.
If the conversion has improved (I’m no oracle, but my best guess is that it will), I’ll post spun articles to a bunch of other article directories and begin creating new content for use on the site and at Ezinearticles. I’ll also begin a backlink campaign, working on both blog comments and forum posts. There are hundreds of other sites where I could build content pages. I’ll use spun content from both my old articles and my new articles to add more of these pages and will bookmark everything. Finally I’ll turn much of this content into videos and post them to multiple sites using SENuke with spun titles and descriptions.
If I’m missing anything obvious, please let me know your thoughts below. I’d love to hear your feedback.