NICHE EMPIRE PROJECT
Inside what it takes to build a profitable online property.
MONTH 7: MAY 2019
In this article:
Why so late?
LAST MONTHS EARNINGS (USD)
TOTAL EARNINGS (USD)
MONTHLY GOOGLE IMPRESSIONS (thousand)
MONTHLY GOOGLE CLICKS (thousand)
Why is this report so late?
May was a crazy time in my life. I was expecting my third child in June (now arrived – more details in the June report!) and as a consequence, I had been working with my clients on double time so that I could take 2 weeks off without a loss in income. I wanted to make sure I could take a clear 2 weeks off to be with my family in our new baby bubble.
Therefore, I was really busy right up until the baby arrived and then I took two clear weeks off!
I apologize to all those who messaged me waiting for the update. I’ll get back on track going forward. No new babies planned!
- 23.53% Increase in Traffic
- 42.07% increase in Earnings
The 25% increase in traffic is somewhat misleading because organic traffic was almost identical to the month before. In fact, it was 2.4% down based on a 30-day comparison.
The increase in traffic came from a spike in Pinterest traffic. One of my pins got a lot of traction and in just two days accounted for 616 sessions.
This was a good demonstration of the power of Pinterest and gave me the feeling that things are on the right track. Although most of the articles are quite uninteresting in terms of promotion on social media, I expected to have more success with Pinterest going forward as I focus on more content designed specifically for outreach and links which will be on much more ‘interesting’ topics.
From the ‘active users’ report in Google Analytics, we can see a dip in traffic followed by the Pinterest spike right at the end of the month.
Google Impressions down from 91.5k to 78.3k.
Below shows the trend in impressions over time since the start of the project. We’ve had a recent dip this month but I know we just need to keep doing the right things and we will see a further upward trend.
Despite the fact organic traffic was much the same this month, we did see a nice increase in earnings.
Here is a breakdown:
It was good to see Australia and Canada delivering again proving it really is worth signing up for other Amazon Associate programs. The problem, of course, is getting approved in the first place. See ‘Amazon hell’ below.
Nothing at all from Germany this month which is disappointing.
This graph looks a little odd. Amazon is registering 511 clicks in 1 day but these clicks are not visible in my Google Analytics. Normally I only get a couple a day so this is a big bounce and rogue data. Anyone else had this? Let me know on the projects Facebook Group.
I don’t have a screenshot for India. Beyond frustrated. See ‘Amazon Hell’ below for reasons why.
Notice in this screenshot the graph flatlines halfway through the month. This is because I had to change the tracking ID halfway through the month. Again see ‘Amazon Hell’ below for more details.
So earnings continue to go up. I have a lot of content on the site so I hope to see some more rapid increases in traffic and earnings going forward as the content really takes hold and I start to scale up my link building. See ‘Skyscraper Link Building’ below.
My first full month of Adsense and happy with the money received for no extra work. Looking forward to hitting 10k monthly session though and moving to Ezoic.
Wow. What a quiet month for content. Having reliably added 15-20 articles per month to the site since the beginning, this month I only managed 5.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the aforementioned doubling down on client work so I could take some time off meant that I’ve not been able to approve articles to go live on the site. Truth is, there are about another 12 articles ready for me to publish, I’ve just not had the time to do it.
The second reason is that I’ve spent much of the time I have had putting processes in place for scaled-up outreach and link building using the shotgun skyscraper methodology. This should mean more links, with less effort and less investment. Shotgun skyscraper campaigns begin in June.
Of the 5 posts published this month, one is for my first shotgun skyscraper outreach campaign. See more details in the ‘skyscraper link building’ section below.
Pinterest Spike & Facebook
I now have 21 boards and have been scheduling 8-20 pins per day. I create a new pin design for each new blog published. We saw a huge spike from one of my pins this month but I hope to start seeing some more regular stable traffic too. I also create new pins for the same articles rather than posting out the same design again and again.
Before the big spike, I saw traffic from Pinterest was up from around 3 per day to 5ish. Over the course of the month, I saw 141 visits from Pinterest in the first 27 days and 785 for the whole month.
Facebook also saw 42 visits this month, up from 36 last month.
Skyscraper Link Building
Having acquired some links from guest posting I decided it was time to scale up my link building operation. Manual outreach for guest posts is extremely time-consuming and realistically you can only get a few links a month at most especially given the time I have to dedicate to the site.
So instead, I have decided to start linking building at scale using automated tools and the Shotgun Skyscraper technique touted by Authority Hacker.
I’ve had a great piece of content written to use for outreach. It’s around 5,000 words and is called ’62 reasons why you will love something in my niche’. I also got some custom artwork created to give it a more polished impression.
I also stopped Adsense from displaying Ads on this page as I’m much more likely to get links from a cleaner looking page. I hope this will acquire me a whole lot more links and I plan to use the middleman technique to pass link juice to my money pages. I’ll add the links to my money pages once the outreach campaign is complete.
I also bought a new domain for outreach purposes which is similar to the website’s domain. Although Authority Hacker does not suggest this approach in their training program, from my experience its a good idea if you plan to do a lot of email outreach. Your website domain is very valuable and if it starts to get blacklisted due to over-aggressive SPAM filters or for a whole host of other reasons your website could be toast.
Overall, I don’t think having a different domain matters too much as not many people are going to really scrutinize the email you send from and compare it with your actual website domain. And if they do, so what! This provides some security because if the worst does happen with this domain your website is preserved and you can just create another new domain dedicated for email again.
It’s going to take a few months to really have link building running at full speed. This is due to the fact that you need to warm up the number of emails you send per day. If you suddenly start sending a lot more emails than normal, this can raise some red flags to SPAM filters. Instead, you need to slowly increase the number of sends per day over the period of a couple of months.
At the end of two months, I should be sending around 300 emails per day.
Shotgun Skyscraper campaigns start next month and I am already planning subsequent campaigns so that I never stop link building and emails go out every single day,
If anyone ever tells you that working as an affiliate with Amazon trying to get approved on to the program is hell, it’s all true.
Firstly, you don’t get approved once and you are done. You have to get approved on to every single program in each different locale.
And if the Amazon employee you happen to be dealing with at the time decides you don’t meet the criteria after making the first couple of sales you get closed down…completely. And you have to apply again.
For example this month I made my first few sales on the Canadian program and Amazon decided that my website did not meet the guidelines because I put something similar to the following sentence at the start of my Amazon Associates disclaimer:
“In order to receive some payment for the cost associated with administering this website, I’m signed up to the Amazon Associate Program”
And the most frustrating part of this is that my website had already been approved by the US and UK programs yet it fails when reviewed by Canada. Like I said before no single approval process.
I’m pretty sure the team reviewing websites have targets to reject a certain number and I would like to guess that this target is pretty high. Therefore, they will find anything remotely close to being non-compliant and fail you and cancel your account requiring you to apply again. It almost feels like its a purposeful barrier to entry to make sure only the serious ones get through because of absolute persistence.
And it’s always just one thing that gets rejected. They don’t come back with a list of issues, always just one which seems unlikely. They find one reason to reject and move on.
To add to this they use generic email templates to describe which part of your website is non-compliant leaving you to guess what this issue may be. The Canada example above I guessed pretty quickly but check out my email thread with the India affiliate program.
Here is the email thread I had with Amazon.in starting with the Initial rejection email. All the content I had written was unique and there are no Amazon logos on the page. This happened to be referring to a second affiliate site I have which is just sitting there with a few articles on but both websites are structured in the same way.
My only guess was that they did not like the AAWP product boxes which list features on Amazon’s website but in a complaint way using the API. But I wanted them to say that. I’m still not sure.
Anyway, check out the below. I warn you that this may make some viewers angry. Viewer discretion is advised.
After this, I just gave up. I’ve no idea how they expect to pay me out what they owe me because I never got round to setting up a payment method. It’s not straight forward with Amazon.in as you need to use a third-party service (e.g payoneer) to receive payments.
I thought I’d set this up once it was worth my while. They advised in the first email that they will pay me what they owe me but have made no contact to ask for my payment details. I can’t even see what was due now but it was somewhere between $20 – $25 from memory.
I’ve applied again, I just hope that next time I get a different analyst that spots a different issue that I am more able to address instead of repeating the same thing that’s in this thread.
I have friends that work at Amazon and I’m just so tempted to try and get an interview with someone who works on the Amazon associates program but I doubt that anyone from the program would do this for obvious reasons. It does not appear to be the most transparent of operations.
I attempted a small list building exercise which was a competition to win something in my niche to the value of around $50. But in 2 months I only managed around 7 email addresses. We’ll put that one down as a failure.
I’m considering starting a Facebook group of some sort for my niche to see if I can make a go of that. I’ll be thinking this through over the next couple of months.
I’m going to get back to adding more content to the site over the course of the next couple of months. I plan to do some competitor research to see which articles work best for them and produce content that is similar in its content and structure.
I’ll be scaling up my link building efforts starting next month using the shotgun skyscraper technique. I hope that this will help me start to rank some of my 140 strong articles. The first links to a website have the largest impact so I am hoping that even getting a few links will make an observable difference.