If you are new to the idea of making a living online through Affiliate Marketing, it can see a complete minefield.
Regular readers of Digital Income Journey will know that I recommend getting started with Amazon Associates, (Lesson 1 of my free email course goes into this in more detail).
- It is undoubtedly the easiest affiliate program to signup to and use.
- Amazon literally has millions of products you can promote
- People trust Amazon. If you can send a potential buyer to Amazon, the online behemoth will do the rest.
It is more than possible to earn tens of thousands a month with Amazon Associates.
The beauty of the affiliate model is that you have very little overheads.
No products to buy, store or worry about.
No staff (except maybe Virtual Assistants or Content Writers should you expand down that path), and very little stress.
All you need is a website.
For me it is the perfect business model. It allows for a personal and financial freedom that really is life changing.
Affiliate Websites – 5 Main Choices
So in what forms can your affiliate marketing website take?
The good news is you have a choice. All have their benefits as well as their failings.
Which ever path you take, you will need time, effort and dedication.
Let’s take a look…
1. The Authority Product Review Site
This is the model of affiliate site that I personally follow.
In my 1st live case study, I am basically turning a small, single niche product review site into an Authority Product Review Site.
The results speak for themselves.
So what is it?
My definition is a site that has lots of in depth articles on a product, where each article will include a buyers guide, how to operate guide etc as well as a comparison of the product across the various brands in the space.
The site area is broad enough to cover a wide range of product areas, (think a site focused on outdoor pursuits – the number of products you can review is almost endless).
Each product review article is upwards of 2500 words.
The site will also have helpful non affiliate content (i.e doesn’t promote any particular product) but is there to provide value and knowledge surrounding the niche.
The aim of an Authority Site owner is to create an online resource that provides the best, most in depth information when compared to the competition.
Pros of the Authority Review model
- The long form articles do well with Google – organic traffic through long tail keywords will be high
- Possible to become an expert in your niche
- Backlinks are easier to gain because the content is so good
- The sheer volume of high quality content gives the site authority (pages will rank without links)
- It is labor intensive, lots of research required.
- If you’re not into the subject area it can be difficult to maintain the drive required
- Writing these long form articles yourself is boring and time consuming
- Paying others to write lots of quality articles won’t come cheap
- (There is a hybrid approach you can follow to keep the costs down and quality up however).
Examples of Authority Product Review Sites
Should you go for it?
This is the model I recommend most of all. Mainly because it has worked so well for me. I like writing after all.
If you have the drive to succeed (and passion for a niche area if you are lucky), it is more than possible to earn a full time income with the Authority model.
Keep providing great content that adds value and promotes products along the way, and you will eventually reap the benefits. Just be prepared to put the hours in.
The Top Ten List Affiliate Site
The top 10 list format is a growing model in the affiliate marketing space.
As the name suggests, sites like this are made up of articles that feature the top 10 products in any given space.
Lists are popular with site visitors, this also gives you a basic format to follow.
The depth of each article does vary. Some site owners opt for the list with short specs of each product. Others may provide more in depth details to flesh the articles out.
Pros of the top 10 list
- List posts work very well. People enjoy reading them because they are easy to consume.
- List posts also work well on social media (especially if the subject / products are a bit quirky). They are a lot more sharable than a normal product review article.
- The fact you have 10 products (each with affiliate links) on one page, gives you ample opportunity to send people to Amazon (or whatever affiliate program you are using).
Cons of this style
- Top 10 lists are still quite time consuming (however it easier to outsource the format to have the content created for you)
- If you want to rank sufficiently in Google to bring in organic traffic, the written content within the article has to be more than just specs.
- There is a huge amount of competition – lots of sites follow this format.
- You need to choose your products wisely – avoid popular products as you will find it difficult to raise above the noise.
Example of Top 10 lists review sites
- Top 10 Best Pro.com
- Top Ten Reviews.com
- (I have avoided giving these guys a backlink they compete with my sites on certain products)
Should I go for it?
Of course. If you are committed. There’s lots of competition but the format is viable. Top 10 lists also require less research and time to create than the Authority Model articles.
However, the content still needs to be good. And you do need to choose the products wisely, (i.e you’re more likely to succeed with unpopular products).
The ‘Premium’ Affiliate Site with Branding
In my mind this one is slightly more difficult to pull off. However, I am considering this model for my second case study.
It basically involves creating a premium looking website, with traffic highly reliant on an avid following that has signed up to the mailing list or social platform.
In other words you are creating a brand.
HiConsumption is one of the best examples of this type of premium affiliate site. (I discuss the influence of HiConsumption on my Challenge site here).
The onus is on sleek user interface, with large detailed images.
However, as you can see if you take a look at the site; the premium element is extremely superficial.
The product pictures on HiConsumption and very often just super imposed on a washed out greyscale background.
The content too is very thin.
The entire enterprise utilises (to wonderful effect), style over substance.
Content is updated daily, and there is a weekly newsletter of the best products. It is more akin to a lifestyle website that has gained a loyal following.
Examples of the premium affiliate site with branding
Pros of premium affiliate site with branding
- The articles are not so reliant on in depth, researched long form content
- Extremely stylish
- Easier to gain traction on social media
- Back links come naturally over time due to the content looking so good
- You build a loyal following with the email list (and power) that comes with it
- The content has to come thick and fast – this is more of magazine style enterprise
- You need to have good design skills or need someone on board that does, (Photoshop skills are definitely required)
- Building a loyal following is easier said than done.
- Very reliant on social media in the early stages – you need to know what you are doing
Should I go for it?
This model has a lower chance of success, especially for the beginner.
Without the long form articles that Google likes so much, you are going to be overly reliant on the many moving parts of social media marketing and list building.
If online marketing and an eye for design are your strong points than by all means give it a go. However, like all the affiliate models in this list, be prepared to put the work in.
Micro Niche Affiliate Site
The micro niche affiliate review site has been around for years.
You will definitely have come across one on your internet travels.
Quite simply it is a site that concentrates on just one product type (say toasters), and will consist of only a few pages. This might be single reviews of a range of toasters, or a large comparison article with lots of toasters on one page (normally the home page).
In the past it was easy to rank such a website.
In the ‘good old days’ of Google, (pre Panda and Penguin updates) it was possible to throw a shed loads of low quality links to the page, and assuming the product didn’t have ridiculous competition you would hit the front page and earn your commission on sales.
The entire model generally relied on scale.
In otherwords, to reach the level of income that could replace a full time job, you would publish dozens of such sites for a decent accumulative payout each month.
Example of a micro niche affiliate site
Pros of the micro niche affiliate site
- Easy to set up the individual site
- Don’t have to worry about burn out (and boredom) on an individual site
- Creating enough sites to earn a substantial income is extremely time consuming
- Very difficult to gain high domain authority from a small site with only a few pages
- Difficult to rank now the old link building methods do not work
- You have to pay for all the different domain names, hosting plans, and create new sites from scratch on a consistent basis.
Should I go for it?
This is the affiliate site model I would recommend against.
The scope to earn here is severly diminished, yet the workload over time (and the creation of multiple sites) is extremely time consuming.
In my opinion the scaling of dozens of micro niche sites is just not worth the effort.
Product Affiliate Online Displays
This is a category of affiliate sites that does not actually review the products but simply displays them.
The site normally has a grid style ‘Masonry’ layout and allows the user to skim through images of products with an affiliate link beneath stating ‘Check it out’, ‘By Now’ etc.
The amount of information provided with each product is very little. The links lead to the sites selling the product item.
One of the most successful sites to employ this model in recent years is ‘This is why I’m broke‘ (TIWIB).
TIWIB succeeded because it displays interesting, quirky products directly related to the target audience, (predominantly American males between the ages of 18 & 35).
The site also leveraged social media to great effect in its early days, (the site became very well known to the Reddit audience and was advertised heavily there), which helped it gain audience traction.
Other less successful methods are the thin affiliate ‘eCommerce’ stores that you see listed on Flippa.com.
Using a WordPress plugin to pull product images and details straight from Amazon into the pages of the site, you end up with something that will never rank.
It’s all duplicate content filling the pages via an API. You should avoid these at all costs.
Pros of this affiliate product display site
- Very little content has to be created, products are merely put on display
- You can update with hundreds of products with ease
- Quick to build
- These sites are near impossible to rank. The basic fact being, there is no real content for Google to rank.
- Completely reliant on social media and paid advertising
- Competition is fierce for the TIWIB style – clones are very easy to set up.
- If you go for the simple online store pulling products from Amazon with no angle (i.e, nothing to set you apart or a clear audience in mind) you will fail.
Should I go for it?
I personally wouldn’t bother. However, if you feel you feel there’s an untapped audience out there for the type of products you want to display, and you know how to reach them – why not give it a shot, (and then tell us about it).
So there’s 5 affiliate website models you can run with, (or not as the case is with some of them).
As I have said time and time again. Whichever method you choose, be prepared to put the work in.
Affiliate websites really do create a wonderful passive income for those that succeed.
However, the work load is completely frontloaded.
It will take time for the fruits of your labor to come through.
Those that win at this game are simply the ones dedicated enough to work hard with little to no light at the end of the tunnel for many, many months.
Hopefully that’s you.