Stop Playing Affiliate Marketing Frogger And See Real Results

You definitely want to check out today’s guest post by Robert Dempsey.  Today he gives specific step-by-step detail about how to succeed with affiliate marketing if you’re just starting out.  This isn’t one of those theory posts.  Instead Robert pulls from his own persona experiences and provides an awesome tutorial.

There are many ways to go about affiliate marketing, but what actually works? By now you’ve more than likely seen the marketing videos with ClickBank earnings promising tons of cash if you follow this method or that. So you try them, perhaps you try all of them.

Come a Little CloserJust like in Frogger, you either make it to the other side or you get squashed trying. Too many get squashed trying. Let’s end that today.

Steve made a great video on why people fail with affiliate marketing. To paraphrase it comes down to getting bad information. I’ve gotten some of that, but I think I’ve also gotten some good.

So here’s the deal. In this post I want to show you exactly how I’m building out an affiliate site – my first – and the results I’m seeing. I’ll give you the exact steps I took, and the results of each. This is the no fluff no BS here my friend. Read the entire thing, and if you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

With that said, strap on your helmet, get a cup of coffee or two, and let’s go!

Step #1: Find A Niche SiteThere’s a lot of advice on how to go about this one, and Steve has a section on it in his Income Trilogy report. The “big 4” mega niches are health & wellness, make money, relationships, and passions. I knew I wanted to get into one of those, and at the same time find a product I could get behind or was already using.

So my selection criteria was this:

•  Had to be in the “big 4” mega niches

•  Have at least 100-500 searches per day, minimum

•  Low competition, defined as:

•  Less than 5 homepages on the first page of Google results for the main keyword

•  No more than 500 relevant backlinks to those pages

•  Have buyer intent, meaning that people are looking for a solution to a problem

•  Keyword domain name available in some form

I performed my research using Market Samurai, and all in spent about 3 full days doing it. You can do the same thing using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, but Market Samurai makes it a lot easier. I suggest you download a free 30-day trial to test it out.

Once I found my niche it was time to find a product.

Step #2: Find A Product You Can Get Behind

This is where it gets tricky and the advice is across the board. Some people will be affiliates for anything they think they can market well. I don’t suggest that. What is suggested is to either be an affiliate for a product you use, or one that you can get behind. In my case it’s the latter – one I can get behind.

I headed over to ClickBank Marketplace for this step.

Again the advice here varies, so here’s mine: look for a product with a high gravity, good sales page, and affiliate tools. Gravity refers to how well the affiliates are doing with their sales.

The product I chose to promote was a software application that had:

•  A good gravity in it’s category

•  An excellent sales page with a lot of usable testimonials, not just “great product” stuff but really specific

•  Affiliate tools, including a video, email autoresponder series, and more.

With the niche and product chosen, it was time for serious keyword research and spending some money on action steps.

Step #3: Keyword Research & Choosing A Domain Name

This is a post unto itself and something I’ve covered in great depth in my Blog SEO series at the IEJ. Here an overview to get you started.

I used Market Samurai and started with the largest overall keyword. I then used the keyword research module to generate a list of 800 keywords. I narrowed down that list by filtering out all the location specific and buyer keywords. I chose the top 10 to dig into and looked at the competition. Using the competition filter mentioned in step 1, I choose my primary keyword.

I’ve heard many places that Google gives a little boost for having your primary keyword in the domain name. I’ve also heard this doesn’t help. I chose not to care and find a domain name with the primary keyword.

The main keyword I was targeting was not available, but it wasn’t in use either. Damn squatters! So I added “hq” to the keyword and made the purchase.

This was my first outlay of cash. So far my total investment was $10.16.

With niche, product, keyword research, and domain name in hand, I was ready to build the site, which takes us to step #4.

Step #4: Build The Site

Building a BusinessIf you’re still reading this I really appreciate it. I know this much reading can be dry, and the presentation here is a bit scientific. I want you to know exactly how I went about it though so the results I show below make sense. Let’s speed it up a bit though.

Building the site is pretty straight forward. I use BlueHost as my provider but you can use any host you like. BlueHost (and all the others) have a one-click installer you can use for WordPress, which many online marketers use. You’re on a WordPress site right now.

With WordPress up and going on my domain I installed a WordPress theme. You can use any you like but I suggest going with one that allows the creation of sales and squeeze pages, and has blog templates.

The date in this story is now January 14, 2011. This is my site launch date and the first day the Internet has seen my site.

But it hasn’t been found just yet, and I didn’t want it to be.

I created the main pages – sales (which is the home page), about, contact, and sitemap pages. I set up the navigation to be at the bottom of the site so that nothing got in the way of my main headline.

Now I needed content, and frankly I didn’t have the time to write it all myself. So on January 15th I hired an article writer. Which takes us to step 5.

Step #5: Add Content To The Site

I had my article writer write batches of 4, 500 word posts. As I got the articles I added them to the site. On January 18th my first 4 articles, each targeting a specific keyword, were added to the site.

Each 500 word article costs me $5. With a total of 16 articles that’s an additional $80.

Unplanned Sales Page Overhaul

After going through a few affiliate marketing courses and reading up a bit on persuasion, on January 19th I did a major overhaul of the sales page after performing a more in-depth market analysis.

At this point all is well as no one but search engine spiders have seen my site. I also updated my sitemap on a regular basis as articles were posted, so the spiders came back and crawled the new home page. I feel this was early enough in the process to not ding me.

Step #6: Profile Link Directory Submissions

By January 20th I had a total of 16 articles posted on the site, each targeting a different keyword. What I needed now was backlinks, so I found a service that would create profiles in various directories and forums. I purchased a package for $55 that submitted to 200 sites.

So far my bill is $145.16. I already had hosting and Market Samurai, but if I didn’t, my total investment would be $379.16. Not bad at all.

My total time investment was 10 full days.

Now For Some Results!

Finally the section you care most about – the results. But let’s recap real quick to see what’s been done:

•  Niche selection

•  Product selection

•  Keyword research

•  Domain name purchase

•  Web site set up

•  Article writer hired

•  16 articles written and added to the site

•  Profile link directory submission (PLDS) service hired

•  Total spent: $145.16, or $379.16 with Market Samurai and hosting

On January 24th I received my first report that the Profile Link Directory submission was complete, and I saw my first few visitors in Google Analytics!

And my rankings are going up. Here’s a screenshot from Market Samurai.

Market Samurai Results

Interestingly the red indicates a loss of rank, and this is for a category listing. The one above it shows rankings going up – that’s for a single post on the site. My main keyword still isn’t into the top 100 yet, but I think with more backlinks going there it will be very soon.

What’s Next?

Next up is article marketing and building more backlinks to the site. I have an article spinning service that I’m trying out, that will create a single article, spin it, and submit it to 20 article sites. If this post hasn’t scared you off then perhaps Steve will let me come back later and give you an update on how that went.

I’m also waiting to see if the profile directory links get on the radar with Market Samurai. In the screenshot above it shows none of them showing up so far.

Lessons So Far

Learning BlocksThe biggest lesson so far is that all of this takes quite a bit of time to do. I was working full 16-hour days to get this up and going, and that’s with outsourcing article writing and some backlink building.

All in all though it’s been very inexpensive to do this. Mind you the techniques I learned and applied and provided here I learned over months of reading posts, reports, and spending about $200 on affiliate marketing programs. However $400 to get a business off the ground isn’t bad at all.

There will be more money spent as I build backlinks and try to rank for more words. You can do this yourself though it you want to save that money. I recommend outsourcing it though and focus on content creation.


Wow! This was a really long post and I appreciate you sticking with me. I hope that what you’ve read will give you a solid starting point for your affiliate marketing.

It’s recommended to follow these steps. The upfront research can ensure you don’t get into a hugely competitive niche and waste time and money, so definitely do not skip that step.

So now to you! What did you think of this post? Was it helpful? What questions do you have?

Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

Robert DempseySteve’s Note: Robert Dempsey is an itinerant entrepreneur and blogger. He teaches how to use effective online marketing strategies you can implement NOW and turn your website visitors into customers. Become a subscriber at the IEJ and get free reports including the Traffic Conversion Swipe File.

Take Action. Get Results.

30 thoughts on “Stop Playing Affiliate Marketing Frogger And See Real Results”

  1. Thanks for letting me do this huge post Steve. It’s exciting to be getting into “pure affiliate marketing” which I define as promoting affiliate products outside of my site. I hope that this post can help your readers and others just getting started.

    Stay tuned for more updates. Now bring on the questions!

  2. Great job on the post Robert!

    So my question is, when you setup the WP install, you made your sales page your front page. Are you using a static page that gathers emails and builds a list? If so, do you then throw them into your site once you get the info and then they can get to the navigation and the articles?

    I guess what I am looking for is the flow or sitemap of the site, this is what always confuses me when it comes to affiliate sites. Do you market on the landing page or after you have their info.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Hi Sean. I set up the sales page as my front page. There is no list gathering device on this particular site – it’s all about the sale. I have the site nav on the bottom which includes about, privacy, contact, and a sitemap page. The sitemap page has a listing of all the articles on the site. Other than the sitemap there’s no way to get to the articles except via direct link. Then at the bottom of each article is a call to action button that links to the affiliate site.

  3. Hey Robert,

    Loved that image at the beginning of the post – “Come a little closer” 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing all the inner secrets of your first affiliate site. You sure have spent quite a good amount of cash on it already. I think that is a good call. As you said, there is certainly work to be done and it does take time. Doing it all by oneself would be a viable option only if one has that much time to spare, else, as you said, outsourcing is very important.

    I am interested in seeing how this progresses, and hope Steve is generous enough to allow you to post again 😉

    Great stuff! Keep going…


  4. Robert and Steve,

    Very nice and detailed tutorial of getting into creating a site to promote affiliate products. Looks like you didn’t hold anything back here Robert.

    Just this morning I was scouring click-bank under health and wellness category to so some research on the products to create a site around. I found a couple of them that are interesting and one of them that I actually used a while back. This tutorial is really going to come in handy for me if I want to pursue making the site – Bookmarked it (O:

    It is smart that you took the outsourcing approach instead of having to spend weeks or months to get it all together.

    Thanks for the interesting and informative read guys.

  5. Robert,

    Thanks for an awesome article. This is one of the best guest posts I think I have hard. Really good stuff on Affiliate Marketing. I appreciate your effort, and of course you are welcome back for another anytime you want.

    I particularly was impressed by you clarity in the select a niche section. I have written about that topic at least 50 times myslef, and read maybe 200 others but that may be as clear as I have seen it in a relatively short mention.

    Researching and picking a niche may not be “hard” but it is the most important step and one that cannot be, “messed up” unless people love to have a lot of work in vain.

    Anyhow The whole thing is great and a wonderful blueprint on how to get a niche page started (the right way!)

  6. I probably have 10 ideas a day. All of them need implementing right now. The same is true with internet marketing activities which is why I don’t generate a tonne of money via passive means. I think you lay out some really useful pointers here, which I’m going to start following.

    Great share, thanks, Matthew

  7. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for sharing the tips with us.

    Getting behind a product jumped off the page at me. Affiliate posts usually discuss IDing a niche and other general advice but not many talk about the belief part of the equation.

    Some sell anything coming their way. Others sell only what they’ve used and fully believe in. I admit, when JV offers began to flow to me I fought the temptation to sell, sell, sell. Now I know better. Credibility matters, and a heck of a lot. If you aren’t behind your product, if you haven’t used it and don’t believe 100% in it, it ain’t going to sell well.

    Thanks for sharing your super informative take Robert.


    • Hi Ryan thanks for the comment. One choice I had to make was whether or not to turn on whois guard for the domain. Now for me this comes down to morality not competition. Am I going to put my name on something or not? I decided to keep whois blocking off (and trust me I check whois records of people all the time – it’s the marketing CSI in me, or something) so if someone hits the site and does a look up it will trace back to me.

      If someone is blocking the whois they are hiding who is behind the thing which to me implies shadiness and deception. That’s now how I roll, and now how I suggest others do as well.

      There are many great products out there and many ways to market them. No need for BS in my opinion.

  8. Hey Robert:

    Looks like your time to explode the business has come. You have empowered yourself with all that takes your color to shine.

    A great guest post here.

    Keep up the good work

    Fran a

  9. Less than 5 pages in the main page for the keyword? I dunno about you, but there are many a HANDFUL, if any niches that fit that criteria. Even the tiniest niche has at least a few hundred results. So I dunno what you were thinking about…

    I think the less competition, the better obviously, but if you’re writing lots of content, and targetting the long-tail, competition becomes less and less of a factor. It matters if you’re just building a 10 or 20 page site(which is not recommended)

    • The only reason for the additional content was to add more to the site – this is a technique I was taught to do. I then decided to keyword target each article. The backlinking I’m doing is linking to both the home page along with one of the articles. We’ll see how it works out.

      As for the pages bit, that’s homepages listed, rather than subpages on the site. Not sure if that distinction makes a difference for your comment.

      Also I’m not suggesting this is the only way to go Henway, I’m just testing out what I’ve been learning lately.

      What are your suggestions here? I’m sure they could help everyone that’s reading this, and would be appreciated.

  10. Robert,

    This looks like a good plan. I have done this with optin pages. But I have not tried it with sales pages. I have noticed that some of the pretty big bloggers keep all of their sales pages right on their sites. This should be easy with when you narrow down to a specific niche site.

    Good luck. I would love to see an update post in the future.

  11. Hi Robert,

    I really like your detailed explanation regarding niche sites. One of my goals this year is to set up a niche site. I have a lot to learn from you. I will make sure i go to you if i face any problems.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.


  12. What an excellent detailed post. I’m not completely sure I understand what your criteria were for choosing a niche with very little competition. Can you enlarge on that at all?

  13. Being able to stand behind a product is the most important thing that I think anyone doing affiliate marketing can do – and buying it. When you can stand behind it, you’ll be able to easily write about it, tell people how you use it and can make real recommendations for it – that’s power. If people can see your results from using the product – even better!

    It’s all about trust; there’s so much crap out there that people want something that’s definitive – if you can show it and stand behind it, you’re affiliate goooold 😀

  14. Robert,

    I find this post very similar to what I’m doing right now. I’ve actually created 2 blog posts detailing how I did it. Nice to know that most of the methods you use are the same. Curious about your backlinking efforts though. Besides directory submission, article spinning and article submission how would you create more backlinks?

    • Hi Bryan how are these things working for you?

      Frankly this is my first pure affiliate site and backlinking is something I’m working on and learning more about. So what you read is what I’ve done so far – I didn’t hold anything back in this post.

      As I learn to do more I will be posting updates on my site so stay tuned for those. The backlinks that I’ve been creating are now starting to show up in Market Samurai.

  15. Wow Robert! This post has more meat than a Butcher shop window – and is far more interesting I might add (unless you are a canine – but I digress)

    Anyway, not sure if any comment here can do the epic post justice but I do like the way you summarised the whole thing saying ‘outsource and focus on content’
    That really is the key I think – especially when you have 5 or 10 sites to deal with at once!

    Great post mate – oh and Rocking Title too!!!

    • I think most are Shane as that is where most of the “secret sauce” of affiliate marketing seems to be when you’re not building an authority-style site and want to wait months to rank.

      Backlinks are starting to show up in Market Samurai so we’ll see. I’m going to give it a month or two before I start using some of my PPC tactics.

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