Building Affiliate Stores :: Pulling Back The Covers

by derek on January 20, 2009 · 64 comments

Lately we have had a fair amount of discussion surrounding affiliate marketing and how we can leverage affiliate links to increase our bottom line. During all of this conversation, we’ve even been fortunate enough to receive a few comments from top affiliate marketers such as the one and only “ghetto affiliate” and Garry “He Called Me Steve” Conn.

Throughout all of these discussions, I have made mention that I have been experimenting with a handful of affiliate based websites. With these new sites, I have also been working to implement the concept of keyword sniping in an attempt to quickly rank well in Google for my targeted keyword.

Given that one of my goals with this blog is to share the steps that I am taking to make money online with all of you, I thought that it would be fitting to dig a little deeper into these new sites and the approach that I have been using.

The Sites

As we pull back the covers on what I have been doing, one of the first things that we need to examine are the sites that we will be reviewing. For the purpose of this exploration into affiliate marketing, we will be looking at three sites that I have created.

Now, many of you might recognize those first two links as I have mentioned those sites previously. However, that third site is a brand new initiative that has just been put up in the last week.

The Process

As I mentioned earlier, each of these sites has been designed with the ultimate goal of becoming an additional source of revenue – although in slightly different manners. The process of each is highlighted below.

Pro Football Workouts

This site began as an experiment with keyword sniping – which as of my last check, I rank in the top 5 on the first page of Google for my targeted keyword. In terms of monetization, this site features both AdSense ads as well as a variety of affiliate products and links.

Generally speaking, you typically don’t want to run AdSense ads on an affiliate driven site (but I did here). Think about it for a moment. Do you want your reader leaving via an AdSense ad that pays you a few dollars at most, or an affiliate link that can pay quite a bit more?

The affiliate links on this site feature a combination of banner images that have been manually selected and affiliate products that have been automated with a custom script that I wrote to manipulate datafeeds from my affiliate merchants. You can see an example of this automated script on this post about buying the right football gloves.

Chicago Football Gifts

With this site, I again used my custom script for importing datafeeds from my affiliate merchants but I expanded the implementation to create more of a storefront. In addition to the storefront, I designed this site to have a separate blog that would be independent of the product listings.

Rather than implement the theme used in my keyword sniping experiment, I opted to implement the Thesis theme that I recently purchased. After seeing the results of how quickly the Pro Football Workouts site has ranked for my keyword, it will be interesting to see how using this theme compares.

No Bogies

Here again I have opted for a customized version of the Thesis theme. However, rather than relying on my custom datafeed script to select and import the affiliate products, I have opted for a 3rd party tool.

The tool that I have opted to use on this site is called datafeedr. With datafeedr, you’re given a web-based interface to construct your “store” and two WordPress plugins to integrate that “store” into your site. With datafeedr, you have the option of creating a more traditional storefront or you can have your selection of products automatically “dripped” into your site as individual blog posts.

Now, datafeedr is not free unfortunately, but it does make the process much easier to manage than what I was doing with my custom script above. At a cost of $27 per month for a one site license, time will tell whether or not this can prove to be profitable.

The Results

With Chicago Football Gifts and No Bogies it is too early to tell, as these sites have just been created in the last week or two. Pro Football Workouts has been live for a few months and has minimal earnings thus far, with approximately $40.00 from AdSense and $20.00 in affiliate sales.

Clearly the one hurdle with all of these sites is the ability to generate traffic to each site. At this point I have relied solely on organic traffic and have not investigated any PPC advertising or other forms of advertising.

Over the last month, my site on football workouts has brought in only 500+ visitors through organic search results. Oddly enough, Yahoo is giving Google a run for the money with only a few percentage points separating them from being the top referring site.

In order to make any significant amount of money, each of these sites will need to see a significant increase in the volume of traffic.

As this process has evolved, there has been more attention given to creating a brand – which you can see with the twitter account and Friend Feed account for No Bogies. By developing these additional channels of communication, there will be more opportunity to try and build relationships with like-minded people and thus increase the traffic to the site.

The Future

Will these sites prove to be successful?

Absolutely!

As even if they fail to earn me the money that I expect that they can, I will have learned valuable lessons along the way that will better serve me for the next site that I create. However, I believe that we will be discussing how these sites were built from the ground up into successful affiliate stores.

If you’re interested in continuing to explore each of these sites as a case study in building an affiliate store, please let me know and we will march onward. Ideally, I’d like you to let me know what aspects of these sites that you want to know more about and we can focus the discussion in that area.

So what do you want to discuss in the next installment?

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