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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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Niche Titans January 21, 2009 at 12:19 am

I am definitely interested in your custom script…. anything to make building niche sites quicker is appreciated. Yah, your sites, especially choosing smaller uncompetitive niches, doesn’t pay toooooo well, having 10-20 sites doing average, mostly on autopilot, can do wonders for your income.
But it sure takes a while to create a site, link build, and market that many sites.
I am definitely interested in these case studies… and I’ll be doing one on my own for my site soon.
I build all of mine by hand… using a custom link generator for Amazon associates links…. I am a control freak, what can I say.
Do you have a copy or screen shot of Court’s keyword sniping article… when he went all wuss because of Google’s slap, he took it all down….
Niche Titanss last blog post..Amazon Associates Affiliate Program – Why I love it

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

Well, using my custom script might not be any quicker as it was a pretty crude way to get products listed.
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have a copy or screen shot of Court’s article. I’ll continue to look but I wasn’t able to find anything on the first pass.
Actually, I just did a check of something and I was able to find a copy from last July. I’ll give you a hint, you can go “way back” to find it – or you can shoot me a note and I can share the PDF that I now created. πŸ™‚

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nweld January 21, 2009 at 9:32 am

Hmmm, I think I’d like to take a look at that PDF πŸ™‚
nwelds last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

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derek January 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Changing up the name on your comments Nick?
I’ll shoot you a copy of the PDF, just remember to check your email account. πŸ˜‰

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Nick January 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Oops, nope, that was a typo πŸ™‚
I’ve been really good about checking ALL my email accounts lately πŸ˜‰
Nicks last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

Niche Titans January 21, 2009 at 12:23 am

Forgot to mention….. good idea on branding and using twitter for your no bogies site…. obviously, not all affiliate sites will be able to utilize it well, but it can definitely be a great way to market your site…. hook up with peeps on twitter who you love golf, and you’ve got some great possible sales right there.
Niche Titanss last blog post..Amazon Associates Affiliate Program – Why I love it

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:30 am

I’d like to say that was my idea but on this project I have teamed up with someone that is much more versed in promoting sites/articles/etc. and that was their idea.

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InternetStrategist@GrowMap March 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm

You can check out the followers and who we follow at Twitter for @NoBogies to see how well that is working. Golf is REALLY popular so we have already made some great connections with golfers and golf-related blogs there.
InternetStrategists last blog post..Making Money with Your Blog – Part 1 – Understanding Affiliate Programs

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Neil@PS3 January 21, 2009 at 2:40 am

Great post derek. I would be interested in this custom script also.
I must say you really seem to know what you are doing to promote the sites and how to move them up the rankings.
I have recently started to rank #1 in google for one of my Sites
I am hoping to use this to my advantage and I am redesigned the site to try to help with conversions.
I was hoping you could offer some feedback on the new design. It is located at http://www.newgadgets4you.com/test

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:36 am

Neil, I still have a lot to learn with regard to promoting sites and moving them up in rankings but I have been fairing pretty well.
On your redesign, I really like the new look (although the teal/aqua color isn’t really my thing). Also, one thing I noticed is that the left sidebar is squished right up against the border. This should have a little separation from the border.
Another note, I found that there wasn’t enough color different between the normal text and the links and that made it somewhat difficult to even see some of the links. You might want to investigate a slightly different color/style to bring attention to the links.
But I think you’re on to something with the new design.
Oh yeah, I corrected the name on the comment too so you’re good there.

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Neil@PS3 January 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Thanks for your input Derek, I had noticed the links were nearly the same colour so I have been looking into ways to make the links stand out like underlining them or changing the colour. The left sidebar thing I had not noticed but will put this right.
It probably came about because it should have been 2 right hand sidebars but I fancied the content in the middle so I moved it. Didn’t think of the padding.

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derek January 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm

You’re welcome, I see that you have made some changes to it already. Feel free to give me a holler with any questions.

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Neil@PS3 January 21, 2009 at 2:41 am

Sorry Derek, I missed my name off the front of my comment name

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Ling@Uptake January 21, 2009 at 8:03 am

I’m not really familiar with this stuff, but from what little experience I have selling stuff on the net, seems to me that the best way to sell a product is if you write first-person reviews about it.
So for the No Bogies site, I’d say you need some reviews front and center, on the home page. Anyone who’s actually thinking about buying golfing gear off a website is definitely going to need to see your reviews.

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

Very good point…the next task on the list for that site is to start adding the custom content. Incorporating that into the front page is a great idea as well.

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Nicole Price January 21, 2009 at 9:10 am

Derek, as inviting as it is to respond to your request, I find it extremely difficult to. Whatever you post is fine with me and I keep learning new things. Some, of immediate value and some for future reference. So, just plug away please.
Nicole Prices last blog post..Furniture Discounts

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:39 am

Sounds good.

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Dave January 21, 2009 at 9:21 am

I’ll be closely following you with this stuff Derek. As you know, Carbon Fiber Gear started off as a simple experiment in affiliate marketing. It’s evolved into much more though, from a legitimate blog, and now a retail e-commerce branch that did over $10,000 in sales in December (thank you xmas!). The affiliate aspect of the site has brought in multiple thousands of dollars.

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:42 am

Dave, that is great to hear that CFG has evolved into much more than what it was when you started – and those numbers are quite impressive!
I’ve got to head over there and digest what you have been doing to see what other things I can learn. πŸ™‚

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Nick@romandock dot com January 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

I’ll join the vote for wanting to know more about your custom script. If you don’t want to share it with us, could you at least be a little more descriptive as to what it does/how it works?
I like how you mention that they are beneificail just from what you have learned even if you never make any money. I have so many projects and things that I have done like that that I know exactly what you mean.
Nicks last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

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derek January 21, 2009 at 9:44 am

Sure thing, we’ll dig into the script in more detail but in a nutshell, there are actually a couple of scripts that were created in an attempt to make the process of adding new products to the site as seamless as possible.

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Anonymous January 21, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Spam comment removed.

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Nick January 21, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Hmmm, looks like someone can’t think of an original comment! I wonder if this was done with some sort of crafty script or if the poster just copy/pasted my comment (complete with spelling errors)?
Nicks last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

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derek January 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Lol, I would have simply deleted it but then we would have lost your comment too. So I’ve edited the spam comment instead.

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Nick@romandock dot com January 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm

lol, oops, my bad!
Nicks last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

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JB January 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Very cool. I like your initiative & the way you think. I can’t wait to see your future results. Best of luck to you!

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derek January 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

JB, thanks for the feedback!
As an FYI to you and everyone else, I’ve opted to create a case study page so we can all keep tabs on how things progress. In addition, I’ve added a “Case Study” section in the right sidebar.

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Nick@romandock dot com January 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I like the idea of the case study section (but we’ll have to get a few more added so it doesn’t look so strange on the sidebar πŸ˜› )
I like the anticipation that is built-up by that page though!
Nicks last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

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derek January 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I’ve done a few other loose case studies, such as when I installed the All In One SEO plugin. Maybe I can consolidate those posts into an official case study page and add it to the sidebar.
Or I can feature links to case studies that all of you do as well, and we can compare results on our affiliate marketing prowess.

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Nick@romandock dot com January 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Either way would be pretty cool. If you take the second option it could possibly become a sort of “case study link exchange” or something.
Nicks last blog post..Why I’m Not Going To Write A Post About The Inauguration

InternetStrategist@GrowMap March 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Case Studies should be wildly popular and I like where you featured that link. I’d love to see you add any others you’ve done. Nick’s idea would be great too although you might have to make a page to put them on if you round up a lot of them.
InternetStrategists last blog post..Take Our TwtPoll: What Methods Are Bloggers Using to Generate Income

BigMick@Domain Names January 21, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Another test you could run is moving one of the categories/hot deals from the ride hand side of the page to the left hand side.
Blogs aside, I’ve always thought the left hand side produced better results.

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derek January 21, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Once the site begins to generate a little traffic, I’ll be sure to look into testing a left sidebar. The beautiful thing with the Thesis theme is that I can change all of that with a simple click of a button. πŸ™‚

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InternetStrategist@GrowMap March 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm

That is great news. I knew Thesis was excellent but didn’t realize it could be changed that easily. It wouldn’t be simple but we might be able to use it to test the effectiveness of different layouts using Optimizer.
InternetStrategists last blog post..Do YOU Recognize Maximum Exposure Opportunities? Take Action Right Away!

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olly@cheap computer parts January 22, 2009 at 3:11 am

I would be interested to know how much link building you will intend to do for each of these sites and what method will you rely on.
Good luck and look forward to hearing your progress.

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derek January 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

Thanks. For the most part, I have always approached link building as something I like to see happen organically. That has most likely limited me, or at least made some things take longer.
We’ll see if that changes with these sites at all.

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Steve@trade show displays guru January 22, 2009 at 8:40 am

Hey Derek,
This is way cool and I will be following it closely.
One question though, what does ‘Garry β€œHe Called Me Steve” Conn’ mean? Inside joke? I clicked through and got his home page. I thought I might get a post that would explain it…
~ Steve, the he-didn’t-call-me-Garry trade show displays guru πŸ™‚
Steves last blog post..My Wife is Famous

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Nick@romandock dot com January 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

Hmmm, looks like someone doesn’t subscribe to comments πŸ™‚
As for the origins of that comment, check out the comments of this speedlinking post
Nicks last blog post..Free Cosmetics From Many Retailers

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derek January 23, 2009 at 8:57 am

Steve, as Nick kindly pointed out, the reference came from the dialog on a previous post. I apologize for not doing a better job of explaining.

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Stephen@affiliate review site January 22, 2009 at 1:30 pm

another option with affiliate sites is to build review sites that corner a tight niche. it’s quite a bit different than building a blog to do the same job, but then the end result is a site that is specifically targeted at buyers.

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derek January 23, 2009 at 8:58 am

Stephen, thanks for sharing your feedback and making the additional suggestion of how to design an affiliate driven site.

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Steve@trade show displays guru January 22, 2009 at 7:01 pm

hey Nick,
Thanks. πŸ˜€
~ Steve, the I-get-the-joke-now-and-I’m-asleep-at-3:30am trade show displays guru
Steves last blog post..My Wife is Famous

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Charles@Las Vegas Real Estate January 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Derek, are you also actively link building for those niche terms as well?
Charless last blog post..Looking at the Las Vegas Real Estate Market

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Patrick@pays to live green January 26, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Very nice sites. Hopefully they continue to make money and are successful like this blog has been. I’ve had the most success with adsense to this point, but probably as my blog gets more traffic, my affiliate links will bring in more money.
pays to live greens last blog post..Wood Toys: Safe for Kids and Eco Friendly

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erdem February 25, 2009 at 6:44 pm

The beautiful thing with the Thesis theme is that I can change all of that with a simple click of a button
erdems last blog post..Amerikan filmleri matemati?i bitirdi.

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InternetStrategist@GrowMap March 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Didn’t Derek do an awesome job designing that new NoBogies site? Not only does it look great – it has far more products already than I could have guessed he would use.
I am certain that niche will work as long as the right kind of content is developed and Social Networking is used to ensure golf fans find it.
InternetStrategists last blog post..Making Money with Your Blog – Part 2 – Evaluating Affiliate Programs

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InternetStrategist@GrowMap March 4, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Congratulations on the first sale at NoBogies. Derek and I are working on the site together. The flu seriously slowed down my contributing to the content and promotion so we’re lucky to have that sale.
If you’re into golf do drop by, check it out, and offer any suggestions you may have. If you’d like to do a guest post let us know.
@Ling you’re absolutely correct that what NoBogies really needs is product reviews. One of my highest priorities is to contact golfers and find out what they really use – and what they tried and didn’t like!
We’ll also be featuring other great golf related blogs such as one on the rules of golf and another from a golfer new to the Pro Tour. There are many other great golf niches to add.
Anyone here into golf?
InternetStrategists last blog post..Tips for Leaving Comments That Don’t Get Deleted – Contributor or SPAMMER?

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InternetStrategist@GrowMap March 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

For those interested in the detail on that sale here it is:
No Bogies has made its first sale! On March 1st, there was a purchase of $119.95 made that resulted in a commission of $9.60
InternetStrategists last blog post..Making Money with Your Blog – Part 2 – Evaluating Affiliate Programs

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Neil@Free Wii March 4, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Congratulations to NoBogies for the first sales.
I have been getting quite a few adsense clicks and amazon sales.

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Reginald Steeves@secret cash blueprint 2.0 November 7, 2009 at 7:42 am

Thanks for the insight! I was looking all over the place for more information like this. Glad I found this site.
Cheers,
Reg

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Sharon December 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Great job on the No Bogies golf site. I’m picking up quite a few things to learn from that. Thanks for sharing this!

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Carbon Fiber October 29, 2010 at 1:04 am

Thanks for the input Derek, you put a lot of efforts in this article. Thanks for sharing.

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Veronica Cervera@miami beach condos August 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Nice of you to put in a case study section. Well, actually I think it’s a great idea to put in ‘case study’ sections in blogs. Just got an idea for my blog. Just like this one. Thanks!

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