Today I’m going to share with you Thomas Smale’s explanation on his own method of creating profitable blogs. And it doesn’t involve SEO! He is an expert in the industry, and a contributor for Entrepreneur.com
When I started out, I had no money to invest, so quickly had to learn how to make money from nothing. This was one of the first methods that worked for me, and I’ve been using it ever since as my various online businesses have grown. I started with around 100 bucks. Here’s a screenshot of one of the websites I sold last year where this method had been used in part to build it up to the stage where it was largely hands off at time of sale (disclaimer: this was not an overnight success!):
A lot of people assume that they can’t make money online because they don’t know how to build websites or rank websites. Well, if you have always wanted to test the online marketing waters but didn’t know where to start, you are in luck. This is something that can be done by someone with:
- Little to no technical knowledge (me when I started)
- No coding or SEO knowledge (me when I started)
- No experience with running a website before (me when I started)
- Around $100 in start up cash (you could invest more or less but this is what I recommend)
One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to online entrepreneurship is “how to make 6 figures a year.” Six figures figures is very attainable if you follow this method consistently. It won’t happen overnight and it won’t be free (it will take time and there are costs associated as you scale) but if you are willing to put the hours in, you will succeed. I originally posted this method on a popular webmaster forum and since then hundreds (literally) of people have followed it and made money.
Often times the simplest ideas will produce the biggest returns, and this is a prime example of how you can take a simple idea and grow it into a profitable online business. No tricks, just hard work.
Introducing an Easy and Scalable Method
This is a proven method that involves finding consumers that are actively searching for products or services that you are promoting and getting paid a referral fee or affiliate commission every time a sale is made. While it does require work on your part, it can be easily outsourced and scaled when your business grows, which allows for exponential growth. Here is a brief overview of this method before I go into more depth:
- Pick an evergreen niche
- Create a review blog
- Use Google search & BuzzBundle for prospecting
- Respond to all opportunities
- Build long-term traffic sources
- Repeat consistently
Now that you have an idea of what this method involves let’s break down each section individually and dive into each component so you fully understand how to execute this plan and start making money online.
1. Identify a Niche
The first thing you need to do is identify a niche, and you want to take three things into consideration when doing this. First, ask yourself if is this a niche that is very popular with a large selection of products or services that will always have a high demand. You don’t want to target a niche that has a small demand or is just a fad. Think long-term potential here. Some examples of strong niches with endless opportunity include weight loss products and dating offers. People are always going to want to lose weight and people are always going to be interested in dating. There will never be a shortage of consumers actively seeking these products and services online. Pick the wider niche and not something very specific that could be short-term (e.g. such as the latest celebrity diet).
Second, you will need to make sure that your niche is one that has a lot of high paying offers. You don’t want to go through all of this hard work to only make a few dollars per conversion. There are two websites that you can use to help you prospect for niche ideas and also see what offers are available, how popular they are, and finally, how much they pay.
ClickBank is an online marketplace that features affiliate products for virtually any niche you can imagine. Every offer pays you a percentage of each sale, and most offers pay between 50% and 75% of the sale price to you, the affiliate.
Simply visit ClickBank.com and click on “Marketplace” to begin searching for products to promote. You can search the categories listed on the menu or you can search by keywords related to the niches you are interested in. When you find a product that interests you make sure to click on the title and visit the product’s sale page. Make sure it is high quality — you don’t want to waste your time and effort on products that are promoted via low quality websites.
Check the average dollar amount per sale for each product and make sure it has a nice healthy payout (recurring products are a bonus). You will then want to look at the product’s gravity rating, which is an indication of how popular it is with affiliates. A ClickBank product with high gravity means that it has high competition which will also indicate that there is a lot of competition and review sites already out there. A more reasonable approach to striking the balance between high gravity and quality, is to pick a product with a gravity between 5 and 75. Select a few products across that range and be sure to contact the vendor for a review copy. You’ll be able to give some real feedback on the product as well as get an indication of how responsive their support is. The best product I ever promoted had a gravity of 12 but you’ll need to test to find the sweet spot for you and your niche.
OfferVault.com is an affiliate marketing resource that lists all of the current offers that are available across all of the major affiliate networks. You can easily enter in a search term and find, as well as compare, offers. While ClickBank is a great resource to locate several products to promote it is always a good idea to diversify across several affiliate networks, plus you are going to want to keep adding products as you grow — so make sure your niche has a seemingly endless supply of products to promote.
Finally, you will need to make sure your niche is something that interests you. Can you see yourself spending several hours a day posting and writing about the niche? If not then you need to find an alternative, because it helps to start with something you are already comfortable with. Most people fail because they don’t like a niche and give up too early.
For even more help with this step make sure you read this blog post about choosing a niche. It is packed with tips that will help you make the right decision.
2. Build Your Website
Now it is time to build your website, which is going to be a review site that features all of the affiliate products that you have identified in the first step. You are going to want to use WordPress as a blogging platform and you should use a .com domain where possible (if you have no money at all then you can start on a free domain/platform but it won’t be as effective). I have a very in-depth definitive guide that shows you how to get your domain and website hosting as well as how to install WordPress in 10 simple steps. You can read this guide on how to make a website.
Once you have WordPress installed on your hosting account you will want to select a theme to use for your website. Instead of paying a web designer thousands of dollars to build a custom site you can visit ThemeForest and search WordPress review themes. There are a lot of very affordable and functional themes that will quickly allow you to create a professional looking website to attract conversions with. If you’re short of cash, a free theme will also work just fine until you can afford an upgrade.
Here are three sample review-style themes to give you an idea of what you want to look for (there’s no “best” theme as it will always depend on your niche and content style so pick one you like):
Magazine – News / Blog / Review Theme
DizzyMag: Ad & Review Optimized and AdSense Ready
Explicit – High Performance Review/Magazine Theme
Once you have selected your theme take some time to customize it — changing colors and the layout to match the products or service you are going to be promoting will help. Also, it is a good idea to get a custom logo made, but don’t worry about breaking the bank. There are several great options on fiverr.com — you can’t beat a logo for just $5!
Create Review Posts
You will want to start off with between 3 and 5 products. I suggest that you start with products that are popular and have high consumer interest and demand — you will see why this is important when I move onto the next step below.
For the best results, you should either buy the product or request a review copy. You also don’t want the review to sound like an advertisement. Write it from a first-person point of view — review posts that have the “I” influence makes them appear genuine. For example, “After using this product for two week I already noticed a change in my body, and according to my scale I lost 5 pounds, so I was very impressed with the results” makes a much bigger impact than, “This product does a great job and leads to weight loss.”
Put some effort into this part, because your reviews will be directly responsible for converting your website traffic into sales. The more in-depth and convincing your reviews are, the more sales you are going to make.
Insert Your Affiliate Links
Once your review posts are written you will need to place your affiliate links within the content. You will want to link the actual product name and also link several phrases such as “get more info here” or “get yours by clicking here” in order to push your traffic to the actual sales pages where your visitors can make a purchase, resulting in you earning commission for each sale generated through your affiliate links.
You will want to cloak your affiliate links (so they don’t look like affiliate links) and also make sure that your clicks and conversions track properly before you start to drive traffic to your website. For cloaking, I use PrettyLink (free version is okay to start), which is a simple plugin that will allow you to easily make your affiliate links more user friendly (we use it on the FE International blog, too).
3. Promote Your Website
You are going to use two main tools to find places to promote your site, Google and BuzzBundle. When used correctly they will both put you in front of consumers that are actively looking for the products and services that you are promoting through your review website.
Google Search Tools (100% Free)
When I first started this method I was using Google Alerts as a semi-automated (and free) solution, but there is a more efficient method to utilize in 2015 (thanks to Gordon for the tip!). Here’s how to do this with Google search alone.
- Go to Google and search for your keyword. If your keyword is a phrase, put it in quotation marks.
- Click on “Search Tools” under the search box.
- Change “Any Time” to “Past 24 Hours”
- Change “Sorted by relevance” to “Sorted by date” to get the most recent results first.
If you want to search Facebook posts, or any other site, you can also do this on Google by entering the following and changing the time and sort as above:
Searching for: “your keyword” site:facebook.com
BuzzBundle to Scale
BuzzBundle is a handy piece of software that helps to push more traffic to your review website by engaging with your target audience through popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+), forums, Q&S sites, videos and blogs. It automatically scrapes the web to find the terms you are targeting (you can use the same ones you are targeting via Google search) and replies, directing everyone back to your review site for more information. When set up correctly, this can produce conversions on autopilot, even while you are sleeping.
You can get a free BuzzBundle trial in order test out the software. Once you have your trial registered, check out our BuzzBundle Tutorial that explains how to properly use the software and how we used it to generate 594k page views in a day!
Pro Tip 1 – Commenting Strategy
The Facebook commenting system allows “top commenters” to display links as hyperlinks rather than text. Getting the top commenter status will therefore increase traffic considerably. What criteria you need to meet to get this status in comments is variable but the more likes your comment gets, the higher your chances.
Websites that use the Disqus commenting system will ban users who constantly post the same link even if you change the comment surrounding it. To get around this, consider using proxy servers to change up your IP address and different accounts on a regular basis. Other users of this method have started to see accounts banned within 10 posts, so for blog commenting to be effective you need to be discrete.
The key thing to remember when you are commenting on blogs is to always add value to the post you are contributing to. Failing to do this is the quickest way to get your comment deleted. It’s this consistent commenting and adding value that will create steadily increasing, profitable traffic. Other things to note:
- Don’t constantly link back to the same page on your site. Keep a healthy domain by linking to various inner pages too.
- On most blogs, inputting your website will change your name to a hyperlink. Vary up linking from your name and from within the comment itself.
- Don’t assume high quality news sites will delete your link. Some don’t even check.
4. Stay Consistent
Popular niches will generate a lot of Google results and a lot of activity through BuzzBundle. A lot of your results are going to come from press releases, new blog posts and forum posts. Keep track of all the URL’s on a daily basis — if you are not finding at least 50 targets a day then you should consider adding some more products and searches. Whenever you receive a new alert immediately visit the URL and leave a response. Act fast, because you can potentially be the first individual to respond, which will attract more clicks.
Not all of your searches will present you with an opportunity to post, but the majority of blogs and forums will have a window of opportunity for you to leave some feedback that directs readers to your website. Now, when you are creating your posts don’t just say, “Hey, visit wwwyoursite.com” because that will look like pure spam. Not only will you not receive any clicks, but the website will probably delete your post quickly assuming it is spam.
Put some thought into each reply you make, and try to customize it to directly relate to the post you are responding to. This not only helps you get a better response, but it allows you to fly under the radar of website owners and moderators. So, if you were promoting a diet pill product and responding to a question posted on a blog asking about quick ways to lose weight your reply would want to be crafted this way:
“I was in the same boat as you about six months ago. I had no idea what to believe online because everything seemed to be an advertisement. I actually read a personal review about [your product] and it seemed like the person had great success using the product so I gave it a try. I couldn’t have been more excited about the results, as I am now 50 pounds lighter than when I first started using it. The article was very helpful to me — if you want to check it out yourself you can read it here” [link to your review article].”
Remember, the more products you review, the more traffic you can generate. When you get rolling this directly translates into more sales and profit for your business.
5. Continue to Build Organic & Referral Traffic Sources
The beauty of this method is that it doesn’t rely on SEO but just by setting up a website and creating content, your review posts (and even forum threads/blog posts you’ve commented on) will start to rank in Google and receive organic search traffic. Not only can you rank the individual review posts, but you can also create additional posts based on long tail keywords and then direct that traffic to the specific review page. Learning SEO is just one of many ways to attract your first website visitors for free. Using Google and BuzzBundle is the easiest way to start producing highly qualified traffic as well as sales. You can then scale up by outsourcing that work and focusing on creating additional organic traffic sources through search engine optimization later on.
Pro Tip 2 – Build an Email List
The traffic visiting your will be highly targeted. You should capture these readers with an optin and create an email list and follow up sequence that pushes more related review content to their inbox. This is an automated way to remarket to your readers.
Pro Tip 3 – Revisit old posts
Check your biggest refers in Google Analytics and revisit your old comments, posts and responses. This is particularly important on forums where there may have been follow up questions. Replying to these will keep the thread, and the link back to your site, active.
Pro Tip 4 – Reverse engineer your competitors
6. Sell Your Site
Growing a website to a point where it is generating $1,000+ per month is great, but what is even better is that you are building an asset that can be sold. This means that if you get bored of your current website and want to move into another niche your site doesn’t go to waste. Matter of fact, you could sell your website for 20-30x average monthly profits. This means if your site was making $1,000 per month in profit for the past 3-6 months then you could sell it for $20K-$30K!
Once your site gets to a point where you would like to sell, feel free to go through us here at FE. We have done over 600 deals since 2010 and can help you get the best price possible for your site. We will also make the selling process as simple and painless as possible for you. If you are interested, head over to our free website valuation page and our team will be in touch with you shortly.
Creating a website and scaling it to a six figure per year online business is a very achievable task as long as you know the proper steps to take and don’t give up. This method allows you to build a business that produces residual income and starts to produce revenue almost instantly. You don’t have to wait months for expensive search engine optimization to kick in — and you don’t have to worry about Google rankings and avoiding penalties and algorithm changes. In fact, you don’t have to rely on ranking in Google at all to be successful with this method!
Once you master this method you can rinse and repeat (and even sell your website), duplicating the method across several different niches. Once you start to see a nice return you can then outsource a lot of the little tasks, allowing you to focus on expanding your niches and revenue.
I hope this guide has given you the inspiration and confidence to start your journey to a six figure yearly online business. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter and take advantage of the free weekly tips we send out designed to help you constantly improve your business.