How many affiliate websites can you really manage?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:31 pm

Hey guys,

I know some of you are seasoned affiliates and I wanted to ask you, how many websites can you really maintain at one time? I mean, really taking care of them not just having them up there. Constantly adding content and promoting them and anything else that needs to be done.

I ask because I’m in a really stupid situation. Over the years, I built a couple of websites on a number of topics and now I realize (actually I did it a while ago, but refused to acknowledge it) that I spread myself too thin and I can’t really get anything done anymore. And with the changes in Google from the last two years, I’m pretty much back to zero. My income has gone down massively, so I’m pretty much starting from scratches.

The thing is that I find it hard to commit of ONE site and diss the others. There’s something that I love about each of them. My English sites brought me plenty of cash in the past, but now they’re more or less dead. Truth is, the content they have isn’t that high quality as I’d like. Rewriting the articles is a monumental task.

In the last year or so, I started tackling some opportunities in affiliate market here in Romania, but again, being spread too thin as I just said, I didn’t profit much from it. But, of the five Romanian sites that I have, I can totally dominate two niches if I put my mind to it. One of them is so easy to do, although it doesn’t have many affiliate programs. The other might be tougher, but there are plenty of programs to choose from.

Do you think I should focus on just one site, or maybe I could do two? How do you think I should go about it?

If I go with one site, should I go at it hardcore, posting 1-2 articles a day for 3 or 6 months, covering every under the sun related to that topic and really becoming the man in the niche and promoting it like there’s no tomorrow? And maybe after that, go back to one of the other sites and see what I can do bring it back. Lol, now that sounds like a rhetorical question :)

But really, how do you guys do it? Because it’ obvious that being Jack of all trades and master of none is not the answer…

Now that I wrote this, it’s becoming clear to me that I should pick the one Romanian site in that niche that I can dominate, with plenty of affiliate programs. But it’s hard to choose one site and abandon the others. It’s like giving up on your children or something.

What are your thought?

Thanks in advance!
Eugen
 
Posts: 225
Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 10:30 am

Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:22 pm

Hi Eugen, I've struggled with owning too many websites, too. I tend to get enthusiastic about a topic for a while and then eventually get bored. I finally realized that it would have made more sense for me (and my personality) to put my energy into creating good sites, getting them profitable, and then selling them on Flippa. Instead, I've tended to neglect them and let the revenue run down.

I've had some luck with hiring assistants to manage websites for me, and paying them a percentage of the revenue. This tends to work well for a while, but then the assistant decides they would be better off simply working for themselves - or they get lonely working at home by themselves. With a couple of sites, I managed to make it work successfully for about 8 years before things went downhill, so it was worth doing. One of the best ways to hire such people is to get to know them first on a forum, so you can watch their writing and see what sort of knowledge they have.

Some affiliates successfully own dozens of sites, outsource the content creation, and even outsource website creation. They behave more like editors than writers. In outsourcing, one good technique is to spread the tasks among several people, so that each person does a specialized task and does not see the complete picture.

However, outsourcing will suit you only if you like managing people. I've been through that phase and found I didn't enjoy it. I now have only one long-time full-time assistant and only one part-timer. Fewer people means fewer problems and more freedom.

Lots of people will tell you to go where the money is - if you have lots of competitors, lots of money must be being made. On the other hand, if you're lucky enough to spot a small niche with little competition, it would be nice to be the No.1 expert in that niche.

Some folks happily chase any money topic. I think life is too short to spend it doing something you don't enjoy.

Post one or two articles a day? Well, maybe. But you might have better success if you slow down and post one or two a week, and concentrate on making those articles as interesting and genuinely useful as you possibly can.

Ideally, you want to create the sort of articles and resources (or funny stuff) that other people will talk about and link to.

When creating the page, think, "What can I add that will make someone want to link to this page?" Could you add funny photos? Could you add a mini-directory? A page of useful links? Or what?

You have to find an answer that suits you, not someone else. Anyway, it sounds as though you're working towards your own solution.
AllanGardyne
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Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:35 am

Some affiliates successfully own dozens of sites, outsource the content creation, and even outsource website creation.
Taylorjoaz
 
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Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:00 am

Hi Taylorjoaz, That sentence looks oddly familiar.

Oh yes, that's right. I wrote it!

Did you intend to add a comment? :)
AllanGardyne
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Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:59 am

Hi Allan,

I’m guilty of chasing the money when It comes to choosing niches, but that worked out well for many years. I don’t find fashion and jewelry even remotely interesting (and it’s obvious in the writing), but these niches have brought me plenty of cash in the past. And I enjoyed that money :) But it’s a drag coming up with things to say on something you know nothing about.

You say that you’ve also been affected by the changes Google’s algorithms? I always suspected that you went by untouched. Sorry to hear that :(

I’m giving more thought to content outsourcing, but I must wait until I get back to earning at least 1000$ a month or so. I can’t afford it with my current revenue :) Getting to a point where I can hire some assistants would definitely be cool.

A stupid question, but how difficult is it to get to earning $1000 a month? Ok, I’ve done it before, but with the string of failed attempts in the past year or so, I’m starting to believe that I can’t do it a second time.. 1000 is not much, but in Romania, I could get a comfortable living with it if I don’t go overboard with spending on shiny stuff. Together with my ‘daytime’ job, I’d be doing rather well.

You have a good point about making articles as useful and interesting as possible. I never managed to make an article go viral. Maybe just once, on Stumbleupon, and it was the case of my Danube Delta hobby site, where I put together a really useful article and in a couple of days it got a couple of hundred of stumbles. I also recently noticed an interesting article I wrote on toys got some sharing action on Pinterest.

But I’m still at a point where I can’t decide which website to focus on… On one side, there is the fashion site which can bring me fat commissions (the biggest one was $400 in one sale, happened last year, but it was the exception. Still, $20-50-70 were pretty common) and there was lots of income from AdSense too. On the other hand, the new Romanian niche brings me only about $6-7 per sale, buyers don’t pay by credit card, many orders are canceled, about 50%, and there’s a long delay until they are approved and commissions paid. And potential for AdSense is close to as people pay less for ads here. That’s not the best way to compare the niches, but those are the numbers. And then there are the other websites that I also love… Damn!

Maybe a solution would be to look at seasons when each niche is more popular via Google Trends and focus that way. For instance, Sneakers I know are getting back in force starting March-April and there’s another peak in the August. Niche 2 and niche 3 have a peak in October-December. Niche 3 has a peak in September niche 4 seem to be in vogue in May and then seriously popular in December. Working 3-4 months in advance to prepare for the peaks could do it. I should put some colors on a calendar and focus my work that way. This way I don’t really abandon any site and get the benefits of each season.

Or is that another way of my refusing to accept that I can’t do it all? :))

But it could work… Start now on working my ass off on the sneakers site so that I hit the jackpot in March. From February, start the work on niche 4 to hit it big in May, then back to sneakers and niche 3 strike Gold in August and September and then prepare for the winter holidays with what’s popular. Am I lying to myself? :))

I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Thanks!
Eugen
 
Posts: 225
Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 10:30 am

Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:43 pm

Hi Eugen

I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to get your earnings back up to $1,000 or more a month. You already know how to build websites that look OK and achieve sales. Now you just have to learn how to improve what you're doing.

But I’m still at a point where I can’t decide which website to focus on.

You could try this...

List your sites in order, with the one with the best potential at the top, and the worst at the bottom.

Now look at the first name on the list. Imagine yourself working on that site for the next two or three years... How do you feel? Do you have ideas on how to improve the site? Are you enjoying yourself working on this site?

If you receive strongly negative feelings when thinking about the site, go down to the next one on your list, and so on.

Ideally, you're looking for a site that has good potential AND is one you feel OK (or, better still, enthusiastic) about.

One approach that can work wonders is to use the 80:20 rule. About 80% of your revenue is likely to come from 20% of the things you do, and from 20% of the websites you own.

Examine your stats, see which websites and which things you do that are earning you most of your revenue. Now concentrate most of your energy into improving and increasing your winners.

I don’t find fashion and jewelry even remotely interesting (and it’s obvious in the writing), but these niches have brought me plenty of cash in the past.

I had a look at your Italian fashion designers site. If that's one of your winners, you could work on experimenting with ways to increase the monetization of each page. For example, on your Fontanelli page you have a picture of a nice handbag, but the image isn't clickable. You're forcing any visitor who is interested to hunt for the link. You need to make it as EASY as you can for your visitors. Good affiliate programs enable you to deep link straight to the product.

Another example, on the Givenchy page, if you added a pic of a beautiful Givenchy scarf and enabled your visitors to click on the scarf and go straight to a page where they could see the scarf for sale and buy it, that might increase sales. Looks as though the best ones are sold out, though!

But it’s a drag coming up with things to say on something you know nothing about.

Absolutely! Some people can do it, some can't. You have to design a business that suits you.

Do you know an intelligent, fashion-conscious guy or woman (not too cute or your might get distracted) who would collaborate with you on your fashion sites? You could share the work, share the profits, and maybe share some fun. Just a thought.

You say that you’ve also been affected by the changes Google’s algorithms?

When I said that things went downhill, I was talking about an assistant who was supposed to be working on a couple of my sites. She goofed off and hardly did anything for ages, so traffic and sales went downhill. I don't think I can blame Google for that. :)

I also have some old sites that I've neglected because I eventually became bored with them. I reckon it's really important to try to find something you're enthusiastic about - unless you can motivate yourself by imagining what you will do when you've gained financial freedom.

...with the string of failed attempts in the past year or so, I’m starting to believe that I can’t do it a second time.

Don't overlook motivation. I reckon it is hugely important.

In the early days, when I was building up my business, I used to imagine sacking my boss (did that in 1998), buying an apartment by the beach (did that, and then a better one), buying a house in New Zealand for the summer (did that), and creating our own self-managed superannuation fund (did that).

I used to picture myself reading novels, kayaking, having leisurely lunches with friends, and having the freedom to work only if I felt like it.

Some affiliates picture themselves having overseas holidays, or buying a Cobra replica, or eating at expensive restaurants, or helping sick or old family members.

For me, leisure time is a more important goal than objects to buy.

Choose whatever goals work for you, and remember to reward yourself at various milestones, eg, 100 visitors a day, $100 a month, $200 a month, $500 a month, etc. Reward yourself with some little luxury every time you reach a milestone. This reinforces the fact that you're achieving minor goals and getting ever closer to major goals.

Some affiliates find it useful to declare a goal to family and friends, or in public on a blog or forum. For example, $5000 a month profit by June 2013, $1,000 a month by December 2013.
Then break it down into smaller goals. and give family, friends or everyone monthly updates. This keeps you accountable.

As a student, I once set a goal of getting 100% in a Year One sociology exam, trying to impress a girlfriend, who had boasted that she'd achieved 100% in the same exam the previous year. I crammed like mad day and night for days and ended up getting 98%.

You can surprise yourself if you have a powerful reason for wanting something.

Oh, by the way, after I got my exam results, the girl owned up and told me she had been only joking about getting 100%. :)

A good way to get satisfaction from affiliate marketing is to create a resource that is genuinely useful. If you do that, you'll feel good about working on it, and feel good about the emails you get from people who write and thank you.

Also, think about ways to get your visitors involved in your website and contributing content. You can grow fast if you have other minds involved, helping you build interesting content.

Powerful lessons can be learned by studying what Elad Shippony has done. His visitors have created a staggering 15,000 web pages for him. Here's an article I wrote on Elad...

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/articl ... nings.html

...the new Romanian niche brings me only about $6-7 per sale, buyers don’t pay by credit card, many orders are canceled, about 50%...

Mmmm. Interesting challenges. Much more important, though, is the actual amount you end up receiving in commissions, and whether there's potential for you to increase it. If there's good demand and almost no competition, it shouldn't take too much work to boost your traffic and sales and find out if this one is a winner.

Maybe a solution would be to look at seasons when each niche is more popular via Google Trends and focus that way.

That could work well. You would have variety and wouldn't be stuck on one topic for too long.

If you try this for a year or two, you're likely to find that one of the sites brings in considerably more revenue than the others, and you may end up putting most of your energy into the winner - or the one you enjoy working on most.

Am I lying to myself?

I don't think so. You're simply analyzing your options. Doing so makes good sense to me.
AllanGardyne
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Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:32 pm

Hi Allan,

I actually made a public goal of reaching 1000Euros/month solely from Romanian websites (Adsense and affiliate programs). I wrote about it on one of my site. But I failed miserably. I had a lot on my mind at that time (bachelor degree exam, masters admission exam etc) and my English websites were still performing beautifully. So yeah, I didn’t do much. I made a second attempt a little late, but it also didn’t go according to plan.

Sure hope that you are right though. 1000 is not that much actually. It’s about 33 a day, could be reached by a combination of Adsense (~10 per day) and a nice sale every couple of days.

Love the Parelo law, and I thought about it before and the top 20% turned out to be the fashion site. It was the star until some time ago. It was performing best when it looked something like this: http://web.archive.org/web/201003231316 ... hino.shtml The design you saw is actually pretty recent (and I didn’t get to fully optimize it yet). I can’t say that I have a star website righ now, as they’re all performing equally poor.

After I switched to Wordpress from basic html in autumn 2010, conversion rates and and everything went downhill (on all sites). Come to think of it, the site didn’t look that bad back in the day. Now it’s more cluttered. I don’t think going back to basic html is the answer in this day and age, but definitely making the site look simpler and more elegant is the way to go. I also have to take every page in there and rewrite the whole content because it sucks. Bad.

I’ve always prefered linking to categories or page that are more stable in time, because individual product expire and it’s a monumental task checking them all every week or month. For products that last longer (like ebooks), it’s fine to link directly, but not in niches where they refresh the stock every couple of months. For that reason, I also kind of avoided using image links. There’s got to be some compromise between the usability for the user and your work as a webmaster.

About this point, it’s difficult to keep deep links updated even with a datafeed. I’m not planing on building sites like that, but I thought I could make a nice adition to the sites. Well, though luck, as half of the products in the feed for my romanian sneakers site are already expired.

Another reason I avoided using image affiliate links and prefered to host the images myself was that, for many years, image searches were bringing in a ton of trafic. Then Google had to go ahead and redesign the whole Image search function and that was it. But your point about using those images to link to merchans does make a lot of sense.

Speaking of motivation, I have a similat vision as you. Having a place by the beach and time to enjoy the place, reading a lot and setting my own work schedule. Also throw in a couple of extreme sports and vagabonding and I’m there. Ok, and a motorcyle and my own parachute.

BTW, love your country. Loved the scenery ever since I was a kid. But you’ve got to do something about those orcs… they’re way too many :P Yep, saw The Hobbit on Friday and it reignited the idea of someday moving down there :)

I read Elad Shippony’s article a while ago, but I failed to understand how his users built so much content for him. Was it a forum, or actually submitting articles for his site? I must have missed something in the articles. Having your users contribute to your content is great, but it all comes back to building a quality website in the first place so that people feel the desire to add something. Yep, got to pick a strategy and stick with it. There’s no other way.

I’m picture something like working on one site for the overall high comissions and adsense potential throughout the year, then focus on each site in the 3-4 months before their peak demand periods.
Eugen
 
Posts: 225
Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 10:30 am

Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:41 pm

Eugen wrote:I actually made a public goal of reaching 1000Euros/month solely from Romanian websites ... But I failed miserably.

I think you had a really good excuse, considering how busy you were with other important things.

Why not set a new goal, here today, and then return in each month and tell us your progress? That will force you to not just take action, but take the type of action that produces results.

I like the look of your Romanian sneakers site - http://www.lumeaadidasilor.ro - nice bold heading, VERY eye-catching graphic high on the page, and lots of colorful images.

After I switched to Wordpress from basic html in autumn 2010, conversion rates and and everything went downhill (on all sites).

There must be a reason for that, and I'm sure the reason isn't simply WordPress. Good luck with figuring it out. Could the website linking structure be the problem, for example.

...individual product expire and it’s a monumental task checking them all every week or month.

So true! I had a site that was doing well linking to individual products, but the assistant who was managing it got tired of having to fix broken links to products that had disappeared. He switched to linking to categories and sales went down sharply. That would be a good task to outsource if you can.

Speaking of motivation ... Having a place by the beach and time to enjoy the place, reading a lot and setting my own work schedule. Also throw in a couple of extreme sports and vagabonding and I’m there. Ok, and a motorcyle and my own parachute.

Sounds good! Certainly sounds like an attainable goal to me. If you want those things strongly enough, you'll get there.

BTW, love your country. Loved the scenery ever since I was a kid. But you’ve got to do something about those orcs…

Ah well, at least we don't have any snakes! :)

I read Elad Shippony’s article a while ago, but I failed to understand how his users built so much content for him. Was it a forum, or actually submitting articles for his site?

His website visitors provide actual articles and photos. He holds competitions and people submit photos of Halloween costumes etc. and write about them.

You wouldn't want to handle that all that user-generated content totally manually, because Elad can sometimes get 500 submissions in a day! You need a reliable system to make it easy for people to submit articles, and for you to process them, approving, editing, or deleting.

Having your users contribute to your content is great, but it all comes back to building a quality website in the first place so that people feel the desire to add something.

Absolutely! Ideally, you need a niche that people talk passionately about.

There are far too many boring affiliate websites. One way of standing out from the crowd is to create something that is worth talking about.

A few years ago, I wrote an article that might give you some useful ideas. It describes the tool Elad uses to attract and process his visitor-generated content...

Let Your Visitors Create Your Web Content Here
http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/articl ... ntent.html
AllanGardyne
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Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:27 am

AllanGardyne wrote:Why not set a new goal, here today, and then return in each month and tell us your progress?


Right on! Let’s make it interesting. Ok, so it’s December 19 today. Let’s go for 500 Euros in 6 months. That going to be by the end on June. Just in time for the summer holiday:) If I do that, getting to 1000 by the end of the year should be a walk in the park. Let me think about it and I’ll post something later today. LOL, just as I write this post I received a couple of mail for approved comission for the sneakers site:P

Glad you like the site. I worked on it a bit over the weekend and I still have a few things to sort out. The bold heading, is actually an accident. I was thinking big, but not THAT big. Looks great though, so it’ll stay.

AllanGardyne wrote:I'm sure the reason isn't simply WordPress.

It isn’t. Causes are plenty. I simply didn’t know how to really handle it. Only now, december 2012 I can say I know WordPress, to quote you, enough to be dangerous :)

First of all, the sites were way to slow. I learned about caching much later, and only in the last month or so I really got to optimizing the speed.

Then there was the layout change. You’ve seen the sites today, when they look great… but the learning curve to get to this point was very slow.. An I got in the habbit of getting the layout too overcrowded.

I tried to keep the linking structure of the old sites, but eventually, as I kept adding new content, I kind of left it behind.. Looks like I should be going back to the primitive. I never realy loved categories and stuff.

Then there was a monumental fail when I switched to GoDaddy hosting..boy, was that a big mistake. I’ve never seen downtimes like that. Worst host ever.

And a few other things.


I’ll think about user generated content.. I think it could work great for my Danube Delta site :) Lol, see what I’m doing? I keep trying to work on ten thing at once …
Eugen
 
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Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 10:30 am

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:09 pm

I manage with success to go with more 10 sites. The question would be: what kind of automatization do you use?
For my niche ( coupons ) I have programs that place and remove automaticaly coupons. So there are 10 but it could be 1000 cause I don't that much ( beside a system that works ).
aditd
 
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Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:56 pm

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:44 pm

Well, I just counted and I own 9 sites. And some of them were successful, others I just dragged along. But these are content sites. I plan to do some limited datafeed-ing on one of them, but other than that, I’m kicking it old school, with quality articles (as much as possible) and product reviews. And without outsourcing, you can’t do as much as you’d like. We’re just humans.
Eugen
 
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Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 10:30 am

Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:11 pm

Interesting discussion here.

I also have few blogs that I write with passion about topics that I love. I have tried several times to outsource the content creation, but I failed. On one blog there is one person that helps me, but I am not satisfied only if I write the title of the article and I instruct what to write about. It is costly and it is not worth it.

It is very hard to find someone to write about a subject I love with the same passion. Maybe it would be better to find people with passion about a subject, and get them to come aboard for revenue sharing.

Now, I am trying to outsource the marketing and link building process. It is no way to handle myself all the stuff, even for only one website, to take care of everything: new ideas, development, design, customer relationship, legal issues, financial issues, money handling, finding affiliate offers to promote, dealing with advertising, getting links, writing content, submitting it to other sites, and many other small things that come along.
thedark
 
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Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:12 am

Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:37 am

Hello Eugen!
I have looked through this discussion and checked out the websites in your signature. One thing I can tell you for sure: your sites do look like you've put time and effort into creating them.
As an affiliate manager, I have to reviews dozens of websites a day and most of them look like they've been created with one sole purpose: link stuffing. Those are the ones that rarely get approved by me.
Now on how you can perhaps improve your performance - it seems like you are not promoting that many offers on each of the sites. Perhaps you should join more programs and advertise different kinds of products?
Anyways, I wish you a good like and I do suggest you to remain as "human" as you possibly can.
Oh, yeah, and one more Q: would you be interested in trying out dating offers?

Eugen wrote:...I’m kicking it old school, with quality articles (as much as possible) and product reviews. And without outsourcing, you can’t do as much as you’d like. We’re just humans.
:) :)
jennyd
 
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Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:18 pm

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, there’s been a lot of work put into those sites, though kinda misplaced. I should have worked more on the content and marketing than the design, but anyway :D

Improving the performance is something I’m working on. I avoid banners, but I do use AdSense, sometimes two or three ads on one page. I am looking to have more affiliate links in there and stronger calls to actions to increase the conversion rate of each page, but still keep it normal and ‘human’, as you said :)

I’m not planning on entering yet another niche, though. I started this thread to actually cut down on my temptation of starting too many projects and not finishing them.
Eugen
 
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Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 10:30 am

Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:37 pm

Great thought! There are many things things that can be done to improve the chances for making money with an affiliate marketing program. It helps in getting lots of traffic to the websites. Always look for affiliate programs that pay high commission rates on time and who keep their customers happy, not just their affiliate marketers, by providing actual value.
cashone
 
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