Monday, August 29, 2005

Cash Keywords and Cheap Keywords

Several months ago, over at Threadwatch, a site called Cash Keywords made some keyword lists available free to the membership there. These lists sell for around $150 or so each, I think, but they're high quality, well thought out, and useful.

I was surfing and reviewing my notes from the last year's affiliate marketing activities, and I came across the Cash Keywords site and noticed they also own and operate a site called Cheap Keywords now too. On Cheap Keywords you can find Google Adwords that don't have a lot of competition.

Can you think of ways to use these two items together to make money?

Finally, here's a post from Graywolf about his thoughts on Cash Keywords. I haven't actually used the keyword lists for anything practical yet, but he actually put the info to use and has a distinct opinion on their list.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Longtail Terms - Examples

As I'm reading more and doing more eBay affiliate research, I came across a site that had made their referral logs available. Here are some longtail terms with very little competition I found:
  • White Lawn Tractor LT185
  • "Civil War Union currency"
  • craftsman model 315.113860
  • DishNetwork Rom3 Rev372 Blue Card

The last phrase had over 300 results in Google. The other phrases on that list had less than 100, and 1 of them had less than 20 results in Google.

So you're probably thinking how much money am I going to make from people searching for "civil war union currency"? The fact is, not much. But if you make 5 cents per click or so through a combination of eBay plus Adsense, and you get 1 click per month, then you've made a nickel.

But suppose you had 100,000 of those phrases? And you got 1 click per month per phrase? At a nickel a click, you've just made yourself $5000. I know a lot of people who don't make that much money working a full time job in management at major corporations.

How to Become an eBay Super Affiliate

About a year and a half ago I read a post over at about an eBay affiliate who was making over $1.3 million as an eBay affiliate per year. That's some serious cash, right there. In fact, that's over $100,000 per month.

According to the post, the top 10 eBay affiliates were all making over $1 million per year, and the top 25 eBay affiliates were making over $25,000 per month.

How do you become an eBay super affiliate?

According to their best practices page, you can become an eBay super affiliate through a number of different strategies:

  • Natural search (regular old SEO)
  • Paid search
  • Content/niche site (They give as an example.)

To truly rake in the big bucks as an eBay affiliate, no matter which of the 3 models above you want to use, you're going to need a tremendous keyword list. (And in fact, you'll probably use a mixture of all 3 business models.)

One of the top ten affiliates at eBay on their success stories page explains that he has a keyword list of over 100,000 phrases, and he focuses almost exclusively on doing PPC for those keywords. I suspect he was using a Google Cash type methodology, where he just sent folks directly to his affiliate link. This strategy is probably not going to work the same way as it used to since earlier this year Google changed their policy about how many ads they'll display for a given URL in a given search.

But the brilliant thing about eBay is that a good bit of the keyword research has already been done for you. eBay lists all the items that they sell throughout their site, including a section which is literally nothing more than a tremendous list of keywords.

All you have to do is build pages around those keywords, and drive traffic to them, then collect your check from eBay every month through CJ.

My suggestion would be to create an auction portal of some sort which is a categorized directory with sub-directories of different products, and have some actual content on each page about whatever product phrase is being targeted.

Or you might start with some small niche that you're interested in. Just picking a category at random from the homepage of eBay, I clicked on "musical instruments". You could build an entire site around musical instruments, and sub-divid the pages like this:

  • Brass
  • DJ Gear & Lighting
  • Electronic
  • Equipment
  • Harmonica
  • Strings
  • Woodwind

And each of those categories could have sub-categories too. Harmonica for instance could easily have a Hohner sub-section and a Johnson Blues King sub-section.

Those are all keyword phrases I picked up just by going through their site and clicking and browsing.

Another way to find keywords for eBay would be to go to your favorite keyword suggestion tool and search for "find cheap", "find good deals on", and "buy". Each of those is going to give you a list, usually in order of popularity, of keyword phrases that you can go after that are targeted and will make you money. Doing a search for good deals, I got the following ideas for keyword phrases to build pages around:

  • good deals on cell phones
  • good deals on cars (Some people might not know they can buy a car on eBay/)
  • good deals on computers
  • good deals on hotels (Did you know you can book travel on eBay? It's amazing.)
  • good deals on laptops
  • good deals on appliances
  • good deals on digital cameras

What about putting together a buyers' guide around each of those terms, and not only directing traffic to eBay from there, but also running Google Adsense on those pages, AND possibly even having an affiliate link to a retail website like Amazon for each product category? Now you're looking at diverse revenue from several different sources.

According to eBay's best practices page, the categories that produce the most first activities are:

  • Collectibles
  • Toys
  • Sporting Goods
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Computers

If you're going to go for it, then maybe choosing a sub-category of one of these categories is the best way to go.

If you're going to go for it, then you need to put together a system to track which keyword phrases are producing for you and which aren't, especially if you're spending money on PPC traffic. And if you're going to go after this niche, get some capital behind you as quickly as possible, because you want to drive enough traffic to hit the higher commission tiers at eBay.

How to Compete in a Competitive Affiliate Niche

So you've decided that you're going to be a gambling affiliate, or a web hosting affiliate, or you're going to be a credit card application guru. And you want to know how to compete with the big boys. Here are some suggestions:

1- Target longtail keyword phrases. Your keyword list should be a minimum of 500 phrases. 1000 would be better. And more than that would be even better. Unless you've got boatloads of cash, and you're some kind of SEO savant, you're going to need to be getting a lot of clicks from a lot of different searches.

2- If you use PPC, keep your bid prices low and your phrases long. Here's a strategy for bidding on PPC terms. Don't bid on any term with fewer than 4 words in it, and don't bid more than 10 cents per click. But bid on SO MANY terms that even though you're only getting a couple clicks per day, you're getting a decent amount of traffic, and you're generating a great ROI.

Using long phrases will improve your ROI in a couple of different ways. For one thing, long keyword phrases convert better than short keyword phrases. For another thing, the longer the phrase, the less competition. You should be operating on big profit margins at first so you can afford the more competitive words later.

3- Be the absolute best website in your niche. This one's a tough strategy, but here's how you do it. Search through the top ten results for "online poker" or "car loans", and look at each site carefully. Then go make a website that is more relevant, has better quality content, and that's more interesting than any of the competitors. Then start telling people about it.

4- When you're doing your SEO, focus on the same strategies in the PPC tip. Long keyword phrases and lots of them, that's the ticket.

5- Network, network, network. The internet is nothing but a giant network. The more people who know and like you, the more links you can get. The more links you can get, and the better you'll do in the organic search engines.

Those five tips will help you compete with the big boys in any competitive affiliate marketing niche that I know of, including online poker.

How to Get Ideas for Smaller, Less Competitive Affiliate Niches

One way to get ideas for smaller and less competitive affiliate niches is to take a look at one of the info products available on the subject. I haven't used Niche Database, but it looks like a good place to look for ideas. Another infoproduct that is available is Niche Site Confessions, which I recently reviewed. It lists 70 different blueprints for niche sites that you can put together.

I think the real value in products like that is not so much for the niche ideas that you get from the product itself, but in learning what process the author went through to get those ideas. It's the whole feed a man a fish or teach a man how to fish thing.

But even a competitive niche can be broken down into less competitive sub-niches.

For example, loans. A page on "loans" would be extremely competitive and not very targeted. A page on "car loans" would be a little more targeted, and possibly a little less competitive. A page on "car loans for people with bad credit" is more targeted and less competitive still. And a page on "dallas car loans for people with bad credit" is better still.

loans > car loans > bad credit card loan > dallas bad credit car loans

Or you could apply the loan-thinking to a different product. Car loans is going to be competitive, but are motorcycle financing loans and boat financing loans as competitive? Probably not.

Are they lucrative? Absolutely.

Another Way to Get Ideas for Affiliate Sites

Another way to get ideas for affiliate sites is to go through one of the lists of high dollar Adsense keywords on the internet, and brainstorm from that. I just did a search on Google and went through the list of high-paying keywords and came up with a list of sites I could launch that would be lucrative:
  • Web hosting
  • Casinos and gambling
  • Domain names
  • Mortgages
  • Poker
  • Travel
  • Debt Consolidation
  • Education
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Insurance
  • Data Recovery
  • DSL
  • Gifts
  • Car insurance
  • Flowers
  • DVD's
  • Hair loss
  • Work at home
  • HGH

Finding affiliate programs for these subjects should be easy. Just do some searches for the keywords and see what comes up. Look for a button on a merchant page that says "Webmasters" or "Affiliate Program".

You'll notice that I'm focusing on high dollar areas, and you might be nervous about working in such a competitive area. I'm a firm believer that the traditional wisdom on any subject is often wrong. The traditional wisdom in affiliate marketing is that you should stay out of the competitive fields and target smaller niche markets with little competition.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that approach, but I also think that if you attack a competitive niche, and you learn how to compete in that kind of market, you'll be able to nail any smaller niche market that you put your mind to.

But if you hone your skills as a webmaster to the point where you can be #1 for just one or two of the internet's most competitive areas, say "online poker" and "web hosting", you'll likely be rich. And ANYTHING will look easy compared to it.

My recommendation: if you're just getting started as an affiliate marketer, choose two niches, one extremely competitive and lucrative, and one that is a tiny niche with no competition. Spend about half your time on each, and see how you do. If you never go for the big keywords, then you'll never rank for them. You might not rank for them if you go for them either, but why guarantee that you wont't rank for them?

How to Get Ideas for Affiliate Sites

There are lots of ways to get ideas. Here's one.

1- Go to Commission Junction and log into your account there.

2- Click on "Get Links".

3- Click on "Advertiser List"

4- Click on "3 month EPC"

5- Scroll past all the new programs (the ones that say "new" in the 3 month EPC column)

6- Take a look at the top five or ten programs based on EPC. (EPC stands for earnings per 100 clicks, which will give you a good idea that these programs are profitable.)

7- Do a search for some of these product names in Google and Overture.

8- Take a look at some of the sites that are buying ads for those phrases.

9- Think about how you could make a similar site that's better. Maybe you could make a better designed site, or maybe you could add better content.

10- Start working on a site and brainstorming keywords to market under.

Here's an example of me going through this process:

Right now, the top 3 month EPC is for a program called Mortgage Intelligence. They're apparently an English company that pays 11 pounds per lead.

I do a search for "mortgage intelligence" in Google. A lot of the advertisers here are actual merchants rather than affiliate sites, like or But one site that isn't is

Taking a look at the site, I can see that what they've done is provide a directory or guide to different kinds of loans, which is apparently a pretty lucrative market, based on the EPC that Mortgage Intelligence is showing. They've got sections set up for debt consolidation loans, home improvement loans, car-buying loans using a home equity loan, etc.

Brainstorming ways to build a loan directory is as simple as going to a keyword suggestion tool and typing in "loan" to see what comes up. Here's my list:
  • Home Equity Loans
  • Car Loans
  • Home Loans
  • Payday Loans
  • Student Loans
  • Bad Credit Loans
  • Boat Loans

Something else I noticed was that one of the keyword suggestions was "florida home loans". So under Home Loans I could easily have 50 sub-pages, 1 for each state. Same thing for all the other keywords. So I've got the beginnings of a 350 page loan portal already. All I have to do at this point is find additional affiliate programs who will pay me for leads.

Then it's a simple matter to build the 350 page site and start working on getting links so I come up in the search engines for free. Or I could create a really big list of long-tail loan phrases that don't have a lot of competition in Google Adwords, buy cheap traffic, and make a profit on my commissions.

And that's just one idea. The 2nd merchant in CJ under the list of merchants in order of EPC is Citibank Business Cards. You could follow the same thought process to start putting together a credit card portal site. Then there are several more loan and credit card providers, but also insurance providers.

Should be an easy matter to build a portal about insurance and make a lot of money too.

The only problem with getting ideas this way is that you're choosing lucrative affiliate programs, but since they're lucrative, you also are picking out extremely competitive areas to market in. So you've got to be smart about promoting them. I'll cover how to compete in competitive areas in futute blog post.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The "Top Ten Widgets" Affiliate Website Model

There's a type of affiliate website that's so common that it's almost trite and overlooked, and that's the "top ten widgets" affiliate website. Basically the way it work is that you launch a website that lists the "top ten" products in a certain category. You of course use affiliate links to drive revenue on the site, and you could theoretically also use Google Adsense or Adbrite to drive additional revenue.

My belief is that this model is trite and overlooked because it works. I don't think you'd see as many sites in the top tiers of both Google Adwords and Overture if they weren't profitable. I think the trick is making a list of ten really good products that convert really well and have high commissions available.

One thing that I think is difficult when launching this kind of site is SEO. One factor that I'm convinced almost all search engines take into account is the number of affiliate links on your homepage. If you've got 10 affiliate links on your top ten widgets homepage, then I think you're going to be at a disadvantage in organic rankings.

My feeling is that "top ten widget review" sites work best using PPC traffic.

And in keeping with the "top ten" theme, here's a list of the top ten widgets you could review and sell on your affiliate site if you wanted to try this model.
  1. Top ten online poker rooms
  2. Top ten online universities
  3. Top ten credit card offers
  4. Top ten credit repair options
  5. Top ten online dating sites
  6. Top ten web hosting providers
  7. Top ten pay per click engines
  8. Top ten payday loans
  9. Top ten online dvd rental sites
  10. Top ten internet service providers

Another thing that I think would be important in running a site like this is making sure that the site looks credible. Anything you can do to make your site look more professional and high-quality than your competitiors' sites is going to help you succeed. This includes things like professional and attractive layout, contact us information, and privacy policy information.

I don't currently run a "top ten widget reviews" site, but I don't doubt that it's a profitable model. I've run sites similar to that in the past, and I see sites like this all over the PPC engines, so I'm convinced it's a workable model.

Problogger's Blog and Affiliate Tips

10 Tips for Using Affiliate Links in Your Blog

I added Problogger to my bookmarks in My Yahoo after coming across this article. Obviously I run a couple of blogs, and I use some affiliate links in them, but I'm always looking for new ideas and new ways to monetize them. I've made it a point to stop putting affiliate links in my posts on this particular blog because I'm more interested in developing reputation and mindshare here than I am in making a quick buck. So I want to make sure that what's written here isn't questioned because of possible commercial motives.

Tip #8 "Be Transparent" was possibly the best tip in the article about using affiliate links in blogs. This, to me, is one of the best marketing strategies of all time. Just let people know what you're up to. No need to hide anything. They're either going to support you or they're not. And you can sleep better at night too.

I'll be reading through 31 Days to a Better Blog soon too. Maybe I'll be able to make this into a "better blog".

Friday, August 26, 2005

Six Marketing Gurus I Recommend - An Eclectic List

There are a LOT of so-called internet marketing gurus on the internet. I'm not a fan of most of them. Many of them overpromise, and many of them are so aggressively focused on selling that they provide almost nothing of value. Or if they do, then it's buried so deep within their sales talk that you won't remember it or even read it.

This article is not about them.

Instead, it's about some internet marketing gurus that I actually do admire. This is by no means a complete list of the people who have influenced my thinking on affiliate and internet marketing, but it's a good start. If you read half of the material on the web by half of the gurus on this list, you'll be ahead of most other online marketers already.

  • Allan Gardyne - Allan owns and operates Associate Programs, as well as Pay Per Click Search Engines and Lifetime Commisions. He is one of the least pretentious and most helpful internet marketing gurus you could learn from. I highly recommend the forum on his site.
  • Perry Marshall - Shortly after reading Google Cash I bought a copy of Marshall's book on maximizing your Google Adwords efforts. It's still the best book I've read on the subject, and it practically doubled my income after the first reading. The free articles available at his site will give you a taste of his style. His writing isn't fluffy or salesy; it's good solid information you can sink your teeth into.
  • James Martell - While I'm not a fan of slavishly following a plan laid out in an ebook, I AM a big fan of ebooks that are actually full of information, and Martell's affiliate handbook is probably the richest and most informative how-to book on the subject. He is someone who has literally demonstrated his own success as an internet marketer over and over again.
  • Aaron Wall - I suspect that Aaron doesn't even think of himself as an internet marketing guru, but his SEO Book is the best book on the subject that I've read. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to make money on the internet. I read his blog daily.
  • Andy Hagans - Andy Hagans is another internet marketing guy who probably doesn't think of himself as a guru, but his Link Building Blog is also on my daily required reading list. He's also one hell of a nice guy too.

Choose your gurus and mentors wisely, because if you don't, it will make your life harder than it has to be. I try to keep in touch with varying viewpoints on a consistent basis, and these are far from the only sites I read. But they're certainly toward the top of my list.

Super Affiliate Confessions Review

Super Affiliate Confessions is a 346 page ebook comprised mostly of 12 interviews with 12 successful affiliate webmasters. The ebook was authored by Codrut Turcanu, who also wrote the ebook that I reviewed yesterday for Niche Site Confessions. In fact, I've seen a special offer that makes Super Affiliate Confessions available for free when you order Niche Site Confessions for $67.97.

Super Affiliate Confessions is a good ebook, especially for someone who is unfamiliar with affiliate marketing or online marketing, but it's not the ebook I had hoped it would be. Many of the webmasters who agreed to be interviewed primarily market their own infoproducts rather than working as affiliate webmasters, and much of the advice from these webmasters is repeated many times over during the 346 pages.

The questions in each interview follow the same general format. The most interesting question, I thought, was if you had $150 and wanted to make $1500 with it, how would you spend it? The answer was very similar from webmaster to webmaster, although some of the answers surprised and delighted me.

I'll address each interview individually. Some were certainly better than others.

Al Martinovic
This interview was particularly interesting to me because Martinovic promotes cigarettes through an affiliate site. I remember reading somewhere that a company selling cigarettes is always going to be extremely profitable because cigarettes cost next to nothing to produce, and your customers are going to be some of the most profitable customers on the planet.

Some of Martinovic's specific advice is:

  • Collect email addresses and send regular autoresponder generated emails to leads.
  • Use PPC advertising to buy targeted traffic, and have a keyword list of no less than 500 targeted phrases. 1000 phrases is even better.
  • Don't get into bidding wars in the PPC search engines. He claims to bid the minimum amount on his keywords and still gets plenty of traffic.
  • Create an SEO optimized web page for every product you're promoting.

Martinovic's advice for what to do with your $150 consists of writing and distributing articles related to the product you're selling, submitting a press release at PR Web, looking for joint venture partners, and dumping what money is left into a PPC campaign. This was the best action plan I saw, although it would have been good to address product selection and bid management in this scenario.

Allan Gardyne

Allan's interview was the best of the lot, and he's just as entertaining, warm, and down-to-earth in this interview as he is at his website and in his forum. Allan makes all or most of his income from affiliate marketing, so he was uniquely qualified to participate in these interviews.

Some of his advice was very specific and practical. Allan suggests not using banner ads at all to promote affiliate links, but using text links instead. Better click-through's and better conversiosn.

He also points out that an enthusiastic and personal review of a product is going to increase conversions dramatically over just having a text link.

Allan Gardyne reveals some of his current websites and how they make money, and some of his first websites as well. There are several links to some of the interesting case studies Allan has published at

One of the best things about the interview with Gardyne was that every time the interview questions asked about how to make money quickly and easily, Allan replied that people should focus on the long term instead, which is wise. And a couple of his answers were practically memes:

If you want to be successful long term, build useful websites. (You should make that into a poster and put it above your computer while you work. This is the single greatest pearl of wisdom I've seen about affiliate marketing anywhere.)

The interview with Allan Gardyne also includes information about why he doesn't use PPC engines, why you should start out promoting lower-priced products first before moving to the big ticket items, and what mistakes new affiliates should avoid. His insights are entertaining and sometimes profound, and this interview alone makes this ebook a worthwhile read.

Andrew Henry

Andrew's interview consists largely of his opinions on how to market by being helpful on forums, why joint ventures are such a great deal, and how to use PPC marketing to your best advantage. Henry promotes quite a few info products aimed at internet marketers.

His #1 tip was a very good one, I thought. He suggests working hard at successfully promoting one product as an affiliate before moving on to another product. I think that this is probably excellent advice.

Anne Ahira

This interview was one of the weaker interviews I read. There was very little new in her interview that hadn't already been discussed in the other interviews, and one of the sites she was promoting is no longer live, which indicates to me that the project was not a long-term success.

Ashvin Ramasawmy

Ashvin provides a list of tips and a list of mistakes that are both pretty good, but not blazingly original or different from the advice given by the other webmasters. He exclusively promotes downloadable products like ebooks. One piece of explict advice that I did think was good, at least in terms of being specific, was to only promote products that pay at least $50 in commission. He also suggests buying PPC traffic at a penny per visitor, but doesn't go into a lot of detail about where to find that traffic.

Bryan Kumar

This was another very weak interview. Kumar gives quite a bit of advice on how to run a successful Google Adwords campaign, but he states at one point that he can't give a specific example of a Google Adwords campaign that he's run because he didn't have a lot of data. This indicates to me that he doesn't use Adwords much, and makes me question why so much of his interview consists of Adwords advice.

Bryan Kumar also aggressively used the interview as an opportunity to recommend some of his products and some of his affiliate products. I was disappointed in the quality of this interview.

Denise Ryder

Denise is a big believer in building strong relationships with her customers. She's made quite a bit of money writing ebooks and selling customization rights to other webmasters, which isn't really an affiliate business model. The best advice she gave in her interview was to write original presell copy; if your presell copy just re-presents the copy in the product's sales materials, you've done nothing but waste your time and your readers' time.

Eo Lim

This was an interesting interview, because Eo Lim has some different ideas and opinions than many of the other webmasters interviewed here. One of the most interesting tidbits from his interview was how he made money "ghost-selling" affiliate products. Basically, he wrote free articles for 57 webmasters that they could customize with their branding, but they had to send his affiliate links to their opt-in lists within 90 days of doing so.

Lim also gives some contrarian advice about selling infoproducts. He recommends selling infoproducts that pay 20% and 25% commissions because there will be so much less competition to deal with. He says he would rather earn $5 a day from an unpopular product than try to sell something that would make more money but that he couldn't sell. Interesting food for though, that.

Gary Huynh

Gary is another webmaster who promotes a lot of his own websites and doesn't do much affiliate marketing anymore, which makes me wonder why he was included in the series of interviews. Hynh specializes in one page websites. He recommends using NO graphics on your websites, though he doesn't explain why not, and he also suggests targeting high dollar products aimed at business owners. This interview was a little thin, and those two recommendations were the only real departures from anything anyone else had said.

Jeff Mulligan

Jeff Mulligan is the owner and operator of, which IMO is one of the coolest site concepts on the internet. I was excited to see an interview with him. The best thing about the interview was when he was asked how he would turn $150 into $1500 in 30 days with affiliate marketing, and he replied that he would spend his money and effort making his own infoproduct to sell instead. He said that he didn't think he could reliably achieve those kinds of results with affiliate marketing in that period of time.

I enjoyed his candor.

Kerwin Chang

This interview was more of the same, although Chang had some specific information about how to get results from safelists. His recommendation was to sign up for a minimum of 100 safelists before expecting to see any results. I don't know if this works or not, but it certainly is specific advice.

Willie Crawford

This interview was another gem. Willie Crawford is one of the most interesting and entertaining affiliate marketing gurus that I know of, and he was "on" in this interview. Willie's a big fan of recurring commissions, and he was kind enough to include an article he wrote that generated an additional 2000 subscribers to his list.

Crawford says that his biggest mistake was to try to promote too many products at one time. He also mentions which products he currently focuses on promoting: webhosting, shopping carts, nutritional products, info products, and seminars.

He offers some excellent advice on how to promote high priced seminars. His suggestion is to collect phone numbers during a preview teleseminar, and have someone actually call and sell the high-ticket seminar to the customer. This is a great example of out-of-the-box thinking, and this is the kind of thing that makes money on the internet.

Willie also talked about a PPC campaign he ran for a recipe book he'd written where he made $7 for every $1 he spent on clicks.

Overall recommendation

This ebook is worth looking into if you need some inspiration. The following things could have improved Super Affiliate Confessions:

  • I didn't really need to hear that I should have an opt-in list from 12 different webmasters.
  • I would have preferred to hear from people who really are full-time affiliate marketers instead of from people who sell their own products.
  • I was disappointed that the range of niches was so small. Most of the webmasters advised against promoting internet marketing products, but that was also the core of their own business.
  • It would have been good to include webmasters involved in some of the major affiliate niches out there: travel, dating, credit cards, adult, gambling, and others.

There were several good insights, and honestly, the interview with Allan Gardyne by itself was priceless.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Niche Site Confessions Review

I've been going through my folders and reading all the ebooks that I've bought and only skimmed or just saved for when I had more time. Tonight I re-read Niche Site Confessions by Codrut Turcanu. Like my other ebook reviews, this one does not include an affiliate link. But if you decide you'd like to visit the site, you can do so at Niche Site Confessions.


Niche Site Confessions is a 73 page ebook that sells for $67 or so per copy, and it comes with the usual array of free bonuses that ebook sellers offer. This review does not cover any of the bonus materials; it only covers the actual ebook. The theme of the book is how to make passive income with niche websites using affiliate programs and Google Adsense. So this ebook is the perfect subject for this blog, since this blog has essentially the same theme.

Unlike many ebooks about how to make money on the internet, Niche Site Confessions does not overpromise or oversell. It's a simple, straightforward book that consists of interviews with three affiliate webmasters about how they make money. The interviews are all sincere, they seem very honest and down-to-earth, and they're full of practical advice. I found myself wanting to jot a few things down from a couple of the interviews.

The webmasters interviewed, and the websites they discuss, are:

I'm going to cover briefly some of the best advice I got from each interview.

Dan S. Ho Interview

Dan S. Ho used Site Build It to build his website, and he makes 5 figures a month from his nutritional supplement site. His main advice is to target lots of narrowly-focused keywords rather than a few general keywords. It's easier to rank well for a narrowly-focused keyword in the search engines, and the traffic will convert better. Instead of targeting a phrase like "gingko biloba", Ho suggests targeting something like "benefits of gingko biloba".

John Gibb Interview

The John Gibb interview was also excellent. He's also a Site Build It user, and he described in detail his philosophy and timeframe for working niche sites. One strategy that he takes is to not start a new project until he has at least 300 pages of content live on his current project. He also generally doesn't launch a website until he has at least 200 pages of content built either.

During the first 4 weeks of a project, Gibb suggests writing 10 pages of content per day and adding it to the site, and try to gain 1 link per day to the site. This seems like reasonable and sound advice to me, and I think one area I could improve on as I work on my websites is setting goals and working through them. I need solid benchmarks to hit.

After the first 4 weeks, Gibbs suggests that you sprinkly affiliate links throughout your content, and that you add links a little more quickly and more aggressively.

Phil Wiley Interview

One of the more interesting things about the Phil Wiley interview in Niche Site Confessions was his inital list of some of the products that he's selling on his affiliate sites. He says he's selling hemorrhoid cream, treadmills, books on asthma, mail-order lobsters, engagements rings, and a whole lot more.

Wiley focuses on lots of mini-sites (over 100 of them), so his approach is significantly different from the previous two webmasters'. (I find this approach fascinating, and the only mini-site project I've ever launched turned out to be profitable without exception and very easy to manage.) He gives an example of a minisite he produced on a free website host at

His minisites normally run about 5 pages each and take a day or so each to create. Rather than build one big site about fishing, Wiley would build a site about fishing rods, then another site about fishing tackle, then another site about fishing charters or vacations. He uses Michael Campbell's Revenge of the Mininet strategy for his SEO purposes.

I have a copy of Revenge of the Mininet, and I've read it twice, but I haven't yet tried to use the strategies. I'll eventually review that ebook here, and provide a case study of it too, but it's not ready yet.

There were quite a few product recommendations in the Phil Wiley interview section, and I'm unfamiliar with most of them, so I can't comment on the worth of those recommendations.

What I liked most about Niche Site Confessions

  • I didn't feel like I was getting sold the moon.
  • The information was practical and gave solid examples I could actually look at.
  • No one told me I could make a bunch of money without effort. In fact, one thing was consistent in all 3 interviews: you have to work hard to make the money in this biz.
  • The book was easy to read, both in terms of layout and in terms of language.

What I thought could have been improved about Niche Site Confessions

  • I thought the ebook would have been better if it had a table of contents.
  • 2 of the 3 interviews were Site Build It webmasters. 1 of the interviews was a minisite specialist so to speak. I would have enjoyed a 3rd perspective from a James Martell webmaster.
  • I would have enjoyed seeing more than just 3 interviews. The interviews were good, but I finished the book wanting more.
  • The book really could have used an introduction and a conclusion section. These would provide context for the reader in terms of understanding what was being taught in the interviews.


I recommend Niche Site Confessions. I think it's one of the better and least-pie-in-the-sky ebooks in this market, and I think the messsage of focusing on a narrow niche that isn't competitive is one worth hearing again and again.

Strike It Niche Case Study

So I decided to follow the action steps laid out in Strike It Niche and record my experiences here. Here's my experiences so far, step by step:

Step 1 of the "Quick Start Action Plan" is to select your business blueprint. I've decided to go with the "beef and steak" blueprint.

Step 2 is to decide how my business will be unique. I'm sure this step is probably more important than I think, but I didn't do much work here. The main thing I'm planning to do to make the site unique is that it's a blog rather than a static site, and with any luck, I'll be able to form a real community of steak and beef lovers around the blog. That's my goal, anyway.

Step 3 is to expand my keyword list using SiteBuildIt and Wordtracker. I'm using the Google Adwords Keyword Sandbox for this, and if I need more keywords, I'll hit Overture and also think about subscribing to Wordtracker again.

Step 4 is to select a domain name. Come on by and visit my new domain,

Step 5 is to select a site building tool. I'm using Blogger.

Step 6 is to evaluate and join affiliate programs. I think I'm a member of Omaha Steaks, and I'm sure there are some beef recipes available over at Clickbank. I can probably find some type of Atkins-diet related affiliate program to shill too.

Step 7 is to create content. This will be an ongoing process, since it's a blog.

Step 8 is to submit the URL's to the major search engines and directories. Other than DMOZ, the links given here to submit to are outdated. Although I could submit to Google, I'm going to let Google's spiders find me naturally.

Step 9 is to submit to MSN's pay-per-inclusion. Again, outdated stuff. I'm just going to wait for their spiders.

Step 10 is to add Google Adsense to the pages, after I've created 25+ pages and am receiving 100+ visitors per day. If I do my job correctly, I should have that many posts in a week or so. I'm not going to wait for that much traffic to actually launch Adsense though.

And that's where I'm at with my Strike It Niche project so far. One thing I did find funny was that one of the 15 suggested keywords was "steak cheese pictures". At first I thought that this had something to do with Philly cheesesteaks, which I love, and I did a search in Yahoo, and the first site that came up was a steak and beef affiliate site.

But the 2nd site was an adult site called Steak and Cheese. People looking for "steak and cheese pictures" are probably not looking for a site with beef recipes. A fine example of why you should research and think critically about your keyword research.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rich Jerk Review

Who is the Rich Jerk anyway?

The Rich Jerk is creating quite a buzz on some of the marketing forums, because it was apparently written by kellyandsummer, the folks who sold the big affiliate website on eBay for so much money recently. I've seen speculation that the entire auction of the website was specifically geared to generate buzz around this ebook, and that would certainly be in line with the attitude behind the strategies outlined in The Rich Jerk.

The Rich Jerk sells for $97. I don't think that this is an outrageous amount of money to pay for solid information, but I'm not sure that this ebook provides enough solid information to be worth $97. The book is short at 40 pages, and some of the material is good, and some of it is only so-so.

What's in The Rich Jerk?
  • How to make affiliate websites that sell like crazy
  • Pay per click strategies that will kill your competition
  • Search engine optimization strategies
  • Creating your own info product to sell
  • Buying and selling wholesale goods on eBay
  • Websites you can make profitable right now (i.e. Clickbank review sites)
  • Other online ventures to consider
  • Recommended resources

The Good Stuff's in the front of the book

The section about how to make affiliate websites that sell like crazy wasn't bad. The Rich Jerk gives tips on how to write effective sales copy by appealing to people's hopes, their fears, and by establishing yourself as an impartial authority on a subject. The techniques given for accomplishing these thing probably work pretty well, although they're not what you would consider humanitarian. The attitude is more of, "Take the rubes for all they're worth, and do it fast."

The pay per click strategies section was good. The ideas for writing copy that stands out and gets click-through's were excellent. This section could have been improved by giving some actual facts and figures from the author's own campaigns, doing some split-testing between the ads he says not to write and the ads he says do write, but all-in-all, the chapter was good.

The discussion of how to make money doing click arbitrage, was excellent. I have every intention of acting on some of the tips in this chapter. The only flaw in this chapter was the list of PPC engines. Many of the PPC engines recommended have performed very badly for me in the past, so if you stick with the top tier engines recommended, you'll be okay.

The author includes a very good list of high paying keywords along with their average prices with the book as well.

The search engine optimization strategies section was a fair introduction to the subject that covered a surprising amount of ground. He covers black hat and white hat techniques, and his discussion of link building techniques was actually good.

This section could have been improved by explaining in a little more detail WHY these techniques worked, because some of them might not work in the future. If you learn how to think like a search engine though, you'll always be able to adjust. That context was what this section needed.

The Weak Stuff is toward the end of the book

The next few sections were the weakest parts of The Rich Jerk. I think the ebook would have been much more focused has the author stuck with the theme of making money with affiliate sites, but the last few chapters covered creating infoproducts, buying and selling wholesale goods on eBay, and there was some info about some other ways to make money online through some investment type opportunities.

The last chapter was a list of recommended products. These were all affiliate links, as were almost all of the other recommended links in the ebook. To me, this takes some of the credibility away from the product.

Final Thoughts on The Rich Jerk

The night I read the ebook I was upset that I'd spent $97 on it. After all, it was only 40 pages long, and about 10 of those pages were useless to me. And a lot of the other 30 pages was filled with stuff I already knew.

But when I re-read the book, I found a lot of value there. Anthony Robbins is fond of pointing out that sometimes all it takes is 1 new distinction, 1 new idea, to completely change your life. I think that implementing some of the techniques in this book will more than make back the money I spent on it. And in the end, that's all I can ask from an ebook, even one with as unusual a marketing style as The Rich Jerk.

I have mixed feelings about recommending this ebook. I think that affiliate marketing is something that can be approached responsibly and morally, and still be very profitable. I don't think that the attitude of "Let's victimize our customers" is more profitable than "Let's help our customers".

But if you can look past that at some of the practical techniques for making money in this ebook, I think you'll find it valuable.

A Couple More Lessons I Learned from The Rich Jerk

At one point I had doubted that this ebook was actually written by kellyandsummer, because frankly, every post I've ever seen written by them in a forum was polite and helpful, nothing like the voice of the author of this book. It seems clear to be that they're using a certain copywriting style for effect. I don't think it works 100%, but I don't think the author is the rich jerk that he claims to be.

If the speculation I've seen about the eBay auction of the website is true, that it was just a technique used to gather buzz around their ebook, then that would be the most powerful lesson that this book could teach. And you could probably extrapolate that from a few forum threads here and there.

Strike It Niche Review

Strike it Niche is an ebook from Michael Holland that provides 70 blueprints for online businesses, all of which could be affiliate websites. The idea behind the ebook was that Michael would collect 70 high demand but low competition niches for an aspiring affiliate webmaster to target. This ebook was originally released in 2003, so I'm not entirely sure that the information is still as good as it was when the ebook was new - surely by now quite a few people have grabbed some of these niches and started dominating them?

Strike It Niche is made up of 70 "business blueprints" in 13 different categories. Some of these categories included:
  • Home & Garden
  • Sports, Recreation, & Hobbies
  • Food & Cooking

And some of the business blueprints included:

  • Kitchens
  • Cheerleading
  • Love Poems & Quotes

All the business blueprints are laid out in the same manner. They all include:

  • An overview which is usually a paragraph describing the niche.
  • A list of root keywords, or generic keywords for a given topic. You can use these to do some of your own keyword research.
  • Profitable keywords in that niche. There were about 15 keywords for each niche, all of which had been researched at the time of writing for supply vs. demand.
  • Affiliate programs. This part was pretty helpful, since a lot of times finding an affiliate program for a niche can be a bear.
  • More ideas for making money. This part was good too. Affiliate marketing is only one revenue stream for a website, and sometimes we're so focused on affiliate marketing that we don't diversify like we should. Every single blueprint had ideas for other revenue streams.

Strike It Niche also includes a 10 point action plan, which is not as detailed as the action plan presented in James Martell's Affiliate Marketing Handbook, but that wasn't the purpose of the book. And the action plan is a reasonable way of breaking the process down into do-able chunks.

There is also a really quick primer on search engine optimization, which mostly covers the basics. Since the information is so basic, most of it still holds true, although a few of the comments are seriously out-dated. But this isn't a book about search engine marketing specifically; it's a book about business blueprints.

What I Liked About Strike It Niche

I've been re-reading this ebook in order to write the review of it, and there is a lot to like about this product:
  • At $47, Strike It Niche is a lot more affordable than other ebooks about affiliate marketing and making money on the internet. (Rich Jerk, which I'll review either later today or tomorrow, was $97, and provides FAR less useful information.)
  • The information in this ebook is solid and useful. You could immediately sit down with one of the business blueprints in Strike It Niche and start a website and possibly even make money with it.
  • The book reveals by demonstration how to think about setting up an online niche business. You can apply his thought processes to your own niches and come up with your own business blueprints.

What I Think Could Improve Strike It Niche

  • Regular updates of some kind would be nice. One of the brilliant things about Aaron Wall's ebook on SEO is that it is constantly being updated, both in the copy itself, and in Aaron's excellent blog. Strike It Niche could benefit from similar updates. A blog with a new business blueprint every week would be a huge value add.
  • The section at the beginning about how to navigate the ebook was just padding. It took 13 pages to get into the actual content of the ebook.

Overall, I would say that Strike It Niche is definitely one of the better ebooks on the market for aspiring internet marketers. As a project for this blog, I'm going to take one of the business blueprints from this ebook and do a case study on it, and track the results here. I'll post more details about that tomorrow.

But the price was reasonable, and the information was useful. That's more than I can say about most ebooks I've bought. I don't promote Strike It Niche as an affiliate, because I no longer include affiliate links in my ebook reviews. I think they destroy the credibility of a review. So here's where you can go to buy a copy of the ebook: Strike It Niche

If the ebook helps you make more money on the internet, and you read it because of my recommendation, then you'll possibly become a regular reader here. Which is a lot better for me than a quick commission on an ebook anyway.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mr. Ploppy's Affiliate Tools

Not too long ago I posted a link to Mr. Ploppy's Affiliate Manager tools, and I was actually lucky enough to have Stuntdubl himself stop by and comment on the post. Today's post is good too, although some of the tools he mentions are on the darker side of the spectrum. Anyway, you'll find lots of good stuff to read and think about here:

Mr. Ploppy's Affiliate Tools Sells for $2000

Maybe $2000 sounds like a lot of money to you, maybe not. But I wouldn't mind selling a few websites for $2k apiece myself. Here's the link to the article: sells for $2k

So after I saw the news, I thought I'd run over to and see what I thought of the site. (I'm notorious for buying sites, not launching them, and then kicking myself for procrastinating. I'm trying to be smarter about how I'm spending my money these days though.) The first thing that I noticed about Wealthy Blogger is the small font. Anyone over the age of 25 or 30 or so is going to have trouble reading anything on that page.

I've seen this used as a technique to get more click-through's on Adsense, but usually the Adsense ads are in a font large enough to read while everything else is in the small font.

Maybe it's because I run a site about affiliate marketing and making money on the internet, but I was really expecting to see information on how to make money from my blog from a site called Wealthy Blogger. Instead, what offers is advice on credit and debt management. I run a blog about credit and debt management, but it's not called Wealthy Blogger. I'll be interested to see what the new owners have planned for the site.

Great traffic figures though.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mr. Ploppy's Affiliate Manager Tools

If you don't already visit Stuntdubl's blog, go there now, read it, and bookmark it. Stuntdubl is one of a handful of sites I actually have bookmarked and read every single day. Today's post is particularly pertinent to the affiliate marketing industry, which is what I write about, so I wanted to recommend it.

Every Monday Stuntdubl posts Mr. Ploppy's tools. Today's tool list is a list of affiliate manager tools online, but many of them are useful for affiliates as well as affiliate managers. At any rate, definitely worth checking out on a regular basis.