With Niche Desire, my intention is to share everything I know about niche sites with my readers. But, wouldn’t it be great if I could get in some of the gems of the industry to share their journey, success as well as failures with us? Wouldn’t it be a great learning curve for each one of us?
And that’s why I am starting Niche Desire Interview Series (NDIS) where I will be inviting the best minds of our industry to share their story with us.
Pretty exciting, right?
Today we have Will Blears of One Mans Brand with us. He needs no introduction as he is one of the top creams of the industry who is killing it with Amazon niche sites. He has been hitting 5 figures continuously with niche sites and he loves to help fellow marketers along the way.
So, without further due, let’s get started.
Sarvesh: Hey Will, I am sure the majority of the readers know you already, but for those who don’t, could you introduce yourself, please?
Will: Sure, my name is Will Blears; I am an online entrepreneur who specializes in launching & growing websites that are monetized with Amazon Associates.
I’ve been in the online marketing field since I was 15. However, I only began focusing most of my time on Amazon Associates within the past two years.
A significant amount of revenue that I generate comes from a handful of established sites. These are websites I’ve been building throughout the past 2 years. However, interestingly several of my newer websites (6 months or less) have begun hitting benchmarks.
For example, one site surpassed the $100 this month and hit $160. Another website has just made its first sale and that site was set up only last month. Lastly, one other website is extremely close to hitting four figures, all of which is very exciting for me to watch.
Here are my last month’s earnings!!
Sarvesh: Are you the white hat guy or a mix of both Blackhat + The whitehat i.e. Greyhat?
Will: I am a grey hat kind of guy, however, these days I am focusing more and more of my own time and money in building a better white hat SEO strategy for my portfolio. I know for a fact that black hat SEO still works, the evidence is everywhere in the SERPs.
However, I just don’t believe I could relax if I were relying solely on black hat SEO to rank my websites. I think I would be having panic attacks daily.
Sarvesh: I completely agree with Will here. There isnt an iota of doubt that PBNs work very well. But at the same time, they have a risk factor involved with them. So, its better to have a mixture of whitehat links + PBNs in your link profile.
Sarvesh: In continuation to the previous question, Have you ranked a site solely based on PBNs?
Will: I’ve never ranked a website solely on PBNs, as I mentioned I do grey hat so I usually use a mixture of press releases & web 2.0 networks when I initially launch the website.
Then move on to PBN links as well as white hat SEO in the form of guest posts and now I am beginning to look into other, more creative ways of generating links through infographics, competitions and by creating multiple types of content such as video.
Sarvesh: Is there any Niche research secret you haven’t revealed anywhere yet? Would you be kind enough to share it here? 🙂
Will: Well, I really have no secrets and I don’t think there are any secrets in the ‘making money with Amazon Associates + organic traffic business’. There are of course strategies which work better than others but that’s found through trial and error.
I find that a lot of people can quickly learn how to successfully conduct market research, keyword research, competitor analysis, domain registration, website setup and content structure and writing. However, once they get to marketing the website, they struggle to comprehend how SEO works, especially off-page SEO. All SEO really means (from an off-page SEO perspective) is building links and that’s all you need to do.
Sure, there are good links, bad links, high authority links, low authority links but you shouldn’t be concerned with what type of links you need to build, at least not initially. Just go out and build some links – take action and do it yourself.
You will learn so much from simply taking action. I think people often get stuck at this point and simply give up because it’s easier to give up than it is to continue. Also, the other thing I hear a lot is that people simply think that if they write and publish great content, traffic will follow. This really does not happen for 99% of people, especially on a brand new website.
People need to stop waiting for some SEO secret to come their way, there isn’t any! People need to stop waiting for Google to rank their content, because they won’t. People need to start link building, blog commenting, press releases, web 2.0 networks and guest posting are all types of link building that absolutely anyone can get started with right now.
Sarvesh: Spot on, Will. This is exactly what I keep saying to anyone who email me for help. People get caught in analysis paralysis when it comes to SEO. Instead of over analyzing the situation, just start. Things will take their course.
At the same time, make sure you learn from others mistakes. Here are some of the mistakes I made in my blogging journey.
5) If you were to start over all again and have to reach at least $1k/mo within 6 months, what would be your steps? (It would be great if you could go into more details on this one).
Will: Of course I’d focus on monetising the website through Amazon Associates. I’d choose a market which has a minimum of popular products ranging in the $300 $500 area however, I’d also try to find a market which has a full range of products ranging from low $$ to high $$$ as I’d want to ensure I am hitting at least 7% commission relatively quickly.
I would try to look for a strong expired domain and if the budget allows it, I’d be willing to spend up to $100 and up to $500 if it’s awesome.
The website would be setup on WordPress with a theme from MyThemeShop or using the Gensis Framework or ThemeForest. I’d look for a simple to setup theme, nothing with too many features or supported with too many plugins. I want the site to be lightweight and quick.
I’d write all the content myself, as I would want to ensure the content is as good as it can be. If I have time restraints then I’d build a template for the ‘best xxx pages’ and give this to the writers and ensure they know what they’re trying to build. I’d also give them samples from competitor websites so they get the idea and of course, ask them if they have any questions.
From a keyword research perspective, I always target ‘best xxx’ keywords initially, I just find they convert better and I enjoy these pages more as they generally have a significantly larger amount of traffic and search queries than a ‘xxxx review’ keyword.
I would use AHREFs (7-day trial) or Long Tail Pro (30-day guarantee) or KWFinder (30-day guarantee) for initial keyword research and use their keyword competitive score as an initial benchmark for the keywords that I might target.
Afterward, I would proceed to look at each individual keywords SERP results, analyzing the top 10 websites and the on-page of the results to conclude whether or not I can do better.
From a site build perspective, I always use comparison tables (TablePress plugin) and try to put the table above the fold or as close to the fold as possible. Generally, I only add up to 5 products in the initial table, as I don’t want consumers to have too many choices, after all, they are looking for the best.
I always add call to actions throughout the page with buttons such as ‘check price’ and ‘visit retail’. I also try and ensure my best xxxx pages contain a minimum of 2,500 words and include product summaries/reviews and a consumer guide and I always use anchor links throughout the guide.
Sarvesh: Note for readers- If you are starting all over again here’s How I Ranked for an 11 Million Monthly Search Term in Just 2 Months
Sarvesh: What numbers (Search Volume/ Profit Potential) do you look in a keyword before choosing it?
Will: Hmm, for new sites I look collectively rather than individually. I do like to see best xxxx keywords with at least a few thousand searches a month. However, if the query is related to a high ticket item and includes many other variable queries and isn’t too competitive then I’d still jump on it.
For an established site there really isn’t a minimum, I obviously prioritize keywords that have a higher search volume and target higher ticket items. However, I will eventually target them all.
Sarvesh: Multiple Niche Sites or One Authority site and why?
Will: If you asked me this a year ago or several months ago I would have probably answered differently. However, having experience with owning an authority site and building the site using grey hat SEO my answer has to be multiple niche sites.
Well, because it spreads the risk – this is the main reason but there are also multiple other reasons. For example, if I am looking for a quick influx of cash then I can easily sell one asset and have multiple assets left to focus on. When compared to owning one authority site you can’t do this, you are stuck with this one website and if you need a quick influx of cash then you have to think of other solutions.
Another reason is that each market has a ceiling and whether you have one authority site or multiple niche sites at some point they’re going to run out of opportunity and you are going to be the dominator in the market, giving you little room to grow.
I ask, what do you do then? You can sell the site but you also have to consider the fact that most buyers will intend on growing the site, if they see little opportunity the only buyers who are going to be interested are those who sit on sites.
Sarvesh: What does a profitable niche look like to Will? Could you list down a few things that get you excited and things you don’t want to see in a niche that you are about to target?
Will: Good question!
Here are a few things that get me excited…
A niche that has high volume keywords targeting high-ticket items.
A niche that has a lot of affiliate sites in the SERPs all of which have very poor on-page SEO and relatively weak off-page SEO (not always easy to analyze, since a lot of people block PBNs from being seen by most SEO tools).
A niche that isn’t seasonal, I hate seasonal niches as it’s just depressing during the off-season.
A niche that is growing, this makes me very excited.
Here are a few things that depress me…
A niche that has a lot of affiliate sites that are evidently experts, fantastic on-page SEO and conversion rate optimization as well as an awesome link profile with lots of white hat links.
Similarly, a niche that is full of PBN powered affiliate sites – this puts me off because it’s simply a battle of budgets and PBN quality and I just don’t want to fight that fight.
A niche that targets only low ticket items, I am not a big fan of $0.85 commissions.
A niche that is well, too niche – such as a niche which focuses on one product range or a really, really small niche like left handed computer mice.
Sarvesh: Will, could you list down your first 10 steps after you have decided a niche?
Will: Sure, so I’ve chosen the market and the next step for me would be finding my domain name.
1) Domain Name – Initially I would look on ExpiredDomains.net for a domain that has previously been established and has a good existing authority within the $500 budget. If I can’t find any, then I’d move on to SEDO and have a quick look here. If this fails I would begin brainstorming domain ideas, I generally like to pick domain names that are brandable, rather than keyword rich so I’d be looking for something unique.
2) Site Setup – I’d then install WordPress using Softaculos, do the general steps after installing WP such as installing a handful of plugins, changing permalinks and choosing a theme. As well as setting up draft pages (About, Contact, Disclaimer e.t.c) and also draft post/pages for any keyword pages I know of already.
3) Keyword Research – if I have already chosen the market I should by now have a good idea of what keywords I am going to be targeting. However, the next step is to dig deep into the entire market opportunity from a keyword perspective.
I usually find as many keywords as possible, download them and compile it into one large excel sheet and then begin filtering and creating individual tabs for each theme (a theme generally being a specific page for a set of keywords). The next step is to prioritize each page based on ease of ranking as well as revenue potential so I know which pages of content I need first.
4) Outsource Content – nowadays I have an idea of how each page should be structured so I contact one of my writers and give them the headlines (primary/secondary keywords) and tell them to start writing. I generally never give them a word limit as I hate putting limits on pages, as it forces the writer to potentially cut out important information.
5) Launch Prep – whilst the content is being written I began preparing the site including creating draft post/pages for the content I’ve outsourced and creating comparison tables, importing them and having them ready in the draft post/page.
6) Tracking & Analysis – I also setup Search Console, Google Analytics, Event Tracking and add the site to my AHREFs dashboard.
7) Import content & make it look nice – After the content returns, I add the content to each page, add feature images and use Canva to make nice looking images, I add call to actions, do a bit of on-page SEO and then click publish. Once all the content is live I then add internal links to each of the pages (if relevant) and also ensure I’ve added anchor links within each page.
8) Begin off-page SEO – I now begin link building with a press release and web 2.0 network as well as social signals.
OK so I do it in 8 steps 😀
Sarvesh: How important is being patient in the niche site business? What do you do to keep yourself motivated when things aren’t shaping the way you would like to?
Will: Hmm usually I just reflect on what I’ve achieved so far and what the success I have had so far has enabled me to do in life. Afterward, I feel grateful and less stressed and begin to see the current issues as a blip in what will be a long and successful future as an entrepreneur.
I also remind myself that things rarely go as planned, we learn from our mistakes and failures and every entrepreneur faces the same challenges that I am facing.
Sarvesh: Where do you see yourself and the niche site business five years down the lane? Do you think niche sites would still be working then?
Will: That’s a really tricky question to answer.
I do believe that niche sites have a long and bright future, however, I think certain factors are pushing niche site owners to adjust how they currently do business. If you look at the way large media companies such as Hearst & Purch are beginning to see the significant value in affiliate websites, we can safely say that affiliate marketing is here to stay and more specifically Amazon Associates.
However, this shift in media publishers from a traditionally CPM focused monetization strategy to affiliate marketing is producing a handful of worryingly large and authoritative websites which are beginning to soak up a lot of the keywords that we, as niche website owners target.
The ripple along with Google’s determination to make Google Adwords as beneficial and almost necessary as possible is reducing the amount of organic space we have within the first page of the SERPs.
Personally, I think the only way of battling this is to work on producing higher quality niche sites. Google is always going to be about relevancy and, fortunately for niche site owners, niche websites with their abundance of content on one specific subject are always going to be seen as being more relevant than a large authority site that perhaps has a handful of pages on any given subject.
The battle is going to take place with SEO as it always has, however, we don’t do ourselves any favors by producing half-baked websites which utilize the same themes, the same formats, the same comparison tables and practically the same content, simply re-written.
I think niche websites will still work in five years time but I think differentiation is going to be critical to the long-term success of a website.
At least that’s my own opinion, as biased as it may be, I am not a big fan of this rinse and repeat business that we all seem to have become a part of.
As for me, for the next 12-18 months, I imagine I will continue making niche websites in a very similar style as I have been doing. However, during this time I will be focusing more time and energy in three authority projects that I have launched this year.
Whilst they’re all focused around the affiliate marketing model, they each take the next step. First of, they each have a completely bespoke design, are completely branded and they each have USPs which rise above the standard niche or authority Amazon website.
An ambition of mine is to create a website that I would be proud to tell people about. Right now, my Amazon sites are not something I would be proud of sharing with anyone. Why? Well, they’re just not unique enough; they don’t have a real purpose, other than to make me money.
I want to own a portfolio of websites that have a real purpose, above and beyond making me money. That is what I will be looking to achieve within the next five years.
Sarvesh: And Finally, what is that one mistake you regret the most and would suggest any newcomer avoid?
OK let me name a few, I know you asked for one but perhaps people could learn from these mistakes I’ve made in the past.
- Don’t register a trademarked domain name, just don’t. Its honestly more stress than it is worth.
2) Read the Amazon TOS before you launch a website and before you apply for the Amazon Associates program. It will save you a heck of a lot of time.
3) When hiring anyone, be sure you and your money are protected. Ensure you either use a third party such as Escrow for keeping the money safe or an online marketplace such as UpWork or have your own contracts in place and be sure to have the persons details both personal and business in case you ever need to use them in a legal battle.
4) If you can afford it then pay for quality in every sense, especially for content – remember half the battle is getting the visitor and the next half is getting them to click through to Amazon, if the content is poor and worse still not proper English, they will run a mile.
Sarvesh: Thanks, Will. It was a pleasure having you on Niche Desire. 🙂
There you have it, guys. Will shared some really insightful stuff related to Amazon niche sites. He didn’t hold anything back and shared everything with us open heartedly. Thanks, Will.
Now, I would like to know from you guys whom you want to see on Niche Desire next. Drop in your comment below and I would try to get them here!!