The 5 Minute Check You Can Do Now Which Would Have Saved Me $1,800 per Month

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You know that feeling when you really screw up? The one where you get that feeling in your gut and taste in your mouth…like when you bump into a parked car with your parents new car or drop your friends new phone in the lake. No one got really hurt but you know you screwed up!

Well today I am going to share what I did online that resulted in a similar feeling.

More importantly than the story is what you can do right now to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

Background

Traffic has bounced back and is going great at my case study Student Loan website. The monetization had been a little disappointing due to an affiliate change out and I was trying to be patient to wait out the change over(or at least so I thought).

However, with me trying to be patient and blaming the low monetization on the affiliate changover and the time it would take for the leads to payout other potential problems were overlooked.

About 10 days ago I decided to check my stats and affiliate links for my student loan site.

Here are the sequence of events that followed…

Step 1 – Identify Top Performing Links

First I looked into my analytics for the top performing affiliate links.

Having set up my website using this link tracking system this step is easy.

number of affiliate clicks

Google Analytics Showing Number of Affiliate Link Clicks and Destination of Clicks

The graph above shows the number of times each affiliate link was clicked.

Step 2 – Test Each Affiliate Link

Here is where the screw up got identified! I have my most popular affiliate link that was getting clicked on over 1,200 times per month and it is NOT WORKING! Plus several other popular links going to dead pages.

This is a highly competitive, highly monetized niche…1,200 targeted clicks is worth a lot of money. I would find out one week later just how much!

Step 3 – Change the Affiliate Link

Now that I have found out I have a problem…I simply got the correct affiliate link and inserted it into the Pretty Link plugin I use.

IMPORTANT NOTE – Although this screw up is large…it was easily identified and fixed. In order to be able to easily identify and fix this problem affiliate links on your website must be set up to both be easily tracked and easily redirected (See free tutorial on how to set up affiliate link tracking).

Step 4 – Wait 1 Week…realize how much money has been lost…write a post about being a dumb-A**

So when I detected the problem I knew I had screwed up and was losing money as a result.

After I put the links in place here were the income results…

Date Income from Link

  • Jul-16 $ 62.45
  • Jul-17 $ 83.30
  • Jul-18 $ 41.74
  • Jul-19 $ 20.84
  • Jul-20 $ -
  • Jul-21 $ 62.46
  • Jul-22 $ 62.46
  • Jul-23 $ 62.50
  • Jul-24 $ 83.34
  • Jul-25 $ 83.27

The best I can tell is that the link has not been working for 3 months.

Based on that here is what this mistake has cost me…

  • Daily Average = $56.24
  • Monthly = $1,687.08
  • Total Losses to Date = $5,061.24

When the number looks even worse is the fact that I had been throwing around the idea of selling the site and putting my niche site energy into growing another few sites. Since the site is a multiple of the last 3 months of earnings if I were to sell now I would not get the 17x multiple of the monthly income.

  • If Sold Total Losses = $28,680.36

Another way to look at this mistake is to imagine taking out a bunch of money at the start of the week and then every day burning a $20 at breakfast lunch and dinner.

burningmoney

Is there a Silver Lining? – The more money I have lost only means the more money the site will make in the future…if the mistake had only cost me $100 total well then my future earnings would be much less. So I guess I wish I had lost more money. (at least that is what I am telling myself)

Step 5 – Put Process In Place to Ensure it Doesn’t Happen Again

“it is only a failure if you don’t learn anything” I don’t have an issue with making mistakes but I don’t like the belief that failures should be worn as a badge of honor…successes should be.

Still, this is a great opportunity to take this mistake, make some process changes and ensure as my business continues to grow it does not happen again!

Effective now I have my niche site VA with a weekly task for my top 10 websites checking affiliate links.

Weekly Task: (Average 10 minutes/site/week)

  1. Log into Google Document
  2. Log into Google Analytics
  3. Check affiliate link clicks for all links with over 10 clicks in the last 30 days
  4. Mark complete and date on the Google Document
  5. Send email to me confirming the weekly checks are complete and notify me if any errors exist

Monthly Task: (Average 1 hour/site/month)

  1. Log into Google Document
  2. Log into Google Analytics
  3. Check ALL affiliate link URL clicks over the last 30 days to ensure they are working
  4. Check all pages for affiliate links that are not working on sites that get traffic starting with the highest traffic and working down to pages that get 10 or more visits in a month. (you could use a plugin for this but it would return some false results since they only detect broken links and not pages that no longer offer the product or similar)

How to track – set up a Google Calendar reminder both for weekly and monthly tasks.

One alternative to this problem is to simply use an add network like AdSense…but the kind of sites I find myself building that is not the most lucrative option.

 

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Comments

  1. Hey Jon,

    thanks for those insights. I also use pretty link and will have to go and check. I started a new niche site case study this week, will have to check those too!

    Congrats on the great earnings though :-)

  2. It is a bummer that you missed out on all of the money but at least it is back to making some good money! And thanks for linking to the article on how to track affiliate links in Google Analytics, I have been looking for a way to do this.

    • Jon Haver says:

      Hi Josh, for something as necessary as tracking clicks there really isn’t a simple way with analytics. This work around is the simplest/most robust option I have come across.

  3. Ouch, expensive mistake. I’ve worried about this type of thing in the past, when you have so many things going on at once this is one of the last things you would want to be looking at so closely once you set it up from the start.

  4. It kind sucks to give the rest of us a free reminder on your missery without any tips aye :9
    I’m have been wondering, why are Adsense not good for your sites?

    • Jon Haver says:

      Awhile back I was banned from AdSense but before that I was focusing more and more on affiliate and CPA offers…I still keep that focus now.

  5. Jon I am glad you found the error, better late than never! I just figured out who you reminded me of……Rob Gronkowski or Gronk of the New England Patriots…….

  6. Costly mistake. Another way is to put your Aff Links in the service like pingdom.
    They will be pinging it every now and then and you will get notification if something goes wrong …

    • Jon Haver says:

      The problem…I think…with that solution is it may not always work…if you were sent to a site that said this offer is no longer available you wouldn’t be able to tell with pingdom. For the time it will take my VA I am happy for him to do it. That is probably the easiest solution though!

    • Jon Haver says:

      Very true

  7. Dang, wish I could burn a $20 for breakfast, lunch and dinner, lol JK . Good thing you had a link tracking system in place though.

    • Jon Haver says:

      Definitely…it would have been an all weekend job just to get the links almost fixed if I didn’t use the pretty-link plugin.

  8. I had to smile reading this one about 18 months ago a friend suggested I add a few Amazon affiliate links to my LIT site. First month no sales another few months no sales, “me thinks ok just not an Amazon affiliate type site” a few weeks back 18 months on still no sales. Then I read an article mentioning the Amazon affiliate link checker https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/tools/link-checker/main.html sure enough I had messed up on every single link :-) not one was working.

  9. Bummer Jon, but good though that you found out about it. Maybe the plugin Broken Link Checker could help you in the future? https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/.

    • Jon Haver says:

      If the site I link to returns a page that essentially says “this service is no longer offered” the broken link checker won’t let me know there is a problem.

  10. wow. What a costly mistake. What I leant from this is that we need to regularly monitor our websites. Thanks Jon for sharing valuable information

  11. Wow. Glad you found that one! Quite the lost income, but you’ll make it back up in a hurry :)

  12. Thanks Jon for this wake up call. After reading this post intent checked some of my affiliate links to see if they were broken. Fortunately they weren’t but what I did find out was some of the sizes of my affiliate link images in some of my tables on inner pages had shrunk down to a size that was unreadable and unclickable to readers. So I have now out measures in place to continually have this check as it may have cost me several dollars in revenue. Great stuff! Thanks as always!

    Christopher

  13. LOL – That would have sucked soo bad if you sold it and realized afterwards….

    Funny Story about checking links… I sold a website through a broker in the software niche for serious chunk of change and the guy who bought it NEVER changed the adsense code!!! He just placed his product on the top of the homepage and never touched that website again… I’ve tried contacting them, but got no response… I believe I was collecting adsense for 2-3 years before the website just dropped from the serps. I felt kinda guilty though, if I still had admin access I would have deleted my code from it.

    It’s a valuable lesson!!
    -Brad

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