Website Income
Shares

All posts by Jon

3 Tasks to Get Your Affiliate Sites Ready for Holiday Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are getting closer. It is already a record year for ecommerce with so many people turning to ecommerce to provide for them during the pandemic. 

It is likely that this Holiday Shopping season will break records again for online sales… are your sites ready? 

Here are the critical few things you should be doing to ensure your site is ready to make the most of the busy shopping season! 

FIRST – Is Your Site Ready for More Traffic?

There are 3 steps we use to make sure a site is ready to handle an increase in traffic. This is not an exhaustive list and if your site has already handled spikes in traffic with no issues then you can skip this step. 

Here are the 3 things our team led by Ahmed executes… 

  • Speed up the site
  • Make sure the host is ready
  • Use a CDN 

The plan outlined below has been able to handle over 100,000 visits/day. 

One – Make sure there are no issues with site speed/size which will make handling the traffic harder. 

You can check the site’s speed with Google PageSpeed Insights

If site speed isn’t where you want it then look to make sure some simple improvements are in place like a Cache plugin being enabled. This is the free one we use (enable page cache and adjust browser cache settings if needed). Finally, if that doesn’t bring the site speed down then check out some premium tools like a Site Speed Accelerator.   

Two – Make sure the host can handle it. 

If you haven’t yet had the site experience a sizeable traffic influx then make sure you are setup on a hosting plan that can handle it. 

Our go-to hosting solutions when we need to handle some scale is WPX. Their plans are all cloud-based and can provide scalability if you underestimate the traffic. 

Another hosting solution we use a lot is the SiteGround Cloud Plan due to it being very customizable. 

Third – Enable a CDN for the site

WPEngine and WPX both have a built in CDN and are used if the site is hosted there. 

If there is no built-in CDN with the hosting plan (such as siteground cloud hosting plan) we use Cloudflare free or paid plan. 

Fortunately for me, Ahmed, who runs LightningRank, handles all the hosting needs for the various sites. 

SECOND – Make Sure Your Affiliate Links Are Not Broken

This step can be the easiest and result in some significant gains. 

What people don’t know is that many of their affiliate links on their site are either broken or linking to an out of stock product. 

Fixing these issues is one click away with the Done For You service from SiteBuddy.io 

Here is how to find and fix these yourself…

  1. Signup for a free account at SiteBuddy.io
  2. Enter your website to have it scan for ALL amazon affiliate links
  3. See a report showing all links that should be fixed
  4. Fix the issues yourself or have the team at SiteBuddy fix them for you

Get Your Free Scan at SiteBuddy.io

Example of Improvement Achieved – 30%+ Of Products Out of Stock and 7%+ Missing Tags!

  • URL – hidden
  • Affiliate Disclaimer – No Issues
  • Affiliate Links – 592 Missing Tags 
  • Products – 285 Out of Stock and 84 Deleted

THIRD – Are Your Top Pages Optimized? 

Often some of our top pages can be neglected. 

“Best (insert product name) 2018” 

I would lie if I said that title didn’t exist on some of my sites right now. 

If it is a page that doesn’t get much Google love then no big deal but if it is one of your main pages then you are leaving money on the table!  

If you have a page that is outdated as obviously as the wrong year in the title or are referencing some outdated information it can kill peoples trust in your article and therefore your recommendations/conversions. 

Review all pages that are getting meaningful traffic (your top x # of posts an

I hope these 3 quick tips will have your site ready to crush Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales! Good luck and enjoy.

Paid Link Magnet Idea – How to make money online

Want a super easy / straightforward way of making a few hundred dollars a month from an almost brand new site? 

I think this strategy would be the one I would pursue if I…

  • Only had a few hundred dollars to invest
  • Wanted to start making some money online quickly (didn’t have time to wait for content to rank)
  • Didn’t mind being limited to only a few hundred dollars a month?

This is not a tested strategy… just a fun theory…

How? Build a paid backlink magnet site. A site specifically designed to attract sponsored posts/ paid link insertion requests in high-value niches

This is ONLY an IDEA, I have not executed it and don’t think I plan to. However, if you are reading this and want to execute and scale this but need some great domains please contact me and we can work out a structure where we all win.

I am sharing in detail since I hope whoever does copy this procedure and executes it shares the results with me so we can all learn!  

All Plans are Wrong! Again I have not executed this strategy so there will clearly be issues with this plan that will need to be adjusted. 

How Much Can You Make?

My hope with this strategy is that you could…

Investment / Cost:

  • Domain – $100-2,500 – for a solid domain
  • Website Build – $0 (do it yourself) or $100 on UpWork
  • Content – $0 (do it yourself) or $250 on ContentRefined.com

If you are interested in executing this strategy but need a domain contact me!

Monthly Earnings:

  • 2 paid posts per month at $100-$250/link = $500/month

Reading:

Introducing the Paid Backlink Magnet Site Strategy

Basic Strategy:

  1. Find a valuable expired/expiring domain
  2. Pick the right niche
  3. Build a site so that it attracts people looking to pay for links
  4. Create content that attracts people looking to pay for links
  5. Outreach to potential 

Why it Would Work:

There are a lot of people that are running around the web happy to pay for link insertions to their sites. Whatever they call it… sponsored post, paid backlink, paid guest post, link insertion it always amounts to the same thing… a link (often paid) from one site to their target site. 

By building a site on an already valuable domain then designing it to attract people who are already paying for backlinks will hopefully be an easy to execute process.  

Throughout this article I use the name link insertion specialist but it could be someone with a SEO, link building or outreach in their job title. 

Valuable Domain + The Right Niche + Site Magnet = Quick path to making money from a new site! 

  • Valuable Domain – Building a site on a relevant valuable domain will have the link insertion specialists eager to pay you for a guest post / sponsored post / link insertion etc
  • The Right Niche – Not all niches are created equal for this strategy. The key is finding niches with extremely high customer value where the promotion opportunities are limited. Lots of B2B software and services meet these criteria
  • Site Magnet – Building the site in a way where if you know what link insertion specialists are looking for when they are scraping the web will result in them coming to you

Detailed Procedure / Example:

Step ONE – Find a Valuable Expiring Domain

The first step is to find an expired/expiring domain that has value in the eyes of a link insertion specialist.

What are they looking for? Relevant metrics and traffic

Metric:

Sometimes Moz and Majestic are still referenced but definitely I would focus on getting 

Target metrics…

  • MOZ DA > 30
  • Majestic TF > 10
  • Ahrefs DR > 20
  • SEMRush Traffic > 10
  • # of Linking Root Domains > 50

Or as close to this as your budget can afford.  

Don’t go below DR 10 based on some of my own testing. 

This tool makes filtering thousands of domains incredibly easy! 

Checkout the Power of SpamZilla!

Example Domain:

CheetahBurner.com  – Definitely not going to be sold for cheap

click the image to enlarge

Step TWO – Pick a Niche

My strategy here would be to look at B2B software or services that are a fit. 

Using the website G2 makes this process easy…

  1. Go to G2.com
  2. Enter a keyword – look at the autosuggest. Or explore the categories
  1. Pick a category that meets this (very adjustable) criteria..
    1. High lifetime value of a customer
    2. B2B (makes link building more essential for growth)
    3. Lots of competitors – them battling with one another is good
    4. I would like a forgotten about but competitive niche like truck fleet management

In this example Video Conferencing might be a good fit. It is a little bigger than ideal but the site is stronger than I think I would typically run this test with. 

For another example imagine there is a trucking company domain for sale at auction that will have reasonable metrics, sell for cheap and would be ideal for a fleet management software site that you could then charge for link insertion.

Step THREE – Build the Site to Attract Link Prospectors

Build the site making it look respectable. The key triggers to include on the site is in the footer menu include a few different links that all go to a copy of a contact us page with the name of the menu title in the URL and title.

Why? Because people looking to buy links use a series of commonly used keywords to try and find opportunities. You want to show up in their searches! 

Footer Menu to Include a Page for Each of the Following:

  • Advertise
  • Guest Post
  • Paid Promotion
  • Sponsored Post  
  • Link Roundup

Include your email in text format on the Contact Page so that tools that link builders use such as Hunter.io will pickup on the email and you will be more likely to be contacted. 

Add ~200 words to each of the pages above and then a contact form. 

Step FOUR – Create Content to Attract Link Prospectors

The next step is to create content that we hope will attract link builders. 

Since many people building links will use some version of these strategies…

You want to show up on their searches!

So based on your industry you will need to use a little creativity but here would be a couple ideas…

Skyscraper Magnet:

Create an article “20 best guides to _____” then create that article and link to all the BIGGEST/BEST articles in the niche talking about your chosen software/service category. Then when someone tries to do the skyscraper technique using any of those articles you linked to you will be included when they contact you.  

Competitor Link Building Magnet:

There are likely some BIG players in your space that the scrappy upstarts more likely to be paying for links use tools like Ahrefs to analyze the competitions backlinks and try to steal them. In order to show up on those searches make sure to link to the biggest players in the space and then when the smaller players are doing their competitor link building you will show up. 

Step FIVE – Cold Outreach

Now that your site is setup, your link prospecting magnets are in place you can sit around and wait for the prospects to contact you… or you can go and make contact using B2B lead generation strategies

  1. Create a list of players in your industry (G2 will be helpful)
  2. Use Hunter.io to find the right email
  3. Contact them – Look at how influencers do this and follow a similar strategy creating a media kit etc.

Step SIX – Close the Deal

At this stage you should be in communication with someone either from a company or representing a company that would love a mention/link on your site. Your job is to now close the deal… give them what they want in exchange for $ into your PayPal account. There isn’t much I can add here except for a few general tips.  

  • Use PayPal – seems to be the default in link buying payments
  • Price at the low end of fair to help drive volume – How much to charge for a sponsored blog post will vary drastically but aim for $100+ depending on the site. 
  • Don’t mention paid links/paid backlink unless they mention it first… sponsored post, guest post, advertising all will resonate with some who hilariously say “we don’t buy links” but then will happily pay for a sponsored placement?!?
  • When negotiation the best strategy is to let them share what they are looking for and what they are willing to pay for it first. 
  • Efficiency and Volume > squeezing out every last dollar. Building a relationship and efficiently closing deals will be more valuable then driving every penny out of the one deal. Especially if you go on to scale this business being a great person to purchase links from will allow you to go back to the people who purchased from you in the past when you have a new site that they might be interested in. 

I AM DEFINITELY WRONG! How am I wrong… I don’t know but this strategy in its current form will certainly have parts that won’t work as planned. No plan holds first contact with the enemy. So… understand I have not executed this myself, take it, run with it, experiment, test and have fun! 

Let me know how it works for you!

ECommerce Intern Case Study – Month 2 – Day in the Life – Goal Setting and Website Improvements

This marks the 2nd month of the ECommerce Intern Project. 

You can see Annie’s first update here

Or her Weekly Vlog Here 

My hope was we were going to move really quickly but like most things, there is a pace to the work we need to work within. The first part of the 2nd month really revealed a bunch of structural issues with the business such as the conversion rate etc. We need to fix these (new site, photos, video etc) before we can ramp things up again. BUT… what is great is that with the help of Annie we have opened up new products, tested paid traffic and have a clear path on what needs to be improved. 

I believe her hard work that is going to go into the current period of improvement will result in some solid results near the end/busy period of Q4! 

Plenty of challenges Annie digs into in detail below!

Vlog Number 4 – A Day In the Life

Vlog Number 5 – Google Shopping Ads

Annies update…

Personal Update:

I have returned to Birmingham, AL. It has been very nice to return back to a more normal life. My life in Collingwood was nice but it was completely different than what I am used to. It is different here in Birmingham than before Covid hit but I am enjoying being able to play beach volleyball and interact with friends in small groups. My life here basically consists of going to volleyball practice, going to weights and then spending the rest of the time working on this job or my schoolwork. I also now have a bit of a social life where I am hanging out with friends in small groups and luckily all of my friends are fellow student athletes so they are all like me: getting tested 1-3 times a week for Covid. 

View of Birmingham

When I flew from Toronto to Birmingham it was quite a shocking experience for me. In the Toronto airport there were only 2 flights leaving the terminal I was in for the entire day. I had a connection in Charlotte and the first plane I was on I did not have anyone sitting right next to me or even that close to me, the plane itself wasn’t entirely socially distanced but it was pretty close. So overall still scary (since I hadn’t been around other people for months) but I didn’t have to get too close to anyone and was never in a space filled to capacity. That changed immediately upon touchdown in Charlotte (welcome to the United States), I got off the plane and the terminal was absolutely packed with people. People were all wearing masks but there was basically no ability to properly social distance and in general, there were just too many people in a small space and my fellow travelers did not seem nearly as concerned about socially distancing as I did. My second shock came when I went to check the board to find my gate and there was a man collapsed on the ground. It appeared as if he was having a heart attack and airport staff were rushing around giving him CPR and attempting to resuscitate him. I hope that he was okay but I did not stick around to watch. So overall returning to the United States was pretty shocking. But now that I am here and in control of my environment I am able to properly socially distance and am lucky to be a student athlete because we get tested regularly and are more careful in general than others. Although in general the Covid situation seems to be getting worse everywhere: in Canada and the US so that is frightening. 

Business Updates: 

As mentioned in my first blog post I started running a Google Ads campaign for one of the businesses. This campaign proved as a form of trouble shooting for the website and was very valuable and informative because it showed us that we are getting plenty of traffic to the site but our landing page and web design is not leading to conversions. Previously, we were not sure if the website was not making sales due to lack of traffic or conversion rate. The best solution for the low conversion rate is to overhaul the website so that’s what we are in the process of doing. I did a lot of research on the key features needed for an effective landing page and passed that on to our writer and website developer. 

Key Takeaways from Successful Landing Page Research: 

  • FAQ’s: include the answers to FAQs routinely throughout the website (utility of information)
  • Reviews: provide incentive for customers to write detailed reviews to endorse the product
  • Testimonials: have video testimonials/endorsements on the site
  • Call to action buttons in colours that pop
  • Mission Statement/endorsement video with product information 
  • Add a pop up to the website
  • Compelling Headline: grab readers attention, encourage them to seek more information
  • Fast as possible less than 1 second delay (greater than 1 second leads viewers to close the webpage or navigate back to the previous page)
  • Product videos: include detailed videos 

I am really excited to have an updated website that will follow the key’s from my research and think this website upgrade will be essential for increasing that Businesses conversion rate. I have been working on Google Text Ads, Google Shopping Ads and Facebook Ads and am really looking forward to launching those once the website has been updated. For now I am holding off on making those paid trafficking campaigns active because of the poor conversion rate of the existing site. 

Example of a strong landing page: 

Key Takeaways from this example: 

  • Call to Action (sign up) as accessible as possible
  • FAQs visible in different spots across the page
  • Colours that pop
  • Endorsements by individuals and esteemed companies 
  • Multiple locations of endorsements

Challenges: 

One of my biggest challenges in these past weeks was setting up Google Shopping Advertisements for one of the businesses. It took a really long time to set these advertisements up, I had a lot of bumps in the road and just general tech issues with Google. Since I am not the most tech savvy it took me a long time to figure out and resolve each issue. There were a lot of different steps in the process and it seemed like I hit a bump in the road at every single check point. But I have finally set these Google shopping Ads up and upon further reading I have found that many people also struggle to set these up and that it can be quite an arduous process so I do not feel as bad. However, I wish that it would have taken me less time to perform this task. I am waiting to make these shopping ads active until I have the updated website finished so I do not have any results from these campaigns yet but I am really looking forward to launching these campaigns and seeing the successes they bring. 

Another failure that has occurred is one supplier who has by far the best quality product at the lowest price has essentially ghosted me. They have misunderstood our website and think we already were supplied by another supplier for the one product we want from them. However, this is not the case. They came to this conclusion because on our website we list the product already but simply set the inventory as zero and then once a certain product starts getting attention and clicks we start to source the product. They jumped to many conclusions about our site and simply stopped responding to my emails when they had previously been very responsive. This situation was pretty annoying to deal with at the time, at first I was not too upset about them shutting communication off because I started to look at other suppliers’ sites and establishing relations with them. It quickly became quite clear to me that any other supplier’s price for the product was about $100 more than we were willing to spend. I continued reaching back out to the original supplier but continued to hear nothing back from them. It was also frustrating because they are located in a completely different time zone and phoning them became complicated due to the time zones and long distance charges. Luckily, my boss and I realized that we were just putting so much energy into this one situation and that perhaps it just wasn’t the right product after all. My boss did some more research and found another product that is actually more popular than the previous product we were trying to sell. So now I have sourced that product and posted it up on the website. Putting this new product on the website took a few hours and the process was very simple compared to the original product. With the addition of this product and another one that has been sourced and added, we have completed our product line for the time being and appear as a more legitimate store. 

Both businesses had been doing very little to no sales and experiencing a “September Slump”. It was pretty frustrating as the one business has been doing pretty low sales regularly but the other business does pretty solid regular sales and the first few weeks I started was doing strong weekly sales. So when it started to take a turn for the worse I was a bit surprised. I had been running email campaign emails but they werent contributing to very high sales or any sales really. For that business we have just started paid trafficking but mostly have been relying on organic traffic to the site. Email campaigns are our primary form of marketing and have had lots of success in the past. So I decided to look at some older email campaigns and see which ones were successful. Unfortunately, this business has gotten to the point where customers expect there to be sales every so often and so they just wait for those instead of regularly purchasing what they want to buy. Since email campaigns have been the primary form of marketing the business fell into this pattern and it’s a little annoying that there aren’t more regular ongoing sales without there being a promotion going on. But once we get into paid trafficking with this business I think we will be able to maintain more consistent sales and also still run promotions every so often. So in order to boost some sales in the past few weeks and get out of the “September Slump” I decided to run a flash 20% off the whole store sale. This sale was pretty successful and so far not even halfway into October we have had 2400 in sales. This business also started selling a new product and I ran a promotion and advertising campaign for that product which contributed to 12 units being sold. So a lesson learned from this failure/success is that there is opportunity out there, you just have to create it for yourself sometimes and look at situations in different ways. That’s something I have learned from Jon as well is: he is very good at looking for alternative solutions when one door closes. 

Another issue that I have run into is that as previously mentioned we are overhauling the one website. We wanted this to be done really quickly and on me and Jon’s end got everything done for it within 2 days. However, we are working with other people who are on their own timelines and don’t feel the need to expedite the process as much. We hired a web developer and set the deadline to finish his job in basically 48 hours. He kept needing more time and then became super unresponsive. We had to start looking at other developers and then finally he got back to us but the quality of his work was not what we were looking for. So now we have had to hire a new web developer, send all the information over to them and basically start from scratch. This process has taken way longer than expected and I am holding off on running any paid trafficking until the website is updated due to the conversion rate issue with the current site. It sucks because I am just “on-hold” on a lot of things with this business and it’s out of my control for when exactly it will be done.

Another issue I have run into is hiring a photographer/videographer/actor. We have a group of products that we want photos and videos done for but we do not have the products in our physical location. So we started to look at options and found a photographer in the area of our warehouse that could pick the products up, source an actor and produce the content required. Unfortunately this photographer quoted us with a price that was just a little bit out of our price range. So instead we are shipping the products to a friend of Jon’s who has provided a lower price for us and we have worked with before so have guaranteed the quality of the content. The upside of this option is that the overall outset price will be cheaper but the downside of this option is that the process will add more time until we finally receive the output of content. 

Administrative work: 

OKRs: 

As we are now in quarter 4 we had some company based goal-setting to execute. The way we establish this is by using OKRs. OKRs are a framework for growth for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. I have never used the OKR framework before so it was all brand new to me. I had to spend some time learning about OKRs in general and then I spent some time creating some OKRs for both of the businesses I am running. The purpose of OKRs is to set slightly out of reach goals with key objectives that are accessible by everyone in the company. Every worker no matter their position views the OKR goals and therefore everyone is on board with these goals and working towards them from the bottom to the top of the organization. I set the goals for the two businesses that I am running and then reviewed them with Jon. At first I set the goals a little too unspecific and Jon reviewed them and told me that the key with them is to write them so that if something were to happen to him and I in the next week someone could read the OKRs and understand what was needed to be done by the end of Quarter 4. It was really interesting to get to participate in the goal setting process and I was able to learn a lot by doing that so I’m glad that Jon provides me with the independence to do so for the projects that I run. 

Here are some of the OKRs that I wrote: 

Business A: 

Business B: 

Those are all the updates I have to give for now and an overview of what I’ve been working on the past few weeks. In the next post, I will provide an update of the analytics for the businesses to do a check-in and track the progress so stay tuned for that. Thanks for reading!

Buy Amazon Affiliate Websites that are for Sale – Advanced Due Diligence Tools

If you are looking at where to buy an amazon affiliate website and what to watch out for this post is for you. 

I am going to cover…

  1. 3 Places Amazon Affiliate Websites are for sale
  2. What to Look For – Advanced Due Diligence Unique to Amazon Affiliate Sites

Best Places to Buy Amazon Affiliate Websites?

If you are looking to purchase an Amazon affiliate website these are a few of the websites you should be looking at…

Flippa – Is the most popular online marketplace for listing websites for sale. However, like any marketplace that doesn’t have a vetting process, it is rampant with issues of sites not being as they appear and a long history of people getting ripped off.

Pro:

  • A wide selection of sites for sale

Con:

  • Often unverified earnings 
  • Lots of stories of issues with buying questionable sites (listings are not manually vetted)
  • Inefficient to sift through the weak websites to find the diamonds in the rough
  • Time-consuming due diligence and auction system

MotionInvest – MotionInvest is a great alternative to Flippa that addresses many of the issues identified above. We started it to provide the most efficient place to buy and sell smaller content websites including Amazon Affiliate sites. 

Pro:

  • Verified earnings
  • Prices reduce following a dutch auction structure ensuring all sites will reduce in price to a fair value vs arbitrarily set pricing. 
  • Optimized due diligence information and process for content sites 
  • Experienced Amazon Affiliate site entrepreneurs own/operate the business 
  • Experienced site transfer team
  • Unique growth ideas identified on the listing page to help with the immediate growth of an acquired site
  • Post sale support with resources and optional coaching

Con:

  • Sites sell quickly and as a result, there is a limited supply of sites
  • Seller interviews/calls are not as common for the smaller sites

EmpireFlippers – EmpireFlippers is the largest vetted marketplace for online businesses covering ecommerce, content (affiliate/display), SAAS and FBA businesses. 

Pro:

  • Verified earnings
  • An established transfer process and team

Con:

  • A limited supply of sites under $100k
  • Lists every type of online business and various sizes. This makes their systems not as optimized for smaller content sites. 

BrandBuilders – If you are looking for a starter Amazon Affiliate site have a look at BrandBuilders.io and their selection of pre-made Amazon affiliate sites. It can be a more cost effective way at getting started but shortcutting the build it yourself learning curve. 

Advanced Amazon Affiliate Website Due Diligence

In this section, I am going to speak to specific Amazon Affiliate website due diligence checks you should be doing when looking at a website for sale. This does not cover many other aspects of due diligence like google traffic verification, backlink analysis etc. For a complete guide use this one

Completing proper due diligence on an Amazon Affiliate site is not easy and over the years we have had to build a lot of custom tools to make this level of diligence possible. Not just tools to identify problems on a site but also ones to be able to fix the issues.

Many of these tools are available for free and a link to them is included below. I hope this complete suite of tools we use every day to evaluate Amazon Affiliate sites will help you acquire the right site.  

Before you buy an Amazon Affiliate site make sure you complete the following due diligence checks…

  1. Check for Faked Earnings – If it is just an image of the earnings this can be faked. Very important to get a screen recording of the earnings. A tool like Loom makes this very easy that no one has a reason to not provide. 
    • Tool – Seller can use Loom to record the earnings
  1. Check for a Closed Account – If the account of the seller has been suspended by Amazon this will impact your account when you transition the site to your account. You can see this if they do an earnings recording, unless there is a banner saying this account has been closed you are safe.  
    • Tool – Seller can use Loom to record the earnings which will also show if the account has been closed by Amazon
  1. Adjust Old Earnings for New Commission Rates – In April 2020 Amazon changed their payout commission resulting in sites that used to be making more having their earnings cut. When buying an Amazon affiliate site make sure to adjust the historical earnings for the new commission structure.
    • Tool – Use this free spreadsheet we created to calculate the impact of the earnings change

See what historical earnings would have been with the new commission structure using this free spreadsheet

  1. Check Amazon Affiliate Requirements Risk – There is a long list of guidelines that you need to comply with to be an Amazon Associate. This can be very difficult to comply with. Many sites may be at risk because they are not complying with the Operating Agreement or Program Policies. Below are a series of tools that can help check if a site is compliant and tools to ensure you become compliant. 

Quickly install Amazon Affiliate and Trademark Disclosures Using This Free Plugin

  1. Check for Missing or Incorrect Amazon Affiliate Tags – If you are linking to Amazon but not using either the correct tag or linking without a tag it means you aren’t being credited with any sales. Even many of the best affiliate sites have issues that need to be fixed! 
  • TIP – Finding an Amazon Affiliate site for sale that you can identify a lot of missing or incorrect tags provides a huge opportunity to be able to immediately acquire and improve the earnings for the site. 

SiteBuddy.io Finds All Amazon Affiliate Links. Use the free trial to fix missing tags or incorrect tags.

If you acquire a site and want to bulk change your links the team at Hekkup.com created a handy tool here.

  1. Check if it is Linking to a Product Out of Stock – If you are linking to a product that is out of stock then you are likely giving up earnings. 
    • TIP – Similar to the tags (mentioned above) if you are looking to buy a site and you know it is linking to a lot of products that are out of stock then when you fix those issues you will be able to make more money. SiteBuddy provides a list of all the products you are linking to and which ones are out of stock. 

Other Relevant Reading:

I hope this suite of (mostly) free tools is helpful! If there to are any other tools you use to evaluate Amazon Affiliate specific sites please let me know.

Introducing the Ecommerce Intern Case Study

With a few things all colliding…

  • 2 ecommerce stores that had very part-time management both moving on
  • Significant opportunity identified in the space
  • My current lack of paid traffic skills but desire to improve this competency
  • Very solid job applicants for a test job posting

I have decided to launch a 4 month ecommerce case study where I invest in an intern, give them an extreme amount of control, train them, provide a budget and some vision then turn them loose to build up a couple of my neglected ecommerce assets. 

Along the way this process is going to be documented in a weekly VLog and monthly post. 

Annie started with us about 1 month ago and this is the first update from her along with her 3 vlog’s. 

Hopefully this will provide a useful over the should case study for…

  1. Growing an ecommerce business
  2. How to get started in this space from almost no knowledge
  3. What it is like to work within my company

Hope you enjoy! 

Introducing Annie…

Hi Guys, 

I have recently been hired by Jon to run/grow a few ecommerce sites and document that experience. I will be posting a weekly Vlog with more regular updates but will also be posting a written monthly summary of what I have been doing. If you are interested in following me along in this journey please subscribe to watch the Vlog episodes and stay tuned into the monthly blog updates. 

 

So for starters my name is Annie Pringle; I was born in Ontario but quickly moved to BC and grew up there. In high school I began playing volleyball and became enamoured with the sport so much that I decided to pursue it. That ended up with me being in Birmingham, Alabama pursuing Beach Volleyball and my undergraduate degree and then my masters degree in Business Administration. Covid threw a wrench in my plans and I have had to delay my graduation by 9 months and am hoping to head back to Alabama at some point to play beach volleyball again. I ended up in Collingwood due to the need to return home to Canada and my family had moved back to Ontario, specifically Collingwood. Knowing no one here it has been pretty lonely and a stark contrast to how my busy life previously was so I was extremely excited when I got the opportunity to work with Jon on this ecommerce project. 

I have been a business student for a while now and therefore have an extensive background knowledge on business topics but before starting this role I did not know very much about Ecommerce. I had a little experience running social media (which included content creation) due to a few courses and opportunities that I have had in the past but do not have a lot of familiarity with traffic, SEO, shopify, dropshipping or anything else that I’ve been doing. 

The position that I have filled is called an “Ecommerce Associate”. I have been running 2-3 shopify businesses. These businesses have previously had some success but have not had a lot of time of work dedicated to them, they have been slightly “neglected” or just not super focused on in the past. Jon decided that he wanted to pour some attention into these businesses specifically increasing paid traffic campaigns, new product sourcing and overall improval of both sites’ SEO, so that’s where I have come in and I’m working on improving and growing this ecommerce portfolio. 

Picture me not really knowing anything about running an ecommerce dropshipping business but getting handed over the reins of two (potentially three) of them. If it sounds daunting that’s because it was a little bit daunting at first but once I had received training and really just done a lot of experimenting and trial and error on my own I think things have gone relatively smoothly so far. This job is very exciting to me as I do get to learn how to do something new basically every day and I feel like I’m starting to become fairly adept at the online world of business. I also enjoy that unlike a lot of jobs I get to do a lot of different things every day. No two days are the same and that variability keeps the job interesting and keeps my focus. 

My Schedule: I’m currently working around 25 hours a week give or take. The schedule that I have to follow is that every morning we have a team meeting at 9 am. There are usually around 6-10 people on the Daily Meeting and we do these over Zoom due to COVID. The protocol for the Daily Meeting is that Jon will start and everyone follows this short formula to check in with and update everyone else:

  1. What was done yesterday:
  2. What will be done today:
  3. Any Issues:

This is a really efficient way for Jon to quickly combat any issues that have arisen with the team and a good way to encourage collaboration with team members. I pretty much work on my own and then just report directly to Jon but I have heard a few things people have said in the Daily meetings and then subsequently reached out to them and asked for their help on some things and vice versa. It also encourages camaraderie within the team and allows for an outlet of social connection as most of us spend the day working on our laptops.

Here’s a screenshot of one of our Daily Zoom Meetings: 

The other part of my schedule that is structured is my weekly meeting with Jon. This also follows a very specific structure which makes sure nothing falls through the cracks and that we have addressed every issue or what’s going to be on tap for the next week. Here is the structure we follow:

For each project that I work on (the 3 businesses and then the production of content) I mark down what was completed last week, Jon and I talk that through in the meeting and then set goals to be accomplished for the next week. Then throughout the week as I go about my work I check goals off and add them to the section “completed last week”. This structure method allows me to know exactly what is expected of me for the week and gives us a model to follow in our meetings which allows us to be as efficient and effective as possible. 

Here is a photo of us during our last weekly meeting: 

After I complete the daily & weekly meetings, I typically start my day by answering emails. There are usually quite a few emails to deal with as I have three email accounts to check and respond to. Once I finish responding to emails I move on to completing the tasks I have for the week established by the weekly meeting. I work through these tasks starting with the ones that are deemed the most important and ideally finish all the tasks for that day when possible. 

That’s a pretty good overview on my job and what it involves. I will now take you through the process of establishing the starting point on the businesses I am running so that we can track growth and progress. 

Establish Starting Point: 

I have taken screenshots of the analytical metrics that I have deemed the most important and representative of what I wish to measure over the course of this project. Store A is listed first and Store B is second: 

Total Sales is a fairly general metric that simply establishes how sales were previously doing and ultimately determines how successful the business is. As of now I do not have a set final goal for percentage of total sales growth over the term of my contract and it’s not the most important metric to me as I am projecting that in the first few months of my post total sales will not increase too dramatically but then towards the end of my contract after I have put a lot of work into the websites the total sales will start to grow. However, this metric just paints the picture to you guys of where the store is at right now and ultimately sales and profit is the most important goal so it’s essential to include in the analytics that will be tracked. 

Online store sessions will be quite beneficial to improve for our stores if we can build a strong conversion rate. The fact of the matter is the more people see the website the more chances that sales will occur. A big focus for both stores during my contract will be implementing Paid trafficking using: Google Ads, Facebook and a few other sources. Once these paid trafficking campaigns are set I expect that online store sessions will increase dramatically and if not that’s a key indicator that those campaigns are not serving their purpose. 

As I mentioned we are venturing into Paid traffic for both sites and it will be very interesting to start to track where our sales are coming from and if paid trafficking is increasing revenue and ultimately profitable. By paying close attention to our sales by traffic source we have an insight into which Ad campaigns are effective and the portion of traffic our sites are getting from paid vs. unpaid trafficking measures. This is an important measure to pay attention to because the ultimate goal with every advertisement campaign and traffic driving measure we participate in is growing sales. If for both websites we can figure out which traffic sources are leading to the most sales we can capitalize on this and put emphasis on those traffic sources. 

Online store sessions by traffic source will help us to monitor our paid and unpaid trafficking and ensure that these measures are performing how we wish them to. 

Google Ads:

A big project that I have recently started is running a google Ads campaign to start increasing paid traffic. Jon set up a Google Ads account for one of the businesses and then I did some training on how to run a Google Ads campaign and we got started. I have learned that Google Ads are pretty simple to set up, however, it was time consuming inputting all of the information needed to run the ads. The campaign was a really good starting point and has given me a lot to improve with the business and some key points to focus on in order to make our google ads convert to sales. We did profit off the campaign with an ROI of 1.42 and are going to continue running it due to these results. The key takeaway from the Google Ads campaign is to improve the landing page of the website so we can increase conversions. Our ads received a large amount of clicks and grew visitors to our page but we failed to have a strong conversion rate which I’ve concluded is mostly due to our weak landing page. 

Ways to improve the landing page: 

-Higher Quality Photos 

-More Photos (50% photos, 50% words)

-Bundling products for sales 

-Improved FAQs & reiteration of it throughout landing page

-Incorporating more numbers and faces onto the landing page 

-Making the “Add to Cart” button a colour that pops! 

Here are the results of the 5 day Google Ads campaign: 

Biggest Wins so Far:

  • Making 3 vlogs from scratch; I have never Vlogged before so this was a success for me and I’m quite happy with the time and effort put into the vlogs and the output of quality received. 
  • Launching the Google Ads campaign and then a subsequent big win was having that ad campaign be profitable. 
  • I sourced two new products, built the product pages for them then put them live on the website, launched a marketing campaign for the two products and received sales for both of them in that same 24 hours 

Biggest Failures: 

When I first got handed over the project the one store was making a lot of sales but recently sales have dropped dramatically, I don’t really think that it’s anything I have done because any work I’ve done so far should be building the website up and contributing to greater sales however, it’s hard not to feel a bit dejected by the lack of recent sales. I’m trying to look at this as simply a reminder that there is a lot of work left to be done on the project and it is encouraging to kind of start from the bottom on a project. 

Another failure or we’ll just call it a challenge is that since I was handed off this project I did not start with a clean slate or from ground zero, I’ve had to deal with some customer issues that I just sort of got thrown into. I find it pretty challenging to mend and deal with these issues because I’m playing catch up the whole time, I didn’t initially handle the first customer interaction and I’m having to come up with solutions and also have to catch up on the entire situation. At times it’s hard to keep track of what all is going on but I think that ultimately it keeps the job interesting and shows me the flexibility that occurs with shopify businesses. For a lot of customer issues we do not have a set procedure and this is the case with almost any issue so for the most part I have to improvise and come up with a solution that is going to appease the customer while also maximizing or at least retaining the businesses profit. 

Goals for future: 

  • Improvements to all businesses landing pages to increase conversion rate= 3.25% for all three sites
  • Setting up google search ads & shopping ads and Facebook ad campaigns for all businesses 
  • Expansion of product lines for all businesses, reliance on one supplier shifted to multiple suppliers 
  • Weekly Sales for Business A and B at $2000 or more