My content’s predictable summer crash and how I’m overcoming it this year.
Takeaways from some research on content audits. Looking at your website and your competition’s content to assess what articles you need to be building out for your niche.
Whenever I’m trying to gain some recognition for a young business, I put someone on my marketing team in charge of finding some low cost opportunities to promote the business online. That person performs a deep dive into our content niche and sources opportunities to find backlinks, get mentions on other pages, build connections with others in the industry, etc. It’s a time consuming effort, but in the long run it’s so worthwhile.
Take a simple backlink for example. In this graph, check out those two spikes. That’s from when we had new backlinks live from good authority sites. Even though our traffic dropped back down, consistent links and mentions over a long period of time will build up our own recognition in the industry, reputation in the niche, and our website’s authority.
A lot of the time, backlinks and mentions aren’t free. Leaders in the industry and high authority website owners are savvy to their power, so they’ll often charge a fee for that outbound link. This can range anywhere from $50 to $1000+ depending on the site. It depends on things like their traffic, the page that the link is going on, if you’re asking for an image or other content to accompany that link, etc. Sometimes you can get lucky, or you have a buddy with a high authority site that owes you a favor, but, more often than not, this is one more thing that you’ve gotta work into your marketing budget. (P.S. Don’t spend $1000 on a backlink.)
And then we tried something new.
Nowadays, it seems like every guy and his cousin run a podcast out of their garage. (“Hey, we are geniuses about Bill Murray movies and classic rock history—let’s start an Americana Movie & Music podcast!”) An April 2018 news article from Fast Company states that there are currently “over 525,000 active shows, with more than 18.5 million episodes available, including content in over 100 languages.” In the world of business, digital media, and marketing, there are literally thousands upon thousands of podcasts available. Plus, most of those include interviews with leaders in the field. So, with this in mind, my brain started spinning some ideas:
- Those podcast episodes are always published to an associated website, with a backlink to the guest’s website.
- Podcast appearances look great in a media kit.
- There have got to be people out there, already in some podcasting networks, who can help us get connected to podcasters.
I had to test it. So I took to UpWork (my favorite place to find freelancers) and posted a couple of jobs. This was an initial trial, so we wanted to cover all the bases; we needed someone with some podcasting experience, maybe some PR experience, and digital media connections. Here’s the strategy: Offer this ideal person $50 for whatever podcast they can get us booked on. For someone who’s in a network of podcasters, it’s easy money.
After a couple of hours, there was radio silence (pun intended). 24 hours went by–still crickets. So I started actively searching on UpWork for freelancers who fit the description. I just searched for terms like “podcasting”, “podcaster”, “PR”, etc. A ton of people with good looking experience showed up right away. I invited them all to the job, and within about a day I had a few people working away! I asked them to look for podcasts that were specific to our field (in this case, ‘digital marketing’, ‘entrepreneurs’, and ‘start ups’, etc.).
The person doing this outreach usually has a tracking system, like this spreadsheet, where they can keep a record of everything. It’s a good way to make sure they’re following up with opportunities, getting things booked on schedule, and take notes of any new ideas.
Two months later, we’ve recorded FOUR podcasts! There are a few of these ‘podcast specialists’ working for us, actively seeking new shows for us to record on, and they’re happy to get $50 per booking. It’s perfect for us, because they do all the time consuming work, then we get our company name out there at a low cost, with in depth interviews about our company’s origin story. We also get to add a new podcast appearance to our media kit, which looks great. Plus, we get a backlink from the podcaster’s website. All this for $50 each.
This podcast hack has gotta be one of my favorites. If you give it a shot, leave me a comment about your experience!
Setbacks are a part of any business and mine is certainly no different. The best kind of setbacks I have found are ones where as a result of the setback we identify a new opportunity and the business/systems come out the other end stronger than before.
That was certainly the case when it comes to my Amazon FBA business that I sold and shortly after had my Amazon Associates account suspended (You can read all about that and what some of your options are here if your amazon associate account was closed).
My FBA business was launched off the back of an Affiliate site that was making about $1k/month and then grew both the affiliate and FBA business to $10k/month with the affiliate site adding $3k of that.
With the loss of the affiliate income we had a BIG problem…how would it still make sense to drive traffic to Amazon if we were loosing out on the 8% affiliate commission? (more…)
Today’s post I get into the weeds of how to analyze an affiliate site you either own or are considering buying to convert to an Amazon FBA model.
Basic Strategy – What the heck am I talking about?
This strategy is the basic strategy I followed to build and sell an Amazon Affiliate Site and Amazon (Fulfilled By Amazon / Private Label Product) business in 8 months with a 530% return and made $334k including sales price and net earnings. See the full case study here – how to sell Amazon FBA business.
- Step 1 – Build or buy an affiliate site that is generating sales of a product you believe you can source and private label yourself
- Step 2 – Start an Amazon FBA business leveraging your affiliate website to drive traffic to your sales page.
What if you own an affiliate site and are considering using it to build an FBA Business? Although a lot of the details in this post talk about considering the FBA model when buying a website, the information below is the same approach you would use if you own an affiliate website already and are looking to convert it into an FBA business.
What I Will Share in This Post:
- How to analyze the potential of an affiliate site for an FBA business
- A – 10 Point Checklist Weighted Average Matrix to evaluate if the site could work
- B – How to get and analyze the data to estimate potential sales driven by affiliate site
- C – Assumptions to use based on my experience to gauge the impact Amazon organic sales will have
- Run the numbers (what is the expected net profit for the FBA business?)
- Spreadsheet I use to do this analysis – Free Download (Completed for One fake Site)
- A clever/slight twist on the Affiliate to FBA conversion model
ONE – How to analyze the potential of an affiliate site for an FBA business
A – 10 Point Checklist and Weighted Average Matrix To Evaluate Multiple Opportunities
Whether you own the affiliate site or are looking to buy one here are 10 key questions including their weighting in order of importance(from my perspective) to help evaluate the potential opportunity.
- Product can be easily sourced
- Not a restricted product (weapon, ecig, liquor, uranium)
- Similar Private Label Product Selling on Amazon
- Website Focused on a specific product
- Price point of product $20min to $40+ ideal
- Target $3k/month minimum amazon associate income
- Product is small/light (not oversized & cheaper shipping)
- Traffic Growing
- Industry Growing (easy to check with Google Trends)
- Backlink Profile & Risk
B – How to get and analyze the data to estimate sales
In order to determine the size of an opportunity, there is some critical data that is needed.
The key question we are trying to answer with this step in the process is…
“How many sales of a similar product to the one we could source does this website drive per month?”
This is a key piece of the equation when working on the next step.
So here are the detailed step by step instructions.
- Get the data – Login to Amazon associates account, go to reports, click on download reports, select max relevant date range and all associate tags attached to one website, download report
- Slice the data up using some excel tricks – Open the spreadsheet in Excel, sort all the orders by the date, create a pivot table with (filter on for relevant categories, row label = names, values = sum of items shipped). This pivot table will now show you how much of every product the site has sold. The next step is to copy that pivot table into a new tab and paste it as text then filter on the quantity so you can see the number of each unit that has been shipped starting with the most.
- Group the data based on the type of product you could replace – Based on looking at this table make some assumptions on the number of a similar product
Simplified Example – Download the template at the bottom of this post
The result for this step is that we can say in our fake example that our website sells around 500 3D Printing Pens in the given time period (for the purposes of this example assume 1 month)
C – Assumptions to use based on my experience
Back when I first launched my affiliate site to FBA case study I shared several assumptions I made well before I knew if they would be true. Some held and some didn’t, however based on a very small sample size here are the assumptions I am using to evaluate a sites potential…
TWO – Run the Numbers – What is The Potential Profit?
For this section we just punch the numbers we have collected into the summary tab on the spreadsheet and it provides a very rough approximation of what kind of volume and net profit the business is going to do.
YES – I know this is simplistic and there are many ways to get into more detail (which I do in the template) but when evaluating any potential opportunity this is great way to start!
So after this analysis a Printing Pen (no I didn’t check if any of these numbers were reasonable) would be able to generate an additional $4k/month net profit if the little affiliate site added an FBA arm to it.
THREE – Spreadsheet I use to do this analysis – Free Download (Completed for One Site)
To get the same template I used to do my analysis on this “fake” site for the post or many other potential acquisitions simply click on the link below…[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’https://www.dropbox.com/s/6oy780twlcl0gzu/FBA%20Business%20Model%20Analysis%20-%20PUBLIC.xlsx?dl=0‘ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Download Template[/thrive_link]
FOUR – What About Buying Both an FBA Business and Complimentary Affiliate Website
Slight Twist – Eric from DigitalStrats made the interesting suggestion that flipping the model would deal with a few of the downsides of my suggested model… meaning buy an FBA business and then add on acquiring Amazon Affiliate sites in the space. This would result in a much faster return on the investment since you would see the increase in earnings immediately. There are 3 main downsides to this model I currently see…
- The time until you realize your return is higher… as soon as you point a related affiliate site at your FBA business you will see the benefit.
- If you can acquire both your probability of success for the overall investment goes up vs acquiring just one. This is mainly due to there being fewer unknowns that could derail the business.
- Total investment required would be more substantial
- The ability to find complimentary affiliate sites and FBA sites all willing to sell is tricky
- The return on your investment is lower than if you completely added the FBA side potentially
I hope me sharing this method and spreadsheet for quickly evaluating the potential is helpful to some of you. Although one of my recent migrations is not going as planned I still strongly believe in this model and am looking forward to continuing to test it out.
Here are some additional resources:
- How to start an Amazon Affiliate website
- Buy a starter Amazon Affiliate Website or buy an already money making website
- Staying compliant with the Amazon Affiliate disclosure requirements (and free plugin)
If you are doing anything cool in this space please let me know I always like connecting and learning.