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Affiliate websites journey - Implementing a serious and winning workflow

Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by ju111, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. ju111

    ju111 Junior Member

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    Hi all

    I present you a particular journey, aiming at being successful with affiliate websites. What is special with this journey, is that i will be focused mainly to establish the processes that would enable me to reiterate easily and semi-automatically a first success.


    Objectives


    - set a first website, winning more than 1500$/month
    - build the tools and processes to do a second successful website easily.

    Budget


    Almost illimited. I am ready to spend 4k or 5k on the content if it brings me $$$.


    What I did currently


    Ok, I work on this project since one month already. I published a Wordpress, with some articles, but I found the approach too slow, and difficult to be automated. So, I started to think, and to innovate...

    First step: Building an application for external writers

    My approach has been simple: hiring writers, giving them the keywords and the thematic, receiving the articles, checking each of them, request a lot of work. Many of us would do that with an Excel sheet to track everything, including the keywords that are used in the article. But quickly, it starts to be a mess.

    One of the problem is mainly for structured data. Each writer has its own way to enter data (such as product reviews, with rankings, etc.), which should be reviewed manually and not parsed automatically, which is a big problem for my goal. I want to be able to automate the full thing.

    What I did to tackle this issue has been to develop an application from scratch. You will find some screenshots to understand the principle. It enables to set up keywords, to enter information about the writers, the cost of each article, to offer an interface to the writer where he can write the article, with live statistics about the usage of the keywords, etc. And more: it enables to set-up easily forms so the writer can just fill the needed fields. Let's take a product review where the writer needs to enter the ranking of the object for instance according to different criteria, and set up an average calculated automatically, it would be very easy to do.

    NOTE : I dont plan to sold it, this is not the purpose of this thread.
    The last screenshot is the "writer view", eg the interface used by external writers to enter their article.

    wam1.png
    wam2.png
    wam3.png
    wam4.png
    wam5.png

    Second step: Bye bye wordpress

    The development of the "writer article management" application took me two weeks. During the development, I started to think about an easy way to export articles, to format them like I want, to present structured data easily with a fully customized way, and to set-up very quicly new websites for my future projects.

    I came to the conclusion that Wordpress is too complicated. With Wordpress, you don't have the full control of your website: you cannot develop quickly plugins or API you want, themes are just a mess to customize, etc. After a few tests and few reviews, I opted for a flat-file CMS called "GRAV CMS", which is perfect for my need.

    Main advantages:
    • to set-up a new website, a simple copy of files is enough. Time needed: a few seconds.
    • In addition, the CMS enables to develop plugins very very easily, without understanding all the classes of wordpress which are very complex.
    • No headache with .htaccess, with permalinks, and so one. It just works.
    • No articles. Everything is a page, and each page is a directory on your filesystem, with subdirectories. So you organize very easily your "tree", which is perfect for SILOs.
    • Lastly, the website accepts use TWIG as the template system, which is very good. And more: articles can be written with Markdown, then formated with a plugin or with TWIG. Which is just perfect for my reviews, as I just need to modify a few line to change the way all rankings and reviews are presented.
    GRAV CMS is well-documented, and it is not so difficult to develop exactly what you need for your websites, and templating everything that you will use on another website.

    Third step: Customize a theme


    The advantage of Grav CMS is that you don't have to select (and to pay) a Wordpress theme. But any HTML/CSS theme can be easily used. So, I choose one, and I customized it. I developed the needed elements onto Grav CMS to design a SILO structure, which is now fully automated.
    I set up the tree of my pages (infinite level if needed, there is no limit), and my code automatically presents the right menu on the sidebar. Easy and efficient.

    If I need to set up a new website, I just have to copy the whole directory and the new site is almost ready.

    Four step: Setting-up everything in music

    I have currently 4 freelancers working for me, writing articles. Weekly budget: ~50$. I have almost nothing to do: the articles are automatically well-formated, and in one-click I can post them on the website.

    Fivth step (ongoing)


    Many affiliation programs have strict rules that you need to comply with. The idea is to produce the code to comply with these rules automatically.
    For instance, on Amazon, the price and pictures need to be refreshed every 24h at least. I made a short plugin to do it using Amazon Product Service API.
    With Grav CMS and the library "apai-io" (search on Google), it took me 2 days. Done.

    I need to do the same for some other stuff requested by affiliation programs. This is ongoing.

    Sixth step: Implementing better features than Amazon (ongoing)

    While coding, I saw that I have the capacity to do some things that even Amazon or other vendors do not provide. An example: filtering products by their characteristics. Most of APIs are not well-coded, because their database is just a mess. If you already have played with Amazon API, you know it.

    Let's say that you are looking for all fridges (this is an example) which can fit a small space, you cannot. This is incredible. So, I developed some code to parse automatically all the descriptions of various APIs to get all details of any product, in a structured way. There are many example like this: colors of items, dimensions, weight, technical characteristics with are mostly in the description and not structured.
    The next step will be to offer to the customer a sortable table so the visitor will be able to select exactly the product he wants.

    Next steps
    • Reastically, I dont expect to be on the road of winning money before the end of the month as I need to finalize my full system. I can already interface with many vendors/affiliation programs.
    • The priority for me is to have all tools to work comfortably: I put the money on the table for the content, and the remaining things are done with a few clicks. I don't build an affiliation website, I build a factory of affiliation websites with reusable components. This is key for me.
    • I am sure that such process can beat a lot of competitors. Why? Because 99% of webmarketers fall into one of these categories:
      • They are not putting real money on the table, especially for content,
      • They are alone, which is linked to the first point.
      • They are technically limited by their knowledge or by the tools they are using. And believe me, Wordpress is limiting you indirectly by its complexity (find a good way to make a SILO website for instance... only shitty plugins).
    I hope you will enjoy this journey, and I will try to keep you posted :)
     
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  2. ju111

    ju111 Junior Member

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    It is time to update my journey!

    I remained focused since the start, which is the first good news to share with you guys, as this is by worst usual mistake to forgive too quickly.

    What I did the last month

    Ok, so let's start.

    • I have currently 2 very-committed freelancers. Girls. I found that they are working more seriously and with consistance, really. I had some issues with several freelancers: bad quality, not consistent, tried to trick the system, etc. Girls are easy to motivate. For one of them, I offered her some unexpected money for the good work, and for the other one, as she detected a big bug in my system, also some money. I think it is really important to keep a margin to be distributed to the people you hire, to keep them commited.
    • They are using my Article Management system.
    • I improved the system, with a lot of new features and bug corrections. It starts to be nice and reliable.
    • I reinforced a lot the rules related to keywords, so a writer cannot post the article until it does not comply with my own rules.
    • The system checks that the reviewed Amazon products (or others) are unique and not already in my database.
    • It is now fully multi-projects (it was needed to launch my new website).
    • As I was tired to explain how it works and how to use it, I writed a manual for the writers. I am still improving it on a daily basis. I will win a lot of time as the training of ghostwriters is a fucking shit.
    • My SILO website has now more than 40 articles. The design is ok. The SEO can be still improved. As I try to automate everything, this is not so easy (example: setting up hyperlinks to other parts of the website from within articles: I want to automate this, with a random function. Still not the case).
    • I started a second website after a keyword analysis. Time needed to build the website, design included: 30 minutes. Being far away from Wordpress and having a file-only CMS is so comfortable!
    Results

    The last time I wrote here:

    What a naive I was :) It will definiteley take time. Google is so slow, I am not sure why. And I didn't start to build backlinks yet. So I revised my objectives, and plan now to start winning some constant money by October 15.

    As I am working only on this the evening and the week-end (I have a real job...), everything is slow comparing to others here. But, I like the process I have set up for this project, and I am sure that most failure in SEO is just the lack of consistency to write articles. So, I tackled the problem. Hiring writers, explaining them what I want, checking the results, and publishing to my site is now partly automated. No need to review the format of the articles anymore, no need to explain what i want for the keywords, etc.

    Next steps
    • Start to contact blog owners for backlinks. I may try to automate this, as I already made such project in the past (finding contact info based on several criteria and sending an email). But I will not do this at the start, as I have some ideas to innovate.
      • As I am decided to invest some money, I may try to offer them a bottle of champaign, or something like that if they accept to publish an article with a link. More personal than money. I am sure a lot of people will smile, and some of them will say "oh, that's fun, okay".
      • The price for good backlinks is not really important. A good website stays for years, so a good backlink too. If it drives traffic or ranking, it is not expansive.
    • Make KPIs (Key performance indicators) to assess my progress (and report them here).
    • Improve the SEO of my websites, with automated stuff.
    Overall philosophy

    I am keep considering what I do like a company. I manage it like a company, with results, plans, and processes for the long-term. I like that!
    Ironically, without calculating and thinking about my methodology, I realized that I managed things with a kind of AGILE method. Short development cycles, and assessment of results.
     
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  3. ju111

    ju111 Junior Member

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    Another update.

    One freelancer chooses to stop working for me. I was sad, she was very competent and serious. I tried to raise me price, without success. This is life.

    I am pretty much interested by the psychological aspect of SEO. And as I start to discover this fantastic world, I would like to share my thinkings.

    • First thing: we need to be bitch to get backlinks. They are so hard to obtain! I read many posts where people pretend to get 3 guest articles per days. This may be true, but not when you start. When you have a new website, you are just a BITCH.

    • SEO is slow. You never see the results of what your are doing. You see them when you forget what you did. This is so true. This is very frustrating sometimes, as you need to focus on what you did to sleep correctly, and not on the results.

    • I am sure there is a precise tipping point: when your website starts to get a lot of visits. Each time you see a step in the graphics. I understand all people who just feel discouraged, it is really a predominent feeling! But this time, I will not drop anything. I am perfectly aware of all the steps, of the bad mood when two links are removed by Google, and good mood when two others are added. Monitoring each day the stats is really depressing.
    • Based on the last statement, I focus on the content, and just improve my website while starting to negotiate backlinks.
    • I have a good process because I coded everything during two months. And it is so fruitful today to fight the natural discouragment.

    So, I know that it is not a "dream-post" like all others, but rather a message to the beginners.

    IT IS A FUCKING HARD WORK.

    But not so hard technically. Hard in the psychology. It is like being blind and trying to move towards the exit. You cannot know if you are on the right path, and this fact only explains 99% of failure.
     
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  4. ju111

    ju111 Junior Member

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    Ok, so here is an update two months after my last post.

    What I did
    • Hire freelancers to write articles. Now, I have more than 70 articles, some of them are 1500/2000 words articles.
    • Bought some services and links.
    • Budget spent until today should be around 1500$
    • I reinforced some key pages of my site. I think I have been victim of "keyword dilutions", so I tried to reinforce the main pages.
    • The automated update of price from Amazon is now 100% functional.
    • SSL installation
    • Some backlinks.
    • Contacted Amazon to get some insights, asking concrete questions. No answer in one month. LOL.
    Results
    • I am on page 2 or 3 for 30 keywords.
    • No Keyword on page 1 yet.
    • Around 10 visits per day.
    • 1 Amazon sell: 0.86$ (LOL)
    How I feel

    I am now sure that SEO is a long-term game. I think my site has a good health. It is relatively new (4-5 months), so I think this is relatively normal not to have big results. Sometimes, I am discouraged, but that's ok: the motivation always comes back.

    I made a few mistakes however, I think:
    • Build a full system to write articles. Initially, I was sure to get benefits from it, with statistics etc. But currently, it has been a loss of time. Next time, I will do a Wordpress blog, and if I need a feature, I will develop a plugin. Clearly, there was too much work invested in the frameworks. I made a good system. But it is like having a Ferrari to drive in traffic jams: useless. I am pretty sure I almost implemented a system for big newspapers looking for contributions, but not for a blog.
    • My niche is restrictive, and I think it is a very big mistake. This is amazing because it has a LOT of searches, but it is very difficult to produce interesting content. I think this is the cause of the "keywords dilution". Even my writers have some difficulities to find new ideas, new angles, and new approaches to write the articles. This is a big problem.
    • Very difficult to get backlinks. Currently, I am win them one by one, I bought some others. But I am refraining myself to not buy the pyramidal 1-tier 2-tier of some providers. I prefer to be patient, but sometimes, it is tempting.
    But I continue. I think my site can still progress, and if it is the case, it will be a kind of jackpot due to the number of searches and products behind.

    Here it is! Many thanks for your comments, and sorry for my bad english :)
     
  5. ju111

    ju111 Junior Member

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    An update (yes, the project is not finished :)).

    My website is now ~6 months old.

    Results

    First, I am happy to say that since November 1st, I won 39€ through Amazon. Two sells, expansive ones, and the first ones. Good news! All my efforts start to pay.
    Several competitive Keywords are on page 2. No page 1 yet, but I still have 20 visits per day, which is huge for the niche.
    Likely, I can achieve 50€ per week before March 1st. Yes, it is a long term game.

    What i did since October 1st

    Not so much. I let the website takes some age. My freelancer is writing an article from time to time. That's it. No improvement so far.
    I ordered some backlinks services. But honnestly, I am not sure it provides something.

    My regrets

    Okay, I must admit it. I regret to have developped a full system/framework for this website. Now, as soon as I have an idea and I need to do a modification, it is a nightmare. Despite I am a good developer, I regret the technical choices I made. I should have focus on Wordpress. I was persuaded to make a better system, how naive I was!

    Best advice for others: choose the most simple solution despite the limitations this solution has. Be straight, be agile, and do not look for perfection. It never works.

    To be followed.... This thread is not finished, I am sure to reach page 1, and I am still targeting 200 visits per day with a lot of $$$.
     
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  6. vaduvescuv

    vaduvescuv Junior Member

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    Occupation:
    Graphic Designer
    One of my weakness.
    Well noted, thank you!
     
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  7. vsching

    vsching Power Member

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    I am a professional developer , interesting journey but over the years , this is the thing I realized ,always stick with the simplest method to do thing until it is necessary . Good luck to you . Op
     
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