I'm going to write a series of guides to help those of you just starting out with some of the basics, and some of the not-so-basics. This forum and others have been good to me, so hopefully this series will be useful to those trying to figure out how to get started. I'm going to talk about how I do things, and what has worked for me with affiliate marketing. I've been in the game for a little over a year, and in that time I've built up a full-time income stream that just keeps increasing. Question: How much time do you spend creating the content for your site? How much time do you spend on the design? Did you answer: As little as possible, I just throw up some 500 word article with my keywords, install a basic template, and then start building links? Yes? Guess what? Your site is shit. It doesn't deserve to rank #1. Every time you build a site, ask yourself if what you are contributing to the Internet actually deserves the ranking you want. If you build your site and hit #1, does it deserve to be there, or are you gaming the system to put up a shit site that is pushing down a better site than yours? This is the #1 basic mistake I see with most affiliate sites. People are in such a rush to make a dollar and get their site ranked that they don't stop and ask themselves if they are actually proud of the work they are doing, and whether it actually serves a purpose of helping other people while also making you money. If you begin work on your site with that mindset, then you'll not only have an easier time ranking your site, you'll be building a real business asset that you can sell down the road to someone who might be interested in it. I haven't ever listed a site on Flippa, but I've been approached by guys that actually take the time to find my registration details (which are all hidden with domains by proxy), and email me asking to buy my sites. I sold a 6 month old site a few weeks ago for a few thousand. It took me around 4 days to make the site, but it had damn good information on it, and it was ranked #1 for several XX,XXX searches/mo terms. It deserved to be there and was better than every other affiliate site ranked below me. Design Basics Find yourself a good WP theme from themeforest or similar sites. No, I'm not going to tell you which one I use, because I don't want a bunch of clones out there, however you can be successful with TONS of themes. You simply need one that is visually appealing and customizable. They're all around $30-40 and you can use them for every one of your sites. The one I bought allows me to easily change the color scheme of almost every page element, fonts, logos, etc... Photoshop: Learn how to use photoshop. If you are just starting out, you probably won't outsource logo and header design. If that's the case, you need to start learning how to be creative. Sometimes it's good enough just to have a nice looking font and a few basic graphics or images from the web (that aren't copyrighted). You can go out and download all sorts of cool looking fonts that fit with the theme of your site and will look 10x better than just putting up the basic text that your theme would do. If you want something great looking and can afford to outsource, I recommend logonerds.com and look on the forums for their discount code. You'll also need to know how to use photoshop so you can edit the images you insert into the site. Learn how to use the magic wand to make selections and remove backgrounds. If you want something awesome looking, learn to use the pen tool and make selections with that while zoomed in really close. Youtube is your friend for learning. Color Schemes: This is where I put on my pink hat and penny loafers. You should experiment with what colors work best together, and create good color schemes with your header texts/links/menus. Look at other well designed sites as examples. Design Summary: With a basic understanding of photoshop, a decent theme, and customizing your colors, you'll have a site that looks better than 99% of affiliate sites. If I were to show you one of my affiliate sites, it would look different than the vast majority of the ones you've seen because it looks professionally designed, or at least, it's not disgusting looking like most. Content Your content is what you are giving your site visitors in return for their clicking your link and giving you money. If your content blows, then you are just dumping shit on the internet and giving nothing of value in return for the money you make. Eventually, your site will be overtaken by someone like me who takes the time to properly research and review the products I promote. I even buy some of the best ones and do 'real' reviews. Ask yourself if you were interested in the product you are promoting, what would you want to know about it? Provide that to your readers and you will have given them something of value which you can be proud of. Better yet, you will make money. If it takes you a week to make a great site, that's better than cranking out 3 sites that suck in the same time period. You may even get organic links, likes, and +1's because people like your site. I know this because I created a site a few months ago that has over 1k likes naturally, and lots of organic links as well. It took me a week to build, and it banks hard. Title/H1/Desc Those are the 3 golden spots for putting your primary keywords. If you do that, and then sprinkle in some of your variations into your site's copy, you're fine. Don't bother with the 1%-3% micromanaging of your kw density and all of that nonsense. I used to pay attention to that and all of the SEOpressor guidelines, but now I just write, and it works. Just write GOOD content and be conscious of trying to use common keyword phrases where it makes sense. Don't force it or overdo it. Your links will take care of the heavy lifting here. Shoot for at least 500 words, but if you have more to say, say it. Also, make use of H2/H3 tags for either alternate wordings of your main keyword phrase or other important keywords. Your homepage can realistically target 3-6 large keyword phrases if you use your H2/H3 tags well. An example: Let's say you're trying to review sparkly dildos. Here is how I would set up the page: Title: Sparkly Dildo Reviews | Sparkly Dildos Desc: We review sparkly dildos to help you find the best one. If you're looking for sparkly dildo reviews, look no further! H1: Sparkly Dildo Reviews | The Best Sparkly Dildo H2: Sparkly Dildos vs. Black Monster Dongs H2: Are Cheap Sparkly Dildos Worth Buying? H3: The Best Sparkly Dildos on the Market See how I can easily target 5+ keyword phrases there? Summary If you can't tell by now, I'm a big advocate of creating real value with your websites. If you wouldn't be proud showing your work to a friend, how can you feel good about what you do? There's no need to trick people into clicking your links and promoting shady products that don't work. Everything I promote (mostly physical products) I believe in and research thoroughly for the content on my sites. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you're in the game to build a real business, or whether you're just clicking buttons and trying to make a buck any way possible. Me? I'm building a business, and my assets are my sites.