It’s now been 6 weeks since Andrew Hansen launched his Forever Affiliate affiliate marketing blueprint, so I thought it was time to provide a progress report on how I’ve been doing with it.
Andrew Hansen’s Forever Affiliate Course Members Area
The first couple of weeks I spent just going through the course materials, familiarizing myself with Hansen’s approach to product research, site structure and layout, competition analysis and promotional techniques. There are quite a few videos in the course (about 60) so it takes time to go through them.
If you’ve been reading my recent posts you’ll know that I was humming and hawing about whether to sign up for the upsell (an expensive $497 MasterMind coaching) and that I eventually decided to go for it.
What the MasterMind coaching does is provide a structure around which to start using the basic Forever Affiliate course. Is it really needed for the basic course to be useful? No. The MasterMind coaching probably benefits newbies more than more experienced internet marketers as its broken down into six weekly steps.
Forever Affiliate MasterMind Coaching Members Area
Each step tells you what videos to watch in the Forever Affiliate course and sets goals and objectives for that week. In addition, there’s a webinar with Hansen each week along with some additional training not available in the basic FA course. This extra training is not necessary for success but simply provides some extra insight into why some things are done the way they are along with some insider tips and tricks you can turn to your advantage.
The MasterMind course was limited to 300 participants and then closed. I don’t know if it’s available as an upsell to the FA course in some form or other at this stage. However, I could see the videos and webinars being made available at some point in the future once the MasterMind course has finished.
I had intended building 3-5 test sites using the Forever Affiliate principles once the MasterMind course began 5 weeks ago. However, a nasty bout of flu laid me low for about a week and catching up on other work I couldn’t do when I was sick meant I lost about another week.
Building My First Forever Affiliate Site
Forever Affiliate sites are built using WordPress and WordPress plugins
So in week 3 of the MasterMind course, I researched and built my first Forever Affiliate site. I’m not going to link to the site here or say what it’s about as I want to track how the site performs over the coming weeks and months without results being biased by a link from an unrelated site (this blog) or curious visitors who might otherwise visit from this page. I want things to happen as naturally as possible with how the site does in the search engines.
The sites FA members build are product-based mini-sites, very similar in some respects to those laid out by George Brown in Google Sniper. What’s different is in how the main article is written and how sites are promoted through backlinking. That’s all changed since the Google Penguin and Panda updates and Hansen’s course takes full account of those changes and how to build backlinks in 2013 and beyond. It’s different to what I and probably most marketers have been taught in the past.
One of the things Hansen shows you is how to estimate the potential monthly earnings a product could bring. This is based on getting a high placement on page 1 of Google for your keywords. So a quick calculation will tell you if it’s worth spending your time on building a site to promote a particular product.
Sites must use 100% unique content
Another thing Hansen teaches is how to gauge the competition for the product, so again you’ll know whether or not it’s worth the effort of building a site. A lot of the early training is based around finding a potentially profitable product that has low enough competition that it’s worth spending your time building a site. So you don’t end up wasting time building sites that have no chance of ranking.
Adding Content To The Site
Hansen stresses that content must be 100% unique, especially for the main article on a site. And it’s better if all articles on a site are 100% unique and they must be long, at least 800 words. He also provides an article structure for you to follow so in a sense you’re writing to a formula. So you have two options:
- Write the articles yourself. This takes a lot of time, especially if you’re writing about topics you know nothing about.
- Outsource article writing. Hansen provides access to some of his writers who know exactly how to write articles that meet the Forever Affiliate standard. You’d have to train other writers to write articles in the same way. Articles cost about $10 each. With a suggested 5 articles per site, that’s a potential $50 spend per site just on content. However, getting articles written does mean your sites get built faster and you can devote your time to other tasks.
For my first site I decided to write all the content. It went through many revisions and I certainly spent more than $50 worth of time writing them, so in future I’ll be outsourcing my article writing. It’s an investment in my business and potentially could be a waste of money if a site doesn’t earn as much as expected. The successful sites should cover any such losses though.
It’s important to know that not every site you build will be a success. You’re in a competitive marketplace when building sites and it’s one that’s very dynamic so you can’t rest on your laurels once you get a successful site. If you’re not prepared to monitor your sites and live with some sites just not working out despite looking good at the outset, then this business is not for you.
Promoting Sites And Building Backlinks
Hansen has a specific strategy on how to build backlinks which I won’t give away here. It’s designed to provide Google, particularly, with backlinks that it sees as natural and meet its expectations of what backlinks should look like and where they should come from.
I’m now in week 3 of building my initial backlinks. The first month of a site is not about earning commissions from sales but building a low profile for the site that can be maximized at a later stage. This is a testing phase for the site to see what kind of traffic comes from those initial backlinks.
Another strategy Hansen teaches is to create Bing Ads to direct people to your sites. Adwords isn’t used because Google doesn’t like small-time marketers and you get slapped by $5 bids on keywords when Google don’t like you or your ads. Essentially, affiliate marketers have now been squeezed out of Adwords. Bing Ads is much more amenable to small time marketers. Plus you can get coupons for Bing Ads that will allow you to run ad campaigns for free (at least when you start out).
The idea is to spend about as much as you’d get in commission if you sold a product through your link. So make one sale and your ad costs are covered (assuming no coupon is being used). If you make no sales from ad clicks for your commission amount plus about 10%, then that’s a strong indicator that the product you’re selling isn’t actually going to sell and your site won’t be profitable. That may be down to the content on the site and changing that might fix the problem. Or maybe your ads aren’t telling people what they’re going to get if they visit your site and so the ads might need to be changed.
I’ve been running a Bing Ads campaign for my FA site for the last week. My keyword bids started small ($0.30) but are now at $0.90. Actual fees are lower (in some cases as low as $0.39). I’ve only had a handful of clicks so far so my spend is only a couple of dollars. No sales yet but I’ve had too few ad clicks to make any assumptions on yet.
I’ve been split testing ads to see which one (of two) is getting the most clicks, picking the better of the two and creating a second ad based on the first and seeing which does better. Rinsing and Repeating to get better performing ads.
However, my ad campaign seems to have stalled. I can’t get my ads to appear above position 6, and that’s after trebling the bid amount on my keywords. I’ll have to seek Hansen’s advice on this to see if I can get things moving.
Where I’m At
My first site meeting the Forever Affiliate criteria is up and has content on it. I’m actively building backlinks to site. This is a manual process during the first month and somewhat time consuming but most of this could be outsourced in the future. The number of visitors to the site is rising – I’ve had 21 unique visitors in the last 7 days whereas I only had 7 unique visitors in the first week of the site.
I’m also running a Bing Ads campaign to drive traffic to my site but that campaign has stalled and I need to figure out what to do to get a higher ad position and clicks.
The reason I’m doing everything manually with this site is so that I fully understand all the processes and strategies behind the FA formula. That way I can more easily create tasks I can outsource in future and know when an outsourcer is delivering what’s expected or not.
Future Enhancements To Site Promotion
Site promotion can be an expensive business. You can do a lot of it yourself, but it takes time and resources. Or you can outsource it, but it takes money. Hansen provides various resources where you can outsource link building once a site has proven its profitabilty. These are not to be used during the first month of a site’s life and not to be used on a site that has not proven to be profitable. These techniques are only used to boost a proven site.
That said, these techniques are expensive, typically costing $197 each for a link building campaign. There are 3 such resources provided but Hansen doesn’t suggest you use all three on a given site. Ideally, you should use the commissions you earn from your first few sales to fund a link building campaign, so you’re reinvesting in your business rather than putting up more capital at the outset.
Since this is a new way of building and promoting sites, there is an initial learning curve. Subsequent sites will involve quicker research and be built faster. Initial link building will still take 1 month though could be outsourced so my time could be put into more product research and site building.
I suspect there’s an exponential graph here with not many results being seen in the short to medium term but that then things will start ramping up pretty quickly. The trick is to stay the course through that first period, not get discouraged and switch to something else. Internet marketing requires work. There are no push-button solutions to making money online. But the potential rewards make the effort worthwhile.
So Forever Affiliate is a paradigm I’ll be sticking with over the coming months. I believe it has the potential to be successful, but that potential lies in the people using and applying the course, people like you and me.
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