Affiliate sites are one of the most profitable businesses you can run.
Once they’re up and running, they make money passively, are easy to manage, and are highly scalable.
But best of all, they’re able to be sold for up to 40x monthly earnings. Meaning, you can have a big payday when you decide to exit and sell the site.
The only downside is that it comes with a few big challenges, and a steep learning curve, especially if you’re a beginner.
In this post, I’ll share some of the biggest challenges that you should expect on your journey to building a profitable affiliate site, and some steps on how to overcome them.
Doing proper niche research
Here are some of the most common questions people (should) ask when starting new sites:
- What niche should you choose?
- Is the niche profitable?
- What’s the market size?
- How large can the site be grown to in terms of traffic?
- How large can the site be grown to in terms of revenue?
- What’s an optimistic target? What’s an aggressive target?
- What’s the competition like?
- Which affiliate and/or display ads programs are there for this niche?
These are all questions that you must be able to answer when considering which niche to choose.
And they’re all done through research.
Choosing the right niche is one of the most difficult parts of starting affiliate sites. Some people end up spending over a year just trying to choose a niche they can target (we definitely don’t recommend that).
The challenge is it takes a lot of prior experience to know what to research, what to look for, and how to spot opportunities.
What might seem like a good opportunity for a beginner may seem obviously bad to an experienced affiliate marketer.
If you’re a beginner, you also have to consider how capable you are of competing in each niche. In other words, you should try and find easier niches with less competition. An expert might be able to plan an affiliate site around a super competitive niche like credit card reviews. But a beginner would be better off targeting something much easier based around hobbies like fishing.
Niche research is only the beginning.
The deeper, most important part of the research phase is doing keyword research.
For 99% of affiliate sites out there, SEO is the main traffic driver. Paid traffic can work in some industries, but if you want a passive site with the highest profit margins, SEO is the way to go.
Therefore, when determining competition levels, what we’re really looking for is: How strong are competitors’ SEO?
- What keywords should you target?
- What keywords can you compete for when your site is still new?
- What keywords can you build money pages around?
Finding keywords you’re going to be able to rank for with a new site with a weaker backlink profile is one of the most important parts of building affiliate sites.
And it’s the part that people find most challenging and make the most mistakes around.
One of the most common mistakes is building a site entirely around ultra competitive keywords with super high search volumes. Big keywords always have big competition, and it’s impossible to compete with them when you have a brand new site.
Instead, you should be putting your efforts into creating money pages around low competition, long-tail keywords with a moderate search volume. You can still compete for bigger keywords down the line, but in the beginning, your main goal should be to start driving traffic from easier keywords.
Learning how to write high-quality content
So you’ve identified the right keywords. Now it’s time to write articles that target them.
Writing well is a difficult thing to learn. Proper grammar and sentence structure is only the beginning.
You have to learn what kind of content Google wants to rank, and how to optimize your article for your target keywords.
The most common challenge I see amongst beginners is knowing which on-page SEO strategies matter most, and which ones to focus on.
They’ll either over-optimize based on poor advice they read from a random SEO forum, or they’ll ignore optimization completely.
If you’re new to this, focus entirely on creating a great resource.
Help the reader, answer their question completely, and make your article be the end solution for whatever they’re searching for.
If you’re able to do that, you already won 90% of the battle.
The remaining 10% involves simply adding in your main keyword to your title, H1 tag, use LSI keywords throughout the article, and make sure to include your main keywords in frequently without excessively stuffing them in.
There’s more to on-page SEO than that, but these are the most important to pay attention to.
Learn what really moves the needle in building search traffic
Optimizing your article is only the first part of ranking on Google.
The next part is building backlinks.
Backlinks are what makes pages rank.
For most people, even experienced SEO’s, link building is the most challenging part of the entire process.
Getting other sites to link to you isn’t an easy thing to do. And if you want to do it the proper way, it takes a lot of trial and error to get right.
One common mistake people make is building massive amounts of weak, spammy links in an attem