Creating a Small Niche Affiliate Site – Part 1

Not every site I personally build is in a big niche with goals to be the uber site of its industry. While all of the sites I make through MFE aim for that, every once in a while I get bored and spend some time creating a new small affiliate site in a small niche and do most of it myself to keep myself on my toes.

A few weeks ago while searching for something for myself personally, I stumbled across an industry which is mostly e-commerce dominated, but without a lot of truly skilled SEOs in the space (at least that I could see).

A quick look at some keyword research in Raven told me this arena of the web had quite a decent amount of traffic. A bit more searching told me it also had more than a handful of affiliate programs I could use to monetize a site and that there were a lovely herd of advertisers bidding on the keywords through Adwords (read, so I can also monetize with Adsense).

At that point, I decided to build a site for this niche as my newest small “anti boredom” project (when you start dealing with a lot of huge, branded sites, frankly, you miss “the game” and the “fully hands on” that smaller niches provide you with – or at least I do).

I have a lot of these types of sites going. I *like* still being on the front line. Sometimes they fail (usually because I get bored and stop working on them), sometimes they make a grand or two or three or more a month and I’ve sold several of them a few years down the line to merchants who would make much more money from them then I can for the high ten figures and low six figures range after making the monthly income for a few years.

With small niche sites, you really never know what you’re going to end up with. Guess we’ll have to wait and see with this one.

Time spent on individual task: 30 minutes

Total time spent: 30 minutes

Money spent on individual task: None (I already have a subscription to Raven)

Total money spent: None

 
So I bought awesomekeywordkeyword.com the other day and threw it up on one of my hosts with a unique IP.

Time spent on individual task: 5 minutes

Total time spent: 35 minutes

Money spent on individual task: $10.69

Total money spent: $10.69

 
I spent some time installing WordPress (blocking the site from the engines while I was at it) and Thesis on my new domain – picking out my typical “default options” and set-up that I personally like to use. No design customizations were done aside from deciding general layout options and the like (such as setting it to have a static homepage).

Time spent on individual task: 1 hour

Total time spent: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Money spent on individual task: None (I own a developer’s license of Thesis)

Total money spent: $10.69

 
Next up was doing more in-depth keyword research in Raven, setting up the site and tracking of the keywords I’d be aiming for so I’d have a better idea of how I’d want to wire-frame the site (which means how I will want to set up categories, topics, URL structure, IA, etc).

Time spent on individual task: 1 hour

Total time spent: 2 hours, 35 minutes

Money spent on individual task: None

Total money spent: $10.69

 
I then went to Commission Junction and Shareasale and did some searches for affiliates within the topic. There were a dozen or so to choose from, but I signed up for two via CJ and three via Shareasale. I picked the programs ranking at the top within the niche – in my head, their ranks must mean they have good products that people want, so they seemed like safe bets without having to do a ton of research. I’ll get into figuring out who gets the most promotion and why later. Right now it is simply about making sure I have some programs, some datafeeds (even if I don’t end up needing them) and some creatives.

Time spent on individual task: 30 minutes

Total time spent: 3 hours, 5 minutes

Money spent on individual task: None

Total money spent: $10.69

 
Next up I grabbed the keyword research from Raven of the terms that I deemed to be important and printed them out. They’d be the basis for the wire-frame. I simply went into WordPress and started creating blank pages.

Ex: http://www.awesomekeywordkeyword.com/privacy/
Ex: http://www.awesomekeywordkeyword.com/about/
Ex: http://www.awesomekeywordkeyword.com/a-main-topic/
Ex: http://www.awesomekeywordkeyword.com/a-main-topic/sub-topic/

For now, I’m simply trying to get all the pages I think I need created – but I’m not putting any content on them – I’m simply creating the pages so I can in turn create navigation on the front end, figure out what needs to go where, write Thesis hooks later for specific sections as I develop the site and for various other reasons.

I’m only using pages within WordPress to develop the site – I’ve yet to decide if the site will have an actual blog or not. But I’m learning towards “not” but instead having an article section with a few core, strong linkbait pieces. Right now those are created as “Linkbait 1″ etc. Anything done for the wire-frame is subject to change, but for the most part, it will be how I currently envision the site.

Time spent on individual task: 1 hour

Total time spent: 4 hours, 5 minutes

Money spent on individual task: None

Total money spent: $10.69

 
Next I went to another site I own that happens to be in a related – though not directly competing – industry. I added a range of site link to my new site in a place that made sense targeting my main keyword. If I didn’t have a related site, I’d have used my contacts and networking to find someone who did and beg or plead for a link – whether it be range of site or even a single link (if their site is related, I would promise them the most awesome guest post once I launched the site).

Time spent on individual task: 10 minutes (lost the WP password)

Total time spent: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Money spent on individual task: None

Total money spent: $10.69

 
I’m stopping now for the moment. I’ll post again about it the next time I work on it a bit more.

Edited to add:

See Creating a Small Niche Affiliate Site – Part 2.
See Creating a Small Niche Affiliate Site – Part 3.
See Creating a Small Niche Affiliate Site – The End.

About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Sugarrae runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

If you’re someone who doesn’t understand a lot of PHP, Genesis will give a ton of functionality that you wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise with a simple control panel instead of having to alter code. For the advanced, Genesis has incredible customization possibilities via Genesis hooks.

The theme is not only highly customizable, but it has allowed me to run Sugarrae more professionally, with a much more targeted focus on monetization than it ever has been able to achieve before.

You can find out more about Genesis below:

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