Over the past few weeks I’ve been researching another area of Internet Marketing, paid advertising. Although building niche websites is extremely fun and challenging, I’m also attracted to the allure of promoting affiliate offers through paid advertising. Those are the guys who make the BIG bucks at internet marketing, because they test, track, test, track, test, track, optimize, and scale.
Traffic = $$$
In order to make money off an affiliate offer, you need to direct traffic to it somehow. Building a website doing SEO is the long slow way, and buying traffic is the fast way.
Introduction To Paid Advertising
Buying traffic is a tough business to get into. You have to master a wide variety of skills and be willing to invest cash into developing those skills until you get good enough to start turning a profit. The thing with paid advertising is that you will definitely lose money before you master the craft and start earning a profit. You might even lose thousands of dollars learning how to craft a successful campaign and replicate and scale it to make a lot of money. In order to become successful at running paid advertising campaigns, you have to split test, gather data, and optimize constantly. I plan taking a shot at running paid campaigns eventually, but for now I’m still focusing on growing my niche website income. That will be my cash flow to use when I try my hand at paid campaigns.
The Benefit of Paid Advertising
Since you are buying your traffic rather than pulling in organic traffic, you can get a lot more traffic and data to study a lot faster. Faster testing & optimization equals faster results. You can start a campaign and hours later have data to study and make optimizations based off of. When you build a new niche website, you have to wait at least weeks, and usually months before you have enough regular traffic to start testing out conversion rates and other site optimizations.
The Basic Life Span of a Paid Campaign
A successful paid advertising campaign usually starts off losing money while you test and gather data. Then you split test, study the data, run more tests, and ultimately use what works the best. The important thing here is that the optimization is based purely off data, not off guesswork. Only after a campaign is properly optimized will it start earning a profit. Once a campaign is earning a profit, you can scale it until you max out the available traffic, and let it ride until it starts to slow down and not be profitable any more. Sometimes you can revive the campaign for a while but most campaigns have an end, then you move on to other campaigns you have going.
The Downside of Paid Advertising
The downside is that to keep earning money, you need to actively be building and testing new campaigns. It’s a lot of work and it never ends. While it’s true that you can make a lot of money doing this, it’s not passive at all.
Applying What I’ve Learned From Paid Advertising Campaign Testing
I was sitting there thinking about all that I learned about optimizing paid advertising campaigns, and realized that I could apply the testing, tracking, and optimization techniques taught by the masters of paid traffic to my latest successful niche website. There’s probably a lot of money in commissions that I’m leaving on the table just because I haven’t tested, tracked, and optimized my website based off DATA. I’ve made a lot of guesses, but now it’s time to take the optimization to the next level.
It’s the aspect of highly controlled testing and data collection that I want to start applying to my own niche sites.
I plan on testing a whole lot of things that I will outline in detail as I do it. A few of the things I’ll test are color changes, ad placement, affiliate link placement, sidebar content, and image differences. I’ll be running A/B split tests, recording and studying the data, then optimizing based off the results.
Quick Background On my Niche Website I Will Be Using
The niche website that I will be using as a case study for this series has been around for a while now and receives pretty steady traffic. It earns commissions regularly so I know the niche and the site have proven themselves to be a winner. While I’m not going to reveal my website URL or niche for obvious reasons, I will write as detailed posts as I can about what I do, how I do it, and what results I get. This is new ground for me, so who knows what’s gonna happen.
My Basic Steps
I’m just writing all of this down as I think it through for the first time, so here’s a high level view of what I am going to do.
- Plan out my strategy, tools, what data I want to collect, and what different things I should run A/B testing on
- Set up my testing and reporting infrastructure
- Run my first batch of tests, collect data on current state of the website, record key statistics that I’ll measure improvement by
- Make a single controlled A/B test
- Study Results, keep the best option, run another A/B test, repeat
My goal with all of this is to improve my revenue on my website through data driven testing and optimization. I bet if I keep at it I can increase the site’s earnings by quite a bit. My other goal is to develop and document an optimization procedure that I can use on all of my websites to increase their revenue to the maximum. I want to get as much as I can out of each website.
You know there’s tons of people out there doing case studies on how to build a profitable niche site, but I couldn’t find any high level info on optimizing a niche website after it’s successful. People go over a few basics, but I want it taken to the next level. They say write what you would want to read, well here it is! I hope you enjoy and it helps you too.
The best part is that unlike the paid ad campaigns, my site will be pulling in “passive” income and I can step away from it further and it will keep performing. Now I can’t ignore it or it will wilt and die eventually too, but it’s a lot more hands off than a paid campaign. Once it is optimized to it’s potential, it will keep running like a well oiled machine for a long time, especially if I keep adding fresh content regularly. It will be nice knowing that I’ll be getting the best results for my efforts when I post a new piece of content.
If all goes well, this will be a process that I do with each website that starts to get enough traffic and earn enough commissions to warrant putting in the effort and time.
So that’s it for now, I’m gonna start strategizing and I’ll post again when I have some more to write about!
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