More link building

This whole post will be a TL;DR:

  • Today, I submitted 2 guest posts to sites with domain ratings of 33 and 51. One has already been published (branded anchor text linking to my homepage) and the other one will be published on Wednesday (exact match anchor linking to my drones review page.)
  • I expect to publish another 2 posts (this time linking to my smartwatches page with non-exact match anchors) on another couple of sites with domain ratings of 41 and 42 over the next couple of weeks. I’m a bit concerned about being too aggressive building links, so I’m trying to spread out the publish dates.
  • My freelance designer has finished my infographic and I plan to teach my apprentice how to run the outreach campaign for it.
  • I will write more content today and tomorrow and continue doing outreach, so I can have content that’s already good to go once people accept my proposals.

P.S. I’m happy to see the slope of my Twitter followers become a bit steeper.

P.P.S. I’m ashamed to say my Spanish writing skills were a bit rusty, but it’s amazing how much doing something regularly can dramatically improve your results in a short period of time.

Starting to hustle hard

TL;DR:

  • Started a guest blogging outreach campaign targeting medium-level blogs (DR around 50.)
  • Finally hired someone to help out, training him right now but I hope to see results soon.
  • Facebook still sucks.

 

Time to get hustling

My affiliate site’s traffic has been flat for too long and it’s driving me crazy. This blog is being effective at keeping myself accountable—I hate seeing those pathetic graphs on the homepage.

(Not that what’s been going on in my country has helped my productivity, but I’ve realized that I’m not really accomplishing anything by maniacally checking Twitter. From now on, as long as I know that my family is safe, I’ll try to focus on doing valuable stuff.)

I also hired someone to help out part-time. It’ll be interesting to see the results of effectively doubling the amount of work being done towards growing the site. I still need to train him but I hope that, in a month or two, we can get to a point in which he has enough knowledge to generate as much or more value than me.

Link building

I’ve noticed that a bunch of blogs in Spanish are open to guest blogging and people using that as a way to build links as long as they provide value, so I started an outreach campaign targeting a bunch of these. The lowest DR of these is 46 and the highest is 60, so a pretty good group. I plan to write these posts myself to establish my reputation and use that as a reference for future campaigns. I’ll build branded links to my homepage using my posts on these sites.

As for links to my product-review pages (those that contain Amazon affiliate links), I struck a content partnership deal with a couple of Venezuelan media sites. My freelance writer is already working on the content.

I also hired a designer who is working on an infographic which I’ll use for a different outreach campaign – one that I want my apprentice/intern to run.

On a sorta different topic, I’m interested in structuring my site’s content in silos around each main niche and link internally, but that’ll have to come a bit later.

Facebook sucks

My personal ad account was disabled fo-eh-vah. Here’s what they sent.

I created a new account Facebook business account for my new site. That one got disabled as well but at least not for life – I appealed the decision and I’m waiting for an answer.

Maybe I’ll get myself banned from Twitter too

Still doing the same thing, just not happy with a growth of ~5 followers per day. I picked up the number of people I’ll follow to 100 per day—a bit risky but whatevs, the worst the could do is ban me for life, and it’s not like that hasn’t happened to me already.

I might add Twitter traffic to my tracking graph.

Facebook took down my ads :(

TL;DR:

  • Facebook took down my ads, and I really don’t know why. There was no explanation besides a link to their Advertising Policies.
  • Finally got around to setting up the Facebook Pixel and AdWords remarketing tag.
  • Drafted content for an infographic and I’m interviewing a couple designers.

Facebook ads

I’ve never really liked Facebook Ads.

The advertising part of it is great. They are inexpensive, the possibilities for segmentation are far better than anything else out there, and average time spent on site for Facebook users is ridiculous.

But I’ve always found the interface for advertisers to be unintuitive, slow and buggy. Ironic, considering that’s how they make their money.

Today, I saw that the CPC on my campaign had gone down ($0.30) so I decided to invest a bit more and put up another version of my ad.

About 30 minutes later, I received a notification that my ad was not approved, and my live ad was paused as well.

Now I have to wait for them to get back to me.

Will try out guestographics for link building

I’m planning to run a link building campaign using a combination of Brian Dean’s guestographics process and the outreach framework described by the guys from Authority Hacker.

Already came up with an infographic topic, drafted the content, wrote design specifications, and I’m interviewing a couple of designers.

About prioritization

I probably should’ve set up remarketing pixels way back. However, I feel like this whole idea of getting things perfect before visitors arrive at my site is flawed.

Why would I do things that don’t help me drive traffic when what I need is traffic? I’d rather do things that solve my immediate needs first and then fix what’s broken along the way.

That’s why I waited until yesterday to create my first content upgrade and until today to set up remarketing pixels/tags.

I still sometimes find myself doing some stupid tasks that don’t matter right now, but I try to avoid that.

Solving the cookie duration issue with Amazon’s Aff Program

TL;DR:

  • Designed a content upgrade for the post I’m promoting via FB ads (it includes aff links to increase the likelihood of receiving attribution.)
  • De-indexed my post listings page.

I’m getting a really good CPC on my FB ad (around $0.40 per click). Still have not seen any affiliate commissions come in, but I think it’s worth it to keep it going a bit longer. I plan on creating other versions of the ad tomorrow.

Amazon’s cookie duration is only 24 hours after the visit, which doesn’t seem very long. That’s why I’m more worried about solving the cookie duration problem right now than I am about the performance of the ad.

I decided to use content upgrades as a way to solve this.

I compressed the guide into a simple and attractive PDF presentation (first time using Canva – pretty cool) my visitors can download. The catch is that I included my affiliate links in there too, so if they decide to think about it and get the products later, I have a higher chance of them clicking through my links (increasing my odds at getting attribution for the sale.)

Also, I get people’s email addresses which is always a plus.

Unrelated, but I also had to de-index my site’s post listing page. Turns out that the GetLeads theme just lists the full blog posts instead of an abstract, and it does it using h1s for the post titles on the list. This produces a whole lot of h1s in a single page and could cause duplicate content issues for me in the future. I’m feeling really bad about my choice of theme now.

Segmentation Experiment

TL;DR: Published a new post on “The best gadgets for first time mothers” and set up a FB ad campaign for it.


I was reading The Boron Letters a few weeks ago. A whole chapter of it is dedicated to how to segment consumers for mail-order ads.

It was pretty cool to learn just how specific ads could be decades ago. Gary Halbert did with traditional marketing what other people only started even imagining when digital marketing became a thing: he drew very specific segments and ran data-driven experiments on these segments. Hell, he was even able to estimate and then verify the exact ROI of his marketing investments.

This was in 1984.

Now I realize just how lazy most traditional marketers were/are. It was just easier to use the “marketing is an art” excuse than to actually figure stuff out.

But I digress…

I got an idea to not only use categories where there is relevant volume but to try out the intersection of these:

  1. Categories with relevant volume
  2. Categories with consumers who typically spend a lot of money
  3. Categories that are deeply tied to a relevant life event

What did I come up with?

First-time expecting mothers and first-time parents.

(I still can’t figure out if I’m a terrible person because of this.)

I asked my freelance writer to work on this post a couple of weeks ago and just got it today.

It took me about 1 hour and a half to upload it to WordPress, format it, add images, and add the affiliate links. What a pain in the ass – I really need to do something about this.

Decided to test getting traffic via Facebook ads (which allowed me to target this very specific segment so easily, it’s actually scary.) Didn’t set up any fancy stuff like split testing ads or anything, just want to see how this performs for a day or two before investing time on that.

Sidenote: it looks like I found an apprentice. I’ll probably kick things off with him this weekend.

Growing Twitter

TL;DR: Automated a bunch of tasks to grow the site’s Twitter account.


I put up a graph that plots Twitter followers and following vs time but had not had time to explain why.

I recently took Nat Eliason and Justin Mares’ online course on how to become a technical marketer and thought it was pretty cool. In there, there is a whole section about creating a Python app hosted on Heroku that can automatically perform tasks to grow a Twitter account.

I’ve noticed a bunch of companies in my niche (consumer teach) also leverage social media to drive traffic. Even though this is mostly an SEO game, I think it’s better to not put all your eggs in one basket. Plus, if I wait to build a social media presence from scratch later on, I’ll regret not having started sooner.

So, because I figured I could automate most of this and still work mostly on SEO stuff, I went for it. It took me about 2-3 hours total to learn and set all of this up.

I mostly use my Twitter app to:

  • Follow groups of people every day. Since my Twitter account is starting from scratch, I’m only following 30 accounts per day at this point but I plan to increase that as the account grows.
  • Follow back people who follow my account.
  • Batch unfollow people who don’t follow me back. This one is not automated, I actually run it manually once a week. You’ll notice when that happens on the graph.
    • This is behavior for unfollows is not ideal, but it’ll do for now. I plan to figure out a way to unfollow people based on cohorts. For example: unfollow them if they don’t follow me back after 5 days of me following them.

I use a combination of Google Sheets, Zapier, and Buffer to:

  • Schedule evergreen tweets about the content on my site.

I use Quuu, Zapier, and Buffer to:

  • Schedule relevant content about the niche from other sources. Since Quuu only sends content in English, I use Zapier to translate the tweets – the translation is not of the greatest quality, but it’s good enough and saves me a lot of time.

I’m hiring an apprentice

TL;DR: I don’t have enough time so I decided to hire someone to help. Just made the decision, haven’t hired anyone yet.


I’ve decided to hire an apprentice to help me out with the project. Few reasons why:

  • It’s cheap and a lot more things will get done. Right now, I don’t have enough time to dedicate to growing my site.
  • I took an apprenticeship program myself and it was the single most valuable thing I’ve done for my career (for reasons I’ll probably write about in another place, the log is not really for that.) I hope I can do that for someone else.
  • Things are not going great for people in my country. A lot of people have lost their jobs because of the economic crisis, so I plan to hire someone from Venezuela. I think it would be positive if I can help at least one person earn some cash in a strong currency and get marketable skills they can use to get a job outside of the country.

I have someone in mind but have not hired him yet. I talked to him over text messages and sent a proposal over email a couple of hours ago, we’ll see how it goes.

First entry

TL;DR: Trying to make money via the Amazon Affiliate model.

  • Picked consumer tech reviews in Spanish as a niche.
  • Built the site on WordPress.
  • Published 3 posts on drones, smartwatches, and e-readers.
  • Built 5 links to the drones post via guest blogging.

This will probably be the longest log entry of all. I started a side project about two months ago, so this first post will explain what my side project is (in broad strokes) and what I’ve done to date (as best as I can recall.)

If you want to know why I’m doing this – no, not the side project, but why I’m documenting all of this – I’ll write about it a little later.

What is the side project?

About three months ago, I started listening to The Tropical MBA Podcast and came across an episode on how some entrepreneurs have managed to build “generational wealth” (that is, wealth that would usually take a lifetime to build) by leveraging the Amazon Affiliates program.

So I decided to create a blog for the sole purpose of monetizing it via the Amazon Affiliates model.

It wasn’t really what was discussed during the interview (private blog networks, flipping websites, etc) what made me want to do it. I thought it was just a cool way to learn more about SEO.

Here’s how the model works:

  1. Find a niche product category with a decent volume of organic monthly searches (like “sweaters for dogs” or “mustache combs“)
  2. Write a review of the best products in that category (that are sold through Amazon)
  3. Use affiliate links to link to the reviewed products on Amazon
  4. Optimize the review for “the best [category name]” and get paid for product sales generated via your site

There’s really no big overarching purpose behind this project. I’m doing this to see if I’m able to create value (income) from scratch.

I won’t link to my affiliate site to avoid contaminating the traffic data with referrals from this blog.

What’s my progress to date?

Not as much as I would like, tbh.

Picking a topic

I started by doing some research to determine if there were product categories that would not be mind-numbingly boring to work on and that would be financially attractive.

Consumer technology was the first thing I thought about: I like gadgets (it could be fun to create a blog about them), tons of other people also do (there is search volume), and they are typically expensive (the commissions from the sales can add up to a reasonable amount.)

Unsurprisingly, I was not the first to notice this obvious opportunity.

Huge authoritative websites like CNET, PCMag, and BestProducts already dominated the results.

Not good.

Although large sites are not invincible, it would take longer than I’d like to outrank them.

However, there wasn’t as much competition in for the same categories and queries in Spanish (my native language.) The search volumes were not as attractive, but good enough.

So that’s what I’ll go after.

Building the site

Pretty straightforward.

Built with WordPress.

I used the Get Leads theme. Although I messed up in picking a theme based on looks and not SEO-friendliness. I had to spend some time making changes to the templates to fix some dumb issues like duplicate h1 tags on blog post pages.

Creating the content

In order to rank for these queries, I need more than filler content. I should publish high-quality, honest, and comprehensive reviews that could truly help people make a purchase decision.

I have a full-time job, so it would take me too long to do all the research and writing myself. I hired a couple of freelancers to help me get these done.

I gave the freelancers very detailed instructions on how to write the reviews but did not mention the need to perform any kind of SEO on the articles – I’d rather they focus on creating good content.

To date, I have 3 articles posted on my site targeting the following categories:

  • Drones
  • Smartwatches
  • Ereaders

I’ve found it super annoying and time-consuming to upload the posts to WordPress. Wordable didn’t work as well as I had hoped for, so I’ll have to figure something out.

Validating the hypothesis

I wanted to see if people would buy on Amazon after searching for the keywords I’m targeting and reading my content, so I spent some money on paid search to validate my hypothesis. After a few days, I drove traffic to Amazon and generated a sale.

This gave me validation, but I turned off ads because the cost of acquisition was considerably higher than the revenue generated.

Not a big deal. As I said, this is an SEO play.

Building links

I started with the obvious ones. I linked to my new site from my existing websites using keyword-rich anchor text. Not much juice to be expected there though: I don’t really update any of those sites and I use the same hosting service for all of them. But it’s worth it to do it anyway.

I’ve also guest posted on 5 different sites:

  • Four of them linking to my drones post with keyword-rich anchor text in sites with the following domain ratings (from ahrefs): 48, 48, 46, and 45.
  • One post linking to my affiliate site’s homepage with branded anchor text in a site with a domain rating of 40.
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