Recently (in my email newsletter) I mentioned a product niche site I started a couple of years ago where I invested $10K into products and then bailed on the site.
The problem was I didn’t care for writing about products. Maybe it was that particular product. Maybe it’s products generally.
The trouble with my not wanting to write about products is I’m leaving a lot of money on the table. Most niche sites, even if informational mostly, can easily accommodate commercial content, whether with affiliate links or not. Commercial content earns well with display ads too.
Consider a niche site about Roman history.
I’m a historical fiction nut so that’s a site I would enjoy reading. I’m not a historian so I wouldn’t actually do a site on that.
How can you add affiliate promotions to a site on Roman History?
I’ve given this question about 5 minutes of thought since I’m writing this on the fly.
Here are some ideas.
In case you weren’t aware, Amazon sells a few books. You could promote all kinds of fiction and non-fiction books on Roman History. While the commish on each book is small, generally sending people to Amazon works well because they inevitably buy other stuff.
For example, suppose I send Roman history buff Frank to Amazon to buy the book “I Claudius” and while on Amazon, Frank remembers his wife’s birthday is coming up. He adds a $50,000 diamond necklace into his cart and BOOM!, I rake in a nice $2,500 commission.
Okay, that seldom happens, but you get the point. Realistically, Frank might add some fancy socks with his book order.
Here’s a fun article you could write on a Roman history blog… “10 watches Julius Caesar would wear“. It’s just for fun and obviously conjecture, but you could have fun justifying why Julius Caesar would wear such and such a watch.
My guess is Julius would opt for a Tag Heuer or Garmin smartwatch. Tag Heuer is the sportsman’s watch that’s a tough, rugged and sportsy watch for the battlefield but also elegant enough to wear in the Curia Julia (Senate House).
On the other hand, he might opt for a Garmin smartwatch just because it offers some great GPS technology which could help on military campaigns.
See, talk about fun stuff to write about.
Now that I’ve opened up the “wristwatch” can of worms, I bet you’re seeing the bigger picture. You could milk the “what watch would Julius wear” concept to create all kinds of fun promotional content.
I agree that such articles wouldn’t convert as well as straight up reviews, but the ad RPM would be above-average … certainly better than content about Julius Caesar’s kidnapping by pirates as a young man (great story BTW).
Let’s get back to solving my long-term problem which is publishing legit product reviews without being involved.
Before I reveal these solutions, I should tell you I only publish reviews of products I use or at least have tested or are tested/used by the writer. Yes, I buy them then either return or sell them on Craigslist. Sometimes I keep them if I need them.
In other words, I don’t make up reviews. That doesn’t sit well with me.
My approach is a lot of work… tedious and boring work.
It’s also not content you can outsource to the lower cost content agencies. Don’t try, you’ll be disappointed. Outraged probably.
You need to outsource product reviews to capable writers. You also have a logistical problem which is getting the products in their hands so they can use them, test them and photograph them.
I’ve figured out 3 solutions to this all-encompassing problem of ours.
How to outsource legit product reviews
Here they are:
1. You test the products, make brief notes and outsource the actual writing of the review
This is a hybrid solution in that you’re still involved.
You make detailed bullet points about the product as well as a conclusion based on your use of it. You outsource the writing of your findings. A lower cost content agency might do this justice.
2. Hire someone locally
Hiring locally works because they can come to you to collect the products and return the products to you (so you can use them, give them away or sell them). If you live in a country like I do (Canada) where currency is worth less than the US, it may cost less money as well.
I’ve done this and it works well.
I advertised the job on Craigslist. I received plenty of qualified applicants.
You can also do this for video reviews.
3. Use WriterAccess
I work with an awesome writer on WriterAccess. She writes a column on one of my sites. She’s well paid. It occurred to me recently that with her wit and snarky writing tone that she could produce some funny yet informative product reviews. These could be the best reviews online. Not the dry, humorless stuff that litters the Web. Instead, fun, informative, nuanced and most importantly entertaining reviews that people would find helpful and fun to read.
The trouble was getting the physical products to her so she could use/test the products. Most content agencies do not permit external communications with their writers for fear of losing their cut. If you breach these terms, you get punted, so be careful.
Anyway, I decided to ask WriterAccess how we could make this work.
They told me I could ship products directly to WriterAccess from Amazon. WA will forward the products to my writer.
As for dealing with the products once the reviews are done, my writer, who just happens to have an Ebay account, is going to sell them. We’re splitting the proceeds. She’s happy. I’m happy. In fact, I’m very happy because I’m out of the picture. I don’t have to handle products (front or backend) nor mess around with any writing, yet get very good and legit review content.
The price: A lot. This won’t be cheap, but this type of content is ridiculously lucrative so I’m gambling this will be worth it.
And yes, it’s a gamble. All of this stuff is.
Another problem… wit and humor isn’t necessarily enough
Build it and they will come; “they” being links to your product reviews that blast your review to the top of Google is not reality.
However, build it right and natural inbound links can be reality.
For me, I’ve published content over the years that has attracted over 5,000 links naturally.
“Naturally”, as in I did not beg other websites “pretty please link to my awesome site” followed up with 50 automated contacts “did you get my email?” or “I need a link NOW”.
I don’t make the rounds submitting guest posts. Actually, I’ve paid services to do some, but it’s expensive and so I don’t do much of it.
I didn’t buy links.
Instead, I publish content that attracts links… thousands of them.
Play your cards right, do what I do and you can even get natural links pointing to your affiliate content.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.