In 2017 I launched 2 new niche sites.
One is taking off. The other, while it’s up to 50 to 60 daily visitors, is proving more difficult to grow.
The one that is taking off is a site monetized mostly with display ads, but has potential for some decent affiliate promotions.
The site that is proving more difficult to grow is a product-oriented website, commonly referred to as an Amazon Affiliate Niche Site. I promote Amazon on the site, but other merchants as well. The site is entirely focused on a particular product line.
How I went about building the dud niche site
I liked the niche and bought 20 products in the product line. I wrote reviews and made videos. I added some other content as well. With very little promotion, the site is actually getting okay traffic. The content is excellent.
The key here was that I actually bought the products, tested them and then personally reviewed them. I took hundreds of photos of the products so I have my own photos as well.
Despite the site being very good, there are several problems with publishing it as a straight up product affiliate website.
The problems with product affiliate websites
1. Harder to outsource the content
If it were my only site, it would be doing so much better because I’d have the time to keep at it. However, I publish a few niche sites all of which require my time.
My other niche sites are easier to outsource most of the tasks so they’re easier to manage and grow.
The product niche site (Amazon niche site) is much harder to outsource because I’m the one who buys and tests the products. I did outsource some of the videos, but the content is mostly me.
2. New products hit the market every year
This is the bigger stumbling block. One thing nobody discusses when it comes to Amazon affiliate style sites is that they aren’t evergreen. The best product for X this year, may well not be the best next year. This means you must always be buying the latest products and updating all the content.
New products are a double-edged sword.
On the plus side, if you get your review published first, you rank #1 instantly and if it’s good, can hold it for a long time making thousands of dollars. Of course, this is works in theory, but not always in practice.
The downside in some product niches is that more established sites get products for testing before they’re released publicly. They have a huge advantage because they can get their reviews published before the product is available for your to buy.
The solution to this is to stick with your site, grow it and get on the radar of the merchants who will also send you products before they launch.
IMPORTANT: I’m not in anyway suggesting that product affiliate sites are a bad type of site to build. They can be insanely lucrative and fun to build. The thing is you need time to devote to it. If you want to do it right, you need to buy the products, test them, photograph them, make videos, promote, network, etc. It’s a lot of work, but when done right, can be a very, very good business.
Can’t you just outsource all the content?
Sure, you can for some types of product articles. Gallery articles or product lists are fine to outsource. But do you really want to outsource reviews? If I’m publishing a review, I want that review based on my use of the product. Same thing with articles that set out the single “Best of” for a particular product.
What I have done is test products and put together an outline and then outsource the remaining writing. The key review points and conclusion are mine, but stuff like product descriptions, formatting, how-to’s etc. I outsource. This works well, but there’s still much of my time required in buying the products, testing them and putting together a detailed review outline.
3. Affiliate physical product reviews don’t rank (for the most part)
I’ve notice in recent years that any merchant sites with customer reviews will outrank for “product X review” keywords over affiliate sites. I think this is a proper ranking algo because let’s face it, we all read customer reviews on merchant sites like Amazon before buying any substantial purchase. Those review sections are helpful. More helpful than some review site.
This means focusing on review articles is an uphill battle out-of-the-gates; you’ll never outrank the merchants. While there are many ways around this with other angles to cover products, the once-lucrative product review concept is not as viable for physical products as it once was.
Notice I restrict this problem to physical product reviews. Software and digital reviews are still golden for affiliates. I publish some on this site and other niche sites (especially software product reviews). The merchants of software and info products don’t have extensive customer reviews that rank like Amazon’s customer reviews.
Why on earth did I launch this site if I don’t have the time to devote to it?
I launched it during a several week period (or so) where my biggest niche site suffered a horrible malware attack. I discovered the malware attack and removed it. However, after it was removed, Google thought it was still a spam site and deindexed it. When it got deindexed, I thought a new problem cropped up. However, after hiring security services and working with my web host, I was sure the problem had resolved. I submitted the deindexed site for review to be put back into the Google SERPS. I included a detailed explanation of the malware attack and that I had resolved it. After a short time, Google reindexed it.
While all this was happening, I had no idea whether my biggest earner would survive. Bleak days to be sure. That meant I needed a plan B which was to start a new site. I figured I would have plenty of time to devote to it since the deindexed site required none of my time. And so I launched a labor-intensive product affiliate site for which I had grand plans to devote most of my time into growing it into an industry leader.
Then, lo and behold, Google reindexed my site; I was back in business. Because that site has so much potential and earns so well, I went back to work on that site.
What am I going to do with the product affiliate site?
I’ll add some informational content here and there, but otherwise just let it sit for now. I like the niche and product line. If time frees up down the road, I’ll continue with it.
Why don’t I sell it?
In the event I sell any of the niche sites I currently focus on, that affiliate product site will be ready to grow. It’s already getting traffic, attracting natural links, social media is all set up, videos are accruing views, etc. so the infrastructure is good to go. If I sell my other sites and only have this one, with focused effort, it’s poised to do very well within 1 year of working hard on it.
Because it’s very product / buyer oriented in a newish industry that’s growing fast, it’s worth keeping in my hip pocket in the event I end up with time to devote to it.
Should you launch a niche site focused on physical products?
Yes, if you’re prepared to put a lot of time into it, buy the products and cover the products from many angles. You must be committed to creating a true authority site for the product line(s). It’s a ton of work; tedious, boring work that’s not so easily outsourced. But if you succeed, it can be an incredibly lucrative site because at the end of the day, search traffic to buyer intent content with affiliate links that convert well is a very profitable site.
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.