Get off the Ground with Your First Affiliate Project

I’ve asked Craig Campbell, one of the best affiliate marketer out there what other people can do to get successful when they are only beginning their first affiliate project. BTW: go and subscribe to his YouTube channel so that you don’t miss a thing from this cool SEO pro!

Full video on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHb59G6cTy8

Summary below or jump straight to the point!

Other interviews and topics:

About Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell is based in the UK. Craig has been in the industry for 18 years. About 14 of those years, he has been an agency owner doing client work.
In the last, 5 or 6 years Craig has been heavily into affiliate, mainly because he wasn’t really enjoying running an agency or doing client work. He was always watching guys like Matt Diggity and Matthew Woodward making decent money. Without all of the hassle of chasing clients or educating clients.
These days Craig buys and sells a lot of online digital assets, whether that’s a very small website where someone’s put on a lot of content and I can go out and buy that off of them and scale up and then flip it on. So I do buy and sell a lot of different online businesses these days and thoroughly enjoy that.

How Craig Started in Affiliate Marketing

Craig started with hosting affiliates and digital marketing tools such as Money Robot. It took him a while to find a good niche, as he has tried almost everything under the sun including e-cigs, intimate hygiene products, drop shipping, e-commerce, and a lot more. Finally, one of his favorite niches became digital downloads. See the screenshot below.

Craig Campbell project screenshot from his video about affiliate marketing

As you can see, Craig started with $8,000 a month and it was only growing up to 55,000, 119,000, etc. Sometimes revenue declined with Google updates. It’s revenue, not profit as it’s the affiliate website:

  • Niche: digital products
  • Goal: $500,000 a month consistently
  • Profit: 35%

Why Digital Products?

  • Instantly downloadable
  • Almost no returns
  • Easy to supply
  • Great profit margin
  • Big volume

The key part of affiliate marketing is getting a big volume of products sold for a good profit margin. As you cannot make great content, buy good links and move on if you are only on 3% like in some niches on Amazon. Always try to find something 30% or higher and with decent volume capacity. You can still make good money with Amazon, FDA, etc, but Craig is always trying to be the best and make as much money as he possibly could.

How to Find a Good Partner?

Watch the best people in the industry and see how they are making money. You’ll get a lot of ideas from them.

Some partnership programs are garbage. Try to find a private program or contact a company of interest directly.

Why are partnership programs not worth it?

  • Fees involved
  • Margins are split
  • Affiliate managers are always trying to find ways not to pay you

Where you can find private affiliates:

  • conferences
  • networking events
  • Facebook groups

Choosing a Niche

2 Major Advices When Choosing a Niche

  1. Don’t jump into a seasonal niche
  2. Make sure that you’re selling products that are over $100.

It costs you the same amount of time and effort to do an affiliate for something that sells for $5 than it would to sell a product for $500. It costs the same amount of money to get the content made. It costs the same amount of money for links. It costs the same for all of the tools.

Why the hell would I want to sell 20-pound- products, when it’s all costing me a lot more money?

So niche selection is one of the biggest things you need to look at and make sure that although the commissions might be low as long as it’s a high ticket item. It can still work if you get high volume.

So picking the right niche and making sure it’s not seasonal, are just good things to look at initially.

What’s Better: Affiliate or Lead Generation?

Many guys make a lot of money from both, but Craig would rather do affiliate. Because a lot of that lead gen comes down to GMBs and local SEO. And it’s a volatile market. The loopholes within GMB that people have been fortunate enough to be able to exploit over the years are always getting patched. People are losing the GMBs. Lead gen is a bit of a gamble.

Craig thinks that Google is always just looking to slam infants. So a lot of the guys that have got lead gen, have hundreds of websites and of course are not always located at the premises that are on the GMBs because they have just got that verified one way or another. That’s just an accident waiting to happen.

You could wake up one day and already you could be making a lot of money, but it’s just a whole bowl of stress and cost and hassle. And Google is looking at ways to kind of flush these kinds of guys out of the market. Affiliate is just a lot easier.

Building and Developing Website After the Niche Is Chosen

How Many Websites Do I Need to Enter the Niche?

Probably just one.

It depends on what you’re calling websites, of course. In some niches Craig is slightly more aggressive and more blackhat than other people with multiple PBNs or whatever. And if you want to call them websites as part of that niche, then sometimes, it can run into 10. It could be 20, it could be hundreds. But primarily. I would always just try and attack enemies with one big website to begin with. If you have to use PBNs, do use PBNs because everyone else is.

The more websites you’ve got or the more budget you’ve got to be able to do that, the more money you can make. In general, when Craig enters the niche, he just wants one big website that is easy to manage, obviously PBNs or whatever they are surrounding that. That isn’t going to be the same for every single niche.

How Big Is That One Big Website? How Many Pages, How Much Content? How Much of Everything?

It obviously evolves over a period of time. Here’s the way Craig approaches a project.

  1. Spend 5 to 10 k initially on content, quite an aggressive content strategy.
  2. See how that performs, do you need to make  more pages? The answer is potentially yes. Just get tons and tons of keywords. It’s always progressing.
  3. Always add new content, always target new keywords so that you get the ability to scale enough  business.

You don’t particularly want to go onto a niche when selling one product and it’s only going to require a  10 or a 15 page website. You’ll need something that’s got the ability to scale because eventually with the affiliate, you want to get out of the particular project that you are on. To then be able to flip and get out. And also what is attractive for other people when they buy, that they have to be able to see that it can be scaled further.

So there’s no point in exhausting, you get into a niche with a 10 or 15 page website, and there’s no ability for someone else to come in behind you and scale that up because then you’re not going to get the money that you should when you want to sell  the website. And at the end of the day, we all probably should be looking at affiliate with a view to jumping out at some point.

What’s the Ratio of Successful to Unsuccessful Projects?

When Craig was learning and developing and entered an affiliate, he probably had a 10% success rate. Nowadays, it’s 70 or 80%.

The failures have actually taught him the processes and the things to invest in.

Craig has lost a lot of money on projects, but wouldn’t change it because that is a part of development or apprenticeship. Sometimes you’ve just got to feel the pain. And find out from there, what direction you want to go.

What Is the Typical Investment Per Project?

20k minimum for Craig.

  1. Initial 10,000 is to buy a project that’s already up and running. That’s already making money. There’s  already content and it’s earning around 200 or 300 pounds a month. Why? So that not to start from scratch and do all the content and all of that.
  2. Another 10,000 is on content and links.  5k of that will be in content, 5k will be in links.
  3. And hopefully with that spend, you can typically flip a website for anything between 50k and a 100k pounds.

How Long Will It Take From Start To Finish: Buy, Develop and Flip?

6 to 9 months.

Why Not to Invest a 100k Into a Website and 200k Into Content?

That website is going to have to be sold for $500,000 or a million. Now, trying to sell a website for 500,000 or a million pounds is quite difficult. When selling a website for between 50 and a 100 thousand pounds, people are buying them up all day long. And these websites are fairly quick and easy to flip.

When you start selling websites for 250,000 or 500,000 or whatever, it’s a much harder sale, and those legal people and all of these other things that go on in the background, because that is just what happens when you have that level of money.

And there’s a lot less buyers at those figures.

With 10, 15, 20,000 pounds investment overall and flipping websites, you can get multiple projects running at the one time while you are getting a decent return.

And that’s what it’s all about. Even in a worst case scenario, investing 20,000 pounds and only getting 50,000 back,  you’ve more than doubled the money.

Team

What Kind of Team Is Required to Do That On Scale?

Craig has actually got six people in the physical office in Glasgow and a number of other people who work offshore or remotely.

People that are based in the office in Glasgow are the middle management type people, who are in charge of VAs and processes.

Where to Find People to Work for You?

In terms of development and real technical ability, Eastern Europe is really good. For the heavy lifting and data entry or whatever you want to call it, you’ve got onlinejobs.ph, where you can find Filipinos, you’ve got Upwork.

There’re just so many places where you can find these people, but also connect people in Facebook, Facebook groups. Start conversations with people, look to find who’s the best at a  particular thing and get them to work for you.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Facebook group, in a bar, at a conference, people are open to working with you.

How Much Does a Middle Manager Cost?

People in the UK are going to be on anything between $2,000 and $3,000 a month. It depends on the level of experience and stuff like that.

Try to pay people and surround yourself with the right people. Pay them well, do not scrimp and scrape. If you need to pay more for a good member of staff, then pay more for them because they are worth the weight of  gold, really.

What About Profit Sharing?

With Craig, they would be on a profit share, fairly small profit share, but they would get a good bonus from that and most of the occasions.

Content

Content Price

Between 4 and 6 cents per word. But that can go up to 10 cents.

Do You Need Amazing Content for Affiliates?

No, Craig doesn’t think so. Try to get the balance between what is possible in terms of looks and what is possible in terms of Google understanding that content. You’ve just got to get happy medium. No need to hire Shakespeare.

How Do I Check If the Content Is Good Enough?

You have to hire someone that is native and is in that middle management part of your team. Then obviously you’ve got the ability to also use tools like Grammarly and stuff like that, but nothing beats a middle manager, just going through it and checking for quality and time. Keep that quality as high as you  can possibly get it.

And again, it really comes down to it and the right processes and the right people in the right places.

Link Building Costs

You have to spend a lot on link building. When Craig is buying a project, he is looking for someone that’s probably been all out in content and they just don’t understand the link building.

Normally Craig goes and fills it heavily with the link building. Because that’s the part where most people fail.

Backlinks to build:

  1. Generic links
  2. Niche relevant links
  3. PBNs
  4. Tiered link building
  5. Niche edits

and many more.

Link building is still the biggest ranking factor or one of the biggest. You can argue the content is the biggest, but it’s one of the most important things. And the part of SEO that Craig really loves doing is the link building. And just coming up with different ideas, different strategies, different ways to build links. But you’ve got to invest wisely in link building, especially from the guest blogging just to get that domain authority up and get some power going to those pages that are already there. Hitting that quite hard at the start is quite important.

You just buy backlinks, bribe people for them, talk to people who’ve got links or whatever it’s going to be. It’s not that hard to get. And you’ve just got to get as many as you possibly can:

  • That are relevant.
  • That actually get traffic.

Those links pass a lot more power and a lot more authority. Craig is a big believer in being quite aggressive with it.

How Many Backlinks Do I Build?

In general you would probably have to spend about 80% of your budget on buying links. Craig spends less because he knows a lot of people, can exchange links or get them easier, owns a few link building services and has in general lots of other resources for that.  But most people are pretty much spending all of their money on actually buying links or doing some form of automation.

So you’re going to be spending a lot of money on guest posts, if not all of your money. The biggest majority.

Affiliate business is much more profitable.

When it comes to link building services, the money is okay. But there’s a lot of costs for a link building service:

  • Paying people for placements
  • Content
  • People are always coming back and forth
  • Overheads
  • Tools such as PitchBox
  • Outreachers

Going down the affiliate route is a lot less stress free as well. And long-term probably more profitable as well. A lot of people don’t realize. Just money, money, money, money, all the time. So that just be careful and anyone who does want to get into  link building services. It’s not as profitable as you may think.

Flipping an Affiliate Website

How Long Do You Need to Wait Before It Becomes Really Profitable?

Trying to get within 6 – 9 months.

The reasons why:

  • If you invest money into something you want out in six to nine months, then obviously the buyer wants to see consistent earnings for six to nine months.
  • Get in and out before Google does any funky updates.

I Need More Information from Craig Campbell on Affiliate Marketing and SEO!

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