What you will learn
Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast. In today’s episode, this is actually the third episode of the series that we are running this week for the launch, it’s the third episode this week, and today I am with Mark, how is it going Mark?
Mark: It’s going good.
Gael: And we are going to talk about seven ways to make more money with your existing website. But before I start, I just want to explain why we are doing this series, and the reason we do that is because we are relaunching Authority Hacker Pro next week, on September 12th, and yeah, it’s just a way to share a bunch of stuff that we know, before we actually let you in the course that we’ve been working on for over a year now, there are over 200 videos in there, there is a pretty active Facebook community, and it is pretty cool, you will see what happens on September 12 but if you want more information, go on authorityhacker.com/pro and you would be able to sign up for the early bird’s list and we are going to give a discount to people that sign up to that list, when we launch it in the first few days. I highly recommend, you go there if you are interested in building authority sites the way we do it.
Now, let’s jump into the actual podcast and talk about these ways that you can use to make more money with an existing website whether it’s a small affiliate review site or something a little bit more developed, there is going to be something for you in there. But before that, Mark, can you just explain the overall form we are taking for, essentially all of these methods?
Mark: Yeah, so if you think of your website business as a way of taking traffic and then certain percentage of that traffic will click on a banner ad or click on affiliate link or buy your product, something like that, so how we are approaching this is we are going to find out what is working for you already, and then either do more of that or in order to improve traffic or improve the conversion rate, improve the percentage of which you can convert that into some profitable stream.
Gael: Okay, that is pretty simple, but I think it’s good to lay it out. Let’s talk about the first one, and actually, the first one comes from the Authority Hacker pro community, it comes from one of our early days members called Kevin who has been optimizing his Amazon affiliate revenue, I know a lot of people that will listen to that, that is what they do, they do Amazon affiliate site that they look into leaping to something bigger, but right now, this is what is making them money. Let’s talk about a way for these people to make more money and usually, the way you go about optimizing your Amazon affiliate site is that you do keyword research, because people buy from searching for high buying intent keywords such as x review or best- that was the example of Spencer, best survival knife, and then people land on that page and there is a bunch of opportunities people will pick the one that matches them the best and they buy. Now, the way most people do is they find keywords and they just try to make more content around that, now, what Kevin did is instead of doing that, he actually exported the affiliate report that you get in the Amazon associate’s backend, and he figured out the 20% of products that generated most of the revenue, everything there is a minority of transactions that generate most of the money and so he found these are just using excel, right, he can export a csv and use excel and essentially find what generates the most money and then once he found out which products were generating the most money he did two things, the first thing he did is he went back to these few pages like 4, 5 pages that generated most of the money, and he essentially tweaked his call to actions to make them bigger, make them more prominent, so that more people click through and essentially it’s a huge increase in revenue.
The second thing he did is well, now that he knew which kind of keywords people were coming in that generated the most revenue, it’s easy for him to not necessarily look at the competition, he was less afraid to go for higher competition keywords, but in exchange, he knew that if he could rank these pages they would make way more money than the average page that he does, and so, he used this as a base for keyword research look less like competition but more like a return investment, was willing to promote more essentially made more money. I think that is a cool way that people that have Amazon affiliate websites can use to make more money faster than they would with just traditional keyword research. Do you want to talk about the second point?
Mark: Similar to the first one actually, at least in terms of the framework and it’s all around analyzing your top performing pages in Google Analytics in terms of traffic, and you can look at sort of your top 50 pages say and there are two different things you can do with that, one is you can build similar pages in order to grow traffic, and two is you can optimize these existing pages so that they convert better to make more money. Now, relatively simple process go into Google Analytics, behave your site content and you could extract a list of your top performing pages probably over the last month or three months maybe.
Gael: I just find it sometimes you get big jams from social media or something.
Mark: Yes, sure. And then, if you are looking to grow your traffic, to build similar pages, then what you want to do is take this list and look for similarities, between the top performing posts, so that could be they are all, say reviews or they are all list posts or recipes or something to do with the structure of the content, or they may all be on the same subtopic so in Health Ambition ages ago we know there was all of our juicing blog posts were doing particularly well. Then we took juicing as a subtopic and did a bunch of keyword research and that identified many more keyword opportunities, and we produced that content few month later, and we ended up getting a lot more juicing traffic. So that worked. Now, the other thing you can do is to identify the pages which get a lot of traffic and then optimize them further so they convert better, and this is true if you have been running your site for a while, as you go you probably get better at monetizing things, at knowing what kind of offers there are out there, what kind of products people want, all this kind of things. And, generally when you are starting a site it’s easy to overlook certain things as well, on your page, and so, I mean, you did fairly recently, right, I think the other weekend, just basically went through the top 50 pages was it, on Health Ambition?
Gael: Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty simple, it’s a lot of pages when you do, especially when you do informational content, answering questions, that kind of stuff, they will some of them will take off and get a lot of traffic, but they don’t necessarily make you a lot of money like you have your standard monetization, you might have some advertising around, you might have few other things but there is definitely opportunities to make more money. And so, what I do is I pick these top 50 pages and I basically, I look like if we mention any kind of product, any kind of supplement people can take, in the health niche, whatever that means inside the content that answers the question essentially. And there I go deeper and I try to find either ad content that mentions more products and links out to in that case Amazon and if it works out then I’ll find an affiliate program that makes more money, and I also like using these widgets for Amazon, these native ads. For example, if you actually check blog post on Health Ambition about how to stop farting because I love this example, you will see that at the beginning, it was just an informational post-
Mark: We were trying to just get traffic go and build links to that page back then, it wasn’t designed to make any money, per se.
Gael: And writers, they are just not very good at linking monetization with content usually, especially content like that. I actually googled a bit more, I figured out some supplements people can take, they can take activated charcoal, they can take probiotics etc, and what I did was, first of all, we made supporting articles that have- in that case, we have best probiotics for bloating and we have best charcoal pills for whatever, so we could rank for these keywords, so that is essentially the tip that we talked about just before, and then we also added these Amazon widgets inside there and some paragraphs about these different supplements people can take, so that essentially it becomes part of the answer and people can naturally click through and buy and that generates more money. That pretty much doubled the revenue from that one piece of content, and you do that on your top 50 pieces of content, that is probably 80, 90% of your traffic and then yeah, you can generate quite a bit of more money without getting more traffic, without creating more content, without spending any money as well, so that is why I really like that tip, together with the tip I talked about that Kevin talked about. If you mix these two it is quite a bit more actually.
Mark: I think the thing which is different about the looking at your traffic, good from Google Analytics, is that you can actually identify- there are many cases for example on health Ambition I am talking about juicer, it was out of stock and a newer model had been released, bet the page was still sort of promoting an out of stock or discontinued item on Amazon. And, because of that, obviously we weren’t making any sales but just by going through this process of going down the top 50 list we were able to identify a few cases where that was an issue and then find suitable alternatives and replace those links.
Gael: Yeah, that also allowed me to a bit customize call to action, so, for example, we have an article about juicing for skin I think, to get better skin, and within that people need to drink green vegetable juices, right, and there is different technology with juicers and it’s better to use what they call a masticating juicer so I actually made a custom call to action saying these are the best juicers for these kinds of juices, and then people actually have only these masticating juicers, which are actually more expensive, so we get more money.
Mark: It wouldn’t have been worth doing that at the start when we didn’t know whether that was going to be successful or not, it’s only having the knowledge that we are getting thousands of visits a month to that page, then it becomes worth to spend the time doing that.
Gael: It’s worth spending 20, 30 minutes on that and optimizing it, this is easily an extra 50 to 150 dollars a month because that page gets more than 10 thousand visits per month. If that page was getting 100 visits per month, it wouldn’t be worth my time, but it’s an easy, if you can do that 50 times, it’s a good increase in revenue. That allows me to just go back, make these customized calls to action and I used just the Amazon native ads, which you should check it out if you don’t use that, and, then, if that does well the next step is actually going to be to do even more research and find affiliate programs that pay more money, so I know for juicers there is one that is a masticating juicer that I talked about, and they pay up to 35 dollars or 40 dollars per lead or something, they pay a lot. And if that works out well then I am probably going to be in making more custom widget and mix Amazon with this kind of stuff to maximize the revenue. Essentially it’s incremental, you first publish, you look at an 80% of your content doesn’t do well and 20% does well and that 20% that does well you keep incrementing the monetization, as long as the traffic maintains and you are making more money from the last step. And that is how you make more money. And, when there is traffic there is money to be made essentially.
Mark: Yeah, and it is worth spending the time on it to that point. Alright, shall we move on?
Gael: I’ll do the next one. The next one is about Ab testing your lead generation form so that is definitely for people that are probably a step above, that is for people that are building an email list but a lot of people, I am thinking about Acne Einstein, that is also one of our early age pro members, he had a site that is pretty successful, Acne Einstein is a great site if you want to go check it out, it is a great authority site, but he never tested his lead magnet essentially. And the lead magnet is what you give to people in exchange for sign up for email list, they get free ebooks, videos, whatever, you probably signed up for when you joined our email list, that is what lead magnet is and most of the time, people, they come up with the lead magnet idea they are like oh, I am just going to offer 7 tips to get rid of acne I guess, in the case of Sepo. And, they just deploy that so they design a decent opt in pop up and sidebar widget etc, and that’s it, it’s out there usually it converts at 2, 3% and this is never tested. This is one of the easiest ways if you do email marketing to double your revenue. What I like to do is I like to go around my competitors, so I take 10, 15 competitors and I figure out what they do, and if nobody is doing email what I do is I look at what kind of content is shared the most, I use something like BuzzSumo or the Aherfs content explorer and I find what content is the most popular on our competitor site and that is essentially the ideas I take for our lead magnets. And then, we use Thrive Leads, it allows you generate different versions of your pop up and it tells you which one gets the most conversion, you can also do that with Opt-in Monster, you can do that with SumoMe pro but Thrive is actually the cheapest and for me the best technically and in terms of ab testing, so I highly recommend it, we actually wrote a review so you should go check it out. And yeah, we run that and a lot of people when we say that they say oh but I don’t want to create 15 lead magnets, that is not what we do, we tend to use a tactic called the oops page, and essentially when people opt in they land on a page that says oops, this lead magnet is not ready yet, I mean, we don’t call it lead magnet, we call it free pdf or something, and we say it’s not ready yet, so we’ll be emailing it to you when it’s ready. Now, we usually run the tests for a few weeks, figure out which one is winning, and the one that winds, which tends to do twice better than the ones that don’t work-
Mark: You really have to have quite different concepts, though, it’s not like seven weight loss recipes versus eight weight loss recipes, something about juicing or something about going vegan, something about living longer, very different topics.
Mark: I just want to add, a good way to identify potential areas to segment is to look on a page or a category level and we are using Thrive Leads, you can use the E-Content Marketing Report which is built into that to look for low converting areas and then figure out what category they should belong to and then segment that way.
Gael: Alright, the next point is adding an extra business model on top of your existing site. And, basically the principle is it’s easy to grow your site by 50%, when you are making 500 dollars a month, you just need to go to 750 dollars, it’s very possible and that is a lot of these case studies you see out there are like- I grew a 150%, these people are not making much money that is why it’s easy to get high growth. Whereas when you are in the five-figure realm, 10 thousand dollars or more, growing 50% is definitely a lot harder, so growth definitely feels like it slows down when you get bigger. And, when you get to that point, usually the easiest way to add more revenue is to stack an extra business model on top of what you are doing with your existing traffic, so let me take an example, I am going to take an example that a lot of people will probably know, Perrin had his site and his new site that we talked about on the blog, and, he was making several thousand dollars from Amazon per month, but it was slowing down, right, the growth rate was getting into single digits, or low two digits per month, it was definitely a dip in motivation, even though he was making a full-time income at that point already, he was running this Amazon reviews but he was also using informational content to generate links to his site, so he was using the skyscraper method, and because his site looked like it was full of informational content, he would convince a lot of people to link to him, but that informational content was only doing that, it was essentially a simple WordPress blog post with nothing around. I was like man, that content is getting a bunch of traffic, why don’t we put display ads around those and we can set rules, we use Ad Inserter as a WordPress plugin, to show the ads on the informational content but not on the review content so that it wouldn’t affect his Amazon revenue at all. And he did that, and after a little bit of optimization for two or three weeks, he generated an extra 2,500 dollars per month actually and that grew his business by almost 50% actually at the time, now he makes more money but at the time, it was around 50% growth in two or three weeks which it would be very hard to achieve that by scaling up the business model he adds.
Now, it doesn’t just apply to people that use Amazon sites and then have informational content, it can also be people that have informational content and monetize with ads and then adding Amazon links when you mention products like the same way I talked about in the number two point. It can be adding ad around your content if you are using your content to generate an email list like we just talked about. It can also be that you are running all these things but you can start accepting sponsored posts on your site. Now, sponsored posts just be careful, you need no follow the backlinks if you want to be within the Google’s terms of service, but it’s absolutely fine, to sell a blog post on your blog, provided you don’t give any [20:22 indiscernible] link to the company that paid for it. All that can be capturing emails if you aren’t doing ads, whatever business model, you are not doing, usually, you can stack on top, and increase your revenue per 1000 visits quite significantly more than really doing tiny optimization of what is already working pretty well for you. Anything you want to say about this point?
Mark: Yeah, I mean, another thing that people do a lot is that they actually rather than being an affiliate for promoting someone else’s product, they create their own products, if it’s info product, which in many cases is a good example but you have to be quite careful you are not doing that too soon and you need to know that you can actively sell a similar post of affiliate product before you get into that, But yeah, it can be a really good way to actually start building a list of buyers and extend your brand a lot more and it sort of paves the way to creating much more expensive like bigger courses and products and stuff down the line, which you can really start to make a lot of money from.
Gael: Yeah, I mean, there is also the people that do Amazon associates and actually start having their products on FBA and just replace the number one, and then instead of making 7 or 8 percent they make 30 or 40 percent, from that sale and that generates quite a lot more revenue so that is the kind of stuff like where stacking this model and especially when there is synergy, it really adds up and that is why a lot of people before, they were talking about oh you need to build many sites and diversify the risk, etc, that was the credo of nice sites builder and that is why they were building so many sites; well, I believe that now it’s more about building one strong site that you can then build multiple businesses on, and that is what more and more people are realizing and doing, and we are doing a lot of market research with Perrin lately and I see that a lot, I see a lot of people starting to swap from many sites to few sites with business models running on one. So, that is that point.
Now, let’s talk about number five which is something that happened to us recently, actually, so I am going to start with the story this time actually, the story is Health Ambition was doing pretty okay at the beginning of the year, it was doing great actually, it was a huge growth back then, I think we got a 50% growth back in January. Yeah that made us happy but over time, the traffic was declining quite a lot and if you check in Ahrefs, you will see what happened. We had a huge spike in January in organic traffic, and all the time, the niche naturally decreases over time but the decrease was pretty significant. And the truth is, we had been working on the site and adding more plugins and monetization stuff etc, basically, we made the site more complicated and as a result, the site was really slow to load, it would take 7, 8, 9 seconds sometimes to load. I am not sure if there was no malware on it etc, it was not very good, to be honest, and I suspected that that might be something that is actually declining, pushing the decline of the website as mores sites are getting out there and getting better. What we did is we upgraded all the infrastructure and we also did a massive content audit, so I am just going to tell you a few things that you want to do but essentially that point is upgrade your technical structure especially if you are making more money than you were a year ago, like if you are making 50% or 100% more money, like it’s time to spend a little bit of that money back into tech and make your site a little bit more professional, and in that case, for Health Ambition, I mean, we’ve been building links we should be doing a lot of stuff, but if you check in Ahrefs, around the 10th of July, we actually did that all these updates and traffic basically increased by 20% over night. And revenue did as well, right. Let me just list everything that we did that you can start thinking about. First of all, we did this giant content audit so we deleted a bunch of content, I mean, I unpublished a bunch of content that just didn’t fit the scope of the website, I narrowed the scope of the website a lot more, I think it needs to be narrowed even more but that was the first step and I think I unpublished 60 pieces of content I think back then, some piece of content they were within the scope but not very good so I got a bunch re-edited, I talked to our editor, she worked a bunch of that and got re-edited, reformatted, republished. We recategorized everything so we would be able to more logical ways of grouping content together etc, once again, far from perfect right now, and there is a lot of work, but it works better, and I got one person that works for us to fix a bunch of broken links and images and out of stock products on Amazon, anything that will link to a 404, anything that would be a broken image, we fixed a lot of that. In terms of tech we also upgraded to a new server, we moved to https which by the way we will probably do a whole podcast on moving to https, but if you do it properly, it doesn’t drop your traffic, not at all, we just went up and up from that point. It’s not the horror story a lot of people talk about. We hired the guys from WPFaster.org to optimize our WordPress installation, which is very good by the way, these guys are pretty good and it’s not very expensive as well, I think it was 300 dollars to optimize the site, which you would pay more if you hired someone on UpWork that knows what they are doing. Then we got security to actually resecure the whole site and purge any kind of like dodgy file or whatever to make sure that it’s a 100% secure and everything. And yeah, as we do all these things and we essentially upgraded infrastructure, and did a bit of a content audit, yeah, traffic went up 20% literally over night, I went to bed and I woke up and all our keywords were up 20%. If you are making money with the traffic you are getting from Google especially, doing that kind of stuff especially if you do it right is quite powerful.
Mark: I think the caveat there is if you are making money, this is absolutely not something to you if you are six weeks into starting a new site, it’s an optimization rather than a business model itself.
Gael: Yeah, for sure, I mean, the title of the podcast is make more money with your existing site. This implies that you are making money already. If you are not, don’t waste your time. It’s like stop and then optimize later when you make some money. You can make, we were making money without these optimizations, there was still income coming to the website, so it’s not like something that is preventing you from making money, it is not something you can blame for not making money, it’s something else, where you are not making money. Do you want to talk about the next one?
Mark: Yeah. Okay, so the next section is called mapping out your funnel, and, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about three or four weeks ago, and he was telling me about his plan to release a new video series and spend all this time making all this really good content, to try and promote his product which is a course about teaching people how to freelance online. And, it sounded great in theory but I was like okay, let’s actually just take a quick look at your funnel, so what is your overall conversion rate, and he had no idea, he had literally never looked at it. And, I think a lot of people are in the similar boat, they have an idea of how much money they are making in because they see a check coming in each month or some affiliate paying some money in their Pay Pal account each month but they don’t actually really understand their funnel fully, so I was like take a piece of paper or do it digitally or whatever you want, and just draw out your funnel what is the entire step by step process from your landing pages to email opt-ins to emails that you send open rates, click through rates, everything through to your sales page, how many people clicking on the buy link, how many people who click the buy link actually end up checking out that kind of stuff. And just draw the whole thing out, and, put conversion next to each of them, you should have most of that data already if you are using Google analytics, and find the weak points, and very quickly it became obvious that there were a couple of really horrific gaps.
Gael: What was the problem?
Mark: There was two, one was the checkout drop-off rate, something like 70% of people who clicked the buy button didn’t complete the purchase, so there were issues to be fixed with the cart, nothing technically but just more around sort of trust and that kind of impression. And the other was the email opt-in rate, this guy had had a lead magnet for I think like two or three years now, and it was converting at 0.2% which is pretty bad. And so, the next day basically he launched the test and immediately, even the first thing he tried more than doubled it in a week, after a week of testing. And so, really just by having this kind of funnel drawn out or however you want to display it, you can use something like HotJar if you really want to get it set up nicely but you don’t have to use a software solution, you can just go old school on this, and use that as a framework for where to start, find the problematic areas and then just work on those individually.
Gael: Yeah. I think it’s quite important. The thing is, setting up the analytics is the hard part actually, I mean, it’s something that we can definitely do a better job at as well I would say. We are no analytics experts, we are more content marketing experts but yeah, it’s quite important to understand at least the basic metrics, I know we track that every month open rate, click through rate, etc and it’s something that most people don’t do they should do more.
I am going to talk about the last point because we are getting to the end of that podcast guys, and that is something that I think we’ve been very guilty of for a while and that has cost us easily tens of thousands of dollars. And that is periodically run market/ monetization research as if you were entering the market again. Let me just explain the context. When you start making decent money from a website, whatever you do, whether you do reviews or you do funnels, or you do advertising, whatever it is, you are making money and you are trying to optimize what you have, and you are really focused on the little microenvironment with the elements that you know very well. The problem is while you are doing all that stuff the market is evolving, there are new products coming out, there are new authors coming out, there are new advertising networks coming out, and, because you are so focused and you making money and you don’t really want to risk it, once you’ve been working for six months, a year, you had to really make some money from that site and you didn’t at the beginning, you are like, yeah, I have the best setup, I have the best setup there is no way there can be something better- well, the truth is often there is and for example in our case, we had this list of ClickBank offers that we promote to our email list that worked really well, we were doing reviews and stuff, and we stuck to those because it was pretty good money, and in the meantime, there was a bunch of products released on these marketplaces and we have completely ignored them, we didn’t check it out, and we missed an opportunity to be promoting these things first, and take some risk but sometimes this risk really pays off, when you are the first one putting an offer in front of people, there is quite a bit of money to be made. What we’ve been testing recently, offers converting higher than the stuff that we’ve been doing, we could have increased our revenue by 20, 30, 40 percent sometimes. What I recommend people do and what we’ve now implemented is first of all sign up for all the affiliate networks that you can, we’ve sign up for things like PeerFly lately, we resign up for Commission Junction which we didn’t use for a long time, all these big networks etc so that you can have access to a lot of affiliate offers, and usually what we do is we-
Mark: Do you think about our using odigger.com is a good search tool to search across many of them without having to register?
Gael: Yeah, oDigger and OfferVault are essentially affiliate marketing search engines, they are okay, there is not everything there so you should definitely also sign up for the networks, but it’s a good way to get an idea of at is behind the networks once you’ve signed up which can take some time, you need to talk with affiliate managers, it’s a bit of work. But, sign up for these and essentially once in every 6 to 12 months spend a whole day on them, listing out all the offers and usually, we make a spreadsheet with the stuff that we know converts and the stuff that we should probably be trying, so next time we have a hole in the email schedule etc, we can just try that offer. so that is one thing to do. The other thing that we like to do as well is probably competitors are doing that stuff as well, and they are trying things and they are figuring out what will make them more money, so what we like to do is we like to create a separate email sign up for the competitor’s email lists, you know, we have an email I can’t remember the email, I am not going to give it on the podcast anyway, but we have an email, where I sign up and all the competitors’ emails get there and once a week usually on Sunday afternoon or something, I just take my iPad and I go through all of them, and every time there is something new especially when I am doing affiliate marketing, that comes my way, I just added to this- oh maybe we should check it out thing, I usually google it to find which network runs it or if it’s an independent offer, and look at the payouts, look if it would match what we do, and if it could, then add it to that oh we probably should be testing that stuff at least. And, then, when we test it, if it goes well, then we run it the second time, third time etc and eventually they make it to the least of our confirmed offers that do well. And the same way, you know, as there are new offers that come in and do well, offers that you’ve been running for a long time will also stop working. I think that is happening on Health Ambition Mark, right, some offers that we run too many times end up not working anymore.
Mark: Yeah, there is a certain level of saturation happens when you show the same offer to the people again and again and again, and again…
Gael: It’s worth doing kind of analytics for the networks, let’s say every 6 to 12 months because it really is time taking; for the emails, just create one big email and just sign up for all these email lists and essentially, your competitors are sending you email copies and offers directly to your inbox, they are doing a lot of the work for you, so it’s probably worth doing that I really like doing that and if you are doing any kind of email marketing, it’s not just email marketing, right, you could be putting offers on your thank you page, for example, when people sign up, you could be having a recommended deals page, you don’t necessary have to do email marketing for this stuff to work.
Mark: It just to get the ideas.
Gael: Yeah, also, you know, these products names, they usually have search volume, doing reviews, doing that kind of stuff, it definitely works as well, so it’s worth doing that every 6 to 12 months. Alright, this is the fourth time we record that podcast, and I think we went through Mark, congratulations.
Gael: Guys, we are going to actually close the podcast here, just to remind that we are opening Authority Hacker Pro on Monday, but, there is an early bird list, we are going to give a discount to people that sign up for the early bird list, before, so if you are interested in learning how to build highly profitable authority websites, we have a ton of training, we have over 200 training videos, we have an active Facebook community, we have monthly webinars with experts in this, giving feedback, lots of stuff, you will get all the details on Monday, but if you are somewhat interested I recommend you go on authorityhacker.com/pro right now, and you will be able to be on the early bird list and you will get all the information first and you will get a discount on Monday. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you guys on Monday. Bye.