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What Not To Do When Starting An Affiliate Niche Site

An affiliate niche site is the holy grail of passive income business. After all, it’s a 24/7 money-making machine that will make you money even when you sleep!

However, there’s a lot of work (read: hustle) that goes into taking an affiliate niche site to a point where it can actually generate a decent monthly income.

Whether it’s spending hours choosing the right design…

Or analyzing hundreds (if not thousands) of websites to find juicy keywords…

…it’s often a dreadful process that can quickly leave you pulling your hair out (yikes!).

The bottom line is that building a successful niche site is quite complex and definitely not for the faint-hearted.

In fact, it’s common for beginners to quit their niche site after just a few weeks. Some barely even get past their first article!

The problem with starting a niche site is that it’s quite easy to get lost in the technicals. There’s also a lot of information overload out there which makes it quite easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis.

Starting a niche site problem for affiliate niche site

Sounds familiar?

This is where I come in and tell you exactly what NOT to do when starting an affiliate niche site!

In this article, I break down the most common mistakes made when starting a niche site. Furthermore, I share better alternatives to help you get started on the right foot.

The goal is to stop you from getting distracted with shiny object syndrome and help you focus on KPIs that will actually get the needle moving.

So, let’s get started!

What is an affiliate niche site?

An affiliate niche site is a website that is focused on a particular niche. The content is mainly focused on reviews or response posts (user targeted posts).

For example, Pack Hacker is an affiliate niche site dedicated to the travel backpacks niche:

Example of affiliate niche site from Pack Hacker

The goal of this niche site is to serve as a reliable source to help those interested in backpacks make a purchase or get better informed in that particular niche.

The main incentive behind an affiliate site is the commission offered for the linked sale which can range anywhere between 2% to as high as 50% (or even more!).

For this reason, many marketers spend a ton of resources building sites for pretty much any niche (as long as it’s profitable).

Amazon effective affiliate program for affiliate niche site

Thanks to Amazon’s effective affiliate program, you can quickly set yourself up with an affiliate account in no time. It’s important to note that Amazon is one of the biggest affiliate programs in 2019.

However, as mentioned before – succeeding in affiliate marketing is no easy feat and especially if you don’t know what you’re doing…

So, consider the following mistakes and definitely avoid them at all costs:

Mistake #1 – Get stuck picking the right niche

While picking a niche is a relatively simple task, most people never get past this step. The problem is most people get stuck in the perfection trap and fuss over doing everything just right.

Spoiler alert: it’s never going to be perfect!

Here’s what you should do instead:

Though picking a niche is important it’s not vital to the success of your affiliate site. In fact, you can make money in pretty much ANY niche. The only driving factor is whether you’re actually willing to put in the work.

In my case, I write only review products I actually use and have expertise in; like this Grammarly Review (which would be an extremely boring topic for someone that isn’t into content).

So, when you’re starting a niche site – first think if you can really write 30k words of content. If you can’t do only this then you can’t write the 100k that’s going to follow.

On another note, I recommend checking out this Reddit group called ‘Just Start’:

Reddit group Just Start for affiliate niche site

This group is dedicated towards affiliate marketers starting a niche site and has a ton of case studies for motivation to get you started.

Mistake #2 – Spending countless hours on design

Let me ask you a question: When you start an affiliate niche site, how many people are actually going to see it?

Don’t strain yourself – The answer is no one!

SEO in 2019 is extremely competitive, and your affiliate site is probably not going to get much traffic in the first few months. So, there’s absolutely no reason to waste countless hours on website design.

It’s easy to see an excellent niche site and get flashed by their awesome design. But everyone starts somewhere and you definitely do not need the same design as a top niche site!

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Here’s what you should do instead:

A good niche site design is one that is both SEO and user-friendly. After all, your readers are coming for the content and not the design (at least at the start!).

Mark Quadros for affiliate niche site

In my case, I keep things simple, clean (free of gimmicky designs) and focus on two things; promoting my service, and my content. Many people may view this design as ‘boring’ and not cutting-edge, but my readers come for the content and NOT the visuals.

Moreover, having a clean and simple design gives you A-level performance on search engines:

Performace report on search engine for affiliate niche site

So, how did I get this score?

  1. A simple SEO friendly theme.
  2. A top-notch service.

Here are my recommendations for SEO-friendly niche site themes:


Generate Press for affiliate niche site

A lightweight budget-friendly theme with a simple and minimalist design. In fact, I personally use this for my website and thus can confidently recommend it.


Studio Press for affiliate niche site

A top-notch theme with the cleanest code, turnkey design solutions, and other essential SEO-friendly integrations.

Note: I have personally used both themes, and find them to be quite similar. The only real difference is you’ll have a ton of design options with StudioPress.

Here is my recommendation for hosting:


Site Ground for affiliate niche site

I personally use this hosting for all my websites and have had a fantastic experience with SiteGround. This server has excellent site-infrastructure backed by top-notch support.

Fun fact: SiteGround is the  #1 rated WordPress hosting in the market.

Mistake #3 – Get stuck in keyword research

I’ll be honest; picking the right keywords is an important part of setting up an affiliate site. However, it’s practically impossible to predict which keywords will actually make you money!

Moreover, Google’s search engine is not like what it used to be… It has evolved into a  sophisticated algorithm that uses several different ranking factors. This makes it impossible to ‘game’ the search engine with just keywords.

Yes, you can use HQ tools like SEMRush and AHref, but these tools only give you an estimate and not the actual keyword volume. So, it’s a terrible idea to spend countless hours choosing the ‘right’ keywords.

Here’s what you should do instead:

Keyword research gives you real data on what users are actually searching for and writing content based on this data drastically increases your chances of getting more traffic.

So how should you research keywords?

Now, the entire process of keyword research is beyond the scope of this article. But, this video should give you a pretty good idea:

Additionally, I’ve shared the core fundamentals you should focus on to avoid getting stuck while doing keyword research.

Note: I use ahrefs for my keyword research as it is great for competitor analysis and has the most extensive interface as opposed to Ubersuggest (a free KW research tool).

Step 1: Find ‘weak competitors’

The main goal of keyword research for affiliate niche sites is to help you find keywords you can actually beat. After all, there are only one a few spots on the first page of google.

Especially if you’re starting a new niche site with no authority, you can’t possibly rank for popular keywords that are monopolized by high DA niche sites.

Instead, you should niche down and compete with low DA niche sites or simply sites that publish low-quality thin content aka ‘weak competitors.’

Now, how do you find these ‘weak competitors’?

That’s simple, long tail keywords; slightly longer queries that target a niche within a niche (like inception).

For example, analyzing the keyword ‘11-inch laptops’, helped me find a lot of weaker niche sites  I could actually compete with:

Ahrefs SERP analysis report for affiliate niche site

Ahrefs SERP analysis report

After all, long tail (and niche-specific) keywords are usually targeted by relatively new niche sites (weak competitors).

Consider the following format: [modifier] + [Niche]

Step 2: Find low-hanging fruit keywords

Once you find ‘weak competitors’ your goal is to find keywords that are bringing them traffic. Aka ‘low-hanging fruit’ keywords.

To find this you’ll need to use a keyword research tool with good competitor analysis capability. But, regardless of the tool, I recommend using the following filters:

Note: Adjust these numbers as per the competition in your niche.

The idea is to find lucrative keywords that are relatively easier to rank for aka ‘low hanging fruit’ keywords.

Step 3: Create a TO WRITE list

Once you have your low-hanging fruit keywords, create an organized google sheet and arrange these articles based on your preferences.

A ‘To Write’ list helps keep me on track and saves me a ton of time having to search for new articles to write. Moreover, Google loves it when you’re regularly churning out new content.

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Additionally, I use “Not done,” “done” and “next” labels that are actually quite motivating because I love the feeling of adding a green ‘done label’ when I’m done with an article.

Mistake #4 – Spend hours writing perfect Blog articles

Another common amateur mistake is spending countless hours writing the ‘perfect’ blog article. Yes, content is definitely important, but that doesn’t mean you should break your head writing the best article in your niche.

As mentioned before, your affiliate niche site is barely going to get any traffic in the first few months. So, it doesn’t make sense writing perfect articles for an audience that doesn’t exist!

Moreover, blogging is a continuous process. You will definitely have to change up your content to keep up with trends. For example, a review article ‘best backpacks in 2019’ will need a significant rework every six months.

So, it’s a terrible idea to spend hours making something ‘perfect’ when you’ll have to change it in the future. Remember, there is never a perfect blog article.

Here’s what you should do instead:

When writing blog articles, write enough to meet reader intent. Remember, publishing content is more important than having spectacular content (at least at the start).

So, write decent articles to cover major points in an easy to read and friendly format.

This is a glimpse of an outline I use when writing backpack reviews:

Backpack review for affiliate niche site

As you can see, I already have a decent outline before I even start to write an article. This saves me time and energy as now I don’t need to write a fresh outline.

Mistake #5 – Waste time on monetization

As mentioned before, an affiliate site takes time to build traffic. So, it’s not logical to spend time on optimization and monetization (at least at the start!).

Most beginners spend hours making affiliate accounts, looking for Amazon products and then finally adding them to the articles. This process can take hours!

While monetization is important – it’s not logical to spend hours optimizing something that barely gets any traffic. Instead, your goal should be to publish as much content as you can.

Here’s what you should do instead:

Instead of doing monetization after every article, do monetization for multiple articles after a specific performance metric (like ranking).

For example, you could only write articles for two months and then monetize all your articles with affiliate links. This will help efficiency and ultimately make you more money.

Additionally, you can monetize articles once after they reach a particular metric (visitors per day or position) which is the right time to monetize an article.

Pro tip: Integrate your website with Google trackers (analytics, search console) to track the performance of your site.

[BONUS] Mistake #6 – Doing everything yourself

Blogging in 2019 is competitive. In fact, unless you are posting 16+ times a month, your competitors (that are) are going to 3x your traffic!

Yes, you can block a certain amount of your time every day, but can you really consistently write HQ blog posts (and do the other bits of your blog)?

Well, you can try but this is going to cost you your social life. In fact, I made the mistake of doing everything myself and almost quit blogging because of terrible burnout.

This is where automation comes in and helps you remove yourself as a bottleneck, and leaves you with a ton of time and energy that can be spent towards tasks that actually move the needle (think: building backlinks).

I recommend using Upwork to find a reliable freelancer to outsource your blogging requirements.

Also, Here are a few areas you can automate:

  • Content writing
  • Content management (editorial calendar, scheduling posts, managing writers, etc.)
  • Admin work (maintaining the blog)
  • Social media marketing (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.)

Quick recap: Best practices to build a niche site in 2019

  1. Choose a niche you’re most comfortable with.
  2. Pick a simple and SEO-friendly theme.
  3. Find low-hanging fruit keywords.
  4. Make a To-Write list with a schedule.
  5. Optimize articles after gaining traction.
  6. Outsource to avoid burnout.

So there you have it, common mistakes you should definitely avoid when starting an affiliate niche site.

Remember, don’t get overwhelmed with non-productive tasks. Instead, focus on doing KPIs that will actually get the needle moving.

Guest author: Mark Quadros is a freelance content marketer who specializes in long, detailed, and data-backed content for SaaS and online businesses. Find out more about Mark on his website, or connect on Twitter and Linkedin.

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