This is a guest post Remy Bernard, a chef, mother and entrepreneur who operates Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes, a home and cookware review website that generates revenue from the Amazon Affiliate Program. She parlayed her knowledge of the kitchen into a passive income revenue stream while still working full-time and taking care of 3 kids.
In January of last year, I decided to take my love of cooking and somehow turn it into a passive income stream.
Just to qualify the advice I’m about to give you a little, after a year of hard work, my blog is now earning around $1,000 per month—some months even more than that. I’m a mother of 3, work a full-time job and built this project when I had extra time after work. I also had no previous web design or marketing experience outside of what I had done for my business (which wasn’t a lot), and I don’t consider myself especially proficient in technology.
I tell you this not to brag, but to hopefully convince you that if I can do it, you can too.
Even though it felt completely beyond me, and I had a few friends telling me that making money on the internet “wasn’t real,” I made the decision to dedicate at least six months of working on it for a few hours a day after work—just to see what kind of traction I could get.
I knew that I wanted to create a blog where I could post regularly, but had a lot of trouble figuring out the best way to monetize it.
After some research, I had decided that I was going to focus on solid content, throw up some AdSense ads and hope for the best.
Spoiler Alert: don’t do that.
Luckily, one night during my initial development phase, I came across a blog that wrote mainly about the Amazon Affiliate Program.
For anyone that isn’t familiar, the Amazon Affiliate Program will give you a small percentage (starts at 4%) of any sale you make on their website after someone clicks through to Amazon using one of your affiliate links.
The sweetest part, I think, is that this holds true for the 24 hours after they click your link as well.
If one of your clicks wakes up the next morning and decides to buy a new refrigerator, you’re getting a commission. In fact, many of the purchases I get commission for have absolutely nothing to do with the products I have chosen to promote.
To me, this seemed like a much better plan.
Write review guides (like this one) about cooking and home products that I use and like, and when someone goes to Amazon to check them out and hopefully buy, I get a cut.
The fee structure is tiered, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward.
However, while the premise is simple, and you can go all in right away or (start slow), the worlds of web design, SEO, link-building and social media are there own beasts to tame.
And while most people spend years and years mastering these arenas, there are a few basics you can grasp right out of the gate that will put you miles ahead of your competition.
Building Your Site, Hosting and Themes
I am not going to go too in-depth here because this information is literally everywhere on the Internet and it’s not really what this post is about, but I will quickly go over what I use and some of the very basics.
Hosting is entirely up to you, and all the major players in the space will work well. GoDaddy is what I personally use, but HostGator, BlueHost, SiteGround, etc., will all work fine.
When it comes to building the website or blog, I have one word for you: WordPress.
This is the most widely used content management system on the Internet and for darn good reason. It makes adding and editing content easy, any major host you use is going to offer one-click installation of it on your domain, and most importantly, you can make great looking sites through the use of themes without having to hire someone to do it for you. Speaking of themes, I would pick something simple and fast. I think My Theme Shop is great for this (all their themes are super fast which Google loves), but you can also hit up Theme Forest and browse through there as well. Avoid the temptation to go super fancy and get a theme with all the bells and whistles. These themes tend to be slow (which you definitely don’t want) and you never end up using all the features anyway.
Another huge plus for WordPress are the huge amount of free plugins that can boost up the functionality of your site. Adding features like a review pricing table, a newsletter pop up or an author bio box at the end of your posts is just a few clicks away. There are almost 50,000 free plugins available so if you need it, there is most likely a plugin that can do it.
Choosing Your Amazon Niche
This is going to probably be the most important decision you make so do your research.
Your niche, or the topic of your blog, is going to determine who your website is for, the kind of products you promote, and the type of money you stand to earn.
For me, I’m a chef and I love to cook, so making a website about cookware and kitchen appliances was natural. However, if you don’t have an obvious go-to niche, that’s OK too.
Just remember, whatever you choose, you will be spending a lot of time with this topic, so make sure it’s something you don’t mind writing and learning about.
It’s also a good idea to choose products that have a value of at least $50. That way, when someone does buy it, the 4% starting commission isn’t extremely low.
The real process of niche selection and keyword competition is outside the scope of this post, but I would suggest this article if you’re serious about learning more. In fact, that entire website is packed with good info so once you are done here, head over there and read as much as you can.
Writing Your Content
When it comes to writing the content for your website you have two options.
1. Write the content yourself (which is what I did)
2. Hire someone else to do it.
This is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to have some type of interest in the niche you choose.
If you think it’s boring, writing content about it will be boring too. If you don’t have any desire to learn more or teach others about it, building this website up to something you can be proud of will be a long, long road. My site also got off the ground on a shoestring budget, so hiring someone was out of the question. But if you have money to invest, you can find writers on sites like UpWork who have written this type of content many times before.
What to Write
There are Amazon Affiliate websites that cover ever niche imaginable, but many of them follow a similar structure.
You have probably come across them researching a purchase and not even known it. Go to Google and type in “best x” (x being a random product you have in your home), and you will find many sites that are the Top 10 products individually reviewed, with links leading you to Amazon.
If you aren’t getting the results like I described, click here to see one of mine and you will instantly know what I’m talking about.
All of my product review guides, for the most part, follow the same structure: why to buy, what to look for, and what to buy. Each guide is at least 2,000 words and I try to provide as much value as possible to my readers. For example, say your chosen niche is air purifiers. It’s your responsibility to go out and collect all the information that a buyer would want to know before making an informed purchase, and condense it into a concise and interesting format. You want the visitor to feel confident they have found the info they were looking for, and are ready to click through and buy it. Here is one of my longer guides on dutch ovens. It took about 4 hours to research and another week to write. If this sounds like a lot of work to you, keep in mind that this article alone has the potential to earn me $15-$30 per day.
SEO and Link-Building
Once you have all your content in place, the next step is to get it ranking in the search engines.
When someone Googles “best product in your niche,” you want to be in that coveted #1 spot.
To get there, your written content is going to be your car, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and links are going to be the fuel.
Please keep in mind, it took about 6 months for my site to start appearing in search engines and to make my first sale. But in those six months, I did not get discouraged and I stayed consistent. If there is one piece of advice I could offer you, it’s that.
It can be slow going as the search engines come to trust your site over time and you may not see any action on your site for months. But if you keep producing content and building links, the results will come.
SEO and building links are endlessly nuanced topics and there are people out there far more qualified to talk about it than me.
I do, however, have one piece of guide advice when it comes to these subjects. Pick one person to listen to and follow them until you see results. Only then would I start to branch out and diversify your knowledge. I probably did this too early on, and as a result, lost focus when I didn’t have to.
You are probably asking at this point who I listen to and I can, without hesitation, say that for on-site and off-site SEO, there is no one better than Matt Diggity. He’s an incredibly successful SEO and is extremely generous with his knowledge. When looking to optimize your content and site for search engines, his “Evergreen SEO Guide” is about as good as it gets, and it’s free. This is where you should start about learning SEO and link building.
I implore you, start there and only after you have grasped the basics consider paying for a course.
They key to growing your affiliate site as big as it can get is to always be tweaking to increase conversions, adding fresh content and blog posts, and building links and relationships with other bloggers and people in your niche.
My site has been up for about a year and I am just getting started.
Like anything, your website should grow as your knowledge and skillset does.
An affiliate site is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun, and can be as big or small as you have time for.