Scaling with affiliate marketing is less complex than you think, as long as you have your systems in place, and a strategy to execute. Here’s exactly how you can scale your affiliate marketing site into a 7-figure business, and how building an audience at every step is key.
Individual SEO tactics change all the time, so these strategies are aimed as timeless principles to build your plans with.
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How to Scale Affiliate Marketing: Step-by-Step
There’s plenty to learn from how VC-backed SaaS and other startups operate, that can be applied in scaling with affiliate sites.
Let’s talk about how you can bootstrap a media empire without breaking the bank.
1. Pick the Right Niche for Your Affiliate Business
If you’re starting a site from scratch, consider a niche you’re passionate about, and what types of products you can promote or sell.
For example, affiliate giant Matt Diggity has shared his niche criteria, which includes anything to do with health, wealth, and relationships.
Remember: broad, profitable niches like these attract the top competitors, like Matt himself.
To make it easier, consider starting in a hobby niche. Hobby niches are generally less competitive, as they require more specific knowledge.
If you’re stuck for ideas, you’ll probably see what other affiliate sites are doing, but you could miss out on better opportunities if you follow their trail and try to carry out their strategy.
And, we also have a complete step-by-step validation process for choosing a niche for your blog.
2. Build An Audience That Keeps Coming Back
SEO is a high-converting form of traffic, and you’re in a great position if you’ve got a lot of recurring visitors.
But, it’s a fickle, faceless audience. They don’t tend to stick around.
When building an audience, aim to get them to come back, instead of clicking an affiliate link once, and leaving forever.
First, make sure you’re delivering fantastic value and delighting your readers.
Second, make sure you have good email conversion systems on your site, or perhaps even social media or a paid membership or Discord server for fans of your niche. I know some niche site owners doing well with Circle for premium communities, as well as Patreon, Payhip, or premium Slack groups.
3. Create More Types of Affiliate Content
You can use the products you’ve tested for product reviews in other types of affiliate content, including product round-ups (sometimes called “buyer’s guides” or “best” articles).
Some examples of affiliate keywords you can search specifically for in your keyword research tool include:
- How much does X cost
This type of content is an easy way to start generating traffic and revenue at the same time. For example, an article with the headline “10 Top Mechanical Keyboards to Start Owning in Your Games” targets gamers looking for a new keyboard.
As long as it is high quality and helpful, there is no issue with writing more affiliate content.
I do not believe having a high ratio of affiliate content is a factor in getting hit by Google updates – I have one site I haven’t touched in a while that earns more than $5,000 per month, and 90% of the URLs have “best” in them.
We built Lasso to help affiliate marketers make more from all these types of content. For example, our single product displays are ideal for product reviews, whereas our tables comparing either 2 or 3 products are ideal for “VS” articles, and “top 10” buyer’s guides.
Below is a table built using Lasso, by one of our customers, SmokedBBQSource:
This converts well, and looks high quality. It also saves readers time as a quick round-up, for those that don’t want to read 3,000 words and want a quick recommendation.
As long as you’re not spammy, and provide a helpful experience for the reader, having affiliate links should not affect your SEO or success with your affiliate business.
4. Build Your Authority with Informational Content
Informational content fleshes out your funnel with more helpful content for readers in the exploratory stage, as well as helping show you’re an expert on your niche with both topical coverage, and topical authority.
Informational content helps your audience trust you as they look for solutions to their problems.
It’s also the ideal content to get email subscribers from. Focus on exactly which lead magnets would work best on your info posts, and then see how you can scale your affiliate marketing efforts through your email strategy. (More on this later.)
While affiliate conversions on affiliate content can be so valuable that it can be tempting to forgo email pop-ups to just focus on the sale, you don’t have that issue with info content. So, you can fully focus either on sending readers to an affiliate post, or getting them to sign up for your newsletter (or both).
Info content is also more likely to naturally earn backlinks than affiliate content, and you can internally link from your info content to build the authority of your more profit-focused articles.
So, even if your informational posts aren’t going to scale your affiliate site to $1M+, they can help reinforce your authority, giving your affiliate posts the best chance to rank and earn you the big
5. Test More Affiliate Programs
Amazon Associates is a good affiliate marketing program for beginners because Amazon has a huge product selection, and high conversion rates.
However, the commissions aren’t great.
If you’re starting out, consider Amazon Associates first. Then, you can move to other affiliate programs for higher payouts as your audience grows.
However, Amazon Associates have a history of slashing commissions. Don’t become over-reliant on one single source of income – it can be taken away overnight.
Look for the affiliate programs in your niche, and test them on your affiliate content. The only metric that matters is EPC (earning per click), ignore commission rates or anything else.
Sometimes, offers with a lower commission rate can be the best, because they convert so well. Earning per click is the best metric for evaluating the success of an affiliate link or product.
You can also give your readers multiple options, so they can choose who to buy from. This is in Google’s Review guidelines.
Lasso makes it easy to manage links from multiple affiliate programs and create displays with multiple buying options. We have by default two buttons you can add affiliate links to in out displays.
You can either have one affiliate link, two affiliate links, or one affiliate link and an option to read more about the product, for example in a more in-depth review you have done. Here’s how it looks:
And, for testing affiliate programs, we have built Performance, an affiliate analytics tool for tracking all your affiliate statistics to give you all the data you need.
Performance will show you the EPC for every affiliate link on your site, as well as a complete breakdown of the CTR, and revenue of every page and link, and show you the complete revenue of every page on your site.
Using this data, you can make key changes to your affiliate blog posts, such as removing products that do not convert well, adding your best performers in more locations, and writing more content on certain topics, to scale the affiliate products and services that convert.
6. Outsource to Start Scaling Your Affiliate Marketing Site
To expand your business and maintain growth in traffic and revenue, you need to start removing yourself from it as much as possible.
The most significant time sink for affiliate sites is content creation, which is usually the first thing to get outsourced.
But, do not allow content quality to fall. Create effective SOPs (standard operating procedures) that make it as easy as possible for writers to adapt to your site’s writing style, and show exactly what you want from every type of affiliate content, and create briefs that make writing high-quality content easy.
Some SOPs I use for my affiliate sites include:
- An SOP for how we structure each type of affiliate content: product reviews, VS articles, buyer’s guides.
- An SOP for optimizing existing posts.
- An SOP for how to write content that converts well, and ranks well, based on Google’s Review guidelines.
- Internal linking SOP.
- How to write intros.
Try to hire experts in your niche, and if you have the budget, you can hire an editor to ensure quality standards never slip.
7. Diversify Your Affiliate Traffic Systems
With your content vault growing in volume, you need to broaden your reach. Affiliate sites are generally strong in SEO, but you shouldn’t be over-reliant on one traffic source.
I recommend you read our article on the other affiliate marketing traffic sources, which include paid ads, social media, and email. You’ll find certain content works better across different channels. The article linked in this paragraph goes into detail with examples, and how you can scale with those traffic sources.
Pinterest and YouTube work really well with affiliate marketing, but there are also opportunities on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, Reddit, and other social media, but you need to be more refined in your strategy.
This brings us onto our next topic: growing traffic via an email list.
8. Build An Email List
Building an email list is probably the most valuable thing you can do when scaling up your affiliate marketing. These are your fans, who have given you permission to keep contacting them and send them news, and exciting new offers about the niche.
Email lists are powerful for affiliate sites as Product Review updates specifically target them, and they can be heavily hit in Google updates. Once you have a list, it can’t be taken from you, and it’s also a great way to continue building relationships with your readers
Use lead magnets such as:
- White papers
- Free guides
- Long-form content
The best lead magnets feel so valuable to your readers that you could have sold it, but you’re being kind enough to give it away for free.
Then, keep optimizing your welcome sequence, so that the relationship-building emails gain trust and build a bond, and the emails with affiliate offers convert.
Then, you can keep emailing your list on an ongoing basis. With this, you can send traffic to your site, or directly to affiliate offers. Build a 10,000-strong email list and you can send hundreds of clicks wherever you want every week, and scale up your affiliate blogs.
9. Create an Editorial Calendar
With your systems and teams in place, you can start becoming more ambitious. Regroup and conduct a content audit to gauge which types of content have performed well.
Then, focus your keyword research around specific trends, and tailor your marketing strategy around evergreen topics.
With your topics planned out, create an editorial calendar to schedule different pieces and types of content on your various distribution channels. You could even create a pillar content piece and repurpose it into other assets for your multiple verticals.
To measure your marketing campaign’s success, you’ll need to track certain metrics to see if you achieved your KPI and production goals.
Some KPI goals could include:
- Traffic numbers
- Conversion rates
With content marketing, no one company’s goals will be the same as another. For example, you might be focused on boosting your CRO for specific landing pages, whereas your competitors are focused on traffic volume.
Examples of production goals include:
- Write X number of articles
- Record and upload X videos on YouTube
- Post X times on social media
What Does a 7-Figure Affiliate Site Look Like?
On the Empire Flippers marketplace, the average 7-figure affiliate business looks like this:
- Average sales price: $1,318,031.50
- Average monthly net profit: $28855.75
- Average monthly sales multiple: 46.5X
Sites are valued according to a simple formula:
Average Monthly Net Profit x Monthly Multiple
The average monthly net profit is usually calculated over a 12-month pricing period to account for traffic spikes and seasonality.
A lot goes into the sales multiple, such as business age, traffic diversity, and traffic stability. All of these factors tell buyers the quality of the net profit.
If the profit figure looks scary at first glance, don’t worry—you’re not expected to reach $25k overnight. Moreover, even if your business generates that much profit, your sales multiple might be lower due to other valuation factors.
If you’re curious to learn how much your business is worth, you can use this free valuation tool to get a ballpark figure.
How Will You Scale Your Affiliate Marketing Business?
These 9 steps to scaling with affiliate marketing are a good set of strategies, but not all will work for your specific niche, or where you’re at in your journey.
Both Andrew Fiebert, Lasso’s founder, and Jamie I.F. who heads up marketing for Lasso, have built 7-figure affiliate sites. And we build the tools we need to scale up our affiliate blogs in Lasso, because we know exactly what we need (and therefore what you need, too!).
So, if you have an affiliate site, and you want to scale up your revenue and increase your earnings and profit, I strongly recommend you check Lasso out. We’ve helped over 8000 sites drive huge affiliate revenue increases since we launched.
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