As a result of their rapid growth, they've also got a stellar link profile.  It's a situation where because they rank well, they get more links, and the more links they get, the better all of their articles rank.  There are a number of reasons why this site has taken off, but overall it's an excellent site that has built a strong foundation on nothing but organic traffic.  I have no idea what strategy they used initially to get links and start getting the exposure that they did, but the growth that this site has experienced is extremely impressive to say the least.  I'd estimate their traffic figures to be between six and seven figures on a monthly basis.
The Wirecutter.com and TheSweetHome.com were sold a couple years back to the New York Times.  They were both Amazon Affiliate sites, and that's where most of their revenue came from then, and still comes from today.  When the sites were purchased, TheSweetHome.com was redirected to TheWireCutter.com as both sites had very similar content structures.  The WireCutter dominates organic search results for a lot of buyer-intent keywords, and is also a “verified expert reviewer” by Amazon.  The site gets huge amounts of organic traffic, and has gained massively in popularity and search positioning once it was purchase by the New York Times.  
While I'd still recommend that you go after a niche that has the potential to be the most profitable, you also need to be willing to publicly associate yourself with that niche and do whatever it takes to bring value add. You will need to become an authority – to fill some void or need – in that niche. Choose a topic you can push through The Dip on without losing interest. And typically, that means choosing a niche that surrounds a topic you truly enjoy. What are your current hobbies? What topic would you love to learn more about and immerse yourself in?
It is important to note, however, that StudioPress is now a subsidiary of WPEngine which is the company that actually does the web hosting on which StudioPress’s Genesis framework runs. The affiliate program only works with choosing the StudioPress framework and themes, not the actual hosting on WPEngine. WPEngine has a separate affiliate program for its hosting services, which yes, is a bit confusing.
Since you’re essentially a freelancer, you get ultimate independence in setting your own goals, redirecting your path when you feel so inclined, choosing the products that interest you, and even determining your own hours. This convenience means you can diversify your portfolio if you like or focus solely on simple and straightforward campaigns. You’ll also be free from company restrictions and regulations as well as ill-performing teams.
LearnHowToBecome.org is an education website that provides information to prospective students.  They have a lot of great content and cover just about every type of education field you can think of when it comes to finding out the best college path in a given profession.  A quick look at backlinks shows that they have tons of major educational institutions that they work with, which is a significant portion of their backlinking strategy.  The content is top notch, and the website is specifically designed to keep the users interacting with the comparison grids and searching through the best possible schools for their given topic.
Paid traffic refers to media buyers who purchase traffic from an existing site or ad network and attempts more or less an arbitrage play. The value add for the media buyers in this equation is the initial creative and also any additional pre-sell landing pages that will increase the conversion rate. If the revenue generated is greater than what you paid in traffic costs, then you're ROI positive.
It can mean sharing it on your social media profiles. It can mean including a few articles or video in your weekly newsletter that relate to your products. It can mean going on internet forums and replying to individuals whose questions you know how to answer. It can mean writing a guest post that gets your name and website name onto another person’s site, expanding your reach to their network as well.
My domain currently has a DA of 55 and I get 250,000-300,000+ pageviews/month. Interestingly enough, I had similar earnings on Amazon when I had a lower DA and fewer pageviews (just 175,000). I don’t know how many pageviews all of my Amazon posts have, but the main ones that deliver nice income probably vary from around 1,000 – 6,000 pageviews per month each. It looks like it’s mainly 10 articles driving these sales.
If one of your readers clicks on the link and goes on to purchase the book or ebook, you’ll receive a percentage of the sales price (it varies from retailer to retailer, but 5-7% is about average for books). You’ll also get a cut of other purchases the buyer may make during that shopping trip (with booksellers, there’s usually a 24-48 hour window during which you’ll get credit).

Ah, I see now, I was totally confusing the “competition” in Adwords with the low competition you talk about in your LongTail handbook. I actually used it as part of my screening criteria…oops. So I was looking for >1000 local searches, >$1.00 and Low Competition. I think I understand now to ignore the Competition column in the Adwords tool when searching for keywords. Thanks, guys!
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
TheSpruce.com is an interesting website for several reasons.  It started taking off in early 2017, specifically as a kitchen + food website.  The traffic growth is massive, and the website now ranks for millions of rather competitive keywords.  They have a small staff, and early on, focused on producing recipes, with high quality pinnable images (Pinterest) and even some very detailed videos that showcase how to cook or decorate parts of your home.  They accept contributor posts, but not unsolicited guest posts – and because of the domain authority, I'm sure there are food bloggers lining up to provide them extremely valuable content for free as long as they are featured on the site.
He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
The nice thing about those popular niches is that even though there's a lot of competition, there's also a lot of interested consumers! That's better than a smaller market where there are also a lot of sellers competing, but fewer potential customers. If you can find a way to differentiate yourself or offer a unique perspective on a particular niche, you should be fine!
Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
Here’s the deal – in our chosen example of ‘how to kiteboard’, there were just over 96,000 websites that popped up in a simple Google search on the keyword. Plus – I hit the refresh button 10-times and the only two PPC ad’s for the same keyword were the only two ad’s that were shown on each attempt. Meaning, there is very little ‘paid for’ competition.

There are some things that are confusing to a newbie such as "affiliate tracking" that isn't clearly explained, but (I'm old school) I have noticed that it is typical of writers in this day and age to assume that the readers understand most everything the author is talking about. Even when I took web design classes at a local college the instructors assume ALL students are millenials (I'm a gen X) and will not explain in more detail unless asked.

When you’re looking at affiliate sites like this one (and, indeed, when you’re planning your own affiliate site) ask yourself what the affiliate is trying to make you do (or what you want your own visitor to do). Question what desired action the affiliate is pushing for: do they want you to read their articles? Sign up for their newsletter? Click on their ads? You’ll often find yourself being gently directed towards a certain action in one way or another. This will be what the affiliate determines to be the course that will eventually get him or her the most money!
Because 2Checkout exclusively sells software and digital products, it is best suited for established influencers whose target audience is interested in buying products in this niche. But while you won’t find any physical products for sale, 2Checkout is probably the market leader in selling software of every type, including very specific use case items (like software that can convert Microsoft Word documents to PDF, for instance).
In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent[14] on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.[9]
This twice-monthly publication is apparently full of "informative articles, a question and answer section, site updates and more." This affiliate will probably use this e-zine either as an additional place to promote affiliate products or to get his readers back to his website by providing snippets of new articles with a "read more" link. By getting readers back to his site he's able to expose them to more promotions. 

4. Understand profitable problems deeply. It’s not enough to simply know that, for example, males between 18 and 25 are looking for hangover cures. You need to find out what exactly they want in a hangover cure, and the problems they have with current hangover cures. There’s more to it then simply finding your niche, however. You also need to understand the language they use in describing their ideal solution, so you can echo that language back to them in your ad copy, sales page copy, etc.
Don’t just hope and pray that visitors will buy; setup everything correctly and make it happen! If you think that visitors will click on your affiliate links and buy just because you placed dozens of affiliate links on your website then you are wrong! You need to have a structured plan in place. Affiliate marketing is a business so you will have a much better chance of succeeding if you treat it like one. 
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