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Affiliate Marketing Case Study: John Gibb
Some people I meet online have quietly built large affiliate businesses. John Gibb is one of these. After I chatted with him recently, he agreed to answer some questions about one of his websites, his business and his affiliate marketing approach. And yes, he's a longtime reader of the AssociatePrograms.com newsletter.
He has built a collection of income producing affiliate websites. For example, John has 10 mini-sites grown into authority websites all bringing in $1000 to $3000 a month. He has also built extra mini-sites on the back-end each bringing in $100 to $500 a month.
John's a clever marketer and has a lot to teach. Enjoy this case study and make sure that you keep notes on the points that you can apply in your business.
Site Type: Nutrition Information
Owner: John Gibb
Traffic/mth: Currently at 60,000 visits a month
Revenue/mth (roughly): Up to $3000 a month
Target Market: I target the health niche and specifically those seeking natural health supplements.
Theme/Topic: Alternative Nutritional Supplements
Top 3 Marketing Strategies: These are currently web 2.0 marketing, SEO marketing and power-linking websites that point links to my website.
1. Can you give us some background on yourself? Tell us a bit about your career experience before you first got started online.
My name is John Gibb and I’m 27 years old. I’ve been involved in creating websites and online marketing since 2003. Before I started learning how to make money online, I worked in IT support taking care of problems and calls from various customers.
I realized at a very young age that working a job and working for someone else was never going to be the path I would take in life. After taking enough orders from my previous boss, I left the rat race and vowed to pursue self employment no matter what.
I never went back to a job again.
My first business was working as a trader selling electrical goods at various markets across the United Kingdom. I also branched this off and started selling on eBay too. This particular business became much like a full-time job and I gradually weaned away from doing this while I learned more and more about making money over the Internet through websites.
2. How long has your site been on the Web?
The website being profiled has been on the Internet since 2005. However, I left it for a few years as I was currently applying my system for creating an income to multiple mini-sites. Around 2007, I started building the website up, added a newsletter and added unique articles building the website out bit by bit.
3. Is it your first website? If not, how many other sites have you had?
No, I have had hundreds of websites in the past, one of which I even sold on the AssociatePrograms.com forum. That particular website was aimed at the computer and printer industry and the main method of monetization was the Google AdSense program.
4. Can you tell us where the idea for your current site came from?
I got the idea for the nutritional supplement website from a fellow online marketer who was interviewed and profiled in the same ebook I was in back in 2005. This was called “Niche Site Confessions” and was featured on AssociatePrograms.com too.
The person I learned from was working the health niche and was driving an incredible amount of sales as an affiliate for a natural health company that pay for the lifetime of each customer.
I began my ongoing education learning everything I could over email from the man who would go on to become my online mentor.
5. How did you go about developing the website? Who set it up for you?
I developed this website myself including the content. The only aspect I outsourced was the theme for the website. I used a special template to save me the headache of coding the entire website.
6. What is your target market?
Again, my target is the health niche. To be specific, the main target is those people looking for natural health supplements or natural health remedies.
7. Why did you make the choice to run your business on the web?
I wanted to work from the Internet for two main reasons:
The first reason is because I am not a fan of schedules or the mundane routine of a 9-5 job. I knew that if I set a business up online, I would be free to work in the morning, at night, or whenever I wanted too.
This was the perfect setup for me, meaning I could just take a break and go to the beach, or even take care of day to day matters while everyone is at work, thus avoiding all the queues. I liked the idea of working around what I wanted to do or needed to do.
The second reason was because I wanted the option to be able to work from anywhere in the world, or any specific location within my home country. So for example, if I take a vacation break, I can still run my business and manage everything no matter where I am in the world.
8. What kind of revenues are you earning? Where/who from?
My best day for a few months was 109 sales in one day. However, a few weeks ago I beat my own record and did 143 affiliate sales in one single day. The revenues I earn vary immensely from day to day, much like any business related to making product sales.
I don’t like to go in to specifics with daily earnings and revenue for privacy reasons. However, my average commission ranges from $3 to $10 per sale, so you can work out some of the days I have had based on these figures.
Some high ticket health products I promote can generate me as much as $280 in commission payment per sale of that particular health product. So if I get a few of these in a day too, I’ve done extremely well.
9. Can you give us some insight into your favorite marketing strategies?
My favorite marketing strategies are using my own personal system which I have developed over the last few years. The system consists of creating mini-sites, targeting high converting health products, growing out web authority and snow-balling traffic from a variety of external platforms.
In the end, it all comes down to SEO marketing with some of my own twists for pointing links to links that are already pointing to my mini-sites making them much stronger and passing more and more link juice to the mini-sites.
10. What kind of traffic are you seeing to the site (visitors a month)?
Currently the traffic is topping off at around 1800 to 2000 visits a day.
11. Where are people finding you?
I am seeing traffic from various web 2.0 platforms, the top article directories, and from many different pages listed in the top search engines.
12. Do you use SEO to build traffic?
My whole system is based on SEO. The game is constantly changing and you have to be prepared to change what you are doing and embrace adaption over time. It’s an ongoing challenge but if you rise to it, the rewards are ongoing.
13. Do you use pay-per-click advertising?
I prefer SEO methods to PPC because you don’t have to analyze everything in so much detail. If you get a day wrong in PPC, it can cost you a fortune.
Not to put down PPC by any means, it’s a great way to drive targeted traffic fast - and people make fortunes doing so. However, I just prefer knowing that my visitors are coming to me for free once I have put in the investment of time.
14. Have you built a mailing list? How big is your list?
Yes, I have several newsletter lists in the health niche. They all vary but most of them are above 1000 subscribers currently. The subscriber list for the website being profiled is around 5000 subscribers at the moment.
However, the daily sign-up rate ranges from 10 to 50 per day. I predict that it will grow to double the size, maybe even treble within the next year.
I entice people to sign up for the newsletters by offering a free health ebook, then I do a series of emails talking about natural health and some of the health products I use and why.
15. What kinds of challenges exist for people in your market?
That’s a good question and there are lots of challenges for people in this niche. Every day I get emails asking about my opinions on certain health matters, or if I like this product and if I have used a particular product. You need to know your topic theme, and understand the niche you work in if you run a newsletter.
You don’t have to reply to every email, but if you to reply to as many as you can, you gain more credibility and people will trust your recommendations more.
16. Would you say there are any mistakes you've made along the way?
Yeah – every day I make mistakes but every day is another chance for me to be the best I can be. Life is all about mistakes but you learn from them, improvise and adapt. If you can apply this to affiliate marketing, you will get ongoing results.
17. Could you tell us 3 tips that you wished you had known or learned when you first started your site?
I wish had of known the power of residual income and promoting health programs that pay for the lifetime of the customer.
I also wish that that I focused on making affiliate sales in the early days rather than going for Google AdSense revenue. I would be making quadruple the sales I am now if I had started doing things the way I am now, back then.
My final wish is that I should have been outsourcing my articles much earlier as soon as I was in profit. That way I would have grown more and more mini-sites and more and more websites of authority that much faster.
18. Could you tell us about 3 things that have made the most difference to the success of your site or improve the cashflow?
Sure, the first one is adding more unique articles that pre-sell health products overtime. The second is power-linking the links that point to the website. I have seen impressive traffic jumps every time I have done this.
And finally, varying where I get links from. Recently there was a major change at Google, however my website came out on top. I believe it was because the website has a wide variety of incoming links, coupled with many pages of unique content.
In the end, I am trying to help people to improve their health by giving useful information.
When you write an article, think about what someone is looking for when they type in that keyword, write about it and give them the information they seek. If you do this, over time the search engines will reward you for it.
I’m not saying any website I create is safe from algorithm changes. The truth is any website can take a hit. However, I believe if you diversify what you are doing on each mini-site, you will stand the test of time.
Recently, the famous EzineArticles.com took a major traffic hit, so no website is bulletproof. That doesn’t mean EzineArticles.com lost its authority and using that site is no good any more, far from it.
In fact, now would be a good time to use such a platform as most people quit, thinking that article marketing is dead. Changes like this level the playing field.
By the time you have more customers built up under you for various different health companies you won’t be worrying about these algorithm changes any more.
19. If you had a complete newbie sitting down in front of you right now, what advice would you give them as they're just getting started on the Web?
Unsubscribe from all the newsletters you’re on trying to work all of this affiliate marketing out. Many of them will just try to sell you product after a product filling you with far too much over-promise and then constantly under-delivering.
Subscribe to a quality newsletter like AssociatePrograms.com that is reputable and contains practical information you can use to grow your online business.
Focus on one working method until you make that work for you. Rinse and repeat that method until you’re at the level you want to be, and then diversify your income by applying what you know on various companies and products.
20. How would you say running your site has affected the way you live your life now?
I don’t answer to anyone any more and that is the greatest achievement for me. I love the feeling of being my own boss and making money while helping people at the same time.
The only person I answer to is myself and that’s the way I like it. Of course my old man still tries to tell me what to do, but that will go on for the rest of my life no matter how successful I become ☺
To Your Success
[UPDATE: John is now providing elite private affiliate training. He does a surprising amount of the work for you - even creating a new website for you each month. I recommend you check it out.]
Learn from an affiliate veteran.
Your host, Allan Gardyne, has been earning a good living from affiliate programs since 1998.