What started as a longtime hobby turned into a full-time income and a prestigious affiliate marketing award for US based marketer Kim Rowley.
A single mother of four from Nebraska, Kim was working in a doctor's surgery when she began affiliate marketing and learned about web pages because a doctor she worked for “liked to talk computers” and bought her a book to help her learn HTML.
She said she first learned about affiliate marketing when she realized there was money to be made by sharing her hobby of couponing with others.
“Couponing and rebating has always been a hobby of mine, thus one of the ‘hobby sites' that I first made that shared my hot deals that I found online,” she said.
“Originally I just made that site to share with family and friends, who in turn shared with their families and friends, and my visitor base just grew.”
Today, Kim's company owns more than 100 domain names across a wide variety of niches, a handful of which she personally contributes to. Most of these are in retail and couponing niches, but she also runs a business blog and a personal blog. Her first website, which she still runs, was about premature twins, inspired by her own experience of giving birth to twins prematurely,
Her sites include:
Shopping Bookmarks (her first and favorite site)
Steal The Style
Shop The Style (a new website using Shareist)
Work In My Pajamas (made because everyone kept wanting to “do what I do”)
House For Kim (more of a personal blog)
Kimarketing.com (Kim's corporate site)
The sites Kim (pictured, RIGHT) contributes to are all based on topics she is passionate about – couponing, shoes, shopping and fashion. The methods Kim uses to monetize her sites are diverse and dictated by the sites' audience.
“Each site is monetized differently according to the demographics,” she said.
“So one site could mostly use affiliate product links and CPA offers, while another could use Google AdSense and sponsored posts.”
As for traffic, the visits each site gets are as diverse as Kim's monetization strategies with some sites generating hundreds of visitors each month while others have more than 100,000 monthly visitors.
Kim attributes a lot of that success to her keen use of her go-to marketing strategy – social media.
To Kim, it's all about showing her followers that there is a real person behind the posts and encouraging them to follow her and interact with her personally.
“I encourage my loyal visitors to follow me on social media to keep up on the latest deals and/or happenings, and I can see from my stats an increase in traffic every time I post,” she said.
“I try to keep my social media accounts personalized so my followers know it's a “real person” and not just automated posts. I do use Hootsuite Pro to automate and schedule some posts across the social networks, but I also use it to monitor responses and interact with others.”
Social media aside, strong content is at the heart of everything Kim does. All of her sites are blogs using WordPress. She says blogs are a great way of keeping up with posting unique content, and, as Kim says, unique content is essential for search engine optimization.
Kim insists the quality of the content you post is very important – affiliate marketers need to write from the heart, be prepared to pay for strong content and allow on-topic guest posts in order to generate the strongest content possible for your website.
Affiliate Marketing Award
And clearly, Kim's efforts have paid off. Last year, she was awarded the Affiliate Marketing Legend Pinnacle Award.
According to the Affiliate Summit website, “The Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards are affiliate marketing's most prestigious, competitive honor for the leaders in the space. Award winners are recognized because they are innovative leaders with vision and influence.”
Kim says she was honoured and a little surprised to receive the award, which was presented to her during the Affiliate Summit conference in Las Vegas in 2012.
Kim is a regular at such events and is a firm believer that affiliate marketers at all levels can benefit greatly by learning new techniques and making the most of networking opportunities.
“I suggest any newbie in affiliate marketing attend an Affiliate Summit event (conference or monthly meet-up) as I've learned several tricks of the trade on how to make my affiliate sites more effective, from search engine optimization to monetization,” she said.
“I've also been able to network with like minds and to come away with new business partners and friends.”
There For Her Family
Kim's sentiments about her online career mirror those of many seasoned affiliate marketers – she relishes the opportunity to be there for her family. While she declined to share her income with us, she has done well enough financially to be able to provide for herself and her four children. She has worked from home full-time since 2001. She began affiliate marketing in 1998.
“My kids have a lot of medical issues, so it's been a godsend that I'm able to work around all their medical appointments or from a hospital on my laptop if needed,” she said.
“Plus I'm able to attend school functions and sporting events without having to ask for time off. I consider my ‘office hours' to be while the kids are in school, so that's when I schedule conference calls and such.
“But I love that I can work from home so when I have a brainstorm idea in the middle of the night, I can get up to act on it.”
In terms of the hours she puts in, Kim says that every day is different but she often works more than 40 hours a week – and sometimes double that – but because she finds affiliate marketing fun it doesn't seem like work.
One of her key issues in finding – and keeping – success online has been keeping up with changes in the world of affiliate marketing and search engines.
“I have to keep evolving as everything can change from day to day, like if Google changes their algorithm, your site visitors could drop or increase at the drop of a hat. Therefore you'd want to step up your SEO tactics or figure out how to better monetize the new traffic.”
As for advice for those starting out, Kim recognizes it's harder to get into affiliate marketing now than it was 10 years ago. She believes that keeping things fresh and thinking outside the box to come up with new ideas are essential for any new affiliate marketer wanting to find success.
- You can turn a hobby into a business. (Kim loves shoes and couponing.)
- Write about things you're passionate about. (Fortunately for Kim, there's strong demand for things she's passionate about. That's a powerful combination: passion AND demand.)
- Reveal your personality. Write from the heart.
- Use social media to encourage people to interact with you.
- Use WordPress to organize content.
- Use HootSuite to automate and schedule messages, track conversations, and measure campaigns.
- Unique content is essential.
- Be prepared to pay for strong content.
- Allow on-topic guest posts.
- Attend conferences for education and networking.
- Keep learning and adapting.
- Enjoy what you do.