About a year ago I started a private group with some friends from a Google+ group that was being managed by Larry Deane, the owner of SideIncomeBlogging. This idea was a proposal from my part to build a private group where we could talk openly about our websites, rankings and things that worked back in the day, including PBNs and more, and initially I meant it to be like a niche challenge focused on building Amazon/Adsense sites.
Of course, what we want is many times far away from what we end up doing, and this was no exception. We started the group with around 15 members but then it was reduced to 10 members after 2 months where we realized some of them weren’t really interested in participating.
We kick them out.
Some of them didn’t even post 1 single tie in 2 months, while the rest of us were pretty active and we were talking about anything related to SEO and niche sites, including PBNs, ranking tools, monetization methods, Amazon accounts, designs and more. This group alone is worth a lot because is my first go-to when I have a question around the niche site world.
The Power of Mastermind
Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because I want to highlight the power of networking. Many people hate it because they think they can work from home and have no connection with the outside world.
Well, you can…
But you’re missing big if you think you don’t have anything to learn from others. A Mastermind is a great way to have people “around” you doing similar stuff and helping each other emotionally and practically is a great way to keep sanity and learn faster while making some great connections.
This has lead me to meet and stay close to many people in the industry like:
- Larry and Matthew who earn around 1-2k per month
- Kent, Aaron and Hieu who all earn $50-200 per day with Amazon
- Dave who focused his efforts in building the perfect theme for Amazon Affiliate sites and launched it on Clickbank
- Chris Lee who earns more than 10k per month with Adsense
- Zach and Robert Halpern, who are working and earning 5-10k per month with Amazon sites.
Zach Gray is my special invitee today, and he started working on Amazon Affiliate Sites around a year ago. It all started when he bought a website from Flippa and looks like there’s nothing that could stop him to make a great living with the Amazon Associates program.
I contacted him and decided to make him a small interview to know how he’s developed this business so fast and what’s working at this moment.
Zach is kind of a low profile guy. What I mean by this is that he had no blog or anything else going on besides his niche sites, which means he was focused on building his empire instead of trying to market himself. That’s good but because he’s having great results I recommended him to open a blog to document his journey.
His blog is called Skip the Sandbox and while it’s totally new, Zach will be documenting his journey there every once in a while. Make sure you add it to your bookmarks if you’re really into Amazon Affiliate sites.
Anyway, let me quickly explain how’s this going to work.
- Bold text means it’s a question. Hey Zach, whats going up?
- Classic Text means Zach is answering the question: Hey Servando, what’s up?
- Italic means I’m adding comments to his answers: Look, I’m a comment!
Easy, right? Let’s get started with the interview ?
1. Well, aside from the little introduction, could you tell us a bit more about yourself? What do you do?
My name is Zach Gray. I am currently living in Kansas City but plan on moving to Belize by the end of the year. I used to be a security salesmen but with the help of the company that employed me I am now working full time as the COO of Evolving Wisdom a company started by me, my wife, and her dad. My business started from the purchase of a website from Flippa which I grew leading to buying another and then another website with the earnings to the point that I now run a large scale Affiliate program of sites.
Belize? Really? Well, you’ll be “close” to México, so if we can ever meet, that would be great. But why? Can you comment about this decision?
2. What kind of numbers have you been pulling lately with Amazon Affiliates?
We average somewhere between 7k-10k all though recently its been on the high side of that regularly. I would also like to bring to a point that we are running close to 5k-8k a month in net profits outside of all the cost to run the websites and the original purchase cost of the website acquisition.
3. Are you using SEO techniques? Or how do you get traffic to your Amazon niche sites?
You will probably start to see a theme in this interview but I am a “content is king guy“. I don’t know how many times I will show a friend or someone in a group a website of mine that is making 3k a month and I always get the response “that’s it?”
My websites are very simple but I always focus on great quality content. I do obviously use keyword research, keyword targetting in content, and of course all the good stuff that lets Google know what the content is about (meta tags, h1, h2 tags, descriptions on media). I also stay away from PBNs mostly because I am uneducated in them and Google penalties scare me. I know this sounds a lot like I am scared of sharks so I only swim in pools and to an extent that is probably correct but right now my pools are warm, clean, and easy so I will stay in them!
I’ve been using PBNs for several sites for the last 2 years and they work. But I know the power of no backlinks can work too as I’ve experimented with it lately a lot. Of course, good keyword research comes in hand with this. If it’s working for you, let’s keep it that way!
4. If you don’t mind sharing a bit, what’s working for you nowadays to improve your rankings?
Outside of the mentioned above which is probably a good 80% of it, I have had some success promoting created videos on Facebook and just started an email list on each site to try and re-market some of the products. A great course to check out is ANSF I like the work at your own pace and videos the course provides. Here is a link to the site (full disclosure this is an affiliate link): ANSF course.
5. What kind of CR do you see from your Amazon sites (clicks) to sales?
To be honest I am at a very low conversion rate on Amazon depending on the month 4%-6% but that is a little bit by design because of the high dollar items I am promoting. I would prefer to be on the low end of that with sales of $300-$500 items then trying to increase conversion rates on low end products. Its nice when one sale can bring in $40 of commission.
True. A good mix of low cost products with high products can be great for Amazon because the commission rates are increased by the number of sales. I always preferred to sell high price products inside AND outside of this industry.
6. Name the weirdest thing you’ve seen someone buying on Amazon?
Hands down was a natural suction cupping nipple enhancer. None of my sites are even close to adult entertainment but this product was to correct inverted nipples it made me laugh pretty hard. That same day someone bought like 5 bottles of lubrication and a back messager I think it was all the same person.
Just for the people that don’t get it. Amazon counts every sale made by the referred link as long as it’s within their time limit. So if you send someone that’s looking to buy a TV, but later they decide to buy a tablet and a set of kitchen knifes you’ll get that commission too.
As for the Nipple and clitoris suction thing… I’ve got no words…
7. Do you this full time? If so, how many months/years have you been working on Amazon sites?
I started working on this as a hobby back in 2012 doing interviews for kickstarter campaigns, that lead to site creation and Adsense accounts. It was extremely part-time 5 hours a week tops until I bought my first site in 2013. It was still more of a hobby until I started getting some momentum and last September I started working at about 20 hours a week hoping to build on some success.
In December I took the plunge and made this my full time gig. I probably work somewhere between 50-60 hours a week on this but it is a passion of mine and feels less like work and more like a hobby. For those of you just starting 50-60 hours is not required at all but once your sites start earning and you start enjoying it you can’t turn it off.
Work on things that you love and you’ll never feel like you have a job again. This is me telling you that you should pursuit something that you like doing and be the best at it. I work around 40-60 hours per week and I never hate doing it.
I’m almost never stressed, I don’t have to pull 8 hours per day and I can do whatever I want any time of the day without feeling guilty.
8. What are the best months of the year for your sites? Why do you think that happens?
I have about 5 sites that do a majority of my earnings and I have specifically chosen those niches to give me good seasonality year round. I own two sites that are spring seasonal, 2 sites that are fall seasonal, and a steady earner that increases a little during Christmas. These seasonalities are because the products that I promote are used only during those times.
9. What would you recommend for someone who wants to get into the Amazon niche business and has just $100 to get started?
That one is tough. To be honest keyword research is so important that I would hate to buy a domain in a bad niche and the keyword research tool I use would use all that money and then some. Thinking about this harder I would get on Facebook and join a group around amazon niche sites. Basically like the private group we have ?
Talk with some of the group and see if they could help you with keyword research to get you started so you can buy a good domain and start content focused in the right place. From there buy your domain, read Amazon’s terms thoroughly to know what you can and can’t do, and then go to town. Learn what works and what doesn’t by trying out things to this day I learn more and more every day and laugh and the stuff I still don’t know.
10. High price products or low price products?
In a full portfolio you need both but more high price than low. You need both, Amazon’s commission structure is based off volume of orders and obviously lower priced products tend to be bought a higher volume but I love the higher priced products.
If I was only starting one site I would do high priced products I just feel like your tweaks, conversions, and sells with high priced items get so much more return than lower items.
Some quick math to back me up:
I get 100 visitors a day going to site A and 100 visitors to site B. Site A has products that are $300 each and site B has $50 dollar items. Most Amazon conversions are between 4%-15% so lets take the low and highs for both sites. Site A converts at 4% so it sell 4 products for $1200 dollars at 6% commission thats $62 in commission. Site B converts at 15% selling 15 products at $50 bucks for $750 at 6.25% commission (I went higher cause of more orders) thats only $48.25 in commission. Thats why I prefer high end products I would also expect conversions on the site B to be closer to 8% CR than the 15% at which you would only make $25 in commission.
True, although I’d like to add that with the low cost products you get more data and statistical significance cause it’s easier to make decisions based on 100 sales than make a decision made of 4 sales.
For example, if you change your design and tweak your funnel and then you go from 4 sales per day to 5 sales sales per day, you can’t really say you’ve made improvements until you analyze the data of several days/weeks. Whereas having data of a tweak that made your sales go from 75 to 100 sales allows you to decide if your tweaks are really making a difference in just a matter of 1-3 days.
11. Let’s say I have an Amazon niche already making $500-1000 per month. What would you do to scale that to $5-10k per month?
Start long tail keywords. Your site is obviously doing well with Google so its easier to start ranking in other keywords. Target a group of 10 new like keywords and start your content creation. Then you can start internally linking pages from one to another from already established ranking pages to your new ones. Golden tip. I do this with some of my sites and i don’t even build backlinks for the new pages anymore.
These keywords can bring in more traffic, give you a new set of products that could bring more clicks, and boost your Domain Authority.I would also start capturing emails if you already are not. Offer something free that will get them to sign up with you. Nowadays I am more interested in the new email subscribers than my actually Amazon numbers because with new email subscribers I can sell over and over to them. The money is always in the list. Building an asset like that can yield to evergreen earnings for months or years to come.
12. Amazon Affiliates vs. Adsense, which one do you recommend for starters?
I think Adsense sites are easier and a lot more passive when starting out in online properties. With that being said I feel like your return on time spent, community support (facebook groups, training, and tools available), and scalability would lead me to doing Amazon sites.
For starters what I would suggest is buying an amazon site that is already earning. I know this means there would need to be a some upfront cost but a site already earning is much easier to manage, allow you to make mistakes and see immediately what is working what isn’t, and gives you a good blueprint to recreate another site like in a different niche. This is really what changed the game for me.
I was struggling to get sites of the sand box, get good traffic, and learn a process that works. I bought a site for $500 dollars earning $25 dollars a month. Getting into the WordPress panel and seeing all the plugins, content that work, and just structure of the site really helped me out. I got to play with the site a bunch learn how to help it along and within 3 months it was making $50 dollars a month. I know this doesn’t sound like a ton but it gave me a proof of concept that this could work. This was 2 years ago and started me on my way.
BTW that site now is making $300 a month and while it is very low on my earnings measuring stick now it is still the one I am most proud of and while I can’t even come close to quantifying how valuable of a learning experience it was I can tell you its made me $4725.32 since I purchased it well worth the investment.
13. Have you tried Amazon niches outside of USA? Perhaps other languages?
I have affiliate accounts in other countries even though none of the content is in the native languages. I get a couple bucks a month from Germany and a couple of bucks a month from others.
14. Do you ever do retargeting or other niches to increase your sales?
Currently in that process though never really done it before its my next big project to see numbers jump even more. Don’t hesitate to ask me anything about retargeting. I’ve been doing it for more than a year and it works wonders.
15. OK, final question. What would you recommend for anybody that would like to get started in this business?
Me personally I would suggest buying a website. I am currently in the development on my personal blog on how to buy sites safely but you can contact me personally for help. I hate the sandbox and I hate trying to figure out or waiting to see if Google likes the stuff I was doing. When you buy a website that has traffic already things are much easier. I understand some people don’t have the money but the site doesn’t have to be huge and growing it makes the investment worth it.
Also connect with people there are so many great people out there and many who are willing to help. I call it the biggest pay it forward community in the world. Someone learned from someone and getting to return the favor is great. Mastermind groups are awesome as well, if the group is active it can lead to great discussions and even help. Quick story I just recently was hacked on all my sites. Thanks to people in a mastermind group, a couple people from trainings I have taken, and friends of friends my sites got back up in less than a week and are stronger than ever with great new security and backups and a learned a ton of stuff I never would have without them. The power of Facebook groups and connecting with people in the industry its a must.
The power of a mastermind in a real case study BTW, I’ll publish an article on how I get all my sites out of the sandbox a lot faster than the “normal” estimated time soon. If you’re not in my email list, what are you waiting for?
I’d like to thank Zach Gray for taking some time to answer this interview and sharing his thoughts and experiences in this industry.
As you can see, Zach’s learning curve took him a few years but recently he started doing this full time and I think his reaping the rewards. If you want to read more about Zach’s journey with Amazon Affiliate Sites don’t forget to visit and subscribe to his new site: Skip the Sandbox.
I’ll try to get a few more members of our mastermind group on board of this interview series. Some of them have a lot of experience and a lot to show off within the niche sites industry.
If you want more interviews like this please leave a comment below!