The following is a guest post from DoughRoller.net…
Note from Kyle: Many of you have contacted me and expressed an interest in starting your own blog. This post is one in a series that we plan to run over the next few months to help you get started. Review sites are a great idea, but you should know that Amazon has ended their affiliate program in Connecticut, Hawaii, Arkansas, Illinois, Colorado, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and California because of state tax laws.
Amazon was one of the first online businesses to start a robust affiliate program. It’s called Amazon Associates and website publishers can promote just about any product that Amazon sells. In return, publishers earn a commission for each sale that ranges from four percent to 15 percent (average is about six or seven percent).
There are several advantages to Amazon’s program. First, because Amazon sells just about everything, most websites and blogs can find something on Amazon to promote. Second, Amazon is a well-recognized, trusted online ecommerce site that helps conversion rates. And third, you earn commissions on everything your visitors buy, not just the item you were promoting.
Why Most Amazon Sites Fail
But there is a problem. Many sites built to promote Amazon products end up making very little money. Here’s why. Imagine that you want to start a blog that promotes cameras. So like many, you write reviews of every camera and related equipment that Amazon sells. And to promote your camera site, you do your best to get backlinks through guest posts, carnival submissions, and the like.
In my experience, such a site will generate very little search traffic (the lifeblood of most profitable blogs). The problem is that the Internet is overloaded with reviews on just about everything. A camera review site simply would not be unique. Yet this is exactly what many would-be online moguls do; they put up boring review sites. The competition is overwhelming for most product verticals, and the sites fail to make significant money.
The Right Way
So what’s the solution? I’ll offer two of them.
The first is what I call the super review site (corny, I know). Rather than just writing reviews, go out and get the product. Then actually use the product and write a detailed review. I’ve taken this approach with many product reviews, and the quality of the review is exponentially better. And as your site grows, many manufacturers will give you product to review for free.
And better yet, make video reviews of the product. You can create a YouTube channel for free to publish the video reviews, and then incorporate the videos back into your site. Over time you could become a YouTube partner, which allows you to monetize your YouTube channel.
This is the approach that Chris Guthrie took with NetbookReviews.com. He literally built the site in his spare time while working a full-time job. And he sold the site for a 6-figure payday. You can read his story here.
The second approach teaches people how to use the product. Returning to our camera example, imagine building a site that helps people take better pictures. From taking the picture to editing the digital image, there is a ton of information that would be helpful to camera enthusiasts. The site could include a forum and you could even produce your own eBooks for sell that offer additional photography tips.
Think it’s impossible? Check out Digital Photography School, a site founded by Darren Rowse of Problogger fame. The site makes money from Amazon through its review of cameras and equipment. But the site is much more than just reviews. And it happens to the most popular digital photography site on the Internet.
Imagine what you could create in niches as diverse as woodworking, home theaters, automotive, or even chess.
A final word of caution–Creating a site like Netbook Reviews or Digital Photography School takes a lot of work. But the results could change your life forever.
Note from Kyle: If you’re a blogger and you’d like to write a guest post sharing your own experience about starting a blog please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.