$10K Challenge Update #7

Welcome to the 7th update of my $10K Challenge. If this is your first time reading, check out what this challenge is all about here.

Below are the things that happened since the last update (August 2016):

Key Successes

  • Hit 150,000+ visits a month.
  • Hit $5,000+ in revenue.
  • Acquired 66 new backlinks.

Key Failures

  • Haven’t got much traction with building an email list.

Website Stats as of August 1st, 2016

More...

Domain Profile

I used Ahrefs (paid) and Open Site Explorer (free) to help measure the effectiveness of my promotional efforts by tracking these metrics:

  • Domain Rating: 45 (+3)
  • Referring Domains: 172 (+66)
  • Organic Keywords: 37,239 (+7,000)

Traffic

Traffic

With all the new links and contents that we’ve produced, traffic kept growing. We’ve reached a new milestone of 156,804 visits in September.

Traffic last 3 months:

July

August

September

Sessions

103,613

144,135

156,804

Pages / Session

1.23

1.21

1.16

Bounce Rate

79.13%

79.55%

78.85%

Traffic growth rate

3%

39%

9%

New article published

13

14

13

Referring Domains

106

142

172

Organic Keywords (US)

30,028

32,611

37,239

Income

Income

Good news! TYS finally had a breakthrough and made $5,259.53 in September after being stuck at $3,000 monthly for 7 months straight while traffic have tripled since February!

Earnings last 3 months:

July

August

September

Amazon Affiliate Commission

$2,657.53

$3,141.10

$4,961.00

Clicks

20,149

27,321

50,772

Ordered Items

1,698

1,894

3,142

Conversion

8.43%

6.93%

6.19%

Shipped Items Revenue

$33,500.91

$38,627.21

$61,065.08

Earning per Click (EPC)

$0.13

$0.11

$0.10

Average Order Size

$19.73

$20.39

$19.44

Amazon Affiliate % Total Revenue

95%

95%

94%

New Affiliate Offer Commission

$150.00

$298.53

New Affiliate Offer % Total Revenue

5%

6%

Gross Monthly Revenue

$2,790.56

$3,291.10

$5,259.53

Month-to-Month Revenue growth rate

-11%

18%

60%

Gross 2016 Revenue

$20,312.12

$23,603.22

$28,862.75

Here’s what we did to achieve that significant growth:

Remove Geni.us - If you don’t know yet, Geni.us is a platform that allows you to generate links that can automatically localize based on your visitor’s location. This enables you to earn from Amazon stores in other countries as well.

They also have a WordPress plugin which makes implementation process go very smoothly.

In theory, the service would help you make more money from your current traffic. Unfortunately, in my case, I would have potentially lost a few thousand dollars by having Geni.us’ WordPress plugin installed on my sites for 7 months.

The short story is that towards the end of August I discovered that a lot of my affiliate links were not working properly. Visitors were being sent to Amazon with Geni.us’ default tracking tag instead of my own tracking IDs.

That means Geni.us’ Amazon associate account was getting credited with sales that were supposed to be mine.

After investigating, I figured that there was a bug between Thrive Content Builder and Geni.us’ plugin that messed up the links and caused the problem.

This issue was first ​raised by a member of Authority Hacker Pro:

I immediately disabled Geni.us plugin and had to manually go through every article to fix my affiliate links.

It was a long and boring Sunday.

But I’m glad I did that because over the next few days I immediately saw a significant increase in clicks and earnings.

So, if you’re using Geni.us with Thrive Content Builder, you should definitely check to make sure your links are working properly.

Even if you’re not using Thrive Content Builder, it’s still a good idea to test. You can switch Geni.us off for a week to see if there’s any difference. I actually sensed that something weird or shady was going on with their service so I checked.

I did some tests using VPNs and noticed that sometimes the links were not localized properly.

I’m not really sure the real reasons and I need more data before I can make any claim. But, you should definitely test and see for yourself.

If you do find something, please share with me via email or comments.

UPDATE: Geniuslink's CEO has quickly reached out via email and explained the problems in detail. I see that as a positive sign of a good service. Check out the email below:

Hi Tung,

I wanted to follow up on your mention of Geniuslink / geni.us above to sincerely apologize, thank you for your help, and share a few more details for your readers.

First and foremost, we are truly sorry for the bugs that cost you time, frustration and lost commissions. Our goal is to make things easy for affiliates and help them increase their commissions so when the exact opposite happens it really rattles us.

As Taylor (from my team that you were working with) mentioned we’d like to try and make it right for you (but we completely understand your hesitancy).

Second, I wanted to sincerely thank you for your help in working with us to find those bugs. While we try really hard not to mess up, unfortunately these things do happen and it makes such a massive difference in our lives when we are working with a client and they have a professional attitude than when they don’t. Again, thank you.

I also wanted to echo a comment you made in your post that I couldn’t agree with more - ALWAYS TEST YOUR LINKS! This is so important in marketing, and especially affiliate marketing, where even one wrong character in the URL can be the difference in your links tracking or not.

Testing has been an integral part of our service since the beginning. To aid in testing we’ve created a parameter that easily allows you to see how a click would perform if clicked from a different region (or device, OS, etc.) to save you from having to figure out how to set up an international proxy or spoof your user agent.

We then put this information in all of our communication mediums (dashboard, blog, knowledge base, and it’s the topic of the second email we send during a new account onboarding) to help ensure our clients make use of it.

Finally, I wanted to share some details about the bugs we found (and squashed) as well as the issues with Thrive Content Builder that we are still trying to get to the bottom of.

#1 - Honor Existing - Our plugin has the ability to use the affiliate tracking ID that you already have added to a link when the link doesn’t require translation (instead of using the tracking IDs that you add / manage through the dashboard).

Unfortunately, we had a bug for links without Associate IDs already added that were suppose to “Honor Existing.” When that link was clicked from the same country as the link was suppose to go (Eg. US click on an Amazon.com link) then we woudn’t check to see if the link had a Associate ID, and we just passed it through the service without one.

We now check every link coming through to ensure that it’s affiliated. From reviewing your clicks it appears that this was likely the biggest factor on your missed affiliate commissions and unfortunately no one benefited from it but Amazon.

#2 - Return To Original - We use a series of steps when we globalize a product link to ensure the best possible user experience. In short we first try to send the user to the correct item in their local Amazon storefront (even when the ASIN changes) and if we can’t do that we try to find the right search terms to ensure that they are seeing a search results page that is relevant to the link they clicked.

Finally, If we aren’t confident in any of those results (not sure it’s the right item or don’t think the search results are good) then we will send the international user to the original link.

Unfortunately we also found a bug in that when a click came from a country that our client hadn’t added their affiliate tracking IDs, and when we couldn’t find a good match in that storefront, we then did the “Return to Original” and used the original URL but we still thought it was getting sent to a storefront where the client hadn’t provided an Amazon tracking ID, and as a result we used our own tracking ID.

This appears to be the issue that you noticed in your testing, and I can understand why you felt this was “shady.” It was definitely not our intention to affiliate those link with our own IDs, it was just a screw up with our globalization logic and has been fixed.

Thrive Content Builder - As also mentioned, there seem to be some issues around using (or rather “removing”) our plugin when using TCB (and it appears W3 Total Cache might also play a part in this).

In short, an Amazon link that is transformed into a buy.geni.us link (what our plugin does so that it can leverage our service) stays as a buy.geni.us link even after the plugin is uninstalled.

Although we’re not entirely sure, we believe that Thrive Content Builder is caching your website (along with W3 Total Cache), including the buy.geni.us links, then showing the static copy of the page for your users.

While this makes the page super fast to load for your users, it doesn’t re-load all of the resources that were fired when the page first runs (like our ALE plugin).

Instead, it just fires the same page with the same information as the first time it loaded that page until the cache is “busted.”

Unfortunately, we’re not sure how to force the cache to completely re-grab the page without the ALE installed after it’s been removed. However, once that’s figured out, the plugin will be gone for good, unless you reinstall.

The issue mentioned in the Facebook screenshot around our change in URL structure from target.georiot.com to buy.geni.us, is likely unrelated. The old format is still supported (and will be indefinitely) so links that didn’t update (related to the first TCB issue that likely has something to do with caching) should still send users to their local storefront.

Our plugin isn’t adding any additional UTF info to the link and our service ignores unknown parameters on a link. What may be happening is that you have another plugin (might also be related to TCB caching) that is adding additional stuff to the link, but the info is not properly encoded.

Instead, it’s passed to our service and when our service doesn’t recognize the link, we attempt to simply pass it through. Bad data in, bad data out.

If anyone else is seeing any other issues like these, PLEASE let us know so we can ensure that they get resolved.

Regardless of the causes, we are deeply sorry for the issues that arose and the lost commissions because of them.

So, thank you for giving our service a try and for working through this with us - this was not the experience we intended, and hope that we might eventually rebuild that trust that we lost.

Jesse Lakes

CEO / Co-Founder

Geniuslink / GeoRiot

Added affiliate links to product subheadings - I’ve run some heatmap tests over the last few months and it was clear that subheadings with product names got quite a bit of clicks.

Here’s what I mean:

Found a new converting affiliate offer with higher payout - This is what we’re focusing on more over the next few months. Basically, for every affiliate content that is doing well, you search around and try to find offers that pay a lot more than the usual 4 - 8% you get with Amazon.

There are 2 main ways to search for affiliate program:

  • Search for KEYWORD + “affiliate program”
  • Search on offervault.com

Content & Promotion

We’ve produced 27 new articles and built 66 new links.

We’re having a lot of success with the following link building methods:

  • Epic Content
  • Guest Posting
  • You can learn about all the working backlink strategies in my flagship training course AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp.

One scholarship campaign was launched as an experiment, but we were not happy with the results. I’m not recommending it as it’s getting over-saturated right now.

Conclusion

That’s it for my 7th update.

If you have any question for me, feel free to leave a comment below or post in our Facebook community.

You can also join my online course AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp, if you want to fast-track your way to success with building Amazon affiliate websites.

People are getting great results following the program and I expect to show you a few success stories over the next few months.

Tung Tran

Tung Tran is the founder of CloudLiving.com.

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