How Bowen Went from $0 to $3,208 / Month Building Affiliate Website

BOWEN

EDITOR'S NOTE

It's been a while since I posted a success story from someone in the Cloud Living community.

So today I decided to invite Bowen Khong to share his successes / failures over the past 16 months.

He was able to reach $3,208 / month with one single affiliate website over that period.

Enjoy!

TUNG TRAN

Founder of CloudLiving.com

1. Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself?

Hey Tung, thanks for interviewing me and it’s a pleasure to be here sharing my experience.

My name is Bowen Khong and I’m the Head of Digital Marketing of Dr Wealth, we are one of the largest personal finance and investment site in Singapore.

And as you know, I also run an Amazon affiliate site during my free time 🙂

2. How did you get started with online business and how far you've come since then?

It was like three years since I started the whole online business thing. Long story short, I’d always wanted to quit the corporate rat race and was constantly looking for other means to make a living.

One day I found SmartPassiveIncome and SmartBlogger (previously known as BoostBlogTraffic), and one blog led to another.

Consumed all their content. Bought a few courses. Failed many times for the first two years. Then in late 2016 I found your $10K Challenge and 10beasts’ success story. Got really inspired and motivated by it and I decided to give it a go.

bowen

I created my first Amazon affiliate site on Mar 2017; took me 5 months to break the first $100, 4 months to hit $1,000 and 1 month to $2,000 and another two months to $3,200. The profit margin is in excess of 80%.

  • Mar / 2017- $0

  • Apr / 2017 - $0

  • May / 2017 - $11

  • June / 2017 - $17

  • July / 2017 - $160

  • Aug / 2017 - $415

  • Sep / 2017 - $171

  • Oct / 2017 - $311

  • Nov / 2017 - $953

  • Dec / 2017 - $2,064

  • Jan / 2018 - $2,300

  • Feb / 2018 - $3,227

  • Mar / 2018 - $2,902

  • Apr / 2018 - $3,208

3. Tell Us About Your Current Successful Project

bowen traffic

The site I’m running is an Amazon affiliate site, model after 10beasts and thoroughlyreviewed. It’s board general review site. 90% of the content are review articles and I’m slowly increasing info-articles ratio to make the site feels more natural and also strengthen topical relevance for certain keywords that are more competitive.

4. How Has The Success of This Project Impacted Your Life?

bowen check

Received my first USD 2,000 cheque from Amazon!

Having a couple thousand of dollars on top of my day job salary always feel great.

Nothing much have changed in my life. I still eat normal foods, take public transport to work and live a pretty standard lifestyle.

I think the little success has given me the confidence that it’s possible to make money online and building authority sites is a viable business model. And I’m super excited how far the site can go in the coming months.

5. What Were Some of The Biggest Challenges You Faced in The Early Days? How Did You Overcome Them?

Keyword weren’t ranking as fast as I hoped for and guest posting links didn’t improve my ranking much despite putting a lot of effort on outreach, follow up and guest posting articles.

I’m not sure whether the backlinks that I gained were weak or just that my keyword were just too competitive, and all it takes is more guest post.

Throughout the period i.e before I reached $1K my keyword strategy has had changed many times. Right now I only target keyword with weak competition.

In some cases, I’m the only one that have the content for the keyword and I can rank it easily (yes it’s possible to find those just that you have to put in a lot more effort;  every day there are new products listed on Amazon).

The best part is, since my site doesn’t limit to a specific niche I can target literally any keyword across the board.

I think what actually helped me to overcome the early ranking difficulty was, odd enough to say it in your blog, is PBN.

I joined TheLab from Matt Diggity and learned how to use PBN the right way i.e link velocity, anchor pillowing and outreach vs PBN, of which initially I was quite hesitant since one wrong move can make or break your site ranking.

6. Did You Follow Passion or Money When Choosing Your Niche?

I followed the niche that have the greatest payout while making sure I have at least some interest. It’s very difficult persevere on things you have no passion about especially in the event where you meet with obstacles.

I think in the short term it’s o.k. to go 100% on the most profitable projects (more so if you lack of money), but in the long run you still want to go for something you are passionate about.

7. How do You create content for your website? Do you write yourself or outsource to writers?

I wish I could write all the content by myself but I’m just suck at writing. All my content are outsourced to Ph writers.

Currently, I’ve two writers and one VA. The writers create review articles based on the keyword I send them and they are also required to follow an editorial guideline. Hence, all articles follow a standardized structure.

Once the content is written it will be passed to my VA and she will upload to wordpress, generate & insert affiliate links, formatting and create featured image. Once everything is set I’ll review the article and hit publish.

You can find good Ph writers and VA on www.onlinejobs.ph. I used to hire them from upwork.com but not anymore as it’s a lot more expensive. Upwork charges pretty high fee at freelancers, hence, the higher cost tends to pass down to employers.

To lower your cost, you can hire them from job portals like onlinejobs.ph and use a freelancer time tracking software like hubstaff.com to clock their hours. You can use Paypal to pay for their wage every week base on the hours they have clocked.

The first VA I had I paid her USD 1.8 per hour and subsequently I increased her wage to USD 4 per hour. You should be able to get a decent VA at the rate of USD 2.5 per hour. As for writers, I used to pay them around $8 per 1,000 words, but now I increased to USD 16 per 1,000 words. They are quite comfortable with USD 10 per 1,000 words.

8. How do you come up with content ideas? What types of articles do you post? How often do you post?

ahrefs top pages

Nothing ingenious here. I just copy what others have already figured out. I maintain a master list of competitors’ keywords found in Ahref Top Pages tab.

Before selecting the keyword I will evaluate each of them individually based on criteria like KD, M.S., product price, top 3 average Ref. Dom. and type of sites on SERP.

Mostly review articles and more informational articles this day; about 2 - 5 articles published per week. The review articles have at least 2,500 words and for more competitive search term 4,500 words.

My informational articles contain 1,000 words, as it serves as a supporting content so the word count doesn’t have to be too high. Currently, my site has around 90 articles (70 reviews & 20 info).

9. How are you driving traffic to your website?

Purely 100% SEO with best related keyword as that captures perfectly the kind of traffic affiliate sites needed for good conversions.

To rank well on Google, link building is probably the most important activity aside from creating great content. What works for me now is using a combination of PBN and guest post links, and maybe in future I will add in some high quality donation links.

It’s hard to say which link type works best given that Google Algo is a complex system and it’s difficult to view it in isolation. But as far as big ranking principles go: PBN for link power and Guest Post for pillowing, authority & trust.

I’m using Freedom Link for PBN, and Loveto.link and Authority.Builders for Guest Post.

10. How is your website currently monetized?

Only Amazon affiliate associate program.

11. How are you planning to grow your business going forward?

Grow it to 6-month monthly average earnings of $5,000 and sell at 6-figure valuation. Plans may change depending on the growth rate and risks. I think too many people overestimate the passive income aspect and underestimate the risks it entails i.e Google penalty and Amazon ban.

I take the view of opportunity cost. What opportunity could I potentially lose if I don't sell the site. Or how much could I potentially make with the proceeds to build other more profitable sites? I'm sure my current Amazon affiliate site model is far from optimal.

Currently, the site is very much hands-off and with the help of VA I’m able to grow the site without spending too much time. I only make sure things are properly done. I limit myself not to spend more than 5 hours per week so that I can spend the remaining on niche research. I already have a few niche projects in mind and will start a non-Amz affiliate site by May.

12. Do you have some final tips for people who are just getting started?

I think your blog is a good way for someone who are just starting out. I’d also recommend joining various online communities like The Cloud Living Community, The Lab Results, Just Started: Affiliate marketing, BuilderSociety and /juststart. Especially, sub-reddit /juststart as there are tons of journey you can learn from.

Tung Tran

Tung Tran is the founder of CloudLiving.com.

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17 Comments

  1. Nothing about expenses, other than “profit margin is in excess of 80%”.

    How much is being spent on renting PBN links? Guest posts?

    • Guest posts are mainly one-off, you get it around $80 to $160 per post. I used to do manual guest post outreach, for that I only paid for VA and writer cost. I slowly scaled up PBN cost, which fixed at around 10-15% of monthly revenue. I started from $100 per month to now around $450.

  2. Thanks for the case study.

    I am growing my website and I don’t mind how much time it will take to make money from it.
    All I know is that to make money you need money and the more you need,the more you have to spend.
    Currently,I am spending more money on content writting so that I can help a lot of my readers who wish they could make a living online as well.

    Currently,my website isn’t driving that much traffic from Google,but Quora is my current main source of traffic and I even make more money from it alone.

  3. Hey Bowen, great journey. You said you built PBNs and also mentioned you purchased links from Freedom links.

    Can you tell me more on that? Did you create the PBN yourself or bought from other platforms.

    It would be really helpful for me to create my link building strategy.

    Again, great journey and really inspiring.

    • Hey thanks for the question. I have only built 5 PBNs throughout my life. It’s too time consuming and the operation is insane. There are so many Algo filters and footprints you have to take care of. For the most part I only use link rental from Freedomlinks.

  4. Thanks Bowen and Tung for this case study!

    Bowen, can you share more about your anchor text and link destination strategy?

    What anchor % do you use? (PBN vs guest post)

    How do you decide which article you’ll build links to?

    Do you build homepage backlinks?

    Thanks!

    • ‘…anchor text and link destination strategy?’

      On anchor text. I followed:
      https://diggitymarketing.com/anchor-text-optimization/

      ‘What anchor % do you use? (PBN vs guest post)’

      As in PBN vs guest post ratio? I don’t have a ratio in mind. So far with PBN I’m able to gain ranking. If not I will try to throw in some guest post links and see whether I can get it unstuck.

      ‘How do you decide which article you’ll build links to?’

      Like money page with the highest ROI based on monthly search vol., product $, % commission and ranking competition.

      ‘Do you build homepage backlinks?’

      Yes, at the start when I was sending some local citation and PR. Don’t think it helped my ranking. It’s more about making it looks natural.

  5. bowen-khong is a great guy who has helped many guys in the facebook group including me great to see him succeed !

  6. thanks for this study case, an awesome!
    I see that working with (peerfly, mostCPA) affiliate networks Is more sufficient to reach out your money goals. but I highly recommended to use suitable budget and don’t waste your time with fermium at all.

  7. Not sure about the moral compass here?

    Bowen’s site (and many that are mentioned on Cloud Living) use PBNs and buy links from them. This is black hat SEO and as and when Google catches up with such sites they implode. In the SEO world we call them ‘churn and burn sites’ because they don’t last for long.

    As such I understand the motivation many state in case studies here to sell their sites rather than just keeping the income. But, for example, will Bowen make it clear to prospective buyers that Black Hat SEO was used adn the possibility that the site will receive a Google penalty at some point in the future?

    • We prefer to call it “grey hat”. And yes if Bowen wanted to sell it on a marketplace like EmpireFlippers.com – he will have to disclose it. Lots of buyers like buying sites with PBN links 🙂

  8. I am truly impressed to read such an great interview. Didn’t think much about PBN in before, now thinking to implement PBN properly.

    I have few queries, did you focused on exact match keyword for guest post or relevant keywords ? How was your anchor text ratio ? Did you promote on social media ?

    Thanks

  9. Very interesting success story, Its inspiring a lot.

    I am going to start affiliate with health and tech niches.

    What if we just take backlinks from high quality guest post blogs? I don’t want to do gray hat or black hat seo.

    Is there any guide or rules, i should follow for Amazon affiliate?

    Please help me.

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