Welcome to aaron chua make money blog

Hi, welcome to my blog. In this part of my world, I talked about how to achieve financial freedom by learning how to make money online through creating sites and earning from them.

Below are some current and past make money projects that details my learning journey.

My current experiment in making 50 amazon site niches. If you have not been following this challenge, best place to start is this resource page for the amazon challenge, that lists all the articles that I have written so far.

My experiment in making 1000 a month through adsense in 9 months.

If you came here looking for low cost startup ideas, here are 140 startup ideas that you can browse through.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Can a domain recover from a penalty over time?

I wrote a post last year saying that aaronchua.com is no more because it seems to be under a penalty. I drew this conclusion based on (i) it has lost its sitelinks and (ii) it has lost rankings for many of its keywords.  After a year of non activity, I was surprised that this penalty seems to be lifted by itself. If you do a search for aaronchua.com, you can see that it has regained back its sitelinks.

Click the image for a bigger view

Hence, I decided to continue blogging here again. No point wasting an aged domain that has real content on it in case I need to channel its PR to a new site. More importantly, I have learned quite a bit during the past year and this is a good place to share some of these lessons and insights. 

How to make an Amazon niche site for 2014 and beyond

I never quite making amazon niche sites. However, these site look very different from the first batch that I made last year during the 50 Amazon site challenge.  Most of the these early sites were filled with buying keywords. The articles were mainly concerned with terms such as 'best product', 'product review', product under XX dollars" etc. These kind of articles do bring in buying traffic that converts very well but the problem they create is making your whole site looks like a spammy site, regardless how good your articles are. 

Since then, my affiliate sites have gotten a lot more diversify. Each of them now has an information and an product review component. The informational aspect has no monetisation embedded and their purpose is to serve the user which hopefully can attract some real links which can be channeled to the product review page through onsite linking.  I found this model to be working very well and most of my sites do receive natural links from search traffic visitors who found them useful. 

Is building links necessary to get search traffic?

None of my affiliate links have gotten into any penalities. One of the reason is that I don't build any links to them. None what so ever.  I focus on identifying a good niche and focus on writing all the content to answer the problems for that niche. It works very well and my sites can gather search traffic in a matter of months with no manipulative linking on my part. Below is a screenshot for one of new sites that was built in May this year.


Click the image for a bigger view





Sorry I can't reveal the site at the moment but I might do so when it gets a bit stronger as a public case study. The bigger point here is that you don't need links to get search engine traffic, especially in 2013. Google has been ruthless in rolling out their algorithm updates and it actually makes it easier for proper sites to have a shot at claiming the first page for many keywords.



Conclusion


This site proves that some domains do recover over time especially if you know you have not done anything that might trigger a penalty. Sometime, you just have to let the search engine sort itself out and hope for the best.


It feels good to blog here again and I will be writing some stuff that you guys who still want to make some money online will appreciate.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Aaronchua.com will be no more

For the few readers that I have, this is to inform you that aaronchua.com will no longer be updated. This is mainly due to the EMD penalty which, strangely enough, has affected this site. I have no idea how to reverse this and I have no intention of trying since this is not a money making site for me. I will still be blogging at my early retirement blog so I hope to see you guys there.

Thanks for all the time you have spent reading aaronchua.com. I hope you have gain something from it.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Dead end sites Time to get rid of mine

I wake up this morning, look at my numbers and say to myself "what do the f*ck am I doing?".

I had over 100 sites Only of a few are making serious money and I was wondering what am I doing with the rest?

Enough! Time to get rid of what I called dead end sites and move on to sites that had the potential to be a real business.

What are dead end sites?


These are sites that had very limited potential. Example? How about this? Blue torch  holder. How dead end can you get? Limited branding. Limited product extension. Limited audience. So, why make them? Because they bring in money fast. Small amounts but fast money. This creates a tiny sensation in our brain telling us that we are on the right track because money is coming in. Just do more and we will see bigger results. That is why we throw ourselves into these dead end projects so fast and furious. Just look at all the Squidoo madness going on now. People are contented grabbing a couple of hundreds or even thousands more before Christmas comes.

Enough of these dead end sites and projects!

Why am I contented with sites that make only a couple of bucks per month when I should be thinking of doing things that bring in millions of dollars.

Yes, millions of dollars. That is only a tiny fraction of the amount of money flowing through the Internet right now. I have  restricted myself enough. Time to really go forward and work on open end sites.

However, open end sites have a big problem. They might not have immediate result. Why? Because they are so open ended that they can go anywhere. This means that you might not be doing the right things during the initial period even though the site has potential.

What if you picked the wrong model?
What if you picked the wrong audience?
What if you picked the wrong product?

Open ended site need time to figure itself up. To be able to experiment and learn what is working and what is not. The good thing is that they can lead to many possibilities which is why they are open ended. Try doing that with bluetorchholder.com.

My early retirement blog is an example of an open ended website. It can go literally into different models. I can sell an ebook, I can create a social network for people who want to retire early, I can sell a newsletter picking the best investment for the week. What I can do with it is not fixed but I need time to figure out where my niche is and how best to make money from it.  However, once I figure that out, you bet that I will be making more than USD10 per month.

How about you? Have enough with dead end sites?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

How to make money with Amazon 2013 edition

The making money online landscape has changed significantly since Google rolled out Panda and Penguin. Making money with Amazon is no exception. Before the algorithm changes, my Amazon niche sites were pulling in close to USD1000 per month in amazon affiliate fees. They were all wiped out when the changes came. Fortunately, I didn't give up completely and started my Amazon 50 sites challenge. Last month, they are close to making USD250. So slowly but surely, I am starting to earn with Amazon again.

Today, I was reading Griz's old posts and they reminded how good the past few years have been. In terms of making money online, there was no keywords you couldn't target. Loans, cosmetic surgeries, cars, product keywords, credit cards, hotels etc. As long as you work continuously on getting backlinks that contain your anchor keyword, achieving high rankings is matter of when, not if.

I am afraid things are not as simple now. Certain keywords and niches such as landlord building insurance are off limit and I need to recognise this change. However, that is not saying that I can't make money with niche sites. While most IM folks have gone off the niche site bandwagon and started making authority sites, developing their own products or selling kindle ebooks, I still make niche sites and are earning money from them.

In this post, I like to share what I have learn from 10 months of doing the Amazon 50 site challenges. It is going to be long but hopefully, you can gain something from it.

The steps for making money with Amazon have not change. They still boil down to the following:
  • Select a niche
  • Pick keywords with high search volume and low competition
  • Create content
  • Build backlinks to the site
 However, how I go about doing each of the steps has completely changed.

How to select an Amazon niche

Most people combine keywords and niche selection into one process. I don't. I like to examine niches independently from keyword research. In fact, my niche needs to be more forward looking so I look closely at news and forum discussions. That is how I turn up keywords such as glamping.

Most IM folks depend on tools such as adwords, longtail pro, market samurai etc. These tools are backward looking and they are actively mined everyday. To avoid competition, I need to look elsewhere for my gold mines.

So what do I look? News , forum discussions, trend sites, blogs from forward thinkers etc All these represent gold mines that I find gems in. By the time these new niches appear in the keyword research tool, I will be 6-12 months in front of everyone with my content and links.

Using this criteria, my camping site (4seasontent.org) will fail the test. That is why it has not made any money. It is competing in a niche which is saturated with both real brands as well as other IM folks. Just check out this competitor: 4seasontents.org. He or she also doesn't have any traffic as well, thus strengthening my point that it is difficult to compete in niches where there is nothing new to optimise for.

How to chose Amazon keywords that you can rank

After the Google Panda and Penguin updates, learning how to pick the right keywords have become more crucial. In fact, learning what keywords are impossible become more important than search volume. Unlike the past, I now totally avoid certain keywords because I can never ranked for them, no matter how much content I write or how many backlinks I throw at the site.

First rule to remember: avoid product keywords.

Although Amazon is all about products, it is getting next to impossible to rank for any forms of product keywords including category product keywords, brand product keywords and even product model keywords.

Below are some screen shots showing you the Google search results from the amazon sites that I have revealed:

Mini cupcake maker


4 season tent


Gps tracker for kids

In every one of these product keywords, you see real ecommerce stores or brands taking the top slots. That was not the case in the past where niche sites or article directories such as hubpages can rank for them. 

I don't know whether this was part of the algorithm changes but from a user point of view, things have definitely changed. As an affiliate, I need to step away from these keywords because I know I can't rank for them no matter how good my SEO skills are. Google has predefined what kind of sites should appear for these product keywords and if I can't be such sites, I will never get into the first page. 

That is not saying that I can't make money as an affiliate. I just need to find other keywords that I have at least some change of ranking. So what is the secret?

Find keywords that requires subjective human opinions

Or what I called humanised keywords. These are keywords that indicate that searchers want to read from other sources besides the brands and the ecommerce stores. They represent areas where niche review sites and personal blogs have a chance to compete in. 

The most common example is the word 'reviews'. Take any product keywords and add "reviews" behind them. You will see a completely different search results.

Let's see one such result when I take one of the keywords above i.e. gps tracker for kids and add "reviews" behind:
Gps tracker for kids reviews
By adding the word "reviews", I now can see sites such as toptenreviews.com as well as article directories such as Squidoo and Article Dashboard. Heck, even my own site is ranked just behind Amazon. This is how I am able to get traffic for my Amazon niche sites even though product keywords have become off limit.

This strategy can be applied to any humanized keywords. Besides 'reviews', other examples include:
  • ratings
  • recommendations
  • best
  • all the Q+A type of queries that might lead to a purchase
Hence if you want to make money with Amazon in 2013, learn how to pick these keywords and you will see search traffic.

How to write content for your niche sites

What I try to do is to focus on what information searcher might need with before or after the purchase of the product. This is how I try to add value in all my niche sites. For example, in my minicupcake site, I am starting to include recipes that users can use after buying the mini cupcake maker. In my early retirement site, I created an excel sheet that calculates how long it takes to retire early based on dividend investment alone.

The worst kind of content goes round and round without addressing the main points. I used to write articles that read along these line (if it is an article about interior decorating ideas):

"It is easy to come up with interior decorating ideas. All you need to do is to take a close at your surroundings and try to draw inspiration from them. Most people have ideas not because they thought deeply about it but because they observe all the stuff happening around them. If you want to have more ideas, learn to adopt a different perspective and .... blah blah blah"

Nowadays, if I am doing this article, I will borrow a book from library and learn the different interior decorating techniques. I will then find images to illustrate these techniques and create a long list post.

A lot of work? Yes but I can't take short cuts anymore if I want my sites to survive Panda or other future algorithm changes.

How to build backlinks to your niche sites

I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to backlinks. A couple of value passing links wins over hundreds of spam links. To get those, I used a concept called link sponge.

This concept is similar to link wheels or link pyramids. In case you are not sure what these are, this is how they work. Folks would build web 2.0 sites on public blog networks such as those on tumblr, webs.com etc. Each of these sites links to either another web 2.0 site or to the money making site directly. They in turn will be strengthened by having lots of spam links from blog comments, forum profiles, directory sites etc pointing at them.

The idea is to get these web2.0 sites to absorb all the spam links and point that link volume to your money site. Since web 2.0 can take more link abuse due to their domain authority, they effectively act as buffers to your real site. If you attempt to throw volumes of such spam links directly at your site, be prepared to see it disappear from the SERPs.

So, link sponge works in similar fashion, with one important exception. Rather than absorbing spam links, link sponges are real resources that can absorb authority links. For example, there are many established sites that give out free links to sites that have valuable children resources. If you want to absorb these links, you need to build a useful resource that will be linked by these child friendly sites. Then use this site to link to your affiliate site in the kids market. That will be a hell of a link!

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing will still be well and alive in 2013. There will be always be room for a site to recommend products or services to its reader. The trick here is to learn where to look for niches where you can establish a useful site that isn't too competitive and where you can still earn a nice commission.



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Celebrity homes

In the last couple of months, many celebrities have been in the news for buying new homes.  These homes have some of the nicest amenities available to the public. Luxury homes are probably the largest investment any of these celebrities will make in their lifetime. Celebrities must protect their investments with house insurance in the event of an unlikely occurrence. Some of the nicest celebrity homes demonstrate past and present architectural advancements.   

1. Colin Farrell Colin Farrell resides in a beautiful modern art-deco villa with a gorgeous view. The home is complete with exposed beams, limestone kitchen countertops, a wine cellar and outdoor billiards. The terrace is reminiscent of an outdoor living and dining room. It features a sitting area, a bar, Jacuzzi hot tub and a dining table. Farrell spared no expense decorating this modern architectural home.

2. Barbara Streisand Barbara Streisand’s monstrous mansion is a traditional estate covering numerous acres. The home is made of aged wood and features stained glass windows. Numerous gardens are featured on the grounds with beautiful brick walkways and a waterfront view.

3. George Clooney George Clooney has a 25 room Italian villa with an outdoor theater and swimming pool. The home was purchased in 2001 and has a beautiful view of Lake Como. The area was also home to Donatella Versace. AvrilLavigne, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have all vacationed in the area.   

4. Pharell Williams Pharell Williams has a modest and whimsical estate home located in Virginia Beach. The home has direct access to the waterfront and artwork reminiscent of a modern art museum. The artwork complements the home and provides primary color contrast to a natural color palette. The home has an open floor plan with lots of natural sunlight beaming through floor to ceiling windows. With such a beautiful view of the area, guests can relax and meditate.   

5. Lisa Ling Lisa Ling recently purchased a Zen paradise in California. The home is reminiscent of an old Frank Lloyd Wright design. Beautiful and modern glass-tiled back-splashes and bathroom walls create a spa-like paradise inside for this Asian actress. The painted kitchen ceilings and stone countertops are the perfect accent to entice visitors to the home.

 6. Madonna Madonna’s Wiltshire mansion is situated on 1,200 acres. The home is where Madonna learned to fish, ride horses and hunt. The home features murals painted by Salvador Dali, Rex Whistler and Augustus John. Madonna’s Ashcombe estate is currently on the market for GBP 12 million.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Is SEO dead? A claim from Yazekie

There is a blog post in the Yakezie networking claiming that SEO is dead. I have left my comment there but I don't know if it got through because their commenting system is so messed up. So, I will be reposting that comment here in case it didn't go through. No point wasting good content! LOL


**********

SEO is a marketing tactic. Just in all marketing tactics, as long as someone knows how to use the tactic well, it will continue to be a useful way to acquire users or customers.

There are lots of spam emails but do you think 'email marketing is dead'? Probably not. Similarly, SEO will never die.

Most folks who claim that SEO is dead saw it as a pure manipulative practice designed to misguide the search engines. That is not what SEO is all about.

As to whether your suggested SEO practices are sufficient, let me just say this: within each marketing field there are differing levels of expertise.

In email marketing, there are people who has 50% open rate and there are folks who scrape by with 5%. Can we live with 5% open rate? Of course we can, but a good email marketer knows all the practices that makes email marketing more effective for him.

Similarly for SEO. Anybody can live with basic SEO or even no SEO. However, for those who understands and applys it a bit better gets to enjoy a higher success rate.

Basically, SEO is about the following:

- keyword research
- content
- links
- feedback metrics

Any one of the four areas have depths that can make one's SEO more effective. Take link building for example. Most SEOs falsely believed that links are everything and they advise getting volumes of spammy links. The real link builders like Eric Ward understands that the true value of links lies in their ability to pass traffic and visibility to the site. As such, his link practices are safe, generates a return for the site owner and avoids depending 100% on Google traffic.

I shall stop here but I hope you understand where I am coming from. SEO cannnot be dead if you know how to use it effectively.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Amazon Challenge #9: Make 200 dollars with Amazon affiliate

Welcome to the blog with ever declining traffic LOL. Yes, the traffic on aaronchua.com has been going down for some time now. In fact, as I look closely at the traffic from April to current, it might seem that the site has been penalised! Really nice Google. The only site where I have real info is being penalised while my amazon niche sites are going up with traffic!


Anyway, let's get to the real meat of the article. My amazon sites pulled in a nice income for Sept 2012. Nothing really to brag about but a nice side income nevertheless.

Below are the screnshots from my amazon and skimlinks accounts:

Amazon income: USD141.96

Skimlinks income: USD93.48

Compared to the last update where I reported less than USD100 in Amazon earnings, this month's results are quite encouraging.

Why the increase in income

Increase in traffic: After restarting the amazon niche, a couple of sites started to pick up traffic. My mini cupcake site for example is starting to see 15 visitors per day and has earned USD10 this month. Not bad for a niche that I thought is dead.

One site taking off: One of the weird niche in my portfolio of sites made some nice sales. Actually the site only made 2 sales but they are for high ticket items, thus earning over USD80 this month.

More site starting to earn: Maybe it is nearer to Christmas but more sites are starting to earn with the same level of traffic.

What I am busy with

Besides working on my amazon sites, I have been working on my home decor online magazine site, my early retirement blog as well as exploring other affiliate programmes.

My home decor site is coming along nicely. It has about 30 over posts now and I just scored a wonderful backlink. I have been reading Eric Ward's linking newsletter and it has opened my eyes on what is real link building. It has nothing to do with anchor text, dofollowed or PR. Real links give you traffic, visibility in the relevant community and even natural backlinks. This is what I have gotten with this one backlink.

What I did was to find a non profit website which is looking for donations. I donated a token amount and my site was featured in their donations page as well as their newsletter.  This gave me some traffic as over 100 people in the niche visited my site due to the link. Among them, 2 nice folks gave me a backlink each that drove even more visitors. For a small donation, I gained 3 natural backlinks and visibility in the relevant niche. Not bad!

My authority site project

My early retirement blog is still very much in its infancy stage. There are now over 40 articles on the site but traffic is dismal. Less than 10 visitors to the site each day. I don't really know what to do next but to add content and see what happens. I guess a lot of authority sites start out this way especially if they don't do much promotion.

How to make money with Amazon in 2013

Next post will be a much longer one about my experiences in making money with Amazon and what to do to avoid being penalised. The article is almost done and I should publish it next week.

Note: I didn't publish my article on the 10 blogging niches because there seems to be very little interest in it. Too bad as these niches are not your typical long tail niches. They are up and coming industries that represent opportunities for anyone to make money from.