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.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Amazon Challenge #8 When do you gave up on your site?

August is not a great month in terms of Amazon earnings. From the chart below, you can see that only 3 sites made money so far. Fortunately, site #23 earned its first 2 sales and surprising, broken even immediately as one of the items sold was over USD300.  Site #4 and #11 continue to made consistent sales even though their traffic is low.

Click to enlarge

The question I am thinking about today is this: when do you give up on your site? I was prompted when I looked at the chart last night. If I had dropped site #23 earlier, I will never have earned back its set up cost of USD14. In fact, a similar thing fact to site #5 last month when it made its first sale after 7 months of waiting, although the revenue was not enough to cover the cost. 

However, will things always turn out this way? Will they all make sales eventually? That is the question I am asking myself as I looked at site #2 and site #7, which had never made any sales. Site #2 was especially disappointing even that it was the second site that I built for the challenge. 

I would like to hear your opinions about this issue. For me, IM has taught me this: as long as you have something out there, you will make some money eventually. It might not be a lot of money but there will be income coming in. Hence, never give up on your projects. Even though things might look all doom and glommy now, persist and you shall be rewarded.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Choosing Amazon keywords based on unqiue selling proposition for your niche sites

Most of us choose keywords based on search numbers, level of competition and commercially viability. With the onslaught of Panda and Penguin, most of us will need to step on our game. The easiest way is to create interesting content that will be shared. So,should that be one of our keyword selection criteria when we decide on what niches to choose?

I don't believe in passion sites because it seriously limits what markets we go to. Most offline businesses are not really passionate about their business's core subjects anyway. Instead, I proposed that we choose niches based on whether we can create interesting content that can be shared so that we can get both traffic and links.

So, what are the kind of unique selling propositions that we can create for our amazon sites? Many will say real reviews but I don't that is enough anymore. No matter how real your reviews are, you are never going to beat Amazon itself for the sheer number of reviews it has. We need to add other values to our amazon sites. Below are a few examples:

Unique selling proposition #1: curate modern products

People like to share the new and the interesting. For products, that means finding the latest and the interesting products in our niches, rather than just showcasing what they can buy from Amazon.

Example: I have a camping Amazon site (site 25 in our list of amazon sites featured in the Amazon Challenge update #7). It is a boring site: http://4seasontent.org/.

For a while, I couldn't think of anything to write until I bumped into this: fieldcandy.com. Then it stuck me. I can curate all those unique and contemporary tents and post them to the site. They might not result in sales but they have a chance to bring in real traffic and maybe even links.

You can extend this concept to virtually any product based niche sites. Use one portion for reviews and the other to curate interesting new products in the niche.

Unique selling proposition #2: adding tutorials or guides

Another way to differentiate your amazon sites is to add a tutorial or guides section. These are purely informational content to help readers of that niche. You can see how this work in digital-photography-school.com/. There are 3 sections in the site: photography tips, camera reviews and post production tutorials. Only the reviews section is monetized with affiliate links.

Example: I am thinking of doing this for my minicupakemaker.org site, where I will introduce 1 section on making mini cupcake and another on how to decorate them.

  • do you select niches based on whether you can create interesting content?
  • do you have any ideas on how to create interesting content for Amazon sites?

Monday, 13 August 2012

How to rank without backlinks and get traffic to your site

I am not a big fan of building backlinks to get rankings and traffic. Backlinks can often get your site into trouble. Just ask the folks whose sites have been penalised by the Penguin update. Of course, the IM folks are starting to say things such as varying your anchor text to make backlinks effective. To me, that is going to be a short term solution. When penguin 2 or whatever animal comes, don't be surprised if these guys are wipe out just like in the first penguin.

So, do I mean that sites don't need links? No, but you don't need as many links as what others have been saying. Links matter when you decide to go for keywords that are solely being competed by links. That is your own choice and I would say, your own stupidity if you decided to rank for keywords that are based on link wars.

However, not all keywords compete on links. You need to observe the SERPs and see how the competition is like. For example, there are certain types of keywords (such as news driven keywords) where the freshness of the content is more important than links. In such cases, you need more fresh content and no amount of backlinks can help your site.(Try to experiment with a sports event related niche and you will know what I mean).

In SEO, there are basically 3 areas that we can work with:
  • keywords
  • content
  • backlinks
Within each area, there are opportunities to groom our skills.  This is where the meat of this article is

How to rank with good keyword research

Keyword research is a diverse area that offers anyone opportunities if you can specialise. Within keyword research, I divided it into the following:
  • trend keywords
  • keyword divergence
  • long tail keywords
(Note: for new readers, you might want to familiarise yourself with the concept of longtail keywords and trend keywords)

How to be good in trend keyword research: You need to be a person who reads widely, especially the technology blogs. Other good resources include blogs that highlights small businesses as well as articles that focus on trends in specific industries. When your radar is up, you will start to see lots of keywords that are literally wide open with little or no competition. To rank, all you need is content.

How to be good in detecting keyword divergence: This kind of research is for people who like to attack popular niches. Understand this: the more popular a keyword is, the more likely that there will be new ways to search for this term. Why? Because people get tired of seeing the same results for the keyword they are searching for so they will try different terms to see different results. The more popular a term is, the more likely this will happen and the more diverse the terms will be. It is your job to learn when such divergence will happen and grab the chance to optimise for these new terms that essentially describle the same niche.

How to be good in longtail keywords: The discussion forums are your goldmine. Spend some time looking through the forums of your niche and you will start to know what are the specific longtails relevant to your niche. Seriously, the kind of questions that people asked in the forums is exactly the kind of long tails keywords that will appear in Google. Even though they might not appear in any Google keyword tool, rest assured that as long as people ask such questions in forums, they will be searched for in Google.

Mastering any one of the above will equip you with enough unoptimised keywords that don't need a single link to get traffic from Google. If your current keyword research is only from Google keyword tool, time to step up your game.

How to create a new query space with great content

Being able to produce great content is a wonderful skill. There are some folks who are just so good with headlines and content that they draw traffic from diverse sources, not only from the search engines. For SEO purposes, there are certain things that you can do with content which allows you to draw traffic from Google without backlinks.

Create a new query space with your content: What is a new query space? It is about creating interest in a search term that nobody has searched for, thereby generating search volume for this search term. I have seen this occur with my own eyes in the tech industry.

There was a VC blogger known as Andrew Chen who blogged about startups, user acquisition and viral marketing. In one of his essays in 2011, he mentioned a new term called "growth hacker". This refers to a special group of marketers who can achieve rapid growth for a startup by exploiting technical leverages in popular platforms, thereby fuelling its growth using with users of that platform. 

Ever since that essay went live, I have seen this term used frequently in many other startup/technology blogs. In fact, I did a check on Google insights and this is what I found:

Guess who is ranking for this term? Andrew Chen of course. He has single-handedly created a new search space using content alone and his blog is now enjoying high rankings for this term without using backlinks.

If you have skills in crafting such content, you don't need backlinks. All you need is to draft a new memo, give it a sexy term such as 'growth hacker' or 'pillar content' or 'write epic shit', posted to a platform (can be yours or others) where there is an audience and watch your search traffic increase. No backlinks needed!

If you can't create such content, at least be able to spot it and exploit it if you can. Such new query space is also part of the trend keywords research that I mentioned above. If you cannot stimulate new query space with your content, at least learn who to follow those who can. When they come up with a new query space, quickly attack it and make it yours.

I hope this article can convey the message that you can get traffic from Google without focusing just on backlinks. Links are important but they willl never be the MOST important.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Amazon report #7 Making new niche sites after Penguin

For folks who might have missed my previous post on how to make money after penguin and panda, I have show you that some of my Amazon niche sites are still making money. Below is an updated chart that shows you my earnings.

Click on image to enlarge

First, let me take a moment to explain the chart:
  • Niche: Self explanatory
  • KW: keyword search volume for the main keyword
  • Domain: keyword search volume for the domain keyword. Most of the time, this is the same number as KW but in the event that I couldn't buy a Exact Match Domain, I will get a slightly longer domain that still some keyword volume. For example, if I couldn't buy patiochairs.com, I will try to buy patiochairsforsale.com or buypatiochairs.com
  • Price: prices of the products being promoted
  • Profit: the difference between the costs and the revenue for this site. Currently, only 4 sites have managed to make profits. I expect this number to be higher as we progress further. 
  • Green columns: this represents the monthly revenue for each site
  • Red columns: this represents the monthly cost of each site
 Now, let me comment on some interesting observations:
  • Low cost of setup: the cost of setting up one Amazon niche site is so low that sometimes, all I need is one sale to make profit. This is what happens for site 8 & 10. They were not making money when all of a sudden, a single sale for both sites means they are in the black. 
  • Make money with low traffic: All of my sites have low traffic. We are talking about 1-8 per day and yet collectively, they represent a number that can still be montized.
  • Item specific: Whether you make money with Amazon depends a lot on the product you are promoting. Even within the same niche, you might have products that convert well and those that don't. For example, I initially thought all appliance niches can convert well from my earlier experience with one site in this niche. This made me outweigh the niche during my product selection (as you can see from the spreadsheet above). Unfortunately, most of them didn't convert as well as my first site. Lesson learnt!

Why am I restarting the Amazon 50 sites challenge?

After the penguin update, I thought all my Amazon sites were penalised. This turns out to be a false assumption. Some of them lost traffic simply because the fresh content bonus worn off. As the time goes on, some stes started to get long tail traffic. That is how I know they are not dead. They are not getting traffic simply because they are not ranking well. This is why I decided to put more effort into them before the big Christmas season rolls around.

Niche sites that I have built after Penguin

Since July, I have been putting some resources into Site 15 which is a gardening site. You can see this quite clearly in the spreadsheet by looking at where I am spending money on in the red column during July and August. Anyway, here is my plan going forward:
  • A mixture of information and review articles: This is to avoid the Panda penalty. I don't want all my articles to contain affiliate links which is what I used to do. 
  • Better quality articles: I found a great write at Fiverr who has extensive experiences with the gardening niche so I hired him to put some really useless stuff on the site.
  • Less spammy backlinks: I ordered some questionable backlinks from Fiverr when I was building the first batch of Amazon sites. That was a bad mistake as it mght have caused some sites to incur the Penguin Penalty. What I am doing now is to get one solid link from an aged site, either using Fiverr or to do a guest post. The rest of the links will depend on how good my content is. I am seen how somebody use Pinteret to pin some of my articles in my Amazon sites so I know I can get those natural links. 
That is for this update. Lots of keywords research tips coming up in future posts as I started my Amazon engine again.