This episode features guest AJ Saunders. AJ is the founder AJS Digital Group, a media company with over a decade of experience in digital marketing specializing in affiliate marketing.
Did you know you could make over $100 thousand dollars per year running an affiliate website? Find out the top strategies and where to start if you want to start an affiliate website.
In this episode, AJ reveals common mistakes most make when starting an affiliate website and why you need a strategy in place when getting started with affiliate marketing.
Not interested in being an affiliate? You still will want to listen as this episode discusses SEO. Use lessons learned by affiliate websites to rank your website higher organically including backlinks, their importance and how you can earn them.
Finally, discover some ideas on how to develop ideas for content and why fresh content is essential in affiliate marketing.
Episode Action Items:
You can find more information regarding AJ Saunders and AJS Digital Group by visiting at https://www.ajsdigitalgroup.co.uk.
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal 0:02
Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. And today we are welcoming today's guests to discuss the topic which is Talking Affiliates, Content Creation and more. Today's guest is the founder of AJS digital group, a media company with over a decade of experience in digital marketing. In addition, he has also launched an ebook publishing company, a global ecommerce shop and started the current brands in the AJS digital group's portfolio. A big welcome to AJ Saunders. Hi, AJ.
AJ Saunders 1:21
Hey, how are you doing?
Andy Splichal 1:23
I'm doing great. Well, thanks for joining us today.
AJ Saunders 1:26
Yeah, lovely to be here.
Andy Splichal 1:28
Now, I see on your website that it says your mission is to build profitable affiliate websites. So let's start there. What is an affiliate website? And how profitable can one be?
AJ Saunders 1:42
Sure. So I see affiliate marketing as basically you're recommending products to consumers that you've either tested or you know a lot about, and is there in a non-salesy way, so they feel empowered to make a decision. I feel a lot of people don't like to directly sell pages because they thought they're trying to be assaulted. Whether they can go to an affiliate site that can explain the differences, explain from a user standpoint, what the product is, that could break the buying experience overall. So yeah, so it rapidly products and do it in a very loving and caring way. And they can be really profitable actually. So some people choose to run affiliate sites, and they'll make a good kind of six figures turnover. And they may have one or two writers and maybe do the rest of themselves doing a lot of the work themselves and so can take home the majority of okay, but yours your revenue. I think a lot lot of people have this misconception with with both building online businesses and with affiliate sites is that it's high capital input, it's high capital outputs, I had to have a lot of money to start off with he also have to generate all the most profitable but in my, in my case, in my experience, actually, yes, I have less than 100 bucks. And you know, the sky's the limit. So you know, I know people that are doing a couple 100,000 in turnover and maybe 100,000 in profit per year. Wow. And that they do really well. And there are lots of people that are doing you know that maybe doing like 30 or 40 grand a year and actually making a very relaxed living out of doing it. So it's I think it's anything into the business you know, some days it's well for some people it's you know, that they're called and our mission is to get further direction that's great. And they usually end up shooting it whereas some people want the more modest outcome in a more modest life and so they'll they're willing to work less and have less power.
Andy Splichal 4:00
So let me ask though, do you need business and affiliate it's they aren't influencers so you don't need this more like a business opportunity. You don't need to have a large audience if you want it to be an affiliate, right? That's not ah, okay.
AJ Saunders 4:16
No. So there are people like me who I call like traditional affiliates who are doing things primarily based through websites then about two or three months ago, a friend of mine put me in on Twitter so he'd kind of network and a lot of them do affiliate marketing just on Twitter so obviously their whole kind of game plan is build up a large following and then trying to sell products and
Andy Splichal 4:16
Right so they're like they're like trying to become an influencer and then use that strategy and affiliate marketing but you're you're talking more more of the traditional putting up a website and
AJ Saunders 4:40
Andy Splichal 4:41
You're trying to drive traffic to different companies who are
AJ Saunders 4:54
Andy Splichal 4:56
Okay. Now, why does it usually not work? Why to most, I don't know if it usually does or doesn't. But why do most affiliate websites who do this typically fail?
AJ Saunders 5:07
Sure. I think a lot of people fail because they don't have a content plan, which is something that I kind of specialize in. I also think people underestimate how much worth is. So you're starting a business. So you do need to put the effort, you need to put the hard work. It's not easy. It's a pretty, you know, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. Right. And so I think, I think it's that I think people these days, especially in my generation, are obsessed with shiny objects. So they think affiliate marketing this week is great. And then two months down the line, they want to get the property and then a couple of months down the line after that they're into Forex, it all notions that will help them you know, kind of people need, they just need to run the is just fine. If I want them, you know, what's your first so for me, affiliate marketing, what's great for other people starting here, you know, a dry cleaning business or a company and business, what's way best for them? And it's just personalities? And yeah, and so that's what I think is I think lots of people fail, because they give up too early. They don't see it as a long term thing, and they don't have kind of a strategy or a plan in place.
Andy Splichal 6:17
Okay, so given that given up too early, no strategy? Yeah. What are the factors that go into somebody who's going to be successful with affiliate marketing?
AJ Saunders 6:31
Sure. So I think, to have success, you have to have a couple of failures, right. And so I think, Pete, you know, I think the first couple of websites that you try and launch aren't gonna go anywhere, but actually, they're great learning opportunities. And I think the more you can learn about how to break in Google, how to get passive traffic from Google, or Bing, or wherever, the better you can, you can scale up. So I think you have to kind of get through all of that kind of effort and hard work and failure to kind of turn it around later. So yeah, so yeah, that's really what I want to think.
Andy Splichal 7:12
So who are most of your clients? I mean, it really sounds like just a business opportunity that's out there. Are most of your clients, are they individuals? Are they company is solo entrepreneurs? What are they? Who makes up their clients?
AJ Saunders 7:27
Sure. So I work with a lot of startups, solo entrepreneurs, or small teams. And yeah, they're really, really fascinating dynamic people to work with includes the decision makers, you can use the influence of getting them to move pretty quickly. And that's really exciting, because then you can start to see the growth very quickly. They're not sitting in meetings or SATs, trying to refine this or the other. So yeah, it's mainly them
Andy Splichal 7:58
it is it. Is there an age demographic? Is it younger? Or is it, you know, in their 20s in their 40s? And their 50s? Is there a common denominator on the solopreneurs that you're working with?
AJ Saunders 8:13
Not really. So I have a lot of people that I guess where they're like, early 20s, maybe late 30s. So like, 30s? I think a lot of people who are in their 40s, I don't know how old you are. So that will to try to talk to you here. But I think a lot of people in their 40s kind of missed the boat essentially a little bit. And I think, you know, we entered the 50s. And my parents are in their 60s and their mom on phones be quite often and says I'm an Excel, I can't seem to do this. And I said, Well, have you tried, you know, pressing ctrl C Ctrl V? It's like all your your musician? Right. So yeah, so. So yeah, so I think it's mainly people in their 20s and 30s. I also think that generations so I'm in my early 30s, I grew up with a computer. So you know, that my formative years were spent in front of the computer learning how to code or they had to type, etc. And so I think that's kind of the opportunity.
Andy Splichal 9:13
Now, what about finding affiliates? Partners, I guess so, you know, what, how do people do come? They come with you? And they've already have a number of affiliates. They've already signed up for different affiliate programs. They have, you know, they already have an idea. I'm assuming when they become clients of yours, they just are trying to figure out how to get organic traffic to make
AJ Saunders 9:37
Yeah, yeah. Then for funnily enough, I hear a blog post about this today. I'll have to send you after. So yeah, so a lot of you want to be the other. They have ecommerce companies that they're trying to scale. So we're looking at how to break into they're quite competitive markets. So that's really exciting. All they're doing all the time. Isn't affiliates. And there's my jobs just say well actually have any thoughts about caring looking in the marketplace. And oftentimes, Amazon's a great kind of return of last resort. But there's loads of nice retailers out there who have affiliate programs or maybe don't advertise it they have affiliate programs with maybe you can do a private deal with them. That actually may offer you more. And so it's about engaging with different opportunities and trying to figure out what opportunities best are right for your, your business. And actually, some of the best opportunities that I've seen, I've worked with people that have either contact me through, say, affiliate networks, such as a win or CJ, or there are people that I've I've literally seen that they offer affiliate program, and I've emailed them and said, Hey, how do you help somebody join and they've dropped the call the next day or two days later on? We don't feel that way. So yeah,
Andy Splichal 10:58
You know, we had a guest on, I think it was a season. But Kathleen Booth was her name. And she was talking about some of these coupon extensions. How they affect affiliates, because you're driving the traffic. And then, you know, they get to the checkout the you know, they, whoever you've driven, decides to buy. Yeah, and you've got one of these honey and honey is the big one. Yeah. And all of a sudden they do honey, and then that kind of overrides, specially if you're using last click attribution model. Right. Oh, how does that affect what your clients are seeing or doesn't?
AJ Saunders 11:38
Sure. So well, actually, I guess, business finance on this as well. So what that means is largely, largely sells Amazon products, which is, which is just because that's the best retailer for it. And so it's quite interesting to see Amazon discount things all the time, or allow people to use coupons and and take that off what you're doing. Right. And so I've had discrepancies where I think all that that's really, really interesting. But then I look at it as well, actually, I'm still getting a cut. So the share may not be as big as I want to be. And you know, that's another argument isn't it to discuss later. I understand, obviously, the consumer wants the best feel that they can get. I get that I am the advocacy that myself. But But I also feel as a retailer, it is cutthroat out there, you have to do what you have to do to get the sale. And so yeah, so I I guess I think of, you know, it'd be to see, which is kind of my main kind of affiliate sites, right? Okay, well, a lot of that is going to be, you know, there'll be an element of coupons, there'll be an element of discounts that naturally just occurring. I think you'd have to allow the fact that you can convert at a high enough rate to make it matter into liberal. And you can drive enough volume to make it much better overall. I don't think we could really, really change the game.
Andy Splichal 13:16
So there's no real way around those?
AJ Saunders 13:20
No, I don't think so.
Andy Splichal 13:22
Okay. Now, as far as driving traffic, are you typically looking at building organic traffic through SEO? Is that right?
AJ Saunders 13:33
Andy Splichal 13:35
And to do that, you need content. So what type of content? Well I guess, You know, let's start at the beginning. How do you find the keywords that you think you're going to be able to rank for in Google?
AJ Saunders 13:47
Right? So for me, I like to think of what what problem am I trying to solve? So I'll give you I'll give you an example. So say I was to run a little garage, right? And I'm going to do chin ups, I'm going to do tire changes on the new oil changes, etc, right? So I'm going to sit there and think about, okay, so we'll have a problem I may solve as I may solve peace of mind, right? Because I can take some of the tires, and I can make sure that the car is road worthy. And so I'm not going to sit there and say, right, okay, if somebody is coming to me, what questions are they going to have about tire changes? So you know, and I'll create a list of those questions. So that's, that's one way of doing things that are also going to talk to customers or our listeners, customers, I think. I think no matter what business you're in, whether you're running an affiliate site, or you're running a garret or a sandwich shop, your customers will tell you what they want. They may not tell it to you in the way that they want. The audience hear it, but they'll tell you what they want. And so yeah, I think it's so important. to register your customers and to transport the patterns of what questions most of them are asking. Because if you if you don't have to answer the same question twice a week, that to me is a golden opportunity to read his comments about that.
Andy Splichal 15:14
And let's talk about the content. So what what kind of content? Or is it, You know, it's just an article about it. blog post, it's what what kind of content are you? Are you writing?
AJ Saunders 15:28
So I'm, I'm mainly creating blog content in terms of actual articles. But I know people that do really well with with videos and doing a flip with videos.
Andy Splichal 15:42
And like YouTube channel,
AJ Saunders 15:43
Right, exactly, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because they can they obviously buy the product, or they can share the products or they can explain what they think. And they can be really, really interactive with it could be really, really engaging, that could actually be be aware of them creating content that's
Andy Splichal 16:00
Now with the affiliate. Are you using any sort of paid traffic? I mean, I'm thinking of like Facebook video views, which are cheap. Are you are you? Is there any money that goes behind it? Or is it purely organic traffic?
AJ Saunders 16:17
So I've done a little bit of PPC and a little bit of Facebook, but nothing substantial for this business. I had an Ecommerce company a couple of years ago, and I did the well, the majority of our customers family by Google Display ads, yeah, with the shopping. So they search for nice, pops up as a product listing on the search bar. So that's how I kind of generated a lot of my revenue back then. But I thought for affiliates, actually. You run ads on say Facebook to generate some actual interested or paid and then it's how you then monetize that will maybe send people to like a landing page to download a free ebook. So you actually email address and you can market to them that way. But, ya know, I haven't really done too much kind of PPC or Facebook ad.
Andy Splichal 17:11
Okay. So you're we're more you know, talking straight SEO.
AJ Saunders 17:15
Andy Splichal 17:16
How important do you think that meta tags are today?
AJ Saunders 17:21
So, meta tags yeah,
Andy Splichal 17:24
The title tag, the meta description, all all of that?
AJ Saunders 17:27
Right, right, right. I thought for me you say keyword I was going to have a heart attack. Yeah, so titles are still important. And I know there's been a lot of buzz in the last couple of weeks about fuel rewriting titles. They've been doing that in my, in my first hands experience for years, as they mess up to date more aggressively. But they've they've been doing it quite often. For the last year, maybe two, maybe three, just because they're trying to match this such as intent, they can see that they can tweak the title to match the intent better to get the click home. I think that they've been doing that. It's it's very subtle. So I am still a massive fan of doing that. I'm still a massive fan of writing good, solid math descriptions, because I felt that's really, really key. And again, I think Google then will strip out what they think is the the intent of the searchers query and then trying to you know, when your article on the transmit display that but they're probably a lot more timeless that your intent of what you've actually written matches the searcher that rather than the searches, there's been a mismatch there.
Andy Splichal 18:47
Okay. Now, what about backlinks? Can you rank well organically without a backlink? Just with good content?
AJ Saunders 18:56
Andy Splichal 18:58
Okay. So how are you how are you getting these backlinks? And if somebody doesn't know, you know, let's start if somebody doesn't know what what is a backlink.
AJ Saunders 19:07
So backlink is when another website links to you.
Andy Splichal 19:11
Okay, so you need those to do well organically. How do you get them?
AJ Saunders 19:17
So, how long have you got? There's so many different methods. So a really good friend of mine called Monica Elena does lots of Roundup posts. And so being a good friend of mine, I get featured in quite a lot of them. So a lot of backlinks through that. And that's just getting prs. I use it as general PR. I then this year so far than a couple of blogs swaps with quite high domain websites. Okay. And that's, that's been really helpful. That'd be really, really good as well to do And then another way I've done around before to this year, and I've obviously got people to answer a very simple question and they've got the link from my website to theirs. And I've asked them to give me a look back.
Andy Splichal 20:12
So with your your service for clients that you're helping, yeah, right there affiliate do you deal with trying to get them backlinks? Are you showing them? How does that work?
AJ Saunders 20:23
So Sure. So I generally don't, because I generally say to people, the best way to get backlinks is to just do some PR and do some things like podcasts, podcasts, a great and interview people in your industry and see we can do a blog swap that way. Because that can be really, really fantastic. Where both of you get introduced different, different customer bases are doing a very, very nice friendly way. But I think there's loads, there's loads of opportunities to get backlinks, I think you just have to be clever. I think a lot of people these days are trying to do better at scale. Oh, yeah, the quantity rather the quality, I think you can do quality. There's a real market for doing quality.
Andy Splichal 21:11
Now, do you have a favorite success story of one of your clients that you'd be able to share?
AJ Saunders 21:18
Oh, I think why I can share a few. So one thing that I specialize in conflict strategy. So earlier client came to me after you know, we've done a couple of sessions together. And she said to me, I'm really struggling to know what to publish next year and had a video and she's done a lot social and she does a blog. And so I said, let's jump on the call. So we jumped on the call. And the first thing I said to her, so just outline your process to me. And she's a she's an amazing a personal development coach. And within 10 minutes, she laid out her process, I was like, it's really exciting what you do with your clients, and after the case. So let's just explore each step in the process. And you know, within five minutes talking through maybe the first one or two steps, what I was able to give her probably 20 or 30 ideas. And you know, she's a highly intelligent, got two degrees. So there's nothing wrong. But I think she's so involved in how she does what she does on a daily basis that, you know, she doesn't she's not able to think about what she does, because she's just doing it right.
Andy Splichal 22:24
Sure. I think a lot of us get a little bit too close to our business. Yeah.
AJ Saunders 22:28
And so that was really great. And then the next one among pretty much everything she put. Well, a lot of things she posted on YouTube or her blog, were kind of the ideas that I drew out of her, which is quite, quite quite funny to sort of see that. But yeah, so you know, so that's a really, really great success story. And I think, if you're struggling content ideas today, the best thing that I can recommend is just take a step back, or go talk to a parent or go talk to a friend who may note you do. And just try to explain what you do and explain how you can extrapolate that into the different steps that you were clients through and turn that into content.
Andy Splichal 23:06
Now, are there any challenges that you struggle with in trying to get results for your clients?
AJ Saunders 23:14
Sure. So people have this mentality, I think, Bill Gates summed up the best he said, people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in 10. I think that's so true. So I've got a fairly new client who's they're trying to rank for supplements. Right.
Andy Splichal 23:38
Okay. And it's very competitive, I'm sure.
AJ Saunders 23:40
Right. Exactly, exactly. And so we're trying to build that content plan together, you know, to help them actually rank so you know, I don't know if their product pages will rank pretty quickly. But I know that can produce a lot of good quality content that will rank will answer the query of the users. But it's just trying to convince the client, you know, at this stage, that actually targeting a keyword that may get 10, 20. 30 searches a month, but it has very low competition, it's still actually worth doing it. Because of how Google works. A Google will will look at that search phrase and it will interpret that may actually rank you for 20 or 30 different other phrases.
Andy Splichal 24:22
Now, do you look when you're figuring out what phrase of answering a problem you'd said, but do you look at how many searches do you use Google's keyword tool at all or or do you just try to answer questions that you think that customers have?
AJ Saunders 24:37
So I use SEO powers, we only use Rank Tracker within SEO Power Suite.
Andy Splichal 24:42
Okay. Okay. It's not that different.
AJ Saunders 24:45
Yeah. So but but they're all very similar in terms of SEO, Semrush, address, malls, I say power suites. They all kind of provide the same sorts of data and the same sorts of an Uber suggests as well. Neil Patel, and So I definitely do that. But then I also it's also about gut reactions. So I went through I went for a term that I may not be able to competition is so high. But I felt that maybe like the foundation of foundational posts, and aroma I can what's content that will then eventually break that first post. But actually, without having that first post, none of the other stuff makes sense.
Andy Splichal 25:23
Okay. Now, personally, are there any business books out there that you can attribute to your journey as an entrepreneur?
AJ Saunders 25:30
Yeah, loads. I really like that.
Andy Splichal 25:33
Give me three
AJ Saunders 25:34
Give me three. So I really love the E-myth. I think that's everybody should read that. I've been really reminded this year by another good friend of mine called Christina, who is a fractional COO. And she basically taught me how to build processes that basically, her favorite book is the E-Myth. And I have revisited since I started working with her. And yeah, it's just a fantastic book. Another one that I try and read every year is the Snowball, which is about Warren Buffett's.
Andy Splichal 26:09
I haven't heard of that one.
AJ Saunders 26:10
Okay. It was written, I think, I think maybe like 2008, maybe 2009. But Alex further, but it's just, it's a fascinating story. I find him absolutely fascinating. But yeah, you know, he's just a fantastic journey into his life and how he thinks, how he invests. And I think, even if you're not planning to become an investor, I think he's still really interesting in terms of how he does business
Andy Splichal 26:41
AJ Saunders 26:42
Yeah, so it's well worth it. It's not a very short book. I'll say that. But it is very worth reading. So yeah, so those are two of the third's.
Andy Splichal 26:55
Well, that's alright. I put you on the spot. Those those two. Yeah. Now, what problems do you solve for your clients? And how do you stand out with your agency from your competition?
AJ Saunders 27:08
Right. So what what it makes me difference is I own affiliate sites myself. So I'm not just happy clappy in 10 people living their dream, I can actually demonstrate, I can show people and actually, all my client calls the first website that I usually go to his mind, I usually say, this is where I'm sucking at the moment. And this is what I'm doing to improve these results for myself, or here's one of them, here's the result that I've gotten, I can take you through it, and you can see all the data, you can see how it's changed over time, etc. So that makes me different. The other thing that I do so I just focus on the content strategy. So I basically teach people how to build a blog that can get passive traffic from search engines that are scalable, that's compatible, and that's doable. I think a lot of people are willing to throw money at the paid traffic, they're not willing to spend money building a blog and building a real tribe and a real, a real authority base. And so that's why I kind of help people establish and see, you know, that in business to get any way you want to have authority, you have to have trust. And the best way to do that is by having a really, really, really strong blog that's updated regularly, that's authoritative, that's well researched, funny, and actually talk to people that answers what they want to answer.
Andy Splichal 28:38
Now, when people work with you, is it a monthly retainer? Or is it one time coaching? So how does that relationship work with?
AJ Saunders 28:47
Sure, so I generally just do one on one coaching. So yeah, I've recently just changed it from doing under minimum four hours now rather than two. But in those four hours, you'll learn pretty much the entire system that I teach. And I, I usually what I do is I pour all of my knowledge and the last kind of 10 years into the other person, they can sit there and they can ask as many questions as they want during the session. They're hitting on me off the blinders try and pour into them and try and get them at the crank and the overall strategy of how they can propel themselves.
Andy Splichal 29:26
Now, who, if they're listening right now, would be your avatar, who's who's the perfect client for this type of affiliate business opportunity?
AJ Saunders 29:34
Sure. So so I definitely work with people who want start business and don't fantasize shops or to start an online business and maybe, maybe be able to work from home with Wi Fi. I'm not very big on the whole travel. Travel as you work people, but anyway. So people wouldn't maybe in a job that wants to get out that actually have some motivation and want to, to change and maybe have a compelling reasons towards change. And, and I work with Ecommerce companies, it's the same thing. They have to have a compelling reason why they want to build a successful business. But it has to be willing to put in the hard work.
Andy Splichal 30:20
Now, how can if somebody's listening now and they are willing to put the hard work and to do what it takes, they would have been successful? How would they what's the best way to contact you?
AJ Saunders 30:30
Sure. So they can get to AJStogroup.co.uk. And you can even have like the course that I sell, or you can book consultancy, pre interview, which is a 15 Minute free interview, we can just come and talk to me. I'm more than happy for people to book a slot and come and just talk to me for 15 minutes, you know, any, like, help them answering one question or two. I'm more than happy to do that. So please come and bug me and I'm glad to be bugged.
Andy Splichal 31:01
Well, great. Well, thank you very much for for joining us today. Is there anything? Yeah. Is there anything I forgot to ask you before we wrap it up?
AJ Saunders 31:08
No. I think we covered it all the way.
Andy Splichal 31:11
Perfect. All right. Well, great. Well, thank you, AJ, for listeners. Remember, if you'd liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts. Leave an honest review. And if you're looking for more information regarding AJ, or AJS digital group, you will find links below in the show notes. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our all new podcasts Resource Center. Available at www.makeeachclickcount.com. We have compiled all of our past guests by show topic, and have included their contact information in case you would like more information on any of the services that have been covered during the previous episodes. Again to accessing go to www.makeeachclickcount.com click on the link for the podcast Resource Center found in the top navigation menu. That's it for today. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing and I will talk to you in the next episode.