When I explain people my money making minisite concept, I often get asked to show an example.
Well, today I have that example, and have written the methodology of creating one.
I want to point out, that this is not the only way to make money making minisites (from now on referred to as 3m) and it is certainly not the best way. But it is a tried and true way, and can be applied even by newbies to many niches. Also, I have spent a lot of time experimenting and a lot of money trying out tools, and in this guide only the very best are mentioned. Every tool that I tell you to buy, IS, I swear, the best tool I have discovered up to now.
I will outline in this guide the creation of a 3m, as I build them, and as I market them. This is my way, and it works for me. I invite you to learn from this guide and make your own 3ms, and shape the process the way it suits you.
A money making minisite, a 3m, is simply a site made for making money. Nothing else, nothing more. A perfect 3m will:
- Rank in its niche, and get organic visitors.
- Pre-sell people to buy through your affiliate link.
- Gather emails, for a niche mailing list that can be used in the future.
- Use an engine that makes it easy to change content (remember, the point is to have multiple 3ms working in parallel)
- Work as both a great landing page for ppc and a site that makes recurring income from non paid traffic
The parts that 3m consists of:
- Fatcow hosting
I will make a minisite, for a juicy niche. I chose DSLR cameras, because they are a good trend these days, they are a narrow niche, and they are juicy products. I also chose Amazon as my affiliate link, but the concept works with any other affiliate offer, even different offers of the same niche. The idea here is to keep the choices low, never give too many options to a buyer. That is why I chose to make a top 5 dslr cameras 3m.
Since I am making a review site, I just googled for some articles that I could use, that reviewed DSLR cameras. I happened to find this article, http://www.mademan.com/top-5-dslr-cameras-summer that is perfect for the job. In other circumstances, I would just gather some reviews and combine them.
Since I am using amazon, and I now have the products that I will review, I just go to amazon.com while logged in to amazon assosiates and open up each of the five product pages. Amazon gives me a fast way to make a deeplink through the toolbar above, so I just click link to this page and then choose my tracking id. Then I choose text only, and copy the deeplink code that looks like this
I gather all five of my dslr models, the Nikon D500, the Canon EOS etc and I put them in a notepad file along with their respective reviews from the article.
I also go to the product pages and gather a few of the customer reviews from Amazon, and put them in text file as well.
I also gather the product images that I need, and put them in a folder with the rest of the content.
For this step, I will assume that you already have hosting, and that you have a domain registrar that you prefer. If not, I suggest you get this hosting package from Fatcow, that comes with a 30% discount, a free domain, and free coupons for ppc advertising. For newbies, this is the best package right now, and the ppc coupons are perfect for the minisite we are building.
In the example I actually did use Fatcow hosting, so I just went to this offer, put in the domain name top5dslrcameras.com and clicked next. I then purchased the hosting for only 44$, and got to the control panel (after I verified my email and changed my password). I clicked Install Central, and then chose Wordpress. I put in the blog name and the admin password, clicked on “yes install to this directory even if it already exists” and clicked install now.
The blog is installed, but the domain still needs to shift and wordpress might take some time to show up, so I leave the site for now and get on to find the other pieces.
WFreview, which you can get from here, is the perfect solution to the 3m concept. In a single plugin you get the review engine, free wordpress templates that are perfect for the job and a tool that does most of the work for you.
I got wfreview, and I went inside my member account to download the theme and get the plugin. I just clicked the download link on the line WFreview 4.0 and put in my domain, top5dslrcameras.com in the box on the right. Then clicked download, and got the plugin activated for my domain. You can add as many domains as you like by the way. I also clicked the download link on the theme Side by side. The others are good also, but I prefer this one.
Ok, now with all the files gathered I go to my wordpress installation, and login as admin. From the plugins tab, I click new, upload, and I select the zip file that contains wfreview. I activate the plugin and move on to the theme. As before, from the new theme, upload page I select my theme zip file and activate it after it gets uploaded.
Most of the set-up is done, but I still need to go to wfreview categories tab. I put in the categories:
- Picture quality
And click save.
At this stage, I just need to add the content.
I open up my content files, the text file, the pictures etc. I go to new post in wordpress, put the model name in the title, paste the review text and add some tags. I also upload the image of the camera, and link the image to the affiliate link I gathered earlier.
One more step, I need to go down the page, on Custom fields, and I need to add a new custom field with the name
and the affiliate code for its value. I click “add custom field” and I am done. I only need to do this for the first time, for the next posts I just select the URL from the custom fields dropdown and paste the new link.
I add all 5 posts to my site, and there is one last step for the site to be ready. The 3m looks a bit weird right now, because the reviews are missing.
Again on wfreview, I go to the Generate reviews tab, and set it to generate between 3-7 reviews on all categories, and rate posts with less than 1 review.
I click Generate, and now my 3m site is ready. It looks like http://top5dslrcameras.com
I am going to use twitter as one of the two ways to market this 3m, so I need a twitter account by the name top5dslrcameras
I put an avatar to the account, a background and a bio. I do some fast searching for “dslr” and follow some people, just to get started.
I then close the twitter page, because I have a much better tool, called tweetadder.
This little tool is great for automating a lot of the tedious tasks in twitter marketing. With it, I can manage and automate multiple accounts. I will use it for my 3m, at first to get a lot of followers, and then to market my minisite to them.
Tweetadder is easy to learn and has a tutorial, so I will just talk about the basics here. Once I add the twitter account top5dslrcameras, I have it search for “dslr” and save all accounts to the “to be followed” database. I also manually find 2-3 twitter accounts that have a lot of followers and search for their followers in tweetadder. I add all those accounts, and then have tweetadder follow about 500 people. Then I set it up to tweet the following tweets automatically, pulled from a text file:
Canon Vs Nikon! http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Canon 5D better than 7D? http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Nikon d500 reviewed! http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Nikon d300s reviewed? http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Canon or Nikon? Nikon or Canon? http://top5dslrcameras.com/
EOS Rebel or EOS Mark II? http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Canon OMG!!! http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Canon EOS Rebel t2i review: http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Nikon d500 the worst? http://top5dslrcameras.com/
Canon EOS 7D the worst? http://top5dslrcameras.com/
I leave it aside for now, but I will have tweetadder follow about 300 people every day automatically from now on.
I am going to gather a mailing list for my 3m, and I am going to make it good. It might seem as too much trouble for a minisite, but it is not. The list will be small, but it will be super targeted to the niche. I will also provide more value per visitor for my ppc campaign, because I will be able to reach that visitor again in the future with new offers. A tight list works amazingly well, even a 500 person list can get you more than 30 sales.
Aweber is the perfect tool for this job, because we don’t want to get bothered much with the mailing list itself, we need a set it and forget it method. Also, the lists are small so aweber’s costs are minimal.
Now, I am going to cheat a little. I go to CJ.com and look for the software offers. I know that every serious photographer uses Adobe Lightroom, and the CS5 suite recently came out. That means that not all photographers have made the move yet. I am going to give them an incentive to make the move, a 30% discount link. But, I am going to give them the coupon after they subscribe to my mailing list. Bear in mind, that you can find discount offers on almost every software, and you can find software that suits every niche. That is the idea here.
So, I set up a new aweber list, and create a lightbox form. I write on the form something like “Get a 30% discount on Adobe Lightroom. Put your email here to receive the coupon (you will need to confirm your email)”
Then I just set the autoresponder to email the link back.
I install the email form on my theme, I just paste the code at the file home.php, after the body tag.
Now that my site is ready, I will make a ppc campaign for it. If you got the hosting from the link above, you will also get advertising coupons. You can use those coupons to drive some traffic to the 3m and see which source converts the best.
The only advice here is to take it slow, use low budgets until you know what you are doing but the most important thing is to keep it narrow. For example, my keyword list for the top5dslrcameras.com is this:
top 5 dslr cameras
EOS Mark II
Canon EOS Rebel t2i review
Nikon d500 review
Canon EOS 7D review
etc etc. Keep it this narrow, you don’t want random traffic. You want people who are looking to buy dslr cameras. Remember that.
The finishing touches:
Here are some minor things we can still do to the 3m, I only do those if the 3m looks promising.
We can add the reviews from the amazon page, 1 or 2 reviews per product are fine. They will convince better.
We can add a nicer header pic, and a better twitter background pic.
Changing the permalinks is one of the first things to do.
Also, I like to add the digg digg plugin, and put twitter buttons on the posts (make them show everywhere, not only on post pages). Try the buttons for your niche, and if people use them, fine. You can also do some social bookmarking for SEO and some traffic.
I also advise you to try adding the price on the post page, and see the result in conversions. I use amazon here, so I prefer not to list the price and force the user to click on the product page. That way I am certain that the cookie lands. On other scenarios, prices might work better.
Now, the 3m should be working and gaining traffic. Keep the ppc campaign running if it is profitable, or try other traffic sources for it. Remember, bid only on the exact keywords of your products, that way you should see results instantly.
The mailing list will slowly grow, and once it hits 200 people or so you can start sending some offers. Tweetadder should be used daily to add followers, and to unfollow the ones who dont follow back. Have it running in the background to tweet new messages, as well as send direct messages to your friends. Then, make a new money making minisite.
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