Lately I have been spending my time creating minisites. Through a lot of trial and error, I have gathered some tools that I prefer and some setups that work for me.
Of course there might be tools and plugins out there that perform better. These are just what I use.
First of all, lets talk about the concept. An affiliate minisite must:
- Be deployed in a narrow niche.
- Be automated.
- Provide revenue.
- Rank well inside its niche.
I always use wordpress, so I got the ranking a step higher right from the start. A narrow niche needs some keyword research and some planning, but in the end all you can do is to try it and see what happens.
I suggest that you get a juicy main keyword in your domain, it will help a ton with ranking.
Wordpress not only ranks well, but it also comes with a nice bunch of plugins for automating the minisite.
What I like to use are the following ones:
- Tweet this
- Next gen gallery
- WP super cache
- WP e-commerce
- And Thesis theme, not a plugin, but it has so many abilities that it honestly counts as one. Make sure to get Thesis Open hook plugin if you use the theme, it will make your life a lot easier.
Feedwordpress syndicates RSS feeds to add to your minisite. But it is not only useful as a splog maker. It can also keep a minisite fresh with content, without looking spammy. How? By having it pull RSS feeds from social bookmarking sites. I suggest you use Digg search results RSS for juicy snippety action! And the best thing is, that it is all current and popular.
Tweet this can automatically tweet the post you publish. The newest version also auto-tweets scheduled posts, which is awesome. I use this in a technique I call, “crier”. It is simple really, you make a twitter account dedicated to your minisite. You setup the account, pic, link, background and add a few friends to it. Then you put Tweet this to tweet your new posts. That way, the twitter account acts as a crier for your minisite. It is simple, easy, and works fine.
RealVMS is one of the powerhouses. What it does, is automatically scrape youtube and embed videos in posts. All along with their comments and tags. How awesome is that? Yes, pretty awesome. Did I mention it can automatically bookmark the video to Delicious? Just add a new category, “keyword + videos” or something like that, and have the plugin add new vids daily.
Digg Digg is one of my favourite social bookmarking plugins, because of the large buttons that pull the bookmark count from the mothersite. I love it. Don’t overdo it, most sites are useless. Stick to the big ones.
Next gen gallery is well known to everyone. I use it as a little cheat, I always gather some pictures of the niche, and add them in the minisite’s gallery. I social bookmark them, and it pulls a nice bit of traffic that way, plus some image hotlinks. The fine touch is that this plugin’s widgets look amazing, I always add random thumbnails to the sidebar.
WP super cache is great for lifting the load off your server. If it works right off the bat, you are lucky. If something conflicts with this plugin, you are pretty much screwed. Everything seems to hate it. Nonetheless, it is worth trying to load it because it works amazingly well.
WP e-commerce is free, and has a premium for addons. In its basic use, it can be used to create minisites/ministores. Yes, they work great. It also has a buggy import feature, which means you can import a product feed from any affiliate network. If you pull it off, it will work like a charm. Your ministore can then be added here, which if approved, will bring a trickle of valuable traffic.
WFReview was discussed in the previous post. It is a powerhouse in regards to making minisites, and it synergises so well with the previous plugins. Trust me, if you see a minisite, with thumbnails on the sidebar, posted videos with today’s date, news snippets to Digg, and a bunch of ratings and comments on the posts you will doubt whether this is autogenerated or not. It is a premium plugin, but it is well worth it.
I know that the tricks I use are rather well known, or seem trivial. The thing is that when used all together, they amount to a nice sum of traffic and ranking to my minisite. Coupled with the right offer, the minisite is profitable.
Now, how to make the minisite profitable? Well, you really should not ask that. The monetization methods of a minisite should be made beforehand, while in the early stage of planning. Generally, I like to use 2 monetization methods, one being affiliate links, and the second being ppc, Adbrite or Adsense. If and when the minisite matures, I like to add a third monetization method, selling text links. Selling links is perfect, because it eliminates the upkeep cost of the minisite and is very stable.
The build I do to each of my minisites is rather complicated, but I will try and break it down here. This is an analysis of the points above, so I can’t help but repeat myself:
- Base articles.
- Sidebar widgets.
- Crier and auto-bookmark.
- Fresh videos.
- Fresh social news.
- PPC monetization.
- Aff text link monetization.
- Set it and forget it banners.
- Mailing list creation.
- SEO, by hotlinks, social bookmarks and tags.
Base articles, are usually 10-15 that I write or order related to the niche. They are my base SEO, and I carefully select titles, I post them with proper tags etc, and social bookmark them for the initial SEO boost. Then I just forget about them.
Sidebar widgets are the Next gen gallery thumbnail random preview, which looks very nice. Also, the recent comments widget, to show the site is active. WP-ecommerce can also show “products”, which looks very professional.
The crier is the twitter account that announces the new posts from the minisite. I sometimes add twitterfeed to this, and blend in affiliate links from some network’s RSS feed. The auto-bookmark is done by RealVMS, to delicious.
The fresh videos are put in a category, like “keyword+videos” by RealVMS.
Fresh news are usually found at http://digg.com/rss_search?s=keyword or any other social bookmarking site’s custom RSS feed.
For PPC monetization I use Adsense, a single ad space in the most prominent place, above the fold. Don’t overdo it.
Aff text link monetization is done either with:
- Hand-made pages linking to offers.
- Auto replaced keyword by WFReview to aff links.
- Product feeds turned into posts with their aff links.
Set it and forget it banners┬áAmazon Omakase, product or category banner. I also love Unibet for casino, betting and poker banners. Their dynamic banners are constantly optimized and updated, so you don’t have to. Just add the code and let them do the rest.
Mailing list creation is done quite easily and automatically by Aweber. The lists are small, so the cost is negligible. Aweber has a signup form that is perfect for this job, the box popup that you also see on this blog. The minisite will slowly harvest those emails, and once they reach a respectable number you can blast some offers to the niche. Remember, the lists might be small, but they are targeted.
SEO is integrated in all parts of the minisite. The base articles make the foundation, the domain chosen is always with a juicy keyword in it. Auto-bookmark helps. The image gallery invites some hotlinks. The videos are embedded with their tags in the posts, which makes wordpress rank great. The RSS scrapes are relevant and have lots of variations. For the minisites that make consistent cash, I usually throw up a TNX campaign so it can rank for my keyword. That last thing works very well, but it is costly, so it is only viable on high-profit minisites.
Design tip: You can use Greenbox logo maker to make a cool looking logo for your minisite in no time. It will help sell it better.
As you can see, each minisite created that way takes a lot of thought and work to create. But you must see it as a long term investment, because each of these sites will create a revenue stream that is stable and long lasting.
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