Niche Surfer is now Digital Surfer!

L.E. McArthur Affiliate Savant

L.E. McArthur (Affiliate Savant)

Location:

Canada

Follow:

“I try to make sure every page has a call-to-action, whether a button with an affiliate link, a link to a ‘money page,’ or simply a prominent link to the next logical article.”

published: April 9, 2022

The Interview

1. Where do you live?

Canada. High taxes bad, free healthcare good.

2. When did you start creating content?

I started building websites and creating content for them in 2000. I was very interested in web design, video, and digital photography. At that time, I was still creating and performing offline as a modern dancer.

3. Are you a full-time Creator?

Yes. Initially, I was designing and building websites for clients, but in 2003 I discovered affiliate marketing and never looked back.

Since then, I’ve built an extensive portfolio of niche affiliate sites and other online assets. I have a small team to help me out, and there are always new projects on the go.

4. What was the “Click” that made you decide you can make full-time money online.

Before becoming an affiliate marketer, I had already gone to school for digital media and started a web design business. So I already knew I was going to make money online. But as I was going broke as a web designer, I came across an ebook about how to make money with affiliate marketing. That was the first big click. How had I not heard of this before?

Then I spent three months, full-time, building my first affiliate website. I followed the author’s advice to niche out, write reviews, and create paid search campaigns. As I said, I was broke. So my advertising budget was only $10 per day. But I made over $300 the first week. Click. I never took a client again.

5. How many niche sites have you created?

I can count about sixty niche websites of various sizes.

6. How many are you still running now?

They are all active, maintained, and kept updated from a technical standpoint, even if they rarely receive new content. About five sites are publishing new content on a regular basis. So those, plus new projects, receive most of my attention. Almost all of them earn by varying degrees, but I’ll be the first to admit – it’s too much.

7. Have you sold any sites or online businesses? And what was the ROI like?

I’m more of a website hoarder, as you can see from my answer above. That said, I would like to unload some of my bloated portfolio and am currently fixing one up to sell, hopefully by the end of the year.

8. How many sites or online businesses have failed or not gotten going?

I had a big fail around 2011, but I learned from it. I started a second business to build a community-based site with a partner. Before the site was even built, we met with lawyers, registered as a corporation, and filed a trademark—a lot of money and effort. In the end, the project didn’t launch for multiple reasons.

What I learned from this and what I now share with others starting an affiliate or blogging business – In most cases, you shouldn’t bother with any of the business stuff until you start earning. I had put too much effort into setting up the business and not enough into planning the project itself.

9. How much are you earning each month?

  • $50,001 – $100,000

10. What are your current streams of revenue?

  • Affiliate Sales

11. What are your Top 3 on-page SEO strategies?

I like to keep things simple, and I’m constantly applying SEO to older articles, so I’ve developed a quick system to boost any particular page with minimal effort. Out of the basic SEO strategies I apply on-page, I’d consider these 3 to be the most impactful.

1) Headings (H1, H2s) are keyword optimized. I also use the H1 as my meta-title, so I try to make it better than the other articles ranking on page one. Always reference what’s already in the SERPs – not so you can copy, but to improve upon what’s already there.

2) On-page linking strategy. I link to other pages within the same cluster and relevant pillar pages. And every page has an outbound link to an authority site ranking for the focus keyword. I also go back to previously published articles in the cluster and link to the new article.

3) Address search intent. When creating new content and updating older content, I make sure the search intent of the target keyword is delivered. I glean intent from looking at existing Google results and make sure that my content satisfies that, and that the headings clearly reflect the intent as well.

Bonus tip: I try to make sure every page has a call-to-action, whether a button with an affiliate link, a link to a “money page,” or simply a prominent link to the next logical article.

There is no point in optimizing and ranking pages unless you have a plan for those visitors. Make their next steps clear as day. This will keep them on-site or move them towards your desired conversion, which is the whole point, isn’t it?

12. What’s the biggest issue(s) that you’re facing today?

Currently, my biggest issue is simply that I don’t have as much time to work on my affiliate business as I’d like. This is primarily due to having a busy toddler in the house! But I also struggle with discipline and getting down to work when I do find a few hours. I think this is a common issue for self-employed people working from home.

13. What tool(s) do you rely on the most?

  • Google Search Console
  • Ahrefs
  • Google Docs
  • Voluum – affiliate tracker

14. What has been the biggest mistake you made?

Oh, I’ve made so many mistakes! The worst of them are probably the ones that cost me a lot of money, but I’m also aware of things I DIDN’T do that could have made a big difference to my business.

I don’t dwell on mistakes much because they are part of learning. However, I do wish I had more SEO baked into my earlier projects, back when I was focused on buying traffic. If I had put more SEO strategy and implementation into my earlier projects, I wouldn’t have to massively overhaul some of them, as I’m doing now.

15. What has been the best decision you’ve made?

A few years ago, I decided to focus more on SEO and cut way back on paid Google ad campaigns. Was that the best decision I’ve made? Time will tell. But after becoming disenchanted with Google Ads and turning my attention to SEO, I’m filled with new excitement and determination regarding my business.

16. What’s one thing that you felt accelerated your journey the most?

In 2010, I hired a friend who’s a developer full-time. So that’s been a game-changer. Before that, I was doing everything myself. Having someone to handle set-up, hosting, and everything to do with technical performance has freed me up to focus on strategy, content, and traffic. He has also built quite a few custom projects for me.

Secondly, I believe that my obsession with detailed tracking and conversion rate optimization has really helped. These skills were developed over many years by spending millions on targeted traffic from every conceivable source.

Paying for traffic teaches you next-level optimization as you must try your best to convert every visitor possible- to recoup your spend and achieve a positive ROI. Applying this knowledge now to my SEO efforts means I can bring in more earnings per visitor.

17. What’s your 12 month goal?

I’ve got a list of goals I hope to achieve over the next 12 months.

  • Get enough content onto the Affiliate Savant website to rank and get some organic traffic.
  • Build another new affiliate site from scratch to use as an example in my guides and tutorials at Affiliate Savant.
  • Sell at least one of my older websites.
  • Become a faster and more prolific writer. Practice makes progress!

18. How do you stay up to date on the SEO, affiliate marketing, display ad, and other news?

Between Facebook groups and my Twitter feed, it’s all coming at me whether I like it or not.

19. What do you eat or drink for fuel to keep going?

Coffee in the morning. Coffee in the afternoon.

20. Where can people follow you?

Anyone interested in learning how to build and market niche affiliate websites can join my list at AffiliateSavant.com. You can also find me on Twitter @AffiliateSavant.

BONUS: Anything else you’d like to share that can help others?

Be ambitious. Be prolific. Go get ’em tiger!