Hey this is Josh, and today I have the pleasure to bring you another success story. This one comes from Dave Nicosia who recently began crushing it with one of the niche sites that he has been building. He shares an interesting gem that allowed him to optimize and increased his conversions on sales…
He also proves that hard work and dedication really pays off.
Take it away Dave…
Hello everybody! My name is Dave Nicosia and I’m stoked that Josh asked me if I wanted to be featured on his website. Uhh… yeah! So here I am. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my story, I really hope to put things in perspective for you and most of all let you know that this internet marketing thing is really possible.
Today I want to share with you my journey towards gaining financial and location independence. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve seen a lot more failure than success in the past, but that’s all starting to turn around.
My Day Job
By day I work at a premiere web development company in the greater Philadelphia, PA area. I build high end WordPress sites for medium to large sized companies. My daily tasks include front-end theme development and I run SEO and SEM campaigns for many of our clients.
My Internet Marketing History
I don’t want to get too deep into my history, but I believe it’s important for you to see where I’m coming from and to see that it wasn’t a magic bullet I discovered that led to success. Far from it! I’ll just give you the foot notes but if you’re interested I go into a lot more detail over at my blog.
- Summer 2010 -I discovered the world of internet marketing. I threw up a few tiny low quality sites, didn’t get any results after a month, and quit.
- Fall 2011 – I stayed up until 3am most nights exploring, learning, sorting out the junk information from the good information, built a few new small sites and finally earned my first $0.17.
I’ll never forget the day I earned my first pennies online. It was the day that something in my brain switched and I knew it really was possible.
- Spring 2012 – I discovered Pat Flynn, Spencer Haws, the Empire Flippers, and others. Now armed with great trustworthy information, I built 40 sites in 4 weeks based off of the Empire Flipper’s eBook. It worked great except that the EMD update was about to drop. All 40 sites wiped out in a moment.
I had spent every waking moment of my spare time working on these 40 sites, doing almost everything by myself, and it was all for nothing … or so I thought.
This was my big turning point
Fall 2012 – I took a few weeks off to think about if I really wanted to pursue this path, then finally decided that I had put in so much work already failing – I now knew how not to make money online, all that was left was to do was master how to make it. I realized that although my last efforts didn’t pan out, I was close. I had learned a ton, I had made it work briefly, and learned that I could could do this internet marketing after all.
I was hooked. Permanently.
For rest of 2012 and the first half of 2013 I focused my efforts on a tent camping website I had started called Tent Camping HQ. The site was doing okay and earning between $10 – $40 a month so I kept it up. Then in May of 2013 I joined Pat Flynn’s Niche Site Duel 2.0 and my most successful site was born.
Finally, Something That Worked!
In May 2013 I brainstormed, I did my keyword research armed with nothing but the free Google Keyword Tool, and I build out a new Amazon Associate site. The site was launched on July 22, 2013, after spending two months researching and writing high quality content, and building my own custom WordPress theme that would do exactly what I wanted it to.
My advanced web development skills are what I tapped into heavily to build a site that would be very hard for somebody to copy without knowing how to code well. I also developed my own custom buying guide as an alternative to using TablePress.
The site took about three months to start picking up traffic and just when I started making regular commissions, the site was slapped with a Google penalty. My traffic and commissions dropped to almost nothing. What did I do about it? Well I definitely didn’t give up! (although I did freak out a bit at first!) I go into a lot more detail on my blog, but basically I de-optimized my site, started pushing some social media links and interaction, and just kept adding fresh content.
I never gave up and six weeks later my penalty was lifted and my traffic and earnings started to grow.
In December 2013 my site earned $40, in January 2014 it earned $104.99, in February it earned $392.88, in March it earned $391.67, and in April the site earned $607.37.
What did I do to grow my traffic and earnings?
I basically just did a lot of blog commenting in related niches, used Neil Patel’s Advanced Guide to Backlinking, and installed event tracking with the Google Tag Manager. By utilizing the Tag Manager and event tracking, I was able to set up a detailed tracking system on my site so I can track every affiliate link click on my website. I can see exactly what links work, which ones don’t and what the most popular items on my site are.
Once I knew the popular products, I was able to optimize my pages for the highest CTR and now I get anywhere from a 40% – 65% CTR on my affiliate links site wide. Then I usually get a 5% – 9% conversion rate on Amazon. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the event tracking. It took all of the guesswork out of what was working and made the optimization process data driven.
I also track all of the interaction on my buyer’s guide. Basically there’s a column going down the left with all of the product options that you can choose. On the right is pictures of each product I review. Then you can filter the products by using the controls on the left. I track exactly what people click on so I can see exactly what features, brands, and models are the most popular. Then I place those products in the prime spots on my website and add more reviews like them.
What I Learned From Studying My Data That Completely Surprised Me
Everybody knows that sliders on your homepage are not effective. Yoast recently published an article that goes over all of the downsides to having one and describes why you should NEVER use one. Guess what gets me the most affiliate link clicks on my homepage? That’s right, a slider!
I know because I track all of my affiliate link clicks and I’ve tested out the product slider, a single product image, and a bunch of other layouts, but the slider performs the best every time without a doubt. That’s what I use instead of the usual sortable table. The slider has the top 10 most popular items that people click on, and I used the data from my event tracking and buyer’s guide to figure out the most popular products to use in it. It worked like a charm.
I went against the grain with my slider, against my own best judgement, and I did my own research instead of just following the “expert” advice. This is a big reason that my site is doing as well as it is today. If I had just listened to what other people recommended without testing it for myself, I would not be making as much as I am, I’m sure of it.
What did I learn from this? Experiment, think for yourself, and test everything.
Advice For Those Who Have Not Yet Found Success
I know how frustrating it can be to work hard for seemingly endless hours and watching your sites fail over and over. It’s discouraging and doesn’t feel good. I think this is where the 1% who succeed separate themselves from the 99% who don’t. What do they do that 99% of people don’t? Keep going despite failure. As long as you are learning and applying, you will eventually make it work. For me there is no other choice. No Plan B.
My parting tips for you are:
- Never, never give up.
- Work harder than everybody else.
- Learn what works for others, adapt it to yourself, get creative, and make it your own.
- Think for yourself.
- Never stop experimenting.
- Never assume what the pros say is the absolute truth. Think for yourself and question everything.
- Set up the Google Tag Manager and event tracking and really learn how people use your site. The insights I gained from this were essential in optimizing my high performing site.
Where To Find Me
I hope you enjoyed my story and that it inspires and motivates you to keep going, even if you haven’t gotten it right just yet! I know I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go to reach my goal of financial independence. If you would like to keep in touch or learn more about me, my history, my struggles, my successes, and follow along with my monthly income reports – here’s where you can find me.
It’s been a pleasure!
– Dave Nicosia