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An Interview with Sarah Petrova

Who are you and what are you currently working on?

I’m Sarah Petrova and I am working as a Hardware Engineer at Intel. I also co-founded Techtestreport.com with two of my colleagues. All in all, we run about 5 different websites that we monetize through various channels; affiliate marketing has the biggest share of all of our income streams. On our newest website Techtesreport.com, we want to create a trustworthy tech consumer magazine with all the information people need to make the right purchase decisions for their needs.

We find that the tech product world offers good content for geeks & professionals, but very rarely can you find easy to understand content, describing important tech concepts in an easy to understand way for regular people.

How did you get started in affiliate marketing? What keeps you excited about it?

The first time I heard about affiliate marketing was from friends and roommates in college. They already had built some successful niche affiliate sites. Another friend of mine had a little fashion blog which she monetized via various affiliate networks and ads.

I remember that it all was very confusing to me and initially thought that affiliate marketing was some kind of scam, like multi-level marketing. But through talking to my friends I got to understand the business side of it more and more.

My friend running the fashion blog showed me all her traffic statistics in Analytics and the former Google Search Console, Google Webmaster Tools. I was fascinated by that. It almost looked like a video game where you can check your progress on a daily basis, except that it wasn’t a game but real life.

Soon after that experience I started to research more about affiliate marketing and started a website with another friend of mine. Granted, we made a lot of mistakes, and the site never got really big, but it was enough for a couple hundred bucks a month for each of us. That was a lot of money for us back then and we only invested about 10 hours a week each of us.

This experience got me hooked and I started to learn more and more about the affiliate marketing business. Over the next years, friends/colleagues and I started a number of websites. Some of them failed, others became successful. The more we learned the more successful we got.

What is one piece of advice you would give a newbie affiliate marketer? What is one piece of advice they should ignore?

If you plan to get into the affiliate game you only need two things to succeed: patience and a lot of self-discipline. Today, everyone wants to see quick results and successes. The affiliate business is still very profitable, but you should plan on putting in some work and not seeing results until after 6 months of running a new site.

It is very difficult to grind out articles and do research and not seeing any results. I have met some people who became very successful on their own, but these people have an iron will. In my opinion, it helps to have a team, as you are not only working for yourself but also for other people.

Another piece of advice: Start to educate yourself about different income streams. Yes, Amazon is the number one in the affiliate marketing business, but there are many other affiliate networks out there, offering great commissions. You do not want to make your website dependent on one income stream as that increases your risk of failure if, say Amazon cuts their commissions (which they recently did).

One piece of advice to ignore is that backlinks are the end all be all. Yes, they are a ranking factor, but there are many others. We created some high traffic websites without a lot of backlinks. And don’t listen to people recommending private blog networks (PBNs) for backlinks. It is only a matter of time until Google will punish your site for that and the reward is definitely not worth the risk.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress in your affiliate marketing?

My favorite mistake was not a single thing I could point to, there were too many, but one thing that you should get out of your head is to make everything perfect before your site goes live. I remember wasting 3 months in the beginning of my affiliate marketing journey, because I wanted to create the perfect design and look for my site, where I could have published content already. Try to get rid of perfectionism in this game. Focus on the most important thing of your website: content, everything else has second priority.

What is one piece of software or web service (besides Geniuslink) that allows you to be more effective as an affiliate marketer?

A tool I am using a lot is the MOZ Keyword Explorer for keyword and article research. MOZ is also great for competitor analysis as it gives you a lot of insight in important metrics of your competition. I also like their page optimization tools which helped me to speed up my websites.

Another tool I use a lot is Google Trends. Oftentimes you can see when a new trend starts to get traction and produce content already in advance of your competition. Your article gets published sooner which means it’s gonna rank faster and secure a top spot on Google.

How do you continue to educate yourself as an affiliate marketer? What are some of your favorite resources for learning?

Most of my education now comes from my competition. That is something I have always done, watching what other competitor websites of a similar size to my website were doing. You can see what works for them and recreate a lot of that success. Over time you get a good feeling for content topics that could do well by analyzing your competition.

Other resources I regularly read are Neil Patel’s blog, the MOZ Blog and backlinko.com. There is amazing content on the internet about SEO and affiliate related stuff. Through these resources, I get insights, statistics, and a lot of information around the Google algorithm.

If people wanted to connect with you, where should we point them to?

If you need help to find the latest gaming laptop or computer parts but are not sure which are best suited for your needs you can reach out to us via techtestreport@outlook.com. You can also contact me personally on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-petrova