How to start a coupon site

The thing is that when most people jump into Affiliate Marketing, with absolutely no Online Marketing experience or any Online Advertising experience, is that the internet means instant money, fame and success.  The reality is that if the internet meant everyone could make easy money and fast, everyone would be doing it.  The person whose ebook they read or the scam or “guru” or “Super Affiliate” who suckered them into believing they could get rich easily by just throwing up a site is the only one getting rich and the only reason they are getting rich is because of the fact that the people who bought into their scam were naive enough to believe them.  The sad truth is that almost every single one of those people who got scammed will fail and very few will ever see even slight success.  The ones who are still pushing for success online will then do one of two things usually.

1.  They buy a templated site or pay a bunch of money to get a landing page on an established site (Again another “guru” or “get rich quick scam”) or they 2.  Decide that they took the wrong route with their first try so they’ll take the most obvious and easiest route and start a Coupon Site or Shopping Mall.  Lets break these down and then go into the fact that it isn’t as easy as it used to be by just throwing up a site and getting traffic, but starting a coupon site still can actually be done.

1.  The Templated Site.

Not only are the templated sites just templates which are nothing unique or special, but if you are splitting commissions or using someone else’s domain, your site is not yours and you don’t own it.  If you feed in their content and split your links with theirs, then what are you paying for?  Your site is not unique since the content isn’t and can be found elsewhere and they are making money by you putting their links on a site you paid for even though you are doing the work.  You could more easily buy a url from a registrar and then just install WordPress.  Joining Affiliate programs is easy and setting up a site is actually easy enough that anyone, even without any experience can do it.  Buying a premade site, a templated site or a page on someone else’s domain is probably not going to make you rich, but it definitely will help the owner or person who scammed you make some money.

2.  The coupon site or the shopping mall (and shopping malls that also donate to charity).

The thought process behind this is actually pretty decent.  People like to shop and when they see a coupon code box or before they shop they look for coupons.  People also go online and look for store recommendations, so why not provide a site and service that provides people with all of “the best stores and the biggest mall with the most variety and largest selection of the best coupons available”.  You’ll even make it better for them by seeming like you have a heart and you will donate a portion of the profits to a charity.  This is nothing unique and thousands of hopeful newbie Affiliates and Webmasters have already tried and failed.  The reality is that a coupon site cannot have the largest selection of stores if they are Affiliate links only since many stores don’t allow coupon sites so non coupon malls may actually have more than you ever can and will, unless you include non coupon links as well.

Having the best or most coupons is also probably not also a correct statement to make since many of the larger more established coupon sites get their own custom deals and coupon since they have been driving sales for years to these Merchants.  They not only earned them the hard way, but their coupons are custom codes for their sites and for their sites only.  Merchant’s give them special codes that only they can offer to their users because of all of the years they had already been working together.  As for the shopping mall being the biggest and the best, most people who try this just end up throwing a million banners onto a page and expect it to work.  Some of them may even add category text links but the reality is that all you have done was create an ugly banner farm that pretty much has zero chance of actually succeeding.  The other thing you forgot about is how people will find you and your site if you don’t have anything to bring them there.

Whenever a banner farm applies to my programs, and you can tell it is a newbie with no experience or no desire to put the work into their site, they always say “because I have the best selection and biggest selection”.  They forget that without content, without advertising and without properly building links, no one besides the people they tell will find them.  They also just don’t get that without Marketing, people won’t find them.  You’d be amazed at how many people apply each day or week and how many of them believe just throwing a site with banners on the web without even submitting to Google and other search engines is enough to have a successful shopping mall.  You can show all of the banners and coupons you want, but unless you make it so that people can find you, chances are you won’t get any sales with the exception being when you shop through your own links or if you can convince your friends and family to shop through your site.  The other issue is that unless you know millions of people and they only shop through your site and don’t have parasitic adware installed on their computers, you are probably not going to get rich, let alone be even remotely successful.  So what can you do?  The reality is that without a ton of luck or a huge budget, you will have to put a ton of work into your sites.

Even though coupon sites and shopping malls are extremely competitive it isn’t too late to break in and to be able to compete with the older and more established sites.  You have to remember that you’ll only get out of your site what you put into it.  You also have to remember that sites don’t build themselves and it will definitely take you a lot of time, work and stress to get it going.  If you are willing to devote your life and your time to starting and working on your site around the clock, then you’ll be able to begin to be successful with being an Affiliate Marketer.

Here is how I would start a coupon site if I was just starting out and wanted to become a full time Coupon Affiliate Marketer.

1.  Your URL.  Chances are that even if you have a domain with the word coupon in it, it won’t help you to rank for the term coupon, coupons or coupon codes.  You have so many established sites out there, so many competing sites and way to many people trying to get to rank for those phrases organically.  Instead of trying to find a keyword rich domain name, what I recommend is that you find a url that is not only memorable but also unique and one that people can easily bring up and mention in a conversation.  You basically need to find a url that is brandable, is easy to spell and that people can say and repeat easily without the person thinking about how to spell it.

2.  A niche coupon site.  (This should actually be number 1. but you can easily flip the two so I am going to leave it here in the second spot.)

Because there are so many coupon sites out there, chances are that unless you have the money to spend on advertising you won’t be able to start to rank for the high trafficked terms or for the large retailers plus the word coupon or coupon code.  What you can do however is choose a smaller type of vertical and start optimizing for those long tail terms.  Then you can move into a complimentary vertical and then start to combine them together.  By doing this and then building some more smaller niche sites you’ll build up your relevance and soon be able to start launching a more general site that can begin to compete with the big players.  You’ll also have formed a dominance in your niche and a loyal fan base for your niche.

Niches are usually a pretty tight nit community and you can also usually get your user base to get their friends involved or convert them into visitors and shoppers.  Friends are friends with each other because they share interests so if your niche is for climbing gear and you get some people buying outdoor sports gear online and wanting coupons, when they start climbing or someone asks how much they spend on new climbing shoes, if your site was memorable they may say I found a coupon on mysite.com and saved at blah blah blah store.  Then if your site name is memorable and easy to spell they may come visit and your coupon site will start to grow.

3.  Newsletters and Feeds.  Once you get people coming to your site and remembering it, it is important to start to capture their information and get them to want to receive updates and specials.  By having a newsletter sign up and as your newsletter list grows, your value to your niche stores grows and you’ll begin to get better deals from your Merchant’s since you now have a list of people who are in their target demographic and buy the products that they sell.  Newsletters will not only help you get custom deals, but they’ll also act as your most reliable money maker.  As long as you don’t abuse, sell or spam your newsletter list, you’ll always be able to rely on it to generate income.

If people signed up to receive custom offers, find some and give it to them, even if you don’t make money off of every article or link.  If they like the articles on your site or also read a lot, include some links to interesting articles or new products and services or events that are relevant to your niche in it with the coupons, even if they point away from your site.  People love contests so see if your Merchants will give you something to give away for free as part of a contest to keep them wanting to open it and shop.  The main thing is to keep their interest and provide value to them so they continue to open your newsletters and looking forward to getting them.

4.  Access to coupons and keeping your site updated.  The one thing that almost every coupon site hates is having to feed, update and check for live and working coupon codes.  Not only does it become almost impossible, but as your site grows and your merchant list grows your time to build backlinks and work on your Marketing shrinks.  Since this was an ongoing issue and because the Networks can only help with their own Merchants and their own solutions like the Share a Sale deals database or Google’s Orange Links Newsletter or CJs coupon links under the program information, there was no one easy way to download and get them all into your site and to keep them up to date.  This was a huge issue and although some people tried to create a way to automate this, none of them were Coupon Affiliates themselves and because of this they also didn’t have all of the advantages to special offers and custom coupon codes, none of them really worked or took off.  The problem wasn’t their technology, it was the fact that they didn’t actually understand the needs of a Coupon Site.  After trying these and finally getting fed up with it, Super Coupon Affiliate Connie Berg jumped in and created a service called For Me To Coupon and also decided to offer it as a service to other coupon sites.  (I have recently removed this from my recommended resources and no longer recommend them).

For Me To Coupon not only provides coupon sites with a coupon feed, but it also lets lesser known coupon sites have access to Connie’s vanity codes and authority with different Merchant’s so that they can also have all of the advantages of the more established coupon sites.   This extra advantage not only helps you save time instead of having to manually update your coupons, but it also gives you an advantage over other sites that don’t know about coupon feeds like For Me To Coupon.  I have known Connie for years and talked to a few people who use For Me To Coupon and all of them love it.  Although I haven’t actually used it since I am not a Coupon Affiliate, I do highly recommend it because of all of the people who I’ve spoken to that use For Me To Coupon and who love it.

5.  Video Spokes People.  Although knowing how to use a coupon code is obvious to a webmaster or a Coupon Affiliate, many shoppers aren’t sure how to properly use them or know that they have to click on your links so that they can go back to the Merchant site or to them in the first place and also so that they have your Affiliate cookie on their computer.  This is why I love recommending Video Spokes People to them.

I used to work very closely with a company that shot Video Spokes Models and I have seen the increase in conversions that they can help you create.  Not only can you use a video spokes model to welcome people to your site, but they can also explain to a person how to use a coupon code, to click on your link and also help to make sure you are able to set your Affiliate Cookie.  Video Spokes People are awesome conversion tools and for sites like Coupon Sites where you need the end user to do something besides copy and paste a code, I highly recommend using a Video Spokes Model to do this because not only can you choose one that would be able to relate to your target audience, but they can also explain it and make it easier to understand than just written instructions on an FAQ page.

If you follow those steps and also learn about SEO, Email and other forms of Marketing, you will be on your way to being able to compete with the larger more established coupon Affiliate sites.  If you need help figuring out a niche or have any questions, feel free to leave me a message below in the comments section and I’ll be happy to help.  If you found this post helpful, please feel free to tweet it by clicking on the green tweet button at the top.

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Comments

  1. I wish I knew a way to make sure that every new affiliate marketer read this post. There is NO way to make money easily online. It takes consistent work over a long period of time. Anyone who is not planning to dedicate hours and hours to build a business should save their money and not even start.

    There are already so many general coupon sites that I hope anyone deciding to use what Adam has shared here will focus on niche coupon sites or niche blogs with stores.

    After years of working full time online I have come to the conclusion that the best path to making money consistently is to Joint Venture (JV) with others who have very advanced skills. That way each of us in the JV can focus on what they are best at and only one of the group will have to stay on top of the latest advances and constant changes.

    In our JV while there is some overlap in general skills we have experts in specific areas. We have one person who is expert at installing WP, adding custom CSS, and building stores quickly using feeds.

    Another has years of experience actually making money in affiliate marketing and the most advanced article marketing skills I have ever imagined much less seen before.

    That leaves me to write pillar posts, set up and manage Social Networking accounts and promote our content online. All of us are adept at rewriting product descriptions, editing drip blog posts, and using Social Media.

    What I see happening is for a group like us to set up a WordPress blog with a store for a particular niche and bring on a fourth partner who wants to manage the content and Social Networking accounts for that specific blog.

    Doing that would allow anyone who has blogging skills to plug into an optimized and advanced site. The reason for doing that is because they would not be starting from the beginning learning copywriting, how to install blogs and plugins, how to write a call to action, how to use Social Media – they would have mentoring for free and start making money.

    A percentage of a site that is making sales quickly beats all of a site that may never make sales or will take years to reach the same level of skill. Making money online is something only a small percentage of people ever really accomplish.

    Don’t take my word for it – ask any blogger you know that will tell you the truth how much money their blog makes. You may be in for a shock!
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..How CommentLuv Grows Businesses and Blogs =-.

  2. “since many stores don’t allow coupon sites so non coupon malls may actually have more than you ever can and will, unless you include non coupon links as well”
    I don’t excatly understand what your saying in this sentence, what does this mean?
    thanks

  3. What I mean by that is that if you only have Affiliate links, you cannot be the largest selection of coupons available. Many merchants don’t offer coupons and you probably don’t have grocery ones on your site. If you only have affiliate linked ones and don’t post merchants where you won’t get credit, other sites that do post coupons with no chance of making a commission will have a larger selection than you. I hope that makes sense. The other thing is that if you are a new site, chances are you won’t have all of the vanity codes that the older established sites have and some stores stopped accepting coupon sites and grandfathered a few in. Because they have access to the coupons you don’t have, they can offer a larger selection than you.

  4. Hi Adam

    I came across this at a time of doing some planning for the year ahead. the project I am planning is an e-bargain site, having some knowledge about business I am looking at coupons as a way of adding value to a niche rather list coupons randomly like most sites does. I agree with the point you made about looking at a niche market and build a site around this, thats my approach a few months I had registered the following domain (removed link) but couldnt figure what niche to focus on, I am thinking of something that people are fustrated or have a desire for like designer clothing, or credit card offers\coupons and or weekend away for 2 offers. will like you toughts on choosing the right niche in this case. Darren

  5. Hi Darren,

    Thank you for coming and writing. The url you bought isn’t a niche url. Instead it is a very general one that you could use once you are ready and able to rank for larger vanity terms. Try finding something brandable and memorable that involves something related to your theme. Use something relevant as well like fashion, designer, or anagrams that mean something for the niche and add coupons to it if it doesn’t make the url to long.

    I hope this helps.

    Adam

  6. Rajendra says:

    Nice post ,I am really tried to start a coupon site from one year but not having proper Knowledge on online and do not enough money as well.now really I got some ideas after reading your post ,I decided To start with WordPress which I already have premium classified theme by using coupon theme I want to start,can you suggest me the good WordPress plugin to start a coupon site.

  7. Well said Adam. Making money online isn’t as easy as reading a profit blueprint from web gurus. Even for a coupon site, which shows a promising potential of earnings, maintaining it to become reputable and reliable is the hard part. Thanks for sharing For Me to Coupon, it gave me a good idea about starting a coupon site.

  8. I feel I have a great idea for a new concept in couponing… However, I cannot figure out how all these websites even get their coupons to begin with. I know my idea will be a huge success, but can not figure out where to start… Can you tell me where all of these coupon sites even get their coupons and how they keep them updated? I don’t want affiliate codes right now, just coupons for consumer products and groceries… Later after growing some, I plan to add more savings for…Well first things first. I need to find out how to get started with the coupons first… Any help is appreciated. I’m willing to look into joint venture, for programming and such things.

  9. If you join the Affiliate programs you’ll be able to get access to the codes. Inside Share a Sale you can search the deals database, GAN has orange links and most of the networks will have a file you can download with all of them. The other option is to buy For Me To Coupon by clicking on the banner above and you’ll get all of the coupons from one of the largest coupon sites in the world.

  10. Real good information, poorly written, but effective. Apparently there are a lot of “get rich quick” schemes in the coupon industry and clearly life does not work that way. Thanks for the info.

  11. Great article! I started affiliate marketing at the beginning of this year. I worked hard for six months before finally beginning to see any revenue. I built about 6 sites and only 2 are making money.

    My next project is building out a coupon website. I bought an aged domain (2005) recently for $300 with a good name for the niche. I’m looking now into creating automated feeds because it’s nearly impossible to manage a coupon site manually.

    I think these sites are popular because of “last click attribution” effects in affiliate marketing. If affiliate programs finally adopt a “multi-channel” attribution program rather than a “last click” program then I think we’ll begin to see less competition with coupon sites.

  12. Would “diapers” be too vague of a niche? I feel that everyone needs to buy them, but what if I did the research for them and gave them the best deals available?

    Also, I do not know how to gain revenue. Where does the money actually come from?

    Great article by the way! Thanks!

  13. Yes, Diapers would be a very vague term that has a ton of competition. Diapers for twins, blue diapers, cotton cloth diapers, etc… are more niche and long tail and can be easier to generate revenue from. You have to figure out how to generate revenue. You could get advertisers, join affiliate programs, run adsense, etc… All are ways to generate income. The hardest part is getting traffic to your site. The easiest is monetizing it. Diapers are extremely competitive and you are going to need really strong SEO or you are going to have to be really good at building a community. Diaper coupons is possibly less competitive, but you have a ton of players with coupon sites and that have been around forever.

  14. Oh! Are you also saying that these niche sites would not be used for coupons, but rather content and discussions?

    I need help choosing a niche! Where can I locate a list of some that would/could be successful? Not sure how to choose. e.g., I thought diapers was good for sure! How does one know?

    Thanks for responding too!

    Sorry about multiple posts! :)

  15. Hi Angie,

    Yes, normally content sites. You can do a niche coupon site like sports coupons, steelers coupons, or for foods like gluten free coupons, etc… There isn’t a list anywhere and if anyone tells you you will make money, are guaranteed to make money, etc… it is a scam. It takes a long time to build a following and an audience and actually make money online. The best thing for you to do is to find one you think doesn’t have a lot of competition, that has a good url available and then start building the site, building an audience and trying to convert the traffic into sales.

    I hope this helps.

    Adam

  16. You said in the article you’ve stopped recommending For Me To Coupon. Can I ask why? Would you recommend anything else in its place?

  17. Hi Chris,

    It’s a personal reason I don’t want to post here. I have a couple of concerns, but don’t want to list them publicly. The people who I know that use it still like it. I just don’t feel comfortable recommending it anymore.

    Thanks,

    Adam

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