Each time, they pointed me to a part of the agreement that says you need to have "original content" that isn't primarily just ads. In each case, I know the content was original (I created it: mostly articles about DIY electronics, 3D printing, etc), there were no other ads on the sites other than a few (2 or 3 per page) affiliate links where I mentioned products that I had incorporated into my own DIY projects.
I wasn't able to get any further explanation from Amazon in these cases, so I don't even know why they kept shutting down my accounts - and I guess that's what concerns me the most. Even if they hadn't shut me down when they did, the fact remains that they could, at any point in time, shut down or significantly alter the terms of our "agreement" at their (seemingly arbitrary) will.
It's happened before; there was a HN post on it. Sorry can't remember the details off-hand.
That's fairly solid evidence, but it only counts for anything if the person checking on your case bothers to look at it. For a minor affiliate to be terminated, I'd expect virtually no investigation.
My conclusion: it's nice revenue while you can get it, but that probably won't be very long. Make money with their program and they're coming for you.
eBay and Amazon are particularly notorious for draconian "enforcement" and sudden changes in terms and/or payouts.
Also, be aware that coupon and rebate sites generate the overwhelming majority of commissions across networks. While programs claim to want content, that's not where the real money or priority lies.
Don't like it? Don't do affiliate marketing. Because there is nothing you can do about it.
I know of two other people who also took them to small claims and won as well. (both in states with five figure small claims limits)
It's a pretty weird treatment, but I think that companies just don't give a shit when it comes to fraud prevention and don't allow any wiggle room.
- Has "zero" web dev experience; everything is built on Wordpress and plugins.
- Gets "a couple hundred thousand PV/mo"
- He picked an broad niche that he himself doesn't particularly care about.
- Amazon's change to their commission rates last month hurt his income by about 25-30%
I found this part amusing:
> I filled my site with a few dozen high quality pieces of content, then started outreaching to other bloggers in my niche, either asking for a guest post or asking them to check out a piece of content/infographic I just created and asking them if they'd "share" (link) it with their audience (aka the skyscraper technique).
I get these goddamned emails every week, sometimes a dozen from the same person asking me to mention their blog post about SQL because I happen to have a page that ranks fairly high for some general SQL info apparently. Never thought the SEO actually paid off (these request emails look like they're generated from a template that can be easily automated(.
Where can I find information about this path, versus the substanceless course this person took? I haven't had a public website in a decade and just want to know how to do things decently well and not get into trouble.
Since HN is using HTTPS, this should be very easy to test by just clicking on this link: https://www.whatismyreferer.com/
Note that HN includes this line of HTML which affects the sent Referrer header:
<meta name="referrer" content="origin">
IIRC, I think the developer was open to adding a referral, but not have it leak any on-site information, so this was a compromise.
if I right click the link (which I often do) and open in new tab or window, I see:
No referer / hidden
In these cases it does not alleviate the issue flagged above.
With other affiliate networks I absolutely did have problems though - because of the issue described above.
I assumed the difference was amazon's use of a referral tag at the end of every url?
There's a story about a fan talking to Jerry Seinfeld and saying basically, "I want to be a comedian, how can I do it?" having never done an open mic or told a public joke in any way. Seinfeld's response was that they were never going to make it, because if they had any chance of making it they'd already be doing the open mics, etc.
Just start the site. Write/review, and enjoy.
Affiliate programs come and go, same with ways to monetize a site. You can always change out the ads on the site, that's fairly easy.
It's getting the traffic and building a site that people like is the tough part of that equation.
here is how you make money with amazon. find a niche you are passionate about, it helps if it is something with relevant amazon products. start blogging until you find you are getting inbound backlinks, comments, or other "social proof."
once that happens you can start writign guides, roundups, etc and placing product links. from there its all about getting links, and promoting yourself any way you can.
I've put in some time trying to parse the legal speak in their operating agreement, terms of service, etc. Most of it makes sense, but I fear I'm missing something. Though, maybe that's the point.
Super bizarre. You'd think there's more to the story, but I have nothing more. Maybe my site was competing with my account manager's or something? I'll never know.
To begin an arbitration proceeding, you must send a letter requesting arbitration and describing your claim to our registered agent, Corporation Service Company, 300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304, Tumwater, WA 98051. The arbitration will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) under its rules, including the AAA’s Supplementary Procedures for Consumer-Related Disputes. The AAA’s rules are available at www.adr.org or by calling 1-800-778-7879. Payment of all filing, administration and arbitrator fees will be governed by the AAA’s rules. We will reimburse those fees for claims totaling less than $10,000 unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. Likewise, we will not seek attorneys’ fees and costs in arbitration unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. You may choose to have the arbitration conducted by telephone, based on written submissions, or in person in the county where you live or at another mutually agreed location.
"To begin an arbitration proceeding, you must send a letter requesting arbitration and describing your claim to our registered agent, Corporation Service Company, 300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304, Tumwater, WA 98051. The arbitration will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) under its rules, including the AAA’s Supplementary Procedures for Consumer-Related Disputes. The AAA’s rules are available at www.adr.org or by calling 1-800-778-7879. Payment of all filing, administration and arbitrator fees will be governed by the AAA’s rules. We will reimburse those fees for claims totaling less than $10,000 unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. Likewise, we will not seek attorneys’ fees and costs in arbitration unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. You may choose to have the arbitration conducted by telephone, based on written submissions, or in person in the county where you live or at another mutually agreed location."
I simply link to the products using my affiliate link and thats it. I also make it very clear that it is an affiliate link.
When I first write a post I usually make $200 - $500 a month (even more if its around Christmas time)
So the copywriter has shouldered no risk either. He's also free to try and get more per word but he might be in a place where 0.05USD/word is actually pretty decent income.
I mean, imagine you work for a company and come up with a change that saves a million a year. Surely you don't expect to receive that million, do you? On the other hand, it's not your problem if sales go down this quarter, since your contract pays fixed salary.
of course it is, you can get laid off.
Capitalism works by siphoning off value that workers generate and putting it into the pockets of their employers. You're right that employees are (somewhat) insulated from risk in this scheme, but I don't think it's crazy to suggest that someone is entitled to more than 7% of the value they generate.
Sure, not my problem. Everyone's problem.
It not only pays off for the ad-fueled sites, it's also the only way up in rankings for a product site.
No matter how good your software is – unless it went viral you'll be annoying people with link building emails.
So what that sounds like to me is this website is just a delivery vector for whatever cookie cutter malware is floating around the ad networks who load up the sidebar.
Seems like the real trick is to find someone talented but unaware of how much money they can generate on their own, and use their work to make money.
Now clearly, he's adding value, since that writer alone wouldn't know how to turn their writing into $10k a month. But I wonder if that writer is aware that their work is generating that much, and that they're only seeing 7% of it.
I think the real core tenet of capitalism is specialization - it is impossible for everyone to know everything. Mix multiple services into one, package it in a way that is ideal for a certain consumer, and the "arbitrage" is really just another word for convenience.
That sounds like someone living in a world where "capitalism" is the dominant propaganda meme. Capitalism isn't based on specialization, it's based on private ownership of core resources and infrastructure. All other economic systems have specialization. You're just noticing that specialization is key to human prosperity and wording your point within the baseless assumption that capitalism is synonymous with prosperity or something.
And capitalism is synonymous with prosperity. Capitalism is freedom, and freedom is what propels the world forward.
You're not free when you're working 2 jobs 6 days a week. Not by my definition of freedom. And this is the reality for a lot of people out there.
I believe there is a better system that we haven't found yet and we should be looking at how we can eventually transcend capitalism when we don't need it anymore. Automation/AI is a step in the right direction.
Also, you can't simply give billions of dollars to foreign governments and have them build infrastructure, provide clean water, etc. They will squander and steal a large amount of it, as has happened repeatedly.
So yes, I agree that it's sad that in a world of abundance, people are starving and dying. But you need to give it time, align incentives, and let prosperity continue to raise the world out of poverty, as it has done in so many countries that are adopting market-based systems. China and India, despite their faults, have adopted systems that embrace the market more than their socialist / communist pasts, and have raised hundreds of millions out of poverty.
It's a utopian belief that if we could just get everyone on board, we could instantly solve everyone's problems. The correct solution is to remove barriers to free enterprise, allow people to gain and re-invest their wealth, and over time people will be raised out of poverty world-wide.
But I think your view of letting free enterprise run rampant is the exact opposite of that idea, and will work just as well at "lifting" those who are in a more desperate situation. Not only does free enterprise destroy cultures and local economies just as badly as your example, it tends to poison the planet we live on at a rate we just can't ignore anymore.
Not to mention, our economy is growth-based. Most of our growth comes from exploitation of other countries...pumping our wealth into their country (arbitrage, as another comment put it). Eventually, when those countries are no longer third-world, and a hamburger there costs $10 like it does here, the companies exploiting the cheap labor there move to the next third-world shithole.
What happens when all the third-world shitholes are gone, though? Our growth economy runs out of fuel to grow. On top of this, as populations find equilibrium with our amount of resources (and resource distribution mechanisms) there will be even less people to exploit at our current rate of growth.
I believe, in the next 50-100 years, our growth economy will collapse because the people driving it believe that growth is infinite, and the resources that drive it (developing nations/growing populations and all the resources that they require) are also infinite.
The entire thing is based on an equation that doesn't balance. We're scrambling to get to the top of a mountain that will crumble. Free enterprise won't solve this, in fact, it's only accelerating the need to find an economic system based on equilibrium, not growth. Whether that means private/public/mixed ownership, socialism/UBI/etc, we need to start thinking now about how to fix this.
It's a racket. And it is not a flaw in the machinations of the free market; it is the definition of our current free market.
This is the fallacy of all fallacies and is purely circular. It is the golden goose only in a system that makes it so; the reasonableness of which is the very point we're discussing. If I were arguing in favor of communism, I would say that the state or the people are the golden goose. And, like you, I will have proved nothing.
>if you just give food, shoes, supplies, etc. to poor people everywhere, you screw with the local economy and destroy businesses
Again, you are begging the question. This problem only exists in your vaunted free market system. In fact, you are arguing against yourself and acknowledging that the system you favor creates a resource distribution model that is unjust and untenable.
>all of a sudden a million chickens are donated to everyone, that man can no longer sell chickens
Yes, another problem created by the artificial scarcity intrinsic to your beloved model. And, what if the resource is water or another essential resource that has been commoditized and made profitable? Do we withhold water and let people die to protect the free market? If so, then we have placed an ideology above human life itself, the absurdity and futility of which should require no explanation. You talk of freedom, but the most fundamental right a person has is the right to live. Starving to death is not freedom.
But, if you say that we should be humane and intervene in any way, then you have exposed a massive chink in the armor of your perfect market. Either the market itself must neccesarily be purposely impacted, or you are expecting NGOs or the state or others to marshal resources in order to mitigate the externalities created by the "free market". In so doing, you are subsidizing said market and it is no longer free. Its profit takers are indebted, but will never repay. Whether via taxation sheer lack, or otherwise, someone is counter-party to that debt but will never be made whole. So much for their freedom.
>The correct solution is to remove barriers to free enterprise, allow people to gain and re-invest their wealth
Always the fall-back: "we're just not doing it enough". It's not enough that massive deregulation has led us to the brink of disaster on more than one ocassion. It's not enough that even as corporate profits reached record-highs, wealth disparity grew and more people fell into poverty. It's not enough that automation has devalued the one commodity that the majority have to sell into the "free market" (their time). No, we simply need to make the market "more free" and that will fix everything.
This argument can be made ad nauseum by those who promote unfettered markets as the solution to all, because they know it is unreasonable that totally free markets will ever exist, owed to the tremendous human costs that would follow. Thus, there will never be (nor should there be) the political will to remove all restraints or stop subsidizing people who will die without those subsidies. So, the argument can ever be made that the problem is that markets are not free enough.
I don't think that's true. Imho this would be more correctly stated as "it can't last forever in theory".
It can't last forever where there is perfect information, or perhaps equal opportunity. But as you say it is "impossible for everyone to know everything" so this is never the case in the real world.
Thus the need for interventions (i.e. by the state) to correct asymmetries such as institutional inequality. These are failures of "pure capitalism" that need to be corrected by other means.
If you've ever tried to execute a link building campaign, you'd quickly realize it's VERY difficult.
The trick now is no longer of use, and I did this like 6 or 7 years ago. So now I'm sharing it. I've been involved in the SEO industry from when it was young, and I'd make a 9.5/10 bet that this guy is doing something grey/black hat to generate that kind of volume/conversion/money.
Those who doesn't use grey/black hat tricks have probably built a page rank valuable enough. You can't rebuild that virtual SEO estate in a couple days, maybe a few 3 or 4 years of hard work and maintenance. So you are back at square one when you need money today.
I'm one of those schmucks hired to generate content for $600/pop. My thing is React Native. (http://reactnative.school)
But it's fun and it helps my own brand too. Plus it's an excuse to learn cool shit. Building a new app every 2 weeks is fun :)
That's the basis of capitalism in a nutshell.
> an expert copywriter in my niche who I pay about $600-$700 per month (he's a superstar).
> we're talking about $9,200-$10,200/mo in pure profit
Honestly the only thing I get out of this post is that to me it seems like his superstar copywriter is being ripped off.
Clearly I'm not cut out for entrepreneurial side hustle!
No we can't - he might be in a country where $600/month is a good wage.
I'd most likely be drop-shipping products or actually carrying some inventory and then doing the shipping myself.
In the long run, it's much easier to sell a profitable business than sell an affiliate site. With the traffic and search engine rankings, I'd do a few things:
- Transition out of being an Amazon affiliate and start selling your own products, even if that means drop shipping or carrying inventory
- Change the overall look and feel of the site so that it's a real business with brand
- Use alternative methods of getting traffic to the site, other than Google organic search results. Develop an email list/email newsletter, test out FB ads and other paid search alternatives.
If you build a brand and actual store (rather than being an affiliate), it's a lot easier to cash out later on.
However, the OP replied to this same comment over on Reddit :
"Great feedback, and I agree. eComm is Phase 2."
Searching for things on Google is useless when the first 3 pages are just pages full of affiliate links and no real content. I don't know why they don't eliminate those pages from their rankings, or at least score them lower.
If another site can come up with that kind of high intensity writing, that's one thing. It's completely different if it's just a random person doing it -- that's at best the opinion of one person who's done work. At worst, someone lied and wrote a recipe or an article without doing any actual testing or research.
I'm perfectly fine with that. Serious Eats uses affiliate links (and also has other advertising on their site). I have a ton of respect for the work it takes to do what they do.
What I'm not okay with is someone building tons of Wordpress sites and filling them with stock photos of food and recipes they found online, and linking to Amazon.
I have to image Google eventually figures out how to weed these out altogether.
I believe there can be quality, valuable affiliate sites (Amazon and otherwise). Reviewsignal.com is a refreshing take on hosting reviews (interviewed on Indie Hackers recently).
There's nothing "scammy" in this kind of outreach unless you're building links for a scam.
So you will not get any organic traffic because your site is not visible. On-page keyword optimization is a very weak factor compared to the number of backlinks from "powerful" sites.
Cold emails to relevant site owners and bloggers is no more spam than "Show HN" is spam.
But most of the first page results have many times more backlinks. We've got less than a dozen organically during the last year.
Yes they do, speaking from experience. They aren't coming naturally for you because you're competing in a saturated market or a small market selling things people don't really want or need. Your content probably isn't useful for any reason outside of selling something, which isn't the kind of thing people will naturally link to. If your site isn't useful to people who don't want to buy something, you're not going to attract organic growth. Write interesting content people want to share, and they'll link to it without any marketing efforts. If you can't get organic growth, your content is not interesting.
I understand the possibility, but this will not work that well:
– for any market where you have competitors with decent content on the first page already
– in future because the number of niches in this state decreases each day
A company who wants to compete in more or less established market will have no choice but work on link building.
Link building isn't adding any value to your site; you're merely trying to game the search engine who doesn't want to be gamed and who actively resists gaming by hiring some of the smartest people in the world to ferret out and eliminate your tricks. Google wants good content, not back links (back links are only a proxy they use to rate quality and only one of many), focus on good content and the rest will follow automatically without gaming the search engine which is only ever a temporary win at best. Trying to continually "trick google" by creating more links to your site that natural traffic would warrant is not a good long term strategy. Creating content people want is always a good strategy and works long term and removes you from the trying to trick google game which removes you from being taken out by a change in their algo aimed squarely at you fake back linkers.
> Google wants good content, not back links
Google relies on "dofollow" backlinks from big sites more than anything, check different researches on ranking and backlink count correlation.
All those stories about people losing their businesses because Google changed their algorithm, those were people trying to game Google to promote their content higher than it should have been, Google will always win that contest.
People have to want to come to your site and get something useful for free, interesting content. Look at your site, take off all the products, what's left... if it's nothing, your site will never attract organic traffic because it's a spam site hocking someone else's products. Build a site that attracts and builds an audience first, then monetize it with relevant links to affiliate stuff and you won't have to always play the SEO game. SEO is for shitty sites that don't offer anything of value in and of themselves.
Viral is just another word for extremely interesting, but normal interesting has quite a long tail. However viral marketing is the proof of what I'm saying, first be interesting, that gets eyeballs, and eyeballs can be monetized. If you're just a shopping cart site selling someone else's products, you have no draw, why would I ever come to your site, I can just go to amazon or one of the other big name sites. So you need either something interesting, or something unique you're selling I can't find anywhere else.
This guy https://www.culturehustle.com/collections/frontpage/products... can barely keep up with demand, you know why... because I can't find another product like that anywhere, it's unique, so it doesn't have to be interesting.
Who will never find it because you didn't post it anywhere to raise up in ranking because "backlinking is gaming the system and bad".
> SEO is for shitty sites that don't offer anything of value in and of themselves.
Good luck not putting relevant keywords and having PageSpeed score under 50.
We've beaten the subject to death, I'm done.
> By calling something a back link, you are specifically referring to Googles page ranking strategy
"A backlink for a given web resource is a link from some other website (the referrer) to that web resource (the referent)."
I am increasingly inclined to go do something like this and see if it pays. Because trying to add value doesn't. It just makes me a chump.
Seeing stuff like this rake in the cash while actual journalists and publications struggle to stay afloat is incredibly depressing.
This person is providing a service in reviewing products for people making buying decisions. As a result, they waste less time being unsure about their decision, and less money is spent on purchases they regret.
If films, TV shows or games didn't have trailers and advertisements, an awful lot of communities would lose a decent part of their activity due to their members not having much to discuss for years.
There would be no room for speculation prior to release. No feeling of excitement every time a new announcement is made or a returning character is revealed.
And some ads are basically works in themselves. Like the ones here:
Let's also not forget that while quite a lot of ads are manipulative or dishonest, a near equally large amount are pretty much spot on and give you a great rundown of the products and its strengths.
This ad Nintendo aired for Pokemon Sun and Moon for example got a great reception online and likely sold a hell of a lot of games, yet it's also 100% true to the product and illustrates exactly what you do get by buying it:
Is that manipulating people? I wouldn't say so. It's just giving them more information about a product they may have already been interested in.
Not all ads or marketing are misleading, nor something you have to ignore to make good decisions.
that being said, if were just restricting the discussion to movies- my personal strategy now is to wait until i hear from people i know that something is good before i bother. its not a strong interest of mine, so im pretty indifferent overall. the other way i decide is if i see people on twitter i follow say that something is good. or, i hear about something that has actors or directors i like. so, i think this stance leaves me highly susceptible to marketing. but the fact that marketing is influencing my movie choices is not evidence that its a good thing-
if no one marketed movies, would we still watch movies? i think so. maybe not as many, but probably with more enjoyment overall. just a guess.
do you have any art / music / film interests that are too specific to be overcome with marketing? i do, and i actively seek new stuff, which i am able to find, without the "aid" of sophisticated, organized marketing. i guess thats my counterpoint to the idea that marketing is helping to find stuff in this arena. i can see how teasers and the like can generate excitement and interest in a positive way, and thats a separate point.
Have you never found a product you wouldn't have heard about had it not been for an ad or something like it?
It is a zero sum game of trying to get a manipulate a consumer to like your product over another.
dear younger people than me: strive to do something that you would be proud of even if you weren't getting paid. and if you do end up making a bunch of money without a lot of work, give it away! thats my feeling anyway.
Don't be stupid, invest the money and give away some of the fat from your market returns, put the rest back in. Charitable causes need consistent, long term donation more than they need one time cash bonanzas.
As a bonus, if you're ever in financial trouble you have a safety net.
Lately I've been really liking the Jurek Endure. That plus an Amp handheld (squish it up and bungee it to the waist pack when empty) have been great for up to about 15 miles this summer.
Disgust isn't usually that easy to pin down with precision.
Do you find a soiled diaper disgusting? If so, "What exactly do you find disgusting?" Do you find a it disgusting if a person is plucking out their eyebrows and eating them? Probably, but what exactly about it is disgusting?
Many if not most people would struggle to pin it down "exactly". In the case of this particular affiliate site, I'd say the general incentive structure that leads to this entire category of business is disgusting but it's somewhat difficult to pin it on any one specific actor. The site builder may have the best of motives and simply be rationally exploiting an opportunity that would undoubtedly be done by someone else otherwise.
> Do you find a it disgusting if a person is plucking out their eyebrows and eating them? Probably, but what exactly about it is disgusting?
Is it really hard to pin down where your disgust comes from, or are these examples just overly simplistic?
The difficulty comes from trying to zoom in to a higher level of precision, as nimchimpsky requested. What exactly do you find disgusting about someone eating an eyebrow, for example? Can you explain it?
Thought 2: Or, I've doubled it.
It's easy to go for 2 for a while and then go with 1
Assuming this would be his only income, the costs would breakdown to something like this:
$8,000 NET PROFIT
$5,600 AFTER TAXES (assuming 30% - largely depends on where he lives)
$4,800 AFTER HEALTHCARE (assuming $800/mo - w/family coverage this would likely be more like $1k+/mo)
So we're down to less than $5k take-home already, with a lot of additional risk. He would also lose other benefits like a 401(k), and other various perks. He said elsewhere in the Reddit thread that this "almost" matches his work pay, so I assume he is already making well into six figures, and already taking home more than this from his employer's paychecks (probably $6k+).
With that info, the choice is clear. Just keep the job as plan B, and enjoy a double income stream. Why take on significantly more risk for less money, with no benefits, when you don't have to?
Any other affiliate programs recommended?
Adblockers often block third party affiliate providers.
I started doing Linux tutorials on YouTube a few years ago ( http://youtube.com/c/tutorialinux ) and then created a course on Udemy about a year ago. Affiliates make a decent percentage there (75%) but I suspect they have the same frustration that I do: Udemy has sales EVERY FEW DAYS.
Every few days there are sales that offer 90% off all courses, $10 courses, etc. etc. So a course with a $200 price tag will have an average sale price of $10-15, which leaves everyone (including affiliates) with pretty slim margins.
The simple problem is that they have the power to re-price courses as they see fit, and an incentive to do so (Udemy gets 50% of the revenue, possibly more from their promotions).
As it is, I make about the same amount of money from YouTube revenue (40k subscribers) as I do with one of the highest-rated Linux courses on Udemy (a few hundred dollars a month). It's really just a blip next to my salary; I can't see it replacing full-time tech work anytime soon.
>>>As it is, I make about the same amount of money from YouTube revenue (40k subscribers) as I do with one of the highest-rated Linux courses on Udemy (a few hundred dollars a month)
How do you promote your youtube videos?
Others in this comment thread have convinced me to start actively promoting via e.g. Adwords, though. I'll start looking at that over the next few weeks.
More practically, I'm thinking about using something like Teachable for the next course.
OTOH at this point I've got content in a bunch of different places (YouTube, soundcloud, a website, udemy, packt/safaribooksonline), which makes leveraging all of these different platforms' features and supporting students there time-consuming.
Aside from work, hobbies, side projects, relationships, and other pesky human endeavors, I only have between 5-8 hours a week to work on tutoriaLinux. Adding another platform, with its own learning curve and features, seems like it might waste time that I could be investing into content.
I've actually spent a fair amount of time doing AdWords campaigns in the past, but I haven't done that for tutoriaLinux or the Udemy course yet. Maybe I should -- thanks!
Depends if you want to retire early.
Describes his only employee, a writer, as a 'superstar' but pays him only $6-700/month while keeping $10,000 for himself. Sorry, that's sleazy. Give him more money you freeloader.
It will also get more people to find your Amazon affiliate ID and look for it on google. Which will reveal all your Amazon affiliate websites.
It seems to rely primarily on Google ranks. Good gig if you can generate them.
Anyone have any other perspectives on how difficult this is?
Yes. I saw a peak of around $5k a month in AdSense around 2008 with a similar model as the story described. Personal finance articles. That got cut in half a few times by algorithm changes. Then I quit working on it altogether, and it slid more slowly. Though it still makes around $300/month with the current stale content and no updates for years.
It's not easy...basically a ton of outreach to get links, with few takers.
It's better in the long term to set up your own store and build up lifetime value around your own brand, which is what I'm currently doing. You can start out that way dropshipping from AliExpress or with print on demand products. It's more work, but it's also more stable and of course scales a lot better.
But an even better suggestion is to build SaaS products. It scales even more and not many people know how to do it.
The magic isn't in the device, it's in the flashing and configuring it for non-technical people.
But I think you are missing the point here - people who are asking the questions you are asking aren't my typical customers. It's some random guy who has never heard the word "linux".
But aren't you just selling junky products? That seems pretty unsustainable as well.
Print on demand is just designing your own t-shirts, mugs, shoes, pillows, jewelry, etc through services such as Zazzle, Teespring, Gearbubble. People have passions, such as for animals or hobbies, and love to signal it.
As for sustainability, dropshipping will kill your credibility if you keep doing it. There's plenty of shared warehousing/fulfillment services now like ShipBob where once you've established yourself, you can gradually scale your fulfillment and start wholesaling. I would move away from generic dropshipped products quickly, which are the easiest to start selling, just due to competition. But print on demand and private labeling are solid choices since you own the brand and design.
What is this "brand" that you speak of ? do consumers even care ?
But i don't understand what brand does a store that sells similar stuff to what you can find on Amazon can get.
There's a whole discipline on it.
But a google algorithm change could definitely crush his income.
There, no secret. That is the barrier to entry. 100 hundred well written articles will probably cost a good $10,000 on the mid/low end. Not many people want to spend $10,000 then see if Google will send them traffic.
Google cares only about how many links that content has. Links do not occur organically, especially not in the age of social media, where most natural non-commercial activity is locked away in walled gardens. Content owners have to actively pursue them. When serious competitors come in, they will have their own "private blog networks" that cross-link and crush any hand-made link networks.
SEO is a lie. You have to spam to win whenever there is significant competition.
I've done this as a full-time job (both in-house and in an agency setting) and you're off by about an order of magnitude for anything worth paying for.
I have paid 5-10c per word for articles between 500-1000 words, that were all very well written in Eastern European countries by expats and fluent English speakers.
A few colloquialisms needed editing out, but if you are getting only 5 articles a week, you are spending $300-500, and 1-2 hours of editing per article if that (which includes formatting, adding hyperlinks, etc).