I met Marco a number of years ago via ThirstyAffiliates (he’s a happy customer) and after helping him with a few things and chatting back and forth a number of times we became fast friends.
I’ve always been fascinated with his website, not only because of his beautiful time-lapse photography, but also because he’s been able to build an audience and a community around his niche, build a trusted brand, and also make affiliate marketing work in a geographic region that you would normally think might be too small.
What I really love about this interview is that Marco’s site Time Lapse Italia is in a non-make money online type of niche.
It is a great example of what you can do when you find a niche you love and really dig in and explore what you can do in that space. When he started, time-lapse photography wasn’t that big, but these days he’s dominating the SERPs because of his early start. And that’s paying dividends.
There’s a lot of lessons you can take away from this interview and I’m really excited that Marco agreed to answer my questions (thanks again Marco!).
Let’s start the interview:
1. For those that don’t know you, can you tell us about yourself and how you got into doing what you’re currently doing?
It’s such an honour for me to be here, Blair – thanks for having me!
I’m a lucky guy:
- 36-year old father of the most beautiful girl in the world: Arya
- An Italian computer scientist who hates coding (but loves talking to people)
- Tried to be an entrepreneur at 24. Failed miserably in less than 3 years.
- Lost everything I earned and owned, but learned so much from that experience
- Freelance SEO and Marketing Consultant, passionate about technology, photography but most of all helping other people in growing their business online.
2. Why did you create Time Lapse Italia? What need did you see you were filling?
Back in 2011, time-lapse photography was a very niche topic.
Smartphones didn’t offer a native way to capture a time-lapse, so it wasn’t even a “mainstream” buzzword.
Imagine now how even smaller this niche could be in a country of only 60-million people like Italy.
Basically, it was something only super-nerd photographers would dare to get their hands into!
Moreover, there were no blogs, websites or any kind of online source of information in Italian.
That is when I decided to create Time Lapse Italia — a website to help people learn time-lapse photography for free — but also a personal way to play with SEO techniques and start learning the basics of affiliate marketing by harnessing something I was passionate about.
3. How do you use affiliate marketing on your site?
People who learn and enjoy what they watch at Time Lapse Italia know that it’s a 100% free website to them.
They also know that Time Lapse Italia uses an automatic system which links some keywords to third-party websites, and if they buy from those websites, a small percentage of their purchase is used to make the website (and the community forum) better and more up to date.
That “automatic system” in place is what I recommend to all my students during my workshops: your ThirstyAffiliates plug-in combined with the Autolinker feature in the Pro version 🙂
4. Your love for your niche of time lapse photography and photography techniques in general is very clear. It takes a lot of passion to work on something for more than half a decade. Is this your full-time job or is it something you do on the side?
I have to be honest with you: if you want to go for creating a real passive income online, you must be able to create something awesome but in a niche which is… “not too niche” 🙂
Oh, yeah, and by the way: You’re better off starting with an English-speaking project to reach a much wider audience!
Making real money online from affiliate marketing is absolutely possible, but only if you can reach some serious numbers, I believe.
Time Lapse Italia has pretty nice numbers, but they are not so high as to generate a very high and stable income that could make me say “You know what? I can quit my 9-to-5 job!”
So yes, in terms of money, it’s just a side income.
But in terms of reputation and playground for my marketing consulting activities, it’s a fantastic way to promote myself.
5. Where do you get a lot of your traffic? It would be great to hear about your strategy here and what you concentrate on.
Can you imagine that more than the 80% of the overall traffic inbound is generated by search engines?
Time Lapse Italia offers the most amazing content around time-lapse photography you can probably find online in Italian, and the best community forum too.
This has brought the site to a #1 Google ranking over the years for a plethora of keywords in the industry, which is absolute gold.
Even though I run a Facebook page, a Twitter channel, a Pinterest board, and a Google+ page, Search Engines bring most of the traffic.
(and I never paid a dime for it!)
6. You’re based in northern Italy, and all of your sites are in Italian. Have you found it harder to find affiliate arrangements for your audience?
Absolutely yes, because, as I said, this was a super-narrow niche.
Apart from Amazon, what is in place comes from foreign companies (EU- and US-based) who are more familiar with affiliate marketing.
7. What’s in store for the rest of 2018? What do you hope to do more of?
I am currently focusing much more on growing the English version of my website, which is Time Lapse Network, as it has a lot of extra potential.
Unfortunately, I started that two years later (which is a lot in the online space!), and there were many more competitors to deal with!
But that’s what I love from it: a real challenge, a stronger success story for my portfolio 🙂
8. Where can people find you and follow what you’re doing?
Currently, the best place to keep in touch (for non-Italian speaking friends) is my LinkedIn profile.