Affiliate Content Site Case Study
Follow the steps we are taking to grow a content site from $0 to $10k a month in under 24 months.
- Site Launched: June 2020
- Investment to date: $10,296.68
- Income to date: $17,603.39
- Estimated site value: $35,000
- ROI to date: 410%
We stopped updating this case study in May 2022 (24 months after we launched). Although we didn't achieve our goal of getting the site to $10k a month, we have managed to average over $1000 a month since June 2021. Google's May 2022 algorithm update also negatively affected the site (we're down 30% in traffic), so it's unlikely we'll see significant growth going forward. We're undecided whether we will sell this website or just keep it for cash flow. I hope you enjoy the case study - you can read more like this one here.
Costs to date
- Domain: $29.17 (aged domain from Godaddy auctions) + $18.17 renewal + $20.17 renewal.
- Hosting: $250 (WPX) + $250 renewal.
- Content cost: $7,243 (250,000 words. Bought using our content writing service).
- Links: $1850 (we’ve bought 15 link insertions and 7 guest posts. Acquired via our link building service).
- Citations: $20 + $29 (from SEOButler)
- Social Profiles: $7 (Fiverr)
- VA for posting: $450 (used our virtual assistant service)
- Web services: $89.99 (keyword research tool)
- Total Cost: $10,296.68
Income to date
We only added affiliate links in late September 2020.
- October 2020: $167
- November 2020: $715.30 (Black Friday went well!)
- December 2020: $215
- January 2021: $523.44
- February 2021: $367.18
- March 2021: $900.15
- April 2021: $811.05
- May 2021: $954.67
- June 2021: $1,190.40
- July 2021: $1,031.71
- August 2021: $701.93
- September 2021: $916.26
- October 2021: $1,148.64
- November 2021: $1,260.74
- December 2021: $1,077.05
- January 2022: $1,063.55
- February 2022: $937.70
- March 2022: $1,073.17
- April 2022: $1,402.75
- May 2022: $1,145.70
- Total Income: $17,603.39
Traffic to date
- July 2020: 217 sessions
- August 2020: 755 sessions
- September 2020: 2,467 sessions
- October 2020: 7,034 sessions
- November 2020: 10,097 sessions
- December 2020: 10,254 session
- January 2021: 11,558 sessions
- February 2021: 12,643 sessions
- March 2021: 19,458 sessions
- April 2021: 18,711 sessions
- May 2021: 19,663 sessions
- June 2021: 21,137 sessions
- July 2021: 19,820 sessions
- August 2021: 20,927 sessions
- September 2021: 19,212 sessions
- October 2021: 22,143 sessions
- November 2021: 21,792 sessions
- December 2021: 25,804 session
- January 2022: 25,047 sessions
- February 2022: 21,093 sessions
- March 2022: 27,961 sessions
- April 2022: 32,882 sessions
- May 2022: 31,546 sessions
Timeline and Learnings
- We launched this affiliate marketing website in June 2020.
- For the first week we researched niches. Niche choice is critical – for us the criteria was not Amazon, average sale price $100+, 30+ day cookie, high converting affiliate partner (checked using Commission Junction stats), and decent commission 8%+
- Once we decided on a niche we got to work sourcing an aged domain. Many people look for a powerful backlink profile when trying to get an aged domain. These are great, but they can be very hard to find and costly. For us, we focused on relevance to our niche, a clean history and age. We managed to find a super relevant domain that was 15 years old on Godaddy auctions. We checked it's history using archive.org and it was squeaky clean. We managed to secure the domain for under $30. Winning!
- We then created a detailed content plan for 80-100 articles (100,000 words). This took a solid few days, although KeyClusters (a keyword grouping tool), sped this up massively (see how we use keyword clustering). We knew from the get go that if this site takes off we would need a scalable structure, so we thought long and hard about our content plan and the silos we would use.
- With the domain bought and launched, we used Fiverr to create social profiles.
- Our content team got to work writing the 100k words (see our article writing service).
- We also bought citations using SEO Butler.
- About 75% of the content was written and published in July.
- By early August all content was published.
- To our surprise, Google starting indexing and ranking our content out the gates. This is very unusual for a brand new site, so the aged domain clearly made a huge difference.
- With the site already starting to rank and pull in organic traffic we decided to invest in some links. We bought 10 high quality link insertions and 5 guest posts from our link building service. 80% of these we pointed to the homepage using branded anchors and naked URLs, and the rest we pointed to internal silo pages.
If your domain is aged and good, your content solid, and your site structure silo’ed and interlinked correctly, you don’t need a lot of links to rank. Although Ahrefs shows 516 referring domains, most of these are citations and coupon sites. Hence our DR is 1.3!!
- We did nothing. Just sat on our hands to see what Google would think. Good news, the G-Dawg likes us!
- I say nothing, we did get one of our VAs to add affiliate links. We partnered with three eCommerce companies in the niche, two on Commission Junction and one on Rakuten.
- With positive signs all-round we decided to double down on content and created another content plan for another 50k words of commercial content.
November and December 2020
- Our content team completed the next batch of articles and our VA published all content.
- By December it was clear that one affiliate partner was outperforming the other two by a mile. For example, see the screenshot below of Affiliate Partner A vs Affiliate Partner B. As you can see Partner A has driven 14x more commission than B, despite B sending 1/3 as much traffic as A.
- Due to the poor performance of Affiliate Partner B and C, we've switched them out for Amazon. The switch was completed mid January 2021 and the results are promising.
- We also added in a new affiliate partner from Commission Junction.
February and March 2021
- We decide to power things up a little with some strategic tier 2 PBN links from IM Powerhouse. These have moved the dial in terms of traffic and revenue, and in March we saw our highest traffic and revenue month.
- We also decided to invest in more content, another 100k words. But this time we are doing 100% informational content. Up to this point we have only had commercial content on the site (Best of round ups, individual reviews, X vs Y comparisons). We used KeyClusters to create an informational content plan and will be getting our content team to start writing in April / May.
- We also installed advertising via Setupad. Setupad use a metric called Effective Cost per Mille (eCPM), which similar to RPM. We are currently achieving around $2 per 1000 impressions, which isn't too shabby. I know you can get higher on Mediavine and AdThrive, but our traffic isn't quite there yet.
April and May 2021
- Our content team were rammed with client work in April and May so we had to delay the roll-out of the 100k words we planned in March. Work has now begun and we expect to publish most of this content in June and July.
- Traffic and income has plateaued so hopefully we will see explosive growth as soon as the new content goes lives.
- Time to rethink strategy - will keep you updated!
- The site has definitely plateaued. Traffic is stable at around 20-30k monthly sessions and so is income at around $1000 a month.
- We invested in a few more link insertions and guests posts, but have yet to see a significant uptick.
As we're averaging around $1000 per month, we would estimate this site is worth: $35k (35-40x multiple).
Multiple justification is based on going market multiples for content sites with multiple income streams (Amazon, 3rd party affiliates, advertising), and 6-12 months of stable traffic and income.