So far, 2020 is looking up, with a couple sites having record months in February!
In the last report, I talked about how in November, 2019 I added all of my sites into my project management system where they’d get treated just like any other client.
Since making that change, a lot more work has gone into the sites compared to beforehand. Mostly in the form of new content.
I plan on continuing to treat my affiliate sites as “clients” (for all intents and purposes), but this has had some adverse effects that I’ll have to fix this year if being able to put enough work into my affiliate sites to create these reports is going to remain viable.
Since more work is going into the sites, more of my time is taken up working on projects that earn very little money in comparison to my agency – and, to be frank, it simply isn’t worth the time effort right now.
So, my goal by the end of the year is to have each site doing ~$500/m, which is still quite small (average SEO client at the agency is ~$2,500/m), but I wanted to have a realistic goal.
To have each site be at that mark, I may sell off some existing sites to free myself up more to work on the bigger sites or possibly sell off most to buy a larger site. I’m still not 100% sure.
I could free myself up more by just hiring someone to handle what I’ve been doing (content outlines, site changes, etc) but I think that takes away from the “heart” of this series.
At least, not until the sites are earning more.
Enough about my affiliate-life crisis. Let’s talk about the sites.
Not much has happened on this particular site in the past 2-months.
4 new money pages were published and all of the existing pages were updated to be “2020”.
If this site doesn’t see some decent improvements by the end of the summer (which is when the seasonality of the products starts to die off) then I’ll probably sell it for a loss or sit on it indefinitely.
When I bought the site (this was my first site), I jumped in with both feet and minimal research as the other sites in the niche are fairly simple and the products aren’t complex.
The challenge is that the products change constantly, and not just being outdated – but being unavailable for sale. It’s an uphill battle keeping content up to date.
About 30% of the total products reviewed on the site are not currently available for sale. I’ll have to go through to make sure the content gets updated.
On one of the new pages that were created, from the time I ordered content from the writer and the time they got the content back to me (2-3 weeks), 50% of the products in the review article were no longer available for sale.
This likely is due to the seasons picking up and new products being released, but at this point – just keeping up with updating the existing content will push the site further in the red.
P&L (Jan – Feb 2020)
Amazon Earnings (Jan) $82.27
Amazon Earnings (Feb) $90.18
This puts the site at a $8,783.74 loss so far.
I’m SUPER happy and also super surprised with how well this site did in February.
It had its highest earning month since I bought it, which is great, but also a little sad since it was averaging the same amount before I bought it.
4 money pages were updated to be much more helpful and I updated the site to 2020.
The money pages were the 4 highest-traffic pages, so the conversion rate may have increased due to the changes.
I used to have click tracking set up on all the affiliate links, but I played around with the site enough where I’m 90% sure it’s broken now.
Another thing I did was completely reorganize the top and sub-level navigation on the site to make it easier to find review pages by specific types of reviews (product, category, brand, etc).
P&L (Jan – Feb 2020)
Amazon Earnings (Jan) $99.88
Amazon Earnings (Feb) $207.78
This puts the site at a $4,227.94 loss so far.
Something that I didn’t mention in the last report (nor do I think it fully registered to me) was that, despite being a tech site reviewing popular types of products, there was almost no change in earnings during the holiday season.
Nov – Dec had similar earnings to the months prior and Jan – Feb wasn’t much different.
The more I think about it, the more puzzled I am… Is there something I’m missing?
I’d rather have stable earnings than see drops, but I would have expected some nice gains during the holidays?
5 new money pages have been added to the site, and it was also updated to 2020.
P&L (Jan – Feb 2020)
Amazon Earnings (Jan) $150.36
Amazon Earnings (Feb) $171.96
This puts the site at a $2,755.89 loss so far.
Once again, this site is breaking records.
The site has almost tripled in earnings in under a year despite no further link building and minimal content creation (before Jan 2020)
If you ask me (not that you did), the site was ripe for growth when I got it.
While it certainly has problems (basic design, not too great content quality, and the previous owner was using PBNs), nothing was abused heavily.
Less is often more, sometimes you just need to let Google do its thing.
In late February, 11 new money pages were added to the site and another page got its content updated.
There would have been a 12th new page, however, I sent the wrong content brief to the writer and the content I got back was completely unusable.
Certainly a waste of money, but oh well.
Aside from that, I also updated the site to 2020.
Since the site is doing so well, I want to push working on the CRO side of things up my list of priorities since a 20-30% boost in earnings would be fairly worthwhile at this point.
P&L (Jan – Feb 2020)
Amazon Earnings (Jan) $319.84
Amazon Earnings (Feb) $693.1
This puts the site at a $717.65 loss so far.
I finally got around to working on this site.
Bought a premium theme and played around with the design. I think it looks really nice. Now, I just need to transfer all of the content to the new theme – which, I’m hoping to finish in March.
P&L (Jan – Feb 2020)
Amazon Earnings (Jan) $39.11
Amazon Earnings (Feb) $23.17
This puts the site at a $344.61 loss so far.
Feeling Good About 2020
I’m looking forward to continuing to work on the sites this year and probably make my first site-sale as well.
The next report will probably be in May or June, so keep a look-out 🙂
What do you think about my goal of having any site I keep at $500/m+ by the end of the year, achievable?
That’s it for this report! Have a question? Post it below 👇
it’s finally here! The fourth entry in the flip report series. Since the last report, I’m excited to announce that…
I know, I know.
It’s been almost 5-months since the last flip report, but I have good news about the flip reports that should make them much more consistent than they were in 2019.
I haven’t been happy with myself for how seldom these reports have come out. As mentioned before, it’s mostly because my main priority is my agency and affiliate has been more of a weekend/side project for me.
As much as I enjoy that the sites can still make money without me having to constantly work on them, it does mean that they’re a lot less likely to grow, and makes these reports pretty boring.
So, to help cull this, I’ve baked each of my affiliate sites into my project management system.
Instead of being a project that gets worked on when everything else I need to do is done, each site is now treated like any client websites with tasks and due dates alike.
Don’t get too excited now, though.
I still don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to each site, but this will ensure that at least something is being done with the site’s every month.
Mostly in the form of generating new content on (almost) every site every month. That’s going to involve content strategy, keyword research, planning the content, having it written, and then getting it up on the website and optimizing it.
Since all of my sites have decent link profiles, the content should make good progress on its own without having to consistently get new links.
While links are important, considering the existing link profile and the earnings of the sites in comparison to how expensive links / link campaigns can be, my focus is on content.
All in all, this means that the sites can keep growing, isn’t going to require loads of my time, and I’m able to do that during normal operations rather than trying to fit in the time to work on it.
I’m hoping that this gives me the chance to have these reports come out every 2-3 months.
Look at me ma, adulting!
With that out of the way, let’s get down into the details of what’s been going on over the past ~5 months.
The last flip report was published in mid-August and the project management change didn’t happen until sometime in November. So, from August - November, not much happened.
I’ll, of course, update the P&L’s from August - December for each site.
The big theme for this report is content.
I ordered a decent amount of content for each site and in doing so, I studied dozens of affiliate sites, and I got to say, there’s a lot of opportunities for websites that simply aren’t lazy with their content.
It seems like all everyone does when choosing products to review is to look at what products the top ranking sites are using and then write about the same products.
This can be a solid strategy (certainly faster than doing your own product research), but the issue is that it assumes that the original person to choose these products did research and if they did, that the market still values these products in the same way.
You may be wondering, “what the fuck are you on about?”
I was getting to that, don’t be impatient.
It’s not just a matter of getting someone to click on your affiliate link, you, of course, need that person to also make a purchase and you want to give them the path-of-least-resistance which makes it much more likely for them to actually buy something after clicking your link.
That means the product they click on needs to be something someone wants to buy.
Don’t choose products just because every other affiliate promotes it or because it has a nice price point and a high star rating. Choose products based on whether or not someone is going to convert.
When I was looking at competing sites and the products that they were recommended, about 25-50% of the products that they were recommending weren't as good as other options and sometimes just not good products for conversions.
Which means, about 25-50% of the products being recommended in the SERPs are shit choices.
Not only do we want people to buy things, but we want them to remember that it was our website that helped them choose the right product for them.
Since my sites use Amazon, let's use Amazon as an example.
For exhibit A I highlighted a couple of important areas, but depending on the product there are more things you can look for:
4 out of 5 stars
A ton of reviews
Being mentioned as “#1 best seller”
6 different color choices
Helpful images and even a video
Choice to have it assembled for you
No Amazon prime option
This looks like a pretty good option.
Let’s look at exhibit B.
Another solid choice, right?
It has the same pros as the other product, but when you go to buy a product, what’s one of the first things you look at besides price and star rating? The reviews.
Not looking at the actual reviews for the product seems to be the #1 thing affiliate miss.
Let’s take a look at the first reviews a user will see when they scroll down.
2 of the first 3 reviews they’ll see are 1-star reviews. This doesn’t give a very good impression.
This wasn’t an all-inclusive “how to choose affiliate products that will convert”, but this was the type of stuff I was looking at when choosing products for my new articles.
It doesn’t have to take very long either.
Let’s talk about the sites.
This site, like before, has mostly just been sitting around due to how much was put into the site compared to what’s been gotten out of it so far.
But, I have good news.
Both September and November were the highest earning months yet, with both months earning over $150. Not a ton of money, but enough that it gave me hope for this site and reinvigorated me to take this site seriously.
October and December didn’t do too hot for sales. The clicks in October were slightly down but not by a lot. I assume this was people window shopping for their holiday purchases.
Since the niche its out of season, there was no rush to buy.
I’m hoping to see consistent $100+ months starting spring 2020.
In November, I sat down to work on the site and create a plan for it, but it had been so long since I worked on the site I couldn’t remember shit about it.
I had to read my flip reports, and the more detailed notes document I keep on the site to figure out what was going on.
This was also my first ever affiliate site, so there were plenty of things that were done poorly because I didn’t have the experience in the affiliate world.
I still don’t have a ton, but this ended with me completely scraping the content strategy for this site and coming up with a new one.
One of my big mistakes for this site was creating too much informational content early on, rather than focusing 80-90% of the content on money pages.
I focused the content strategy on a single product type and came up with (through research) 54 different content ideas for that product and will likely stumble across more.
For example, if the website was about gaming then the product topic could be “gaming chairs”. Those 54 content ideas are all around gaming chairs such as:
Best gaming chair
Best gaming chair for X
Best gaming chair under $x
S racer gaming chair review
Other topics like gaming laptops, keyboard, etc. Would come later, once the first topic has been thoroughly gone through.
I’m also going to want to completely redo the keyword research (for existing pages) and onsite for this site.
My processes for keyword research have changed for affiliate and I do onsite quite differently now compared to when I got the site.
Ideally, I want everything to be consistent, clean, and up to date.
In December, I had writers start working on 3 new money pages that won’t be done until January.
P&L (Aug - Dec 2019)
Amazon earnings (Aug) $119.48
Amazon earnings (Sep) $150.69
Amazon earnings (Oct) $11.22
Amazon earnings (Nov) $166.29
Amazon earnings (Dec) $39.76
This puts the site at a $8,788.69 loss so far.
Overall, this site is starting to lose a little bit of steam.
The tech space is always changing and I haven’t really done anything with this site since I got it, so there are various out-of-date products hurting conversions and some lost featured snippets hurting traffic.
The earnings are fine, but lower than I’d like them to be. Hopefully that’ll change soon
In the last report, I mentioned that I had set up Amazon UK & CA via AMZImage, but It wasn’t working.
Well, at some point in August it started to work and both UK and CA made a sale. Then I was promptly kicked off both almost immediately.
Amazon claims this was because they couldn’t see where the tracking codes were.
I have to assume they did a check from the US or another country where the tracking codes would, by default, show the US version of the tracking code.
Right now, I’m not going to bother to fight it, since I don’t get a lot of traffic from those countries, but I’ll get back on those networks later on and use a different method of switching the tracking codes.
I also redid the content strategy for this site, it was already in a pretty good state, but It didn’t go as deep on the topic that I wanted to focus on, which now has 47 initial content ideas.
Choosing this topic was easy since 5 of the top 10 pages (by traffic) were on this topic.
New pages are going to focus on this topic and for the existing pages on this topic, going to be updating the products and improving the content quality.
Similar to pretty much every other site, I want to redo the keyword research and redesign it.
The redesign is a low priority right now, though.
After the keyword research is done, I’ll work on the onsite since I haven’t touched it since I got the site.
For content, writers are currently working on 3 new pages that will be done in January.
P&L (Aug - Dec 2019)
Amazon earnings (Aug) $187.90
Amazon earnings (Sep) $170.05
Amazon earnings (Oct) $164.56
Amazon earnings (Nov) $130.86
Amazon earnings (Dec) $160.12
This puts the site at a $2,763.21 loss so far.
Pet site? What pet site?
Jarod… did you?
Yeah, I bought another site. #SorryNotSorry
I bought this site in August for cheap. The site is… rough.
Basic design, horrible content, terribly built, but I wanted to see how I liked buying a “starter” site that was already showing some progress (was making $3/m when I bought it), fixing it up and flipping it for a more short-term thing.
The earnings have 10x’d since I bought it (not a lot of money by any means), but I’ve mostly sat on it - just making some small changes.
I knew when I bought the site that it was in really bad shape, but If I had known just how bad the site was, I probably wouldn’t have bought.
Right after buying the site, I did a couple small things:
Added an SSL
Set up analytics
Set up search console
Cleaned up some template items, drafts, and blank pages from WordPress
Changed affiliate links
Changing the affiliate links on this 25-page site took almost two months.
The site is using a version of Thrive that was discontinued years ago. 99% of the time Thrive doesn’t allow for the changes you made to be saved.
Meaning, while I got the affiliate links changed eventually, I’m going to need to rebuild the site from the ground up if I want to sell it to someone who doesn’t end up teaching themselves witchcraft just to curse me.
Because I can’t really make any changes to the website until I rebuild it, I’ve just been sitting on it until I have the time to plan out a new site.
Once that’s done I’m going to:
Get all of the content rewritten. It’s some text-broker level content right now
Technical audit & fix any issues discovered
Fix the onsite
Depending on how I’m feeling when that’s done, I might create a content strategy and look to grow it some more or just try to get rid of it ASAP.
In its current state, the site should be taken behind the shed...
I pre-purchased some content for this site that won’t be used until the site is rebuilt.
I’ll also continue to pre-purchase content every month until the site is rebuilt - which I’m hoping to get done by the end of Feb?
Pre-purchasing the content forces me to use that money for the content and makes me want to not sit on the site as much as I have spent money for nothing until I order the content.
P&L (Aug - Dec 2019)
Site Acquisition ($300.00)
Amazon earnings (Aug) $5.56
Amazon earnings (Sep) $15.92
Amazon earnings (Oct) $16.20
Amazon earnings (Nov) $18.54
Amazon earnings (Dec) $35.84
This puts the site at a $347.89 loss so far.
I’m still not happy with where this site’s earnings are at, but they’re fairly consistent - which is good.
At some point, I realized that I had AMZImage set up on every site except this one for some reason. So, I went ahead and got that set up.
While doing that, I also made sure every affiliate link was nofollow’d.
90% of them already were, I don’t expect it to make much of any difference since the site is small but it’s best practice so, dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.
While setting up AMZImage I had a thought that I didn’t have before but really should have.
The content on this site doesn’t have the intent of what you’d expect and want it to. The review articles are much more buying guides than they are product reviews for the most part.
For example, if the product was “best gaming chairs” there is a table of contents recommending products but the content talks about “how to find the best gaming chair”, “what types of gaming chairs are there?”, etc.
While inside of the content, it would feature a couple different products with an Amazon link, but not reviewing them at all.
I took another look at competitors to see if this was just the type of content that ranks in this niche, but everyone else had “traditional” looking affiliate review pages.
This made my focus for this site on improving the existing content on the website before creating more content.
There’s currently two article rewrites in progress that will be live in January.
P&L (Aug - Dec 2019)
Amazon earnings (Aug) $75.07
Amazon earnings (Sep) $106.58
Amazon earnings (Oct) $117.26
Amazon earnings (Nov) $18.54
Amazon earnings (Dec) $119.06
This puts the site at a $4,386.60 loss so far.
Hello my baby, hello my honey…
This site is still my superstar, hitting a new earnings milestone in December.
Will probably see a decrease after the holidays, but that’s to be expected.
Since this site is doing, by far, the best out of all my other sites, this is the one that I’m going to spend most of my time on, personally, when it comes to my affiliate sites.
The plan I have for this site looks similar to the rest, except that this is more of a priority.
Keyword research for existing pages
Improve existing page content (one reason being the quality and the other reasons mentioned below)
Page speed optimization
Redesign the money pages
Eventually redesign the entire site. Not a big priority, most sites in this niche are fairly basic looking.
In December, I created a content strategy focusing on one topic and going deeper.
It’s a fairly small topic, only a dozen or so initial content ideas so we’ll manage to make it through that topic fairly quickly.
Writers are currently working on 6 new money pages that will be done in January.
While doing research for these pages, I got even more excited for this site.
I noticed a massive flaw in every single other affiliate site which makes their content fairly unhelpful.
I have to imagine that 1-2 sites originally did this and everyone else just copied the structure of the pages that were ranking.
After noticing this, I reviewed the other pages on my site and noticed I was also a victim of this unhelpful content, meaning - I’ll be improving that soon as well.
With the change in structure, my pages will stand out and 100% be the best page for user experience, which I’m hoping leads to an increased conversion rate.
P&L (Aug - Dec 2019)
Amazon earnings (Aug) $380.97
Amazon earnings (Sep) $549.16
Amazon earnings (Oct) $495.13
Amazon earnings (Nov) $250.47
Amazon earnings (Dec) $670.99
This puts the site at a $1,021.84 loss so far.
2020 Here I come
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for me this year.
I feel like I learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2019 both in business and marketing.
Now that I’ve adjusted how I work on my affiliate sites, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of progress they make and may have my first site sale sometime this year as well.
I’m expecting the tech, pet, and automotive sites to be profitable this year, the sports and outdoors sites are up in the air as of now.
Looking forward to affiliate marketing this year 🙂
That's it for this report! Have a question? Post it below
Really like this plugin, quick and easy to set up and use and haven’t run into any issues with it thus far.
I changed over all of the affiliate links and added affiliate links on a couple of money pages where there weren't any added before.
I also ended up having to remove ~10% of the products recommended on the site because they were no longer being sold.
In some cases, I was able to just swap the image and links to the updated version.
When I swapped images, the content remained unchanged, so it references the wrong product, but that will be something I clean up when I have the time to.
Despite the links not getting changed until 6 days into the month, it still performed above the average monthly earnings.
I’m super happy about this, as one should be.
In July, I managed to find some time to get some actual work done on the site.
When moving the site over to my server, I noticed the size of the site was over 2gb, for only 40 pages!
There were a couple of backups saved in the file manager and several inactive plugins.
Deleting all of that brought the size down to under 500mb.
I also cleaned up Analytics, Search Console, and Tag Manager.
Mostly just changing account nomenclature, changing settings and filters in analytics, adding all sitemaps to search console, and changing tag names in GTM.
Some smaller site changes:
Added custom favicon
Added HTML sitemap
Removed sidebar from posts (which included a site search box and recent posts)
Set up breadcrumbs on posts
Deleted 2 non-tech pages that were not generating traffic
Deleted all tag pages
Set up click tracking via GTM
Keyword research for this site was pretty enjoyable,
For each affiliate site, I’ve done keyword research a little differently. What I’ve settled on is topic research rather than keyword research.
I talked about this a little before but, with my first site (sports site mentioned below) I spent two weeks researching tens of thousands of keywords.
This took forever, and I have keywords researched for content that wouldn’t be created for months later (if at all considering how bad this site has done).
So, I decided to take a faster approach to keyword research.
For this site, I looked at every money page and broke them out by topics and when appropriate, sub-topics.
If this site was about office supplies then it would look something like
Links to every post about desks
Links to every post about standing desks
Links to every post about chairs
I found about a dozen topics currently being talked about on the site, not counting sub-topics.
The focus of the site is tech, yet some of the articles have nothing to do with tech, so I removed those topics since I don’t want to expand on them.
For the remaining 10 or so topics, I decided to do topic research.
Basically, just finding head terms that would be the focus of a post but not finding any other keywords on that topic, not looking at search volume, not looking at competition.
For example, this may look like
Best office desks
Best sit stand desks
Best desks for working at home
Best desks under $500
Best desks with filing cabinet
To find these topics, I used a combination of Ahrefs, knowledge in the niche, and browsing competitors sites.
I then organized these by the parent topic.
Now, I have 100+ topic ideas that only took a couple hours, rather than researching tens of thousands of keywords over the course of 2 weeks.
Once I had all my topics, I used Ahrefs keyword explorer to parse the list and order posts by priority (low, medium, and high) based on monthly search volume, competition (using KD and a quick SERP check), and whether or not the topic was dependent on another post.
For the existing posts on the site, I did research all the keywords I could, using Ahrefs and GSC.
I’m sure plenty of people do this and it just took me a hot minute to figure it out. I’m not claiming to have revolutionized keyword research
But, this saved me a massive amount of time, and going forward when creating new content, that’s when the keyword research for that topic will be done.
Using estimates of CTR from Google, CTR to Amazon, and conversion on Amazon, the current posts could gross $2,600/m in earnings.
While doing keyword research as well as some other strategy related tasks, I noticed that the site has done an excellent job at nabbing featured snippets. Even for posts with very little topical authority to the site.
Organic rankings for some fairly competitive terms are also looking good with a lot of 1st or high 2nd page results considering the OK content quality but dated reviews as well as the lack of links to the site.
There could be some hidden links in use, but I want to give the original owner the benefit of the doubt as they said they didn’t use any hidden links on this site, and there’s no use in projecting on these things unless I find solid evidence.
What’s Planned Moving Forward
The next big project for this site is going to be cleaning up what’s already there.
Onsite is going to be a little more involved than usual since a lot of the content recommends older product versions, so I’m going to have to get new content created and then optimize it.
I recently did an overhaul of how my agency does onsite SEO, so I’m looking forward to seeing how well the new processes translate to affiliate and what kind of gains I’ll end up seeing.
The site gets some international traffic, but changing the links through plugins hasn’t worked since I don’t have API access until I meet the 3 sale minimum from these countries.
I have some ideas about using Tag Manager to dynamically add affiliate links and change links automatically, just need to play around with it.
May - July P&L
AMZ Image ($33.15)
Amazon earnings (May) $193.46
Amazon earnings (June) $275.52
Amazon earnings (July) $225.22
This puts the site at a $2,656.70 loss so far. Which is better that I was expecting at this point.
I’ve really grown attached to this site and its potential from a branding perspective. If I’m able to bring those ideas to fruition, I think it would be difficult to bring myself to ever sell the site.
When I was looking at buying the site, honestly I wasn’t impressed.
The design was basic and a bit of a mess, the content was bad (I’ve literally had someone email me saying how bad the content was), had some exact match blog comments pointing to it, and was using PBNs as tier 1’s from a network I would only ever use for tier 2’s.
This was really a “fuck it” purchase.
I don’t know anything about automotive. I’ve leased my car for almost 2 years, and have less than 1,500 miles on it.
So, I had no interest in the niche.
But, I am competitive and a bit vindictive.
Years ago I worked on an automotive affiliate site earning close to 5-figures a month from organic traffic and was owned by someone that never did anything to optimize the site beyond keyword research and basic onsite.
Long story short, the relationship with the client didn’t pan out. Their site still exists so now I want to beat it.
I also had a cool idea for a front-end offer that could generate some real press and exposure but I have no idea how to create that and would probably need to invest $xx,xxx to get it running.
Looking at the site, I figured I’d sit on it for a couple of months and hope that it doesn’t tank while I plan out some bigger moves for it.
As soon as the site moved over to me, I started to think that purchasing it was a bad idea.
I ran into nothing but problems.
In fact, I also thought I was being scammed on this one at first.
Affiliate links weren't being switched (page builder would add the old links back after saving)
Editing some pages wouldn’t work
Suddenly all pages were 404ing
Wasn’t made the owner of GSC and the disavow file was removed after I purchased the site
The GA account was set up under 1 account with properties for each site so I couldn’t become the sole owner
Again, May ended up being a super high-stress month.
A lot of the issues were due to how poorly built and maintained the site was.
For GA, I had to create a new account and switch the UA code over and just retain access on the original owners account so I had the historical data.
I had to spend 2-3 full days to get everything sorted. Lots of unneeded plugins and Thrive wasn’t playing ball so I had to rebuild some pages.
Originally, the site was using AAWP & EasyAzon. Neither of which wanted to accept my API credentials.
So, I set up AMZimage on this site as well, eventually, I’ll add AMZimage on all my sites.
All in all, the site didn’t start getting clicks until end-of-day May 10th.
The site was averaging $200/m before purchase and almost half of May went without clicks. I was feeling pretty defeated, to be honest.
Not to mention that Thrive wasn’t letting me edit 3-4 of the money pages for about another week.
It actually gets better.
This site went from being my bastard child to my rising star.
Earning $261 from a half month of earnings.
Of all my sites, this is the one with the worst design, worst content quality, worst link profile, and worst maintenance.
Yet, it’s the highest earner.
I’m going to have to dig deeper into the site (and the niche) but I’m super happy as at this rate this will be the site that makes a positive ROI first.
Instead of leaving it on the back burner, it may become my frontrunner.
The only other thing I’ve done so far is topic & keyword research, using the methods mentioned above.
What’s Planned Moving Forward
Come up with a plan.
I want to look deeper to see what I missed/misjudged when evaluating the site originally.
May - July P&L
Site purchase (3,092.78)
Amazon Earnings (May) $261.00
Amazon Earnings (June) $433.97
Amazon Earnings (July) $469.20
This puts the site at a $1,968.56 loss so far. After just 2.5 months, it’s already generated 38% of what I paid for it.
Since buying this site in January of this year, I’ve been disappointed with the earnings, to say the least.
Upon purchase, the site was averaging ~$200/m (12-month average) and hadn’t been touched for months.
My hopes, being as I knew my time was limited, I’d be able to do a little work here and there but even if I was busy for a couple months, it should be fine without me keeping too close of an eye on it.
Every month has earned under $200 and traffic hasn’t dropped at all. July had earnings of under $70, less than 50% of what it made the prior month.
it’s a seasonal niche and it’s earned more out-of-season than it has in season. Traffic and clicks are pretty steady.
My hope is that I somehow missed something, broke some links or maybe some products have been out of stock.
In May, I sent 22 links to the site across 5 pages, these were all free links. No link strategy for the site still so I’m not being aggressive with it.
What’s Planned Moving Forward
I want to clean up the onsite and double check links and products.
A couple of months ago, I planned out a couple of hundred content ideas, so I also want to start getting ready to get those written, with some sort of plan.
Finally, I want to take a deeper look at the link profile for this site and its competitors to see how much work is going to need to be put into that.
May - July P&L
Amazon Earnings (May) $140.74
Amazon Earnings (June) $140.44
Amazon Earnings (July) $69.77
This puts the site at a $4,492.32 loss so far.
Considering how much was invested into this site, it’s been disappointing, to say the least. Not really doing much in terms of revenue.
I could get more content on the site, but I’m not sure it’s worth risking the additional capital.
Right now, I’m just sitting on the site while I figure out what I want to do with it. It’s only got a couple more months until it’s out-of-season again.
I’d rather focus on my other three sites, get those profitable, and then worry about this one.
Didn’t do anything in May aside from renewing the domain which went down for 4-days before I noticed.
Didn’t get a notification or anything
At the end of June, I noticed that all of the images for the Amazon products were broken, So I set up AMZImage to fix that in early July, hoping that was what was causing poor sales.
But, even after going from all broken images to fixed images, earnings went down!
May - July P&L
Domain registration ($8.53)
Amazon Earnings (May) $83.39
Amazon Earnings (June) $101.47
Amazon Earnings (July) $94.04
This puts the site at a $8,780.13 loss so far.
Overall, I’m in the red on all 4 sites that I own (3 purchased, 1 started), which is to be expected since two were purchased in April/May, another in January, and the other was started sometime in June/July of last year. For the tech and automotive site, I’m confident that even if I put in minimal work I can be profitable (without selling) within 8-12 months.
If I put in a lot more time, then maybe 6-months. Again, I’m not super experienced on affiliate stuff so just about everything is up in the air.
The outdoors site has been super disappointing in revenue compared to when I bought it, and the sports site had a lot of mistakes and wasted money initially.
Coming from someone who’s always done client work, earning an extra ~$1,000/m or so on autopilot is pretty incredible. Obviously, if I ignore these sites forever, they’re not going to continue to earn.
If everything goes according to plan, the next flip report should go live in early Sep or Oct.
That's it for this report! Have a question? Post it below
Before I jump into the going-ons of my sites (subtle foreshadowing) I want to talk about where I see these site reports going.
If you don't care, then skip ahead.
But, I'll never forgive you for doing so.
I spent some time thinking about whether I wanted to do this on a monthly basis or more of a quarterly basis. I don't do affiliate marketing full-time (I own an agency) and so I won't always have a lot to say on a month-by-month basis.
On the other hand, it's a goal of mine to put out more content this year, so I really want to push myself to commit to this monthly report rather than doing what I normally do which is take 3-4 months to finish any given piece of content.
So, instead of just reporting on "Site flip #1" this will be a site flipping report that covers all of my sites at once. Buying, selling, growing, etc. This should give you enough content to be worth reading every month and it also makes it easier than writing multiple posts or only focusing on 1 site.
With that prelude...
Purchased Two More Sites
Couldn't help myself.
One of my other businesses that I'm a co-owner of was looking to acquire a site. I narrowed down the list to two sites, bought one of the sites for that business and one for myself.
I'm kind of addicted to looking at sites and figuring out how to profit off them. I need to not buy more sites right now, I'm pretty maxed out on time, and having two brand new sites that need to have their links changed, strategies built out, etc. Isn't helping matters.
One of the sites I bought is in the tech space.
It has some non-tech articles, but the site is going to focus on tech going forward.
I haven't made changes to the site yet, so let me explain why I wanted to buy this site.
Tech is a niche I'm well versed in, and I'm tech savy enough to pick up new concepts quickly.
The other sites I own are all in niches I know fuck all about, so I thought it would be interesting to see if I find benefit working in a niche I actually know - even when I'm not writing the content.
On purchase, the site was averaging $175/m (6-month average) from Amazon and was bought for $3,200.
For anyone that doesn't have a calculator handy, that's a 18.2x monthly earnings.
That's a super attractive multiple, especially when buying from people in the SEO community who tend to way overvalue their sites.
Anything over a 25x multiple, I'm not really interested in buying.
Buy low, sell high.
It's rare I find anyone willing to sell for under 20x, so I want to move fast when I can get a multiple that low.
The site wasn't making much before Nov 2018, then started to really take off, 5x'ing in Nov - and not just holiday traffic as earnings stayed the same in Nov - Apr (with a small uptrend).
What I liked was the 6-months of stable earnings, rather than months that swing ±30% of earnings on any given month, which I see in quite a few sites I've looked at.
The history of earnings isn't very long - but, I'm also not risking a lot of money and the multiple was low enough that it was a risk worth taking.
One of my favorite parts is that the domain name is SUPER brandable. Can expand deep into tech and other niches without needing to change the domain name, even if the site was doing $xx,xxx/month I'd be happy with the domain name without thinking it would put users off.
The name of the site gave me a bunch of ideas on how the site could be redesigned and be seen as a real brand. But, that won't be something I'll bother with until it's doing at least $1,000/m in profit.
Next, and a great selling point (especially when buying from our circles), the link profile was pretty clean.
Not a lot of links pointing to the site, even some of the top pages on the site has very few links (less than 5) except for some image spam links that Google probably ignores.
And yes, I looked for hidden links and tier 2's.
The site had used PBNs, Web 2.0's, and blog comments in the past - which I'm not a fan of when buying sites. But, it was used sparingly, and about 2 years ago. Even if they were all bad links, from my experience the amount wasn't enough to trash the domain.
The tentative plan for this site is to hit it hard with content. As earnings grow, do more CRO and branding. Not going to worry about links too much for this site I think, at least not in the foreseeable future.
The site also has a lot of potential for social growth. I don't do much social stuff, so it's a back-burner idea.
This is the other site I was deciding between.
Earnings are similar. Bought for $3,000 - so a 17x multiple. The site did over $250 in April, if it were to maintain those earnings, then it would be less than a 12x multiple.
The reason why I wanted to get this site was that years ago I actually worked on an automative affiliate site briefly, and I have some ideas that I gave to the site owner that they were never interested in executing. Their site is still around - so my goal is to outgrow their 5+ year old site.
I'm not spiteful, you are.
I also have an idea to build a front-end application and have the affiliate be on the backend of the site. I don't want to give away too many details right now, but if you imagine a site like Credit Karma, you go there to check your credit score for free, then they suggest credit cards to you.
I'm not going to suggest articles based on the front-end application, but the point of it will be to advertise its functionality and use that to gain press, links, and subscribers. If this works, it could easily become a $x,xxx,xxx site (if executed properly) since I don't think anything else exists currently (but, I could be wrong).
Obviously, this is a large undertaking and I don't know how much the front-end will cost to build. So, the current plan is to sit on this site for a couple months until I have time to do something with it.
I want to make sure I take the time to make something clear, especially if anyone reading this ends up taking this as a "I should emulate this".
The reason I'm buying so many sites is not to "diversify". Since I'm new to the affiliate game, I'm trying a bunch of different things with different projects to see what works best for me. To take a system developed on one site, and see if it works seamlessly on 2-3 other sites as well.
I would not recommend working on a bunch of sites at once. If I was doing affiliate full-time then I would put 80% of my time, effort, and money into a single site.
To give you an idea of my thought process... with my first affiliate site (more on this below) the keyword research I did was just within its niche and I analyzed over 250,000 keywords and selected ~50,000 target keywords. This took about two weeks.
Another site, I see a lot of sub-niches it could go into, so I started doing the research on hundreds of topics - it was so much data and took so much time I eventually scrapped it and tried a different approach.
Same thing will happen with these two site, improve the method to maximize time, effort, and money.
I didn't talk about this site last month during the first site slip report, but this is another site that I own. In fact, it was my first ever affiliate site.
Because it was my first site, I made a lot of mistakes.
Having done SEO for 7-years, I thought it would be a much smaller learning curve from local/client work to affiliate marketing.
Oh boy, was I wrong
I don't have everything written down that was done up to this point, so I'll give you the fast version. What was done, what mistakes were made, and how I would have done it differently.
This site was acquired in Sep/Aug 2018. I bought it from SERPSeeds.
SERPSeeds sells pre-made affiliate sites on aged domains.
The site was built on a brandable, aged domain. It had 4-5 money pages, 2 supporting articles, a decent design, and some terms already ranking within the top 5 pages.
I was able to get the site for $2,000 and buying this site was a mistake.
For the same amount of money, I could have bought a site that was already making $60-$100/m. By spending a couple thousand more, I could have gotten a site doing $150-$300/m.
In the current state of the industry, I don't see a point in starting a new site - it makes way more sense to buy one based on how much you'd have to spend to get a site up to those earnings anyway.
I could invest $3,000 in getting a site to $200-$300/m over the course of 6-8 months. Or, I could buy a site today for $3,000 that's making $150/m.
This is the site that I spent almost two weeks doing keyword research on.
I don't like getting into things without doing a lot of research, that's just my personality.
Sometimes, the situation warrants a lot of research. Instead, I should have kept a list of content ideas. Do some research to find the best 20-30 ideas. Then do the keyword research just for those pages.
That would have only taken a couple of hours, and I'll have content written before I initially finished with the keyword research.
Sure, you could research 100+ ideas. Find all the root keywords and longtails. Analyze the competitors to come up with estimates on competition and cost to rank and analyze all that data against what you think the earnings would be if you got X traffic.
Or, you could pick 20 topics that seem good enough, eyeball the keywords and competitors, launch the content, and then dive deeper on it when it actually starts to get impressions.
Speed of execution matters way more than I value it at with my actions.
One of the first things I did was build out the content on the site.
The mistake I made here was building out too much supporting content and not focusing 90% of the content on money pages. The site right now probably has the same amount of supporting pages as it does money pages.
I ended up building about 5 more money pages but about 10 supporting articles.
Of all the money pages, I found the page which I believed would be the easiest to rank, so that the site could start earning money.
I focused link building on this page, and sent some links to some of the other pages.
The mistake here was not focusing 100% of the link building on this page and its supporting content. Some of the other money pages got 1-2 links and saw positive movement from it, but not enough to drive sales.
It's not a waste of money, but I won't see benefit (sales) until I do a lot more to rank those terms.
I was spreading the budget too thin by trying to target multiple money pages at once rather than focusing on one.
Another mistake made was the amount of link building I did. While the money page did end up ranking and is now responsible for pretty much every sale the site makes, I spent thousands on links when I should have built out more money pages.
If I had invested the money spent on supporting articles and links to other money pages, it may have been enough to not say "too much was spent on links to that one money page" But as it stands, the current money pages on the site (minus like 3 or 4) are all best X for X which are at the most competitive topics.
This next mistake is the fact I was too greedy.
I billed my agency for work done on the site.
The sports site is owned by another company that I'm the co-owner of, and my business partner and I decided that we would pay the agency a retainer to grow & manage the site.
Now, this would be 100% fine if the site was already earning in the 4-figure a month range.
But, it just ended up wasting some of the budget to grow the site in the agency making a profit. This only went on for a couple of months, and once the agency was no longer on retainer for the site - most of what the agency ending up profiting was reinvested in the site.
Now, any work done by the agency is done at cost and any work I do personally is at no cost.
Over time, the money page that I was focusing on started to rank (yay!)
It took about 2-3 months to start showing progress and is now where most sales come from. As I mentioned, this was a "Best X for X" article. Looking at search console, I noticed that what was driving 50%+ of the traffic for this page was a specific product.
product name review(s)
Not only was it driving a lot of the traffic, about half of the sales (only getting 1-2 sales a month at this point) on Amazon were also this product.
The product itself only had a couple short paragraphs written about it, so naturally, I searched for those terms to see what came up.
Turns out, there was no review content ranking that was specific to this product (except for some Youtube videos in a video carousel).
The review content that was all ranking was Best X for X content. So, no titles, URLs, or H1s were optimized for this product and like my article, it was just mentioned as another option on the page.
Naturally, I created the best pice of content for this SERP.
A 1,000 word article reviewing just this product. I had the most relevant:
And internal links
Of anyone else ranking for this.
To avoid cannibalization, I linked from the old money page to this one with an exact match anchor. I also sent 1-2 target PBN links to this new product page to get Google to recognize it.
Nothing. Dead in the water.
Page was indexed, links were indexed, page was showing up within top 10 pages.
Then, a couple of months later...
I'm now #1 and #2 for the review term and for the root product name I'm #3 (only behind Amazon)
I'm surprised by how long this actually took given the complete lack of competition. But, I've been noticing more and more just how much time matters.
I wasn't sure where to put this. So, I'll put this here. Perhaps it deserves a post of its own at some point.
I've slowed down a lot when it comes to SEO in recent months, I've written about time as a ranking factor a couple of times now.
A lot of us throw a ton of content, links, more onsite changes & tweaks, etc. at a site. But from the sites I've been looking at and working on - most of the progress is made when nothing is really happening on the site.
It takes way less supporting content, links, and onsite "perfection" than you think to rank a page. At least, in my experience.
I'm not an SEO guru, I'm not here to sell you on my methods or ideas and I have not put nearly enough thought and investigation into the cases I've seen of letting a site "rest" to put together anything even worth reading on the topic.
I've just found this really interesting as you don't get as much opportunity in the agency realm to just let a site sit. You have deliverables, reports, etc. But, I do have ideas on how to work this into processes.
So, all of this leads up to April.
What did I do in April for this site?
I haven't done much on this site in the past couple of months because of how much money was invested into it compared to how much it was making
It's a seasonal sport, so search volume is just starting to ramp up now that winter is over and I wanted to see how much it was going to earn during the spring before putting more money into it - in case it was a dud.
The one thing I did do in April was remove all the PBNs pointing to the site, wasn't very many and I'm not really using PBNs anymore for T1s.
If I have time this month, I want to take a closer look at the onsite.
P&L From Purchase - April
Website Cost ($2,000) Hosting ($85.56) Marketing ($7,096) [Don't have this itemized]
Amazon earnings $131.06
In total, this site is at a $9,050.5 loss.
This is the site I talked about in the first flip report.
Earnings this month are a little lower than last month, but more items were ordered. What I love is that this site has a 7-8% conversion rate on Amazon.
So, what was done this month?
I spent some time reworking the click tracking that I set up last month through Google Tag Manager. I had to do this multiple times since I was also doing some CRO (more on that in a minute).
Turns out, I was only able to track image clicks, not button or text clicks from last month.
Fixing this was fairly simple since GTM tells you all of the element properties when in preview mode, and you just need to check what variable is unique to the element type you're clicking on.
Here are all of the elements I'm tracking
For tracking button clicks, I just made sure all of the buttons had the same text and track anyone that clicks on an element with that text.
Tracking the text links were a little more complicated, The only element that I could use to track was the amz.n link in the link element, but if I just looked for that, then it would also track the button clicks since they also pull the amz.n link element. So, I had to add an exclusion to ignore any clicks with the button text.
From here, I did some CRO.
The site was fairly inconsistent. Some pages with tables, some had featured products, and only some had buttons for each product.
The main color of the site was everywhere. Buttons, borders, header color, etc. The CTA's just didn't stand out. I chose a color for the CTA and change everything else that had that color so that it stood out.
Every page that didn't already have one, got a table of contents added to it.
Some of the money pages would review a product, but the only link was in an image, and it wasn't very clear that the user had to click on the image. So, I added a CTA button under each review section.
Removed site search from the site. Not big enough to need one, and it was distracting
Some of the money pages had a featured product right at the top, I liked this idea a lot - so it was added to every money page.
The featured images for each page were just basic stock photos. I used a combination of GIMP & Canva to create something much better. Added a gradient and a blur to the image and then added a text design on top of it.
The sidebar used to show the 3 most recent posts, now it shows the 3 most recent money pages and 3 most recent blog posts under that. I wanted to do something more sophisticated but would have to edit the site code first and don't have time for that.
Made sure that all reviewed products were still for sale & in stock. Had to remove 3 products that were "currently unavailable"
Made sure that all the reviewed products were actually good. Removed 7 products that were rated on Amazon as 3.5 stars or lower.
Some of the products there were reviewed had a "content box" where the image, some details, and bullet points were made about the product. I rolled this out site wide.
Some pages had videos embedded, I felt they were distracting and didn't add any value to the page so I removed them.
Purchased Table Labs to revamp the (bet you can't guess this)... tables
Once the new tables were live, I had to set up GTM tracking on those too, but it was easy to do.
Lastly on the CRO front, I checked the site on mobile.
It was... rough.
The navigation had drop downs but the top level page was also a page so you couldn't access the drop down, half of the CTA buttons has margin & padding issues that caused it to cover content.
This was an annoying change to have to make, but had to be done.
I also set up Amazon native shopping ads. The site came with them originally, but I didn't think having ads on a money page made sense, but after reading some articles, I thought it would be worth a try.
I, of course, set up click tracking on them so I can see if they're worth keeping.
I was offered 14 free links, so I pointed them to this site. I split the links between 3 money pages using conservative anchors. I haven't had time to build out a link strategy for the site yet and didn't want to cause any anchor issues.
For May, I want to take a deep dive on the onsite and get some more content made for the site. I recently revamped the onsite processes, tools, and tactics for the agency - looking to see how these translate to affiliate.
P&L For April
Table labs ($67)
Amazon Earnings $96.90
This puts the site at a sum of a $4,843.27 loss so far.
That's it for this report! Have a question? Post it below
This is the first-ever issue of my site flipping project. Where I make my affiliate journey public.
So, I guess I'm going to start writing about how this site is doing every month. Because, why the hell not?
I also didn't think a website called jarodspiewak.com was vein enough - so I started adding a picture of myself to all my blog images.
For the first time, I bought an affiliate site that was already making money with the hopes of growing and flipping it. For this report, I'll get you caught up on:
Why I bought a site rather than starting one.
Why I bought this site
My goals with the site
What's been done with the site up until this point
P&L up to this point
Why share all of this?
Other reports will go much deeper into what's been done (as not much has been at this point) and the P&L.
Yeah, this is a 100% original idea, I've never even heard of Matthew Woodward. Why are you accusing me of shit?
Why I Bought A Site (and didn't start from scratch)
I don't always have time to work on a project, but when I do, I'm usually quoting memes or vines.
I wanted a site that I could sit on for months if I had to.
It also made a lot more sense economically. Someone reached out to me with this site, averaging $200/m selling at a 25x monthly multiple for $5,000.
It had ~$3,000 - $4,000 worth of content
Outsourcing a simple site build would cost me at least $500
Buying the links the site had would also cost a couple grand.
Even if I went for lower quality content, it still made much more sense to buy the site in my opinion.
Why I Bought THIS Site
The link profile was clean and the original owner used a conservative approach. Mostly outreach with conservative anchors.
Earnings were pretty consistent. The site hadn't really been touched in 3-6 months.
The site had been up for years without any issues.
It was a niche site with a decent amount of money pages (about 30).
It was clear that there was TLC put into the site.
All of that got me pretty excited and had me confident that the seller was legit and I wasn't going to see the site tank or need to keep up with it every month to keep earnings up.
The site is in the outdoors niche, but it's not a general outdoors/camping/survival type site.
It focused on a specific product category, I saw plenty of room to grow content within this sub-niche as well as enter 2-3 highly-relevant other outdoors sub-niches for the site.
Opportunity For Growth
One of the first things I noticed with the site was the CRO potential.
Inconsistent tables, some money pages don't have tables, and the tables were very basic.
CTAs are the same color as everything else on the site.
Only markup on pages is a table, headers, and bullet points. Content design could use work
Content quality is OK but could use some upgrading
The link building done on the site was very conservative, I knew I could be more aggressive.
Lots of content potential. Just within the main sub-niche and the 2-3 other sub-niches I wanted the site to venture into, I found 300+ money page ideas by just looking at competitors. Not to mention TOFU content that could be built out.
My Goals With The Site
Really, just for experience and to have a site to mess around with some ideas on.
This is the first money generating website I've purchased and it'll (hopefully) be the first I sell. I wanted to go through the process of buying & selling a site without risking too much money.
I tend to be a pretty go-with-the-flow type of person so my real goals are anything from grow the site a little, flip it, and buy a more expensive site or build the next mega-affiliate site.
Ideally, I'd like to get the site to at least $500/m (how modest of me).
I don't do much affiliate (only started this year and have 2 sites) so I don't know how long that's going to take. If I didn't get to $500/m while the site is already doing $200/m (avg) and with so much potential - I'd consider it a massive fail.
It would be cool to grow the site out to $1k/m-$2k/m and use it to fund and grow other sites - start to build a portfolio or something. Then flip this site when it grows to the 6-figure in value mark.
We'll see. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What's Been Done So Far?
I bought the site at the end of Jan, all I did in Jan was switch the affiliate links over to my account. I don't think I did anything in February either.
This is really a mind-blowing article, I know.
In March, I did some content research which found ~320 different money page ideas. I know absolutely nothing about the niche so this forced me to do some research. Now I have a vague idea on what ~2,000 people are coming to my website for every month.
The internet is a beautiful thing.
I also set up click tracking on all my affiliate links (Amazon by the way) using Google Tag Manager, this way I could track click percents (aside from Amazon's dashboard) as well at what pages were generating clicks vs traffic.
There were a couple of informational pages on the site that made sense to add a product link to, I also took 3 money pages that weren't niche relevant and canned them. They weren't ranking for anything anyway.
My plan is still to just work on the site in my free time, but have enough to write a post once a month.
Website purchase ($5,000)
Web hosting ($59.4)
Domain registrar ($13.16)
Jan Amazon $8.99 (only a couple days of having all the links up)
Feb Amazon $64.23
Mar Amazon $126.17
In total, currently down ($4,873.17). It's more of a Spring-Fall product so I'm hoping to see April at the $200 mark. April 01 did ~$14 itself.
Why Share All This?
As of the time of writing, I have nothing to sell you. I'm not going to be making an affiliate course or a flipping course.
Maybe I'll pick up a link or two (not that I care about ranking this site) or someone in the industry that's cooler than me will notice me and think "That guys 'aight. Maybe I'll say hi."