Flip Report #3

The third issue of the flip report is finally here! There were some highs and some lows since the last one…

Hello, and welcome to the third flip report! 

You may be curious to know…

What exactly have I managed to accomplish over the past 3-months since I’ve done a flip report?

Well, I’m happy to report…

Just about nothing.

I simply didn’t have as much time as I thought I did, to be able to make any meaningful updates monthly.

In May and June I did nothing on any of my sites besides sit back and earn those dolla dolla bill$ y’all.

I did manage to get some things done in July.

Instead of monthly, the flip reports are going to be “when i have something to share”.

Whether that's the stuff I did, earning updates if nothing was done for a couple months, new site purchases, site selling, etc.

At a minimum once a quarter a new report should come out, but I’m going to try to do one at least once every other month.

Without further ado...

May and June was fairly busy for me and I didn’t have a chance to do much aside from setting up the two new sites that I bought in the last report.

Tech Site

This is one of the sites I purchased in March. It was averaging $175/m and is fairly small (40 pages total). 

After the site was moved over to me, I had a mini heart attack.

I’ve been fairly quick to buy the sites that I’ve bought. Mostly because I haven’t been doing affiliate for a long time and I’m buying sites that don’t cost all that much. 

But, I’m also not always going as deep as I should in my due diligence. 

May was a SUPER high-stress month on the agency side of things, probably the worst “mental” month I’ve ever had.

Emotions were high and temper was short.

As soon as I paid for the site - it tanks. I had been scammed out of $3,200.

I was pissed

Or, in reality. I was just an idiot. 

Turns out, the SSL the site had wasn’t compatible with my hosting company so the site got this warning when you tried to access it.

As soon as the SSL was set up, traffic went back to normal. 

Oops.

Once that was all sorted, I started to change over the affiliate links.

The site was originally using EasyAzon but I couldn’t get it to accept my API credentials (ran into the same problem with the Automotive site) so I scrapped EasyAzon and purchased AMZImage.

(not an affiliate link) https://www.amzimage.com/ 

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

  • Desks
    • Links to every post about desks
    • Standing desks
      • Links to every post about standing desks
  • Chairs
    • Links to every post about chairs

Etc.

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
  • Etc.

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

Expenses

AMZ Image ($33.15)

SSL ($39.95)

Revenue

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.  

Automotive 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.

But, wait… 

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

Expenses

Site purchase (3,092.78) 

SSL (39.95)

Revenue

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.

Outdoor Site

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

Expenses

($0)

Revenue

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. 

Sports Site

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

Expenses

Domain registration ($8.53)

Revenue

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.

Profit… eventually?

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 ?

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Author: Jarod Spiewak

Marketer by day, frustrated programmer by night. I build businesses through digital marketing, without all the BS.

4 thoughts on “Flip Report #3”

  1. Great write up and well detailed. It’s not easy, but by the looks of your initial progress, you will make your money back and have some nice sellable assets in 12-18 months 🙂

    Buying vs starting vs expired domain is always a struggle to decide on!
    Adam

    1. Hey Adam!

      The tech and auto site definitely has a lot of potential.

      In the future, I think I’ll be buying all of my sites. Especially since the work I can put into the sites is fairly inconsistent, being able to sit on a site for a couple of months that’s already earning is a big pro for me.

      Cheers,
      Jarod

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