Flip Report #4

it’s finally here! The fourth entry in the flip report series. Since the last report, I’m excited to announce that…

Flip report 4 image

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!

Look at me 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:
affiliate product example good
  • 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.

Amazon example bad product

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.

Amazon example bad prodcut

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.

Sports Site

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.

good news everyone gif

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
  • Etc.

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)

Expenses

Content ($496.00)

Earnings

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.

Tech Site

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)

Expenses

Content ($920.00)

Earnings

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

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. 

Oh well.

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)

Expenses

Site Acquisition ($300.00)

SSL (39.95)

Content ($100.00)

Earnings

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.

Outdoors Site

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)

Expenses

Content ($416.00)

Earnings

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.

Automotive Site

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
  • Onsite
  • 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)

Expenses

Content ($1,400.00)

Earnings

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 👇

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Author: Jarod Spiewak

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

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