Affiliate Website Case Study 1

Site started: 2015
Site sold: 2019
Niche: Sports
Monetization: Amazon affiliate program, direct advertising
URL: won’t be disclosed to protect the buyer

Site background

I bought this website on Flippa.com in April, 2015. It was my first website purchase on Flippa ever and it turned out to be quite profitable. It was a starter website, without any revenue, but with around 17 articles and buying guides written.

I found the site by pure chance. Before this purchase I would end up endlessly scrolling and browsing through countless offers in either “Ending soon”, “Most active” or “Recently sold” sub categories on Flippa (my process of finding websites is a bit different now).

Back then I would be looking at everything and usually end up with nothing. Either the sites were outside of my budget, I didn’t like the niche, the content, the backlinking profile etc.

This time I decided to take a different approach. I had some niches written down in my idea generation spreadsheet but was kind of reluctant to start with any of them. Those were the niches that I thought had some potential, but was still on the edge whether to tackle them or not.

So I decided to check if there are any sites on Flippa. Entered the main keyword of one of those niches in Flippa’s search bar and VOILA – there was a starter website on Flippa with no bids so far.

It seemed no one was paying much attention at this website.

Why? Because it was just 3 months old, had no revenue and barely any traffic.
But on the other hand it had solid content (around 17 articles written by a native English speaker), OK design, good domain name – an .com EDM (exact match domain).

So the foundation was solid. But it had bad on-page SEO and had zero backlinks. So I was pretty sure that I could grow it.

After few bids the site was mine for less than $40. Not bad!

What I did after the purchase

After transferring the website I wrote a development plan with content, design and promotion section.

That’s basically a spreadsheet in which I listed all the things that I thought should be improved. I listed only those things that I feel will make a difference in the long run.

I decided to stick with the same design, just made few small tweaks (changed few margins, added a search bar, improved/tweaked the mobile menu bar etc)

Here’s what I started to work on.

1) Doing keyword research and content strategy

  • I decided to add more content on homepage & category pages
  • Write more posts and product reviews.

I found a writer who helped me with that.

2) Doing small technical and design tweaks

This includes things like changing the menu bar, small css tweaks, adding plugins.

Promotion

SEO is my strongest domain and I quickly started to optimize the site. After few on-page tweaks, I started to
build links.

1) On-page SEO
The site had basically no on-page optimization. I installed and set up Yoast SEO plugin: wrote and changed meta descriptions, titles, added a sitemap, adjusting index/noindex, follow/nofollow tags.

2) Off-page SEO: Finding backlinking opportunities
I started to looks for pages on which I could place links to my site. I concentrated on several sources:

  • relevant forums
  • relevant blogs
  • finding guest posting opportunities
  • research BL profile of other popular websites in this niche
  • finding link to others opportunities
  • finding relevant quora topics
  • website directories which had some authority and appropriate category

Note that that was back in 2015 when SEO game was different. After few months site started earning. Early 2016 I had most of the top positions I aimed for.

Semrush

Traffic

The site was getting around 3000 visitors per month, end of the year being the peak.

Revenue

Although traffic levels weren’t that high, the site was earning on average between $6000 and $9000 per year(in 2016, 2017 and 2018).

The peak was 2016, and in 2017 Amazon changed their commission structure which affected the revenue.

amazon revenue in 2017

Amazon Revenue in 2017

In 2018 it was earning around $600 per month. However, 50% of the total yearly revenue was generated from October till December.

Here is the revenue for the first 9 months so you understand the speed of development:
June 2015: $11.53

    July 2515: $93.57
    August 2015: $158.62
    September 2015: $254.11
    October 2015: $92.61
    November 2015: $772.75
    December 2015: $2,976.72
    January 2015: $724.43
    February 2015: $393.72

Sale

Early 2019 I decided it’s time to exit. I put it for auction on Flippa and ended up getting around 35 times its monthly revenue.

The site attracted few serious bidders and one bidder ended up buying it at the BIN (Buy it now) price. Not bad!

sold

What could have been done better

Trying to include and rank shoulder niches

I kept the site focused strictly on one type of products. As I said, the domain was EMD so I felt it wouldn’t be right to write about other type of products, although they are similar.

Looking at it now, after seeing a lot of similar sites (and competition) ranking for unrelated or similar niches,
I’d say I probably left some money on the table.

On the other hand, seeing there’s some room for growth might have made the site more attractive from the buyer’s point of view.

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