February 16 0 320

Growing an Affiliate Site From Zero to a $35 000 Valuation in Less than 12 Months

Today we are bringing you a case study from Mark Whitman, the CEO and Founder of Contentellect, a complete blog management service based in the British Isle of Guernsey.

Mark is an online entrepreneur and growth hacker who was able to grow his affiliate website’s revenue from $0 to $10 000 in less than 24 months.

He launched this website in June 2020 from scratch, and in this article, we are sharing with you the steps he took to grow it to $10 000 in revenue and a $35 000 valuation.

Launching the Site

Mark decided to launch an affiliate site in June 2020. The first step he took was to research the niche that he would focus on promoting. To him his initial criteria for niche choice was:

  • A niche with products that have an average sale price that’s $100+
  • A 30+ day cookie,
  • A high converting affiliate partner
  • Decent commission 8%+

After deciding on the niche, he went on to source an aged domain. His key priorities for the old domain were to get one that was relevant to his niche, a clean history, and age. He managed to find a relevant domain that was 15 years old on Godaddy auctions.

He checked its history using archive.org and it was squeaky clean. Then he managed to secure it for $30.

After securing the domain he launched the site and had social media pages created by freelancers on Fiverr.

Creating a Content Plan

Mark then created a detailed content plan for 80-100 articles with a total of 100 000 words. This took a couple of days, however, the KeyClusters tool (a keyword grouping tool), sped up the process.

Mark very well knew from the get-go that if this site was to take off, he would need a scalable structure. So he created a content plan that would work for the long term.

Creating the Сontent

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Mark owns an agency that provides article writing services called Contectellect. The team of writers at Contentellect got to work writing the 100 000 words for the articles according to the initial content plan. They also bought citations using SEO Butler.

About 75% of the content was written and published by July 2020, and by early August, all the content was published.

To his surprise, Google started indexing and ranking his content right out the gates. This is very unusual for a brand new site, but it's clear that the aged domain made a huge difference.

Link Building

With the site already starting to rank and bring in organic traffic, he then decided to invest in some links. He bought 10 high-quality link insertions and 5 guest posts from the Contentellect link building service.

80% of these links were pointed to the homepage using branded anchors and naked URLs, and the rest we pointed to internal silo pages.

Working with Affiliate Partners

In September 2020, he partnered with three eCommerce companies in the niche as an affiliate. Two were from Commission Junction and one from Rakuten.

He then hired a VA who added affiliate links to all the articles that were created before. The writing team also made another batch of 50 commercial articles that were added to the site and the VA filled them with affiliate links.

By December it was clear to Mark that one affiliate partner was outperforming the other two by far as you can see in the screenshot below. Partner A drove 14x more commission than B, despite B sending 1/3 as much traffic as A.

Due to the poor performance of Affiliate Partners B and C, he switched them out for Amazon in mid-January 2021 and the results were much better. He also added in a new affiliate partner from Commission Junction.

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Boosting the Traffic Growth

Mark decided to power things up with some strategic tier 2 PBN links from IM Powerhouse. These rapidly improved the site’s traffic and revenue, and in March he had his highest traffic and revenue month.

He also decided to invest in more content by asking the team to create another 100 000 words of informational content. He used KeyClusters to create an informational content plan and the new content was ready by July 2021.

At this point, the traffic grew to an average of 20 000 sessions per month.

Monetizing the Website with Ads
Mark installed advertising via Setupad. Setupad uses a metric called Effective Cost per Mille (eCPM), which is similar to RPM. With this, the website earns around $2 per 1000 impressions.

However, he also has a plan to switch to Mediavine and AdThrive but only when his traffic has grown furthermore.

Current Valuation

Mark’s site averages around $1 000 per month, the site’s worth is at $35 000.  This valuation is based on the ongoing market multiples for content sites with multiple income streams like Amazon, 3rd party affiliates, advertising, and 6-12 months of stable traffic and income.

Summary of the Website’s Statistics

  • Site Launched: June 2020
  • Average monthly traffic: 20 000
  • Investment to date: $10 207
  • Income to date: $10 903
  • Estimated site value: $35 000
  • ROI to date: 345%

Conclusion

As the case study shows, Mark has been able to grow this site to a valuation of $35 000 in less than 24 months and its trends show that it still has the potential to grow further.

Having a proper plan before starting a project like this is what gave Mark an upper hand in determining how to grow the site for the long term.

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