September 07, 2021 0 1148

Growing an Affiliate Website from $267 to $21 853/Month in 19 Months

In this post, we are sharing a case study from James Ackerman, a webmaster who was able to grow his client’s website earnings from $267/ month to $21 853/ month.

This case study covers everything that James and his client did — from building the site to the point where it is now valued at over $1 000 000. Follow along to learn how they were able to increase the site’s earnings by over 50x in just 19 months using strategies that can be easily replicated.

Quick Overview of Site's Valuation

When they started:  $13 350
Currently:  $1 092 650

This post will take a highly data-driven approach, so you know EXACTLY: what, why, how, when of all the steps taken.

For example:

  • How research and planning were done?
  • What was the number of articles and why?
  • Content writing guidelines
  • Uploading, formatting, onsite SEO instructions
  • Outreach, backlinks, and PR
  • Conversion rate optimizations (A/B testing)

So, let's dive right in...

Background of the website

  • Broad Niche: Technology (software mostly)
  • About: Work from Home (WFH) — Since it was during the pandemic and lockdown period
  • Type of content: WFH guides, product reviews, success stories of entrepreneurs (viral), etc.
  • Physical products promoted: work stations, chairs, accessories related to WFH, etc.
  • Digital products promoted: Virtual team/project management tools, SaaS subs, etc. (most money from here)

Quick statistical overview (the month he made $21 853)

  • Domain Rating (DR): 56
  • Traffic: 499 383 visitors/month (Jan. 2021)
  • RPM: $43.76 (earning per thousand visits) — this is combined for affiliate and display ads
  • Countries targeted: United States (primarily), EU, Canada
  • The primary source of traffic: Search Engines

Summary of what they did to get here:

Growing a Website’s Revenue from $11 000 to $23 000/Month in 12 months

Note: RPM is combined for affiliate and display revenue.

Research and Planning

  • Combined search volume of all keywords: 750 000
  • Average search volume per keyword:  610
  • Total keywords: 1 230
  • Total traffic achieved (in 19 months): 485 556 (this represents the increase and ignores the already existing traffic)
  • The success rate of traffic achieved (in 19 months): 64.74%. This means that based on their keyword research plan, the combined search volume of all keywords was 750 000 and they hit a success rate of 64.74% in 19 months which is a traffic increase of 485 556

"The success rate of traffic is expected to increase by more than 100% because the search volume of WFH-related keywords has risen significantly due to COVID. Moreover, our rankings are improving due to an increase in DR, aging of content and social shares.", says James.


$104 000 with a 7.3x Return on Ad Spend on Facebook
  1. Choose broad keywords based on the brand of the site
  2. Use Ahrefs to scrape all the "having similar terms" and "questions" list of words
  3. Filter the lists to remove cannibalization, irrelevant keywords, duplicate content, and anything that doesn't make sense.
  4. Group similar words together
  5. Organize the keywords into proper silos and categories

If you have doubt about two similar keywords, whether they should be targeted in one article or different articles. You should see if there are 3 or more results on the 1st page of Google that are ranking for both these words. Then you can also rank for both these words in the same article. However, if you can't find 3 or more same results for two different queries, then you should also make unique pages for each one of these keywords.

Note: They didn't give a lot of attention to the keyword’s difficulty. Their approach was to completely dominate each registered query related to a certain topic. They went big on the content part because they knew it would work — and it did.


  • Articles before: 31
  • Articles added: 1 230
  • Articles after: 1 261
  • Average words per article: 1 349
  • Total words produced: 1 701 089


$104 000 with a 7.3x Return on Ad Spend on Facebook
  1. H1, URL, and SEO Title must include: main keyword and other important keywords based on KW research
  2. At least one image with proper ALT text
  3. Table of content for jump links
  4. Proper use of headings
  5. How to articles with guides that include images as screenshots with red arrows or circles to indicate steps/processes worked well
  6. At least 1 internal link per 250 - 300 words with proper anchor text (do not over-optimize) to a relevant article
  7. Recommended SEO plugin: SEOPress

Outreach, PR, and Backlinks

  • Prospects outreached: 7 500
  • Conversion rate: 2.3%
  • Total links got: 173
  • Links before: 323
  • Links added: 173
  • Links after: 496
  • Change in DR: 12
  • Final DR: 56


$104 000 with a 7.3x Return on Ad Spend on Facebook
  1. Find highly linked content pieces using Ahrefs (Use content explorer feature and sort from higher to lower keyword difficulty. High keyword difficulty indicates that this keyword is being linked a lot)
  2. Write amazing pieces of content (better than the competitors)
  3. Scrape the list of sites that have linked to your competitors (Ahrefs)
  4. Find their contact details (Hunter is a good tool)
  5. Manually check to filter out the bad contacts
  6. Use Mailshake to outreach (tip: send 2 follow-ups with a gap of 1 week each)
  7. Reply fast to increase conversion rate
  8. Tue, Wed and Thursday are the best days to send emails and expect responses and conversions

Note: They also adopted other methods like guest posts, PR, and community engagement to drive traffic and build meaningful links.

While building links, they ensured that the site:

  • Is niche relevant or has high DR (80+)  — they got nice DR 11+ links through targeted outreach.
  • Has proper search traffic.
  • The DR is greater than 20.
  • Niche edits work the best because they don't incur additional costs like content writing in the case of guest posts and manual labor like in the case of targeted outreach. It's the best method to build links at scale.

Conversion Rate Optimization (A/B Tests)

  • RPM from: $19,31 (this was just affiliate and no display ads were applied then)
  • RPM to: $43,76 (this is affiliate + display)


$104 000 with a 7.3x Return on Ad Spend on Facebook
  • Relevant content that ranked and converted well.
  • AB testing on top 30% of the pages (they have added highly converting call to actions, CTAs in the right places with the right copy which are giving amazing returns).
  • We also added a display advertising network.
  • Coordinated with their affiliate manager to increase the payout commission.

As the traffic increases, and they collect more and more data, their RPM and conversion would improve even further. The goal is to increase the RPM to at least $50/1 000 visits. This is considered a very good RPM.

"Usually, the RPM on our sites is from $25 — $40 (affiliate + display combined). So, this is an exception. I am referring to other sites in our portfolio which currently has 16 content-based brands.", says James.

An Overview of the Important Numbers, Stats, ROI, and More

The multiple of 50x is applied because the site’s brand is uniquely positioned to be strategically acquired by 3 major competitors promoting similar products in the home productivity space.

The potential buyers are heavily funded and based on prior discussions, they seem more than interested to acquire the media venture.

James says that he won't go through a traditional route of selling via online business brokering spaces. However, he would directly sell it to one of the major players whose products they are promoting.

It is to be noted that, they don't plan to sell the venture till it hits at least 30 000 USD per month. James believes they can hit that figure without further investment but by just optimizing the site for better conversion rate optimization.

What's Next

In essence, content marketing is the backbone to grow all kinds of online businesses. Whether it's writing an amazing copy to promote ads, or producing content in bulk to drive relevant, highly targeted, and converting traffic.

This goes without saying that the times of making money through content websites by writing a handful of pages and building spammy links are gone. Right now, proper planning and creating content that not only ranks well but helps the user is the way to go.

But, even with those conditions, the kind of ROI that these kinds of online businesses offer is much higher than compared to traditional modes of investment like stocks, index funds, real estate, etc. The passive way of making money, especially around $30 000 a month through a site, definitely requires a lot of resources, but it's not impossible.

How One Blog Post Made Me $20 000 in Passive Income
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