Affiliate Site Case Study – Month 1 Update
This is the very first post here on Niche Affiliate Empires and what’s more fitting for the first post than the month 1 update for our public case study site, Survival Front.
In this post, I’m going to take you through everything we’ve done in month one, step-by-step.
Niche Affiliate Empires
Before we get started on the case study site update, I want to give you a brief intro to Niche Affiliate Empires.
What it’s all about, what you can expect going forward, and some info on our awesome Facebook community of 5,000+ affiliate marketers.
Let’s get started.
How it All Began
I created Niche Affiliate Empires back in June, 2018.
Back then, I was still working as a freelancer, helping clients gain more exposure in search.
I primarily focused on Power Pages and link building, but I was struggling to keep up with the workload.
Often overcommitted, I was constantly behind on client work and it was really starting to get to me.
I’d known about affiliate marketing, particularly niche sites, for some time, but I’d never personally made the move into this sector.
Way back in 2007, when I first started in marketing, I had dabbled in some affiliate sites, but without any real success.
So, I made the decision (after some thorough research), to embark on an ambitious project with an ambitious goal.
To get to $100k monthly recurring revenue in just 1 year, building and growing authority affiliate sites.
That’s when Niche Affiliate Empires was born.
I wanted to take people along for the ride and share my entire journey, so I created a Facebook group and began the process.
Now, that goal was far too ambitious for someone who’d never even grown a small affiliate site before, let alone built one to that level, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you should think big.
The funny thing?
After starting Niche Affiliate Empires, the client side of my business began to grow exponentially. An opportunity I could not afford to pass up.
But, there was no way I could go on the way I was going, so something had to change.
Being a bit of a perfectionist and control freak, I’d never really given away responsibility for things to others and never grown a team, but something had to give, as I couldn’t continue doing client work as I was. It wasn’t sustainable and it certainly wasn’t fair on the clients.
That’s when I made the decision to begin building an agency, Daine Media.
It was time I started training and hiring people.
Hiring, training, and delegating responsibility to people was the BEST decision I could have ever made.
Suffice to say, while I still kept my hand in, the practical side of Niche Affiliate Empires took a back burner while I grew my agency.
Fast-forward to September 2019, and there were now 10 of us at Daine Media, working on both client work and our own internal affiliate site projects.
It was time to invest in this project, otherwise, it would never happen.
So, we started hiring for another full-time, in-house content marketer whose sole focus would be to work on internal sites, and, luckily for us, we found Ellie Griffiths.
Niche Affiliate Empires REALLY Kicks Off
Once Ellie was onboard, and we’d spent a few days training Ellie in our processes, she began work on our public-facing case study site, Survival Front.
So, even though Niche Affiliate Empires was born back in 2018, it has really only just begun.
It’s still our goal to hit $100k monthly and we’re now committed to resourcing the project properly, all whilst sharing the entire process with you.
So, are you ready for the month one update?
Excellent! Let’s dive in.
Whilst I have been in marketing and SEO since 2007 (over 12 years at the time of writing), I had never built and grown an affiliate site before.
So, I needed to upskill and get some quality education ASAP.
The first thing I did was read everything I could on the topic.
Early on, I spotted a thread in the SEO Signals Lab Facebook group.
It was an AMA with one of the members who was absolutely KILLING it with authority sites.
I read the entire thread and noticed that, on multiple occasions, he had recommended a course from the guys over at Authority Hacker called The Authority Site System (TASS).
I bought a copy straight away.
Without a doubt, TASS has been instrumental in helping me get a head start in building and growing authority affiliate sites.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a LOT of great information on the topic out there on the web, but there is also a lot of nonsense.
Furthermore, you’ll have to sift through all the crap in order to find the stuff that actually works, and even then, it won’t be in a digestible, step-by-step format.
TASS, on the other hand, is just that.
A step-by-step system for all those people just starting out.
And the best bit?
The information in the course is tried and tested by people who have actually succeeded at it.
For those that have actually taken and implemented the material in TASS, I’d stake my reputation on them having succeeded with affiliate sites in some way.
Research, Domain, & Investment
Now that we’ve got the introductions and history out of the way, let’s dive into the Survival Front month one update.
In this section, we’ll discuss the initial research, purchasing of the domain, and the investment so far.
Ready? Let’s go!
Choosing a Niche
Before you even begin to set up a site and start publishing content, it’s extremely important that you start and fully complete the most laborious, time-consuming, and possibly boring aspect of niche site development.
It’s the step that many people struggle with and one that most skip.
DON’T DO IT!
If you skip this step or do it half-heartedly, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
To give yourself the best chance of success and to begin bringing in commissions as soon as possible, you have to base your niche decision on several factors, including:
- Your ability to compete in the SERPs with a brand new site.
- The size of the market and your ability to earn enough.
- Your ability to grow and how big.
- The range of products available and their price ranges, and whether the niche has both physical and info products available.
- The commission percentage you can earn, particularly if you’re going down the Amazon route.
- Good link building opportunities available.
Now, a niche research tutorial is a little out of the scope of this post (coming soon), but suffice to say, whilst there’s a lot to consider at this stage, the survival niche hit the mark.
I started niche research back in 2018, but never got it finished. It was only after I started building the Daine Media team that we got back to it, and Jack, our Head of External Marketing, finished it all up, including all of the keyword research.
Good work, Jack.
Choosing a Domain Name
The Survival Front domain was initially purchased on November 21st, 2018, before I’d fully completed all of the keyword research (I know, bad move), but the preliminary niche research was done to the extent that I felt it was viable.
Luckily, it turned out it was. 🙂
At Daine Media, we use an awesome little tool by the guys who created WordPress (Automatic) to help us find partial-match, brandable domain names.
It’s called Lean Domain Search.
This is a quality little tool because you can enter a niche keyword, and Lean Domain Search will list a ton of available domain names with that keyword in and let you also know if the Twitter username is available.
It’s dead easy to use.
- Head on over to https://leandomainsearch.com/.
- Enter a keyword, for example, ‘survival’ and then hit the search button.
Once Lean Domain Search brings back your results, you can use the filters on the right to show all domains, only those that begin with your search term, or only those that end with your search term.
We always like to make sure that the domain name begins with our primary niche term, hence survivalfront.com.
I actually bought a number of survival domains, but selected Survival Front based on poll results in the Niche Affiliate Empires Insiders Facebook group (coming back soon).
When I first purchased Survival Front, I thought it was a brand new domain, but it turns out it was a survival-based expired domain. That said, it had very few links, with little power (they’ve since dropped off), so it shouldn’t really affect this case study much.
Investment to Date
So far we’ve invested a total of $3,096.
Let’s break it down.
- 2 Years’ Domain Registration: $22
- 5 Month’s Digital Ocean Hosting: $100
- G Suite Email: $30
- Content Production: $2,814
- Other Expenses: $130
Whether you write all of the content yourself or pay someone to do it for you, content is going to be (perhaps except for links, if you plan to buy them) the most significant part of your investment when building out authority affiliate sites.
It’s one of the major reasons we recently added two custom affiliate build packages to our services at Daine Media so that we could help alleviate that content bottleneck and help people build and grow their own online digital asset.
How We Built Survival Front
It took a LOT of work to develop the backend administration and templates for Survival Front.
We didn’t want to have to rebuild the page each and every time we created a product review, even if it was fairly easy to do in Elementor.
So, we used a combination of Elementor Pro and multiple premium plugins.
Let’s dig in.
When I first started out, I wanted to build a custom-coded system that was built for performance and would allow me to rapidly deploy gorgeous looking affiliate sites that were as fast as hell.
To cut a long story short, it was taking too long. The development of this system, combined with the growth and demand of Daine Media meant I had to find another solution.
After tons of research, we settled on Elementor Pro.
Elementor is a quality page builder and, design-wise, allowed us to quickly design our templates.
We use the brilliant WP-Astra Pro theme as our base theme.
But, we needed a bit more dynamic functionality, so that we could have templates that would render the data input on the backend via custom fields.
In order to do this, we settled on a few great premium plugins:
AnyWhere Elementor is a fantastic plugin.
It allows you to create Elementor templates, which you can use throughout multiple places on your site, and when you make a change to that template, the changes cascade across all pages that include that template.
It also works extremely well with repeater fields.
All of this means you’re able to add these repeater-based AnyWhere Elementor templates to your primary theme templates in Elementor and allow those primary templates to render things like product reviews, guides, and other advanced things like product comparison tables, etc.
And, when you make a change to those AnyWhere Elementor templates, you won’t have to go into every single post and make amends (unlike when using normal Elementor template sections, as the changes in the AnyWhere Elementor templates cascade).
This is extremely powerful.
But, we’re not quite there yet.
In order to build a truly rapid and powerful templating system using Elementor, we’ll also need another premium plugin.
Advanced Custom Fields Pro
Advanced Custom Fields Pro is an absolute must.
With it, you’re able to build extremely advanced templates and themes.
We use Advanced Custom Fields in combination with custom post types (Custom Post Type UI) to allow us to add extra data to our posts.
For example, we use a ‘Products’ custom post type, combined with Advanced Custom Fields Pro to allow us to create individual products for use in product roundup reviews and custom field groups to enter the required product metadata, such as affiliate URLs, image galleries, button text for CTAs, with fallback text, brands, models, pros, cons, etc.
This is super-powerful.
We then use AnyWhere Elementor templates with Block layouts, which are then used in repeater fields so that we can dynamically output the products for any given roundup post.
The only thing that’s really missing from this setup is nested repeater fields.
Using these strategies, we’ve even been able to create dynamic post/chapter navigation that automatically outputs, just like the one in this post.
We wanted to build in tried and tested CRO best-practice right from the outset.
That’s why we’ve included a:
- Product Comparison Table
- Winner Footer Slide Up
With every single product roundup review on Survival Front.
If you want to learn more about CRO for affiliate sites, make sure to check out the Convertica blog, from my good pal Kurt Philip.
Content, Links, & Results
So, now down to the nitty-gritty of the month one results.
We’ll start with content production, as that’s where the brunt of the work has been undertaken.
Let’s dive straight in.
So far, we’ve researched, written, edited, and published 29 posts.
- 5 Informational
- 24 Product Roundups
At an average word count of around 2,000 words, this works out at 58,000 words, roughly.
Here’s what we’ve published so far:
- Best Survival Books – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-books/
- Best Compass for Survival – https://survivalfront.com/best-compass-for-survival/
- Best Survival Backpack – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-backpack/
- Best Survival Machete – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-machete/
- Best Survival Watch – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-watch/
- Best Wilderness Survival Books – https://survivalfront.com/best-wilderness-survival-books/
- Best Handheld Ham Radios for Survival – https://survivalfront.com/best-handheld-ham-radio-for-survival/
- Best Survival Food Kits – https://survivalfront.com/best-handheld-ham-radio-for-survival/
- Best Survival Tent – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-tent/
- Best First Aid Kit for Survival – https://survivalfront.com/best-first-aid-kit-for-survival/
- Best Survival Bow – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-bow/
- How to Build a Survival Shelter – https://survivalfront.com/how-to-build-a-survival-shelter/
- Best Survival Flashlight – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-flashlight/
- What is in an Emergency Survival Kit – https://survivalfront.com/what-is-in-emergency-survival-kit/
- Best Survival Knives – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-knives/
- Best Survival Shovel – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-shovel/
- Best Survival Whistle – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-whistle/
- Best Survival Axe – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-axe/
- Best Survival Multi-Tool – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-multi-tool/
- Best Sleeping Bag – https://survivalfront.com/best-sleeping-bag/
- Best Tactical Boots – https://survivalfront.com/best-tactical-boots/
- How to Find Water in the Wilderness – https://survivalfront.com/how-to-find-water-in-the-wilderness/
- How to Start a Fire – https://survivalfront.com/how-to-start-a-fire/
- Best Survival Bracelet – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-bracelet/
- Best Survival Fire Starter – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-fire-starter/
- Best Survival Lighter – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-lighter/
- Best Survival Blanket – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-blanket/
- Best Survival Water Filter – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-water-filter/
As I’m sure you’ll agree, a ton of content.
We’ve started 4 outreach campaigns so far, each to one of the 4 informational posts we have published.
At present, we’ve managed to secure 1 relevant link on a DR 22 outdoor and hunting website.
In terms of traffic, so far we’ve driven 1,775 unique users, mostly from social, and mostly from the Niche Affiliate Empires group.
In terms of organic traffic, we’ve so far received 85 uniques. Which is fairly decent for month one.
The even better news is, we’ve made a sale. 😀
Granted, we won’t be retiring anytime soon, but to make a sale in your first month, is fairly good.
A total commission of $0.85.
What We Hope to Achieve
Predicting what you might earn and how much traffic you might drive to a brand new niche site can be difficult.
Nevertheless, it’s always good to have something to aim for.
So, here’s our short-term and long-term goals for Survival Front.
When setting goals, or calculating possible revenue, we now always like to be conservative and realistic.
Ultimately, we want to grow Survival Front to authority site levels, meaning we have some big goals for year one.
Short-Term Goals (6-Month)
Long-Term Goals (12-Month)
As you can see, this is a very conservative earnings estimate for the traffic we hope to drive. Hopefully, at this point, we’re earning much more.
By month 6, we ideally want to have grown our survival Facebook group, have been running ads to both money terms and info content, and have built up a profile of high-quality, relevant referring domains via content promotion.
Now, the long-term goals seem unrealistic at first glance, but once we hit a critical point in the promotion and earnings for Survival Front, we plan to fully reinvest the earnings back into the site, which means we can begin to grow the site much faster.
- More Content
- More Links
- More Ads
- More Promotion
- More Resource
Some of the content we have planned goes way and above the usual affiliate site content, as we’re building for the long-term here and want to produce quality.
On top of this, we plan to run several viral competitions and connect with third-party product vendors and private affiliate programs.
We’re not JUST sticking with Amazon Associates here.
Also, as traffic grows, we plan to conduct CRO tests across our most trafficked pages, to help increase CTR to Amazon and other affiliate programs.
All in all, we feel that the amount of work we’re putting in over this period will reap dividends by month 12.
Let’s see. 🙂
Overall, a decent month’s hard graft.
We expect this site to go from strength to strength, and around month 4 to 6 hit a critical tipping point where it starts to grow quite rapidly.
Over the next 6 months, we’re looking to produce an additional 144,000 words of content, which should give us a massive boost in traffic.
Now, it’s over to you.
What questions or feedback do you have for us?