Affiliate marketing is an effective way to monetize your website traffic because it allows you to present your visitors with offers that they are likely to be interested in. And, it has been a long-standing monetization strategy on the web.
Affiliate simply means generating revenue from traffic. Being an affiliate in the internet marketing business can be difficult. However, keeping on motivated is an important part of moving your business forward.
“You don’t find customers for your products. You find products for your customers.”- Seth Godin
That was the new strategy affiliate marketers had to hold and implement to continue to succeed.
In this case study, we’ll show how Affiliate marketing is a viable business model.
Affiliate Success Stories
Here are examples of successful websites monetized with other affiliate programs.
#1 The Wire Cutter
The Wire Cutter is one of the Internet’s favorite review sites for electronics, gadgets and consumer goods.
Today, The WireCutter focuses on doing dedicated testing and research to create in-depth and useful product buying guides to help readers pick the best products in a wide range of categories.
Since its birth in 2011, the Wire Cutter has grown into one of the top 6,000 sites online. The affiliate website was reported to be acquired for over $30,000,000 in cash by The New York Times in October 2016.
- Founder: Brian Lam (@blam), a former Editorial Director at Gizmodo
- Niche: Consumer product reviews
- Goal: To help people find the best product in every user category
- Key Challenge: To design innovative tests and select the best product possible, without being influenced by commercial interests.
- The Wirecutter’s success is clear once you read any one of their reviews. They do fun tests with products that are so good; they have a very high chance of successful in each space.
- For example, their review of best wirless earbud headphones under $50 is on such another level that all content makers should use The Wirecutter as the premier example of what a product review piece should be.
- Never seen a product review, or any blog post for that matter, with over 750 comments.
- It looks like they start by reading reviews on Amazon and other major online marketplaces to narrow down the best products of a category and then they actually buy them to run their own tests to come to their own conclusion.
- As seen in another example of the Best Home Bluetooth Speaker, this allows them to create much better, in-depth content than all of their competitors. And it works.
- It has over 11.4k referring domains and is just about leading Google for every “best product” search terms in the gadgets and electronic space.
- They have expanded by starting a sister site, The Sweethome, that is also doing just as well for home-focused products.
How they make money?
The Wire Cutter explains its monetization model on its “How to Support Us” page, which builds trust with their audience through transparency. They mostly make money from Amazon’s Associate program but also use affiliate programs from various other retailers and Skimlinks.
Some different tactics they use to monetize include:
- “Best of” product pages for each category and each recommendation comes with an associated Amazon link.
- They use quite a lot of in-content affiliate links to the recommended products throughout the article.
- They also include a callout of their best pick at the end of the review
- The Wire Cutter does just one thing: in-depth reviews builds trust with your audience and significantly helps improve conversions.
- It uses a simple page with a list of best items in each category.
- Quality > Quantity: The Wire Cutter’s tests are so innovative and extensive that manufacturers sometimes ask it for advice on how to improve their products. It also writes only 6-12 posts a month.
- In fact testing products gives the ability to create much better content than most other niche sites allowing better opportunities for getting links, traffic, and conversions.
Snapsort offers an online platform that allows its users to find and compare cameras by its features.
The site uses a data-driven method to produce their review and comparison content. Most of their pages are less than 1000 words but they still rank very high for their targeted keywords.
What they do basically is collecting specs and features of digital cameras on the market and then uses that data to generate side-by-side comparison pages like Canon vs. Nikon
This is different to the common approach of creating in-depth and long-form content that most people follow.
- Founder: Alexander Black, Christopher Reid
- Niche: Digital Camera Comparison and Reviews
- Goal: To help people find the best digital camera by comparing with other products.
- Key Challenge: To stand out in a niche and add credibility and trust for the user.
- They publish reviews of various digital cameras and navigating the site is easy to find what you’re looking for.
- Using their “popular recommendations” section sorted by category makes it easy for people to find a camera based on their needs and the ultimate goal of a camera.
- It likes to use the camera’s features as the main review standards. for example the Nikon D750 review
- They compare these features to other cameras in its class in order to give a more accurate rating, which is a great way to rate technology.
- Their camera vs. camera pages also attracts a ton of search traffic by ranking highly for thousands of keywords like “Nikon D750 vs. NikonD800“.
- To attract international traffic, they provide the ability to translate the site into a total of 6 different languages.
- Also, you can change the prices that displayed to 11 different currencies and the affiliate links change to the selected country.
How they make money?
Customers have the choice to buy the products through affiliate links to Amazon, B&H Photo-Video, and/or Adorama. They automatically change the affiliate links based on the selected country as well for more optimization.
Here are some tactics they use:
- Affiliate links to three different online dealers giving the user the choice where to buy
- Automatically switch links based on selected country (11 available)
- They also accept advertising requests in various forms to extra affiliate income
- Translating your site into multiple languages can boost income over time
- Using custom graphics or designs builds branding and credibility
- Finding a good way to rate and compare products can help make the user make a better choice and therefore buy
- You don’t always need to create long-form written content in order to rank high in Google. What’s more important is the ability to help the users with exactly what they want.
#3 Smart Passive Income
Pat Flynn from The Smart Passive Income Blog, where he conducts income experiments and shares the results.
Now, Pat has multiple income streams from advertising, sponsorship and his own products, a large percentage of his income in the start and over the years is through promoting other people’s products.
- Founder: Pat Flynn
- Niche: Blogging, passive income, and online business
- Goal: He reveals all of his online business and blogging strategies, income sources and killer marketing tips and tricks so you can be ahead of the curve with your online business or blog.
- Key Challenge: To show you what’s possible when you truly become a specialist in your market.
- He has been updating his blog pretty often with fresh content every week sharing his progress and lessons learned while building his own online business.
- One of his first major successes was the Niche Site Duel he did with a few other bloggers in 2010. The content of the Niche Site Duel was so good it attracted tons of new traffic for him and helped solidify his place in the blogging world.
- Around the same time, Pat started the Smart Passive Income Podcast. He has discovered the podcast is now the number one driver of new subscribers to his brand.
- Pat’s mantra is to “be everywhere” and has used this idea to grow his audience very speedily.
- He also has a YouTube channel he updates weekly and self-published multiple books.
How they make money?
Pat publishes all the sources of his income in complete monthly income reports.
In March 2017, Pat made $258,737.45 with a profit of $212,117.09. In specific, Pat makes most of his money as an affiliate recommending marketing products with Bluehost being the most profitable.
He also launched 2 new courses in March which contributed more than $150,000 to his total revenue.
Here are some tactics he uses:
- He publishes product reviews and does affiliate promotions to his email list.
- The income reports, which are some of his most popular posts, contain affiliate links
- He also creates in-depth video tutorials teaching specific online marketing strategies while representing the tools that he uses on-screen.
- He has a dedicated resource page in the main navigation for his top affiliate products
- Now he is aiming more on making new software products for his audience as an additional income stream
- Being the #1 expert in a niche can be really profitable when you earn your audience’s trust
- Putting out content in multiple channels increases your chance of success
- Leverage relationships with other bloggers and authority sites to build your audience
- Diversify your monetization strategy for constant income and growth
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself front and center, be relevant, and give a good reason why your audience should follow you
There are successful affiliates out there, but these examples are crushing it. If you want to be the next eight-figure affiliate superstar, look at their business models.
Here are a couple of takeaways to get you started:
- Huge affiliate marketing success stories take time. These sites weren’t built overnight or ripped from a spy tool.
- You go to work with proven brands or become one.
- You can’t just write great content. You have to be a great marketer to make it work.
Learn from real practitioners not just trainers.