I was at a Mastermind conference in Vegas not too long ago.
It was a great conference. I learned a lot and had a great time.
But while I was there, one of the sponsors of the event got up and started talking about what their team does.
Essentially, they purchase high quality, profitable websites on behalf of their clients… and their team grows them and manages them for a 50% split on profits.
Here's the kicker... Their average site is priced at about $250,000 cash!?!
This got me thinking. With our income continuing to grow, I wondered if buying one as an investment could help offset my taxes for the year, and use it as a write-off for my business while generating additional cash flow.
I'd love an additional $250,000 deduction this year and a cash flow positive asset!
But my accountant actually told me that since it was an already-running business, I would essentially only get to write off about 10% per year as the purchase of an entire business is required to be depreciated over 10 years.
Running some quick math, I figured that I'd probably earn more from the residual income than I would save from the tax write-off and ultimately increase my tax bill even more.
Not a bad deal, but I really want the deduction AND the cash-flow.
It was at this point, however, that my accountant asked me a question.
“Why don’t you just build a site from scratch? What if you invested that money into tools, teammates, resources, etc… and make it 100% deductible?”
And then, the wheels in my head started spinning.
Why didn’t I?
I know how to build a website. I know how to build an affiliate business from the ground up. I also know how to generate content and make it profitable.
But even better… What if I documented the entire thing as well?
This would help YOU (and my entire audience) in such a HUGE way that I had to sit down and ponder the implications for a moment.
I could really crack the lid open on the entire process, and show you how to build a successful affiliate marketing site, from start to finish!
That is, after all, the focus of my business.
I want to teach people how to make money affiliate marketing, and sell products online to make people’s lives better, and earn commissions for those products. That’s it. That’s what I do, and that is what I want to help you do as well.
That’s where this all began.
Getting Started: The Case Study
This is, officially, the month-one post for my new affiliate marketing website example case study.
First, let’s just talk a little bit about what exactly that means.
For those of you who want to get into affiliate marketing, this project is going to be super helpful.
I'll be honest.... You will not get to know the URL, see the site or learn the niche. All of these things are, at least for now, going to be kept under wraps because I already have too many hacks swiping/copying/plagiarizing my content.
Instead, you are going to learn about the process. You are going to get an inside-look at the creation, launch, and process of running a niche affiliate marketing website…
And you are going to get to follow the progress from zero for an entire year.
What is the goal? Well, the goal is pretty simple.
The hypothesis is this: My team and I can build an affiliate marketing website from zero to $3,000 a month revenue in one year.
There is no guarantee that this will happen. But that is the goal.
That is what this project is shooting for and you get to follow along.
So this is essentially going to be a ‘case study’ on a year-one affiliate marketing website, building it from the ground up, and seeing how much money it can actually generate when enough time, attention, and money is invested into it.
And, you are literally going to be shown, step by step, how the process evolves from day 1 to day 365.
In one in-depth guide, published every 30 days or so, you are going to learn every single step that is taken to grow this project site from zero, to $3,000-a-month-hero (hopefully), proving that anyone who is willing to put in the work and effort can do this, even in a niche that you are not an expert in!
Because I've chosen a niche that I am no-where near an expert in, this time... Just chose a random option, jumped in, and started a blog. (more about 'how' I started this exact site, below)
So let’s get to work.
First Off: What Are We Going To Document, Exactly?
If you follow this project post-by-post, you are going to learn literally every step that I put into it.
You are going to learn how many posts are being published. You are going to learn how much money is being spent on it.
You will get to learn how much money the website is earning. You are also going to learn exactly what the budget is being spent on, so that you can see where all of the cash is actually going.
This will allow you to see exactly how profitable affiliate marketing can be with a real-world case study.
The most important thing for you to understand about this is that you don’t have to be an expert to start an affiliate site. Again, I am not an expert in the particular niche that was chosen..
I have a bit of experience and knowledge about this specific topic, for sure.
But then again, most of the YouTubers I study in this subject, or the people I read on forums know A LOT MORE about this subject than I do.
So just keep in mind that, even if you are not an expert at a given topic, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start an affiliate marketing business for it.
Do not let the fear of the unknown hold you back!
So now, let’s talk about what is going into this project.
The Budget And Investment
This project, as a whole, is going to have a $50,000 budget in total. That is the most I'm willing to spend on this build in the first year.
Compared to buying a $250,000 site from them, it's a bargain...
But, you might say “But Miles, I don’t have $50,000 just laying around to start an affiliate site.”
Well, that is ok, because you can replace the monetary investment with time and energy!
There are a lot of ways to cut this budget down to almost zero and I'll be pointing out how to do just this along the way.
But that is what the budget for this particular project is.
Why Not Do All The Work Myself And Skip The Large Budget?
To start with, it is important to realize that I am a very, very busy person. With all of my current business ventures that I am involved with, I simply do not have the physical time to put into growing this site.
But I do have the experience and the knowledge to make it work!
So most of this budget will be spent buying other people's time to do the work for me.
Specifically, the money will go to writers and an SEO/Project manager who will be tasked with making this site work. I assume over 95% of the budget will be spent here.
The actual 'physical costs' for tools, training, software and tech needed to build this kind of site should be under $1000 per year.
If you do this work yourself, spending as much time as you can on it every single day, then you may be able to get this going for under $100 in the first year. It will literally only cost you what it takes buy website hosting and a domain. That is it.
My First Shortcut: Buying A Turnkey Affiliate Site
The website for this project is going to be a turnkey launch-pad affiliate site that was pre-built by a pretty cool company that I located specifically for this project.
No, I did not buy one of those $250,000 sites! Those are aged, fully built and profitable website.
This site was a brand new site that was much less in-depth. It is a bare-bones launch pad site that was designed to save me time by outsourcing the first few steps...
Niche selection, WordPress install, theme installation, logo, first posts, etc...
WordPress is pretty simple, but building a new site does take some time!
There are a few companies out there who build turnkey launchpad affiliate sites. In total, we looked at three.
- Brand Builders
- Human Proof Designs
- Consult Sites
There was a clear winner when researching these different affiliate website companies, and that was Human Proof Designs.
Get 5% off a Human Proof Designs turnkey website with code MILESREF5OFF!
They build their websites on Thrive Themes, my favorite wordpress theme, their sites look 10,000x better than the others offered, and their sites are very narrowly focused.
If you have been following me for any length of time, you will know how much I believe in niching down, targeting the smallest marketable audience size possible.
It is your best chance for success, as fast as possible.
Website launched with Thrive Themes targeting a narrow niche?!
When I realized they had already chosen a niche that has $3k/mo potential... And they'd do the first build out, their sub- $1500 pricetag was a no-brainer.
I was scrolling through their list of available websites and hit buy now when I saw one that struck my fancy while I was in the back of an Uber in L.A. traffic heading to a speaking gig I had in Santa Monica.
Again… this is money that you do not have to spend if you just do it yourself.
Getting Into Budget Specifics
Alright, let’s talk for a moment about budget specifics.
Obviously, the more work you do on your own, the less it will cost you.
For this case study, though, everything is getting hired out.
Forecast: In looking at this site and what it will take to grow it into a successful affiliate website, it seems like a fairly accurate estimate to say that it will cost somewhere in and around $2,000 a month in content and team expenses.
Of that, about $1200 will go towards publishing 8 posts a month, and the other $800 will go to the SEO/Project manager.
This manager will make sure that everything is getting done, and will take care of things like…
- Keyword Research (We use KWFinder)
- SEO optimization (We use the SEO Publish Pro tool in my CandC membership)
- Planning the content
- Services such as content writers, web developers, etc
So, let’s look at the profit margins on this investment, vs. those you may find investing in real estate or some kind of stock.
This is where the world of monetizing from a website gets very advantageous.
The goal with this site is to invest $50,000 worth of money (or time) into a site that, within 12 months, will be generating about $3,000 worth of revenue every month.
This would be an ongoing return on investment that would likely continue to grow as you continue to put money and time into it. But even with that, let’s look at the basic numbers.
First, off I did a comparison of affiliate marketing vs. real estate investing.
If you buy a rental property for a down payment of $50,000, and then rent it out, could I make $3,000 a month?
Not even close...
In the market I have experience with real estate investing, a $225,000 house ($45k down) would bring in about $1500/mo rent and after mortgage payments and expenses I'd have about $300 - $400 per month positive cashflow.
Of course, after 30 years you would own the house and make more profit on the rent. But with an affiliate site, over time, the profits will tend to snowball, and costs will go down as you re-invest extra capital generated by the site to continue building onto it.
I can hire more teammates, build more funnels, add more products, or re-invest in a 2nd site, etc.
An Affiliate Site Is A ‘Cash Flow’ Asset
Another thing that is important to understand here is that an affiliate market site is actually a ‘cash flow asset.’
In other words, this is something you can literally build to generate positive long-term cashflow in your future.
Now, you may ask “What if business dries up in this niche?”
Let’s talk about that for a moment.
So, let’s say that you do manage to build a site that is earning $3,000 a month by the time it reaches month 12.
Now, you reinvest either all or a portion of that money back into your business, and start building another site in a different niche. Then grow two more! Then three more!
Before you know it, you have this diverse network of positive cashflow websites that are all earning you money. And since you own all of these websites and all of the email lists you are building, you will be building an asset that nobody will be able to take away from you.
So in the grand scheme of things, this actually works out to be a very smart idea. You just have to build into it.
And of course, you can also sell these types of sites as well. These sites are highly sellable, for 20 to 30 times their profit margin!
Where do you think they find their $250,000 websites? People like ME who build the assets and want to liquidate them for a big payday.
So, if you ever wanted to liquidate them, they are highly sought after assets and there is a liquid second hand market with buyers ready to invest!
What Is The Game-Plan?
Alright. Let’s talk for a minute about the game-plan behind this affiliate market case-study.
You will find that we are essentially going to be using the Authority Hacker system.
Within this system, two types of posts are going to be published and ranked.
We are going to go for…
- Informative posts
- Review-type content
Ultimately, the plan is to generate Amazon affiliate commissions to monetize the site and earn commissions on all products purchased through the review content we publish.
The site and niche that were chosen work well with me because I have a moderate affinity for the topic.
I know about the topic... I've bought a few of these...
My niche selection may actually make you laugh, but so many people get STUCK on this step, my entire goal was to make a decision as FAST as I could to move on.
My theory guiding this case study is irrelevant of what niche is chosen...
I think I could have started a site in any of 100 or more niches and got it up to $3,000 per month... And I think you can, too.
Choosing A Niche
For me, choosing this niche was almost random.
I went to the website builder who I decided was the best option, looked through the list of sites that were available, found one that I had some familiarity with, and bought it.
I thought... "Sure... I know what those are... I think those are going to continue trending... That'll do"
Literally pulled out my credit card in the back of an Uber and bought it while in traffic on the 405.
They handled the niche research, the site build, the theme, they make a logo, branding, and the first few posts...
Total cost - $1298.00
There was no number crunching done, at all. I didn't even search on Google Trends. It was just a niche that I wasn’t completely ignorant about. That was it.
When you choose your niche, keep in mind that choosing a niche and moving forward is always going to be better than taking so much time to do in-depth research, that you never actually pull the trigger to execute on your plan.
It would literally be better to just roll the dice on a niche than to put your project on hold as you try to find ‘the perfect niche.’
The Fire, Ready, Aim approach, as I like to call it.
But with that being said, success in the affiliate marketing business basically all comes down to focus and consistency.
Yes, you need to know what you are doing. But even with all the knowledge in the world, you will not earn a dime without being focused and consistent.
Should You Choose A Niche That You Are Passionate About?
A lot of affiliate marketing gurus say similar things about this.
They tell you…
- Find your purpose
- Find your favorite niche
- Find your passion
- Choose something fun
- Choose something that also makes plenty of money
- Do your research to find out if there is too much competition
As a general rule, it is espoused that you should choose a niche that you are passionate about. And in general, this is very good advice.
Why? Because if you are passionate about something, you are much more likely to be focused and consistent in it.
When you encounter challenges that are 100% inevitable, your likelihood of persevering is much greater if you are passionate or at least interested in the topic.
And that is really the whole thing.
Sure, doing some research never hurt anything. But so many times, you will get someone who wants to start affiliate marketing, and that person will start by doing some research.
They will get an idea, find out that 20 sites are doing something similar, and get discouraged.
Then, they never start!
This is a double-edged sword… which is why, for the purposes of this case study, an almost random niche was chosen.
So choose a niche. If you can, choose a niche you are passionate about. At least choose a niche that you don’t hate.
But no matter what niche you choose, you are going to have to stay focused and consistent with it to win. Just keep that in mind!
The site was chosen. The niche was chosen. The URL was chosen.
Next, hosting had to be figured out.
My favorite web hosting service was chosen… A2 Hosting. The Turbo Level with CPU upgrade and free SSL package was selected for this project.
Total cost out of pocket - $141.06 for the year.
Why choose the Turbo Level with a CPU upgrade?
Well, the idea is that this site should be fast. I want it to load as fast as possible, from day one.
You can start with a basic option (even cheaper) and upgrade to turbo once you've got your first sales, if you'd like...
But site-speed is actually a ranking factor, so I figured the extra $7/mo was worth it.
Choosing A Theme
Next, themes. The company that the website was purchased from used Thrive Themes during construction, so that works out really well. But even if it wasn’t… Thrive is where it is at.
I use Thrive Themes on all of my websites!
If you are new to thrive, they give you a free license on your site, so the cost for the theme is $0
The homepage was custom built on thrive architect, and all of the WordPress posts are going to go live on standard Thrive themes, so that they will look and perform as awesome as possible.
Now, thrive themes is a paid theme and if you are on a TOTAL budget, you should use one of WordPress' default themes!
They are free, fast loading, 100% customizable and they are constantly updated by the core WordPress team.
The Planning Stage
Once the website was purchased and the niche was chosen, it was time to start planning.
It is important that you plan your SEO site from the ground-up to maximize your results. This means that you need to do research, and find out which major keywords your website, as a whole, is going to focus on.
Then, you choose 'SEO Silos’ for these keywords, which essentially become your categories for posts.
Then, www.mindmeister.com was used to begin the process of mapping out content.
After doing this, 12 topics were chosen, and production on the first 12 blog posts was started.
Total cost for the first 12 posts is - $1706.88
At this point, Google Analytics still hasn’t been connected, and the site still hasn’t been connected to Google Search Console.
But those steps are on the agenda for next month.
Steps for Your Month One - Buy A Pre-Built Site, or Build Your Own?
This is probably the number 1 question at this point...
Should you build a website, or should you buy one?
For this project, a turnkey website was purchased. But that costs money, and if you build your own, you will find that you can get it done much, much cheaper.
Plus you'll build valuable skills that can serve you greatly in the future.
So, this really depends on a few different factors.
- Your skill level with WordPress
If you can invest $1,500 and want to start writing and publishing blogs fast, then pick out an offered niche, a domain name, and a website ready for content from Human Designs.
If you feel like you need a detailed roadmap with step-by-step tutorial videos that will show you how to choose your niche, how to build the site, how to research keywords and how to write the types of content that will rank well...
If you’ve been thinking about starting an affiliate site, I challenge you to make the decision to START TODAY!
Instead of just sitting on the sidelines and watching me create success. START!
Click that link above for the full webinar if you feel like you want to start right away but you need more help.
This Case Study Will Serve Multiple Different Uses
As you know, I believe highly in value. So everything I do, I want to bring value with it.
This case study will help to do that in several different ways. For one, I will be building another cash asset to add to my business.
But for two, it is also going to be a fully documented case study on affiliate marketing, built from the ground-up, where you can follow along, learn what is being done, and replicate it yourself.
There are no secrets here. No gimmicks. There is no reason to hide any of this. The entire point of all of this is to help everyone live better and create their own life on their own terms.
Affiliate marketing can do this for you. You just have to figure out how to do it. And this case study will show you everything!
You don’t even have to…
- Spend a bunch of money
- Be an expert on SEO
- Be an expert in your chosen niche
- Do a bunch of research or crunch a bunch of mind-bending numbers to get started
But, you DO have to…
- Follow the right plan
- Stay focused and consistent
- Keep learning
- Work hard
- And refuse to give up
So stick with this case study, follow the steps, and find out how YOU can get started with affiliate marketing to grow your own business, take control of your life, and earn enough to quit your day job and become your own boss!
In conclusion, here are the steps that were taken on this case study project in the first month.
- The website was purchased which included a URL, and chose my niche
- Hosting was purchased
- Keyword research and content mind-mapping were conducted
- Silos were defined
- 12 blog posts were ordered and writing has begun
Total cost from my project manager on the month was $750.
My total expenses at this point are $3895.94 and I've got a live site up, a content marketing plan in place and 12 blog posts on order...
Like that... I'm in the game.
And now it is time for you to join in the game, too... If you haven't already!
Additional Affiliate Marketing Case Study Monthly Updates
That about wraps it up for month number one. Every month we will be documenting the work that was done on my case study site, what was fun, what went well, and what did not, and don’t forget to hit me up in the comments if you have any questions whatsoever about this process.
- Month 2 - How much Research Goes Into Growing an Affiliate Marketing Website?
- Month 3 - Affiliate Marketing Website Month 3 Takeaway - Aim Aim Aim
I am happy to talk to anyone about any questions they may have about starting their own affiliate site, what tools to use, how to make it work right, etc.
Thanks for reading! See you on the next one!