Starting a website is easy. Getting a website to profitability is hard. Who knows how many affiliate websites are started every day? Probably thousands. Internet marketers and business owners attempt to create the next Wirecutter or something more modest. Investment groups have recently moved into the affiliate website model and begun hiring teams of website builders, managers, and content writers with a view to starting multiple sites. The premise is that at least one site will hit the big time and the others will fail. In reality, the more experienced the team at creating websites, the better chance most or all of the sites will generate some kind of positive return for the owners.
2021 will be the year of affiliate marketing. As businesses move online faster than ever before, there's even more opportunity for affiliate marketers to take advantage of new programs, offers, and a wider selection. Every month, people search for “affiliate marketing” in Google up to 400,000 times. And this Google Trends graph shows that the industry is growing fast.
But the reality is that, for most websites, it's a long road to traffic and profitability. The truth is that most affiliate marketing websites fail. They fail for a number of reasons
- Bad timing – If you're too early to the market, it's hard to generate organic traffic because people are not actively searching for your products or topics that you write about. If you're too late to the market, you might be unable to compete with the big players.
- Poor execution – This is the number one beginner problem. While some people are either very lucky or very talented, most beginners fail with the execution. There are so many things to learn and experience is the number one teacher. The first website you grow is the training ground.
- Google's finicky nature – Nobody understands the algorithm and it's often difficult to decipher exactly why one website is favoured over another. There are millions of factors involved in determining the quality of a website. Rather than try to reverse engineer Google (an impossible task), investors and website builders with capital, create multiple websites and hope that at least one hits the jackpot.
What are your options if you don't have a massive budget for creating a portfolio of websites?
I don't want to sound negative with the list of possible things that can go wrong. I am a realist and definitely not trying to sell you a course called “30 days to affiliate marketing success” or anything like that. By the way, don't buy those courses. Affiliate marketing websites can be life changing and if you have time, and funds, I would recommend this business model to anyone with enthusiasm and the ability to graft.
- Build a site and hope for the best
- Buy a ready-made business from a marketplace or seller with an affiliate website for sale.
The first could be cheaper than the second option. Of course, you will still need to create the site and content. But if it works, you've saved yourself the cost of buying a site. However, it's going to take some time to get going.
Buying a site from a reputable marketplace, broker, or another seller you trust is the fastest way to start seeing results. Depending on what you buy, you could be seeing income immediately or within a short period of time. One thing's for certain, you don't have the hassle of buying a domain name, creating a brand, biding a website, creating content, publishing that content, and waiting for the website to age.
Flippa was one of the first places on the internet to go when looking to buy or sell websites. With the biggest inventory and longest track record, there's a good chance you will find what you're looking for on this well-known marketplace.
Flippa has received a lot of criticism over the years thanks to an influx of spammy sellers and fake buyers. It used to be that anyone with a fake website could list their property in the Flippa marketplace. There are a lot more checks and balances for potential website sellers these days but some bad eggs slip through. If you're new to buying websites, have a trusted advisor or mentor look over the business you're looking to buy. Flippa offers a due diligence service so that might be worth looking into as a 2nd opinion when you're doing research on businesses.
Overall, Flippa can be a great place to find gems if you know how to properly evaluate websites. But make sure to do due diligence on an online business.
Flippa has the biggest choice of businesses for sale and you can find every type of niche and monetization strategy. There are Amazon FBA, e-commerce, and display ads-focused websites for sale. To narrow down the search to affiliate websites, choose Content from the menu and then choose your niche.
Flipping Websites Facebook Group
Another great resource is the Flipping Websites group on Facebook. While it can be difficult to find what you're looking for in a group, by checking the group regularly or setting up alerts, you'll get updates whenever a new site goes up for sale.
In general, the affiliate site quality is high and sellers post stats and screenshots to “prove” revenue numbers and commission figures. The price can be negotiated, of course. The group has almost 12,000 members and is a good place to get advice and learn from buyers and sellers.
Brand Builders offers a done-for-you service where you can buy websites built for converting affiliate offers. The company also offers done-for-you e-commerce websites. The team will even set you up with fast cloud-based hosting if you like.
The company promises to get you a “Fully Functional Affiliate Website in Under 24 Hours”. Included in the sale, you get a domain name, VPS hosting, keyword research, a logo, SEO optimized content, training videos, and 24/7 support. Prices start at just under $1500 and most are monetized with the Amazon affiliate program.
BrandBuilders also offers additional services like content creation and outreach link building to help you grow your new site faster.
Human Proof Designs
HPD was started by Dom Wells, who found that after selling profitable niche affiliate websites, there was a demand for his expertise. People wanted to emulate his success but didn't have the skills or patience to build and grow an affiliate website. Dom saw a gap in the market for a service that offers affiliate websites for sale.
The company starts and grows websites to a point at which they are ready for a buyer to easily take over and continue the growth with processes in place.
You've got a few options with HPD. Choose from brand new properties, aged sites, revenue-generating properties, or authority websites.
The benefits of buying an aged website from HPD are that the sites are already “aged”, meaning they are out of the so-called Google sandbox. Whether you believe in the sandbox or not (Google certainly has nothing to do with the concept or name), everyone can agree that traction in Google search is slow for new websites. Another advantage is that the team has lots of experience creating affiliate businesses from scratch and they focus on what works. They only add to the site that which will move the needle most. Everything else is disregarded. You get a site that is fast, SEO-friendly, and easy to manage. You also get training and support to help you manage your new business.
Human Proof Designs currently offers 8 types of website:
- Ready Made Niche Sites – choose from the catalogue of done-for-you websites. Usually monetized with the Amazon affiliate program (Amazon Associates)
- Custom Made Niche Sites – niches selected for you. A bit more hands-on but essentially the same as the first option
- Aged Sites – start making money faster with a site that has had time to grow
- Revenue Generating Starter Sites – websites that already generate income
- Supreme Sites – basically the previous option with more income-generating stuff on it
- Authority Sites – a bigger, premium site with different options for monetization
- Dropshipping Sites – for people that want to sell products online without the hassle of shipping and inventory
- Local Lead Gen Sites – sell leads to local businesses for profit.
HPD also offers many supplementary services like content writing, link building, keyword research, and guest posting. Everything you need to build an empire and make money online. HPD has many happy customers and is well-known in the industry.
The new project of Dom Wells, the man who started Human Proof Designs (he sold that company), OnFolio has two key offers.
1. A buy-and-run service – The company takes a percentage of the site's revenue in return for finding, buying, and managing the entire website for you.
Keep in mind that the fee is a percentage of revenue, not profit, but OnFolio has a good track record of turning a profit for investors.
2. A website buying assistance service – the team acts in a consultancy role, advising and assisting with the purchase and handover of an asset.
OnFolio is aimed at people who have money to invest, understand the value of digital assets, but do not have the skills or time to buy or manage a website (or portfolio of websites)
Motion Invest is the relatively new project of Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits and Jon Gillham of Content Refined.
This is a marketplace for buying and selling websites. The difference being that the Motion Invest team buys and holds websites before selling them. You could think of it as a guarantee. It's not a brokerage. If they are buying the websites, they've obviously got some skin in the game. You can rest assured that the site has had proper due diligence and generates revenue.
You need an account to see the website URLs and get more info on each asset. Each listing has a ton of extra information such as backlink analysis, seller Q&As, SEMrush data, and screenshots of affiliate and ad network revenue dashboards.
There's a free site evaluation tool for buyers and sellers. Check out the excellent blog for regular content about buying and selling sites for profit.
Buying websites for passive income
There's truly no such thing as passive income, apart from inheritance or a trust fund. Buying a turnkey website as a passive income source is only viable if you have a team to manage the website. Online properties must be continually managed. If you want traffic levels to increase (or at least remain the same) then you need to keep in step with or remain ahead of the competition.
If you're a solopreneur looking for a passive income stream, buying a website is not the first thing I'd recommend. You will have to invest time and energy into monitoring, improving, growing, and accounting for the asset. However, you could use a service like OnFolio to manage your sites for you.
Other Affiliate networks
You'll hear a log about the Amazon affiliate program but it's not the only player in town. And depending on who you talk to, it's certainly not the best network. These days, it feels as if the big A is hostile to affiliates. Affiliate commission rates are very low for Amazon affiliate sites but the world's biggest ecommerce platform is incredibly good at converting browsers into buyers. And that can work to your advantage. It's more of a volume game with Amazon.
There are millions of alternative individual affiliate programs and affiliate networks to choose from. And most come with an affiliate manager to help you make more sales (something you don't get with Amazon) It's impossible to list them all so I'll just leave you with some of the most popular networks where you are bound to find programs for products for your niche website.
ShareASale – excellent platform with good reporting tools and tons of advertisers.
Impact – Excellent platform if not quite the easiest to navigate
CJ Affiliate – popular but I've never found it very good. Works best for very large affiliate sites
Keith is the founder of Fat Frog Media. He has worked in the tech, fitness, food, and hospitality industries. Keith helps businesses improve their marketing and conversion rates.