11 Real Life Examples Of Successful Affiliate Sites

In Depth Analysis...

Gael Breton - August 7th 2017

After our post on writing better reviews, we got a lot of interest from readers asking us what it takes to create a great product review site.

Unfortunately for the internet, when people think of building affiliate sites, they usually think of doing something like this:

More...

Sites like these are all over the web. They have no ambition and are designed just to siphon off affiliate commissions by overselling without subtleties. Little wonder that they drop off the radar within months.

The truth is that there are tons of affiliate sites on the internet with a focus on product reviews that are awesome. In fact, they give away so much value that you don't even see their affiliate links.

At Authority Hacker, we've always been about building long-term businesses with a focus on delivering value in order to build a real audience and ensure the site doesn't get penalised down the line.

So for this post, we're going to look at 11 examples of affiliate sites that "get it" when it comes to marketing 3rd party products while delivering value and try to learn from them.

I hope that looking at this sites will give you some inspiration with your own sites and will show you that affiliate marketing doesn't have to be cheesy.

Nerdwallet is one of my favorite affiliate sites, and I’m sure plenty of Internet marketers would tell you the same.

It’s been around for a long while, it does enormously well in one of the most competitive markets, and the content is genuinely useful.

Nerdwallet is essentially a review site for financial products. The cover everything from credit cards to mortgages to investing to insurance.

Have stellar contents, and exceptional user interface, and a really good marketing team. They’ve basically been the gold standard of affiliate sites for the last several years (in my view anyway).

  • Niche: Consumer finance
  • Goal: Help people pick the best credit cards, loans, insurance, etc.
  • Key Challenge: Extremely competitive market.

Key Stats

Facebook

80,529

Twitter

49,800

Traffic

10.4M/mo

Domain Rating

68

Backlinks

28,400

Alexa Rank

4,077

Top Content

NerdWallet's Home Affordability Calculator: How Much House Can I Afford?

I love this piece of content because it’s not content as we think of it in any traditional sense, although seasoned link builders will probably recognize the angle here: creating a hyper useful tool that’s going to do very well in the context of a content marketing campaign. What makes this one of their top pieces of content, however, is that it also targets a very good keyword.

Length

n/a

Backlinks

275

Shares

27

Best Credit Cards of 2017: Reviews, Rewards and Offers

This may be one of the single most difficult affiliate keywords in the world, and Nerdwallet consistently snags one of the top spots in the SERPs. Huge win.

Length

2,800 words

Backlinks

311

Shares

19,000

Best CD Rates | Compare CD Rates

Another extremely competitive keyword, and, it should be noted, this content is also in tool form.

Length

n/a

Backlinks

105

Shares

20

How they make money

Nerdwallet is also a 100% affiliate site. They do not have ads, nor do they (as far as I can tell) sell any of their own products.

Top Promotions

What we can learn from Nerdwallet

  • Make tools. So much of Nerdwallet’s best content comes into will form, and that’s because not only is a great for user experience, but tools also tend to attract lots of links, and SEO is a major part of this site’s strategy.
  • Update key pages. Nerdwallet makes a practice of updating their key pages. For example, their big guides, like, “Best Credit Cards 2016” will be updated annually (to “Best Credit Cards 2016”), making them relevant in giving their marketing team an opportunity to market them again.

MoneySavingExpert.com helps ordinary people make better financial decisions. Think of it as financial education for the masses that helps people get more bank for their buck in life.

The site was started by Martin Lewis, a financial journalist, in 2003. Today, it ranks as one of the biggest consumer websites in the UK with over 21M visits every month.

In a field filled with self-serving information and dubious knowledge, MoneySavingExpert (MSE) has managed to set itself apart thanks to its content quality and its devotion to helping consumers.

Apparently he also sold his UK site in 2012 for 87 million pounds. and has his own TV show in the UK.

  • Niche: Personal finance
  • Founder: Martin Lewis (@​MartinSLewis)
  • Goal: To help ordinary people make better financial decisions
  • Key Challenge: To provide ethical, accurate and updated financial information in a sector marked by self-serving interests.

Key Stats

Facebook

134,077

Twitter

243,000

Traffic

21.4M/mo

Domain Rating

62

Referring Domains

27,600

Alexa Rank

3,161

Top Content

Credit Scores: Bust myths and improve your score

A comprehensive guide to credit scores and how they impact your financial life.​

Length

7,000

Backlinks

581

Shares

1,520

15 cheapest ways to get travel money

A list of innovative ways to make extra cash for traveling​

Length

2,500 words

Backlinks

466

Shares

2,900

The budget planner

A thorough guide to making budgets and sticking to them​

Length

2,984 words

Backlinks

442

Shares

1,600

How they make money

As MSE explains on its "How this site is financed" page, the only monetization method is affiliate links. The site does not accept advertisements or sponsored posts, nor does it offer any paid products.

Some different tactics and tools it uses to monetize include:

  • Coupons: MSE maintains a list of coupons and deals for a number of retailers, taking a cut from each sale.
  • "Best of" guides: MSE has several pages listing "Best [X]" products and services, such as banks and credit cards. It takes a cut from anyone signing up with its affiliate link.
  • "Cheap X" guides: MSE helps users pick the cheapest consumer products in a category (such as phones) and takes a cut from each sale.
  • Calculators: The site offers its users a number of calculators, such as a loan calculator or a mortgage calculator. It takes a commission from any recommended financial products.

It uses a number of additional tactics to make extra affiliate cash. This includes an Amazon discount finder, an association with Resolver, and including Skimlinks in its forum threads.

Top Promotions

Some products MoneySavingExpert promotes are:

What we can learn from MoneySavingExpert

  • Invest in design: The MSE website is very well organized. All articles are also heavily formatted to be as easy to browse as possible. 
  • Invest in ethics: The consumer finance field is filled with misinformation. MSE stands out by clearly identifying all affiliate links and maintaining a strong editorial code of ethics.
  • Hero pages: MSE maintains "hero" pages for major search terms (example). These are highly visual and give readers a quick glance at the best options. Since the pages are very user-focused, they almost always rank well.
  • Be actionable: From blog posts to deal finders to calculators, all of MSE's content and products are ultra actionable. Users don't have to deal with fluff and can dive right into the info they want.

The Wire Cutter is one of the internet's favorite review sites for electronics, gadgets and consumer goods.

It was started by Brian Lam, the former editorial director of Gizmodo. Brian and team put all reviewed products through strenuous and innovative tests, so much so that the site is sometimes called "Mythbusters for gadgets". 

Since its birth in 2011, the Wire Cutter has grown into one of the top ​6,000 sites online by incessantly focusing on finding the best product in each category. Along the way, it has earned tons of praise, even getting a story in NYTimes.

  • Niche: Consumer product reviews
  • Founder: Brian Lam (@blam)
  • Goal: To help people find the best product in every consumer category
  • Key Challenge: To design innovative tests and select the best product possible, without being swayed by commercial interests.

Key Stats

Facebook

45,000

Twitter

62,000

Traffic

9.2M/mo

Domain Rating

76

Referring Domains

12,100

Alexa Rank

6,068

Top Content

The best deals we can find

A regularly updated list of the best deals on electronics from across the web

Length

5,000 words

Backlinks

124

Shares

6,500

The best Bluetooth speakers

A review of the best Bluetooth speakers for average consumers

Length

10,000 words

Backlinks

289

Shares

1,000

The best wi-fi router (for most people)

A review of wi-fi routers for home users

Length

8,606 words

Backlinks

621

Shares

2,600

How they make money

The Wire Cutter explains its monetization model on its "How to Support Us" page. It's a simple model: affiliate commissions, primarily through Amazon and BestBuy. The site does not accept any advertisements or sponsored posts, or does it sell any of its own products.

Some different tactics and tools it uses to monetize include:

  • Product recommendations: "Best of" product pages for each category are the Wire Cutter's bread and butter. Each recommendation comes with an associated Amazon link.
  • Answer Questions: The Wire Cutter answers reader questions such as "which headphones should I buy?" and takes a cut from any product sales. 
  • Others: Besides Amazon and a handful of other well known retailers, the site also uses Skimlinks to make money. There is an indication it sells some advertising as well (as shown by this link) though the details aren't made public.

Top Promotions

Some of The Wire Cutter's most heavily used affiliate promotions are:

What we can learn from The Wire Cutter

  • Focus: Instead of creating hundreds of gadget news posts every month, the Wire Cutter does just one thing: in-depth reviews. 
  • Use the right design: The Wire Cutter doesn't use the traditional blog structure. Instead, 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. As it promises on this page, every recommended product has been tested to be the best in its class. It also writes only 6-12 posts a month.

As far as internet marketing goes, the dating niche is wildly lucrative. Unfortunately, it is also filled with tons of scamsters and spammy sites designed just to send traffic to affiliate offers.

DatingAdvice.com is a breath of fresh air in this cluttered niche. It is clean, fun, and doesn't have the sleazy side that defines so many other dating websites. With its focus on 'expert advice' and emphasis on answering real questions, it essentially brings dating mainstream.

  • Niche: Dating advice and dating website reviews
  • Goal: To help people date better and find the best dating site for their needs
  • Key Challenge: To stand out in a niche overpopulated with spam and sleaze

Key Stats

Facebook

11,200

Twitter

5,000

Traffic

431.5k/mo

Domain Rating

61

Referring Domains

2,800

Alexa Rank

110,454

Top Content

OurTime.com Review

A review of the dating site OurTime.com.

Length

600

Backlinks

35

Traffic

31k/mo

The 15 Top Cities for Single Women

A review of good cities for single women.

Length

1,200 words

Backlinks

14

Shares

2,500

11 Best Hookup Sites (That Are 100% Free)

A review of the best dating sites that are focused on hookups.

Length

1,200 words

Backlinks

13

Traffic

13k/mo

How they make money

Dating Advice makes most of its money by referring people to dating websites such as Match, eHarmony, etc. You'll notice that all its recommended sites have a wholesome, mainstream image, which fits its target demographics.

Some different tactics and tools it uses to monetize include:

  • Best-of lists: DatingAdvice.com creates 'Best Of' lists for the best apps, websites and products for dating, taking a cut from any sign-ups or sales.
  • Dating site reviews: DatingAdvice.com reviews some of the popular dating sites around and makes money from affiliate commissions. This is the site's bread and butter as far as revenues go.
  • Sponsored posts: Though it doesn't explicitly state so, DatingAdvice.com makes some money through sponsored posts such as this one.

Top Promotions

Some of DatingAdvice.com's most heavily used affiliate promotions are:

What we can learn from DatingAdvice.com

  • Keep it clean: DatingAdvice.com has managed to stand out by maintaining a wholesome, healthy image in a spammy, scammy niche. The colors, the design and the prominent use of real faces in all posts goes a long way towards telling readers that this site is "safe".
  • No banner ads: similarly to all the sites quoted earlier, the site does not have a single banner ad. The truth is, banner ads cheapen your design and trust which can hurt if you are trying to monetise with affiliates (we are working on a version of Health Ambition with no ads ourselves)
  • Social proof: The site has a "as Featured in" section with logos of mainstream publications right at the very top of the page. This not only helps establish credibility, but also affirms the mainstream nature of the website. 
  • Focus on experts: Instead of showing advice from just about anyone, DatingAdvice.com focuses on experts and relationship counselors. This gives its content greater credibility and authority. On top of that they can use the expert's social reach to gain visibility.

PCPartPicker.com has always been one of my favorite affiliate sites.

One of the reasons I love it’s much is that it deviates so much from the “traditional” affiliate site model. It’s not just the content site targeting “best x” keywords.

Instead, they’ve built something that provides such extreme value it basically markets itself.

The premise of the site is basically that it’s a tool for people who want to build their own computers ( usually gaming computers). If you’ve never done it, the difficult part about building a computer is almost always the research. New computer parts are coming out constantly, so you have to find the latest parts that also fit your budget and that are also compatible with each other.

It’s a pain in the ass.

PC Part Picker solves all these problems. It lets you shop for the latest pc parts based on performance and budget, and it automatically cross-references them with each other to check for compatibility.

Sso the core of the site is a tool. In recent years, however, they’ve expanded beyond the school and started a really nice blog as well.

Needless to say, it’s been enormously successful.

  • Niche: Computer parts
  • Goal: Help people build computers
  • Key Challenge: Low commissions

Key Stats

Facebook

33,000

Twitter

52,000

Traffic

12.4M

Domain Rating

59

Backlinks

8,750

Alexa Rank

2,180

Top Content

New PC System Builder Tool

This is the primary tool on the site — the one that help people choose the best PC parts for their current PC build and checks for compatibility issues. Note that every part in the list has an affiliate link.

Length

n/a

Backlinks

1,210

Shares

1,800

PC System Guides

This is similar to the part picker, but the site experts pre-build the computer for you, which automatically generates a part list.

Length

n/a

Backlinks

87

Shares

50

Intel Core i7 6400 4.0GHz CPU Review

This is an example of a review on the site. It certainly not traditional. It’s basically just the specs and user reviews. One cool thing they do add, though, is price history, which is very useful in an industry in which prices change constantly.

Length

750 words

Backlinks

91

Shares

42

How they make money

PC Part Picker is monetized completely through affiliate links. And pretty much everything they do is monetized this way:

  • User-created PC builds. Users can custom-build their own computeres and then order parts by click on the affiliate links. Or...
  • Expert-created PC builds. Experts on the site will put together builds for you (in the form of a blog post).
  • Reviews of individual components. They also review individual PC components and use historical price data to help people make a buying decision.

Top Promotions

50em promotes just three core products - InfusionSoft, Ontraport and Salesforce. All these three products rely heavily on affiliates or 'partners' to promote themselves. You can learn more about it on the links below:

What we can learn from PC Part Picker

  • Build a tool. This site does have a blog, and it does have content, but the engine is the PC-building tool.
  • Focus on user experience. Everything here is geared specifically to help the users achieve a very particular goal: building a PC with no compatibility issues and within a certain budget.
  • Help users shop around. By being a member of multiple affiliate programs, and pointing users to the best price, and recording price history, PC Part Picker goes beyond is simply recommending products on site; they help their readers have a good shopping experience off site.

Most of the sites listed above are well-established with large teams and even larger budgets. Some even have celebrity founders with existing audiences.

However, most IMers don't have such resources. This is why for our 5th example, we chose to focus on 50em.com - a site with just 7 pages.

50em helps readers choose between two of the most popular automation tools on the market - Ontraport and InfusionSoft. These tools run into hundreds of dollars each month and represent a big spend for any marketer. By creating ultra-focused, hyper-targeted content, 50em makes the selection process easier, and in the process, makes bank.

This is the kind of site any AH reader can make - with tons of effort and guidance, of course! The site is pretty much a master-class in creating high value, high impact product reviews. There's tons you can learn from it, so read on!

  • Niche: Automation software reviews
  • Goal: To help marketers choose between InfusionSoft and Ontraport
  • Key Challenge: To get traffic and establish credibility in a hyper-targeted niche with expensive products.

Key Stats

Facebook

NA

Twitter

NA

Traffic

6.3k/mo

Domain Rating

41

Referring Domain

52

Alexa Rank

2,123,927

Top Content

"What Nobody on Payroll Will Tell You About Infusionsoft and Ontraport"

The homepage that serves as an introduction to the two tools and pitches the idea of automation

Length

1,136

Backlinks

40

Shares

NA

InfusionSoft vs Ontraport: the ultimate showdown

A head to head comparison review of the 2 main tools the site is about, note the content length, low backlinks yet they rank #1

Length

5,998 words

Backlinks

4

Shares

70

What they won't tell you about Ontraport

A "honest" review of Ontraport from the owner who clearly used the tool and shares both the good and bad sides of the tool.

Length

524 words

Backlinks

1

Shares

4

How they make money

The monetization method for 50em should be clear enough: it makes money through affiliate commissions. Both InfusionSoft and Ontraport are expensive tools - InfusionSoft starts at $199/month while Ontraport goes for $297/month. Even a single commission can be wildly lucrative.

50em uses four tactics to make these commissions:​

  • In-depth reviews: 50em has in-depth reviews for both InfusionSoft and Ontraport. There's thousands of words of text, as well as a video that explains each product. Tons of value for any reader.
  • Head to head comparisons: If you're still confused after reading the reviews, you can compare the two products against each other. On the InfusionSoft vs. Ontraport page, 50em gives an in-depth breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of each product.
  • Recommendations: Besides reviews and comparisons, 50em also has a separate "self-serve" page for recommendations. Check whether you fit the given criteria, then select the product that meets your needs.
  • "Ask me" tool: Finally, 50em gives readers an option to get direct answers to any of their automation queries. Since 50em is run by a marketing consultant, it's a great way to capture some leads.

Top Promotions

50em promotes just three core products - InfusionSoft, Ontraport and Salesforce. All these three products rely heavily on affiliates or 'partners' to promote themselves. You can learn more about it on the links below:

What we can learn from 50em.com

  • Select the right niche: 50em is just about two tools - InfusionSoft and Ontraport. There is no other content cluttering the site. Thanks to its hyper-focused approach, it is able to rank very well in a narrow niche.
  • Offer first hand experience: All of 50em's reviews and comparison pages run into thousands of words with almost zero fluff and tons of value from people who have really used the products.
  • Invest in copy: Enterprise product reviews don't have to be boring. 50em's copy is fun and easy to read. If a review begins with "dadgum it", there's a good chance you'll read through it :)
  • Make it easy to choose: Reviews, comparisons, recommendations...50em makes it easy for readers to choose the right product for their needs. It also helps that its design is simple enough to navigate for anyone.

This is Why I’m Broke is an old staple of the affiliate marketing space. I like it, though, because it was among the first sites to really do the gift and novelty aggregation well.

The idea of the site is to find a weird, wacky, and innovative things people absolutely do not need to buy but really, really want to buy.

Today, for instance, the very first entry is an alcohol vaporizer slot machine on sale for a mere $900.

And that’s what the site does better than pretty much anybody: it taps into Internet and pop-culture, fines the strange crap that appeals to people’s sense of fun, and pounces on consumer trends better than pretty much anybody.

Even as a marketer, it’s difficult for me not to click half of these affiliate links.

  • Niche: Novelty items and gifts
  • Goal: Find weird and wacky stuff to splurge on
  • Key Challenge: No clear theme (for search engines)

Key Stats

Facebook

320,000

Pinterest

20,400

Trafffic

2.6M

Domain Rating

58

Referring Domains

5,380

Alexa Rank

14,681

Top Content

Gifts for Men

What we see on This Is Why I’m Broke is that a lot of the top content are actually the category pages, and this is probably because (1) they’re at the top of silos and (2) there among the only content that is clearly themed. The “gifts for men” section is one of the most popular.

Length

n/a

Backlinks

23

Shares

420

Gifts for Geeks

Same story here. This is a section all about gifts for geeks, and the features nerdy or tech-oriented items.

Length

n/a

Backlinks

18

Shares

570

Bear Sleeping Bag

This is one of the top actual blog posts on the site, and it represents a theme across other top blog posts: something extremely weird targeting an extremely esoteric keyword.

Length

505 words

Backlinks

3

Shares

3

How they make money

The site makes money almost exclusively through affiliate offers, and it shouldn’t surprise you that most of the money seems to be made through the Amazon Associates program (it wouldn’t make much sense for them to try to find individual affiliate programs for all of the random items they feature on the blog).

However, they also sell plenty of stuff through Etsy, and appear to be an affiliate there. It’s worth noting that some blog posts don’t seem to have affiliate links at all, which means they are not monetizing every single page.

Top Promotions

TIWIB has an interesting model. As far as I can tell, only posts that point to Amazon or Etsy products are monetized. Everything else is just a regular, non-affiliate link. 

What we can learn from This Is Why I'm Broke

  • The “fun factor” can be great natural marketing. I’m not sure if this site every did it any active marketing, but it does appear to attract a great many natural links and shares, which is almost certainly due to the raw fun factor.
  • You don’t need to monetize everything. Some posts, even if they feature gifts, aren’t monetized; there just for fun and provide a great user experience, which probably goes a long way to bolster the site’s reputation.

Making Sense of Cents is another finance site, but, crucially, it was created and is run by one person: Michelle Gardner.

So, unlike some of the bigger finance sites in this list, Michelle is writing all the content on her blog from herself to other families, making the angle more personal advice derived from personal experience than a large site with a team of experts.

And that has paid off for her big-time.

Michelle publishes her income reports on her blog, and as of the last income report, her monthly revenue was $131,448. So, in terms of an individual blogger doing well with affiliate products, Michelle is way up there.

  • Niche: Personal & Family Finance
  • Founder: Michelle Gardner
  • Goal: Help people budget and save money
  • Key Challenge: Started as a personal blog with low resources

Key Stats

Facebook

66,000

Pinterest

82,000

Trafffic

259.1k/mo

Domain Rating

55

Referring Domains

2,400

Alexa Rank

79,815

Top Content

12 Easy Ways To Earn Free Amazon Gift Cards

This is one of Michelle’s top pieces of content, and it’s probably because it jibes perfectly with her audience: frugal, family-oriented people who like saving money and getting free stuff.

Length

800 words

Backlinks

9

Shares

1,200

4 Craigslist Rental Scams To Avoid

This is a good example of a piece of content that is successful because it helps people avoid lots of pain, which, in my view, works exactly the same way as helping people gain something, but has a bit more urgency and to shareability.

Length

2,100

Backlinks

43

Shares

650

We No Longer Have Traditional Health Insurance – Liberty HealthShare Review

And here’s a really creative angle on writing about health insurance (by the way, I don’t think Michelle was trying to do any creative marketing here; I think she really just wanted to share her experience, which is part of why I think this post is so successful).

Length

1,500 words

Backlinks

9

Shares

300

How she make money

Michelle makes most of her money through a combination of affiliate marketing and selling her own courses. She does make some money off of display advertising, but it represents a rather small percentage of her overall revenue.

Top Promotions

What we can learn from Making Sense of Cents

  • Taking a personal angle can help differentiate you in competitive markets. Michelle is in a hyper- competitive market (finance), but one of the ways she’s able to compete is by taking a highly personal angle.
  • Have your readers’ it backs. A lot of Michelle’s top content helps her readers stay out of harm’s way or make a little bit of extra money. It’s not about reviewing products; it’s much more about actually helping people.

Who doesn’t know about The Points Guy at this point (pun intended)?

It’s no secret that some of the biggest affiliate sites out there are in the finance and travel spaces; however The Points Guy is one of the few who seems to have cracked social traffic with as much success as they have cracked organic traffic.

This site is all about credit cards in travel; specifically, it’s about how to leverage the benefits credit card companies and travel companies will give you for taking different actions so that you can travel cheaply (or even for free).

And I really think this is one of the things that has helped The Points Guy becomes so intensely popular: the extreme focus on helping people do something very specific: getting sh*t for free.

To that end, this site is a masterful combination of solving a problem for people + recommending products for which they can earn affiliate commissions.

  • Niche: Credit cards and travel
  • Goal: Travel and credit card hacking
  • Key Challenge: Extremely competitive niche

Key Stats

Facebook

1,550,476

Twitter

264,000

Traffic

8.4M/mo

Domain Rating

60

Backlinks

5,210

Alexa Rank

6,949

Top Content

Does Costco Travel Save You Money?

This is a great example of an article that addresses a question his readers specifically might have at the same time as it tackles a bit of controversy.

Length

1,800 words

Backlinks

13

Shares

5

5 Key Things to Know About Getting Global Entry

This is a pretty standard article targeting a good keyword. Not many referring domains here--just solid writing and high site authority carrying the bulk of the load.

Length

1,300

Backlinks

14

Shares

25

Best Ways to Avoid Airline Change and Cancellation Fees

Of the top content I reviewed on this site, I think this is probably the one that best qualifies as a solid piece of highly useful evergreen content--the sort of thing that will get more more popular over time and that can be updated (and re-marketed) continuously.

Length

1,700

Backlinks

23

Shares

5

How they make money

The Points Guy makes money through credit card and travel affiliate programs. The focus mostly on credit cards that people can use to earn travel rewards.

Top Promotions

The top promotions change over time and seem to be based on which currently offers the best rewards since that’s the whole point of the site). Some examples are:

What we can learn from thepointsguys.com

  • Solve a problem. Just because you are an affiliate site doesn’t mean you have to blindly write about products or do product reviews. Take an angle that actually helps people solve a problem, and you might enjoy both some free marketing and ever-growing popularity..
  • Put your favorite products front and center. The Points Guy as a “Top Cards” section in the main navigational menu that simply lists the top travel credit cards. It doesn’t bring in as much traffic as some of the other content, but it does okay, it’s an easy place for people to find the most important products for people interested in this sort of thing.

Just a Girl and Her Blog is one of my personal favorite affiliate sites--mostly because it’s so close to what so many of us like to do: sell stuff through the Amazon Associates program.

This blog is run by a gal named Abby, who writes about DIY, crafts, and organization. It’s an extremely popular blog, and, since Abby shares her income reports, we know that she makes about $40,000 per month.

Of that revenue nearly ¾ come from affiliate marketing.

  • Niche: DIY & organizing
  • Founder: Abby Lawson
  • Goal: elping people organize and beautify their lives
  • Key Challenge: Very general amalgam of content

Key Stats

Facebook

93,000

Instagram

31,200

Traffic

238.5k/mo

Domain Rating

56

Backlinks

2,700

Alexa Rank

105,053

Top Content

The KonMari Method: One Year Later

This is the kind of content that not everybody can do; more importantly, is the kind of content that isn’t easy for her competitors to replicate.

It’s based off of an entire year of personal experience with the trendy philosophy, so it is easy to see why this particular post picked up steam.

Length

1,200 words

Backlinks

4

Traffic

8,500

The 2017 Budget Binder

This is a great piece of content because it provides something highly useful to Abby’s readers, but it also helps her collect and get people on her email list.

Length

1,200

Backlinks

35

Shares

50,000+

An Organized Grocery List and Free Printables

Same story here. It’s something that makes a lot of logistical sense for her readers and is something that they might want to print out and take with them. In other words, it’s highly useful, and people will probably be willing to give their email to get it.

Length

600

Backlinks

18

Traffic

1,300

How she make money

Abby makes most of her money with affiliate marketing (mainly through Amazon Associates and hosting affiliate marketing with Bluehost), but she also sells her own courses.

Top Promotions

What we can learn from Just a Girl and Her Blog?

  • Be a guinea pig. Abby often tries things and reports her experience, so her readers don’t have to go through the process of testing stuff themselves (and, of course, she recommends products along the way).
  • Don’t forget about social media. You are in a niche that would do well on social (like Abby is), dive into social platforms like Pinterest. Almost 20% of Abby’s overall traffic comes from that platform.

All the sites we've listed above make their money through affiliate commissions. But that doesn't have to be the only way you make money from product review/comparison sites.

As CompareAccounting.com shows, you can make bank by generating leads for companies (this allows you to enter markets that don't have affiliate programs) - even with little traffic.

This is why we've chosen CompareAccounting.com as our final entry on this list. This site helps small businesses find the best accounting software for their needs. It is small and niche-focused, and is something any marketer can recreate without massive budgets.

CompareAccounting shows what's possible if you select the right niche and make a solid site. It doesn't have any social media presence, nor does it do heavy link building. It just provides simple, useful advice to SMBs then puts the most engaged ones in touch with the sales teams of accounting tools.

And while it doesn't quite have the numbers of MSE or The Wire Cutter, it has solid rankings and makes good coin from referring high priced business products.​

  • Niche: Accounting software reviews
  • Goal: To help small businesses find the best accounting software for their needs
  • Key Challenge: To attract traffic and build credibility in a competitive but narrow niche

Key Stats

Facebook

NA

Twitter

NA

Traffic

18.4k/mo

Domain Rating

40

Backlinks

56

Alexa Rank

2,312,093

Top Content

TaxSlayer Books Accounting Software Review

An overview of cloud-based accounting SaaS tools

Length

400 words

Backlinks

0

Shares

0

PROCAS Accounting Software Review

A review of PROCAS accounting software

Length

300 words

Backlinks

n/a

Shares

n/a

How Is Oracle Accounting Software Stacking Up Against the Competition?

Alternatives to Quickbooks, the most popular accounting software for SMB's

Length

500 words

Backlinks

1

Shares

0

How they make money

Accounting software is a big purchase and involves multiple stakeholders. The price for Epicor accounting software, for example, can be as high as $500,000 for some businesses.

Affiliate links aren't particularly useful when prices are so high. Few, if any, visitors will actually buy a tool as-is from a vendor's site. This is why CompareAccounting does not even use affiliate links on any of its review pages.

However, what vendors do need is a constant supply of qualified leads, and this is where CompareAccounting makes all its money.

Besides reviews, the site offers whitepapers to all its visitors. To download the whitepaper, you have to give up a lot of data - your name, email, role, business size and type, etc.

You can take a look at the lead gen form on CompareAccounting below:

This information is very valuable to software vendors since these leads are likely to be highly qualified.

Selling these leads to vendors is the main monetization model used by CompareAccounting.​

Top Promotions

Some of CompareAccounting.com's most heavily used affiliate promotions are:

What we can learn from CompareAccounting.com

  • Focus on benefits: The CompareAccounting homepage is simple, static and value-focused. When you land on the site you'll see long copy welcoming you to the site and telling you its purpose. You'll also see links to reviews of the top three products. Everything is designed to benefit users.
  • Offer free content, then capture leads: The site gives away a ton of content for free, including reviews, news stories, and blog posts. If you want to learn more, you can even download whitepapers by giving up some data. 
  • Create the right content for the market: CompareAccounting.com understands that buyers in the market for accounting software want a ton of information before making a purchase decision. This is why they offer in-depth whitepapers to make the decision easier. This also serves as a great lead-gen source.
  • Social is not everything: Do all sites need a big social media presence? Apparently not so. CompareAccounting knows that it isn't going to get much benefit from its target market by doing social. Instead of wasting time with Facebook or Twitter, it focuses on creating content and getting backlinks.

There you have it, 5 examples of affiliate sites that truly get it. Some are big and long shots for a lot of us, some are clearly achievable with one of them having as little as 7 pages.

But one thing is sure, all of them will do well with upcoming Google updates and will most likely make more and more money as time passes.

Here are a few things that we have been learning looking at these sites for a while:​

  • Balance monetised content and value content: Most of these sites don't just talk about products, they also provide plenty of non heavily monetised content.
  • Hunt for more affiliate programs or networks: Most of these sites promote a lot of products through a lot of networks and companies. Set some time aside and find more products to promote so you can give extensive comparisons to your readers.

Is there any other great site you follow that monetises primarily by recommending products? Share them with us in the comments!

Gael Breton
 

Hey I'm Gael, one of the guys behind Authority Hacker. I make a living working from my laptop in various places in the world and I will use this website to teach you how you could do the same.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 46 comments
Raza - September 1, 2015

Epic dude.

Looks like content creation is the bottle-neck. The more amazing content you can create, the more chances you have of building a successful blog.

Reply
Tanguy - September 1, 2015

What a wonderful post Gael, Merci :)

This will surely give me a lot of ideas !

Keep ’em coming,
Tanguy

Reply
Abdul - September 2, 2015

Hi Gael,i am really loving these posts you are putting together.
I really loved the 50em.com example.Its a great way to sell high ticket affiliate offers.

Reply
    Gael Breton - September 2, 2015

    Glad you liked it Abdul, and yup, these are great examples of how not to be a sleazy affiliate and build sites that can survive time and Google updates..

    Reply
Theodore Nwangene - September 2, 2015

Great post Gael,
All the sites you listed here are really authoritative and I’m sure they will be making so much banks.

The one thing i see that is very similar to all of them is that they’re all very focused on helping people which is the main reason why they had all the trust.

If we internet marketers can develop such an attitude then, it will really pay off ten folds. Just focus on helping people solve their problems first and then, the money will roll in.

Also, the idea of not having banner ads is also very cool. It shows that they’re not giving their readers too many options, they know exactly what they want their readers to always do and therefore, everything they’re doing on the site is specifically tailored towards there.

Good stuff Gael.

……Theodore

Reply
Stuart Walker - September 5, 2015

Epic post Gael, didn’t know about 3 of these sites, always good to learn about more profitable affiliate sites / models.

I had a huge list of cool affiliate sites at one point including some very niche ones but I lost it when my computer crashed I think.

Cheap Shark, ShoeSniper, TIWIB.com etc.

Really love the layout and the way you presented this content too. A lesson to be learned for EVERY blogger on how to design a post.

I can’t wait till I have more time and can get Thrive Themes up and running (been saying that for over 6 months now I think, lol) and doing cool posts like this.

I like posts like this. We did a few ourselves on NH…

http://nichehacks.com/profitable-affiliate-sites/

http://nichehacks.com/million-dollar-affiliate/

http://nichehacks.com/successful-affiliate-thisiswhyimbroke/

A lot of people found them really useful.

Few people said the 5 Ways To Create An Affiliate Site post helped them pick their business model and go on to profit which is nice.

Keep up the good work.

Reply
    Gael Breton - September 5, 2015

    Hey man,

    Thanks for dropping by, yep, love your analysis, I wanted to do an “authority sites” version of it and Yep, Thrive is the sh*t and there’s plenty more cool stuff coming.

    Reply
Asfand Yar - September 10, 2015

Good to see how all these sites are earning. TheWireCutter, in particular, belongs to my niche – Amazon Associates et al. In short, Keep it up, Gael.
Cheers,
Asfand

Reply
Robert Giacomelli - September 11, 2015

Hi Gael,

Great post i would like to mention. Am a newbie to your site but found it very helpful and the content you share is just awesome. The examples you have given on affiliate is very impressive and would surely follow the given steps and ideas.

Thanks for sharing this with us. Cheers!

Reply
Paulo Teixeira - September 12, 2015

great post, I will use your tips to improve my work with affiliates. ;-)

Reply
Arun - September 21, 2015

hi geal,

Can you tell the plugin using in widgets to display social icons( follow us)?

Reply
Kevin - October 2, 2015

The Wirecutter is the best example of an affiliate site that I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t even put it in the same category as what you’d think of as an affiliate site, aside from how they make their money. Brian Lam’s a great example of someone who sticks to a principle and then grinds it out to the nth degree. Can’t say how many times I’ve used that site (and TheSweethome) for product reviews.

Nice post Gael ;)

Reply
    Gael Breton - October 4, 2015

    Yup, great inspiration there, I think most IMers should look at these people rather than gurus as models :).

    Reply
Josh - November 4, 2015

Hi Gael,

Cheers for this, I’ve just found your website and its be incredibly useful so far.

I do have a question, though, you state that longer articles are better (which I understand). I’ve found a niche that has a few keywords with very high CPC (no real affiliation program can be used though), with a few thousand searches a month. For each keyword I could probably 500 words on each keyword. Should I do this, or should I compile them into one big article? They keywords can be linked to each other, for example, “how to start running”, “basics of running” etc. (Those obviously aren’t the keywords, and more can be written on those). What would you recommend?

Cheers,

Josh

Reply
    Gael Breton - November 5, 2015

    Hey Josh,

    Welcome to the family!

    There are different ways to skin that beast. I personally would make a page for each and go super deep into each and still make a long piece. It’s hard but it’s the best way to get the most traffic.

    Reply
Adam - August 3, 2016

Hey Gael,

I just came across this post while researching some information on building out a couple of sites. I really appreciate you taking the time to look at different ways to earn. It’s tough sometimes to stay focused on one thing at at time, when there are so many ways to go about making a living online. These 5 sites show that you can be diversified in how you earn, but you have to focus on your niche and it’t content first and foremost.

Thanks again!
Adam

Reply
Thomas - August 10, 2016

Hey Gael. I see that you have some great saved template which you put to good use there. Wow. At Alexa Rank 1901, MoneySavingExpert.com is an absolute authority among authority sites. Gotta love that line “invest in ethics”. Maybe you should put that as part of your brand somewhere in the homepage. :)

Among those sites, I still found 50em.com to be one of the most superficial ones. As some would say, working as an affiliate is similar to that of an employee, in that if the company discontinues the products, or stop the affiliate programs, the money would stop coming in as well. The hypertarget focus of 50em.com is well appreciated and a great lesson though.

I couldn’t agree more on the advice on providing long-form content. In fact, most of modules we created are probably still longer than the ones found on AuthorityHackers, and 8000-words is considered normal. With the difference being that since they are technical in nature, they probably take 1.5 more times to create than a regular post written in English. :)

Reply
Dweepayan - August 26, 2016

Greetings Gael, I’m truly cherishing these posts you are assembling. I truly cherished the 50em.com example.It’s an extraordinary approach to offer high ticket subsidiary offers.

Reply
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Reply
Kevin Smith - May 17, 2017

Hi Gael, i love your courses. However, i’m looking for the platium version and i think i could join your platium course at the end of this year. Cheers and can’t wait to join to a group of like-minded people.

Thanks.

Reply
Sergey - August 9, 2017

Nice update! It would be great if you could keep updating this article every 6 months or so.

Reply
Robbie Jones - August 9, 2017

Wow! Guys, honestly, have you got it all figured out?
I am still sticking with the good old Amazon but all these stuff are very inspirational. A lot to learn but please keep posting this flow of wisdom, I wondered where you were over the last few weeks ;)
Best,
Robbie

Reply
    Gael Breton - August 22, 2017

    We haven’t figured absolutely everything out but we’re doing alright ;).

    Sorry for the break, we tried to enjoy the summer too :D.

    Reply
Martin - August 9, 2017

Gael, great stuff man!

I see most successful affiliates are operaitng in advice and review space which is linked to affiliates. I haven’t seen much operators providing business / industry information content, business case studies, etc. I happen to have quite a bit of unique content, like quite a bit on such topics and am wondering what to do with it. Like what online / affiliate business I can start with it?

Any thoughts?

Cheers,
Martin

Reply
    Gael Breton - August 22, 2017

    Hey Martin,

    Usually the affiliates focusing on info content are those pushing email promos vs on page promo, but they exist as well and can also do well.

    Reply
Azedine - August 9, 2017

Hey Gael,

Pretty nice update you got there. I know most of them…. The interesting thing is all of them are different : design, niche..etc
]
Cheers

Reply
Bhuboy - August 10, 2017

Thanks for sharing this Gael, this give a little boost of motivation for us just starting out.

Reply
RJ Bryan - August 10, 2017

He Gael,
Do you know how a site like NerdWallet get/make/ those filtering tools? on their mortgage and credit cards pages

Thanks!

Reply
Alec - August 11, 2017

Hi, I know this is an old post but I must ask about 50em.com’s search traffic.All the Seo tools are saying it gets around 500 organic views a month but you have it at 6300 a month??

Thanks

Reply
Meg Marrs - August 15, 2017

Your last suggestion was really interesting – how would you recommend an average authority site builder create a lead-based monetization strategy? Would you collect and then just reach out to companies and offer the leads manually? How would you decide pricing? Definitely an interesting idea, but I think I’d have trouble trying to implement this.

Reply
    Gael Breton - August 22, 2017

    yeah I’d probably collect leads initially then reach out to a vendor, offer them a free lead to start the exchange then pick a fair price depending on the industry and considering your costs/conversion rates. I’d also agree that number can be renegotiated every 6 months. You can probably hire a lawyer on upwork to draft a contract.

    Then when you get leads in different regions or with different needs increase your outreach to service providers.

    Once I have an agreement I’d probably route the leads automatically to the provider and invoice them at the end of the month.

    Reply
Nikhil Ganotra - August 15, 2017

Hey Gael,

Amazing post, indeed!

The best site that I enjoyed reading was ‘This Is Why I Am Broke’. I also read about it on Niche hacks.

I am really inspired by that site. I have never seen such creativity.

Thanks for sharing such ultimate affiliate websites, Gael.

Keep up the great work! :)

Reply

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