Affiliate Marketing Case Study: Zero to $20k/month in a Year
Note: Click here to download Alex and Healy’s top tips for growing and monetizing an affiliate site from this episode.
Helping people make decisions is a big business!
In fact, these two Side Hustle Show listeners started a website to do just that, and it’s now bringing in $17-20k a month.
Oh, and the project is only a little over a year old.
Alex Goldberg and Healy Jones run a site called FinvsFin.com, which focuses on reviews and comparisons of direct to consumer brands.
They earn money as affiliates — basically earning a commission on sales that are referred through the site.
FinvsFin is an example of what I’ll call the modern comparison shopping site — helping readers make decisions and getting paid for it. And since comparison shopping was my original side hustle over a decade ago, this was especially fun to dive into.
The impressive part is that this is still very much a side hustle. Both Alex and Healy have full-time jobs, and their business falls under the “passive income” business model.
Tune in to hear how Alex and Healy prioritize and create their content, what they’re doing to market the site and drive traffic, and how you can borrow some of their same strategies in your own niche.
NOTE: My first interview with Alex and Healy aired in late December 2019. For the 2020 update, please see “Where Are They Now?” below.
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Click here to download Alex and Healy’s top tips for growing and monetizing an affiliate site from this episode.
Table of Contents
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- Why Alex and Healy decided to start their site.
- How they come up with unique, low competition content ideas.
- How they are structuring their content.
- The various ways they form affiliate relationships with the brands they’re reviewing.
- What they’re doing to build, and more so attract links.
- Some interesting on-page optimization tactics they’re using to grow their traffic and land featured snippets.
- How they’re splitting their time and roles within the business as partners.
- Alex and Healy’s #1 tips for Side Hustle Nation.
Links / Next Steps
- CB Insights
- PE Hub
Where Are They Now?
Since I last spoke with Alex and Healy at the end of 2019, they’ve grown their site FinvsFin.com from $20,000 a month to $50,000 a month!
They’ve also added some more sites to their expanding portfolio.
Here’s what they’ve been up to:
What Have You Been Doing To Grow Your Site Over the Last 9 Months?
“It’s been quite a ride. I think actually, we’ve benefited a lot in this tumultuous time with more people at home and spending time online,” Alex told me.
Their strategy hasn’t changed, it’s been a case of rinse and repeat with what’s working. Alex and Healy have published a load more content, been finding new partners to work with, and creating direct relationships with sellers.
They aim to publish 3-4 times a week. It’s still a side hustle for them though, so when they’re busy with their day jobs, publishing slows down.
What Does Your Content Process Look Like Now?
“80-90% is being written by freelancers,” Alex told me.
It’s not hands-off though. Alex and Healy still put a lot of time into uploading, formatting, doing the on-page SEO, generating links, and managing the partnerships.
They’ve been able to outsource and automate a lot of their processes. However, Alex calls that the “tip of the iceberg” looking at the entire process.
What Else Have You Guys Been Working On?
As well as continuing to grow FinvsFin, Alex and Healy have also purchased a couple of additional websites.
To help their decision, hey looked at which categories were working the best on FinvsFin.
Not wanting to make a huge investment for their first purchase, they bought a dog care site for $2000. They’ve had some success with dog care on FinvsFin, so they have high hopes for the site.
They also bought a home gym site, which is something Healy is excited about as he’s in the process of building his own home gym.
The home gym space is trending upwards right now as the pandemic has forced more people to workout from home. Plus, Healy already has experience working with a company called Peloton who supplies a lot of the equipment he’ll be recommending.
Any Tips for Creating Affiliate Relationships with Brands?
As the guys discussed in our first call, they build a lot of direct relationships with the brands they recommend on their sites.
They always have the Amazon Affiliate program to “fall back on”, but they’re able to secure much higher %’s working with brands directly.
The two main ways they recommend for finding direct relationships are:
- Performing a Google search for an existing affiliate program. Not all companies advertise their affiliate program on their site, you’ll have to do a little digging to find it.
- Reaching out to their marketing managers on LinkedIn. Alex said the key here is not to be put off by “no’s” or radio silence. He’s had to contact some managers in excess of 30 times to start a conversation.
Alex said it’s always worth reaching out, as you never know what they’ll say. Some brands he makes contact with do not have an affiliate program, but are willing to start one when they see the traffic Alex and Healy are sending them.
Is It Easy Tracking All These Affiliate Links?
If a company is plugged into an affiliate network it’s just a matter of using their links and the network provides all of the reporting features.
For the brands that do not use a network, Alex said he works with them to track their conversions using a custom Google Analytics parameter.
It’s a bit of an honor system doing it this way. But if they aren’t part of a network, it’s the best solution. Alex said any form of tracking conversions is better than nothing, it’s starting the relationship and taking some money that’s the important thing.
What’s Been Working on the SEO Front to Drive Traffic?
The guys know that link building moves the needle in affiliate marketing and still spend a lot of time on it. Although Healy admits, “link building is, as you know, really, really, hard”.
A few of their best link building strategies are:
- HARO (Help A Reporter Out) – They’ve had a lot of success securing links in media articles using this service.
- Marketing Studies – They have been building publishing articles they call “marketing studies”. These are articles laying out how they see an industry and naming all the influential brands. Some of those brands will link back to the article, which is awesome when it happens. But there are no guarantees, some of their articles do not attract any links.
- Podcast Appearances – They also credited appearing on the Side Hustle Show the first time around as helping. The guys are open to appearing on more podcasts if any podcast hosts are listening.
In addition to link building, Healy said investing in a site redesign and custom graphics has also helped their SEO.
They’ve seen an increase in dwell time and other important on-site metrics. As well as noticing their custom images are appearing high in the Google search results.
Alex said they’re finding it easy to win images searches just by adding a keyword-friendly alt tag to each image. So, that’s a useful tip if you’re not already doing that.
The guys are also updating older posts several times a week to try and keep up with the competition.
A couple of SEO tools they’re using to do this are:
- SE Ranking – This allows them to track the keywords they’re ranking for. If they see keywords dropping, they take a look at the article.
- Surfer SEO – This tool makes on-page optimization suggestions to help improve the SEO “score” of an article.
Any Sign of This Becoming a Full-Time Business for You?
“Right now, I’m enjoying having it as a side hustle,” Healy told me. Healy has some other side hustles on the go and likes juggling various projects.
He’s aware that Alex handles a lot of the “painful technical” stuff though, so he’s willing to listen to Alex if he thinks they should go full-time with their sites.
Alex said he’s in the same boat as Healy. He’s enjoying his full-time job and doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon. He does see a lot of opportunities in what they’re doing with their sites though, so doing this full-time is always a possibility.
Any Tips To Share for 2020?
“Figure out the first model, then the challenge becomes thinking outside of the box,” Alex told me.
“If you’re showing any glimmer of greatness, you just got to go 100% for it,” Healy added.
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