Last Updated: December 2020

Project Hermes: Affiliate Website in the Automative Niche

This site is built on an aged domain. Our goal is to take earnings from $0 to $10k a month in under 24 months.

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by Mark Whitman

Summary Stats

  • Site Launched: June 2020
  • Investment to date: $5,475
  • Income to date: $1,097
  • Estimated site value: $7,000
  • ROI to date: 48%
project hermes summary

Costs to date

  • Domain: $30 (aged domain from Godaddy)
  • Hosting: $250 (WPX)
  • Content cost: $4,243 (@4.5 US cents per word for 100,000 words. Bought from our content team at Tasket)
  • Links: $950 (we’ve bought 15 link insertions and 5 guest posts. Acquired via our link building team)
  • Citations: $20 (from SEOButler)
  • Social Profiles: $7 (Fiverr)
  • VA for posting: $450 (used our VA team)
  • Total Cost: $5,745

Income to date

We only added affiliate links in late September 2020.

  • October 2020: $167
  • November 2020: $715 (Black Friday went well!)
  • December 2020: $215
  • Total Income: $1097.30

Traffic to date

  • July 2020: 217 sessions
  • August 2020: 755 sessions
  • September 2020: 2,467 sessions
  • October 2020: 7,034 sessions
  • November 2020: 10,097 sessions
  • December 2020: 10,254 session
hermes traffic

Learnings thus far

  • Niche choice is critical – for us the criteria was not Amazon, average sale price $100+, 30+ day cookie, high converting affiliate partner (checked using Commission Junction stats), and decent commission 8%+
  • Good aged domain (make sure to do your due diligence)
  • A detailed content plan for 80-100 articles takes a solid day or two to create, but it’s the foundation of your site structure – think carefully about scalability and silos
  • Good content makes all the difference.
  • If the domain is good, your content solid, and your site structure silo’ed and interlinked correctly, you don’t need a lot of links to rank. Although Ahrefs shows 189 referring domains, most of these are citations and coupon sites. Hence our DR is 2!!
hermes case study
  • If you are not using Amazon, make sure to test multiple affiliate partners. We have tested three partners. Two have had really poor conversions so far. For example, see the screenshot below of Affiliate Partner A vs Affiliate Partner B. As you can see Partner A has driven 14x more commission than B, despite B sending 1/3 as much traffic as A. Switching out partners that aren't working is critical.
mvp affiliate
  • Negotiating higher commissions from partners is one of the best ways to scale revenues. For example, we are currently on a standard 7% commission with Partner A. Partner C offered us more than double this (15%). As we get larger we will approach A to negotiate higher commissions, using C as the benchmark. Don't negotiate too early. Wait until you have some leverage in terms of the traffic and sales volume.

Plans going forward

  • As the site is proven we will be creating another 100 articles. We should have these live by end of Q1 2021.
  • We are planning to switch out Affiliate Partner B and C for Amazon as the conversions with both these partners suck. This will be completed in the next few weeks. We will be keeping Partner A.
  • We're testing an email capture pop-up. It has a hook centred around getting a coupon and is already performing well.
  • Once we get to a consistent $10,000 of monthly referred sales to Partner A we will be negotiating an increase in commission, ideally to 15%
  • As traffic continues to grow we will look to implement programmatic advertising with Mediavine.

Current Valuation 

It is very difficult to value such a new site, but after 3 months earnings we would estimate this site is worth: $7k-$10k

I'll be updating this case study in a few months.

We help affiliate marketers and content site investors scale their business.