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Running A Portfolio Of Affiliate Sites Making $45K Every Month

Making $45,000 per month running a portfolio of affiliate sites

“At the moment my niche site business is making in the region of $45k per month revenue, $38k profit per month.

I have 11 niche sites in my portfolio currently and 8 of them are profitable.”

Hello! Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

My name is Jason Mills, most people will know me from The Affiliate School YouTube channel. I live in Birmingham, UK with my wife and two wonderful (most of the time) daughters.

I run two successful online businesses. The first is a digital marketing company called Rise Online and the second is my portfolio of affiliate sites.

My background actually lies in teaching, but 7 years ago I decided to give it all up and embark on a career in a completely different direction - one that would allow me the freedom to live and work on my own terms.

How did you start this business? Take us through the process.

My main reason for changing careers was the desire to spend more time at home with my family.

Commuting for a couple of hours each day takes its toll, and I'd had enough. I knew I was nearing burn out and I didn't want that.

Like most people in the world of SEO, I kind of fell in to it. While I was teaching I started a fantasy football blog and podcast - it had some initial success and so I wanted to learn more about how I could grow it.

At the time, organic search seemed to be the way to go. And so I invested time and money in learning as much as I could about SEO and web design. This led me to realise the vast opportunity that SEO provided - and so I went all in. I started to freelance for web design, content writing and SEO while I still had a full time job. I very quickly decided to jump in to it full time after building up enough in client retainers to cover my salary.

I spent £8k on one online course - and although this seems a lot, it changed my entire mindset around what was possible and allowed me to mentally remove earning barriers that were just manufactured in my mind. Of course, after spending £8k on one course - I was not going to not put the effort in!

How did you get your first initial customers?

When I started my freelance client work, I did a lot of cold outreach - mainly via email. As I had very little background I was relying on providing a lot of value up front to establish trust.

I did this by reaching out to local roofers, electricians and other trades where the average customer value was relatively high - so I could demonstrate the ROI for an SEO campaign.

I would then record video audits of their sites, follow up with calls and this had a pretty good success rate.

After around 6 months of this, I purely relied on referrals from existing clients. If I look at this from the point of view of my niche sites, I suppose my first niche site as my fantasy football blog - and this was monetised mainly through a membership platform - where users could sign up to get access to premium content.

This was built to around 200 members in total - all paying around £2-£3 per month - so making around £500-£600 per month.

This was all done purely organically and showed me that money could be made online.

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Since launch, what are your marketing strategies or channels to get new customers?

I now have very little input in the day to day running of my agency, so I'll talk more about my day to day with niche sites - as this is my main focus on a daily basis.

For me - Google search remains the no.1 traffic source.

As I rely pretty much 100% on affiliate sales to generate revenue for my sites, ranking highly in Google not only generates a lot of hyper targeted traffic, but it also acts as a kind of trust signal (it's ranking on Google so it must be true).

However, I have pivoted a little this year to include video (mainly YouTube) as a key component of my marketing strategy. Not only to generate more traffic, but to add value and further establish trust.

With the onset of Google SGE and Perspectives - I believe video (long and short form) and social media will play and even more important role for niche sites and most online entities.

So right now, my main marketing channels are Organic Search, YouTube and Social Media - in that order of priority.

How does your business make money?

My niche sites are monetised entirely through affiliate offers.

An affiliate program is a way of being compensated for referring traffic to a website that results in sales. You usually earn a percentage commission for the sale you refer - and this referral is tracked for a certain amount of time, usually 30 days, but sometimes 24 hours and others can be lifetime tracking.

An affiliate offer would be whatever I choose to promote on the website I'm making the referral to. For example, I could make a referral to Amazon for a cookie dough cutter - Amazon would be the program, and the product would be the affiliate offer.

Some affiliate networks will pay you per click or per impression, but usually it is usually on a CPA (cost per acquisition) or a percentage commission model - this means you only get paid when the referral makes a purchase or becomes a lead (depending on the program terms).

Earnings per click is an important metric to have data on though, as you want to maximise your earnings per click - one program might offer 2% less commission than another but convert 150% better - in which case your earnings per click might be higher with the lower commission program.

I am looking in to experimenting a little more with display ads but would love to build out a subscription model - but for now, affiliate is my main play.

My agency is built on monthly retainers - and we have now moved to a hybrid approach (rather than just SEO) - this allows us to adapt to the ever changing online space - and get results quicker by utilising paid search and social if appropriate.

One of the biggest challenges here has been to move away from low value legacy clients and move towards higher value, higher profit long term clients.

At the moment my niche site business is making in the region of $45k per month revenue, $38k profit per month.

I have 11 niche sites in my portfolio currently and 8 of them are profitable. One that is not making a profit was recently acquired and was hit in a recent Google update (and lost a lot of traffic as a result) - the other two are new projects that are less than 9 months old but the early signs are good for these sites with month on month growth.

Take us through a typical day in your life running the business as a solo founder

My average day has changed a lot in the last 6 months - as I've recently improved my systems and brought in some real A-players.

In addition to the 3 long term writers I already have, I now had an editor working 20 hours per week.

This means I am pretty much completely removed from the content element of the business.

My main role is keyword research, content planning, product/offer sourcing and then some data analysis. This typically takes around 2 days out of my month - or 12 hours. My usual working day is 9am to 3pm - with a lunch break in the middle. But I can be flexible.

The key for me is that I am around when the kids are and I get to do the school run which I enjoy.

The main tools I use are AHREFS, SerpWorx, Keywords Everywhere and Detailed. I also use a rank tracker. I rely on a range of services for link building, content creation, HARO etc and this again just gives me time back to do things that I enjoy.

Before you go, what advice would you give to another who wants to start a business like yours?

My advice is to just start. There is never a perfect time.

Right now, the scare stories around AI and SGE (although very real) are just another reason not to start.

There is never a perfect time. Just get started, be authentic and be you. That goes a long way!

Where can we go to lean more about you and your business?

Here are some links you can go to learn more:

The Affiliate School: https://theaffiliateschool.co.uk/