20 Examples of Successful Affiliate Sites: Top to Bottom in Every Industry

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nerdwallet

In my last post, I talked about the biggest challenges of building a profitable affiliate site.

Today I’d like to spread some inspiration and show you actual examples of successful affiliate sites.

Below are examples of some of the largest affiliate sites in the world. Some of these companies are 7 to 9 figure business.

I’ve organized them from biggest to smallest according to traffic levels.

Let’s dive in!

SkyScanner

skyscanner

A great example of an affiliate success story that started out as a small project is Skyscanner.

I’m sure you’ve heard of them, and it’s likely that you’ve used them while browsing flights.

Born in 2001 by 3 college graduates, Skyscanner was just an affiliate site with the purpose of helping travelers find cheap flights. For years, they kept up the site and eventually sold it for 1.9 billion to Ctrip, the largest travel company in China.

Today you could call Skyscanner a travel bible, helping 80 million monthly users and attracting 450 million monthly page views.

How do they make money?

Skyscanner makes their money purely from commissions from airlines, hotels and travel partners.

skyscanner

Visit site

Money Saving Expert

money saving expert

Money Saving Expert is an extensive community focused on campaigning for financial justice and finding deals to help ordinary people save cash.

They are the UK’s biggest consumer website, with just over 30 million site visits per month. Back in 2003, Martin founded the site for just 100 Euros. And in just 9 years, Martin grew his team from 1 to 90 professional financial specialists, journalists and editors making a powerful content factory.

As we all know, the personal finance industry is extremely competitive but Money Saving Expert set themselves apart with devotion to helping customers, good content quality and a slow growth strategy.

They have raised the bar in terms of being a successful affiliate site.

How do they make money?

money saving expert

As far as I can tell they do not allow ads, sponsored posts, or sell anything of their own. Instead, their monetization strategy is to create guides, then scout affiliate links that match the product.

They get paid per click, per user, per application – it varies.

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Nerd Wallet

nerdwallet

Founded in 2009, Nerd Wallet started off as a small and simple credit card comparison and review site.

Since then, they have grown into a massive personal finance blog covering all topics from mortgages and loans, to travel and investing. And even though they set off in one of the most competitive industries, they are thriving attracting 17.4 million visitors per month.

I’m pretty sure that Nerd Wallet is a setting example of every affiliate marketer’s dream.

How do they make money?

nerdwallet

Nerd Wallet does not have ads, nor do they sell any of their own products. Instead, they make money through partnerships with a variety of financial service companies.

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PC Part Picker

pc part picker

As the name suggests, this website is all about PCs and computer accessories.

This site went above and beyond in the computer parts niche by being a tool to help customers build their own computers.

Since computer parts are always changing and updating, PC Part Picker does the work to find the latest versions of everything, then cross checks it for compatibility with what the buyer wants and needs like budget, style, and use.

The model of this site is so smooth that it basically markets itself. In 2012, the company started a blog and now are posting about their recent charity work in Africa.

How do they make money?

pc part picker

Affiliate links.

Once the user has completed their custom build, they will be sent to affiliate sites to finally buy the parts. These sites are usually Amazon and Super Biizz.

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The Wirecutter

wirecutter

The Wirecutter or also known as “Mythbusters for gadgets” does not review and recommend a product before doing some serious testing.

For every product they spend a ton of time testing it, then they write up a monstrous post about the pros and cons and user experience.

As a result, customers trust and prefer buying from them. They mainly cater to the market looking to buy gadgets, electronics, and other consumer goods.

And in their efforts to recommend the best of the best, they have received a lot of praise from media outlets, including getting a story in the New York Times. In 2016, they were acquired by The New York Times for $30M.

How do they make money?

wirecutter

Their monetization model is simple: affiliate commissions primarily through Amazon and Best Buy.

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The Points Guy

the points guy

This site started out as a one-man blog back in 2010, focusing mainly on travel advice and deals.

Since then they have leaned towards travel credit cards that get people free (or low fare) travel stuff like flights and hotels. And the crave for cheap travel stuff has turned this site into a monster.

They pump out 600 articles per month and have about 21 full-time staff. In 2017, they were acquired by Red Ventures for an undisclosed amount, but certainly a deal in the 8-9 figure range.

How do they make money?

the points guy

Their monetization strategy ties in simply with their business strategy: commissions from credit card sales.

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Top Ten Reviews

top ten reviews

This site was founded in 2003 and now has heavy domain authority.

That explains why their site is loaded with juicy content. They use long, wordy articles (3,000-5,000 words) to review digital content like antivirus software and credit card processing which sets them apart from most other content review sites that mainly review tangible products.

However, they do still sell tangible products including ovens, garden hoses, and other such things. It’s cool how they can be good at selling both since they’re entirely different models.

Part of the reason they can do this is because of their team of over 350 employees that are continuously producing new content on a daily basis.

How do they make money?

top ten reviews

Through affiliate sites like Amazon, Bitdefender, Lowes.

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Gear Patrol

gear patrol

This site isn’t content or detail-rich, but it’s photography rich.

Every product review has pictures from all angles, giving customers a thorough idea of how the product looks. Their interesting approach has made it so that lots of their traffic is coming from Instagram and Pinterest accounts.

Gear Patrol was founded in 2007 as an affiliate site catered towards men.

They have links to everything from watches to cars and also run a magazine.

How do they make money?

gear patrol

They started off purely as an affiliate site using Amazon links but since have evolved with Google Adsense and their own e-commerce store.

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Best Reviews

best reviews

Another review site, Best Reviews has you covered by doing reviews in almost everything including music, pets, travel, and much much more.

But they can set themselves apart from the ordinary review site by posting videos, long informational posts, and FAQ for all of the products they link to. For example, after going through their Kate Spade purse overview, I feel like I know everything.

And that’s exactly what makes them a great site.

How do they make money?

best reviews

Purely Amazon affiliate links.

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The Minimalist Baker

the minimalist baker

The Minimalist Baker is your site for everything food and baking.

They offer a ton of mouthwatering recipes and sell cookbooks, courses, and appliances. The site was founded by a savvy couple Dana and John back in 2012 and since then has kept up with the food trends.

Not only does their site attract over 4 million visitors per month but they are also Instagram famous with 1.5 million followers where they share their cooking photography.

They can be found on other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

How do they make money?

the minimalist baker

Affiliate commissions from Amazon associates but they don’t rely entirely on affiliate income as they use Google Adsense and sell their own courses.

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This is Why I’m Broke

this is why im broke

I’m honestly not a huge fan of sites like this since the bulk of the products on their sites are pointless, novel items.

The site name can back me up on this. For example, featured on their site right now is the “No Phone Air”. A phone that has 0 storage, no headphone jack, no batteries, and no features. It’s literally a piece of plastic which is being sold for 5.94 USD. Yet somehow, this product is making sales and gaining reviews.

How?

Because TIWIB saw an opportunity to offer something in trend, and I must give it to them that they are excellent at this.

In fact, the No Phone Air was featured on shark tank getting a ton of attention from that, and leading people to websites like TIWIB to purchase. The website only really took off because of how novel the products were.

It was also featured in Reddit. But what I do like about their site is that it’s easy to navigate because their products are nicely separated into categories.

How do they make money?

this is why im broke

They make money from selling items that seem to trigger one’s sense of fun through Amazon sites.

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Consumer Search

consumer search

Founded almost two decades ago, Consumer Search is a website that posts reviews of products to help the buyer find what they need.

They are one of the leading examples of Amazon affiliate sites with over 2 million visits per month as well as a good example of how someone can make big time bucks from selling.

In 2012, the site sold to About.com for $33 million.

How do they make money?

consumer search

Amazon affiliate links to various products.

Visit site

Outdoor Gear Lab

outdoor gear lab

For all you adventure junkies out there, Outdoor Gear Lab is the site to check out for… well, all your outdoor gear.

OGL has been around since 2010 gaining a good reputation for only reviewing the best gear on the market. Like Wirecutter, they put their products through intensive testing before announcing it. At first glance, OGL looks like a full-fledged e-commerce site.

But once you click a category like let’s say “hiking boots”, you’re brought into a niche site on its own of comparisons and reviews on all the best kinds of hiking boots.

What I admire about this site is that there aren’t affiliate links being flashed all around. Instead, they are more focused on creating a community where account holders can get involved and contribute comments to reviews.

How do they make money?

outdoor gear lab

They use affiliate links from about 6 different partners, giving their customers freedom and choice.

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Website Setup

website setup

An example of a blog that went after a hot niche.

And an extremely competitive one. Website Setup is a blog that focuses on helping customers build their own websites by answering the big questions.

What’s really impressive is that they have managed to rank #1 for well over 1,000 competitive keywords by gaining a strong backlink profile with help from powerful very reputable and authoritative sites.

But of course, these backlinks aren’t coming free. Website Setup creates outstanding content including detailed website setup guides that have helped thousands of people.

How do they make money?

website setup

Affiliate offers and commission.

They market Bluehost pretty heavily so I imagine much of it comes from them.

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Dog Food Advisor

dog food advisor

A nicely designed website is increasingly important these days and Dog Food Advisor does not have a nice website.

In fact, their website is rather lame.

The only thing I see there is a cute puppy. But despite this, they are still able to attract over a million visitors per month. People really care what their dogs eat. What they did really well in is creating a huge guide of dog food reviews from pretty much every brand out there.

Plus their customer comment engagement is off the charts with an average of 60 comments per post.

How do they make money?

dog food advisor

By selling dog foods off of Amazon affiliate links.

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The Military Wallet

the military wallet

In this list, you’ve already read multiple examples on personal finance sites.

However, although The Military Wallet is still a personal finance site, it’s a little bit different. TMW dug into a very narrow niche and caters to military veterans and their families make better financial decisions after leaving the military.

They write about ways veterans can make income, money saving tips, tax-related information, alternatives of going in debt, and other veteran-specific legal matters.

They did well by going into the personal finance niche but targeting a very specific sub-niche.

How do they make money?

the military wallet

Mostly affiliate, they make money from credit card commissions, Amazon associates, and Google Adsense.

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Dating Advice

dating advice

Unfortunately, the online dating industry is filled with spammy sites that aren’t usually honest and are only looking to send you to affiliate sites to make a buck.

But Dating Advice is one of the loyal sites in this cluttered niche. With its focus on “expert advice”, you can get the feeling that they genuinely want to help.

They have actual dating experts available to answer questions, forums, and long blog posts about typical devious dating issues.

By now you’re probably thinking how the heck do they make money? Well, the most common way is by recommending dating sites like eHarmony, Plenty Of Fish, who pay commissions for sending new users their way.

But they are careful by doing it in a subtle way to not come off as sleazy.

How do they make money?

dating advice

As I mentioned, much of their income comes from doing reviews of dating site affiliates.

But they do have a few other ways including “best of” lists with the best dating apps, websites, and products.

They also have sponsored posts here and there.

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Headphones Addict

headphone addict

Most review sites you’ve seen in this list go over a variety of products.

But at Headphones Addicts they purely review headphones. The categories are split up usefully into budget, sport, wireless, etc, making the site very user-friendly.

Who are they? A geek squad made up of 3 people who like headphones a bit too much. Headphones Addict doesn’t look like a typical affiliate site as they publish news stories as well as lengthy reviews.

And just like Top Ten Reviews, they spend hours testing their products before announcing them, making them a trustworthy site for headphone lovers to buy from.

How do they make money?

headphone addict

100% of their income comes from Amazon affiliates.

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100 Days of Real Food

real food

100 Days of Real Food is a great example of an Amazon Affiliate website that’s not a review site.

They focus on recommending certain food products through their blog and resources page.

They have become very popular on social media platforms like Facebook with 1.6 million likes and they also post frequently on Instagram and now have 2,346 posts.

Lisa Leake, the owner, has become an authoritative foodie and uses this to make and sell her own cookbooks. This example is more for the blogger who’d prefer to monetize their site rather than creating a review site.

How do they make money?

real food

They sell everything kitchen as well as some hair products and accessories through Amazon affiliate links.

Visit site

Making Sense Of Cents

making sense of cents

This blog is one of my favorites out there because of the story behind it.

And I think everyone can relate in some way. Back in 2012, Michelle graduated from university with $38,000 in student loan debt. And thus, Making Sense Of Cents was born. The intention behind it was to overcome her financial situation as well as help readers with their financial debts along the way.

Michelle’s a great example of the “making a living online” lifestyle.

She’s currently sailing the world while making roughly $100,000 per month through her blog. The beautiful design of her website slightly disguises the fact that she earns 70% of her income from affiliate links. She promotes these products mainly through reviews and recommendations.

Over the years, she has expanded her focus and now covers MMO (make money online) topics as well. And this is yet another great example of a one-woman blog.

How do they make money?

making sense of cents

Affiliate commissions, digital course sales, and advertising.

Visit site

Conclusion

Hopefully, these examples have opened your mind to what’s possible by building affiliate sites.

While it’s possible to build a nice lifestyle business that makes a few thousand per month, it’s also possible to heavily scale it to a multi-million dollar business.

And while these are super profitable, they’re also some of the most cost-efficient businesses in the world because their business runs on affiliate commissions, that means no customer support, no having to deal with things like product development, customer support, sales teams, etc.

Is there a site you think should be on that list? Is there anything I forgot to mention? Please let me know in the comment section below.

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Dave
    May 6, 2019 at 11:27 am

    This site has lost it’s personal touch. This info is way too generic, and it’s clear that every link is basically an affiliate link to these sites as well. Not that there’s anything wrong with aff links of course, but the value of this post is not high and isn’t really personalized which is why I followed Chris in the first place. I imagine this comment probably won’t get posted as it’s a bit negative. Anyhow, feedback from a once loyal reader, make this about you and your story/ successes rather than rehashing easy listicle style articles that any writer could have put together. If you personalize this, I’ll continue to read, otherwise i’ll unsubscribe. Just my 2 cents.

    • Reply
      Andrej
      May 6, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      Can’t see why would I delete your comment, Dave. That’d be an easy way out :). I’m not really into that.

      Those are not affiliate links nor I have any connection with the site owners. I listed 20 examples of what successful affiliate sites look like because it flows into my 4-part series on affiliate marketing. That’s my forte and what I’ll be (mostly) teaching on this blog. I’ll also publish a lot of personal case studies, success and failure stories – but I decided to start with a simple 4-part introductory series.

      You can also expect to receive a survey email from me in the coming days in which I’ll give you guys, readers of RankXL, a chance to model the main topics of all my future articles (voting system). Hope that makes sense. Hope you’ll stick around 😉

  • Reply
    Cash tribe
    May 6, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Lovely post, I just read my email and saw the update.

    This article has motivated me even more.

  • Reply
    Chenden
    May 6, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Hi thanks do much for this roundup. It shows that being patient in this game is essential for success. On another hand, I would have loved to see this site, momlovesbest. It is also commanding great traffic too.

    Anyway, looking forward to the next part in the series. Thanks

    • Reply
      Andrej
      May 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      Glad to hear you like it, Chenden. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out.

  • Reply
    Kingsley Felix
    May 6, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Nice post, there is a lot to learn from these sites..

  • Reply
    Steve
    May 6, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Disagree with Dave completely. Personalised is great, but anything that is factual and useful is (naturally) valuable!

    Actually, what I *don’t* like is when a good, personal blog ONLY focuses on their own experiences. It becomes a sample size of one.

    By covering a wide variety, you cover more needs. e.g. Affiliate stuff is so commonly discussed on ‘how to make money online’ blogs. But I’m looking to monetise my idea myself (as in the 100 days of real food example above). So, I’m on the lookout for examples that relate to me. As does everyone else.

    In fact, posts such as these (how people are actually, really making money online) are very useful for those starting out. No made up fantasy ideas here…these are real examples.

    • Reply
      Andrej
      May 7, 2019 at 12:49 am

      Thanks, Steve! Appreciate the comment.

  • Reply
    Paul
    May 7, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for posting this even though I know of some of these affiliate sites I don’t know about all.

  • Reply
    Mark
    May 8, 2019 at 1:16 am

    Great list to get inspiration and work hard.

    Please check link to Best Reviews. It is pointing to gearpatrol.com

    • Reply
      Andrej
      May 8, 2019 at 1:19 am

      Good catch! Thanks, Mark.

  • Reply
    Alvin
    July 30, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Really great inspirational post on how to make money. Very curious to know how much those big review sites like TheWireCutter makes a month.

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