page title icon VPNOnline.com Niche Site Case Study: $2,129/mo in Month 3

Since the month 1 update when I announced the acquisition, I’ve been head down growing this website, performing a giant 200+ article merger, and planning out a content pipeline.

In April 2022 (or month 3 of ownership), the site earned $2,129 compared to $1,204 in March 2022 and $959 in February 2022. A significant increase in revenues!

In this case study write-up, I cover the following:

  • Website traffic, revenue, and cost updates
  • Improvements in April 2022
  • Merger & acquisition of VPNThrive
  • Plans for May 2022

Let’s get into it!




📈 Site Recap

Here is a high-level summary of the acquired website:

  • Purchase price: $33,000, off-market through a referral in February 2022
  • AHREFS DR: 51
  • Referring Domains: 1,970
  • Backlinks: 6,450
  • Monetization: lifetime high-ticket affiliate programs
  • Age: August 2001, site live in 2019

📈 Highlights

  • Acquisition of VPNThrive.com and performed the 301 redirect merger
  • Increased CPA payouts 25% for two VPN services
  • Collected data to shortlist the top 3 converting VPNs and then promote those on commercial guides
  • Added 4 new articles
  • Improved the CRO on 40+ buying guides
  • Reduced unnecessary “white space” to ensure the user sees content, comparison tables, etc. faster when they visit the site
  • Improved category/silo pages by adding pagination

📊 April 2022 Website Metrics

Traffic Breakdown

The traffic on the site has been steady in the 90,000 to 100,000 pageview range across the last few months. Here is April 2022 traffic curve from Google Analytics:

CleanShot 2022 05 11 at 08.42.00 1

Revenue Breakdown By Source

The website 5 different revenue streams from different VPN providers. Here is the breakdown over time:

CleanShot 2022 05 11 at 08.44.07

In April 2022, the breakdown of revenue and costs were as follows:

  • Revenue: $2,129
  • Costs: $1,073
  • Profit: $1,056

Cost Breakdown

Of the costs incurred, $763 was to pay my VA to manage the site in terms of formatting content, moving content over for the merger, and performing small design changes to the site. He gets paid hourly at $6/hour.

Another cost was for 3 new articles from my writer at $30 per article thus $120. Lastly, I paid $190 to my HARO specialist. He sent 19 pitches to journalists. He charges $10/pitch.


👉 Major Updates in April 2022

Re-negotiated Affiliate Commissions -> 25% Increase

This is a strategy I’ve covered in this write-up. Re-negotiating your affiliate commissions is the quickest (and easiest) way to increase revenues with no additional effort.

After I stabilized the site and understood the number of sales generate and from which pages, I immediately reached out to my highest paying affiliate network.

I ask them to increase my CPA by 25% from what it was already. To justify the increase, I made the following points:

  • The promise of higher traffic to their site and thus higher sales
  • 1-year commitment to keep them at the #1 position

After a bit of back and forth for clarification purposes, they agreed and immediately change the payout in my affiliate dashboard.

This gave an immediate 25% boost in revenues from that network.

Easy win!

Tested Google Adsense on High Traffic Page

One page on my site generates 3,000 pageviews/day. It was also a page that initially I was unsure if it would generate affiliate commissions.

I applied to Ezoic, Mediavine, and AdThrive to only show ads on this specific page. All three networks rejected the site due to the “type” of content on the page. That only left me with Google Adsense.

So I ran an experiment.

This is what I did:

  • Added Google Adsense ad blocks in multiple locations on the page
  • Added proper tracking for affiliate commissions to the page
  • Let this run for the whole month of April

This was not a traditional split test per-se. I am not showing Adsense vs affiliates separately; I am doing it simultaneously. It’s significantly more difficult to run a proper split test as it requires a lot more software. I keep things simple.

This is what the data showed:

  • Google Adsense: $113 revenue from 88,000 pageviews at a $1.29 RPM with 842 clicks
  • Affiliate: $380 revenue

While running both of these side-by-side, the specific page generate a good amount of affiliate revenues compared to Google Adsense.

Therefore, in May, I will be disabling Google Adsense and seeing what happens to the affiliate revenues for the month. Ideally, a percentage of the 842 clicks that went to Google Adsense should now go to the affiliate programs and thus generate more sales. However, from experience, I know that is not always the case.

Stay tuned for next month to see what the final results are and if I decide to keep Google Adsense along with the affiliate links.

7 HARO Links Obtained

With the acquisition of this site, I received contact information for a HARO specialist. I hired him on the spot as the value of a HARO link outweighs the costs always.

This specialist charges $10/pitch. He does not charge me for any successful links obtained. It’s a win-win. Note that the market is at $6/pitch as far as I’ve seen but this person is a veteran and I was willing to pay for his talents.

I also laid out some rules for him to follow:

  • Categories will be business and technology. Do not respond to “Anonymous” sources.
  • No marketing, no SEO questions, no HR employee type questions. Tech and business with IT are recommended.
  • DR 40+ only

Here are the results so far:

  • Pitches: 59 (40 pitches in March, 19 pitches in April)
  • Cost: $590
  • Links obtained: 7 links
  • Average DR: 82
  • Average cost per link: $84

The links obtained include Forbes, Go Banking Rates, Yahoo, AOL, SmartSocial, CEO Blog Nation, MSN

Obtaining links at a cost of $84 is unheard of. A huge win and he has been asked to ramp up the number of pitches to get more links.

Read the detailed HARO guide on how to successfully obtain links.


🎉 Acquisition of VPNThrive.com

CleanShot 2022 05 11 at 10.44.01

I love merging sites together. That’s what I cover in my Aged Domain Course and also something I’ve done regularly across my portfolio.

As soon as I published the first update to this case study, a subscriber through my newsletter reached out saying they have VPNThrive for sale. I was intrigued because it was a quality site generating good revenue.

Here were the stats:

  • AHREFs DR 26
  • Notable backlinks obtained from HARO outreach
  • $839/mo average over last 6 months
  • Over 200+ articles and most were not already done on VPNOnline (all unique content)
  • 350,000 words of content published

This was a no-brainer acquisition for me. In one fell swoop, I would be able to acquire 350,000 words of content that were unique (i.e., not already published on VPNOnline) along with $839/mo in average revenues.

Another major benefit was that the domain authority of VPNOnline was DR 52 and thus, in theory, the same content on this site should perform better than on VPNThrive. This was a plus point.

This merger took over 30 days to execute due to the sheer amount of content that needed to be moved over.

Here is what my team and I did:

  1. Performed a detailed content audit in Google Sheets of VPNThrive to understand what content needs to be moved over, merged with existing content on VPNOnline, or deleted
  2. Performed the moving of the content manually. My main VA did this.
  3. Performed the 301 redirects using the Redirection WP plugin
  4. Optimized the top 50 pages on VPNThrive once moved over to VPNOnline for conversions (I didn’t want to lose revenue)
  5. Added an acquisition page. The homepage of VPNThrive is redirected to this page.
  6. Ordered a press release announcing the acquisition
  7. Wait and watched the results as the two sites re-index themselves

It’s too early to tell on the overall impact of this merger as it has only been 2-3 weeks since full implementation.

It can take 2-3 months to see the impact. Stay tuned!

For other resources on merging sites/domains, read these guides:




🆕  Plans for May 2022

Here are my plans for May:

  1. Monitor traffic to see which pages are getting traction (from merger) and then optimize them for CRO
  2. Add a batch of new articles for a new silo related to VPN deals
  3. Continue acquiring new backlinks through HARO
  4. Perform a re-negotiation for another affiliate program
  5. Optimize the homepage for affiliate commissions (homepage receives 200+ visitors per day)

Takeaways: The overall goal in May is to grow the revenue through CRO, content optimization, and affiliate negotiations.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next update!



Analyzed by Mushfiq S

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 200+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.


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