October 14, 2021

Why to avoid buying adsense or affiliate websites

If you are just getting started buying websites online, you’ll be easily mislead at the possibility of finding easy passive income. Sites like Flippa.com or empireflippers have hundreds of listings promising this. Most of them are for content” only sites that generate revenue via ads or affiliate links (usually Amazon affiliate links). Otherwise, these sites offer no service that customers pay for. The risks associated with said sites are:

  1. Being able to continue generating content
  2. Not losing your traffic
  3. Stability with your income

The first one is a risk that can be mitigated easily. Either generate the content yourself or hire someone to do it. Whether that will be profitable for you or not is an entirely different discussion.

The second one is a much more difficult risk to manage. Most of the traffic for these sites comes from Google. That is a huge risk that you essentially have no control over. Some will say that there are things you can do to prevent losing your google ranking and yes, I agree with that. But its not a perfect solution, that always works and in my opinion your incoming traffic should be diverisifed. I Look for at least 20-40% direct traffic and 5-20% social traffic.

The third risk is probably the most under-recognized’ by newbies, and the one most relevant to this story. Several years ago, I had plans to purchase a site. It was a high traffic (>50k a month) content site that would create top 10 lists for books. Income was about 1-2k a month, off Google ads and Amazon affiliate links. Got a great deal for around ~28k. Transferred over the site with no issues. Set it up on my own WordPress hosting, replaced all the Google ads and Amazon affiliate links with my own and we were off. Income started to come in similar to what was reported. Things were good for about a week or two until I got an email from Amazon. Your Amazon affiliate account has been denied”. Well that is weird I thought to myself. I tried again with a different account and eventually tried multiple different times to no success. The main reason Amazon gave for my account not being approved was: lack of original content”.

My interpretation of what happened was that because the seller had a more reputable/older’ Amazon affiliate account they didn’t scrutinize his account as closely. This is a phemonen that I have noticed happening even with Google Adsense recently as well.

Ultimately, the seller was very reasonable (don’t ever buy from an unreasonable seller) and agreed to refund the money minus a month of lost profit. I’ve always regretted that deal not working out because I had a very nice algorithm written that could have automated a lot of the writing process.

Since this incident I now ask all sellers to replace their ads/links/etc with my own for about 2 weeks, prior to purchasing, just to make sure there weren’t be any hiccups after transferring the site. Many say no and I’m totally ok with that. Just means they either have something to hide or aren’t’ willing to put in a little bit of effort to sell their site.

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