Modern consumers need a second opinion before buying products online. And these opinions and product recommendations can’t come from the company itself.
The manufacturer or service provider is, by definition, biased when it comes to the quality of their product.
So how can consumers compare the features and functionalities of the products they're considering?
Affiliate review sites act as hubs for consumer-driven reviews which can make the difference between a purchase and a pass.
The benefits of these sites are two-fold — consumers receive unbiased product information and the review site owners (that'd be you) can generate revenue through affiliate links.
In this article, we’ll give you the exact steps you need to take to create a profitable affiliate product review site and show real-world examples of the ones doing it right.
Affiliate Review Sites: Monetizing Product Reviews
Affiliate review sites are websites that provide a variety of product reviews for niche and mainstream products.
Very simply, most sites have custom affiliate links on each product review. The site owner earns a commission if a visitor makes a purchase through the link.
But why are review sites so impactful on the buyer's journey?
Why Consumers Use Product Review Sites
At the heart of it, most consumers are looking for a reason not to buy.
They're indecisive, easily swayed, and easily distracted.
That’s why they conduct online research — looking for unbiased opinions.
92% of consumers read at least one review to inform their buying decision, with most reading up to six reviews.
Your affiliate review site, therefore, can provide consumers with the information they need while guiding them to the businesses that have the products they’re looking for.
How Do Affiliate Review Sites Work?
Affiliate review sites are populated with product reviews and optimized for search engines.
For each product that is reviewed, the site contracts with the company (typically through an affiliate network) and receives a custom affiliate link.
Site owners work to drive traffic to the site through a variety of marketing tactics including social media promotion, search engine optimization, and content syndication.
This affiliate link is featured prominently in the product review, so visitors can click through to make a purchase.
Here’s an example of a review from SafeWise, a site that compares and reviews home safety products:
The site receives a commission for making the referral.
Affiliate review sites can be lucrative businesses for site owners, while delivering value to consumers and businesses alike.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of creating an affiliate review site.
Pros and Cons of Affiliate Review Sites
Affiliate Review Sites: Pros
1. You’re creating something consumers are seeking.
Consumers are looking to buy the right product from the right company. With an affiliate review site, you’re helping consumers make an informed decision.
2. They're inexpensive to set up and have high profitability.
An affiliate review site can cost as little as $300 for yearly hosting and maintenance fees.
Once they start getting traffic, affiliates can make between $300 to $10,000 per day, with the higher end reserved for those dubbed “super affiliates.”
Affiliate Review Sites: Cons
1. The focus can be limiting.
Ideally, you want to focus on a niche market with products with reviews as a clear part of the buyer's journey (we'll get into recommendations below).
But what if you go down a route that’s too limiting? You’re leaving a bunch of products on the table that you can earn commissions from.
2. Some niches are extremely competitive.
There are already a lot of review sites on the market and getting traffic to yours won’t be easy.
Real-Life Examples of Affiliate Review Sites
Let’s take a look at a few live sites that are excellent examples of success.
We're not going to dive into the strategies they've implemented (you can get that in our Guide to Niche Site Monetization). Instead, these examples are worth reviewing to get inspired for your own site creation.
They're all optimized for conversion, and are some of the most successful examples there are.
Let's take a look.
Affiliate Review Site Example #1: NerdWallet
NerdWallet is an affiliate review site in the financial services niche. They provide reviews of a range of financial products such as credit cards, mortgages, loans, and insurance.
Affiliate Review Site Example #2: Website Builder Expert
Website Builder Expert provides in-depth reviews of website builders and hosting services. They earn commissions for each referral they make.
PickMyShaver.com reviews and compares electric shavers. This site sold for over $60,000 on Flippa.com after generating over $8,000 per month in affiliate commissions.
The first two examples above do well, but they’re also in extremely competitive niches. Competing in these niches would be difficult unless you have sizable resources.
Don’t let that discourage you though, as you can still build an affiliate review site around more niche products and generate a steady income.
How to Create Your First Affiliate Review Site: An Actionable Walkthrough
Follow these steps to create your own profitable affiliate review site.
Step 1. Select a Focus For Your Site
There are two approaches you can take: build an authority site for an industry (broad) or focus on a smaller niche (narrow).
Authority sites are large sites that provide tons of value. Building these types of sites requires a long term approach, but they have huge earning potential.
An example of an authority site is The Spruce, which has tens of thousands of how-to articles and product reviews in the home decor space:
A niche site, on the other hand, focuses on a smaller segment of a larger market. These sites typically contain 10 to 20 pages for product reviews and other supporting content.
An example of a niche site is DumbbellsReview.com, which provides product reviews and comparisons on different types of dumbbells:
Choose a niche that interests you. The best ones are those that are evergreen — markets that are relevant year-round and have tons of products you can promote.
Check out the following resource if you’re still struggling to find a niche: “The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Profitable Niche.”
Step 2. Buy a Domain Name and Reliable Web Hosting
Avoid using exact match domains. (domain names that contain the main keywords you’re targeting, like BestPCGamingChairs.com).
These domains aren’t a good idea for two reasons: they appear spammy and they limit the kinds of products you can promote.
Use a tool like Namelix to generate brandable names for your affiliate review site.
Here are some names the tool gave me for the keyword “gaming chair”:
The tool will even tell you if the domain name is available.
I recommend using NameCheap — they’re a reliable domain registrar and you can register a .com for $8.88 a year.
You’ll need web hosting services for your domain. I recommend using BlueHost as they offer affordable plans and have cPanel with one-click installs for WordPress.
Step 3. Set Up Your WordPress Site
WordPress is (unsurprisingly), a viable option to start your affiliate review site. It’s easy to set up and there are hundreds of themes and plugins available.
Login to your new BlueHost account and go to the My Sites tab. Then click the Create Site button in the corner.
Enter your Site Name and Site Tagline and click Next. Then select your domain from the drop-down menu (you’ll need to change the nameservers on Namecheap).
Click Next to install WordPress and click the Login to WordPress link to open your new site.
Then install a new theme for your affiliate review site to replace the old one. You can find tons of great looking product review themes from ThemeForest.
Install the following plugins to add even more functionality to your site:
- Jetpack: Site security
- Yoast SEO: SEO
- Pretty Links: Link management and tracking
- MonsterInsights: Site analytics
- Contact Form 7: Lead gen
Only install those plugins you need, as adding too many can slow down your site.
Step 4. Perform Keyword Research
Keyword research helps guide your content decisions and provides insight into what relevant phrases your audience is seeking.
Start with Keyword Planner — a free keyword research from Google. You can use the tool to discover new keywords and get search volume.
Type in your keywords and click Get Results:
The tool will then show you additional keywords along with average monthly searches and how competitive those terms are.
These monthly search volumes have a rather broad range. To get more accurate data, click a keyword and add it to a plan. Then click Plan Overview on the left side.
We can expect close to 12,000 impressions or searches a month for the keyword “portable basketball hoop”.
You can also use paid tools like KWFinder or Ahrefs for even more metrics like backlink data and keyword difficulty.
Compile a list of relevant keywords and map them to your site’s structure. Here’s an example of how you can map those keywords to pages on your site:
A solid site structure helps visitors navigate your site and makes it easier for search engines to crawl your pages.
Step 5. Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar is a working document that helps you organize your content and establish a posting schedule.
There are several ways you can create a content calendar. Here’s a simple example of how you can use Google Sheets to create a content calendar:
Nothing fancy here.
You can also use tools like Coschedule to manage and organize your content calendar (extremely useful if you decide to hire freelancers):
If you prefer working in WordPress, there’s a plugin called Editorial Calendar that lets you manage upcoming content:
Use what works best for you. The most important thing is to actually use your content calendar and stick to your publishing schedule.
Step 6. Outline Your First Blog Post
All great content begins with an outline. This helps you stay on track and is useful if you need to delegate the content to a writer.
Here’s a breakdown of how to outline your blog posts:
Introduction: Follow the PAS (Pain, Agitate, and Solution) framework to get visitors to read through your article. (e.g., “There’s no shortage of camping tents. How do you pick the best one for your needs? Here we’ll provide in-depth reviews of the top camping tents.”).
Flesh out your outline to finish up your blog post.
Check out the following guide for writing a product review: “5 Point Checklist For Writing The Perfect Affiliate Product Review (With Two Real Life Example Reviews”).
Step 7. Optimize On-Page SEO Factors
Consumers today seek opinions online to inform their purchasing decisions. 59% of shoppers say they use Google to research products before buying in-store or online.
Optimize your content to reach consumers who are conducting product research online. Here’s a quick checklist you can refer to:
- Add your main keyword in your title tag
- Use SEO-friendly URLs (e.g., yoursite.com/hiking-gear/best-hiking-shoes)
- Optimize your meta description
- Include secondary keywords in H2 tags
- Optimize your image ALT text
- Add your keywords throughout the content
- Implement a mobile-responsive design
- Avoid showing popups or modals on mobile
- Include internal and external links
- Improve page loading times
The Yoast SEO plugin also has a neat content analysis feature that shows how optimized your content is based on a target keyword.
Then add in your affiliate links.
If you’re promoting the Amazon Associates Program, you can use the SiteStripe toolbar to create affiliate links with your tracking code from any product page.
There are also plenty of affiliate programs you can sign up for. Hit the publish button once your content is ready.
You need to promote your site to reach your audience and generate sales.
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter offer a good starting point. 40% of people use social media to conduct product research.
You can’t actually add your affiliate links to any paid social ads. But what you can do is create a post on your Facebook page and add your links.
Here’s an example of how this looks:
No matter which social networks you promote on, it’s important to add a disclosure that you’ll earn a commission if a visitor buys through your link.
How Can You Run an Ethical Review Site?
If you are accepting free products or are earning a commission on products, you should state this clearly on your site.
For example, affiliate site Making Sense of Cents includes a disclosure at the top of each blog post:
The site owners clearly state that they earn a commission if visitors make a purchase through an affiliate link.
Put a disclaimer on your affiliate review site to ensure you comply with the FTC’s endorsement guidelines. It should also be in a location that’s clearly visible.
Affiliate review sites can be incredibly lucrative.
Both authority and niche sites are viable options to make money online. Set up your site, map out your content plan, add your affiliate links, and promote your new site.
Follow the steps outlined above to create a bustling website that’s useful for consumers and businesses, while generating cash for yourself at the same time.