I Run A Portfolio of fifty Affiliate Advertising and marketing Web sites

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Hey! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

Hey! My identify is Paul Jansen, 38 years outdated, from the Netherlands, and I’m the founding father of Graphue.

11 years in the past I completed college and determined that I used to be not going to work for a boss. I had already dipped my toes in on-line enterprise once I was 13 once I began an internet courting platform. It was 1996 and to my information, on-line courting didn’t exist again then within the Netherlands, so I satisfied two associates with some developer expertise to get in enterprise with me. We began this on-line courting platform…which failed miserably.

Quick ahead to 2010, when a buddy informed me about this excellent idea referred to as affiliate marketing online. Since I can keep in mind, I used to be searching for methods to earn money the lazy manner, and this idea of getting cash without having to take care of stock all blew my thoughts.

We went into enterprise collectively and began an affiliate newspaper subscription web site. Fairly quickly I discovered that we wanted to drive site visitors with search engine marketing if we needed to make passive earnings, so I devoured the whole lot about search engine marketing that I may get my palms on and optimized the web site. The web site did take off after a couple of months and was certainly very passive (search engine marketing was fairly straightforward again then!).

With sufficient time on my palms, I began to search for new enterprise concepts and I found that you could possibly purchase on-line companies from different folks by a web site referred to as Flippa.com. I couldn’t imagine the common a number of which was like 6-8 months revenue on the time, however I needed to see for myself and acquired a small enterprise for a couple of thousand {dollars}. The web site earned again the funding in 3 months with a comparatively small time funding, so this was working!

I purchased some extra companies and since I’m by no means quick on concepts, I additionally began new companies from scratch. I used to be and nonetheless am horrible at something technical, however fortunately there was one thing referred to as oDesk (now Upwork) to outsource each technical a part of the enterprise.

Quick ahead once more to 2021. I nonetheless run a portfolio firm of maybe 50 web sites (I by no means depend them so I’m undecided truly) in affiliate marketing online, lead gen, digital merchandise, content material, and platforms with a crew of round 45 FTE. The niches fluctuate from authorized to rehab to non-public finance (I simply acquired juststartinvesting) to graphic design and the enterprise that I used to be requested to speak about is within the latter area of interest.


Inform us extra about your portfolio of affiliate websites.

Positive, so after I began with that first affiliate web site in 2010, I noticed that you could possibly run your typical affiliate web site fairly hands-off. I all the time have concepts and may’t cease myself from beginning new issues (I’m now higher at that haha), so for the primary few years each quarter or so I both began a brand new challenge or purchased a web site.

From these 50 web sites, there are solely 20 that make not less than a couple of hundred per thirty days. A number of the remaining 30 are primarily simply there to assist the larger initiatives, by driving site visitors to the opposite websites for instance. Or they’re failed initiatives that I simply can’t let go of.

It’s a whole lot of initiatives to handle however how I see it’s that I’m extra of a portfolio supervisor at an funding agency. I attempt to do as little ‘precise work’ as doable and put the appropriate folks in place.

The challenge that I’m most likely most pleased with is a Dutch rehab platform I run along with a companion – Afkickkliniekwijzer.nl. It’s not my largest earner however we now have helped lots of people over time and obtain many responses from individuals who e-mail us saying our content material helped them beat dependancy or they discovered a rehab facility by us that saved their life.

Let’s discuss Graphue – your newest challenge – how did you give you the concept?

Just a few years again I bought flat-icons.com from Flippa. The enterprise was fairly small on the time with one freelancer designer on board, however I beloved the enterprise mannequin of productized designs.

We grew the enterprise to round 30 FTE and one of many guys within the crew urged that we should always broaden into presentation templates, as he noticed these promoting effectively on platforms that we had been promoting our icons on.

We spun up a WordPress web site and employed a small crew of presentation designers and simply received began. That’s how I construct or purchase most of my companies truly: very intuitively. I feed my instinct by studying and researching rather a lot on the whole, however I often don’t do deep analysis on a enterprise thought if I really feel that there’s a chance. Not saying that’s the appropriate manner although, it’s simply how I do it.

Take us by the method of constructing the MVP.

To construct the web site, we first employed an company for the design and after we had been comfortable, we used two freelance builders to construct the web site; one who sliced the design and constructed the WordPress backend and one specialist for Woocommerce. I believe it value us $10-12K to construct the whole lot. If I’d simply be beginning, I’d simply use WordPress theme. I needed customized for this web site, nevertheless it was a whole lot of problem and I don’t see that a lot worth over working with normal WordPress theme.

Listed here are a couple of of the early sketches. We haven’t deviated a lot from the primary designs:


For the preliminary batch of presentation templates, we employed a couple of specialists. One very skilled template designer managed a couple of extra junior designers. The designers labored for about half a yr to get us a pleasant quantity of templates. Now we now have two full-time template designers in-house who care for new templates and we’re within the technique of hiring the third one.

That’s how I construct or purchase most of my companies truly: very intuitively. I feed my instinct by studying and researching rather a lot on the whole, however I often don’t do deep analysis on a enterprise thought if I really feel that there’s a chance.

It’s not solely designers you want. We even have individuals who care for importing the templates to the web site and the varied marketplaces we promote on. Then there are folks doing matter analysis for brand new templates, writers for the texts on the templates and the product pages, and a lead designer who indicators off on all templates. These folks additionally work for the icon enterprise, so we didn’t want to rent new folks for Graphue.

Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

When the whole lot was prepared, we created a lifetime deal and launched on Product Hunt. We received to #3 for the day, which was OK, and gave the primary few thousand {dollars} in gross sales, buyer suggestions, and a few robust backlinks that assist with search engine marketing.

If you wish to stand an opportunity of attending to the highest positions of the day on Product Hunt, you’ll must mobilize associates, associates of associates, and present prospects that will help you. Ask them to work together in your PH web page. You possibly can’t instantly ask to upvote I imagine (undecided what occurs if the Product Hunt Police finds out although). This information by Demand Curve is a good useful resource on launching on Product Hunt. It has the whole lot it’s worthwhile to know. You’ll need to subscribe to the publication to learn the second half, nevertheless it’s value it.

As with all my different companies, Graphue is financed out of the money movement. I’d solely take outdoors funding once I want it and fairly develop a bit slower. That’s extra a private desire; I all the time favored my independence and I really feel that having traders would imply extra duty. I have already got a girlfriend and two youngsters, in order that’s sufficient duty for me.

Since launch, what has labored to develop the enterprise?

Most of my companies drive virtually fully on search engine marketing, so one of many causes to purchase flat-icons.com was to diversify and never be fully at Google’s mercy. With Graphue, we’re doing the identical and that’s promoting our templates on design marketplaces like Inventive Marketand GraphicRiver. You pay an absurd quantity of fee (GraphicRiver takes a 55% minimize!) however the advertising is just about finished for you. One other market that we’re utilizing is the Appsumo Market. We created a particular lifetime deal for $49 that’s promoting fairly effectively.

The templates are additionally bought on our web site, however for the time being only a small a part of the income comes from our web site. We do some search engine marketing work within the background, nevertheless it’s not a spotlight for this enterprise. When the area is aged slightly bit extra, we’ll begin pushing search engine marketing a bit extra and attempt to get robust backlinks and have a content material technique, however within the meantime, we’ll give attention to the marketplaces.

The technique for the marketplaces is to be ‘in all places’. The good factor about these templates is that they carry on promoting and it’s pretty passive; Icon units that we’ve created 5 years in the past are nonetheless getting gross sales to today.

The benefit of Graphue is that we will construct on the information of Flat-icons. We all know what’s working for us and what isn’t. As a result of the merchandise are so comparable, we will apply the information virtually one-on-one. The worth level of each the icon units and presentation templates is pretty low and up-selling is just not straightforward, so it’s laborious to receives a commission site visitors working. Similar for e mail advertising; prospects are searching for that particular template at that second and getting repeat purchases is simply very robust.

How are you doing at this time and what does the longer term seem like?

This can be a good little area of interest enterprise, and I see it extra as a division of the design enterprise. There may be room for progress, particularly in gross sales on our web site. In the intervening time it’s only a few hundred {dollars} per thirty days, but when we begin ramping up content material and hyperlinks we should always be capable of flip that into a substantial month-to-month quantity.

Reliable folks don’t must say they’re, they simply are.

Wanting on the earnings from the marketplaces, it’s laborious to provide actual numbers as a result of there’s a whole lot of overlap with our different design gross sales. We’ve got some shops the place we promote icons, 3D illustrations, movement graphics, and extra along with the displays, and it’s simply an excessive amount of problem to interrupt down the earnings precisely. Roughly, we’re at $8K per thirty days and the revenue will depend on the way you see the prices of the templates are these an funding or prices of products bought? I may make argument for taking the complete wage of a designer as an funding as a result of we will promote the templates again and again, however I’d say it’s honest to take most prices as an element funding, half prices of products. We’re worthwhile both manner.

The plan is to supply extra templates and innovate throughout the merchandise. We’re doing 3D animations for instance, and we’re seeking to construct presentation templates with the 3D animations constructed into the displays.

By way of beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something notably useful or advantageous?

For the final 10 years, we developed many new web sites and nonetheless we’re making a great deal of errors. You’ll suppose that after creating so many WordPress web sites, organising a brand new one can be a breeze, however for no matter motive, each new challenge has its challenges.

I believe for the following challenge, we gained’t be doing totally customized once more. You surrender some benefits by utilizing a WordPress template, however IMO it’s not all the time value all the difficulty to construct one thing totally customized. If it’s your one enterprise, then sure, customized may be the best choice. However you probably have so many websites as we do, it’s higher to standardize. That’s additionally the rationale why most of our web sites are on WordPress. I hear on a regular basis ‘it’s best to use this fancy new web site builder or this no-code device bla bla bla’ however simply going with one thing that you understand is commonly the best choice. Don’t overlook that your folks additionally must study new techniques once you swap to one thing else. We’ve got stunning SOP’s on WordPress, but when we modify to Webflow for instance, everybody must get used to Webflow and there’s all the time a studying curve for everybody concerned.

What platform/instruments do you utilize for your small business?

I personally wish to maintain it easy and go straightforward on the flowery instruments. Within the design enterprise, we use:

That final one was not my choice, however the crew needed to modify from Trello, so I reluctantly agreed. If it will simply be me, I’m completely nice with Trello and its simplicity, however the Operations Supervisor needed to modify and she or he gave good causes and I believe that as a enterprise proprietor, it’s worthwhile to empower folks and allow them to make choices.

For my different companies, I do use some extra instruments. I like to go on Appsumo and purchase lifetime offers. Most of them we hardly use, however there are ones that stick. Just a few that we’ve been utilizing for fairly a while are Missinglettr for social media scheduling, Yodel for our name middle and Snagit for screenshotting.

What have been essentially the most influential books, podcasts, or different sources?

I by no means received why everybody was listening to podcasts, however since I found My First Million with Sam Parr and Shaan Puri, I’m hooked! I hearken to it each time I can and thru this podcast, I additionally found ‘The right way to take over the world’. They describe the pod themselves as: “HTTOTW tells the tales and analyzes the lives of the best women and men to ever stay. By analyzing their methods, ways, mindset, and work habits, The right way to Take Over the World helps you perceive the good ones so that you could observe of their footsteps.” Nothing so as to add there.

I simply learn what’s now certainly one of my favourite books: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. You possibly can obtain it at no cost – simply google it – and it’s a improbable learn with not solely helpful enterprise suggestions but in addition on the right way to stay your life.

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who need to get began or are simply beginning out?

  1. If you’re simply beginning, it’s tremendous necessary to be curious and attempt to study as a lot as you’ll be able to. Some individuals are extra ‘do-ers’, however on the whole, I see that essentially the most profitable individuals are hungry for studying. Whenever you like what you do, it shouldn’t be an effort to devour content material. Decide the appropriate sources to study from. Most candidates that I interview for an search engine marketing place, for instance, get their search engine marketing information from generic blogs. Dig deep and see who’re the true specialists in your subject.

  2. Decide the folks you’re employed with very rigorously. If you’re beginning a enterprise with a companion, two issues are key: the same ambition degree and complementary expertise. One other be aware on working with the appropriate folks: I’ve been screwed over a couple of instances throughout my profession and it has all the time been by people who find themselves very materialistic, gown impeccably, and dream of driving Lamborghinis. Oh, and by no means belief somebody who says he’s reliable. Reliable folks don’t must say they’re, they simply are.

Are you seeking to rent for sure positions proper now?

I’m all the time searching for proficient folks! Full-time, part-time, junior, or senior, so long as you’re a curious particular person and a pleasant particular person to work with, there may be a match. Listed here are a couple of positions I’m at present seeking to fill:

  • Proper-hand / COO. I don’t suppose I’m notably good at day-to-day operations, so I’m searching for somebody who may also help me on the operational entrance. Contact me when you’re an 80/20 thinker and a real operator. Must have search engine marketing expertise as a result of nature of the enterprise. I’ll train you the whole lot that I do know in order that in a couple of years you’ll be able to both run your personal enterprise or change into a companion of mine

  • Advertising and marketing hacker and search engine marketing specialist. This can be a improbable place in which you’ll be able to study stuff you gained’t study wherever else. You’ll study methods like the right way to recreation sure on-line marketplaces and the right way to (legally) steal audiences from rivals. The particular person I’m searching for is all-around good, technically savvy, and slightly bit pigheaded (not an excessive amount of although

  • WordPress developer

  • Designers – 3D, animations, icons, displays

Heads up, I’m often hiring from lower-wage nations or digital nomads. Get in contact at [email protected] if you’re fascinated with any of the above positions and I’ll let you know extra about it.

The place can we go to study extra?

When you’ve got any questions or feedback, drop a remark beneath!


Paul Jansen
Founding father of Graphue

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