Building a Website Using an eCommerce Affiliate

My great-grandfather, grandfather and father were and are in the home textiles business, and each built and owned his own retail store. While growing up, I visited many of the Manhattan showrooms of my father’s suppliers, and I attended many tradeshows at the Javitz Center, domestics buildings and gift buildings. I spent my summers in high school and college working in my father’s store, which is one reason he and I are so close.
Although many people speculated that I would end up taking over my father’s business, my entrepreneurial spirit led me to become a domain investor, where I found this neat little niche. I didn’t think I would follow in my father’s footsteps in the home textiles business, but this assumption may change due to a timely introduction.
A few weeks ago in my “5 With Mike Berkens” interview, I mentioned the success my friend Mike Berkens had with his affiliate development of He built a relationship with Torrey Commerce, an ecommerce affiliate site that builds, maintains, and operates websites as an affiliate. Many of the brands offered on are brands in which I am familiar, due to my experience working with my father.
After speaking with Torrey Commerce and Mike, I am going to try an experiment. I recently registered a *nice* two-word domain name related to the home textiles business. I am going to use Torrey Commerce to build an affiliate site on my domain name. (I know what you are thinking – not impressive. Even if 100% of the traffic converts and buys product, 100% of 0 traffic will yield $0.00.)
Here’s where my experiment comes into play:
Instead of hoping or wishing that people type this domain name into their browsers when they haven’t before, I am going to do keyword research and build content around many of the pages. My goal is to build a hybrid site around the affiliate site, helping my site rank higher in the search engines. Torrey’s content management system will allow for easy insertion of text, and I will try to optimize the pages as best I can with unique content.
I will focus on the highest value luxury products, as the margin is the greatest. Incidentally, based on a bit of research I have already done, there aren’t many searches for many of the luxury brands, and there aren’t many developed sites either. While traffic will presumably be light, by focusing on the smaller niches, I hope to convert this traffic. I intend to use Google Adwords to buy niche keywords where the potential payoff is greatest.
I also plan to work with my father to build a blog on the site in phase two. My father is an expert in the home textiles business, and this would be another differentiating point to drive traffic. Additionally, I may work with my father to meet potential vendors for my website. Perhaps my father can open doors for some of his smaller suppliers, and he could receive a small percentage of ALL sales from these vendor across the Torrey network of websites and affiliates, similar to a brokering fee. This is well down the road, but there are many opportunities.
The cost for me is fairly minimal, as I am basically only paying for the domain name ($7.50) a unique logo ($150), and Adwords (TBD). Of course I plan to spend my own time building content for the landing pages, but I think the potential benefit will outweigh the risks. And, one of the best parts of this project is that it will allow me to work with my father again! I guess some people were right about me going into this business after all.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Nothing personal Elliot but you’re just discovering this model? There are literally thousands, if not millions, of affiliate marketers already doing this- it’s one of the oldest monetization models out there. We have over fifty sites ourselves with this exact model working with Linkshare, CJ, Amazon, Clickbank, etc.

    Good luck but frankly you’re a little late to the show.

    Better late than never I suppose. From what I’ve seen, most don’t permit the extensive customization I plan to incorporate. If there are many similar companies out there, it will be good to know I can expand to other verticals should I find success in the home textiles vertical.
    The other point is that I will have the opportunity to incorporate my Internet/domain interests with my knowledge of the home textiles industry.

  2. I hope “too late” wasn’t meant literally as that would not be accurate, I assume instead you mean to say it’s old news.
    Never too late in affiliate marketing if you are willing to learn all the tricks to it. Of course, exceptions would be if you are trying to break into a super competitive vertical like mortgages where you’ll have a tough time with rankings and cpc to get the needed volume from all the established players and marketers. But textile related stuff sounds open enough.

  3. Sure, the model isn’t original but it’s great that someone more known for their domaining knowledge will “get their hands dirty” with affiliate marketing / search marketing. I’m sure it will be a great learning (and earning) experience.

  4. “The cost for me is fairly minimal…”

    What about the costs for Torrey Commerce to build an affiliate site for you?


    No cost for building or hosting the site.

  5. As a high volume affiliate marketer with 9 years of SEO and SEM experience, I commend you Elliot for starting. Agree that Aff Mktg is not new, but anyone who thinks it is now worth learning to date is highly mistaken. 2008 will be our best Aff Mktg year with between $3-$5 million in commissions all driven by SEO and PPC traffic.
    It is this business that almost in reverse from most domainers allows us to domain. Not familiar with Torrey Commerce, but we do big business with all the major Aff and CPA networks.
    I believe you will find solid success in this area.

  6. Ari is wrong about breaking into super-competitive verticals like mortgages. Most of the incumbents aren’t totally SEO-savvy, especially with more recent techniques. A lot of the incumbents have pretty much left their development behind, happy at their high rankings.

    Last year I took on the most competitive mortgage niche in the UK and went from no site to a #8 ranking site for the particular keyword. I then sat back to regroup and now I’m going on a full-on attack for the #1 slot.

    Anything is possible with the right skill and time.

    I love buying domains and developing them rather than letting them sit in my parked portfolio. Doing that just leaves so much money on the table.

    Good luck Elliot! And don’t leave behind – I’m eager to see that launch.

    Still plugging away at More updates very soon! Still hoping for a mid-end-February launch.

  7. “A little late to the show”.
    Sometimes those that show up late, can garner attention.
    My general view is that it’s almost never “too late” to start something on the Net.
    The medium demands freshness and innovation. Those that have been doing something for a while or long time risk becoming complacent.
    My guess is that when Elliot puts his mind to something, good/great things can happen.

  8. Help Needed!
    In regards to the affiliate industry, niche affiliate marketing, and marketing your own domains for upcoming auctions.
    I also plan on taking the iniative with PR matters regarding any auction that my domains are in. I want to target companies that advertise as sponsored links for that keyword or keyword phrase in the cases where my domain shows up in the 1-5 position on the first page.
    I am trying to get a handle on how I can best present the case to these companies for purchasing my domain that ranks as high or higher than their own sites which they have paid dearly for that position.
    My challenge is to get an idea how much it may be costing them to be there. I am looking at Google AdWords Traffic estimator to see what a word like “affiliate” and other variations might cost an advertiser a day for “x” clicks. I am assuming if the the same advertiser shows up as a paid sposored link under every search variation of “affiliate(s)” -and I have ran tons of searches- than that sponsored link, according to AdWords costs $5,000 a day for 2,000 clicks. That is $1,825,000 a year!!
    Let’s just say that one of the big affiliate firms pays half that budget, and I own 150 “affiliate” domains that rank on the first page, top 1-7 positions naturally. In theory, how much money could that advertiser save over 5-10 years by purchasing one or more of my domains?
    I am sure that there is no easy answer, but do you have any idea how I could devise a formula so that I could present a proposition to these advertisers?
    I would appreciate any input that you have. I am trying to get ready for Moniker’s Affiliate Auction in February.

  9. I admit I’m arriving late to this party, too. My brother and I have been so fixated on monetizing in the GeoDomain world and developing other names like and, that we know very little about this. I like the look and feel of what Michael is doing with and I assume this is also what Scott Day is doing with his
    We have a good number of generic names with heavy intuitive traffic (,, etc) that could benefit from situations like this. Can anyone point me in the right direction to companies that will set these up for us?

  10. No Domainers…I don’t you to learn the AFF industry of develop your sites. Our AdSense distribution via domain parking channels have possibly our highest ROI…in other words…domainers are not getting anything near total value.
    @David – I will offer advice on Affiliate program options (may not solve your auto-setup desires, but will share top payouts, great partners, etc on top Aff networks) if you can provide some insight into the development of our STATE.COM domain. We are on buildout and debating some structure issues. Not a, but it is an exact

  11. Interesting read! Amazon aStore is mentioned. I then thought I would mention an alternative to Amazon, namely Zlio. Zlio is also easy to set up, customize and embed into your web site.

  12. Hi Elliot,
    I commend you on your new project, I don’t think it is ever to
    late in the online world if you have a strong focus.
    I have been building affiliate websites for 5 years now and some of my most successful ones have been in the past 12 – 18 months or so.
    I have also been consulting with clients & JV Partners on Google AdWords for the past 4 years with my business so if I can lend a hand in anyway with your campaign I am happy to help.
    I will finish off withone of my favorite quotes from Sir Cecil Beaton – ” Be daring, be different, be impractical;
    Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”
    Good fortune mate!
    Ed Keay-Smith

  13. @Charles: very glad to hear you broke through, and that I could be more often wrong on that than correct. I would still standby with caution for others not to expect “easy” results on super competetive terms, though I’d only put very very few in that category so maybe it doesn’t matter here at all.
    @David: from what I understand about Torrey Commerce is that they provide supposedly a very good system to manage a business that is run through drop-shipping vendors. They put up their own resources upfront to deploy their system, also provide any support, credit card charging, and in their supported niches relationships with vendors who already participate. They can tell you more about it.
    But basically it means any vendor relationships you have separately, you can bring them into the fold to use their backend system so that everyone earns. When something is sold the vendor ships it, you get a %. Obviously if both parties get the % both in theory are encouraged to do more in terms of signing on even more vendors or driving more traffic, SEO, etc.
    The good part is that you don’t need to do anything at all other than to point your domain, provided they can handle that niche well with a wide enough vendor support (certainly with things like textiles/bedding etc they seem to have it all covered, ask them directly about your niches like manicure). But from what I learn you can get as little or as much involved as you want, which is also good. The more attention you give your properties too besides just rediecting the better it can do long term.
    The neutral part (in my opinion) is that SEO is not negatively affected, sometimes quite positively. A lot of factors play into it, but it’s a major concern. I have found some systems have total disregard and deploying them ruins your chances for ranking. It seems they have this very much on their mind so not to worry (though you could get your own SEO guys to help as much as you wanted to I understand, if that’s your thing).
    The bad part is that if you would want to devlop a super brand that not only converts traffic and ranks well, but gets word of mouth in the society, you loose a little bit of control due to drop-shipping behind the scenes. That is, are all the boses shipped from 100 different vendos going tosay on it like they do for They most probably will not, though I doubt most of us care here at this point with so much to do. But it’s just worth noting. You also, probably, wouldn’t be able to get all vendors to insert promotional materials with all drop shipped items, like coupons for next purchases, or advertising the way Amazon does. So little things like that, but the only way to get that under control is to get your own warehouse operation I suppose. Then again for something potentially big as, maybe that’s the way it ought to me “some day”.

  14. Elliot, just found your blog and enjoy your voice, congratulations on the award! I hope you’ll blog about copiously. I see your domain has very high search numbers in wordtracker. can you share what the traffic and earnings were while it was parked? would make a great story to start at the very beginning…

    I’m interested in doing something similar though I’ll be forced to use a weaker domain.


    ***UPDATED BY ELLIOT*** is actually owned by Mike Berkens, so I don’t have any details about the name. Thanks for reading my blog!

  15. Great discussion- I hope nobody felt too negatively about my initial comment as I agree that the opportunities are unlimited.
    Now for a question: anyone here know any serious Amazon API programmers?

  16. Elliot,
    First, congrats on your award; thanks both to your own efforts as well as the valuable contributions of many of your readers; your blog has become an excellent domain/biz resource.
    Second (and I’m sure the Castellos [congrats on your awards–2!–as well, guys] will likely agree w/me here), you’ll want to be very cautious about how much time you devote to other projects–especially in these important early months/years of its “life”–if you expect to make all that it can be.
    As much work as gathering/creating the content and the site itself is, your toughest work (as I’ve discovered myself) is actually yet to come…signing up the Lowell-area biz owners/advertisers (assuming they are to be at least part of your intended revenue stream).
    Doing so is going to require “advertising-boots-on-the-ground” … yours and/or others (thick skin optional, but well-advised).
    David, if I owned (and especially w/your deep experience signing up biz’s as paying, recurring-revenue advertisers), I’d probably consider following Sahar’s model.
    Since manicurists are easily reached via state licensing lists, industry membership/association lists, industry-specific/targeted publications, etc; you wouldn’t need a national physical sales force to reach this marketplace to sign up the manicurists.
    I’d sure rather build out an ad/industry platform like that than set up drop-ship and/or warehouse operations–ugh!

  17. Hi Elliot
    I have been interested in using an affiliate model for some time now but have not to date taken the step, I keep prevaricating between offering some of my portfolio for sale in groups or using the affiliate model to develop a commanding position in the Italian insurance, auto markets as they evolve.
    My question to you is do you believe that generic domains registered in clusters offer an advantage when partnering with an affiliate who operates a turnkey ecommerce solution.
    It has always seem to me to be that generic domains are more powerful when each can offer a platform for unique content with the ability to support each others ultimate purpose to support a brand, I was considering putting the Italian generics into the Paris TRAFFIC auction to test the water but the generics as a group have IMO more power and breaking this up I think is a bad move.

    I would very much appreciate your view

    U.K. platforms / / / / /
    Italian ( Assicurazione is Italian for Insurance ) (assicurazione auto = car insurance ) (assicurazione moto = motorcycle insurance ) = (life insurance) = (house insurance)
    ————————————————————– ( Vendita is Italian for Sale / Vendite = Sales = vendite auto = car sales )
    ————————————————————– ( Sportive is the Italian feminine plural for Sports, (Google Italy lists 34 million pages) auto sportive = sports car /
    ————————————————————– ( Prezzi and prezzo are both terms for price prezzi auto = car price )
    ————————————————————– ( Rivista is Italian for Magazine rivista auto = car magazine / rivista moto = motorcycle magazine )
    ————————————————————– ( Italian for Luggage ) ( Italian for all Leather goods handbags, briefcases, purses…….)
    ————————————————————– ( feminine for erotica = erotic)

    I am not sure since I have no experience with this. I would imagine that the more quality/converting traffic a network of sites brings the affiliate, the more generous the revenue share will be.

  18. Great Article.Turnkey businesses are becoming more and more popular for newbies to the internet these days as a quick starting income earner. Those that stick at it, are making alot of success. And of course membership websites are being created all the time, and for those that work hard, are creating alot of residual income, which is what everyone at the end of the day is trying to create, look forward to reading some of your future articles

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