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How The New York Times Makes $1 Billion Per Year With SEO & Affiliate Marketing

β€” Alexandra Ardelean

Print media is dying. Daily newspaper circulation has dropped by over 50% since 2020, and roughly two newspapers go out of business every week.

But one company is thriving in the digital age: The New York Times.

The New York Times' revenue has been growing since 2016, and in this article, I'm going to show you how they're making over a billion dollars per year with SEO and affiliate marketing.

Digital Transformation

The New York Times launched digital subscriptions in March 2011, and since then, their digital subscription revenue has been growing year over year for over a decade, bringing in around a billion dollars per year in revenue.

What started as a digital subscription has evolved into a digital product experience, available for around $6 per week. This includes access to news, games like Wordle, the cooking app, and more.

Other Revenue Source

In addition to their digital subscription business, The New York Times has another revenue source that has nearly tripled since 2016, making up roughly 10% of their total revenue today.

So what's the secret?

Unveiling the Secret: Other Revenues

Other revenues primarily consist of licensing and wire cutter affiliate referrals.

Wire cutter was acquired by the New York Times in October 2016. It's a product recommendation site that makes money through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate referrals are commissions generated through affiliate marketing. For example, Amazon pays out a 4.5% commission for products like air fryers in the kitchen category.

The New York Times is one of the most authoritative brands on the planet with around 100 million followers across their social accounts and a website just outside the top 100 most powerful domains.

So when they do affiliate marketing at scale, it's big business.

Let me illustrate this with an example:

If you purchase an air fryer via my Amazon link, I receive a commission. The New York Times also earns a commission if you buy an air fryer through their Amazon link.

But because they have so much traffic and authority, they can do this at scale. So if you buy an air fryer through their link on Amazon, they get paid a commission too.

And if you think about all the products people buy online every day - from air fryers to mattresses to laptops - it adds up quickly.

Why Affiliate Marketing Works for The New York Times

Affiliate marketing is a perfect add-on business for The New York Times because:

  • It requires low initial investment
  • They already have an authoritative brand.

This means they can make money from day one without having to spend millions of dollars building out a new product or service.

The Wirecutter's Journey

Pre-acquisition, Wirecutter.com was getting around a million monthly visits from Google search. It was acquired for a reported $30 million in October 2016.

Within one year from the acquisition date, content doubled and organic traffic tripled on Wirecutter.com.

In May 2020, all content from Wirecutter.com was migrated to the New York Times domain. This was risky as it meant dropping traffic to zero initially but then restoring and tripling search traffic to nearly 15 million monthly visits from Google search alone by November that year.

Success After Migration

The New York Times Wirecutter ranks for many best product name queries on Google like best air purifier, best gifts for dad, best wireless outdoor home security cameras, and thousands more.

This is how they're making over a billion dollars per year with SEO and affiliate marketing. And it's not just them - there are many other companies doing this too.

It's difficult to estimate exact revenue from wire cutter due to factors like digital subscriptions being sold alongside affiliate products. But it's clear that The New York Times capitalized on wire cutter's success through SEO and affiliate marketing.


If you want to learn how to start your own affiliate marketing site like Wirecutter.com for free, I have a course on YouTube that walks you through everything step by step.