Getting Started with Affiliate Programs

affiliatemarketing-585x301

Affiliate Marketing is probably one of the most popular forms of Internet Marketing, since it doesn’t involve having to create, stock, or sell problems of your own. You simply earn commissions from referring customers to the affiliated product. It is pure marketing, in that you promote and advertise for a third party.

As I mentioned before whatever you do with Internet Marketing you are basically connecting customers and products. Therefore, finding the right customers, and the right products, is essential.

These days most large online retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, have affiliate programs. There are also vast networks of affiliate programs for almost every industry you can think of. Commissions will vary widely, from around 6% for a book or DVD from Amazon to 75% or more from selling digital products such as eBooks, Software or Memberships. Some affiliate programs will pay fixed fees, such as $50 per customer. Some will even pay recurring commissions, for services that are billed monthly or members for private sites. It’s easy to see why this form of marketing is attractive.

If you want to earn good money from affiliate programs it’s essential you aim for one that suits you. Some marketers will swear by targeting smaller, less overcrowded niches, so you can focus your efforts there and become a big fish in a small pond. Others will aim for higher payouts, so even though the amount of sales might be lower, the overall profits are good. It’s different for everyone.

One of the first things you do is decide what, and how, to promote. Traditionally paying directly for clicks has been proven to work, but getting it wrong can cost you dearly. Using a system such as Googles Adwords you bid on keywords, pay for every click from that keyword, and direct that visitor to a page where, hopefully, they’ll buy. As an example we’ll say you’re promoting a company that sells motorcycles. These are high value items, with considerable potential rewards. If an average sale of $10000 nets you $650 in commissions, and 1 in 1000 customers you send to the website buys, you know that you can afford to spend around $1.50 per customer. Spend less per customer, make more money. You’d therefore target keywords in Google with terms such as “Buy Motorcycle” – but that would be too vague, and cost dearly. So perhaps “2013 Suzuki GSX-R 750″ is a little more targeted. Perhaps you’d discover customers are unlikely to buy a motorcycle online at all, or it’s only 1 in 10000 who’d buy, but the beauty of Pay Per Click campaigns with Adwords and others is that you can quickly get a feel of how much traffic will cost, and how much you could potentially make. Another example is to target local sales, e.g. “Cable TV in Virginia” or “Broadband in Miami, Florida”. Still massive markets.

The other major way of getting traffic is through the search engines directly, so called Organic Search. These are the sites people visit when searching for information or even when looking to buy. To be successful here your site, or pages on your site, must rank highly, preferably on the first page, for terms people use to search. Getting ranked high is an industry in itself, but in short the keywords you use, the sites that link to you, the age of the site, and the content all contribute. It’s always best to aim your site at your human visitor first and worry about the search engines last, as good quality content, regularly produced, will always win out. Sites such as Blogs, Review Sites, and Forums are all easy to build content for in specific niches. Take for example Amazons affiliate program. You might decide to drill down through the categories (Amazons “Best Sellers” in niche categories are a good start) and start promoting their “Garmin Approach G3 Golf GPS Unit”. It’s a specific item in a popular but still less crowded niche (and as a bonus, golf players tend to have more disposable income). You could build a few pages around that product, and others, and start including articles on GPS systems in golf to build content. At around $160-$200 a pop the commissions could add up on this one item. WordPress is a great platform for building niche sites. A content site that grows over time could slowly target every variation of keyword, increasing your rankings as you do.

The great advantage of affiliate marketing is that once you’ve found that ideal product and that ideal audience you build from there, either tweaking your PPC campaigns, adding more products to your portfolio, adding content to your sites, or driving traffic from other sources such as social networks, youtube, or even offline (print ads, flyers, phone). Most of the effort involved in affiliate marketing is driving all this traffic. Some affiliate programs even increase commissions are you get more sales, and the top affiliates often benefit from one-to-one partnerships rather than fixed percentages.

Most marketers will start with affiliate marketing due to the ease of starting up. I won’t say it’s easy making a big income, but once you understand how it works there’s only really one way to go… up!

Finally, a popular affiliate site that sells digital products is Clickbank. You can often enjoy 50% commissions plus on products from here, since the seller has no real overheads other than providing their products digitally. Other websites even offer 100% commissions on digital products, usually direct from the site rather an affiliate network, since to the seller the value is not that initial sale, but rather the lifetime of the customer. All this is worth noting when you consider that affiliate marketing not only refers to you making sales as the affiliate, but the flip side – getting affiliates to sell for YOU…

 

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Entrecard’s New Changes

Entrecard has long been a popular ad-swapping service for blogs.

You can see their widget over on the sidebar. The idea is you display cards on your site (which are 125×125 image ads) and you earn credits, and you can click on ads on other sites to earn more credits. You get to approve or deny which ads appear on your site. To place your ad on other blogs you simply purchase slots on them, using up your credits. Unlike a traditional banner display you always had the ability to choose where to leave your ads, and what ads to accept. The cost of ads, in credits, varied according to the popularity of the site in question.

It was a pretty useful service which allowed you to network with other blogs and share traffic. By using the Entrecard Toolbar you could quickly browse other blogs in the network and drop or click ads where you wanted.

Now, and rather controversially, the Entrecard network is accepting *paid* ads. This is so that the owner can monetize his network in some way and – he says – both pay for the service and share the revenue with its members by purchasing credits back.

Of course the Entrecard community, or some quarters of it, are up in arms. It seems a free ad swap network is turning into a paid network with paid ads popping up on users dashboards everywhere. Paid ads are mixed with free ads, and you can still accept/deny them as you see fit or automatically allow all ads according to various criteria – for example, automatically allow all ads, all free ads, all ads in your category, etc. As for the income sharing, it seems you have to register for it, and acceptance isn’t guaranteed…

Other issues like clearing the forum and asking all users to re-register have only made the matter worse. However, even though personally originally I wasn’t too happy about this and quite shocked now that I’ve calmed down a bit I see it differently :-)

Of course the owner has the right to make some money out of it. These servers and other features don’t come free. Also, the way it’s set up means you can still accept or deny paid (or any) ads at will. The traffic sharing element is still there, and the paid ads have a benefit too, as in you earn more credits for them. Closing the forum is probably a bad move, as it smacks of censorship, removing dissent. And the revenue sharing is a bit of a mess, either everyone automatically shares or no-one.

So it’s a bit of a mixed situation at the moment. Entrecard, in it’s favour, is an easy to use, popular, and quick loading / low overhead ads system for your blog. If you want paying for your impressions, there are many better ways – but kudos to the developer for incorporating it well. And if you want traffic from it, it’s success relies on the people in the network – and there are other networks.

At first glance it looks like Entrecard built a business by pulling the punters in to a free service then cashing in on them as many have done in the past. But if you think about it a bit more you see that this was inevitable, and it could have been worse. Nothing is really free in this world – so for now I’ll leave the card widget on this blog and we’ll see how things go. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

The 10 Day Traffic Blueprint

Right after I posted yesterdays Dimesale, saying I haven’t seen them for a while, here comes another!

This time it’s Wes Blaylock’s 10 Day Traffic Blueprint. I love Wes’s work in general, since it’s always clear and to-the-point. No fluff, no bull – just honest information and stuff you can put to use immediately.

This is no exception. In a clear day by day system you are shown how to generate traffic for any site. Along the way you’ll learn many insider tips and tactics, such as leveraging your traffic, duplicating your efforts, and piggybacking bigger sites.

You’ll find out everything from SEO to JVs and setting up your website. This is an excellent course / book for anyone who runs a website and needs traffic – so that pretty much means most of the people reading this.

There are even two excellent bonuses included: Wes’s own “3 Step SEO” and a copy of the Blackbelt Click Tracking tool.

As I said, this is a Dimesale. At the time of writing it’s just launched so it’s just over $5 – but as time goes on this is rising as 5c every 30 minutes. Act fast for the best deal!

10 Step Traffic System

PS. As it’s a Dimesale, it also offers 100% Commissions for your referrals…

PPS. If you like Wes’s work, also check here.

Traffic Techniques Master List

I’ve updated the Traffic Tips page at this site, so it’s in the new design and re-written. This is basically my master sheet of traffic generation methods. It’s every method that works, all on one page.

So if I get asked “How Do I Promote My Site” again, I can just point that person right there.

Seriously, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about driving traffic to your site. Although there are a myriad of more specific techniques, such as those that work for one specific service, or those that work for one obscure niche everything really falls into one of the categories here:

Traffic Tips

I’ve kept that page as clean and informative as possible and I’ll update as the need arises, so if you want to point your visitors somewhere for traffic tips, consider mine (hint).

I was going to make that into a blog post, but that would bring all of the rest of the blog (sidebars, etc) with it. And I really wanted it to be clean and quick loading for those that need it.

Traffic Tip: Download Sites

Most people are aware of the major ways to drive traffic to their sites.

The biggest and perhaps best source of traffic is the Search Engines, so SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is always an issue. Then there is writing articles, promotion via forums and blog commenting, feeds, and social networking.

But there are other lesser used methods. One is using Download Sites.

To use a download site to drive traffic you must have a product, an application or software program, to put there. Luckily you don’t need to know how to program. You can compile an eBook or create a simple tool using something like Software Maker.

Then you only need to submit that tool to major directories such as:

Download.com
Tucows.com
Versiontracker.com
Jumbo.com
freedownloadcenter.com
regnow.com
regsoft.com
5star-shareware.com
shareit.com
topshareware.com
passtheshareware.com
sharewarejunkies.com
softpedia.com
shareware.com

You can promote your website directly in your application, and even require “registration” if you wish to collect e-mails for your list.

More traffic tips soon!

Credit where credits due: I extrapolated this tip from this post in the Warrior Forums.

Traffic Tools Pack

Brett Ingram has just released his new Web Traffic package.

This is a collection of tools that can help you increase the traffic to your web pages, in many unique and interesting ways. And, since traffic = profits , this is a very useful collection.

There are 15 products included in total, such as:

Give-A-Tron – How to get happy subscribers.
Intelligent 404 – Put your error pages to work
Exit Feedback Trapper – Interesting take on exit-traffic
PR Ninja – Boost your PageRank
SEO Spider – Essential competitor research
Content Clamp – Squeeze content!
Squeeze Buzz – Squeeze page maestro

Plus: a selection of top guides on List Building, Advertising and S.E.O. , the Multi Media Autoresponder software, and much more.

To see the full contents and to grab your copy, please click below:

Web Traffic Tools

(And… Shhh! …. Brett is offering 100% Commissions!)

Manipulating The Social Networks

We all know the big social networks can drive massive amounts of traffic to your own site. Unfortunately, for the small site owner, these networks tend to be dominated by big players.

The effect of the networks tend to snowball: traffic drives even more traffic. For example, the more stumbles or diggs you have, the more votes you will get.

The usual advice rarely works. Get in first with a big story, break news yourself, or have a unique page that will tweak the interest of the notorious fickle internet browsing crowd.

Luckily, there is a way to start the process off, and grab yourself a few diggs or stumbles. Swap votes with other people!

The idea is simple. In exchange for voting for someone elses site, they will vote for you.

Technically, this is an abuse of the system. The sites are supposed to rank popular pages higher, but in reality the system is already flawed. Popular sites will always rank high no matter what the content.

Here’s some sites you might want to try to get those all important first votes, and get your page rolling. These are either forums, or automated exchange services.

Please, Please, Please: Do NOT use these sites to submit spammy articles and links. I’ve listed these to help you get genuine, useful content into the systems.

The big networks that drive the most traffic are Stumbleupon, Digg, and Reddit . and most exchange sites work with these. Other networks that are often used include Yahoo Buzz, Propeller, Mixx, Technorati, Furl and Delicious.

If you want to promote a post or page, you can also include Digg, Stumble, or whatever buttons on the post to encourage visitors to vote. You can also arrange single exchanges yourself, in the popular forums covering marketing and seo topics, such as Digitalpoint. Just post your site and ask for votes.

Digible
SU Exchange
Social Traffic Exchange
Firestorm Forum
Social Exchanger
The Links Exchange
Piqqus
Stumble Swap
SU Magic
Trade Stumbles
Entrecard’s Forums

The Link Back Project

Forum Finder

Blog Engage – is a “diggg-a-like” that actively encourages bloggers to share comments, visits, etc.

Let me know of any others in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.

Stomping The Search Engines 2

A Full Review, Details and How To Get It – For Free! Bonus Included.

Stomping The Search Engines 2 is the follow up to the product that first turned the Stompernet guys (Andy Jenkins and Brad Fallon) into megastars. This time around, they’ve moved on from the originals CD format and now present a full DVD – and the launch of a brand new magazine.

Four years ago Stomping 1 was perhaps the biggest selling SEO product – ever. Now, Stomping The Search Engines 2 is destined to make even more online millionaires than the original.

As the title suggests, this is about SEO – Search Engine Optimization. STSE2 details the current methods used to get your site a good ranking. After all, if you are the top result for a good keyphrase in the natural-search listings at sites like Google you can literally write your own cheque.

The DVD

There are actually two DVDs because you also get a copy of the original STSE. Remember, that sold thousands of copies at $300 a time !

Once you put the DVD into your PC it will launch into a videoplayer, giving you access to all the videos in the product. It starts with an overview of the pros and cons of SEO.

There are 7 modules, 36 videos in all. The introduction section kicks off short-term tactics you can use, and a look at what they call “agressive white hat” SEO. Then it moves on to discussions of the actual technology behind the major the major search engines, before it gets to the really juicy stuff.

For example, the videos on keywords and content structure will really open your eyes to how to properly design a website destined for high rankings, as will the shows about optimizing your site content, and your site structure.

Don’t worry if all this sounds a bit techy. The presentation is easy to follow!

By the time we’ve passed through the all important linking and promotion section, we’re well on our way to become search engine guru’s ourselves :-)

The final section may be the most important: measuring results, and tweaking your site(s) to improve them. After all, we can’t remain stationary – someone else may make a play for our enviable top ranks…

This is only an overview of the video content. If you’ve ever seen any of the Stompernet videos that have circulated online, you’ll understand how professional the presentation is, and how informative. It’s information you want – so feel free to take notes, pause or rewind where neccessary, or (as I did) jot down the times of interesting sections in the videos so you can revisit.

And once you’ve watched all the videos (first time around, anyway – I’m sure you’ll revisit them) be sure to check out the resources on the DVD. You’ll find the Stompernet Directory List (an invaluable links collection) and the Keyword Strategy Guide!

Whatever your current level of expertise STSE2 will help you aim for, and achieve, those high front-page Google listings…

Stomping The Search Engines 2

Other things I’ve picked up from these videos – in no particular order:

How to avoid accidental duplicate content
What you can get penalized on by the Search Engines
“Canonicalization” of your content
Don’t use – or trust – Google’s inbound link count
Some “competitiors” may acually be good partners
Target the head – but mine the “long tail”

I could go on, I’m only dipping into a few videos to give you an overview, but you should get the idea.

The Magazine

The new publication, called The Net Effect, is included with STSE2. Remember, this is a physical product, so it’s a hardcopy, printed out professionally for you to read anywhere.

It’s an Internet Marketing magazine that goes above and beyond anything you’ve seen before. You can read it all in one go, or dip in and out – and probably be buzzing with ideas to implement.

In this first issue you’ll find a great article on the “Keyword Heist” technique, 26 Things To Test, Twittering Your Way To Traffic, and much more.

I especially enjoyed reading the Social Media Survival Guide!

This is – again – just an overview of the magazine, there’s a lot more included (“armour-piercing e-mail” anyone?) and you may find the Monthly Action Plan at the end very useful, as it brings everything you’ve learned so far together into a single-page plan to follow. My advice? Photocopy it or cut it out and stick it near your PC.

The Net Effect is designed to keep you up-to-date in the fast moving marketing and SEO world. Let’s face it, how many ebooks or websites do you actually read? Nothing beats a real “hold it in your hand” product. You’ll be looking forward to your snail mail each month :) This is an ongoing monthly journal for high-end SEO and Internet Marketing. A serious trade publication. It’s your business, your livelihood – so make sure you’ve got all the latest information to hand. Insider information from the Stompernet pro’s.

All in all Stomping The Search Engines 2 is an excellent product that is sure to benefit anyone working in the IM field today, whether they are a bedroom dabbler, or head of a company.

You already know the best part – it’s hardly a secret.

STSE2 is FREE.

And not just the “free” you see bandied about a lot in marketing campaigns. STSE2 is a very real $497 product, and “The Net Effect” magazine is worth $39 monthly…

The cat is now out of the proverbial bag. Get over to the website and claim your copy, before the Stompernet guys come to their senses!

Stomping The Search Engines 2

The page above is a good example of the professionalism of these guys. Look at the video, read the details, and get stoked up with what you could achieve. This is not some $7 screen-capture video product. This is not some re-hashed ebook. This is a very real SEO course especially designed for Internet Marketers, the people who really know how to make their livings online.

Once you decide to order at the above link, drop me a note via the support desk and I’ll send you a free bonus — even though STSE2 is free in itself…

P.S. Because the launch was delayed slightly due to demand the Stompernet guys have promised some special bonuses themselves as a “sorry” so be sure to check the link above to see what extras you get – above and beyond the review copy I’ve looked at here!



The Math Of Internet Marketing (The Numbers Game)

They say marketing is a numbers game, or perhaps a percentages game. And to a certain extent, that’s true.

It’s all about making a profit. That is, getting more money out than you put in.

There are two figures that are important: Conversion Rate and Return On Investment.

Google’s Adwords is an ideal practice ground for trying out these ideas. And after that it’s endless tweaking to try and improve the figures, until you reach that magical realization that you’re basically paying, say, .50c for every $1 you make.

And if I said I’d give you two dollars for every dollar you gave me, wouldn’t you give me every dollar you could possibly could? :-)

Here’s how a simplified process works, and the steps involved:

1. You have a website, that sells a product.
2. You have traffic coming to that website from ads you buy on Google.

Now you need those magical figures I mentioned earlier.

Conversion Rate

By tracking the visitors to your site, you discover that for every 100 people who visit you make 4 sales. That means you have a 4% conversion rate.

You know this from your sites stats. You see 100 hits to your site, and you see 4 hits to the order page. Or, perhaps you see 4 clicks to the order button – whatever works for you.

Because you are selling an eBook for $10, you know essentially your profit is $40 for every 100 visitors. So if you can get 100 visitors for less than $40, you’re in profit.

If you’re running an affiliate program the same principles apply. Instead of sending them to your own site, you can send them to the affiliate site, via your link. And because they pay a percentage per sale, you know you will make 50% of each $20 sale = $10. In effect, the same figures for our demonstration..

So now you need those visitors. Enter Google Adwords.

At Adwords, you discover various keywords for your product. To keep things simple, if unrealistic, we’re going to use one keyword. This keyword costs you $1 per click.

That means you can buy 40 clicks for your $40. Since you need 100 clicks to make $40, that’s obviously not good enough.

So we try another keyword. This one costs us 20c per click. That means you can get 200 clicks for $40. Good! By our calculations, that’s $80 worth of sales for 200 clicks. We have a four percent conversion rate, so 200 clicks = 8 sales = $80.

However, there’s another point we have to take account. Impressions vs Clicks. That’s the conversion rate for your ads themselves. Luckily Adwords only charge per click, NOT by impression. If you were using another method, for example paid advertising on Blogs where you pay per impression, you’d need to know those figures too.

As an example, an ad company charges $40 for 1000 impressions. If you were sending an e-mail ad, it may be to 1000 subscribers. You discover that for every 1000 times your ad is shown, you get 50 clicks to your site (or affiliate site). That’s a 5% conversion rate. Because our site converts at 4% (remember?) that means we get 2 sales: 1000 impressions = 50 clicks = 2 sales. So in the end it’s costing you $40 to make $20 – not good enough.

Time to tweak! If you can increase your ad coversion, by using better ads, you can get more clicks. If you can increase your sites conversion, by a better sales page, you can get more sales. If you can increase your product price or your affiliate percentage, you get more profit. That’s the numbers game.

And that, my friends, is marketing in a nutshell. Not as difficult as some make out!

Return On Investment

This is a catch all term that describes how much you make or lose for how much you put in.

For example, in our simple one man, one site demonstration we make a 100% ROI. We make $80 for every $40 we invest.

This term is also used for more general investments, for example, say you pay a copywriter to overhaul your sales copy, and it costs you $200.

This work means your site is now converting at 6% instead of 4%, so you are now making 12 sales per 200 clicks instead of 8. It means you make $120 per $40 you put in, instead of $80. Over a specific period of time, say a year, that’s many more sales. A high ROI for the $200 you paid that copywriter!

For more information on the subject of conversion rates please read Claud Hopkins seminal “Scientific Advertising” – available freely in our Instant Marketing Library and in our Members Site.

Review: $5 Traffic System

I came across this product today being promoted by quite a few marketers. It’s a report that details a neat way to get traffic, and it only costs $5.

This traffic technique involves using Squidoo and/or Hubpages to focus on your niche.

It’s not just creating a quick page, it’s how you list and promote that page that counts. And by using Google you can find exactly where your page should be posted for maximum traffic and pagerank.

You can send traffic to almost any page using the system, but it works best for detailed search terms. If your lens or hubpage is built around a affiliate program, perhaps a clickbank product, then you can expect sales as well as traffic!

Of course, you could also funnel this traffic through a lens or hubpage back to your own main site or blog, and gain extra visitors or subscribers that way.

This is a short, really simple technique and it’s refreshing in that it’s not full of fluff and filler.

$5 Traffic Method

The reason so many people are promoting this? It pays 100% Commissions!

Try this method if you need traffic, the kind of highly targeted traffic the search engines deliver. It’s simple to use and if you feel it’s of no use, and even though it’s only $5, you can have a full refund.

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