Affiliate Marketing Guide
Okay, for the past year I have been focused on creating this site, as well was 22 other sites. I spend hours doing research and writing articles, but creating content for a site is only part of the process; after all the goal is to earn a living from advertisements. The purpose of this article is to provide insight on some of the things I have learned, without all the hype, in hopes of passing on good information that will help you develop your sites and improve your income- with the ultimate goal of working from home and earning a living from the passive income the Internet can generate. Anyone can truly do it, the key is PASSION!
You will NOT get rich quick!
As I have said, I have been doing this for over a year now, with 22 websites, and it has only been the past few months that things have really started to get going. When I say get going, I mean I am making just enough to make ends meet. I don't say this to be discouraging, I say this because it is what I have experienced and it is passion, persistence and desire that has kept me going- it is also what you will need to keep pushing, to succeed. Keep in mind I started from scratch with no knowledge of web development or SEO or Internet Marketing. I spent the first four to six months just trying to teach myself how to do coding to design and develop websites (I took the hard path, as most jump in with a Wordpress site and can be up and running in a day... I do not use Wordpress, which did create a setback and added to the infamous learning curve).
Create UNIQUE content
Have you heard "if you build it, they will come?" Well, there is an element of truth to this saying when it comes to the Internet. Google will find you, even if you don't build links to your site and it is your unique content that Google (and other search engines) is looking for. If it adds value to the reader, they will read and their reaction (do they just leave, do they stay and read, or better yet, do they share your link) is how you will be judged. Don't get me wrong, building backlinks is crucial to SERP's and SEO, but quality content is CRITICAL and it is KING. This is the first step to establishing yourself on the net as a website and the foundation for your future success.
Monetize your site
I think one of the best all around options to monetizing a site is using Google adSense, it's fairly consistent and the ads are targeted to the content/search. However, most earnings per a click are in the $0.50 to $1.00 range; some niches pay a lot more and some pay a lot less. Sometimes you may even get a click for a high paying niche that only pays a penny! This lead me to do more research on affiliate marketing. There is a ton of information on the net and just about everyone is offering the "secrets of affiliate marketing success." I'd say the "trick" is to make sure that you are advertising affiliate programs that are specific to the content you are offering. If your site is about kitchen cabinets, make sure your affiliate programs are related... don't waste your time advertising sneakers! Another analogy, you don't go to Macy's to do grocery shopping... so why would you expect your visitors to buy an orange when your site is all about car parts??!
The Newbie Affiliate Starter Guide and it is a solid book that truly provides insight on how to get things started for beginners looking to learn affiliate marketing. The site is a typical "Internet Marketing" site, but the book will help you shave some time off your learning curve and it has helped me personally with some pointers to add direction to my focus. Well worth the $19.
It Takes $ to Make Money
It will take money to make money. Nothing in life is free and if you want to maximize your revenue generating potential for the affiliate program you are advertising, you will have to spend money advertising your site. I'd use either adWords or Bing's advertising program (I use Bing personally). The key to using advertising as a method of generating traffic is start LOW! Many excited webpreneurs will set up an account, maybe using their free $100 adWords, and crank up the bids on their campaigns. This will make you broke and provide fruitless results! Rome wasn't built in a day, and your wealth won't be either.
Take your time, start low and analyze your ads for a week. See where they rank, see how many clicks you have received where you are at and see how it has affected your site; are you making more from ad clicks, are affiliate links getting traffic, are people staying on your page, etc. It's a great way to assess how your site is perceived by visitors. After a few days, move your ad bids up a little and reassess. You will know when you have refined things to be most effective (and to be honest you may not even need to change a thing). You may spend $5 a day advertising your page, trying to draw traffic to your site in hopes of making a sale... but if you are promoting a solid product (low returns) with a decent commission, you could be making a HUGE return on your investment... which is how wealth is built.
To share a personal example, I have 2 sites that offer VERY different products and I spend about $10 per a day to advertise for one site and it brings me about $24 a day in affiliate income. For the other site, I spend about $2 a day (keep in mind it is an established site now and has about 100 organic visitors a day) and 1 sale brings in almost $30. I just started this program about 5 days ago, so I don't have serious statistics, but I will be updating this page once I get to the 30 day mark.
A final note (at least for tonight) is to make sure your site doesn't say SPAM when a visitor enters! If you can be patient and focus on developing your site and establishing it as a reputable site with tons of quality content, then build pages just for affiliate programs... There are different strategies and for some, the stereotypical Internet Marketing site works... but for me, I think it's important to create a solid site- you will get a lot of backlinks just from organic traffic, from people that like your site and reference it for their own blog, etc. If you come across as a SPAM site, you may not get that extra "umph" from backlinks.
Affiliate Marketing ProgramsThe affiliate programs I mention below are all programs I have used. They have their good points and bad, as everything does. One thing to keep in mind, is they connect product/service providers (merchants) with publishers (website owners looking to market those products).
- ClickBank: If you are going to market programs from this site, it is crucial that you develop pages specifically for the product you are going to advertise. I have had some success with their programs.
- LinkShare: This site is great for establishing a relationship with major companies and they have 100's of products and services to choose from. Their user interface is easy to use and navigate, but if you have multiple sites, make sure you request relationships from the site you want to advertise on. For example if you have a plumbing site and a history site, make sure you're settings are for the plumbing site (and not the history site) when you request a relationship with potential affiliate programs).
- Commission Junction: It is a great affiliate program and it is similar to Linkshare. They have been in the game for a long time and have a very solid foundation and established presence in the industry.
- ShareaSale: I really like this program. The potential affiliates on this site are "less established buisnesses" when compared to the big biz in CJ and Linkshare, but they have a user friendly setup and I like working with their programs. The affiliates are accessible for questions and it has just been a positive experience for me.
If you have a niche site for insurance or mortgage related, the following are very good programs:
- SureHits: This program is AWESOME and I am extremely happy with the relationship I've established with these guys. Easy to use interface and solid, reliable, results. Definitely a program worth getting involved with if you are going to create a site for, and market, insurance or mortgage related information!
- NetQuote: NetQuote is another very good program for affiliate advertising in the insurance industry. They recently went through a transition (bought the company I originally started with), so I'm still testing the waters with them... my results haven't been as great as they were with the original company, but they do pay.