I think you’ll agree with me when I say that one of the most commonly asked questions online is “What’s the easiest way to make money online?”
If you posed that question to ten different marketers, you’d probably get ten different answers. But, in my opinion, the easiest way to make money online is to make commissions by selling other peoples products. You don’t have to create a product, you don’t have to handle customer support, you don’t have to deal with the hassle’s of running your own business… all you have to do is send traffic to the marketer’s webpage & collect commission checks!
When you first join an affiliate program you are given an affiliate link that goes to the website of the product owner. This special link is encoded with your unique affiliate id and when you send someone to the product owners site through your special link and they make a purchase you receive a commission. This works out great for both you and the product owner, because you make a nice paycheck and the product owner makes more sales and cuts down on advertising costs at the same time.
One of the main things that makes affiliate marketing so great is that having or creating your own product isn’t necessary. Along with that there is the added perks like not having to deal with customers support, complaints or refunds. The only thing an affiliate needs to be successful is some basic internet marketing skills and the desire to succeed. Don’t panic if you don’t know anything about marketing online, because there is plenty of fantastic information available on the subject all over the internet. So let’s dive right in and talk about some simple tactics that affiliate marketers can use to increase their chances of success.
Use Unique Web Pages! Don’t Try To Be Walmart!
First, let’s talk about using unique web pages to promote each separate product you are marketing. It’s very important not lump all of your chosen affiliate programs together on one website just to save some money on web hosting. It is best to have a site or at the very least a sub domain focusing on each and every product and nothing more. This way you can streamline and target your marketing efforts for better results.
Another thing you can do is to include product reviews on the product webpages you set up, so visitors will have an initial understanding of what the product can do for those that buy them. When possible collect and include testimonials from users who have already tried the product and add them to the webpages. This really helps increase credibility and convert more visitors into buyers. Including articles that you write or with reprint rights that highlight the uses of the product and posting them on the website as an additional page will also help increase your free search engine traffic and chances of success.
Be sure to make the pages attractive, compelling and include calls to act on the information. Each headline should attract the readers to try and read more, even contact you. Highlight your special points. This will help your readers to learn what the product is about and will make them want to find out more. That is when they will click on your affiliate and help you make more commissions.
Get Their Name & Email Address!
Next let’s talk about collecting contact information by offering free reports to your prospects. This does two important thing for your affiliate business. It allows you to further educate your prospects and follow up with them in the future with more information on the products you offer.
For this to work you will need a good autoresponder service. You will want to create a short report and series of seven to ten autoresponder messages that will be mailed to people who sign up to receive your free report. Did you know that according to research, a sale is usually closed on the seventh contact with a prospect? Hence the reason you will want to create a series of follow up messages.
When you are creating your content focus on important points like how the product can make things easier and more enjoyable for people who purchase it. Include compelling subject lines in the email. As much as possible, avoid using the word “free” because there are still older spam filters that dumps those kind of contents into the junk folder before anyone reads them.
Do your best to convince those who signed up for your free report that they will be missing something big if they don’t take the time to at least check out the product or service you’re recommending. Be sure that the content is directed toward specific reasons to buy the product. Don’t make it sound like a sales pitch. Keep in mind that by providing useful information to your prospects you will increase your chances of making a commission.
Traffic, Traffic, Traffic!
Ok, I want to touch on one more thing that you can do to increase your chances of affiliate marketing success. That is getting traffic. The kind of traffic that is targeted to your product. Just think about it this way, if the person who visited your website has no interest whatsoever in what you are offering, they will be among those who move on and never come back.
One of the best ways to get this kind of traffic is by writing articles for submission and publication. A good rule of thumb it to try to write a minimum of 2 articles per week, with at least 300-600 words in length. By continuously writing and submitting these articles to you can generate as many as 100 targeted prospects to your site in a day.
That may not sound like much for all of the work you put in but statistics show that 1 out of every 100 people are likely to make a purchase. If you can generate a 1,000 targeted hits for your website in a day, that means you can make 10 sales based on the average statistic and the best thing is that the articles will continue to work for you even after you have moved on to another product.
None of the tactics that we have discussed are very difficult to do, if you think about it, it just requires a little time and an action plan on your part. Once you have completed the process for one affiliate program you can move on to the next and you will end up with a good source of income along with a thriving affiliate marketing business.
Choosing The Right Affiliate Product To Promote
One of the best ways to choose a product to promote is by deciding whether or not you are interested in purchasing the product yourself. If that is the case, chances are, there are many others who are also interested in it as well. Of course, you can’t just base your decision to promote an affiliate program on weather or not you like the product, but it is a good place to start. Now let’s go over some other thing you should consider.
– You will want to look for a program that is of high quality. For instance, look for one that is associated with many experts in that particular industry. This way, you can be assured of the standard of the program you will be joining.
– Look for the ones that offer real and viable products. How do you know this? Do some initial research. If possible, track down some of the members and customers to give you testimonial on the credibility of the program.
– Does the program cater to a growing target market? This will ensure you that there will be a continuous demand for your referrals. Do a little research and make inquiries. If there are forums and discussions groups related to the product topic participate and look for reliable feedback.
– A program with a compensation plan that pays out a residual income and a payout of 30% or more would be a great choice. There are programs offering this kind of compensation. You just have to look closely for one. Don’t waste your time with programs that do not reward substantially for your efforts.
– Be aware of any minimum quotas that you must fulfill. Some affiliate programs impose pre-requisites before you get your commissions. For instance you may have to make more than a $100.00 or make ten sales before you receive your paycheck. If the sales target is too hard to achieve you may want to rethink joining.
– Select programs that have plenty of pre made tools and resources that can help you grow the business in the shortest possible time. Not all affiliate programs have these capacities.
– Check out weather or not the program has an automated system that allows you to check your referral statistics and compensation at any time.
– Does the program offer strong incentives for customers to make additional purchases or for members to renew their memberships. Affiliate programs that provide continuous help and upgrades for its products have the tendency to retain more customers. These things can assure the growth of your business.
Always get to know the product and program you are considering. Knowing the kind of program you are getting yourself into will help you anticipate and prevent any future problems you may encounter. Do some research and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you join.
Here are some of the questions you should ask:
– Will it cost you anything to join?
Most affiliate programs being offered today are absolutely free of charge. So why settle for those that charge you some dollars before joining.
– When do they issue the commission checks?
Every program is different. Some issue their checks once a month, every quarter, etc. Select the one that is suited to your payment time choice.
– What is the amount of commission paid?
If the program pays per sale (which are the ones I prefer) you can expect to make anywhere from 5% – 75% depending on the program. You will also find programs that pay for each hit or each impression.The amount paid for those type of programs is not much at all, so you must be prepared to send large volumes of traffic through your affiliate link to make a nice paycheck.
These are just some of the questions that need answering before you enter into an affiliate program. You should be familiar with all of the important aspects of your chosen program. They can help you select the right program for your affiliate business.
Ok, Now Let’s Boost Your Affiliate Commissions!
Affiliate marketing doesn’t require product development, dealing with customer support, complaints or refunds. As a matter of fact it is one of the easiest ways of starting an online business and earning more profits. Assuming that you have followed some of the above steps and that you have already chosen some affiliate programs that you want to promote, what would be the next thing you would want to do?
How about double, or even triple, your commissions as quickly as possible?
If you answered yes to that question then you will enjoy this! I have some great tips to share with you that will help you boost your affiliate commissions quickly. The first thing you will want to decide on is which program the ones you have chosen is the best. Obviously, you want to promote a program that will enable you to achieve the greatest profits in the shortest possible time. There are several factors to consider when selecting a program to focus on.
Then narrow down your choices to the ones that have a generous commission structure and that fit in with your target audience. Check to make sure that they have a solid track record of paying their affiliates easily on time. You can do that by performing a search for the product name plus the words “affiliate payments”. If anyone is complaining that they aren’t getting paid you will find posts about the issue.
Remember there are thousands of affiliate programs online so you can be picky. You want to take your time and select the best so that you can avoid wasting your time and losing your advertising dollars. Now let’s get down to some quick tips that you can use to increase your commissions:
– Participate in chat rooms related to the product you’re reselling. Start a conversation with a person without trying to sell to them. Later on, while you are chatting, mention the product you’re reselling.
– Create a free ebook with the advertisement and link of your affiliate web site. The subject of the free ebook should entice your target audience to down-load it. Also submit it to some ebook directories for even better results.
– Start your own affiliate program directory. Join a large number of affiliate programs and list them all in a directory format on your web site. Then just advertise your free affiliate program directory.
– Write your own affiliate program ads. If all the other affiliates use the same ads you do, that does not give you an edge over your competition. Use a different ad to give yourself an advantage over all the other affiliates.
– Use a personal endorsement ad. Only use one if you’ve actually bought the product or service for the affiliate program. Tell people what kind of benefits and results you’ve received using the product. Endorsements also increase the credibility of the product you are promoting.
– Advertise the product you’re promoting in your signature file. Use an attention getting headline and a good reason for them to visit your affiliate site. Make sure your sig file doesn’t go over 5 lines. You can use this in your outgoing emails, on forums and in blog comments.
– Participate on web discussion boards. Post your comments, answer other people’s questions, and ask your own questions. If you can work in how your product can help solve someone’s problem all the better for you and don’t forget to include your sig file when you post.
– Create a free newsletter build around the topic of your chosen product. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just informative and helpful. Then use it to advertise the affiliate programs you’ve joined. Submit it to online ezine directories and promote it on your web site.
– Use bonuses to help sell your products! Using bonuses is one of the easiest ways to motivate people to purchase from you. Remember, you’re often competing with many other marketers. By offering a relevant bonus with the product you’re trying to sell, you’ll help tip the prospect’s buying choice in you favor.
– Start a private web site. Use it as a free bonus as well. Especially if people buy the product you’re promoting. You could also allow people to join for free and then advertise your affiliate programs inside. This does two things. It allows you to keep in touch with your prospects and it makes them feel as if they are receiving extra value when they purchase form you.
– As we discussed in earlier, use product reviews and testimonials. They are one of the best methods to help make a sale. That’s why you will see so many testimonials on a sales page. Take your time and write intelligent product reviews of the products you are marketing and collect testimonials from the people who purchase from you.
– Use a blog to provide useful information in your niche and include your well written product recommendations. When you post regularly you’ll be able to start generating a steady stream of traffic and sales from the search engines. Just be sure to keep your blog focused on good keywords that relate to the products you are promoting.
– Build a list of prospects. The easiest way of doing this is by providing an email opt-in on your website. Ideally, create a system where you offer a bonus if the visitor joins your list. Use a good autoresponder system like Getresponse to collect email address and load a series of 7-10 emails with useful information and free resources. As time goes by your readers will find your information useful and you will be able to convert them in to paying customers.
Give some of these strategies a try. I don’t recommend trying all of them at the same time. Just focus on two or three at first and see the difference it can make to your commission checks.
Have You Made One Of These Mistakes?
Like all businesses, there are lots of pitfalls in the affiliate marketing business. Some of the most common mistakes can end up costing you a large portion of the profits you make and you may not even realize it’s happening. That is why it is better to avoid these mistakes from the start.
Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong affiliate programs.
We talked a lot about choosing the right affiliate programs earlier … now let’s find out why it’s so important to your business that you don’t choose the wrong programs to promote.
You see, many people want to earn from affiliate marketing as fast as possible and I can’t blame them. Who doesn’t like quick cash. But, in their rush they tend to choose what I like to call a bandwagon product. They choose this product because they think it is in demand without actually considering if the product appeals to them or their prospects.
This isn’t a very wise move and could end up hurting your business in the long run. Especially if you end up losing the confidence of your readers and customers by promoting products to them that they aren’t interested in. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, try to choose a product that you and your prospects are truly interested in. Take the extra time to plan your actions and do some research about that product to see if it is in demand.
A quick way to find out if a product is in demand is to do a quick Google search for the product and see if anyone else is promoting it. If you see several Google ads on the side of the search results page you can be fairly sure that there is a good market for the product. On the other hand if there very few or no ads for the product then you may want to drop that product and move on.
On a side note if there are too many ads for the product then your competition will be pretty stiff and you may want to reconsider promoting it. But market research is an entirely different subject than what we are discussing in this short course, so we will move.
Mistake #2: Joining too many affiliate programs.
Since affiliate programs are very easy to join, you might be tempted to join multiple affiliate programs thinking it will help you maximize your earnings. On some level this seems to make Spence because what do you have to lose by joining every program you come across. While the idea of having multiple sources of income is a great one, joining multiple programs and attempting to promote them all at once will only hurt your chances of success. Simply because you will lose focus and it will prevent you from concentrating on the programs that will make you the most money.
It is far better to focus your efforts on a select few than to try and stretch yourself to thin promoting every program you can find in hopes one of them will hit the mother load. The best way in my humble opinion to get the results you want is by joining one program at a time. Ideally one that pays a 50% or more commission per sale. Then focus your attention on it until you see that it is making a reasonable profit, then join another affiliate program, preferably one related to the first one and repeat the process until you have a whole network of related products making you money.
The technique may take a little more time and effort on your part, but what you will end up with is a solid foundation for your growing business and that is well worth the effort.
Mistake #3: Not buying the product or service you are promoting.
As an affiliate, your main goal is to effectively and convincingly promote a product or service and to find people willing to purchase it through your affiliate link. For you to achieve this goal, you must be able to relay to your prospective customers the main benefits of that product or service. This is very difficult to do when you haven’t tried the product yourself.
While you may still have success promoting products that you haven’t personally used or at least reviewed, you will never reach it’s maximum income potential unless you can honestly and convincingly recommend it.
So, try the product or service personally first before you sign up as an affiliate to see if it’s really delivering what it promises. If you do, then you will be well aware of its advantages and disadvantages. Your prospective customers will then feel the sincerity and truthfulness in your review of the product and this will help encourage them to try it out for themselves.
There you have it. The three most common mistakes that many affiliate marketers make. Now you can do your best to avoid making the same mistakes. Remember time is the key. Take the time to analyze your chosen affiliate programs. Get a system in place for promoting them and then you will be able to maximize your affiliate earning and build a solid foundation for your business.
Let’s Drive Some Traffic!
OK,now let’s talk about some basic techniques that you can use to drive traffic through your affiliate links for maximum profits. These are very easy techniques to implement, but don’t let that fool you! All of the methods we are going to discuss are road tested and with a little bit of effort on your part they will bring you all the traffic you need to run a successful affiliate marketing business.
Let’s start with article writing. We have touched base on the importance of using articles to promote your affiliate programs earlier in this course, but we have to talk about it again because it is one of the best techniques that you can use to get the traffic through your affiliate links.
All you have to do is write informative content about your product or topic and include a link to your site or in some cases directly to your affiliate link in your authors bio box. Then submit your articles to popular directories like ezinearticles.com, articlecity.com or goarticles.com. There are many more, but these are a good place to start.
TIP: Be sure to check the directories terms of service before you submit articles with affiliate links. Some directories frown on this and in that case all you have to do is set up a page on your own website or blog and send your reader their first.
People, including newsletter publishers and webmasters will be able to find and use the articles that you’ve submitted and every time they do you will expose them to your links, which means long- term traffic for you along with some other side benefits like better search engine rankings and becoming known as an expert in your chosen topic.
– Next, let’s talk about using blogs to drive traffic through your affiliate links.
Blogs are very easy to make which makes them perfect for promoting affiliate programs. Another great thing about using a blog is that the search engines, like Google love them and will regularly come by to index your postings. For this method to be effective you must post to your blog on a regular basis and be sure that you are strategically putting relevant keywords in your posts.
If done correctly your search engine ranking will score high and you will receive highly targeted free traffic to your blog that you can then send through your affiliate links.
– Now let’s talk about using online forums to drive traffic through your affiliate links.
This is pretty straight forward. You visit online forums related to your product or topic and post some of your thoughts, ideas or ask questions on them. For this to work well you will want to take some time to write an attention getting signature line and don’t forget to spend some time filling out your forum profile. Be sure to include your links in both. Then every time you make a post readers will be exposed to your offer.
The more helpful and informative you are the more you will get noticed by other members and the more people will click on you links to see what you are up to. Another great thing about using forums as a way to get traffic is that the posts often rank well in the search engines which we know is a good thing!
– Publishing a newsletter is another great way to drive traffic through your affiliate links.
After all people like to be kept informed. Publishing a free newsletter will help you give your prospects what they want, which is more information about your topic. Do you best to keep you content tightly focused and include your articles, product reviews and recommendations along with links to your chosen affiliate programs.
Try to publish your newsletter on a regular schedule. Once every two weeks is a good rule of thumb and it will be a great source of traffic to your affiliate programs.
– Advertising in related ezines or newsletters is also a great way to drive traffic through your affiliate links.
Contact ezine/newsletters publishers that are related to but not in direct competition with the product or service that you want to promote and purchase or even trade some ad space with them.
Some times they will have their rates posted on their websites, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t try to negotiate a better rate, especially if you are just looking to run a small test ad. If you have you own list of subscribers you can often work out a trade or ad swap where they will run your ad in exchange for you running their ad in your publication. This can work out great for both of you and save you money at the same time.
– Last but not least let’s talk about using PPC advertising to drive traffic through your affiliate links.
Pay Per Click advertising can be a very cost-effective way to get targeted traffic through your affiliate links when you know what you are doing. This technique has more of a learning curve than the other methods we have discussed, but it can also yield the fastest results when done properly.
The basis behind pay per click advertising is pretty simple. Search engine such as Google or Yahoo will allow you to purchase advertising on a pay per bid basis. You get to choose how much you want to pay for a specific keyword. The higher bid, the higher your ad will rank on the search engine results page. If done right you can often get good keyword clicks for as little a 3 cents per click and that is what makes it a great option for fast results.
The downside to pay per click advertising is that it can cost you a lot of money, if you’re not generating any leads or sales. That is why I recommend that you take the time to learn as mush as possible before you invest a lot of money in a PPC campaign
So there you have it, some great and inexpensive ways to generate traffic through your affiliate links. As with any form of advertising and traffic generation take you time and test each of the methods until you find the one that works the best for you.
Protecting Your Affiliate Links!
The simple fact is that as more people become aware of affiliate marketing and the links that represent your “paycheck,” the greater the chances are that someone is going to hijack your affiliate link and substitute their own for it. They can completely cut you out of your hard earned commission.
There many ways that affiliate commissions can be stolen!
You may not know this, but there is adware, spyware and other invasive software programs that unscrupulous hijackers install on your computer, sometimes with your consent because they sneak it in with something that you think is harmless. This software is capable of replacing genuine affiliate links and cookies. By substituting their own data instead of the legitimate affiliate marketers data the honest business person misses out on the sale.
The problem is that this sinister software automatically rewrites the affiliate links on the pages you visit. For example, lets say you read a great book review on a legitimate webpage and decide to click through and make a purchase, thinking that you are buying from the person who recommended the book, but instead you end up unknowingly buying from a thief. They get the cash and the legitimate marketer (you) does all the work.
How can you keep this from happening to you?
There are different ways that you can go about disguising, cloaking or redirecting your links so that you can protect your affiliate id and your commissions. Today we are going to briefly go over some of them, but before we do I want to make you aware that you should always check with the affiliate manager of the product you are promoting before you decide to cloak your links because it can sometimes interfere with your affiliate cookies and some programs do not allow it.
With that said let’s start by taking a look at free services that will cloak your link for you, like TinyURL, Budurl, SnipURL and others, which serve the dual purpose of hiding your ID and shortening your very long, ugly affiliate link into a much more manageable one. These are great and can come in very handy, especially for those that aren’t knowledgeable or comfortable using html, php or java script codes.
They are very simple to use. All you do is plug in your affiliate link, click a button and out comes a nice, new short url that you can share in your all of your promotions without worrying that the URL will break and become unclickable or that your affiliate commissions be hijacked.
There are literally hundreds of these link shortening services out there. Some very simple like TinyURL which creates links that will never ever expire and a handy browser bookmark button that’ll provide a TinyURL of your current page. Then there are some that offer much more. For instance Budurl not only cloaks and shortens your link it also allows you the option of adding you own custom alias and provides you with a whole suite of tools that makes keeping track of your links and how many times that have been clicked on amazingly simple. This is great for testing your ad copy.
Some argue that using one of these services can be bad for your business simply because your prospects may be reluctant to click on a link that they don’t recognize as yours or one where they can’t quickly identify their destination. While there maybe some truth to this, I feel that it is better than using nothing at all until you can decide on a method that works well for you.
Now let’s talk about scripts, codes and software that you can use to protect your affiliate links.
There are many different types of software as well as various scripts, php and html codes that you can use to protect your links and track the click-troughs on them. If you go to Google, MSN or your favorite search engine and do a search for link cloaking or link redirection and you will literally find thousand of pages on the different types of cloaking software, scripts and codes that you can use.
One of the benefits of using one of these is that most of them will never display the affiliate links directly in the browser and they will give you greater control over how your customer views you links.
As I mentioned there are so many available that there is no way that I could cover them all in the span of this short course, but what I can do is tell you about another great way that you can safely redirect your links and protect them at the same time and that is by buying a domain name and using it to forward your affiliate link.
While this may not be practical or cost effective for every affiliate program that you join, especially in the testing phase it is a great solution for promoting programs that you have found to be profitable.
For this to work you simply purchase and park a domain and then forward it to an existing website. When visitors go to the domain you forwarded, they are automatically taken to the URL you specified. In this case through your affiliate link to the product you are promoting.
For instance, let’s say that you are promoting a great set golf clubs and you know that it’s a good money maker. You could then purchase a related domain name like “awesome” and then using the tools that you will find inside the control panel of your “Domain Manager” you can easily forward your new domain directly to the sales page for that program.
You can also add masking to your forwarded domains, which prevents your affiliate URL from displaying in the browser’s address bar. If you set up masking, you can specify a title and meta tags which could help with ranking your webpages on search engines. Not only does this help protect your affiliate commissions it also gives you a very professional looking and easy to identify link to use in your promotions it will also give you more credibility.
Using Videos To Skyrocket Your Affiliate Commissions
Ok, now let’s talk about a more advanced method that you can use to increase your affiliate commissions and that is by using videos. Let’s face the facts. Video is HOT!
Being able to give your customers something they can actually see and hear can literally explode your online sales instantly. There is nothing else that comes close to the effectiveness and persuasion power of a well designed video message. You see it everywhere and now it has become the medium of choice for many marketers including affiliate marketers.
After all what better way to wow your prospects and customers than to record and publish top notch, streaming videos. When done right this technique will have your customers jumping up and down with excitement to buy the products you are promoting right away.
Believe it or not you don’t need extensive training, expensive equipment or software make this work for you. Anyone (even you) can create stunning videos. You can start out with brief introductions and simple product reviews or go all out with site tours, tutorials and step-by-step presentations.
As with any marketing method there are many ways that you can accomplish your goals and create great videos that your viewers will love. But we are going to focus on making screen capture videos with a software called Camtasia. Now Camtasia isn’t a free software but you can download a fully functional trial version of the software at no cost here: http://www.techsmith.com/
The screen capture process is a lot like having your customers seated next to you and looking at your desktop, as you show them all of the great things that the product you are promoting has to offer. Camtasia has many great features that make the process as painless as possible. It allows you to record your desktop activity in a single click. You can then use it to easily convert your videos into web pages and a variety of other formats for easy sharing.
There are other things you can do with Camtasia as well. Like redirecting your viewers straight to your affiliate website after they are finished watching the video or putting your url at the end and sending them there if they want more information.
Not to mention all of the free traffic you can get by uploading your videos to video sharing sites like Youtube and Google Video. I know many affiliates who use nothing but video to promote their chosen affiliate programs and make huge commission checks in the process.
Using videos can do so many great things for your affiliate marketing business. It can help minimize miscommunications with your customers. By instantly showing them what they want and helping them clearly understand the product you are representing it will help reduce refunds and other common customer issues that may arise.
Another good thing about using video is that there isn’t too much that can go wrong. You don’t have to worry about misspelled words or graphics not showing up when they are supposed to and the chances of your affiliate links being hijacked are almost non existent. Once you have a great video in place it is there all the time ready to visually show your prospects what you have to offer.
If you aren’t using video to promote your affiliate programs I highly recommend you give it a try and while there are other software programs like Windows Movie Maker that you can use to accomplish the task you may want to check out Camtasia simply because they have a wide variety of easy to follow training videos that will help you learn everything you need to know about creating your own videos.