What Is Affiliate Marketing and How Is It Done?

 
 

Basically Affiliate Marketing is all about referrals and directing traffic to a marketing website.

  • You will receive a % of the purchase when you refer someone to the website and they make a purchase.
  • Your job is to convince your visitors to go to your affiliate’s website and sign up and/or purchase.

In order to receive a referral fee or commission – you find a product that you want to be an affiliate for – something you like or are interested in. Then they provide you with your own URL. Your URL what they will use to keep track of all the information for you – clicks on your link and/or purchases. Usually they will also help out with marketing ideas and email templates.

  • You would hide your affiliate link into an anchor text so that your people click on it and go directly to the marketing site.

Your best choice to earn money is by Indirect Marketing:

Send traffic to a landing page and have an opt in box to obtain your visitor’s email address and name – then you will be building your email list as you send them onto the marketing website.

Free traffic – your signature (your bio) and have your own landing page or blog needs to be included on::

  1. Forums – talk about the information and leave your sig bio
  2. Articles – talking about the information for the product – sending them back your landing page or blog
  3. Provide quality information of value

- A review or experience relevant to the topic

- Establish a relationship with your visitors

- Email newsletters keep visitors interested in you

- Free reports, e-courses, videos, etc.

- You can continue to market your affiliate links in the info you provide to your visitors

Search for Affiliate Marketing through:

  • ClickBank
  • Favorite speakers online
  • Amazon
  • See if companies have an affiliate program – like Best Buy, Target
  • At the bottom it will usually have a link to click for being an affiliate

You do not need to pay to promote their products.

This is a basic outline of what and how Affiliate Marketing can work. As you get involved, you will learn step by step to move forward – be persistent – it may take a year to see any money come in.

To learn more, you can study online, reading free info, and through trial and error – or you can invest in yourself to learn quicker by working with a coach that will guide you through the process.

I coach others to put structure to marketing and their on-line presence. Helping to attune their processes and activities. Showing how to get results. If you’ve thought you might benefit from a business coach, wonder no more. I over deliver, with your success forefront. In a fun way!

Donna Ward – A Jeneth Certified Business Coach, BSBM (Bachelor of Science – Information Systems- and Business Management) from University of Redlands’ School of Business

Visit my blog: coachingbusinessentrepreneur.com and Claim Your Free Mini-Course “List Building Blocks” — Rather you’re online and/or brick and mortar, growing your list is always part of your strategy. It is of extreme importance to your business life and growth.

Tips for Promoting Affiliate Products Without A Web Site

 
 

Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative ways to make money online. There are many products and companies to choose from and you can sell either digital or physical products. Clickbank, one of the premier digital retailers, offers very high affiliate earnings upwards of 50%. By comparison, Amazon, another popular affiliate program for physical products, offers a percentage ranging from 4% and up. There are other affiliate programs that will pay you each time a visitor completes an action, such as completing an application or offer, even if that action does not result in a sale!

When you sign up as an affiliate, you will receive a special link which records clicks and sales. You, in essence, simply need to drive traffic to your affiliate link to generate sales. Traffic, and the ability to generate quality traffic, is key to successful affiliate promotions.

The affiliate link provided by the program will usually be long and unappealing to click on. At a minimum, you will want to purchase a domain name that is short, tailored for you, and then mask and forward your affiliate link. This does not require hosting and the company you purchase the domain from can help you with this. Having a domain name will make your link more user-friendly and more likely to get clicks.

If you cannot afford to purchase a domain, there are free link shorteners you can use. Some even allow you to customize the link so it is pertinent, and some provide free tracking as well.

So, an important step before you proceed any further is to have selected your product and then transform that long affiliate link into a shorter, more professional appearing link that will get clicked.

Now, you can begin to promote your affiliate program without a web site, in any of the following ways:

1. Social Networking. Twitter and Facebook have become important tools for affiliate marketers. You can find ebooks that have one topic: building a following! Imagine having thousands of followers on Twitter or Facebook and who are receptive to your suggestions when you recommend products or services! This is powerful and does not require a web site. Keep in mind, Twitter and Facebook users will be more tolerant of a free link shortener. If you are not using these two programs, join right away and work on building a following that you can later promote to. Myspace is another popular social networking site that can be used for internet marketing.

2. Forum Posting. Get involved in a several forums that pertain to the product you are promoting and begin to build a presence there. There is no cost involved, other than your time. Most forums allow users to place promotional links in their signature, which appear with every forum post. In fact, there are services where advertisers purchase forum signatures – a testimony to the power of frequent forum posting. If you post frequent relevant, helpful, insightful comments, you will see clicks on the link in your signature! Most forums allow HTML, provide instructions, and allow at least several lines. For popular threads in a forum, you can see traffic being generated even many months later!

3. Craigslist and other online classifieds. Many people now rely on the Internet in their search for information and products, and the phenomenal popularity of Craigslist is one example. When using online classifieds, keep your ad brief and to the point. Often, the less said the better. You want to tell them just enough to arouse curiosity so they will click on your link to find out more. There are many free online classifieds, and most also offer premium paid services as well. USfreeads, Backpage, Epage, Adpost, Ablewise, Oodle are a few. Some allow HTML and pictures. Whenever possible, include a picture to make your ad stand out.

4. Banner advertising. You can purchase banner advertising very inexpensively to get your affiliate link out there. Most affiliate programs will provide you with banners that you can use. Just be careful to check the terms. Some affiliate programs do require that banners be placed on a personal web site, while others do not. You can place banners in a banner exchange network very inexpensively and have your banner shown across the net and even target categories. 1800banners is a popular network.

5. Article marketing. This is another very popular and zero cost method, other than your time. Write and submit relevant articles to article directories. Each article will allow an author resource box in which you can place a promotional link. Some of the better directories will not permit a free link shortener, so you will have to have a domain name that masks the affiliate link. This method requires no financial outlay. The key is writing interesting articles in quantity. The potential with article submission is great because if your article is picked up by other webmasters and used, your exposure (and potential for sales) multiplies! If you have some finances at your disposal, you can have articles submitted on your behalf to hundreds of directories and save a great deal of time.

Each of these five methods can help drive traffic to your affiliate link. Remember that anything you do must be done in quantity! Post in forums multiple times daily. Show your banner thousands of times! You must write and submit many articles to many directories to generate enough clicks to result in sales.

Promoting affiliate products without a web site can be done. You may choose to only use these methods or use them as a stepping stone to having your own web site in the future.

A Guide To Making Money Online

 
 

Making money online is not always as easy as it is normally told. Like any other source of income, you need a great deal of commitment and hard work. You also need to love what you choose to do. The fundamental principle of making money online is similar to those of offline businesses. However, there are many advantages of putting up an online money making business over the conventional one.

First, you have to choose what you want to do. There is no method that is better than the other; it’s all about the input you put into your business and the decisions you make. While choosing an online money making initiative, make sure you choose something that you have passion about. This will always give you a drive to do business even when things are not upbeat. You also need to evaluate your abilities and any material input such as capital or products.

If you already have some products or services to offer online, then you are at a good position. Your product or service can greatly earn you money if you concentrate on marketing by using different channels of online marketing. However, even if you don’t have anything of your own to sell you can still do pretty well selling or promoting other people’s products and earning part of the profit.

One of the most imperative tools of making money on the internet is a website. Having a website puts you on a good advantage since you are able to showcase what you are offering to many people from different locations. Luckily, putting up a website nowadays is not costly. With a few dollars you can have a professionally looking website. Then you have to learn the rules of internet selling like putting up a shopping cart or establishing a network of marketers.

What Makes a Good Online Product

 
 

Just about any product can be sold online. But let’s be quite clear; some products sell much better than others. Let’s think about some product characteristics that both help and hurt products when selling online:

■ Price:weight ratio The price:weight ratio needs to be high; that is the price, in comparison to the weight, needs to be high. Books have a very high price:weight ratio—a book might be worth, say, $30/lb. Sugar might be around 35 cents/lb. The price:weight ratio issue is why it’s hard to sell sugar, cement, and charcoal online.

■ Availability Less available is good. Available everywhere is bad. That’s why it’s hard to sell candy bars online.

■ Information products Products that are essentially information sell well online. Books, reports, reference materials . . . even music is an information product, really. Why do they do well online? Because online technology provides a very efficient way to deliver information. It’s fast and it’s cheap. It’s no wonder that books were the first major product category online and remain one of the primary categories.

■ Complicated products requiring research The Internet is the perfect research tool, of course. Products that require careful selection—products with many different features—often do well online.

■ Wide selection of specialty products An example is one of the earliest small-biz successes, HotHotHot.com, an online success for  ver a decade. Sure, you can find hot sauce in any grocery store. But can you find Jamaican Hell Fire, Rigor Mortis Hot Sauce, 99%, or 3:00 AM? (The company provides 100 different brands.) Have you even heard of these? Another example is RedWagons.com. Certainly you can find two or three different Radio Flyer wagons in most toy stores, but where else can you find every Radio Flyer product made—steel wagons, plastic wagons, trikes, scooters, retro rockets, roadsters, and everything else?

■ Deals There’s a class of goods that crosses all classes, and even covers products that you might think of as Not Good Internet Products. If you can sell a particular product at a very low price, you may have a good Internet product. Hey, if you can get the price of sugar down low enough, you might be able to sell that online.

■ “Cool” products that sell themselves through word of mouth There are some products that are just so cool, people tell their friends. One company that gets fantastic word of mouth is ThinkGeek.com, which sells tons of really cool stuff (Figure 1-1). Another example of a great word-of-mouth site is Despair.com. This company sells products that people put on their office walls and laugh about with their friends.

■ No need to touch, smell, or even see clearly. Products that really require a close view generally don’t sell well online. That’s why it’s hard to sell furniture online and difficult to sell unique works of art or perfume. And that’s why well-known brands can sell online . . . because people know what they’re getting. In other words, although it’s hard to sell perfume that your potential buyers have never smelled, it’s not hard to sell
perfume from Christian Dior.

■ High value products are good. You may do better selling a $500 product than a $5 product. You’ll have less competition—making it easier to compete using Pay Per Click (see Chapter 22) and in natural search—and will make much higher “margins” (gross profit). Low-price products can be very difficult to deal with online. Think very seriously before selling anything below, say, $50, unless you’re pretty sure you can really pump
out high volumes.

■ Junk is hard to sell. This may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many merchants just post any kind of junk online and hope to make a business out of it. Mass produced statuettes of kittens from China, junk jewelry, handicrafts from the wilds of Wisconsin . . . come on, you can do better!

■ Products you understand and love. These are easier to sell. If you have a passion for skydiving, there’s a natural business for you selling skydiving products. Having said all that, it’s important to realize that every rule can be broken. Groceries can be sold online, for instance. Diamonds, products that most jewelers would say need to be looked at carefully before purchase, are selling very well online. And though Furniture.com crashed and the big grocery-store sites (PeaPod.com and WebVan.com) went down with it, some companies are selling furniture online and some companies are selling groceries online. (PeaPod, for instance, was bought up by a grocery chain.) So, you can break the rules. But you’d better have a good reason to believe that it will work.

Protecting Your Search Engine Rankings

 
 

Your website’s ranking on search engines is a vital element of your overall marketing campaign, and there are ways to improve your link popularity through legitimate methods. Unfortunately, the Internet is populated by bands of dishonest webmasters seeking to improve their link popularity by faking out search engines. The good news is that search engines have figured this out, and are now on guard for “spam” pages and sites that have increased their rankings by artificial methods. When a search engines tracks down such a site, that site is demoted in ranking or completely removed from the search engine’s index.

The bad news is that some high quality, completely above-board sites are being mistaken for these web page criminals. Your page may be in danger of being caught up in the “spam” net and tossed from a search engine’s index, even though you have done nothing to deserve such harsh treatment. But there are things you can do – and things you should be sure NOT to do – which will prevent this kind of misperception. Link popularity is mostly based on the quality of sites you are linked to. Google pioneered this criteria for assigning website ranking, and virtually all search engines on the Internet now use it. There are legitimate ways to go about increasing your link popularity, but at the same time, you must be scrupulously careful about which sites you choose to link to. Google frequently imposes penalties on sites that have linked to other sites solely for the purpose of artificially boosting their link popularity. They have actually labeled these links “bad neighborhoods.”

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You can raise a toast to the fact that you cannot be penalized when a bad neighborhood links to your site; penalty happens only when you are the one sending out the link to a bad neighborhood. But you must check, and double-check, all the links that are active on your links page to make sure you haven’t linked to a bad neighborhood. The first thing to check out is whether or not the pages you have linked to have been penalized. The most direct way to do this is to download the Google toolbar at http://toolbar.google.com. You will then see that most pages are given a “Pagerank” which is represented by a sliding green scale on the Google toolbar.

Do not link to any site that shows no green at all on the scale. This is especially important when the scale is completely gray. It is more than likely that these pages have been penalized. If you are linked to these pages, you may catch their penalty, and like the flu, it may be difficult to recover from the infection. There is no need to be afraid of linking to sites whose scale shows only a tiny sliver of green on their scale. These sites have not been penalized, and their links may grow in value and popularity. However, do make sure that you closely monitor these kind of links to ascertain that at some point they do not sustain a penalty once you have linked up to them from your links page.

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Another evil trick that illicit webmasters use to artificially boost their link popularity is the use of hidden text. Search engines usually use the words on web pages as a factor in forming their rankings, which means that if the text on your page contains your keywords, you have more of an opportunity to increase your search engine ranking than a page that does not contain text inclusive of keywords. Some webmasters have gotten around this formula by hiding their keywords in such a way so that they are invisible to any visitors to their site. For example, they have used the keywords but made them the same color as the background color of the page, such as a plethora of white keywords on a white background. You cannot see these words with the human eye – but the eye of search engine spider can spot them easily! A spider is the program search engines use to index web pages, and when it sees these invisible words, it goes back and boosts that page’s link ranking.

Webmasters may be brilliant and sometimes devious, but search engines have figured these tricks out. As soon as a search engine perceive the use of hidden text – splat! the page is penalized. The downside of this is that sometimes the spider is a bit overzealous and will penalize a page by mistake. For example, if the background color of your page is gray, and you have placed gray text inside a black box, the spider will only take note of the gray text and assume you are employing hidden text. To avoid any risk of false penalty, simply direct your webmaster not to assign the same color to text as the background color of the page – ever!

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Another potential problem that can result in a penalty is called “keyword stuffing.” It is important to have your keywords appear in the text on your page, but sometimes you can go a little overboard in your enthusiasm to please those spiders. A search engine uses what is called “Keyphrase Density” to determine if a site is trying to artificially boost their ranking. This is the ratio of keywords to the rest of the words on the page. Search engines assign a limit to the number of times you can use a keyword before it decides you have overdone it and penalizes your site. This ratio is quite high, so it is difficult to surpass without sounding as if you are stuttering – unless your keyword is part of your company name. If this is the case, it is easy for keyword density to soar. So, if your keyword is “renters insurance,” be sure you don’t use this phrase in every sentence. Carefully edit the text on your site so that the copy flows naturally and the keyword is not repeated incessantly. A good rule of thumb is your keyword should never appear in more than half the sentences on the page.

The final potential risk factor is known as “cloaking.” To those of you who are diligent Trekkies, this concept should be easy to understand. For the rest of you, cloaking is when the server directs a visitor to one page and a search engine spider to a different page. The page the spider sees is “cloaked” because it is invisible to regular traffic, and deliberately set-up to raise the site’s search engine ranking. A cloaked page tries to feed the spider everything it needs to rocket that page’s ranking to the top of the list. It is natural that search engines have responded to this act of deception with extreme enmity, imposing steep penalties on these sites. The problem on your end is that sometimes pages are cloaked for legitimate reasons, such as prevention against the theft of code, often referred to as “pagejacking.” This kind of shielding is unnecessary these days due to the use of “off page” elements, such as link popularity, that cannot be stolen.

To be on the safe side, be sure that your webmaster is aware that absolutely no cloaking is acceptable. Make sure the webmaster understands that cloaking of any kind will put your website at great risk. Just as you must be diligent in increasing your link popularity and your ranking, you must be equally diligent to avoid being unfairly penalized. So be sure to monitor your site closely and avoid any appearance of artificially boosting your rankings.

Monitoring Search Engine Positions

 
 

Since search engines are the first stop for people on the Internet looking for goods or services, the position your website appears in search results is an important factor. If your URL shows up far down the results list, the chances of the consumer never finding you increase incrementally. Once you achieve a high search engine position, it is essential that you make sure you maintain the high ranking you have worked so hard to achieve. This means you must come up with a strategy to monitor your search engines positions. This strategy is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. Think of your search engine positions as your online portfolio. Would you let your stock portfolio be ruled by chance and market fluctuations, or would you keep close tabs on your stocks so you could buy and sell when the time is right? This is the way you must consider your search engines positions.

Be aware that at first, after you have launched your search engine campaign and done all the right things to increase your rankings, you will most likely see a continual upward climb. What you need to be on the lookout for is the moment that upward climb reaches a plateau. When this happens, your search engine position campaign moves into stage two, the monitoring and protecting stage. In stage two, do not be concerned about the short-term fluctuations in your positions. These are similar to the subtle rising and falling of stocks in a portfolio. Short-term movement is an integral part of the whole process. It’s the long-term changes that you must watch for and prepare to act on immediately.

Analyzing the long-term trends of search engines positions is imperative. The way in which search engines rank websites may change at the drop of hat. If you are unaware of these changes – many of which are subtle yet can be deadly to your ranking – your position may drop to the bottom of the list before you can get your bearings. To prevent this kind of precipitous drop, you must create a system to monitor your positions on a monthly basis. Devise a chart to keep tabs on your top ranking positions or your top pages, and make sure to watch “the market” closely. Each search engine uses a formula to compute website rankings. When a search engine changes this formula in any way, it may raise or lower your ranking. Some search engines use a number of different formulas, rotating them so that a formula doesn’t become overused or outdated. Depending on which formula is being applied, your search engine position may suddenly drop or rise in rank significantly. Therefore, you must check your positions frequently in order to catch when a search engine changes formulas and what effect it has on your positions.

You must also deal with your competition – a crucial factor you must always be vigilant about. Your competitor’s position may suddenly rise, automatically lowering your position. Or their position may drop, pushing your position higher. Each month, expect position changes due to the continual changes that are occurring in your competitor’s position, and be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy to compensate for decreased rankings. Monitoring these fluctuations will also give you vital information about how to improve your website to increase your position in search results. Of course, you must discern what the most popular search engines are in order for your monitoring efforts to be effective. Right now, there are ten popular search engines that direct most of Internet traffic to your sites. The challenge you face is that these top ten may change from month to month.

This means that your must not only monitor your search engine positions, but you must also keep track of the ranking popularity of the search engines you are monitoring. Find out which search engines people use most frequently every month and be sure to live in the present! People are fickle about their favorite search engines, and it takes constant vigilance to follow their dalliances. The search engines they loved when you first launched your campaign may be old news in the next few months. You must adjust your list of engines according to the whims of the Internet users. Check out http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/netratings.html for a current list of website favorites. Another factor to monitor carefully is a sudden drop of your positions in all search engines. This is not the same as monthly fluctuations – this is a neon red warning sign! It could mean a number of different things.

It all your search engine positions have plummeted, it may indicate that search engines spiders – those sneaky programs that seek out your site and rank their positions – have found some type of problem with your website. If you have recently changed the code, for instance, the spider may become utterly confused and consequently drop your positions disastrously. If a spider creeps up on your website when it is down for adjustments or changes, you may actually disappear from a search engine index entirely. Or a search engine may drastically change its formula, and suddenly all of your website come up as irrelevant. If that search engine is a current favorite, it may create a domino effect, causing all of your position to drop in all search engines. Some search engines rely on the results from other search engines, and it is vital that you know which engines these are and keep track of all the engines they influence. The biggest problem here is that search engines will sometimes change affiliations, and this can create a major shift in the geography of the Internet. For example, recently Yahoo decided to display only results gleaned from Google. So you must not only monitor your own positions, but you must keep abreast of seismic shifts in the landscape of the Internet as a whole.

Finally, pay attention to your keywords. Keywords are the foundation bricks of the entire search engine system, and they demand individual scrutiny in your monitoring efforts. If you have found that a number of your positions have plummeted, it may mean that a page of your website has become invisible or inaccessible to search engine spiders. Or the competition for that particular keyword or phrase has recently rocketed into outer space. In either case, you must act quickly and efficiently to regain lost ground. Your search engine marketing campaign is an investment. If costs you time and money on a continual basis. Protect this investment as diligently as you would your financial portfolio. In the same way, track your positions from an objective perspective, and monitor your positions on a regular basis. Make sure your time and effort reap rewards by keeping your eye on the big picture – your long-term marketing campaign.