Crafty Content

Writing for QUALITY, not Quantity

Category : Affiliate Marketing


Online affiliate programs are everywhere.  Really…

Since 1996 when affiliate programs were introduced to the Internet, a lot has changed.  In fact, everything has changed.  These days online affiliate programs drive many of the biggest fortune 500 companies online sales divisions.  This includes the likes of Zappos.com, Walmart.com, Target.com, Amazon.com…the list goes on and on.

Online Affiliate Programs - Example Companies

Even Google has their own affiliate network and affiliate program!  Affiliate programs are great for both the affiliate (YOU) and the merchant (the COMPANY).  You have the opportunity to earn money through the promotion of products and services you like and if you already have a website or blog, you have the opportunity to turn your traffic into a business.  I have written a post on the affiliate marketing business here:

Affiliate Marketing Business – Is there a PROPER methodology?

The company benefits in that they essentially have their very own online sales force.  Instead of them trying to promote their product to 100,000’s of people, they get 1,000’s of affiliates to do this…and they only have to reward them if they make a sale.    Having 1,000 people (or more) promoting your product is much better than you trying to do it yourself…and for the affiliate, having the opportunity to earn a good percentage of the commission also makes it VERY beneficial and profitable.

So where do you find affiliate programs?

There is an affiliate program for just about every company out there now.  If there is a product or a service for sale, chances are there is an associated affiliate program that people like you or I can sign-up to and promote.

The top place people go to find affiliate programs are “affiliate networks”.  These are networks of affiliate programs that require a single sign-up to access 1,000 and sometimes 10,000’s of programs, products, and services you can then promote.

There are also independent affiliate programs.  These are programs that decide to handle everything in house…that is, within their corporate structure.  This means they handle all credit card processing, support, refunds, and affiliate payments.

Both options are good and I recommend both, it really depends on what sort of products would tie in well with your target audience, your promotion, and your marketing agenda.

What makes a good affiliate program good?

There are four components to a good affiliate program.  I warn you that not all affiliate programs are good, and not all products are of equal quality, so you need to consider the following when choosing an affiliate program.

(1) The quality of the product.

As you know, not every brand or every product is created equally.  The same goes for programs online.  Some products are much better than others.  Some sales pages are better than others.  It is best to research a product before you become an affiliate of it as there may be negative reviews or the quality of the product may be low.

(2) Affiliate training and resources.

Many online affiliate programs offer resources and training for their affiliates.   This may include banners, tutorials, text ads, example emails, and keyword lists.   Although I prefer to get training elsewhere, sometimes this can be very helpful for newbies entering an niche they don’t know a heck of a lot about.   It can also save time.

(3) The affiliate support.

Often times affiliate programs come with an affiliate manager that you can personally work with to give you support with your campaigns.  Also, they may be able to offer you insight into the specific niche based on case studies they have performed within their company.  This data can speed up the research process and save you time.

(4) The Payout.

Yes, the payout is important.  If you are promoting a product that costs $100 and pays 1% you are going to have a very tough time turning a profit or making anything worth the time and effort.  Obviously you want to promote products of quality, but you also want to consider how much you are getting paid.  Digitail products typically pay the most (up to 75%) because the overhead is so low.   I suggest you aim for a minimum payout of $10 commissions.

Where to get Affiliate Program Training

It is important to know what you are doing and to stay if you are looking to become a top tier affiliate.  By this I mean, the Internet changes quickly for affiliates because of new regulations, new Google Adwords changes, new search engine marketing techniques, and new copywriting strategies.

If you are looking to get training, there are many affiliate marketing training facilities out there.  The one the stands out is Wealthy Affiliate University (WAU) and this offers elite training to affiliates on a wide range of topics including:

  • Pay Per Click
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Marketing
  • Article Marketing
  • Website Development Strategies
  • Back-linking
  • Copywriting
  • Blogging

This affiliate training also includes access to a nice suite of tools, training, and support to supplement your education and really offer you an opportunity to build an affiliate marketing business from ground zero. For more information about this school, click here.

The benefit of using Affiliate Networks

There are independent affiliate programs, and then there are affiliate networks.  An independent affiliate program is run, managed, and technically controlled by the company, whereas an affiliate networks is a 3rd party company that handles all the transactions, reporting, and payments for MANY affiliate programs.

For example, the largest digital affiliate network (e-books & software), Clickbank has over 12,000 products you can promote within a single network.  This can be beneficial for the affiliate as you only have to sign-up to the affiliate program ONCE and you have access to promote 10,000+ products.

There are many affiliate networks out there, with the top 10 affiliate networks being:

  1. Clickbank.comClickBank is the largest digital network online, that has recently introduced both recurring products and shipped products to their database of merchant offerings.
    Since the Clickbank affiliate network contains mostly digital products, it is very cheap and low overhead for the merchants.  Because of this, they average commission offering is usually over 50% of the total gross commission, often times 75%.  This can easily add up considering the average product price on clickbank is around $50 (you get $25-$37.50 per sale).

    There are tools and training specifically designed for the Clickbank network.  If you are interested in these, click here.

  2. Commission Junction Now owned by ValueClick, Commission Junction was one of the first affiliate networks. It is also one of the most important with many of the Top Fortune 500 companies listed here.CJ is an international network with excellent stats and tracking (some of the best you will find), along with regular monthly payments makes this the obvious first choice for anyone wishing to try affiliate marketing.
    For those new or old at affiliate marketing, CJ also holds regular seminars and training sessions.

    Most merchants offer pay-per-lead or pay-per-sale, one of the best features is the performance bonuses and incentives. As most experienced marketers will know, selling 50k to 100k each month for merchants will bring in the big incentives or bonuses.

    Commissions run as high as 50% but most are in 3% to 15% range. You have the option of direct deposit for your payments. One major plus, CJ will tell you which merchants
    and ads are earning the most revenue for affiliates so you can easily choose which merchants are worth promoting.

  3. Linkshare LinkShare is another excellent affiliate network. It is one of the oldest affiliate networks on the web. LinkShare was recently acquired by the Japanese Portal Rakuten, with a price tag of $425 million.Very good stats and reporting with their Synergy Analytics system. Many Top Fortune 500 companies are presented here so you will no trouble finding products and services to romote.
    LinkShare pays commissions as they receive them from merchants – monthly checks.
  4. ShareASaleThis is one of the most popular professional affiliate networks on the internet. It’s a very large too, with over 2000 quality advertisers you can choose from. Each of these merchants has a different type of product that they are selling.
  5. RegNowThis affiliate program has covered every possible niche within the segment of software – have a look at their product finder and you’ll understand what we’re talking about. Audio, Business & Finance, Games, Home & Education and Internet – you can find it all here, and some more to that.
  6. Flux AdsFlux Advertising can provide you with the best offers online so that not a single impression, email, pop, or pay-per-click action is wasted. As a Flux Affiliate you’ll have access to the ‘Net’s top performing offers and most competitive payouts.
  7. Clickbooth.com It’s an advanced affiliate network with many quality and popular advertisers. Guaranteed highest payouts in the industry for the publishers. Supports referral program where you can earn more money by referring users to this service.
  8. RevenueLoop.comProvides publishers access to thousands of online advertisers. All offers are tracked by a real-time, online accounting system, giving our publishers complete control over their campaign. RevenueLoop’s advertising network will help you to generate that sought after additional revenues.
  9. Affiliate WindowAffiliate Window is an UK based affiliate network which offers top brand companies and good commission rates. Pays once a month and has excellent stats.Savvy affiliate marketers know promoting in other countries can be much easier than promoting in the American market place. Mainly because these other countries haven’t become saturated with online marketers, little competition means more sales.
  10. CPA Empire.comGreat CPA (Cost Per Action) network especially if you do a lot of email marketing and promotions. Geared towards acquiring leads and sign-ups but does offer other merchants as well. Good stats and reporting.

A quick 2 step process to finding ah Affiliate Program for any product

Thousands of companies decide to run their affiliate programs “in house” because they either require or seek full control of their affiliate data and prefer to work with affiliates independently.

I first hand know that some of the top online affiliate programs out there are independent and you can truly miss out on many great affiliate programs if you rely solely on affiliate networks.  Because of this, I want to give you an easy 2 step process for finding ANY affiliate program within any niche just using a quick search in Google.

Step 1: Search using the following template:

affiliate program + YOUR_NICHE  …replacing YOUR_NICHE with, well, your niche.  An example of this in a pretty small niche would be for “dog food” programs.  Let’s have a look using the following search:

affiliate program + dog food

Here are the example results:

affiliate programs for dog food
As you can see, 3 of the first 4 results were related affiliate programs!  For dog food!!  This works for pretty much any niche imaginable, regardless of how obscure.

Step 2: Sign-up to affiliate program and grab your links

It is that easy to find affiliate programs…2 steps to online affiliate program success.

Now it is time to get some training, to get affiliate website created, and to get your affiliate campaigns rolling.

Take care and good luck,

Crafty


Today I want to answer a few questions for you and hopefully get you moving in the right direction with your affiliate marketing business.  First, I am going to outline what affiliate marketing really is.  Then I am going to let you know about the different components of affiliate marketing and how the effectively work together.  Then I am going to show you how to leverage this business model to create a profitable start-up online.

First things first though…

What is involved in the Affiliate Marketing Business?

The affiliate marketing biz is composed of two parties, the affiliate and the merchant.  The affiliate represents the person who is essentially working for the merchant by driving traffic to their sites.  In exchange for this traffic/sales, the merchant offers a commission.   This is typically paid on the Cost Per Sale, Cost Per Commission, or Cost Per Action basis.

So, as an affiliate you would sign-up to the merchants affiliate program, where you would then get your OWN unique link in which you could use on your website, blog, email, twitter, facebook…wherever really that you could get traffic and potentially sales.

For a larger explanation of “Affiliate Marketing”, see the definition on Wikipedia.

Clicbank Website

Clickbank - A Large Affiliate Network

For example, one of the largest digital affiliate product networks is Clickbank.  Clickbank contains over 100,000 affiliates and well over 10,000 merchants.  By being an affiliate of this network, you can promote any of the 10,000 products owned by the merchants (or all of them).

Here is an example pay scale for a few of the items:

Merchant: Strip That Fat (dieting product)
Product Price: $57
Affiliate Gets Paid: 75% commission, or approximately $38 per sale

Merchant: Magic of Making Up (dating e-book/videos)
Product Price: $39
Affiliate Gets Paid: 75%, $23.97

How do affiliates become profitable?

By selling other people’s products.  That is in it’s simplest and most archaic form, and might be a reality for some, but things have changed over the last couple of years.

Affiliate marketing is no longer just about “selling stuff”.  Rather it has made a progress into the world of “helping” people out, and holding out for a reciprocation.  Not all people will give back, some will, some won’t, but the core of your business model as an affiliate should be to be passionate about something, and the success will follow.

Let me give you an example.  Say you really loved animals, in particular dogs…so you created a dog-related website.   Once you learn how to obtain traffic, all you need to consider is plugging in relevant affiliate offers within your website.  I know first hand there are many products within the dog niche, the dog training niche, the dog food niche, and the dog accessories niche, so depending on your site, you could target them appropriately.

This could go for any niche.  ANYTHING imaginable.  I know people selling affiliate products within some of the craziest sounding niches!

How do merchants grow their business?

If you own a product or service, you are considered a merchant.  Merchants run their businesses through having quality affiliates.  If you want to be a successful merchant, you should really understand the core principles behind becoming a good affiliate.   The reason for this  is that affiliates are the driving force behind most businesses online.

Let me say that again.

Affiliates are the DRIVING FORCE.

So if you are reading this now (as a merchant) and you have affiliates but have been pushing them under the rug or can honestly say that you have not been giving them the tools and motivation to succeed, then you need to get on it.

If you own a product and have an affiliate program, but don’t have many affiliates, you need to start focusing on recruiting affiliates.  Where do you recruit.  Places where affiliates hang out right?

The main ones are related forums, training programs, and places where affiliates go to learn and earn.

Can the affiliate marketing business be self-taught?

There are mixed emotions and opinions on this subject.  Some people are confident that you can learn for free from related affiliate marketing forums like WarriorForum and Abestweb (among others), however I am not so sure of this.  The problem with getting info for free is that there is usually other motives for the owners to profit from you, and the communities tend to be riddle with negative people that all think they are experts.  You can try this if you want to go the free route, but you may waste several months or even years without creating any profit at all…and ultimately, CONFUSED!

Rather, it is important that you get an education on how to properly set-up an affiliate marketing business.  One that offers you not only the adequate training, but the tools, and the mentors, and a quality community to stand behind you.  I know of one such community that offers this and that does it well.

You can make a go at this alone, but it is not always a wise solution.  It is like trying to build a house without having the initial foundation or education.  Your house may collapse or be constructed incorrectly. The same thing may happen within the affiliate marketing business unless you have the proper training.

Steps to get a affiliate marketing business up and running?

Step 1: You need to know what you are doing

Yes, an education…a PROPER education is important.  You do not want to learn what worked in the affiliate marketing world 2 years ago because it simply will not work today.  Investing in a quality online education is the best route versus offline schools as typically the offline materials become outdated too quick and don’t teach you the “what you need to know now” sort of stuff.

Here is one of the best options for training.

Step 2: You need to decide on what “niche” you want to enter

I know this sounds tough, but you do not need to freak out when you think about finding a niche.  Instead, create a short list of THREE niches that interest you.  What are you passionate about?  What do you enjoy doing?  What are you interested in learning more about?  Answer these three questions and you have three excellent niches that you can start with.

You will be much better off researching, promoting, and writing about something that you like…it will make life much easier as an affiliate.

Step 3: You need a domain of your own

This is easy.  You can go grab a domain from Godaddy.    Then you will need to host it somewhere so you can create your website.  I wrote a post on how to host WordPress sites (like this site).

When choosing your domain name, you should think of something that is relevant to your niche.  For example, if you are creating a site in the football niche, you should have a domain like:

http://www.my-football-reviews.com

This is good for Search Engine Optimization as well as for your visitor recognition (they will instantly see your site is relevant).

Step 4: Build, build, build

Just like lego.  The more you build, the bigger your fort will become.  Once you have a site in place (How to Create a WordPress Blog tutorial here), you have something in place you can build upon and continue to grow.  This will lead to a successful affiliate marketing business and in a matter of a few months, you could have something really special up and running.

Hope you enjoy this and if you have any feedback or questions, just leave it below.

Crafty Content