Category Archives: Affiliates

Six Things I’ve Learned About Affiliate Marketing

I’ve written on this blog many times that I’m not the best affiliate marketer in the world. Well, I’d have to say that part is true, based on my history. However, what I can’t say is that I haven’t learned how to do any type of affiliate marketing, and if I decided to redo a few things, I believe I could actually start making some nice money at it. It would probably take some time to get to a point where I could be making enough to pay all my bills, but I actually do believe I could do it.

So, if I were going to start today with something brand new, what would I do, based on what I’ve learned thus far? Let’s look at my list:

1. I’d take time to think about a niche where not only could I write at least 100 articles about it, but that would somehow surround a product. I mentioned this in a comment on Sire’s blog once in response to a question someone else asked. I know someone who created a blog about hydroponic gardening, which means it was truly a small, defined niche. It was the only subject she wrote about on that blog, as it was new latest hobby. And, along with pictures she took herself, she had Adsense on her blog, but also had products related to hydroponic gardening. She was earning close to $1,000 a month on just that blog alone. She recreated that type of thing a few times, and was living fairly well. However, this wouldn’t only have to be a blog; a nice website might do the same thing.

2. I’d take more time to think of a domain name that people might actually know what it is they’re visiting for. With my Medical Billing Answers site, I did this very thing. It’s been making consistent Adsense money for me over the last five months, which is really nice. The problem is that there’s no consistent product that relates to it other than some books, and books aren’t quite a great seller, plus they have a low margin of return.

3. Set up internal linking from the beginning. When I started this blog, I had no real concept of internal linking. When I created my Reviews Of Everything site, I knew to create menus with categories, but I didn’t do a great job of setting it up for proper internal linking. Now I’m good at internal linking as it pertains to this blog, but I haven’t gone back to do it with my business blog, and I haven’t done it for most of my other sites. I have done it for my main business site, which has helped greatly, and I did it from the beginning with Top Finance Blog. I think if you create a niche site or blog, that will work wonders for you.

4. Join more than one affiliate program, but have an idea of what and how you want to market those items. I’ve only done this well for my Top Finance Blog, where I knew I would only market finance related items. With my medical billing site, I never thought about anything except for Adsense initially, and with my Services And Stuff site, I never thought out how to lay out my product advertising, so it’s a mish-mosh of stuff that just doesn’t work well. Even with my Reviews site, I have laid things out properly, but not matched up items well, which messes up sales greatly.

5. Research better. I’m supposedly the king of research, but when all is said and done, when I created the sites I’ve created thus far, each was more of a whim than any concerted thought of how I would market anything. Even with Top Finance Blog, I didn’t think about monetizing it until two months after I started it, and I wasn’t sure then how I was going to do it. My medical billing site was the best planned site of all of them, and it makes the most money, and, oddly enough, it was an industry I didn’t have to research because I know it pretty well. For my next site, you can bet I’ll research, then select a niche, then pick the right domain name, select products beforehand, then I’ll set it all up and go for it.

6. No matter how well you set things up, you still need traffic. The most perfect site in the world won’t generate anything without traffic. There are really only two ways to drive traffic. One, through search engines, which means you need to not only do great search engine optimization, but hope to have a niche that will drive either lots of traffic or has loyal readers who’ll buy because they like your information. Two, through efforts such as what we bloggers try to do, or email, or things like Adwords, or hooking with folks who will help to drive traffic.

I think that’s enough for now. Of course, add anything you’d like to the mix, because that’s what we do around here, we share information and ideas. And I could have added a seventh, though it’s more negative, that being that sometimes affiliates drop you because they don’t feel you’re making enough sales, as I’ve been dropped recently by Apple stores and Newegg, though Newegg dropped me because I’m in New York state; so, those two will never be mentioned around here again.


Business.com PPC

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Not Getting Paid By A CJ Affiliate

While I sit here fighting my urge to go to the store and buy a package of Double Stuff Mint Oreos, I thought I’d talk about one of my latest issues with an affiliate.

It’s bad enough that I had another affiliate drop me this month because I live in New York. I belonged to Newegg only three weeks before they decided that I didn’t qualify for them anymore; oh well, as least they didn’t string me along for months, even though they did send me something saying that I had agreed to some contract in 2008, then, when I wrote them to inquire about it, they acknowledged they were wrong. Maybe it was proving them wrong that got me bounced; oh well,…

In this case, though, it’s about money, and legitimate sales. The affiliate is part of Commission Junction, and they’re called Football Fanatics; yeah, I’m naming names. They’re a company that has all kinds of products with both professional and college football teams logos and colors, and, as America is in love with football, I thought that would make a great addition to my listings.

Then I got lucky, and had someone ask me if I knew where they could purchase some football related items. She told me what she wanted, and I sent her the specific links to each of the products. These weren’t cheap things either; I knew that, if she bought, I was going to make a nice little chunk of change, and it would have made for my best month ever with CJ.

Well, I didn’t get credit for any of these three sales, and that’s just not right. I waited a week just to make sure, but saw nothing. I first wrote CJ, who said I should write the company. I then wrote the company, giving all the information that I knew they needed, because CJ told me what they’d need. After a week of not hearing anything, I wrote CJ again to mention that I hadn’t heard anything from the company. They wrote me back saying they’d contact the company, but reminded me that all payments have to come from the company themselves, and that CJ is basically a go-between. The actual response was:

Please be aware that is it there (sic) responsibility to maintain their affiliate program. If they are neglecting it, you may wish to promote a different advertiser.

And there you go. Of course I knew that part, but a big part of my thinking is that one doesn’t get to totally abrogate responsibility from someone they represent just because that someone isn’t acting properly. In my mind, I may not ever get my money, but CJ should seriously look at these people and decide whether they wish to sanction them being a part of the CJ “family”, if you will.

Of course, a big part of me is hoping that I get my payment, but I will be looking for another football items related affiliate, though it looks like I’m going to have to find out outside of the CJ family. Too bad, since they offer the ability to post products also, but hey, I’m not doing this just to promote a business that’s not going to follow through on their fiduciary responsibilities. Yeah, I know, big words; so sue me. 🙂

Overall, I know that CJ is a reputable company, and I’m not leaving them any time soon. But I guess this does point out that companies like CJ and Clickbank, who I’ve also talked about before when I was warning people to verify product links, are really just conduits to the ultimate prize, which are the advertisers whose programs and products we hope to market and make a little bit of scratch from. Affiliate marketing can be tough enough as it is. Be ever vigilant; it’s your money, after all.

Update I ended up voicing my displeasure on another blog, and was contacted by the affiliate manager for Football Fanatics, who promptly looked into my situation, and I ended up getting credit for my sales; yay!

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Product Vs Advertiser Ads

Most blogs these days have ads, and unfortunately, most of us don’t take the time to look at anyone else’s ads because, well, we do have our own. However, I’m someone who does take a look at ads, because I want to see what other people might be marketing and how they might be doing it; learning how to be a good internet affiliate marketer is difficult work, after all.

It’s occurred to me that basically there are two types of ads; product ads and advertiser ads. Product ads are, well, marketing products. For instance, if you look at my blog, you see that along the left side there I’m marketing products, starting with mine, then a couple of books. Some of my blog posts will have specific product ads, such as my last post (and I’m buying those suckers one day soon). Sometimes the product ad looks like an advertiser ad, but it’s a product.

When we get to specific product items, such as computers, jewelry, or items like that, only myself and Sire, of Wassup Blog, seem to have actual items that we market, though his are more consistent than mine, as I have mine rotate on the side via TTZ Media, and within specific posts I decide on a product through Commission Junction and post it here.

Advertiser ads are promoting advertisers, and I’ve noticed that a lot of blogs have those, including mine. For instance, over on the left again, you see advertisements for Buy.com, National Geographic Store, Lapworks, etc, and in some posts, like this one, you see I end the post with an advertiser ad. Those take you to a page where you can look around and buy something.

But those aren’t the only types of advertiser ads. Though I noticed that I don’t have any right now, there are advertiser ads that market the advertisers themselves. For instance, on Caleb’s blog, Market Secrets Blog, he has ads that market Adbrite and Pepperjam network, two that I haven’t tried out yet. On Sire’s blog, he has ads that market Onmarketer, Chitika, and ClixGalore. Yan’s blog Thou Shall Blog, he’s marketing Oiopublisher and Market Leverage. Even on Darren Rowse’s blog, Problogger, even though all of his ads are actually sponsors, he’s marketing Inlinks, LinkWorth, MLTV, and some others.

My question comes in wondering which types of ads for most people actually work for you. For the few of us who own up to our monthly blogging or online income, I don’t see all that many of these ads working all that much for anyone. It’s because of this that our friend John of 21st Century Affiliate Marketing has said that he’s beginning to remove almost all of these types of ads to try something new, which he hopes will help stimulate online sales. Indeed, though I like having lots of different types of ads and products on my site, and other sites, it seems that these items rarely get all that many clicks, let alone sales, and yet I’ve noticed that I have clicked on some of the items listed above as advertiser ads, mainly because I’m thinking about marketing by using them to see how they fare. So, my impetus is purely as a test market, and not necessarily because I’m hoping to buy anything. But I believe that, when I actually decide to sign up via one of these links, if I got there through someone’s site, they get some kind of monetary reimbursement from it.

Anyway, I’m wondering what y’all think of things like this? If our goal is really to make money with our blogs via affiliate marketing, it almost seems that the best way to do it is to write good content, try to jump up in some kind of rankings such as PR or Alexa, which seem to mean something to advertisers, and sell advertising on your site, ala Problogger. Visitors drive advertising, which is why I tried earlier this year to do my RSS subscriber contest, and goes back to a conversation I’ve had lately with our friend Mirjam of Me Myself And I Blog, as we’ve been talking about this issue of massive traffic that we both wrote about. Indeed, trying to obtain that kind of traffic just might be the only reason one may not care as much about targeted traffic.

So, share your thoughts and feelings on this topic, if you will. No, I didn’t get into the contextual ads specifically, but I consider those as product ads, even if the products aren’t always so clearly defined, because they’re not trying to get you to go back to the site itself to help market them.


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Let’s Talk About Commission Junction

As you’ve noticed easily enough, with most of my posts I have some sort of affiliate link or product at the end of each one of them. Most of them come from Commission Junction, and that’s who I’m going to talk about this evening.

Commission Junction is one of the largest big name affiliate programs out there. There may be affiliate programs that have more products, but Commission Junction deals with some of the biggest name companies and personalities. For instance, I’m an affiliate marketer for products from companies such as Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, GoDaddy,Kodak, and NBC/Universal. They have almost 2,200 different companies that people can do advertising for, including the one at the end of this post.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about affiliate marketing thus far; I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. I know we’re not really supposed to talk about things we haven’t done well yet, but so be it; the fourth wall is down, and I’m now George Burns talking to the audience.

I haven’t made a lot of money through CJ, their nickname. I’ve made some, enough so that I even got a check once. Truthfully, you don’t have to sell a lot of product in order to make some money. However, you have to sell some, and it would seem to be much harder than just putting up a link of some kind that looks pretty, possibly flashes, and hoping people will click on it. I know this because I check the statistics, and I see very few clicks on these bad boys ever. As a matter of fact, almost all the money I’ve made has come through 1&1, which probably means someone who knows me needed hosting and decided to help me out a little bit; thanks friends!

For one of my sites, I’ve created pages that highlight some of the products, and tried to show a nice range of prices. On another site, I’ve put a couple of products on one side of each page, hoping the picture might entice someone to click on a product to see what else a site might have. And here, as well as on other sites, I’ve posted the affiliate links with the company name, figuring one of them might click with someone one day.

Of course, sometimes CJ, or their affiliates, don’t help me much. For instance, companies are known to move around their images, and of course sometimes they discontinue a product, or a link. It’s easy to always check the links on your own website, but I don’t go around testing the links to the products on a regular basis because I don’t want to skew the numbers that tell me how many people are checking stuff out; not like it’d be all that many anyway. And there are enough companies that keep dropping me as an affiliate because I live in New York, or some other stupid reason; hard doing internet affiliate marketing sometimes. 🙂

Still, I can’t say any of this is Commission Junction’s fault. I know there’s a formula somewhere, and I’m going to keep trying to figure it out. However, I will say that CJ has some wonderful companies it represents, and if you’re a true affiliate marketer, and know better than me what you’re doing, you should check them out.
 

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I’ve Jumped Into The Adsense Promotion Thing

Well, it seemed to make sense, so I’ve now officially become an affiliate for Joel Comm’s Adsense programs, especially his Adsense Secrets 4.0 book. I wrote a review of it on my Reviews of Everything site if you’re interesting in learning more about it.

So, now you’ll understand why I have the affiliate link below; I never said I didn’t enjoy the book, or that I didn’t learn anything from it, when I wrote about the bit of controversy a little bit ago. So, read the review, then think about buying the book. Or just click on the ad below and go to the site on your own.

Harry Potter&#153 The First Task Water Globe

Price – $44.99






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