I Know Nothing About Affiliate Marketing

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about affiliate marketing, something I’ve been a part of for at least 5 years by now, and wondering “what the heck am I doing wrong?” I’ve made few affiliate sales over the years, but at least I can say I’ve made some. I guess that puts me ahead of a few people, but so many others are really rocking the industry. Then, after yesterday’s escapade and thinking about it some more, I realized one very interesting fact; I know nothing about affiliate marketing!

Going Crazy
by Frédéric Dupont

That’s a very disconcerting thing to come to, and though it’s probably over the top, especially since I once wrote an article on how affiliate marketing works, truth be told I’ve been looking for answers for a long time. I’ve read a lot of stuff; I even put together a post where folks could download free ebooks on the subject.

Last night on Zac Johnson’s site, as he was talking about another affiliate marketing program, I left a comment saying that it was nice for him to profile, but I wondered how he did things, even though I had read his book Six Figure Affiliate Blogging and even wrote a review on it. No answer yet, but he’s probably still asleep since I wrote it around 2AM.

You know what the problem is? Well, it’s actually twofold. One, I’m not innovative when it comes to marketing in the first place. It’s never been my strong suit, even though I’ve been working independently for almost 10 years now. I’m okay at networking, which has saved my behind over all these years, but marketing; nope. Two, with all the books and such that I’ve read over all these years, information I’ve eaten up and memorized and understood, I’ve never picked up that one big nugget that I’ve really been looking for, and that’s the first 3 steps of it all. And no, I don’t need to read “create a product” or “set up an autoresponder” or “capture emails for lists” again; none of that tells me a thing. I once asked Willie Crawford this question and he said he’d think about it and get back to me on it; didn’t happen, unfortunately.

I belong to Commission Junction as one of my affiliate programs, as you know. I used to pop one of their products or banner ads into every post up until the new year began. At least half of the time the product or banner ad had something to do with the topic of the day. Obviously just showing something that no one was interested in on that day didn’t work, as I rarely made sales from doing all that work, though I did get a few clicks here and there. My question was what the heck was I really supposed to do when I either selected a product or a banner ad from one of these advertisers; that’s the step I’ve never really gotten.

At least I did get one question answered a few days ago on Lisa Irby’s blog, where she had a post, along with a video, titled Why Some Blogs Don’t Perform Will Affiliate Marketing. It wasn’t in the video, which was still neat to watch, but in her response to the comment I made on the blog. I said it sounded expensive to do what she did, having to buy a lot of domain names, and after a back and forth she said she doesn’t buy a bunch of domains, but drives people to an existing site where she markets her items.

That was an aha moment for me because she’s the first person to ever say that from all that I’ve read. It takes a load off my mind to know that I don’t have to do like some of these big time marketers, create a product, buy a new domain name and push it like crazy. Whew! At least stage one is set; I’ve finally learned something useful, so thanks Lisa. That one nugget gave me other things to think about, and really that’s what it’s all about. I now have a better idea for what I could be doing.

In 2009 I wrote a post called Let’s Learn Affiliate Marketing Together; seems we still need to learn that lesson.

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19 thoughts on “I Know Nothing About Affiliate Marketing”

  1. Hi Mitch

    This is on topic for me. In the process of setting up another site and it will involve affiliate products. I read a lot, as you do but the problem with that can be that I then get information overload LOL

    Also all marketers do different things and suggest lots of ways to market without explaining it in simple terms that are do-able when first starting out!

    So now I am sticking to just learning from a few marketing friends who are being successful in their businesses. I continue to ask them heaps of questions and they generously share their expertise with me.

    It is going to take time to build a successful business around affiliate products, but that’s okay with me. As long as I’m heading in the right direction.

    BTW Have you read Alex Whalley’s blog? He has a FREE affiliate marketing course where he explains step by step what he does with Amazon products.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. No I haven’t, Pat, but I have never done anything with Amazon and I’m not sure, being in New York, that they even work with us anymore. But I’m with you, overall we just don’t get enough real information that we can use. I did get a response to a question I asked that I mentioned in the post and the recommendation was basically to market, market, market. Problem is that advice is way before my initial questions that it’s not really helpful; you know what I mean.

      1. After I get my next project up and running, I’ll follow Alex’s course. As he in Oz and I skype him, if I get stuck I will be asking him questions.

        Will let you know how it goes once I get it up and running.

        Patricia Perth Australia

  2. Well, Mitch

    I don’t think people are that kind as they first seem to be and they won’t reveal their secrets as they usually say they do. I’ve read a plethora of guides, tips etc to be a god in affiliate marketing and honestly almost all seemed to lack some info, the info that would make a difference.

    People, have their own secrets they apply in order to really rock their affiliate earnings and I believe that many of this affiliates are actually making money by teaching us about affiliate marketing (you know all those free ebooks with builtin affiliate links, or even paid ebooks with more builtin affiliate links, or even free reports that are actually excerpts of a paid ebook – which entice you to buy that ebook).

    I have an idea on how affiliate marketing works and what I should do, but I feel that I am still missing some piece of information that will spring that “Aha, this is how is done” moment.

    If you find out something, please let us know.

    @Patricia, good luck with your new affiliate business, but I would suggest changing the traffic sources, networking is fine, but usually “follow back” visitors won’t buy products from you and neither do friends (unless they really need it).

    1. Alex, seems like we’re in pretty much the same place; we know enough to say “yeah, I’ve read about it” but not enough to say “I make lots of money from it”. You’re right, just that one little thing most of us seem to be missing. Oh well…

  3. @Mitch,
    You are not alone, in fact you are with the 95% of the bloggers out there.

    Personally, I myself never believed those six-figure stories nor I subscribed to any of their videos. My target was to create some residual income without spending more than an hour a day on blogging. I started picking certain WordPress plugin, themes, hosting products to market and wrote reviews about them. In addition, some forex, traffic generation products as well – all those fit nicely into my niche. Then I used the MaxBlogPress ninja plugin and some SEO to optimize my offer posts. To be frank, initially I was not getting much out of it but now couple of years into it, my affiliate/referral income varies from USD 1500 to 2500 a month which I think is decent as a secondary income. I also spend 200-250 USDs a month on AdWords to market some of these products.

    I do not use CJ but e-junkie and Clickbank.

    Hope your online income get better over the time. Visibility of your offer posts in Google plays a bigger role than anything else I would say.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks Ajith. I don’t believe everything I read, but I think we all know the people who make extremely big time money, and everyone else is much lower. The people in the middle are probably the ones keeping their mouths shut most of the time. I need to think of some kind of strategy, then put it into place; I’m still in the thinking stage after all these years. lol

  4. Hi again Mitch

    The truth is that for a start I dont think Blogs in the pure sense convert as sales entities. They give the information but dont necessarily push the right buttons.

    I have looked at this over the last couple of years now and have had patchy sales from offer pages, email marketing and twitter, but rarely from an actual blog post.

    My own experience tells me that there is a common human process whereby people purchase on impulse providing they are made to keep comfortable first so the blog post serves itself best as a reviewer or preseller.

    The blog has its place by being search engine friendly, your blog posts are there to share knowledge like you do so the reader may want to learn more by adding themselves to your mailing list.

    So a combination of a blog article pointing to a conduit page, acompanied by a video and an email to your subscriber list are the ingredients I believe that are needed.

    As to those people who sell Internet Marketing products to other marketers I can see a weakness there in the fact that its too easy to circumnativate the affiliate links if its a clickbank or CJ product.

    So the term ‘pre sell’ applies here to get the reader to go to that sales page or affiliated site is in my view the way to go. If you can get 100 people per day to view a blog post, 20 or so should read your conduit page and 2-3 may buy – the numbers soon add up

    1. That’s great stuff, Peter, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Driving people to other places via a blog post is definitely a viable strategy, especially once one gets known a bit better. I’ve also been thinking about adding a page to the blog where I list all the products that I specifically write about, then link them to my own version of a sales page on one of my other websites. The thing I hate is that you can talk almost anything up, then people click on it and sometimes the page they go to is, well, pretty horrible looking. There’s the time factor in reviewing the pages you send people to after they’ve stopped by yours. But it’s still a nice strategy.

  5. Most of the time affiliate market is very simple. I mean that simple that an educated person can’t even thing. Rarely successful affiliates have a great website design, website is no more than 2-3 squeezed pages. Or it is just a viral video on Youtube. Direct match domain, regular newsletter, ets. The most difficult part of affiliate marketing is to find the right product. I have worked for different markets and conversion visitor/sales can vary dramatically. For example the higher conversion was 48/1 and the lowest 2000/1 and the items were nearly the same price.

    1. Carl, my conversion rate is something like 10,000/1; that’s a major shame! And you make an interesting point about selecting the proper products. There are things that not all of us are interested in, and things such as smartphones and tablets that someone like me doesn’t know anything about right now so I can’t write about it. But finding the right products for whatever one talks about, from the right vendor, is tough to do.

      1. It is a myth that smart phones and tables are selling very well on internet. The products that everybody thing that are tough always have the best conversion. I can not mention it on your blog to keep it clean, but adult niche is the best one. I don’t mean “adult adult”, but things for grown ups and people that are not affected by credit crunch.

      2. Carl, the actual point was that newer technology has a better chance of selling online, if the price is right, than talking about many other things. As to the adult thing, well, we’ll have to wait to see if Sire shows up to talk about it, since he has one of those sites.

      3. Hey Mitch, I have made a few sales on the adult site and I reckon I could make more as soon as I’m able to send more traffic down that way. With adult sites I think that traffic is the key. Sure that’s the same with all site but I reckon people searching adult sites are more likely to buy than those surfing other sites.

        I don’t have too much trouble getting people to click on links, the problem is in getting them to convert. I don’t know what exactly is preventing them from completing the sale. Is it the landing page the price or some other unknown factor. I reckon if I could work that out I could increase my sales dramatically.

      4. Sire, I know mine is click through rate. They’re all relatively low across the board. I mean, like you, maybe a few, but it takes more than that to get sales unfortunately.

      5. I had over 60 clicks on amazon links last month but not one of them eventuated in a sale. It’s not like I trick them into clicking either, they obviously know what they’re clicking on. So the question is why click on a product if you’re not interested in it?

      6. Sire, I think people get interested, but mainly they’re shopping, to see the price a certain thing is. If they go back within the week you’ll still get credit for the sale because of cookies, but if it’s later you’re probably not getting credit for it at all. I believe we have to see it as how we shop; I click on tons of stuff for research reasons more than because I’m in the mood to buy.

  6. Hi Mitch!

    I hope you are well, glad to be here again..

    Internet marketing needs a lot of work and promotion, but I prefer getting sales from search engine, less work.

    I am a CJ affiliate as well, but not as successful as clickbank’s or shareasale, I guess it depends on my niche which is mostly wordpress theme, plugin, etc..

    I got a few sales from CJ’s hosting but not much, I also don’t promote their products heavily, though I will be focusing on them too in the future, since CJ pays really fast 🙂



    1. Kimi, there’s a lot I know about affiliate marketing. But there’s tons more I don’t know about it, since the proof is always in the pudding any my pudding stinks! There’s a good model out there somewhere; I just have to figure it out.

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