Let’s Learn Affiliate Marketing Together

Check out my Big RSS Subscriber Contest after reading this article.

As many of you know, our buddy Yan wrote a post early in the new year called 2009 Is The Year Of Internet Marketing. As I read that article, I was thinking how, for me, last year was supposed to be my year of internet marketing, and I can’t say it turned out all that well. Sure, I made some money, probably my best year ever, and yet, when it’s all said and done, I don’t really think I learned much this year to push me to the next level.

And I’m not alone. Let’s face this fact; there’s a lot of us out here who are trying to learn this internet marketing thing better. We buy the books and manuals and CDs and videos, and, well, we probably don’t get to most of it. I know I got to just under half of it, and, oddly enough, the one thing I really worked at, that I read deeply, was Joel Comm’s Adsense Secrets, and my income did drastically increase from it, though not on the blog, but from my other sites.

This proves that sometimes this literature and stuff we decide to invest in does work. And yet, it doesn’t take care of everything, does it? Let’s take a look at this affiliate marketing thing. Last year, when I started this blog, I decided to add some affiliate banners and products to my blog. I put either a link or product at the end of every post; I didn’t make a single sale from any of that in 2008, so obviously it takes more than that. Well, I did more than that a few times; I actually wrote entire posts about some of the items I was advertising because they were things I was using and I liked, and the only one I know about that a few people actually clicked on and signed up for was Tweet My Blog, and yet I never earned a dime from them (maybe I don’t understand how they’re supposed to pay, but I know at least 3 people went ahead and downloaded the product based on my recommendation) through Clickbank; sigh,…

Enough of that. Time to stop whining, and time to start learning. Obviously I don’t know it all, but I’ve learned a bunch of things, and y’all have learned a bunch of things, but we’re still missing it. So, here’s the challenge. Let’s put together our list of questions, things we want to learn as it pertains to this thing called affiliate, or internet, marketing. I have met some big time internet gurus in the last year, and if we can put together a package of questions, I will contact one of them and ask them if they can answer our specific questions. How does that sound?

I’ll start with mine:

1. Is the list really the most important thing to making consistent sales, or any real sales?

2. With Clickbank, do we write our own squeeze page to then send someone to the squeeze page of the product, or is there a way to work around that?

3. What is the best way to sell our own products?

4. Going back to the list, is it really ethical to always gather email addresses when giving out free items, then bombarding people with sales offers?

5. How does one really go about asking for the sale, especially on a blog?

And there you go; my questions. What are yours? Or, if you can answer those above, what are those answers? Let’s all learn and grow together.

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19 thoughts on “Let’s Learn Affiliate Marketing Together”

  1. In my personal opinion, affiliate marketing can click only if:
    – You are one of the first few to know about it and become top referrer in the beginning
    – You sign up with multi-tier (at least two levels, if possible three) affiliate programs. Then all that you need to do is to refer 10 really good people and they will subscribe another 100 and those 100 another 1000! And even if your receive a small cut thatis going to pile up virally.
    – You have huge set of followers (on twitter etc). In this case at leat 1% of them may sign up.

    Good luck!

    Ajith Edassery´s last blog post..Search User: Shift in Paradigm and New SEO Requirements

    1. I certainly hope you’re wrong, Ajith, because if not, then we should all just up and quit now.

  2. Good afternoon, Mitch.

    You bring up a very good topic and I’ll be interested in following this post, the comments, and any follow-up posts you author.

    Putting up badges, buttons, and banners for all manner of items that may or may not be directly relevant to the subject of a site has become ineffective. It’s been years since that has worked well.

    Our readers are bombarded with ads and have become desensitized to them to the point that most people who spend a lot of time on the Internet are practically blind to advertising.

    Marketing things we don’t want to other marketers is probably a losing proposition, too.

    I believe that a specifically targeted list that offers helpful information is a very valuable thing and I’ll be putting a lot of my effort this year into building several of those lists.

    But, I don’t think of the subscribers as marks or warm bodies with credit cards.

    I think of them as people who are looking for a solution to a problem. At the very least, I can offer some suggestions for solving that problem. Maybe they’ll buy from me, maybe they won’t.

    Maybe the solutions I recommend are free and I earn nothing but goodwill from passing on the word.

    I’m drastically cutting down on things I’m promoting and I’m in the process of changing how I promote them.

    We have to remember that the majority of the people in our targeted market don’t come visit our sites and blogs every day. That’s the whole purpose of getting their contact information and their permission to contact them – on a very specific topic.

    Just because they subscribe and give their email address, it does not give us carte blanche permission to bombard them with any kind of message and offer.

    I sign up for lots of lists. As long as I’m getting what I expected from the list, I may remain a subscriber for years. But as soon as someone starts treating me as a warm body with a credit card, I’ll unsubscribe and move on.

    Obviously, I have not mastered this, yet, but I’m making progress.

    The great majority of the people we want to reach are more comfortable with email than blogs. Even though we spend so much of our time thinking about websites and blogs, our readers don’t.

    They’re looking for information and solutions to their problems, at least in my target markets.

    So, sending them the information they wanted via email messages and newsletters is a way to reach out to them and remind them of the solutions we’ve discovered and recommend.

    If we stay on target and deliver good information, they are more likely to consider our recommendations and maybe act on them at some point.

    Others are looking to scratch an itch of some kind. They want to buy something and they’re looking for the best place to purchase that matches their particular criteria. I’m not much interested in this market segment.

    Look at how well people do who specialize in a very specific niche and then do their best in passing along information.

    Darren Rowse arguably earns more from his digital photography site than from ProBlogger. I don’t know that for a fact, but I have a strong suspicion.

    Look how well Scott Pavlina has done with his self-development site. He’s doing so well that he recently took down his Adsense ads, even though he was earning thousands of dollars every month from Google.

    They are not selling “how to make money online” products on those sites. They are offering helpful advice and a way for people who are specifically interested in those topics to congregate and support each other. Sales of recommended products are almost incidental to their main activities.

    To do exceptionally well, we have to specialize in something we would do even if we were rich and didn’t need the money.

    As soon as we start selling, we lose the sale, unless we are the end-target for the purchaser, i.e., Amazon, iTunes, etc.

    I’ve decided to stop promoting things on ClickBank. It’s a personal thing and not a recommendation to anyone else.

    Selling our own products isn’t much different from selling affiliated products, except that we have more control over the entire process.

    I keep coming back to the saying, “When you try to sell everything to everyone, you end up selling nothing to nobody.”

    (I’ve tried to find the original quote and who said it, but have not succeeded. It may be traced to Benjamin Franklin, but it’s not definitive.)

    Regardless of who said it, it is on target.

    Like you, I have too many interests for my own good, but passion for few of them.

    I don’t have the grand answer for your affiliate marketing questions, but I’m becoming more sensitive to the people I’m writing for.

    I question that most of the well-known affiliate marketing gurus share that sensitivity.

    I believe it is important to find a problem, identify the best solution you can, and then offer the benefits of using that solution. It is also good to point out the pitfalls of that solution, as well.

    I’m mostly interested in helping other affiliate marketers earn more money and my second focus is helping businesses in my town earn more money – all while helping both the merchant and the customer.

    That can only be done when we take a serious interest in what the customer needs and provide the best solution.

    For whatever it is worth, that’s my two cents on the subject. *plink* *plink*


    I’m really looking forward to seeing how this subject develops here.

    Act on your dream!


    1. Once again, John, a very well written and thought out post. Let’s see if I can do it some justice.

      You may be right that most people are desensitized by all the ads; for me, I don’t think it means I’ll be pulling anything down just yet, because I’d rather have something there than nothing at the moment. I will say, though, that figuring out the direction, or niche, is problematic for this particular blog, but not for either of my other two blogs. I intend this blog to still be more of a free for all, while basically concentrating on all things internet and marketing. It just might be that this blog never sells anything, and my business blog certainly isn’t for selling anything. But my finance blog; well, I’m building up content right now, but I think that will be the money maker down the line (which would be fitting, eh?).

      I think I’m looking to help people also, but I also want to help myself. You know, “Doctor, heal thyself” (see, I know a quote or two myself. Actually, your quote initially comes from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 9:22, but you probably already knew that. Of course, Tessaleno Devenas, in his book ‘Kondratieff Waves, Warfare and World Security,’ believed that no business could really grow if it wasn’t willing to try to sell to everyone, but he was obviously talking on a global scale rather than the scale we’re looking at). So, I figure if I can learn about it more through the auspices of this blog, and I can share it with others, then we all benefit, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.

      I subscribe to a lot of stuff, but I also unsubscribe pretty quickly these days, something I didn’t used to do. I don’t like being abused, which means don’t send me something every day, or twice a day, trying to sell me something that you’re trying to tell me you’re just “informing” me about it. Not my style, but I know where it comes from. In sales class, we were always told that, for the most part, you have to get your message to someone by making sure they see it anywhere from 8 to 16 times. I’m not so sure that’s true, but then again, for my little contest here, I am putting the same beginning on each post for the month, just to make sure everyone sees it, and for those who visit often, they might get tired of seeing it all the time.

      I know I’m going to make some big decisions this year as it pertains to marketing online. It’s not my primary job, but man, I’d love it to be. Let’s see what each of us comes up with, okay? lol

      1. Good morning, Mitch.

        I love marketing online and I’m happy that it’s my primary business, but it’s not an easy business because of all the competition, misinformation, and scams.

        However, if we can establish reputations as people who want to help, then we have a much better chance of succeeding than the average affiliate marketer.

        Another problem was brought up by Sire, and that’s sending visitors to sites that can’t convert. It’s a waste of time and effort and requires changing in midstream when we recognize the problem.

        I know exactly what you mean by identifying a particular niche for a blog. I’m running into this problem with my affiliate marketing blog. I’ve been off-topic lately as I write about things related to promoting my local town and what’s going on there.

        While some of the information may be useful for affiliate marketing, some of it isn’t. So, I need a blog where I can talk about anything and people can choose to read it or not. Then I can refocus my other blog.

        I’ve come to really like how easy it can be to comment on blogs powered by WordPress, so I guess I’m going to have to create a new blog for John Dilbeck And Friends and move it away from my Manilla blog to a new WordPress version.

        I don’t know if that will be wasted effort or not, but I really want to stay on topic and I know how hard that can be for those of us with lots of interests.

        I think I’m Just Sharing is a good place for us to share our experiences, knowledge, questions, and thoughts about the topics you initiate. Although it would be difficult assigning that to a niche, I think it helps us get to know you better and follow along with what you’re doing.

        I wasn’t suggesting that you take down any of your ads. You may have a lot of readers that lurk here and it would be hard to know what they’re interested in and what they may buy from you.

        Of the commenters, however, I think we want to be sellers, not buyers.

        It is obvious, on the other hand, that we’ll test things that may make us money and we’ll follow links on each others’ blogs to try them out.

        Case in point: tip jars and using TopSpots.

        We had a lively discussion in several places and some of us have decided to experiment with them to see how they work for us.

        I think the same thing happened with Chitika ads and other things we discuss here.

        So, I think this blog has the potential to become a money maker when you identify the things we might buy from you, and that includes your invisible readers who don’t comment.

        I can’t lay my hands on a copy right now, but, if memory serves, Jay Conrad Levinson talked about the necessity of multiple advertising contacts in Guerrilla Marketing.

        I think he said the study concluded that an average person had to be exposed to an ad 9 times before deciding to purchase. Since that same person missed two out of three of your ads, it meant that you had to expose him to your ad 27 times, or more, in order to make the sale.

        I don’t remember who did the study, originally.

        However, that was over 30 years ago. Now, we’re bombarded with thousands of ads per day and I’m sure that a lot more of our ads are missing their intended viewers because of the sheer enormity of what we’re exposed to and our learned desensitization to how ads are presented online.

        It makes it more and more difficult to get our message across to prospective customers.

        Things that were very effective a few years ago don’t work nearly as well as they once did. I’m not all that interested in downloading another free ebook, unless I know that it provides valuable information that will help me get what I want, and most of them don’t.

        Some do, however.

        Mailing lists are making a comeback, but most are not done well.

        Blinking graphics originally had a high response, but we’ve trained ourselves to ignore the flashing lights on a website, now.

        Banners used to convert well, but now they have abysmal response rates and have to be shown not dozens of times, but thousands of times for reliable sales conversions.

        The one thing each of us has that can set us apart from all the noise is our own personalities and what we offer the readers in terms of intangibles.

        All things considered, people tend to buy from people they trust.

        We want to be those people, and while trust is hard to acquire, it can be lost in an instant when we step over a line our readers don’t want us to cross.

        Exactly what that line is, I am working hard to learn so I can stay well away from it on the “trust me” side.

        Discussing it here is a good way to help all of us avoid the dark side of the Force, which feeds on fear, desperation, and greed.

        That’s enough for now. 😉

        Act on your dream!


      2. Great stuff, John, and I think you’ve captured the issue very well. That issue, of course, is just what works in advertising, and why. You’ve captured the problem with banners and flashing stuff, and didn’t address popups, which I hate but some marketers swear by. You also addressed something I mentioned in my other response to you, that being reading some of the free stuff that offers absolutely nothing.

        I thank you for recognizing why I set this blog up in the first place, which is as not only a place to make money, but a testing ground for new things, to see what may work and what won’t work, and then to talk about it. And, of course, a free zone to be me and talk about whatever I want to talk about, while hoping that I’m still entertaining and informative. And if I can sell some stuff here and there,… well, the world will be a much better place. 🙂

  3. Great post and really enjoying the concept of the community helping drive some tough to answer questions.

    Many publishers find it to be a very effective ad exchange in terms of higher revenues because you are able to name your price. When ADSDAQ is not able to fill the ads, you are able to add backup tags for your other accounts such as Adsense.

    Keep up the great work and looking forward to future postings where the community is able to come together on these issues, knowledge sharing and business/blog building tips.

  4. I think I’m going to have to bookmark this – I have a lot to learn when it comes to affiliate marketing!!

    Taris Janitens´s last blog post..Holy Guitar Player Batman

  5. Well, guess we can scratch #1 & #4 off the list, eh? lol Okay then, question #6; what is really the first step towards list building? Yeah, I’ve seen all these ebooks and such, but none of them ever say really what THE number one step is. Yeah, I know the content, and I know the idea about writing lots of stuff, but then what?

    1. Good morning, Mitch.

      That’s a really good question.

      I think the first step towards list building is to define why we want to build a particular list and what we’re going to do with it.

      “Making money” is not a good definition.

      The more we talk about making money in our emails, the more likely our subscribers are to cancel their subscriptions.

      At least, that’s my belief.

      I think that’s the mindset of the people who bombard us with things they’re trying to sell and we want to avoid doing that, too.

      I think that it’s only after defining clearly what we want to do FOR the subscriber (not TO the subscriber) that we can even think about writing the content, finding a delivery vehicle, and doing all the other things that we’ll probably be talking about here.

      I know that I’ve made this mistake in the past and I never want to do it again. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      It’s still something I struggle with, especially when writing about affiliate marketing. It’s much easier when writing about things that are unrelated to home businesses, marketing, and the other things that really muddy the water.

      Act on your dream!


      1. Hi John,

        That may be one of my big problems in trying to think this through. I don’t want to build a list just to send every and anything to everybody. One would hope that, if they’re receiving something in the mail, that it’s related to something they really want. And thus, it says to try to find a good number of related things if that’s what one is going to do.

        Of course, picking the right products that you can truthfully support is another one to deal with. I’ve spent a part of my weekend reading through some of these downloaded “report” and such, and thus far I’ve been disappointed in everything I’ve read. It’s all free thus far, which is somewhat of a comfort, as I’d hate myself if I’d spent my money on nonsense, but it’s still disappointing; we all still want some real value, right?

  6. I can safely say that I have never bought an book cd or anything on marketing and am not about to. I admit to signing up for some freebies on those squeeze pages and that has resulted me in being constantly bombarded by useless emails that are now trying to sell me something or are sending me to other squeeze pages. I for one will be not signing up for any more of those.

    I also will not be using my ‘tiny’ lists to suck in any of my subscribers unless I have something that I can offer them that I truly believe in.

    I find that the greatest failing in being an affiliate is not in getting people to click on the ads, as I get plenty of those, rather its the inability of the sites they land on in getting the sale or lead they need for us to make our commission.

    Sire´s last blog post..Sire’s Big Moment A Total Flop

    1. That’s an interesting take on it all, Sire. That’s why maybe the “squeeze” page we create ourselves needs to be stronger, so that we’re the ones giving the entire benefit, regardless of what the real squeeze page has to say. Still, it does seem kind of redundant in the long run.

  7. As you well know Mitch, I have a bad habit of putting an interesting take on certain topics, dunno why, its just the way I am.

    For some reason I am not getting notifications of reply to comments although I have got it flagged. I notice you have two of them so I’ll tick the other one as well to see what happens.

    Sire´s last blog post..Sire’s Big Moment A Total Flop

    1. Good morning, Sire.

      Just in case you do get a notice of a reply to your comments…

      Happy Australia Day!


  8. Why thanks so much John, and it was a very pleasant day as well, even though I had to work, it being a public holiday. Today isn’t as pleasant though, seeing as how its about 41C and will be so for the next couple of days. Reckon I am going to need a beer every now and again just so I remain hydrated. 😉

    Sire´s last blog post..Sire’s Big Moment A Total Flop

  9. Im thinking that if one person can teach another person about affiliate marketing and even some email marketing stuff, its going to be remembered forever.

    It will be true that from month to month there are small little things that change as far as strategies that one can take. That seeems to be changing all the time.

    1. True, EM, and I hope all of us can learn from each other, or at least share information with each other as we go along.

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