Can You Make Money from Affiliate Marketing?

When you are ready to get started with affiliate marketing it can seem overwhelming at first, but this should not be a problem now since I have given you the basics of what you need to know. It is often hard to know where to start and how to begin to market products online. 

With thousands of affiliate programs, different marketing strategies and countless people trying to pull you into their program how do you know where to start, or how you could go about it, you might wonder. Well….let me tell you.



Can You Make Money from Affiliate Marketing?

With this getting started section, you can be up and running in as little as 6 months and seeing some results. Here is how you can get started in some quick and easy steps.

#1-Don’t look for Get Rich Quick Method

If you have been alive for the last few decades, chances are you have come across the "get rich quick" schemes that are plastered everywhere. If you are going to succeed as an internet marketer you will want to get that thinking out of your head first.

Think about it; do you know anyone to ever make 10 grand in there first three months in a business, especially one that anyone can get started with for less than $50 bucks? Probably not, so do not think that this is how affiliation will work for you. Instead, you need to understand that anyone that makes serious money in this industry has been at it for a while, and they realize that they have to work for a business to make it work for them. 

By understanding that your going to have to learn the ropes so that you will not be setting yourself up for disappointment weeks later as your wondering why your not seeing any revenue. So let’s get started!

Basic Skills you will need To Do Well Online

1. Ability to Create and Maintain Your Own Site(s) 
2. Hosting Of Your Own Websites 
3. Get Proficient with Email
4. Grasp Basic SEO Strategies & Online Marketing Ideas 
5. At Least Basic HTML code understanding 
6. Motivation and Patience

Chances are that if you are hoping to be a master affiliate, you already have these skills and you will have an easier time during your fist few months. If you don’t, I would suggest that you do get these skills before you even try. 

You should begin by creating what is known in the industry as a "content site" this type of a site is also known as a hobby site. This practice project is meant to get you familiar with the process using the techniques in this manual.

How you do this is that you choose any topic that appeals to you, such as fishing, boating, hot rods etc. it can be anything you enjoy to do you can create a website about. This is meant to be your guinea site that you can learn on. During this time your goal with this site over the next three months is to find your target visitors and learn how to get their attention and keep it:

1. Increase you site traffic weekly
2. Create a Memorable Site that has no pop up, hard navigation, crazy flashing banners or anything related to making money.
3. Understand How People Use Search Engines & Learn Which Terms People Are Finding Your Site For and Increase Those Numbers by Monitoring them Regularly

If you follow those basic skills over the next several months you will learn the most important aspect of online marketing which will drive targeted traffic to ANY site you create. Most people get it wrong with online marketing because they think HUGE NUMBERS of visitors to there sites will generate income. That is just not true. I mean; have you ever searched Google for a particular topic and ended up on some unrelated site? If you did I bet you were off that site faster that you can count to three.

However, that is how many people try to drive traffic to there site and then hope those people will in some way do something, weather it is by subscribing to a newsletter or buy a product or service. Until these people learn that sear numbers do not equal dollars they will always be scratching there head.

The "trick" here is to drive as many "targeted" visitors to any site that you ever create. Weather your website is a hobby site about your favorite hobbies and music, or a commercial site that sells high end real estate, targeted visitors will be the visitors that will make you your money in the end, so these are naturally the visitors that you want coming to you.

Now that you understand about targeted visitors and just what type of visitor you want at your site you can spend your first several months of your "online affiliate marketing career" in designing a site that will have them coming back for more and telling their friends about you. 

It will be much easier to learn about keyword optimization while you are creating a site about outdoor fishing than creating a sales site about "selling Trim Spa" while prescription drugs are incredibly profitable you need to practice and perfect your craft before you jump into a highly competitive arena like prescription drugs, credit card or loans.

Things to Watch out For As Your Traffic & Site Grow

1. Site Traffic & Referral Logs 
2. Visitor Feedback

The Importance of Traffic & Referral Logs

You will want to be able to monitor very closely any site that you ever build because you should be able to know how many visitors visit your site daily, where they came from, if they have ever visited before and most importantly what keywords they searched for when finding your site (this only works when they came from a search engine). All of this information has to be logged so that you can know who to approach when you are researching who your target audience is and what they want from you.

Getting Visitor Feedback

You have to keep track of what types of feedback are your visitors giving you, and whether or not people enjoy the site and the content. Do they find the navigation is tricky and hard to understand? Take this information and use it to your advantage. If you can offer a suggestion or rating section in your site that allows visitors to tell you directly what they like and what they don’t like. This feedback is going to be invaluable to you when it is time for you to build your marketing website and track your feedback information for gaining partnerships with merchants in the future.

Your Money Making Commercial Site

Once you have spent some time working on your hobby site and you begin to feel that you have learned some of the skills that I talked about above you will be much more prepared to jump into the competitive affiliate marketing field.

Now you are ready to take the knowledge you have learned and apply it to a commercial site that requires you to sell some sort of product or service. Again the most important thing to consider is "how will you drive targeted visitors to your site.

You would be doing yourself a favor if you think before you choose your commercial site topic before you choose your next program to promote or site to create. Take a look at the supply and demand. Try to find a product or service online that has an existing consumer base and little or no competition. The best thing that you can do to get started with choosing the right commercial products to endorse on your website.

You should study the various programs that look appealing to you and then make a list of your top 10 programs. From here you can take your list and run a handful of searches on Google to get an idea just how many other websites are catering to this program. Take a look at the Google results below which helps you get an idea of what you can expect to see when you type in keyword queries:

1. Searched the Google for fishing: Results 1 - 10 of about 46,200,000
2. Searched the Google for Trim Spa: Results 1 - 10 of about 16,800,000
3. Searched the Google for car parts: Results 1 - 10 of about 8,850,000
4. Searched the Google for tank parts: Results 1 - 10 of about 1,080,000

From the information that is gathered from the keyword query, you can get an idea of the amount of competition among those websites and pages that are selling any of those things mentioned above. Form this it should be easy to see that tractor parts has the least amount of competition and would be easier to get a higher ranking on the popular search engines simply because there are less sites than a Trim Spa or fishing site.

Now that I have pointed that out so subtly, it is also important that you try to understand just how large of a consumer base each industry actually has. I think everyone would agree that car parts outsell tank parts because more people own cars than tanks.

When it comes to your method of tracking the data, you can use a service called wordtracker which will do this automatically. I use wordtracker myself to find niche areas, it won best affiliate tool on abestweb.com in 2002. I use it because it is reliable and takes much of the leg work out for me.

You have to work for any results that you are expecting to get. Don't expect to be able to put four of five hours into a site and have that site generate thousands of dollars worth of commissions for you because that is just not realistic. 

Like anything worth while it does take work, If you know that going in and are prepared to put in the time that it takes to make a great site chances are much better that you will see hundreds to thousands of dollars worth in commissions monthly at your leisure.

If you make it this far you will be past the affiliate newbie stage and ready to take on the affiliation world. With the popularity of the market ever rising it can be at the stage of collecting so much money that you can live on this income alone. If you just follow your dreams and be willing to put in the effort to see them become a reality. When your ready to choose you second sales site stop by my top programs, you might find a winner that makes sense to you!

Protecting your Commissions

As I mentioned in an above section, there are many problems that can occur at the merchant end of commission tracking. I also briefly touched on the issues associated with affiliate links. Many people are a bit nervous about clicking on an affiliate link like this one:

http://www.website.com/affiliateid?345

I don’t really know why people do this but it is just that they do likely not know of the fact that if a site owner has gone to the trouble of providing valuable information on their site for free, that there is nothing wrong with them receiving money for that effort.

Simple Fact: Best affiliate networks actually do make $$

You have to create revenue with banners, pop unders and in-vue advertising networks whether you lie it or not when using affiliate marketing. Advertisers on average pay by impression (up to $14 CPM) & click (up to 50c CPC) & you're paid 65% of all of that advertising revenue. Sounds great doesn’t it? Prompt payments, control over ads, stable revenue stream is highly recommended.

The fact of the matter is that some people will have a tendency to move their mouse over an external link and then view the URL that is in the status bar of their browser. If an affiliate code or URL is in your view; your visitors will simply mark the top level of the domain and manually type that into their browser address bar on their own, or if you've mentioned the company name they may just carry out a search to locate the home page of the company.

Protecting your affiliate commissions .

There are like a million different premium software products on the market that are ranging in price from US$15 - $50 for special software that will assist you in protecting your affiliate commissions. Their effectiveness and ease of use ranges just as much, so before you pay for one of these software applications, you should try out a few of these suggestions. I've listed the strategies from least effective to most effective.

Install a banner server: Banner servers just don't serve banners; many of the newer ad servers will also display text links as well. The link coding that is often associated with served ads is usually so long, that your visitors wouldn't be able to see the status bar where it was directing them to.

However, when you think about how hard it is and how much time that installing an ad server takes, this is probably the least effective means if you just have a few associations.

Click tracking software and scripts: Nowadays, you can get a click-counting software application will not show the target URL as the links point inwards to the software which is usually installed on your own site. 

After you have clicked on the link, the click tracking application then redirects the visitor to the URL you specify within the script. Click tracking software also provides a great way to monitor how effective your ads are and not just having to rely on the reports provided by merchants which can be false.

These scripts can be easily found on any search engine by using the following search request:

“click counting scripts that are FREE”

These are usually pretty easy to set up. The most effective ones I've used are based on php scripting.

“JavaScript link cloaking”

You have to be able to see it in the first part your affiliate link, the second part shows you what will be displayed in the browser status bar and the last part is the link text. The link is set to open in a new window, so that you will not lose any visitors from your site.

This method isn’t foolproof and depending on the affiliate software being used by the merchant, the affiliate link may still show in the address bar once the merchant’s page has loaded, however the visitor would have arrived on the merchant site and the cookie from the merchant with your ID in it should have set. Using this kind of link, you can usually see an improvement in the conversion rates.

Using Keyword Articles and reviews to boost Revenue

As I have said before, you will have to generate traffic to your site, and one of the best ways to do this is by offering keyword rich articles and reviews on your website because that is how you will establish a bond of trust with your visitors. 

When your website has content rich articles and real reviews, your customers will know that you know what you are talking about and they will begin to depend on your website for information and that is when you can approach “like” merchants who are selling similar products, services or ideas as yours. Doing this will also keep your website filled with new content for your regulars.

Your regular site visitors will view you as an authority on a particular subject, so it simply makes sense that you should write a review on a product or service that you are advertising. Many websites like www.cnet.com offer product and

service reviews for the things that they are selling because this makes it easier for surfers to decide between products. I will admit that I rely heavily on this stuff. This also supplies excellent content for search engine spiders to latch onto because the information often changes regularly.

If you are going to use this particular ad article concept to promote products, you need to believe in what you are writing because if you don’t believe it how can you expect visitor’s to believe it? Research the product and company well and try it out if you can so that you can offer specifics. Contact the company and let them know what you are doing and ask for further resources and assistance if you need it. Once you have created the review, send them the link because you may be surprised at the response you get this way.

Choosing the Right Keywords

As I stated before, keywords are used to help you generate traffic to your website. This is why it is so important that you choose the right keywords for your own website. When you are choosing keywords, you should choose words that are not simply related to your website’s content, but that actually describe the content. 

When you do this, you will avoid getting the wrong kind of traffic and actually get the kind of traffic that may bring you some business. For example, if you are using your website to sell dog food, you will want to get traffic from people who are looking for dog food and not those who are looking for dog collars. If you choose ‘dog’ as your keyword, you will end up with a great deal of traffic on your website, but you are not guaranteed to get any sales out of it.

Think about it, how many times do you conduct a search on the web, only to find yourself smack dab in the middle of a website that has nothing to do with what you are looking for except that the site uses a common word or word phrase that you used in your search query? It happens to me all of the time and I just end up leaving the site automatically and just a little bit angrier than when I began the query in the first place.

The key point I am making in this section is that you could find that it is easier to get affiliations when you approach sites with a certain quote of regular traffic already established. It will certainly make it easier for you to link up with other websites because it shows progress in your effort. This will be particularly great if you are seeking pay per click.

You might be wondering just how any of this is going to help you with your affiliation quest in real life. Well…incoming links from sites that are related to your topic may give you a fair boost in engines such as Google and Yahoo!. Google has a tendency to group related pages in clusters that are devoted to a specific topic. At the center of these clusters are pages with a lot of inbound links from sites in the same cluster.

If you can get a link from one of these major sites, you are in luck, as the search engine will find your site more relevant for queries related to this specific topic. What is this really called— Affiliation! It helps a lot if the text of the inbound link contains the keyword phrase that you are optimizing the page for. Search engines such as Google try to find out what the main topic of your page is. One way of doing this is to analyze the main subject matter of sites linking to yours.

You should also avoid link farms. Links from free-for-all link farms that are set up to increase the participants' link popularity should be avoided at all costs. The reason why is because those clever people out there have found ways to spam the link popularity ranking, by establishing link farms where the members are guaranteed links from the other member sites in return for adding a similar link page to their own site. Basically a link farm is a public affiliation. If you are trying to use this method to get more business, you want to go with a private affiliation because that is not as open to spam artists.

Those guys as Google are very clever too because Google has started punishing sites that have link-farm pages, and other search engines are expected to do the same thing because it is the ‘IN’ thing to do. If you are a member of one of these schemes, you have to delete the important link page and ask to be removed from the others.

There are also a lot of free-for-all link collections, “directories,” and “search engines” out there, that are set up to harvest the e-mail addresses of webmasters. That is why it is also not recommended that you post your email addresses on your website either. These harvesters search for the ‘@’ symbol that is used in the email address and add them to spam lists.

It is for this reason that you will likely loose points on your website with the search engines so you would be better off just avoiding these automatic search engine links at all costs. Genuine website affiliation requires that you do more than just add a link, so be on the look out!

You have to look for related sites

When you are hoping to get your website’s name out there, you should try to get your site listed at the most important sites in your field of interest. In order to achieve this, you should do these things:

1. To find sites that are related to your own, search through the categories in the Open Directory. Then study some of the most promising to find out which sites are the most popular in this field. You can also check out sites that have links to your major competitors too.

2. Make a content-rich site that is filled with high quality that is bound to interest the editors of the sites you are approaching. This just means putting any and all relevant and up to date information on the subject that you can find.

3. Make a “recommended links” section at your own site with sites that might interest your visitors. Keep in mind that each link should be accompanied by a description. Usually, the most effective link pages are those that include short reviews of the relevant sites. You should optimize these pages by adding specific keyword phrases, and you will get some extra legitimate doorway pages for free.

In the end, all of this website optimization just leads to one place…….affiliation. There’s that word again. As you can imagine, we are finally at the stage where we are going to actually talk about website affiliation. I’ll bet you weren’t expecting it so soon.

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