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        Another AHBBO Article
        Making Money From Affiliate Programs

        © 2021 Elena Fawkner


        Affiliate programs are a great way to generate income if you
        don't have a product of your own to promote yet.  You know
        that already.  But it's NOT, despite what you've heard, just a
        simple matter of signing up for this or that affiliate program
        and placing free and paid classified ads all over the place to
        generate traffic to the website they give you or to get people
        to click on your autoresponder link.  There's more to it than
        that.  Much more. 

        When I started out in this business in May 2013, I signed up
        for Cookie Cutter.  Like many of you I thought that I could
        simply absorb the information provided and then resell it to
        others.  I followed all the advice about advertising in other
        people's ezines and all of that.  I looked forward to some very
        round numbers.  Well, I got one alright.  A big fat ZERO.  And
        that's how it stayed until I realized the truth.  That if I was going
        to make any money in this business I had to start from scratch.

        In saying that, I don't want to take anything away from Cookie
        Cutter.  It was and is a marvellous product in terms of what it
        can teach you in a very short period of time if you're starting
        from ground zero.  (Debate rages about its merits in terms of a
        business opportunity but that's another story.)

        In this article, I tell you what worked for me.  It's nothing earth-
        shattering or particularly profound.  It's simply reality and
        common sense.  Here's what you need to do to make any
        significant income from promoting other people's products.


        YOU NEED A WEBSITE

        Sorry, but yes, you do.  A lot of people pushing their affiliate
        program will tell you, if you ask the question "Do I need my
        own website?", "No, you get this beautiful 25 page website
        for free!"  Great.  How are you going to get people to visit it?
        And how are you going to get people to visit YOUR
        YouBeaut.com website in preference to everyone else's
        YouBeaut.com website (all 50,000 of them)?

        Well, let me tell you, the time, effort and expense you
        would have to spend would be MUCH better invested in
        your OWN unique and interesting website that will attract
        traffic simply because it IS unique and interesting.

        That said, you pick your affiliate programs to fit in with and
        complement your website.  Not the other way around.  You do
        NOT create your website to fit in with and complement your
        affiliate programs.  So, start with what you know, what interests
        you, what you're passionate about.  THAT should be the subject
        matter of your website.  Then, and only then, should you start
        researching which affiliate programs out there fit in with the
        website you have created.  More about that later.


        YOU NEED AN EZINE

        You should support your website by publishing an ezine at
        least on a monthly basis but preferably weekly.  Why?  A few
        reasons:

        First, it reminds your readers that your site exists (assuming
        they signed up at your site in the first place) and hopefully
        prompts them to visit again. 

        Second, you develop a targeted mailing list of subscribers
        interested in the subject matter of your ezine and subscribers
        that you can direct mail to (judiciously, of course).

        Third, you can accept paid advertising in your ezine once it
        hits 1000 subscribers or so and fourth, you can use it to
        advertise your affiliate programs.  

        In addition, assuming you take your ezine publishing duties
        seriously and it's not a mere regurgitation of other people's
        articles without any purpose other than to keep your name in
        front of an audience (and an ever-decreasing one it will be if that's
        all you do), you can use it to develop your reputation as an
        expert in your field by making the original articles you write for
        your ezine available to a wider audience by submitting them to
        other ezine publishers.  Believe me, there's no shortage of ezine
        publishers out there who rely exclusively on other people's work!

        Establishing your own website and ezine takes serious time
        and work.  You can't build either in a weekend.  It will take you
        several weeks of effort to get it into good enough shape to take
        it public (and even then you won't be satisfied but you have to
        start at some point).  And it will take several more weeks of
        time and effort publicizing the fact that your website and ezine
        exist and to start seeing some traffic trickling in.


        SELECTING AFFILIATE PROGRAMS

        Once you have an established website and ezine, you can start
        using them to promote your affiliate programs in a serious way.
        You can, of course, start promoting affiliate programs from day
        one, it's just that you won't see any results until you reach what
        I think of as the "established" stage.  By this I mean you have
        a few hundred subscribers to your ezine and maybe a hundred
        unique daily visitors to your website.  These numbers are on the
        very low end and your sales will reflect that but you'll at least be
        on your way by this point.

        Once you reach the "established" stage, you need to be very
        selective about the affiliate programs you choose because you
        are only going to select a very few of them and they need to be
        good performers.  Some internet marketing so-called experts
        will tell you to pick one or two programs and market them
        exclusively for big returns.  That's good advice on one level -
        it keeps you focused, and that's important - but on the other hand
        you're at the mercy of the owner of the affiliate program.  If they
        go out of business so do you. 

        So, pick a small handful of programs to promote but make sure
        they complement each other (so that someone who is interested
        in one program is likely to be equally interested in the others).
        It should be obvious but it bears stating - don't pick programs
        that have no relevance to the subject matter of your site!  Your
        chances of selling to your website visitors are much higher if
        what you sell is closely related to the subject matter of your
        site.  It was the subject matter of your site that attracted them in
        the first place.  They are already a qualified prospect if what you
        sell from your site is relevant to that subject matter.


        COMMISSION STRUCTURES

        If you have a mega traffic site, then you can make up for in
        volume what a particular program's commission structure
        may lack in terms of straight dollars.

        But if you have a lower traffic site, then you need to make sure
        your traffic is very targeted, but go for higher commission
        programs.

        In other words, if you're a mega traffic site, by all means sign
        up with Amazon.com and make maybe three bucks a sale.
        If you make a hundred sales this week you've got three
        hundred bucks you didn't have before.  But if you're a lower
        traffic site, focus on making just three sales a week of a
        product that pays a hundred bucks a pop and you're even with
        your mega traffic brethren in the commission stakes.

        My current best selling program earns me $90 a sale.  I
        don't do anything different to promote that than I do the
        program that makes me $20 a sale.  If it takes the same amount
        of time and effort to make a sale from each program, why wouldn't
        I focus my energies on the $90 commission product? 

        Contrary to what many believe, it is no harder to sell a $247
        product than it is to sell a $50 product.  Don't prejudge your
        audience.  Make sure you offer programs that are relevant to
        their interests (and which you're proud to promote - that should
        go without saying but just in case ...) and the mere fact that
        you're bringing targeted buyers and highly relevant products
        together will do the rest, statistically speaking.  Never, never
        forget - making money in an online business is a numbers game,
        pure and simple.  Generate enough traffic and you'll generate
        sales.  But if you generate traffic that doesn't match your product
        line, forget about it.


        MISCELLANEOUS CONSIDERATIONS

        To finish off, here's a few miscellaneous considerations to take
        into account when selecting your affiliate programs.

        => How Long Do the Cookies Last?

        Always go for programs that will credit you with the sale even
        if the customer doesn't buy on the first visit.  That high paying
        program I mentioned above?  90% of the sales come from the
        follow-up messages sent by the owner of the program once I
        give him the lead. 

        That's pretty typical of all affiliate programs.  You've heard that
        it takes an average of seven exposures to a message before a
        prospect will buy, right?  Well, what happens to your
        commissions if you only get paid for direct sales (i.e. where the
        customer buys on the first visit following a direct link from your
        site)?  Right.  You get maybe 10% of the commissions you
        would have earned from the program if the customer was tagged
        as yours for a period of time (and preferably for life).

        Always read the terms and conditions of the affiliate program
        carefully before investing your time and effort.  If it says
        anything like "if customer later makes a purchase on a repeat
        visit that does not originate from your link, you will not qualify
        for a commission on such sale" keep looking. 

        Some programs will place a cookie on the customer's hard disk
        for 45 days or so which means that if that customer returns in
        three weeks to eventually make a purchase, that customer will
        be identified as "yours" and you will get the commission.  Some
        programs even offer "lifetime customers", that is, the customer is
        yours for life even if they come back in three years time and buy
        a completely different product.

        => Stats Reporting

        Look for real-time reporting of statistics including hits and sales.
        Then check to make sure that the hits the affiliate program
        records are in line with your own stats tracking.  This is easy
        to do.  I use Roibot to track all clicks I'm interested in
        monitoring whether it's a program I'm promoting or whether I'm
        just interested in how many people click on a particular link to
        an article, for example. 
        =>  Frequency (and Amount) of Payments

        Some programs will only pay once you accumulate a certain
        amount of commission dollars.  That's OK ... it keeps admin
        costs down and therefore makes more of the profit available
        for payment of generous commissions ... but if it's
        disproportionately high compared to the amount of the base
        commission, consider another program. 

        If it takes you a year to accumulate $50 in commissions, ask yourself how
        likely is it that this particular company will still be around in one
        year?  Even if you have no concerns on that score, if it's
        taking you a year to accumulate $50 worth of commissions,
        this is not a program that's giving a particularly good return
        on your investment of time and effort.  Look for something
        more productive.

        => How Long Established?

        Related to the previous discussion, think twice before investing
        too much time and effort on newly established programs.  Add
        these to your portfolio by all means, but make your staple
        programs the tried and trues.

        => What is Their Policy on Spam?

        Nothing irritates me more than to receive spam from someone
        promoting one of the programs that I promote (well, OK, other
        things do irritate me more but you get my point).  Not because I
        get into a tizz about spam per se (unlike apparently 90% of the
        internet population I have more important things to worry about),
        but such tactics bring the program into disrepute because it
        suggests that the owner of the program condones spam and if
        the owner of the program condones it, how much value does
        he or she place on the program?  Not much.

        So look for programs with strict anti-spam policies.


        SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE

        Finally, a word about patience.  This is a slow and steady wins
        the race game as well as a numbers game.  Don't spit the
        dummy, throw in the towel, chuck the Glomesh onto the shagpile
        (or whatever your vernacular equivalent of a dummy spit is)
        because you don't make a single sale in your first month with a
        new program. 

        By all means take a closer look at how well the product fits in
        with the demographics of your audience (website and ezine) but
        if it's a good fit, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater
        (enough with the metaphors already, OK). 

        Instead, refine your marketing approach, tweak your ads,
        brainstorm for more creative ways of promoting the program.
        Don't just write the program off as bad until you're sure it's not
        going to work for you.  There may be some peculiar demographic
        factor common to your group that you're not aware of but until
        you've given it a good try, don't assume that's the case.

        As a general rule, so long as you're sure that the product is a
        good fit, work with it for a year to give it a real chance of
        performing for you.  The internet landscape is strewn with the
        carcasses of would-be successful entrepreneurs whose only
        mistake was giving up too soon.  Don't be one of them.


        Read More About Affiliate Programs

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