Monday, December 10, 2007

Finding one-way links with a link exchange – Without cheating

Many webmasters use more or less automated link exchanges to increase the number of inbound links to their websites. Even though reciprocal linking may prove successful for some websites, using the same services to attract one-way links would of course be a better idea. In fact, using the right services may very well leave you with inbound links to any or all of your websites, not just the one exchanging links.

As webmasters begun to understand the importance of inbound links, the services offering likeminded webmasters to exchange links have grown in numbers. Some are completely automated, others are just directories where you can find website owners likely to be interested in exchanging links. Some services have taken it one step further and are rewarding users who are promoting the service. This is made possible by an affiliate program. Some services offer a monetary reward, while others will give you links.

The two services I have tried for this experiment are Link2me and Link-Vault, two completely different services that, in this particular case, complement each other very well.

Where Link2me is a traditional, semi-automated link exchange where you manually add links to your pages, Link-Vault are utilizing a script to place all links. Link-Vault isn’t a link exchange where people do reciprocal linking; it’s more of a huge link pool, filled with pages from all over the world. You link to a few sites, and other sites link back. In theory it’s a brilliant idea, and it gets better as the link pool grows.

In order to gain inbound links, you need to earn vaultage. The vaultage is the calculated into inbound links according to some formula. Earning vaultage can be done in two ways;

Adding the script to your pages and referring other webmasters to Link-Vault. This is where Link2me becomes useful.

When using Link2me, you are given the opportunity to specify your link page(s) for every potential link exchange. Using this feature will make many of the webmasters you ask for a link exchange to take a look at the specified page where you have placed the referral URL to Link-Vault in a prominent place.

Every visitor to that page will be a webmaster obviously interested in link exchanges, otherwise they wouldn’t be using Link2me in the first place. This interest is what you are taking advantage of when placing a link pointing to Link-Vault, it can’t be more on-target than this.

Considering Link2me’s 5 free exchanges/day and unlimited websites, you can make very good use of this even if you choose not to upgrade. If you, like I did, do upgrade you will get an unlimited number of requests. Asking everyone WILL give you quite a bit of visitors, all interested in link exchanges.

To sum it all up, here is what you need to do;

Join Link-Vault and get referral code

Add code to your link page(s)

Join Link2me, specify your link page and request link exchanges with as many websites possible.

Doing this a few times will give you plenty of referrals and thus plenty of free inbound links.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Affiliate commission – What plan to choose.

For webmasters new to affiliate marketing, some of the terms might not always be so easy to understand. While some terms are less important, you at least need to understand the different commission types available.

Affiliate commission – Choosing a revenue option

When choosing an affiliate program, the commission offered is - obviously - very important. So is the commission type. Should you choose a program that pays you for every visitor you send their way, so called PPC? Or should you go with the option of sharing the revenue for that particular visitor? Fixed commission or a percentage? The options are many, there is no general answer to what is best. It’s up to you to decide where to send your visitors, to experiment, evaluate and finally choose one or a few affiliate programs best suited for your needs.

PPC - Paid per click

Many affiliate programs offer you a - fixed or varied -commission for every visitor you send their way. Often these programs are similar to Google’s Adsense program, namely contextual advertising. The advantages of this are many, but so are the limitations. The main advantage is just the contextual bit, the task of placing relevant ads on every page is gone, and all you need to do is choose what program to join. Another great advantage is – because of the flexible nature of these programs, you will only need to join one program, making it easier to reach the payout threshold. The downside of it all is the revenue. If you can target your visitors, and subsequently what they are looking for, you can make a much larger profit with other types of affiliate programs. But, it WILL require far more work.

PPM – Paid per mille

This is roughly the same as PPC, the difference being you get paid for every visitor viewing the ad, they do not have to click it. Many companies, offering contextual advertising, have this option included in their program. The good part about it is the possibility to get paid while visitors stay on your site, instead of referring them to someone else. This option is most suitable for high traffic web sites - with small quantities of visitors, this rarely adds up to a good profit. It can, however, be a good way of targeting often viewed pages on your site.

PPS – Paid per sale

This type of commission is based on the activities of the visitors you refer to the affiliate website. If you send active visitors, who shop a lot, this can be a goldmine compared to PPC and PPM. The type of commission varies as well. It can be a percentage of the sale, a fixed amount per sale/signup or a combination of both. What to choose is very dependant on your audience, and what category of program you are looking for.

In some cases, often with a recurring commission, the option of sharing the revenue, thus getting a percentage of the total order, rake or what have you, will be far better than choosing a fixed amount per sale. The dynamics of percentage vs. revenue sharing will be looked at more deeply later on.

PPL – Paid per lead

This is roughly the same as PPS, but you get paid for leads instead of sales. This is a fairly uncommon commission method, but it often applies to specific categories of affiliate programs; Insurance companies, financial institutes and other companies with high priced products in competitive markets. If you have a site targeting visitors looking for these kinds of products, this can be a highly interesting revenue model for you.

There are other, less common, alternatives. Many of them are individual, and are mainly for very specific niches, or for experienced affiliates.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Art Related Affiliate Programs

Art affiliate programs - or any artistic program - can make a very nice addition to websites of many niches outside the obvious; Art.

The reason for this is simple; most people like art. - Wait a minute, you think, that can't be right. But it is, the only problem you are facing is to figure out a way to intrigue as many of your visitors you possibly can.

This isn't always easy, but if all else fails - trial and error will always work well. Just promote a new artsy product - or a new art affiliate program - until you find a program converting well enough – making you a nice commission.

There are different affiliate programs - all related to art in some way - that could be of interest. The question is what your visitors are likely to be interested in. A few choices are;

Painting affiliate programs

Selling paintings online isn't easy, but still some manage to succeed. If you can find a successful website – selling paintings - with a decent affiliate program, you may have a good chance of making some nice commissions. Most paintings are quite expensive, making only a few sales go a long way.

Finding good online web shops with an equally good affiliate program is hard in any small niche, paintings are no exception. But, as affiliate programs get easier and easier to join and implement, joining a new program is easier than ever. So, if you are not converting well enough, just find a new paintings affiliate program to try out.

Poster art affiliate programs

Unlike most art, posters are not expensive at all. This is perhaps the easiest art related product to promote but the commission earned on every sale will be significantly lower.

Posters can also be a very good product to promote on non-art related websites with the right type of visitors. The variety of posters makes it a very interesting when using affiliate programs:

If the poster affiliate program offers product links you can easily promote highly on-target ads on your website. A website about movies can link to the movie posters, a site about music can link to posters of various artists etc. This way of advertising often converts very well, as many of the visitors viewing the ad will have a specific interest in the motive of the poster.

Music affiliate programs

Promoting music related websites through an affiliate program is an excellent way of earning some extra cash online. There are many websites offering good commissions on various music related products.

The music industry is huge, making the variety of merchandise equally large. This makes for a wide selection of affiliate programs potentially right for your website.

You need to figure out what to promote, as well as how to promote the products. Often the content of your site will give you a good idea of what affiliate program to promote.

If you are reviewing records in any way, an obvious way of making affiliate commission would be to have a direct link to every record reviewed. Even though many internet users download their music, enough people still buys their records. There are many affiliate programs offering products such as; downloadable music, music players, instrument classes or instruments for sale, look around to see if you can find a good match.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Weight loss affiliate programs – Surfing the fitness trend

In affiliate marketing, choosing the right niche is as important as anything else, and both fitness and weight loss are popular topics – both off- and online. The popularity of niches such as these presents the affiliate marketer with both problems and possibilities; for the right person, this could be a virtual goldmine. But, if you do not do your research thorough enough, you might end up with nothing but lost time.

As the competition hardens – and for weight loss sites it will – the need of a good plan beforehand increases tenfold; the chance of just winging it and succeeding is virtually zero. But, for marketers with enough patience, working with fitness related affiliate programs can prove very worth while, as these types of program often offers high commission and convert surprisingly well.

Patience is important, as are a few other factors;

Keyword research

Before you start your website or blog, make sure you look closely at as many keywords related to your idea as possible. Use any good keyword research tool or, if you can’t afford it, use a free one such as SEO Book’s tool. The time spent looking for the right combination of keywords is time well spent; finding obscure keyword combinations with more than expected monthly searches is what it is all about. That is basically the same strategy search engine marketers apply on buying traffic through adwords or such.

Good copy

Weather you are writing or re-printing your content, high quality copy will be an important aspect to your success. There are over two million monthly searches for the term weight loss, not counting any other related search term. If you can present your visitors with content highly relevant to the targeted keywords, you will stand a great chance of referring quite a few customers towards an affiliate program.

Well thought out linking strategy

You need to figure out how to obtain your links, and if your keywords are likely to be accepted as anchor when submitting your website to web directories. If you are using any type of blog software, you should tag your posts with care; the right tags can really help you achieve good results in the search engines.

Well converting affiliate program

Last, but not least, you need one or more well converting affiliate programs. As with any popular niche, fitness and weight loss affiliate programs are many in numbers, and choosing the right one may not be as easy as you might think. Look for well respected trademarks, and be careful when joining newly founded affiliate programs. If you feel at all insecure, going with any of the major affiliate networks – and any of their weight loss programs – will lower the risk of getting ripped off. If you find a program offering commissions to good to be true, this might be a reason not to join them – or at east not to send them too many visitors until they have proven themselves to be honest and reliable. You are better off by joining a few affiliate programs, evaluating them as you go, then to send all visitors to the same place only to see them go out of business with your commission still pending.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Earn affiliate commission from your off-line experiences

What many struggling webmasters forget is that pretty much any experience could be a solid ground for a profitable site. Writing about personal interest also adds other advantages; it’s much easier to write interesting content in an area you feel comfortable with and you - as you already know your topic - get much for free, no need to research for ever before you can make your site.

A very good example of a topic familiar to most is vacations. Almost everyone go on vacation, and everyone has opinions in regards to that very vacation. No matter if you had a good time or a bad time, sunny weather or two weeks of rain – people will find it interesting.

Due to the high competition for travel sites, booking you airline tickets, hotel or car rental is often cheaper using the web. This is why the market for travel related keywords are so broad, thus making it more than possible to find a few good keywords to target.

Writing about vacations is obviously a good topic for a blog, but you can easily make a full site about it. Even if its only one vacation, one destination – you can add information about sightseeing, shopping, night clubs or attractions.

How would this generate an online income?

Any site with visitors is possible to monetize, it’s just a matter of how. If you are running many sites of different niches, finding a good versatile affiliate program might be a good alternative to the obvious; contextual advertising. If you – on the other hand – are running one, or a few sites similar in nature, you should really try to find the best paying affiliate program you can. If you can send many potential customers to only one affiliate program, the importance of high commission is naturally higher.

In this case – with a blog or website about travel and vacations – the potential revenue is good. You have the opportunity to advertise expensive products, often with high commissions making the niche more lucrative than most.

Just as most people have opinions and experience from traveling, many travelers try to find as much information of a destination before going. This is an excellent opportunity to present them with products related to that destination, or to vacations in general.

If you are lucky enough to attract people looking for the information to choose destination, you will have the possibility to present them with even more – on target – offers. The potential commission on a flight and two weeks of hotel for a family of fours is very high. If you choose your affiliate program well – and offer low airfares, cheap bookings and interesting information – you will no doubted earn quite a bit of money.

Promoting travel related affiliate programs give you an excellent opportunity to pre-sell the products you are advertising. Many affiliate programs have a wide range of products, ranging from expensive all-inclusive packages to small guided tours on a particular destination. Take advantage of your knowledge and experiences. If you have been on a spectacular trip, a major football tournament or just have an odd vacation memory, be sure to write it down, join a travel related affiliate program and you will be sure to make at least a little bit of money.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The good samaritan affiliate marketer

While the number one priority for any affiliate marketer should be making money, there are ways of combining this with being in aid of others, giving you that good, warm and fuzzy feeling.


The most obvious way of giving something back is by charity. You can either set aside a portion of your revenue to a charity of your choice, thus giving more and more the more successful you get, or you can find an affiliate program, itself giving a part of its proceeds to charity. Combining them both will, of course, double your efforts and make that warm, fuzzy feeling last even longer.

Promoting the right affiliate program

When promoting an affiliate program, you can make sure the companies involved in all aspects of the process (such as manufacturers and transportation) all are conducting their business in an ethical manor, avoiding products manufactured by the use of child labor or other inhuman work environments.

In a similar way, you can try to look at the environmental aspects of the business; even though all physical products sold over the internet will be shipped, thus contributing to global warming, finding affiliate programs selling products manufactured nearby will make the transportation go only one way.

The list of things possible to look closer at grows long, you can easily spend an eternity trying to find the perfect affiliate program to promote. Try to focus on the things you feel are most important, at least you are doing something.

Helpful websites

Another way of being helpful to others is to present them with useful information about serious issues in their lives. Even though most successful websites are helpful to their audience (otherwise they wouldn’t be successful, right?), some topics may help people with far more important issues than others.

Making a helpful website about serious issues (such as diseases or similar) isn’t something to take lightly, but if you do your job you might end up helping more people than you could imagine.

Of course, there are many less serious issues that still pose as huge problems for people. Look at the huge problem with over weight; this is clearly a way to combine helping people with the possibility of making money using weight loss affiliate programs. If weight loss isn’t your niche, there are many many more niches you can try.

Hair loss is, while not a life threatening disease, a big problem for many men. Similarly the recent boom in alternative health has given affiliate marketers a few herbal alternatives to promoting diet pills and traditional health products.


No matter how you choose to go about with your website and your affiliate programs, the single most important factor is honesty. If you say you are giving part of the proceeds to charity - make sure you do. If you are giving people weight or hair loss tips – make sure you actually help people.

There are far too many websites exploiting peoples weight issues or similar, only trying to make as much money as possible. Do not forget the fact that if people are following your advice, you have a moral obligation to actually give them correct and useful information.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Affiliates, think of your pension

For people working with affiliate marketing, it is important to remember putting money aside. There will be a time when you no longer wish to work with affiliate programs – either due to old age and retirement, or due to some other reason. When that day comes, those who have put money aside will find themselves smiling all the way to the bank, while those who have nothing saved will have to make a living some other way.

For many, affiliate marketing is a way to be your own boss, instead of working nine to five for someone else. Just as you are in charge over your time, work and money, you will have to look at your potential pension and savings. There day when you no longer wish – or can – work with affiliate marketing will be sure to come. The question is: When?

In many countries, people who work full time have a pension plan already. Often it is the government making the decision for you, in other cases it’s the company in question. For these people, thinking and planning for your pension may seem odd when in your thirties, but for people not automatically included, it is highly important.

Some people work full time and use affiliate programs only to make some extra money, while others work only with affiliate marketing to make their living. People having a day job will often be part of a pension plan, but would be wise to save some of the affiliate commission for the retirement.

Depending on where you live, there are many possible ways of saving for your pension. If you have an interest in the stock market and investing, perhaps you can set up your own, private pension fund. If not, the companies willing to aid you are numerous. Just make sure you look at all the options.

The key factor is to start saving early. The impact of interest over time is greater than most people imagine, getting a head start will make your pension so much easier to live on when the time comes.

People working with stocks, bonds and other kinds of investments would tell you that the average rise in stock indexes is 7 percent a year. Of course this isn’t necessarily true each year, but over time this is what one should expect.

To calculate how much your savings will grow, an easy rule of thumb is that the money invested will double in 10 years. Invest a thousand dollars today, have two thousand for your pension – if you retire in ten years that is.

When saving money on a regular basis – most often a monthly deposit – you will see your money grow to a very nice amount over the years. Saving $100 every month will end you up with;

After 10 years, you will have over $17.000 saved for your pension

After 20 years, you will see yourself with over $50.000

After 30 years you will have saved up the nice amount of $117.000, not bad at all.

No matter how you do it, saving for your pension is essential if you are working solely with affiliate marketing. The sooner you start, the better.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Residual commission

When joining an affiliate program, one should always look for a residual commission model, simply because the enormous potential in recruiting potential long term customers for the affiliate program. Many affiliate programs offer residual – sometimes named recurring commission – but not all are of the same nature, and sometimes the term residual is flat out misleading.

What does residual commission mean?

When referring a new customer to a pay per sale affiliate program, you will always get a commission on that sale, should it occur within the set period of time (length of cookie). With a residual commission, you will earn a commission not only on the first sale, but on all future purchases of that person. The referred customer will – in a matter of speaking – be yours; earning you commissions every time he revisits the affiliate site and buys something else.

Full vs. Limited residual commission

Some affiliate programs claming to offer residual commission will decrease the commission earned, limit the products eligible for commission or limiting the period of time the customers stays yours.

When facing a program like this, you need to look at the details of the program to see if they are really offering residual commission, or if they are using the term only to recruit more affiliates. If you decide on the latter, find another affiliate program - without limitations or lower residual commission - to join.

Potentials of residual commission

Clearly, the possibility to make a commission on future sales will make the overall revenue on each referred customer larger, but how much more can one make with a residual model?

Research shows that a surprisingly low percentage of online customers will return to make additional purchases from the same website. The reasons for this are unclear, but theories imply its in part because of the wide variety of online stores – making it easy to find a new web shop offering a lower price on the next item to be bought – and part because of the many dissatisfied customers of online shopping sites with little or no customer care.

Taking this in mind, the chance of one particular customer returning to an un-named web shop might seem slim, but if you choose your affiliate program carefully, you’ll see the statistics are lying – There are ways of greatly improving the chance of referring customers who will return again and again.

To fully take advantage of the residual commission model is to find an affiliate program of an extremely high quality. If you can find a well known brand in your niche, offering residual commission, you are one giant step closer to making some serious money.

Choosing a smaller alternative – perhaps with a higher commission – may prove wise when dealing with regular pay per sale programs, but if you are hoping for your referrals to return for some more shopping, you better be damn sure the site you are sending them to is of good quality. There are a few important things to consider when deciding on an affiliate program:

Overall look and feel of the website

If the website you refer visitors to – hoping to convert them into returning customers – looks shady, poorly designed or very slow loading, this will make the potential customer think twice. If they can’t afford a decent website, how much of a company is there behind the page?


Is it easy to navigate on the website? Are you likely to find what you are looking for, or are you bound to grow tired of it all and search google for an alternative shop?

A wide range of products

If the affiliate program only sells a few different products, the chances of someone needing more than one of course decreases, be sure to find a program with a wide range of products.


The prices on all merchandise is important, if they aren’t competitive, people will rarely – if ever – return for a second try.

When you have researched all your potential affiliate programs - offering residual commission - you should have a clear view of which ones will be more likely to attract their customers for a second, third and fourth time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Financial affiliate programs – Not always about mortgages

At Affiliate Ranker, we notice many webmasters looking for mortgage and loans affiliate programs, but the financial sector offer much more services than that. Only seeing one type of program will make it harder to find that one, great program – suited perfectly for your website.

The popularity of mortgage affiliate programs can be explained – at least in part – by the high commissions and the fact that many programs offer pay per lead commission models, as well as the huge online demand for mortgages and loans.

Almost every grown up in the civilized world are affected by mortgage rates in one way or another, making the number of daily searches for terms related to loans almost to high to calculate. Making an effort to reach the top results on a query of this kind is perhaps one of the hardest SEO tasks one can take on. This said, the upside of a successful website about loans and mortgages can make an excellent profit.

Within the search terms related to mortgages and loans, one can find a lot of terms related to other financial services. Finding affiliate programs in such niches will broaden your targeted audience, presenting them with more ways of making you a nice commission.

Insurance affiliate programs

Insurance affiliate programs work similarly to mortgage programs. They often use a pay per lead commission model, are in a highly competitive niche and are something most people are affected by.

Some insurance programs are highly specified, making them very good for related websites, but not nearly as good for a site about banking, loans or mortgages. Even though it is not impossible a visitor of such a site would be interested in cat insurance, it’s not nearly likely enough. Be sure to find an insurance program offering insurances for everything or a program targeting something relevant to your topic.

Stocks and Investment affiliate programs

All though these affiliate programs are highly specific, if you can find a way to promote them, they almost always pay very well. For any type of investment affiliate program, you should never choose one without residual commission. The big upside lies in the possibility of referring one, or a few high rollers – making them earn you commission over and over again on every trade they do.

If you have a site with a section about stocks and/or investments – looking at affiliate programs promoting trading-tools or similar can convert very well at times.

Real estate affiliate programs

Perhaps the most specific of all financial affiliate programs, real estate programs will only perform well under certain circumstances; if you have a website about real estate (obviously), if you have a geographically specified site or if you have a site with classifieds. The few real estate affiliate programs available do pay fairly well, mainly due to the high price on their services. Real estate programs are closely related to mortgage affiliate programs – many websites offer products and services from both niches.

Looking at financial affiliate programs, trying to find one or a few somewhat relevant programs to promote can, if done correctly, earn you some serious commission. It might not be easy, but if you find a way – you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pay per impression affiliate programs

For webmasters running sites with high traffic, looking at affiliate programs offering a pay per impression commission model may be an excellent way of improving your affiliate revenue without the need of referring any visitors to the program.

An impression is simply one view of an ad, most often a banner ad. The ad is served by the affiliate program itself and contains the affiliate’s own tracking code to monitor the number of views and clicks.

Pay per impression programs measure the amount of impression in thousands, and therefore it is often referred to as pay per mil or pay per mille. The stated commission is what you get per thousand impressions of the banner ad.

The PPM programs work in different ways. Some – if not all – offer banners for you to use, many have pop-ups or pop-unders, often with a different payout from regular banners and text ads.

As with pay per click programs, advertisers using the PPM model are always fighting people who are trying to cheat the system. Even though regular PPS programs fight their share of frauds, PPC and PPM is far more vulnerable to fraud.

This has lead to an extensive arsenal of tools designed only to catch cheaters, making the top PPM – and PPC - affiliate programs very hard to cheat, so don’t even think about trying. They will catch you and your earnings will be lost.

Many PPM affiliate programs are in fact small networks of advertisers promoting their sites thru the PPM program. In many cases, this leaves the publisher with many excellent choices as to which product to promote.

In other cases, the PPM program offers their publishers a rotating banner with ads from various companies within a specific niche. As you are not worried about sending clicks, but rather have as many see the ad as possible, this is a good way of having some variety in advertisement, opposed to one banner people grow tired of seeing.

Yet a different set of pay per impression programs have adverts of a contextual nature. You only need to insert a small affiliate script on your pages to make on-target ads appear. A few of these programs offer you to serve multiple adverts on the same page, thus increasing your affiliate commission.

Paying publishers for impressions, without knowing if you are gaining anything in sales or traffic, is risky. That’s why most PPM programs have very strict rules as to which publishers to accept as affiliates, as well as what traffic is allowed.

In general, these programs do not allow any automated traffic gained from traffic exchanges of any kind. This includes any form of click or hit exchange. If you are caught using these methods of gaining more traffic, you will loose all commission earned so far. There are some PPM programs offering significantly lower commission who allows most sources of traffic, but these commissions are so low it’s not interesting for publishers with generic traffic.

Adding a PPM affiliate program to a site with good traffic can certainly add to your revenue. If you add the code only to pages where you have plenty of visitors, you will soon notice a difference. But, as you are not gaining anything from referring visitors, you shouldn’t place the ad in a prominent spot. Those spots should be used for PPC or PPS programs where you gain from sending more visitors to the affiliate program.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paid per click vs. Pay per sale

When using affiliate programs, the option of getting paid per click is often tempting. This can be in form of contextual advertising, or traditional PPC programs. This option, how ever, is not the best option in all cases. How do you know when to choose to be paid per click, and when to choose a PPS model?

People familiar with adsense or other forms of contextual ads – with a fluctuant amount paid for each click – are aware of the big difference between the price for a click in a competitive niche and a less competitive one. These days, there are numerous websites dedicated to listing and reviewing various keywords and niches for contextual advertising.

If you have a website in a niche lucrative and competitive – and you are attracting visitors – you might stand a good chance of getting a fair amount of money for every visitors you send thru contextual ads, but if you are running a website in a less competitive niche, odds are you not to thrilled with the money you make with contextual ads.

This is a perfect time to switch to an affiliate program. The good thing about affiliate programs lies in the ability to target the products and ads yourself, while with contextual ads, you are stuck with a more or less accurate script deciding what will convert best and pay you the most.

There are a few differences in promoting a pay per sale affiliate program, both difficulties and possibilities.

The main difficulty is you are now hoping for your visitors to, not only click, but to buy the products or services you are advertising. With contextual ads – in its simplest form – all you need to do is place the code on a prominent placed and cross your fingers. With affiliate programs you need to be more subtle. Looking only at the commission you will receive, and not looking at the quality of website you are sending visitors to, will not be a very profitable project. Instead, you should do as much research you possibly can, and always try to improve both your click thru rate and your conversion rate. Don’t be afraid to try new affiliate programs if the first one won’t make you any money.

When using static ads – banner and/or text ads – you have a much better way to choose the ads according to your visitors. Different from the scripts doing the work with contextual ads, you have the means to look at several other factors to decide what you site is about. Looking at your visitors will give you additional information on what products or services they might be looking for, and hopefully buy.

In addition to this, you have a good chance of promoting the products you are advertising, hence pre-selling them. This is known as one of the most important factors when working with online affiliate programs, simply because your visitors often have some level of trust in you and your writing. This has little to do with you or your website, but simply because people tend to believe the person not obviously gaining from it. If a website brags about their products, people will filter it out, deeming it blatant advertising, but if another source – you – tells them the same thing, they are less reluctant to consider it the truth.

As a rule of thumb, traditional pay per sale affiliate programs will perform better than contextual ads in niches of low to medium competition. In niches of high competition – i.e. pharmacy products, gambling and travel – the price paid per click can sometimes make the use of contextual advertising it highly profitable.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The difference between an affiliate program and a franchise

Some online affiliate programs charge a fee for people to join. Is this still called an affiliate program, or is it instead an online form of franchising? If so, what should you expect to get for your initial down payment?

Franchises rarely operate exclusively on the Internet, although many franchises have a strong presence online. Affiliate programs are mainly used online, with a few exceptions working with off-line promotions as well. If you see a program operating solely online, yet charging you to take part of their affiliate program, you need to make sure you actually gain something by joining – and paying – them. If you gain nothing, you might as well join a traditional affiliate program.

Far too many websites claim to have an affiliate program, offering high commissions to recruit new members. This is nothing but a poorly disguised pyramid scheme; Recruit others below you, who will recruit others below them (and you), who will….You get the picture. Calling this an affiliate program is just wrong.

Paying to take part of an affiliate program should be the exception; rarely will this give you any advantage over a regular affiliate program.

Affiliate programs and franchises have much in common, but yet so different. Where a franchise offers much support with establishing and marketing your new business, joining an affiliate program leaves you all alone. This is not all bad, as you are free to market your own business as you please.

Choosing to join a franchise is an important decision as most - if not all - franchises require an initial investment. The size of this investment varies greatly, but it should cover everything you need to get started. Depending on the niche of the franchise, this can include marketing material, office rent and can be an expensive start.

If you are thinking about paying to join an affiliate program, this is what your investment should cover. If you can’t find any increased costs for the company, and you still are paying, odds are you are getting screwed over.

With traditional affiliate programs, your only initial investment is a domain and some web hosting. If you are cheap, or on a very tight budget, you can use any free blogging platform to get started.

The companies offering these programs are often very good at presenting the positive aspects of their affiliate program, at times making it hard to spot the strange logic of it all. If you always ask yourself why they are charging, and what costs the investment should cover, you will be less likely to fall for a fraudulent affiliate program.

If you are looking for a serious franchise, there are plenty of websites covering all aspects of franchising, explaining more in depth about the initial investments and what they are all about. You will notice most franchises to be far more serious than the franchise-like affiliate programs discussed here, but it's far more of a life decision than joining an affiliate program or two.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Affiliate programs instead of Adsense

When using contextual ads – such as Google Adsense – one of the problems you are facing, is the obvious way the ads are displayed. It is no secret people try to stay clear from advertisements, and if given a choice, most would rather click a random link instead of an obvious ad.

If you use text links from various affiliate programs instead of Adsense, you will have a much greater chance of having people clicking your links, instead of just glancing at them seeing nothing but the "Ads by Google" under the ads.

Using affiliate programs correctly will give you several ways of increasing your revenue, it’s not just the placement and style of the ad;

Banners or text links

Although nearly all contextual adverting allows you to choose between banners and various forms of text links, using the banner option leaves you with no way of ensuring the design and colors of the banner won’t mess up your site. With a static banner from an affiliate program, you know how it looks – No surprises here. Combining banners and text links are much easier when you are deciding exactly what to put on your pages, not a script.

Tempting anchor

With Adsense, you are relying on the advertisers to figure out catchy and well converting anchor texts for their ads. Much in the same way, you can’t do much about typos, grammar or bad language. Although there are filters of various types – i.e. adult language and content – advertisers who try hard enough have little or no problems getting by many of these filters.

Number of affiliate links

The predetermined ad blocks do not always fit your web design and the same applies to the number of links. Working with affiliate programs, it is up to you how many links you add to your pages, making both the design and readability of the ads far better than a ready made website template ever will.

Contextual simplicity

One thing most contextual advertising have in common is the simplicity. It doesn’t matter if you are an advertiser or a publisher; the quick and easy ways of implementing the ads often makes it easier to choose Adsense than it is to use an affiliate program. On very large sites, contextual advertising serves a purpose as part of the advertising – especially on pages with limited traffic. But, on pages with large quantities of traffic, choosing one or a few well converting affiliate programs will be worth the effort.

Size of commission

The main upside of affiliate programs is the commission. The commission is generally higher than contextual ads, but the most important thing is; you know what you get paid. Adsense – and most other contextual advertising – relies on advertisers bidding for keywords, thus making it hard – not to say impossible - to predict the revenue. With affiliate programs, you are offered a predetermined commission per sale, lead or click, making it easier to calculate your earnings. On the other hand, people researching Adsense keywords and their estimated CPC can make you a fortune if doing it right. But, for the rest of us, affiliate programs will be the more lucrative choice. If you just have the time and patience.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Online dating – A lucrative business for affiliate marketers

If you are using online dating sites to meet new people, you could easily make quite a bit of money using the information gathered. Making a blog – or website – about dating, is one of the most lucrative niches available for an affiliate marketer. Use your knowledge.

Most people who are using the Internet to meet new people know have much information about the dating industry. This information is useful for pretty much anyone curious of meeting someone online, but without any experience.

Just as in other competitive niches, most keywords are very hard to target, simply because of the many sites targeting the same words and phrases. But, similarly, the variations of search terms are many, making it more than possible to make a small profitable blog or site about dating.

If you - like most online daters – have tried multiple communities and dating portals, you have a great chance of reviewing them, grading them and give detailed information about all dating sites you have tried. Even though this is not nearly the potential of a dating site, it can be sufficient for making quite a bit of money.

In order to utilize your knowledge, you need to map out your site or blog, trying to figure out what sections to cover, and what keywords to target for each section. Using a keyword tool – such as Overture or similar – will make this a very easy task. Some of these tools can be bought for a short amount of time, making it very cost efficient if you are only researching for a few search terms.

One important thing to consider before actually building your site is NOT to limit your website. If you are successful in targeting the right phrases, and traffic are flooding, an easy-to-expand website will be a lifesaver. Once you get the ball rolling, you do not want to spend more time re-building your site’s structure just because you didn’t think things thru before you launched it. The task of re-building something often takes even longer than the initial work building it.

The dating sites you are familiar with probably offers affiliate programs, most of them do. But if you can’t seem to find programs good enough, try a few other dating sites out. When looking for dating sites to promote, you should look at both the quality of the affiliate program and – of course – the over all quality of the sites. As usual, sending visitors to any affiliate program with overpriced products won’t do you any good, try to find a dating community you, your self, would consider.

After building your site, adding the affiliate banners and links, it’s time to promote it. This is no easy task, but with a little imagination it should pose little or no problem. As this is a very lucrative and competitive niche, finding sites of similar nature to exchange relevant links with, should be easy. Be sure not to place links to direct competitors on important pages, as this might send potential commission elsewhere.

The nature of online communities – dating or other – makes most people used to writing fairly much text. This is a great advantage both when you build your site and when you are trying to promote it. There is nothing as effective as the written word when promoting websites. Very few websites will get big relying only on word of mouth. Use your writing skills to make an interesting site, on target reviews and – more important – to write articles and/or press releases appealing to potential visitors.

Advertising a poker affiliate program offline

Many poker affiliate programs offer the opportunity to promote their services offline with the use of fliers and such. If you move in the right crowd, promoting a poker room this way can earn you quite a bit of money.

Even though poker attracts people from all ages, the typical online player is a young male. If you are a student, in the military or involved in a team-sport, you are surrounded by potential poker players. Most probably, a few of them are already involved in online gambling, but if you handle your cards right, you can make them join a new one, thus making you a commission when they play.

If you have a lot of friends somewhat interested in poker, why not suggest a weekly game? But, instead of meeting at someone’s house, find an online poker room offering private tables and/or private tournaments.

Many will object to the idea, stating it’s not the same thing. They are right, it’s not, but there are upsides you should point out;

You do not need to shuffle the cards.

After a night of poker, quite a bit of time has been spent just waiting for the cards to be dealt. Online poker doesn’t require shuffling, and the process of dealing the cards are done in a fast manner.

No more discussion of rules

In many home games, there are added rules. For people not used to them, they can be very surprising and sometimes extremely costly. With an online poker room, standard rules apply, and there is no room for discussion.

Much more poker

When attending a home game, it’s not rare people get drunk, or are more interested in talking about Bob’s new boyfriend, than playing cards. When you are there to play, this can be annoying to say the least.

Invite whomever you want

Home games are limited to the room you are playing in, the amount of tables etc. Online, you can virtually be any number of players, while most home games tend to max out at 10 players or so. If some of the regular players isn’t housebroken, playing online takes away the problem of explaining to your wife/husband why there’s beer and chips everywhere, including the children’s room and in the shower.

Long lost friends can join.

If you had a game with your college friends, why not email them and invite them as well? Playing online makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to join your game.

If you are inviting your friends to play poker online, you might want to share the rewards with them. Nothing can break a friendship faster than someone cheating the other. Telling them about your plans or sharing the reward eliminates this risk. If you are actively promoting the poker room to colleagues, classmates or acquaintances is a whole other story, that’s about actually making money.

Due to the high competition of online poker, you stand a very good chance of finding an affiliate program offering good incentives for players (i.e. high sign up bonus, rake-back or such) and good commission for recruiting new players. Depending on who you plan to invite to the poker room, you should check out the special features available. Many poker rooms offer private tables and tournaments among other things.

Just inviting your friends can make you quite a bit of money, if you manage to actually promote it to a wider audience; you stand a chance of making a small fortune.

Make some money loosing weight

If you are one of many struggling with a few extra pounds, and are constantly trying new diets, exercises or training equipment, you have an excellent opportunity to get some of your spent money back, if you only make a small blog or website about the issue.

If you do a simple search on weight loss, GI-method, diet or any other weight loss related term, you will find yourself with more results than you can imagine. The only reason so many webmasters are competing for the same search term, is the enormous upside in that particular niche. Many of the webmasters competing have little insight in the actual topic, but are very good at search engine marketing and/or SEO.

If you have tried at least one popular diet, you can easily write down your experiences and your success – or lack thereof – using that diet, exercise or equipment. For others in your position, this information can prove very valuable, saving them time or money. If you can find products or services to promote - using online affiliate programs – you can get a commission every time you refer a customer their way. If you have tried numerous ways of loosing weight, why not write separate pages – or even different websites – covering all the methods you’ve tried.

A blog is the easiest way to go, but a website is easier to make profitable once established. If you have no, or limited computer skills, a blog would be a good start. For those of you with experience in HTML or any wysiwyg-editor should focus on making an easy website.

Although blogs can be very lucrative, a real website will often be more trustworthy, simply because it’s obvious someone has put some effort into it. The fact that a website can be made in just a few minutes is often – if not always – forgotten.

It’s possible to download some free blog software, to install on a domain you own. This is a great way for beginners; no HTML or coding needed, but you still reside on your own domain. When your website is successful enough, you can redesign it without having to move it from one URL to another. If you had your blog hosted somewhere else - on or such – you would have to hope people would follow the link to your new domain.

Finding affiliate programs related to weight loss is easy, the hard part is to choose the right one. A good idea is to use a few programs, evaluating the commission earned periodically.

The very nature of overweight makes it very likely for people to keep trying to loose weight, making recurring commission very important when choosing affiliate program. If you can recruit a few new customers, you could make a very nice commission if some of them stay true to the program over a period of time. If a method of weight loss is effective, chances are good many customers will stay loyal, thus making you even more money.

Figuring out what keyword to target may be tough for people inexperienced in affiliate marketing, but if you write good and unique content, visitors AND search engines will find you sooner or later. On top of naturally generated visitors, there are many ways of attracting visitors and/or improving your search engine placement. Generally this is much easier with a website than it is with a blog, but many marketers are using nothing but blogs to earn online revenue, so it’s not impossible at all.

The bigger your website gets, the more exposure you will get in the search engines, thus increasing your chances of getting visitors thereby. Try to find one or two keywords or phrases to target for each section of your site, and be sure to use that phrase in the internal links to that page. Even without proper research, you stand a good chance of targeting at least one term possible to reach a top placement for. Once you are making a little bit of money, it’s motivating enough to expand your marketing efforts to truly make an online income.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Need help earning online? – Ask grandma!

Sometimes you need a little help to get your online enterprise going – but sometimes help comes from the most unexpected people. Learn how your grandma can help you with your online revenue.

Many people face difficulties when starting an online business, but for those who keep struggling, the upside is enormous. One of the most common problems is how to get started – Everyone knows it takes money to earn money. But how do you get the ball rolling?

If you have a good idea – perhaps you even have a nice site already – but you can’t get the visitors you need, nor afford to buy traffic – it is time to get some help and inspiration. The best way is to get help from an experienced affiliate entrepreneur, but how many of us actually know someone fitting that description?

Everywhere you go, you are told articles are the best way to promote your site, but it’s not always that easy to get started. Writing long articles about the topic of your site might be tough, or the topic might be hard to produce multiple articles about. What you need is a new topic, an easy one – Why not call your grandma?

Recipes are perhaps the easiest texts, accepted as articles, making them excellent as a start. Build a small recipe site, and start filling it with recipes from various article sources. Within a very short amount of time, you should have a simple – yet useful – website, filled with recipes.

Now, it’s time to get granny to work: Ask her for all her family recipes, if you can have her write them down and email them to you, she’s actually doing more than her share of the work – All you need to do is format them correctly and submit them. While you wait for her to come up with all her specialties, why not consider writing down your favorite recipes yourself? If you don’t know them by heart, look them up and alter them to your tasting. This is an easy way to get a few inbound links to your newly made website.

But how does this do any good to your existing – non cooking – website?

If you target your keywords correctly, you might stand a chance of actually making a little revenue from this simple site. While the sites about cooking and recipes are many, so are the keywords – Look at all the different ingredients, strange names of dishes etc. etc. You should have no problem finding a keyword to target. It might not be an avalanche of visitors, but with the correct affiliate program – or contextual advertising for the lazy – you can make some revenue from it.

Another excellent side effect from the endless keyword variations is the ability to point somewhat relevant links to various pages. If you find yourself with a recipe site no one visits, you can instead make use of the various ingredients, linking it to your main site – the one you where struggling with. This does take some imagination, to translate ingredients into non-cooking topics, but it can be done. If you continue to submit recipes, this site will eventually have a very high page rank, making the links from it rise in value. Even if the links are non-related, a little deep linking won’t hurt.

Now – the only thing to consider is:

How much do you pay grandma?

Avoid fraudulent affiliate programs by being careful

One of the worst scenarios for an affiliate marketer is to send visitors to an affiliate program, just to notice you don’t get paid. As in any lucrative business, there will always be dubious characters trying to earn money cheating others, but the easy anonymity online makes the frequency of fraudsters seems larger than in the off line world.

If you rely on only a few affiliate programs, the outcome of just one fraudulent program can be disastrous. While most affiliate programs are honest, the rotten eggs are spoiling it for everyone. If you have a website in a competitive niche, the risk of finding bad programs is higher.

If you look in any poorly maintained affiliate program directory, you will notice tons of dead links or links to sites without affiliate programs. It’s safe to assume these links once pointed to affiliate programs, now long gone. Although poorly maintained, any affiliate program directory would find a dead link at some time, making it probable many links die on a daily or weekly basis. The reason for this is most often one out of two;

Plain fraud

Someone starts a website, buys affiliate program software, sets it up and promote it heavily. Once commission is owed, they either stall or accuse every affiliate of cheating, terminating the account, effectively avoiding to pay commission. This can go on for a surprising long time, before to many angry webmasters alert authorities and the affiliate program and website is closed. Most often it’s hard to find the people responsible for it, so they are free to do it once again, this time with a new domain.

Black hat SEO

Many SEO guides tell you one of the best ways of getting inbound links is by the use of an affiliate program. As more and more webmasters turns into affiliates, the more links the place, all pointing to you. This is true (if you use the right network or software), but many of these – so called – affiliate programs disappear as soon as the amount of affiliates are enough. The commission owed will often be paid in full, but they rarely give you good notice of the program shutting down. They are hoping for many affiliates not noticing the termination of the program, continuing to send visitors, but this time for free. Even when webmasters notice it, they often forget links on pages rarely visited, thus leaving good links, increasing the former affiliate programs link popularity for a long time after the program is gone.

Knowing what programs to join, and which to stay clear of is hard, but it’s possible to limit the risk;

Look at the pagerank

While pagerank isn’t everything, it most certainly is a good indicator of a serious webpage. A new domain is without pagerank, as are domain found cheating google. Staying clear of affiliate programs without PR eliminates much of the risk.

Try to find a good affiliate program directory

Whether it’s Affiliate Ranker or any other directory, finding your favorite site is essential. Most affiliate directories are working hard on sorting out the bad seeds, and they often have a bunch of webmasters voluntarily reporting fraudulent activities. If they are serious about their directory, the amount of fraudsters should be minimal.

Don’t put all eggs in the same basket

If you can, try to find a few affiliate programs instead of one. That way, if one turns out to be cheating, you will still have most of your earnings with other – hopefully honest – affiliate programs.

Oh....the friends

A few friends online:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New to affiliate marketing? Start out light

Most new webmasters look at the most profitable online niches, instead of focusing on what they already have a deeper knowledge in. Most people have plenty of interests, hobbies or are book-smart enough to build a small, yet profitable site built with affiliate programs, targeting that particular area. A small, non-competitive niche is exactly what the new affiliate marketer needs. The experienced derived from this first site, can prove valuable when trying to target a more competitive niche.

Just as the Internet has brought the information closer to people, it has made every bit of information likely to have readers. No matter how obscure the topic, people will always try to find interesting information. Many sports make for excellent sites, if you are a big fan of a soccer- or football team; why not make a blog about it? If the team is large enough – and you target clever keywords – you will have visitors reading your text, and hopefully clicking an ad or two. Some of the most visited web pages about sports are just blogs, and most of them do very well using affiliate programs to make money online.

The same applies to most sports; Golf, hockey, cricket or even bowling can be a good topic for a site, just make sure to evaluate the competition for each intended keyword before you start, as these are very popular sports, thus making the topic and keywords more popular online as well.

If you have more specific hobbies - such as woodworking, jewelry, pottery or any other craft – the competition are not nearly as hard, but the amount of potential visitors may be lower. No matter what niche you are targeting, make sure there are ways of monetizing your site. There are many different ways, but the most common ones are affiliate programs or contextual advertising.

If you are targeting a very small niche, contextual advertising will be likely to bring you only a small amount for each click, due to the lack of bidding for those keywords. Similarly, this can work FOR you if you are bidding for visitors using contextual ads. Finding an affiliate program in small niches may or may not be hard, but if you find a good one, you will almost always make more with a traditional program, than you would with contextual advertising.

With affiliate programs, you are able to present your visitors with products you decide fitting for them, with contextual ads, the script does this for you. While this is (or should be) highly relevant ads, you still lack the control over the specific ads. With sites in small niches – or with low amount of traffic – the importance of higher commissions are necessary to keep the site profitable. Getting only a few cents per click will not cut it if you only have a few visitors per day, but if you can present them all with a product they want, you can make quite a bit of money.

It’s up to you to decide what products are likely to be of interest to your viewers, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new or additional affiliate programs or try some contextual ads once you have some traffic. Find out what suits your site best; every site – and every niche – is unique.

Use Your Website To Pre-Sell Your Affiliate Programs

Most experienced affiliate marketers will tell you that one of the most important factors of online marketing is pre-selling the products promoted. Pre-selling can be difficult at first, but if you choose your affiliate programs wisely, you can have your site pre-sell the products for you.

If you have a site of your own, you are probably using quite a few services to maintain it. This includes hosting, domain registration and other day-to-day services needed to operate a website. Due to the high competition in these areas, most of the sites offering these services will also run an affiliate program to find new customers.

This is an excellent opportunity to use these affiliate programs, promoting them on selected pages on your site. More visitors than you might think will look around your site, perhaps looking for something not expected.

When I build a new site in a niche I haven’t tried before, I always try to do a little research as to the competition. Many times I get ideas from the sites I find; if they are successful I would be foolish not to use what apparently works.

Different people are looking for different things. I for one am writing for Affiliate Ranker, so I tend to find new affiliate programs this way and I suspect others like me do as well. If you are promoting a 2-tier program, this can be a nice addition to your income. Others might be in the market for a new web host. If you are pleased with your hosting solution, why not share it and make some commission in the process? Are you using a template as your website? Even if you are using a free template, many of them offer affiliate commission on their paid templates. People are always looking for cheaper – and better – alternatives. If you are confident you are using the cheapest domain registrar, try linking to it with the (low) price listed. If it indeed is very cheap, people WILL use them, they have little reason not to.

Never underestimate the amount of visitors at your site, thinking they are NOT there for the reasons you intended. The reasons for them seeing your website are many, but if they are actually viewing your pages you have a good opportunity to serve them with some pre-sold affiliate links to click.

There are many services offering some sort of untargeted traffic, some better than others. But if you are using any of these methods – such as social bookmarking – odds are people will view your page without any interest in your actual content. If visitors arriving this way like your site, they will often look around a bit too see what it’s about. These are the people you are hoping to send to the newly signed affiliate programs.

If you have an about-page, why not make a short list of the services you are using, all with affiliate program links, and see what happens over time. Who knows, the results may surprise you.

Link Exchanges To Gain Affiliate Commission

Usually link exchanging is done to raise your link popularity or pagerank – But if done correctly, you may find your self with literally thousands of visitors – with one thing in common. Figure out how to USE this web traffic; don’t let it go to easily.

Exchanging links – weather you do it manually or use a service for it – is mainly to gain more link popularity – thus gaining positions in the search engines. This is perhaps the most common way of improving your page rank, and it’s very effective. But, a side effect most webmasters don’t think of is the traffic they attract while doing so.

If you are using a link exchange service to exchange links, you can – and should – try to take advantage of all the webmasters coming to your site and/or link pages. Most webmasters won’t take the time to check out your offers, but if you can present them with an on-target banner or text-link – promoting a product directly related to webmastering, link exchanging or anything similar – you will find yourself with a new way of making affiliate commission.

The link exchange I used for this experiment - link2me – has the option of upgrading for roughly $30, making it possible to send out unlimited link exchange request. I’m not sure how many sites they have in their directory, but – trust me – it’s plenty. They also have an option at every request, enabling you to present a specific link page to the recipients of your link exchange request. This is where you will have the opportunity to add well chosen affiliate links. This page should actually BE a link page, and I encourage you to actually utilize the service and exchange some links. If you ask for a link exchange with every site listed, you should find yourself with thousands of webmasters looking at your link page to evaluate if they want to accept your exchange request. A good addition might be SimplyLinking, allowing 20 free requests daily.

If you want to take this one step further, it is possible to further target the visitors by making several link pages – each with a more narrow advertisement, and choosing what page to show for each link request. Because you know what their site is about, you can find and add affiliate links on a detailed level.

Choosing the correct affiliate programs for this is easy, but it can take some time to get it perfected though. The best way of evaluating it is by using different affiliate programs on different link pages. Look in your web statistics and compare the traffic on each link page with the amount of sales or clicks to the affiliate programs, then choose the ones with the best conversion rate.

There are many affiliate programs with products or services for webmasters. A webmaster engaged in link exchanging is bound to be interested in others ways of improving their page rank, or other ways of marketing their site. This include services such as; Link exchanges, article submissions, directory submissions, SEO services or simple, everyday products such as web design and hosting. If you are a bit imaginative, you can probably think of many, many other subjects which might be of interest.

Using this method on every new built site will give you both page rank and possible affiliate commission, this while still building your link popularity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Add more revenue with affiliate programs

If you are selling a service or product online, and you want to increase your revenue even further, one idea is to join a few relevant affiliate programs. No matter what products you are selling, odds are you can find a profitable affiliate program matching your content. But, be sure you do not join a program offering products to similar to yours, that way you do not risk sending your hard earned customers to shop elsewhere.

Knowing exactly what programs to join is hard – not to say impossible – but if worst comes to worst, you can always join another program if your first choice turns out to be wrong.

Most websites have pages not intended to market their products or services directly, but to explain various details of the site, company or area of expertise. These pages are perfect for promoting products closely related – but not competing products. If you have an art site – perhaps selling your own work – you might have a few pages describing the canvas, paint of choice or the technique used to make your paintings.

Assuming you only sell your paintings and nothing more, you can easily add a few banners for selected affiliate programs on your site. Find a program selling the canvas YOU are using, and explain to your readers why you choose it. If you have a good reason for using that particular brand, people may feel intrigued to try it out them selves.

If you are on the other side - selling art supplies - perhaps you can find a few affiliate programs selling paintings made with your material.

Except for really large websites, most sites are somewhat specialized, making it easier to find non-competing products to promote. The easiest way is to search for affiliate programs using similar keywords, but staying clear of the ones targeting your own top keywords and/or phrases.

Start by trying to figure out what areas of your trade you are NOT covering with your website. After you have figured this out, search or browse for an affiliate program matching any of these areas, more often than not you will find many programs matching your criteria. If you can’t find a program matching but NOT competing, you have to broaden your search. The risk of giving your existing customers away – for merely a commission – is worse than the potential profit you can make from the customer. In rare cases, you can find programs good enough to risk it, but that is something every website owner needs to figure out her self.

To broaden your search, try to figure out what your visitors might have in common, except the interest in your website. If you can pinpoint a few likely areas of common interest, you have a good starting point for finding a good affiliate program.

The trick is to find common areas between your site, your customers and the large amount of affiliate programs online. Considering the numerous programs of pretty much all niches, no matter what your site is about, there is a good chance you can find many similar products. For websites with only a few products, this can really help to add to the revenue without risking sending people to competitors.

The Visitors You Never Knew You Had

When monitoring your traffic, especially if you have a large site, you will of course look mainly at the traffic received related to the keywords you have targeted. But is every visitor likely to be there for the same reason? If you take a moment to analyze your traffic statistics, you will be surprised at how many visitors you get from odd places and strange search terms.

If you are working actively with targeting specific keywords within your niche, you are no doubt getting your fair share of traffic from the search engines. But, on top of those visitors, you will get search engine traffic from phrases and words you are not actively targeting. Many of these visitors are most likely derived from searches related to your niche. More often than not however, a web page will have many specific phrases, certain to attract the occasional visitor from Google.

If your site is large enough, or if you are running multiple sites, you are probably getting quite a few visitors like this every day. The problem with this kind of traffic is the lack of information about the visitors. You haven’t actively tried to attract these people, yet they arrive. But, in order to take advantage of this traffic, you need to figure out from where they are coming, and most importantly, what page(s) they are landing on.

The easiest way is to look at your website’s statistics, most information will be found there. First off, look at the search terms that have resulted in visitors. Try to find phrases or words NOT specific for your niche, but instead of a more general nature. Or better yet; A phrase that, taken out of it’s context, will be related to something completely different. If you can find enough, similar or related, search terms, odds are you can use these to improve your revenue with the use of an affiliate program.

When you have figured out what search terms generate the most traffic, it’s time to see where they are landing. Do a few searches on these queries – on ALL major search engines – to see the most likely entry pages for each particular query. If you can find one or a few pages often occurring on various queries, you have an excellent opportunity to figure out what these visitors are looking for. If you can, it’s almost too easy to present them with banners from well chosen affiliate programs. This way, some of the people will click your ads rather than the back button, thus making you some money.

Sometimes the terms giving you the extra visitors will be easy to translate, hence making it clear what the visitors are really looking for. In these cases, all you need to do is sign up for an affiliate program offering products of interest. In other cases, the terms are of a very general nature, making it less obvious what they are looking for. It is, however, possible to experiment with a few text ads, analyzing what ads attract the most clicks. Most free website statistics software don’t enable you to track visitor-behaviour, but if you sign up for Google statistics you’ll be able to see how many times each link is clicked, making it easy to find an affiliate program matching the visitors you never knew you had.

If you have numerous pages attracting odd visitors, you can easily repeat the above for each page getting enough search engine traffic to make it worth your while.

Choosing Commission Model For Poker Affiliate Programs

One of the most profitable niches for an affiliate marketer is with no doubt online poker. If you have a poker website making money it is fairly easy, but make sure you are choosing the right commission model for your affiliate program; fixed commission, revenue share or a combination of both. Use this fairly simple way of calculating which commission to choose.

Sending players to various online poker rooms is a lucrative business. Due to the very high competition, the poker affiliate programs need to offer very high commissions to attract new affiliates. For webmasters, this is as good as it gets.

The typical poker affiliate program offers variations of commission, making it possible for you to analyze your traffic and referred players, helping you choose the best model for you and your site. It is not always easy to know the break-even point for revenue share vs. fixed commission, but if you know your visitors, all you need is a calculator.

You need some information about the players you refer. This is sometimes hard to know, but usually you can use a rough estimate. The more information available to you, the better you will understand your players. Try to find out – or guess – the following:

  • Referred players average limit (player level)
  • Type of game preferred (limit/no-limit, stud, Omaha etc.)
  • Table size preferences (usually 6 or 10 players/table)

To find this information out, you can use any method available; a poll on your page isn’t a bad idea, one or a few easy questions will get many answers, making it easier to estimate the above details. There are numerous ways of getting to know your visitors, but that would be another topic, and therefore beyond the scope of this article. If you have no information about your visitors, or if you are yet to build your site, look at a few different levels (of limit games) to see the impact on your revenue. The same applies with table size and type of game, investigate and evaluate.

What you need to know about the affiliate program is the following:

  • Rake percentage (the percentage the poker room earns from every pot)
  • Revenue share (the percentage of the rake paid to the affiliate)
  • Average number of players on active tables (on the referrer’s player level)
Find the average number of players seated at the tables, as well as the average pot. This information is given at almost all poker rooms. If you can’t find the information in the affiliate interface, log in as a player and look directly at the tables.

Then calculate as follows:

(rake percentage x average pot x revenue share) / average seated players

This gives you the average commission for one played hand.

Look at their fixed commissions and do another quick calculation:

Fixed commission / earnings per hand

This gives you the number of hands the referred players has to be part of, before you make more from revenue share than from the fixed commission.

If you want to know the time each player has to spend in the poker room to make up for the fixed commission, all you need to find is the average pots per hour. This information is also available in almost every poker room. Then simply calculate:

Number of hands (from the calculation above) / hands per hour

Giving you an estimate of the time each player has to spend in the poker room before you start earning more than the fixed commission.

Now you have a few more parameters to consider before choosing your revenue model for poker affiliate programs, take your time – it is well worth it.

Poker affiliate programs – Look beyond the obvious

If you have a site about poker, casinos or gambling in general, you stand a good chance of making a nice profit by using various affiliate programs. But, choosing a program solely on its pay per sale percentage won’t necessarily maximize your revenue. Looking at your visitors – and what they are looking for – will make it easier to choose a new poker affiliate program.

The online gambling industry is one of the most profitable niches for an affiliate marketer. But, due to its potential revenue, the competition is very hard, and you really need to make the most of every single visitor you get.

The more information you can gather about your visitors, the easier it gets to choose the right affiliate program suiting their needs. Much information can be accessed from your website statistics – or from the account statistics if you are buying traffic with contextual ads. What search terms attract the most traffic? Do you know exactly why they are arriving and where? If the most common search term is very general in its nature, it can be hard to know exactly what the visitors are looking for, but if you are getting visitors from more specific search terms, you should have a pretty good idea as to what your visitors are interested in.

Once you have evaluated your visitors’ needs, it’s time to figure out how to meet them. If you are getting search engine traffic for any term related to poker bonuses, odds are many of your visitors are looking for just that. No matter how good the affiliate program’s percentage, if they do not offer a bonus high enough – or no bonus at all -, most of your visitors won’t sign up, hence not making you a commission. Instead, this would give you an excellent opportunity to find as many poker rooms possible with high sign up bonuses, and hopefully many of your visitors will come back to find a new poker room with a good bonus once they are done with their first choice.

In the same manner you can find affiliate programs matching most keywords, if you have visitors you KNOW are looking for one particular thing – no matter if it’s poker bonuses, Omaha tables or stud – you should try to present them with products and services matching their needs on an as detailed level as possible.

Assuming you have a somewhat good knowledge in the niche you are working within, finding this kind of information can be done rapidly, but the more effort you put into finding the correct casino- or poker affiliate program, the better your traffic will convert. Most often the poker rooms offer trial accounts, making it free and easy to check out both the software, type of games and whether or not it’s a busy poker room or not. All this information is highly important for knowing IF you should use the affiliate program in question, as well as for the marketer choosing what commission plan to use.

The more information you can get hold of – both about your visitors and about the affiliate programs – the better. You should always evaluate the programs joined, to ensure they are converting as expected.

Monday, September 17, 2007

5 important factors when choosing affiliate program

Choosing an affiliate program is presumably easy, yet many webmasters won’t find the program best suited for their site. In order to maximize your online revenue, you should – before choosing program – consider a few factors.

When deciding what affiliate program(s) to use on your site, there are many factors to consider. You will, of course, have to narrow down the selection by searching for programs related to your site’s topic. But, depending on site, you will find yourself with a quite long list of potential affiliate program – All with different types of commission. What should you choose, what information is relevant, and most important, which program will make you the most money?

#1 - Size of commission

The size of commission is, of course, the single most important factor. While this is an easy factor to compare, the comparison between a fixed commission and revenue share can pose a problem. You need to look at the estimated average sale to get a figure to compare. This isn’t always easy, but generally speaking the higher the price of the product, the higher your revenue will be. This is easy enough, but sometimes the products are cheap, but people but many items, thus adding up to nice commissions. Try to evaluate the niche you are in, who are you referring? What are they likely to buy? The more information you have about your visitors, the better off you’ll be.

# 2 - Compatibility

Equally important is the compatibility between you site and the program. Are your visitors likely to click the ads? Are the likely to buy? Don’t settle for just any affiliate program in your niche, you need to find the best affiliate program available for your site. Visit the site you are advertising, have a look around. Would you shop there? Is it a nice looking, easy manageable site? If you wouldn’t shop there, odds are your visitors won’t either.

# 3 - Recurring commission

A very important, but often forgotten, variable to look at is whether or not the affiliate program offers recurring commission. What this means is: The customer referred by you stays yours for a limited time, or for life. If you find a good affiliate program with recurring commission, you do not need to send many customers before it really adds up.

# 4 – Promotional tools etc.

A very good way of further increasing your conversion ratio is to look closely at the promotional tools, banners and potential offers the affiliate program are using to convert the traffic you send. In some niches – gambling in particular - the competition is so hard they have to offer their visitors high bonuses or the like, just to stand a chance of converting them. In cases like this, you would want to promote a program offering good bonuses; otherwise you stand a much lesser chance of sending highly converting traffic.

#5 Payout frequency, type and threshold

If you are running a small site, or if you use many different affiliate programs, you will need to look at the payout threshold AND payout method. See to it you will get your commission within a fair period of time, and that they offer easy and cheap ways of collecting your commission. International checks can, in some countries, be very expensive to cash in. No fun in paying $10 dollar to cash in a $25 check, now is it? You should glance on the frequency of payments as well. Most affiliate programs pay monthly or bi-monthly, but be sure to check it out.