I was able to make my first online dollars through Amazon Affiliate sales… It was never much and in the beginning I was just excited to make $10 in a month, which was enough for a free ebook or two. With regular updates and link inclusions in my posts over time I was able to grow the number up to like $300 a month–which I was pretty happy with. Of course the payout rates are paltry compared to a sale of an info product like one from Unconventional Guides, etc. Thing is, people seem to be more open to purchasing physical products rather than information products…
Paid Search Paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, typically refers to the “sponsored result” on the top or side of a search engine results page (SERP). You only pay when your ad is clicked. You can tailor your PPC ads to appear when specific search terms are entered, creating ads that are targeted to a particular audience. PPC ads are flexible, visible, and most importantly, effective for many different types of organizations. They are also contextual advertisements—ads that appear when a person is searching for a particular keyword or term.
It sounds like you have a good system going and you are correct, they both do take a lot of work. Most people will not have the time to put up hundreds of affiliate sites and stores. Given that you are comparing one affiliate site versus one dropshipped store, they both should take a similar amount of time to rank in the search engines. The advantage of the dropshipped store is that you won’t be completely dependent on SEO. If Google were to all of a sudden tank your website for your keywords (this has happened to me on several occasions), then you still have a solid customer base and word of mouth that will get you new customers.
I’ll admit it…I love Oprah Winfrey. This woman has made an empire out of her daytime talk show. What amazes me most is her book recommendations. If an author gets on her show, it’s GUARANTEED he or she is going to sell a bunch of copies. I nicknamed the presell email, “The Oprah Winfrey” because it provides great content while making a strong push for a particular product.
SkimLinks is primarily for established content producers (bloggers) who want to monetize their content. With a powerful WordPress plugin and scripts for just about any website type, setting up SkimLinks is very easy. And because you have access to all offers on their platform after you’re approved, SkimLinks is very well designed for affiliates who don’t want to spend a lot of time fiddling around with settings and other fine-tuning.
That being said, LinkConnector’s platform looks and feels outdated and is rather clumsily designed. Their dashboard also makes it difficult to find “hot” products or compare conversion rates, leaving affiliates somewhat in the dark about which products to choose. Ironically, despite their low-quality website, they offer some of the best customer service in the affiliate space.
Consider joining up with an affiliated marketing company. One easy way to enter the field of affiliate marketing is to join a company that specializes in online marketing. Though you'll ultimately work independently, companies like MoreNiche allow aspiring affiliate marketers to join for free to have a platform for advertising products/services.
Keep in mind, affiliate tracking links are only valid for a certain period of time. For example, when you sign up to an affiliate program that advertises a “30-day cookie”, that means you’re only eligible for a commission if your visitor makes a purchase within 30 days. If they buy something on day 31, you don’t earn unless they clicked the link again at some point.
Search Engine Optimization: search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing the content, technical set-up, and reach of your website so that your pages appear at the top of a search engine result for a specific set of keyword terms. Ultimately, the goal is to attract visitors to your website when they search for products, services, or information related to your business.
This is extremely helpful information for somebody who is a newbie blogger! I’ve been looking for an all inclusive “guide” to explain affiliate marketing and this is the best I’ve found. Quick question for you – when you talk about the cookie expiration date, is that from the date that you post your review/recommendation or from the date that the reader clicks on the link? For example, the affiliate links you posted in this post are well over 90 days old but if I click on one of them now and buy that product, do you still get paid? Just curious how that works.
File-Sharing: Web sites that host directories of music, movies, games and other software. Users upload content to file-hosting sites and then post descriptions of the material and their download links on directory sites. Uploaders are paid by the file-hosting sites based on the number of times their files are downloaded. The file-hosting sites sell premium download access to the files to the general public. The websites that host the directory services sell advertising and do not host the files themselves.
The primary advantage of affiliate marketing over dropshipping is that you don’t really have anything to do with the product fulfillment process. You don’t have to connect with suppliers, you don’t need to handle transactions, you don’t need to collect money, issue refunds, or otherwise act like a store. All of that is handled by the actual store. All you do is, essentially, hand people your card, point them at the door, and say “tell ‘em I sent you.”
1: How much setup are you willing to do? Of the two, affiliate marketing requires less in the way of direct setup. You don’t need to contact suppliers, you just need to sign up for an affiliate network. You need to set up a website with both, but an affiliate marketer can use a simple blog, while a dropshipper needs a storefront. Dropshipping also requires more internal infrastructure to handle transactions and payments, including a business bank account to keep funds separate from personal funds.
An affiliate marketing business is an excellent source of passive income. There’s a bit of upfront work to figure out your ads or produce content to help convert the sale. However, once that’s done you can have ads running in the background while you make money. You don’t have to worry about creating a product. You don’t have to worry about shipping a product. All you need to do is make sure you’re sending highly targeted traffic to the merchant’s landing page to drive conversions.
If you don’t already know what drop shipping is, it’s the retail method in which you don’t keep products in stock. Instead of warehousing, you partner with a drop shipping supplier that stocks its own inventory. You transfer customer orders and shipment details to them, and the suppliers ship the order directly to the customer. Here’s a graph to help you understand the drop shipping business model:
Great stuff here Sean – thanks for all of these insights and sharing some best practices when it comes to affiliate marketing. I’ve never been comfortable giving it a shot, but after reading this post and your perspective on how and when to do it, I may just have to give it a try. Especially considering I’m already mentioning and recommending services and products on my site, I’m just not getting the potential rewards associated with doing so. Thanks again.
SkimLinks works very similarly to VigLinks in that it is designed for bloggers who don’t want to do a lot of hands-on work to participate in an affiliate program. SkimLinks also works much like VigLinks in that it uses a plugin or script to create dynamic links in your content to send visitors to higher paying offers from merchants. SkimLinks claims to work with over 24,000 merchants/advertisers.
Connecting the dots between marketing and sales is hugely important -- according to Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate, compared to a 4% decline in revenue for companies with poor alignment. If you can improve your customer's' journey through the buying cycle by using digital technologies, then it's likely to reflect positively on your business's bottom line.