But Is Affiliate Marketing, Reliable?

A comment was left on the previous post about affiliate marketing:

Is it reliable ???

A lot of confusion people are saying u can earn bucks with affiliates but in my opinion its not that easy to earn the bucks from affiliate …

Friends – it all depends on the effort that you are willing to put into affiliate marketing, or for that matter ANY type of business opportunity you decide to undertake.  This could be an online business, or offline business – regardless of the type of business you need people to drive your business forward (or should I say customers).

Consider an offline business that’s in the service industry.  You spend $100,000.00 to set-up shop.  That includes the cost of leasing a space, purchasing equipment and supplies, purchasing the raw material (food) to prepare your products.  BUT you forget about placing ads in the newspaper, and local community papers about your upcoming grand opening.  You neglect to contact community centers, or even media outlets about your new business – in fact you don’t even tell your friends or family!!!  Instead you stick up a few “grand opening” flyers on windows, toss in some balloons and hope for the best.

As a result, your first day is a total flop.  Sure you sell some products – but only to passers by; even then hundreds of people didn’t even notice your new shop because you failed to… ADVERTISE.  You never even thought of putting up a board to direct people into the shop.

Affiliate marketing is not easy.  You need to stay with it.  But how can you attract visitors to your site in some highly competetive areas?  I can think of a few ways:

Be DIFFERENT.  Yes, it’s hard to be different but you should look at the offline world and look at what the big companies are doing and put your own twist onto the promotion and try it online.

For example, suppose you are setting up a website for coffee or tea affiliate programs (trust me, they are BIG business).  You need visitors, and need visitors that will come back often.  You want to do all the right things first:

  • Set-up an RSS feed through FeedBurner or another RSS aggregator.  This will capture the more advanced visitors/readers who know all about RSS and how it works.
  • Set-up an e-mail alerts system.  This will capture less advanced visitors/readers, that don’t understand RSS and prefer to get e-mail alerts and then visit your site (this is a GOOD thing).

Next you need to drive visitors to your site.  How will you do that?

  • Advertising. Think Google, Yahoo all the BIG search engines advertising programs.  But don’t stop there!  Look at like minded sites and see if you can strike up advertising with them.  It could be as simple as swapping ads in e-zines or swapping button/banners on each others site.  Why like minded?  Why would you advertise for tea or coffee on a site selling plants or BBQ’s?  Doesn’t make a lot of sense – right?
  • Article marketing.  Friends – THIS WORKS!  But you need to be consistent.  Draw up a list of topics that would be of interest to coffee or tea drinkers (trust me, there are A LOT of topics) and write about them.  Write each article in such a way that it could be a blog post (or two, or three – you get the idea).  Post to your blog first, then a few days later post to the major article repositories on the web (I will provide these in an upcoming post).

Once you have visitors, you want them to “stick”.  How will you do that?

  • Contests.  Everyone loves a contest, and if you can get coffee/tea suppliers (equipment, specialty products) to sponsor your contest you could give away some grand prizes!
  • Freebies.  This works very well, though could cost you a lot of money but consider how much advertising would cost you.  It could work something like this.  For the first 100 sign-ups to your e-mail alerts or RSS feed (you need them to send you their mailing address) you send them a small bag of coffee or some speciality teas.  Why would you want to do this?  Well, for one you’ve captured their e-mail address AND their mailing address.  Think DIRECT MARKETING.  It still works, especially if it is targetted!

People LOVE free stuff.

Think about all the types of things you can give away, that people would appreciate.  Several years ago, I helped someone run a promotion for free pedometers on their site (it worked so good, I did the same thing).  I found a supplier willing to sell me around 1,000 pedometers for about $1.00 each, the condition was that we had to leave his company label on the pedometer – it was like one of those “made in China” stickers.  The trade off was great. 

Then he ran a promotion on his site to get people to sign up to his e-mail alerts.  The condition of course was that they had to provide a valid e-mail address, and provide a mailing address so that he could send the pedometer to them.

Now you may be thinking that that was expensive, if I remember correctly it ended up costing him about $3,000 to get 1,000 visitors.  I never dug past that, so don’t know what type of attrition rate he had – but consider that some keywords in health and fitness can sell for WELL OVER $3.00 each he ended up getting highly targetted visitors legitimate e-mail address AND mailing address for only $3,000.00 – you can’t get that anywhere.

He used the mailing address to send out other freebies randomly.  Sometimes he’d pick 5 or 10 people and send out a $20.00 book.  One time he got a good deal on those big pilates balls and sent out three.  As a result of these random gifts, he didn’t loose many readers because they never knew what they’d get.  In fact he found that he got more sign-ups over time as the initial bunch told friends which expected that they may get something as well.

The money he was making from affiliate sales was helping drive these types of promotions.  And did he make money – treadmills pay up to $200.00 per sale, he could sell (through his affiliate promotions) 5 to 10 per month.  But he also knew the peak times to be “pushing” these types of products (think early-mid new year; after everyone has had their feasts over Christmas and New Years).

Definately earning money as an affiliate is a numbers game – the more visitors you have, the greater the chance that they purchase through your affiliate link.  The more sites you have the greater the chance of each site earning some money.  When you decide to concentrate on a specific area, whether that be sports (such as golf, hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball), health and fitness, lifestyle or any other area you quickly move away from “affiliate” sales and moving into more of a business.

Now don’t think that this is the end of things – in fact, you can still move into other area to make even more money.  Think about creating your own product or products:

  • E-books
  • Online courses
  • Video courses
  • MP3
    • You can get these transcribed
  • Teleseminars
    • Which can be turned into MP3s

You only need to look at the offline world, plus what other sites are doing to get more ideas on how you can take a hobby or interest and turn it into a business making you anything from a few hundred dollars per month to thousands of dollars per month!

Do you have other ideas that you would like to share that perhaps I’ve not covered?  Why not participate and leave us your comment!

Take care!

About Rob 'n Mo

I'm a man of mystery. I like anonymity, but on the WWW there is not much of it...
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