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Old 02-14-2005, 05:07 PM   #1
Larwee

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Default Newbie affiliate program selecting tips

We were all newbies at one time and probably can relate to some of the problems faced by newbies.

I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread to help newbies in selecting affiliate programs.

Other Geek/Talk members can add their suggestions or punch holes in some of what I've said.

Often a newbie gets involved because he or she thinks that with little or no work they are quickly going to have piles of money. Many of them give up when they find out it usually doesn't happen that way.

Many times they will join affiliate programs in hopes of making their fortune. They join lots and lots of them to help them make an even larger fortune. Most are soon very disappointed.

Here are a few tips I think would be helpful to the newbie:

Select affiliate programs that would be of interest to visitors to your site and always keep that in mind.

Before you join any affiliate program go to a site such as Geek/Talk and check out the affiliate program. Seek information about it from those with more experience.

Keep in mind that in many cases text links will perform better than banners. But try both.

It helps to know something about the product or service the affiliate program is trying to sell. This way you can write something about the product or service that will help the prospect to become more interested and click your link.

Consideration should also be given to programs which are giving things away rather than selling something. All the prospect has to do is furnish some brief simple information in order for you to earn a commission. This can make it easier to earn money when getting started.

Your affiliate program has a landing page that will do the selling for you. Make sure they have a professional looking page and one that does a good job of selling.

Customer service is important. Does the affiliate program make it easy for you to contact them? Do they make it easy for you to track your stats?

Don't be disappointed if only 1% or 2% of the clicks result in sales. This is normal. It might even be less than 1% or 2%. Don't expect 40% to 50% of the clicks to result in sales. This isn't normal.

When just getting started you should go with programs that have a low minimum to reach for payment and that pays fairly quickly. This is so it will make you see your reward without waiting a long time and therefore encourage you not to give up.

These are just a few basics for newbies. I left out several things I could have included so that other Geek/Talk members could add some additional tips and give you different points of view.
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:10 AM   #2
Catalyst
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Hi Larwee,

Great topic! Here are some more ideas.

Even though some of our affiliates make over $10K a month in various programs we manage, I try not to make it sound like a cake walk because it isn't.

Affiliate marketing is very hard to get started with and overwhelming to learn, but if you devote the time and energy it can be very rewarding. Too many think it's get rich quick, throw up a couple banners and then give up when that fails.

If you are good at SEO, know how to work with datafeeds and customize them with lots of unique content so they don't look like cookie cutter sites you can do quite well. There are even tools like the IPC that help you build custom sites in around a minute without having to do any datafeed programming

Study, work hard and treat this like you would a $100,000 business and you may do well if you pick the right programs and markets.

As far as the question of how to get started, or what’s the "best" affiliate program - well that's a big question but the answer can be defined by YOU!

1) What is your current site about and who are your visitors? What are they interested in? Find products and services that will appeal to them and THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! For instance if you have a site about travel, don't just promote hotel and airline affiliate programs, add travel insurance, Amazon books about travel and Luggage.

2) What are you passionate about??? What do you know a lot about? If you can find an affiliate programs that tie into your interests or hobbies you will be ahead of the game!!! WHY? Because it can take some time to generate income and if it's something you are interested in it will give you the incentive to keep building more pages PLUS you can add valuable content to your site based on your knowledge of the subject.

3) Make a list of all the potential products and services that you think may be a good fit for either your existing site or a new niche site based on #2.

Go to Commission Junction, LinksShare, BeFree, ShareaSale or one of the affiliate directories like Refer-it and find several programs then compare:

A) The honesty & integrity of the program. Are they parasite-free, do they have affiliate-centered management, good record of paying on time? *This can be hard to figure out unless you search on Affiliate Boards.

B) Commission – Could be per sale or per lead
C) Cookie Length - This is how long sales are tracked and credited to you
D) Good merchant web site design & navigation that will convert your leads to sales

Basic Examples:
Merchant #1 $50 commission, 1 day cookie, poorly designed site, big 800#, get rich quick type of affiliate page.
Merchant #2 $40 commission, 90 day cookie, nice site, easy to navigate, friendly affiliate page.

I would pick #2.

Now to answer the question “What is the best affiliate program?” Well, it depends and as you can see there is no easy answer, but I hope I have given you some guidelines and tips to ponder.

Hope this helps and best of luck!
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:04 PM   #3
Larwee

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Catalyst (Linda), I am so glad that you posted a reply to this thread that I started, and I REALLY mean that.

I've done a lot of posting here at Geek/Talk. I have made it a point to try to be interesting as well as to provide something that will be of help to others. That is just the role that I established for myself as a Geek/Talk member.

Many of my threads have been popular and received a large number of views and a larage number of responses. They possibly were also interesting and helpful to a number of people.

There have been times I've started a thread that I thought would be very interesting and helpfult a lot of people and it received little or no attention. I am disappointed when that happens.

I was extremely disappointed in the lack of response for this thread. I put a lot of thought, attention and time into posting it in hopes of being a big help to some people who are new to affiliate marketing. However it ended up being ignored and soon forgotten. That is until you finally made a fantastic reply.

What bothered me was the fact that there are new people having serious problems and needing help with affiliate
programs. They need as much help as they can get and some turn to places such as Geek/Talk for help.

I thought it would be very helpful to have a thread that would give the newbie tips in selecting affiliate programs because doing that is something that is so critical to a newbie.

With so many bright members here at Geek/Talk I was honestly expecting several people to post tips that would be helpful to the newbie. I was both surprised and disappointed that it didn't happen.

I started this by giving a few tips. You gave your reply in which you added several great tips. So perhaps there is still some hope.

Possibly a few people who are new to all of this will read this thread and find a few tips that will be a big help to them.

I started this thread by saying "we were all newbies at one time". Those of us who have leared through experience can do so much to help those who are new and in need of assistance.

With a little luck, or possibly a lot of luck, some other Geek/Talk members will be like you Catalyst and add some more affiliate program selecting tips for newbies.
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Old 03-10-2005, 01:01 PM   #4
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I would contribute to this thread but I'm clueless

That being said, I always read your threads with great intrest
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Old 03-10-2005, 02:04 PM   #5
Larwee

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Thanks Pilatus, you are the second person within a week who has posted that they like my threads. That gives me a good feeling.

If you are clueless on this particular subject, then I guess you couldn't contribute.

As long as what is posted is of some help to someone then I guess it really doesn't matter if anything else is added by other people. Someone is helped, so the mission would be accomplished.

Last edited by Larwee; 03-10-2005 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 03-11-2005, 02:51 PM   #6
Czar

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This certainly is a great topic, with the equally impressive response from Linda possible discouraging others from responding since she did such a good job of covering the most important bases.

The process of selecting an affiliate program will vary based on a publisher/marketer's individual expectations, interests and requirements. That said, I have worked with countless affiliate networks and individual affiliate programs over the years, so I've prepared a few tips regarding my own selection process below.

1) Read all of the tips Linda presented above. To recap a few specifics, an affiliate program must be run by a responsive affiliate manager, it must feature creatives and landing pages that are devoid of distractions and detours (ie excessive advertising, 1800#s and other non-commissionable transaction options, excessive links to third-party sites or non-commissionable information pages). The program should have an attractive history and/or be operated by a reputable company and should not engage in practices or relationships that negatively impact your other publishing efforts (ie parasite or spyware alliances, etc).

2) If embedding a program's links into a content-driven website, find a program that appeals to your audience. Much is said about content-based targeting, which often takes publishers' attention away from another type of targeting that is central to the way traditional advertising is sold; that is, demographic targeting. If you have a site about gardening with a skew towards Floridian conditions that predominently attracts US-based homeowners aged 35-55, it's easy to think that a Florida-based garden retailer would make the best alliance. While this may be true, it could equally be the case that an entertainment broker selling tickets to the Southern US portion of a Rolling Stones revival concert would produce equally impressive results, as may ads promoting financial management and advisory services for US residents or even a Wine-of-the-Month Club. All of these would broadly appeal to the same demographics, without falling back on the old "match the ads to the content" trap. Remember that your readers are people and people have diverse interests, but demographic-based targeting can help to determine what may best appeal to members of a particular group.

3) Look at EPC ratings. While these are problematic to some degree, a number of networks provide indicators as to what effective earnings-per-click have previously been generated in association with a particular program. While there are hidden gems to be found in the lower stretches of the EPC spectrum and while the high-EPC programs often attract greater competition, you're often safer selecting programs that have proven themselves solid converters. If a program has an EPC of $0.60, for example (or $60.00 on CJ, which for some inexplicable reason presents an earnings-per-100-clicks figure instead of the standard), you could fairly assume that on a click-for-click basis, it will outperform a program that has generated a $0.20EPC historically.

4) Work with networks unless you expect to generate a high transaction volume. Networks provide an additional layer of security as far as payment collection, communication and technology are concerned, while also allowing you to pool your earnings from individual programs. This can cut down on the admin headaches associated with establishing accounts, checking stats, changing links, maintaining contact lists and banking checks from 100s of individual programs, while providing you with a consistent and consolidated approach to gathering and updating campaign information.

5) Use text links rather than banners and integrate these with your content where possible. Written a review on a particular PDA? Then provide direct links to the PDA's retail page on a particular merchant's site as a convenience to your readers and as a relevant revenue generation device.

6) Keep things fresh! Continue to keep testing different creatives, competitive merchants, alternative placement and congruent programs offered through different networks. Doing so not only creates points of interest for your audience, but keeps you at the top of your game through organic optimisation (trial and error). Often, a program that isn't the market leader will surprise you and prove a real winner, so it's good to give fresh new advertisers a look-see every now and then.

7) Stick with it! Endure a bit of work and things will come to pay off. Getting started with affiliate marketing is the trickiest part and, if you engage in paid search marketing, it's not uncommon to find yourself actually losing money through the visitor acquision/customer conversion cost balance. Nevertheless, once you've generated workable numbers and have tested different placement options and different programs tailored towards the unique needs of your audience, you'll start to gain an appreciation for what works best for you. Once you've found that balance, your attention should turn back to building your audience volume so as to grow your earnings accordingly.
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Old 03-12-2005, 08:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
If you are clueless on this particular subject, then I guess you couldn't contribute.
Cluelessness seems to be a state of mind I'm in for most real life stuff

Sold a whooping 5 items with amazon so far
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Old 03-12-2005, 12:04 PM   #8
funtoon
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Great Post larwee and the replies almost cover most of the ascpects.

So for new affilaites or newcomers if we can call them, my advice is first to try out a few CPA programms coz its much more easier to get a lead with a CPA program rather than juming directly to a CPS programm, I guess its the first few leads that would give you the boost.

Keep on trying new CPA programs coz if it clicks it can generate a lot of $$$, but again dont promote more than 3-4 programms at a time, may newcommers put a lot of affilaites links from 'n' programms, keep it limited to a few.

If a programm hasent given you results say even after you send in a 100-125 clicks its time to move on, personally I keep trying new programms say out of 25 may be one or two work out so you got to keep searching and trying it out.

(PS: Larwee I always read most of your post, and I guess most of the other do so dont lose heart)
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Old 03-12-2005, 01:08 PM   #9
Larwee

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funtoon, thanks for the encouragement. I won't lose heart.

I guess I get a little disappointed when I post something that I'm sure would be helpful to a lot of people and it gets lost without many people seeing it. That is because I failed to be able to be of some help to as many people as I had hoped.

I am trying to adjust to that and not let it bother me.

You are right about this particular thread. Just about everything that a new person needs to know about making affiliate choices has been covered. I'm sure it will help someone, and that is what it is all about.
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Old 03-12-2005, 06:30 PM   #10
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300 reads (and counting) isn't too shabby. Our newbie members are probably so busy implementing these tips that they haven't yet managed to spare a few minutes to comment.

I'd say this thread has been a success in stimulating thought and action, as are many of the discussions that you initiate, larwee.
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Old 03-20-2005, 06:11 PM   #11
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Hi larwee, I'm like you and like to post helpful tips and thought inspiring thread starters. I think you write VERY helpful posts. I stopped being active here for awhile, but now that things have a changed, I will try to visit and post more often. (Thanks, Czar. I'm also going to start advertising here again too. Ad coming at you today!)


Pilatus - there are 2 primary type of people on this forum today.
Those who know a lot and are open to sharing advice like larwee
and people like you, who *think* they are clueless and can benefit from others tips and ideas.

The REALLY cool think about this forum, is someday hopefully you will learn and become an expert like larwee and share with other newbies. What goes around, comes around and like larwee said, we all had to start learnign somewhere.

Last edited by Catalyst; 03-20-2005 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:15 PM   #12
Larwee

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Catalyst (Linda), thanks for the kind words and inspiration.

I will continue to do my best to try to post helpful posts and thought inspiring thread starters.

I am also glad you are returning to Geek/Talk and that you will try to visit more often and post more often.

I am familiar with you and I know you have plenty of very useful knowledge that would be helpful to Geek/Talk visitors.

I don't know how many newbies were helped by the tips in this thread, or how many might be helped by it in the future. But, it gives one a nice feeling to know that a role is being played in helping others.
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Old 03-20-2005, 08:15 PM   #13
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Thanks lawree and Czar,

I just blogged about this thread on my new affiliate blog which is just starting to pick up steam with the search engines. Hopefully it will draw more people to this forum and help other new affiliates that are looking for answers.

Great thread!
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Old 03-22-2005, 04:52 PM   #14
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Lots of good info in this thread. I don't have time to read over it all, but I skimmed it and think I can add a little here and there without repeating I hope.

Real quick: In addtion to EPC, also look at the conversion ratio, how many impressions to click thrus to conversions.

Also, if an ad isn't doing well, try another creative and try changing presentation or description. If the product or service you are promoting has a strong point to it, sell the visitor on it (but don't lie or go overboard on it) remember to mention things like free trials or things that make the offer or product popular. Also, if the link you provide gives the visitor a discount or incentive that's not on the product's site or not explained clearly on their site, capitalize on it and mention it! You might be surprised to see the impact it has. I've had offers that have paid in the $20-$30 range only perform at 1%, but finding the right creative and ad layout/description (just make sure it's within guidlines and always be honest) boasted it to 2%-3%.

You can expect some offers, like free offers and offers that don't require a credit card or purchase, to convert better, but pay less. That doesn't mean that the offer isn't any good, though. That's where (as Czar mentioned) looking at the EPC helps. Remember to utilize the tools of networks to see what offers rank high for conversion ratio and epc.

Last edited by yougotdeals; 03-22-2005 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 03-22-2005, 06:48 PM   #15
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Even before selecting specific sponsors, be sure that you know what your site is about. And make it a fairly tight focus.

It may be good idea to split up your different areas of interest into separate sites. Articles on computer gear might seem like they could go onto the same site with aticles about car electronics, or kitchen gadgets, but I would suggest doing each category as a separate site. Likewise, mortgages and health insurance are both financial supjects, but I would keep them onto their own tightly-focused sites.

Never try to compete with wide-ranging big names like Yahoo, etc.

Also consider the amount of competition in certain categories (financial, music, etc), compared to some other, less competative topic. In the first case, you could be the "low man on the totem pole," but in the second case, your could be the "big fish in a small pond," which could potentially get a better financial bottom line.

('Scuse me, just experiencing a little cliche' attack there... Facing some nose-to-the-grindstone content-writing at the moment.)
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