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Affilaite Marketing

Affiliate Marketing 102: Building a Free Blogger Blog for Affiliate Marketing

Another free blogging service, which is easy to rank in search engines if you do it right, is Google’s own blogger.com. The reason it’s easy to rank is that Google gives blogger.com so much authority (I don’t really know why) that I’ve seen some blogger blogs ranking in the top 5 with less than 60 inbound links as compared to thousands required by the rest of the top 10 websites for the same keyword.

Setting up a blogger blog is easy, and here is how to do it:

  1. First of all you need a Google account. Even if you already have one, get yourself a new one dedicated to this purpose.
  2. The next step is to go to blogger.com and log in with your new credentials.
  3. Follow the steps outlined in the following video. You can change everything later if you are not happy with them, but try to get your target long-tail keyword in the url and the title.
  4. Manage your blog using draft.blogger.com. This way you’ll have better options in designing your blog.
  5. Click on the “settings” tab and write a description for your blog that includes your long tail url and at the same sounds like a call to action. Example: “Muscles 101 is dedicated to educate young men on how to build strong and spectacular muscles”. Keep it within 160 characters. Don’t change anything else and save your settings.
  6. Start blogging about your subject. Don’t include any affiliate links yet, not until your blog is indexed and you build some link juice.

In the following posts I’ll show you how to get your blog indexed quickly and how to build inbound links to your blog.

As usual I want to remind you of two things:

1. Free blogs, specially blogger, are not the best option. If you can afford your own domain and hosting do it and don’t leave a ton of money on the table to blogger.com. Besides blogger.com deletes blogs randomly as a spam counteract, and if your blog’s main purpose is affiliate marketing there is no way you can get it again, I assure you.

2. If you want to help keep this series going in the right direction please leave your comments below and share this post with your friends who might be interested. Your and your friends comments will help decide how this series will flow.

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Affilaite Marketing

Affiliate Marketing 101: Affiliate Marketing Tools

In the past post I wrote about different types of affiliate sites and how I use all three of them to maximize my earnings from affiliate marketing. In this post I will write about the tools I use and why I picked them up from the growing pile of service providers.

This post might sound like pitching you to buy these tools. Although I will make money when you take my recommendation and buy from my affiliate links, but it´s not what this post is all about. It´s about you and how to start your affiliate marketing business on a solid foundation. Any mistake at the beginning might cost you a lot of unnecessary expenses or lost potential commission on the long run,

So … let´s start.

To have all three of the affiliate sites (a blog, a lead capture page, and a review site) you will need a web hosting that supports MySQL and php (GDI does not work). You will need those for Word Press or Joomla to manage your website/blog content, and for managing your list using your own autoresponder or membership script.

If you are going to use only the list building and review sites and a third party autoresponder you can use your GDI hosting for it.

In addition to the hosting you will need the scripts that will run on it (the autoresponder or membership script and the content management program(s)), some images, and a tracking software.

Hosting

Hosting could be the worst nightmare in the life of an affiliate marketer. Imagine waking up one day to find that the campaign that is making you thousands in commission every day is unplugged because the server was down. (Don´t ask how I knew this :-()

And there is no way you can be in full control over your hosting unless you are your own host. But there is one thing I learned from hosting companies: never put all of your eggs in one basket.

How is that?

You can organize your campaigns in two different fashions:

1. Have all of the blogs on one server, the lead capturing/list management on another server, and your review site on a third server. This way if one of them is down, you have at least two thirds of your money making campaign running until you fix this one.

This should not be as costly as it sounds. You can have your lead capturing/list management systems on a paid hosting, the blogs on blogger.com, and review lenses on squidoo.com.

As a beginner, I recommend you do it this way. You´ll only pay for one hosting package, and benefit from the organic traffic you´ll get from structuring your blogger and squidoo correctly (Ledbetter, 2009). Once you are making enough money, don´t wait a second … just buy a couple more hosting accounts from two different companies and transfer your blogs and review contents to them.

2. For each campaign have a dedicated hosting account for the blog, lead capturing/list management system, and the review all on the same domain. In addition to three well ranking blogs on three different servers linking to your main campaign domain.

This structure will give you more credibility of having the membership site, the review site, and the blog for updating your members/readers with news (and new offers) under the same domain, and having blogs on other servers will give you more organic traffic and less cost per click if you are running an Adwords campaign.

You still can get back links from blogger.com blogs and squidoo lenses for more free organic traffic and as a back up plan for this particular campaign if the server goes down for a while.

One campaign per hosting is just a way to avoid unplugging all of your money machines if your server goes down.

You´ll obviously go for this option only when you have a winning campaign that is making you a lot of money.

Recommended Hosting

The best among all web hosting companies at the moment of writing this post is Hostgator because they have one of the best packages for the best price and it’s easy to use.

List Management

For managing your list you´ll need an autoresponder. I am not going to pitch you to buy any third party autoresponders like Aweber or iContact. Although as an affiliate I get recurring commission as long as you have the service if you buy through my affiliate link, but I know it is not the best for your business.

Your best bet on managing your own list is installing your own autoresponder script on your own server. You pay for it once and you have it for life (well … kinda).

Imagine that you have a winning campaign and that your list is growing fast. With most third party autoresponders you pay monthly according to the size of your list. The only exception is trafficwave.com (no I am not an affiliate :-)), and you still are going to pay $20 every month.

Although it could be a side stream of income if you refer to it, still, you can eliminate all of the monthly autoresopnder expenses if you buy the script and install it on your server. There are free ones, but don´t build a business on any thing you didn´t pay for. With your payment comes a guarantee, technical support, and a seller willing to keep you satisfied in order to buy more stuff ;-).

Alternatively, you can go to freelancer.com and post your project. Coders will submit a proposal to make for you and you can pick the lowest cost among a group of the best freelance coders around.

My favorite method of managing a list is a membership script that includes a built-in autoresponder.

If you are one of the lucky ones who responded to my promotion for Mike Filsaime´s Butterfly Marketing, then you have the membership script with a similar autoresponder to that used by aweber for just the shipping and handling fee. That was a limited time offer and long gone, so .. I am pitching you on it. If you want it today you´ll have to pay $797 for the downloadable version, or $1997 for the DVDs + shipping and handling.

The second best is Frank Salina´s EZMembership script. It costs a one time $497 $77 and you´ll get updates for life. It´s like a simple, fully functional version of Buttyfly Marketing but for just a tiny fraction of the price. $77 is less than 4 months of autoresponder´s fee and you have shopping carts, one time offer scripts, and upsell and downsell sciprts as a bonus.

In addition, if you are going to expand on your winning campaign by having upgraded membership levels within the members area. This is the main purpose of doing affiliate marketing.. finding a market you can expand on and dominate with your own product/service.

I can´t make any guarantees, but these tools are by far the best in the market.

That´s it for today. The next posts are going to be more interesting. You still need track your advertising effectively.

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Affilaite Marketing

Affiliate Marketing 101: Your Affiliate site

In the last post I wrote about the catalyst, which (in plain English) is your effort to get the market to buy your affiliate product. And I hope we agree on that the best way to convince your audience to buy your affiliate product is to pre-sell them on your site.

Today I’ll go through some of the affiliate site types and how to chose the type that fits with your market.

There are 3 main types of affiliate sites:

  • blogs
  • lead capture pages, and
  • review sites

Blogs

Blogs can be your best shot if you are selling a product that needs a social proof, such as hair regrowth, acne treatment, muscle building, weight loss, and teeth whitening products. The right way to do it is to buy the product, take a picture of yourself before you use it, and on intervals after that.

It sounds like a lengthy process, and the market might get saturated, or at least you lose your first-striker advantage by the time your are done. But blogs that are done this way convert way better than any other form of affiliate sites.

Some affiliates fake blogs and pictures in order to jump on the opportunity while it is still hot. But guess what, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has changed its rules specially for those fake bloggers. There is a term for this kind of blogs: Flogs.

You want to make money, not to get in trouble with the feds. Even if you don’t live in the US, the law still applies to you if you are selling anything in the US (which is the biggest market available so far).

Lead Capture Pages

This kind of affiliate sites is the best when it comes to niches like working from home, but it also works really well in any other niche. The idea is to prepare a report, a small software, or an ebook, either by yourself or by having it done for you (rent a freelancer, buy PLRs, or MRRs). Then build a landing page that offers this gift for free and ask for name and email that you’ll send the gift to. This could be as simple as one page with an autoresponder form on it (and definitely with all the other business pages: about, contact, terms and conditions, and privacy policy). After your deliver your gift follow up with useful information and recommendations (which will be your affiliate products).

And it could be as complicated as a membership site. Before you jump to a conclusion, running a membership site is way easier and much more secure than the simple lead capture page example. From within the membership site you’ll have your own autoresponder, your own real estate which you’ll be bringing visitors to it on demand, and you’ll have the control over all of your tools (except for the server if you are hosting on a third party’s server).

Building a list could be a source of income itself through one time offers and special offers that you’ll be able to provide for your list within the membership area. MRRs work perfectly well with this model, and you’ll be able to segregate your list into buyers and potential buyers.

Review Sites

Review sites are the most common examples of affiliate sites in niches like PC error repairs (registry cleaners, pc enhancers, anti spyware and viruses) and relationships (dating, relationship advice ..). The review sites provide the reader with a chance to compare available products, which is a buyer’s typical behavior. This way, if you are going to buy traffic to your site you know that your visitors are ready with their credit card in hand.

You can also combine Review Sites with Lead Capture forms to maximize your potential earnings per visitor.

My Personal Favorite

My personal favorite way to promote a product is to start with the lead capture page, a review site, and the blog at the same time. The lead capture page will be my source of leads and income in this niche in the early stages, and the blog will be gradually building credibility, especially that I post on blogs as diaries (like, day1, day2 ..etc). The capture leads will be directed to the review site where they can compare products if they are interested in buying right now. Then I would drag traffic directly to the review site, on which there is a lead capture form, either in a static form or as an exit pop up. This kind of traffic is expensive and I’d better make sure my review page converts well before I buy this traffic.

While I am reviewing the product on a day to day basis for my blog (or having it reviewed for me) I’ll be getting it indexed, posting every day and having back-links built for it. By the time it has built credibility it will be getting organic traffic from back-links and search results.

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Affilaite Marketing

Affiliate Marketing 101: Catalysts

Now that you have a product and a market you need to bring the product to the market. And to bring the product to the market you need a catalyst (as in chemistry) that brings the two together on a medium that facilitates the reaction (in our case the reaction is the purchase or subscription).

The catalyst for the affiliate marketer could be as simple as a direct advertisement, or as complicated as a niche site, and each market-product combination has its own optimum catalyst.

Your job as an affiliate marketer is to find out which catalyst, or let´s call it ¨platform¨ from now on, that fits with your audience. Then adapt your promotion method to fit with this platform. You should have already got this piece of information from the market research step.

For example: if your audience trusts forums, your job is to modify your promotion method to fit with forums. That could be simply a banner at the top of that forum (buying banners is usually referred to as ¨media buy¨) linking directly to your affiliate link.

If your audience needs more pre-selling (persuasion), then your job is to be the star of these forums at this subject. It will take you a bit of effort to learn all about the subject, and you´ll need to have the best answer to every question asked on these forums. But this is a business. You have already done that in the school by doing assignments about subjects you´d never heard of at that time. Consider this as one of those assignments, but you´ll be rewarded in cash instead of marks.

Let´s take a live example:

One of the niches that have been making me money is the online business niche. Within this niche there are sub-niches, and you can divide the market into several sectors, such as: newbies, not-too-newbie, drop out, advanced: needs traffic, advanced: needs hosting, advanced: needs a membership management script, advanced: wants to stay up to date … etc. Even these sectors can each be divided into smaller categories, like MLMers, MLM drop outs, affiliate marketers, direct sellers (on auction), store owners .. etc.

If you have a guide that explains the basics of generating more targeted free traffic, your target should be [advanced: needs traffic]. If you are building a list with this guide then you can sell to this list in the future more advanced traffic generation techniques, alternative sources to buy traffic from, keyword tools, and keep advancing with them. Parallel to this line, you know that they need services such as web hosting and autoresponders. Your job is to keep an eye on the best offers from these service providers and keep your list updated.

Now let´s dissect this example:

Your audience is allover the internet, but there are authority sites that rank at the top of search engine results for the term ¨online business¨ and, therefore, are more trusted than other sites.

Some of these sites are interactive, and you can post comments or articles related to the content of these sites. Examples are forums, blogs, and article directories.

Your product serves one sector of this community: people who already have an online business and need more traffic to their sites.

You need those people to see your offer. And to do this you buy advertising space on these authority sites, post useful information about the issue and link to your ¨site¨ in your signature, or just get a back-link to your ¨site¨ from these authority sites to increase your chances of ranking higher on search engine organic results.

Your ¨site¨ could be the direct affiliate link, but this is not a good idea. Your traffic will see your offer once then you lose them. Besides, back-linking to your affiliate link only helps the owner of the product, and doesn´t help you at all.

Above all, as in the example above, I need to build a list of those people and build a relationship with them so that they buy from me in the future.

So .. you´ll need a ¨buffer¨ website. (I keep using chemistry related terms today … :-).

This buffer website could be a blog full of free useful information and pre-selling your affiliate product, or a review site/blog that provides useful information about a group of products and an honest evaluation.

And to make sure you make the most out of your visitors you´ll need to ad an opt in form that you can get from your favorite autoresponder. Just paste it on your site and offer a free gift for everyone who fills it.

Why it is important to have your own site/blog?

First of all you are building a traffic history for the site you are advertising, why not benefit from this effort on the long run?

Second, some offers convert very well at the beginning then they stop converting. The traffic is going to the site that you control, if the offer is not converting change it with something else. You already have a list of products that you can sell from the product research step.

Third, you can build your own list. This is one of the biggest assets in your affiliate marketing business. Some markets respond after being exposed to your offer many times, sometimes 4 weeks after they first come across your site. Your chances of selling to them increase with following up with them with different pitches.

That´s if for today. The next posts will cover advertising resources.

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