Clickbank or Amazon?

I get this question like crazy from my friends who learned to do affilaite marketing from me:

As an affiliate would you rather promote Amazon Kindle or Clickbank ebooks?

As a beginner with Amazon associate programs you get 4% commission on each sale, after the seventh sale you get 6% … even if you are making a ton of sales each month … still you get 8.5% commission. Given that each kindle book sells for an average of $10, that’s 40-85 cents per sale. Is it at all worth it?

To make the picture a little more clearer, we are comparing with Clickbank equivalent where you get on average 50% commission on stuff that sell for $40 on average. This is a whole different animal here.

Still the picture is not clear.

You also need to know that when people visit Amazon.com whatever they buy from the site you get commission on it. So if you send them to an ebook about cars and they end up buying a sweatshirt you still get the commission. Clickbank products, on the other hand, only give you commission if this particular item sells. If they buy something else even if it is another clickbank product you get nothing.

Another factor to consider is that Amazon is a trusted marketplace, while Clickbank products are individuals with different, and definitely inferior to Amazon.com in terms of reputation. This makes a difference in conversion rates within the 10-fold range. Amazon’s product pages are designed to convert, while this conversion ability of Clickbank products varies greatly from product to another, but never as good as Amazon’s.

Finally, there is another factor that makes a huge difference on your decision whether to promote an Amazon Kindle ebook or comparable item from Clickbank. It’s the availability of Amazon’s associate program in your country or state. Some states and some countries’ residents are not allowed to join Amazon’s associate program because of the kind of taxes and paper work required from Amazon every time they issue you a commission check.

I hope you can decide on your own now, but as a beginner and when possible I recommend that you start with Amazon. Little by little your commission checks will grow bigger. At the same time track and split test your conversions. I have some sites that make me way more money from Clickbank products than when I had only Amazon links on them. Eventually I removed Amazon links completely from those sites.

Other sites are only making me money from Amazon and the Clickbank product I was promoting on them never converted. It all comes down to testing.

 

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Affiliate Marketing 102 – Placement of Affiliate Links

Since you are going to be using free blogging service it’s important that you never directly link to an affiliate offer, especially with blogger. I had a blog deleted because I posted a direct link to an affiliate offer from PDC. It’s not a secret now that Google hates affiliates, so be careful.

So the first thing to do is to cloak your affiliate link. There are url shortening services that you can use, such as tinyurl.com and bit.ly. There are also some products on clickbank that offer cloaked urls that you can use directly.

So … no direct linking on blogger.

With that settled we can expand on strategic positions to place your affiliate link, and how to present it.

First of all the side bar is one place you must place your affiliate link, anchored by a picture of the product and/or text, above the fold. Above the fold is the part of the blog that shows for the visitor without having to scroll down.

Another strategic placement of the affiliate link in text is at the end of relevant posts, like the example we used to explain the pitch post in the last article.

Another placement that’s been less effective for me is within the post itself. For example, if your post is about a software that spies on other users you might want to link to the product with your cloaked affiliate link anchored to the text “spy on your spouse’s computer behavior”.

The first two positions are the best in terms of conversion, the last one never got me real money, so I don’t recommend it.

There is a different non-conventional placement, which is a full page ad that covers your website. It works, but there are two downsides:

1. The software is not free, if you can code it yourself go ahead, but if you can’t then you have to buy it.

2. You need tons of traffic to your site in order to split test different offers, weed out the losers and focus on the winners.

This type of advertising is tricky. From a research paper published by a team in University of Toronto last summer, the interruption aggressive advertising works best when the ad content are totally different from the website content, as opposed to the normal on site placement that should be relevant to the website content in order to be effective.

So .. go ahead, cloak your affiliate urls and post them on the side bar and after the relevant posts.

The rest of the series will focus on how to send free traffic to your free blog so that you start making some money.

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Affiliate Marketing 102: Blog Content 2: The Pitch

To get your readers to respond to your affiliate offers you need to ask them to do so. Trying to get your readers to buy or subscribe to your offer is called “pitching”. Example: “This offer is only available to you through this link and for a limited time only. Buy it today!”. Sounds like a pushy sales pitch, but it clearly demonstrates the pitching.

There are two types of pitching that you need to know as an affiliate: soft and hard pitching.

A hard pitch is like the example above. You are telling your readers that they have to buy the product or service that you are recommending through your link by generating urgency (limited time) and scarcity (only available through this link). It would be a lie of course if it’s not, but you can offer a complementing bonus and make it available to those who buy from your link only within a certain time frame.

In the hard pitch you are directing your readers to what you want them to do very bluntly.

In the soft pitch, on the other hand, you can use all psychological tricks like the urgency and scarcity but without pushing. Example: “This had been a problem that got me to stay up every night until I found this product and since then my life changed and my problem has been solved. You too can do the same, here is the link to get one like mine.”

So, you are not directly asking your readers to buy the product you are promoting. Instead you are giving them reasons to consider buying it on their own.

There is no rule to when to use a hard pitch and when to use a soft one, at least until the time of writing this article. So you have to test both and see which one will generate more sales.

So far your blog should have at least 5 articles each one is answering a question that your product provides an answer for. These articles provide the content that search engines are looking for. Link to each one of them from at least one article published on ezinearticles.com and/or squidoo lens.

By adding the pitch post (term courtesy: Amish Shah) you are giving your readers a reason to consider, and maybe buy your product. Now it’s time to link to this post and drive traffic to it.

Start with linking to this post from all of the other posts on your blog. Internal linking is very important, and it’s under your control. Do that first then start writing articles and building squidoo lenses and hubpages and link back to both the home page and the pitch post from each article you publish on other people’s sites.

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Affiliate Marketing 102: Affiliate Blog Content 1

After you build your blog you need to do two things:

1. Add content to your blog, and

2. Get your blog added to Google index.

So first we need to add some content to your blog. You only need one post to get your blog indexed easily, so let’s focus on that.

To avoid looking spammy you need to avoid linking to any affiliate offers you are promoting. Just provide free information about the subject that your offer is related to. For example, if you are promoting a dating offer write a few posts about dating and publish them on your blog.

Sounds easy? I hope so.

It’s better if you can write about 5 articles, each article should be answering one question that your readers might have in mind. To know what people need to know precisely go to Google external keyword tool and search for keywords or phrases that have been searched by people interested in your offer. To continue with the same example above search Google external keyword tool for dating, and to be more specific let’s consider that your offer is about single parents dating. You can start by an article about dating tips for single moms, another one for single dads, then a couple more dating advice articles for both, and maybe another one about building rapport between your kids and your date.

These are useful topics and are easy to rank for so that you start getting traffic from search engines. Now it’s time to get your blog indexed. There are two things to do so that you get indexed quickly.

1. Submit your RSS feed url to feed directories, and

2. Get a link from another website.

The RSS feed submission can be done by many services, one of them is feed shark. It submits feed and pings your blog to all available directories. You only need to provide two urls: your blog url and your RSS feed url. You get the RSS feed url by clicking on the orange icon that you see right now in the url field of your browser if you are using firefox.

To get backlinks to your blog simply leave a comment with your blog url in the “website” field on the top 10 blogs when you search Google for your keyword. Some blogs have the links set as “no follow” links. Those are not going to help in indexing. To avoid those you need to install a plug in for Firefox and Global Mojo called “do no follow”. The no follow links will show in purple color on your browser.

You can also write an article about your blog subject and link to your blog in the first paragraph. Publish this article on other blogs that allow you to write for them, like 3stepads.com.

If you do all of the above your blog could be indexed in a few hours. If not, be patient and continue adding content to your blog.

Please keep in mind that this free method for affiliate marketing is going to involve a lot of writing. So, if you don’t like writing you’d better get used to it :-). Just kidding. The kind of writing that I mean  here is like writing an email to someone about your topic. If you can write an email then you’re all set and ready to take off.

Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions. This is how I decide what topic to write about next.

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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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Affiliate Marketing 102: Building a Free Blog that Google Loves

After you decide what to build a blog around it’s time to actually build it. Without going into technical challenges, there is one easy way to do it: sing up for a free wordpress blog at wordpress.com. Your blog url will be something like this: http://yoursubdomain.wordpress.com. From within your account install “all in one SEO pack” plug in, fill in the blanks and it will do all the on site SEO for you.

To keep you in the know, the on-site SEO includes linking all the pages together so that each page is accessible from anywhere on your website with at least one link, and each page is anchor-linked to from all other pages at least once (if possible). Also, the all in one SEO pack plug in changes your urls to include the category, page, and subpage (you can do it manually by changing the permealinks). This structure is known as “silo structure”, which means that the url for each page should look like this: http://domain.com/category/page.html, or http://domain.com/category/subcategory/page.html.

Ok, I know it doesn’t make sense if you’re not familiar with it: here is a diagram for this silo structure:

If you are not familiar with wordpress.com here is a video on how to sign up for a free account.

And this is another video on how to set it up. The first part explains how to install it on on your server using fantastico. (There is a 25% off coupon for hostgator hosting and it’s good for any package, see the top right corner of this page).

And here is how to install All-in-One SEO Pack plugin:

This should keep you busy for a while. The next one will be about doing it with Googles Blogger.com. Stay tuned my friend.
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends.

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Affiliate Marketing 102: 100% Free Money for Affiliates

IMPORTANT: This is NOT a prelaunch for a product or anything. I am not selling my secrets for any price. So rest assured that I am not going to ask you to buy anything from me at any point. This method utilizes only free resources.

Throughout my websites I stress on one fact that makes a difference between making money and building a business on the Internet: Don’t settle for “free” stuff. Free web hosting, free traffic, and free autoresponders in particular are the biggest “No No”s for me.

With that out of the way, I know that it’s not an option for every one on the planet to pay for hosting and autoresponders or buy advertising. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s the lack of the method of payment as for most of those who live in African countries.

So, here is a simple plan for making money on the Internet building simple free blogs and monetizing them with affiliate links and contextual advertising while driving free traffic to these blogs.

First of all here are the outlines of the plan:

1. Finding a niche, so easy and simple that any kid in the third grade can do it.

2. Choosing the keywords to build the blog around.

3. Building the blog in a way that Google loves (so that we get the free Google traffic).

4. Building a list of the subscribers with a free autoresponder.

5. Driving tons of free traffic to your free blog.

6. Monetizing the blog with affiliate links and contextual advertising blocks.

Now that’s not going to be a killing technique that you’ve never heard about (probably) before, or something that will get you rich over the weekend. It’s a proven method to make some money using free tools available to everyone on the Internet, but this income could, and will, vary greatly from person to person and from time to time. There is also a risk that these free tools might change their rules in a way that makes it impossible for this method to work anymore. It is highly recommended that if you have the means to at least buy a domain name and host it on your own hosting (see the top right corner of this page for a good deal on hosting), please go ahead and do it.

With that disclaimer out of the way, we can start explaining the plan in details:

1 & 2. Finding Niches and Keywords:

Finding the niche, or the subject for your blog material, is where you’ll need to spend most of your time and energy before you start building your money making blog, because based on your results there will be a difference between making some good money and money little to no money at all.

It’s not that hard, and anyone can do it. Here are the steps:

  • Watch infomercials and take note of the products they are selling (don’t buy anything :-), you’re working now).
  • Make a list of the PROBLEMS that they solve, e.g. weight loss, back pain, osteoporosis, hearing troubles … etc. Then shortlist these problems to what you have some knowledge about or have passion for (building muscles for example).
  • Go to clickbank’s market place and find products that solve these or related problems. These products and their gravity indexes are indicators of the size of the market. The more products you find and the higher the gravity indexes the more competitive the market is. There is no rule for it. I had success selling products with less than 1 gravity index and failed miserably with products with gravity index above 300.

IMPORTANT: STAY AWAY FROM WEIGHT LOSS, YOU-KNOW-WHAT-ENLARGEMENT, WORK FROM HOME, OR ANY THING YOU SEE IN  YOUR EMAIL SPAM BOX.

Anything that your email provider filters out as a spam is also considered spam by most of the free blog service providers and the content sharing websites you’ll be using if you stick to this method.

  • Go to Google keyword tool and find a keyword related to your market that is not too specific and not too broad, and get’s like 2000-4000 local searches in the US. The too specific keyword will probably trigger spam bots, and the too broad ones will be too competitive for a free blog to rank in search engines for it.
  • Check the competition for this keyword by searching it on Google in quotes (like this: “keyword”) and see how many websites will show for it. This is the simplest way to do it. Also take note of the sponsored ads. No ads is not a good sign.

It’s not going to be a piece of cake. You’ll probably need to keep searching for keywords related to your niche of choice for a while until you find the suitable keyword.

That should keep you busy for a while. This is your homework. Find a niche and related keywords until the next post comes out.

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Affiliate Marketing 101: Direct Linking

Direct linking is to drive your traffic straight to the advertiser’s landing page. Years ago this was the only form of affiliate marketing, but with the increasing number of affiliate marketers and the fierce competition on buying the keywords that convert into sales/leads for the advertiser direct linking has become a thing from the past. Or has it?

One of the biggest names in affiliate marketing has been direct linking for the past 5 years. This guy makes millions of dollars every year from affiliate marketing, all without bothering himself with building websites.

This super affiliate also uses buffer websites when he needs to, like when buying traffic from Google Adwords. And he’s been happy with his results, until he met with another dynamic affiliate marketer who kept trying to convince him to build lead capture pages, lists, and relationship with his potential buyers.

Now it’s becoming confusing, let’s refer to the direct linker with G. and for the relationship builder with R.

G. resisted R.’s suggestion for a while on the basis of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, and that whenever a loop is involved the conversion drops. A year later he tried it in one of the niches and to his surprise, in the matter of a few months he’s built a list that makes him $400 every time he sends out an email. Given the nature of this niche, $400/email promoting CPA lead generation offers, that’s pretty good.

It’s true that any looping or buffering drops the conversion in most cases (unless you’re a good copywriter). But that’s only on the front end. By building a list and building a positive relationship with your subscribers you are building an “on-demand cash machine”.

G. and R. are not fictional, they are affiliate marketing millionaires who I learned from over the past 3 years.

Now let’s talk about you for a while. Should YOU be direct linking?

The answer is: absolutely. Let’s think strategically for a minute:

If you are just starting, or say, if I am going to restart in affiliate marketing here is what I would do: I would pick some offers in different niches and build direct linking campaigns on Yahoo. The advantage of using Yahoo PPC traffic is that it’s not that expensive, and Yahoo doesn’t penalize me for direct linking like Google. The offers that start converting are probably in good niches. I would then start testing other offers in the same niche also by direct linking. If they keep converting then I am in a lucrative market.

From my PPC conversion tracking I would know what keywords are converting into buyers and I start building a website around those keywords. This will serve two purposes:

  1. Focused SEO efforts so that I start generating converting traffic from organic search results for free, and
  2. Get higher quality score on Google Adwords when I buy traffic to this site.

Then I would continue testing new keywords and offers to optimize this campaign while testing other niches the same way I did with the first one.

So direct linking is not dead. It works, and if not profitable at least you get data to build a profitable campaign around.

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Affiliate Marketing 101: ClickBank Gravity: High Or Low?

In the last post I wrote about how to promote just any product starting with the product itself. The example I took was GDI because it was the most common question I received. Although GDI is not dead, and still people are able to get new sign ups. it is not an attractive affiliate program anymore. In fact, I don’t see it going anywhere better unless they consider enhancing their product.

Today’s post is about promoting clickbank products starting from the product. There are several factors involved in evaluating the product before you start promoting it. In this post I’ll focus on the gravity index because the debate about it is very controversial.

First, what is ClickBank Gravity Index

Gravity: Number of distinct affiliates who earned a commission by referring a paying customer to the vendor’s products. This is a weighted sum and not an actual total. For each affiliate paid in the last 8 weeks we add an amount between 0.1 and 1.0 to the total. The more recent the last referral, the higher the value added.

That’s the definition given by clickbank itself. As you see it can be taken as an indicator of the sell-ability of any product, and also as an indicator of the competition. The higher the number the bigger the competition.

So, for a product with a gravity index of 400 you are competing with between 400 and 4000 other competitor, while for a gravity of 40 you are competing between 40 and 400 other affiliates.

When I first started I listened to a guest in one of Mike Filsaime’s workshops who was talking about competition and how one can see it like a big wave, if you stand in the way you’ll definitely get wet. So are niches with high competition. If you promote products in this niche you’ll definitely make some money. But he ignored the Return On Investment. You could make money in competitive niches, but if your ROI is negative the net result is losing money.

How I see competitive niches is totally different. I see it as a race in a funnel. With a certain number of racers they can move freely and pass one another without being hurt or damaged. The higher the number the harder it is for new racers to get through to the front line without being hurt or even completely destroyed.

So, to pick a niche (not a product) from clickbank I do the following:

  1. When I consider a niche I calculate the sum of gravity indexes of all of the products in that niche. If too high I go for subniches unitl I find a sum of gravity indexes below 100.
  2. The next step is test the competition. I check for adwords ads for those or similar products. If I find between 3-10 ads I pick that subniche.
  3. Keyword research comes next. If the first position for the most relevant keyword costs $1 or less per click I start a direct link test campaign. If it converts I scale it up with more keywords and ad copies, and go for building the three types of websites for it: the blog, the review site, and the lead capture page. If not I pause it for now and test something else.

And because this is what I do for living, I do it every day. Every single day I start a new campaign as described above.

That’s it for today, have a good day.

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Affiliate Marketing 101: How To Promote Just Any Product

Here is the post you´ve all been waiting for. I actually felt bad that I put it off so long that you guys started to remind me. I do apologize, and here goes.

Most of the time people get introduced to affiliate marketing by a product that they are told will make them a lot of money if they make just one sale a day! That goes to any affiliate product, and is particularly true in case of network marketing (where you are stuck with the product/company and you can only promote this thing that they have).

You are still going to do the market research because you need to find people who are interested in your product, where they hang out, and what do they search for. When you know this you´ll be able to target those people and increase your chances of making sales/sign ups (i.e.: conversion)

Here is how to do promote any product

1. If you don´t have the product it´s time to have it. Sometimes you can get a free copy/sample as an affiliate. Ask for it, if not … then buy it. A flexible refund policy is a good sign. It means they are confident about their product.

2. Ask yourself: Who might need this product? I´ll explain with an example, which is GDI (because most of the questions I get are ¨how to promote GDI¨). GDI provides domain registration and hosting (as a product) and a residual source of income (as a benefit).

Who might be interested in GDI´s domain registration and hosting?

First off, GDI hosting is one of the poorest in the industry. So you are not going to promote GDI to webmasters because GDI is out of the competition. Your target should be beginners who don´t know what is FTP, who in the world is HTML, or Fantas..who? As long as they only need an easy to build personal website, then they are a target.

Your target will be the group of people who are interested in building a website on their own domain, have their private email address on their own domain, and will definitely need a website builder in the hosting package.

Is this even a market? Let´s have a look.

Google keyword tool will tell us how many people are searching for terms that indicate they are beginners when it comes to virtual real estate (websites and alike).

keywrod research

That´s 74,000 searches every month for ¨how to build a website¨. Do you think you have a market? You bet you do.

So … here is your target audience. They search Google for ¨how to build a website¨. If you can explain to them how to build a website using GDI´s website builder (tutorials, pictures, and videos) you have a chance to get sign ups. Even better, you can pitch them to buy a one year of hosting because it´s cheaper than paying on a month-by-month basis.

You can also pitch them on the income opportunity, like this: ¨refer 10 people and your hosting is free¨.

The other direction is to approach people who are interested in the income opportunity. Definitely you need to stay away from affiliate marketers because GDI is a very weak offer for us. But for beginners it is the perfect income opportunity because it is very cheap compared to other network marketing ¨opportunities¨.

So .. your target is people who are looking for a cheap online business opportunity. Do you have a market? Let´s ask Google one more time.

keyword-research

2400 people world wide search for cheap online business each month. Do you have a market? I don´t think so. Not a big one at best.

So how to promote the income side of GDI?

Here are two suggestions:

1. Focus on the hosting side and pitch your subscribers into reffering others to reduce their hosting cost (or even get it for free). You´ll need to show them how from scratch because this audience have no idea how to promote anything.

2. Attract other network marketers who are still doing it offline. Introduce the power of Internet marketing and the importance of having a website for capturing fresh leads for their business. Then pitch them on GDI as a hosting company with a network marketing opportunity in place.

Even better, give them a solution, like a lead capture system (including the files to load to their hosting, the autoresponder, some email follow ups) and give it for free if they join your GDI business.

These are just suggestions to get your own marketing mindset started.

So to wrap up: find out who might need your product/service, and make it appeal to them.

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