Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend all of your time focusing on the exact thing you love to do, and get paid for it?
That’s affiliate marketing in a nut shell.
As a blogger or publisher you know your niche, and that’s why you love to write content about it. But who wants to get involved in figuring out how to monetize it when creating content consistently is time consuming as it is?
This is the beauty of affiliate marketing. It is a powerful way to increase sales, generate more leads, and optimize your current passion and skill set.
I have been involved in affiliate marketing for over a year now and it has drastically increased my business. For those curious how to become a master at affiliate marketing, here are my top 10 tips and resources I think are a must for getting massive results.
1. Affiliate Summit
Affiliate Summit is one of my top five conferences to attend. This is a great event for bloggers who have no idea about affiliate marketing because EVERYONE in the affiliate marketing world attends and you get a serious crash course look at the industry.
I attended my first Affiliate Summit in January of 2009 when I had no idea what the word “affiliate” even meant, let alone understand how to make money with affiliate marketing. However, the conference, networking, panels, break out sessions, and the parties are all amazing. Missy Ward and Shawn Collins know how to produce a great event, and the best of the best show up to be a part of it. Mark down future summits on your calender now as they sell out very fast!
I like things done easy. With affiliate marketing you have the concern of creating accounts with different affiliate networks, different companies who have affiliate programs, or individual products themselves. It can be time consuming, and can take you away from doing what you do best as a blogger… creating content.
Skimlinks is the greatest thing for bloggers since WordPress. It’s that sweet.
It creates a unique tracking code that goes on your site and turns every link you have into an affiliate link for you. In short, it basically sends you a check once a month for doing what you already do. Cool huh?
The co-founders, Alicia Navarro and Joe Stepniewski, are two sharp entrepreneurial friends of mine, and they are constantly looking for new ways to help bloggers and publishers earn more cash by creating content around what they love. To sign up and learn how to make extra money from Skimlinks go here. It’s free to sign up and takes about 2.7 seconds to create an account. If you like automation and getting paid for writing about your passion, then Skimlinks is perfect for you!
3. ClickBank and E-Junkie
1. Finding Products:
I use the search feature to find other products that my network would find interesting or useful for their business. In order to do well at affiliate marketing you have to have the right offer for your list/network. Make sure you search in the marketplace of Clickbank and EJunkie for key terms that relates to the needs of your list.
2. Hosting my own digital products:
At first, you may only want to write a blog post review for other products, (that’s when Skimlinks becomes so handy) but eventually you will want to create your own product. Usually bloggers start out with some type of digital ebook, video, or audio training course that teaches others how to do something better. I did this with my first ebook LinkedIn Master Strategies and hosted it both on Clickbank and Ejunkie.
3. Searching for affiliates:
Once you create a product you can’t just hope affiliates find it and start promoting it for you. It takes time to build relationships, and connect with others in your niche who have a large network that would be willing to promote for you. Search in these sites for other products related to your product, and start connecting with those individuals. Chances are they have a list already and may be willing to promote if you make the right offer.
My advice. Sign up for both ClickBank and Ejunkie and test them both out for yourself. ClickBank automates everything including paying out affiliates on time and handling refunds, it also pays you once a month. With Ejunkie you have to manually pay your affiliates but you get paid via paypal instantly when the sale goes through. Both are great so sign up for the one you most prefer ClickBank or Ejunkie.
ShareASale is an affiliate network providing pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-click programs for webmasters. For merchants it helps you increase sales and create a trusted sales force and for for affiliates it gives you real time reporting and pays you on time (all affiliates love getting paid on time and this can be a real issue for some).
I don’t use ShareASale much to be honest at the moment, but something I really enjoy about ShareASale is their team is run by great people. It’s a lot like the Skimlinks, and the Affiliate Summit team. All great people, therefore they have great customer support, great product, and they are fun in general to be around.
5. Affiliate Marketing Blog by Shawn Collins
Shawn Collins at Affiliate Summit has a great blog on affiliate marketing called Affiliate Tip. This is one of the best resources I’ve found on affiliate marketing for beginners and those who are long time members in the industry. Shawn has a number of articles and resources to help you understand the industry better, and how to maximize affiliate marketing for your business.
6. Third Tribe Marketing
If you have not heard of the Third Tribe yet then make sure you head over to the site and sign up today. It’s run by four stellar people: Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, and Sonia Simone (again, most of the resources listed are run by great people, and that’s one of the reasons their products are great).
This isn’t specifically a membership site for affiliate marketing. However, I’ve used it to get feedback and insights on landing pages, sales pages, product creation, and various marketing strategies. It has roughly 2,000 plus members who all think alike and want to help each other. It’s also a resource where you can find other affiliates in your niche to promote your products or find quality products from members to promote. At the moment it is $97 a month to join. It may seem little steep for some, but if you are proactive in the members forum you will make that back (and them some) each month you are a member. Check it out here if you want to learn more.
7. Email Marketing
At the moment I’m a big fan of iContact as my email marketing provider and have been using them for over a year. Some of my partners and affiliates like to use Aweber because of it’s deliverabilty. If you are a complete newbie and want to save money then start with Mailchimp as the first 500 emails you collect are free to mail to.
At some point you will want to start building an email list sending product offers to that list. Most affiliates will tell you that the money is in the list and that is the only thing that matters.
There are some affiliate marketers who don’t even create content, but they have huge email lists and can send one email and generate a year’s worth of income from it. It’s that powerful when you can build a target email list of potential buyers for your niche.
8. Flowtown and MailHint
Once you build your list, it’s good to know who is exactly on your list, where they live, how old they are, what social networking sites they spend time on, and other statistics that could help you ensure you promote the correct affiliate products to your list.
When all you have is emails, Flowtown can show you all the different social networks your customers are on including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace and more.
MailHint is site that I recently stumbled upon, but have not tested yet. However, it helps you figure out the average age, gender, and location of your newsletter subscribers and figure out what social networking sites they are on. It’s a simple piece of code you enter in your newsletters and it’s free.
9. Ebook Creation Tools
I remember when I created my first ebook and I had no idea how to do it. I did some research online, asked Chris Brogan how he created his, and went from there. After you do your first one, it gets a lot easier the second time around to the point where you could write and finish your ebook in a day.
If you ever want to start creating your own products so you can tap into the affiliates you have been promoting and ask them to promote you back, then here are the simple tools you will need to create your first ebook.
I like Mac’s version of Word, it’s called “Pages” for those that don’t know. It’s much nicer than Word because there are many templates, and I find it easier to create clean looking ebooks with it. You can see an example of my recent ebook with my free webinar marketing guide. The best part about pages is you can convert it into a PDF with one click and it’s ready to go in the format you want.
2. eCoverCreator 3D
Your ebook looks better when you are able to have a nice custom graphic with a 3D look. It gives the PDF more perceived value instead of a 2D image. However, it costs money for a designer to make something, and it can take time to get the graphics to look just the way you want it.
With eCoverCreator 3D you can create your own cover in about one minute or you can convert any 2D image into a 3D looking ebook. It’s so easy and I love using it! You can also make you images convert into DVD’s, hard back book, or a computer screen. Something I highly recommend if you want to create a clean looking ebook.
3. Popup Domination
If you launch your ebook and don’t have any affiliates on board but would like to make some sales then you will need to generate leads.
The best solution I have found is first generating quality content, but second creating an environment for people to give you their contact details. Really all you need is their email address to get things started. I recently tested a plugin called PopUp Domination and in the first two weeks I received nearly 1,400 new email addresses from one of my sites. I love it, and the creator and good friend Michael Dunlop, has been making money with affiliate marketing online now for nearly 10 years. Feel free to watch my video interview with Michael here or go right to the PopUp Domination page to pick it up for yourself and start seeing instant results.
Those are really the only three resources you need to create your first ebook as they are the only resources I currently use to create mine.
10. Affiliate WordPress Theme
In order to help give the products you create and the affiliate products you promote a fighting chance in the competitive space online, you need to have a great WordPress theme that is optimized to help your articles rank high and be affiliate marketing optimized.
Although I don’t use one theme for every site I own, I do use Thesis and Socrates and am liking them more and more.
The creator of Thesis is my good friend and brilliant programmer Chris Pearson. Chris is one of the smartest guys I know when it comes to understanding what Google wants when it comes to SEO, and he structured Thesis in a way to make it easy for us (the publishers) to focus on delivering content as opposed to figuring out SEO. That’s a big help to bloggers who want to do affiliate marketing because they can just focus on creating and selling products.
Socrates Theme is also a great new WordPress theme that friend Joel Comm created. Joel is an Internet marketing millionaire, NY Times best selling author, and creator of one of the best selling iPhone apps of all time with iFart. He knows how to make money with affiliate marketing, and Socrates allows you to create an Adsense and Clickbank monetized, SEO, niche WordPress blog in a few minutes. It is very simple to use if you are a beginner; a friend of mine who had never set up a blog before managed it in no time with Socrates.
Affiliate Marketing Next Steps
What should you do now?
I’ve added an awesome list of affiliate marketing tips and resources that of which I think is essential for getting started and growing what you already have as a blogger (note: a number of these links are affiliate links, so I will make a small cut if you decide to sign up through them). There is no doubt in my mind that you can generate more sales and income with your blog by using the resources in this post. I have been able to travel the world based off a few of the tips mentioned, and I know some who focus on affiliate marketing as their main business model.
I hope this provides a useful toolkit for you to get started in affiliate marketing whether you are a beginner unsure about what to do, or if you are an experienced affiliate marketer.
If you are a newbie, did you find the affiliate marketing tips helpful in this article? If so, which ones did you like the most? If you are already an advanced affiliate marketer, what suggestions would you add to this list to help others? Feel free to openly share your thoughts in your comments below and I look forward to chatting with you.