All those who want to increase your affiliate commissions, please raise your hands!
With the kind of traffic that most SBI! sites enjoy, it’s surprising that most people make much less than what they could be making. While I have talked about product creation and product + affiliates as a traffic strategy in previous posts, I shall be talking about how to increase your income as an affiliate in this post.
First of all, I hope you have the basics covered.
- Unless you have no other options, you must use the best converting affiliate merchants. Drop the ones that don’t convert well.
- Get really good at preselling.
- Don’t put too many things on a single page – Adsense, lots of affiliate links, banners, etc. I will talk about the concept of MWR (Most Wanted Response) in a later post very soon. If I forget about it, please remind me.
Now, let’s begin, shall we?
Sell the click, not the offer
Assuming you have got the basics right and only use the affiliate merchant that converts well, it makes sense to send as much traffic as possible to the affiliate.
Suppose the merchant converts at 5%. If you send 100 people to their page, you make 5 sales. But if you send 500 people to their page, you make 25 sales. See? The more people you send to their page, the more money you make.
Everybody knows this instinctively, but where most people goof up is when they try to sell the actual offer (product, service, whatever else the merchant is selling) to the visitors. They try to convince that the product in question is the best thing since sliced bread, and so on. And invariably, they fail.
Because see, we are not salespeople. We can’t write slick sales copy that can convince an Eskimo to buy some ice from us. It’s best to leave this job to the professionals. Our job is to simply create an open to buy mindset in them.
Remember the concept of MWR? Most people don’t really understand it.
Quick question: What is your MWR on a page that promotes a product you are affiliated with?
a) Get them to buy the product b) Get them to click on your affiliate link.
If you answered b), congratulations. If you answered a), you need to brush up on the basics again.
Look, no matter how hard the visitors try, and no matter how much they want to, they CANNOT buy the product from your page.
Because you are an affiliate. You are NOT the merchant selling the product.
The merchant’s MWR from the visitor is to get them to buy the product. YOUR MWR is to get them to click on your affiliate link.
Then why do so many people try to get the people to buy the product?
Focus on the right thing (trying to get people to click on your affiliate link), and you will definitely increase your affiliate commissions.
If they can’t LICK it, they can’t CLICK it
The ability to lick something on the screen implies that it’s visible, to say the least. Not to mention that someone must be sick in their mind if they actually go and lick something on their monitor. Yuck!
What I meant was, if they can’t see it, they can’t click it. Agreed?
And your job is to get as many of them to click your affiliate link as possible. Remember?
See, it’s not like visitors to our pages are hunting for our affiliate links. What they ARE hunting for, is the solution to whatever problem they have, or the product they want, or the information they want, and so on.
So in order to make them click on our affiliate links, we must make sure they can SEE the damn link in the first place.
Now, those who read your entire article will probably see the link as they scroll down, but what about the people who just hit the back button as soon as they arrive?
Here are a few things you can do that will help:
- Put the affiliate link up top, right next to the place where you are used to putting your 250×250 Adsense ad. If it means getting rid of your Adsense ad, do it (read: test it).
- Put the affiliate link in a colored box (div or table, whichever suits you) with a border around it. Give it a neutral sounding headline such as “Recommended resources” or something. If you really feel the product/service you are recommending is a good one, feel free to slip in your endorsement too. Keep it short, though. People should be able to read your main article without feeling pitched. For more information on how to create colored boxes, you can refer to the FAQ thread in the HTML/CSS forum in the SBI! Forums.
A good “Call To Action” makes a world of difference
So how do you ask them to check out the product you recommend as the affiliate?
Do you even ask them, or do you just shyly slip in a link, hoping they don’t notice the link and don’t get cross with you if they do notice you actually linked to a third party product?
Listen. You are my friend, so let me get straight with you.
You are doing your readers a SERVICE by getting them in touch with people who can provide solutions to their problems, or products that would make their lives better and happier.
Similarly, it’s NOT a wrong thing to get paid for consulting. When you recommend a solution to someone, guess what? You are playing the role of a consultant. And I am sure you know how consultants charge big sums. And in this case you are not even making your “client” pay the bill. It’s the affiliate MERCHANT who is going to foot the bill, which is a very small one anyway.
So please stop being shy and apologetic about your affiliate links. You are doing everyone a great service – your visitors, your affiliate merchants, yourself, and your family.
So with that out of the way, how should you ask your visitors to click on your affiliate links?
There are several ways, and their effectiveness depends on your preselling, context, your audience, the type of product, and several other factors. With time, you will develop a feel for it, but here are a couple to get you started:
- The standard “Click here…” link. This is VERY powerful if used sparingly. Tests have revealed that the “Click here…” type of links get more clicks than the normal “keyword loaded” links. For best results, at most two links on your whole page (including navigation links) should be “Click here…” links.
- Let them know in advance that you are going to mention a product. Then mention the product (unless you don’t want to reveal the name of the product before you link to it, to prevent them from leaving the page before they click on your affiliate link). Then tell them you are going to link to the product. And then finally link to the product. By the time they get to the link, they should be anticipating it and actually looking for it. (Don’t actually go and tell them, “Hey, I’m about to link to the product.” Be subtle about it. Of course, you know that. But I still included it for others.)
A whole new post can be written about the topic of calls to action, but the above two should get you started and give you very good results.
And do keep testing stuff and moving them around to find out what works best for YOUR site.
If someone is already going to buy, grab their cookie
Here’s what I mean.
Sometimes people research a product before purchasing it. Maybe they read about it elsewhere, or on your competitor’s site, or on the merchant’s site itself. Whatever.
The point is that they are researching to make sure if there are any negative reviews about the product before they make the big leap.
That, my friend, is a big opportunity right there for you. Wield the power of SBI!
Create a Tier 2 page called “Recommended products” or whatever. Then create a Tier 3 page for each product you recommend on your site. It doesn’t matter if you already recommend it on some other T2/T3 page. Create a separate page for it as well. And go about it with the name of the product as the keyword.
So for example, if the product was “CompanyName WidgetName ModelName” your primary keyword for the page would be “companyname widgetname modelname” and the page name would obviously be companyname-widgetname-modelname.html.
It doesn’t matter what the Brainstormer says about the demand/supply/profitability of this keyword. You are not trying to get a lot of traffic for this particular keyword. All you want to do is to win the people who are searching for it, no matter how small in number they may be, because these are the people who are READY TO BUY.
And on this page, just put some basic information about the product, like price, a short description, etc. Put in some actual user feedback as well. You can get people’s comments on forums. You can use this material on your page, but be careful not to use the whole feedback/comment, or you may be in copyright violation. Just use a sentence or two at the most. Also include a comment that describes something negative, but is really a minor issue.
Important: Be sure to put the affiliate link at the top of this page. This is one page where you can’t afford to hide your affiliate link or require your readers to scroll down till they see your affiliate link. Remember, they are not hunting for your affiliate link, they are trying to find out whether or not they should buy that product.
They already want to buy the product. So you don’t need to do ANY preselling here. In fact, preselling could kill the sale. All your page needs to do is let them justify in their mind that what they want is the right thing to do, and nudge them in the direction of buying. And when they do decide to buy, they will just click on your link, and be on their merry way.
I have made more money using this strategy than anything else, so be sure to give it a careful read, multiple times if necessary. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.
Read the Affiliate Masters Course
The Affiliates Masters Course, as you know, is the Bible of affiliate marketing. It’s what first exposed me to the world of possibilities in internet marketing, and got me started. Before I read it, I was making money selling a little software tool that I had created, but was only moderately successful. And by the way, whatever income I had then was all thanks to the affiliates I had, which is why I keep recommending to have your own product.
Anyway, the Affiliates Masters Course is a free e-book as you already know, and is a must read if you want to increase your affiliate commissions. You can download it from Site Central after logging in to your SBI! account, or you can download it here:
That’s it then. Have fun, and hope you enjoyed this post. Do let me know in the comments below.
I was going to release the contents of this post as a paid report. But since I love my fellow SBIers (mmuuaaaahhhhhh muuuaaaaaahhhhh), I am going to just post all the preselling strategies I know here. Be sure to read it ALL. This is some good stuff, even if I say so myself.
The basics first – What is Preselling and why do you need it?
First, you don’t just need to presell when you are promoting products as an affiliate. You also need to presell when you are selling your own products, if you want great results.
In short, whenever something gets sold, whether by a merchant, or you as the product seller yourself, preselling will greatly enhance the results.
And the buyer will end up feeling much happier about the purchase as well. As a result, there will be fewer refunds as well as a higher number of repeat purchases. Win-win all around!
As SBIers, we all know what preselling is. But if you need a refresher…
Here’s a quote from my website-squad.com site that explains it better:
When visitors first arrive at a website, the site is like a stranger to them. It’s the job of the website to turn itself from a stranger into a friend in the eyes of the people that visit it. Because these people are going to buy from a friend, not from a stranger. They will follow the recommendations of a friend, and an expert, not someone who is trying to push stuff down their throats.
Pre-selling is how you make your visitors like you. Pre-selling is how you establish yourself as an expert in the eyes of your visitors. Pre-selling is why they think you are their friend, not a salesperson. Pre-selling is why you will ultimately be able to sell successfully.
Put very simply, it’s everything that you do to create an open-to-buy mindset in the minds of people. Things that you do before the selling even begins. Things that happen before your visitors are even aware that they are going to buy something from your site.
Only after you create an open to buy mindset, can you make your visitors buy anything. And what do I mean when I say “open to buy?”
An open to buy mindset is when a person is willing to consider buying something from you. Not necessarily this product or that service, but something. When the guards are down. When the resistance to a sales effort is at its minimum. When they have started trusting you because of your obvious expertise.
Hopefully that gives you some idea about preselling and what it is. It will get clearer as you read more.
But so far you have read nothing new. So let’s change that, and tell you some of the ninja stuff. How to use different preselling techniques depending on your niche, the product you are going to presell, your audience, and so on.
The right technique when used properly will greatly enhance the amount of money you make. Feel free to mix, match and adapt as you feel appropriate.
Preselling technique #1 – Establish yourself as the expert
This is one we all know about. When your site visitors think of you as the expert on the topic you talk about, they will follow your recommendations. You are saving them the time to do the research themselves, because you have already done it for them, and because of your obvious expertise, can make better judgements about what is best for them.
Use this form of preselling for things that are directly related to your site’s topic. For example, if your site is about fishing, you can recommend fishing equipment. If your site is about food or recipes, you can recommend utensils, cooking equipment, and so on (it’s a waste to recommend recipe books on food/recipe sites, IMHO – but do recommend recipe books when your site is NOT about recipes… read below to learn when).
Preselling technique #2 – Create desire/intrigue in their minds
When you create a desire for a video camera in their mind, for example, they will just buy the one you link to. It doesn’t matter which brand you recommend. Because right at this moment, they are not looking for a Canon, or Nikon, or whatever. They just want something that can capture those special moments with their growing kids.
Use this preselling technique to recommend stuff that is not directly related to your site’s topic, but one that they will enjoy, or find useful. For example, you could recommend a camera on a parenting site for new parents. Or a recipe book on a site about pregnancy (what to eat during those nine months that is nutritious AND tasty).
Preselling technique #3 – Be in the same boat as your visitors
Reena: Damn, I hate this pimple on my nose. How do I get rid of it?
Teena: I don’t know man, but Leena had that once, and she used Cream Poo Poo from the Shame Poo company and it seemed to work for her. You can try that if you want.
Reena: Gotcha, dude.
(OK, so I don’t know how to talk like a girl. Sue me, I’m a guy! )
Anyway, you can use this form of preselling when you are not actually an expert on something (or don’t want to portray yourself as an expert), but have still picked up some real life experience on the subject – either your own experiences, or others.
Preselling technique #4 – teach them how to do something
This is a very effective thing to do, wherever it can be done. Basically, you teach them how to accomplish a task, and not how to use a particular tool or get the most out of a book, etc. After you have taught them how to do the task manually, you can mention a neat tool that can automate much of the job and can make their life easier.
If you have ever read the Affiliates Masters Course ebook, you have witnessed this superb strategy in action.
Use this technique to presell products that are directly related to your niche, and where you have a lot of experience. In particular, use it for things that solve the problems your visitors have to struggle with consistently.
Preselling technique #5 – Teach them how to use it
This is another variation of teaching to presell. If the product or tool you recommend is complicated or hard to use, you can teach your visitors how to use it.
Use this form or preselling when your visitors already know about the product either because you have told them, or because they read about it elsewhere.
Preselling technique #6 – Point out a couple of minor flaws in the product
No product is perfect. There are always places for improvement, or minor shortcomings, even in the best of breed products.
Most affiliates just keep singing the praises of the products they recommend. But when you talk about both the good and bad sides of the product, you come across as much more honest and trustworthy.
Of course, each time you point out a flaw, remember to show how it’s a small issue that can be ignored, or give them a workaround.
Example: I found their technical support is not really 24 x 7. If you call them at night, they rarely pick up the phone. But then who needs to call them in the middle of the night anyway? Except night owls, of course!
Use this form of preselling for products that your visitors were going to buy anyway. But your honest recommendation will give them a reason to buy through your link.
Preselling technique #7 – Tell them stories
As the saying goes in sales circles, facts tell, stories sell.
We all know how SiteSell encourages their affiliates to tell their online story on their sites, to presell SBI! effectively. And on their own site, SiteSell uses case studies to show how SBI! can be used by people from all walks of life. So in this case you see both affiliates and the merchant using stories to sell/presell.
This is a technique that can be used on all kinds of products.
Preselling technique #8 – Subtly imply that they are a loser if they don’t use the product
Don’t say it out loud, of course, just get the idea inside their heads.
Example: All smart people use SBI!, and others just want everything for free, not realizing the value of their own time and efforts, foolishly wasting years of their lives unsuccessfully trying to build an online business. You should use SBI! too. All smart people use it.
This is a very subtle technique and very easy to mess up. For example, I probably messed up big time in my example above, because I used the word “foolishly,” which is too strong for a preselling message. Preselling must always be subtle. This is what makes it different from actual selling.
Use it with extreme caution and only if you are sure of what you are doing. And even then, get the opinion of a few people before putting it up on your site. Your commissions are going to be affected by this. If you do this well, you could be rolling in money, but if you mess up, all your hard work goes to waste.
This technique is best reserved for products that you really have a lot of faith in.
Preselling technique #9 – Show them everyone else wants it
This is another ninja technique. Keep yourself and your opinions out of the picture here. Just show/convince them that everyone else is getting the thing.
If everyone else is watching a particular movie, it’s hard to resist seeing it yourself. If everyone is listening to a particular album, it’s hard to resist checking it out. Hey, it’s cool to look nerdy these days. Check out these thick glasses. And don’t forget this pocket calculator to complete the look.
Preselling technique #10 – “Dropping names”
This is another ninja technique when done right. Keep mentioning a product subtly while talking about something else. Keep planting the seeds of this idea into their heads while you talk about something else. Do it at every opportunity.
The reason why this technique works so well is manifold. First, repetition plants it firmly in their heads. Secondly, when you are talking about something else, they are not expecting you to mention product X all of a sudden, so their guards are down. Third, because you never really ask them to buy product X directly, they think it’s THEIR idea to buy it, and are much more willing to buy.
For example, when people ask me about my web design work, they are usually already presold by the time they contact me, so unless I goof things up big time, I already have the deal. This becomes possible only because of the preselling job my site does. That way I have very little “selling” to do myself, which I suck at anyway.
(Did you see how I managed to mention my web design services in the above paragraph while talking about preselling? And if you remember, I also managed a reference to website-squad.com at the beginning of this post. If you see it mentioned a few more times, and you need a web design job done, and think of me, will you think it’s my idea or your idea to hire me? )
(Another note: I don’t do web design any more, so please don’t think I am using this technique on you here. I only used it as an example. Please don’t contact me for web design work. I don’t do web design any more.)
Bonus Super-Ninja Kick-Butt Preselling Technique (for those who made it this far)
This technique will put you miles ahead of everyone out there.
Create a small report (7-10 pages) about a topic related to the product you are trying to presell, and sell it for 99 cents.
Why 99 cents? Because you want them to get in the mood for shopping. You are not trying to get rich selling this 99 cents report, of course.
The whole point of preselling is to get them in the open to buy mindset. And a report that appeals to them and costs just 99 cents or 50 cents or whatever does just that. It gets them in the mood to buy. And once they are in the mood to buy, they will buy more, including the product you are ACTUALLY trying to sell/presell/recommend as an affiliate.
So on the thank you page for your 99 cent report say, “Gee, thanks for buying my report, and here’s an awesome product I would like you to check out. If you use it, you will go to sleep fat, wake up thin, and won’t even have to think about it. And I can personally vouch for this product. It’s really good.”
I am not saying the price of the short report must be 99 cents. It should just be low enough to make it a no brainer for your visitors. The actual price depends on your target prospects and the main product itself.
Use this technique for products that can be bought on impulse, and are related to your site’s topic.
There, that’s it
What do you think? Now go and use these techniques to make more money.
And can you spot which techniques I am using in my blog (whichever post that may be)? Even though I am not going to try to sell you anything, at least in the foreseeable future, I have still done a lot of preselling all over this blog. Can you tell me which technique I used, and in which post? Let’s see who finds the most. The winner will get a free copy of my kick-butt non-existent product that I would be mentioning here if I had something to sell to you. (Assume for a moment that there IS an actual product mentioned here, though.)
Important: Please post any questions in the comments below, and I’d appreciate if you don’t contact me privately via email. If I answer a question via email, only you get the benefit, but if I answer it here, everyone benefits. Plus someone else can offer an answer, suggestion, or perspective that is even better than mine.
My last post, where I talked about how creating products and signing up lots of affiliates is the best traffic strategy generated quite a bit of interest. So I decided to dig a little deeper.
In this post, we will talk about how to come up with ideas for creating your products. Remember, we don’t want to create any old product. We want to create products that will double up as a traffic strategy.
In every market, there are three types of people:
- Those who will NEVER buy something, no matter what. They keep looking for freebies.
- Those who will buy eventually, if you convince them enough that the product is good, is what they need, doesn’t cost much, and there is no risk involved in the purchase, and so on.
- Those who will buy something the moment you show it to them.
Now, every person at some stage is in one of the above three “roles.” It depends on the person’s mood, what he/she is looking for at the moment, how important s/he thinks it is, whether or not s/he is looking for something at all, and so on.
So, which person/role from the above list is the best, as far as you are concerned?
Why, the third one, of course – the one who will buy from you the moment you present something to him/her. After all, we SBIers are not very good copy writers and don’t want to become too salesy in our approach. It’s better to cater to someone who is already willing to buy. It’s easier to do, more profitable, and leaves us with a cleaner conscience.
OK, keep that in mind.
Similarly, in any market/niche, you can create three types of products:
- Those that no one will ever buy, no matter what.
- Those that people will buy eventually, if you convince them enough.
- Those that will get sold the moment people learn about it.
Which type of product do you want to create? The same reasoning applies here too.
Alright, moving on…
So what you want to do here is to:
- Create products that get sold the moment people learn about it
- And then present it to people who will buy it the moment you show it to them
Right? That’s the road to maximum, easiest, and quickest profits. Right?
So now that we have decided we want to go for the people who buy something the moment you show it to them, who are these people?
There could be more, but in my opinion, they can be classified into two groups:
- Those who want to get rid of, or avoid, some kind of pain, embarrassment, fear, troubles, guilt, and so on, and want to do it NOW. People with toothaches, babies crying non-stop, some pain in a body part that they can’t tell everyone about, belated birthday/anniversary gifts, and so on.
- Those who are passionate about something to the point of being fanatic and irrational. Sports fans, music fans, pet lovers, movie buffs, coin collectors, and so on. Most hobbies, in fact.
Every market or niche has these two kinds of people. Yours has them too. Look for them.
So if you want your product to sell well, it has to cater to one of the two types of people I mentioned above. And what else?
Remember we are relying on affiliates to come to our aid and promote it for us? But affiliates won’t do it out of charity, or because they are your friends (well, some of them may be, but you would like more of them to promote your product, won’t you?).
And you don’t want to only be “promoted” by affiliates who mass-add affiliate links to some sort of directories or junk sites.
Good affiliates want two things in a product they promote:
- It should sell well. If the affiliate sends X people to your sales page, as many of them as possible should end up buying the product. The more, the better.
- The affiliate should get a nice commission on each sale. The more, the better.
You are taking care of the first condition by catering ONLY to the right group of people, as mentioned above.
And in order for the affiliate to get a nice commission on each sale, you want to create a product that has a high price.
Which means you don’t want to create a $7 product or a $17 product. You need to create a high priced item, if you want to attract lots of affiliates. How high is high, depends on your market, of course. Try to keep the price slightly higher than your competition, but not too high.
But a high price implies a high value in the eyes of the buyer, which means you need to create a great product that justifies the price.
Value, of course, has no relation to the number of pages (if it’s an ebook, for example). I once purchased a short report/ebook that cost $97 and consisted of 11 pages. But I was very happy with the purchase, because I used the information in the report and earned $1700 in one day. Gimme more such $97 reports, and I will buy all of them. I don’t care if it’s 1 page, 11 pages, or a hundred pages. All that matters is the value I get out of it.
So don’t try to add fluff to your product just to try to increase its value. Fluff and filler will actually decrease the perceived value of your product. Instead, try to actually add value.
Alright, back to…
Now that we understand the theory, it’s time for some action. Let’s look for the people who will readily buy from us.
Go to forums in your niche and start looking for threads that ask a question. Keep noting down the questions. Don’t think, just take notes. The time to think will come later.
In addition to forums, you can also try Yahoo Answers, Google Groups, and so on. Do your research on as many community sites as you can.
(Do not ever think of asking your site visitors or newsletter/ezine subscribers what they want. It rarely works for the group of people we are looking for. It does work, but only when you have a VERY loyal following who will ACTUALLY tell you all about their pains, ambitions, embarrassments, and so on. In most cases, people will tell you they want X, and then when you create it, hardly anyone will actually buy it. So make your decision based on what they do (ask questions in the forums, for example), not on what they say to you.)
When you have exhausted all the sites, and taken as much notes as you can, it’s time to review your list of questions.
Categorize the questions into these three categories:
- Questions that are about avoiding or getting rid of some kind of pain, or embarrassment, fear, guilt, etc.
- Questions that are about some kind of passion related to your market/niche.
- Others. (These are to be rejected.)
Basically, you only want to be collecting questions from people who belong to one of the two groups I mentioned above (avoiding pain, etc., or passionate fans).
At this point, you may have several questions left in your list, and combined together, they represent several potential ideas for…
So which of these product ideas will you work on first? The one that is most likely to sell, right? And which one would that be?
If you can spot a definite pattern in your list of questions, that’s obviously a popular topic that bothers/excites a lot of people, and would be a good candidate for a product.
But if there is more than one such potential product, what do you do? Pick a clear winner, or pick the one that you like better or find easier to create, or if you can’t decide at all, just pick one randomly.
The important thing is to PICK one and STICK to it till it’s done. Don’t make the mistake of working on more than one product at a time. Finish the first one, and THEN move on to the next one in your list.
If you think you learned something from this post, you are not getting it. This post is not about learning. It’s not even about inspiration.
It’s about action. Go and take action.
Because the best of ideas don’t make any money till executed. The better you are at executing ideas, the quicker you put them into action, and the more consistent you are into putting ideas into action as soon as you get them, the more money you will make.
So go and come up with your single best product idea, and post it here as a comment if you want. And if you have any questions, you can ask those too, and I will try my best to answer them.
Edit: Thanks to Mimi from http://www.feel-great-about-yourself.com/ for raising a very important point that I forgot to address in this post. This is what I for focusing on the structure and rhythm of the post too much… People, Product, You… People, Product, You… People, Product, You… bah! Anyway, to read Mimi’s comment click here. Be sure to read my reply just below her comment, and don’t forget to post a comment yourself.
So as promised in my last post about how HARD work is your best way to eliminate competition, I am going to discuss what I feel is the best traffic strategy ever.
The big picture of why we want traffic
So why do we want traffic? No, really. Why?
Because we want to make money, right?
Yes, big traffic numbers make us feel good about all the hard work we have been putting in, but good feelings don’t put money in the bank, do they?
We want traffic because we want money. The more traffic you have, the more money you can potentially make.
This is true no matter what niche you are in. Some niches are inherently more monetizable than others, but in general, in any given niche, your income is directly proportional to your traffic.
Now that we have established that, let’s move on to the next point. Because if you remember from my last post, I said this traffic strategy also doubles up as a monetization strategy. (Actually, this is a monetization strategy that doubles up as a traffic strategy too.) Don’t worry, it will all make sense very soon.
How most of us SBIers monetize our sites
There are several monetization methods listed in the monetization HQ, but the most common monetization method used by most SBIers is affiliate links inserted strategically into content pages.
So suppose you get 100 visitors a day to a particular page, out of which you send 10 visitors a day to a particular merchant using your affiliate link. And suppose 1 in 10 of those visitors ends up buying that $20 product, for which you get paid $10.
Those are all made up figures, and I chose them only because the math will be easier. (Yes, MATH! Now, don’t get scared, it’s not difficult at all.) I am also assuming there is no other monetization method being used on that page, which is the way it should be anyway. Just one MWR per page.
In the above example, you are getting paid $10 for every 100 visitors to that page, or 10 cents per visitor.
How much do you think the merchant is getting paid?
Well, you sent that evil merchant 10 visitors, out of which 1 visitor bought their crappy $20 product, out of which they gave you $10 in commissions, keeping $10 to themselves.
$10 for 10 visitors, or $1 per visitor.
In case you missed it, let me repeat it:
You make 10 cents per visitor, and the merchant makes $1 per visitor – 10 times more than you do!
So whose traffic is better? Yours, or the merchant’s?
Now, moving on to the next point:
The merchant’s is bigger than the affiliate’s – traffic, that is
So you think you are making good money sending traffic to that merchant, because they convert at 10%.
Guess how many OTHER affiliates are thinking the same thing?
LOTS! And a LOT of affiliates are sending traffic to the merchant.
If the product is good, and the sales page converts well, it’s no surprise to see a thousand or more affiliates trying to send traffic to the merchant.
Even if each of the affiliates send the merchant just one visitor per day on average (some will send more, some less, some none, but let’s say this is the average), the merchant gets 1000 visitors per day to the page that makes him $1 per visitor.
That equals $1000 per day in profits.
Most affiliates don’t make that much in a whole month, let alone one day.
Do you see what monetization and traffic strategy I was talking about?
Of course you get it by now, but for the sake of completeness, I want to say that the best traffic strategy in my opinion is to have your own product, and sign up as many affiliates as you can.
Not only will you get more traffic, but you get better paying traffic too, in terms of dollars earned per visitor. And you will start getting this traffic much quicker than you would by creating content pages and trying to rank in the search engines.
This is not a knock on content as a traffic strategy
Creating content is a great way to get traffic, even when you have your own product(s), because the traffic that you get this way is traffic that is your own. And you don’t have to pay any commissions or advertising costs for this traffic.
But having your own affiliates will really take it to the next level, and help you reach places, people and markets that you couldn’t have reached otherwise. At least not this quick.
In fact, I suspect that the most successful SBIers (in terms of money) all have their own products or services.
Here is the action plan, if you agree with me about this:
- Decide what you want to create and sell as a product. Make sure it’s something others would want to pay money for.
- Find a cave to hide in while you create your products, so no one can disturb or distract you. It’s going to take a couple of months at least, so make sure you are well fed all this while.
- Once the product is complete, the proof reading and the design (ecover as well as the design of the product itself) are done, put it up on Clickbank or some other affiliate network/marketplace.
- Go hunting for affiliates. Contact other website owners and ask them to promote your product. Don’t just rely on Clickbank for this. The hunting bird gets the most worms. Keep hunting.
- Keep creating content on your site to pull in more search engine traffic.
Well, no. It’s not easy. It’s hard.
Coming up with a good topic for your product is hard work. You want a topic that bugs people so much they want to pay good money for a solution (your product).
Creating the actual product is hard work. You, an SBIer tortoise, would create nothing less than stellar, would you?
And all the other steps involved in product creation and design, writing a sales page that converts well, signing up with Clickbank (or whatever), signing up an army of affiliates, etc. is hard work too.
You need to figure out a lot of stuff and go through a lot of difficulties.
And that is exactly why you should do it. Because it’s hard, most people find it easier to just take the easy way out and become affiliates.
And work hard to make one tenth of the money per visitor they could make and get a tenth of the traffic they could get (meaning they make a hundred times less money than they could).
The choice is yours.
Hard work, or working hard? Which one?
At this point, I could have easily recommended a resource for you to check out, to help you create products easily. But I don’t want to do that. I want to keep this blog free of any ads, affiliate links, and so forth, so I can provide my best ideas to you without any greed on my part. The purpose of this blog is to share with my fellow SBIers, and not to make money.
So will you be kind enough and post a comment below, so I can know if this post strikes a chord with you? Or if you think the post sucked, let me know too. Let’s have a discussion going!
Update: I created a follow-up post discussing how to come up with product ideas that will sell well and attract a ton of affiliates. You can read it here.
For a change, let’s put the conclusion of this post upfront:
If you want less competition, choose to do work that is hard to do
In general, the easier it is to do something, the more people you’ll find doing it. And the smaller the rewards will be.
Conversely, if something is hard to do, you’ll find very few people, if any, doing it. And the rewards will be bigger as well.
What looks harder in the beginning, proves to be the easier path in the long run.
In my next post, I will tell you about a traffic strategy that is hard to do. Which is why so few people do it. Of course, there are several thousand people doing it already, and you know about them very well. But what about the millions of other people with a web presence? They don’t do it, even though they know about it very well, because doing so is hard work.
And that is the reason why it’s such a good strategy if you want to beat the competition. And the reason for my next post will be to prod and poke you and make you at least consider using it.
Actually, the strategy that I just mentioned that I am going to reveal in my next post also doubles up as a great money-making strategy. And for the same reason (it’s hard work), very few people do it.
But of course, I am not going to leave you completely hanging in this post.
So here are a few examples of hard work that you can do to beat your competition:
- Create content SO awesome that no one else can come even close. Do some original thinking, some original research, share your experiences.
- Get links from sites/domains that are hard to get links from.
- Create videos and put them up on your pages, in addition to the textual content.
- Create illustrations/diagrams/drawings to help explain a point. Even screenshots and photos will do. But DO something extra.
- Whenever you write something (a review, a story, etc.), offer proof. For example, if you want to review a product that you endorse as an affiliate, prove that it works the way you claim it does. It doesn’t have to be you who used the products and benefited from it – it could be any one. Even a testimonial lifted from the merchant’s site is better than nothing.
And then, there is this thing that I am going to tell you about in my next post. I am willing to bet my last penny that you already know about it. But I am also willing to bet my last penny 100 bucks 10 bucks that you are not using it yet.
So watch this space for my next post. Or if you want, you can subscribe to my RSS feed by clicking the RSS button on the right side.
And if you have any more examples of how hard work can make a difference in your site’s results, please do share in the comments below.
Here’s another cool tip, along the lines of using Google to come up with new ideas, described in this post:
Please follow along with me in this exercise as I perform the steps.
Go to Google, and type one of your keywords. Could be your site concept keyword, or a tier 2 keyword, or whatever. Just type one, and see what happens.
On the left side of the results page, you will notice a link called “Show Options” just below the Google logo:
That’s the link you need to click. The one circled in red. Go ahead, do it. And I hope you are performing this little exercise for one of your own keywords.
(By the way, I don’t rank #1 for “plr articles”… yet. But watch me climb up the rankings soon, hehe. My site is plr-packs.com.)
Anyway, once you click that link, a menu will open up on the left side:
Click the link where the arrow points in the screenshot above.
Here’s what you will see now:
As you can see, Google shows you a “wheel” with all these “spokes” each pointing to a related keyword. Go ahead and click one of the keywords that interest you, to dig deeper. Don’t forget to take note of any keywords that you saw here first.
Upon clicking one of the keywords in the spokes, you get something like this:
As you can see, another wheel popped up from the spoke you clicked, displaying more spokes and more keywords. The original wheel with the keywords is now a bit faded, but you can still click one of the keywords if it catches your eye.
As you go on clicking from wheel to wheel, spoke to spoke, keyword to keyword, you can keep gathering more and more ideas for pages and keywords. Even niches.
And of course, on the right side of the wonder wheel, you see the regular search results for the keyword you are searching on.
This is a great way to build your list to supplement what the Brainstormer shows you. It’s not automated and cool like the Brainstormer, but it can still give you some great ideas in your keyword research.
And best of all, it gives you a peek inside the “brain” of Google’s algorithms. You can see what keywords are related to your niche, according to Google. You can also see what keywords are closely related to EACH OTHER (spokes on the same wheel). And you can shape your site’s structure using this information.
Google itself is telling us what it thinks about our site. Why not take a few minutes (or even hours) to listen?
What do you think? Any other ways this data can be used?
It’s quite possible that you already know about this, but I am still going to share it with you just in case you weren’t aware of it.
Go to Google Profiles:
http://www.google.com/profiles (link opens in a new window)
And create a profile there.
This is great because you can not only tell people about you and your site(s) here, but it’s also a great way to create one-way backlinks from a PR-10 site (google.com).
You can create a bio where you can add links to your site(s). They even let you add custom links to your profile.
In all of these places, you get to choose your anchor text as well. Isn’t that awesome?
And google.com is a PR-10 site, so a backlink from there could mean a lot for your rankings.
For best results, I would recommend creating a separate profile for each of your sites. That way, your bio for each profile page will be “relevant” to the anchor texts you would be providing.
This matters not just because it will add more weight to the links to your site, but also because your profile page may actually turn up in the search results for a few keywords related to your site!
Also, be sure to add links to several pages of your site, not just the home page.
Additional tip: You can create your profile pages on MSN as well. And other community sites, for that matter.
Are you already using this strategy? If so, do you have other websites that you can share?
Disclosure: This is something that I did not think of myself, but read about it elsewhere. It’s SUCH an awesome tip that I must share with you.
Here are a few ways you can use Google to get content ideas, or even ideas for new niches.
Getting content ideas
Suppose your niche is “home decorating” and you are looking for a few ideas for articles. Note I said ideas, not keywords, which you would find using the Brainstormer. Once you have a few good ideas for content, you can always find a good matching keyword in your MKL or even brainstorm for a new one.
So here is how to do it:
Go to Google, and type “home decorating *” (without quotes). Note the asterisk. Now scan the results page, looking for phrases that jump out to you. Here are a few that I came up with:
- home decorating fabric
- home decorating tools
- home decorating styles
- affordable home decorating
- home decor products
- home decorating ideas
- green home decor
- home decor trends
- traditional home decor
- simple home decorating
- home decor tips
- home decorating service
- home decorating fanatics
- home decorating courses
- home decor items
- home decorating accessories
- home decorating software
- home decorating industry
- home decor stores
- home decorating and feng shui
I am sure I could find several more, but you get the idea. You can repeat the process for other keywords in your niche and build up a huge list of ideas for your next articles.
Finding new niches
You can use the above technique to find as many niches as you want by just applying a small twist to the technique.
Go to Google.com and search for “how to *” (without quotes). Once again, note the asterisks.
The sheer number of ideas you will get for niches will drive you crazy. You will find everything here – boring and mundane, technical and geeky.
More niches than you imagine… no change that. More niches than you CAN imagine!
And if you want to really go crazy, you can use phrases like:
- how to get rid of *
- how to avoid *
- how to get *
- how to find *
- how to create *
- how to get *
- how to prevent *
- how to stop *
And so on. You can come up with any number of phrases to feed into Google and get a huge list of niches. They don’t necessarily have to be “how to” related phrases. You can use anything you want. For example “how can i *”
One step further
If you input “how * [niche] *” in Google (without quotes, and replace [niche] with your own niche), you will get several more ideas.
Here’s what I found for our example of the home decorating niche.
I typed “how * home decorating *” in Google and got the following ideas:
- how fashionable home decor was influenced
- how to organize my home decor ideas
- how natural light affects home decor
- how bookcases help in home decoration
- home decorating specs
You can come up with even more ideas by using “what,” “why,” “when,” etc. instead of “how.”
One important point though: Always run the keywords/niches you come up by the Brainstormer. Sometimes a keyword may look promising, but have very few actual searches done for it.
With that said, why are you still here? Why not go and see what new keywords, content ideas or niche ideas you come up with?
If you like the ideas in this post, or came up with your own unique twist or related ideas, please add your comments below.
Wow, is that an outrageously bold claim or what?
But allow me to explain. Let’s start with…
Sentence one and two
In order to understand what I am on about, let’s go back into the mind of the person who searches for one of your keywords in Google. What do you think this guy (or gal) is thinking?
Umm… let’s see, does this site have this info, does this site have this info, does this site, this site, this, this, this…
Yup? That’s what we all do when we search, right?
And what that person is actually doing is scanning the titles, the descriptions, and perhaps the URLs displayed in the search engine listings… looking for an answer to the question…
Does this site have what I want?
It’s the job of your title tag and the meta description tag to answer that question.
It’s not enough to provide an accurate description of the page here.
You must first get into the head of that person and find out what they are looking for when they type that keyword in Google.
When someone types “Goa vacation” into Google, they probably want to decide if a vacation in Goa is right for them, and what it would be like to have a vacation in Goa.
When someone types “Goa vacations” (plural) into Google, they are probably looking for vacation packages for Goa. It’s very likely that they have already decided that they want to have a vacation in Goa this summer. (Or winter. It’s always summer in Goa.)
Stop! Did you notice that?
The person searching for “Goa vacation” is looking for something completely different from the person searching for “Goa vacations.”
If we want the person searching for one of these two terms (or ANY term for that matter) to click on OUR link in the search engine results page, we want the title of the page and the site’s description to tell them that THIS PAGE HERE is where they will get what they are looking for.
So take a few minutes to think about what the searcher is really looking for when he/she types that keyword in Google, and try to make the content of your title tag and your meta description tag to really appeal to him/her.
The more appealing your title and description are, the more clicks you will get, and hence more traffic.
So that explains the first and second sentences.
If you want, you can just rework the title tag, but why not rework the meta description tag too, while you are at it?
Anyway, moving on to…
Now the visitor is on your page.
Something very important just happened. By clicking on the link to your site in the SERP, the visitor completed phase one of his search.
And their arrival on your site marks the beginning of phase two.
Their mindset is completely changed now. They are looking for the answer to a totally different question:
Do I want to stay on this site and read the rest of this page?
And they give you precious few seconds to prove to them that your site/page is indeed worth their while.
If they don’t think they should stay, they just “bounce.”
And how do they decide?
Several things, I would reckon, but the two most important are (in my experience and opinion):
- Can they easily locate the page’s headline and determine if the page is relevant to what they are looking for?
- What does the headline say?
The first one is a design issue, and the best thing you can do regarding this is to reduce clutter from your page. KISS. It also helps to make the headline stand out clearly from the rest of the page using font size, color, and white space around it.
The second issue is much easier to tackle, and my dear friend, I love you for making it all the way till here only to realize that I am telling you to change your page’s headline, and still not getting mad at me for stating the obvious.
Wait a minute captain obvious! If you knew that already, why haven’t you done it? Why is your headline the same as your title tag?
I will be the first to admit that I have been lazy myself and I have several pages where the headline of the page is the same as the title tag. Goodness knows how much money I am losing because of this.
Let’s admit it, the people who come to your site and “bounce” immediately, contribute nothing to your site except inflating the traffic stats. What you want is people who stay. People who are a part of the “monetizable traffic.”
And if you reduce your bounce rate by encouraging more people to stay on your site, you effectively increase your traffic – at least the kind that matters – monetizable traffic.
To really help understand this, let’s use an example. And this is of course, just a made-up example, and your mileage will vary.
Suppose you get 100 visitors per day to a particular page that has a bounce rate of 70%. This means that 70 out of these 100 people click the back button within 30 seconds of arriving at your site.
So your monetizable traffic is 30/day. And as we said, this is the only kind of traffic that matters, really.
But suppose after reworking your headline to make it more compelling, you encourage more readers to stay on your page. Suppose you bring down the bounce rate to 40%. This means only 40 people now leave your site within 30 seconds of arriving. The other 60 people stay back to read your content.
Which means that your monetizable traffic now becomes 60/day.
Wait a second! All you did was change just one sentence!
Do you see the power of the headline now?
The power of compounding
I realize that the exact effect on your site will be different, but consider this:
By changing the title tag and meta description tag of the page, you increase the traffic that your page gets.
By changing the headline to make it more compelling, you increase the percentage of people who arrive at your site and stay on to read your page.
Which means you increase your monetizable traffic a lot.
To illustrate this using an example, suppose your page used to get 100 visitors per day, out of which 70 people left (70% bounce rate), leaving 30 people per day who can be monetized.
But suppose after improving your title tag and meta description tag, more people click on your site’s link in the SERP. Say 150. And this is totally possible, though of course, your mileage may vary.
And also suppose you improved your headline a lot, and reduced your bounce rate from 70% to 40%. Again, this is well within your reach, because remember all you need to do is convince the visitor that they would like to read further.
Which means that 60% of your traffic is monetizable.
60% of 150 is 90. Which is three times your previous monetizable traffic!
When you increase your monetizable traffic by three times, you are actually tripling your income! Because hey, 100% of your income is from the monetizable traffic that you get, not from people who bounce back.
But even if you can’t triple your monetizable traffic, you can still increase it significantly. And your income will grow in direct proportion to your monetizable traffic.
And you get all that just by changing your title tag and meta description tag, and the page’s headline.
For the title tag and meta description tag, start with the pages that get a lot of high rankings, but not much traffic.
For the page heading, start with pages that get a lot of traffic, but have a high bounce rate.
Then work your way downwards through the rest of the pages.
Would it worth a few minutes per page to potentially double or triple your income? What do you think?
This is an addendum to my previous post about ugly Adsense ads, with a few examples.
Several of you wanted to see examples of what I mean by “ugly” Adsense ads, so I decided to look around a bit on the web. I did not find any that I would classify as “ugly” or particularly drawing attention, so I decided to create a few examples myself to help you understand what I mean.
Here is the first example. Bear in mind that these are all generated within my Adsense account, and using the Adsense preview tool in the Adsense setup wizard. For this reason the ads are not ads, but they do the job well to illustrate what I mean.
Don’t bother clicking on the ad. It’s just an image, not an actual ad!
Anyway, as you can see, the ad has red link titles and red text as well. The link URLs are the normal blue color that is common for links. The background is white, and so is the border.
The reason why I think this will work well is that red color draws the eyes like anything. If you are on a web page and you see something in red color, you want to read it first before anything else.
Now as you can see, this is very similar to the above example, with the difference that the borders are yellow instead of white.
The reason this works is again similar to the last one. And yellow draws attention too.
Do you remember a thread in the SBI! forums where Elad talks about how he started getting better CTRs when he placed quotes next to the Adsense ads and highlighted them in yellow?
The ad above works on the same principle, but you don’t have to think of a new or relevant quote for each page/ad. It also doesn’t violate Google’s TOS which state that you can’t place anything near the ads to draw attention to them. (Or at least I think the TOS say that, so correct me if I am wrong here. )
Yet another example:
Once again, just like the last example, but with a different border color. Hey, gotta keep your visitors from getting used to the same ad design, to prevent ad blindness, yeah?
OK, another example, to show that you can go extreme too, if you want:
I wouldn’t recommend using that last ad design. It really hurts the eyes and might offend most of your visitors into leaving your site. I only included it here to show what’s possible.
Don’t let this keep you from using colored backgrounds, though. For example, check this out:
You could try other variations and find out what works best for you. In the end, it also depends a lot on your own site’s design and color scheme. I would recommend using a color scheme for the ad that really conflicts with your site’s color scheme.
As always, testing will lead you to the right answer
I have always been a proponent of testing things, but over the past one or two years, I have begun to REALLY grasp the importance of testing things.
If it looks promising, test it to find out for sure.
If it looks silly and stupid, test it to find out for sure.
If it looks exciting, test it to find out for sure.
If it looks boring and mundane, test it to find out for sure.
The bottom line is that you never know what is going to work for your particular combination of niche, audience, your own voice, site design, and a lot of other factors. So it’s really, really important to test.
And these days Adsense lets you create ads that you can modify on the fly without having to update your pages, so it’s now even easier for you to keep testing.
Hope these examples provide a little help and you can better monetize your content as a result. Happy monetizing and do let me know what you think.