There is much speculation about how much money you can earn online without your own product. Marketing your own digital product on the Internet can be very lucrative but there is no reason why you can’t profit a great deal by using creative methods that offer real value to Internet surfers and have your own product as well.
An affiliate program is really not as difficult to set up as you may think. Thanks to the high demand for affiliate systems recently, there are now lots of ways to set up your own program.
Here’s what you need to set one up:
- A web site with your own domain name.
- At least one product or service that you own completely.
- A system to handle commission tracking and payment.
That sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?
Well, actually it is! And it’s getting easier all the time. The first two items listed above are self-explanatory. Of course, you need your own website and your own product or service. You can’t very well set up an associate program if you don’t own the site or the product(s) you will be promoting. If you have not taken these two steps, you’ll need to do them first. Once you’ve managed to get by these two steps, you can move right to step three, setting up your program.
You will need to search the Internet for a system that will handle commission tracking and payment. You can try to do this yourself but you will most likely miss some and missed ones are missed income. There are free ones, as well as, paid ones.
The positive aspects of an associate management system are many:
- You can sign on associates more rapidly and grow a larger force of resellers.
- You’ll enjoy the automation and online management of affiliates.
- These systems provide full sales statistics for both you and your associates.
How to Get Targeted Traffic
You have built a great website and have a lot of affiliates but you just don’t have enough traffic…not NEAR enough traffic on your site. What can you to do increase the traffic… the TARGETED traffic?
Actually, there are several things that you can do that will help.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be your goal! The main source of traffic to any website is the search engines. The most used search engines are Google, followed by MSN and Yahoo. You must optimize your site for the search engines. This includes off/site links and on/site tactics.
- Article marketing is one of the most effective ways to get targeted visitors to your site. Getting your articles published in e-zines and on selected and related sites will generate an enormous amount of traffic to your site. The trick is to write helpful how-to articles on current topics that other webmasters want on their sites. This will boost your link popularity with the search engines and increase your rankings. You must also very carefully choose the right keywords to target in your articles, matching the content on your site. You must target keywords that have high traffic, yet little competition from competing web sites.
- Viral marketing techniques work. One viral technique to attract targeted visitors is to offer a free product or service. Choose products that can be branded with your links and passed around. Helpful software programs that match the theme of your site are good choices to make.
- Blogs and RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds are another way to effectively increase targeted traffic to your website. Create simple blogs and feeds for the major topics of your site: on rss resources, web hosting solutions, notebook computers, etc. These blogs and feeds bring in a great number of targeted visitors.
The two top pay-per-click search engines are Google and Yahoo, there are, however, others. Pay-per-click search engines allow companies to bid on keywords that relate to their sites. Companies submit their site’s descriptions and titles, along with a list of keywords to the engine.
They also specify the amount of money that they’re willing to spend on each keyword. After a pay-per-click search engine processes the company’s request, their results start showing up when someone searches for a keyword that the company paid for.
Depending upon how much money others paid, rankings for a particular keyword maybe very high or low. Pay-per-click advertisers pay only when their ad is clicked on from search results (clickthrough). Most engines specify a minimum amount of money needed for a company to open an account. Many people think that paid rankings decrease the relevance of search results by allowing any site with money to rank high for any keyword. Pay-per-click engines understand that they will lose searchers, and eventually advertisers, with irrelevant results, and therefore, make relevance a priority.
However, pay-per-click engines will provide results with commercial, not informational information.
Relevance doesn’t guarantee the quality of the site. That is why pay-per-click engines utilize editors to review incoming requests for bidding. These editors are responsible for making sure that the submitted keywords relate to the site’s content. People get obsessive about their keywords. This is wrong. It is difficult if not impossible to get high rankings based on key words. Instead, you need to think about key phrases. The easiest way to do this is ask yourself “what would someone trying to find me type in when they search?” Make a list of these. Try them out on the search engines — pretend to be someone looking for your product or service.
Purchasing Domain Names
All new website ventures online include a domain name. Sometimes the domain is purchased from a domain broker – someone who specializes in reselling domain names. Most of the time, however, it will be registered through a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or venuecom. No matter how it is purchased, in all cases, the domain name (or names) for a website should be carefully considered. The basis of the marketing for the website will be the domain name chosen.
There are four basic steps to follow to ensure a marketable name for your site. When choosing and registering a domain name for a new website, follow them every time and you’ll have successful domains every time.
Step #1: Choose a name. Choosing a name may be as easy as “your business name dot com” or it may be more difficult (especially if you have a common name for your business). In all cases, your business’ name should be your number one pick for your domain name. If your business name is difficult to spell easily, try to register misspellings of it as well.
Step #2: Make a list of words or short phrases that have something to do with your business. Six to ten of these are good to start. Once you have the list, remove all of the ones that have more than twenty characters in them (this keeps them short). Then create new additions to your list by replacing empty spaces with “-” and “_” characters. Finally, compress the spaced words into one word. Now that you have this list, prioritize it by numbering the entries from 1 to 10.
Step #3: Check for domain availability. Go to any domain registrar and enter the domains in the order they are numbered on your list. Cross out any names on your list that aren’t available. Once you’re finished, you should have a short list of available, good domains for your business.
Step #4: Register your domain. Domain registrars are all over the Web with varying prices and services. A good registrar is worth any extra money that may be spent since a registrar going out of business could easily cause headaches and nightmares for you.
Driving Traffic with Blogs
Most people who perform searches using search engines are actually looking for information and/or for solutions. The more helpful and relevant the content you have on your website blog, the easier it is for you to attract visitors and also to turn them into loyal readers and subscribers. If your blog has valuable content, this will attract readers to your blog who will visit again.
With a Blog, you can submit to the many Blog directories that exist online. By submitting to blog directories in the proper category, you can expand your reach to targeted subscribers or readers who want to read what you’re posting on your area of specialization.
Blogs promote relationship building and trust with your readers because it allows you to interact with them. Your readers can refer a friend and imagine the traffic power that can be generated if each one of your readers makes a referral. For example, if you have 1000 readers and each one makes a referral, that will be an additional 1000 new subscribers, giving you a total of 2,000 subscribers/readers. Blogs will help you build traffic by attracting search engine ‘bot’s to visit the site more often.
All search engines have a program known as a ‘search engine bot’ which basically ‘spiders’ or searches web sites and take back the results they have to the search engines. And ‘search engine bots’ love content, especially pages with related keywords. The more frequently you update your pages, the more frequently that search engines will spider your site. A Blog is actually a content management system. If that sounds too technical, a Blog is a push-button publishing system. Unlike web pages there is no uploading of pages to web host accounts. Blog postings are instantly published and are automatically hosted for you. The hosting is also free by the way.
Art of Paid Advertising
To make bushels of money all that really matters is marketing. It’s a proven fact that you don’t need a better product or a lower price to make more money than your competition. The truth is that you can literally make millions selling mediocre products – if you know how to market them effectively.
Of course, you should always strive to deliver quality products and great value to your customers – but the point is that marketing is all that really matters. It’s what you need to be spending 90% or more of your time doing if you have any hopes of developing a profitable online business. Doing paperwork, building web sites, answering email, and processing orders doesn’t help grow your business – only advertising does. There are really just two kinds of advertising – that which you pay for and that which you get for free. And both should have their place in your overall marketing strategy. Effective “free advertising” strategies do exist, however, the bottom line is that there are only 24 hours in a day and there’s only so much you can do during that time. Free advertising strategies can be effective, but normally, anything that’s free is going to cost you time.
Getting the most out of paid for advertising and getting it without a lot of investment of time is the object. If you could spend $1,000 a day on advertising to make $1,500 a day in profits — without spending hours doing it — why wouldn’t you just do that? It’s not hard at all. Consider Google Adwords for example, where you can buy click-through ads for as little as 1-25 cents. That fits the formula quite nicely. Google alone won’t send you enough traffic to make you rich, but it’s a good example of effectively promoting your site without spending much time doing it. There are lots of others.
Your Mailing List & Effective Email Marketing
There is an email marketing strategy which very few Internet businesses use and use properly. It’s called “opt-in series email marketing.” This is a secret weapon many of the big name marketers prefer not to talk about much. It works like this… You offer an attractive and irresistible freebie at your site, (in most cases this works best via a pop up or pop-under) and when your visitors claim their freebie, they are required to enter their name and email address. They then are subscribed to your series of personalized, scheduled email messages that you have pre-written. The best type of series is one that offers free valuable help and information about the subject they were looking for help on in the first place. A well-written email series will form relationships with your best prospects, something that holds more value than most online businesses realize.
The best part of this strategy is that once you do the setup work, everything is completely automated and personalized. There are a number of sites that offer follow-up email auto-responder services. You can use your opt-in email list to send out newsletters. Newsletters should always be filled with helpful and current information and should also include freebies to insure they will be read. It goes without saying that links to your site should be prominently displayed. Until you get your own opt-in email list built there is always email newsletter network advertising you can consider.
In a nutshell, you pay email newsletter management sites to run top sponsorship ads across their network of newsletters. The traffic can be targeted to just about any niche and it’s faster that finding e-zines yourself. Although this requires a larger initial investment than running ads in individual e-zines, in the long run it is usually cheaper and it requires much less effort.
Other Effective Affiliate Marketing Methods
Most affiliate marketers, even new ones, are very well aware of and use the obvious tools to market their products like Google Adwords, emails, blogs, and writing articles for e-zines. There are at least three other effective methods of affiliate marketing that are not quite so obvious. Offering coupons as incentives has long been a brick and mortar business tool used for getting shoppers into stores.
It can also be used on the Internet. With close to 80% of shoppers using coupons, covering all the major age groups, it can add up to one powerful marketing tool. Coupons can be a very effective tool in reaching your targeted market segment and selling your products. One every business should take a serious look at and see if it’s appropriate for their products.
Coupons can be used as a low-cost way of introducing your product into the marketplace. Giving out free samples or discount coupons can gather loyal customers who first try your product for free or at a discounted rate. Building brand loyalty is the one of the hallmarks of a developing a successful product or service.
Using coupons is one method of bringing your customers back for more, again and again. Over time, your products will gain the trust of the consumer. Regular posting on major online forums isn’t an obvious way to drive traffic to your website but it does work.
You must follow all the rules of any forum and most disallow blatant advertising but by posting regularly you can work your advertisements in and since it is a well known fact that people buy from those they trust, your sales will be increased by a larger percent than your traffic. Use free brandable reports that visitors can download and use. These reports and e-books should have links back to your site (or sites).