How To: Finding a Good Affiliate Marketing Niche

Earlier this week I provided some tips for finding a great BANS niche.   As you might expect, the main focus with BANS should be to find popular products that sell well on eBay but don’t have good representation in Google’s search results.

Today I wanted to talk about some strategy when you are using the more standard version of affiliate marketing, which is through the use of custom built niche websites and using affiliate marketing techniques such as landing pages to sell products. 

The reason I broke it up into two posts is because you will typically want to take an almost opposite approach to this method of affiliate marketing.   With BANS sites, you will typically want a physical product that is both popular and can easily be shipped.   With niche blogs, you will actually want to avoid these types of products (for the most part) and place your focus on digital products, digital services, and other things people look to buy over the internet.

For example, if you start a niche blog and plan to monetize it with something like Amazon Associates, you can make money.   The problem is, when you are marketing actual goods, there is a cost with producing these items, so you can only earn a portion of the companies take.   One of my first BANS sites was to sell action figures and other types of figurines.  I am an affiliate with a company that builds busts and sells them in the $200.00 range.   Now, you think great comission right?  Well, after they buy it from the company that makes them, that company may only get $20-$50.00 per sale.   As an affiliate, you get a cut of their share.   In my example, I make about $10.00 each time I sell a $200.00 item.    Is that really worth it?   I mean, how many busts do you need to sell in order for this to become truly beneficial?   

Digital and other internet products are different, however, because there is only the one-time cost of production.   This means once they’ve created the eBook, built the plugin, or written the guide, there work is done.  There is no additional cost associated with selling additional copies of it.  As a result, these people can offer very lucrative affiliate percentages to their affiliates.  

I have one affiliate where I get 70% of the sale price, and the sale price is usually around $100.00 each.    They only get $30.00 per sale, but there is no additional cost with each sale beyond the first sale so the high percentages attract more affiliates and create free advertisements for your product.   As a general rule, I try to only associate myself with products that pay a minimum of $20.00 per sale, so that it is worth it each time a sale is made.

So, as you can see, if you find a good digital product, you can make large sums of money in a short period of time.  Build your landing page to sell the product, then create or buy relevant traffic to your post and watch the money roll in. 

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Do Niche Research – Some niches are extremely lucrative, while others aren’t very lucrative at all.  Focus on profitable online niches such as insurance sales, debt consolidation, and other areas that have large payouts and a lot of interest.  
  • Build a Christmas Site Now – If you intend to compete for affiliate sales this Christmas, your website needs to be up now.  You’ll want to start building quality backlinks and give it plenty of time to earn Google’s trust.   If you launch it three months or less before the holiday, people probably won’t find it. 
  • Affiliate Shares – There has never been a better time to be an affiliate marketer because these companies are competing for you!  Feels great, doesn’t it?  Monitor how much each affiliate pays and keep an eye out for better deals.  If you have a large number of affiliations, keep a spreadsheet with this information to keep track of them all.
  • Find What Works – If you know of some profitable affiliate campaigns, study the site to figure out what made it successful.   Even if you are in a different niche, look at advertising placements, the sales pitch, or whatever else successful people are doing.   Experimenting is good, but it can sometimes be more beneficial to look at what works for successful people.

Anything else you’d like to add?  Let me know in the comments below!

How To: Optimizing Your Income with BANS

In my last post, I introduced you to Build a Niche Store (BANS), which as you probably noticed from my post, it is a product that I’m very passionate about. That post got a little long, so I decided to save some tips for using BANS for a follow up post.

First, I’d like to start with establishing a mindset for using BANS. Unlike keyword sniping where you are looking specifically for an under-utilized niche that has potential with Google AdSense, with BANS you need to focus on niches that have products associated with them. In other words, you wouldn’t want to set up a niche store for construction equipment, as people generally don’t go to eBay to purchase construction equipment (at least I don’t think they do because the shipping prices would be 3 figures!).  You also wouldn’t want to set up a store for services.  What is something that people go to eBay to buy? More specifically, what is something people would research first, then buy on eBay? You can go for a small product that will get a lot of conversions, or a big product where 1-2 commissions a day might make double  or triple figures. This is something to keep in mind while doing your keyword research.

Once you’ve gotten that part down, here are some additional tips for getting the most out of BANS:

  • Link Building Helps – Just like with keyword sniping, it can only help to generate links. Things like adding your sites to directories and leaving comments on high ranking blog posts in your niche can both go a long way to generate traffic.
  • Auction Settings – When choosing how to display your eBay auction ads, you’ll want to display lowest bid items first. That will entice bids and earn you more money. Depending on the product, you may also want to only display “Buy it Now” auctions (which you can control from the admin panel).
  • Get People to eBay – Just like how Amazon Associates works, you want to get the traffic to eBay. You make $25.00 if people create an eBay account and you can get paid if people bid on other auctions than the one you referred them to as long as they got there using your referral link.
  • Create a BANS Subdomain – Depending on the type of website you currently run, you could setup a niche store subdomain on your existing blog to help get more sales.  This method would be ideal for a product review blog or some kind of blog that deals closely with something on eBay. 

I know that some of you have been using BANS for awhile.  Do you have any other tips for those new to Build a Niche Store?

How To: Find a Great BANS Niche

In the past when talking about creating a Niche store (BANS), one of the things I have emphasized is the importance of finding a domain/niche that will be successful with BANS.   If I’m going to encourage people to give BANS a try, I need to help set them up for success, right?   Here are some things to think about when trying to find the right niche for a BANS site.

Once you’ve got the BANS software, it is time to find a couple niches to start using it.  If you were to target a niche to advertise furniture, cars, homes, or other large items you will have a much harder time finding success.  This is because people often won’t buy that kind of stuff from eBay due to the insane shipping charges or other complications that can arise.   Now, I realize they are sold there and people do buy them, but there is a very limited market for them and with BANS you are going to find more success by converting a lot of smaller sales rather than a few large sales to make your money. 

I’ve also found that trying to build a BANS store around a service will also make it more difficult to find success.   You can find eBooks and other things on eBay, but there probably aren’t a lot of people looking to buy that kind of stuff.   You’ll want to save these domains for your keyword sniping and other affiliate marketing niche sites that you will be creating (remember, we want to diversify, not put all our eggs in the BANS basket).   In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about affiliate marketing with services and how best to approach this. 

So, how do you find a good BANS niche?   Here are a few things to consider when doing your research:

  • Scouting Niche Competition – When trying to find a niche to target, I use a tool called Micro Niche Finder.  It has a low cost associated with it, but it does a great job of helping me find those niches that aren’t being properly filled.  You simply enter a keyword and it gives you a variety of similar keywords.  You can then use it to check on how much search results there are for a keyword, how much competition there is, etc.    If you can find a niche that gets traffic but doesn’t have much competition, you’ll be in the top few search results right away.   This is a free way to get traffic to your BANS stores. 
  • Keyword-Rich Domain Names – If you can get your niche’s keywords in the domain name, this will go a long way to help your domain get a good search engine ranking.  It also helps if the domain is 6 months to 1 year old before establishing a site.   This helps build trust from the search engines.   Please keep in mind that some keywords may have trademarks associated with them and could put you at legal risk, so you may want to do a trademark search first before registering.  
  • eBay Search Results – We talked above about trying to find a niche that converts well with eBay.   How many of your item are being sold on eBay right now.  How many categories can you add to your website?  For example, for a toy site, you could add pages for clothing associated with the toys, trading cards, action figures comic books, or whatever else.   You may want to get more specific and target one of those areas, or try to get a good domain where you can try to sell all 3 areas. 

Those 3 should get you started.   Once you’ve got your niches researched and your domains registered, the BANS store can be completed in less than an hour.   Sometimes though, the research before hand can be a little time consuming.   Remember that you are planting a seed that should pay off in the long run, not a week or month from now, so research and find the right niches.   Finding success early will lead to finding success often, but finding failure early could lead to a missed out opportunity.

Affiliate Marketing Tips: Spending Money to Make Money

If you are planning to become an affiliate marketer, it can sometimes be difficult for someone starting out from stratch. That is why I shared my story and suggested people go through their existing content and add affiliate links to it. As a side note, if you are looking for an easy way to do this (which I hadn’t discovered until after I did mine manually, but now use on it on some of my websites), you can use the WP-Affiliate Pro WordPress plugin to search for keywords and replace them with designated affiliate links. It also does a variety of other things to manage your affiliate links from within your dashboard. You can see my recent review of this plugin here.

Anyway, I digress. The one area I’ve found that new affiliate marketers seem to either fail to learn or have a misconception of is that you become an affiliate marketer and suddenly you are rich. That is why in my previous post, I recommended people start by adding affiliate links to their existing content they’ve already written.   This way you get some seed money to start out with.

The main thing people have a hard time grasping is that you need to spend money to make money.  Without advertising, link building, and networking in general, you can still make a little income. With the proper advertising, you can truly make a fortune.

The problem is you can’t make money without people visiting your website, so you have to find ways to get people there. Google AdWords is a great and cost effective way to do this and probably my main advertising expense next to purchasing private advertising. I actually re-invest a large portion of my income into these areas to continue to grow and expand my websites/blogs.

Blog and website directories are also a great way to do link building and to get traffic. This has SEO benefits and will often give you a little bonus traffic as well.  Unfortunately most quality directories also have a cost associated with them, so that is another area where spending that money can help you make money.

If you find that you are making money online, what are you doing to grow your business?   How are you expanding your advertising reach?

Taking Advantage of Opportunities as They Present Themselves

Earlier this week I talked a bit about being a free affiliate, and what opportunities are passing many people by. Many of us blog for free because we enjoy it, but there is no reason you can’t be getting paid for the things you are already doing, right?

I think the post was well received overall, but I’m not sure everyone understood the point of that post. There was no showing off involved as many of these affiliate websites others have make $250.00 or more PER DAY and they run 100+ sites. I was simply trying to give my readers a push towards going out and attempting to better themselves.

Why is this important? There has never been a better time than now (okay, maybe a couple years ago) to get started affiliate marketing. I mean, it is just now truly starting to take off as more companies see themselves falling behind their competitors, who are finding success with the help of their affiliates. Once they start offering an affiliate program as well, affiliate marketers get more and more options, and the affiliate percentages continue to go up. And the best part? These aren’t infomercial products and other worthless products either. Most large companies you are already promoting have affiliate programs these days.

For example, I’ve got a network of comic book sites that have a huge selection of companies to work with, making it easy for me to focus each individual site on specific comic book characters or comic companies, and in turn place very specific and relevant affiliate advertisements on those sites. I also have a toy site (and no, I won’t get more specific than toy site) that has a large choices of companies to be affiliated with. I even have a recipe site that is making quite a few sales through Amazon’s affiliate program.

Most of these sites started out as random domains I had sitting in my account unused and so I decided to start using them. Others are domains I specifically registered to create niche sites with. They all use different companies as affiliates, but they are mostly all profitable. The few that aren’t after a years time will be dropped. I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much any website or blog these days can be a successful affiliate for someone if you put some effort into tracking down those affiliate programs.

In the United States, there is a recession happening (whether they admit it or not, I live here and it is), but the online economy has never been healthier. Each year large corporations advertising/affiliate budgets go up, so there has never been a better time in my opinion to get started with affiliate marketing in some form. 90% of the world still is not online and when they are, they will begin buying products online. Much of Asia is starting to go online. It is truly a great opportunity for anyone to make some extra cash.

You’ll notice that my past few posts have not housed any affiliate links. That is because I’m not really trying to sell you anything here, other than the idea of starting to use affiliate marketing to make some money. Affiliate programs are all free to join, so there is no reason to put off joining them and growing your site(s) around them. I think if you take a look around the internet, you’ll see all sorts of opportunities that will present themselves. The question is whether or not you will take advantage of these opportunities.

Are You a Free Affiliate?

If you are a blogger, you probably have a few things you are very passionate about.   Through the course of a typical week, you probably link out several times to various companies, products, or services that you endorse because you personally enjoy them.   If it is not a paid review or an affiliate link, then you are doing so for free. 

Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but why not get paid for it?   People seem to have a misconception that affiliate marketing requires you to endorse products you don’t use, which is completely untrue.   MOST companies now have affiliate programs of some sort, so if you are endorsing anyone, you can get paid.    Your web hosting company and your domain registrar more than likely have affiliate programs.   Any book or TV show reviews you do can be endorsed through Amazon.  Anything sold on eBay can be endorsed through their affiliate program.   There are such huge advantages for companies to run an affiliate program that most companies are doing so. 

It was with that in mind that about six months ago when I decided to make a change in my online practices and shift my focus primarily to affiliate marketing.   The first thing I did before launching any new campaigns was to dig through my existing websites and popular individual posts looking for affiliate opportunities.   Because of the amount of content I had produced over the past two years on my network of websites, this was a fairly big task and took most of one weekend to complete (about 13 hours).  

Like I encouraged others to do in one of my last posts, I started with the basic 6 affiliate companies.    I also spent some time looking through my blog analytics and figured out which companies I was sending the most traffic to.  I then went to Google and searched for the companies name and affiliate.   I was surprised that 3-4 of of these companies had affiliate programs as well!

Once I was done signing up for relevant affiliate programs and collecting affiliate links, I went back into those posts and updated these existing links within my posts to be affiliate links.  I chose to mask my affiliate links because it makes it much easier to use them on multiple websites, but it really isn’t needed as you are targeting search engine traffic.   I then took any others that were relevant and added them to the blogs sidebar. 

After each day, I began to check on my progress by logging into my affiliate accounts.  Each day it seemed my eyes widened more and more.   Within 30 days I had made almost $1,200.00 just from these affiliate programs.   This was without factoring in and new affiliate campaigns, just links I had naturally done on my sites over the years.  It was an exciting time, but also depressing to think about how much money I had lost in the previous weeks, months, and even years by not learning the secret to making money online earlier.  And these were all links I made originally without any income in mind, but just because I enjoyed the product or service.  

In the months since, that income has been pretty consistent and I’ve been growing it with new niche sites, new campaigns, etc.   It is fun to see the income rolling in 24/7, and have that money come from work I’ve done in the past.   Any work I’m doing now will hopefully be adding to that income six months from now!

If you have a lot of content indexed in the search engines, I highly recommend you carve out some time to research affiliate programs and update your links.   You’ll probably be surprised with the opportunities that present themselves. 

What Are The Advantages of Affiliate Marketing?

As I eluded to in one of my previous posts, there are two huge advantages to monetizing your website or blog with affiliate marketing.  I just wanted to write a quick post today highlighting those two advantages.   Tomorrow we’ll dive into some strategies to get started with affiliate marketing.

The first major advantage of affiliate marketing is that unlike Google AdSense or other advertising programs which can bother both readers and search engine traffic, affiliate links can be strategically placed within posts, below posts, in your sidebar, or you can even create featured landing pages for each product without it bothering your regular readers.  The best part about it is that they blend into your website or blog, making them look natural.   This makes for a better looking website for your readers and search engine traffic, and also clears the way for promoting your affiliate products.

The second major advantage for affiliate marketing is the huge amount of income each sale can produce, requiring a lot fewer conversions to make the same amount of cash as a large number of ad clicks would with Google AdSense or another similar program.  A single sale could generate $100.00 or more if you are properly promoting your products, instead of getting 39 clicks for $1.72 with AdSense.

Introduction to the World of Domaining

If you are a full-time domainer (or a very heavily involved part-time domainer), one of the toughest things to do is explain to people what it is you do and how exactly you make money.   I often find a more confused face once I finish explaining the world of internet real estate.

On some rare occasions, I will get someone that sounds interested and wants to learn more.   Where do you point someone like this?   Going forward, one place I will be sending this people is Domaining 101.   While this post is very basic, it does a great job of providing many of the essentials a domainer needs to get started.

Domaining.com To Require Paid Subscription?

So far it looks like very few details have been released, but it looks like before long it will be subscription based.   So, how will this affect their readers?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a big fan of Domaining.com.   While they technically aren’t feed scrapers, they don’t do any work.   They don’t write content, they don’t do research, they don’t post any original thoughts.   They just publish an excerpt of what was already published elsewhere.

As a person that runs a domain blog, I don’t like that it takes away from the need to visit the actual blog.  Now they want you to pay them?   I think this is a bad move on there part.

Miscellaneous Domain Name Statistics

One of the feeds I monitor is a website called DotWeekly.   It is one of a large number of domain blogs that have shown up over the past year, but I like it because it offers some interesting incites from time to time.

Todays post is a compilation of off the wall domain stats, which I really enjoyed.   Here is a bit of the information provided:

Godaddy.com continues to rule the registrar league with a positive gain of 560,423 domain names over the past 30 days and now with a total of 25,260,275 domains under it’s control

NetworkSolutions.com continues to Lose domain names and has had a negative lose of 11,099 domain names over the past 30 days. NetSol still holds the # 3 spot for the most domains under control, but it looks as if Tucows will gain that # 3 spot within a month or two.

There are currently 987 ICANN domain name registrars.

Sedo Parking gained 3,473 domain names.

Click over to view the rest of the statistics.