How to: Monetize a GEO Domain with Affiliate Marketing

In my last post, I introduced you to one of my new sites, Iowa Guide, which was built using WordPress.    I’ve found whether I’m making a simple affiliate landing page, a static website, a content management system, or of course a blog, that WordPress is usually the best way to go.   Between the themes and plugins available, it is pretty quick and easy to get a site up and running in little to no time.

Okay, so I told you I picked up the City Revolution theme and set off to work.   After about a week of writing off and on for the site, I noticed I had a LOT of content, most of which can be found on WordPress pages.   That was the easy part since it was a local GEO domain and I didn’t have to research much to create the content!

Once you’ve got your content in place, the next step is usually to monetize the website.   The first thing I did was research payout percentages on affiliates.   In the case of Iowa Guide, I knew that these travel companies compete pretty heavily for affiliates, so I decided to start there.  Between Priceline, Expedia, and Travelocity, I had three good choices, but I ended up going with Priceline because they were able to build a page directly into my website (sort of).  This way visitors would be able to browse for discount hotel rooms from what appeared to be within my site.  You can check out the Iowa Hotels page and probably not tell that it is actually hosted on Priceline’s servers, because it was built around my site’s layout, including my menu.

With Priceline, I was also able to get affiliate links for their airline and car rental services, but at this time these links will take readers over to their site to search.   Hopefully someday I can do the same for both airlines and car rentals.

Once that was done, I then spent some time looking for other affiliate opportunities and found companies such as Ticketmaster and StubHub for people looking for sporting events and concert tickets.

Once the site is setup, or at least looking respectable, you can then start your campaigns to make some sales.   The travel industry is an expensive one to compete in, but the payouts are huge if you find a good niche.   Currently I’m using PPC to generate additional traffic, then attempting to funnel it to a Hotels page which helps make the sale, then send readers to the hotel page that Priceline built.   I am also going to be adding a post or two each week to grow the sites presence in the search engines and remind Google that the site is active.

Affiliate Income Report – July 2008

Last month I published the second of my monthly Affiliate Income Report series with my June Affiliate Income Report, which is basically a report of how much income is being generated by me via affiliate marketing.  As is the case on most blogs that do similar reports each month, this has grown to be one of my most popular posts, so I figured I would continue it again this month.

July Affiliate Marketing Income Report

So, how’d I do?

  • E-Junkie – $1916.60 ($1279.10)
  • Clickbank – $181.90 ($159.64)
  • Commission Junction – $0.00 ($4.79)
  • Amazon Associates – $10.50 ($0.54)
  • eBay Partner Network – $122.88 ($195.31)
  • Other Miscellaneous Affiliates – $776.00 ($398.35)
  • Gross Income: $3,007.88 ($2,037.73)
  • Advertising Costs/Banners Purchased: $680.20 ($108.00)
  • Total Net Income: $2,327.68 ($1,929.73)

**All numbers in quotes represent the previous months income figures**

July was a very interesting month for me personally.   I dropped promoting some of my BANS sites to see what would happen and it definitely made a difference in a bad way.  BANS is still generating great income though without purchasing PPC income and everything after the first three months has all been pure profit.   I always said that my goal with BANS was to get domains to pay for their own renewals so I can grow my domain portfolio (sitting at about 250 right now).   Going forward, my plan is to take my BANS income and start renewing the domains I want to keep now so that I won’t have so many come up for renewal all at once.  Google also trusts domains renewed out more than a year or two so this may have a positive influence on my site rankings as well.

The other thing you’ll probably notice right away is that both my E-Junkie income and my miscellaneous affiliate accounts both went up quite a bit.   My hope is that this is a trend that will continue, though I haven’t been able to pinpoint which changes made the big difference.   If I figure that out, I will share my findings in a future post!

You’ll also notice the expenses went up quite a bit.   For one, I had a number of domains come up for renewal.  Also, due to my lack of design abilities, I have been purchasing some new logos a few of my sites, and I also managed to make a couple significant domain name purchases that I am REALLY excited about.  I won’t be releasing any details at this time, but I have possession of the domains and will let you know when there are details to announce.

Expectations for August’s Online Income

I mentioned last month that I had a big project I was working on through July, and a couple of days ago you probably saw my announcement of that project, which was the Success with WordPress eBook.  Sales have been good so far and those that have read the eBook have given it some great reviews, so I hope this trend will continue (this income wasn’t disclosed above because it isn’t affiliate generated income).   Remember, even if you don’t want to purchase the book, you can make some extra income by promoting Success with WordPress.  See the affiliate page for additional information.

For the month of August, my hope is simply to get these two new domains developed and started generating some income.  In the meantime, I’m hoping my existing affiliate sites and blogs will continue to generate a similar income to July’s income.

The SEO Benefits of Article Marketing

Are you using article marketing to increase your niche sites inbound links?   Recently the Affiliate Classroom blog wrote a great post about the importance of article marketing, and why this strategy is possibly the best SEO for affiliate marketers.   After reading through it, I wanted to mention it here.

There are actually 8 reasons listed, but I wanted to point out a few important ones that I think people fail to think about:

Links are one-way. Some SEO experts believe that search engines downplay reciprocal links in their results calculations. While reciprocal links can still be valuable, they don’t count as much as one-way links to your site. Article directories give you a one-way link.

Links are guaranteed. If you’ve never asked a webmaster for a link before, it can feel a bit intimidating. But when you submit articles to directories, you know you won’t get turned down. Seeing those backlinks show up in the SERPs is a nice confidence booster, especially if your site is brand new. As long as your articles are of good quality, they will also send you targeted visitors for a long time to come.

Links per page are fewer. This is a little known, but valuable benefit. Some SEO experts believe that the higher the number of links per page, the less SEO value each link will have. But the link back to your site in an article directory is usually only one of only a few links on the page.

Backlinks soon multiply. Article sites exist for a reason – to provide other webmasters with access to free, quality content. So just one article, in just one directory, can actually turn into hundreds of links, as webmaster after webmaster finds your article and uses it.

If you’d like to read more about article marketing, I recommend you check out Josh Spaulding’s Article Marketing Domination eBook.

Why Won’t I Share My Affiliate Sites With Readers?

A couple of emails and comments recently have come to me inquiring about why I don’t provide specific examples of my affiliate sites, BANS sites, etc.   While I certainly understand that it would be ideal if I provided specific sites you could click over and examine closely, there is actually a reason that I don’t.  Well, there are actually two reasons that I don’t, and I figured I would share them in this post.

  1. Niche Theft – Maybe even more so than the Make Money Online niche, Affiliate Marketers (especially upstart ones) often take each others ideas.   That is why I stressed in my previous post how important it is to find people that you trust.   If I shared on this site which niche sites are making me the most money, I guarantee I would magically see several clone sites within a few days.  This is especially true for BANS sites, as it is pretty darn easy to mimic someone else’s BANS site because most of the changes will be in the stylesheet, which people ‘View Source’ and copy on to their BANS themes.
  2. Experience – Trust me when I say that experience is HUGE in affiliate marketing.  In other words, no matter how much myself or anyone else helps you, you will only learn how to truly succeed through trial and error.   I would say 3 out of every 5 sites I launch fail, but these are the experiences that I covet the most and that motivate me to keep refining my techniques.

Though I encourage everyone just starting out to do plenty of trial and error, one thing I do recommend is once you find a niche that does well, or at least is profitable, attack that niche!   Make a cluster of websites in that niche before moving on.   An example would be if you find success in the Barbie (toy) niche, maybe launch a Barbie poster site, Barbie clothing site, and/or whatever other Barbie stuff is selling.   You could also inter-link these sites (as long as the content is similar) and benefit that way.

On a side note, I have launched a couple actual sites (not niche sites) and plan to blog about some of these sites here and what methods I’m taking to monetize them.  Hopefully some of you will have an interest in that.

Importance of Finding Affiliate Marketers You Can Trust

Most of you will remember that last month I gave my thoughts on the Make Money Online (MMO) niche.   Basically (in my opinion) if one of those guys is talking about something, they are either being compensated for talking about it (paid reviews), or they are getting paid when you purchase it (affiliate payments).   In other words, pretty much every post they make is self-servicing in some way.  Trust me when I say that people that make money online aren’t eager to share their secrets without some compensation, and overall these people are no different.  Most of the people that are actually making money online, are to busy doing that to blog and help others.

One thing I like about affiliate marketers is the community that has formed around the industry.   Though an affiliate marketer typically won’t give you the exact URL of their top performing websites (with good reason as readers would copy it or compete with it), they are often very open and honest about their techniques and more than willing to help others.

One strong method I recommend to people entering this field is to find a very select group of people (3-4) that you can trust.   Within this group, everyone should be 100% open and honest with each other about their business models and an understanding should be in place that you will not directly compete with others in the group.   This way when you have a new idea, you can run it by the group and get their input before spending the time and money involved with launching a new campaign.   With this method you can use others input to save a lot of time and money launching bad campaigns, and you can help your friends to succeed at the same time!

Unfortunately, the life of an affiliate marketer can sometimes be very secluded as most sites are run anonymously.   I’ve found that some good ways to meet people are by running an affiliate marketing blog and probably more important is to be active on message boards.  If your budget allows it, you’ll also want to consider attending affiliate conventions, etc.

I have a few people that I have business partnerships with online and it has been a great experience for me.  I’m pretty open with them on what projects/websites I’m building, what strategies I’m using to monetize them, etc.  They do the same with me, and all ideas are kept confidential.  These are business relationships and even friendships that I truly value as they have helped me grow as a blogger, affiliate marketer, and more.

The Four P’s of Affiliate Marketing

You may have heard before about the four “P’s” of Marketing.   This is a common saying within the marketing niche to describe Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement.

This is something people will often think of when talking about marketing in our day-to-day lives, but I’ve found that it also extends itself well to internet marketing as a whole, and affiliate marketing specifically.

The Four P’s of Affiliate Marketing

  1. Product – Researching and finding the right product to sell.  Would people want to buy this?  Is there are a lot of competition?
  2. Price – This one goes two ways.  Is the product affordable to the consumer and is the affiliate payout worth your time?  Find a product that is in demand and that will pay you a decent share of the earnings (usually 20%+).
  3. Promotion – Possibly the most commonly forgotten.  Most affiliate marketers use a variety of PPC tactics to get traffic, but there are also link building and article marketing methods to promote your new site(s).
  4. Placement – Have you strategically placed your product on the correct domain name?  Especially when dealing with small niche sites, strong generic domains or strong keyword domains will go a long way to help you find success.

Many people think affiliate marketing is easy money.   In my June income report, I mentioned that I made around $2200.00, most of which was profit.   This was an accurate figure, but when you factor in roughly 40-50 hours a week working on it (on top of 40 hours at my day job), that only works out to about $10.00 an hour, which is nothing to get excited about.

The thing I like about this is that work I’ve done in the past continues to generate income each month, so the work I’m doing now will hopefully add to that income.   That is the brilliance of affiliate marketing, especially when a niche you find stays relevant for many years.

Overall, it is all about perspective and motivation, which is why I’ve worked so hard to set you guys up for success.  I have a bunch of things I’ve been trying, but have a lot more risk involved and I don’t want any of you to fail early on and get discouraged.   That is why my early focus has been on things like BANS and keyword sniping.   Things that at worst should make you your money back and help you get use to the world of affiliate marketing.

Don’t Sweat the Summer Slowdown

As you probably already know, pretty much every business has a slowdown period, and the world of affiliate marketing is no different.   Typically in the summer both traffic and conversions take a hit, and for certain niche markets, it is sometimes often known to be extreme. If you aren’t one of the lucky people that has a profitable summer site (such as a Fireworks site), this can sometimes be discouraging.

Fortunately, things always pick up in the fall and of course Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the holiday season follow shortly after.  I guess my point is just if things aren’t stellar right now, keep working hard and your hard work you are doing now should pay off later in the year.  I know many of you are just starting out, or just ramping up your affiliate campaigns now, so I just want to make sure no one gets discouraged and quits during the summer slowdown period.

Oh, and if you use a lot of Google AdWords PPC marketing, one thing you may want to consider is lowering your bids percantage with Google’s scheduling feature. You can lower your bids, then schedule your percentage to return to normal around September.

How To: Researching Good eBay Niches

If you decide to pick up a copy of Build a Niche Store to increase your affiliate income, one of the first things you’ll probably find yourself doing is researching for good niches that convert well on eBay.

Because most popular niches won’t necessarily convert well on eBay, you instead need to focus on products that are in demand.   One place I’ve found success when conducting much of my research is in eBay’s popular section.  They actually go out and track trends, then let us know what is hot.

If you check it regularly, you can often find emerging niches that have a number of keyword-rich domains still available.   For you BANS users, how do you locate good niches?

Growing Your Internet Presence

I made a comment in one of my recent posts about my internet and affiliate strategies, where basically I am launching loads of sites at once, then monitoring them for a month to see which ones produce and weed out the ones that don’t appear to be working out.  It appears that the post has sparked some debate, or at least some additional questions, so I decided to write a follow up post with more information.

As with most things, to me this strategy is kind of a money vs. time thing and people will be on both sides of the fence.  Though I’ve found that this strategy works well for me, there are definitely a negatives with launching a number of sites all at once.

Here are some of the positives I’ve found go with this approach:

  • Less Time Wasted – If I launch 5 BANS sites at once, then monitor them to see which 2 or 3 get the most traffic and develop them, I am not wasting time on those other 2-3 sites that probably would have failed.
  • Diverse Portfolio – The more income producing sites you have, the less trouble you run into if somehow one of your websites gets shut down or comes up missing from the search engines.
  • Creative Ideas – Lately my mind is constantly racing with ideas and I’ve made a habit of finding an appropriate domain for the idea, then launching a small site on the domain when I do my next batch of sites.  If I didn’t go this route, many of my ideas would never get developed.

And here are some negatives for this approach:

  • Higher Costs – Like I said above, it is kind of a time vs. money thing.   With this approach you will buy a lot of domains and launch many failed sites, which results in wasting a lot of money and saving a lot of time.  For people that don’t want to spend money to make money, they will make better and more educated decisions, but will not clear near as many sites and miss out on a lot of opportunities.
  • Difficult to Manage – Once you get to 50+ addon domains in your web hosting account, it can sometimes be difficult to manage.  You will also have to manage a large domain portfolio.

It is really just a preference thing, but my ultimate goal with each batch of websites/blogs I launch is to grow my internet presence.  I think the like-minded people at Court’s Internet Marketing School feel the same way.  In their post about deep linking strategies, I found this:

I think one of the best aspects of SEO is that it’s both cumulative and compounding in nature. It’s cumulative because every time I put a page on the internet it has potential to rank, bring me traffic, and make me money.

As long as I don’t let the domain expire or let it go stale with a lack of links, it stays on the web forever (basically) with very little maintenance. If I add 500 pages per year to across all my sites, the net I’m casting on Google gets a little wider with every single page I add.

Every time I launch 5 new sites, I am growing my internet (SERPs) presence.   If 3 work out, those could prove to be income generators for not weeks or months, but years.  Even if some only make $1.00 a month, they will pay for their renewal and ultimately kick in extra income.  My hope is that at least 1 out of every batch will prove to be a bigger producer, making up to $100.00 a month (or potentially more).    It only takes a few of these to really give you a huge boost in monthly income.

What are you doing to expand your internet presence?

How To: Using Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing

Whether you are a blogger, an affiliate marketer, or you make a living with BANS and related sites, there is a good chance that you are using some form of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing to help drive targeted traffic to your website(s).

I’ve managed to find a lot of success with PPC in a variety of ways, and I plan to discuss some of those ways over the coming months.  In the meantime, I wanted to start out by featuring a great post I found over at the Affiliate Classroom blog which details some great ways to use PPC. What I really like about the post is that they take some methods that are unusual and that most people probably wouldn’t have thought of, then teach you how to use them.

Here are the topics that are covered in their post:

  • Using PPC to Build an Opt-In List
  • Using PPC as a Lead Generator
  • Using PPC as a Viral Generator
  • Using PPC with Unique Landing Pages for Your Own Product

When you click over, you’ll see full detailed explanations of each method of PPC marketing.  My favorite is probably using PPC marketing to grow your mailing list.