Affiliate Income Report – June 2008

Last month I kicked off a new monthly Affiliate Income Report series with my May Affiliate Income Report, which is basically a report of how much income is being generated by me via affiliate marketing.   Overall, I would say that it received a positive response, so consider this to be the second installment!

This series was originally created because I’ve found that the blogosphere has been filled with a lot of distrust lately due to the many “Make Money Online” blogs launched by pretty much everyone, yet most fail to bring in even $100.00 income.   Do you really want to take advice on how to make money from someone that isn’t?   I’ve also found that this series also serves as a great way for me to gauge my progress over time as Apricot Media continues to grow.

June Affiliate Marketing Income Report

So, how’d I do?

  • E-Junkie – $1279.10 ($1,269.21)
  • Clickbank – $159.64 ($176.09)
  • Commission Junction – $4.79 ($1.69)
  • Amazon Associates – $0.54 ($21.87)
  • eBay Partner Network – $195.31 ($89.08)
  • Other Miscellaneous Affiliates – $398.35 ($395.55)

 

  • Gross Income: $2,037.73 ($1,953.49)
  • Advertising Costs/Banners Purchased: $108.00 ($85.00)
  • Total Net Income: $1,929.73 ($1,868.49)

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

You’ll probably notice that this months figures look a little different.  That is because last month I talked about total online income, where as going forward I will only be disclosing my affiliate income.   Additional income sources such as Google AdSense and private advertising have been removed because they aren’t affiliate income. 

As you can see, a few went up and a few went down, but I basically stayed the same for the most part (which sustaining success is half the battle).   As far as I can tell, the main difference is with my BANS income.   I spent a lot of time in May of 2008 working on BANS stores and you can see that has REALLY paid off.  I’m sitting at around 30-35 stores currently, so if you factor in the cost of BANS, plus the BANS templates I use regularly, then the cost of registering the domains for my stores, I’ve pretty much broke even just in the past two months.   Anything going forward is 100% profit until those domains come up for renewal.  At that point, the stores that aren’t at least producing $10.00 a year will be let go to expire and the rest will be renewed (with no additional work required).  

I also managed to maintain the E-Junkie income and improve upon the miscellaneous additional affiliates, which is the 30 or so small affiliate programs I have that are directly with the company, rather than via an affiliate service.

Expectations for July’s Online Income

July will be an interesting month (plus we get the extra day!).  I got one really big project that I hope to have finished within July that will likely be a decent earner, but that income may not start showing up until August.   I’m also planning on doing some additional article marketing for the niche sites that are already profitable (to push that profit higher), and I hope to launch some campaigns for Market Leverage, NeverBlue Ads, and possibly my favorite new option, Pepperjam Network.   These companies provide you with a campaign manager and provide affiliate opportunites that include getting paid percentage of sales, fixed profit sales, and some that pay you simply for qualified leads.

How To: Creating an Affiliate Marketing Landing Page

Over the past couple months you’ve probably heard me talk about landing pages, but if you are new to affiliate marketing, you may not be familiar with them. I decided to write a post and provide some details about what exactly a landing page is.

What is an Affiliate Marketing Landing Page?

Affiliate marketing is broken down into a few different key areas, but one of the most important is your website setup and landing page.   A landing page is either the homepage or a page within the website whose sole purpose is to sell a product.

What are Some Key Points For a Good Landing Page?

Here are things that should be included in a good landing page:

  • Grab Readers Attention – When someone finds your page, whether it be via search engines or PPC advertising, you only have a few seconds to grab the readers attention.   The top of the page should accomplish this.
  • Sell the Product – Make sure the reader knows why they need this product.
  • 1-2 Outbound Links – A good landing page won’t include anything but your affiliate link.  You don’t want the reader clicking anywhere except where you want to send them.

If you’d like to see an actual example of a landing page, Zac Johnson recently posted a killer landing page on his website and provides an actual template to download so you can make your own landing pages.

Make Money Online with Commission Junction

Earlier in this series I talked about how to make money online with several of my favorite companies, but one that has the potential to be my favorite company is Commission Junction.   That is because they have the affiliate programs of pretty much all of the top companies out there.

In a recent post, Affiliate Tip talked about how Commission Junction Dominates the Internet 500, meaning of course that they run an overwhelming percentage of the affiliate programs of many of the internet’s top 500 companies.  Obviously you are doing something right if most major companies choose you. Of those that don’t, most house their affiliate programs internally.

If you decide to place more focus on affiliate marketing, and you decide to partner with CJ, the first thing you’ll notice is that the site is a little old fashioned and sometimes the navigation can be a little difficult.   With that said, after using it a bit it really isn’t that bad to find your way around.

Some nice things about Commission Junction:

  • Top Companies – As mentioned above, you’ll find many of the top companies with Commission Junction.   These products are familiar to internet buyers and many buy them anyway, so it can sometimes be easier to sell their products.
  • Huge Selection – Pretty much every keyword is covered, so no matter what kind of niche blog/website you are starting, you should be able to find at least 1-2 companies/products to promote.
  • Banners – Some affiliate companies just offer affiliate links.  With most companies in CJ, you get a nice selection of banners, including 468×60 and 125×125.

So far, my success with Commission Junction has been minimal at best, but I’m planning to switch some of my focus to CJ products in the future.  My hope is with a little focus, I can push that number up and continue to diversify my online income.

Make Money Online with Amazon Associates

Does your website, eStore, or niche blog sell a lot of products? If the answer is yes, one thing you should definitely check out is Amazon.com’s affiliate program: Amazon Associates.

This is arguably the most popular affiliate program on the internet and with good reason. Anything sold on Amazon can be linked to from your website and you get paid when your traffic buys their products. What this means is anyone that blogs about video games, movies, books, etc. can make a lot of money with the proper use of this program. Amazon Associates also give you a lot of options for promoting their products, including text links, pictures, buttons and a variety of keyword triggered techniques.

Though Amazon does not offer the most competitve payouts on the market, they have developed a strong brand and trust with the online shopping community, making them an excellent choice to affiliate yourself with. They do have a tiered system, however, so if you send them a lot of business, your percentage will go up giving you more profits.

Amazon Associates also offers something that you won’t find with most affiliate programs and that is the ability to refer people to Amazon for a particular product and get paid for EVERYTHING they buy. In fact, if you refer someone to Amazon to buy a book and they decide not to, but they instead buy 2-3 other things, you will get paid for those things. In other words, when using Amazon Associates your goal is simply to get people over to Amazon. They do the rest of the work, which is why I really like this affiliate program.

One of my goals going forward is to spend more time and focus on targeting Amazon Associates products, as I am personally very far from maximizing my income with them. I am currently in the process of finding related products for existing websites so I can work a few affiliate links into those posts. Once that is done, I will launch a site or two that is focused specifically on forwarding traffic to Amazon and see how that goes. Expect future posts about what I’m finding works and what doesn’t work as I try more things.

Integrating Amazon Associates Into Your WordPress Blog

If you’d like promote Amazon on your WordPress blog, there are a few WordPress plugins available. One is the WP-Amazon WordPress plugin and the other I’ve found is the Amazon Links Pro, both of which allow you to easily integrate AA into your blog.

If you aren’t already a member, I recommend you check out Amazon Associates!

Foreclosure Affiliate Program: Foreclosure.com

One of the popular niche sites to run right now (and for good reason) are foreclosure websites/blogs. In the United States right now we are close to being in a recession with unemployment rates skyrocketing and the number of foreclosures going up each day. It is only natural for a affiliate marketer to recognize the potential in this market and attempt to make money online with it.

One of the top Foreclosure affiliate programs right now is Foreclosure.com. Not only do they pay affiliates a pretty nice percentage, but now they also help you setup your affiliate site with a new Foreclosure WordPress plugin. Affiliates using the WordPress Foreclosure Listings plugin get a complete real estate search and navigation environment that queries the Foreclosure.com database in real-time, meaning with a good foreclosure domain you have the basis for your website right away and you can just build around the plugin.

So far, the best use of this plugin I’ve found is FindForeclosures.com, but there are many others as well. If you find yourself targeting the foreclosure niche in some way, I would definitely recommend you check out Foreclosure.com.

Update: I decided to go out and make a quick foreclosure niche site to see if I could get this plugin to generate some extra affiliate income.  You can see my new foreclosure niche site here:  Recent Foreclosures.  If it does well, I’m sure I’ll go into more details in a future post.

Learn Article Marketing with Article Marketing Domination

When you become an affiliate marketer, one concept you need to become very familiar with is link building.  In other words, you need to learn how to generate inbound links to your niche website or blog that you’ve created.   This is especially critical when you are not adding much content to the website.

There are two popular strategies often used to build inbound links.  These two choices are using web directories and using article directories.   In the past I’ve talked about blog directories, so I figured with this post I would cover article directories, which I’ll admit is a method I’ve only begun experimenting with recently.

The basic idea behind article directories is that you can write an article of your own website, then submit it to several article directories.   These sites get free content for their website and you will get credit for both an inbound link to your website, as well as an opportunity to sell your product to the reader.  If your small niche site focuses on 1-2 products, tease the product in your post so people will click the link at the bottom and head over to your website.   As long as the article directory stays in good favor with the search engines, you get credit for a link, a chance to help sell your product, and it has more of a long-term gain over using link directories.

If you think about it, the power of article marketing should be obvious, but learning some of the little tricks to launching a successful promotion can sometimes take months and even years to learn.    That is why I turned to Josh Spaulding’s Article Marketing Domination eBook for guidance, because Josh bares all when sharing his secrets to success.

In his eBook, Josh goes into detail about how to write your article to improve clicks, which article directories offer the most benefits, etc.   Much of this stuff I could probably have picked up on my own, but it would have taken years of experimenting and documenting results to get the information I got from Josh’s eBook.

If you are interested in learning more about article marketing, I recommend you check out Josh’s eBook, which has received excellent reviews from many of the internet’s top affiliates!

When To Start Your Own Affiliate Business

So you’ve been working really hard and started to make money online.  Now what?   Depending on how much money you are making, the answer could vary, but I recommend you at least consider starting a formalized business and operating under that business name.

What does this mean exactly? In my situation, for many months now I’ve been pulling in $1,000 or more from my online activities.  This income consists of a bunch of different sources with the primary income coming from affiliate marketing, but I also get a portion of it from domain sales and blogging advertisements/AdSense.   When I would get paid each month, I would just send that money over to my checking account and pay bills or drop some into savings, etc.   Sound familiar?

If you are making under $500.00 a month, this probably isn’t for you, but once you start making more than that, it is my belief that you should at least consider moving your activities over to a formalized business.

Should you decide to at least looking into starting a business, you’ll probably be trying to choose between an LLC (limited liability company) and running your business as a sole proprietorship.   Both types have advantages, but to start I recommend most people go with the sole proprietorship because they are easier to setup and you don’t have to completely separate your business assets/debts from personal assets/debts.   The one exception to that rule is domainers who run a signfiicant legal risk due to owning domains with possible trademark violations.  When your domain portfolios value gets into the 5 figure our higher range it is probably a good time to go with an LLC.  Operating under an LLC requires complete seperation from personal and business, so it requires a lot more paperwork, more accounts to manage, etc.   But the significant reduction in risk makes it more than worth it.

Edit: The day after I posted this, Jonathan Volk wrote a very detailed article about finding the best corporate structure which I think our readers will enjoy.

Why Operate Under a Business Name?

To be honest, there are a LOT of advantages to this and very few disadvantages in my opinion.  For the purposes of this post, lets look at the advantages of a sole properietorship:

  • Tax Deductions – This is probably the most important reason.   I know my business expenses (domain renewals, advertising costs, PPC advertising) were going up as my income went up, and now that I am operating under a business name, I am able to deduct these things come tax time.   Before I was paying taxes on my full online income without deducting the expenses I have to run the business.   If you go the route of a sole proprietorship, you are also able to find a lot of additional deductions once you’ve made the switch, such as cell phone costs (if your domains are registered under that phone number), buying new desktop/laptop computers and equipment, etc.  If you aren’t sure what qualifies, you’ll want to consult a qualified accountant.
  • Tax Identification Number (TID) – When you operate under a business name, you can use a TID instead of your social security number when you sign up with all of these companies.  This is more secure for you personally and really convenient.
  • Better Accounting – Having a separate Paypal account, separate checking, savings, and credit card all make it much easier to track income/expenses and figure out exactly how much you truly are making each month after taking out your expenses.   This will also help you figure out how much money to put aside for tax time!
  • More professional appearance – If you are buying advertising from someone, would you rather buy from Joe Blue or Blue Media?   Which one sounds more professional?  Probably a bad example, but you get the idea!
  • Business Cards – This isn’t necessarily needed for people making money online unless you attend a lot of events, but it is nice to have the option available.

Introducing Apricot Media

I guess I haven’t really mentioned it yet here, but it obviously fits with the theme of this post so I will go ahead and make the official announcement.   About a month ago I finally finished making the complete transition over to my business name Apricot Media, and I am already extremely glad that I did.   Things have really gone great so far!   I finished setting up the domain awhile ago (though it is more of a splash page right now) and with the help of my friend Mark, I was able to get a great logo as well, which can also be used for business cards, fax coversheets, or whatever I want to use it on.   More importantly, I have a professional “media” email address that I can use to conduct business under.

RIght now, Apricot Media is more of a name than an internet presence, but remember that it is CRUCIAL to own the dot com version of your business name before you launch your business.  You will want to secure the dot com domain name before you pick your business name, even if you aren’t using it right away.  That is a big reason why when I was able to successfully acquire this incredible multi-thousand dollar domain name, I decided to use it as my business name (after doing a trademark search to verify there wouldn’t be issues there).

One of the great things about the internet is all of the options you have available to you, so I hope everyone is at least considering setting themselves up for success over time.   Have you considered converting to a formalized business?

Join Market Leverage and Win Great Prizes

Lately Zac Johnson has been on a Market Leverage promotion spree, and his latest Market Leverage campaign is centered around a huge number of great prizes that he is practically giving away on his personal blog.

Here are the prizes up for grabs:

  • iPod Nano
  • USB Drive Pen (3 Winners)
  • $200 ML American Express Rewards card
  • Flip Video Camera *The NEW MINO
  • BONUS: iPod Touch

Here is all that you have to do to be prize eligible:

1.) Join Market Leverage through this blog.
– Prize: iPod Nano (Referred affiliate with highest June earnings.)
– Prize: $200 American Express Gift Card (random winner)
– Prize: Free Shirt & Sticker (to all new referred ML affiliates)

2.) Blog & Link to this post on your Blog
– Prize: Flip Video Camera MINO (random drawing)
– Prize: USB Drive Pen (random drawing)

3.) Leave a Comment on this Promotion or Market Leverage
– Prize: USB Drive Pen (TWO random winners)

4.) BONUS PRIZE: iPod Touch
– To any affiliate that joins through this blog post, if you earn the most commissions in July with MarketLeverage, you will win a Free iPod Touch. (only applicable to referred affiliates through this blog)

Check out Zac Johnson’s contest page!

Build a Niche Store Integrates the PepperJam Network

A couple of weeks ago eBay announced that in addition to eBay Partner Network, PepperJam Network will now be offering an eBay affiliation (long time BANS users will remember that Commission Junction originally housed the eBay affiliate program before it moved to ePN).

As a big time BANS user, I have obviously followed this pretty closely.   The Build a Niche Store team is one of the best in the business, and already they have released a new version of BANS for people that want to use PepperJam instead of ePN.    If you’ve purchased BANS you should be receiving an email with download instructions.

I’ve been exploring the PepperJam Network the past couple weeks as I prepare to launch new campaigns with them and already I have been enjoying what I’ve seen, but at this point I think I will be sticking with ePN as it is working fairly well for me.   I will be keeping an eye on reports from people using PepperJam to see if the results are any better, but I figure the fewer middle men, the better!

I know many of you are finding success with BANS, will you be switching your existing stores to PepperJam Network?

The Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

As most of you that have been reading this site for awhile already know, I originally got my start as as blogger, made my first online paycheck through blogging, and to this day still have a strong passion for blogging. I even feel that my readers have contributed a lot to where I am today from their comments here and reading their posts on their blogs.

No matter what reason we all start out blogging, I think it is only natural to eventually look at blogging as something you enjoy and something you would like to do for a living. Who wouldn’t want to? With that said, only a select few bloggers are able to make a full time income blogging. This is especially true when you factor in a lack of benefits and other things that you would normally get from a normal job.

But what about affiliate marketing? There are thousands of people (if not more) making a full time income online, and it really isn’t that difficult. Add in the people making a very good 2nd income doing affiliate marketing part-time and you’ve got something special.

For the purpose of this post, I decided to write about the advantages of affiliate marketing. This post is intended to cover the overall advantages, but you’ll find that many comparisons are drawn up against blogging, which is what I know and being a blogger is what most of my readers are.

The Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

As you probabaly noticed from my May income report, affiliate marketing has already been very good to me and I’ve only been really attacking it for under a year now. I do think it is important to note that I am still drawing some income from private advertising and Google AdSense, though it is fairly minimal and mostly offsets my advertising costs, etc. Prior to focusing on affiliate marketing, my online income came exclusively from Google AdSense, private advertising, and Text Link Ads.

Here are a few advantages I’ve noticed already from shifting my primary focus to affiliate marketing:

  • Easy to Take A Break – If I decide to go on vacation, move, or take some time away from my computer, there is nothing to do. No guest bloggers needed, no scheduling ahead posts, and no dip in income while I’m away. Your sites should continue to perform while you are gone as long as you have good webhosting. Shoemoney once posted something along the lines of “I knew I was in the right business when I went on my honeymoon and returned to find that I made more money while on vacation than I spent on the honeymoon.” That is paraphrased of course, but it really sums up the power of affiliate marketing, and possibly the one statement that has truly inspired me and drives me to work so hard each day.
  • No Maintenance – Once your site is setup and tweaked to perform optimally, you are done! Ideally you will want to, over time, launch more sites and look for better performing affiliates, but these are methods to improve your income, not sustain it.
  • Being Social Not Needed – One aspect of blogging is growing your brand and building a strong following. Build up your feed subscription count, encourage comments, submit your posts to DIgg and Stumbleupon, etc. None of that is needed with affiliate marketing. You technically don’t even need to be social with people (though there are advantages to developing friendships and bouncing ideas off others). Success is determined with dollar signs, not subscriber counts. This also means you won’t have to spend any time supporting products, answering contact form questions, researching/reviewing things.

So, those are the three major advantages that jumped out at me. I’m sure I could easily draft up a post that covers the other side of the coin with advantages to blogging. After all, some of the things listed above as advantages might be disadvantages to others. Some people love to interact with other people. It really depends on your business plan, how you work, and your preferences.

Is there anything you would add to this list?