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Affiliates Forum

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Affiliates? can you really make a living?
how worth the time are affiliate sites?
iFixSolutions




msg:3277993
 11:48 pm on Mar 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK.. so i'm very new here.. i'm very new to affiliate sites and web marketing.

i never really thought about making money on the net.. i'm an IT guy by trade and run a side business as an Macintosh IT consultant. Over the years i learned how to code clean html and did go to design school early on. i build static/basic (non php/sql) sites for clients that need them and refer the bigger requests out to the folks that can handle that kinda stuff. but the other day i was talking to a friend of mine and she was talking about buying websites to make some side money. also, buying domain names and turning them over. so queue my hand to my forehead with a giant "i'm so stupid.. why haven't i been looking into this before."

i'm burned out on consulting.. i don't want to drive around anymore.. i don't want the stupid questions and the two hours of sitting in traffic for the one hour of work. i want to move my side business to the web and just forget about everything else. so i've been looking at affiliate sites because they seem to take the least work and your job is primarily marketing at that point.

well i burned myself. i jumped in without looking and bought a medical site that, let's just say, has been cracked down on by the DEA. so when i tried to run some cpc ads the big boys (yahoo / google) said "no no.. we won't let you run those ads." to get the traffic i want to start making commissions is going to take a lot of pushing on my part and after posting another discussion on WW have decided to hold the domain name but forget about the program. pretty much everyone said it's not worth it. (guess i'll use my enhance credits for something else.. yahoo gave me my money back)

so that's the overview. the real question is.. do affiliate programs work? what affiliate programs are good money makers? which ones should i avoid (aside from the obvious.) how do people that are making money get their traffic? cpc? like i said, i'm beyond a newbie with this stuff.. i definitely don't understand how to develop links (i read that term, i don't know what it means :)) but i do know it can't just be throwing money at it and getting a high ROI.

this article: [webmasterworld.com...] gave me hope. he's cashing in and getting out.. ultimately that's what i'd love to do too. i want to buy a bar and i don't want to get their as a consultant :)

 

iFixSolutions




msg:3300504
 9:34 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I know mortgage leads via CJ/bfast are a nice cash cow if you are able to get traffic.

yeah.. i saw that too. they don't exactly work on my site, though.. well they definitely don't fall under "targeted" anyway, but i figured what the hell and put a couple up anyway figuring lots of folks have mortgages, need to refi, or don't know their credit score. no takers, but when you're only getting 40 uniques and making 30 cents a day i guess you can't expect much :)

[edited by: iFixSolutions at 9:36 pm (utc) on April 2, 2007]

davewray




msg:3300512
 9:40 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Cashflow is never an issue except the first month of operation if you aim for a 200%+ roi. Initially it will be hard to reach that kind of roi, but with some tweaking you'll get there.

I'm with the crowd that promotes something that I don't necessarily care about. I'm a marketer at heart and put products in front of potential customer's eyes.

And, yes, anyone can be successful at affiliate marketing...but you have to put in time, effort and persistence to do really well at it. You can't just give up at the first sign of things not going well.

Dave.

mfishy




msg:3300537
 10:01 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Many CJ merchants, for example, will pay months post-click to counter fraud etc. Your credit card bill will doubtless arrive far sooner.

I don't use cj a ton, but I have NEVER had anything close to this happen. Do NOT EVER join a program that pays past the 15th of the following month, lol...

Also, if youa re doing any real volume, make sure you collect your own leads on your own forms and then sell them - this way the skim = $0 and you can verify any leads tey claim to be false (also you dont have to have a deaded phone number on the site)

AS for the guy that asked about ppc going away, although i dont do too much ppc, that is like saying what if search engines go away. While it might make for interesting reflection and conversation, it ain't happening.

dickbaker




msg:3300548
 10:19 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK, some dumb questions.

How do you figure out which niches pay the best for advertising? Mortgage leads have been mentioned. How did anyone here find that out in advance? Or did you just try it and see?

I get a fair amount of traffic (175,000 to 200,000 visitors a month) and have 1269 pages available for advertising. (The other 300 or so are spoken for). But I have yet to find an advertiser in my niche that pays well.

So, I'm thinking that I should develop other sites in addition to the one I have now.

When some of you talk about how much time you have to devote to your work, are you spending that time creating new sites or pages, doing SEO, writing content, or all of the above?

I've been working on my site for three years now, and it's making about $15K US a year. For all of the time I've spent on creating the site and doing SEO (it ranks in the top five on Google for just about every term I want) I could have made more money flipping burgers. There has to be a better way.

Replies much appreciated.

buckworks




msg:3300560
 10:44 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

flipping burgers

Remember that the minute you quit flipping burgers, your paycheck stops. On the other hand, with a quality website, the work you do to build and promote it is cumulative and can pay dividends for a long time. The same is true for a savvy PPC campaign. Eventually you'll reach a point where things are stable and the income will continue even if you start turning your attention to other things.

iblaine




msg:3300583
 11:20 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

To find a good niche, pay attention to industry news and test the waters. There really is no one right way to venture into something new. But creativity is never spawned in a vacuum. Do research, read blogs, find PPC reports to size up an industry, look at merchants, their publishers, etc.

mfishy




msg:3300609
 11:50 pm on Apr 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

How do you figure out which niches pay the best for advertising? Mortgage leads have been mentioned. How did anyone here find that out in advance? Or did you just try it and see?

This is kind of a loaded question because it is generally the most difficult to generate traffic for the most lucrative areas. Anyway, assuming you get spam email - that's a good place to start. Any financial product or digital product will pay well (super high margins). Digital products could include software downloads, ebooks, gambling, and memberships - to name a few. Honestly, I don't think you would have to try very hard to figure out what pays...

I get a fair amount of traffic (175,000 to 200,000 visitors a month) and have 1269 pages available for advertising. (The other 300 or so are spoken for). But I have yet to find an advertiser in my niche that pays well.

Forget traffic for the purposes of aff marketing and focus on sales. I guess if you are using adsense or banners (or building the next myspace) more traffic = more money but if we are talking traditional AM, traffic means squat. I have a site that gets 250,000 uniques a month that makes about $400. Another one gets about 3000 uniques and makes about $11,000 monthly. I have a few way more extreme examples....


When some of you talk about how much time you have to devote to your work, are you spending that time creating new sites or pages, doing SEO, writing content, or all of the above?

What do you do well? I can't write, code or design but I have somewhat of a knack for reverse engineering search algos and do well with business development. You need to do what you do best and either pay people to do the rest or find partner/s that will compliment you (i recommend the latter but that is an entire thread in and of itself). The exception is if you come up with a nice little system that just brings in cash sort of on autopilot (gopi) - but these are few and far between. Figure out what you are supposed to be doing and find others to do the things that you are not suited for. You do not need much of a budget on the web. In fact, if you are resourceful, a ticket to the next pubcon and a few hundred bucks for drinks should do it.

I've been working on my site for three years now, and it's making about $15K US a year. For all of the time I've spent on creating the site and doing SEO (it ranks in the top five on Google for just about every term I want) I could have made more money flipping burgers. There has to be a better way.

Your niche obviously sucks. If you keep pushing the same button and keep getting the same results....

Ok, I think I filled my quarterly quota for posting now. Good luck all!

incrediBILL




msg:3300668
 1:44 am on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

1. Affiliate marketer that is creating pages/traffic for no purpose other than to drive sales to merchant

There's nothing wrong with that if you add value.

For instance, trying to find anything on Amazon is quite frustrating as their searches give all sorts of things related to the topic but not always specific to the search.

Simply providing superior categorization, indexing and searchability for their product database is a very valuable capability worthy of the traffic trying to make sense of their website.

The short story is, value comes in many forms and superior organizational skills add value.

dickbaker




msg:3300721
 3:41 am on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

mfishy: "Your niche obviously sucks. If you keep pushing the same button and keep getting the same results....

Ok, I think I filled my quarterly quota for posting now. Good luck all! "

Well, you picked a fine time to leave! ;)

Seriously, please come back. In the several years I've been a member of this forum, this is one of the most useful threads I've ever read.

If mfishy decides not to return for awhile, I'd like to ask you all to indulge me in another of my long-winded posts.

He's right about traffic. My site gets roughly one million page views a month. I know there are other sites that get much more, and other sites that get far less. But I haven't been able to satisfactorily monetize what I would consider to be a respectable amount of traffic.

Why? My niche sucks, as mfishy has pointed out. The manufacturers of widgets that I feature on my site operate at very low profit margins. The retailers of those widgets also operate at very low profit margins.

Thus, their advertising budgets are small compared to manufacturers and retailers of other types of widgets.

Add to that the fact that the people who are looking at the widget content pages on my site run a wide gamut. There are people who are interested in certain widgets for certain types of hobbies, and have no interest in the other types of widgets my site features. It's an audience that's too diverse.

One thing I have going is that my site has pages of widget content that appeal to every sector of the widget-buyer market.

With that in mind, I've begun to research the widget retailers on my site who appear to be very serious about selling all types of niche-related widgets via their online stores.

Rather than offer them almost total run-of-the-site banner ads (which would not produce), I'm looking at finding just the right retailer who sells every type of widget within my niche.

And, my offer would be this: I have over 1000 pages devoted to individual widgets from the major manufacturers. I also have a pull-down menu at the end of each page where visitors can find an "Acme widget" retailer in a particular state.

My thought is to put a sentence above that pull-down menu that would read, "For the best internet prices on Acme Widgets, click here," with a link to the online retailer's site.

And I"m thinking 15 cents per click.

Am I right or wrong?

I know how to get sites ranked well, and I have my own ideas on how to generate good traffic. What I don't have is clue as to how to translate all of that into money.

Which, I guess, is what this thread is all about.

Thanks for indulging my long-winded post.

iFixSolutions




msg:3300728
 4:00 am on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

My thought is to put a sentence above that pull-down menu that would read, "For the best internet prices on Acme Widgets, click here," with a link to the online retailer's site.

And I"m thinking 15 cents per click.

well i'm pretty new.. and this isn't exactly an affiliate related response. but have you thought about getting on the phone and just selling the ad space at a flat rate instead of doing per click? just a thought. if you rank in the top 5 on google and you have your niche covered.. then i'd think you could probably start charging a pretty decent amount if you just sell the spots to them.

Jane_Doe




msg:3300736
 4:22 am on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

What I don't have is clue as to how to translate all of that into money.

I just put up a variety of sites on different topics, sometimes really obscure topics that I like to write about, and see what makes money. I buy hundreds of books a year and have books stashed all over the house in crates labeled by topic. Sometimes the weirdest topics that have almost no competition will work out really well.

Then when I see where I'm getting easy traffic and money I can add more pages or even more sites on the same topic. It never hurts to have another well ranked site with lots of content, even if it is not a big money earner.

[edited by: Jane_Doe at 4:23 am (utc) on April 3, 2007]

eljefe3




msg:3300751
 4:46 am on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>My thought is to put a sentence above that pull-down menu that would read, "For the best internet prices on Acme Widgets, click here," with a link to the online retailer's site.

>>And I"m thinking 15 cents per click.

>>Am I right or wrong?

Problem here would be that your niche just isn't a high paying one.

Basic areas to find higher paying niches would be to go to cj or another affiliate platform where they post the average epc, which depending on which platform you are using, they break down the payout for each niche. Product either showing how much is made on average per 100 clicks ( cj) or on a per click basis ( most others ).

Chances are when you seach your niche that you are in now you will see a low EPC.

This brings us back to the A vs B affiliate that has been spoken about for years here at WebmasterWorld.

Type A builds sites in areas that are known to make money. Not necessarily anything of interest, but something that is known to make money. Type B puts up links that are compatible to their website, but unfortunately this niche might never pay much no matter how much traffic he has.

A couple of the type A affiliates here who have given some sort of info as to how they do it (go60guy and mfishy to name two) Target many different niches. They go about it differently, but at the end of the day its diversification.

To paraphrase an old moderator here from 6 years ago ( and he was real successful) "if it doesn't make money in 3 months it's outta here", well actually he said 1 month, but times have changed a bit :). He was a type A affiliate who only wanted to be in niches that were profitable. Obviously if you are a type B enthusiast affiliate, then this approach won't work.

So the million dollar question is, how do you get traffic to these high paying niches? There are those that find keywords that consistently convert in the PPC market, those that have some arbitrage skill, those that have some sort of bottom feeder approach ( finding long tail keywords of 4+ words per term), those that employ various blackhat techniques, as well as those that enjoy good natural organic traffic. Those that are really pushing it are probably using a combo of all of the above thrown in a with a little secret sauce :).

It all comes down to finding what works for you and your system, then replicate as much as you feel comfortable with.

dickbaker




msg:3300778
 5:41 am on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

eljefe3, thanks as always for your considered reply.

It looks like I'm going to have to continue to make phone calls to the existing subscribers on my site, but figure out what other sites I'll need to construct to bring in more ad revenue.

What niche(s) will those sites entail? I have no idea, until I do my research.

Here's what bugs me, though, about my current site. As I've said again and again, I have over 1600 pages for advertising. 1269 are currently available to any advertiser who wants to pay.

One advertiser is paying me $1200 per year to be on just 26 pages of my site. Those pages feature his widgets, and thus get a 5% CTR. The people who are viewing his pages are obviously interested in his widgets, and the free catalog offer.

Another advertiser is on just six pages of the site, gets a small number of page views per month, but gets as much as a 13% CTR. The people who view those pages are also interested in the advertisers's widgets.

There's a pattern here to the high CTR for these two advertisers: people who click on their ads are people who are interested in their products.

Nearly every widget manufacturer in my niche has an online store where they sell their branded hats, t-shirts, accessories, and everything else.

I've contacted the marketing directors from these companies, explained how I could drive more traffic to their online stores, but have been told that they don't really care about sales from their online stores.

Huh? Why have them up in the first place? They would make more profit from the sale of a single $20 t-shirt than they would from the sale of a $500 widget.

Ah,well. Everyone here has given me some very good ideas.

Thanks to all for your indulgence, as well as your replies.

hercules




msg:3300966
 1:20 pm on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

It looks you have websitebuilding skills. Build the most unique and handy sit on a topic you love. The first 6 months you should only have the user of your website in mind. Don't steal any copy of other websites (google gives you bad rankings for that)

I'd buy the Bar now if i were you...

QualityNonsense




msg:3301343
 7:28 pm on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Cashflow is never an issue except the first month of operation if you aim for a 200%+ roi.

If you'll only work on 200% ROI, you're missing *a lot* of tricks in niches that are high volume but lower margin.

don't use cj a ton, but I have NEVER had anything close to this happen. Do NOT EVER join a program that pays past the 15th of the following month

I've worked on three I can think of. The first few I tried on CJ, because of the high CPA. It's not uncommon to have a 30 day period to catch fraudulent transactions on high CPA programs.

So you make a sale, wait out the 30 day anti-fraud period, then get paid in the next billing cycle.

davewray




msg:3301465
 10:28 pm on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes, I know there are a ton of high volume niches where you can get 20 to 50% roi. I was only making that statement with regards to cashflow. Aiming for 200% or higher roi will eliminate cashflow concerns after month two. A year ago I tried implementing direct deposit through CJ to my Cdn acct. Long story short they couldn't do it and it took them 4 months to get me the 30k they owed me. That hurt and by 3 months my new campaign was running on fumes until I got the money to re-invest. It also depends on what your risk tolerance is. Going after the lower margin industries would be a good strategy once you have a good amount of money for advertising stored up and ready to go....

Dave.

tsinoy




msg:3301500
 10:56 pm on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

agree with dave here...

go for higher roi.. ie. 150% and 200%.. whenever possible...

if you are getting anything lower than that, it would have to be very diversified... so that if there was a problem you won't be in big trouble...

gopi




msg:3301532
 11:09 pm on Apr 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Smart affiliates do the same as a hedge fund manager, find a inefficiency and exploit it until it stops working...

An old example would be the few guys who rode the ebay lead gen boom with blanket dictionary bidding... Another recent example would be ringtones. The artist/song name kwds used to be so inexpensive and the few affiliates who discovered it in 2005/2006 before the rest of the world made a killing!... BTB, seems mfishy is finally out of his cave :)

SEOPTI




msg:3301597
 12:22 am on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

"How do you figure out which niches pay the best for advertising? Mortgage leads have been mentioned. How did anyone here find that out in advance? Or did you just try it and see?"

A few webmaster forums run categories where people sell their websites on a daily basis. Take a look there and you will get tons of business models.

mayor




msg:3301877
 9:50 am on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I did well at affiliate marketing up until a couple years agao.

The main problem I had was with merchants (advertisers). Too many of them cut your commissions on a whim, screw up in tracking your sales, or pump you up to do a lot of work of them then don't pay or go out of business.

Their affiliate sales agreements are usually extremely one-sided (their side), not open to negotiation and often change without warning.

You build a great site customized for promoting their products, then they start changing products and banner ads without telling you.

You try to use third party agents and they treat you like dirt too when there's a problem, of which there are plenty, such as high-jacking of commissions or advertisers that somehow to their advantage fail to track your sales.

In short, as an affilaite marketer, you're dirt with many programs.

Forget affiliate marketing. Build a nice site, get lots of traffic, and incorporate Google Adsense (or maybe other contextual based ad programs like Yahoo YPN). They hold the reins with the advertisers and in my experience of several years now play ball fairly with the publishers as long as you play by their reasonable rules.

With Google Adsense you can focus your energies on building high-content, high traffic sites instead of chasing your tail trying to keep up with the willy-nilly whims of deadbeat affiliate program advertisers who see you as a one-way street to filling their coffers without compensating you much for your sixteen-hour-a-day efforts.

But if you still want to go with affiliate programs, my recommendation is to work with small, high quality advertisers where you can develop personal one-on-one relationships. I still recommend going to ShareASale as a third party agent that acts as match-maker with small advertisers. You can probably still talk directly with their president or marketing guru and be recognized as a real person and asset to the business.

QualityNonsense




msg:3301923
 10:52 am on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Going after the lower margin industries would be a good strategy once you have a good amount of money for advertising stored up and ready to go.

OK, now I'm with you 100%. But it's getting harder and harder in the UK/US to find verticals where a newbie can make 200% ROI, no matter what the volumes are. If you speak another language, look abroad.

mfishy




msg:3302015
 12:29 pm on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting post mayor. My experiences have been quite different. Adsense seems to be the one yankig my chain if I use them. Paying pennies on the click in industries where folks are bidding $6-10.

Only once in my entire aff experience have I been burned badly by a merchant (and this was a pretty unique situation). When affiliate programs start to suck, like they often do for whatever reason, there are always more - with adsense.....I guess there is YPN if you get an invite and have all USA traffic and this and that...

My thinking is if you are bringing a small company a nice amount of revenue it might add up to 3-5% of their sales. To google, even if you are bringing in $300,000 a month, you may feel like a bigshot to your account rep, but you are nothing to them, nothing at all.

I get why one would use adsense, as it really is a turnkey solution, but it would make me nervous to let one company handle all my traffic.

SEOPTI




msg:3302500
 7:48 pm on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

mfishy: One company handles your and my traffic anyway :)

mfishy




msg:3302503
 7:50 pm on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

hehe, actually i get half my SE traffic from msn and yahoo :)

davewray




msg:3302509
 7:58 pm on Apr 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

QualityNonsense...Yes, it is harder for a newbie, or anyone for that matter, to find a niche where they can get 200%+ roi...I think even experienced affiliate marketers don't quite get that right off the bat anymore...only with tweaking and continuous work on the campaigns...

onlineleben




msg:3303708
 9:19 pm on Apr 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

dickbaker wrote:
Nearly every widget manufacturer in my niche has an online store where they sell their branded hats, t-shirts, accessories, and everything else.

I've contacted the marketing directors from these companies, explained how I could drive more traffic to their online stores, but have been told that they don't really care about sales from their online stores.

Huh? Why have them up in the first place? They would make more profit from the sale of a single $20 t-shirt than they would from the sale of a $500 widget

Why not offer some widget merchandise by yourself?
There are sites like cafe something (forgot the name) where you can configure your own T-shirts, mugs, baseball caps etc. and you link to them via an affiliate link.

dickbaker




msg:3303788
 10:38 pm on Apr 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

To sell "Acme widget" t-shirts, I'd have to either get a licensing agreement with Acme to produce my own, or buy the t-shirts from Acme and resell them. Neither is a road I'd like to take.

Now for another dumb question. I followed eljefe3's advice, and went and signed up with CJ just to see what sorts of payouts there were for different niches. I still have a lot of searching to do.

Using the mortgage industry again as an example, I found that the numbers were indeed very high. For example, one advertiser offered anywhere from $20 to $110 for leads. However, I'm assuming that CJ takes the overwhelming majority of those dollars, correct?

Am I also correct in assuming that it would violate CJ's terms of service to approach an advertiser directly?

Here's something people here may find amusing. I've been trying to contact the marketing person for a company that I thought would be a very good fit for my existing site. Yesterday she finally emailed me back, and asked what I would charge for banner ads on the 1269 pages on my site.

I replied that we could either bill monthly, based upon 15 cents per click in that month, or figure out an annualized price based upon the rate of 15 cents per click in a free trial month.

She replied that they only pay 1 to 3 cents per click.

I guess their company name--"cheaper-than-anybody"--is appropriate. (That's not the real name, but you get the idea).

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