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|Affiliates? can you really make a living?|
how worth the time are affiliate sites?
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 :)
It might be significant that ska_demon is abandoning his AdSense/affiliate site in order to start an offline business, instead of hiring someone continue to run it.
Anyway, yes you can be successful doing this. No, I won't tell you the best programs (but you might get some idea by looking at what programs are used by highly successful sites in your niche). There's a fairly long and steep learning curve, but I'm sure everything you would need is hidden here in this forum somewhere. FWIW, the two basic strategies seems to be (a) buying your traffic, and (b) relying on free traffic.
"but you might get some idea by looking at what programs are used by highly successful sites in your niche"
how can you tell which is a highly successful site? i know that probably seems like a ridiculous question.. but really i have no idea.
High pagerank, high Google rankings, high traffic as measured by Alexa, strong brand recognition. None of these are prefect by any means, but they're okay indicators for how popular a site is. Popularity doesn't necessarily imply profitability or even business acumen of course, but on balance it's a good place to start and there's a lot of other lessons to be learned from top sites.
You can also look at frequent high CPC bidders in your field. If they can really make 5c or 50c or whatever per click, then they likely have a sound business model.
Is Affiliate better than ADsense?
|he's cashing in and getting out |
Didn't take long before I posted again did it ;oP
Well, my ears were burning so I thought I'd step in.
It takes a lot of hard work to make money as an affiliate. I kept my day job and did the aff thing in order to raise the money required to set up my offline business. Seems to me like you think you can just buy a couple of sites for a few bucks and make your millions. Do you not think the people who made the sites in the fist place would have kept them if they were going to be that profitable?
I cashed in, as you put it, because affiliate marketing is tedious, hard work and very boring and I had the opportunity to open a business that I have wanted to get involved in for quite a long time. I am exchanging hard work for more hard work, just in a different field. Aff marketing provided me with the capital to do this but at the expense of a couple of hours per evening, every evening, after I got home from work. For a few years!
There is no such thing as easy money in aff marketing, you will get out what you put in. If you don't put anything in you won't get anything back, simple as that.
My advice to you is to build yourself a small site and test out your SEO skills unless you have a good PPC budget. Make a site around something that interests you (try and keep it uncompetetive as possible) and try to find an aff prog that will compliment that site.
Avoid datafeeds and white labels in the beginning until you know what you are doing. If you don't understand developing links you still have a hell of a lot to learn before you can cash in and get out.
1 last piece of advice, read, read, read and read. This forum has every last piece of info you need to become a successful affiliate. When you think you read it all go back and read it again and ask some questions.
<dreams>I did and now I'm rich, rich RICH! ;oP </dreams>
Best of luck to ya.
Oh and Erku you posted more than me on this forum so you already know the answer to your question. heh heh
"Well, my ears were burning so I thought I'd step in.
It takes a lot of hard work to make money as an affiliate. I kept my day job and did the aff thing in order to raise the money required to set up my offline business. Seems to me like you think you can just buy a couple of sites for a few bucks and make your millions. Do you not think the people who made the sites in the fist place would have kept them if they were going to be that profitable?"
i'm so new i don't even know how to quote properly. :)
i'm under no illusions that this is all going to be a lot of hard work and going to take up a lot of my time. i'm in the same boat that you were in.. i'm keeping my day job which fortunately i can do this work from during the slower hours. I have a decent (a couple/few hundred dollars a month, i don't know if that's a lot or not) PPC budget set aside. I've got my hosting dialed in and pretty much ready to go.
i'm just now starting to learn my SEO stuff so i'll try my hand at pushing traffic the free way.
you're about the third person to tell me to "read read read" WW and i'll find all the answers i'm looking for. so that's what i've been doing.. read read reading. i'm finding SO much good information, and everyone that i've talked to has been very nice while remaining understandably guarded with their marketing skills. all and all i think that the affiliate site seem like the best fit for me until i really understand more. at that point i can try making something from scratch and seeing how that flies too.
>> It takes a lot of hard work to make money as an affiliate
Oh, really?, I would say in terms of "money for the time spend" nothing can beat AM...Boredom, now thats a whole different issue :)
AM = affiliate marketing?
|Affiliates? can you really make a living? |
Really depends upon what you call a living. I'm sure we all have different standards.
I've been doing affiliate-style marketing for the past 11 years and average over $250k (US) each year... which is cool since I have no one else to share it with ( no staff/employees/etc ) ... been there done that in previous businesses - no fun. Having fun at what you do is very important... otherwise you'll probably fail because of boredom. ( unless you sell ).
I've also sold online businesses because I was 'bored' with them... then took the money and used it towards making new sites that where fun... and taking a break and having some offline fun.
All in all I've made a few million, and hope to continue having fun for the next 13 years. ( I plan to retire at 50... then let the sites act as free money from there on out ).
Making serious money in the affiliate world requires a lot of patience, time, and hard work ( at least in the begining ). I'd suggest you find a niche you're comfortable with, then find out who your competition is... then figure out how you can serve the client/customer better... then prepare for the fight and hope you win.
The fun part is making $500-$1000 a day and not even 'working'. It's neat to come back from vacation and see that I was paid while 'having additional fun'.
Please no sticky mail as to what I do, how I do it, etc... That would require a very hefty consulting fee so that I could retire at 40 ;)
>> Really depends upon what you call a living. I'm sure we all have different standards.
I've been doing affiliate-style marketing for the past 11 years and average over $250k (US) each year... which is cool since I have no one else to share it with ( no staff/employees/etc ) <<
i think 250k would be considered a living. :)
i do relatively well for a 30 year old guy living in southern california, but i guess if we're talking about my ideal - that would be to double what i currently make. so let's say that i make $2 a year.. then adding the website stuff i'd like to make $4 a year combined.
of course i'd love to be up at $250k a year as well. :) by the time i'm 40 (10 years from now) if i was making that i'd be more than happy. it's a hell of a lot more money than i'd be making if i stayed in my current position and just took raises for the next 10 years.
as far as finding the right affiliates is CJ a good place to start?
|as far as finding the right affiliates is CJ a good place to start? |
Sure why not... only you will know where the best place to be is... there's a trial and error in all business.
You're on your own... but try what it's in your 'feelings'.
I'm nowhere near "rich", but AM *is* paying enough to cover the bills. In fact, I was finally able to leave the dreaded cubicle job late last year :)
The posters who mentioned that it takes patience, time, and lots of hard work hit the nail right on the head. There's a lot to learn and this is a great place to do so. I'm getting essentially all of my traffic for free by using organic SEO methods, but it took about 3 years to get to this point. I spent many an evening forgoing a reasonable social life so that I could get the online biz off the ground.
The best tip I can give you for starting out is to build a site around a topic that you are interested in and/or passionate about. From there, find affiliate programs that complement that subject. A great way to find programs is by searching on your favorite search engine for "Blue Widget Affiliate Program(s)" and explore the programs from there - there are some wonderful affiliate programs that don't even belong to the big networks - you'll just have to try a few out and see how they work out for you. If they don't work out, dump 'em and try another one until you find your gem.
Best of luck!
so i guess a logical question to all of you then would be how many affiliate sites are you running at a time. like do you run 5 10 20.. or do you just focus on one? My initial thought was that i'd just have a bunch that, when combined, gave me a decent chunk of change. am i wrong? i mean obviously there's a million different ways to do all of this, but i'm just curious what other successful people are doing.
I have about 10 or so various sites - but I'm really beginning to re-think that strategy. None of the sites really get the full attention they deserve (regular updated content, good design, link development, staying on top of email, etc). I often think that I may be able to do much better by concentrating on just a couple of sites and doing a great job on those few instead of the publish-and-(mostly)-forget-about-it method I've been doing so far (more or less putting things out there to see what sticks!).
The pattern that's becoming more clear now is that only a couple of the sites account for the vast majority of the total affiliate revenue. I guess the 80/20 principle applies pretty well in this situation - LOL! Sometimes it's just better and much easier to simplify, and for whatever it's worth, I'm seriously thinking about moving more in this direction.
Different strokes. I'd suggest you go through the whole cycle of building a site, building traffic for it, finding a sponsor and optimizing for that sponsor. Then make a decision how to proceed.
|takes patience, time, and lots of hard work |
Yeah, I always tell folks asking about affiliate marketing that you know you're a success when you can cut your workday down to about 12 hours.
Thanks to both of you for replying. Joe, since posting this i've been thinking about going this route as well. I've grabbed myself a recommended SEO book, found a turnkey site with a product already attached but that's completely editable as far as CSS and html goes. Plus, there's plenty of room to put affiliate info and ads in. Basically, it's a site i really won't care too much about but is really going to be my teacher in all of this.
Cat, i was also thinking about how juggling A LOT of sites just can't be easy. not to mention driving traffic trying to drive traffic to each one - i was thinking that there would have to be just a small handful that would end up shining in the end. i don't have a big enough budget to be placing the desired amount of cpc ads for a bunch of sites, so i'd have to pick and choose. i'm pretty confident that i've found my "baby" site (taking your advice and choosing something that i'll be passionate about) that i'll start building after i really get deep into the education. :) thanks again for all your feedback, guys. much appreciated.
Just some advice about building traffic et al.
If you want to build traffic and IBLs quickly you should create a site that gives something away for free. Anything of real value that you can find that you can legally give away to your visitors.
Don't even worry about the affiliate links and turnkey sites, they won't do squat without traffic. And it doesn't sound like your CPC budget is going to get you very far either.
If you are buying these premade affiliate and turnkey sites then so are 100 other guys and they'll all be fighting for the same keywords.
My advice would be to:
1. Build your own site (don't buy one). It doesn't even need to be pretty, ugly sites quite often do really well.
2. Give away stuff. Stuff that is actually worth something for your visitors to download or use or read, etc.
When the traffic starts coming in add an affiliate link or review an affiliate product. If it hits then keep it, if it doesn't try the next one, until you find the products that work for you and your visitors.
Above all you need traffic to make it. Don't even worry about making money until you have traffic.
Just make a simple site that people will want to visit and link to.
|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 |
Sorry, but this statement is a bit of a worry. Why not put all of your energy into buying a bar if you're not really into internet marketing?
>>Above all you need traffic to make it. Don't even worry about making money until you have traffic.
Just make a simple site that people will want to visit and link to.
"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"
Sorry, but this statement is a bit of a worry. Why not put all of your energy into buying a bar if you're not really into internet marketing?<<
i can understand why that comment would worry you. this, internet marketing, is something that i'm taking a keen interest in, though. i'm buying domain names (just because i think they're clever), looking at all my options, and i'm buying books and started to read. i've decided what i want my niche to be, and that is a site i will be building from the ground up. my cpc budget is about 300 a month or so for the affiliate / CPC sites.. i don't know if that's considered a lot or not, but i guess that depends on the keywords, who i use to place the ads, what i bid, and what i cap per day. so i think (think) it's all kinda falling into place. i know i'm excited, anyway.
but i wasn't lying about wanting to buy a bar. i really do. i don't think i'd give up my internet marketing when that happens. but you know how it is; people change their mind.. interests change.. career paths are rerouted.. it's just part of life. we all want to be really good at what we do, and right now.. i want to be really good at this.
[edited by: iFixSolutions at 9:53 pm (utc) on Mar. 14, 2007]
|i want to be really good at this |
cool. you'll probably do well then.
When I read the first two threads in this forum in order, some things seemed to dovetail. So, I'm stealing ;) from two people who have a lot more experience in this than I do, to put some of their thoughts together --
From ronin, in the "Need Advice for Affiliate Startup" thread:
|One strategy which I found worked very well in the beginning was to write broad and shallow coverage - that is to say: I wrote a little about as many different sub-topics as possible which fitted under the umbrella of my main site topic. Once I had a wide enough array of topics I could see which ones were the most popular and focused then on covering those popular topics at a deeper level. |
From CatLady in this thread:
|The pattern that's becoming more clear now is that only a couple of the sites account for the vast majority of the total affiliate revenue. I guess the 80/20 principle applies pretty well in this situation - LOL! Sometimes it's just better and much easier to simplify, and for whatever it's worth, I'm seriously thinking about moving more in this direction. |
Is it possible that both of those are actually the same process - the first one done with sub-topics on one site, and the other with multiple topics on multiple sites?
When I started about 6 years ago, I put everything I wanted to cover on one site. It was all in one place, but it didn't all fit the same audience. I soon discovered that just because I was interested all those things, it didn't mean anyone else in the world was, and putting it all together was just confusing. It wasn't difficult to find out what was most attracting people, and that's what stayed on the main site. I spun off a few of the lesser-connected pieces into separate small sites. That was fun for awhile, and a couple of the small sites even started getting a little traffic. But there was so much I wanted to do on the - now much more focused - main site, that the small ones gradually went by the wayside and have been sitting there for a very long time now with no updates.
I'm thinking now about broadening the main site to give it more potential as a "destination" site within the niche - but it would all still be within that same main subject area.
So, the process has been different from both of the two I quoted, but they all seem to have something in common.
(I have another fairly large site, too, but that's a whole different story!)
|Aff marketing provided me with the capital to do this but at the expense of a couple of hours per evening, every evening, after I got home from work. For a few years! |
That pretty much sums it up. Work all day at the J-O-B & then come home & crank away at affiliate stuff. I've pulled some organic traffic from building sites over the years and at times spent tens of thousands a month on PPC purely to promote affiliate programs. Six figures+ profit is possible and doable. If you keep the job for a while, even a while after you don't really need it that can help with health insurance, take care of your self employment tax (social security tax) and you can do the 401K @ work & a SEP IRA or something similar. If you are self employed you can do a SEP IRA and put up to $44,000/year in there unlike the $5K or whatever the max is if you are getting a W-2. You can also write off a lot of stuff, computers, books, supplies, advertising expenses, WebmasterWorld conferences, domains, net, phone, tax prep, etc...
Keep your fixed expenses low, very low so you can build up a cushion, don't go out and buy a bunch of stuff when money sarts coming in & don't count on the money coming in all the time (don't quit your job to soon). A shuffle in the rankings, a merchant cutting payouts or going out of business and not paying at all, a change in PPC policies, a clueless new competitor who pays way to much for ads and knocks you out so that nobody can run a profitable campaign and tons of other things can pop up and wipe out earnings very quickly. Over the years LOTS of things have happened and changed, many that I thought would knock me out of the affiliate business and there have been ups and downs but overall things have been pretty good. Find obscure stuff that other people will overlook, promote things in unique ways, cliche, cliche, yes but that's what it takes.
If you want to get some idea of where some of the money is in affiliate marketing, sign up for CJ and look at the EPCs and the number of bars the advertisers have. Programs that do not go through the networks are probably the most lucrative but CJ's ranking system does provide some good insight into what programs work well.
If you are going to be spending a lot on PPC, get a good rewards card. After a while you can be spending so much on PPC that the cash back from the rewards card will spit back more cash per month than you earned each month from the affiliate game during the first year or two. Buy stuff through your own links so you get the coupons and the kick backs. When you find something that works, you should have an unlimited budget on PPC so if you only have a credit card with a 10K limit, you may find that you need one with a 30-50K limit if you find something that really works. Check or ask around about return rates in various industries before you spend a lot of money on advertising. In some markets, I get returns as high as 38% at the end of the month so it is absolutely necessary to plan for that. You could spend 20K in PPC, rack up 30K in payouts and after returns end up only getting paid $18,000 so you have to float tht 18K and then pay $2,000 for the opportunity to send somebody a ton of sales at a loss to you.
Dont spend too much time buying e-books. turnkey sites. advice from so called 'gurus'.
I was 'at it' for 2 years living off AM, but I got bored and I got a real job :) now the job is cool and I'm sharpening my skills (I'm the only affiliate marketing, adsense, adwords, online marketing person) on other people's dime, and getting new ideas in the meantime too.
The phoenix shall rise from the ashes!...
wow.. rfung, I didn't know you went back to the 8-5 thingy...
I was inspired by your thread 2 years.. back.. you won't believe how much I make now... anyways, I now ran my own AM company with 1 full time employee at moment... looking at adding 2 probably by the end of the year...
If you find a system that works you can make money without much effort. A lot of money ($250k would be on the very low end).
Now, the issue is, the system will stop working. Might be in a few months, might be in several years. Then, the work comes again - building another "system". Of course, I am not generally in the practice of making sites as it doesn't really interest me (although I have a couple I like). I am more interested in ways of generating traffic and directing it straight to good merchants.
The most common thing I hear BY FAR from affiliates that are working a job and just getting by or maybe making $5,000 or so in a great month is they do it all themselves. That is a fatal flaw. You need to get help, even if you cannot afford it. If not, you will wind up posting in one of those $20 a day threads or "adwords ruined my life"...etc...
Obviously one could take a different approach and build wonderful sites but at that point I see AM more as just another form of advertising you are placing on your site. Could be banners, adsense whatever - I am talking more about people whose goal is to drive customers to the buy button.
The critical, most important aspect (other than some traffic) is selecting the right merchants. We cant talk about that stuff here but try and do some research . It is make or break.
I promised I would write a long post about actual, precise methods to make moneyas an affiliate but it was getting long - I mean like as long as a book. Maybe I will break down pieces of it and post -I really would like to help a lot of folks get the hell out of their 9-5 jobs and start spending time at the beach or whatever they like doing.
I am starting a new "system" with some smart folks that excites me, as it is sort of like printing money, but again, no way one person could do it. (Before i get the I am one guy and I make a zillion, i am sure you or your internet friends do, just speaking from my experience and the experience of a large group of marketers that ahve done reasonably well)
Well, I finally got some joy from CJ , but it cost me more in PPC than I made,
Now, I am trying to find a merchant whom I would at least break even with or make a small return with in PPC
Ideally, organic traffic would be best but I am finding that the folk visiting my site literally ignore my banners, 200 human page views per day yielding 1 click every 2 days
The other posts on this thread tho are remarkably helpful.
>>The critical, most important aspect (other than some traffic) is selecting the right merchants. We cant talk about that stuff here but try and do some research . It is make or break.<<
true.. we can't talk about it here. but how do you go about researching. where is a good place to look and start figuring out who are good affiliates to get in bed with? i'm a pretty smart guy and i'd love to get out of my 9-5, but i've already sort of resigned myself to working at this for years before being able to make a move like that.
i'd like to hear more about your system as well. you're the only person i've heard talking about it in terms of 250k being low. seems like everyone else is down in the 5 digits, not 6.
>> Well, I finally got some joy from CJ , but it cost me more in PPC than I made<<
i've still yet to have any joy from cj. i've started a blog and really put a lot of effort into grass roots promotion. i won't be doing ANY ppc for this.. nothing but SEO and word of mouth. it's a very weird niche and i'm kinda shocked that i even went this route, but it's pulling about 50-100 uniques a day and that's through shameless promotion in a forum that deals with the same niche. i've CJ'd the hell out of the blog with a targeted selection of the highest EPC's affiliates in this category in the hopes that someone might actually buy something. so far only 5 clicks.. no purchases yet. but on a positive note i've made a whole dollar with the adsense ads that are on there. :)
it's truly all about traffic. i'm hoping in a few months if i stay with it i might actually start making some money. maybe a blog is a bit too romantic of a way to make money. maybe i should be focusing more on the business and high return affiliates.. but i'm clueless where to look.
[edited by: iFixSolutions at 12:34 am (utc) on April 1, 2007]
I dare say so, for affiliate marketing, I suspect the idea is not just selecting a niche you're comfortable with, it probably needs a whole diferent approach from adsense monetisation,
But, i sense a greater degree of risk
| This 87 message thread spans 3 pages: 87 (  2 3 ) > > |