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(affiliate) ads vs. selling a product/service



5:15 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Which one do you guys feel is the better way to go: Building a site with lots of traffic, somewhat targeted but not targeted towards wanting to make a sale...for example people coming from keywords such as 'learn spanish'...and then trying to turn them into frequent visitors who eventually to buy an affiliate product on 'learning spanish' or attending a language class where they can learn spanish, etc.

Or trying to target people who are searching for terms such as 'buy xyz' or 'have a problem and am looking for a solution' right away?

I think I'm really a bit confused, now hearing of people who pull in a ton of traffic, but can barely monetize it, because it's not targeted enough. It makes me wonder if building a site on a certain topic and then trying to sell affiliate products to the audience you build really works.

I'm not looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, but I'm not looking to flush my time down the toilet, either hehe ;) so I'm trying to figure out the better approach.


1:41 pm on Jul 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I assume you know you're not going to get an answer on this, but just ideas on things to consider. The normal answer would be "test, test, test..." but that's more difficult if you're trying to choose between two completely different types of sites. (Of course, you could always do both.)

First question would be - Do you want to run an ecommerce business? There's a lot more involved in that than building the website, and if you're lucky it'll be ongoing involvement. Do you have a great ecommerce idea that would give customers a reason to buy a product or service from you instead of someone else? Moving from an affiliate or adwords site to an ecommerce one is moving from advertising other people's businesses to starting your own, which is a whole different kind of commitment.

OTOH (and this is strictly MHO, which I'd like to hear other opinions on), it seems to me that a website that's highly dependent on search engine traffic would be a difficult one for affiliate marketing. Maybe I'm biased because my affiliate-based site is in a niche that depends almost entirely on peer-to-peer recommendations and mentions/links on authority sites rather than on searches, but I'd think it would be difficult to turn many search-engine visitors into regulars.

Also IMHO, a good affiliate-site topic (using your "learn Spanish" example) needs to have a range of options for those return visitors: from books and classes for people just thinking about learning Spanish, to literature and movies in Spanish for those who are fluent, and maybe travel to Spanish-speaking countries. (Lots of other options, I'm sure, but it's not a topic I've thought much about - I know one person who practices her Spanish by reading the Harry Potter books in Spanish.) If the only affiliate links you have are to books and classes for people initially learning Spanish, there aren't any options for those long-term visitors - even if they come back, there's nothing for them to spend their money on. Whether a particular topic could be "enough" to make a go of an affiliate site would be something you'd have to decide.

OTOH, if you want to start an online business offering beginning Spanish classes yourself, ranking high on searches for "learn Spanish" would be essential - you'd want more first-time visitors and wouldn't be as concerned about bringing people back after they've mastered the language.

So - "It all depends..."


2:35 pm on Jul 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hi Beagle,

thanks for your thorough reply. Starting an online business by myself is not what I want to do (at least not in the foreseeable future). I've been really interested in SEO, web analytics, internet marketing in general and think all of those things are very-well aligned with my strengths and what I'd enjoy doing, but I think I lack the organizational ability/talent. Dealing with orders, etc. would probably be too much for me. Matter of fact, creating a site of my own is already a compromise for me lol, but I know that's how I have to get started.

But anyway, I'm looking more towards the affiliate route for now.

I have an idea for a site I'd love to make and getting (relevant) links would be fairly easy, but unfortunately, I know that getting 100.000 visitors to that site would be less profitable than getting 1.000 visitors to a site where I could expect a few people here or there to actually buy something through an affiliate link...that's what got me thinking...

Anyway, thanks for your help, I guess I'll just have to go the trial and error route, I'm overthinking again hehe


4:59 pm on Jul 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Makaveli,

I'm only a beginner, but your original post got me thinking. So the more traffic you bring in, the lower the overall percentage of people looking to purchase will be. An approach to making the most of this situation occured to me, namely producing content that tends to convince an already interested reader to go ahead and make a purchase. I don't mean content that tries to make an immediate sale, rather literature that develops an interest in steady, returning viewers to purchase a product related to the area of their interest. Does that help any?


6:28 pm on Jul 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hi Gsmith,

"the more traffic you bring in, the lower the overall percentage of people looking to purchase will be"

--> I dont think thats true and thats not what I meant to say. Its just that a lot of time people (such as myself) obsess a bit over 'traffic', when it's really all about sales. So you (or I) should focus on creating a site/content/ranking for keywords that bring 'targeted traffic' of people to your site who might at least be somewhat interested in buying a(n affiliate) product.

That other idea I had would bring me a lot of people interested in a certain topic to a site (and it'd easy for me to get links bcause of the nature of the idea..Ive sent out 10 completely unpersonalized link requests and got 3 replies of webmasters saying they'd definitely link to my site soon as it is up). But the problem with it is, that I can't really see any good way to sell them something other than maybe a book from amazon through an affiliate link.....and I doubt even that would have a really low conversion rate ;(


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