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I can't decide if I am picking the wrong affiliate programs or I am presenting them incorrectly. Having read that 10 page thread on starting up the affiliate game I was delighted and enraged at the same time. Delighted to know that making money this way is possible and enraged that I still can't make some amount of money.
To briefly summarize my website, it originally started as a download page for a freeware program I work on which has become quite popular. The only thing is that it lacks exposure. My traffic was coming in surges when I would post updates. I decided to then incorporate articles into the site to draw traffic from search engines which in 3 weeks I have seen a considerable increase.
Now, I'm thinking, since the crowd I'm mostly targeting is getting to my site for free software, should I expect to make any money from them? I could easily make the program shareware and I know I would make good money from it due to its popularity but I do not want to do this because I am thinking long term about all the ideas I want to incorporate into it which I predict will pay off much much more later on.
I just need to make some cash from Google and affiliate marketing so I can stay home and work 24x7 to incorporate my ideas into this.
What do you experts think, is it possible to make money from an audience that originally seeks something for free?
If you are bent on staying with freeware stuff, maybe you can charge advertisers or sell text links, possibly adsense - but obviously free stuff generally doesn't pay that well.
Don't advertise things that cost money.
You'd be surprised how many companies are willing to pay you, even when your clickthroughs pay nothing. Think leads. Your visitor clicks through and fills out a short form. Ranges to everything from mortgage/loans to college aps etc.
Or, get away from leads, and just get on a bidding network. If you join a network like MarketBanker, other sites will pay to have a text link on your site, for generally either a week, or a year (although you can set up other lengths). Or, go for a purely PPC network of some sort.
My other advice:
Advertise _techy_ things which cost money.
Someone at a website about a piece of software is more likely to be interested in walkie-talkie watches then a new house.
Although the visitors are coming to my site looking for something free they are techie people and for sure techie people spend cash for electronics. I just don't know if they are in the right "buying" mindset when they arrive to the site.
This project is my passion, and I would continue to do it regardless of payout (it started as a hobby and became an obsession in a way), I just don't want to miss out potential earnings if they are available.
You are looking at things backwards. The raw amount oof traffic means little. It's the TYPE of traffic that you get. A site in some areas can generate 150 hit per day and make over $10,000 per month.
You hit the nail on the head. Quality visits are what it's about. I have a site that only gets 600 visits a day and generates serious revenue.
I will never ever will do the following as i consider it unethical , but your millage may vary :) - just partner with some toobar/search companion provider and bundle their software with yours and get paid for each installation!...
I would much prefer to get cash from affiliate ads but so is life.
1) A non-overly attractive site
2) "A visitor that sticks around my site for more than 5-20 seconds is a no sale"
That blows my mind, especially the second part.
It made me realize that there are three types of website owners:
Owners of non-profit organizations
Owners that believe it's all about a "nice" site, interesting, etc...
And the third and most successful by a long shot who realize the full potential of the internet and what it is about: bringing the information a user seeks and throwing it in their face at record speeds making them buy what they are already looking for in a snap.
That is the only way to expain how a site with very few visitors can make good money. The site targets solely buyers, not the majority of people who would use the internet as an electronic hangout or a very large "library". It targets people who know what they want and want to get it as quickly and as painlessly possible.
Am I on the right track here?
Yes you are. Those who make their living (successfully) from affiliate marketing are targetting those who already know they want to buy something. The key is having them look at your sites first instead of your competitors. Sure some surfers are tire kickers, but most know what they want to buy.
Most likely ...
A searcher for "digital cameras" is what is called in the begining of the sales cycle - in a research mode ...but those who search for "Kodak EasyShare DX6490 Digital Camera" are more likely in the buying mood and will sure open their wallet if the merchants site and the price are right!
Or a trial period before they buy the full version.
Or selling related products.
I have a site that visitors come to looking for free MP3s. I sell MP3 related software there and brings in enough to make me happy on that particular site.
I beleive people will pay for something even though they found you by using the term "free". You just need to sell closely related produts.
>Am I on the right track here?
Yes thats why a very plain site with just a few links will pay the bills if it is exactly what the buyer is looking for.
If time is important to you then you are better off spending it marketing your site rather than making it look better.
I am ranked #1 and #3 in google for 2 different expensive electronics but unfortunatelly I can't find affiliates for the life of me. Possibly they are just too new, but I think I might have found my gold to come
If that's the case, you might try the Amazon affiliate program (if Amazon carries them).
(Don't flame me, guys, Amazon has its moments, and there's currently no cap on electronics at least for this quarter, I think.)
If you have a product review of "Brand X 9735j GigaWidget" and you're ranked way up in Google for searches on "Brand X 9753j GigaWidget," and Amazon sells the "Brand X 9753j GigaWidget," a direct link to "Read more about this at Amazon" or even "Buy this at Amazon.com" may actually make you some money.
Doesn't Best Buy have an affiliate program? Maybe Best Buy carries it?
If the "Brand X 9753j GigaWidget" has its own in-house affiliate program (or even a program with CJ or LinkShare or similar), sign up with that program and put your "Buy the doohickey here" link on those pages.
If you can't get an affiliate program for the actual "GigaWidget," see if you can find "GigaWidget accessories" or books on how to make the most of your "GigaWidget" and link them.
Basically, the more you can give your site's visitors what they're looking for, the better off you'll be. It's taken me years to find things that work for some of my sites, and I'm still learning. Nothing works as well as I'd hoped, but some things definitely work better than others as I've begun to home in on what people want.
Of course, my main advice is just look around and see what works for you. Try everything. After all ... why not? :-)
Thanks to everyone for their advice.
I'm walking into this thread late, but I do have an issue with this statement. While I'm not raking in the dollars like some of the big guns here, I do like ot think that sticky affiliate sites is the wave of the future.
Look at shopping.com, epinions, tripadvisor, they all make their money on the click and their model revolves around bring repeat traffic back and building a brand. It takes more work but I think its a safer strategy to make your click sticky.
One key metric for me on my site is the amount of time people spend on the site... what works for me is about 1-2 minutes and 3 to 4 page views on one particular site. It took a lot of work to bring it from 30 seconds/1 page view to this level and I'm happy with the results. An increase of revenue from about 22/K visitors to 30/K visitors. Lesson, what works for others can still be improved upon.
Second thing, don't go out and do what everyone else does. The classic example is one of the members here who went around giving out his mod_rewrite hack to a freebie Amazon script, resulting in google being flooded with 1000's of sites with identical URLs and identical pages. Lesson, if you do what everyone else does, you can fall prey to google's algorithm very easily.
Shrirch , that statement is originally from me so i have to defend it now :) ..Please note i am talking in terms of pure affiliate sales sites only - not content or actual merchant sites!.
IMHO "stickyness" is a 20th century concept which was more relevent in the good 'ol CPM days ...In the current CPA and CPC times it has little meaning!.
>> Look at shopping.com, epinions, tripadvisor, they all make their money on the click and their model revolves around bring repeat traffic back and building a brand
If you look at the landing pages of the above sites in the SERPS (especially PPC listings) it will be intentionally designed to funnel the visitor to any of their merchants as quickly as possible with product review pages/links not that obvious - when this big sites dont want their visitor around for a long time so do i :)
I know exactly where you're coming from.. and I tend to differ.
A little bit extra work and a little bit of skill can turn a site into a 'sticky affiliate site' -- a topic that can only be discussed over beers at pubcon.
Where I come from, you want your affiliate site to look and act and quack like a legitimate duck. You want people naturally linking to it and you want people naturally bookmarking it.
I'd like to refer back to Dan Boberg's presentation of buying habits and how to target them. A pure affiliate site only targets the buyer who has his credit card right on the keyboard. A sticky affiliate site targets both the buyer with the card, and the buyer who will bookmark the site for when he has the card out.
May be it goes back to the industry I used to work in before I started hawking toilet paper on the 'net (as my wife puts it)... the consistent salesmen were people who customers called on for advice. The hyper achievers burnt out in a year or two. Now, don't confuse this with "pick an area you're passionate about" or "write long articles providing information about widgets".... it is about creating the illusion or image.
On the one hand, sites liike LendingTree and Match.com are basically an order form, while Frommers is a great place to go for tons of info. Both work well. I generally go more with the sales page approach due to lack of time/talent :)