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I suspect that most of the successful affiliates on these forums are USA based and draw from the USA sized marketplace. For those operating outside the USA and targetting their home countries, the market size is drastically reduced.
The tricky part is getting a feel for what the visitor figures should be. I know that's difficult to answer because where one affiliate may make $1 for every 200 visitors, another may make a $1 from every 20 visitors.
I just have this nagging feeling that outside of the USA, there may simply not be big enough marketplaces to generate good returns for affiliates.
Any experiences to share or holes to shoot in my thinking?
Some of the best programs are targeted at the USA consumer. YOU can sell to them 24x7.
Some of my best sub-dealers are from outside the USA and they get paid in REAL MONEY which in some cases can make them rich as compared to others in their home country.
The place to start is [go.vicinity.com...] where you can get a US address [MAIL BOX] that will allow you to look like a US resident to affiliate managers and to Yahoo!
If you don't have a credit card you can work through a relative in the States or through a mentor who will accept your funds and then put the costs on his/her credit cards.
I'm sure you are right, but my own experience tells me you need at least a few thousand (preferably over 20,000 I think) visitors a month. And even then it isn't certain you're going to sell anything. I'll take my own site as an example. Two months ago I decided to apply the advice I learned about on these forums. I am now starting to see traffic increase (very slowly, although with the help of Virtual PC on my Mac OS X box, I was able to see my Google PageRank is 6/10) to more than 8,000 visitors a month.
When I started optimizing, I decided against starting an affiliation other than the measerly amazon account I already had. The new pages that I added a couple of weeks ago and which are very structured with lots of advise on the book I review and lots of links to help 'them' buy are --according to amazon's report-- frequently clicked on so the reader ends up at amazon. And then... he doesn't buy, but clicks on... VERY frustrating to say the least. So, all my efforts have now resulted in hundreds of clicks and 4 USD profit :(
We have one affiliate who's sent 2 sales in 11 clicks for $96 in commissions! Others don't even see 1 in 500 at the same site. Most fall in between.
I've only been an AM for a few months, and don't have all the answers, but I can offer what I've seen. The successful affiliates are all well targeted and do more than just place links on their sites.
Price comparison/shopping resource sites built around a specific product group, where the product discussed is one that the buyer is likely to need advice on before buying, and likely to turn to the web for that advice, seem like they do well. These sites can also gain the visitors' trust and pass that trust to the site selling the product.
How people find your site directly relates to what you can get them to buy. If someone searches for "where to buy a watch online" you could likely refer them to a popular watch retailer and get a sale. If they find your site via a search for "watch collecting price guide" you can't send them to the same retailer. "History of pocket watches" will not convert at all at that retailer (now maybe "The Illustrated History of the Pocket Watch" on Amazon...).
Is your target audience their target audience? If your site was taken out of the loop and the visitor clicked from search results to the site you're referring them to, would they be a likely buyer?
Best of luck!