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I don’t do a ton of affiliate marketing anymore.

And while I’ve never been one of those people who recommended or promoted online marketing “gurus” or gimmicks, I did used to live or die on affiliate commissions as my primary source of income, and have promoted more “real world” products and programs than I can possibly remember.

(partly because it’s a lot – and partly because my mid and long term memory is embarrassingly bad)

The funny thing is, for better or for worse, a large part of my list – and a serious segment of my audience DOES really focus on affiliate marketing, so whenever I neglect this segment of my readership for too long, I find it’s back to me, 2 friends and 3 sort of creepy stalkers from 2012 who are still reading this blog.

I want to share with  you the 4 simple rules that I use to tweak, critique, optimize and improve my own affiliate earnings in 2014…and while affiliate marketing as a primary process is no longer my focus, when it comes to building an AUTHORITY site, the right affiliate program can in fact help you earn the seed money neccessary to keep the party rolling until more powerful (and predictable) profits arrive.

While these overall ideas are 100% relevant and related to MY authority site niches (hyper local community sites and “application” oriented niche sites in the personal growth, spiritual development marketplace) they are pretty universally applicable to ANY niche, market or industry, even yours.

Rule #1:  Find the biggest brands, with the biggest budgets and simply build a bridge between YOUR audience and their offer

In other words, and I’ve recommended this in the past, simply look for offers that have BIG offline advertising campaigns, big buck brand awareness and are household names to your ideal audience, rather than promoting obscure or bright and shiny products and programs that promote exclusively online.  (or have a very recent record of success, but aren’t well known outside of the online affiliate universe)

Said differently – if I was a diet or weight loss oriented community site owner…..I’d always promote WEIGHT Watchers, or Medifast, or Jenny Craig over some sort of ebook or outrageously new clickbank offer for fast and easy weight loss.

The big brands have existing trust, and authority and you can piggy back off of that trust, and leverage their million dollar advertising budget, simply by building a bridge from YOUR audience to their order page.  (this works especially well with authority sites in 2014, relative to how I used to do it years ago with articles, re-directs, review blogs and that sort of antiquated approach)

Rule #2:  Get Creative with Your Creatives

The fastest way to get mediocre click through rates in your affiliate offers, especially on products and programs that are everpresent in the online landscape, is to use the exact ads that everyone else is using as well.  (in other words, the ads you are given as an affiliate from the network themselves)  Here is what I prefer to do….and what can have a DRAMATICALLY larger click through rate, and make it happen in a hurry as well.

Get answers to your most pressing questions | LivePersonI’ll search the PPC ads for the program I’m promoting and then click through to their landing page.  Usually, I’ll do this with a few different possible permutations of keyword combinations, or use a competitive intelligence tool like SPYFU, and just get a feel for some of the different landing pages, and the copy that the programs are using for THEIR campaigns.  (often your landing page as an affiliate will be very different than the landing page they are using for their own traffic)

Next, I’ll use a free screenshot tool, and simply take a screen shot of the landing page copy I like best.  Whether it’s the above the fold call to action….or whether it’s just the pretty images and graphics they use on their best pages, I use SKITCH for Mac (which is now part of Evernote……but still be free, I believe) and convert that screengrab or shot into the size of the creative I want to use on my site.

Not only do my ads LOOK a lot more unique than everyone else in my niche, I know I’m actually using the exact same content….or copy, that the program themselves is using for their own PAID traffic campaign.

In this case, I’d simply take the screenshot on your right, reduce it to the right size for the post or page…and almost without exception, my CTR will go WAY up.  (as should yours if you try and apply the same idea on your authority site, or community)

(I’ve never had anyone complain about this BTW…and the only time I’ve ever gotten in trouble for any of unusual affiliate approaches was with MEDIFAST, who kicked me (and my partner at the time) out of their affiliate program, even while we were making them a TON of sales…which when I think back to it always hurts my feelings, and the reason the only liquid diet I now use or recommend is Patron)

Screenshots can also be edited with arrows, or your own text, or… will almost always get far higher clickthrough rates, and conversions as well.  (especially if the LANDING page you are using has the exact same look, feel, copy and content as the creative they clicked to arrive.  (consistency in ALL click related marketing is key to conversions, in my experience)

Rule #3 – Pick offers that PAY! 

how to sell affiliate productsHere is an affiliate program screenshot of a product I’m promoting very casually….with a few links on a few blogs, that has a commission of anywhere from $800-$1600 per sale.  (that’s not the amount of the sale…that’s the COMMISSION i earn as an affiliate)  There are many other products and programs in the same niche that have “good” payouts of $50 or $80 or even $100 that I see other affiliates promoting all of the time, and I really scratch my head to wonder why.  All I did was find the affiliate offer using the apporach above ( a national name “brand” that does a ton of offline advertising as well) and applied for the program.  I wrote a little email – said a few nice things about their product and programs – said a little bit about myself – and BOOM – they sent me an affiliate link.

YOU can do the same thing in just about every niche worth promoting…and if you have an authority site to show off, you’ll find that affiliate offers are FAR more likely to approve you, and want to work with you, as they can see you are building something that offers value in the niche.  (I now have a real realtionship with the folks above, simply because they not only see that my traffic converts, but I try to drop in and make suggestions, or recommendations or otherwise continue to build rapport with their affiliate managers as well)

Rule #4 – Lastly, if you can’t find a product or program that has HUGE earnings per sale like above, look for other programs that have unique affiliate offers that pay YOU top dollar for a low cost sale. 

affiliate panel myapA good example of this sort of product or program are pay per call style offers that have LOW initial engagement offers of 10 or 20 dollars to YOUR audience, but will pay YOU $100 or more for a sign up or conversion on a 10 or 20 dollar transaction.

Why?  Because they understand the LIFE time value concept of each and every customer and client, and they know that the average new client may be worth $200 or $400 over the life of their business, even though they initially only signed up for a $10 transaction.  Psychic offers are a perfect example of this….as are other types of “expert advice” offers by phone, popularized by companies like Live Person.  (now Kasamba)

Make sense?

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Do What You LOVE for a Living

Join our brand new beta marketplace of coaches,consultants, teachers, trainers, artists, authors, marketers, mentors, enlightened entrepreneurs and PASSION professionals who want to wake the WORLD through your work!




View all posts by ian

I am an author, artist and entrepreneur. My 2 passions are writing about, and teaching Marketing and Meditation. I like to think I'm a lot like Eckhart Tolle, if only he was taller, and a much better tennis player. (it turns out in person, he's super short, has a terrible backhand and wears this weird scottish hat thingy that makes it really difficult to concentrate while serving) Plus he refuses to keep score and says " it's always NOW" when you ask who is up. Enough about me. We barely know each other. Stop staring. You're making me nervous.