This isn’t a review as much as an answer to questions I get about affiliate marketing.
The main one being “Is it actually possible to still make money with affiliate marketing?”
To which the answer is yes, if you’re prepared to put in some effort!
The method that is most often pitched as being easy and earning thousands of dollars is Pay Per Click. Buying adverts from Google Adwords and sending people to your squeeze page or direct to the vendor.
Google Cash is one of the longest established and it’s regularly updated to keep pace with the changes in how the Adwords system works. If you’ve got the patience to test and the depth of wallet to cope with failed campaigns, it’s worth a try. I’ve got a few PPC campaigns still running and they make money regularly for me. Not much, but I’m only spending about $30 a month and getting about double that back.
Another option is send people to a squeeze page. They then (hopefully) sign up to your list and you can send them content and offers over time. James Penn has recently launched a very affordable guide on this called Accelerated List Building (although the six month course seems to have stalled and hasn’t been updated recently). It’s full of solid advice to get the highest number of subscribers and a reasonable amount of money in commissions from them. I haven’t done as much with lists as I maybe should have done but the content is good and it’s perfectly possible to start this on a shoestring. You’ll need a domain, hosting, an autoresponder and some traffic to get your first batch of subscribers.
The way I get most of my traffic at the moment is with articles. It’s not “sexy” but it works.
One article on its own isn’t likely to do much for you. You might hit the jackpot but it’s not a good chance.
I used to write my own articles but nowadays, most of them are outsourced. I’m currently paying $3.50 an article from a service called Get Articles Done. The articles are at least 300 words, which is above the minimum needed by EzineArticles, which is where I submit them.
I’ve had a kind of competition with a friend for the last few months:
He’s researched keywords for various topics, written squeeze pages for them and sent Adwords traffic to them. He goes into real depth on his keywords – hundreds per campaign would be a good average for him. He uses services such as Wordtracker to get these mammoth keyword lists.
I’ve researched keywords for various topics. Whilst I used to use Wordtracker for this, I’ve recently been using a software program called Micro Niche Finder. It uses Google keyword results but goes a step further on analysis: you can click next to each keyword and get a “strength of competition” indicator. This has a number in it but is also color coded. Green means almost no competition, amber means some competition and red means strong competition.
I’ve found a lot of low competition keywords with this that have a decent number of searches. It’s fast and as reliable as any other keyword tool I’ve found.
Typically, I’ll find between 5 and 10 keywords to get articles written. The other long tail keywords that are talked about so much will usually just crop up naturally in the articles.
Then I point the resource box of the article to either a Squidoo lens, a regular blog post promoting a product or a review site page.
We’re both spending about $300 a week on promotion. My friend spends his cash on adverts and I spend mine on articles. Most weeks, my friend loses money (but claims he is still “testing” keywords). Every week so far, I’ve earned more in commissions than I’ve spent on articles. Even allowing for not every product I’m promoting earning me money – I don’t always choose correctly, which means not every product I promote actually makes any sales.
The other good part for me is that my articles will go on getting clicks with no extra expense. They last for weeks, months, even years.
So if you’re on a tight budget and want to almost guarantee making money, I’d say you should make a Squidoo lens (no cost), write a few short articles (300 words or so each) to promote it and post them on Ezine Articles. It will take you a couple of hours to do your first Squidoo lens, less as you get more proficient. An article will take between 15 and 30 minutes to write, depending on how much research you need to do. So if you spend an hour a day most days, you’ll have something to show for it inside a week.
Ezine Articles drives traffic as soon as your article is published. Longer term, you’ll start to see the search engines pick up your site or lens as well. But this takes time. Don’t get disheartened. Just keep plodding away. You’ll likely make your money back from EzineArticles alone – but keep a note of your earnings as a matter of habit – anything from the search engines is icing on the cake.
Recently, I’ve been working on review sites. The best performers (by a lot) are ones like this site where I purchase the product and write a review about it.
The most thorough explanation of how to do this that I’ve come across is called Affiliate Phenom. It’s down to earth advice from a guy called Zach Booker. He’s probably not someone you’ve heard of but he uses the systems he teaches himself to earn a decent income.
All in all, I like affiliate marketing.
You get access to thousands of products, many of which pay 50% or more commission, without the time and effort needed to research them. If you want to create your own product, affiliate marketing is a good way to filter out the markets that actually spend cash before you put in any of your time creating a product.
It’s still possible for an affiliate to make money. Maybe with pay per click if you’re super good at picking keywords and writing adverts. Quite likely with list building. And as close to definitely as you’re likely to get with article marketing.
Just be patient. It’s all too easy to chase the new “shiny penny” in the hope that it will make you money for zero effort.
Instead, pick a method and stick with it. Not just for a week or a month. But for long enough to get results. Which with today’s search engine algorithms means 3 to 6 months.
If you’re not sure where to start, my advice would be to go with article marketing. With the articles pointing to either a review site (such as Affilimax Conversions describes) or, as a second best if you can’t afford a domain and hosting, to a Squidoo lens until you’ve raised the cash. Or just stop buying non-essentials such as a daily newspaper and you’ll have enough cash for a domain and hosting before you know it.
Good luck! And feel free to post your comments about affiliate marketing and success stories below.