This blog explains 100+ New Affiliate Marketing Tips that used in 2019. The main focus of this blog is monetizing Wordpress blog or website with affiliate programs.
Build a website that gets traffic and there will be some way to make money from it. I don’t make any guarantees, but I do guarantee that.
That being said, if you have a few niche ideas and want to know which one is the best to go with, checking out the affiliate programs can definitely help you make a final decision.
So, even though you don’t need this blog right now, some people will find it useful. Also, I do want to show everyone the basics of how we plan to make money from our website.
To find affiliate programs is very simple. Go to Google and type “my niche” + “affiliate program”. You can also do the same with related products and services, like “product + affiliate program”.
You don’t have to sign up for anything for the time being, so just save the URLs of any programs you think sound interesting.
We’re just browsing right now because we don’t have a website yet, and most programs require that you have at least a website to sign up. Oh, and FYI, the vast majority of affiliate programs should be free to join.
Now that you found some, how do you know which ones are good? In this blog, I’m going to cover some of the main things I consider when choosing an affiliate program to monetize my website with.
Commissions + Cookies
This one is pretty simple. High commissions = more money for you. Physical products may start in the 3%-5% range, but go up as high as 20% in some cases.
Digital downloads like ebooks or membership sites may pay up to 75%. Some recurring fee websites will even pay you 100% of the first-month membership, but of course, you don’t get paid any recurring commissions.
Recurring commissions are something to really snoop around for. Memberships or recurring orders that pay you every time the customer pays are sweet.
I would take a 1% lifetime recurring commission over a 10% one-time commission any day. That’s just me though. Some folks prefer big payouts and they just focus on making more of those.
Along with commissions is something called “cookie length”. That’s how long your affiliate cookie lasts. The “cookie” is the code generated by your affiliate link that tracks how many sales you are making. It stays in the person’s browser even after they click your link, leave your website, and go to the vendor's website.
Cookie length varies from 24 hours to lifetime! There just can’t be a wider difference than that. Standard is about 30 to 90 days, and longer is better.
That means if someone clicks your link and goes to the vendor website, then leaves, you can still get credit for anything they buy in the next 30 days, as long as they don’t click someone else’s link in the meantime.
A lifetime cookie means that the person who clicked your link can come back and buy something from that website at any time (no limit), and you still get credit.
Active Affiliate Managers
When comparing affiliate programs, you can even see if an affiliate manager is included. For a newbie, this might be a bit daunting – to actually have someone there watching your site or checking up on how you’re doing, but it’s not a big deal.
In the beginning, I was super stressed to have an affiliate manager because I thought they would hate my site and kick me out of the program! (Just so you know, that’s not going to happen)
Actually, the managers I’ve met so far are all pretty cool. Some will check up on your site from time to time if you are generating a lot of traffic and sales, but if you have got a bare-bones website they’ll pretty much leave you alone unless you ask for help.
This is great if you have questions about how to use their link tracking system or want to know about the products you are promoting. Eventually, if you start doing well you can even negotiate deals for higher payments.
Having an affiliate manager you can reach out to is awesome compared to sending questions to an empty inbox, which happens a lot. Shoot them an email with some basic questions just to see if anyone’s alive over there. If you don’t want to do that, just check out their affiliate signup page.
Are there broken images and dead links? Is there no information about commission percentages or clear instructions on how to sign up?
This might be a B-Level program you’re looking at. Double check – send them an email to make sure the affiliate program is still active because sometimes they discontinue them for whatever reason.
If they offer training, bonuses, or even stats on what their top affiliates are earning it means that they are probably actively involved and interested in seeing you perform well.
In addition to seeing what your future affiliate manager is up to, you can also see if they offer other things like banners, tracking links, and other marketing material.
I have seen some programs that actually provide a list of high traffic keywords to their affiliates and specialized (or customizable) landing pages.
ANY WEBSITE WITH TRAFFIC CAN BE MONETIZED
Most people quit before they see results because they simply don’t know if what they are doing is working or not. Once you make that first sale, you can actually tell yourself, “Hey, I’m doing it right”.
Even if you don’t make a lot of sales, for most people, that first glimpse into making money online is enough to feed the fire of motivation ’til the next sale, then the next one, then the next one.
My first sale earned my just $5, but a lightbulb went on in my head: If one sale means five bucks, I just need to get my website to do this twenty times per day and I could be making a hundred dollars a day!
It’s the not knowing that kills most people’s motivation and thus, business. But what’s this got to do with traffic?
The awesome thing about traffic is that it gives you data to work with. Instead of looking at the dichotomy of sales vs no sales, you can look at other stats to give you the motivation to keep moving forward.
For example, with just a few visits per day, you can analyze your traffic using Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools. You can see where your visits are coming from, and get a ‘hint’ at where you should try to dig up more traffic.
Let’s say you have a website about self-publishing books. You cover a lot of different topics, but the one post that gets the most traffic is the “How to Self-Publish On Amazon” post.
This is a strong indication that you should do two things:
1) Dig up as many keywords as you can find about Amazon self-publishing and write a bunch of articles on the topic
2) Create a monetized post on your website relevant to this topic, then link all these articles to your ‘money page’ (maybe promote an ebook about how to self-publish).
Without traffic, you wouldn’t have had that little hint, and you might not have known that there was such an interest in the topic of self-publishing on Amazon.
Aside from data, traffic allows you to experiment with different strategies of making money, also called ‘split testing’.
If you have just 10 visits per day and you change your main menu, it may take an entire month before you know whether the old or new version of the menu gets more clicks.
If you have 100 visits per day, you can collect this information much faster, and to a higher degree of accuracy.
NOTE: Low traffic numbers often create statistically insignificant data! 5/10 (50%) visits on your site taking some action might be a fluke due to the day of the week or time of year. 5000/10000 (50%) is much more accurate, telling you that about 1/2 of visitors on your site are doing that thing (whatever you are tracking).
Monetizing my website with affiliate programs is where I have seen 99% of my success, and it’s what I have the most experience in.
In fact, although I have made money with all of the other methods listed in this blog (with the exception of creating my own product, but that’s going to change soon), affiliate programs are by far my favorite method of monetization and it’s pretty much all I do now.
Since this blog is about how to make money through affiliate marketing on a Wordpress blog, the other sections will be short, generalized, and limited to my own experience but I will be as in-depth as I can in this section about affiliate programs.
I believe affiliate programs are going to offer you the largest return (both in value and dollar amount) on your time.
How Affiliate Programs Work
You might not know it, but many of your favorite websites are paying individuals to do advertising for them.
Search for “Walmart affiliate program” or “Amazon affiliate program” and a page will turn up explaining the terms and conditions of helping them do some advertising. Being an “affiliate” basically means you are a freelance advertiser.
You are paid on commission, for each sale that you generate for the company. You decide how to do the advertising (within limits, e.g. no spam or pretending to be the company), and are paid every time someone buys something through your affiliate link.
An affiliate link is a link that is coded just to you. When someone clicks this unique link, it drops a ‘cookie’ in their browser. If they buy something from the vendor’s website you sent them to, you make money.
Basically, you want visitors to your website to click your link and buy something from a website you are affiliated with.
Not just big chain stores have affiliate programs! There are many brands of ‘affiliate software’ that smaller companies can use to recruit you and help you track your affiliate stats.
For example, lots of companies use Post Affiliate Pro, so you might sign up for Company A selling organic dog food and Company B selling hockey equipment, but your affiliate dashboard will look the same.
To find an affiliate program that is suitable for your niche, type in “niche + affiliate program” or “product + affiliate program” into Google and see what turns up. You will probably be surprised at how many companies are excited to work with you!
How To Sign Up
Signing up for affiliate programs is free and pretty simple. You just have to provide some basic information about yourself and your website. Many places will approve you instantly. Some will actually take a look at your information like website stats and email you to make sure you are real.
There are a few exclusive affiliate programs out there that require a bit of an interview process (to keep affiliate quality high), but they are rare. More often than not you’ll be approved pretty quickly and can then focus on where to start using your affiliate link!
If you get denied the first time around, no big deal. You can reapply later once you have improved traffic stats and are a bit more savvy to what companies will be looking for.
Some companies like Clickbank and Amazon will also revoke your affiliate status after a period of time if you don’t make any sales, but the same applies here – just sign up again at a later date.
However, it’s worth considering that this is one of the reasons we don’t sign up for affiliate programs right at the get-go.
It may take you 3 months to ramp up traffic to your site, right in time to get booted from the program! I have seen this happen, and people then need to recreate all their affiliate links as the old ones don’t work anymore.
I know that a lot of newbies are chomping at the bit to get their affiliate links up so they don’t miss a single sale.
To be honest, it’s not worth the time to monetize your site until it’s ready. Making $5 by luck is not going to make a difference to your business income in the long term.
ATTN!: Don’t put getting denied or booted from a program on your list of things to worry about, because it isn’t a big deal.
I just wanted to make sure you know that it does happen, and it’s a good reason to hold off on joining affiliate programs until you are generating some traffic to your website.
How You Are Paid
Different companies pay with different methods, but Paypal is probably the most common. If you don’t have a Paypal account now, get one. An equal alternative just doesn’t exist.
Some places have the option to get paid by direct deposit or check, with direct deposit to your bank being the more common option. There are other electronic payment systems, but you don’t run into them very often.
Many companies will hold your commissions for 30 days to prevent fraud and returns. Some will pay out immediately and deduct any returns from future earnings. Just keep in mind that the money you made in January might not be paid out until the end of February or beginning of March.
There’s usually a payment threshold as well, varying from $10 to $100, even $250 for some programs. It’s a bummer in the beginning when you are grinding for that first sale or two and you can’t even withdraw them until 3 months later.
But once you get some momentum it doesn’t really matter and it can work to your advantage, helping you budget properly for the next month.
How Do I Know I’ll Get Paid?
I’m surprised at how much this question comes up, but people seem to have a genuine fear that they will do all this work and the company won’t pay them. It does happen, but it’s rare. There actually is a company that owes me $2000 in commissions from 2011, but it’s only happened to me once in 5 years.
I just pulled all their links and replaced them with their competitor's links and went back to business. To this day, I’m the only person I’ve heard of (in my circle of marketing friends) that happening too.
If it’s a concern of yours, just search for “company + affiliate + scam/ripoff/not pay” and if someone isn’t paying, there will be an angry blogger somewhere to let you know.
If you do find a post, also take into account that some companies don’t pay for legitimate reasons like fraud and abuse.
You can take screenshots of all your earnings weekly or monthly for proof of your earnings in case a company you work with decides to not pay you for whatever reason.
How Do I Know My Link Works?
Another question that gets asked a lot – geez, you guys are suspicious! Depending on the affiliate software you use, you can look to see if it’s tracking your clicks by clicking your own links and looking at the stats.
If you see your affiliate code in there, then you know the link is working. Your code will usually have a question mark in it, though there are different styles.
For example, http://vendorwebsite.com/product-page?aff=1234
In this case, 1234 is your affiliate ID. Other affiliate software with advanced tracking abilities may have the very long code, 50+ characters long with affiliate IDs, tracking IDs, subIDs and other useful data. Some places that sell only one product may give you a dedicated link you can use, like http://vendorwebsite.com/1234.
How Much Do I Get Paid?
Commissions vary widely, ranging from 1% to 100%. Seriously. Last time I heard, Best Buy only pays 1%. Orbitz pays something like 3%.
Membership sites or recurring fee programs may pay you 100% of the first month for each person you recruit, but you do not receive anything from recurring sales. Others may pay you a 15-30% recurring fee for each month they are active.
So as you can see, there really are a lot of options. For physical products and big companies, you can expect a range of 5-10%. For digital products or anything that’s web-based you can expect more, ranging from 10-75%
Cookie length is another thing to consider. If someone lands on your website January 1, clicks your affiliate link, then returns on March 25 to the same website based on your recommendation, you might not receive credit for the sale! Then again, you might.
Cookies can expire in as little as 24 hours (Amazon), but they usually give you more time to close the deal. 30-90 days is what I’ve seen most.
Some companies offer lifetime cookies, meaning that person will remain your referral as long as they don’t clear their cookies or click on another affiliate’s link.
If you start making a lot of sales, you may receive special treatment or be able to negotiate better terms. I’ve negotiated myself from 15% to 25% and from 8% to 12% in previous years.
Other perks can include unique links or entrance points to the vendor's website, or insight into the vendor's data about their customers.
What Products To Promote
Once you’ve chosen some affiliate programs that you may want to work with, you now need to narrow down a few products you want to promote. Yup. Just a few. No, you will not be creating an online mall.
Affiliate marketing is not about creating an online shopping experience like Amazon. We are not going to make a website where people can view products, add them to a shopping cart, then go check out at another website.
The vast majority of your sales will not be made with banners either! Yeah, another shocker. I also see a lot of emails asking me for website reviews with five or more banners in the sidebar because people think that this is how the website actually earns money.
Sorry if I sound uber-critical here. I just want to emphasize exactly how we will be making money so you don’t accidentally go down the wrong road for several months only to find out that these methods don’t work.
#1: No online shopping mall
#2: Banners suck (in general. 1 or 2 might be OK)
Selling Stuff With Content
The main reason people are landing on your website is that of what you are writing. Your content is the selling point that spurs people to buy stuff.
People want to know if Product X is dangerous or which is better Product A vs Product B. Here are some ideas to begin working with on your site.
Product X Review
Product A vs Product B
Product D vs Product D 2.0
How do I ____ _? (Solution = Product)
The last one is very powerful and can be broken down even further
Learn how to _____ (tutorial)
How to stop _____ (bad habit)
How to cure/fix _____ (illness, troubleshooting)
There are of course more ideas that you can add to this list.
What does this have to do with product selection? Well, we need to narrow our focus on just a few products we want to promote in the beginning so we can drive traffic to those pages.
Later on we can get a bit broader and do all kinds of reviews, but for now, just a couple. Three to five different ones will be sufficient. But now, I want to talk about the product selection process.
Which Products Make Money?
Billions and billions of dollars worth of stuff are purchased online every single day. Any of those products is a potential place for you to make money. It’s not about which products can or can’t make money, it’s about which ones you want to spend time focusing on.
One mistake I made with a beer site in the past was trying to promote EVERYTHING. I even wrote reviews of $5 items. It was a total waste of time since I was only making 5% commission or $0.25 per sale.
There is no single product that is going to make you rich and nothing that is “guaranteed” to work.
It’s all about YOU, the business owner, and how well you promote it. The things you should consider when choosing products to promote are pretty obvious: quality, ease of use, price, functionality, etc.
I don’t think I need to spend too much time on those concepts.
What I do want to talk about is what ‘types’ of things have worked well for me in the past. Plug some of these ideas into your niche and see what you can come up with!
Collection of Products
Keep in mind that having products which are somewhat related creates the opportunity to interlink your pages.
If you have a website about “home spa days” and you want to promote a home manicure kit, you might also want to link to reviews of a pedicure kit and/or a facial mask set review. Maybe you can link to a wine review, and other stuff related to a home spa day.
Brands + Product Comparison
Check out if there are competing brands you can compare, for example, smartwatches. I could write 10 posts just comparing different types of smartwatches.
Apple Watch VS Samsung Smart Watch
Pebble VS Apple Watch
Android Watches VS Apple Watch
Even after you exhaust all these comparisons, you still have a Top 3 or Top 10 post you can write, PLUS, you can write individual reviews of each brand!
Products You Can Talk About
When choosing products to promote, you definitely need to think about how much you can say about it.
Here’s an example of what you shouldn’t do: I found a really well designed padded ring-clip to hold an extra fuel bottle on my motorcycle. However, I can’t say much more about it other than it works, and maybe do a quick tutorial on YouTube.
I certainly can’t write a 1000 word review, and shouldn’t focus on something that costs $10 for 4% commission from Amazon.
Here’s an example of what you should do: They recently came out with a “Keurig for beer” called the Pico Brew. It’s a really fast way to brew beer inside the house, without a bunch of mess. It’s a fancy little machine.
I could talk about it all day, how it brews, what it’s made out of, recipes to brew on it, how to clean it, how to troubleshoot it, what upgrades are coming out, etc etc.
This would be a really good product to promote (too bad they don’t have an affiliate program) because I can create lots of different content over the course of several weeks that focuses on promoting this one thing. I can create ten articles about brewing beer inside the house as opposed to in the garage, then link back to my Pico Brew review.
This strategy is better than creating just one piece of content that promotes one thing, and then you run out of steam.
Avoid Sales, Free, Discounts, Budgets
Lots of you are on a budget and want to reach out to like-minded folks that are also on a budget. I agree that this can give us a warm fuzzy feeling to help people find a good deal, but the fact is that it’s the wrong audience to target.
You are trying to make money, and need to aim your website at people with money to buy stuff.
Providing free resources is excellent! But don’t make your ‘money pages’ about finding the cheapest possible deal. They should be about finding the best value for their money.
Some websites can work well as a one-product promotion website. A really good example would be if you know of a really good guide on antiquing that you want to promote.
You can write tips and tricks every week about antiquing, but at the end of every page, add a short blurb about how if they love your weekly blog posts and tips, they would probably enjoy your review of an excellent antique guide. The Motley Fool does this with their stock-picking clubs.
Essentially, all your traffic is going to that review page, and you can tweak that page to convert really well over time. You might want to eventually add a few other things to promote, but it’s very possible to have just the one money page, and the rest of your work is going to be writing content and driving traffic to that review.
High Ticket Items
High ticket items or expensive items are really nice to promote because you get a big fat commission for each sale. I wouldn’t make everything you promote a high ticket item, but a few sales of these big boys can quickly boost your monthly income.
One thing to watch out for is that people spending more money on an item are more critical of the reviews they read. If you don’t own it or don’t have good knowledge of the item from research, it can be hard to write a convincing argument of why someone should spend $3000 on something.
Many of the gurus out there that swear by high ticket items as the best way to make money are the same guys selling $25,000 “make money online” systems to grandmas and disabled veterans. They may also have an entire team of writers to help them create sales funnels and sales pages!
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Clubs, courses, membership sites – if you can find stuff like this related to your niche, definitely put one of these into your “stuff I have to write about” list.
Recurring commissions have been a large part of me being able to make passive income while I’m on vacation or just having fun with my hobbies. A sweet day for me is making $500 on a Sunday while brewing beer in my garage!
Contextual ads are placed within the body of your articles. There are two main ways to do this. One is Google Adsense and the other is Infolinks. There are other companies that do similar things, and I’ll list them at the end of this section.
Google Adsense is ads you’ve been seeing for the past decade but might not have realized it was Google. They are the blue/black/green text ads you see in sidebars, headers, and in the middle of articles.
They may sometimes be pictures as well. They display ads based on the search history of the user on your website, not the content of your website.
Though if the person found your site through search, what they were searching for and your niche site is probably the same thing.
This style of advertising offers some advantages and disadvantages.
The good thing is that if they were searching for electric guitars and your site is about guitars in some way, there’s a good chance they will click an ad that shows up on your site. It might be for some sheet music, a distortion pedal, or online guitar lessons.
The other great thing is that it’s very ‘hands off’ on your part. You slap some code on your website and go about your business. Adsense decides which ads to serve and you make money based on clicks.
You get to focus on content and traffic and don’t have to deal with things like a sales funnel, what to offer, improving conversions, and other things that go along with “selling”.
Oh, and that’s another bonus! You can write whatever you want without feeling like you have to be a salesman.
You can build a website with funny cat videos, and if you can get traffic to it, you can make money. No need to try to promote anything other than the funny/cool/amazing content on your website.
But, there are plenty of downsides too! In fact, I have a big chip on my shoulder towards them and don’t recommend you use them, especially as a beginner.
Why? They banned me for life from their program within just a few months of getting started. Before you think I did something horrible to get banned, it’s quite common, and there is no (legitimate) appeals process. So downside #1? It’s easy to get banned, and impossible to get back in.
Downside #2 is that you are sending people away from your website for cheap! This is huge! You spend all that time and effort to get them on your website and now you want to send them to your competitor's website to go buy stuff.
You get paid a few pennies and they get a (possible) big fat check for whatever that visitor buys.
This alone is reason enough to not use Adsense. You could be making much more money off of that same traffic by advertising affiliate products from related companies through more targeted affiliate promotions.
A somewhat less compelling reason, but equally important is that this style of ads is common and just plain ugly in my opinion. Everyone knows they are ads and is prone to ignoring them.
Internet savvy folks just have an ad blocker on their browser and don’t even see them! Plus, why mess up your beautiful website with a bunch of text and pictures you have no control over?
There are a few alternatives to Adsense. Chitika and Media.net are two that come to mind since it looks quite similar, but I’m unfamiliar with their pay structure, rules, etc.
Probably my least favorite way to monetize a website (yes, even less than Adsense) is Infolinks. Why?
For one, they pay pennies when you could be getting paid dollars. Second, they look terrible on a website.
There are a few different display options, but the one that people choose the most is the actual “link” option. I’m not quite sure how it selects words on your posts, but it creates a hyperlink with certain words on the page.
This hyperlink version creates two problems. It confuses people, so they don’t know what’s a link on your website and what’s an ad. It also means people get “link blindly”, ignoring links you want them to click because they don’t want to click any annoying ads.
Furthermore, Infolinks serves up some very poor ads on a regular basis. I could have a website about model trains and it may choose “track” in the word “train track”. For “track”, it could display an ad for GPS tracking devices, or maybe a pair of track shoes.
Very often it takes words out of context, displaying irrelevant ads. This not only prevents you from making money, but it confuses people on your website, creating a negative user experience.
Exacerbating the situation is that people using Adsense are often unimpressed with the earnings so they double up with Infolinks, essentially turning their website into a free-for-all for advertisers. You do all the grunt work getting quality traffic to your site, and they come to play and make money! No thanks.
Kontera is an alternative to Infolinks that does a very similar type of ad.
So in a nutshell, contextual ads are easy to set up and require little maintenance. However, they pay poorly and create a low-quality user experience on your website.
I’m just not that into them, but I know that some people have made decent money with Adsense in particular. These can also be good options if affiliate marketing is not an option for you, like if you are running a free forum.
Selling Ad Space
I was originally going to create a separate section for this since technically it’s a completely different way to monetize your website, but then realized I know so little about it that I can’t really say much except to mention it as a possibility to monetize your site.
A really cool website to check out is BuySellAds, which acts as a broker between people selling and buying ad space. I have placed several ads on other people’s websites using this service. There are quite a few other similar services out there as well.
If you are renting space on your site, you might be able to get on Access to This Page Has Been Blocked and sell ad space for a certain amount of time.
$5 isn’t much, but you can set the amount of time low, like 10-15 days depending on the traffic you get. Just remember that every click you send away from your site is a possible sale you lost!
You could put your own banner in that same spot and earn commissions. But if your own banners aren’t earning much money, you might be able to make a couple bucks by rending out the ad space.
Building An Email List
If you’ve ever heard that “the money is in the list”, then you’ve heard about list building and email marketing. In fact, for many, building a list is one of the first ways to make money online that they hear of.
On top of the typical domain and hosting fees, you’ll also need an autoresponder which is going to cost you about $20/month depending on which service you use.
When I got started in affiliate marketing I was told by a “guru” that you should be building a list from day one, even if you don’t understand what it’s for.
So I spent two years building a list for my VPN sites, collecting about 10,000 people and racking up a monthly bill of $70 per month, for a list that I didn’t actually send any emails to do.
By the time I was savvy enough to set up a sequence, people from two years back didn’t know who the heck I was, and all of my emails flopped. I will admit, a better marketer than I could have salvaged 10k subscribers for something profitable, but I didn’t have a clue.
I burned about $1000 in autoresponder fees and who knows how many lost commissions trying to build that list, then it all went to waste because I didn’t have a plan of what to do with it.
So from this experience, I would recommend that you only start building a list when you think you are ready, both financially and with regards to time.
Plus, make sure you spend some time beforehand mapping out a potential follow up sequence, including which products and services you want to promote.
How Does An Email List Make Money?
There are entire websites and dedicated courses to email marketing, so I’m not going to teach you everything you need to know in just one section of this blog.
However, we can cover some broad concepts to help you understand how this method of monetization works and if you are interested in this method of monetization, you can dig deeper into it later on.
Actually, a huge number of so-called “game-changing” internet marketing products do little more than explain the basic email marketing concepts that I’m going to talk about in the next few paragraphs. Anyone that claims to teach you how to make passive income, or autopilot riches, is probably talking about email marketing.
It’s just a bunch of marketing jazz because you still have to work hard to build the list, set up the sequence, and tweak it to be profitable.
But yes, once your site is generating traffic, and your opt-in form is effectively collecting leads, and you have a sequence that converts to sales… then, email marketing can be pretty good at making passive income.
Opt-In Form: This is the method of email collection. It’s a little box on your website or popup with space for people to fill in their email address and name.
There is usually some kind of incentive to give you this information, like a free guide, an email course, or something interesting they want to be delivered to their email inbox.
Autoresponder: This is the service you need to actually send emails. This service allows you to set up an automatically delivered sequence of emails. You can set the number of days between each email, the subject of the emails, and of course the content.
They track opens, clicks, and other stats about people reading your emails so you can refine your campaigns. There’s also an option to send one-time “email blasts”.
These are emails that you send to your entire list but are not part of the automatic sequence.
Here’s how email marketing works:
1. Get a visitor to your website
2. Offer them an incentive to sign up to your list
3.Deliver whatever you promised via email
4. Follow up with a sequence of emails on a relevant topic (offering value of some kind)
5.Promote related products and services within the follow-up sequence
There are legit, helpful ways to do this, as well as scuzzy ways to do it. I really enjoy being on the email list of my favorite homebrew shops because I get notified of deals and events happening.
I also like to be on the email list of biggerpockets.com because I can see what new articles they have and what the real estate markets are doing.
Have you received emails like those? They are annoying. Sure, they get good open rates, and yes, they probably make some good sales because they are outright lying about the contents of what they are selling.
But check out the refund rates and customer complaints, and now you know why many so-called internet gurus release products under pseudonyms and have several products launches every year.
The original idea of creating an email list to promote helpful, relevant products and services to the people that sign up has been badly perverted by the internet marketing industry.
When someone sends you 2 to 3 “make money systems” in a single day until you unsubscribe, they are nothing but a spammer in my blog. It’s too bad that’s what a lot of people teach.
Is Building A List Easier Than Other Methods?
One major misconception believed by a lot of list-builders is that email marketing is easier or more lucrative than other ways of making money online. My theory is that they think this way because they want to use a squeeze page, which means they don’t have to update their blog on a weekly basis.
Squeeze Page: A one-page website focused on getting the visitor to take some kind of action. In the case of list building, that action would be signing up to your list.
Because a squeeze page looks simple compared to writing 1000 words of content every few days, many newbie internet entrepreneurs gravitate to this type of marketing. But there’s one HUGE missing piece to the puzzle – traffic!
Squeeze pages rarely rank in search engines because there’s no content on them, so now you are stuck using paid traffic methods.
But Google Adwords doesn’t like squeeze pages because the content is ‘thin’ and they will get dinged as being a bridge page (a page that has the sole purpose of redirecting someone to an offer).
Facebook Ads is a bit better, but they can get uppity about certain topics like weight loss or biz ops. Bing is pretty lax, but traffic is limited.
There are other methods of driving paid traffic to your site from places like Plenty of Fish, 7Search, and a few others but the point I want to make is that by trying to drive paid traffic to a squeeze page you are immediately starting out crippled (fewer choices) in the PPC world.
As a result, you are pretty much left with solo ads as your only way to drive traffic to your squeeze page.
Even if you do have a budget for paid ads and the skills to crunch the numbers, you are still going to need a follow-up sequence that converts to sales. You need to learn how to write effective, engaging content within your emails to make sure people open the next one, then the next one, and then the next one.
Oh, and you might also have to write sales copy for the offer you plan to promote in your sequence.
Wow, that sounds like a whole lot of writing… and you thought this was going to save you the hassle of writing articles for a blog!
Every single click you get to your squeeze page that doesn’t convert to signup costs you money. If someone stays on for the full sequence but isn’t interested in your offer? Bummer dude.
True, you can outsource all the content, but it’s going to cost you money. Plus, if you are new to email marketing, it’s going to be pretty hard to tell them what you want or judge whether it’s good quality.
Do I Hate Email Marketing?
No! As I mentioned above, my current email list is converting pretty well and I have pretty good engagement with the people I send emails to. But it took me (a person starting out with no writing skills and no marketing skills) 4 years, plus plenty of mistakes and wasted dollars to reach that point.
If you want to focus on email marketing, go for it! It’s actually pretty fun once you get into it. It can definitely be super profitable if you do it right.
For example, I spent $500 at CopyBlogger and over $1000 at Northern Brewer this year as a result of their email marketing campaigns. But I recommend you start with a plan and ditch the idea that it’s faster or easier than any other method out there.
My personal suggestion is to start off with writing content on your blog as I outline in this guide. Once you start generating traffic to your website you can dig deeper into email marketing and see if it will work for your business.
Creating Your Own Product
Creating your own product can be a very challenging, but rewarding venture. If you asked me 4 years ago if I would be interested in writing my own digital information product I would have said, “No way!”.
However, now, I see how easy it can be, even for a newbie. The challenge is not creating the product – the challenge is marketing it!
Why Creating A Digital Info-Product Is Easy
A digital info product may sound like serious business to you, but it’s really nothing more than a PDF or a couple of videos teaching something.
Taken down to the very basics, you write down some information in a text editor, export it as a PDF, and now you have a newly-minted info product!
There are many places you can sell info products like Clickbank, and they will handle the sale and delivery of your product for a fee. You could potentially sell it through your own site as well with a bit of research on how to set that up on your blog.
If you know a lot about something then you can create an info product. Even if you don’t know that much but want to do the research that works too.
Heck, even if you just have the money to pay for someone to write it, that’s a possibility as well. It’ll cost some money and take some management skills to have someone else do the work, but again, it’s not rocket science.
Some $5 or $10 products are just 20-50 pages long and written in a casual writing style! I truly believe even a complete newbie could manage to create their own digital info product in a short period of time.
Why Creating A Digital Info-Product Is Hard
Creating the product is the easy part. The rest of it is hard. You cannot jump into this method of making money online thinking “If you build it, they will come”. There are three main things you have to consider on the marketing side of selling your own info product.
Sales Copy: You are going to have to write an effective sales page promoting your product.
The “buy it if you want, but I don’t really care” attitude isn’t going to cut it. If you wrote the book you can probably tell a story about how amazing your product is, but there’s more to it than that. Do you have a good hook?
Are there enough purchase points on the sales page? Are you pushing people’s emotional buttons and making them feel they need it? These are all things to consider for your sales copy.
Traffic: How are you going to get traffic to your sales page? Are you going to be handling all the promotion or hiring affiliates?
Blogging is a great way to drive traffic to your ebook, so you could potentially do everything I’ve outlined in this blog as a traffic generation method. Paid traffic (PPC) is also an option, but make sure you have a budget for it.
Affiliates: If you plan to have affiliates market your product, great! This can be the start of some passive income coming into your online business.
But again, signing up for an affiliate network doesn’t mean that people will choose to promote you out of the thousands of other products out there.
You now not only have to write effective sales copy for people looking to buy your product, you also have to write a decent affiliate recruitment page, showing potential affiliates why they should promote YOU instead of someone else.
They will also be looking at things like your sales copy, content quality, and payout percentages. Recruiting affiliates adds yet another complicated layer to the process of marketing your product.
Creating an info product can be fun and easy, especially if you are an expert in a particular niche. However, marketing and making money from that info product is where the challenge lies.
Don’t let that discourage you if you do have a good idea! But just be prepared to do the same amount of marketing effort as you would if you were selling affiliate products (plus some extra work).
Selling Your Website
It’s also possible to sell a website, regardless of whether it’s getting traffic or making money. The value of your website will be determined by a number of factors.
A mediocre website that is sold with some finesse in your sales copy can bring in a lot of money. A fantastic website with an ad that doesn’t quite convey its true value will be largely ignored unless you are dealing with a really savvy buyer.
Factors Which Affect The Value Of Your Website
Traffic: How many visitors you are getting to your site every day is certainly
a selling point. If your site gets a lot of traffic but makes only a little money, high traffic stats will be attractive to anyone who thinks they can do a better job monetizing it than you.
Consistently increasing traffic is more valuable than stable traffic and decreasing traffic or seasonal traffic.
If you have a high number of daily visitors to your site, I would consider using Google Adsense for a time just to get an estimated monthly earnings value, and you can probably sell it for more money due to consistent earnings.
Monthly Earnings: Depending on where you sell the website, a website that is consistently earning can get between 10x and 20x monthly earnings. People are not dumb and know that if your earnings for the last three months are $0, $0, and $2,000, either something is up or they are taking a huge risk.
A site that makes $500, $1000 and $1500 in the past three months would sell for between $10k and $20k but may go for more as you can see a rising trend. The opposite trend (decreasing earnings) will probably get less interest without a decent explanation (like seasonal earnings drop).
Method of Monetization: How the website makes money will affect the value of the site and interest from buyers.
For example, the Amazon Associates affiliate program is a great way to make money online and very recognizable, but it’s not available in all countries or states.
Adsense is popular and easy to manage, but people like me that are banned won’t be able to make money with it unless they make some big changes to the site.
A site that only uses Adsense and is making good money might actually be more attractive to some buyers because they can add affiliate links and almost instantly increase their earnings.
If you are using drop shipping or have some kind of inventory, that will also affect the demand for your business since not everyone has the capacity for product storage.
Work Involved: People love passive income and will lose their mind if you tell them there’s no work involved. (Yes, that was a hint of irritation you heard there).
Unfortunately, the market is flooded with hyped sales pitches for pre-made ‘business in a box’ type websites. Don’t sell yourself short – but don’t exaggerate too much.
Just be honest about what you do on your website so people know if they can actually run it. Offering limited support may be another selling point, but don’t get stuck managing their business after they buy it.
Domain Name: You can actually buy and sell domain names without any website at all! If you find an exact keyword match domain name with high traffic stats and low competition, scoop it up and you might be able to flip it for a decent profit.
It’s not easy, but there is a market for good domain names. This year I sold a $10 domain name for $500. Some domains can go for several thousand dollars.
Flipping domains is not all cake though. There are a lot of people in this business with million dollar portfolios and software that scoop anything up once it comes on the market. You have to be keyword savvy, patient, and a good salesman to turn a profit in this business.
Two major players in the website brokering business are Flippa and Empire Flippers. Watch out for Flippa – it’s dog-eat-dog on that site and there’s are a lot of scams, but there are some legitimate businesses sold there so it’s worth watching. Sites are sold at auction there, so you can bid on them much like on eBay.
Empire Flippers does a lot more work vetting the websites they broker and they also fetch higher prices in general (20x monthly earnings standard cost), but there’s no bidding element like there is in Flippa.
Summary + Tasks
There are many ways to monetize a website with traffic, so in the beginning, our focus should be generating traffic. This helps to build a strong foundation for our business by giving us:
Motivation, since it’s easier to reach traffic goals than money goals at this point Accurate data collection, to give us an indication if changes we make are actually working Hints about which direction to steer out the site
Although we discussed many ways to earn money from a website, the focus of this blog is monetizing our Wordpress blog with affiliate programs.
This is where I’ve made the most money in the past half-decade, and I believe it’s the easiest, most cost-effective, and most profitable way for a new online marketer to make his first dollar.
Tasks For This blog
1. Take a look at Flippa and Empire Flippers to see what type of websites are for sale and how much they are selling for Traffic That’s It?
As far as getting traffic to your website goes, you now know my entire strategy of driving traffic to a website. We will get into monetization strategies and money related stuff in the next blog, but I wanted to summarize the traffic stuff first. Why?
ANY WEBSITE WITH TRAFFIC CAN MAKE MONEY!
For most people starting out in online business (including myself), we didn’t attend business school and don’t have any kind of experience in marketing. It’s very difficult to sit down and write a business plan that we can truly believe in.
That is why, for most people, it’s better to just focus on one thing at a time. I read a really interesting book called “The One Thing”, that teaches a basic principle that has really worked for me and my business: Focus on one thing at a time.
In this case, focus on traffic first. Once you get rolling with traffic, then you can start tweaking your website to make money.
If you are constantly focusing on making money from day one, it’s going to be an uphill battle for you mentally. You will keep looking at the $0 in your account, wondering why you are not earning anything when actually you cannot earn that first $1 without getting traffic first.
What is easier – making money from a website with two 1500-word blog posts and an about me page, or making money from a 6-month-old website with fifty 3000-word blog posts and some page one rankings in Google?
Obviously, the second choice is preferable. So why even try to earn money from a website which is pretty much guaranteed to earn nothing?
The #1 mistake I see people make all the time is that they want to skip to the money making the part. They create their initial pages, write a short Amazon review (or three), and wonder why their website isn’t making any money.
I’m not saying you have to wait until you have a steady one hundred visits per day to start adding affiliate links or looking for products to promote. In fact, I’d be lying if I told you that was the way I build my websites.
It’s totally fine to do a mix of traffic-getting posts and some money pages. But I just wanted to remind you that your focus right now should be building traffic and rankings to your website.
This section will be pretty short because we’ve already discussed my main traffic strategies (keywords, content creation, social media), but I did want to spend some time summarizing what we’ve learned (and why) up to this point, as well as give you a few warnings about traffic traps that are common in the industry.
In a nutshell, this is how I build traffic to my websites:
1. Do keyword research
2. Write blog posts based on keyword research
3.Share blog posts on social media
4.Create internal links to myself as I grow my website
5. Let the content stew, go back and update content if I’m unhappy with rank (but don’t dwell on it)
Updating content isn’t something I’ve talked about so far. Sometimes, you have a really juicy keyword that you would just love to rank for. I understand that feeling. If you aren’t ranking for it yet, you do have some power you can leverage without resorting to shady linking practices or boosting rank artificially.
I like to go back and see what I can do to improve the post.
No video? Add one. No pictures? Add some.
Is the content original or regurgitated from other research? Make it more unique.
How long is it? 1000 words? Add another 500.
Are there chunky blocks of text or odd formatting places? Make it easier to read.
Have there been updates on the topic? Write something fresh.
Are there new pages on your site you can link to? Link to them to keep people on your site longer.
There are probably other things you can do that fit under the umbrella concept of making your content “better”. All of this updating and expanding of your post will tell search engines that your site has been updated, bringing them back to re-crawl your new and improved page.
Also, by expanding your initial blog post into an amazing, “epic” resource, you are naturally going to reference it more on your website. Create a menu item to it, or link an image in your sidebar with something that says, “You can’t miss this post” or “Popular post”. Give that link a title and alt tag with your keyword in it.
Making these incremental improvements over time has the potential to boost your rank and authority of that page.
Sometimes, you just won’t rank no matter what. Or, maybe you just need more time or more authority on your domain. Who knows. Don’t dwell on the rank of one page.
If your website is dependent on the rank of a single page, then you have built your house on quicksand. Focus on creating a broader base of more content that ranks for low competition phrases.
In the meantime, you’ll probably be sending traffic and SEO power to that post you really want to rank for. Remember, a watched pot never boils, so just keep building and you might get a nice surprise in the near future.
If it never ranks, oh well. No big deal. Now you have 100 other low competition posts that are ranking and you can use those to drive traffic to that page.
The World Of PPC
You’ll notice an absence of PPC advice in the traffic section of my blog. There are two reasons for this.
1) Most of you are on a budget and won’t be interested in paid traffic methods
2) I honestly haven’t had a lot of success in this arena
I have had some converting campaigns, and have used a variety of platforms to drive pay per click traffic to my websites. However, the vast majority of my converting traffic has been from free traffic methods, and none of my paid traffic campaigns have survived more than a few months.
One thing that really trips me up is tracking. There’s a lot of technical setups involved in tracking which campaigns are converting (making you money) and which ones are not. If your affiliate program has the stuff you need to set this up – great! You’re set and can experiment.
But most affiliate programs don’t. Then you are stuck installing Prosper202 (self-hosted) on your own server or paying hundreds in monthly fees for Tracking202. Now you’ve got to create a tracking pixel, get it on the correct page, and, well, beyond that I’m not too sure.
You can also set up no-indexed landing pages with your PPC campaigns and use affiliate tracking codes to track sales. That’s a bit easier. But you’ll still need a budget and an affiliate program with the proper tracking tools.
Marketers make some serious money with PPC. It’s a huge industry. But it’s not as newbie friendly as blogging and requires a budget to get started.
If you do venture into paid advertising, Facebook ads and Bing are the best places to start because they’re cheaper and less hostile than Adwords, which can be expensive and hard to get ads approved for new marketers.
The Allure Of Fast, Easy, Unlimited Traffic
Multiple products are released every single day claiming to know the secret to unlimited, free, targeted traffic that will skyrocket your business results. But it’s a super-duper-secret and they can’t tell you until you pay them $7.95.
I wouldn’t be sharing my secret with you. I’d be building a new website every month in a different niche and use the proceeds to buy my own private island (with internet).
The formula for creating these types of products is very easy, so I will share that secret with you. There are only a few different angles the traffic gurus take. If you are considering purchasing one of these ‘game changer’ (sarcasm) products, you can bet that it’ll be about something discussed on this page.
You join for a monthly fee, or pay by submission basis. You submit your website to the exchange, and they send you traffic. Some allow you to join for free, but you have to “earn” credits by clicking and viewing ads from other members in the network.
Yes, people are incentivized to click your ad not because they are interested in the offer, but because they are trying to earn credits to submit their own site. The traffic they get as a result of their efforts is also other people trying to get credits to enter into the system to do their own advertising.
If you ask me to click your ad and I ask you to click my ad, do we actually make money? Not unless someone buys what we are selling. For that reason, joining a traffic exchange simply doesn’t make sense.
Some people do experience limited success in the (what I call) extreme make money online niche using traffic exchanges. To benefit from an exchange, you really need to embrace the mentality of using the most sensational ads to attract people’s attention.
Proponents of these exchanges then send people to a squeeze page (single-page website with email opt-in form) to collect an email address and start them on an email sequence.
Some product advertising will say stuff like this:
Make money online with…
Etc etc. They want to suck you in by showing you how much you don’t have to do. So how do solo ads work?
You basically “borrow” an email list from someone for a fee. For example, if you paid me $100 to send an email with an offer to the 5000 subscribers in my list, that’s how solo ads work.
You rarely see these outside the make money online (MMO) niche, so a lot of what goes on in these ads is typical “Find the secret to working from home” type of-of junk.
I’ll admit, it sounds like a good idea. I think it could actually be a good way to join up with some peers in your niche for cross promotion or other types of joint ventures.
However, in practice, it rarely works this way. Many times the lists you’ll buy into are scraped email addresses (emails taken from other places online with software), or emails collected by other shady methods (buying/selling lists, tricky opt-in methods).
By participating in these lists, you also run the risk of being a spammer simply by sending your offer to an unsuspecting audience.
The key to making solo ads work is to know the buyer that’s selling them and his/her reputation. I have, in fact, seen “shared email lists” work for some friends of mine. But they had established businesses to start with, including a product to market with proof that it works.
Yes, solo ads can work for all niches. But making money from them is not as simple as a lot of people selling them want you to think.
I used to be a crazy, article marketing fool. Article marketing is basically where you write a blog post for your website, then write a few related articles and submit them to directories with links back to the original article on your site.
Sometimes, those articles can get syndicated across multiple directories, creating more links to your site.
It used to be HUGE within the online marketing world and part of the reason I experienced my initial success with my first websites is that I just went nuts with this strategy.
I would personally type 5-10 articles each day and publish them with links to my website. They were not very good, but they existed, and they ranked, driving lots of traffic to my sites.
Part of article marketing and syndication was the idea of “spinning” and “automatic submission”. Spinning is where you re-write the same piece of text over a few times using synonyms and similar phrases. This can be done by hand or with software, but the software usually creates something unreadable by humans.
There is also software out there that automatically submits these low-quality articles to low-quality directories, creating even more optimized links to your site.
It used to work really well, and I used to do that too.
Unfortunately, Google came down hard on directories and they simply don’t rank well anymore. Article marketing truly is dead. Now I write exclusively for my website.
I am able to rank and convert to sales without any kind of off-site writing, which is why I recommend you don’t even bother with this strategy. Why make things harder on yourself?
The bottom of the barrel is “traffic packages” that you can purchase from various websites. One popular place to buy them is Fiverr. You’ll see gigs that say, “I will send you 100k targeted, human visitors to your website” for just $5. Yeah right.
These packages are without a doubt extremely low-quality clicks. Some are bots, and the ‘better’ ones will be click farms where people are just paid to visit your website, hang out for 3 seconds, click something, then leave.
Does that help you make money? No. Which is why you don’t need these. Just say, “NO” to low-quality traffic!
The vast majority of all “traffic secrets” I see are very much targeted towards the make money online crowd. In my opinion, if you are in other niches like sports, health, animals, etc, most of these methods will be confusing and ineffective when applied to your business.
If you are actually doing MMO, you may find some of these ideas intriguing. Be my guest and look into them, but also remember that learning how to actually get a positive ROI with any of these paid methods will require time and money to see what works and what doesn’t.
Summary + Tasks
There is no such thing as a traffic ‘secret’, and low-quality traffic that doesn’t create sales for you is a waste of money. Focus on driving high quality, targeted, (real) visitors to your website and amaze them with your content to keep them there.
Most of the time it’s painfully slow (sometimes not) building traffic to a website. I wrote a 1,000-word blog post every day for 5 months for One More Cup of Coffee and received less than 10 visits per day.
By month 8 I had over 1500 visits per day. Some people will see more natural traffic grown over time. But trying to supercharge or speed up your results is going to bite you in the butt sooner or later.
You don’t need a complicated strategy to get people onto your website, and I have seen excellent results with two main elements: keyword research & content creation.