Category Archives: Articles

Three Constants in Affiliate Marketing

Written by: Guest author, Simon Slade

Those of us who have been involved in the affiliate marketing world for a while are all too aware that it is an industry prone to change, and lots of it. A website that makes you money one day, might literally disappear from the search engine rankings overnight, and leave you struggling to find a reason why. The terms of service (TOS) on one of your favorite Web 2.0 sites might change in the blink of an eye, and you suddenly find yourself losing an important traffic or income source. Wouldn’t it be nice just to have some reliable marketing constants for once? Well today, you are going to learn about the three constants in affiliate marketing; these are the things that won’t change any time soon, and they should form the foundations of your affiliate marketing efforts.

1. Content is King

You’ve probably heard this term referred to many times before, without actually paying too much mind to it. However, one of the constants of affiliate marketing is that search engines and readers alike reward quality content. Not only are you going to rank higher in the search engines by creating original, well-researched content that provides value to readers, but you will also build trust. This trust factor will help you to achieve better conversion rates and more sales, since people are far more likely to buy from someone they trust.

Creating quality content IS actually an exact science, and there really isn’t much guesswork involved at all:

  • Find a problem that people in your niche have
  • Research a number of different ways to solve the problem
  • Write it out in a clear and logical fashion
  • Make sure your content contains good grammar and spelling
  • Teach what the headline of your article/content piece promises to teach (this is by far the biggest secret to creating quality content)

Many websites provide free and informative lessons on creating quality content.

2. Keyword Research

I used to have a high school history teacher who swore by what he called the “5 Ps” system – “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” Not only was this great advice for passing exams, but it relates directly to affiliate marketing as well. Proper keyword research is going to help you prevent poor performance (i.e. not making any sales).

For as long as people have been searching for information online through search engines, keywords have been relevant. According to Wikipedia, Google receives several hundred million searches per day, and with more people coming online every day, this number is only going to increase. It seems unlikely that search engines are ever going to disappear as one of the cornerstones of the Internet!

Keywords are at the very heart of search engine queries, so it makes sense that keyword research – getting to the bottom of what people are actually looking for – is a constant in affiliate marketing.

Look out for keywords based around the following:

  • Urgency (‘fix bad credit score quickly’)
  • Crisis/desperation (‘how to get ex back’)
  • Product name + review (‘The Truth About Abs review’)
  • How to/learn (‘how to fix a broken Xbox 360’/ ‘learn to fix a broken Xbox 360’)
  • Product type (‘dog training DVDs/eBooks/guides’)

To find keywords you could try the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, or get a free copy of Traffic Travis (a little bit of self-promotion there!).

3. Proven Affiliate Products

The final constant in affiliate marketing is making sure you promote proven products. There is always a massive temptation to jump on board and promote the latest products from the Clickbank Marketplace that promise huge commissions and launches, and then fade to nothingness after a while (leaving you stuck promoting a product that isn’t really going anywhere).

As an affiliate, you want to avoid promoting “fly by night” products if you plan to build a reliable income stream that has good growth potential. Instead, focus most of your energy on promoting products that have been around for a while and have a proven track record.

Our SaleHoo affiliate program, for example, has been running since 2005, and provides plenty of resources for affiliates, with new ones added regularly. Look out for affiliate programs of this nature, which provide consistent support and potential on a going forward basis. Take your time when picking products; research here will save you potential headaches down the track.

Some things to look out for are:

  • How long has the product and affiliate program been around
  • Does it offer free resources to help you, the affiliate, do your job properly
  • How easy is it to get in touch with the product owner/affiliate manager
  • Are customer reviews of the product largely positive (look for unbiased reviews in forums or blogs)
  • Is the product high quality (consider asking for a review copy first)

In conclusion, you can see that there are some constants in affiliate marketing – a world that usually evolves at such a rapid rate it can even give experienced marketers a headache. Quality content, solid keyword research, and promoting proven affiliate products; these are the three “bedrock” constants in affiliate marketing that are unlikely to change any time soon.

About the Author

Simon Slade is the CEO of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal that offers free video training, education, and affiliate tools to both beginning and advanced affiliate marketers.

UK Markets – Should I save or invest?

If you’re looking for the best place to put your money, it’s a difficult question to answer right now. Savings, property and gold have typically been seen as good places to put money and watch it grow, but the desirability of each can seriously vary over time. Here’s a look at saving or investing in the UK markets.

Savings

A great thing about British banks is the FSCS: the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This is the UK’s ‘statutory fund of last resort’, which basically means it can reimburse people for money lost when financial firms go bankrupt (or are ‘unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against them’). This can cover people to the tune of £85,000 per firm.

On the other hand, the base rate / bank rate in the UK is at an all-time low of 0.5%, while inflation is officially 5.2% (as of September 2011). So the value of a pound is actually shrinking more rapidly than usual, but savings accounts aren’t paying much in the way of interest – a quick look on a comparison site shows that the highest-interest instant-access savings account offered around 3.1% at the time of writing.

Property

The good news about property values in the UK is that they’re holding quite steady (compared with many places in the US, for example), although the South (especially London) is doing markedly better than the North.

Looking ahead, however, opinions are divided on what’s due to come next, with some people pointing out how house prices have withstood many of the financial shocks we’ve had in recent years – and others predicting a major dip in house prices (when the base rate goes up, if not before).

Property prices aside, rents are high in much of the UK, which is one reason there are so many ‘amateur’ landlords. According to charity Shelter, rents increased one-and-a-half-times as fast as incomes between 1997 and 2007. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom property in London is £1,360 – far higher than the £568 average in the rest of the country.

Gold

Gold has traditionally been seen as a ‘safe haven’ in troubled times – something many people will buy when the values of stocks and shares are unpredictable.

According to goldprice.org, the price of gold has just about trebled in five years, rising from $600 an ounce in mid-2006 to over $1,800 in 2011. However, ‘what goes up must come down’, as they say – it’s dropped a fair bit since then, and there’s no sure way of predicting what’s next.

Don’t gamble with…

As always, you shouldn’t gamble with what you can’t afford to lose. Someone with cash to spare who’s looking to make some real profit might feel confident about investing in higher-risk ventures – but someone who needs somewhere safe to put their hard-earned money will want to be a lot more careful.

Further reading:

Why an Engaged Audience Beats PPC or SEO for Affiliate Marketers and How to Get One

Written by: Guest Author, Danny Iny

Affiliate marketing is the ultimate level playing field.

Anyone can get started, and if they’re smart and hard-working, they can be making money in a matter of days.

All you’ve got to do is find a good offer, run some good ads, and watch the traffic convert into sales.

Right?

Well, maybe that used to be true, but it’s not anymore…

The Low Hanging Fruit Is Gone

It was definitely true in the early days of affiliate marketing, for several reasons; first of all, there was a lot less for sale in the online world, which meant that any affiliate marketer had a much larger share of voice just by virtue of being there.

The regulatory environment was also a lot more lenient, which means that it affiliate marketers had a lot more room to maneuver in selling their offers (it’s good that this has changed, otherwise the whole industry would have been in trouble!).

Most importantly, though, there was a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to advertising opportunities; keywords and phrases that had a lot of buying intent behind them, but that weren’t very competitive yet, and could be had for mere pennies per click.

And yes – when you can buy high-converting keywords for cheap, it’s hard not to make money.

But times have changed, and you can’t do that nearly as easily as you once could; most of the low hanging fruit has already been pulled off of the online tree, and the affiliate marketing game of finding the next hot opportunity has changed into a different game altogether…

It’s an Optimization Game

Now the game is about optimization – finding an offer that converts, and then optimizing every factor that you can control until you max out your deal value. Here are some of the factors that smart affiliate marketers will do split-testing on:

  • Lead Sources – This is where the leads are coming from in the first place; you’ll find that your Google AdWords traffic converts differently from your SEO traffic, which converts differently from your Facebook ad traffic, and so forth. Not only that, but your cost per lead for each of those lead sources will be different. With enough testing, you can find the lowest cost per conversion.
  • Ad Copy – The actual text of your ads will change both the cost of running the ad, the click-through rates on the ad, and the likelihood of the clicking-through traffic to actually buy whatever product you’re promoting.
  • Landing Pages – The landing page is where the most testing is traditionally done. You can test everything, from your headline, to the page format, to the colors, to the trust seals, to your affiliate disclaimers, to when the buy buttons are presented on the screen – they can all make a difference to your conversion rate, and to your bottom line.
  • Affiliate Offers – Finally, you can try swapping out the actual offer for something different. Maybe your leads are more interested in one brand of affiliate product than another, and maybe the second brand – even though the deal value is lower – will end up delivering more profits by virtue of a higher conversion rate.

When you’ve maximized your conversion rates and deal value, and minimized your cost per sale, you’ve got a smoothly humming affiliate marketing machine. And yes, doing that does take time, money, patience and skill – but once you’ve got it, boy is it a sweet deal!

That is, until Google stops liking you…

Until Google Stops Liking You

The trouble is that most of the major lead sources that most affiliate marketers rely on are owned by bodies like Google, Microsoft, or Facebook.

What does that mean for you?

You can work your way to the top of the affiliate marketing world through diligent split-testing, until you’ve got sales streaming through your marketing system at bullet-speed… until someone’s algorithm changes, and their engine stops liking you.

Then your affiliate business is dead in the water, and you’ve got to start from scratch if you’re lucky, and work your way off of Google’s blacklist if you aren’t.

So what’s an affiliate marketer to do?

The answer lies in the old adage that “the money is in the list,” but with a twist…

The Real Money is in the ENGAGED List

If you have a list of eager buyers, then you don’t have to worry about Google messing with your traffic sources – whatever happens, your followers will continue to follow, as long as you maintain the relationship, and keep on living up to your end of the bargain.

With a list of eager buyers, you don’t have to keep working off of one-off traffic, because you can sell more than one thing to the same person – and research shows that someone who has already bought something is eight times as likely to buy from you again!

You probably agree that a list of eager buyers is a good thing to have… but where can you get such a list?

The answer is that you’ve got to build that list yourself – and for that list to be as eager to buy as you want them to be, they need to be engaged. In other words, you need more than a list – you need an engaged community.

You need an audience.

How to Build an Engaged Audience, from Scratch

Building an engaged audience from scratch is part science, and part art. You don’t have to learn it all through trial and error, because others have already done that, and you can learn from their mistakes, and from their successes.

To get you started, here are three things that you can do to convert your one-off affiliate traffic into a loyal list that will stick with you for the long-haul:

  1. Start blogging and showing your true nature. The days of the anonymous affiliate marketer hiding behind a copied landing page are over; too many people have been burned by false claims, and for your prospects to trust your recommendation, they will have to know who you are. So tell them – start blogging, and give them a reason to keep coming back, so that even if they aren’t ready to buy now, they can start following you, and buy from you in the future.
  2. Create a value-adding auto-responder sequence. People are justifiably careful about who they let into their inbox – so don’t just offer some PLR e-book and start marketing to them non-stop. Instead, give them something that they will get real value out of, and that will demonstrate to them just how trustworthy and credible you are (like we do with our free video course about how to Get More Cash Out of Any Business, Website or Blog).
  3. Offer an incentive to buy through your link. Instead of just recommending your affiliate offer, why not give people an incentive to buy through your link? This is great for improving conversions, but the best part is that it gives you a good reason to keep on interacting with your prospects after they have made the purchase – which means that you retain control of the customer relationship, and you will have the opportunity to sell to them again in the future.

Of course, this is just the start, but if you start with this, you’re already three steps ahead of most affiliate marketers, and that much closer to the pot of gold at the finish line.

Yours Free: Engagement from Scratch!

All of these ideas are expanded with pages upon pages of details and ideas, which I compiled into my new book called Engagement from Scratch! How Super-Community Builders Create a Loyal Audience and How You Can Do the Same!

Today, the book is launching, and I’m very excited to be able to share it with you – for free!

Yep, that’s right – the book is free. You can download the entire book without paying a cent. Just visit the book’s website, click on the download link, and tell me what email address to send it to, and moments later you’ll the full-length PDF waiting for you in your inbox.

Prefer a hard copy? Spend a few extra bucks and get the paperback version so that you can read on the couch or in bed, and write notes in the margins.

About the Author

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, expert marketer, and the Freddy Krueger of Blogging. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book on how to build an engaged audience from scratch.

Get a Act of God Plan

lightning

In light of recent natural disasters around the globe-earthquakes, floods, fires-it seems only to right to recommend having an Act of God Plan, especially if you live in a disaster prone area. Ensuring you have a safety net set up should you get into strife through no fault of your own is paramount to survival, and easy to arrange.

1. Have a Cash Stash

Always have a little amount of cash hidden in your house should you find yourself in a situation where you have no access to money. Flooding will easily cause shortages to cash machine dispensers, and often in a crisis situation many staff will not be working as they’ll be sorting out their own affairs. The only problem with having a wad of cash in the house is the associated temptation. To avoid dipping into the stash when you’re a bit short of money, keep it in a locked up section of your emergency grab bag, and if you’ve already been involved in a natural disaster you won’t need reminding of why it’s important to keep your mitts off.

2. Carry a Credit Card

Even if you don’t normally carry a credit card, it’s a good idea to have one should you find yourself in a sticky situation. Whether you’ve lost your wallet or need to pay for accommodation, clothes or food, having a credit card can make things a little easier in dreadful circumstances. One advantage of having a credit card is their emergency assistance feature-emergency funds can be wired to wherever you are, should you have that function set up on your card.

3. Invest in Insurance

While most of us hate giving money to the insurance companies, it is worth it when you run into problems, be it travel, home or content insurance. The golden key is to read and double read the terms and conditions. Yes, they’re ludicrously boring and often hard to understand, but it will make all the difference when you come to making a claim. Also, talk to someone to clarify their terms if you need to. However, sometimes things happen that you’re just not prepared for so wouldn’t know to ask about, or check. In the Brisbane floods, in early 2011, a number of people who took out flood insurance in good faith were told that their claims would not be awarded because their houses were insured against flooding, not inundation from the river!

4. Emergency Contact Numbers

Pretty much everyone owns a mobile phone these days, and rarely lets it out of their sight. However, when you’re caught in a freak flood and all you think about is hanging on to your nearest and dearest, your phone no longer seems so important. Having a few numbers memorized is a good idea. And while it seems obvious, because most phones are set up to show names not numbers there is little opportunity, or need, to remember other people’s numbers. Just one or two contacts are all you need to let people know you’re safe. They can then contact others on your behalf.

5. Safe Place to Stay

If you’re unfortunate to be caught in a natural disaster, but lucky to be near your family, go stay with them until things start to return to normal. If you live in an area prone to bush fires it’s important to have a substitute home organised prior to fires breaking out, that way you know exactly where to head without having to think about it in an adrenaline fuelled situation. Sometimes things happen that you just can’t plan for, so if you’re travelling in an unfamiliar city and don’t know anyone in the immediate vicinity, head over to any of the disaster relief centres where you’ll be offered a place to stay and support during what could potentially be a terrifying and lonely time.

This article was written by William from Life Insurance Finder. Visit Life Insurance Finder to compare Income Protection Insurance

How To Start Making Passive Income In 2011

passive income streams

Most of us probably have the same fantasy at some point in life. The dream is to earn cash without having to do much, or any, work at all. Even after 25 years in the plumbing business my father used to read the classified advertisements every day. When asked what he was looking for the response was always the same, “my thousand dollar a week job where I don’t have to do anything.” We all used to get a chuckle out of it, but the idea always stuck in my head.

Ways To Earn Passive Income

Investment Property – Buying investment property, even in our current housing market is a great idea. There are stories all over the world of people who simply buy up properties and then sell them, trying to make money on the resale. While this can be lucrative you have to have a lot of money at your disposal and put in a great deal of work to make it happen. But, if you actually buy properties up and hold on to them you can earn income without having to do all that extra work. If you were to buy one house that carried a mortgage of $1,000 you could probably rent it out for $1,300 per month. Right there you have already added $300 of income to your monthly budget. Of course, in the first few years you probably want to stash some of that money away for an emergency fund or to make repairs to the property, but after that it is gravy. You can even use it to pay down the mortgage faster so that you send less on interest charges. After a few years you could sell it and all get the full purchase price back as profit.

Using The Internet – There are loads of ways to earn income on the Internet. If you are ambitious you could start your own membership site. On it you provide valuable content for a specific area. Your members pay a fee to see that content, which becomes your profit. This can be a lot of work and you have to have some area in which you are an expert or you will wind up spending a lot of money buying content from others. Another way is to use Google AdWords to set up a Pay Per Click campaign. When web surfers click through the ads that you promote you make money. While it is not a lot of money per click, over time it can add up. This is an excellent way to add profit to a web site that you have already set up or will set up. If you have eBooks you have written or other intimate knowledge of a subject you can set up the site once and then sell the advertising space. Ebooks themselves are an excellent way to earn passive income. If you choose to sell the book online you can make easy cash for as long as you choose to sell it.

Software – Even if you do not consider yourself the most technically savvy person in the world you could create software. All that you really need is one good idea. For example, if you know how to train a dog because you have had dogs all of your life, you could build software that helps teach others how to train dogs. Broad topics are excellent because they can be sold to people all across the globe and tend to be timeless.

You probably have some of your own ideas about how to build passive income. Most of us come up with little ideas all the time that we think could make us the next Steve Jobs. The difference between us and them is that many of us do not follow through on those great ideas. With a full time job, a family, and loads of other responsibilities it is easy to see how those ideas can get left in the dust. Take action to make sure that this does not happen to you.

Make Your Passive Income Dream A Reality

Step One – Do not forget anything. Carry a notepad and paper with you all of the time so that you can write down your inspirations and ideas. The wildly popular and lucrative Harry Potter series started from an idea written on a napkin. You just never know when brilliance will strike so be prepared all the time.

Step Two – Try it. Try everything, even those ideas that you think sounds silly at second glance. If you have an idea for an eBook, sit down and try to write one. If you think you can make some money doing Pay Per Click ads, then give it a go. Even if you do not make loads of money at first you can learn a lot so that eventually the money will start flowing.

Step Three – Build a war chest. If you want to create a passive revenue stream you might need some seed money to do it. So even if you do not have your million dollar idea yet, save money as if you do. That way you will have the cash on hand whenever you are ready to get started.

Step Four – Do it every day. If you do not work on your ideas every day they will gather dust. Instead, take time out every single day to work on your ideas or to track the income streams you already have going. It does not have to be a lot of time every day, but enough to keep you focused on the goal of having long term passive income.

Imagine how great your life would be if your could take a few simple ideas and put them into action that can generate passive income. It is completely possible. While it might not start out as passive income within a short time you could be earning money for nothing.

Timothy Ng is an experienced personal finance writer, specialising in credit card comparison.

How To Make Money With Your Credit Card

credit cards

It is possible to use your credit card to make some extra money if you know how. While credit cards are usually associated with the thought of debt, they can actually make you profit.

In order to make money using your credit card you’ll have to always use it wisely and use self-discipline when you spend with it. If you are able to keep these things in check, you have the potential right now, as a credit card holder, to start turning a profit.

Make money with your credit card

Here are some ways that you can use your credit card to make money.

Get a credit card that offers a cash back program

If you make an application for a credit card that has a cash back program attached to it, you will get paid for using your credit card. You’ll have to use your card often and for big items in order to see much profit, but if you plan on doing some spending in the near future it will definitely pay off.

The thing you have to watch when you have this credit card, however, is to always pay the bill in full every month. If you don’t, you’ll be hit with a high interest rate that you’ll have pay. This can cut into your profits so much that it is not worth getting a cash back card if you’re not sure if you can pay off the balance every month.

You also need to read the fine print before applying for a cash back card to find out if there are any limits as to how much you can get back in a year. Some cards will only pay out $300 or less on a yearly basis.

You also need to find out if you can get cash back on any type of purchase. If the purchase types are limited, this card may not work for you if it is a type of spending you plan on doing with the card.

A problem can also arise if you become a careless spender just to get the cash back. As long as you use this card properly, it can be a little money maker for you.

Get a balance transfer card

Start by opening an account for savings and begin to see interest accumulate. Next, apply for a balance transfer card with a 0% interest rate. Once you have transferred the balance over to the new card you’ll be able to pay off your debt without having to worry about any interest being added.

The interest that you save can be put directly into your savings account so that you start seeing more interest added to your savings.

Starting a new business with a credit card

If you are sure that the business you’re going to start up is going to give you immediate profits, the best way to get started is by using a credit card. While there is always a risk in beginning any new business, it is one worth taking if you have done some research and know that the profits will be there.

Finding a low interest card

If you can find a credit card that only charges 5% to 6% for a cash transfer or withdrawal, and a savings account with a 7% interest rate or more, you can transfer money to the account and profit from it. You’ll have to make sure that you don’t use your card for any spending if you follow this practice. Only use the card for this use and you will definitely end up with more money in your savings account every month.

While you may have never before thought it possible, a credit card can be used to earn income. As long as you use the credit card following the advice above, you will end up with more cash at the end of the month, every month.

This article was written by personal finance writer Timothy Ng from Sydney, Australia. He is genuinely passionate about helping people compare credit cards and helping them through researching to find the best credit card.