Thursday, April 21, 2011

Affiliate Marketing Programs: Target Your Niche Audiences to Increase Income

Since joining Wealthy Affiliate nearly a year ago, I've put much more of an emphasis on affiliate marketing across my niche sites and have seen my income rise.  Instead of just relying on ads or a few obscure Amazon affiliate links, I now search for and link to specific products people reading my sites need in order to solve their problems or improve their lives. it not only improves the reader's experience, but affiliate sales are typically much better for the bottom line than ad clicks.

Sometimes, the right solution is obvious: on a recipe/ menu planning site I own, I market both a Clickbank ebook on menu planning and hard copy cookbooks from Amazon. But sometimes the it's not that simple to find the right product. My pets niche site caters to a budget-conscious audience that buys most of their pet supplies form farm and garden stores. I do suggest an ebook that will meet some of my visitors' needs, but most are already past the stage in which that book is helpful.

With my website on a home & family topic, I've had better luck. I found an excellent match with a vendor through, and have earned thousands of dollars in commissions from that one niche.  My most recent payment from them was over $1,000. Without a perfect match, there's not much I could have sold that particular audience.

For your websites and blogs, make sure the products you link to are quality items or resources that are precisely targeted to your visitors. To find the right items, look across a variety of affiliate marketing programs. These are single-stop sites that support a great variety of individual companies, or vendors, whose products you can promote once approved for the network and for each site individually where required. Here are the ones I use and suggest that you explore:
Sometimes, searching the available vendors through these programs doesn't reveal exactly what you're looking for to promote. Their search tools are often inadequate and even when they have the vendor you need you may not be able to find it through their site. One work-around that I use fairly often is to first find the vendor (often it's one I've used myself and thus can recommend from personal experiences)  and then explore their site, or contact customer service, to find out if they have an affiliate program and how it's run.

Sometimes, the company doesn't belong to one of the large networks, but manages its own private affiliate program. I actively promote about four vendors through their own designated affiliate programs. For example, Wealthy Affiliate University has its own on-site affiliate program in which members can build links and track their sales.

When looking for products to link to from your site, put yourself in your visitor's place. Ask yourself these three questions about your reader, for each article or page you publish:
  1. Why is he reading your article? 
  2. What information is he looking for? 
  3. What does he need?
  4. What products, either physical goods or electronic information products, will provide a solution?
Once you place yourself in your own audience, you'll be thinking like a successful marketer.

Are affiliate sales commissions part of your business model? Which affiliate marketing programs do you use?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun, Profit

I've just finished reading How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit: Your Guide to Writing and Publishing Books, E-Books, Articles, Special Reports, Audio Programs, DVDs, and Other How-To Content by Robert Bly. The book not only earns its long title through a plethora of detailed information on each topic covered; it over-delivers on the reader's expectations.

The author knows his stuff, which is clear from reading the book and from the fact that he makes over $600,000 a year through his writing and has earned six figures as a freelance writer consistently for several decades. He's weathered the transition from print-based freelance writing to online content and multimedia (audio CD's, DVD material, software and more).

He gives an excellent overview about becoming an accomplished how-to writer and an expert in your chosen niche. It's important to specialize and become well-known in one niche or a small handful of related ones, he says, given the nature of today's information-hungry climate and the social nature of the internet. Rather than spread yourself over many different subjects, it's better (and arguably more profitable) to learn one area very well and to share information in that specific topic.

Chapters most relevant to my interests were those on writing and selling books, ebooks and articles. My plans for future residual income generation include Kindle self-publishing as well as a traditional hard copy book. Bly's advice in this book has been invaluable, and I'm keeping his book on my shelf to reference as I go.

The only topic he didn't address that I think would have been within the scope of his book is publishing how-to information on your own website and earning money from ads and other monetization methods, while giving the information away for free. I imagine this isn't something he focuses on, but he does have a section on membership sites as a method of earning money from how-to writing.

Have you read any books pertaining to freelance/ web writing or internet marketing lately? I'd love to get your recommendations -- please share what you think in the comments section, below. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rev-Share Sites Still Viable for Residual Income

While's Writers' Compensation Program was the best revenue-share opportunity I've experienced for residual income, it's no longer an option as far as adding new articles directly through the site. Still, there are other places to go for a similar model: you write content and get paid according to the ad revenue your articles generate.

Demand Studios, Bukisa, HubPages, Squidoo, and Infobarrel are all sources of residual income for me -- several more eggs in the proverbial basket, if you will. In addition to their income, articles I've written on these sites provide backlinks, site or blog traffic and/or brand recognition in several niches.

Out of this handful of revenue-sharing content sites, some do better than others for page ranks and traffic and thus earnings.

Here's how they stacked up in March 2011:

Demand Media Studios revenue-share: $114.58 with 21 eHow articles

Bukisa: $29.39 with 17 articles

HubPages: $29.59 with 6 articles

InfoBarrel: $3.81 with 6 articles

Total ...... $177.37 with 50 articles, for an average of $3.55/per article.

With many hundred articles on the right sites, you can still make a viable residual income through revenue-sharing programs. A thousand articles with that average would give you $3,547 per month. You can actually do much better than that; some of these articles were written when I was just starting out and didn't know much about what niches perform well. By specializing in one or two areas which you know well and whose audience you understand, you will see a higher level of success than the random collection of articles here represents.

While I am currently working almost exclusively on my niche websites, I do still recommend some rev-share writing for those new to online writing and marketing. Writing content articles is a great way to experiment with several or dozens of niche topics. You can figure out what you enjoy researching and writing about, what you want to specialize in and what topics are most profitable. For me, eHow was very well-paid market research and has certainly contributed to the successes I'm seeing in creating my own niche sites and blogs.

That being said, don't wait too long to branch out to your own properties. Once you've identified a good niche topic, done keyword research and learned the basics of site creation and promotion, start a site of your own and monetize it with ads and affiliate links. Revenue-sharing sites are great, but having your own online properties is even better. For web hosting, site design and other recommended resources, see my Tools and Training page.

What revenue-sharing content sites have you earned well with? Do you still write for them?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pets Niche Website Profit Report

In my last post about niche website earnings, I promised to update with March's data once the month closed. As I noted, this particular site tends to see its highest earnings in February through May, with its lowest months in the fall and winter.

In the slow months, I didn't ignore my site. I added a few new pages, created some backlinks and started a Facebook page that links to the site and has generated some conversation on topics of interest to this type of pet owner.  But in March I was busy on other projects, so this is true passive/ residual  income.

It's interesting to see how much the site's traffic and income has grown in the past 12 months -- for contrast, my pets niche site made only $202.81 from Adsense in March 2010; this March it made almost triple that in ad revenue with a healthy $200+ in affiliate commissions as well.

Pets Niche Site Earnings in March 2011

  • Google Adsense:                                                       $586.24
  • Clickbank ebook sales commissions                          $199.03
  • Amazon book product sales commissions                    $19.42
Total                                                                   $804.69 (+$351 over Feb.)

Traffic stats for March : Just over 24,000 visits counting for nearly 68,000 page views.

I'm still working on implementing the improvements I mentioned previously (new website design being paramount), and this week will add Facebook "Like" buttons on my pages to increase social network traffic to the site. With Google's recent algorithm changes, social links seemed to have gained importance. I'm already pleased to see people "liked" the Facebook page I made and socializing on the page. It's a more fun way to bring traffic to the site than just writing content articles, for sure.

If you haven't started a niche site and want recommendations for getting started, check out my new Tools & Training resource page. In a nutshell, that's what I've used to educate myself and build a site that earns. 

Are you working on a niche site? What are your goals for it?