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The next thing I am going to do to monetise my site is to try to join some affiliate programs. Affiliate Marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate's marketing efforts. It is an application of crowdsourcing.
The Affiliate Marketing industry has four core players at its heart: the Merchant (also known informally as 'Retailer' or 'Brand'), the Network, the Publisher (also known informally as 'the Affiliate') and the Customer.
I have always been wary of affiliate programs as there are so many of them out there, but as I have already said, It is not my intention to spend any money so I will need to start looking for free affiliate programs to join and hope I can advertise their products to boost the income from my websites.
There are thousands of affiliate programs out there offering infinite products to sell on your site, so depending on your niche market you will need to do some thorough research for suitable affiliate programs. This can be done easily by finding companies who sell the type of products that will fit your site and seeing whether or not they offer an affiliate program. There are also a lot of affiliate programs that offer both advertisers (Companies with products to sell) and publishers (People like us) opportunities to boost their online performances with a range of products and services offering you the chance to join their advertiser's programs.
To join their programs will normally entail filling out an account application form with a link to your site so that they can check your site out for suitability for their program. Note: Be wary of any site that offers you instant membership as a lot of these are not trustworthy. Also be mindful that not all companies will accept your application.
If you are unsure about an affiliate program you can usually find out a lot about it before joining by doing a general search on the program. People like to share their experiences and opinions online so there will usually be a forum or discussion board somewhere that may be able to give you an insight into what you could be signing up for with regards to payments and customer service. I was once with a company, who for legal reasons will remain nameless that at first I thought was excellent. I was earning on a daily basis and to be honest I thought I was onto a winner, that was until I reached my minimum payment target and tried to chase up my payment. I sent email after email and it wasn't until I did a little background check (being new to affiliate marketing) that I found that the company in question never replied to emails and yes you guessed it, seldom paid up. The only time I every got a reply, which took over a month to arrive, was when I told then I was closing my account and they informed me that by doing so I had lost all entitlement to any outstanding monies owed. Lesson learned.
Now that I know I can find out a lot about companies in forums and discussion boards online, I have over the years found these to be very useful in deciding whether to join a program or not.
For this experiment I am only going to join a few affiliate programs to test the water and see if I can actually make money online buy advertising merchants products within the content of my pages. I will mainly be looking for affiliate programs that offer PPC, but will also join a few that offer other options as well. These being Product Links, Live Store-Windows, Virtual Stores, Banners, Search boxes and Text Links. That will provide Pay Per lead or Pay per sale options also.
Take my word for it. Joining affiliate programs is not a guaranteed way to make money. It sounds great and you think that as long as you are getting a steady flow of traffic to your site, and are getting hits on your links, you are likely to make sales, trust me that is not the case. You will not be the only one advertising products for your chosen companies. Getting hits is one thing, converting them to a sale is something completely different. There is also the risk that the affiliate program you have signed up to is not all it seems and although you may make the odd sale you might not actually receive the commission you are due which is why I tend to avoid programs that offer instant membership. Plus you have the fact that most, if not all affiliate companies will only pay out once you have earned a set amount of money. This can vary from anything between £5-00 to £50-00 plus or $5-00 to $50-00 plus all depending on your target audience, and believe me it is harder to hit the targets than you think. I have found that despite getting hits on my affiliate links I do not always get a sale and no sale means no commission. I have had several hits a week on some of my affiliate links but seldom do they convert to a sale as prices online are so competitive that people will always look for the cheapest option and the product you are selling may not be the cheapest one online.
I will be experimenting with different affiliate programs, providing, of course, I meet my chosen merchants criteria to be able to sign up. This is also another factor that needs to be considered. A lot of merchants will not accept you as an affiliate if, for example, your site does not meet their regional requirements. For example, this site is a .com site but is UK based. We advertise globally and most, at least 80% of the sites customers and traffic come from the USA, Canada, India and other foreign countries yet a lot of merchants will not accept us as a member of their program due to not meeting their regional requirements. Your site content is another factor that you need to consider. There are millions of sites on the web, all with the same type of content as you, so unless you have a niche market and your content can offer a good customer experience you will be competing with all of them and a large majority of them will have higher budgets, better optimized sites and will employ professional SEO companies to ensure that they rank higher than you in the search's. They will also be promoting the same affiliate links and products as you. Another thing you will need to consider is Google as they do not like websites that are low on content but promote a lot of advertising. Back in February 2011, they introduced the Panda algorithm which aimed to lower the Page rank of low-quality sites and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results. At the time this resulted in a noticeable increase in the Page rank of new sites and a decline in the page rank of sites containing little content and large amounts of advertising. Then in January 2012 they introduced a page layout algorithm update which effectively targeted websites with little or no content above the fold so if you are thinking of building an affiliate based website, for example using Amazon Astores, various affiliate shop windows etc to sell products this is something you may want to consider.
In January 2015 Google continued to improve it's algorithm updates and has dramatically altered the web and search engine ranking for even some of the big names online. With this being an ongoing situation as Google are constantly trying to "improve" online user experience, some sites with limited resources and minimum SEO experience will struggle to compete with the better financed and designed websites who are their competition and this is something you must also bear in mind.
The ultimate Business and Marketing guide to Make Money Online With The Amazon Affiliate Program
Affiliate Marketing: Learn to make crazy money with affiliate marketing today! A step-by-step online affiliate marketing system to make a lot more money . Online Marketing, Affiliates programs) by Robert Clark (Author).
Start a Business: 3 Manuscripts - How to Work from Home Making Money with eBay, Dropshipping, & Amazon FBA Kindle Edition by T Whitmore.