The Hard Truth About Internet Marketing and Affiliate Programs

Internet Marketing Basics

Introduction

My name is Colin. We have the most precious son you’ve ever seen but I guess everyone feels that way about their child. We decided to make a conscious commitment when he was born to have my wife Kim stay at home with him and it has paid off well. He is polite and well behaved, and I like to think smart beyond his short three years. Fortunately my wife Kim was able to continue working for her former employer at home for about two and a half years of my son’s life with a pretty good income. All good things must come to an end. Her employer decided to save money and assign her duties in-house. This brings us to our situation today. We cannot pay all of our bills. My salary as an IT director can’t cover it all. Since I am legally blind and cannot drive a car, it is near impossible for me to take a second job. Kim already takes three hours of her day to drive me to and from my regular job.

In a great quest to find extra income, we have searched and scoured the Internet to find either extra income for me or an at-home job for Kim. Well, my friendâÂ?¦ the Internet is not a friendly place. I’ve learned a LOT about how the “system” works on the Internet in the past few months and I want to share it with you, not sell you a download for $30. Oh, yes we have many ads on our web sitesâÂ?¦ but trust me, so far we haven’t made any money from them and we’ve spent a few hundred dollars so far on credit to pay for Google and Yahoo to try to get people to come and click on them. Google ads on our pages make maybe one or two dollars a day, but it is costing me about ten dollars a day to get people to find us. This brings me to the information I have gained that I want to share with you. I have paid for some of this information and some of it I have learned the “hard way.”

The Internet is all about “affiliate marketing.” Just about everything you click on around the Internet makes someone money. If you buy a product, the producer of that product of course makes money but more than thatâÂ?¦ the people who spent the marketing dollars to get you to click in the first place make money too. In order to exploit this model, many folks have devised products that have little if any overhead or cost to produce. Commonly these are “eBooks.” Someone writes an eBook on how to “make money on the Internet” and sells it for say $30. But what you don’t know is that they are offering “people in the know” half to three quarters of that amount in commission as “affiliates.” No other business could ever offer 50 to 75% commission. These “authors” can because once they write something, it costs them nothing extra to have you download it except for some marketing costs and web hosting which has become incredibly cheap. The company that hosts our site www.MomsWorkWorld.com for us only charges $4.95 a month for example.

The true way to make money on the Internet is to sell eBooks if you can stomach it, not by taking the advice in them unless they are telling you how to sell eBooks like they do. Other affiliate programs offer less if there is a real product involved, maybe 5% or so. As you look around the Internet at various product pages, look for text like “join our affiliate program.” It seems that everyone now has an affiliate program including such heavy hitters as eBay and Amazon. If you click on an Amazon ad on our sites and buy something, I’ll make a small percentage of your purchase. BUT do you know how hard and expensive it is to get you to click? There are now college degrees in “eMarketing” because it is HARD and you can lose your shirt trying. Keep in mind that I am not making any money yet so my free advice comes with no guarantees whatsoever but it is free advice after all and you know what they say about free advice.

Affiliate Programs

I want to give you some more specific information about affiliate programs if you want to try to “make money on the Internet.”

While you can do this without a Web site, I don’t advise it. Later, I’ll show you how to be an Internet affiliate without a web site but I haven’t had any luck getting any money at all that way. So let’s assume you are going to set up a site for now. First, think of a subject you know a lot about or something you love. Is there a Web site you’ve always wanted to create? Once you have an idea for the kind of content you want to offer, you’ll need two things. A Web page editor and a Web hosting company. For the software to create your pages I recommend Microsoft Front Page. It is fairly easy to master and most hosting companies support its features. For a Web hosting company, I have found that a company called Lonex is the cheapest at only $4.95 a month. It is the one Kim and I use for her site and they are really good. They have all kinds of stats about your visitors. Their support has been very good as well. They offer Front Page Extensions which will allow you to have neat effects on your site and something called MySQL which will allow things like creating a Blog if you are into that. There are all kinds of tools to make the process easy. Also for that low price they will give you an actual Internet domain name such as the one we registered for my wife’s siteâÂ?¦ www.MomsWorkWorld.com. It really is a deal hard to beat. I know the prices on this stuff since I am an IT Director and this is an impressive package at a very low price, possibly the lowest price available anywhere. If you are interested in Lonex you can get more details at www.MomsWorkWorld.com.

OK, I’ve talked about affiliate programs. Let’s start with the biggest ones out there. For products that are only delivered digitally like software downloads and ebooks there is the Daddy of them all ClickBank.

Go to www.ClickBank.com and click on EARN COMMISSIONS. You will be in the “Marketplace.” This is where all the digital merchants try to sell you on the idea of marketing their specific products. Next to each one you will see a commission percentage mentioned. You will notice that these commissions are HUGE. Usually 50-75%. This is because these products are purely digital and have little overhead so their authors can offer a lot to you if you sell one of them. It is free to sign up for ClickBank to become an affiliate. Once you sign up you can browse these products and decide which ones you feel comfortable enough to try to sell. You will notice that a lot of them look a little shady like Paid Survey products and Get Rich Quick schemes. One thing though is that if you sell a ClickBank product, they handle the transaction completely and will give your customer a refund if they are not happy (of course you will forfeit your commission if this happens) so these products are at least good enough to get most people to not ask for their money back. One thing I’ve noticed about ClickBank and you may notice this tooâÂ?¦ It is deceptively simple and plain looking. Behind this simple and plain site is a lot of money. It’s almost as if it’s a bit of a secret. It’s not obvious how you make money this way and they leave a lot of that up to you but it’s not really that hard to at least try. You put a link on your site about the product and get the code from their site for your “nick name” and paste it into your site. When someone comes to your site and clicks the link and buys the book, software or whatever, you get the commission. They let you create the link any way you want. No fancy graphics are provided. It’s really “do-it-yourself.”

The next huge affiliate program is Commission Junction at www.cj.com. Again there is no cost to sign up. You may find some more comfortable products to market here where there are some big familiar names. These can include “real” products like magazine subscriptions, clothing, books, just about anything. You really will have to have a site up and running for some of these vendors to look at before they will approve you to market their wares. You can sell eBay referrals, Monster.com referrals and tons of other magazine subscriptions and retail products. They will provide you with fance banner ads for your site that look good.

NextâÂ?¦ Did you know that you can create your own Amazon store and get commission on any products you sell? It’s not hard and they give you all kinds of neat tools to create links to either specific products or groups of products based on keywords that are auto-filled as people visit your site and can change from day to day. Go to http://associates.amazon.com/gp/associates to find out more.

More Detail

ClickBank

As you browse the Internet and see all these get rich quick schemes, you will see many with a “proof of earnings” picture. It is usually a mock up of a ClickBank earnings report showing thousands of dollars of income per day. Following the advice of all these experts, so far my ClickBank earnings report is almost all goose eggs. The only true income I’ve earned so far from ClickBank totals $8.43. Where that one $8.43 sale came from I couldn’t tell you.

OK, so maybe you think you are better than me at marketing, and maybe so. Maybe you think that I haven’t been patient enough. Maybe so. So I am going to give you the mechanics of ClickBank in case you want to give it a shot. If you just want to be an affiliate, it is free to sign up with them. They only charge you if you have your own product to sell. The sign-up process is pretty straight forward. Once in, you’ll want to go to their “Marketplace.” and look around. There is a search bar you can use for specific product types but I have found it a poor implementation. So, I just browse around and look at products. Once you settle on one you think you can market, click on the “Earn 50%” (or whatever the commission is) next to the product. You will be asked for the nickname you created when you sign up. This will then generate what ClickBank calls a “hoplink” that contains you nickname so you can get credit for the purchase if you manage to sell one of these products.

Your job now is to promote this hoplink any way you can. In Front Page you can simply type some text on your page like “Get paid to fill out surveys online!” and then right click on the text and click on “hyperlink.” In the hyperlink box, paste in your hoplink. If someone visits your site and clicks on the text and then buys the product, you get the commission.
As you are looking at these products on ClickBank, you will see the phrase “$earnedsale” below each one. This is the actual dollar amount you will make on the product. So, how do you promote the clicking of these links? Well that is the tricky part. If you think you can just put up a Web site and people will come, let me tell you they won’t. You have to market it somehow. Even if you spend a small fortune on this marketing, you’ll have to compel your site visitors to keep coming back and to tell others about it. This means CONTENT. This goes back to a previous article where I suggest you start a site that is based on something you love and are passionate about so you can create this content. It will help greatly if your site is a “niche” as well so that there are not thousands of other sites just like it. These articles I am painstakingly writing for you are my attempt at real content for the Mom’s Work World site. I’m telling you how it works in case you can do a better job than I have thus far while being brutally honest. This is part of the Internet marketing mantra as well. Educate your customers and they will trust the products you are selling. It only takes one time to send a customer away. You’ll never get that customer back, EVER. Researching this information and writing about it takes HOURS of time.hat product if you sell one.

In my next article, we’ll get into Commission Junction. This is a site I feel offers more “legitimate” products you can sell to your visitors that will at least solve a need or want for them other than promising them riches for doing nothing.

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