Thursday, December 30, 2004

Geico Affiliate Program Review

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Geico Affiliate Program Review

One program that's available through Commission Junction is Geico. I like affiliate programs that pay a commission when customers take an action that doesn't involved putting a credit card online, and that's what the Geico affiliate program offers. Every time a visitor from your site gets a quote from Geico for insurance, you get a $4 bounty. That doesn't sound like much compared to some programs, but let's face it, since the customer doesn't have to buy anything, just get a quote, your conversion rates should be pretty stellar. All you have to do is send over some targeted traffic.

Getting targeted traffic to request quotes from Geico is another story though. Geico recently sued Google over allowing people to advertise under their brand name, so I'm sure that an affiliate is forbidden from bidding on 'Geico' in the pay per click engines. That would be a no-brainer way of making money off that program. But....there are plenty of keywords you could bid on in order to get people looking for car insurance to your site to click on Geico. And if you know anything about SEO (search engine optimization), you could probably find some keywords phrases that aren't TOO terribly competitive to optimize for and get some free traffic from the engines.

I think the Geico affiliate program is a good opportunity. The EPC listed at Commission Junction for the program is very high, both for the last 7 days and for the last 3 months. (Over $100 EPC in fact.) EPC stands for earnings per 100 clicks, by the way. You will occasionally see people claiming that EPC stands for earnings per click, but that's not correct. C is the Roman numeral for 100. EPC is calculated based on all the affiliates in the Commission Junction network, so it gives a decent idea of whether or not a program might be profitable for you to pursue.

Anyway--I've got to go create my new car insurance blog so I can get in on this Geico affiliate program. Will post more soon.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Do Affiliate Marketers Need a Reality Check?

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Do Affiliate Marketers Need a Reality Check?

I came across this article Affiliate Marketers Need a Reality Check a couple of days ago. I have a couple of opinions about the comments within that article.

They stated in the article that 91% of merchants and 82% of affiliates expect to see revenue growth over the next year, but they imply that this is somehow wrong-headed. I haven't done a survey, but I don't think that there are very many publicly-traded corporations who come out and predict that their revenue and sales are going to decrease over the coming year. And since many affiliate are relatively small business people, growing their revenue would certainly be easier than it would for a large company. Achieving 25% growth on a $50,000 a year business is much easier than achieving 25% growth on a $5,000,000 a year business.

The article also asserts that Google is going to 'crack down' on advertisers bidding on certain keywords. I think they've misinterpreted what Google is going to be doing. Overture has never allowed advertisers to send traffic directly to an affiliate link; they've always required that the traffic be sent to someone's website. Google is, in all likelihood, going to take the same approach--no more sending traffic straight to affiliate links. This is by no means going to slow most affiliates down at all.

It was an interesting article, but the content of the article really didn't do much to support their premise that affiliate marketers need some kind of 'reality check'. Most of the affiliate marketers I know are smart and are very much realists.

Affiliate Arbitrage and Google Adwords

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Affiliate Arbitrage and Google Adwords

Google Adwords, unlike Overture and many other pay per click search engines, currently allows you to send traffic directly to your affiliate link for a program. If you can buy the traffic through Google for less than you make in commissions per click, then you have an arbitrage situation. Basically you're buying advertising on a per click basis and reselling it on a rev share or CPA basis. It's not as easy to do as it sounds, but it can be very profitable if you can find a niche that isn't already full of affiliate arbitrage experts.

I got my start in affiliate marketing doing pay per click arbitrage, and I still rely heavily on pay per click advertising to an extent to generate traffic. Search engine optimization is something I'm learning to do, and it's something I'm pretty excited about. Some of the industries I market have outrageous costs per click associated with them, so if I can get any free traffic at all, then I'm tickled pink.

So there are different strategies to succeed in affiliate marketing. One is the search engine optimization strategy, where you build pages in order to rank them in the search engines. Another is the pay per click arbitrage strategy, where you buy clicks and hope you make more per click than you've spent. Another strategy would be to have an ezine or regular newsletter that goes out via email. There are even some programs that you could promote fairly easily offline. (Party Poker is an example; you give a referral a bonus code, and that code tracks the player back to you so you get your revenue share.)

Google Cash is the ebook I started with. It taught me the basics of affiliate pay per click arbitrage. I then later read James Martell's Affiliate Handbook. He focuses almost exclusively on getting free traffic from the SERP's. I prefer the latter method now, because the ROI on free traffic is always going to be better than the ROI on paid traffic. I recommend both books very highly--they're full of factual how-to nitty gritty action plans that will get you started making money. But don't let anyone tell you that affiliate marketing isn't hard work. No matter which strategy you decide to use, it's real work, and it can be frustrating work.

But believe me it's worth it.

PS The rumors are running hot and heavy that Google is going to change their policy of allowing affiliates to send traffic directly to affiliate links. Probably going to change in the next few days. Which means that a lot of the affiliate arbitrage people will move into something else.

Finding a Niche for an Affiliate Website

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Finding a Niche for an Affiliate Website

I see a lot of people wrestling with how to choose an appropriate niche to launch an affiliate website for. I suspect that many of them spend so much time trying to decide what kind of site to launch that they never get around to actually launching a site. So I'm going to give you a step by step guide to choosing a subject for an affiliate website:

  1. Set aside some time for brainstorming.
  2. List as many subjects as you can think of that you like to read about online.
  3. List as many products as you can think of that you've received spam for recently. (I don't condone spamming, but I'm aware that it's a good way to figure out what's profitable online.)
  4. List as many products that you've bought online over the last year online as you can.
  5. Visit Wordtracker and watch the Wordtracker ticker. Write down any keywords that look like something you might be interested in writing about.
  6. Visit Google Zeitgeist and if you see something interesting there, write it down.
  7. Visit the Lycos 50 and if you see something interesting, write it down.

You should now have a ton of ideas about what you can create a website about. Go through these ideas and search for them on Google and Yahoo. Look at the sponsored ads on the right. Notice what kinds of products are being sold there--most of those ads are for products and companies who have affiliate programs. Write down any of them that interest you. Be sure to take a look at what these folks are willing to pay per click on Overture for these keywords. If people are paying a lot per click for advertising on Overture, then it's probably a profitable niche.

Also take a look at Commission Junction's categories. Everything you can imagine is available through Commission Junction to sell.

After you've gone through this exercise, start narrowing down your list. Find reasons you don't want to approach a particular market. Maybe the cost per click's on the ads are really low, so you think it's probably not a very profitable niche. Or maybe it's something you're just not very interested in. Keep crossing off ideas until you're left with two or three. From those two or three ideas, choose one, and get started on it by applying for the affiliate programs that are appropriate. (Adsense is appropriate for almost every niche, by the way, except for the ones that violate their terms and conditions.)

The most important thing is to make a decision and get started. Heck, if you don't want to go through the brainstorming exercise above, just pick one of the affiliate programs I've written about on this site. Don't waste days and weeks deciding what niche to target. Pick one and go for it.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Search Engine Forums

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Search Engine Forums

Success in the search engines usually equates to success as an affiliate marketer. I know there are different strategies for affiliate success, including pay per click arbitrage, but to me, the purest form of affiliate marketing is building a quality website on topic, choosing good affiliate programs to promote that are related to that content, and then optimizing the site for the search engines and getting free traffic to the site.

Most SEO's keep their search engine optimization strategies pretty closely guarded, especially the REAL secrets, but you can piece together a lot of good information in the various search engine forums online. If you network well, you can get to know some of the other folks who are trying to improve at SEO, and some of them will even tell you stuff that you won't be able to find anywhere else--not even in the best forums or the good eBooks on the subject of SEO.

So here's a quick list of search engine forums for you to take a look at:

  • V7N Web Development Community - This is my personal favorite SEO forum. I love John Scott's 'in your face, hold no punches' communication style.
  • Webmaster World - This forum was recommended to me by a friend I met at another forum, and I still owe him an eternal debt of gratitude for it. There's so much info on this forum, and so much activity, that I have a hard time keeping up with it all. The only drawback to this one is that the navigation for a user isn't as user-friendly as some other forums, where you can keep up with just about everything by clicking on a link that says 'view new posts'.
  • Search Guild - These are the guys who sponsored the 'nigritude ultramarine' contest along with the Dark Blue affiliate network. Good info here, and a casual atmosphere.
  • Search Engine Watch - This is a well established forum with constant breaking news in the industry.

Search engine forums are another tool in the arsenal of a professional affiliate marketer. I don't remember exactly where I read this, but someone somewhere said that to be successful at SEO, you need to read until your eyes hurt. I think it's a good suggestion.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Jon Gales Makes $55k a Year and Works 3 Hours a Day

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Jon Gales Makes $55k a Year Working 3 Hour a Week

I'm fascinated by this Jon Gales and the success he has online with his cell phone blog. You know the guy I'm talking about--the one who was mentioned in Fortune magazine this month. It turns out that there's quite a bit of information about this success story online, and I'm going to post links to most of the data along with some comments here.

Fortune Magazine Article
This is the latest article about Jon's success. You have to be a subscriber to read the whole article, but the part about Jon is early in the article and can be read on the preview page.

Business 2.0 Article - Jon Gales
This is a copy of the article that I read at my doctor's office. I remember coming home and telling my wife all about it.

Mobile Tracker - Cell Phone News
This is Jon's site that is referenced in the articles. I visited it--very clean, tons of content, and constantly being updated. Very nice job he's done with this...

Jon Gales - Assaulting Your Browser
This is Jon's website. It contains links to some of his other projects.

JG - Edited by Jon Gales
Jon's personal blog. Very funny stuff in here about what's going on with him now that he's receiving all this press.

Carbwire - Low Carb News, Reviews and Recipes
Jon's blog devoted to the low carb dieting craze. I would imagine he's making pretty decent money from this one too, but I wouldn't hazard a guess as to how much. (I think I read that he has a partner on this site.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tremendous Adsense Success

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Tremendous Adsense Success

There's an article about Google in the latest issue of Fortune magazine which describes a young man who is making over $5000 a month with his website. The full article is only available to Fortune subscribers, but the details on the young man making big money with Adsense is on the preview page here.

The young man is named Jon Gales, and he runs a website devoted to mobile phones at According to Fortune magazine, he's getting 200,000 visitors per month to his site. Google has strict rules about discussing Adsense revenue with others if you're a member of the program, so I'll refrain from commenting and just post a link to the article at Fortune and let you draw your own conclusions. I will say this though--it's an inspiring story.

It's people like Jon Gales, who are actually succeeding on the internet, that inspire me to continue working to build traffic and content to my websites. We're living in a time when there is an almost unlimited amount of opportunity to make money. I'd rather live now, during the information age, than I would have liked to have lived during the gold rush.

Frankly there are more people getting rich now. Quietly communicating with others online, and quietly getting rich.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Commission Junction Affiliate Program Review

Affiliate Marketing Programs :: Commission Junction Affiliate Program Review

The thing about Commission Junction is that it's not really an affiliate program; it's a whole network of affiliate programs in one place. When you get a membership with Commission Junction, you have literally hundreds (over 1400 in at the time of this writing) of merchants in every category imaginable that you can promote. Some of the products available to promote through CJ that are profitable include:

  • web hosting
  • credit cards
  • inkjet printers
  • debt consolidation
  • car loans
  • home loans
  • payday loans
  • shoes
  • perfume
  • lobster grams

Obviously, CJ offers something for just about everyone through their network. When I log in to my account there, I'm able to view a list of the different programs that are available. I can arrange this list in a number of ways--I can view the programs I'm a member of, I can view the programs that have the highest EPC (earnings per 100 clicks) in the network, and I can view the programs in order of how much the programs pay per lead, per sale, or per click. This is probably my favorite feature of the Commission Junction interface in fact--the flexibility I have in viewing the programs that are available to me.

Commission Junction also offers education tools to help affiliate make the most of their relationship with their network. This is called Commission Junction University Online. This section of the members' area includes the latest news about the network, strategy tips and ideas, and resources for affiliates. They also hold an annual event called Commission Junction University (CJU) where you can go hear speakers explain how to make more money with them.

A lot of big name companies have hired Commission Junction to run their affiliate programs for them. Some of these companies include:

  • eBay
  • Morgan Stanley
  • The New York Times
  • Geico
  • The University of Phoenix
  • Capital One

There are a lot more, but I could list famous companies all day, and this article just doesn't have room for that. Commission Junction is definitely worth checking out though, if nothing else because of the depth and breadth of their program offerings. Whether you're interested in running a website about online psychics, dating services, or the rv lifestyle, CJ has got something to offer.

On a side not, as far as I know, CJ does not offer any kind of override to webmasters who refer other webmasters to their program, so this recommendation is not an advertorial, and I've got nothing to gain from recommending their program. I'm reviewing the program because a website that claims to review affiliate programs but leaves out Commission Junction would be like a wine store that didn't carry merlot.

Click here if you want to visit Commission Junction now.