3 Things That Make Up A Killer Affiliate Marketing Campaign

Affiliate marketing is and always will be a popular way to make money online. It’s where a lot of newbie’s start out when they first look into the idea of starting an internet business from home.

Although affiliate marketing comes across as being relatively easy (you don’t need to create your own product or deal with customer service, etc) there are still several pieces needed to complete the puzzle than may first meet the eye, if you really want to succeed.

The biggest problem affiliate marketers face is competition. You’ll find that in pretty much EVERY hot niches there is ample competition fighting for sales of the same or similar products in that niche… so in that regard, it can be quite hard to beat them and claim your share of the profit pie.

You can’t control what your competition does, but there are other things you CAN easily control to make your life as an affiliate easier and more profitable.

If you’re trying your hand at affiliate marketing but not seeing any success, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are you getting traffic?
  • Where are you sending your traffic to first? (i.e. squeeze page? review post on a blog?)
  • Is the merchant offer converting?

If you look at these, you can usually find the weak spot and improve on it. These I consider to be the most important keys to affiliate marketing success.

1. An Offer Than Converts. If I could give any one piece of advice to struggling affiliate marketers, this would be it – choose an offer that converts!

This also ties into choosing a “hair on fire” niche.. but usually, those niches are full of hot converting offers anyway… you just have to find the hottest of the hot!

Choosing an offer that doesn’t convert is perhaps the biggest killer to affiliate campaigns and is very frustrating. I know… I have experienced it many times. I send good traffic to offers I think will convert, but it just doesn’t turn into sales.

It’s hard to know if an offer will convert before you send traffic and test it, so it’s a good idea to send a little PPC traffic to test conversions before you go all out and build a complete website and campaign for it.

2. Your Own Website. All the successful affiliate marketers have their own website. If you don’t have a website and you’re sending traffic straight to your affiliate link, you’re missing out on a  lot of commissions!

Having a website of your own is essential for running a successful affiliate campaign. For one, it’s pretty much impossible to get good traffic (i.e. Google search traffic) straight to your affiliate link and second, you’ll get better results by sending them to your website first if you a) presell them with extra info or spice up the offer with a bonus, or b) collect their names and emails (i.e. build a list) so you can follow up and offer other offers to them.

Getting a website is not that hard and is very affordable. For less than $20 you can get a domain and hosting.. sometimes less! WordPress is free and makes the perfect platform for affiliate sites.. either review sites or list building sites or both!

If you need help getting your website up, my Newbie Start Up Guide and WP Sites for Newbies guides are the way to go.

 

3. Laser Targeted Traffic. There are many ways to generate traffic. Search engine traffic being the #1 choice for many marketers because it proves to be the finest quality source of “buyers” on the web. But Google is not the “be all and end all” traffic source. There are email ads, banner ads, text link ads, video traffic, social network site traffic, etc.

Each type of traffic is made up of a different group of people. Some will be more ready to buy than others so make sure you’re appealing to the right crowd with the right type of ad and call to action.

Your promotional methods you choose i.e. keywords, ad copy, call to action, play the biggest part for determining the quality of your traffic and how well your traffic is going to convert.

So take a look at your affiliate marketing campaigns you’re running now and do a quick evaluation. You might find the weak link in it as I have pointed out above. If you’ve not yet got started in affiliate marketing, remember these points for when you do.

To your success,
Stu Sensei Stirling

p.s. Have you got any other important keys for affiliate marketing success we could add to this list? Please leave them in the comments below.

How I Made My First $200 With A Niche Blog

I finally managed to do it! I made my first $200 in affiliate commissions in a “non-internet marketing” related niche.

$200 in commissions

 

I wish I could tell you that I made these commissions by throwing up a site and voila – 30 minutes later I got these sales…but

(that is what most gurus would have you believe on their sales pages for their latest course or software)

The truth is that it took a lot of hard work and many moments of frustration.

The short of it is..

This is income from 1 site over 7 months! Yes, I started this website in April 2011 and 7 months later, it has made me $206.90 in commissions.

While $200 in 7 months is nothing to write home about, this was a challenge to myself to see if I could make money outside the “internet marketing” niche. And I’m happy to say that I achieved it.

When I Started The Site…FAIL!

To be honest, when I started the site, I had no idea what I was doing for the first 3 months – but I managed to make 2 sales (about $20) those first 3 months.

It was only after learning how to make proper affiliate niche sites from Andrew Hansen and his Unstoppable Affiliate course in August 2011, did I realize I had made my site wrong!

It turned out that my keywords were wrong. My content was written wrong, my site design was wrong.. pretty much everything was wrong.. even my niche choice wasn’t the best which you’ll see why later.

I thought about starting over with a brand new site but I decide to completely re-do the site I had started. I re-wrote the content, found a new theme, set up the pages right – and found my keywords.

Getting Traffic But No Sales!?

A few hundred backlinks later, I started to get high rankings and traffic. Before I was getting traffic, I thought… “ok, as long as I get traffic, I should make the sales.”

Wrong again. I was getting traffic and click-throughs to the merchant page, but sales are far and few between!

As you can see by my EPC, I’m making about the same as I would with very cheap Adsense clicks – from $0.02 to $0.09 per click.

2 cent EPC

It’s just my rough estimation, but I calculate the merchant’s conversion rate is around 0.05%

That means, for every 200 visitors I send, I make 1 sale.

This is up there with the worst conversion rates I’ve experienced in all my 5 years of internet marketing!

I put this down to me choosing a very difficult product/niche  (hint: a type of camera) and a merchant who’s website and order pages are slow to load and not really optimized for sales.

Do I call this site a failure? Well, I can’t see it making me a millionaire, but it is making sales as it is and I have learned a LOT along the way.

Things I Have Learned

If I wrote everything that I’ve learned here, it would take me days to write. But here are some of the bigger ones that maybe you can learn from too.

Niche choice is everything.

This finally stuck me like a sledgehammer to the face. The difference between say a “recreational product” and a “product that solves a problem” is like night and day.

Andrew Hansen’s UA course touched on this, but the importance of choosing a “hair on fire” niche was reenforced when I went through Jimmy and Pete’s IM Game changer course (another awesome course for the money).

SEO

SEO is such a huge topic with so many different theories about what works and what doesn’t, what will harm you and what will go you good. It’s actually hard to know who to believe.

But I have learned that if you get your keyword research done right – i.e. choose buyer or “hair on fire” keywords with little competition and your job is going to be a whole lot easier to get rankings.

I also learned that I started getting into SEO at perhaps the most difficult time in the history of the internet – right after the Google Panda and several other consequent updates that are making it harder for mini affiliate niche sites to rank.

It’s not ALL about Backlinks

I sometimes feel that I (and a lot of SE/affiliate) am just striving to get backlinks, backlinks, backlinks. But in reality, what I (we) really need is traffic.

Yes, backlinks are essential to getting your site ranked in Google.. that I am sure of. But that is just a means to an end. Backlinks don’t make you money, traffic does.

I noticed this when I was submitting some videos to video sharing sites primarily for the purpose of getting backlinks. It turns out those video sites were actually sending me traffic because viewers clicked on the links in my video description.

I also noticed this from a blog comment I left on a high traffic blog. Significant traffic came from that one blog comment alone!

So you need backlinks – but don’t overlook other ways to get traffic too. If you can get a backlink great.. if you can get traffic from that backlink too, that’s even better.

Where To From Here?

As of now, I have a pretty good base knowledge of how to build niche mini sites and get them ranked.

So I am now working out my own systems for building each part of the sites and getting outsource staff to help me.

I just took on a VA to help with backlinking this week actually. I hope to eventually get other tasks outsourced (e.g. content writing, site set up, keyword reasearch) too so I can get more done and lower the word load. It’s too much hard work doing it all yourself!

I have a couple of “hair on fire” niches that I plan to build sites for next. That should be exciting to compare those to this current site.

I think I’ll leave my first niche site where it is and hopefully in another 7 months it will have made another $200… but the good thing it is out there working now so from here on out, any income it makes is passive income 🙂

Stuart StirlingThanks for reading!

Stu Sensei

How to Turn Support Emails Into Sales

There are some times when customer support emails can be a burden. I think most businesses would like to have less customer support issues to deal with.

But most of the time, it’s unavoidable, especially when you’re generating thousands of visitors and processing dozens of sales automatically around the clock on several websites.

Some days are heavier than others….some days you just don’t want to face your inbox!

Even though you might be tempted to go the “select all > delete” route…take a second to realize that answering support emails helps you and your customer build a better relationship and can turn into sales!

You will be surprised that taking the time to answer support emails can really pay off.

Here are some reasons and benefits of being the good support emails answerer…

  • For one, your customer expects and deserves good customer service
  • Your customer will be thrilled you answered – especially if it’s you personally replying
  • Build trust with your readers on a personal basis
  • Opens up opportunities for sales!….because sometimes a support email is not what you expect

Most emails you’ll get will be when a customer has a problem with a purchase.

Either they couldn’t get to the download page or they lost the download page before they could download it all…or some other website issue.

If they have already paid and didn’t get the download, it is your responsibility to follow through on your part of the deal..no question about it.

You need to send them a new download link. That is the case when you sell your own products from your website. It’s a different story if you’re just selling products as an affiliate. (that’s one of the benefits of affiliate marketing.)

I sell a lot of my own products from my own websites and I use $7 secrets script and RAP script almost exclusively for my all my info-product sites.

I don’t know about other scripts but if you are using these 2 scripts, you’ll know all too well about your customers missing the download page. Apart from that, they are great scripts though 😉

You might be surprised but this, but one common type of email I get is from potential customers who are ready to buy but can’t for some reason!

This is usually because they are using their own affiliate link (accidentally) or the website is running slow and won’t load the order page.

Can you say -“ka-Ching”?

You can easily turn this type of support email into a sale!

This often happens with products I’m selling on www.InfoSteals.com (a RAP script powered 100% commissions market place) where I sell a lot of different ebooks and video courses about making money online.

A customer will buy one product, then sign up as an affiliate and test their link which sets their cookie on their browser and when they go to buy another product, they can’t because paypal won’t let them buy from themselves.

This is when I love to give them a new link (my affiliate link) and say “this one should work”…and it does because it overwrites the cookie.

They are happy because they can finally buy it..and I’m happy because I just got a new customer 😉

Other emails will be from readers or customers who want your advice. And this can be another chance for some easy pickings.

Usually, for any question that your readers can ask…there is a handful of products you can recommend them to buy to solve their problem. But I don’t just say “here…” and give them a link.

I like to try to answer their question as best I can and explain how if you do A and then B…you can see the result of C.

After I give that advice, I can give them links to recommended products and say…this will help you do A and this will help you do B. So it’s not an obvious sales pitch. The can see why they need to get A and B.

One more important reason to watch for customer support emails is that they can tell you when something on your site is broken (exceeded bandwidth, broken link, sometimes a typo :o) which can harm sales.

These are just some ways how answering support emails can make you a more respected and wealthier marketer.

Stu Sensei Stirling

ps. Don’t forget…simple manners like saying “thankyou for your message” or “sorry for the inconvenience” can go a long way too.

p.p.s. I use OSticket which is a free open source support desk. It made things so much more organized and easier than doing customer support from my inbox.

Does Article Marketing Still Work?

Does article marketing still work or is it dead? Or maybe just in a coma? Or are people just “crying wolf”?

This is a question I’ve been trying to find the answer to lately since I made the decision to focus more on niche affiliate marketing and getting search engine traffic.

When I first got started online, article marketing was all the rage with “bum marketing” being the term on everyone’s lips.

Does Article marketing  still work?But early in 2011, Google decided to do another update to their search engine algorithms which had many article marketers in a panic because their articles (and websites) suddenly lost rankings and traffic.

You may know about http://ezinearticles.com which is (or was) the preimier article directory to submit articles to.

There was a time when Google absolutely loved EA and all you would have to do was submit your article to them and it would pretty much rank on the front page of G without much effort on.

Since the last “Google Panda/Farmer” update, EA has reported a 35% drop in traffic and other article directories too reported similar drops in traffic.

Ok, so we know there has been some severe changes which have made articles lose their standing with Google.

But does that mean that ALL articles suffered or will continue to suffer?

No. There are still articles that are ranking very high in the serps.

I come across EZ articles on the first page of Google all the time.

As for my own articles which I submitted in the past, I never really targeted keywords that would get me high ranks for high volume search terms.

Instead, I would go for keywords that targeted what people want to know (but that’s a topic for another blog post ), so I can’t really say how my rankings were affected. I do know that they are still indexed and getting traffic so I’m not worried.

For the articles that I’ve been submitting lately, I am not trying to rank the actual article. Instead, I’m using the articles primarily as a way to generate backlinks to my money site. They still get hits and click-throughs so that’s an added bonus.

Reasons Why Articles Got Hammered

I believe that the reason why articles got penalized where simply because they were of poor quality.

They were poorly written, short  length, scraped, spammy, stuffed with keywords, submitted to thousands of directories and overall just junk

So it’s clear that Google is catching up with the marketers who publish junk all over the internet.

This is awesome news for marketers who take a bit of extra time and effort to make their articles good quality.

I admit that article marketing was never an easy job. You just can’t automate article writing and submission and get the quality that directories and Google expect.

And even though some marketers tried to automate it, look where that got them.

How To Succeed Wth Article Marketing Now?

You just can’t take short cuts with article marketing anymore.

You can’t get away with paying $3 an article for a 300 word article written in bad English by a person who has zero passion or interest in the topic.

You can’t get away wth autoblogs.

You can’t get away with stuffing keywords into your artices.

You can’t get  way with blasting your article to hundreds of article directories.

What you CAN get away with is continuing to write quality articles.

Write a unique article for every submission at Ezinearticles. Make sure it follows their new submission guidelines and it gets approved. EA is making a come back. It never rally went away, just the crap articles that used to get traffic on there did.

Then after if gets approved at EA, submit it to a handful of other quality article directories. You can re-write them or spin them with a good article spinner before you submit them again, but you don’t need to blast them to hundreds of directories.

The focus in on quality. Quality content. Quality links.

Quantity is still important but it’s only quantity of quality that will help you, not quantity of crap.

I don’t believe that article marketing is dead or will ever really die…. only the people trying to outsmart the Search engines and take shortcuts that anyone can clearly see as spammy will die. They’ll see that article marketing requires actual work and that will be the end of them.

They might find some other new way to sneak around Google, but it’s only a matter of time before they catch on.

Quality content is king.

Stuart StirlingStu Sensei

p.s. Even though traffic/rankings for articles maybe down at the moment, they are still a great source of backlinks. That’s the other powerful “prong” that article marketing is leveraged for. But if your article is good quality and you’ve done your keyword research, you will get traffic too 🙂 What do you think?

Why The “Internet Marketing” Niche Sucks Balls

Since I started my first online business in 2006, I have always been fanatical about list building and email marketing.

And for the main part (97%), I have been directing all my focus and energy into building my list in one niche; the “internet marketing niche” or “make money online” niche.

I was doing this fairly successfully by setting up squeeze pages, giving away free reports, selling low ticket ebooks, running free membership sites and leveraging affiliates, JV ad swaps, traffic exchanges, safelists, solo ads and giveaways to get traffic and subscribers.

The Good ‘ol Days

For a while there, I was getting sign ups and sales effortlessly. I could get 50% opt-in rates, mail out a promo and get a 10% open rate and 10% sales conversion rate.

I could get 100+ signs ups a day on auto-pilot that cost me nothing, and then make $500+ in sales from one email blast selling a $10 product. I even had a few $1000 days.

Unfortunately, those  easy “send an email and rake in the cash” days are over.

No doubt the “make money online” niche is still alive and kicking (there’s still a fortune to be made in it), but list building and email marketing in this niche is sinking quickly.

It has just about hit rock bottom.

If you’re reading this, I sincerely thank you.

It’s most likely you came here from a link in my email to you. You are one of the mere 3% of people on my lists who open and read my emails. So I thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

If you do the math, you can work out how many subscribers of mine sent that email to the trash bin.

So why is email marketing in the IM niche on its “death bed”?

I’ll give you just a few reasons which have become clear to me as to why email marketing has died off. I’m sure there are other different factors, and if you like you can add yours or comment on these below this post.

1. List Incest

Every “MMO” marketer is ad swapping, is promoting JV giveaways, is promoting each others products, is selling products on the same forums, etc.etc.

The result is that subscribers or “prospects” that are on your list are on dozen’s of other marketers lists.. which results in the next problem.

2. Too Much Email!

Ever wake up to 144 unread emails in your inbox all from “internet marketers” trying to sell you the next best thing?

That’s what happens when you join dozens of internet marketers’ “newsletters” who are a little trigger happy on the send button.

Subscribers are sick to death of all the email.

Unless you have an EXCELLENT rapport with your subscribers and customers or you pull the world’s most miraculous, hypnotic email subject line out of your a**, your email is going straight to the trash.

And even getting your email opened these days is a feat in itself. You’d better be a John Carlton world class copywriter if you want to stand a chamce to even get your links in your email clicked on.

IM sucks

3. Too Much Pitching Of Too Much Crap

A lot of email may not be such a big problem if you’re giving away good content. But when you’re sending pitch after pitch after pitch of crappy products everyday (sometimes several times a day!) subscribers, again just get fed up with it.. especially when they buy the crap product, realize it’s crap and it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

It’s just natural for them to begin to see any email from a “marketer” as going to be another pitch for a crap house product and boom – bin.

So my point is this.

Some marketers have ruined and continue to ruin the “mmo” market by continually committing the three things that I listed above.. and most probably they commit every abominable email marketing sin there is.

Now I hate to point the finger and call the kettle black.. I have been known to take a cheap shot sometimes. But the last thing I try to do is abuse my right to send emails to my subscribers.

And, I’m not saying everyone in this niche is ruining it. There are some marketers who I really respect and still open most of their emails.

But the sad thing is that it only takes a few rotten eggs to spoil the entire basket.

Ok, enough of the rant.

So where to from now for Stu Sensei?

As it is right now, I still make money from my subscribers and customer lists in the MMO niche even though it is considerably less than it was 12 months ago.

I could make more sales everyday if I decided to spam you and everybody on my lists with a pitch for the next best “shiny object” every day like the “gurus” do but that is the last thing I want to do.

I truly want to help people succeed online so selling you products on an entirely different topic everyday is not my bag and it doesn’t really help you either.

That only leads to confusion, information overload and an empty wallet.

It might make me a little richer for the time being, but I’d rather help you get to where you want to go and have you stick with me for the long haul.

For the past month or so, I’ve been delving into “niche marketing” and SEO. That’s why I’ve been a little quiet with my emails.

For years, I would run the other way whenever someone mentioned either one of these two terms.

I didn’t know how to do it and it seemed like too much work anyway.

But after seeing my “IM” lists’ response rate (and sales conversions) diminish before my eyes, and having started studying the workings of SEO and niche marketing, I’m seeing this route to be the future for Stu Sensei.

Why Niche SEO Marketing?

First of all, I want to steer away from the “mmo/get rich quick” niche so I want to find other niches where I can use my skills and experience to tear it up!

It was after a chat with mate and mentor James Brown in which he said “Stu, if you applied what you know about internet marketing to other niche markets, you’d totally kill it”, so that’s what I’m aiming to do.

Now that isn’t to say that I’m giving up entirely on the MMO niche.

I still want to help you succeed with internet marketing. The only major change is that what I teach you about making money online will be directly related to this new phase of “niche” marketing I’m venturing into.

And this is why I think this type of marketing style is perfect for me.. and perhaps for you too.

Search engine traffic

Is there any better quality traffic that you can target with such precision?

The whole idea of being able to target buyers with search term keywords has opened a whole new dimension to me.

I realize that if I’m targeting buyers, I don’t need to build a list. Surprise, surprise. I said it. You DON’T need to build a list.

There are some occasions where I think it would be beneficial to build a list but in most cases with this style of marketing, building a list would be a hindrance to making a sale.

Affiliate marketing

Getting paid for selling other people’s products. It’s great. I don’t need to worry about customer service, my product going stale, site maintenance… I just need to focus on driving traffic – BUYERS!

Build a niche site once, rank it and forget about it

One of the things that I’ve learned to leverage with the internet and marketing is automation.. “set and forget” types businesses. Unfortunately, the case most times in the MMO niche is that products become old extremely quickly. Another friend and great SEO marketer Dan McGonagle said to me is “it’s a flavor of the day market”.

The beauty of the niche marketing model is that once you build it, get it ranked high in Google and making sales, it will be a money maker for a considerably longer time than the next “how to make money online” ebook.

I understand about Google’s tendency to slap websites anytime they like, but there is a way to avoid them which I have studied about. That will be for another post 😉

Easy to outsource

Content, backlinks, research, site creation.. it cam all be outsourced very cheaply and easily. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough to outsource stuff for my IM biz… but I know I don’t have to look far to outsource SEO jobs. I’m hitting Fiverr up just about everyday for outsourcing small tasks.

White beach
You Can Catch Me Here In The Near Future

This is perfect because the more I can outsource, the more I can get done and the more I get done, the more coin I make.

All I can really say at this time is that I am really excited about this new phase of my internet marketing career.

I am not yet an SEO or niche marketing “expert” yet but I am learning and putting what I learn into practice.

I already have one niche blog (based on WordPress – I plan to use WP for ALL my sites I ever build again) which has already made $132.61.. and I’m competing with mostly PR3 and PR4 sites!

Nothing to write home about, but it’s enough proof for me to realize the power of this kind of marketing and to keep working with it.

Exciting days ahead, that’s for sure.

And I hope you stay on board and learn with me – and even get into it yourself if you haven’t already.

Enough of chasing dreams and selling the dream. It’s time to make our dreams come true.

Stuart StirlingTo your success,

Stu Sensei

Ask Me Your Burning IM Questions Here!

Here’s a new free service that I’m excited about that will help you learn and progress in your online businesses faster!

I’m going to answer your questions every week in a Q&A post right here on my blog.

This way, I’ll be able to give you precise answers to what you really want to know instead of me just guessing.

So if you have any questions that you’re dying to ask about internet marketing or making money online, this is the place to ask them!

It can be about anything… affiliate marketing, list building, traffic generation, SEO, product creation, tech “how-to” stuff, etc, etc…

Whatever your stuck with I’ll try my best to answer, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it for you!

Every week, I’ll compose a Q&A post where I’ll answer the most common or interesting questions I receive for the week.

Sound good?

Great, ask away!

How to ask:

You can either ask your question in the comments section below this post,

or, if you prefer to be anonymous, send me a message at my support desk (choose “Q&A” help topic).

Stu “Sensei” Stirling

p.s. Make sure you’re subscribed to receive my blog updates so you never miss the Q&A posts when I publish them (use the registration box in the top right… it’s free)!

Squidoo Is Not Dead!

Squidoo.com made waves on the web a few years ago.

It was a revolutionary (for it’s time) user-content driven site that marketers flocked too to funnel free traffic to their site or promote affiliate offers right from the pages (lenses).

It was the second favorite choice for Bum Marketers behind Ezine Articles because Google loved Squidoo. It was relatively easy to get #1 page rankings for  lenses built on long tail keywords.

But like all good things, they have to end. Squidoo was probably too good.

People found out about the awesome-ness of Squidoo and started to abuse it. It was only a matter of time until they cracked down on the spam lenses and abusers of the technology.

Many copy-cat sites were built and soon people forgot about Squidoo.

But I’m happy to say Squidoo is back!

In the glory days of Squidoo I set up a lens where I was giving away a free “how to make money on squidoo” ebook. That lens is still functional today and I get anywhere from 10 – 30 new subscribers a day from it.

I got an email the other day from a subscriber who download that report and loved my emails. She included a link to her first lens.

I replied back and told her it looked really good and asked her if she has made any sales from it yet?

She replied and told me she had already made 11 sales of amazon products which has earned her $15 in profits – and it was her very first lens that she created just 2 weeks prior!

Sure, $15 is not enough to buy a yacht and take a year off to sail around the world, but if she scales it up, creates 10 lenses following the same pattern as her first one, she’ll be looking at some very nice passive monthly income.

I love success stories like this. It lets me know that my hard work in teaching others about online marketing is paying off.

And let’s me know that Squidoo is not dead – it’s very much alive.

Squidoo never died, they just took a step out of the spotlight to makes themselves better – and now they’re back in full force.

I recommend you check out Squidoo today! It’s totally free to join and start making lenses about anything you want.

They are still a great place to share your expertise to help promote your business – and better than before.

Use it for what it was made for and it will be good to you.

To your success,
Stu Sensei

p.s. What do you like/dislike about Squidoo? Leave your comment below and share on facebook and twitter!