Archives for October 2011

Recruiting affiliates – when you have a product

In my last guest posts here we have looked at building trust as a person looking to monetise their blog. We looked at the 15 most FAQs that people new to affiliate marketing have. In today’s post we are jumping three steps ahead to talk about how to recruit affiliates to promote your own products. man and woman chatting over coffee

Recruiting affiliates for your own products can be done two ways, the easy way or the hard way. The easy way involves taking our experience and expanding on it 🙂 we have listed 6 ways you can recruit affiliates, 5 the easy way and one the hard way.

The Easy Way – Just Ask.

Ask. Actively research and locate people who may be interested in your product. It might be writers, it might be bloggers or it might be other marketers in your industry. No matter who they are just get in touch with them and ask. If you are too shy /too scared / haven’t a clue then get someone in to help or outsource the role.

Have an email newsletter? Ask your list if they want to be affiliates, share with them as much detail about the product and who you are trying to reach. Your list can be a great asset to you if you share great content with them and listen to what they say. You can even ask for introductions to people who might be interested in your affiliate scheme.

Ask your social media contacts

  • Use twitter
  • Ask on your fan page
  • Ask if you can share a post with your request on other peoples fan page
  • Ask in LinkedIN groups
  • Ask in your G+ circles

Ask your customers if they would like to promote the product for a commission. They already know what the product is like since they’ve already purchased it and used it, they know all the great things about it. They may not understand the affiliate terminology, so word it to what they do understand. Would they like to promote your product for a commission? The right language will help you get plenty of the right kind of affiliates.

Ask your readers – Got a sales page? Then add a link for affiliate info to the bottom of your sales page. People who buy the product may be interested in promoting it for you as well. If it’s an ebook or information product add a link to the affiliate recruiting page in a section called “Did you love this product?”. In this section you can make suggestions for your readers to promote you if they liked what they read. You can show them that if they share then they can be in a position to earn some money from that. Now, not everyone will take you up on that but some people will.

The Hard Way

The hard way involves sitting back and waiting for potential affiliates to walk up to your house and knock on your door. If you choose this option, let me know how it works out for you.

There are many more ways of recruiting affiliates, we’ve only touched on a few here. Start out with these ideas and you will soon have a database of suitable affiliates for your products and ebooks. Remember not everyone you ask will want to be an affiliate and not everyone who is an affiliate is capable of selling / promoting. It’s up to you to guide and support your affiliates.

Sarah

PS I mention that these are just some of the ways, tell me what ways you have used to recruit affiliates in the comments.

15 FAQs when using affiliates links in blogging

In my previous post here I wrote about the 5 steps you need to build trust in order to monetise your blog. In today’s post I am going to give you some FAQs about using affiliates in blogging. Let’s get the “facts” into the open.

1.Do I need my own products to use affiliates on my blog?

Affiliate marketing is an interesting option when it comes to monetising your blog because it doesn’t require that you create your own product. You are simply sharing great products created by other people, you are in effect a retailer. You sell a product and you are paid a commission. But it’s not automatic money, it’s not the equivalent of a printing press in your basement. This may come as a shock but you do have some work to do to generate traffic to your blog in order to make sales.

2. How do I set up an affiliate blog?

The first thing you want to do is register a domain in your niche with keywords in the domain, for relevancy. This is not essential, it just makes your life a little easier. You might not be in the “make money” niche (in fact I strongly advise you not to be in that niche) – you might choose to promote fitness products as you will blog about health related issues. On our courier blog we are affiliates for Satellite Navigation systems, a tool we use every day in our business. The Sat Navs are naturally related to our driving business -when promoting affiliates you will do better with products that are in your niche and that you can make a business case for.

Once you get a domain and have reliable hosting, install the WordPress blog onto your domain. If this is too much then talk to Nikki, or talk to me. We both provide this service. Don’t faff about if you are clueless, you will waste a whole heap of time that you will never get back.

3. But don’t I need all that SEO stuff when I blog?

Sure but it’s not hard. Nikki has a book on it and a 30 day SEO challenge.

You need to get all of the WordPress settings in place before you begin to add your content. Little things like the permalinks so that each blog post has a URL that’s search engine ready. (More on optimising your WordPress blog here and here) If you have custom graphics or a premium theme such as Genesis install them prior to content creation. Get the blog looking as good as it can (without going on a perfection bent).

Google might be knocking on your blog door quickly or it may take awhile to find your blog, either way you will want to have some sort of content for them to crawl and index so the search engines can start to send you relevant traffic. Write a dozen posts before you start promoting your blog. You can date them retrospectively, so it doesn’t look as if you have posted all the content in the last ten minutes.

Before you begin to add affiliates to your blog, you need to keep in mind that your blog is going to act as a beacon for visitors in your industry. Those people will be relying on your recommendations, so it’s best if you truly identify the products that can fulfil their needs. You need to recommend your affiliates honestly. Remember our advice in how to build trust on your blog?

4. Ok, I see it’s not a dirty thing to do but what can I promote?

You can promote a variety of tangible and digital products depending on your blog’s niche/ industry / marketplace. You need to do a little research and you will need to know all about your ideal reader, but if you are already blogging you already know about that anyway.

5. Where can I find some affiliate programs?

You can get signed up with the affiliate programs at

6. Yeah but how do I start this on my blog?

Start by making a list of items you want to promote. Your blog can review and recommend certain products, so you’ll want to explain what the product is, why it’s a good investment, and how it compares to its competition. The review post formula I use is here. Reviews are the easiest types of content to create as an affiliate on your blog. Review sites on their own are a tough niche to crack, but we are not talking about creating a review site we are talking about adding reviews to your existing blog content mix.

7. Can I do this anonymously? I don’t want people to think I have sold out…

The more personality you breathe into your blog, the better it will convert.

A cold blog where the visitors don’t get to know the author doesn’t engender trust. The audience does not respond. You may think you are being professional or protecting your reputation in your review but people buy from people and if you have tried affiliate marketing through your blog in the past, this is probably where you have come unstuck.

As for selling out, how do you pay your rent? You are a business not a charity.

8. Do I have to pay for products to review / recommend?

You can sometimes get complimentary review products from information product creators, if you indicate that you’ll be reviewing it. But that is the exception not the rule. Make sure you buy a copy or item so that your reviews are real and unbiased.  This is another reason why affiliate blogs fail to convert – the reviewer has never used the product; they are just looking to make a fast buck (and it shows). If you are offered something to review and it’s free of charge, you need to be sharing this information with your readers.

9. Can I post a bad review of a poor performing product?

A good balance of pros and cons is crucial to the authenticity of your affiliate related blogging. If everything’s always rainbows and unicorns and you never find anything wrong with a product, then alarm bells will scream at your visitors, who will know you’re just in it for the money. Honesty is the best policy. Share why you didn’t like the product and build trust with your audience. They make their own decisions.

10. Should you use banners and ads on your blog for affiliate products?

My personal experience indicates these are poor performers. You will need to tweak and test for your audience. What works for some may not work for others. The right products with the right information means your banners become more effective. Go banner and advert crazy and your readers will go elsewhere.

11. Should I have an email list for this type of blogging?

You should have an email list for any type of blogging. How do you stay in touch with people if Google sandboxes you? go hook up with Aweber and start your email list.

12. Do I have to declare an affiliate link in post

No, and you don’t have to tell your mum you have taken up smoking again, or that the cheque is not in the post or your husband that you spent £200 on a pair of shoes… but it helps if you do declare them. Ok, maybe not the husbands and shoes part 😉 This is about trust and believe it or not people can make their own decisions when it comes to clicking a link and buying a product, so declaring an affiliate link will not hurt you.

13. Individual or blanket disclosure of affiliate links?

I use both methods. Nikki declares each affiliate link. The reason I don’t always declare them is sometimes the affiliate links are added after I have written the blog post. So on my about page I mention that some of the links may be affiliate links, that I am not being dishonest just sometimes I schedule a post, add a link a few days later and forget to mention what type of link it is by the time it has gone live. Disclosure is better than no disclosure.

14. I want to hide my affiliate links, I don’t want anyone to know about them

If you are that convinced that you should be hiding your affiliate links then you can use a plugin on your blog to change the links, there is Pretty Links Lite and there are paid plugins that also do this. I don’t know what they are because I don’t actually hide the affiliate links in my posts.

15. Remind me again Sarah why I would be interested in affiliate schemes on my blog

Ok, let’s be honest here. Blogging is not free. It takes time, it takes patience and it costs money for the hosting etc, you are not going to get mega rich using affiliate links in your blogging. Over on Birds on the Blog our affiliate revenue goes to educate two girls in Uganda. Other bloggers use their affiliate revenue to pay for their personal development. If you wish to make a mint at affiliate marketing then you need to explore other routes and get different advice from people who really do make a packet at this. But if you want to add extra revenue to good content, then this is for you.

And isn’t money why are you blogging in the first place? Surely you are blogging to get your business noticed and gain leads and sell your services? don’t kid yourself that it’s anything otherwise, we are all selling something.

Sarah

Sarah Arrow is a UK blogger who tweaks, tests and often breaks things. Together she and Nikki have put together a guide that will show you how to monetise your blog without making you feel like you live in a brothel. Sign up to Nikki’s newsletter to find out more.

 

 

Monetising your blog – 5 Steps to Build Trust

Trust, according to the saying, is much more easily destroyed than it is built. Building trust can be likened to building a sandcastle close to the sea – it’s beautiful when it’s built and everyone stops to look, but just one big wave will wash it all away.Sandcastle

So how do we build trust in order to monetise our blogs?

The answer appears to be quite simple on the surface – good strong content. If we dig a bit deeper we can see that it’s more complex and that to build trust via our content we need to do 5 things. Failing to do one of the five things means there is a disconnect or friction and our potential buyer walks away.

1. Failing to recognise objections

If there’s an objection in your product / service or offer, address it upfront. Don’t ignore it or pretend it’s not there. You look like you are clueless. The clueless look doesn’t make you very credible.

Example: You’re selling slimming pills that are effective but causes sleeplessness for a couple weeks. The first step is to  acknowledge it. Customers  are not stupid, before making a sale they will search for reviews and conversations surrounding your  slimming pills. They will probably read about the sleeplessness in reviews and forums. Address the objection and make it  less of an issue by comparing it to the benefits. If the benefits outweigh the objection and you are open, you will have built trust.

2. Making a Claim You Can’t Prove

Fingers, crossedDon’t claim that you can teach someone how to make £10,000 a month if you can’t prove it.

Never make a claim that’s bigger than what you can prove.

A smaller claim that’s less impressive will generate more conversions than making a huge claim that you can’t prove. You look an idiot if you make ridiculous claims. Your reputation is washed away like that sandcastle on the beach.

Make a claim that’s reasonable and let the customers decide for themselves whether or not to buy. Of course, it should go without saying that you still use powerful language and write great copy.

At the core of your offering you should always be clear and honest about what is for sale.

3. Ignoring Your Brand

Your brand affects your traffic and your conversions. It’s an often overlooked element by many marketers.

Never underestimate how much people might know about you before they land on your blog. There’s a good chance they’ll know about the quality of your product, your credibility as a person and what other customers have experienced – all before they land on your page.

Example, you know that Nikki shares good advice to small businesses marketing their business online. You will know that Nikki is passionate about effective social media marketing. Her brand is open, honest and strong. If Nikki started suggesting you buy Facebook ‘likes’ or automated link-building services you might stop and think. There’s a big disconnect, it’s just not Nikki and her brand and you can bet that’ll influence her readers buying decisions. They know and trust her brand and if something is not quite “Nikki”  then people will walk away.

Pay attention to your brand. Know what you stand for.

  • Release top-notch products
  • Provide first class service.

It might not seem like it’ll pay off in the short term, you may feel frustrated that you are not getting the results that you want but in the long run it’ll make all the difference.

4. Not Having a Professional Blog Design or Selling via a Free Site

Do ugly sales letters outperform well-designed blog pages? For a one off sale, the answer is yes. But in the long run, if you want to get people to trust you and buy from you again and again, having poor sales letters, crappy emails and poor blog design will hinder you rather than help. You can create really spectacular-looking blogs with Genesis. All you need is a little bit of know-how.

If you are selling (well attempting to sell) from your blog because that’s what monetising your blog is; selling from it, you have one mega disconnect if you attempt it from a free site such as a blogspot /blogger / wordpress.com site. You are saying “buy this premium, all sing all dancing product from me because I can’t afford my own site and I am a digital sharecopper“. Ok,you might not say you are digital sharecropper but the truth is you are one. A free site is harder to monetise and doesn’t build the trust you need.

5. Reeking of Eau De Despair

Some sales copy give the impression that they’re “screaming” at the reader to buy. You will have seen those internet marketing sales pages that are all yellow highlighter and red headlines, packed with testimonials that give off a whiff of desperation. Do you buy from them? Of course not. You can smell the desperation.

Don’t get me wrong, great copywriters can make this style of copywriting work. For us mere mortals this style will more likely turn visitors off than actually generate a sale.

What do you think is important to include, in order to generate trust?

Sarah

Sarah Arrow is a UK blogger, who tweaks, tests and experiments to get blogs converting into leads and sales. She’s also the director of a same day courier company. Together, she and Nikki are creating a master guide to monetising your blog, the tried and tested way. Subscribe to Nikki’s newsletter to find out more.

 

Social Media Marketing Lessons from Steve Jobs You Can Use

 

A guest post by Henry Fitzgerald

What were mp3 players like before the iPod? Where did we buy music before the iTunes store? And, how did we ever function before the iPhone?

Steve Jobs certainly changed our lives as consumers, but what about as marketers, advertisers, business people, or social media experts. Jobs’ far-reaching effect on our lives is now so innate, we might not even notice.

With that being said, let’s take a moment to appreciate how Steve Jobs changed the name of social media marketing.

Lesson #1: No One is Perfect

Steve Jobs was never perfect. His Motorola Rokr, an early and distant ancestor of the iPhone was a complete failure. Who’s even heard of it? Or the Power Mac G4 cube? Doesn’t ring a bell. Jobs learned from failures and setbacks, capitalized on losses and moved on to bigger and better things. His lack of success with MobileMe paved the way for broad communication technology like iCloud onConference and Google Docs.

Lesson #2: Swim Against the Current

The tech industry is a unique blend of swimming upstream and swimming with the current. It’s hard to balance, but Steve Jobs had it down to science. He managed to think differently, stay ahead of consumers’ needs and make ‘outrageous’ predictions, like the prevalence of home computers functioning with the internet.

Lesson #3: Pay Attention to Details

Apple products work ridiculously well. Unless you’ve dropped your iPhone or spilled iced tea on your Macbook, it’s hard to justify buying a new Apple product claiming your product stopped working. Jobs was committed to details. He wasn’t willing to overlook small problems or kinks, even in the smallest of details. As a result, Apple’s products work well through and through, not just on the surface and not just for 6 months.

Lesson #4: Simplicity

One of the largest and most widespread early arguments for switching to Macs was that they’re easy to use. People raved about how simple Mac computers were and felt no sympathy for whiny PC users who couldn’t find the files they stored or the ‘print’ command in Word. Bringing things down to a consumer level can be hard to do, but Jobs made the computer accessible for everyone. Apple products are unique in that they please both Techy Tom and Pen and Paper Patty.

Lesson #5: Aesthetics Matter

As simple as it sounds, Apple products are just plain cool. They’re sleek, attractive, enticing and they work well. While other products may work just as well, people want something that looks good too. Steve Jobs was well aware of the importance of good-looking designs. People may pretend to only care about performance, but he saw past our front.

Though Steve Jobs is gone, his innovation lives on through his products. The revolutionary iPhone, iPod and sleek laptops are a staple in our daily lives, and we’re probably not too sure what life would be like without them.

 

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter:@hfitzy34

4 simple ways to monetize your blog or website

A guest post from Danielle Rodabaugh

4 simple ways to monetize any blog or website

By now you know how important it is for you to maintain a strong online presence for your business. Doing so increases its visibility and allows you to attract a virtually limitless audience. But maybe you’re looking to take your blog or website to the next level and make some extra cash on the side. If so, monetizing your blog or website could be valuable to your operation.

As a disclaimer, choosing to monetize your blog or website might hinder your credibility or detract from the work that you do. For example, the surety bond company I work for doesn’t advertise for any other businesses outside of our affiliate programs. Before you decide whether to monetize your blog or website, you should seriously consider the potential impact it could have on your business, both positive and negative.

If you determine that monetizing your blog or website is in the best interest of your business, you need to be sure you have a strong online presence. If you do, then you’ll be able to bring in some extra cash while also helping others looking to increase their online presence. The best part is, doing so requires minimal effort on your part. The following are four ways that any business owner can maximize their revenue by monetizing an existing blog or website.

1) Create quality content.

The most important step to creating a monetized blog or website is one that, unfortunately, most business owners overlook. If you’re looking to make a significant amount of money by blogging, you must offer quality content. Quality is better than quantity, but you do need to update your blog with new, relevant information consistently. Otherwise both search engines and your readers will find it to be irrelevant, and nobody wants to pay to advertise on a platform that’s irrelevant.

2) Allow keyword links.

Making money from link-building can be done in two ways.

  1. You can sign up for a service that will automatically insert links into your website whenever you post articles with money keywords. For example, say your blog focuses on the automotive industry. When the service notices power keywords such as “buy a car,” a link will automatically be inserted to a third-party site looking to gain SEO juice for that phrase.
  2. You can accept guest articles written by others who operate their own websites and blogs. When they approach you about providing their own content, you can charge them for a link. SEO professionals have differing opinions on the practice of buying and selling links. Although buying links isn’t illegal, I don’t personally recommend this option because Google analysts punish site owners caught doing so by downgrading their SEO credibility. Although selling links might not be the most kosher way to monetize your blog/website, it’s definitely a strategy that many business owners use. Exercise at your own risk.

3. Add pay-per-click ads to page borders.

If you don’t want to interrupt your blog’s content with commercial text links, you can allow pay-per-click (PPC) ads to border your blog. When you use PPC ads, you earn money from valid clicks or impressions made by your users. The specific PPC ads displayed on your page are chosen to match your audience’s interests to ensure both you and those who advertise on your site get the best return on investment. One of the easiest and most frequently used ways to set up PPC advertising is through Google AdSense, which basically does all the work for you after you set up a profile.

4. Display banner ads.

Banner ads function similarly to PPC ads but might be viewed as less invasive since they’re typically only placed at the top of a page. You can also use advertising tools that automatically place them to a page on your blog or website, just make sure that the formatting you use for your website allows enough room for a banner ad. Failing to code your framework correctly can really mess up your layout if banner ads are placed in a way that doesn’t mesh with your coding.

You might want to play around with these options when monetizing your blog or website. Don’t overuse online advertising, otherwise your audience will find your pages to be filled with nothing more than spam. If you promote too many obnoxious ads throughout, you’ll drive traffic away from your site, and thus away from your advertisers. Without a solid audience, your pages offer little value to those who pay for online exposure.

While completing her undergraduate studies at the Missouri School of Journalism, Danielle worked as an online marketing specialist for Surety Bonds.com, an online surety bond provider, for two years. When she graduated in May, she had a full-time job waiting for her at the company. Danielle currently manages the company’s social media profiles and produces content as the editor its blog, the Surety Bonds Insider.

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