Why are Google and Amazon rich? They've had me on their payroll. I have been working for them for a decade. I signed up for Amazon Associates over a decade and Google AdSense almost a decade ago.
I have received a tiny chunk of money for my long service-- likely much less money than one of those plaintive souls who lives on $3 per day. I’ve been living off of Google, AdBrite and AdSense for $0.06/day combined.
Google talked me into reaching for the brass ring and I was willing to do it for a song. I'm not alone, though. There are thousands of website publishers who are running affiliate ads. For some, this is lucrative. But likely 1% of the publishers make 99% of the money. The rest are motivated by greed but their motivations have betrayed them. They publish the links, their trickle of traffic barely converts into sales and their payout balance hang at that sucky $49.50 out of $50.00 for an eternity.
This dynamic plays out time and again. Drug dealers will distribute through their low level dealers on the street. The street dealers take all the risk, but they only get a fraction of the reward. Some studies say that the average street dealer has to live at home on $10,000/year. The next level up in the drug trade is where the money starts to flow. Each level up sees geometrically more money than the level below. The street dealer is living with his mom. His boss is making okay coin. The manufacturers and cartel levels have the mad stacks of cash. It's time you got off the street and started cooking crystal meth (after a fashion).
Don't make a business out of running ads for other people. Some people make money at it and some make a lot of money. Most don't. I don't. If you don't have a knack for it, don't do it. But don't ignore that the model is there and that many people buy into it. Some people have it figured out and you need to implement a strategy that plays into their hands.
Make A Product
Make a product: a book, an app, a website, a service, a set of digital products or whatever and tie it to an affiliate program. Some people are good at marketing. Some people are good at making a lot of money for a little bit of advertising. That’s not me. I’m not good at selling, but I do like to create. I enjoy it and I think I can be good at it. If you’re like me, I compel you to make something that will have some value to someone else. Something that a middleman can profit from. People won't link to your site out of love, but they will do it for money. By making an affiliate program link you give complete strangers the ability to make money on the back of your product creation. For each sale, an affiliate makes 1% to 50% (each deal is different) and you make the remainder. In the case of Amazon Associates, you get the full ratio from your product and Amazon splits their revenue with the Associate. When you make $2 from your book, your Associate makes $0.30. Your effort (the creation of your digital product) is finite. Their effort could be boundless. If they’re good at it, they could make lots of money for a little bit of effort-- that’s not your concern. Your main concern is to get your product into the hands of affiliates to allow for their resale and profiteering.
Get The Affiliates On To The Street
Get affiliates / associates / partners to sell products for you. Most of the large sites have this figured out. If you're selling via Amazon or iTunes, they have a system in place. It's not that hard for someone to apply. There are throngs of people trying to use this model (selling products for others) so the idea is to engage them to sell for you. Let them profit from your toils.
Let all those affiliates build links and popularize your product. If they drum up a lot of sales, that's awesome for them and even more awesome for you. It becomes a low risk way to get the word out. If you’re bad at getting the word out at the very least this is a more pernicious message. "Buy my ebook" compels people to see the value in what you have made. "Sell my ebook and make money" compels people to use your product as a way to fuel their own greed.
Maybe I put you off with the call to become a drug dealer. Look at how drumming up affiliates sales is better than selling drugs:
Affiliates are legal. Drug dealing is not. You can recruit new affiliate resellers out in the open. You can be loud about it. You can talk your Mom into selling products for you.
Digital products can be infinite but look scarce. Drugs are limited by production and shipping. The drug farm in the boonies can be raided and the crops can be burned. Your digital product has a better chance of surviving misfortune.
Greed is ubiquitous. In the piece, Collect The Rain, I talked about how to tap into something that is unlimited. Customers are finite, but there are more out there than you need. The same is true for potential affiliate sellers.
Figure out your delivery system (iTunes, Google Play, Kindle sales, Smashwords, etc..) and find out which one of these have an established affiliate system. Talk your sellers into using this established system to move your product. Make it easy for them: feed them links and exclusive material that makes it easy for them to try to sell your stuff. If you can enhance the fortunes of affiliates, do it. There will be superstars out there and if you can help them, it’s worth your while.
Here's an example of an affiliate page I put out there for our Pin It To Profit book, http://pinittoprofit.com/affiliates/
<li><a href="https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/flex/associates/apply-login.html" title="Join Amazon Associates" target="_blank">Sign-up</a> or Sign-in to Amazon Associates.</li>
<li><a href="https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/build-links/individual/simple-get-html.html?ie=UTF8&asin=B0080NO0BE&assoc_ss_ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2FB0080NO0BE%3Fie%3DUTF8%26qid%3D1344749227%26ref_%3Dsr_1_1%26s%3Ddigital-text%26sr%3D1-1&parentASIN=" target="_blank">Get the HTML code for Pin It To Profit</a>.</li>
<li>Add this code to your site, your blog, or your Tumblr account.</li>
<li>Point people your page that has this code and urge them to click through so that you can get some cash!</li>
<li>Does your page need more information? Did you want to talk to us and get some more info that can help you sell this book and get you some information? <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">Email me and I'll help you</a> with some exclusive content!</li>
<li>When you've posted your page, <a href="mailto:email@example.com">let us know</a> and we'll link to it from this site and via our social media.</li>
<li>Sit back and let the cash come in.</li>
I hyped it via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Hype the notice of affiliate sales wherever you can. Implore your friends to be an affiliate or spread the word.
- Make a product you enjoy
- Make sure affiliates know how they can money from your efforts
- Help affiliates make more money from your efforts
- Tap into the greed inherent in the world