As mentioned in What are you going to sell? one way to make money online is to feature products for sale by others. That’s the essence of affiliate marketing. You find products and sell them for others. They collect the gross revenue and you collect an affiliate fee. They could sell stuff on their own, but they want you to market products for them and the incentive is money– potentially LOTS of money.
You need three things: a product; a way to put them out there; and a way to get the word that the products are there. The third piece of this puzzle is for another post in this series. I have a solution for the first two elements below.
What do you want to sell was unpacked in earlier posts. I collected my interests (cooking and sci-fi/geekdom) into a website called, “The Miketplace.” There are two ways to find products you want to sell. The straightforward way is to look at the footer of any cool product site and see if they have a link to an “Affiliate Program” or similar. This makes a linkage to the products they sell and how they’re going to let you in on the action. I’ve made some money participating in these individual plans. The downside though: they’re piecemeal. You must build a set-up to connect customers to products and you have to build these to suit every different system.
I like to collect my efforts and automate things as much as possible. With all of the affiliate programs out there that suit my fancy, I may be part of a few dozen programs that I’ve signed up for and have never returned to. I needed a clearing house of affiliate programs; one that had automated systems if place I could tap into. I needed one place so that when my affiliate programs all earned their pennies that I could see a cheque that much faster. What’s excruciating for me is to see Google Adsense get to $97.85 and hang near that, just short of its threshold for a payout. If several programs feed into one payout, you can hit your threshold that much faster. My answer to this problem: Commission Junction.
There are a few programs out there that do what Commission Junction (CJ) does, but I’ve found that CJ does it best. Their advertisers are broad, they’re most prone to accept new affiliates to programs, they have good automation systems in place and they pay.
CJ offers their publishers (that would be you) web services (API calls) to tie into their products, advertisers lists and the like. You can pick-up banners and run them on your site, but the real value of CJ comes in advertiser product catalogs. You can download them, incorporate them into your site and have a crazy drunken amount of content. That content can become a real search engine magnet.
Content is king. Say that yourself every morning. Some people may rile at Bill Gates’ proclamation, but no one hits the internet to be sucked into a void: they come for information, data, product reviews, entertainment or to connect with others. Search engines latch onto those sorts of content. The more interesting and content rich a site is counts for a lot. When running an affiliate program on a site, you have to generate your own content, or consider ways get that content added to your site. There are many ways to get that content into the flow: offshore content writers and re-writers, white label articles, private label articles. Those approaches work for many. By leaning on the content from CJ.com delivered product catalogs, you leverage the work on these advertisers to build content on your site.
With the Miketplace, I had an automated task on the server download the catalogs of products from CJ.com and put those into my database. The database is searchable by a front end CMS, Drupal. That give me pages and pages of content. I have divided the content into different categories of complimentary products. People can search the site. I can share out links to products.
Commission Junction offers many programs. If you get complimentary products from multiple advertisers the can feed into the same categories and intermingle in the same search results. Search engines will read your content. Other catalogs by single advertisers will show only their content. Your catalog will look a little different– unique through its merger of multiple advertisers. By being content rich and a little different, your site can draw an audience.
People can click through your site to the advertiser site: that can yield you an income. If properly marketed, your site can drive though large amounts of traffic and earn you can first $10,000 that you deserve.