How did you find your way into affiliate marketing? Like many people, I stumbled upon it by accident.
In the summer of 2010 I was looking for some insights about how to market my first ebook which I had just published at Smashwords.com. Smashwords was responsible for distributing the new book to online stores, in all the popular formats for iPad, Nook, Kindle and the other ebook readers — at iTunes, Amazon, Kobo Books, WHSmith, etc. But it was my job to promote it. How was I going to do that? Someone I met on Twitter suggested using TrafficAdBar to promote my new ebook, and that’s how I came to be using my very first Traffic Exchange.
TOOLS FOR AFFILIATE MARKETING
I quickly learned about TEs, PTCs, and Safelists (see “The Three-Legged Stool“ for details) and began using them all to promote my new ebook. These are good tools for advertising just about anything! Along the way I became fascinated with affiliate marketing, because all these marketing tools offered commissions for referring other users. (I have to say, I have made more money from these tools than I have from selling my ebook!)
Affiliate marketing is essentially that — selling something and earning a commission.
There is definitely a skill set and an art to selling anything online. So I got good training and put everything into practice. I built a marketing system with these tools that has served me well over the years.
You see my ebook was an interesting side project, but ultimately it led to a marketing system that I integrated into my main occupation as a small business webmaster.
In my primary business I am a consulting webmaster at Oakley Studio, LLC — providing managed WordPress web site hosting for a few dozen clients. My specialty is ecommerce. After building my marketing system, it was natural to begin sharing bits of my new-found expertise with my clients. By far the most essential component of my system has been list-building — building an email list.
BUILDING YOUR LIST
Here’s the important part. To build an email list, you need a web site, preferably WordPress. (WordPress is the “Gutenberg Publishing Engine“ for the new millenium.) On your web site you need a Subscribe form so anyone can “opt-in” to be contacted whenever you publish new content on your web site. And you need to have an Autoresponder to schedule your email messages to be sent in a series over a period of days or weeks to each new subscriber.
Typically you start your series of messages with a welcome and introduction explaining the focus of your web site. Each email is very brief, just a few sentences and a link to a new post on your web site. The link makes it easy for your subscribers to click directly to your site and read the latest post. They don’t need to be checking your site to see what’s new because they have subscribed to receive these notifications.
See how this works? This is a sketch for one of my clients.
First you write and publish a BLOG POST. Then you SEND EMAIL. Whenever you write about something new on your web site, you finish up by composing a brief email message and scheduling it to send to all your subscribers. The email brings your subscribers back to your site. List-building is the key component in any worthwhile marketing system. And ideally it’s built right into your WordPress Dashboard so it’s really easy to use.
SEND TRAFFIC TO YOUR LIST
Use the TEs, Safelists, and Paid-to-Clicks to bring more people to your web site. These tools generate lots of traffic to your site! Use lots of them and you can funnel a whole lot of new visitors to your site who would not have otherwise known you exist. Once they arrive, all your new visitors decide if they are interested in your site or not. Some will subscribe to get your email series. Now they are on your list.
The real value of list-building is once they’ve subscribed you can email them again and again. They don’t have to go looking for your web site, you can deliver it to them, whenever you have something new to say. That’s list-building in a nutshell, and it’s the most essential component in your marketing system.
QUIT DABBLING AND GET SERIOUS ABOUT AFFILIATE MARKETING
If you’ve been dabbling in affiliate marking with these traffic tools and resources, perhaps you’re beginning to glimpse the power they have to help you sell anything online. I encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get serious about affiliate marketing. If you want to earn money online you need to build your own marketing system and it’s got to have list-building at it’s core.
If you don’t already have your own web site, Oakley Studio Web Sites is the place to be. It’s real easy to begin. You’ll be able to sign up and log in to your new WordPress site in about 10 minutes from now, isn’t that cool? And as your consulting webmaster, I’ll be showing you all the parts and pieces to my marketing system, so you can build your own system and sell anything. Get an Oakley Studio web site and begin building your traffic and your email list today. Oakley Studio has a list-builder that works right in WordPress, so it’s really easy to complete the circle and bring your subscribers back to your web site again and again.
Did you notice that my own business web site has an affiliate program? That means any of my web hosting clients can earn commissions by recommending my business to others. By offering something that people need and that solves a problem, happy customers tell others and the business grows.
You can build any kind of business with an affiliate marketing system. So dream big, get serious about your own affiliate marketing, and build an affiliate marketing business!