Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 09 - Affiliate Programs: Good, Bad, and Remunerative

photocredit:netchunks.com
Hello again.

Today's topic is Affiliate programs. Figured it's about time we tackled this by the horns.

I went through the entire book and see that this is an omitted section. It's touched on, but not worked up directly. So - relief is yours - no chapter to study today as preps.

When and Why Affiliates?

The purpose of affliates is to get additional sales people to pitch your products/services. They can cover more ground than your own two hands and feed can. They use their resources to promote your product, in return for some percentage of your price.  So affiliates come with an overhead - but they are getting you sales you wouldn't normally have.

The other side of this coin is that you can build up some income by finding and pushing an affiliate product which is valuable. This is how you can get paid while you learn.

The logic of this is simple:
  • You are producing content anyway to forward your own purpose of delivering value to people.
  • You might as well get paid for telling people about a good product or service which aligns with your purpose.
  • And you can meanwhile learn from any effective affiliate marketing program, as the good ones will regularly be sending you special offers which you can promote.
  • So you learn while you get paid for producing content.
  • As you get better producing content, then you get paid more.
  • Ultimately, you've both had the time to perfect your own product or service and also learned how to enable others to do affiliate sales for you (or signed up with some company that does - like writing ebooks for Smashwords).
Now while you are just starting out, you'll probably want to get into product- or service-lines which give you the maximal leverage for your time and money. Best return on your investment.

To get this best return, you want 2 things:
  1. Offer services or products which people must renew, restock, or re-supply.
  2. Offer services or products which enable others to sell under you, where you also can get paid for their work.
In this, there are a few - "evergreen markets", they are called:

  • Food (and food supplements, medicines fall into this)
  • Clothing
  • Housing
- - - -
  • Children's items
  • Pet items
  • Insurance
- - - -
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Enlightenment
The above lists are roughly in order of how people will pay for and buy stuff. They also are in the order of greatest return.  As you can get people to subscribe on a continuing basis (such as Insurance), then you can earn a "piece of the action" on a continuing basis.

One sale gives potentially a lifetime of income. Get several of these and you have what is called "autopilot" income. You'll also see this in simple things, such as where a person continually re-news his domain name and his ISP hosting. (As in Domain Samurai - which has a good affiliate program.)

If you can become an affiliate on that chain, you'll get a piece of that action as long as that person continues to renew these services. And is why people who sell Insurance (and who own Insurance companies) become very well off indeed.

While fashions and food needs change, children grow up, and pets get older - people will usually stay with their same Insurance companies for years - and will often expand their coverage to include other items they own. (No, I haven't researched Insurance companies to find out which has a good affiliate program - but thanks for asking. Now this starts to make sense, yes?)

By supporting companies which have affiliate programs, you can get people funneled through your site and link to buy these programs. And then you get a continuing income based on those sales.

Oh No -- Not "Network Marketing"....

And this is where "Network Marketing" comes in. Regardless of the bad press it gets, the principle is to have people selling under you which gives you a piece of their action as well as your own sales. You would prefer to get programs which are at least 2-tier affiliate programs - meaning you can sign up people and get commissions from their sales as well, and they in turn can sign up a person under them for their own commissions, and so on. (And yes, Insurance Companies utilize this same principle from top to bottom in their organizations, as well as any sales company or sales section. People get paid by their production, but also take a piece of the pie of those salespeople under them who are producing.)

My book, Online Sunshine Plan (OSP) deals with making an "online" living in general terms. The underlying basic is that the Internet is built on information and usable content. The search engines are evolved from helping people find out what they want by constantly studying what people want and how they want it presented to them.

What ranks on the search engine findings are simply the content which best answers the question being asked. Google published guidelines for these years ago and simply following their outline gets the best results.
You find problems people have, then find an affiliate program which solves those problems. Providing content in a way that the search engines can use - you get a large number of people to visit your site and click on those links to visit those affiliate programs. When they buy, you get credit for the sale and a commission payment (or in Amazon's parlance - advertising fees.)

All that work in OSP deals with the Internet as a content-driven scene. However, it's only one of several ways to get visitors to opt-in to your program or someone else's (which you are writing/blogging/videoing about.)

There are  5 main ways to earn income online:

1. Organic SEO - being at the top of the rankings and so getting search engine traffic to your page
2. Classified Ads - driving to a landing page for conversion to sales.
3. PPC - also driving to a landing page for conversion to sales.
4. Email - biggest app on the Internet, you develop a stable of readers and provide them good content and opportunities.
5. Social Networking - Facebook is a prime example right now. Engaging in chats can lead to off-line conversations where you can personally pitch your offer. (Takes considerable time-investment.)

All of these have minimal finances invested if you know what you are doing. Mostly you are investing time. And as you get better at writing and posting online, you'll get improved results (income).

The reason affiliate programs are easier to get started than developing your own product is that these companies are doing the research to create effective landing pages. (Nothing like spending years perfecting a product or service which wasn't ever an item people really need in their lives.)

Affiliate Products of Mention

The programs I recommend all have affiliate links and can give you some income, although it's been spotty for me as I'd rather do research than promote their products all the time. Pushing any of the 6 that I lay out below will give you some regular on-going income, plus the ability to put affiliates under you and increase your income from their sales. (Win-win-win.)

Here's the short list, though I'll tell you more of why these work below (and note all the affiliate links, as well as how they are set up):

Top of the list right now: Shaklee (http://order-online-today.myshaklee.com/us/en/whyshaklee.html) and a fairly complete set of pages for you to do your due diligence on this company - with lots of videos: http://order-online-today.myshaklee.com/us/en/about.html
SBI - http://affiliates.sitesell.com/limited_offer0.html - they have an incredible amount of training offered, which push their time-proved site-building services.

Synnd - Social Media Marketing - http://socialmediascience.com/affiliates/?p=worstell&w=afflink - these guys are a leader in this area for serious SEO users.

Silva Life Systems (plus other self-help/enlightenment programs) - http://mindvalley.hasoffers.com/signup/1081 - lots of programs an regular new releases for people.

Peak Potentials - Millionaire Mind Intensive / T. Harv Eker - http://peakstrategicalliancetools.com/cmd.php?af=mmi8806&p=1 - their Millionaire Mind Intensive or http://www.peakambassador.com/cmd.php?af=mmi8806&p=fbw-speedwealth -Their current Facebook webinar, which is a good informative deal on its own. Sign up as an affiliate at peakpotentials.com, but you'll want to get on their mailing list to see how they do things.

And here's an odd little one I just recently found, which is a good study of how network marketing works: Magnetic Sponsoring - http://robertworstell.magneticsponsoringonline.com - once you buy one of their products (about $30), then you are automatically in on their affiliate scene. And they give 7 free video lessons on how network marketing works in general. And the ongoing emails from them are a hoot - entertaining and educational as to what good copywriting (mostly) consists of (though my own style wouldn't be so brash - or so frequent.)

Another, found only a few days ago, is Domain Samurai, as I've told you about before. 2-tier affiliate, but no real work at promoting their product - so it's not rated well on the scale below.

In most of these cases above, I've given you the straight affiliate sign-up link if they have one. But do look around their sites and see what you can find out - sign up for newsletters and so on (you can always opt-out.)

- - - -

10 Ways to Accurately Pick Affilate Programs That Do Earn You Extra Income Online

Yes, this is opening a can of worms. People who have been burned by affiliate schemes in the past - not to mention Network- and what passes for "Internet" Marketing - will be heading toward the door or hitting their browser's back button right about now.

Because about 97% of all the programs out there are utter crap. Worthless. Shinola. Scams.

True. And you know it.


So what makes a good one? And which ones should you invest your hard-earned money and valuable spare time into?

Let's look at what you would want to buy as a product - if you were the customer (an acid test):

1. Does it actually have a valuable product which solves  some problem you have?
2. Does it actually give more in return than you expected?
3. Is it ethical - does it actually improve the culture you live in? (Could you easily tell your mother or partner what you just emptied your savings account for?)
4. Is this product or service you can keep buying for the rest of your life - because it keeps helping you? (Like food, vitamins, insurance...)
5. Has the company been in business for a long time and doing well even during recessions?
Now, given that this is a product which is high-quality and useful, and you'd tell your friends, family, and anyone else who asks you about it - let's now look at how you could earn extra income doing just that. Is it worth becoming an affiliate sales outlet?

6. Does this company have an affiliate program which pays a substantial return?
7. Does this company enable you to put 2nd tier, or even more sales people under you who can in turn sell (and make you even more commissions)?
8. Does this company put out regular helpful marketing material which helps you get these offers out to people who are looking for this solution?
9. Does this company offer substantial training to help you succeed in selling their program?
10. Does this company take care of product delivery and returns? Has effective online presence and converting landing pages?
Those 10 points will tell you everything about whether that company is a fly-by-night scene, or will give you effective return on your investment of both time and money. Obviously, we don't want to get into something which will tie up either time or money which we can't get a decent return out of.

(One scam I was suckered into had a fee of about 1/4 year's salary, and some 20 hours a week going through their training - and when it failed, they would say you didn't put enough time and effort into it. Not "their fault" you failed. Actual success rate was around 1 in 10,000...)

Just to keep a regular job you are already putting more than 40 hours in - not counting commutes, which is a sizable hidden drain on your take-home pay just in fuel prices alone.  Having a regular job is often the worst example of how something cannot be leveraged, isn't something you'd recruit other people to join, and isn't something you'd want to do for the rest of your life.

I've found maybe 6 product lines which are effective and rank highly on this scale above.

Company 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Shaklee - health supplements * * * * * * * * * *
SiteBuildIt! - site building, online marketing * * * * * * * * * *
Synnd - social media marketing * * *
* * *
* *
Silva Life Systems - meditation and clearing * * *
* * *

*
Peak Potentials - Millionaire Mind Intensive * * *

*
* * *
Magnetic Sponsoring - network marketing training * * *


* * * *

The results:

10 stars - Shaklee, SiteBuildIt!
8 stars - Synnd
7 stars - Silva Life Systems, Peak Potentials, Magnetic Sponsoring


This doesn't say these are the last word in affiliate products you can try. This does give you a sensible 10-point approach to figuring out which ones are the best. Practically, you can find affiliate programs in almost every product line. Just type in [product line phrase] and then the word "affiliate" after it. The checklist above helps you with finding programs which are more than just "making money online". 

They give you the chance to find real products which you can enjoy putting content online to promote - because you are helping people improve their lives with every purchase. In some of these, just reading the materials alone can give them a life-changing experience. And really good programs, in my experience, offer substantial free material which shows their value and excites interest in purchasing the full product.

Additional note is that the best affiliate programs have a substantial library of data you can use to educate yourself on how to promote, how to convert leads, how to keep yourself enthusiastic - lots of free training. Because their success is based on how well you succeed...
 

- - - -

Assignment:

1. Go over the evergreen product lines above - with a modern popular (or tabloid) magazine to hand (or study the ads on TV or in Internet sidebars for awhile). Which do you find represented?
2. Visit http://www.affiliateseeking.com/ and search around for various affiliate products. Note those which have multi-tier affiliate structures as well as those with continuing payments. Do some rough calculations to see how many sales of what you would need to make your own income goals.

Freebie:

This week it's Inside the Mind of Winners - a nice little inspirational essay collection which should be a nice reference to come back to now and again. (Or even offer as a giveaway on your own site...)