How to set-up your own affiliate program

February 22, 2007 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: General Chat 

How to set-up your own affiliate program

Having your own affiliate program can bring a massive boost to your business. A good affiliate program could be the difference between success and failure. Imagine having an army of affiliates, all driving a constant flow of traffic to your website. Just take a look at the screenshot below, that’s a picture of my affiliate account for Auction SOS. I have highlighted the number of clicks brought in by affiliates.

Affiliate Program

That’s what a well set up affiliate program can do for you, but why do so many people include an affiliate program as an “After thought” and why do some people not offer an affiliate program at all? After doing a bit of research on the subject it turns out that a lot of people (and this could include you) would love to run an affiliate program but simply don’t know how to go about it.

That’s what I am going to cover in this week’s newsletter, I will show you how to set up your own affiliate program in a number of different ways, but first let’s start with a brief introduction about affiliate programs.

In a nutshell an affiliate program allows people to promote your website/product. Your affiliate program/script will allow your affiliates to generate a unique link that they can use to drive visitors to your site, if that visitor then buys something from your website then the affiliate will earn a percentage of the sale amount. Or in simple terms – a commission!

There are many different types of affiliate programs, so you will need to decide which type to run for your site.

Per Sale
This is the most common type of program. An affiliate will earn a commission for any sales made after the user has clicked on an affiliate link.

Multi-Tier
A multi-tier affiliate program allows users to earn commissions on a number of different levels. It acts as an incentive for current affiliates to recruit new affiliates, any new affiliates that have been referred by the original affiliate become part of the original affiliates “downline”. The original affiliate will then earn a commission every time the affiliate he/she (I’m not sexist!) recruited to the program makes a sale.

Per Click
Quite uncommon but still used occasionally. The affiliate will get paid a set amount every time their affiliate link is clicked.

Recurring
This is a popular type of program for affiliates. A recurring commission program will generate the affiliate a commission each month/day/week/year rather than a one off sale. This is generally used for services that require a monthly payment such as web hosting and membership sites.

The most common program, and probably the one that you are most interested in will be the “Per Sale model.

Article Continues below…..

Host Unlimited Domains on 1 Account

That’s all well and good but I already know all of that – HOW DO I START MY OWN AFFILIATE PROGRAM!

Don’t worry, I will tell you right away 😉

There are two options for you; you can either go with your own hosted affiliate program where you handle all payments, members, banners, links etc. Or you can go and sign up at a 3rd party affiliate marketplace.

Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at them.

First of all let’s start with the hosted option.

You can see an example of a hosted affiliate program by clicking here.

Advantages

– You are in control of every aspect of your affiliate program
– Build up a database of affiliates
– Send out emails to your affiliates
– Run all of your affiliate programs from one central location
– Ability to pick and choose your affiliates
– View detailed statistics

Disadvantages

– Initial set-up may take some time
– Spam filters!
– Have to recruit your own affiliates
– All payments handled by you, some affiliates may be put off
– Requires webspace

Now let’s look at the affiliate marketplace option.

You can see an example of a marketplace program here. (This program is run via Clickbank)

Advantages

– All tracking and management handled by a 3rd party
– Payments sent out by the company not by you (in some cases)
– A massive army of affiliates ready to promote your product
– Quick and easy to set up
– Professional customer service (in some cases)

Disadvantages

– Some of the refund policies leave a lot to be desired, can be abused by some customers
– Limited control over your program
– Tracking stats may not be as advanced as your own hosted script
– Tracking cookies blocked by Spybot and IE7 causing lost commissions

As you can see, both options have their good and bad points. I use both hosted scripts and marketplace programs for my products. I will now give you some examples of those and how they are run.

Marketplace 1 – Clickbank

Unless you have been living under a rock then you will have heard about Clickbank. Clickbank is the world’s largest digital product marketplace and it’s dead simple to get your product listed on there!

Step 1 – Sign up for a free Clickbank account.
Step 2 – Submit a product approval request ($49.95 for the 1st product)
Step 3 – Your product is listed in the marketplace!

All of the accounting is taken care of by Clickbank; they record all sales, commissions and even send out the paychecks to you and your affiliates. One downside is the refund policy, a customer simply needs to email Clickbank and ask for a refund and Clickbank will issue the refund – no questions asked 🙁

You can have up to 100 items for sale in your Clickbank account, but if you want to let your affiliates promote all of the products, rather than just the 1st product then you need to invest in a script.

I use Adrian Ling’s Easy Click Mate and you can see it in action by clicking here – and thats not even an affiliate link!

Marketplace 2 – Paydotcom

Paydotcom (PDC) was launched by Internet Marketing “big wig” Mike Filsaime as an alternative to Clickbank. The main selling point behind Paydotcom is the cost – it’s FREE to list your 1st product in their marketplace compared to Clickbank’s $49.95 charge.

The main downside is the size of the marketplace, as the site is still quite new it doesn’t have the same affiliate user base as Clickbank, who knows what will happen in a few years when PDC grows in size but at the present time the affiliate base is no match for Clickbank. Also a major bug bare with PDC is the speed of the website, by all accounts the site has been poorly coded and this results in one of the slowest loading sites I have come across. It’s a shame because the idea is great but I think that a complete re-coding is required to fix the speed issues.

If you want to give Paydotcom a try you can do so by clicking here.

Hosted Option 1 – Post Affiliate Pro

I have been using Post Affiliate Pro now for almost two years and am currently using it to run my Auction SOS! Affiliate program. Post Affiliate Pro runs on your web server and once installed allows you to control all aspects of your affiliate program.

It gives you 100% control over everything, affiliates, sales, refunds, charge backs, banners, the list is endless!

At the time of writing a licence costs $99 for the Professional version (the version that I use) but they also offer a free version, however this comes with no technical support. The installation is simple but if you have any problems they will install it for free (paid version only)

If you want to try out Post Affiliate Pro you can do so by clicking here.

Hosted Option 2 – IDev Affiliate

I will be perfectly honest with you here, I have never used IDev affiliate but a friend of mine uses it and told me I should list it here! By all accounts it works in the same way as Post Affiliate Pro and contains a lot of the same features.

I won’t go on about it too much but if you would like to check it out then please click here.

The Last Word

One final thing to consider is making sure that you don’t already have an affiliate script already installed. I know a lot of you use my EW Portal delivery script to delivery your e-Books. You may not know this but the EW Portal also contains a built in affiliate system! You can see an example by going to my El Passo Books website and clicking on affiliates. So please don’t go out buying these other solutions if you already have one staring you in the face – it would simply be a waste of money!

I think this has to be one of my longest newsletters, I just looked down and it’s almost 5 pages long in MS Word! I should have made it into an e-Book and sold it for $7 😉

Thanks for reading; hopefully I haven’t left anything out. As always please leave me any questions or comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks again,
Dan

How to display RSS feeds on your website

February 9, 2007 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: General Chat 

How to display RSS feeds on your website

Welcome to this weeks slightly delayed newsletter. You will notice that I am publishing on a Friday rather than a Thursday, is this because of the snow that has caused chaos on the UK’s travel network? Not a chance, there hasn’t even been a dusting in sunny Yorkshire although the local weather assures me there is some heavy snow on the way overnight, I’ll believe it when I see it! Anyway, enough snow related ramblings let’s move onto this weeks newsletter.

In this edition I will be covering RSS feeds and how you can use these feeds to display automatically updated content on your website.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” but is it really that simple? Well judging by the amount of RSS related questions that I am asked I’d say there is still a lot of confusion around RSS feeds.

Put in simple terms websites can produce “Feeds” (also know as RSS feeds) from their website. These “feeds” are updated every time new content is posted to the site, which means that anyone subscribing to that feed receives new content every time the site is updated.

That’s all well and good but how can these feeds help your website? Well have you ever heard of the phrase “Unique content”? Unique content is loved by the search engines, RSS feeds can be used to bring new content to your site on an hourly, daily r monthly basis.

You can display RSS feeds on just about every subject you can think of, more and more sites are giving users the option to subscribe to RSS feeds. Even this blog has an RSS feed – just click on the “RSS 2.0” link to your right. Here are just a few example feeds, I have listed the feed location and I am also displaying the Soccer feed on a seperate page; come back tomorrow and you will notice that the content has changed, remember all of this is done automatically!

– – Click here to view my page with the feeds included – –

News

http://news.google.com/?output=rss

Soccer

http://rss1.mediafed.com/feed/skysports/Football

Entertainment

http://syndication.digitalspy.co.uk/xmlcache/dsukstd.xml

Those are just a small selection of feeds taken from 3 websites; you can find RSS feeds on any subject you wish – just look out for the orange symbol as shown below.

Now you know what feeds are and how they work, how do you get them onto your website?

This is done using something called an “RSS to HTML Parser” and it is dead easy to do. All you need to do is enter the URL of the RSS feed and it will then display the latest news from that feed on your website.

Take a look at the site below, all of that site’s content is generated using RSS feeds! The owner just sit’s back and cashes her adsense cheque every month!

Leona Lewis website – Nothing to do with me 😉

The most popular parser is a script called “Weblines” but DON’T buy that (it costs around $30). My friend Jane Shread is releasing a new script sometime next week for only £12 (around $20), which does the same thing as Weblines but also allows you to format your feeds. I am actually using Jane’s script to display the sports feed above but you will have to wait until she has finished writing the instructions 😉

I will be dropping you an email about the script sometime next week. If you really can’t wait that long then feel free to go with Weblines, a search on Google will find it for you.

I will be using RSS feeds to display unique content on my new El Passo Books website that will be up sometime next week. As I said it’s a great way to add unique, self-updating content to your websites. It will save you a lot of time and the search engines will love you!

That’s it for this week’s newsletter; look out for the email with a link to the new RSS to HTML parser script.

Thanks for reading,
Regards,
Dan

Using A Blog To Improve Your Business

February 1, 2007 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: General Chat 

Using Blog’s To Improve Your Business

Greetings everyone and welcome to this weeks newsletter. This week I am going to take a look at “Blog’s” and how they can help you in more ways than you can possibly imagine!

Blog’s were originally created as “Web Logs” – a place where anyone could post an online journal of their day-to-day life. People could then read the blog and leave a comment for the author to see and respond to.

Whilst Blog’s are still used for keeping online journals, they have also opened up a lot of possibilities for the online marketing community. More and more you will see online marketers using Blog`s, here are a few examples of what blog`s could be used for:

– Build up anticipation for a new product
– Get customer feedback on ideas before they go live
– Interact with customers using the comments section
– Use it as a central hub that links to the rest of their sites

I personally use this blog for all of the above and then some! You will probably have realized by now that I post a brand new newsletter to this blog every single week. I am often asked “Why do you direct me to your blog, why not just send us the newsletter via email?”

Well there are a number of reasons for this and I am going to tell you about some of them in this article!

1. Every time I direct you to this blog I generate some earnings from Google adsense and other affiliate links. You will be able to see the adsense ads on the right of the page. I could also include some adsense blocks in each post that I make to increase my earnings even more, but that could be seen as adsense overkill 😉

2. Comments! This is the most important part of any blog; a blog can live or die by its comments sections. When reading any article, you get the chance to leave a comment for the author, and other readers to view. If a reader see’s someone else leave a comment that they agree or disagree with then they can respond to that comment with their own opinion. This then creates your own little “Mini community” within that blog; it’s like having a forum but without all of the Spam! The comments are also great for me (why do you think blog owners always ask you to leave a comment) as it brings self-updating content to the site. Every time a search engine visits your page and see’s a new comment, it is classed as brand new content and helps boost the chances of my site getting seen in search engine searches.

3. It’s easy! Running a blog is dead simple, it’s a lot easier for me to post my newsletters on a blog, rather than setting up a new site and publishing to it every week. Blog’s allow anyone to create their own pages, categories, links etc in minutes using the built in WYSIWYG editors. Adding a new post is as simple as pasting your text into a box and hitting the publish button.

Those are three of the main advantages of blog`s for me, there are many more but unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to go over them in more detail. So here’s a quick brainstorm that will show you some of the benefits of your own blog:

– Easy to use
– Create own little community
– Display adverts with ease
– Great for search engines if updated regularly
– Use RSS feeds to add unique content to your other sites
– Central hub to link off to your other sites
– Central point of contact for your customers
– Get feedback from customers
– FREE!!
– A central source of valuable information (if using to publish newsletters)
– Visitors get a chance to plug their site in the comments section – triggers the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) factor
– No web design knowledge needed, blog`s use WYSIWYG editors
– Social proof, use comments to show readers what other people are thinking – confirm or question own beliefs
– Set up in minutes
– Post as little or as often as you like, when you like
– Fully customisable

As you can see that’s a very big list already and I’m sure there are other points that I have missed!

That’s about it for this week’s newsletter; I’ll put a few resources at the bottom of the page that will help you create your own blog. As always do feel free to leave me a comment, it will help me and it’s the easiest way I know of to get a free back link to your website!

Thanks,
Dan

Blog Resources:

WordPress
The engine behind my blog. WordPress is a free open source script that allows you to create and manage your own blog. WordPress can be installed in just a few seconds, or you may be able to install WordPress in your hosting control panel. (This depends on your host – contact them for more info)

Blogger
Very similar to wordpress but allows you to run your blog on their servers rather than your own. There is also an option to run your own-hosted version of Blogger but if you are looking to get a blog set up quickly the hosted version is free and could be good for you.