5 Rules to Pick Profitable Affiliate Programs

I’m especially excited about what I’ll be sharing with you today.

Because the simple rules I’m going to show you can make a big difference in how much income you generate from your Money-Making Website.

Last week we looked at the promise of a Money-Making Website — that you can generate an extra couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars of monthly income … in your spare time, with no boss, no clients, and no customers to deal with.

Plus, you learned how to get your Money-Making Website online quickly — even if you don’t have any website-building “geek” skills.

Now this week is where the rubber meets the road — how to actually start creating an income from your Money-Making Website.

In the first few months of having my www.KettlebellWall.com Money-Making Website online, I generated multiple $150+ monthly paydays. Which may not seem like a whole lot — until you realize I’ve spent just a couple hours every month putting it up and keeping it going.

And much of my success I attribute to what I’m going to share with you today.

Over a recent lunch, I was sharing these rules with Pam Foster, author of AWAI’s Web Copywriter’s Clear Path To Profits. You should have seen how fast she grabbed a napkin and scribbled them down — her reaction was both “Duh!” and “I’ve got to use these immediately!”

Okay, okay. Enough suspense.

Here are your rules for picking profitable partners for your Money-Making Website.

What do I mean?

Well, one of the best ways to generate income from your Money-Making Website is through “affiliate programs” — where you refer visitors to a merchant’s website and get paid a portion of sales when those visitors spend money.

These paid referral arrangements are the secret economy of the Internet.

And, if you want to make good money from your Money-Making Website — claiming your part of this secret economy — there’s a few things you should know about selecting affiliate partners to get the biggest possible slice of the pie.

Profitable Partnering Rule #1: Check for established affiliate programs

Nothing else is relevant if the merchants you want to work with don’t offer affiliate programs.

And, my personal recommendation is to ensure there’s already an affiliate program in place. Because by having the infrastructure already in place, you can be confident they’ll be able to provide the tools you need to successfully promote their products and collect your cut of sales.

So, as you evaluate the merchants in your niche, also do a search for “(company name) affiliate program” to see who has an established affiliate program you can apply to be a part of.

Profitable Partnering Rule #2: Look at the top players in your niche

As you’re evaluating affiliate programs, there’s a factor you may not see immediately because it is almost invisible unless you seek it out.

That’s merchant credibility.

Simply, merchants with more credibility in a niche can earn you more income because customers recognize them and are predisposed to do business with them over other less-recognized merchants in the niche.

How do you check credibility?

First, try typing common keywords from your niche into Google, and seeing where the various merchants show up. If they’re near the top of Google’s organic search results, and near the top of the paid advertisements, there’s a good bet they have some credibility in the niche. If they’re at the top of either one of the two and not the other, that’s still pretty good news. But, if you can’t find them in either the organic or paid results, their profile in the niche may be too small to provide you any advantage.

Second, type the merchant’s name into Google. Look for both media (online newspaper and magazine articles) and user-generated content (forums and blogs) that speak favorably of the merchant. Discovering a few good results here can clue you in when a merchant has built strong credibility in the niche.

Finally, you picked this niche because it is your passion, right? Don’t be afraid to trust your gut when evaluating the credibility of your potential partners. That’s what your website visitors will do. When it’s a niche you’re familiar with, this can be your strongest credibility indicator.

Profitable Partnering Rule #3: Make sure you like the merchant

This is critical. A big part of creating long-term success with your Money-Making Website is building a trusting relationship with your readers.

And, if you’re promoting merchants you neither like nor trust, how are your readers going to trust your recommendations?

On the other hand, promoting merchants you like and trust has two big advantages:

  1. Your trust is conveyed subconsciously. Whether it’s evident to you or not, your readers know whether you trust and like the merchant and products you refer them to. And this will have a direct impact on sales and your income.
  2. You build credibility through time. When your referral to a particular merchant leads to a good customer experience, your relationship with your reader deepens and trust builds. This leads to your readers acting on more recommendations in the future, which means more income for you.

Profitable Partnering Rule #4: Give priority to direct marketers

This may be more important than you imagine.

First, because a higher percentage of your referrals will convert to orders. Direct marketers understand how it takes a lot of traffic plus a high conversion rate to create maximum profits.

You’re going to be responsible for driving traffic through your recommendations.

Yet the second half of the profit equation — conversions — is mostly out of your hands.

So, you want partners who you can rely on to convert more of your referrals into paying customers. And that’s one big reason partnering with direct marketers leads to maximum profits from your Money-Making Website.

Second, because direct marketers understand the importance of the back end.

With my website, this turned out to be much more profitable than I imagined.

While front-end products sell to a lot more people, back-end products take advantage of a passionate customer’s willingness to spend more to get more.

What this means to you is a similar cut of a much bigger pie.

10% of a front-end sale may be a few bucks, but when a passionate customer spends $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 to buy one of those back-end products, you benefit with a $100-$200+ payday.

Profitable Partnering Rule #5: Make sure the numbers add up

I know, I know — accounting probably isn’t your favorite subject. However, this isn’t quite accounting.

It’s a couple of numbers related to your merchant’s affiliate program you’ll want to pay attention to before you invest serious time and energy into promoting their products.

Which numbers? Commission percentage and conversion rate.

How these two add up has a lot to do with how much cash will end up in your pocket.

Commission percentage is how much of each sale you’ll be paid. Higher percentages are usually better, of course. That is, as long as your merchant is able to turn a good amount of your referred visitors into paying customers.

Conversion rate — when you can get this number out of your merchant — can be telling, too. You’re already hedging your bets by going with a direct marketer. Yet it’s good to know they’re performing, and that you can have a reasonable expectation that X out of every 100 visitors you refer to them will turn into a certain amount of cash in your pocket.

Obviously, a higher conversion rate is better — but a “preferred” conversion rate can’t be pinned down because it’s so dependent on price points, niche standards, and a number of other factors. That said, 1% to 5% is generally good — while wide variation outside this range should weigh heavily on your partnering decision.

How to use these profitable partnering rules

So, there you have it. Five rules you can use to evaluate affiliate partnering relationships to ensure they’ll make you maximum money in minimum time from your Money-Making Website.

When I was creating my KettlebellWall website, I found niche-leading Dragon Door Publications added up in all these areas. So I signed on as an affiliate and the partnership was quickly generating me $150+ paydays. (And, I see a lot more potential moving forward.)

Use these rules and in a few short months (maybe sooner!), you could be seeing paydays like mine — or better.

And remember — if you’re serious about making this work, you have an ally in Nick Usborne’s How to Write Your Own Money-Making Websites program. This is a complete roadmap to your success — including even more ways beyond affiliate partnerships that you can generate passive income from your Money-Making Website.

Oh, and real quick before I sign off — I wanted to tell you I’m already giddy about next week’s issue.

Because I’ll be revealing the unique formula I developed — never fully revealed before — for my KettlebellWall Money-Making Website.

This instantly positions you as an authority in your niche by flipping a powerful “psychological switch.” And you don’t have to build a new website to use this formula — you can add it to your in-progress Money-Making Website and instantly reap the rewards.

Stay tuned for next week …

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: November 10, 2009

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