WordCamp Richmond: Exploiting Your Niche – Making Money with Affiliate Marketing

presenter: Robert Sterling

Affiliate marketing is a practice of rewarding an affiliate for directing customers to the brand/seller that then results in a sale.

“If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” If you have a blog that’s interesting and people are coming to you, you’re doing something wrong if you’re not making money off of it.

Shawn Casey came up with a list of hot niches for affiliate marketing, but that’s not how you find what will work for you. Successful niches tend to be what you already have a passion for and where it intersects with affiliate markets. Enthusiasm provokes a positive response. Enthusiasm sells. People who are phoning it in don’t come across the same and won’t develop a loyal following.

Direct traffic, don’t distract from it. Minimize the number of IAB format ads – people don’t see them anymore. Maximize your message in the hot spots – remember the Google heat map. Use forceful anchor text like “click here” to direct users to the affiliate merchant’s site. Clicks on images should move the user towards a sale.

Every third or fourth blog post should be revenue-generating. If you do it with every post, people will assume it’s a splog. Instapundit is a good example of how to do a link post that directs users to relevant content from affiliate merchants. Affiliate datafeeds can be pulled in using several WP plugins. If your IAB format ads aren’t performing from day one, they never will.

Plugins (premium): PopShops works with a number of vendors. phpBay/phpZon works with eBay and Amazon, respectively. They’re not big revenue sources, but okay for side money.

Use magazine themes that let you prioritize revenue-generating content. Always have a left-sidebar and search box, because people are more comfortable with that navigation.

Plugins (free): W3 Total Cache (complicated, buggy, but results in fast sites, which Google loves), Regenerate Thumbnails, Ad-minister, WordPress Mobile, and others mentioned in previous sessions. Note: if you change themes, make sure you go back and check old posts. You want them to look good for the people who find them via search engines.

Forum marketing can be effective. Be a genuine participant, make yourself useful, and link back to your site only occasionally. Make sure you optimize your profile and use the FeedBurner headline animator.

Mashups are where you can find underserved niches (i.e. garden tools used as interior decorations). Use Google’s keyword tools to see if there is a demand and who may be your competition. Check for potential affiliates on several networks (ClickBank, ShareASale, Pepperjam, Commission Junction, and other niche-appropriate networks). Look for low conversion rates, and if the commission rate is less than 20%, don’t bother.

Pay for performance (PPP) advertising is likely to replace traditional retail sales. Don’t get comfortable – it’s easy for people to copy what works well for you, and likewise you can steal from your competition.

Questions:

What’s a good percentage to shoot for? 50% is great, but not many do that. Above 25% is a good payout. Unless the payout is higher, avoid the high conversion rate affiliate programs. Look for steady affiliate marketing campaigns from companies that look like they’re going to be sticking around.

What about Google or Technorati ads? The payouts have gone down. People don’t see them, and they (Google) aren’t transparent enough.

How do you do this not anonymously and maintain integrity in the eyes of your readers? One way to do it is a comparison post. Look at two comparable products, list their features against each other.

book swap/sale

I’ve been complaining for years about how many books I have piled up in my house that I haven’t read yet. Well, in preparation for moving across town to a new apartment, I’ve pulled out a bunch of them that I’ve decided I can re-acquire or borrow if/when I get around to reading them. Please do me a favor and take some off of my hands!

The books I have for trade are listed on PaperBackSwap, so they’re only available in the US. I thought about listing them on BookMooch, which is international, but I have a pile of credits over there and almost never get a book coming to me, whereas with PBS, I seem to have more luck.

The books I have for sale are listed on Half and Amazon, but you’ll get a better deal by purchasing them through Half. Two reasons: I priced them lower there because I get about $0.50 more per book due to different fee structures, and you save on shipping if you buy more than one, which Amazon does not do.

Finally, I have some BookCrossing books that I need to, um, bookcross. If you’d like any of them, please let me know and maybe we can work something out.

NASIG 2008: Information Shadows – Ubiquitous Computing Serializes Everyday Things

Presenter: Mike Kuniavsky

Thinks about how technology and people interact with each other, and how the technological side can be made more interesting or better for the user.

Ubiquitous computing was coined to describe computers that are woven into every day life to the extent that they are indistinguishable from it. The power of technology should not be limited to viewing the world through its limited frame.

When something is cheap, you can have more than one, and with specific and varied uses. This is also a way of thinking of computer and networking technology. When processors were expensive, they had to serve multiple uses. Now that processing power is cheap, we have a wide array of products with different functions which all use these inexpensive processors.

When machine read-able code is meshed with human interface devices such as mobile phones, we are able to deliver even more information than what can be put on the packaging. Metadata can be attached to anything!

When Amazon expanded ISBN to ASINs, it allowed anyone to point to the “handle” for any object sold by Amazon. We can now grab that handle and toss it around as we wish.

For Kuniavsky, a serial is an agreement between a consumer and a publisher who provides a particular type of information in the form of a soft-cover book that arrives regularly in the mail. The paper manifestation of the agreement is one way it is fulfilled, but it’s not the only way.

A time-share condo is like a journal. The form and usage period is fixed, and the occupants are variable. (In this case, it’s as though the time-share condo is subscribed to you.) You own the possibility of an object with some rights to it forever. A vacation club changes the dynamic to owning the right to request a class of things that changes in a way that is predictably different.

Until recently, the logistics of sharing objects has been complex, unless the people involved were highly motivated. Ubiquitous computing gives us the ability to track, trade, and share objects in a way we never could before. Bag Borrow or Steal is a designer bag sharing site. It’s sort of like Netflix for the fashion-obsessed purse fiends.

The trackable metadata of physical objects that allow them to be converted to subscriptions. Technology enables these relationships to be embedded and automated. We are shifting from the ownership of objects to access to them.

Technologists often leave out the information management aspects when talking about the wonders of technology. Librarians and information managers understand how to deal with the digital representations of physical objects. We need to think about how our can work apply to the serialization of everyday objects.

The world needs shadow wranglers.

library overnight

Need a library collection fast? For about $7600 + shipping, you can get the 1,082 title Penguin Classics Complete Library from Amazon.com tomorrow. The books are paperback and likely not made to withstand the test of time, but to impress your friends with your collection or for getting a new library set up, it’s not a bad deal. [thanks aaman]