Two months have passed since I started this affiliate marketing business. It has been an interesting ride so far. Enough time has passed to do a cursory review, make some tweaks and set up an affiliate store.
Lessons I've learned so far:
- Review a variety of products: Pro bloggers recommend that you review a mix of expensive and inexpensive items. After all, Amazon's affiliate commission starts at 4%. That's not a lot if you are recommending a music book, but it sure adds up if you recommend a digital keyboard. However, more people will purchase the lower ticket items.
- Space out your product reviews: If all you are doing is writing product reviews, you and your readers will get tired quickly.
- I've read other pro-bloggers recommend that you promote popular products, such as those on the Amazon Best Sellers lists. That gets you more traffic to your website. However, it is important to help out the up and coming artists and companies too. They need the exposure, you need the traffic. Thus, you both win with a sale.
- Be honest. I don't know about you, but the "sleezy-used-car-salesman-who-does-anything-for-a-sale" tactic creeps me out. My mom can spot a lie a mile away. I trust that many of my readers are the same. Lying doesn't pay.
- Do your SEO Keyword research: I am so grateful to Suite101.com for training me on SEO optimization. It is important to incorporate words that people actually use in their searches. Some are even worth significantly more than others.
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket: Not everyone shops at Amazon. No one store carries all the products you wish to promote. Some offer different (*cough* higher) commission rates and rewards. Sign up to be an affiliate for more than one place.
- Social Networking is golden: Yes, they suck up a lot of your time, but those online social networks are great for promoting whatever information you wish to share with your family, friends and colleagues.
- Be patient: I am seeing a steady increase in traffic to all of my blogs. The sales are starting to trickle in. However, this is a long-term game. Reviews and posts will move up the search engine results as more people search for products or information. Ditto for when they share your posts.
- Diversify operations: Vary your reviews so they're not just a standard product review. For instance, I've posted a few comparison reviews, as well as "Popular Items" lists. However, this is not enough. That's where stores come in.
This weekend, I took my neophyte affiliate marketing savvy to the next level. I set up stores for each of my blogs. At least, that's what Amazon and J-List calls them. Once you have set up your affiliate account, some places let you set up a storefront. You select the products you wish to make available. At the moment, I have six niche blogs. The three music-related blogs can have the same store, but my other three cater to different audiences.
For instance, if you click on the "Shopping" Link on my main website, you are taking to a page that will send you off to shop for music supplies, music instruments, CD's, mp3s and electronic studio supplies. However, if you click on the "Shopping" link on my pet related blog, you will get to choose from pet supplies and accessories. If you're an otaku, then clicking on "Otaku Shopping" will lead you to get your fix on anime, plushies, messenger bags, manga and more. Finally, if you click on the Stumbling Still a-Store, you will be directed to books, DVD's, aids and tools to help you improve upon your PEMS (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) health.
You are still shopping and paying those companies. The difference is that an affiliate, who has narrowed down the search for you, has become your virtual sales clerk.
The nice thing is that once these are set up, I just need to tweak them periodically based on how they are performing.
One last thing: Most companies with affiliate marketing programs prohibit affiliates from ordering products using their own affiliate links. Therefore, it would be good to have some "affiliate buddies". That is, Friend A will shop at Friend B's Amazon store and vice versa.
We'll see how this addition to my affiliate marketing strategy works. I'll report back to you in another couple of months or so.