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The Super Affiliates of Internet Marketing

In this post I want to outline some of the slow progressions I’ve gone through on my way to larger and larger online profits. (I can see ears perking up already) I will outline my first steps, attempts, trials, valleys, and my personal mountain tops of success. Believe me, due to my average intelligence and bull-headed attitude; it took me quite awhile to figure out the Internet, and more importantly my visitors needs. When you have this figured out you will succeed every time.

Definition of a Super Affiliate Marketer

I’m sure Wikipedia has a better definition of a super affiliate marketer, and you can find many other definitions of what a super affiliate is, but this is how I define a super affiliate.

A super affiliate is an Internet affiliate marketer that promotes products other people have created, but they do this in consistent volume. A super affiliate can increase a merchant’s sales 10 fold, if he or she decides to promote them. There are many super affiliates among us on the Internet that don’t have blogs, ebooks, or large email lists. There are many quiet super affiliates who discreetly go about making $50K – $100K per month. They’ve worked REALLY hard and learned how to bring targeted visitors to their sites that promote the exact products and services their visitors are willing to take action on.

Bug Spray Compared To Super Affiliate Marketers

When I first started dreaming of earning money on the Internet I had no idea how to do it, and I started my journey like so many beginners do – by reading affiliate forums. No surprise that my favorite forum for affiliate marketing was the Warrior Forum. Being a somewhat blunt fellow I got myself in trouble by ruffling the feathers of super affiliates that had years of experience under their belt.

Big mistake, I alienated many who could have helped me open my eyes to the real path of success. I was bug spray compared to these super affiliates and as far as my dream of being a super Internet marketer goes, I may have well been dreaming of being the president of the United States. Yet, on I marched into the chasm of online marketing and online income. I had very little experience using a computer and I had zero experience communicating with others. Both are critical.

Super Affiliate Ebooks – The Holy Grail of The Internet 

As I searched the Internet for the knowledge I needed to make my dream a reality, I stumbled across many different ebooks promising to deliver the holy grail – and I know you are likely expecting me tell you how they were all useless, and that I’ve found the Super Affiliate ebook with the REAL deal facts that will make you a multimillionaire with a few clicks of a mouse. (enter exclamation mark, banner, and affiliate code embedded link here)

The truth is none of these affiliate ebooks were useless (as I’ve mentioned in other posts on this blog). All the affiliate ebooks, videos, audio bytes, DVDs, cassette tapes, CDs, bound books, offers, etc. – taught me something. I learned from the shabby ebooks how not to make a shabby offer. By reading the good ebooks I learned what I wanted to learn. From reading all the ebooks I learned the two key traits the super affiliates have. The two things you need to succeed as a super affiliate are:

  • lots of Internet traffic to your site(s)
  • promote the products and services your visitors are looking for

Sounds simple right? Wrong.

Getting the traffic is difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing, and getting a grasp on how to give your visitors what they want is not as easy as you may think. I’ll get to these two things and tell you how I managed to accomplish both, but first I have to complete the story of my slow journey to affiliate income and true financial freedom.

Choosing A Super Affiliate To Be Your Mentor

At one time I understood a mentor to be someone who councils you and teaches you on a personal level; someone you know personally who guides you on your way to success. I discovered that a mentor can be someone who you’ve never met a person who is already living the dream you have. I chose James Martell to be my mentor because his teachings were in a style that made me trust him. He was also Canadian (like me) so I felt a little more comfortable investing my trust, money, and time in his methods.

This was almost 3 years ago now and his ebook was $167 USD at the time. I was unemployed when I bought his ebook, and I was taking home only $1,100 CDN (Canadian) a month from social security or EI (employment insurance as we call it in Canada). So as you can well imagine, $167 USD was a scary amount for me to pay. I was concerned that I may be getting burned, but alas I did not.

Now don’t get be wrong I’m not here to just promote James’ ebook. Here is a link to his site that is not an affiliate link and I don’t make any commission from it. I’m just telling you the Super Affiliate (I hate the term guru is over used) I chose as a mentor.

After I bought James’ ebook, I printed it out and put it in a three ring binder to use for my learning only. The reason I say that is because we are not supposed to re-print someone’s ebook and pass it along to others. That would be called theft.

Everyday I read the ebook I would go to James’ site a watch one of his promotional videos that showed what he did to succeed and what his lifestyle was like being a super affiliate.

This video was a huge source of inspiration to me. I could visualize myself being free, without a boss and job hanging over my head. I could see myself working at home on my laptop or desktop computer stopping for a coffee anytime I felt like it. I could see myself going to the mailbox and getting the checks for depositing into my bank account. I saw myself taking three to four vacations a year all the while my web sites were creating more income.

I found from listening to one of James’ buzz programs (before podcasting was cool) where he mentioned he was coming to my hometown to have a special car built (a Cobra Replica). I decided to take a risk and call his help desk, in the hope that I could meet with him while he was in town.

To my great surprise, James did return my call, and we met for dinner. I was so green looking back on it in retrospect. I was thrilled to meet the guy who wrote my first ebook lessons, and the guy who was LIVING MY DREAM! 

Out of that meeting I gained a new friend and the inspiration I so desperately wanted. At the time most of my peers thought I was out in la-la land with an impossible dream. People are always skeptical when they see something that looks “to good to be true. 

Over the last three years I’ve developed some of my own ways to use James’ teachings in an even more powerful way (which I also explain later in this post) I still touch base with James once and awhile, and every time we talk I realize that he is still a big kid who is absolutely in love with the affiliate marketing business and the meat and potatoes of search engine optimization.

My First Small and Accidental Success

I took the advice of James and I chose to build my first web site on a topic that I had passion about. I chose to build a golf web site. It was the most horrid looking site you could imagine. I was a hack on Dreamweaver, and I had a hell of time learning how to build a web site that looked good and navigated well. Nevertheless, I did build my golf site, and within 3-4 months I had my first few Internet hits.

The hits I had to my site were on the words that I spelled wrong. I spelled words wrong in some of my articles (by accident) so when Internet shoppers spelled the same words in the same way, I would get that traffic. My family and friends thought I was a bit of a buffoon for being so excited about being a bad speller. I was excited because I realized that it worked. You can build a simple site, and you WILL get some traffic.

Of course I was not making enough money to buy a carton of milk every month, but it was a start. I had to find ways of getting more traffic to my site.

I began using PPC (pay per click) advertising to pay for my traffic in the hopes that they would take action on my site and create a profit. That didn’t work very well, as the ratio of buyer to visitors was quite low. Why? Because my site did not have the content, the look, and the copy to give visitors the confidence to take action. That took 2 more years to figure out.

Soon I built a few more sites with the intention of diversification. Still I did not make enough money to be taken seriously, no matter how bad my spelling got. 😉  But, soon enough I discovered a method of making better money.

Enter Adsense

Once I realized that my sites were not succeeding, I began researching other methods to make income from my Internet traffic. I noticed many sites on the Internet that displayed Ads By Google, and I asked myself why experienced webmasters would choose to put Google ads on their web sites. Believe it or not I had no idea that when visitors clicked on those ads, the webmaster made instant money. (not quite instant because Google pays you a month after your clicks have been recorded)

So I quickly put Adsense on all my sites in hope of making money from my visitors that chose not to buy a product from my merchant web sites, and instead chose to click a Google ad. Still I did not earn allot of money because I didn’t have much traffic.

I started experimenting with PPC more, and I bought one of Rosalind Gardner’s ebooks which goes into some detail on PPC advertising. That gave me the knowledge I needed to bring traffic for cheap and make a profit from the Adsense clicks and the affiliate commissions. I soon built 10 more sites and increased my income ten fold. At that point I was making $2500 USD a month in profit. A GREAT start right. Even better, the PPC costs which are a 100% tax write-off, went on my credit card which earned air miles each month. There is a new term used to describe this method of Internet income arbitrage.

This went on for 2 years and I had some months when I cleared over $13,000 USD in profit. WOW! I was now living the dream. But —-

Deep inside I knew that this could not last. I realized that the PPC costs were going to climb and very likely the Adsense credits would drop. Not long after that I saw a blog post on the Internet saying Adsense is Dead. Of course that sent shivers up my spine, as I was living very well – taking trips to Palm Springs every year, and overseas trips to China and Hawaii. I was living a life of true financial freedom.

Soon enough all of the profit was drying up in this cat and mouse game of driving in PPC traffic to sites with heavy Adsense distribution. I had to find a way to increase profits, or my dream of financial freedom would soon be history.

Lets face it – this model of Internet business does not make you rate as a super affiliate marketer. As a matter of fact, I no longer looked at my web sites with pride. I really believed that the answer to succeeding with an online business was to give your visitors the answers to their problems, and not just a bunch of links to other web sites that possibly offered answers to their problems.

Worse than that, I noticed that over 60% of the Google Ads presented on my web site pages were taking my visitors to yet another web site that just housed more Google Ads or Ads by Yahoo. This whole “cycle of abuse” really made me believe that this model of Internet profit was doomed.

Not long after this realization, I noticed that the real companies or merchants who actually had products and services to sell, were no longer selecting content match in their ad campaigns. This meant that they stopped having their ads placed on other sites trying to make money the way I was. I had to find a way to give my sites real value by giving my visitors answers to their problems. 

This brought me right back to where I started – affiliate marketing.

Studying What The Super Affiliates Do – And Why

So as my Adsense profits were slowly dwindling, I began studying web sites and blogs did not use Adsense, YPN, Bidvertiser, etc – I studied sites that were profitable from affiliate commissions. I thought about creating my own product, but I didn’t want to deal with customer service, refunds, etc. etc. I still wanted an Internet business that was profitable in auto-pilot. I wanted a business that left me completely free. I wanted my business to remain a vehicle for delivering targeted Internet traffic to merchant sites. We’ll see in the future if this model survives the changes to come online. 

Studying web sites that super affiliates owned was very interested. Seeing how they created organic Internet traffic as well as PPC traffic was another wake up call. I realized that I had to change the way I managed my sites. The first thing I had to do was focus on my most profitable web site and leave all others for the time being. I understood the importance of updating a site with fresh, original content, and I understood the importance of strong inbound links.

Super Affiliates Using Quality Content Consistently

The quality content is not a problem as you can hire writers create it, or you can write it yourself. I also understood the importance of having quality content added to a web site in a natural way. Your content should never be added in bulk, such as uploading 200-300 pages of content in one shot. The pages should roll up a few pages a day. Perhaps one big page loaded 3 times a week – whatever you do, just don’t load up an unnatural number of posts or pages at once.

Using data feeds to load up content can work too, but the content has to be original and the feed cannot load up content at the same intervals. (such as every 12 hours, or every 24 hours, etc.) I’ll go into more detail on how I managed to create feeds that don’t leave footprints (evidence of a pattern the search engines can see) The real challenge was procuring strong, high ranking inbound links.

Super Affiliate Marketers Create Strong One-Way Inbound Links 

Thanks to the bookmaking sites, creating high quality inbound links is a snap. You can make periodic entries on the bookmaking sites that create links to your posts or pages. These are high level one-way links to your posts which is Internet gold. Some of my favorite social bookmaking sites are Reddit, Digg, Delicious, and Spurl.

Super Affiliates Using Search Engine PPC

The super affiliates also us PPC to drive traffic from the search engines to their main product pages which also increases their sales, conversions, and subsequent earnings. I won’t go into great detail on this, but I recommend buying Rosalind Gardner’s ebook on affiliate marketing as she teaches you how to use pay per click (PPC) to create targeted traffic to your product pages. 

How Super Affiliates Use Blogs

If you add up all of the characteristic mentioned above, you soon realize that you need a web site that has a full blown content management system. One that allows you to use data feeds for trickling up content, allows visitors to post comments, and is search engine friendly……sounds familiar right!….a blog does all of the above.

Using a blog (also know as a content management system or dynamic web site) is much more powerful than the typical static web site. The search engines LOVE blogs that have frequent updates. Every time a blog has a new post it fires off a ping (or message) to the blog directories. This cannot be overstated. A blog naturally attracts inbound links from other bloggers, and can have amendments added that make social bookmaking inbound links to your domain pages quick and easy. The full effect of a blog’s natural characteristics make it a POWERHOUSE web presence. They take work though. You have to watch the spammers who try and infest your hard work, you have to keep creating original content, and you have to keep inbound  links coming in.

If you accomplish all of the above, and then scatter the odd affiliate link in your content, you begin to start earning commissions from all corners of your site map. I believe that using a blog is the best way to go these days if you want to succeed in the organic search engine wars.

So What Did I Do?

You guessed it..I created a blog. I chose WordPress as my blog platform and did all of the above. I also made deals with other bloggers to have our blogs trading blogroll links. When you do this you can sometimes have hundreds of PR 4-5-6 inbound links from one blog hitting your root domain.

I use the WordPress data feed import tool created by Teli so I can have a fresh piece of content loaded 2- 3 times a day, and I keep the social book-marking sites in play. You still have to have original content on the data feed, but you can use an Excel sheet to go on a writing binge that creates many posts at once. In about three hours of steady writing I’ll have created enough content to create two months of posts (one a day).

The Excel sheet is simply imported into your blog using Teli’s script. Teli’s script also avoids unwanted footprints that the search engines will pickup. If you want to really make sure the search engines don’t see your content as a feed, you can create yet another Excel sheet and schedule that feed to run a post once a day. This now looks to be completely random. Of course I still write spontaneous posts to add further to the content trickle up. These posts are longer and in more depth. Some of my blogs have 4 feeds running and then I write a spontaneous post every three days or so. This means that on the days I write a spontaneous post I would have 5 original posts going up. The search engines love this right…….but!

But I was Still Not A Super Affiliate 

Why? Because I still did not have myself tuned into my Internet shoppers true needs -that’s why. OK, great, I have solid traffic to my blog via PPC advertising and now organic search engines. Not good enough buddy. Still, I was making most all my money from Adsense clicks. Sure, I was making a few thousand dollars profit each month, but that made me a super nothing in my books.

I had to find a way to really profit from the site, and I knew there had to be a better way. I started testing more affiliate links and driving PPC traffic to product pages in the hopes that I would soon crank up the commissions and leads. (CPC and CPA – meaning cost per commission and cost per action respectively)

Sorry, not good enough – I was still a bottom feeding Adsense junkie. I still had to walk with my head down in public knowing that I was providing very little in the way of value to people.

Thinking Like a Super Affiliate

I truly have a need to feel like I’m actually providing a service to my visitors. I felt that I was wasting their time as they were bounced from one Adsense site to the next. I imagined them coming to my sites with a problem they wanted solved, spending their valuable time reading and surfing in the Adsense circle of abuse. I could imagine the trouncing I would receive if all those hundreds of thousands of people had me cornered. I would have to explain why I wasted their valuable time with my string of made-for-adsense web sites.

I had a dream one night that I was going to a football game in a massive venue, and the play stopped. A spot-light was shining on me and the whole stadium turned their eyes on me and said in unison; You wasted my time and you are deemed a waste. You create nothing and you are nothing. Pretty weird dream. (I have some OCD issues) I think about my work, the Internet, and the value of my sites allot.

The next morning I came up with the plan – I was going to ask them what they wanted. Simple – I would build some easy-to-fill forms that simply asked them what they were looking for on my site. I asked them the nature of the product and/or service that they needed, where they had surfed on the Internet on their quest, and what they REALLY thought of my site. They gave me their opinions in small numbers, but enough to give me a good idea of where I was lacking. Some form submissions were courteous and polite – some were rude and ignorant. Either way, I got the point and the jist of what they were looking for.

I was surprised to find out that I was off the mark when it came to understanding the exact needs of my visitors. I took all their data and read it over and over again. I then went and found the merchants that had the EXACT products and services my visitors said they were looking for. I worked hard to find THE BEST solution for my visitors. I phoned these companies and made deals with them where I would provide leads and sales.

I didn’t choose the merchants by how much they paid me, or how slick their affiliate program looked; I chose them for the products and services they had. Some of these merchants didn’t even have affiliate programs so I built a database for them and myself to use. The database collected applications, orders, etc, and made sure both parties knew exactly how much they had to pay me at the end of the month.

Of course this was allot of work but once it was done it was auto-pilot mode again. I went from making 3-4 thousand dollars profit a month, to making $18,000 to $20,000 a month. I don’t know if that makes me qualify as a super affiliate marketer, but it big for me.

Great! So What!

After I had reached the highest commission earnings I had ever seen, I soon found out that some affiliate programs stop, change, or disappear all together. Then you have to replace that merchant with another one that converts as well, so the work is never done.

What I’ve Learned

What I learned to do was call these companies in person and build good relationships with them. I cannot overstate this enough. Break the anonymous feeling of email, and let them hear your voice. Let the merchant know that you are serious and that you want them to prosper from their business arrangement with you.

When I was all done, I was no longer using the obvious merchants or affiliate programs and networks out there. I don’t promote CJ (Commission Junction) merchants nearly as much; the same with Clickbank, Linkconnector, Shareasale, etc, etc. I have various private deals with companies that don’t even have affiliate programs. Some have their own private and direct affiliate programs which are not even on the radar in the affiliate directories found on the Internet.

This is the key to my higher earnings now. I’m not losing commissions because some other super affiliate promoting the same merchant had the visitor to their site first. The most common affiliate programs and merchants – the less your chances of being the affiliate who gets credit for the sale or lead. Many times the high ranking sites will have set the cookie on the shopper’s computer long before the surfer gets to your site. I call this the great race for the cookie.

So my advice is to think outside the box and start talking to companies yourself. You’ll earn more commissions, create long lasting business relationships, earn more money, and your visitors will love you for it.

Super Earnings = Super Affiliate – answer is Wrong!

This is only a personal belief but I think making wads of cash is not the long term goal. Of course the initial goal of being a super affiliate is to earn great money, but the long term goal should be satisfying your visitors.

If your business model leaves the merchant or the consumer hanging out to dry, your business is doomed – it’s just a matter of time. If you keep the three points above looked after, you will be in this business for a very long time. You’ll have a fantastic income and an amazing lifestyle. You will have achieved a super affiliate status, and you’ll deserve it. 

So Do I Think I’m A Super Affiliate Yet?

Nope. I still have a long way to go in the quest for quality relationships with merchants, and I still have black holes on my web sites. These are areas of my sites where visitors come looking for a product or service, and I don’t have a solution for them.

Yes, I’m earning good money, but my business doesn’t have enough redundancy built into it. I believe I will be a super affiliate one day. I believe I’m on the right track to creating a cash cow Internet business that pretty well runs in auto pilot.

One thing for sure. I still love this Internet income gig. I can’t ever see myself stopping or slowing down. The rewards are FAR to great. I may never earn what some oil barron earns per year, but I’ll be free to take holidays any time I want, rarely use the phone, deal with employees, wake up to an alarm clock, etc. etc.

Everyday I wake up I do what ever I want. Period. This is the reward, and this is why so many people are trying to succeed as affiliate marketers and search engine optimizers. Don’t worry though – over 90% of them will get out of the race and quit. It takes patience and perseverance.

TZ

2 Responses to “The Super Affiliates of Internet Marketing”

  1. Zulit » Blog Archive » Online Affiliate Income - Tues, June 12th, 2007 Says:

    […] day gets a thumbs up because of the high affiliate commission level. This is not the norm. Usually much less than this for my […]

  2. CPC Ads Vs Affiliate Programs Says:

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