March 25, 2015

Making the Sale: How to Choose Vendors to Refer

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Making the SaleChoosing vendors or products to refer when you are an affiliate is not something that you should do on a whim.  This is a concept that I didn’t understand fully when I started affiliate marketing.

Depending on what kind of set up you are using there are essentially two ways to link to products that you refer.  You can use modules that a platform provides like Squidoo or Wizzley modules.  Or you can link directly to the company that you are referring to.

By using modules on a platform like Squidoo or Wizzley, you will automatically be losing some money on each sale.  However, the power of the platform may make up the difference by gaining you more traffic.  This is a decision that you have to make for yourself.

However, from my experience, I have found that if you have enough material to create a website about your topic, you will do just as well or better than you would in sales and traffic on a platform like Squidoo or Wizzley.

So where is the best place to refer people to purchase products?  Part of the calculation of how well products will sell is based on trust.  This is an intangible factor that you have to guess at when you are choosing a vendor.  If you yourself are new at referring products online, then your readers will not have built up trust in your referrals yet.  That means you need to use a vendor that they can trust.  Vendors that they can trust are companies that they are familiar with.  This is especially true if you are selling an item over $25.  $25 seems to be a threshold where you need more trust to sell an item.  Under $25 is not a lot of money to most people, so they are more willing to try something new.

For most products, price is an area where a small time person like yourself cannot compete.  Price competitions are for the big guys like Walmart and Amazon.  So you should be selling items because of other reasons.  For instance, in this article The Best Printer for College Students, I am selling a printer based on size and convenience for a college dorm room.

While it is often convenient to refer customers to Amazon, I recommend that you only do that for about 1/2 or less of your referrals.  One reason is that Amazon is one of the lowest paying affiliate vendors, and the other is that you are often competing with Amazon for placement in the search engines.  It is also always a good idea to spread out your income sources.

Ebay is a good vendor to use when you are referring something unique or obsolete.  The other reason to use Ebay is you are recommending buying from Ebay to get a bargain.  People have the idea that items on Ebay are cheaper, even though that is not always true.  I think it is because Ebay started out as a second hand seller.  You can apply to become a seller for the Ebay Partner Network as long as you have a website of your own.

Third party vendors, or vendors who sell through a partnership with an affiliate company like Linkshare or Shareasale, are actually the best choice when it comes to individual earnings per vendor.  You can often find vendors who give you 10% or more from each sale.  The best vendors on in these situations will still want to see that you have your own website.  Many will not accept you if you only write on Squidoo, Wizzley, Hubpages or similar sites.

For new affiliate marketers, I recommend starting out with companies like Target, Walmart, Macy’s that actually have a physical presence in most states in the U.S.  These are companies that will not change their affiliate policies if the law changes in the U.S. regarding affiliates.  This is because they are already paying sales tax in the states that they are in.  An advantage of these companies is that they have a broad spectrum of products and low prices.

The next tier of companies are specialty companies that sell items related to a niche you are writing in.  For instance if you are writing about bedding, look for companies that specialize in bedding and specific types of bedding.  Once you choose a niche, you can sign up for all the vendors in that category with the assumption that some will reject you until you can prove yourself.  Then you can refer as much as possible to the vendors you choose to send enough traffic to them to get regular sales.  Selling is completely a numbers game, so the more targeted traffic you send to a vendor, the more sales you will get.  If you figure you will get about 1% of sales from your traffic, that is a good place to start.  In other words, 1% of the people who visit your site will buy something.  Although during certain seasons, or highly effective articles, many writers get more sales, this is a good rule of thumb to start out with for beginners.

The bottom line is that you need a lot of links and a lot of traffic to make this work with any company.


Easy Product Displays for Amazon and Zazzle Affiliates

Making the Sale: How to Choose What to Sell

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Making the SaleIf you have never been in sales before, and you want to make money by writing online, then I strongly recommend that you follow the steps in this post until you get very comfortable with the process of selling.

New sales people do the best job selling something that they wholeheartedly believe in.  This is because they feel completely comfortable recommending an item that they know very well, and can describe easily.

Choosing to sell the right product or service is extremely important to your success in making money from selling online.

If you follow these steps, you will be able to find plenty of items to write about and sell online:

  1. Take one week for this project.  You can do this as you go about your daily routine.  The first thing you need is a pencil and paper, and the second is your thinking brain.
  2. Keep your paper and pencil with you as you go about your daily routine.  One an hour or so, look up from what you are doing and observe your surroundings.  Write down anything you see that you like, admire, or that impresses you.  Start with tangible items like your computer, your ballpoint pen, your skirt, the wallpaper in that room, then you can move on to intangible, your boss’s leadership, your child’s ingenuity.  This is just a note taking process.  Jot down these items for about 5 minutes, then go on with your day.
  3. By the end of the week, you should have a pretty comprehensive list.  The next step is to organize your list into categories.  Spend about an hour organizing your list at the end of the week.  Categories can be anything, from toys to leadership ideas.
  4. You have created a categorized list of items that you are extremely familiar with in your day to day routine.  This is where you should start to choose items to write about and sell.  From your categories, pick the category that brings a smile to your face, and that you would enjoy talking about to your friends.
  5. After you have chosen your category, you should pick 10 items from your category list that you can talk about.  Pick items that you can describe easily, you know what they look like, feel like, and how to use them.
  6. Start with item #1 on this new list, and for that item, write down a 10 sentence description, 5 things you love about this item, 5 things that could be improve, how you use the item in your life, and why you think someone else would like it. Now you have the basis for a review or product description.  This is something that you already know about, and have feelings about.
  7. Write a 5 paragraph page about your chosen item #1.  Take the information that you have written down, and put your voice into it.  Pretend you are talking to one of your friends in person, and talk about your product.  Do you think your friend would be interested in checking out this item from your recommendation?

As you begin to work on items that you can recommend, move through your categories from most familiar to least familiar.  As you get used to the process, it will become easier to recommend items that you are less comfortable with.  You may never feel comfortable writing about items that you don’t use, but think of all the items that you DO use.  You will not run out of things to write about.

Easy Product Displays for Amazon and Zazzle Affiliates

Making the Sale: Let’s Be Honest About Making Money Online

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Making the SaleLet’s be honest and admit that we have become online writers and marketers in order to make some money.  After all, money is what pays our bills, feeds our family, and helps others when we donate it to a charity.  I have a daughter who has just started college, and we need to make sure that we can pay her bills in order for her to get the education that she needs for her career.

Needing money to sustain our lifestyle is a matter of fact part of life, and we need to come straight out and admit to ourselves that when we refer a reader to any company that pays us a referral fee or commission for something the reader buys, then we are selling that item.

Selling is nothing to be ashamed of.  This is a profession as old as bartering for goods.  And you should never feel that referring someone to a product or service is underhanded.  If you come right out and tell them that is what you are doing, then you are honestly referring them.  It is only underhanded when you don’t tell them that you are referring them to a sales site.

Sales in its basic form is recommendation.  If I tell you about a product and it is something that you need too, then on my recommendation you buy it, I have sold you that item.  The nuance in terms between referrals and sales is this:  A sale usually equates to a monetary transaction, and a referral does not.  But as you have experienced, the terms are just different shades of the same thing, and are used interchangeably.

Internet sales is not going to go away, unless the mysterious “they” out there comes up with an even easier way to buy products we need.  Selling online is very lucrative, and is a major support of most companies these days, especially if they can sell a product that can be shipped.  Shipping is the only drawback to buying online, and the fee that customers need to buy for an item to ship.

Making money through affiliate sales, by earning a commission on selling a product or a service, is an honest way to make a living.  It is not a scam, unless the person doing the selling is an unethical scammer.  And we all know that people like that exist in every profession.  That being said, becoming a successful online marketer takes hard work, and it takes time, just like developing any commission based livelihood does.  To be successful, you need to put in your time, learn how to do it right, and build your business.  If you are willing to do these things, then you can definitely earn a small piece of the internet sales pie, enough to make enough money for you to live on.

How much you earn depends solely on your efforts, and your willingness to do what it takes to make the sale.  This series of posts will teach you what you need to do, outside of the discussion of keyword research, writing, and building pages and sites.  We will discuss what to sell, how to sell it, and why you may not be making the kind of money you want right now.  As I write this post, it is October 7, and I have all my ideas of how I am going to make my money online for this Christmas shopping season planned out.  Do you?  While you don’t need to have every little piece of your strategy in place right now, you should at least be in the planning stages.  Planning ahead is one of the keys to making the sale.

Easy Product Displays for Amazon and Zazzle Affiliates