If there really is a big secret at all, it undoubtedly would have to be: "work hard." We hope that the information provided here helps you get rolling down the road to affiliate marketing success. We also hope it will save you a little time and money in the process. Some of the below suggestions are pretty obvious ones, but sometimes it's nice to have someone else tell you that the obvious answer is a good one.
Choose a topic you know. The most common question asked by people new to affiliate marketing is "What should I start with?" We believe it is best to start with an area you know well. Doing this may not be the best converting, provide you with the highest commission, or even be the best managed program. But it is easy for you to build a site, and it's a subject you know and are interested in. That means you can add your own personal touch and opinions to the site. If you try to build your first site from something in which you have no personal interest, the site soon becomes a painful and boring task. Stick with what you know initially and then grow from there.
Banners, Banners, and More Banners. If success at affiliate marketing could be achieved from throwing up pages of banners - then the world would have many more millionaires. A site with pages of banners or rows banners stuffed under content, not only doesn't make a person want to click the banner; it also has the added bonus of making your site look pretty ugly.
There is no Best Merchant Program. Some people can succeed with a merchant where many others have failed. It is often true that some do poorly where others are making a fist full of dollars. Forums are full of posts that begin with, "My Sales this month for Merchant Program X are very poor." These same posts usually end with some one else posting, "Funny my sales are great." Remember that for your first site select a merchant based on what you know. In the early days, when you have just one small site, it will be easy to swap out all the links if the chosen merchant doesn't work out.
Use multiple merchants in the same niche. As suggested, select a merchant based on what you like, or better yet select a few. Promoting 3-4 merchants on the same site gives your site visitors a variety of destinations to choose from. Doing this provides you with data on what your visitors want to see, and can provide you with important information on how well the different merchants perform against each other when put head to head.
There is no Best Network. Another question commonly asked is, "What is the best network?" Everyone has their own reply to this question, and ultimately there is no best answer. This is especially true when you consider that many great programs don't even belong to a network at all. Every network has its strong points. Make your network selection based on the tools it provides for you. Also take into consideration if the network has the merchants you want to work with. Sometimes joining an undesirable Network is necessary because they have a merchant you really want to sign up with. Our recommendation is to try a merchant from all the main networks, see what works for you, and then focus your time accordingly.
What are Content Sites. If you visit affiliate marketing forums you'll hear people talk about "content sites." These are sites that provide potentially educational and topical content about the products they are promoting, or appear to promote products as a side focus. Content sites are easier to build when you know about the products you are promoting, or the merchant makes content available to you. However, don't forget the goal of your site is to make your site visitors click off of your site onto a merchant's store. No click-through means no sale.
What are Data (Product Info) Sites. Data driven sites are generally limited to pure product data, prices, images, descriptions, there's no illusion of education here. It's all about promoting the product and making the visitor get off your site as fast as possible and onto the merchant's store. Data driven sites generally require access to data feeds and some knowledge of programming or access to software whereby you can turn a data feeds into web pages.
Parasites and how they affect you. You will see a lot of sites that talk about "Parasites", "ParasiteWare" and "ScumWare." All of these are applications that can redirect, overwrite, or intercept your visitors (and therefore YOUR commission) and change your visitor into their visitor. The majority of these masquerade as shopping support software, file sharing applications, browser help objects (BHOs), and even hidden applications installed on a user's PC via drive-by installs or in bundled software packages. To learn more, and there is an awful lot to learn, please visit www.parasiteware.com. Most ParasiteWares also have various traits of SpyWare too. Also click here to learn how you can help consumers protect themselves and your affiliate marketing revenue.
Building your first Site. It does help to know HTML and the ability to use graphics software. Knowledge of these areas gives you the ability to add small touches of class to your site. However don't be discouraged if you have no skills in these areas. It is not always necessary to be skilful as there are a number of tools and merchants around that can help you get your first site up and launched. These include page generation tools and fast launch sites. These tools are great for getting rolling but always remember to do some customization of anything you get automated to ensure it is uniqueness to you. Search engines and directories will remove duplicate content.
Buying a domain name. Geocities and Homestead undeniably have their place in the Internet world; however, registering a domain with them generally is not a very wise decision. Many search engines and directories won't list such sites because of their transient nature. In addition to the pitfall of not showing up in search engines, some affiliate managers will skip over your site as they deem it to be a "Personal home page." It is best to get a top level domain (TLD) name and some cheap, but reliable, hosting. When considering a domain name, first think about what you are going to promote and then base your domain name on it. Don't buy the domain name first and then later think about what you'll promote on the site.
Work at it. While it is the ultimate aim of every affiliate partner not to have to do any work, the reality is, especially early on, there's a lot of work to be done. Whether it's in the site's design, updates, education or reading stats, there is a lot to do. The pay-offs aren't instant and it can take a fair few months before you're even making enough to even cover your costs. It takes perseverance, dedication and patience to succeed, don't quit if your first attempts don't pay off.
Educate yourself. Education is an immensely important part of affiliate marketing. There is a heck of a lot to learn. Educating yourself on basic principles of HTML, programming, data feed manipulation, creating custom links, or learn how to identify a good niche in a way that others have overlooked. The affiliate forums are certainly one of the best places to start this education.
The next step. Once you have that first site up and it's making money, then it's time to start to expand. Using what you have learned by building that first site, move on to a new project. Leave the first site to keep making money, making adjustments, and any needed updates, but generally letting it do its thing. Your next site is likely to be a site in an area you've seen other affiliates having lots of success. It makes sense to follow the money, but remember it can be a crowded market place when everyone is after the same thing. Don't overlook small niche products, items that might not get the huge traffic but should convert well due to limited availability or being in a special interest group. These markets can often be far less crowded and easier to make quick sales on compared to the bigger more crowded programs.
Article can be used with permission of Chris Sanderson as long as the signature and in place links are left unchanged. Chris Sanderson is an Affiliate Marketing Manager based in Bangkok Thailand with AMWSO.com and the owner of Xaap.com.