How Big Is Affiliate Marketing?

I chuckle when recalling how friends and family used to ask, "is it legal?", after they saw how much money I was making from affiliate programs. This was back when affiliate programs were totally new, -- 1999-2001.

I guess one could hardly blame them because in those early days very few could see where the Internet was headed. I mean, this was before Google, YouTube, iPods, Blackberry's or social networking, just to name a few recent innovations that are here to stay.

And it was definitely way before anyone could foresee a candidate for President of the United States using millions of small donations through PayPal to seriously out earn his closet rivals.

Yes, my friend, the Internet has changed everything!

So where do you fit in?

Has it dawned on you that an entirely new way to do business has been born? Are you getting that the truly independent "little guy" now has a shot at big income with very little risk or overhead?

Yes, it's true.

With affiliate programs you simply need a computer, Broadband Internet and a website with traffic that entices a visitor to stay long enough to possibly click the ad of one of your merchants.

Based on the performance of those click-thrus you earn income. No employees needed. No delivery needed. No customer support needed. No shopping cart needed. No inventory needed. Of course, you could build a website to handle the sale of your own products if you want to. Nothing wrong with that. But, now your eliminating the sheer genius of affiliate programs.

If you are entirely new to the topic of affiliate programs I encourage you to read the article on Wikipedia. It should get you excited about what is now possible for the person with ideas who simply wants to publish those ideas and make money from it.

But before you read the wiki article let me just say this: It is not rocket science.

Publishing a website has just a short list of essentials, such as:

  1. Basic familiarity with some sort of web-publishing application. (many to choose from these days)
  2. Domain registration of your site. i.e. my-great-idea.com (easy to check on availability through many free sources)
  3. A hosting company (where your site resides) The cost is peanuts, as low as $6.95/mo
  4. Excellent content, nice layout, a visually appealing header graphic. (if you can't write you can easily hire professional writers for a lot less than you would think -- and graphic's guys are plentiful too.)
  5. Properly thought through navigation. (you know yourself when this is done properly from your own experience, right? Just model the best)
  6. Regular and ongoing new content. (Fresh content pleases the search engines which rank the pages of your site -- and you want to please the search engines so your pages migrate to the top positions where they can be easily found)
  7. Maybe some audio or video. (a little advanced but entirely doable with a little coaching)
  8. A chat forum (also slightly advanced, and not a necessity)
  9. Possibly a newsletter people could subscribe to. (easier than you think and this too is not essential to earn money)

Now having a good website is one thing, but making money with it is an entirely different thing. Here's a quick overview of what's needed to profit from your website:

  1. You need plenty of free traffic. (You could pay by using any number of advertising methods, but this will eat into your revenue. And it could possibly swamp you if you're not careful. Not recommended until you have great cash flow from free traffic)
  2. You need merchants. Every page of your sites needs some or all of these:
  • text ads or display ads provided to you by a merchant with embedded code identifying you so commissions can be paid.
  • content ads, usually provided by Google (AdSense program) that you insert on pages of your site (usually displayed in a box with four text ads) Google charges advertisers a pay-per-click fee which they'll split with publishers, such as yourself.
  • books of interest to your visitors. The biggest book vendor, and one of the first innovators of affiliate programs, Amazon.com, will pay you a commission for every book sold off your site.

With all of the above in place what you need then is a way to gain the most free traffic possible.

To do this you need to proceed strategically otherwise your site will get swamped by the competition. But, due to the sheer volume of new people using Internet search engines -- especially Google -- any page you publish has a shot at gaining top positions.

In a nutshell here's what must be understood:

  • Every page gets a separate ranking. The more pages you publish, the potential income for you.
  • You must plan for continuous and ongoing publishing of new, interesting content, otherwise the competition will leap ahead of you. Google has amazingly complex algorithms that utilize advances in Artificial Intelligence to determine what your page is about and how relevant it might be to a visitor based on the visitors search query. So you can't stay idle and expect to get high rankings.
  • You can't expect to outwit Google anymore. It's been estimated that their algorithms analyze 500,000 factors of every page in their database to determine relevancy and positioning in the rankings. This allows them to easily weed out low quality sites, which they consider "spam", something you, as a visitor, won't find interesting. Those types of pages are buried deep or are taken right out of the index.
  • You must gain some back links from trusted authority sites within the Google index. This will give any page with such back links pointing to them an immediate shot of credibility. It amounts to a vote for that page, or an endorsement from a credible source. And it's money in the bank if you understand how to do this right. This is one of the main things I teach in my trainings.

One of the biggest indicators of growth in this industry is the amount of money spent online during the Christmas period.

Ever since I've been doing this I've seen it grow by leaps and bounds. It even grew this year during a time of a great economic downturn in the general economy on a Global scale.

So get involved.

By all accounts affiliate marketing revenue sharing programs are here to stay. Doing it right can change your life as it did for our family.

All it takes is a little know how.

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