Mining For Gold With The Best Affiliate Programs And Hitting Pay Dirt

Colin McDougall tinkered around with affiliate programs earning a few dollars, nothing much to write home about, even had his own e-commerce site, known as the man's mall. In theory that site was supposed to offer all sorts of gadgets for guys. Colin created the site with the concept "build it they will come" but in reality no one did. Like so many dot.com ventures, it was a huge disappointment, lots of hard work and no pay off.

Colin says, "The man's mall failed because I started the venture blindly, I didn't have a clue how the search engines worked or how to make money with affiliate programs. Without an action plan and a map on how to get the gold it was all pointless. But not anymore, I hit the internet gold mine, a virtual moneymaking machine."

Read on to learn the facts about affiliate marketing and how Colin went from failing on the Internet to making serious money with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is paying off for retailers

2003 online sales are bucking the retail trend. With traditional retail sales down, retailers are forced to do more with less. They've shifted budgets away from expensive portal deals to performance-based affiliate marketing and search engine marketing and it's paying off. (Source: Forrester Research)

It's no surprise that traditional advertisers such as American Express, National Geographic, Toshiba and even Disney are flocking to the emerging affiliate marketing model. Advertisers have a very low risk with affiliate marketing; they simply pay a commission for actual sales. No sales, no commission.

Affiliates love it too

Affiliates who understand the affiliate marketing business are earning huge incomes, even those who are doing it as a hobby, in many cases, are earning a few hundred to a few thousand extra dollars each month.

Jeff Pullen, President of Commission Junction, a third party provider of infrastructure and tracking told the crowd at a recent conference held in Santa Barbara that, "Commissions are up 80% over the previous year". According to the Affiliate Summit, held in early November 2003 in New York City, affiliate marketing is already a $14 billion industry. (Source: Marketing Sherpa)

Online shopping is booming ? the future is bright

Affiliate marketing works because the pay for performance model makes sense. Plus, people are flocking to the Internet in droves to shop online. According to Forrester Research, a Massachusetts-based research firm, nationally online sales are expected to total $96 billion this year and climb to $229 billion by 2008.

Affiliate marketing in a nutshell

An affiliate program is a business relationship where one website owner (a "merchant") agrees to pay another website owner (an "affiliate") a commission simply for referring customers.

Merchants typically manage their affiliate program by joining a commission network such as Commission Junction or LinkShare who provide third-party tracking and infrastructure or by purchasing and installing specialized tracking software on their own server.

See Commission Junction and LinkShare.com for a list of merchants who are looking for affiliates to promote their products and services.

How Colin got involved with affiliate marketing

Colin says: "I found the treasure map; the Affiliate Marketers Handbook written by James Martell," an entrepreneur and successful affiliate marketer. The first time Colin read the Affiliate Marketers Handbook he mentions, that it was like looking at the horizon through binoculars; he could see where he was headed. The second time reading the book Colin, it was like looking at a road map and seeing how to reach the riches on the horizon.

Colin says, "With the book, you learn how to get organized, plan the site, run the business, and focus on the riches along the horizon."

Colin learned firsthand, with the man's mall, that without understanding the search engines, your business is dead in the water. The "build it they will come" mind set, just doesn't cut it.

As Colin says: "The book's system for using keywords really makes sense, after my prior experience it's like this light bulb went off?so that's how I'm going to attract visitors and making money. In my old business, I was set up to fail, with the handbook I'm set up to win."

Got Dot: How did you go from failing at the Internet to make money?

Colin explains, "By reading James' handbook. His book is real, it's not the stuff of Internet legends, but it's an honest, to goodness road map. James really shares what works. I've followed his 8-step system? and now have a bigger house, a bigger car and financial independence.

At first, I was amazed at how much the book gives away, but that's James. He really wants everybody to succeed, he's got things all laid out in his book. If you follow it the money's there, it's up to the reader to go for the gold."

Got Dot: What was it like getting started?

Colin says, "In the beginning I was skeptical, making money with affiliate marketing, just seemed unreal. After attending James' original class in Vancouver, at the prodding of a friend Chuck Anderson, and actually meeting with other people, earning lots of money with affiliate marketing, the whole process really resonated. I knew I could do it, if they could."

Got Dot: Why was that so hard to grasp?

Colin: "As a system tech I was working 50% harder for a measly 5% raise, all of $250/month. It was awful. In the class all these people were making a lot more money than me, working just a few hours a day. What a wake up call. I felt like a dummy slaving away at 60 hours a week, with practically nothing to show for it."

Colin adds, "The hard part for me was getting over my past, removing the skepticism, and just running. My disbelief held me back four months. So I started off small spending one hour a day doing affiliate marketing.

The beginning search engine traffic and commission checks?just blew me away, talk about a real eye-opener. Nothing like numbers to get a techie excited."

Got Dot: What's the money like?

Colin: "When I first started I earned $400 a month, nearly double my raise as a system tech. By the end of the year I hoped to make $5k a month (my system tech salary). I hit that mark in six months. Within 9 months I earned $120K. The day job is now history. The money's astounding, it just keeps growing."

Got Dot: What is your product niche?

Colin says, "In the beginning, I went after the big paycheck, like credit cards. My newer sites feature things I want to learn more about or hobbies."

Colin follows the same methods for web site construction developed by James Martell. These principals are incorporated into Colin's successful sites featuring: mortgage loans, furniture slip covers and credit card applications.

Got Dot: What is a typical day like?

Colin says, "Its ideal. How many fathers can say they have time to play Barbie's with their daughter? Everyday I work for two hours and spend an afternoon in the park with the family, then another hour or two of work and its dinner time, what a day!"

Got Dot: What tips do have for someone starting out?

Colin says: "Buy the Affiliate Marketers Handbook, follow it step-by-step. Don't jump ahead. Devote one hour a day to affiliate marketing, when you get home from work. Make the sacrifice. The short term pain is worth the long term gain. Don't settle for fool's gold, searching through the "best affiliate programs", find the real gold, James Martell's 8-step system?, it's within your grasp. Go for the gold."

Colin McDougall followed a simple 8-step-system? for affiliate marketing created by James Martell, entrepreneur, successful affiliate marketer, and developer of over 70 specialty shopping sites with topics that range from motorized scooters to treadmill comparisons; and also educates people who want to start a homebased business using affiliate programs and the Internet!

About The Author

Colin McDougall is the editor of the credit review site, Only the best credit cards online. You can visit this site at http://www.only-the-best-credit-cards-online.com/, [email protected]

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