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Five last articles
  • Building a Web Store on Shoestring Budget in less than Four Hours

  • Thursday, May 12, 2005
  • Effective Web Search with Google's "My Search History" Tool

  • Monday, April 25, 2005
  • Beware of Spyware

  • Thursday, April 7, 2005
  • How to Build a Business Website

  • Tuesday, March 22, 2005
  • Effective use of your online time

  • Saturday, March 5, 2005
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    Making Money with Affiliate Programs Part I Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Making Money with Affiliate ProgramsIf you have a website and you are not involved in any of the thousands of affiliate programs available on the Internet, you are loosing great opportunities to make some extra income. As in the case of some top affiliate marketers this extra income might even transform into thousands of dollars. Affiliate program is one of the most effective methods of producing sales second only to direct mail. According to Forrester Research, a marketing research company, in this year 21% of all online sales will be generated from affiliate sites promoting affiliate products.

    If you do your homework right, you too can earn handsomely from the correct use of affiliate programs.

    What is an affiliate program?

    The concept of affiliate program is based on the age-old business practice of referral service. This is quite common in many industries. An attorney, for example, gets a certain percent of commission if he refers a client to another lawyer.

    Back in 1996 Amazon.com started the first widespread use of referral service on the Internet. If a client comes to Amazon.com and buy a product using a link provided by Amazon, from a website which signed affiliate partnership agreement, that site receives 10 to 15% commission from the sale. The Amazon Affiliate Program became so successful that it prompted others to follow the suit. Today, affiliate programs became ubiquitous on the Internet making them one of the primary methods of online marketing of products and services.

    Affiliate Program can be defined as Internet marketing system where a company allows and helps third party websites, called affiliates to post link and refer clients in return for a predetermined flat-fee or percentage-based commission.

    Benefits of affiliate programs

    Affiliate Programs became so popular because as a partnership its a win-win situation for both the program owner and the affiliates. Benefits for program owners include:

    Increase Sales
    The primary reason for most of the companies to adopt an affiliate program is the possibility of boosting sales. In fact, proper implementation of a quality affiliate program is capable of increasing sales dramatically.

    Free promotion
    A successful affiliate program can easily become the largest traffic generator for the company website. Many websites receive major portion of their visitors from their affiliate links. To find suitable websites with required content in order to run a banner or link campaign is time consuming and require large resources; affiliate programs in comparison can resolve this issue often with a far smaller investment.

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    Increase search engine ranking
    Search engines, Google in particular, calculate link popularity as one of the main factors in their ranking algorithm. Backward links from affiliate sites certainly help improving this.

    Branding
    Thanks to its affiliate program Amazon.com banner links can be seen on numerous websites. Popularity of Amazon.com among the newcomers to Internet proves that Amazon.com was successful in creating its online brand name. No doubt, omnipresent visibility of their logo on the affiliate sites definitely had a huge impact on the brand recognition of the Amazon. Offline companies had to spend billions of dollars of advertisement money to get similar results!

    How about the affiliates? What are the benefits they get from an affiliate relationship?

    No product or service to carry
    Online business with your own product or service might be rewarding, but it requires substantial investment from your part. With carefully chosen affiliate programs you can have your online business without the requirement of having your own products.
    The investment is low as all you need is a website.

    No need to have a merchant account
    Since you dont carry your own products or services you do not have to go through the hassle of having a merchant account to cater your clients. Your affiliate program owner will do everything. All you have to do is supply clients through your designated link.

    Possibility of residual income

    Many programs pay you a commission from the sales made to the customers generated from affiliates, who have signed up as an affiliate following your link. This kind of affiliate system is called 2-tier system.
    Visitor tracking system allows affiliate programs to pay you a commission when same visitor from your website makes repeat purchase.
    Some affiliate programs that promote monthly or yearly subscription services pay a commission each month as long as customer referred by you stays subscribed.

    Complement you website with added products and services
    If your site is dedicated to certain products or services, there must be other stuffs that go well together with your own products. Its a good idea to seek out viable affiliate products of these items and promote through your site. Your visitors will love this and this will help building loyalty among your visitors.

    Have new contents for your site
    many affiliate programs supply you with valuable marketing materials. Some of these materials can be nice addition to your site content bringing further value to your website.

    Various Affiliate programs

    There are two ways of running an affiliate program:

    The company owns and handles the program itself, using certain software.

    The company uses third party administered affiliate programs.

    The reasons why many companies prefer to hand over management of their affiliate programs include technical aspects, cost factor and human factors.

    Companies do not have to spend money on developing, running and updating the software.
    Proven technology allows companies to concentrate on their job of selling their products and services.
    Many prospective affiliates prefer third party managed programs, because they rightfully ponder, in this case the program owners have less chance to cheat their affiliates.

    Find below a list of some leading third party affiliate program administrators:

    http://www.befree.com
    http://www.linkshare.com
    http://www.cj.com
    http://www.clickbank.com

    However, this does not mean that you should avoid company run affiliate programs. On the contrary, some of the most successful and best affiliate programs are run by the owners.

    If you find an affiliate program that suits your requirement and you feel that the company is a reputable one, by any means you should give it a try!

     

    Promote your website Part IV Monday, November 3, 2003
    Promote your website using Newsgroups

    Promote your website using NewsgroupsAt present there are over 3.3 billion pages indexed by Google, and that definitely does not cover the entire Internet. With so many competitors around, you sure have to use every conceivable method available to promote your website. Newsgroups can be very powerful tools in your web promotion endeavor if you use them actively.

    What is a Newsgroup?

    A newsgroup is a message board on the Internet where users come to discuss topics of mutual interest. Each newsgroup is dedicated to a particular subject of interest and consists of messages posted by participants. You can find several ongoing discussions surrounding various topics within a single newsgroup. These topics are call threads. As a user you can start a thread, post messages to a thread and make responds to other postings.

    Before the Internet era, the way you know it now, back in eighties and early nineties people used to connect to electronic bulletin boards (bbs) through modems and post text messages for others to read and answer. Usenet Newsgroups was started as a collection of these bulletin boards. Along with the Internet, Newsgroups have also started to grow rapidly. Thanks to the Interface introduced by Deja News in 1995 use of Newsgroups became simple and convenient, which also gave enough impetus to this growth.

    Today, Usenet discussion forums or Newsgroups indexed by Google comprise over 800 million messages, which is around a terabyte of information! It is calculated that over 10 million people have regular access to Newsgroups!

    Each newsgroup is formed with a certain purpose. This is described in its charter at the time it is started. Normally every Newsgroup has its own single subject. However there could be many Newsgroups dedicated to one subject.

    There are tens of thousands of newsgroups on every subject you can possibly imagine. The subjects in Newsgroups are hierarchically structured. Some of them are moderated, means somebody controls the postings, most dont.

    How to use Newsgroups?

    Since there are so many newsgroups, whatever your interest is you will most likely find a newsgroup which will suit you. Although, most email readers have built-in features to subscribe Newsgroups the most convenient way to read newsgroups today is to use Google Search. Once you are on the search page of the Google, Click on the Groups from the menu. This will take you to Groups search page with a directory of Newsgroups under the headline Post and read comments in Usenet discussion forums. The most common subdirectories for businesses are located in alt, biz and misc. For example: If you are in import and export business you might try alt.business.imort-export, which has several groups within it. Run a search using a keyword related to your online business that you would like to promote from the groups search page of Google. The result will appear chronologically, the most recent one being at the top. Check out the most relevant Newsgroups from the results. If your search produces a very big list of results, try the advanced search option. Try reducing the time frame of postings. By default Google searches within all messages posted from 1981.

    For really worthwhile information Ill suggest to use moderated groups. Most Newsgroups which are not moderated easily fill up with spam and you really have to wade through them to find something interesting.

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    Did you notice that Google has a new paid service under the name Google Answers? For a fee Google nominated researchers will get answers to your hard to find questions. The service is located at http://answers.google.com. If you go through the questions that are already asked, you will be amazed to see that by searching newsgroups you will find answers to many of them without paying a dime. Newsgroups are indeed a gold mine of information!

    Benefits of using Newsgroups

    As an online business you can rip varieties of benefits from effective use of Newsgroups.

    Establish yourself as an expert of your chosen field People will prefer doing business with you if they know that you are an expert in your field. Post important and relevant information in your chosen Newsgroup, answer to the questions posted. Very soon, people from the Newsgroup will start considering you as an expert and you will be amazed to see quantity of new visitors checking out your site.

    Conduct market survey
    Newsgroups can be a great source of marketing information. By asking questions in relevant Newsgroups you can find a way of figuring out what people think about your product, your website, etc. Get new clients
    There are Newsgroups, which are formed with the sole purpose of various announcements and promotions. Prudent use of these Newsgroups along with your relevant Newsgroups will definitely increase your site traffic and get new clients.

    Promote your site
    In relevant groups you can post announcement about your site launch, press releases, product information, etc. Participation in the discussions in your subject matter with your signature file, which should include your website address, will help getting new visitors and increase the quantity of backward links to your website.

    Get answers to your questions
    You cant be an expert in every thing! Often, you will need answers to various questions. Ask them in relevant Newsgroups along with your signature file. Not only you will have answers to your questions, along with this you will also promote your site.

    Make friends
    Newsgroups can be a great place to find like-minded friends and partners.

    Posting dos and donts

    You have to be very careful with what you post in a Newsgroup. Before making your first post, go through the FAQ and posting rules of the Newsgroup and read some of the postings. You want to position yourself as an expert not an idiot! Some Newsgroups users are pretty aggressive. If they feel that you are spamming their precious Newsgroup you will be flamed in no time.

    Here are some basic rules:

    Don't post commercials, advertisements or press releases; unless the newsgroup specifically mentions that it endorses these things.
    While posting a respond, stick to the original topic.
    Quote only the portion of the message you are responding not the whole message.
    Dont cross post. This means, do not post same messages in several relevant Newsgroups.
    Never post unrelated messages to Newsgroups. This is considered as spamming!
    While posting a message be specific and concise in the subject line.
    Post your signature file with each and every message. This is important for your web promotion!
    Check your spelling and grammar before posting a message.

    The idea is to make valuable contribution to the Newsgroups and by doing so at the same time promote your online business. Ask questions that you perceive useful to you and others. Post responds to messages, which are informative, thought-provoking and of high quality. Soon you will build credibility among your fellow Newsgroup members and start receiving a flow of loyal customers.

     

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