James: What was the one after Taboola?
James: Are they like Outbrain?
Matthew: Yeah. They are very much like them. I think Outbrain mostly works for big publishers. I think Taboola probably works for smaller ones. Then there’s another one called content.ad that works for small publishers too. Those are worth doing. Then you can also sign up for a second ad network, like a display ad network like Tribal Fusion, Technorati media has one, there’s one called Pop Galaxy, there’s just hundreds of those. You can kind of stick some of those ads below the fold and you can get a couple of dollars extra CPM out of your ads just by placing them into places where people generally won’t see them or care but still make money out of them.
James: OK. Slow down cowboy, CPM stands for?
Matthew: Cost per thousand views.
James: Right. So for every thousand people who view it, they’ll pay you.
James: Nice. What else?
Matthew: There are a lot of names in there.
James: You’re the information machine, Matthew. Any other tips on display or publishing ads?
Matthew: Just test everything. If you’ve had the ads in the same positions they had been for years, try moving stuff around to see if you can get improvement out of it. Split testing has been a big win for me at AdSense and other stuff so just do the color test, do whatever you can. Just come up with ideas for things to try and move ads and around and see what works better. Sometimes you can get huge wins out of doing that.
James: Fantastic. The point is that this real estate is available there. Another thing that you might be able to put there is people who want to advertise directly on your site. I’m sure people would approach you and say, “Hey, can I rent some space on your site?” Banner buys, direct banner buys, where you’re cutting out the middleman and dealing direct. There’ll be pros and cons for that certainly. Whether you get paid or not could be a con. A pro might be they’re prepared to pay a little more than what they’re paying someone who’s scraping a profit on the way through.
Matthew: You’ll have an entirely different way to monetize your website other than display ads. That’s affiliate marketing. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that.
Website monetization through affiliate marketing
James: Yeah. So generally, I like to promote my own things in my own media. That applies to podcast through to my website. I don’t need to put someone else’s ads there because I am prepared to go through the process of setting up products and services for the most part. But then there’s still that extra monetization ability of promoting someone else’s stuff. But a different way to approach it is to go down the affiliate path.
A simple way to think about this might be if you were running AdSense and you notice the same people advertising there all the time, let’s say you saw an email service provider advertising on your site, then what you might do is go directly to that email provider, join their affiliate program and then you put your affiliate banner in that spot. So now you’ve got a direct deal. You’ve effectively done what’s called vertical integration. You’ve gone direct to the person who wants to be on your site, instead of them having to buy the ad from Google, then Google putting the ad on your site and then you getting paid by Google. You’ve just gone direct.
So you can get a higher payout for that. And often, you can get a recurring payout. Some of the things that I promote pay thousands of dollars per month every single month just by sending them leads. The good thing is that I’m not competing with these products. I’m not setting up an autoresponder service. It’s not a competition situation.
I know that my customer is going to have this stuff anyway. That’s why I would do it because my customer is going to find out about these products and services anyway. I can actually help them find the right ones instead of the wrong ones by putting the ones that I support or promote in a more prominent place, so they find it easily and that they get good solutions. And then I go about putting those in the right place on my website.
So the way that I’ve approached it is two-fold. One is I might put in in-content links, which is one of the best ways to promote anything and it’s called native advertising. That’s just putting things into the content. So if I put an article about something and I mention autoresponder system, the very fact that I say those words, my team will automatically link those words to a page on our site where we talk about that autoresponder system, even in the transcription. So that’s pretty cool.
We also have a recommended page on our website. So when we have our product chooser, which we spoke about in Part 5 of this series, we have a Products We Recommend tab, and it’s got a big love heart, and it’s like, here’s things we love and we use.
What we do is rather than just directly link to most of them, we actually have a little review where we talk about the product and we go through a framework – what is it, what problems does it solve, who’s it for, who’s not the good customer for this, why did we choose it, what results do we get, where can you go and find out more, and we link off to them.
We have a clear disclaimer that we will make affiliate commissions from links on the website. So we’re not doing this in a sneaky way. It’s clearly delineated. There’s obviously a big understanding in our industry that that’s how many is made with these things.
But I will say this, I only recommend products that I use or that I like, or that I think a good value. We’ve had a lot of people approach us, pretty much on a daily basis. Could you promote our product? Could you sell this? And we say, “No, thanks.” So we’ve restricted it to the very few solutions that people actually get the most value from.
The newest section that we have is basically a list of all the things that I use in the business. I’ve linked to the ones that I use, whether they’re affiliated or not. I’ll even put a raw link to a product just because it really does build trust. People get to know that I’m recommending from my heart. Sometimes, I get a commission. Sometimes, I don’t. That’s OK. I’m not doing it because I get a commission. But if there is an affiliate program and I think that’s going to be a substantial investment from people, then I will put an affiliate link because it’s only fair to collect a reward if you are sending that business a lot of customers.
Now some of the exceptions, for example, I love Wistia, and I promote that product without any affiliate commission because it’s such a good product. People need it. Even if there’s programs with affiliate commission that compete with it, they’re not as good and I’d rather get people the right solution.
Matthew: How do you find that page in your website?
James: People go to Products and then they can click on Products we recommend. So we have three of our own products or services, and then we have everyone else’s.
Matthew: OK. Cool. You used to have a website called BuyWithBonus. I assume you gave people a bonus when they used your affiliate marketing link. You told me about that strategy. Do you still do that?
James: We still do it. We ported that entire site across to SuperFastBusiness.com/recommended. That is the page people get to when they click on Products we recommend. We still have the BuyWithBonus situation. Interestingly enough, a lot of people just buy my stuff and not worry about claiming it because they like that I’m endorsing it. I don’t know if it’s a strategy I’ll need in the long term. It was certainly great in the beginning. It was my entire first hundred thousand dollars. It was rewarding people for buying a certain product or service. They get extra value. It doesn’t cost the customer anything, and I get a commission. So everyone was happy. That was good.
But I think now, the site’s built up such authority and people recommend the site without being an affiliate. I also recommend things without being an affiliate as well. So I think I’ve just sort of leveled up to a more giving back status where I’m not really needing to incentivize people so much. I could see a day where that part is not required. But certainly, if someone is a little bit bargain oriented or they like to get value when they’re buying something and they’re looking for a deal, people will find it and it does give them something extra, they can get one of the courses from my many workshops. They can have it for free if they buy through my link and they claim it.
It’s a very simple step-by-step process. They click on our link, buy something, and then claim, and they get a bonus. So it’s still working. We still get claims most days. But I could see that one day in the future, I’ll just have a straight list of stuff. I think the site will be so powerful that that will be enough. But yeah, still halfway through that, not so hard on it, but we have such a residual recurring income now in hundreds of thousands from affiliate marketing that it has been a very successful strategy for us.
Getting started as an affiliate
Matthew: So if somebody’s first getting started, if you’ve only got a minimal amount of traffic, do you build your own product first, do you do affiliate marketing, do you do AdSense, do you do anything besides traffic generation? What do you get started?
James: Do what I do and that’s just list down everything you’ve bought and find the ones that you’ve purchased and that you use all the time because that’s really easy to have a conversation with someone about. I’ve had a several conversations with people about Ontraport for example. It’s the system I use to send out emails. I put a little link in the bottom of my email. This email is sent using Ontraport, and that goes to my affiliate link. Such a simple step to monetize your emails. Just to list the resource that you use to send the emails.
I know you’ve got a custom system, but most of our listeners could do this with whatever they’re sending. If they’re using Aweber or Infusionsoft, they could just put an affiliate link. Other things that you’ve purchased or a good thing for you to start with because your customers have probably also purchased them or need them as well. So that’s a starting point.
The next step is to talk to your customers and find out what they’ve bought. If you could speak to 10 customers and they all have the same things, you know that that’s an easy win. They all have hosting with Liquid Web. You could put a banner to Liquid Web on your website. If your customers in the finance market all buy the Wall Street Journal or whatever financial news thing everyone has to have, it’ll be pretty straightforward to go and see if they have an affiliate program on their website. Amazon have a program called Associates. So it’s really easy to join up Amazon.
If you have a photography blog and people are buying cameras and lighting, then you would definitely want to be putting a list of resource or recommended cameras and link to the products on Amazon where you can get a commission of anything they buy in that section, which is mindblowing. If we go and get a camera and then lenses and then lights, like someone could spend $5,000 or $6,000 and you get a percentage of that, it’s a very easy win.
Matthew: Yeah, I use Amazon Associates. Whenever I have a book coming out, the link I promote is going to have my affiliate link in it, so I get the normal commission, but then I also get that extra 4, 5, 6 percent for sending people to buy my book through Amazon. If you’re selling anything on Amazon, it’s just a nice way to get a few extra percentage points in whatever you sell to people.
James: Exactly right. What people don’t realize is that most companies have an affiliate program. It’s just you’ve got to dig for it a bit sometimes on the footer or search for the product plus affiliate, and you might find it. So things that you already buy and things that your customers definitely buy, a great place to start.
Only promote good value
And only ever promote something that you really think is good value for people because it will come back on you if you promote bad products or services. Just because you’re a bit interested in that commission means you shouldn’t. A lot of marketers tap into this. The promotions that I get asked to promote, they’re always saying, “Hey, promote this. Win a Harley Davidson. Win my Ferrari or win whatever.” That’s not a good enough reason for me to send an email to my customer.
I don’t think my customer cares that I might win a Ferrari because I’m sending the email, but I do think they care that they get their emails delivered or that their website software works properly. So it’s very important to only represent products that you think are good. So you are literally a commissioned salesperson and you get a fee for success.
You can rotate the offers to see which ones are giving you a good result. But I would say don’t do it purely based on revenue. Do it based on reputation and reward for your effort. The companies that pay you quite well, they’re the ones that are easy to create more content for. You could make 20 or 100 articles around photography and have your link to the Canon camera that’s sitting there on Amazon from every single one of them.
But there’ll also be competitors to Amazon. There’ll be photography shops that sell cameras and may have a better affiliate program. Just like with AdSense versus different publishing platforms, you can shop around for a good payout for the same product.
James: There you go. So simple ways that you can promote stuff from your website, you can have your banners, you can have articles and content that weaves it into text links, you can put it in your email footers, really simple to do. Mention them in your transcriptions, link to them from your PDFs. One thing, if you are on affiliate marketing, I strongly urge you to use a redirection URL. So don’t link directly to the affiliate link. Use some kind of link cleaner upper, not bitly. Use your own one. You can get them from yourls.org I think.
You can get your own. I’ve installed my own one. I’m the only one who uses it. So it’s got a good reputation. Get your own shortener, put it on your website. Then you can use it over and over again and have good reputation because affiliate programs often change. They’ll change their platform or they’ll discontinue a product.
If you’ve got the raw link, it’s very hard to go and change it. But if you have your own shortener or a plugin that does this, then you can go and change the link, and you don’t have to go and change it wherever you put it, especially if you put it in a PDF document. You can’t go and change it once the customer downloads it like a Trojan horse onto their computer.
Matthew: Yeah. Or if you’re going to put anything in a book or anything that’s just going to be in print, you want something that’s going to stick around a while.
James: Yeah, redirect it through your website. Nice, simple redirections are the way to go.
Matthew: Yup. I use a plugin called Pretty Link to do pretty much the same thing. Anything I mention in print gets sent through MattPaulson.com/whatever, and it seems to work pretty well.
James: It’s a great idea. And the reason I installed my own link tracking software, I just got my own short URL domain name for it, because I want it to be site agnostic and WordPress-independent.
James: I just wanted a nice simple script that does what I need it to do. And it gives you good stats. You can go on, just like you’re doing with your AdSense, you can go and click on your link shortener and review which links are getting clicked on. Some of the tricky programs have split testing capabilities and all of that, but I suggest just keep it simple.
Action steps from the episode
A starting action from this podcast would be to go and find a piece of real estate on your website that’s being overlooked, and put an Adblock or an affiliate banner to something that makes sense for your audience, and start monetizing. That’s really the goal.
Matthew: Yeah. And I think it’s important to mention that what works for my website is different than what works for James’s website, which is going to be different from what works for your website. So much of what is effective just depends so much on what kind of niche you’re in. In the Internet marketing space, selling your own products and doing affiliate marketing works great, and in the finance and investing industry, just straight up banner ads works great, and there’s other industries where promoting stuff on Amazon works great.
It just depends, so a great way to figure out, if you’re just getting started and you don’t know what to do, look at what your competitors are doing. If they’re all right into AdSense, you do the view source on their website, you say, oh, this guy’s got an AdSense tag, maybe I should have an AdSense tag too. That’s kind of a neat way to shortcut ideas for monetization.
James: Exactly. Other people are leaving clues for you. So it’s always good as a starting point to see what’s happening in the marketplace. It doesn’t mean you’ll end there, but some people have already figured it out. Matthew’s been talking about all sorts of things that make sense in this series, so he’s got things figured out.
And the things that I’m doing are what’s been working for me, and almost 10 years since I registered my very first domain, I’d like to think that I’ve figured some of the stuff out. And the great thing is, there’s so much more to figure out.
So we will also be interested in your questions, as you go and listen to this series, if you’ve had questions or you’ve had success from taking actions, that’s also something very interesting to us. And if you really care, we may come back with a future miniseries and update you with some news ideas and tips and especially let us know if you’ve got some suggestions for those modules.
Matthew: Yeah. If you want us to do more of these, just leave a comment, and if we get enough of them, maybe we will record some more episodes.
James: That will be cool. So, Matthew, I want to thank you so much for putting aside the time. Obviously, we’ve had to block several hours of your life and my life to record these 6 podcasts, and I just want to say it’s been really great doing this project together.
You’re a terrific co-host, and I recommend that our listeners think about how they might want to do a little joint venture or projects like we’ve done, where 2 people can come together and create something together. It was actually a very good process to do and hopefully we’ve thrown some great ideas out into the marketplace for people to chew on and get results from, most importantly.
Matthew: Absolutely. And if you do want to learn about something else, just leave it in the comments and maybe a month from now, if we get bored, we’ll hit each other up on Skype and do another one of these. So tell us what you want to learn from us, and maybe we can do that sometime.
James: There you go. Well, thank you, Matthew.
Matthew: Thank you, James.
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