Why Affiliate Marketers should have their Own Website

Before the demise of Squidoo, I espoused the benefits of writing articles for Squidoo. Write about anything you want. The search engines ranked Squidoo well. With just a little work, you could easily make a few dollars for an article. With lots of work and research, one article could make hundreds, even thousands, of dollars over the course of a couple of years. All without the need to worry about the technical side of stuff. No programming required. Sounds great, doesn’t it? You collect Troll Dolls? Take some photos and write an article about it.

But like troll dolls, Squidoo’s popularity fell. It went the way of MySpace and Geocities. Google stopped ranking Squidoo so highly. And after a year of declining traffic, they sold much of their content (read: your content) to Hubpages. Authors could move to Hupages and continue to make money, in theory, but Hubpages had rules that limited the number and type of affiliate links.

Why did Squidoo fail?

The direct cause of their failure can be debated, but undoubtedly some of their problems were caused by their very nature. They were seen by some as a “make money fast” website and people produced poor content. Google saw this poor content (not to mention the ever increasing number of ads) and ranked the whole domain lower in the search engines. The drop in traffic caused the drop in revenue. The management tried to use automated filters to improve the content, and they had contests and incentives to write specific content, but sometimes it seemed like the management was just as interested in making fast money as the writers were. Halloween coming up? Make some costume articles. Really? Is that the right path to take?

You can avoid all of the problems Squidoo encountered by creating your own website. And, all of your hard work won’t be erased by someone else’s decision. There will be ups and downs, and the start will likely be slow, but if you think about the long term (5+ Years), your own website is definitely the most secure way to go.

WordPress is the Easiest and Cheapest way to have your own Website

A personal website can easily cost as little as $10/month, and you don’t need to be a programmer. Web hosts like Siteground offer a 1-click Easy Install of the Wordpress blogging software.  Don’t be misled by the word “blog.”  Wordpress can power any type of website, including product review sites, e-commmerce websites, membership sites and more.  The interface for creating blog posts (or any other new content) is easier than using Microsoft Word.

There are even WordPress plugins specifically designed for increasing affiliate revenue.   Plugins are a great way to easily add new features to your site.  Wordpress is very modular.  Even the appearance of your site can be changed easily by swapping out themes.  There are many free themes, and if you decide to buy a custom designed theme, you can do that at any time without losing any of your content. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that keeps your content separate from the appearance, which makes it ideal for writers of all kinds. Plus, if you decide to branch out and hire writers, you can do that easily as well, since WordPress supports multiple users. You can even create contributor accounts specifically for writers that have limited capabilities.

How to Choose a Web Host?

Basically, to start your own website, all you need is a domain name and a web host that supports WordPress.  These do not have to be purchased at the same company, but doing so makes life easier and often web hosts offer special deals on domain names.

I am on my third web host company.  I left the first two companies because of too much downtime.  In July of 2014, I switched to Siteground.  As I write this, it’s almost January 2016, so I’ve been with them for about a year and a half.   We just finished the busiest time of the year (Christmas), and they were only down once during this past month, for a total of 48 minutes. In the months prior to that, their uptime was even better.  I use UptimeRobot

UpTime Robot Screenshot
UpTime Robot Screenshot

to keep track of my websites’s downtime.  I have to say that Siteground is exceptional, considering the very cheap shared hosting plan I use (the GrowBig plan).  Furthermore, their customer service is very fast.  I had an issue with phpMyAdmin not working and they fixed it within a few minutes.   Also, they just recently upgraded their servers to run solid state drives and a better backup system.   Siteground also does automatic upgrades of the WordPress software, which is important for security.

Choosing a web host can feel difficult because of all of the technical details.  I’ve found searching google to be pretty useless because there are so many affiliate  websites that have fake reviews and useless comparison sites.  So my best advice is to get a recommendation from a friend.  I really wouldn’t worry about the technical stuff.  If you’re using WordPress, make sure that the host you choose supports that, and then once you start getting traffic you can consider upgrading your web hosting plan.

How to Get Traffic to your Website

The two major reasons that people write articles for other websites are traffic and money.  They usually go hand in hand.  You can’t make money off of your website if you don’t have any traffic.  So, how do you get traffic?  The answer is to write high quality, unique content and wait.

Google ranks established domains higher in the search engines.   A new domain will take awhile to rank well in search engines, even with good quality content.  That’s exactly why I think you should register your domain and start your website today.   You could register your domain, set up your WordPress website with a basic theme, and publish one article a week.  Don’t worry about traffic or money.  Just wait a year and see what happens.  Of course, add affiliate links just like you would normally — even a website will low traffic can make affiliate income if you link to what your readers are looking for.  If you’re not sure how, check out this tutorial on how to add Amazon affiliate link to your WordPress blog.

If you have the time, here are some ways you can try to generate more traffic

  • If you have a Twitter or Facebook following, write articles that you think your followers would be interested in and post links to those articles.
  • Find a topic that doesn’t have much competition in the search results, and write an in-depth article that answers common questions.  Long and unique content is likely to rank faster than short content.
  • Offer to write a guest column on another website and ask if they can include a link to your website in the author’s bio area or article footer.  Backlinks from related websites are helpful in increasing traffic.
  • Participate in forums like Reddit, Yahoo Answers, and niche based sites and link to your site when appropriate.

What should you write about?

If you’re disappointed with the search results and think you can provide a better article, then write one.

If you can provide a unique angle on a topic, then write about that topic!

If you have a funny or creative idea that you think your friends will like, write about that!

If you want to make a ton of money with Amazon affiliate income, then find products that are popular and write an article from a different angle.  You could write about:

  • Accessories for a popular item
  • Comparison of several different similar items
  • Answer technical questions
  • Buy the item and take your own photos and write a review (a great way to fund a hobby!)

Take Control of Your Future – Start a Website Today

Running your own website takes time and a lot of patience, but very little money.  If you think you have something special to offer to the world, then build an online presence with your own website.  Write articles that people will bookmark and send to their friends.  Don’t give up.  And remember that your article might not get any traffic this month, but it may bring in hundreds of visitors in a year from now.  Be you.  Make the World Wide Web a better, more fun, place!  And profit with links to products you can honestly recommend!  Win-Win.

How to Create Amazon Affiliate Links on your WordPress Blog?

In this tutorial, we will describe several different ways to display Amazon products on
your WordPress blog. Since so many people shop at Amazon, and Amazon has such
a huge variety of products, many websites earn hundreds (even thousands!) of
dollars in monthly revenue with the Amazon Associates affiliate program.

These instructions assume that you’ve already signed up for the Amazon Associates
program. If you have not, you can join for free here.  The Amazon Associates program allows you to earn up to 10% in advertising fees. The more sales you make, the more you earn.

How to Add Amazon Text Links to Your WordPress Website

Adding text links is very easy! You can do it manually or use the code that Amazon
generates for you.

Here’s how to do it manually:

1. Find the Amazon product.
2. Copy the URL.
3. Delete everything after the ?
4. After the question mark, add this: tag=YOUR_TAG
For example, this is a valid URL, just replace the words YOUR_TAG with your tag:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/020161622X/?tag=YOUR_TAG-20
Note, that for the U.S. website, all tags end with “-20”

Other Amazon international websites have different numbers for the last part of the tag.

5. Open up your WordPress blog, find the post you want to add the link to, and click edit.

6. Highlight the text that you would like to turn into a link.

7. Click on the add/edit link button:

Wordpress Visual Editor - Add Amazon Link to Post
WordPress Visual Editor – Add Amazon Link to Post

8. Paste the Amazon link into the URL field and click on Add Link.

9. Click publish to update the blog post.

Here’s how to insert a text link that Amazon generates for you:

The advantage of manually creating the links as described above is that you can literally add your Amazon affiliate tracking code to any Amazon page.  You can link to Amazon search result pages, Amazon category pages, and any Amazon product.  The disadvantage is that a plain text link can not track impressions so you will not be able to determine your click-through rate.  If you want to track impressions and your click-through rate, you can use Amazon’s text link insertion tool which adds a tiny invisible image to your page (a 1 pixel x 1 pixel square) and it also adds a linkId to your affiliate link.  In no way is this linkId or small image required, but it enables automatic tracking.

Amazon Associate Site Stripe
Amazon Associate Site Stripe
  1. Log into Amazon.
  2. At the top of Amazon’s website, you should see a gray banner that has choices like “Link to this page.” This banner is called the Associates Site Stripe.  If you do not see this at the top of the Amazon site, you can turn on and customize the Associate Site Stripe here.
  3. Navigate to the Amazon product you’d like to link to and click on “Link to this page.”
  4. Select the “Text Only” tab.
  5. Customize the link anchor text.
  6. Click “Highlight HTML” and right click on the highlighted text and click on “Copy.”
  7. Navigate to the WordPress post that you would like to add this link to. Click “Edit Post.”
  8. Click the “Text” tab at the top of the post edit box to switch to the text editor.  You can NOT add HTML to the Visual editor.
  9. Find the correct location and Paste the HTML into your blog post by right clicking and selecting paste.
  10. Click Publish to update your blog post.

How to Insert an Amazon Product Link with the Product Image and Current Price

Amazon makes it very easy to add an attractive box featuring a “Shop now” button, the current price, and the product picture. For example, here’s a text and image link to the Star Wars Trilogy on Bluray:

To add this to your website, follow these easy instructions:

  1. Log into Amazon.
  2. At the top of Amazon’s website, you should see a gray banner that has choices like “Link to this page.” This banner is called the Associates Site Stripe.  If you do not see this at the top of the Amazon site, you can turn on and customize the Associate Site Stripe here.
  3. Navigate to the Amazon product you’d like to link to and click on “Link to this page.”
  4. Select the “Text and Image” tab.
  5. Customize the background and font colors for the title and price so that it matches your website or stands out.
  6. Click “Highlight HTML” and right click on the highlighted text and click on “Copy.”
  7. Navigate to the WordPress post that you would like to add this link to. Click “Edit Post.”
  8. Click the “Text” tab at the top of the post edit box to switch to the text editor.  You can NOT add HTML to the Visual editor.
  9. Find the correct location and Paste the HTML into your blog post by right clicking and selecting paste.
  10. You can switch back to the Visual editor by clicking on the Visual tab and then click on the gray box and then click “align left” or “align right” to move where the Amazon product box will be positioned.  You can also drag and drop the box to a different location in your post.  If you’d like to preview how your post will look, click “Preview” (just above the publish button).
  11. Click Publish to update your blog post.

How to Add Amazon Links to Your WordPress Sidebar

You can add the Amazon links to your sidebar or any widget area.  Follow the above instructions, but instead of pasting the HTML code into your post, follow these instructions.

  1. Log into your WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Appearance->Widgets.
  2. Click on the “Text” widget and add it to the sidebar or widget area.
  3. Paste the HTML code into the Content box of the Text widget and click save.

How to Add “Buy From Amazon.com” Buttons to your Website

It’s a hidden feature, but Amazon provides buttons that you can use on your website.  Here is an example of one such button:

Official Amazon Buy Button

Please note that you can not create your own buttons with their logo on it.  People have had their account cancelled for doing so.

To add that button to your website, right click on the button and click “save as” and save it to your computer.  Then go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Media” and “add New.”  Upload the image you saved.  Then on the WordPress post edit page, click on “Add Media” and you will see the button.  Click on the image and click edit.  In the “Link To” section, enter the Amazon url that has your tracking ID.

How to Add Banner Amazon Advertisements

(Pictured above is an official banner advertisement from Amazon.)

Log into your Amazon Associates account and click on “Offers – Deals & Promotions” in the left side bar.  Amazon provides a selection of current banner advertisements that you can link to on your website.  Just click on “Get Banner” and copy the HTML into your post in the same way as described above for other types of links (using the Text editor — remember you can NOT post HTML into the Visual editor).

Any other questions?

If I did not answer your question about how to add Amazon links to your WordPress website, please post a comment below.  I will try to help.  I will also try to answer any other questions you may have about making money with the Amazon affiliate program.

 

3 Ways to Get Your Amazon Affiliate Website Ready for the Holidays

The holiday shopping season is just around the corner. From previous years’ experience, I can safely predict that traffic to my Amazon Affiliate websites will likely increase 10x during the months of November and December, and if I make the right preparations, it is not unrealistic to expect earnings to increase just as much.

Here are 3 tips on how to get ready for the increase in online shoppers.

1. Check your Amazon Affiliate Links

Screenshot of Amazon Site with Error
It is not uncommon to find that products you linked to last year no longer exist. Amazon often keeps old product pages in their database, but if there are no sellers for the product, your readers can’t buy it.

A normal broken link checker will spot 404 errors, but it will not find links that point to out-of-stock products because the page still exists, even though the product doesn’t.  For that, you need an Amazon-specific link checker which actually checks each product you link to.

If you use WordPress, you can automate this task with the Check Amazon Links WordPress Plugin. It will automatically search your website for links and it will alert you of links to out-of-stock products.  It tells you what post(s) or page(s) it found the out of stock links on, and then you can easily update the link to a similar in-stock product.  With the jewelry and clothing categories especially, often you will find the same product available on another Amazon page, so you just need to update the ASIN to the correct one.

The Check Amazon Links plugin also looks to see what affiliate tag you are using, which makes it easy to spot any links with missing or incorrect affiliate tags.

There are some things you need to check for that can’t be done automatically.  To maximize your conversion rate with Amazon links, you should make sure that the links point to products that meet the following criteria:

  • The product is the newest model or edition
  • The product has positive reviews
  • The product has a competitive price from trustworthy sellers

Some links need to be updated every year.  For example, if you link to a calendar, you will have to change the link to next year’s calendar as soon as it becomes available.  No one is going to buy last year’s calendar.  You can search your blog for the keyword “calendar” and then correct all posts that link to calendars.

Likewise, electronic items often have new models every year.  Sometimes, last year’s model is actually quite desirable, but in other cases, the old model lacks sought after features and is not likely to sell.  You will have to manually inspect each link and decide which model your readers are most likely to purchase.

Your job as an Affiliate marketer is to make life easy for your readers.  If you point them to what they are most likely looking for, you will be more likely to make the sale.

2. Optimize your Website for Search Engines

Now is an excellent time for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  It’s true that search engines like good content, but if you write content without thinking about search engines, you might be missing out on traffic.

Your page should be formatted in a way so that your title, meta description, and headings all contain your keywords.   The Yoast SEO plugin makes optimization of the description and title for each page easy.  It shows you a preview of what your page might look like in the search results, like this:

Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress Screenshot

 

In addition to optimizing your website for your target keywords, you also want to check how your site is doing with two technical issues: website loading speed and mobile friendliness.

Mobile friendliness is a factor that Google uses to determine you search engine ranking on mobile devices. Google provides a tool to test your website for mobile friendliness.  If your site doesn’t pass, then you will likely need to make changes to the HTML & CSS.  If you are using WordPress, you may need to edit your theme or install a new one.

Your site’s loading speed is also an important factor in how well your site ranks.  Google has this tool for testing page speed.

3. Consider Upgrading your Hosting Plan

If your site is slow, you may want to upgrade to a faster hosting plan before the large increase in traffic that comes from holiday shoppers.  Personally, I’ve noticed that sometimes big sites become slow during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the days right before Christmas.  That tells me that they weren’t ready for all of the traffic.

So are you ready for 10x the traffic?  You could ask your hosting provider what would happen if you got a 10x increase.  If you are using shared hosting, the traffic that other sites on your server gets also effects you.

Think about all of the money you could lose if your site goes down during these popular shopping days.  I think it’s better to be prepared.  Spending a little extra money on a better web host or hosting plan can really pay off.  Personally, I use SiteGround and I have been happy with how their SuperCacher speeds up my websites.  Also no downtime!   I guess there is a reason that they list at the top of many web hosts comparison charts/surveys.

What are your suggestions?

Are you an experienced Affiliate Marketer?  Do you have some tips for beginners?  Please post a tip or two, either about affiliate blogging in general, or something specific to holiday sales.  Thanks!