Giving away free stuff

Associate Programs Newsletter #26


CONTENTS:

1. Where to find the best free offers
2. Generous 20% commission on books
3. Server can't cope.
4. Brave amateur asks for criticism
5. Sandy withdraws Safe-Audit recommendation
6. Too many eggs in one basket?
7. Who wants BridgePages.com?
8. Snippets


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1. Where to find the best free offers
=====================================

A lot of companies and pay-per-lead services are now offering free material and rewarding webmasters with commissions. As FreeShop puts it: "Sell Nothing - Get Paid!", which has a very attractive ring to it.

Naturally, you want to make sure you're getting the best deal. Occasionally one company can be paying twice as much as another for the same freebie offer.

Cyberbounty, WebSponsors, Transact, Bach Systems, etc. . . . they're all giving away money for offering free stuff, says Walter Aresca of Italy.

How do you find the best deals? Walter has come to your rescue and sorted them all out in a table so you can see at a glance who is paying how much for what.

"Webmasters might benefit from it," he says modestly.

Well done, Walter! Your big challenge will be to keep the information comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date. If you can do that, I imagine you'll have a winner. It should also keep the competing companies on their toes.

One pay-per-lead offer I didn't see on Walter's list is Web Cards, which pays $1 when someone asks for a free sample, as well as paying a commission on sales. It works well for me.

When I visited Walter's site I had a dreadfully slow connection from Italy to my pole house by the beach in Queensland, Australia. I went and made a cup of coffee while waiting for the page to download. If you promote free stuff, the page is worth waiting for. What the page needs next is a memorable name instead of http://www.musictus.com/webmaster/comparison.html

Maybe FreebiesCompared.com?

[UPDATE: When Web Cards started spamming, I stopped promoting it. Bach was renamed onResponse and bought by ValueClick.]


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2. Generous 20% commission on books
===================================

Bookseller ComputerLiteracy.com has improved its offering, with "better referral fees, unique products and new tools", says Affiliates Director Reagan Crossley. It now pays up to 20%, which is much better than Amazon.com's top rate of 15%. You also receive 10% on interactive training and manuals.

ComputerLiteracy.com has more than 1,800 interactive training products from 20 different vendors, Zona market research and hard-to-find items such as IBM Redbooks - products specifically suited for a technical audience.

"We now feature the Computer Literacy Store Builder. With it, you can easily organize titles into an online storefront and update them regularly."

Reagan says titles range in price from $20 to $3,000, so referral fees can add up fast. For details, see

[UPDATE: It was swallowed up by Barnes & Noble.]


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3. Server can't cope
====================

Jim Reardon of http://www.freecenter.com launched a service called Link Yourself competing with Link-O-Matic this week - and unfortunately had to withdraw it almost immediately. The server couldn't cope with all the action.

Jim is one of those guys who gives before he takes. For a quite a while he was offering useful free advice day after day on the Associate Programs Message Board before I gently suggested that he that he really ought to include his URL so that he could get a few visits in payment for his time. I hope he can find a more robust server soon.


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4. Brave amateur asks for criticism
===================================

Dwight Brown writes:

Hi Allan!

Both my brother and I really appreciate your newsletter. I, like you, enjoy Cory Rudl's program as it is a wonderful reseller program. It is currently number two on our money making sites . . . behind Top Secrets.

But we are still in the process of learning how to attract high traffic to our site. I would like to get upwards of 500 per day. What are you getting now?

My site is a work in progress (whose isn't?) and I feel it lacks content. Any advice?

Dwight Brown
MakeMegaMoney.com

I offered to review Dwight's site in the newsletter - and warned him that my critique would be tough. He bravely told me to ahead ahead.

OK, you asked for it, Dwight. Brace yourself.

First of all, I'm not an expert. My main site gets about 550 to 600 unique visitors a day. When I get 10 times that number I might feel qualified to give advice. However, I'm receiving about five times the number I was a few months ago, so I'm learning. Bearing that in mind, here's what I think of your site.

1. The name, um, stinks. Would you buy a used car from MakeMegaMoney.com? What image are you trying project? To me it screams "Trying-to-get-rich-quick", with lots of hype and no substance. If I stumbled on a site called that, I would back out fast.

2. You've shrunk the banner ads so much - no doubt to make them load fast - that I can't read all the words. This looks very amateurish.

3. Apart from the words "MakeMegaMoney" it took me quite a while before I found a description of the site's aim.

4. You need to check your links. I clicked on "Make $100 every time someone calls our Toll Free 1-800 number!" (the sort of teaser that annoys me because I have to go there to find out what it's all about). For some weird reason the link took me to what looks like a copy of your main page.

5. Even worse, I clicked on a graphic and was taken to a FreeYellow warning page. One of the possible reasons for the lack of content here was: "This Member may have been removed due to violations of FreeYellow's Terms Of Service." I don't know if that's true in your case, but it looks bad. You may not be a spammer, but the seed of doubt has been sown. Your whole site comprises only 30 links. It should be easy to check them.

6. At this stage, a visitor might ask, "Who is this guy? Why should I listen to his advice?" Nowhere is there an "About Us" page. You refer to "we" but don't say who you are or anything about yourself.

7. OK, do you have any visitors left after all that? They might hopefully click on "Mega Resource Center" and find that this misnamed "mega resource" contains only 20 useful links. So you've just been caught giving a misleading impression.

8. But worse than that, you're almost definitely lying by having a traffic counter which says you have had 100,572 visitors in two months. Your visitors won't be fooled. The shonky counter just confirms their fears that you can't be trusted.

9. You say you want to attract visitors. The most valuable kind are repeat visitors. You have an opportunity to sell to them over and over again. So ask yourself: "Why would my visitors want to return?" I couldn't find one reason.

10. You built a web site which is like thousands of others. It's looks quickly thrown together with the aim of making money. It won't because it lacks useful content. NetSmart's survey of 1000 web users found that 93% are looking for specific information when they go online. Why not aim to have a site that gives them somewhere to go?

Dwight told me he's an account representative with a major cellular phone company in Ottawa, Canada. OK, how about choosing a topic you know about - cellular phones? Perhaps you could aim to have the most comprehensive, reliable info on the net on the subject. It's been done? Maybe - but not nearly as many times as "How to make money on the Internet" has been done.

Want a memorable name to get you started? How about CellPhones.com? Sorry, it's been taken - but it is for sale, according to a note on the site today.


============================================
5. Sandy withdraws Safe-Audit recommendation
============================================

Sandy K of http://www.thefreemall.net was the first person to recommend Safe-Audit to the Associate Programs Directory but withdrew the recommendation this week.

"Safe-Audit used to be reputable but lately e-mail goes unanswered and they are four months behind with payments. I have heard the same thing from other webmasters. When their sponsors terminate campaigns, Safe-Audit does not give you any notice until after the fact so clicks go unpaid until Safe-Audit sends an e-mail informing you."

Sandy says Safe-Audit has sent two e-mails in the last four months "and I have sent them about 20 asking for payment".

"P.S. If I ever do get payment I'll let you know, but I doubt it. I told them to close my account and they told me that if I close it they will have no way to trace back payments, which is ridiculous. So I left it open. I took all their banners off of my site though."

Safe-Audit says only a tiny minority of its 14,000 members are unhappy. In an anonymous message from "Administration" Safe-Audit says it "has always prided itself on being the best payers of any network". It says six people did not receive their July checks and replacements checks have now been e-mailed.

Safe-Audit explains the apparent lack of response to e-mails by saying: "The problem is the loading on our servers. However fast we add servers, with 2,000 new members each month and our traffic growing 10-20% each month we are always just keeping pace. We now know that our servers have been so busy that some of our outgoing mail has just never made it to the network."

I think Safe-Audit will weather the storm. If one of the 14,000 members wants to add a recommendation to Sandy's comment, that's fine with me.

[UPDATE: Safe-Audit has disappeared.]


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6. Too many eggs in one basket?
===============================

If you're looking for an alternative to Safe-Audit, you could do a lot worse than TeknoSurf AdWave, "the fastest growing pay-per-click network in the world". Its advanced banner serving technology ensures that the ads that earn you the most money are displayed preferentially.

On my site, testing TeknoSurf on one page, the stats show: 1365 exposures, 1.38% ratio and $2.97 earned. As well, 41 of the visitors I've sent to TeknoSurf are now members, earning me $205 in three weeks. Those $5 commissions add up fairly quickly.

Because of the two-tier commission structure, I've earned an additional $32, mainly because of "garym", whoever he is.

By the way, if you have a cheap and nasty "How to Make Money on the Internet" type of site, don't bother applying to TeknoSurf. John Ferber doesn't want you on his team.

[UPDATE: TeknoSurf is now Advertising.com.]


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7. Who wants BridgePages.com?
=============================

Danny Sullivan built the hugely popular site http://www.SearchEngineWatch.com by concentrating on just one thing - search engines. I reckon there's now a gap in the market for someone to narrow the focus and launch a site concentrating just on gateway or bridge pages.

If you want to create a special page for each major search engines for each of your favorite phrases, that's a lot of work, so I'm not surprised that I've notched up a few sales of SearchPositioning, a tool to help you do the job. (It's listed at Best two tier affiliate programs .) However, last week Bill Prackup recommended Engenius 1.0 software to do the job, and this week I learned that there's another contender, Derrick VanDyke's netsitedesign.com/promotion/1540/index.html

Now, where's the site which gives me advice on gateway or bridge pages and also gives me advice on these three options? Maybe someone would like to set one up?

It could answer all the questions: Do bridge pages work? (That's easy: Yes.) What's the best tool or software to create them? Will search engines penalize me if I create bridge pages? (Answer: Maybe, be careful.) Etc, etc.

It would take a dedicated researcher to keep up with this fast changing topic, but the results would be very useful.

So what's a good memorable name for this site I'd like to see? How about BridgePages.com? It was still available when I checked today.

Want to see if anyone has grabbed it? Try this handy tool
virtualisys.com/vr/agardyne/domain_search.html

[UPDATE: Virtualis merged with Adgrafix and then became Hosting.com. Almost no one recommendeds doorway pages these days.]


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8. Snippets
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"I found her first in my dreams"
"Yes, I did meet my wife on the Net! There is no better way for people to find each other and begin a new life together!" says Tom Chapman of Singles On-Line. "I found her by not limiting myself to a specific geographic area or any other restrictions. I found her first in my dreams and later in my diligence." Now there's a guy who knows how to add a bit of his personality to a site.
http://www.singlesonline.com/ceo.htm

Buying domain names
Iconocast.com reports that Buy.com says it bought 2,500 domain names that contain the word "buy". And some of you haven't bought one yet. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to find a good one.

Those expensive checks
Corey Rudl has agreed to stop sending me those horrendously expensive to process U.S. checks written on a Canadian bank. (Expensive for anyone outside the U.S.) He's going to start sending checks from an American bank account in American currency. I'll look forward to that. His marketing manual is still my biggest money earner. Here's the sign-up page
http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/coreys

Barnes & Noble suffers loss
Bookseller Barnes & Noble reported a larger-than-expected loss because of operating losses on the Net.

WI Mall out of business
Mickey Argo reports that WI Mall appears to be out of business. "No storefront is working, no one answers the phone or e-mail, customers are asking about products they ordered months ago . . . a message board at Webpackage.com has some info and gives links to other sites".

Strange names
Have you wondered how Fogdog Sports chose its odd name? Believe it or not, it paid for it.

Best marketing newsletter
John Audette's new marketing newsletter, Adventive.com "Adapting to the Internet: Reports from the Inside", is the best on the Net. Don't miss it.
[UPDATE: John sold his Internet businesses.]

My new sponsor
I have a new sponsor, BeFree, which, according to Barnes and Noble, creates the best solution on the Internet for companies setting up an associate program. Be Free is a sophisticated option for companies with huge sales - or ones that want to get that way.

Beware of CyberThrill
Wondering if CyberThrill can be as bad as those rumors say? Apparently it's worse. There's even a Webmasters Against CyberThrill webring. You have been warned.

Speak French?
A French journalist, Florent Latrive, interviewed me for an article titled "A nous les petites boutiques!"
liberation.fr/index.php

My email got scrambled
If you sent me an email on November 25 and I haven't answered, please send it again. My Eudora Pro crashed just after I had downloaded a few dozen emails.

Need help?
I'd like to try to answer all your questions but if I did I'd never get anything else done. The best place I know to seek help on all sorts of topics is I-Sales HelpDesk. That's what it's for.

[UPDATE: For help, visit our friendly, helpful affiliate forum:
http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/discus/index.php ]


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All the best

Allan Gardyne

November 27, 1998

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