PPC, bonuses, offline marketing, software with embedded affiliate links, widgets, shopping communities… affiliates generate revenue in a wide variety of ways.
Here are some 28 more idea generators…
26. PPC direct to advertisers
It's much more difficult than it used to be, but some affiliates still join affiliate programs, buy pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and send the visitors directly to the vendor, earning a commission on the sale. This technique was popularized by Chris Carpenter in GoogleCash.
27. PPC to websites
Pay per click marketing is one of the toughest ways of generating affiliate commissions because your money can run out so fast if you get it wrong. However, when it's done right it has the potential to be much more lucrative than most other affiliate marketing methods.
You buy PPC traffic from Google AdWords (or Yahoo! Search Marketing or MSN), send it to a website, and have a high enough conversion rate so that you earn considerably more in commissions than you spend on advertising. That's the goal.
To achieve it you need certain skills, such as the ability to select products that pay well, write eye-catching ads that get the click, write compelling web pages and monitor the results.
It's more challenging than many ebook authors would lead you to believe, but if you get it right, the rewards can be huge.
The SpeedPPC system, invented by Jay Stockwell, enables you to get great Google Quality Scores and click-through rates and create perfectly targeted landing pages which are dynamically created. You can do a month's work in minutes. SpeedPPC is best for experienced PPC marketers. If you not sure you need it, read the glowing testimonials.
28. PPC arbitrage
Google and Yahoo! have taken steps to restrict PPC arbitrage, but haven't killed it entirely. Affiliates buy PPC advertising on cheap keywords, sending visitors to pages using contextual advertising, hoping to generate more revenue than they spend.
For example, they may buy traffic from Google AdWords and send it to a page monetized by Yahoo! contextual advertising, or vice versa. You need to be good at achieving high conversion rates and monitoring statistics.
Other affiliates add a twist to the technique by sending visitors to pages which promote pay-per-lead products, in which affiliates are paid for the lead.
29. Brandable reports and brandable ebooks
Affiliates create reports and ebooks and allow other affiliates to rebrand the reports and ebooks with their own affiliate links and give away the reports.
You need to produce a high quality, genuinely USEFUL report that other affiliates will be happy to give away. Here's an article explaining how to create Brandable ebooks.
30. Affiliates pay other affiliates
To build a large opt-in list very fast, affiliates pay other affiliates a small commission, typically 50 cents or $1, for every person they refer who downloads a free report.
Such reports are typically highly controversial (remember “Death of AdSense”?), attract public arguments and generate buzz. They usually presell products on which the author earns a commission.
31. Affiliate bonuses
Especially popular in the Internet marketing field, bonuses are offered by affiliates to encourage more sales. The most effective bonuses are ones that complement the product being sold. For example, a case study which shows how the affiliate used the product to achieve X amount of sales.
The pitch often goes something like this: “If you buy this ebook through my affiliate link and send me your receipt I'll give you…”
One problem is that affiliates normally have to check those receipts and manually send the bonuses. Steve Diamond solved that problem for ClickBank affiliates by creating affiliate bonus manager software which automatically sends the bonus to the customer.
First, videos were powerful sales tool for vendors. Videos make it easy to demonstrate a product. They increase conversion rates, sometimes dramatically.
Then affiliates caught on and started using videos, too.
The simplest way to put a video online is to grab a digital camera that takes videos and follow the instructions at YouTube. Then you can simply paste the code that YouTube provides into your website. YouTube kindly hosts the video for you – no bandwidth problems.
Eric Holmlund and Michael Nicholas have made things even easier for affiliates by coming up with Affiliate Video Brander, which enables affiliates to use affiliate vendors' videos and still direct traffic through an affiliate link.
33. PLR – private label rights
Affiliates use PLR (private label rights) articles and PLR products in a variety of ways to save time and money and generate revenue. For example, PLR articles can be used as blog posts, website content and in email courses. Here are some good places to find PLR articles.
34. Offline affiliates
Offline affiliate marketing can be as simple as posting notes on noticeboards in shopping centers and colleges, or as sophisticated as getting yourself interviewed on radio or buying ads on TV.
Offline marketing can be done by using a short, memorable domain name which redirects people straight to the vendor's site. Or you can send visitors to your site where they opt in to get a free report. The report presells the affiliate product, and the visitors are also signed up to an autoresponder series.
Some affiliates visit offline businesses. Others volunteer to speak at club meetings and arrange teleconferences.
One affiliate vendor who provides a heap of assistance and tools for offline affiliates is Ken Evoy of SiteSell. He provides an Offline Sales Kit which includes marketing guides, a PowerPoint presentation, brochures, fliers, ads, handouts, etc. He pays $75 commissions, plus commissions on renewals.
“Chambers of Commerce are a perfect place to meet lots of local business owners,” Ken tells his affiliates.
35. Type-in traffic
Affiliates buy dozens or even thousands of domain names which contain keywords which are so common that people can successfully guess the domain name. People type the domain name straight into their browser and arrive at a site that promotes affiliate products, or PPC links.
CNN reported in 2007 that Rick Schwartz owns 5,000 domain names and says he makes $2 million a year from type-in traffic.
36. Freeware and shareware plus affiliate links
You – or a programmer you hire – can create software which promotes an affiliate product. As a bonus, you can get hundreds or thousands of one-way links to your site.
Directories such as Download.com, TuCows.com, FreeDownloadsCenter.com and thousands more list freeware and shareware software.
Smart affiliates tap into these huge traffic sources.
They create a simple downloadable application that promotes an affiliate product. In his book, Confessions of a Lazy Super Affiliate, Chris Rempel describes how he creates three types of freeware programs that promote a high-converting, big-demand affiliate product. Then he mass-submits the shareware to about 600 software directories.
If authority sites review the application, you can score a freak success. Chris has one application that has been downloaded more than 140,000 times and generated $19,000 in commissions.
He says he's created more than 150 applications promoting a wide variety of products. In his book, he describes which types of applications work best, and how to create them.
37. Upsells and back-end sales
Vendors create upsells and back-end offers promoting affiliate products, knowing that they're striking at a crucial moment – when the customer is already in a buying mood.
Upsells are most effective when the customer is able to acquire another product without having to enter their name, address, and credit card details a second time. This is extra work for your programmer, but well worth doing.
On eBay, affiliates used to be able to sell downloadable reports $1 or so. The reports would presell a product and contain affiliate links. The auction site clamped down on that, so affiliates put their reports on a CD and sell that. Because more costs are involved, they now need stronger skills.
Widgets are snippets of code that can be added to websites and blogs and can spread virally. An early popular one was Trivia Blitz, a java game applet provided by Uproar.com in the late 1990s. It included an “Add this game to your website button” which enabled it to spread to thousands of sites. Those who spread it earned a referral fee.
These days, developers are creating applications for Facebook, such as iLike, which has more than 4 million active users and generates revenue when users follow links and buy music on iTunes or tickets on Ticketmaster.
Here's an interview with Ali Partovi which includes a discussion on how the iLike widget generates revenue.
Many affiliate marketers love AdSense because because it's so easy to paste some AdSense code into a website or blog and get paid per click when your visitors click on the AdSense ads. Although it's hugely popular, it's just one of many ways to monetize a website.
These days, affiliates who own a large number of sites often own what they hope will become an AdSense empire. These MFA (made for AdSense) sites are often built with the help of PLR (private label rights) articles, cheap labor from outsourced workers and perhaps article spinning software which turns one article into hundreds.
And Google doesn't know what's going on, right?
More forward-thinking affiliates are building networks of sites that contain high quality, genuinely unique, useful content. They're building valuable sites that have a good chance of still ranking well 10 years from now.
I'm no longer surprised when I come across affiliates who have been using AdSense for years but haven't bothered reading the free helpful tips published on the AdSense site. Here's a good case study of a successful AdSense publisher. It's free on Google's own site.
41. Data feed sites
Merchant data feeds enable affiliates to add hundreds or even thousands of keyword-rich pages to a website. However, you can't just grab a merchant data feed from an affiliate network, shove it online and hope to get a lot of traffic from search engines, says affiliate datafeed veteran Gary Marcoccia. He says data feeds must be coupled with relevant content. I interviewed Gary to get his advice on affiliate datafeed sites.
Datafeedr is a new membership service which makes setting up stores using a merchant data feed quick and easy. Based on WordPress, it's provided by Eric Busch and Stefan Everaet. You can choose data feeds from CJ, LinkShare, Shareasale and ClickBank. Datafeedr is designed for affiliates who aren't techies and don't want to hire a programmer.
42. Data feeds + PPC
Sites using data feeds can be large and complex, with various types of content added to make each site unique. In contrast, affiliates who send PPC traffic to datafeed sites usually aim to keep each page fairly simple, with nothing to distract visitors.
One way to combine PPC and data feeds is to use SpeedPPC. It provides a Campaign Builder, Landing Page Generator, and Affiliate Datafeed Software.
Using the Affiliate Datafeed Software, you can import data directly from data feed files to build a super-targeted campaign and matching landing pages. Manually, this would be a extremely tedious and time consuming.
43. Incentives or rebate sites
“Incentivized” sales are encouraged by affiliates who offer points, prizes or cash rebates to people who buy through that particular site. The aim is to persuade customers to return to the affiliate site next time they wish to buy. Some affiliate networks won't accept incentive sites.
Sometimes large companies are involved. You may not think of American Express as being an affiliate, but it is: ShopAmex.com.
Rebate sites like Memolink.com, ExtraRebates.com and MrRebates.com collect email addresses – a valuable asset. Memolink says it has 10 million members, and has its own referral program.
Incentives offered don't have to be cash. PhoneHog.com offers its members free minutes of long-distance phone calls when they sign up for offers which pay PhoneHog per lead.
For example, Josh Kulp's NoCostGifts.com, which is aimed at U.S. residents, promises cash rebates and directs people to bargains and gifts at favorite restaurants and department stores, DVDs, movie tickets, long-distance calls, electronics, and so on. To receive any of these offers, a visitor has to become a member, so Josh collects email addresses fast.
I interviewed Josh to find out how he created the site and how his system works.
44. Teleconferences and teleseminars
Teleconferences and teleseminars increase credibility and trust by allowing potential customers to ask questions and sometimes listen to existing customers talk about their experiencee with the product. Teleseminars can sell many thousands of dollars worth of affiliate products in only an hour or so.
They can also be recorded, and the recording sold via an affiliate program.
45. Charity sites
Some shopping mall style sites say they give all or some of their affiliate commissions to charities. Charity sites vary hugely in quality. Some are rather vague about how much they donate.
If you're planning to create a charity site you need to provide solid proof that you're donating the money to charities.
46. Affiliate networks and CPA networks
Affiliate networks and CPA networks used to be just places affiliates would go to find products to promote. Then successful affiliates started launching their own CPA networks and taking a slice of the action from some of the products offered.
47. Affiliate podcasting
Podcasting (from the words “iPod” and “broadcast”) involves distributing audio or video files via RSS to people who can play them on their computers or on MP3 players.
Podcast fans like the fact that they can transfer the file to their iPod and listen to it while they're out walking or away from their computer. Whoops! If they're out walking, they can't click on the link you're telling them about, can they?
Visual folk wish podcasters would provide a transcript.
People like to learn in different ways – reading, listening or watching. By using podcasts, you widen your audience.
48. Social shopping communities
Kaboodle.com does its best to make shopping fun. It's obviously working – the site has more than 600,000 registered users and gets more than 7.5 million visitors a month.
Kaboodle, launched in 2006, describes itself as a “social shopping community where people discover, recommend and share products”.
Visitors can organize their shopping through lists, discover new things from people with similar style, get discounts on popular products and find best prices. Members create and join groups, share advice, feedback and product suggestions and personalize their profiles with polls and other widgets.
Another social shopping community is venture-funded ThisNext.com, where members discover products based on recommendations.
49. Interactive sites
Here's an innovative affiliate site which doesn't fit neatly into any of the previous categories. It's Zafu.com. If you're looking for a nice bra, pants or jeans, you head to Zafu and answer a few questions on fit, size and styles. Zafu's “jeans-finding engine” then locates the ideal items for you from among 90 brands and explains why each style works for your body.
More products are coming soon. Zafu is growing into a clothing search engine.
When you do something clever like this it's easy to get wonderful free publicity. In its first six months more than 1 million women used Zafu's jeans-finding engine.
Zafu earns an affiliate commission on every bra and pair of jeans sold. The site also carries advertisements.
50. Visual search engine
Another highly innovative site is Like.com, which describes itself as the “first true visual search engine”. You can search for products by color or texture. When visitors like the handbag or shoes or whatever they see and click, they're whisked directly to the affiliate merchant.
Like.com's owner, Riya Inc, raised $19.5 million in venture capital and, according to VentureBeat.com, is raising millions more.
CEO Munjal Shah says Like.com gets more than 5 million unique visitors a month and is buying traffic profitably. He won't say just how much traffic he's buying.
51. Customers provide product review videos
Kurt Lohse's Nuuvy.com allows anyone to provide video reviews of products – and pays from $1 to $10 per review. Under each video, there's a “Where to Buy” link, which takes you to coupon site KeyCode.com.
ExpoTV is another affiliate site which encourages visitors to provide video reviews of products. Visitors can earn up to $10 per video. They earn 1 cent each time a video is viewed.
52. Sites with a cause
One of the most powerful ways of selling is to be the public face of a worth while cause. That's what Randy Paynter, founder of Care2.com, has done. It grew out of his apartment. Now it has more than 50 employees and more than 9 million members. He promotes green living, health, civil rights, and a heap of other causes.
Another affiliate-driven site with a vision is MarchOfDimes.com, which fights for the health of babies.
If you motivate people, they'll spread the word for you, giving you unbeatable free publicity.
53. Social networking, social media
Affiliates join Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and so on and communicate and build and strengthen bonds in a friendly, helpful, interesting way with other people, without blatant advertising. Instead of trying to sell, smart affiliates provide excellent content. Eventually people follow links which lead to the affiliates' websites, buy products and sign up for their newsletters and RSS feeds.
Whew! I'm running out of steam. Social media is a huge topic. We'll have to leave that for another day.
This two-part article “53 ways to make money with affiliate programs” doesn't cover every way you can make money with affiliate programs, not by a long way. Perhaps one day I'll do an update and add to the list.
If you're doing something innovative which deserves a mention, I'd love to hear from you.
In the meantime, I hope this list has helped spark some useful ideas.
Instead of ideas: Solid ACTIONABLE steps
If, instead of idea generators, you're looking for step-by-step instructions, have a look at this…
Marlon Sanders' new Promo Dashboard is a point and click, organized way to promote your own products or affiliate products. Like his other popular “Dashboard” products, it gives you a system to follow.
The “Dashboard” has six rows of icons. Each row has six icons – 36 steps in all. It's designed as roughly a six-week program. You simply work your way through the steps, probably one step per day, taking an hour a day. Some people may take longer and some will be quicker.
Here's what you'll be doing as you follow the Promo Dashboard system…
You start by researching your market, and probably finding out more than you ever knew about your typical customer – what blogs they read, what websites they visit, what age they are, etc. Marlon shows you how.
Next, you come up with a “killer freebie” that compels people to opt in on your squeeze page. It can be a screen capture video, a PDF, an e-course or some other “freebie”. The aim is to get 15% to 25% of your visitors to opt in. Marlon shows you how. He shows you squeeze pages that WORK.
Then you send out emails containing what Marlon calls the “full arsenal”. You impress your subscribers by using such things as podcasts, videos, PDF reports, audio reports, webinars… Don't worry if you don't know how to do these things, Marlon takes you by the hand and shows you how, step by step. (There's a LOT of really good, solid stuff in this Dashboard.)
Your goal is to get 10% of your subscribers, over time, to buy your product. Your results will depend on your target market, your industry, and so on.
Again, Marlon is really GOOD at getting people to buy. He was selling products full-time online long before many of today's gurus were even online. He takes you step by step and shows you how, without any fluff and “guru speak”.
He uses step-by-step instructions, short audio messages, screen captures and short videos. He gives very clear, easy to understand instructions.
If you're looking for step-by-step instructions, with screenshots, audio and video, you'll love Promo Dashboard.