If there's one common thread that runs through most successful affiliate web sites, it's that each webmaster has a passion for their subject matter.
This month's featured site, The Flick Filosopher, is no exception. Long time film buff, MaryAnn Johanson (The Flick Chick), the self-proclaimed “girl movie critic” behind The Flick Filosopher, single-handedly runs one of the most impressive movie review sites on the Net today.
The real, make that the Reel.com, story here is that the right affiliate program can turn a hobby web site into something with a life (and a revenue stream) all on its own. What could be better than being paid to do something you love to do?
I've looked at tons of affiliate web sites in the course of researching my new book for McGraw-Hill, The Complete Guide to Associate and Affiliate Programs on the Net.
The Flick Filosopher is one of the best examples of original content supported by affiliate links I've seen to date. (Unfortunately, I became aware of the site only after the book had gone to press. Ah the hazards of publishing with dead trees …)
MaryAnn launched The Flick Filosopher in September, 1997, as a way for her to simultaneously hone her writing skills and indulge her love of film.
“There was no bolt of lightning,” she explained. “It seemed to be the natural thing to do being a film buff, as well as a writer.”
MaryAnn revealed that the site started as an exercise in discipline. “My writing has improved immensely, and my attitude towards writing has improved as well,” she said.
The plot took an entrepreneurial twist when MaryAnn joined the Reel.com Producer (affiliate) program, which is enabled by Be Free.
The Flick Filosopher is a carefully woven tapestry of original movie reviews and affiliate links. Each review contains direct links to the specific movie at Reel.com, so that readers can immediately purchase the film in DVD or video tape format (new or used), as well as movie soundtracks in CD format. Most reviews feature a host of relevant text links to other related movie reviews on the site, as well as to actor-specific links.
MaryAnn creates her pages from HTML templates that allow her to build the Reel.com affiliate links into each page in a consistent manner. “I go and find the code (from Reel.com) for each movie and plug it into the editor,” she explains. “I use Be Free's link generator to add banners for special events.” The review pages use both text and graphic links to drive a steady flow of traffic to Reel.com. Each review also features a Reel.com search box, maximizing click-through rates.
The site has garnered critical acclaim as well as a flock of loyal fans. Traffic and affiliate commissions have grown steadily over the years. 1999 marked the turning point, with a ten-fold increase in traffic. As of December 1999, The Flick Filosopher is serving more than 60,000 page views to nearly 30,000 unique visitors each month. The site's biggest traffic day ever was February 1, 1999, when it was named as a Netscape Netcenter Cool Site of the Day.
The Flick Filosopher's biggest successes stem from special review themes. Reviews of television movies from the A&E, HBO, Showtime, and TNT networks provide content that's hard to find elsewhere. “The site was bombarded with traffic from the coverage of A&E's Horatio Hornblower series,” she revealed. “A lot of that traffic stuck around.”
Mining the niches pays off. Affiliate links to Reel.com's massive inventory allow readers to easily purchase made-for-TV movies, which might otherwise be hard to locate.
As the credits roll, we can see yet another recurring theme amongst successful affiliates – they cherish their merchants. “I love Reel.com! I shop there all the time,” exclaims MaryAnn. “I wouldn't tell people to go there if I didn't think it was a great place to shop.”
Daniel Gray is the owner of geekbooks.com and the author of “The Complete Guide to Associate and Affiliate Programs on the Net – Turning Clicks Into Cash” (McGraw-Hill), “Looking Good on the Web” and “Adobe ImageStyler In Depth” (The Coriolis Group), and a host of other books on graphics – and Internet-related topics. He's been honored as an Amazon.com Featured Computer Book Associate, PlanetRx Affiliate of the Month, and Refer-It Affiliate of the Month.[Editor's Note: The Reel.com affiliate program closed. The domain name appears to have been bought by Amazon. MaryAnn now generates revenues from a variety of sources, including Google AdSense and Netflix.]