Monetizing The Majority Not The Minority
How To Become A Martyr For Affiliate Networks
Finch’s Guide To Riding Sleeping Giants

Monetizing The Majority Not The Minority

It’s very easy to build landing pages that are tailor-made for a specific offer. When an affiliate gets his paws on a paid traffic source, he can specify the countries he wants to be targeting to get maximum bang for his buck. That’s pretty damn essential. You can’t afford to send optimized leads to an American dating offer if 75% of your user base is clicking from the suburbs of Delhi.

It sounds like common sense, and it is. But then, not every affiliate decides to leverage the power of paid traffic.

If you develop long term websites where the main source of traffic comes from the organic search engine listings, it can be very hard to find suitable CPA offers that monetize the majority rather than the minority. To put it simply, targeting is a bitch.

There’s nothing I find more frustrating than having sudden tidal wave of traffic, only to find that the hits are from Ireland and my scattered CPA offers only accept UK leads. In my opinion, if you’re going to bust your balls on the arduous process of driving natural traffic to a site, you better make sure you’ve got all angles covered. Otherwise it’s the online equivalent of letting a catch slip through your fingertips, and I’m hoping a few Aussie readers know exactly how that feels!

I’ve always believed that CPA and long term passive earning websites are about as compatible as Jordan and Peter Andre. If you’re going to build a long term asset that stands the test of time and doesn’t require tinkering every Monday morning, you probably shouldn’t decorate it from head to toe in CPA offers. Depending on your niche, CPA offers are notorious for lasting the season but not the year. If you work in the dating vertical, you can expect to be hopping from offer to offer like a bandit on burning coal.

By choosing a marketplace ghetto like Clickbank for hoarding your affiliate links, you can generally assume that your website will stand the test of time. The good thing about Clickbank is that sales are accepted worldwide and the only targeting filter is the user’s willingness to pay. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a second advocating that smart marketers should flock to a platform notorious for it’s low quality products and sales letters straight out of 2002.

But to monetize the majority, you need to capture as many of the likely clicks on your website as possible. I’m forever hearing – and often preaching – the advice that AdSense is for suckers and well placed CPA advertisements are the way to monetize a website that thrives on natural traffic. AdSense has a time and a place. But if you’re going to use CPA without control over your target demographics, you need to get smart about it.

1. Change the focus from banner advertisements to a mailing list.

I have a website that draws a lot of dating related traffic from the organic Google listings. Banner advertisements are generally a waste of time. You need to match up so many qualifiers (country, age, gender) that you will lose the lead more often than not. The best way to negotiate this problem is to build a mailing list and simply collect the emails for yourself, along with the user’s native country and gender.

The site in question draws about 15% of it’s users from India. For the longest time, I wasted banner inventory telling these users to join American based dating offers. I was too lazy to care about the less valuable part of the market. It wasn’t until I started collecting their emails, and biding my time for an Indian dating offer, that I was finally able to monetize a 15% share of my asset that would otherwise have gone to waste.

2. If you’re going to use banner advertisements, serve them through OIOpublisher.

I’ve always been very hands-on with my banner creatives, even on sites that I own. I think somebody is much more likely to click an advertisement if I pre-qualify the user for the offer. OIOpublisher is one of my favourite WordPress plugins, and it’s actually in use on this site. Not only does it let me sell banner space on my affiliate websites, but it offers a very useful geotargeting function that enables me to serve different banners to different countries in the same space.

It’s easy to get a headache if you have a website in the dating niche boasting a traffic breakdown like this:

USA – 35%
Canada – 15%
UK – 15%
India – 15%
France – 8%
Germany – 5%
Other Countries – 7%

If you have no way of distinguishing a German from a Canadian user, you’re going to have an incredibly hard time monetizing the majority of your traffic. You can only ever monetize 35% of your traffic, unless you have dating offers that accept multiple countries.

With OIOpublisher, you can force German ads to display to German users. Maybe if you’re working in the weight loss niche, you would set a banner for your Indian users along the lines of “Indian Ebook Reveals Secret Behind Multi-Million American Muscle Ripping Formula“. The idea being that if you can’t target these users with your $35 rebill, you might as well hit them with a cheap Clickbank ebook that monetizes the minority but still significant 15% of your traffic.

I don’t endorse too many products for affiliates, but OIOpublisher has made my life a LOT easier when it comes to squeezing the most juice out of a static website. It also opens up a whole new realm of residual income opportunities. Find the right niche, attract enough traffic, and you can easily lure other advertisers in to paying $300/month for banner spots that recur automatically using OIOpublisher’s payments module.

I love working with brand advertisers who aren’t committed to instant ROI. It means I can focus my energies on developing great content. If you have six advertisers happily paying $300/month to occupy banner placements on your site, you can move away from being an affiliate altogether and focus on providing real world value. Rinse, repeat, scale and conquer.

Creating a solid infrastructure for a website that isn’t powered by paid traffic can be one hell of a challenge. But if you’re only monetizing a small minority of your users, you could be overlooking one of the easiest ways to expand your business and income overnight.

Recommended This Week:

  • If you have websites that drive traffic from all around the world, or simply want to sell banner space easily, grab a copy of OIOpublisher. Sexy beast that I am, I’ve created a coupon code that will get you $10 off. The coupon is WINDFALL-FINCH. Whatever that means.

  • If you’re looking to build your first mailing list, check out Aweber. Affiliates practically swear by it, and last time I checked, you could try it for a dollar.

How To Become A Martyr For Affiliate Networks

Sometimes, as an affiliate, I wake up and ask myself – “Whose bitch will I become today?”

This is a contentious issue that I’ve wanted to address for a while. It involves affiliates being taken by the wrists and directed off a cliff face by profit-hungry networks. I’m talking about the networks who send out newsletters or allow their account managers to quietly nudge a publisher towards promoting an offer in a way that is harmful to the affiliate’s business interests.

Now you know I wouldn’t dare to cry “misled” when my job is often to deceive with a smile. But I feel sorry for the affiliates who fall victim to some of the gospel being thrown out there.

I regularly find emails in my inbox (funnily enough) disclosing information on the hottest new dating offers. Sky high conversion rates, I’m told. Jump on it now or forever hold your peace! I feel like I should be sitting here stroking a puppy with a tear in my eye at the thought of saying no. This is all standard procedure, of course. When you push a lot of dating leads, you’re going to get a lot of dating offers. What I find slightly disturbing is the fact that some of these newsletters actively encourage their affiliates to promote adult dating sites on strictly non-adult traffic sources.

Wait, hold on a second. Isn’t this supposed to be a two-way relationship?

Let’s not be naive. Most networks, and most affiliates who’ve been round the block, are aware that it’s possible to cloak and “game” traffic sources to make a lot of money in a short space of time. But in my opinion, this is a choice that the affiliate must shoulder.

If a network is actively encouraging a newbie affiliate to hide his links and sling Flirt leads on Facebook, there can be only one side to the relationship. The affiliate takes on the role of kamikaze missile. A helpless fucking lemming, with the sole purpose of wham bam thank you ma’am. The network may pocket a short term burst of revenue, and the affiliate may even survive a Facebook account ban by the skin of his teeth.

But it’s just another example of greed in an industry that would short-change it’s own mother for what Ryan Eagle keeps in his garage. By the way, Ryan, if you’ve got my entire team of scantily clad buxom wench cheerleaders parked in your garage, I might have to call the cops.

Affiliates face a tough choice when it comes to selecting dating offers to promote. It’s a twisted niche where the dirtier you’re prepared to play, the easier it is to get profitable. Facebook doesn’t like offers that are too sexually suggestive. PlentyOfFish hates direct competitors that are free to use. Right there you have the two easiest sells for any dating site.

“Oh so it’s free and full of sluts? BACK OF THE NET!”

Promoting the boldest offers with the boldest promises will nearly always guarantee you the boldest returns. But your scammy little dating ad is probably not what Zuckerberg had in mind when he was looking to monetize the world’s biggest college brain-fart.

Many newbie affiliates get their first taste of success by taking these dangerous paths, promoting offers that push the envelope of what’s acceptable on any given traffic source. Inspired by the words of wisdom from a generic cake-faced affiliate manager who tells you “all the ballers are cloaking on Facebook”, I can see why somebody just getting started would be turned over to the dark side.

Does the affiliate manager care that promoting Offer X is against the guidelines of Facebook or POF? Of course not. It’s this kind of shoddy affiliate management that produces all the glory of double digit profits without any of the hassle of having to maintain your now burnt-to-shit bridges.

So I’ll keep it simple. Here are two suggestions to keep everybody happy.

1. If you’re a network…

Don’t publicly encourage the promotion of adult/restricted offers on traffic sources where the affiliate’s account – and thus ability to put dinner on his family’s table – is in jeopardy. It’s just not cricket. By all means, show the way to those experimental publishers who come asking. But you shouldn’t be encouraging kamikaze marketing when we all have a responsibility to maintain some integrity in the industry.

2. If you’re an affiliate…

Don’t become a network’s Martyr for risky advertising and short-term profits. Understand that you don’t get to sleep with seven smoking hot account managers just because you sacrificed your Facebook account to the tune of 7 leads.

She may look hot in her tiny AIM pic telling you “all the bloggers are doing it”, but you really shouldn’t copy shady marketing practices unless you actually know how to use them. No matter what your affiliate manager, myself, or any other worthless blogger of this mass circle-jerk claims.

Recommended This Week:

Finch’s Guide To Riding Sleeping Giants

“What’s your favourite niche to promote?” I’ve been asked this same question so many times that it’s a wonder I haven’t snapped up the domain FinchSellsDatingSoSTFU.com

“Whatever you’re not working on.” is my new default answer.

It sounds like a spiteful retort but it’s actually quite true. I do spend a vast amount of my time running like a little girl from the heaving masses of affiliate marketing competition.

When you first sign up with an affiliate network, you could be forgiven for assuming that the world revolves around dieting, dating, getting rich at home and MMORPGs. The large majority of my income has been generated in these niches so I’m not going to turn in to a contrarian snob by suggesting that you’re a fool for pursuing them.

What I would say, however, is that the further you run from the herd of affiliates, the easier your life will become for a number of reasons.

I’ve ventured away from the standard arbitrage mindset in recent months. I’ve been developing a business strategy of finding and mounting the sleeping giants in niches that very few affiliates dare to enter. Now what the hell does that mean? It sounds like I’ve been galivanting on some sexual adventure of epicly seedy proportions, which would probably make for a standard blog post from my pen.

By sleeping giants, I’m referring to websites that are run with all the best of intentions, and offering all the right content – but those that are simply resounding failures when it comes to the owner’s ability to monetize his creation. A sleeping giant in marketing terms is a website that COULD make the owner a fortune, if only he knew that he had a business asset on his hands.

These are my absolute favourite kind of websites. I like to invest in them, I like to copy them, and I like to sit at my desk salivating at the prospect of how my filthy affiliate paws would spend the money I’d make from them.

Do you know what happens when you try to launch an “authority” website in a niche like weight loss these days? Without an eye watering monetary investment, you’ll end up with about six hits per day. Four from your own IP and two from the poor bastard who clicked your Digged review by mistake.

There’s money in the niche but you know what? There was money in being the first man on the moon too. In relative ecommerce years, you’re about five decades too late. It’s happened. It’s gone. So get over it and find something else.

Go find yourself a sleeping giant. Some of the qualities I look for in a potential investment are as follows:

1. Is the owner likely to undervalue his website?

Because if the owner is wise enough to see the money in his creation, I might as well just use my investment to build something similar. I’ve spoken to countless forum owners about buying their creations. Many of these people simply don’t understand the potential in having an email list of 10000 active targeted users in a highly profitable niche. Forums can be great “sleeping giants”. Particularly if you search out the messageboards that have been dead for months.

Forum webmasters rarely value their sites in realistic currency. They value it by the egotistical kick they get out of being head admin. If it no longer satisfies their ego, the price drops. Somebody like me can step in and monetize their creation in the matter of hours. Blogs that have been dead for a couple of months are another of my favourite targets. If the owner was only in it for the hobby of blogging, and he’s no longer blogging, he’s likely to let the site go on the cheap.

2. How major are the changes I would need to make to see increased profit?

I recently purchased an “Adsense automated” site in an obscure niche where I had a directly relevant product to promote to the site’s audience. The owner was claiming $150/month profit from Adsense. I’ve been claming close to four times that figure just by promoting a product instead of shitty Adcents. One small change can make a wealth of difference. If somebody is selling their creation, and the only revenue stream they have is from Adsense – Take a good look! You might find yourself another of these mythical sleeping giants I’m raving about.

3. Is the niche going to present me a legitimate business opportunity?

Take a look at this list. Do you feel it inside? Come on, we’ve all felt it. The temptation to invest in some bat shit crazy microniche just because there’s an interest from 45000 local searches on Google. That feeling…is the affiliate’s desire to hoard fucking with you. It’s easy to spend a lifetime investing in new web assets. But if you’ve got no viable business plan for monetizing them, you’re not waking a sleeping giant. You’re just wasting your time. And giving GoDaddy another reason to ping you an expired domain notification twelve months from now.

Affiliate marketing is a mere tip of the iceberg when it comes to making money online. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities in following the tried and tested niches. But there’s also a lot of money to be made in taking the knowledge of referral marketing and applying it to websites where affiliates wouldn’t normally bat a glance of interest.

Once you know how to monetize assets effectively, you simply need to find the right opportunities to invest. With hundreds of forums and blogs falling abandoned every single day, are you telling me there’s not a bargain to be had out there? Put on your best Duncan Banntyne scowl and get to it.

Recommended This Week:

  • If you haven’t read it from front to back already, snap up a copy of the brilliant 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Inspiring stuff for any affiliate marketer.

  • If you’re looking to explore some very different but potentially very profitable micro-niches, take a look at ShareASale. It’s like a CJ that isn’t run by a bag of dicks.

  • Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch.

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