Do You Know How The Changes At EzineArticles Make You A Better Affiliate Marketer?

©2011 Doug Champigny – http://captain-affiliate.com
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

As a recognized super-affiliate and affiliate marketing mentor & speaker, it’s only natural that I use article marketing, including posting my articles at EzineArticles.com, as part of my affiliate marketing promotional mix. Natural because article marketing works, provides residual traffic for years, and because EzineArticles is the biggest & highest ranked article directory online.

Let me say right up front that if you’re looking to be lazy – using PLR articles, spun articles or those written by authors with poor spelling or bad grammar, forget it! EzineArticles have top-notch editors and systems that will boot you out faster than you can say ‘adios’! If you ARE looking to be a lazy affiliate, go get an offline job – the days of lazy marketers making a killing online ended a few years back (after declining since the 1990’s).

The EzineArticles Changes Affecting Affiliate Marketing

Two of the changes made this year at EzineArticles affect affiliates, and in fact all online marketers. First, the articles you submit must be at least 400 words now. This shouldn’t be a big deal, since we marketers tend to be overly verbose anyway! 😉 If you can’t write intelligently about a product, service or topic using AT LEAST 400 words with no fluff or keyword stuffing then you don’t know your topic well enough to consider promoting it – go back and study the issue more before trying to use it in your affiliate marketing mix.

The second change is the big one – you can’t use your affiliate links in your Author’s Resource Box now. This won’t affect super-affiliates as we’d never put our direct affiliate link out there like that anywway. And this is what YOU need to change in how you’re doing your online marketing if you’ve even THOUGHT about putting your naked affiliate link online anywhere…

Affiliate Marketing Pre-Selling On Your Blogs

For years now, brilliant marketer Ken Evoy has been teaching members and affiliates at his SiteSell operation about pre-selling… The concept is simple – you attract the prospect to your own site where you ‘warm them up’ and get them into a buying mood before sending them through to your affiliate link.

Why is pre-selling so important? First, someone coming from your articles or social media marketing efforts are in ‘reading mode’ – not ‘buying mode’. Secondly, many salespages are 2nd rate at best, with most not even that good. Pre-selling gives you the opportunity to up your conversion rates by helping to overcome this downfall. But most importantly, this system means you’re developing backlinks to YOUR sites or blogs and the traffic is flowing to YOU first – then hopefully on to wherever you’re trying to direct it. Better SEO rankings from the backlinks are a big plus to everything you do from today forward, and if a prospect isn’t overly interested in the product or service you’re promoting they may just find something that DOES interest you in the sidebar or basebar links.

Higher search engine rankings, more traffic, higher conversions, residual sales, better branding & bigger commissions – any of these align with your affiliate marketing goals? Guess maybe Ken was on to something, eh? LOL (There’s a LOT more to SiteSell – for site owners AND affiliates – but this one piece of advice by itself is worth more than he charges… )

So now you can see that the changes at EzineArticles.com really are in the best interest of their reading audience AND you as an affiliate marketer because they’re helping to motivate you to professionalize your online activities and take your affiliate marketing to the next level!

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Affiliate marketing has low entry costs, and as such it’s a natural for many people looking to start home based businesses. And while it’s true that the most effective way to start affiliate marketing, as I teach in my affiliate coaching program, is through setting up niche blogs, one can always start home based businesses for free and build to that point as revenue permits.

So how do you start affiliate marketing without a website or blog? Start by deciding which niche you want to target first. It’s best to start with a topic you know a lot about, but that isn’t strictly necessary. As long as it’s a subject that interests you you can find the info you need online, in books, in magazines, etc. Then do a quick search for those topics and related areas at the major search engines – is there evidence of it being a viable niche? Forget the generic search results – are there paid ads above the results? Plenty of pay-per-click ads down the right side of the first few pages? Pay-per-click is an expensive form of advertising online, so if there are plenty of people using it in those niches you know there’s money to be made in those niches. Don’t guess – check it out!

Once you’ve found good niches that interest you and have a good advertising base online, look for affiliate programs that target those niches. Start at the big directories like ClickBank and LinkShare, then search for your keyword and put ‘affiliate program’ after it, such as ‘waterskiing affiliate program’ or ‘scrapbooking affiliate program’. Find some you like and set up an account. Be aware that some programs require you to already have a web site, so those you’ll have to leave til later. But get your links from those who don’t have that requirement and save them in an easy to find folder on your computer.

Now you start writing articles on the topics of interest within your niche – what we in the biz call article marketing. The articles are written in the third person and are NOT salespitches or salescopy – they’re good, informative articles between 350 and 800 words long. The idea is to give such great info that the people reading your articles will want to click your links at the end of each article to get more information. And because these articles are part of your affiliate marketing process, those links will be YOUR affiliate links. Your article topics don’t have to be advanced – remember that in every niche you have beginners, those with some experience and experts, plus those just starting to enquire about that niche, those whose curiosity is just now leading them to research the field.

Don’t pretend to be an expert – you’ll be setting yourself up for ridicule and lose credibility in the niche if you aren’t really knowledgeable. No one minds an article by someone just sharing information, so there’s no need to pretend to be an expert if it’s not true. Besides, there are few true experts in any niche, so as an affiliate marketer those aren’t your targeted prospects anyway – you’re after the bulk of the market. For broad appeal, aim at the newbies, the middle ground and the fairly curious in your niche.

The idea is to write articles and put your link(s) in the final paragraph, such as: Click to find out more about building your own wine cellar. If that were the product you wanted to promote, your article might have been about how to build a wine cellar, why you should build a wine cellar, 10 things you need when you build a wine cellar, temperature control when building a wine cellar, planning to build your first wine cellar, etc. Notice that each article suggestion revolves around what the product covers – building that wine cellar. That way you attract a very targeted audience that have the greatest likelihood of buying the product. Simply writing about great wines wouldn’t suffice, because too many of your readers would be those in apartments, in condos, those who already have a wine cellar, etc. Plus, the tighter you target the sub-nice the product applies to, the better your chances of good search engine rankings, since you’re no longer competing with everyone in the whole broad niche.

Now you want to get those articles published and have them starting to draw attention from targeted prospects. Your first step is to find those article directories that will let you use affiliate links – many won’t, insisting you can only use links to your own sites or directly to other sites without an affiliate link. To be honest this makes no sense to me – it seems an article directory should be concerned with the content of your articles and ensuring they only link to legitimate sites, not what type of link you use to get people there. And yes, I DO put my money where my mouth is on this point – our own article directory has no issue with you using affiliate links as long as your article has strong, useful content and links to an appropriate site. So start by submitting your article to the Articles-and-Content.com article directory and then as many others as you can find willing to take them, especially any article directories specific to your niche.

But you’re not done yet – there are a LOT of articles on a LOT of directories, and you want yours to stand out. Fortunately most article marketers aren’t pros, and they think that submitting their articles is all they need to do. As both an article marketer AND an affiliate marketer you know that content is 10% of the job – the other 90% is driving traffic to your content – lots of good highly-targeted traffic. Announce each new article as it’s published in the directory, using Twitter, FaceBook, Google Buzz, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc. The more you can use these free sites to promote your articles, the greater your following can build – and the greater the chance the search engines will find a link to your article and index it that much quicker for you.

And just as the icing on the cake, as it were, every so often promote your author account at those directories as well. There’s usually a page that lists and links to all of your articles, so that’s the page you want to promote aft6er every 5 or 10 articles you publish.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that article marketing seldom leads to massive, immediate traffic or even quick small sales. It’s an empirical process, with each article bring in another trickle of results, and as in nature trickles combine to streams, streams combine to rivers, etc. Over time you can develop a huge body of work online, all capable of adding to the targeted traffic and thereby to the affiliate marketing commissions stream you’ll receive.

It’s seems a huge task when starting out, but think of it this way… One article a day is over 350 per year, 2 articles a day is over 700 a year, and if your can keep your article marketing efforts to an average of just 3 articles a day you’ll have published over 1,000 articles by one year from today. As article marketing expert Willie Crawford would say, that’s over 1,000 signposts pointing to your links. And as a super-affiliate, I say that’s over 1,000 links pointing to your bank account! 😉

Go. Do. Profit. Prosper. – I’ll see you at http://www.articles-and-content.com!

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The POWER OF FREE In Affiliate Marketing – Part Three

©2009 Doug Champigny, http://Captain-Affiliate.com. All Rights Reserved.

Earlier Posts In This Series:
The POWER OF FREE In Affiliate Marketing – Part One
The POWER OF FREE In Affiliate Marketing – Part Two

OK – so far we’ve looked at The POWER OF FREE as used as an incentive for the big Resell Rights Fortunes launch, and as used for ongoing prospecting with the free WordPress SEO Blog installer and Mike Paetzold’s free WordPress Q&A. Today let’s look at another way sites are using The POWER OF FREE to help their members on an ongoing basis – this time by creating new free reports each month.

Chances are you already know a lot about using products with Private Label Rights, but in case PLR is new to you, having Private Label Rights means you get the original source code for a product (e-books, videos, audios, etc.) and can alter them as you wish, add your name as the creator of your altered product and so on. As a result, these are usually the most expensive form of rights you can buy for any given product – in fact, most don’t even offer them.

So it comes as no surprise to me that people are flocking to join Mike Steup’s Niche Audio Club. Mike runs a great membership there where paying members get a new audio e-book every month, along with the transcript in e-book form, the site to sell it from and more. But Mike also has a free level of membership where members get just the e-book in text version with PLR each month.

This benefits the free members by giving them a new niche e-book to customize and sell each month, and it benefits Mike by giving him a large free membership base, the more successful of whom will eventually upgrade to his paying service to increase their offerings and profits each month. Mike pays it forward by giving away new free PLR e-books each month, then is rewarded with new paying members as they see how high-quality his materials are and how much they can make with them.

This next example is a completely different animal… Regular readers of this blog know that ClickBank Pirate is one of my favorite new sites, both to promote as an affiliate and as a user of their services. CBP differs from Mike’s site above in that their services are only available to paying members – so how are they using The POWER OF FREE? That’s the key to what they do for their members each month…

As a paying member, each month you get one or more new ClickBank products to promote as an affiliate. CBP provides a free report for you to give away for free that’s related to the product or it’s niche, and designs the professional squeeze page and follow-up system to help you sell the ClickBank product to your prospects – all you do is drive targeted traffic to that squeeze page.

Here’s a few samples of the type of free reports they provide, and the squeeze pages they design for them. Take a look at at least a couple of them so you get the idea (don’t worry, they open in a new window so you don’t lose your spot here):

Commissions Blueprint

Free Website Builder

Micro Niche Finder and

ClickBank Pirate itself.

Go ahead and take a look at those if you haven’t yet – you’ll see how professional the squeeze pages are and how the reports are in line with the product being promoted. If you go ahead and grab the free resources there you’ll also find that they are professionally written and first-quality all-round.

So in this case, instead of the members getting free resources, members make their commissions by referring people to free reports THEY can download. A neat twist on The POWER OF FREE, don’t you think?

So in these first three posts on The POWER OF FREE you’ve seen how various sites are using free gifts and free services as incentives to build sales, and how this can benefit you as an affiliate. In the next post I’ll give you concrete steps that you can take right away to put The POWER OF FREE to work for you in your own online marketing starting right away! Be sure to bookmark this blog or subscribe to our RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss it!

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The POWER OF FREE In Affiliate Marketing – Part Two

©2009 Doug Champigny, http://Captain-Affiliate.com. All Rights Reserved.

In Part One of The POWER OF FREE, we looked at how the recession spawned a sudden change in affiliate marketing and how the Resell Rights Fortunes launch was the first to capitalize on the changes. Today let’s look at how smart online businesses are using The POWER OF FREE to their benefit on an on-going basis…

While I’m a pro-blogger with a number of blogs I author, no one can keep right up to speed on every aspect of every area of online marketing, so for advice and a heads-up on WordPress issues I rely on two close friends who specialize in the technology, Alex Sysoef & Mike Paetzold. Both are close friends I first met at JVAlert Live events and have developed a deep respect for over the years.

Neither being shy about freely sharing their expertise, Mike runs an excellent free WordPress Q&A on BlogTalkRadio each month, while Alex is letting you download his free Expert WordPress blog installer, which he provides along with the training videos on how to use them.

This fits right in with one of the important points we made in Part One – the ‘free line’ has been moved, and today your free gift HAS to be something that’s of obvious value, something that proves you’re an expert in your field, and something you could easily be selling for a good buck if you had chosen to.

Do these two qualify? Of course they do! In Mike’s case, he’s giving you direct one-on-one access to his encyclopedic knowledge of WordPress – and his experience in using blogs to further develop his own Internet marketing and niche marketing efforts. Access to that level of expertise is often restricted to high-end coaching programs, yet Mike fields your questions for free through his show.

Alex’s Expert WordPress fills the bill too – plus has the added bonus of being unique! I’m not aware of another blog installer available, free or paid, that also installs the plugins you need for the full search engine optimization (SEO) effects for each of your blogs. Alex could easily charge $97 to $197 for the installer, with a $100 upsell for the SEO package – yet he lets you download the software for free!

Like the free incentives we discussed yesterday, both Alex and Mike have helped move the free line by giving away resources you’d have had to buy before the recession. But what’s more important is the differences between today’s examples and yesterday’s. While the Resell Rights Fortunes gifts were set up specifically for a big launch, Mike & Alex have created free resources that draw in targeted prospects day after day and will continue to do so for months, or even years, to come.

The upside to them is obvious – building their opt-in lists, branding themselves worldwide as WordPress experts and having the opportunity to pitch their wares to a growing circle of influence. And unlike launch bonuses, these gifts work their magic long-term.

But that comes at a price… When it’s just for a launch you create your gift and it’s done. Ongoing traffic-generating gifts aren’t usually that simple, as these cases in point demonstrate. Mike has to stay on top of every WordPress update and give of himself and his time every month to prepare for the call and actually host it, and Alex has to monitor changes to WordPress and the plugins and be sure he updates both the software and the instructional videos as often as necessary to keep it effective and cutting edge.

If you’ve used WordPress for more than the last 15 minutes you’ve probably already had at least one update to attend to – so you can imagine how much time goes into maintaining those two free resources. Not a problem when you’re being paid to keep up, but to do all that to maintain something your give away for free takes a special dedication and a true desire to help as many people as they possibly can. Kudos to them both – from me, and on your behalf as well!

The benefits to those availing themselves of these free resources is immediately obvious to all, and now you see how it helps Mike & Alex and what’s involved in maintaining their free resources. But what’s in it for you, the affiliate?

Most importantly, by promoting products from marketers like Mike and Alex you know you’re promoting true experts in the field. And not just experts – but DEMONSTRATED experts your readers will have no trouble identifying as experts. And you benefit too, by association with the best in their field.

Secondly, you know that customer service before and after the sale will never be an issue – no one puts that much effort into attracting quality targeted traffic just to blow them off with bad service. Not having to wonder about how many refunds will come after the sale is a big plus for ANY affiliate promotion… In affiliate marketing we work too hard for our commissions to sit back and watch them evaporate after the fact!

And third benefit is more intrinsic, but no less important… Big Dog Marketers like Alex & Mike who put that much into products & services they simply give away aren’t fools – they test & track everything they do to be sure they make the most of their time online – and FROM their time online. Think they put any less effort into testing, tracking and tweaking their products and salespages?

Obviously not… So while that doesn’t guarantee you’ll make a fortune in commissions every time they launch a product, or even that every product will be a hit, it DOES mean chances are you’ll make as many sales as possible for their products, given your prowess at driving targeted traffic and how tightly focused your prospects are to the products you promote.

And finally, have you considered creating a high-valued resource like these in support of one of your best ongoing affiliate marketing opportunities? Pick ones with recurring income potential that won’t go out of style or become outdated – say hosting or a membership site – and create a service or product like these to keep a steady stream of targeted prospects seeking YOU out for a change!

So to sum it up, in Part One you learned how The POWER OF FREE makes you more in JVs and affiliate promotions during site launches, and today you’ve seen two simple ways to use The POWER OF FREE as ongoing tools for your own sites or as affiliates.

Next Up: In The POWER OF FREE In Affiliate Marketing – Part Three we’ll look at a couple of sites that have added a viral component to their POWER OF FREE resources to make them even more valuable – see you then!

To your Profitable Affiliate Marketing…

Doug Champigny
http://Captain-Affiliate.com

PS – Before leaving today (but after hitting the Retweet button above 😉 )be sure to download Alex’s free Expert WordPress installer and bookmark Mike’s BlogTalkRadio show. After all, might as well get as much benefit as you can from being here today, right?

And speaking of which, be sure to leave your comments as well – both to help me be sure you’re getting all the info you need for your successful affiliate marketing, and to get yourself the one-way backlinks to your site. Naturally, this IS a ‘DoFollow’ blog! 🙂

Enjoy! DC.

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The Power Of FREE In Affiliate Marketing!

©2009 Doug Champigny, Captain-Affiliate.com. All Rights Reserved.

Affiliate marketing has changed since the onset on the global recession. Not just evolved, but changed suddenly, leaving many affiliates behind and confusing a lot of newbies who are seeing their confidence eroded as the techniques they’ve been taught fail time and again.

Understand this right now: If your affiliate marketing strategies are based on information more than a year old, on tactics people still teach from a few years ago, or on methods you’ve been using for years, your commissions have dropped significantly or been completely wiped out, and your efforts going forward will be increasingly less effective.

To listen to an Audio Version of this affiliate marketing article, click this arrow:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you’ve been in the biz for more than a couple of years, you don’t need me to tell you your affiliate commissions have dropped – either you’re working 3 times as hard now and accepting a lowered lifestyle or you’re looking for a full or part-time job to supplement or replace what was a full-time income until recently.

If you’re new to affiliate marketing and following advice from one of the gurus or super-affiliates who are still milking their success from a few years back, as most are, then you know you’re not experiencing nearly the results they told you you would, even though you’re following their instructions to the letter, right?

Well, fear not. For all the changes, there are still more affiliates making more money online today than ever before. But the business has both evolved continually over the years and changed suddenly a few times…

When Teri & I started affiliate marketing 12 or so years ago there was very little competition. A simple banner at the top of a page on your website pretty much guaranteed traffic to your affiliate link, and thereby some commissions each month. When we started blogging 5 years ago, a graphic in the sidebar drew traffic and a blog post could simply be the first half of the text from a salespage, followed by your affiliate link to that page – and it got results.

Search engine optimization was easy because the directories told you the truth about how they rank websites, whereas today you only need compare any search results to what they state are their ranking criteria to know you haven’t been told the truth, either intentionally or by lies of omission.

By now, I’m sure you’re wondering about all this… How can what I’m saying be true when it flies in the face of what most of your tutors, guides and mentors are telling you?

There’s a simple test – compare what they’re telling you to what you see actually going on online. Have they released a new product in the last 6 months? Not a Master Resell Rights product, but one they actually wrote? Do their blog posts teach you instead of just selling you? And most importantly for affiliate marketing – are you still seeing their names on the leaderboards of various JVs and affiliate launches?

On the other hand, some have been giving you valuable advice all along, but for the most part it’s been too vague and general for most people to integrate the ideas into their strategies. The most valuable information you’ve been given vis-a-vis the current state of online marketing is:

1) Pay It Forward.

2) First Give, Then Collect.

3) Teach your audience so they know WHY they need the product you’re recommending and HOW to use it once they have it.

But the question was always ‘Just how do I implement that in my daily activities?’

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the biggest launches this summer…

In June, Resell Rights Fortunes launched – and as an affiliate marketing opportunity, I think this was the best launch so far this year. Not only did we make more on this launch than any other, but so far the residual commissions have added another 40% to what we made on the launch!

So how was the launch made so successful? First, Socrates created two powerful videos showing relatively unknown ways to build your opt-in list faster. He put them online 2 weeks apart, allowing his launch partners 2 weeks to send traffic to each video, and cookied each visitor for the affiliate. Then he added in a short e-mail course that gave them more powerful information without pitching anything.

When the time came for the launch, he already had a new 5-figure opt-in list of marketers from those promotions, and he did his best to convert as many of those leads to sales as he could to help out both the affiliates and himself.

To keep the JV partners and affiliates motivated, he ran TWO contests during the pre-launch – one for the most referrals during the whole pre-launch and another for the last few days of the pre-launch. We took home a notebook and a flip cam from those two contests, so obviously we were happy with it – especially since those were on top of 4-figure commissions the first week the site was open.

So let’s take a look at how the POWER OF FREE made this a successful launch:

From the Site Owner’s perspective:

Socrates put more into making this launch successful than any of the other events we’ve promoted. First, he gave away thousands of dollars worth of prizes to his affiliates and JV partners – prizes based on pre-launch opt-ins, not on sales. If the launch had flopped, he’d still be on the hook for all of the prizes.

Secondly, for the new prospects he gave away the content of those two videos – powerful list-building strategies he could easily have turned into a product and sold. Yet by giving them away free, he both built his opt-in list and demonstrated his expert status to the visitors his partners sent to the site.

From the Affiliates’ perspective:

We were able to warm up our lists, blog readers, Twitter followers, etc. to the site by offering them not a product for sale or a membership to join, but instead by sending them to free information on how to build their lists faster. Since everyone in online marketer always needs to be building their opt-in lists as quickly as possible, this was a very powerful free gift we could give them.

Then, two weeks later there was another video showing them yet another way to build their lists. Not only did those who visited the first video return, but an almost-equal number of additional people went to watch the second video, and were able to watch the first video as well – Socrates invited them to view the first video as part of his followup sequence.

Then Resell Rights Fortunes launched – a new PLR and MRR membership site, launched at the height of the recession when most membership sites where losing members in wholesale fashion… The result?

Resell Rights Fortunes launched with over $100,000 in memberships sold the first week! Granted, if it hadn’t been (and still is) the best site for marketers to get their PLR and MRR products, with innovative search technology that makes the site much quicker and more profitable for members to use, the launch wouldn’t have been as hot – and we certainly wouldn’t be making as much in residual commissions because the members wouldn’t be staying as long as they are.

But even with the best membership site and the highest member value online, the site still would have flopped – or been very small – if it hadn’t been for the free resources that Socrates used to attract targeted prospects, and the free gifts he made available to his affiliates and JV partners during the month-long pre-launch. And the affiliates who promoted the launch wouldn’t have had nearly the success we did if we hadn’t had those free videos to send people to in the first place.

THAT is the POWER OF FREE in affiliate marketing. No longer is it enough to just send people to a salespage to make your living, and no longer can site owners expect to have big sales without paying it forward by offering both solid, valuable information for free upfront and using that free information to demonstrate their expertise in the niche and assure people they’re not buying into one more source of overused and rehashed material.

That’s it for today – next post I’ll show you how the POWER OF FREE is being used by Expert WordPress, ClickBank Pirate and the Niche Audio Club to benefit their members and their affiliates on an ongoing basis – tune in then!

To your Profitable Affiliate Marketing…

Doug Champigny,
http://Captain-Affiliate.com

PS – If you’re not already a member of Resell Rights Fortunes, be sure to check it out today – I’ll be showing you how to use it effectively to boost your affiliate commissions in the new affiliate marketing paradigm and how it lets you master the POWER OF FREE strategies with ANY affiliate marketing promotions you get involved in. Watch for those posts coming soon – same profit time, same profit channel! 😉

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