Examples of Affiliate Sites: How Are They Making Money?
Start on your path to success by learning from these Affiliate Marketing Examples!
Example 1 - Affiliate Products: http://www.gain-weight-muscle-fast.com/
The first site we're going to look at is a decent example of an affiliate site promoting affiliate products with a smattering of AdSense. It's quite a large site with a lot of things going on inside it.
When you first visit the site it seems like information overload: it looks difficult to tell where to go or what to read first. However if you click around the site a bit and read some of the articles you'll see that eventually all roads lead to the product review pages, or directly to affiliate programs.
Let's take a look at the 'Top Program Reviews' page.
At the top of the page the affiliate has a section displaying the "5 Star Weight Gain Programs".
If you don't directly click through to the merchant site, you can choose to read the affiliates "short" or "full" reviews of each product. The short reviews appear further down the same page, while the full reviews have a whole page to themselves.
The reviews for the recommended products are understandably glowing (these are "five star" products after all) and, again, include the affiliate's affiliate link.
So how much is this affiliate earning from these links? If you click on "No Nonsense Body Building" you're taken through to the merchant site. If you then scroll to the bottom of the page you'll see the 'affiliates' link to the affiliate program page. If you follow this, avoid the popup box and wade through the sales pitch for the affiliate program you'll see that the merchant pays 75% commissions on the product, which costs $77, netting the affiliate $53 per sale. You'll also see there is additional revenue to be gained from up-sells and one-time offers.
Some affiliate products won’t have their affiliate information so readily available. If you can’t find an affiliates link on the product page try to the ClickBank Marketplace, and you should be able to find the product you’re looking for. For example if we try the keyword "Muscle" we'll see all the usual suspects. If we scroll down the page a little we can see another of the affiliate's recommended products “Muscle Gaining Secrets” you can see that this affiliate is earning $38.53 on each sale he refers from his page which works out to be 50% of the list price of $77 - not bad.
If you return to the affiliate's program review page you'll see that further down
the page the affiliate lists products that don't get the five-star seal of
approval. He also provides links to reviews of these "not
recommended" products which explain why they're not recommended. Reading
his reviews, it does indeed sound like he knows what he's talking about - his
reviews are credible and seem unbiased. Most of them don't seem to have
affiliate programs, and he hasn't bothered to link to them through affiliate
Why would an affiliate review products if he doesn't get anything out of it?
First, it makes his other reviews look credible; simply listing a whole bunch of products that are "really great" seems a little unbalanced.
Second, he's able to attract people who are searching for those particular products in the search engines. If they search for those products they might end up on one of his review pages, where they would read his negative review of the product. The affiliate hopes to make the customer reconsider their decision to buy the product and question what alternatives are available. In fact the affiliate has (quite cleverly) anticipated this response, and placed a number of his high-earning "five star" recommended products at the bottom of the page. Readers of the review can click through to his favorable reviews of these products, or simply go through to the merchant site directly
If we leave the reviews section now and take a look at one of the articles on this site you can see that this affiliate is also earning money through having AdSense ads on his site.
(You can tell these are AdSense ads because they say "Ads by Google" at the top there.) You'll notice that the ads are pretty relevant to the content on the page. That's all automatically worked out by the ad network who, in this case, is Google.
Finally if we go back to the home page one more time and scroll to the bottom of the page you can also see that the affiliate has a signup box for his "Get Big" e-zine.
This twice-monthly publication is apparently full of "informative articles, a question and answer section, site updates and more." This affiliate will probably use this e-zine either as an additional place to promote affiliate products or to get his readers back to his website by providing snippets of new articles with a "read more" link. By getting readers back to his site he's able to expose them to more promotions.
Example 2 - Affiliate Products : http://www.yourownwingman.com/
The next site we’ll look at is one that appears on page one of Google’s results for the popular term “how to approach women”.
One of the first things you’re hit with when you visit this site is a popup box that offers you a package of free online lessons... all you have to do is enter your name and email address.
The affiliate has also given these lessons a dollar value – “RRP of $47, and you’re getting it FREE so I can get feedback!” – people love thinking they’re getting a great deal, so adding a dollar value, even to products you’re giving away, is a very common tactic for internet marketers. You’ll notice he’s gone a step further and created a sense of urgency by hinting that the course won’t be free forever, another powerful tactic.
This “free course” offer is a variation of what we saw in the last site: it’s a newsletter signup box. By offering people something concrete (the free six part seduction course), as opposed to something vague ( for instance “our informative newsletter”), you essentially reduce people’s anxiety about signing up for something. This is why you’ll see so many “six part mini-courses” littered around the Internet - not only is it a mini-course as opposed to a newsletter, but the visitor only needs to commit to six lessons, as opposed to a potentially unending subscription. By lowering the perceived commitment involved in signing up for something you’ll find that people are more willing to give you their email address.
So what happens when you sign up for these free lessons?
This affiliate will probably send out a lesson from the mini-course every day or every couple of days for a set period of time. The lessons will direct the reader back to the website so that he or she can be exposed to more promotions and affiliate ads in addition to their “free lessons”. Then, once the reader has received all the free lessons, they will likely be added to the affiliate’s “regular” newsletter list. Unless they unsubscribe they will receive occasional news or promotions from the affiliate but less frequently than with the lessons. If this affiliate is smart he will continue to provide good content to his list and not just use it as a vehicle for pushing affiliate products. You need to give your readers good reasons to open your emails and not just send them straight to the trash folder.
If you close that box and look on the front page you can see that right away the affiliate has launched into affiliate product reviews. He’s written a glowing review for Online Pickup Secrets at the top of the page and given it five stars.
If you hover over the “Click here to check out Online Pickup Secrets Now!” link you can’t tell right away that it’s an affiliate link because it points to a page on the affiliate’s website. If you visit that page, however, it will automatically and instantly redirect to the merchant site through the affiliate link. This is a very popular technique, not only because it looks less artificial to a nervous clicker, but also because it can help prevent link hijacking.
So how much will this affiliate earn if I buy The Online Game through his link? Let’s find out.
If you click through to the Online Game site and scroll to the bottom of the page you’ll see a small “affiliates” link. If you click this link you’ll be taken to a page of information about the affiliate program. You can see that you’ll earn commissions of $39.71 per sale, which is 75% of the price of the product. Not too bad!
Back on the front page you can also see that the affiliate has reviewed numerous other products, all linked to in the sidebar. If you scroll down to the bottom of the main page, below another signup form for the six part course, you’ll see he recommends another course quite highly: “Fireworks with Females”. If you click through one of the links there and scroll to the bottom of that page you’ll find a link to that affiliate program. The commissions for this are 70% - with a price of $37 that’s a commission of around $26 per sale. For this product you can also get commissions on a few up-sell products that they offer any customer.
So that’s a look at where the money is coming from; let's take a look at how this site appearing so highly in the search engines.
If you go back to the main ‘Your own wingman’ site you’ll see that below the list of reviews in the sidebar there are links to almost 50 articles teaching you about various subjects related to meeting and dating women.
Each article contains links to the most recommended products and at the end another opportunity to sign up for the six part seduction course.
It’s likely that this affiliate has created articles based around popular search terms, at the same time he’s probably trying to boost his “relevance” in the eyes of the search engines by having a lot of content appropriate for a “dating” or “attracting women” website.
Analyzing the "desired action" and the flow of traffic through an affiliate site
Affiliates should gently direct people towards the action which makes them the most money
When you’re looking at affiliate sites like this one (and, indeed, when you’re planning your own affiliate site) ask yourself what the affiliate is trying to make you do (or what you want your own visitor to do). Question what desired action the affiliate is pushing for: do they want you to read their articles? Sign up for their newsletter? Click on their ads? You’ll often find yourself being gently directed towards a certain action in one way or another. This will be what the affiliate determines to be the course that will eventually get him or her the most money!
In this case we can see that the affiliate is promoting his newsletter list very heavily. It appears as a popup when you first visit the site, so he obviously wants you to sign up for that before you do anything else.
Once you've either signed up for the newsletter or closed the box you're presented with his most recommended product. 'The Online Game' gets five stars and features at the top of most articles on the site, so that the one he really wants you to click through to.
"Fireworks with Females" is the next best option, with banners on most pages and recommendations at the end of most articles. It also gets a 5 star rating in his review.
There are at least 20 other reviews on the site, many of them featuring very high ratings, but the ones you see most often are "The Online Game" and "Fireworks with Females" - these two products probably bring in the best return for this affiliate.
When you go to leave the site, you’ll get a message thanking you for coming to the site, with an offer to sign up to the six part course again. He doesn’t want you to leave without at least giving him your email address (don’t forget that these lessons are valued at $47, and they’re yours for FREE!).
He's put a lot of effort into getting you to his site in the first place - you're not escaping so easily, so how about we take a look at those lessons he's provided?
While there is a lot of content on the site, the lessons are not where he wants you to go if you happen to arrive at his front page.
How can you tell? Before you can get to the articles you have to get past the compelling review on the main page and scroll through links to around 20 different product reviews in the side menu. Most people will end up reading the reviews first and click through to the recommended products. What this affiliate is saying is that if you happen to arrive at one of the content pages because it appeared in the search engines, fine - he can promote to you there - but the page that converts to sales best is the review on the front page.
Of course all this assumes that the affiliate has considered these things. Sadly, many affiliates don’t put much thought into how their visitors flow through their sites, so they’re not able to make the most of their traffic.
Example 3 - AdSense http://www.haircutadvice.com
So far we've looked at two sites that are primarily set up to make money from affiliate programs. The next couple of sites we'll look at are set up primarily to earn money from cost-per-click context ads, like those served by Google AdSense.
To refresh your knowledge you might remember that context ads earn you money for each person who visits your site and clicks on the ads. The ad network automatically generates the ads and you insert them into your site just by copying a small piece of code. The biggest context ad network is Google AdSense, so a lot of people (including us!) will use the word "AdSense" when they're really talking about "context ads" in general.
Sites that earn money primarily from these context ads do so by capitalizing on either high traffic in that particular market, or high revenues for clicks (of course the best situation would be to have a high traffic market with high paying ads; if you can find one of those markets, and rank well for it, even better!). Here are three ways your site could earn at least $40 a day through context ads:
- 500 clicks @ $0.08/click
- 125 clicks @ $0.32/click
- 20 clicks @ $2.00/click
One example site earning money off low-paying AdSense ads but high traffic is http://www.haircutadvice.com. The "hair styles" market has a huge number of people searching on it each month but relatively little in the way of affiliate activity, because there aren't many high-paying affiliate programs for this market.
You may wonder why there are few good affiliate programs for such a popular topic; but if you consider the demographic searching for "hair styles", you'll realize many are just after hair style pictures and advice. Not only that, most don't want to pay for anything - they believe this information should be free.
Generally, if there's nobody willing to pay money for things in a market there aren't going to be many products with affiliate programs. This also means that the AdSense ads for that market won't pay a huge amount either - there's not enough competition to drive the prices up, and no justification for paying a large amount.
However this site still manages to earn a modest amount each day, purely because it's built around such a highly searched for topic.
You can see that this site has a lot of content and a couple of sections with ads in them, with a telltale "Ads by Google" note at the top. Google AdSense will allow you up to three ad blocks on each page of your website.
As you can see, this site also promotes a couple of affiliate programs, but not very heavily.
Example 4 - Blog Site http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com
A lot of people consider a blog to be an extra "something" you tack onto the end of your website, but there are many affiliates out there running blogs as their main affiliate site. Instead of creating articles, they write blog posts. Over time these can build into quite a large body of work.
One good example of this kind of affiliate marketing is http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com
The author of this blog earns money by:
- Discussing affiliate products
Rather than simply writing reviews or pasting ads on his site, he uses his blog to discuss affiliate products that are newsworthy. With this format the news takes center stage, while the affiliate link becomes secondary. In this blog post, for example, he discusses AWeber:
In this post he recommends AWeber, but that's not the primary purpose of the blog post. Often in the course of discussing things related to Internet marketing, you'll mention products that just happen to have affiliate programs.
The author of site also earns money through other activities which wouldn't typically be classed as "affiliate marketing" since they're not pay-for-performance, but we'll take a look at them while we're here:
- Writing reviews for ReviewMe.com
This is review writing with a twist. While this affiliate might write reviews with an eye to promoting affiliate products, he also earns money by writing reviews through ReviewMe.com. This site matches reviewers (often blog owners) with people wanting their product or website reviewed.
The person receiving the review pays an amount of money to ReviewMe.com depending on the "price" of the review, which is determined by the quality and popularity of the reviewing site. For a lot of sites looking for reviews, the cost of getting reviewed might well be less than the cost of purchasing a link from a popular website. For the reviewer... well... they get money. And adding reviews to their site gives them content.
- Placing text-link ads on his site through Text-Link-Ads.com and through private text-link campaigns and banner campaigns
Text-Link-Ads.com is kind of a cross between traditional link buying and selling and ad networks like Google AdSense. Text-Link-Ads.com acts as a go-between for publishers and link-buyers: you insert a snippet of code into your site and Text-Link-Ads essentially sells space on your site.
The ads appear on your site, and you get half the amount that the person buying the link pays. Unlike AdSense, this isn't a cost-per-click ad system: you get paid regardless of whether anybody clicks on the link. This is because the primary reason for buying a link through Text-Link-Ads.com is to gain a link back to your site to help your search engine optimization efforts.
On the other hand, private ad campaigns are simply private arrangements between the site owner and another site: you link to me, I pay you. This could be arranged on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Note: the author of this blog has conveniently written an article analyzing his own site himself: http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/687/make-money-online-blogging-2/
In this lesson you've seen four different affiliate sites earning money through a variety of methods:
- Product reviews
- Newsletter subscriptions
- Context ads (like AdSense)
We've also seen a couple of methods of making money that wouldn't traditionally be classed as "affiliate marketing":
- Selling ad space on your website
- Joining link-brokering networks like Text-Link-Ads.com
- Writing reviews through review brokering sites like ReviewMe.com