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  1. #1
    Newbie
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    Augmenting In-House Affiliate Program
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm a total newbie. I've just published a totally awesome eBook for guitar teachers, and have iDevAffiliate up and running. I chose to run things in-house primarily because the inbound links give me an SEO boost, and from what I understand, an external affiliate program (I don't even know what to call them ) wouldn't offer SEO-friendly links.

    Now that I've announced my program in my guitar-related newsletter (4,000 subscribers), and recruited precisely one affiliate (who's unlikely to sell anything), I can see I'm going to need to put some work into this.

    I'm planning on contacting prominent guitar-related websites soon, but I'm also wondering if I should join programs like ClickBank or Commission Junction in addition to my in-house program. Never having done this before, I have no idea what conflicts or synergy might arise.

    Thanks,

    Rob
    Heartwood Guitar Instruction

  2. #2
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    October 17th, 2005
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    Try avantlink.com. They post here at ABW and should be good for start-ups. Tell them I sent you.


  3. #3
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    Thanks, John.

    How concerned should I be about finding a network that specializes in--or is big enough to at least feature--my kind of product (an eBook for guitar teachers)? From a glance at avantlink.com's merchant directory, I don't see any information products or music-oriented products. My eBook is for such a small niche that it would seem that unless affiliates were building a site from scratch to sell it (which seems unlikely), I'd need to find affiliates who already cater to guitarists.

    Thank you!

    Rob

  4. #4
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    I think your instincts are right: start with your prospective affiliates, which might mean starting with your competitors and "complementary" merchants (e.g. folks selling non-competing products to the same audience, or selling similar products to a different audience).

    While AvantLink is a great network, it's probably nota good match. ShareASale might be a better fit; CJ would likely be a waste of money and effort; ClickBank might be a good match but would put you in some dreadful company.

    I'm not sure your program is a good fit for networks -your best strategy would
    likely be to start with your prospective affiliates. If "good prospects" tell you they'll only promote your program via a network, consider their suggestions but don't assume that these folks will actually follow through on promoting your site or generate any sales.

    See my write-up on "Affiliate Recruiting" under the "affiliate advice for merchants" info (linked in my signature).

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Mark--I've already read your article. It was very helpful.

    I'm not sure your program is a good fit for networks
    Is that because of my small niche?

  6. #6
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    Hey Rob,

    It appears to me that someone somewhere along they way whispered in your ear about affiliate marketing as the way to drive a bunch of sales for free, so you bought iDev and tried it but they didn't come.

    It's like this, think of asking a baby to explain nicomachean ethics when it hasn't even learned how to read, much less speak. Yes, it looks like you've got something started but your miles away from being able to open an affiliate program, much less run one. If I may, go to the book store get marketing for dummies (no I'm not calling you a dummy) and get some pointers ... the fundamentals that you need ... marketing 101 ... then after that baby step you can go to the next, that's how successful businesses work, one step at a time, with the right knowledge and direction.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  7. #7
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    Hello Haiko,

    Thanks for responding. You run a busy forum and I'm delighted to see you take the time to participate.

    It's true that I've much to learn about affiliate marketing, but that doesn't mean I'm new to the business world. I run two successful businesses--a guitar teaching business and SEO business--and my guitar website attracts 10,000 visitors a day. My website ranks in Google's top 5 search results for pretty much any search term related to teaching guitar. My website already does an excellent job selling my eBook just from search traffic.

    In general, I'd say I'm at least reasonably familiar with both traditional and web-based marketing (at least from a service-based, sole proprietor's perspective). I don't mean to brag, but just to give you some background.

    I bought iDevAffiliate not for the promise of affiliate income, but for inbound links (and the SEO boost they'd give) to my eBook landing page. I'm excited about the possibility of affiliate revenue too, but even if I just get a handful of high-quality inbound links, iDevAffiliate will have been a worthwhile purchase.

    I would also respectfully challenge your "baby steps" model to growing a business. I'm finding that I'm much more motivated to learn about affiliate marketing now that I've got iDevAffiliate running on my site--I can see how it works, test it, and I know that the technical challenges have been overcome. I see no drawback--other than a wasted $300--to getting things rolling and then learning as I go.

    If you're still reading, thanks for giving me a chance to introduce myself further, and I would love any further advice you have.

    Rob

  8. #8
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Rob,

    Please I mean no insult nor harm, all i can do is go by what I see and that site was not indicative of the milestones nor achievements you presented. As for your affiliate program, yes iDev was a good way to get your feet wet, but trust me there are miles to go. Affilaite programs are usually not meant to launch brands nor products, they are to expand reach and bring in new customers to a site that already sells, with a brand that is known - as opposed to the money for nothing mentality of most new unestablished programs that cross the forums' path.

    I'm sure with your acumen and tenacity you'll learn and grow your business the right way, have fun on the way and it will make it that much better.

    BTW, thanks for the Kudos, it means alot! Welcome to the family!
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  9. #9
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    Thanks for your well-wishes, Haiko. I gather you see a lot of new entrepreneurs hoping that an affiliate program will be their marketing magic wand.

    I'm lucky to have good brand recognition among guitar players and teachers--if guitarists regularly google for guitar music or instruction, they eventually find my site--but I don't know how much that will help. I'm still curious to hear people's thoughts on whether it would be worth joining an affiliate network. Has anyone here had experience selling a product such as mine, which targets such a small niche?

    Thanks again,

    Rob

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador
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    What Mark said, this part:

    "While AvantLink is a great network, it's probably nota good match. ShareASale might be a better fit; CJ would likely be a waste of money and effort; ClickBank might be a good match but would put you in some dreadful company."

    I think SAS might work. If you have something of quality and niche, I'm sure there are affiliates out there that can drive some sales.

  11. #11
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    Cool, this has been very helpful.

    I just left a message with ShareASale. I'm hoping to do some more research to find out if they have the affiliates interested in selling guitar-related products. Any recommendations for doing this? Or is it just a $550 leap of faith?

  12. #12
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    You wrote, regarding ShareASale, that you wanted to determine "if they have the affiliates interested in" your product niche.

    No, no, no!

    You should NOT choose an affiliate network based on "what affiliates they have." It doesn't matter -- the network will almost NEVER bring you productive affiliates. Even if there's already a merchant using ShareASale network to promote sales of music-education products, that merchant's affiliates are unlikely to find you; in fact, your strongest prospects (narrow-niche sites) are the least likely to find you "through the network." Instead, you need to find and recruit the web publishers whom you believe could profit from your advertising.

    Listen to what your prospective affiliates say, and examine what they do (which merchants and which networks do they link to already?). Of course, if you find a "strong prospect" web publisher, and they tell you that they'll only carry affiliate advertising that's tracked through SAS, CJ, or GAN, then you need to consider that. Don't rely on the network to deliver you productive affiliates.

    Finally, your niche appears to be very tiny, and you seem to already have high search-engine rankings for terms that matter. It's unlikely that affiliates will bring you more revenue than (successful) organic search brings you.

  13. #13
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    Great Mark, this is the advice I was looking for. I certainly plan on contacting prospects directly as you recommended, once I have my act together, and it sounds like I should only join a network in the regrettable circumstance that it's the only way I can get some of those direct-contacts on board (and even then I'll need to weight the risk and cost).

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