Introduction to Websites
To promote your afﬁliate products online you need a website. Having your own domain name and website gives you full control over your content and the ability to post or remove links to afﬁliate products online as needed. If you’re serious about having an on- line presence at all this is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Personally, I recommend you install WordPress from WordPress.org to build your website … and most other profes- sionals agree. WordPress is one of the leading website develop- ment platforms, trusted by millions of bloggers, business owners, and online marketers around the world. WordPress is completely free to download, install and use for as long as you wish. There is no cost in using WordPress.
Your website ﬁles are kept online by a web hosting company. They basically rent or sell you some space on their server to host your content for you. There’s no need for you to physically pur- chase any server hardware – it’s all handled online.
Owning your own website is like owning a piece of real estate. It gives you an address, a place to call home. It gives you credibility. It helps search engines ﬁnd your content and it gives you control.
There is a small fee when you ﬁrst setup hosting and I’ll talk about that more in the next section. It’s important to think of this as an investment in your future. It’s a very liberating feeling when you purchase your ﬁrst domain name and build your ﬁrst website.
The most important thing I can tell you about building your web- site is to keep it focused. Stay on point. Don’t clutter your site with tons of banner ads or distracting links to 3rd party sites. Have a single call-to-action and reinforce that message throughout.
People don’t have time to read everything on your site and if you let them, they will easily get distracted. Even worse, they may get overwhelmed by your site and leave. By keeping your site and your content straightforward and to the point, you increase the quality of communication with the reader.
Now, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of setting up your domain and building your website …
I recommend Bluehost to register your domain & host your web- site. It is one of the leading hosting providers – I use it regularly as do most of my clients and peers.
The idea behind website hosting is that you’re basically paying to rent space on a server to host all the ﬁles and trafﬁc for your new website. There are several different options when it comes to hosting, but if you’re just getting started with websites and afﬁliate marketing, you just need a simple shared hosting plan. You can upgrade your hosting plan later if you decide to add products of your own and sell them on your site, but for now, this is all you need.
First thing you’ll need to do is register you domain name or URL. This is the web address where your new WordPress blog and podcast will live. I recommend Bluehost to register your domain. Speciﬁcally, because they offer great products, support and up- time. Furthermore, their Control Panel is very intuitive vs. other registrars … you’ll thank me later for this!
Hosting provides server space for you to store all your WordPress ﬁles, pages, images and links. This includes the php and css ﬁles that drive WordPress plus the MySQL database and other applica- tions required to actually make WordPress operate.
Again, I recommend Bluehost for WordPress hosting because the service and products are top of the line for the price. When you register, sign up for a 2-year hosting package and you’ll get tons of extra products that other hosting companies try to charge extra for such as email accounts and extra storage space.
The entire registration and hosting setup process takes about 5 minutes. Just select your plan and you’ll get a couple emails con- ﬁrming your purchase. It’s something you really have to do if you’re serious at all about marketing online. Personally, I also think it’s fun to buy domain names for my friends and family.
WordPress is by far my favorite platform for creating new web- sites, speciﬁcally for afﬁliate marketing. It’s also a great platform for creating a website no matter what the subject, but it’s especially great if you are a beginner and want to create a robust web- site quickly. The service itself is free and the setup process is pretty simple if you follow these instructions.
Quick WordPress Installation
The simplest way to do this is to use the self-install scripts that come with Bluehost and most of the popular hosting companies. From your control panel just click on the WordPress Icon in the SimpleScripts section and follow the step-by-step instructions. It’s really pretty straightforward.
Bluehost provides a program called Simple Scripts which makes it very easy to install WordPress to the root of your site or to a sub- directory. Most other hosts offer a similar option, but you should never have to pay for it!
- Navigate to the Software / Services section inside cPanel Control Click the Simple Scripts icon. This will display the page where the third party scripts can be installed from.
- Click on
- Click the Install Now
- Select the version to install and the domain name to install it You can enter a subfolder such as ‘blog’ or leave it blank if you want the site’s main page to be the blog.
- Click on the Advanced
- Give your site a name or tagline, describing the Uncheck the box which says ‘Generate me an Administrator Login’. Enter a username and a password which are different that your cPanel login information.
- Read through the license and service agreements and check the Select the ‘Complete’ button.
Manual Installation of WordPress
Manually installing WordPress is a bit tricky at ﬁrst but if you follow these guidelines you’ll be just ﬁne.
Visit WordPress.org and download a free copy of WordPress.
Download or install an FTP program to manage the connection between you computer and your host. FTP stands for File Trans- port Protocol.
There are several free FTP programs based on your operating system. For a complete list with comparisons, you can check out this list on Wikipedia. I am going to recommend you use Cyber- duck if you’re on an Apple OSX Mac and FileZilla if you’re using a Windows computer. there are both free applications and provide all the necessary functionality you need at this point. In both cases you want to download the Client version.
Each FTP program has it’s own installation instructions, but es- sentially you want to download the install ﬁles, run the installation and then add a new site for connection.
- CyberDuck for Mac (Download | Instructions)
- FileZilla for Windows (Download | Instructions)
Rather than spell out the entire WordPress installation process from this point forward, I’ll simply point you to the ofﬁcial Word- press installation instructions. They present everything you need to know in great detail.
From time to time, these instructions change as WordPress continues to evolve, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to send you there and minimize possible confusion.
Customize your Website
WordPress comes with one standard theme and it is a great place to start if you do not need much extra branding and customization. Sometimes simpler is better and if you’re trying to promote an afﬁliate product it may be best to keep things simple and focus your readers’ attention on your content as much as possible.
However, you can import new themes to give your site a more custom look and feel. It could be something fancy or maybe you prefer something more minimalist. In any case there are 1,000 of themes to choose from – both free and premium.
To access the WordPress directory of themes open your Word- press Admin Dashboard and go to Appearance > Themes > Install Themes. Then run a ﬁltered search to ﬁnd something you like. Alternately check out the WordPress.org Extend Theme Directory or search online for other free themes.
I have installed WordPress literally hundreds of times and proba- bly used twice as many themes in the process. After all these years, I now have three favorite premium themes that I use on a consistent basis. These theme provide more dynamic layout options, are easier to customize and have a fantastic development team and user base on hand to provide support.
- Catalyst Theme – this is a theme framework like no other that allows you to create highly customized child themes and dynamic layouts for your Catalyst is my #1 choice these days and I’ve used it on dozens of sites.
- Thesis Theme – this is a very popular choice because it is so simple to customize and provides excellent
- Elegant Themes – this team puts out a new theme every month with a robust customization engine and beautiful Elegant is great and I’ve used it on several sites.
To customize your site, I suggest you add a custom banner im- age, a few pages of custom content and a sidebar that provides additional information and links to your readers.
You might also want to add a content page with a contact form. The most popular contact form is Contact Form 7. Also, I encourage you to get an email newsletter subscription signup form. I’ve always used Aweber and it’s widely considered the best among professional online marketers. You can sign up for their $1 trial to see if it’s right for you.
Introduction to Driving Traffic
Driving trafﬁc to your website is critical to effective afﬁliate marketing. The key is get trafﬁc from people that are interested in potentially purchasing the product you’re promoting.
There are several methods of driving trafﬁc to your website some of these include blogging, search engine optimization, social media, video marketing, podcasting, and a number of other inbound marketing tactics.
Blogging is a great way to drive trafﬁc for several reasons. First, you can easily write several blog posts about your product with very little technical know-how. Second, search engines love to index original content from blogs. Third, blogs typically include the ability for visitors to comment on or share your content.
Search engine optimization is the practice of applying on page and off page techniques so that your website ranks higher a major search engine such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engine optimization is important so that when people search for your con- tent they ﬁnd it more easily. It is not necessary but it will deﬁnitely help drive more trafﬁc to your website.
Social media marketing is about leveraging popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to drive trafﬁc to your site. You can do this by building meaningful relationships with key inﬂuencers within your market and sharing helpful infor- mation to build trust and credibility within the community.
Video marketing allows you to put a face to your business by pub- lishing short videos to communicate with your target market in a new and highly engaging format. YouTube is the #2 search engine so it’s in your best interest to consider how people may be searching to the products and how-to support you can provide as an afﬁliate.
Other trafﬁc getting tactics include:
- email marketing
- white papers
- document sharing
- social bookmarking
- comment marketing
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of leveraging search engines to help drive trafﬁc to website. The goal is to have your content rank higher in search results for phrases that are 1) directly related to your content and 2) highly relevant to those conducting the search.
There are two major forms of search engine optimization:
On-page search engine optimization – this includes anything you do on your site to draw the attention of search For example, using keywords in your blog title and meta tags, em- bedding images and videos that add visual appeal to your con- tent and publishing new, original content on a regular basis.
Off-page search engine optimization – this is everything you do off of your website to help search engines better index your For example, submitting your site to Google, com- menting on another blog with a link to your site and creating a YouTube video with a link in the description to your site.
As we discussed in previously , the key to effective SEO is to pick the right keywords and long-tail keyword phrases before you get started. There are a few steps to determine the right keywords for your product:
- What words or phrases would you use to search for your prod- uct? It’s likely that other people will use similar keywords and phrases as This is a good place to start.
- What keywords are being used on the merchant’s website for this product? Tip: in your browser, you can right-click and choose to View Look and the keyword meta tags to see what keywords they’re using.
- Enter these keywords into the Google Keyword Tool for a quick look at how much trafﬁc and competition these keywords You want keywords with higher trafﬁc and lower competition.
- Get a copy of Market Samurai and run a complete
The Don’t get fooled into thinking more trafﬁc is all good. It’s not terribly difﬁcult to start getting trafﬁc to your website, but if it’s from search phrases that have little to do with the products you’re try- ing to promote then that trafﬁc is essentially useless.
Social Media Marketing
Social media has taken the online world by storm. I don’t need to explain the popularity of Facebook and Twitter. We know that these platforms are the goto place to consume content, connect with others and build relationships. It’s also where we go to get others’ opinions and learn about what’s new. As such, social me- dia a great marketing channel.
Not only are people tuning into social media, search engines are too. For example, Google aggressively indexes content from Google+, Linkedin and YouTube. On Bing, you’ll see search re- sults that include content from Twitter and Facebook, among other social media platforms.
As a marketer, it’s important to understand how you can leverage these social media networks to connect with your audience and promote your afﬁliate product. Here are a few ways to make this happen:
Run a Twitter search at twitter.com to ﬁnd people talking about your product or industry. Join the conversation, answer their questions, & point them to helpful resources.
Login to Facebook and search for Pages that have to do with your Create your own Page and comment on other Pages. Add value to the conversation and help people. Link to your products as needed but don’t be pushy.
Post questions on LinkedIn to get user feedback related to your industry or Answer other people’s questions and provide support for those looking for help. Join a few groups and jump into the conversation. Share links to your website and other resources as needed.
Join Google+ and post links to your content Search to ﬁnd people talking about your product or industry. Add them to your circles to build a network of inﬂuential friends. Start a Google+ Page for your product and add several links to your content.
The point with all of this is to get your content on the most popular social networks, connect with potential buyers, promote your con- tent and get indexed by the search engines. Overtime you can continue to use these platforms to further grow your network and build your inﬂuence online.
Online video is everywhere thanks to YouTube, increased band- width and the proliferation of smart phones & compact video recorders. It’s succeeding because at the end of the day people prefer to watch content online as a form of entertainment rather than read. It just seems more natural.
To get started, sign up for a YouTube account and get a video camera, like the Flip Mino HD, Kodak zi10 or Sony Bloggie. With a tripod, either speak directly into the camera about your product or focus on the product itself and shoot a demonstration type video. The point is to connect with the viewer, show that you’re a real person and convey the features and beneﬁts on your product.
If you’re not comfortable putting your face on the screen or don’t have a camera, there are some other options. One option is to use Screenr.com to record a screencast video of your product in action. If you don’t have the physical product on hand, you could just shoot and informational video about your product.
For example, you could write a blog post about your product and then record a video of of that blog post with some narration. A one minute video of this type is sufﬁcient. Record a few versions and see which one does best.
Screenr.com is great because 1) it’s free 2) there’s no software to install and 3) it will publish directly to YouTube. It’s limited how- ever because you can only record 5 minutes of video and there are no editing capabilities. If you need something more robust I recommend Screenﬂow for Mac or Camtasia for Windows.
If your promoting a software product video is really the best choice to show visitors how it works and what it does. In this case, you should do a series of videos covering the most popular features and answering the most obvious questions potential buyers might have. After you upload your video to YouTube, save them to a YouTube Playlist so it’s easier for viewers to watch all the videos and follow your train of thought.
Once you get proﬁcient at shooting & uploading video, use a free service, such as TubeMogul, for mass distribution. This let’s you upload once and distribute to multiple video sites.
Other Inbound Marketing Tactics
Let’s talk about some other great strategies for driving trafﬁc.
Email is a powerful method of communication because people still feel somewhat obligated to read their email. And if they actually opted-in to hear from you, that’s even better.
The best strategy is to set up an autoresponder series so when someone signs up on your website to learn more, you send them a series of emails to educate them and build trust. When it’s time to ask them to order, you have an established relationship. I use Aweber because it’s easy, reliable and an established industry leading email marketing platform used by top marketers.
eBooks & White Papers
Sometimes it easier for people to consume content on their own terms in a more familiar format that read stuff online. In this case, eBooks and white papers are great for distributing your content.
These are nothing more than fancy PDF ﬁles.
The beauty is that they are easier to share and you can still in- clude links to your content in the PDF. Just write up your content in a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages and export as a PDF. The ability to print as PDF is built into the Mac … Windows users will have to use a free program like PDFCreator.
Once you create your ebook or white paper, share it on your web- site and through social media channels. Maybe offer it for free in exchange for signing up to your email marketing list.
Online video is cool, but what’s really great is hosting your own live free video event where people can join in at a speciﬁc time to hear you talk about the products your promoting for free. A webinar is basically the online version of sitting face-to-face with a group of people and presenting information to them.
Now let’s be clear – people are not going to sign up for a webinar to be sold to for an hour. They will sign up to get help or learn something new. Make sure to focus on providing value ﬁrst and selling your product second.
The most popular service for managing webinars is GoToWebinar. It’s great because they provide the sign up forms, registration, email reminders and hosting the actual live event.
Sometimes is good take one of your blog posts or small section of your ebook and create a one or two page document you would like to share. Or maybe you have a presentation that describes your product well. There are some great sites to help distribute these documents and ultimately get more eyeballs on your afﬁli- ate links.
The two most popular document sharing sites are Slideshare and Scribd. In both cases, you create an account and proﬁle, upload your documents and provide as much detail as possible. Then, as people are search around on the Internet or these sites in particu- lar, they stumble across your documents, consume your content and potentially click on your afﬁliate links.
With the proliferation of smart phones and the popularity of iTunes, podcasting has grown to a powerful channel for marketing online. For example, you could start a podcast about your industry and offer links to your website for more information about the product you’re promoting.
Starting a podcast is not terribly hard:
- First, you need to create an Mac users should use Ga- rageband and Windows users should download a free copy of Audacity.
- Upload your MP3 to your WordPress site we created
- Install one of two free WordPress plugins: Podcasting by TSG or Blubrry Powerpress. These plugins format your content to publish on iTunes
- Submit your podcast to iTunes and wait a couple days for it to go
- Continue to publish new episodes and you should see in- creased trafﬁc to your website if you mention your website ad- dress in the
If your on a Mac, you can watch my complete podcasting course here. Use coupon code affmkt and pay only $9 for this 1.5 hours of hands-on training.
If you have an iPad or iPhone and want to podcast directly from your mobile device to iTunes, you should check out Mobile Pod- caster. This WordPress plugin is the glue that connects your iPad or iPhone recordings to your WordPress blog and iTunes for a complete, on-the-go podcasting solution. I love it!
What to Measure
As with any marketing program or initiative, it’s important to deﬁne success upfront and measure results on a regular basis. Afﬁliate marketing takes time and time is money, so make sure you’re on top of your results.
Personally, I like to keep a tally of all my stats and program results in master spreadsheet. I review it monthly and add new informa- tion as needed. Over time I can compare month-to-month per- formance and see what’s working. It helps me make informed de- cisions about what to stop, start and continue doing as it relates to my afﬁliate marketing business.
Otherwise, I’d just be guessing … and that would be bad. There are a number of metrics to track. Here are a few: Sales & Commissions
Every afﬁliate program has a dashboard of sorts so you can re-
view current and past months sales and commissions.
If I’m promoting multiple products and a certain product seems to be performing exceptionally well, I’ll think about ways to give this product more prominence. Maybe a new blog post, a new video or a couple more mentions on major social media channels.
I use Google Analytics on all my sites to track unique visitor pageviews, popular keywords, and visitor behavior. I want to know as much as possible about how people found my site and what they did once they got there. Is there a particular source that drive the best trafﬁc. Are there pages on my site where people seem to leave most frequently?
I periodically like to check how my site is ranking in search en- gines for my keywords. I use the Rank Checker in Market Samurai. It shows me how my site ranks for speciﬁc keywords across multiple search engines and how the ranking has changed since I last checked.
I also use Google Webmaster Tools to explore search trafﬁc that is not reaching my site. This is really great because you can see the phrases for which you’re ranking but not getting clicks … a huge opportunity to revisit your content and build something that drives an untapped market niche.
Google Analytics is a free online application that allows you to track visitor behavior on your website. It’s a very robust tool.
Without it you would basically be marketing with blinders on. There are other options, but in my experience Google Analytics is outstanding and provides all the relevant information you need to properly analyze your website’s trafﬁc.
Visit google.com/analytics to install Google Analytics.
First, sign up for an account. Enter your domain name and copy the html code they provide. If you have a WordPress website there are a number of popular plugins to install you analytics code. I prefer Google Analytics for WordPress by Joost. In particu- lar, it will ignore any trafﬁc to your site when you are logged in and updating your site. Most people ignore this step and clog up their Analytics data with personal trafﬁc.
Once you have Analytics tracking data from your site, it’s time to dig into the data. Here’s a rundown of the stats I look at most frequently:
Audience > Overview
This gives me a nice snapshot of trafﬁc over the past month or couple days. I can se visitor trends plus bounce rate and average pages per visit. This helps me gauge the over health of my site’s trafﬁc.
Trafﬁc Sources > Overview
This is helpful to see where my trafﬁc is coming from – search en- gines, social media, direct trafﬁc, email, etc. I can also tell if one source is performing better than another. For example, a low bounce rate from Google vs. a high bounce rate from Facebook, might signal that there’s some adjustment required in my Face- book strategy. Maybe I’m posting the wrong content or attracting the wrong audience?
Content > Site Content > Pages
Here I can see which pages are getting the most trafﬁc at any given time. I also explore time on page, bounce rates, keywords and exit rates as they relate to each each. If I see a lot of trafﬁc to a particular page, I’ll take some time to explore options to lever- age that trafﬁc. Maybe I can get something on those pages or get people to sign up for my newsletter.
I use Google Analytics everyday. Make sure you take some time to really understand all the information it provides.