14 Make Money Online with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing and the Social Web:
A Brief Overview

Over the past several years, the Internet has become more and more social. This has made it more appealing for your average Web surfer. And for affiliate marketers, it has opened up many more avenues to reach potential customers.

Here are some of the social applications that affiliates can use to build back links, get site visitors and build relationships:

Forums – The forum is one of the oldest types of interactive application online. Forums make it possible for groups to have discussions on any topic. Part of their appeal is the ability for users to check the boards at their leisure without having to be in front of the computer at the same time as everyone else.

Micro-blogging services – Twitter is the most popular micro-blogging application. It’s a simple concept: users post short messages (140 characters or less) for other users to read. Users can follow the “tweets” of people they know or find interesting.

Social networks – MySpace and Facebook are two of the most popular social networking websites. They allow users to create profile pages, interact with other users and add them as friends. Features vary from network to network, but you may be able to post photos, video and audio, send messages to other users, join groups and more.

Social news, media and bookmarking sites – These sites attempt to highlight the most popular news stories, web pages and multimedia on the Web. They are great sources of traffic if used correctly.

Joining forums and social networking groups that are relevant to your niche is an effective way to connect with your target market. But it’s important not to just jump in and start overtly promoting your affiliate links. Not only will this annoy the group’s members, it could get you labeled as a spammer and kicked out. Instead, join in the conversations and be friendly and helpful. Include a site or affiliate link in your signature or on your profile page, and let members make the decision to click on it without undue influence.

Twitter doesn’t allow much space to get your point across, so you’ll have to be a little more creative. If you put an affiliate link in every tweet, you’ll end up with no followers. If you never promote anything, you’ll end up with no sales. The same advice about being friendly and helpful in social networks applies here, but posting an affiliate link here and there won’t get you in trouble.

Submitting links to social news and media sites is a favorite traffic generating method of many affiliate marketers. But in order for it to work, you must submit links that follow the rules of the site and will appeal to users. The users are the ones who will vote it up or down, and if you submit links that they find useless, boring or spammy, you’re just wasting your time.

If you use any of these applications for non-business purposes, it’s usually best to start a new account for your affiliate endeavors, as long as the site or network allows it. That way you won’t have to worry about coming across as unprofessional. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be yourself when you’re representing your affiliate business in social applications. It just means that you should always be the most professional version of yourself.

As an affiliate marketer, you can’t afford to overlook the social Web as a means of generating sales. Blogging is a good start, but if you’re not exploring other applications, you’re missing out on some very effective relationship builders.

Using Affiliate Data Feeds

Many career affiliates use data feeds to add product pages or links to their sites. Data feeds are database files that contain information about all of a merchant’s products, usually including the product name, description, image, price and your affiliate link. Some data feeds also contain other information.

Some merchants make their data feeds available to every affiliate. Others charge a fee for providing them. And some only provide data feeds to their top performing affiliates. Affiliate networks sometimes make all of their feeds available to approved affiliates for a one-time fee.

In order to use a data feed, you’ll need a program that can export databases into HTML. Alternatively, you could get a programmer to translate the files into web pages. Either way, data feeds enable you to add any number of products to your website quickly and easily. And by using the latest data feed from a merchant, you can ensure that you list all products that are currently available and none that are not.

There are a couple of different ways in which you can use data feeds. One is to create an online store-type site. You can separate products into categories, and display links to descriptions of individual products on the category pages. You can also add specific types of products to pages with content related to those products. For example, if you have an article about running shoes on your site and you are an affiliate for a shoe company, you could display links to various styles of running shoes on that page.

Data feeds make it easy to set up an affiliate store, or to add links to an existing affiliate site. You can even set it up so that your site is updated automatically if the merchant makes its feeds available on a server. Just remember that the best performing sites include more than just a bunch of affiliate links. Adding some original content will make your site more attractive to the search engines and to visitors.

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