New Website Lab Report: Affiliate Marketing

It’s been a month since FreshPlans went live. Comparing the first fortnight and the second, we see that overall traffic is up by 68% and pageviews are up by 82%, so we’re seeing a nice steady increase in traffic. We made a good site, I post good new content every weekday, we submitted it to major search engines and placed a few well-chosen links. We also set it up as an Amazon affiliate, connecting mentions of the books we were talking about anyway to the sales page at Amazon and placing a couple of display ad links on the homepage.

Yesterday we had our first order. There’ve been 197 clicks through to Amazon from the links, and one order for two books. We’ve earned $2.42.

Now, our goal for this exercise is a) to learn enough about Amazon affiliate marketing to be useful to clients who ask us to set them up, and b) to pay for the site’s hosting. We hear of people who earn thousands of dollars a month, but we have smaller ambitions: the current order is 1/10 of what we need to pay the hosting fee.

Having had exactly one order, we can’t claim to be experts. I’m willing to suggest the hypothesis that it takes about a month and two hundred clicks to start selling stuff, but even that is hypothesizing ahead of the data.

However, through hanging out at the affiliates message board and understanding how the system works, I’m willing to make some initial suggestions about how to profit as an affiliate:

  • Increase traffic. Not everyone who visits your site will click through, and not everyone who clicks through will buy, so you need to work to increase traffic. I put links at an old, established educational blog with good traffic, and that has sent traffic to the new blog. I listed the blog at Blogcatalog, and some people have favorited it. I should also submit it to Zimbio and other such places to get the word out. I’ve got the first step accomplished, though: I’m providing good, useful content.
  • Sell things. I’m linking the titles of books to Amazon. That’s all. Reviewing things, encouraging people to buy them, and generally offering them a bit of a sales pitch will increase your sales. One of the helpful people at the Amazon affiliates’ message board told me, when I reached 100 clicks with no sales, that I should pre-sell the stuff at the site. This makes sense to me.
  • Sell expensive things. Our first sale was for two paperback books. Had it been two TV sets, we’d have the hosting covered. Possibly for the year, depending on the size of the TV sets. Nearly everything I’m linking to is priced at less than ten dollars, so I’m clearly not doing this in the most lucrative way.

The thing to do, clearly, would be to write a persuasive post on the use of the Nintendo Wii in the classroom, to put up some display ads selling the Wii and associated games,  and to spend a day on linkbuilding for that particular post.





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