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Boost Your Online Profits with Affiliate CommissionsCopyright © 2009 OnlineBizU.com
One of the income streams in my business comes from affiliate commissions, or money I make from the referral of another's products or services. Affiliate commissions are a very viable way to add another income stream to your business where you can make a couple of hundred dollars a month to several thousand dollars a month, depending on how much time and effort you want to put into the process.
Several years ago I felt guilty for sending others to a product or service through my affiliate link because I believed I was manipulating them in some way. However, now I have a clearly defined set of rules for myself before I recommend a product to someone else:
1. I usually personally own or have used the product
2. If I don't own it or use it, I rely on many trusted reviews before deciding to recommend. In most cases, I don't choose to send someone through an affiliate link if I don't personally own or use the product.
3. I have either a verbal or written review/testimonial about the product.
4. I am honest about the product's pros and cons.
5. I can usually tell a story about how the use of this product/service has impacted the business of one of my clients or my own business.
6. When responding to an email inquiry or forum/discussion list post, I disclose my link is an affiliate link.
Because it's very easy to get caught up in the lure of affiliate commissions, perpetuated by the constant bombardment of "opportunities" to promote someone else's products and services, you must be very discriminating in the products and services you recommend to your contacts. All is takes is one or two poor recommendations, and you begin to lose credibility with your audience. Your email list will also lose faith in you if you bombard them with affiliate email promotions. In some cases, I receive more affiliate promotions than email newsletters or announcements from some of the lists to which I belong. Consequently, because of the trust my email list has in me, I rarely send solo email affiliate promotions to them, preferring to make affiliate recommendations in my ezine and on my website.
One problem that affiliate marketers often encounter is their visitor's aversion to clicking on an affiliate link. The visitor will remove the affiliate portion of the link URL instead of crediting you for helping them to find out about the product or service. I find this a bit silly now, as they are paying the same either way, but since I used to do the same thing (I have to chalk it up to ignorance, I suppose), I know that it happens frequently. Or, the visitor will attempt to substitute his affiliate ID in the URL. Most reputable businesses now have a clause in their affiliate agreements prohibiting using your own affiliate ID to make purchases for yourself. However, in many cases, it is still possible.
Here are 4 strategies you can use to "cloak" your affiliate links.
1. Use a redirect service. Many affiliate links are long and cumbersome. If you use a service like TinyURL.com or SnipURL.com, you can both shorten the length of the URL as well as prevent any URL tampering, as the final URL provided by the redirect service gives the visitor no idea about the final destination.
2. Simple website redirect. You may be able to redirect a long URL through a page of your site with the commands in your web hosting control panel or FTP client or through a 3rd party software loaded onto your hosting account.
3. Dedicated domain name. This is my favorite strategy. I buy a domain name that's clearly seen as my brand, and add a defining word to indicate to me and to my visitors about the nature of the product, and then use the services of my domain registrar to forward it to my affiliate link. So, for example, if you're a professional organizer and are known under the name "Best Organizer", you might buy something like BestOrganizerAudio.com, for example, so that you have an easy-to-remember domain name to which you can refer when mentioning this audio recording product in client consultations, teleclasses, and articles.
4. Online Rolodex site. Create a site or a page containing all of your valuable recommendations, and purchase a corresponding domain name to use with it, i.e. JaneDoeRecommends.com. You can tell your clients that this site contains your Rolodex of trusted resources or is your library of trusted resources, and they can refer to the list any time they are seeking a trusted resource or referral to help them solve a problem.
Take time to set your parameters for affiliate recommendations and inform your clients and email list of those rules. Then, use one of the affiliate cloaking strategies to make your affiliate marketing as easy and painless as possible, both for you and your contacts. As you begin to see your affiliate commissions grow, you'll wonder why you didn't start this process sooner!
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at OnlineBizU.com . Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at AskDonnaGunter.com .
Have a nice day!
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