Choosing The Right Products & Offers To Promote on Your Site
Now we're cookin'. We have a niche, a website, and traffic. Affiliate companies are ready to work with us.
So how the hell do we make money?
This is an important question because you can have all of the previous elements and still not be making money!
Let's take a look at how to choose some products, offers, and services to promote on our affiliate site. Plus, at the bottom of this article, you'll see the #1 mistake that will kill your earnings, and the one thing that will save your butt (and your business).
How To Find Products To Promote
This is big picture stuff because Google Trends needs a lot of data to actually tell you anything. If you are thinking of promoting some kind of unique item or niche services, it will likely not be listed here. But if the products related to your niche are in the iPhone or Tesla range of popularity, this service can give you insight into what's getting more or less popular.
For example, you'll be able to see trends for drones, but not for specific drone models.
Amazon Top Sellers
Getting more into the actual products, rather than product trends, Amazon is the biggest online marketplace in the world, and they tell you what's selling best. Sort by category for more relevant products to your niche.
Plus, you can use popular products to discover new keywords, and a cascade of ideas of what to write about.
Sign up for Google Alerts
Google Alerts can be used to get notifications to your inbox about specific phrases or topics. You can set alerts to be sent once a day/week/month with a list of all instances of that phrase being published online. It'll make your research faster and more cutting edge. Many times, if you are first to publish on a topic, you can tap into a traffic source that your competitors haven't figured out yet.
Browse Related Forums and Social Media
People talk online. Listen. Stalk. Browse. Your customers are telling you exactly what they want and how they want it. Of course, the information isn't always easily digested, so you need to read between the lines some of the time.
Join related forums and social media groups. Get involved in Twitter and Pinterest. Join some Facebook groups and follow some hashtags on Instagram. Take a few hours a week or month to get a pulse on the communities interested in your niche and take notes. There are new things happening all the time. Coffee has been around for centuries, but it's always being reinvented.
What Are Your Competitors Promoting?
If you are new to the niche, take a look at how your competitors are making money. You can leverage this in two ways. One, you can see what they are promoting and promote the same stuff. If they have been around for a few years and are promoting this one product, it's probably popular and making them money.
Otherwise, you can do the opposite of what they do. If you see flaws in the product they promote, pick a different one and position yourself (and your recommended product) accordingly. If the top websites are making money with an email list, you can do affiliate links instead, or display ads.
Browse Affiliate Networks
Affiliate Networks are home to hundreds or even thousands of affiliate programs. That means you can manage several affiliate programs from one dashboard, which makes getting minimum payouts a lot faster since you can combine income from multiple companies into one withdrawal.
Here's a list of good affiliate networks to work with, but my favorite ones are:
Click a link to go to a full breakdown, including an over-the-shoulder tutorial of how to sign up and get links for each network. Below is a screenshot of the merchant search area for Shareasale and CJ.com.
Within each network you'll be able to browse by category, search for company names, or insert keywords to see which companies you could potentially work with. Most of the time it's pretty easy to get accepted as long as you have a website with traffic and content.
Some companies are strict about who they work with though, so rejection is not uncommon. If you believe you should have been accepted, email the affiliate manager directly. Sometimes they just auto-reject, and by letting the company know you're human and genuinely interested in promoting their product, you can get accepted.
You'll find tons of products and companies you've never heard of by browsing affiliate networks.
Products That Solve a Problem
Think about which products in your niche solve the deepest rooted problems that your customer faces. Buying a pink pair of snow boots isn't really a crisis situation for most people. A pair of snow boots that keep your toes warm in -30 degree snow and wind is a life-saving product. It's a must have item for a winter camper.
Buying a really cool computer game is a want, but buying antivirus software after your computer is overtaken with malware is a need.
It doesn't have to be a life and death situation either. For example, I run a business and I need bookkeeping software. I absolutely need to have it, no matter the cost. Intuit (Quickbooks) has an affiliate program, and I'd bet there are thousands of people promoting it and making money on their entrepreneur blogs.
Choose A Variety of Products
Make sure you get a variety of things on your blog, not just what you like. You might be surprised what people want to buy! There are a million other people out there and they all think differently than you.
In one instance, I promoted Product A for several years, and it made some money, but nothing crazy. After looking into my earnings, I noticed that my #2 recommendation was earning almost as much as my #1 recommendation. I switched places in my “Top 10” chart, and earnings skyrocketed.
Recurring Commission Products
This is my favorite thing to recommend because it's saved my butt a number of times. Back in 2011 I had some website rankings crash and burn hard due to a Google update. My websites lost about 70% of their traffic.
I was earning about fifteen grand at the time. Luckily, the product I was a promoting was a subscription service, so the recurring commissions kept me afloat with about eight grand in earnings over the next couple years while I fixed the Google issues and brought my sites back to life.
Another cool story is that one company I was promoting only paid 15% on a $12/month product. I was earning about a dollar per sale, but it was recurring. After a year or two I was getting paid over $1,000 per month just in recurring commissions. Even just stacking single dollars day after day can really add up over time.
Higher-Priced Items (#1 Mistake Newbies Make)
The #1 mistake I see newbies make however, is not finding expensive enough items to promote. I see lots of blogs that are promoting $10 items that pay a 4% commission or less. This means you are making pennies per sale. You have to sell hundreds of items every single day just to make a decent income from your site if this is the case.
But turn the tables around and sell some high ticket items with at least half-decent commissions and suddenly you're making dollars per sale. If you can find a way to make $25 per sale (maybe a 50% commission on a $50 sale or 25% commission on a $100 sale), you only need to make 4 sales per day to clear your first $100 day.
If you were making $1 per say you would need to make 100 sales per day. Converting at 4% (very high in some niches), that means you need 400 visits per day! That's a lot for a beginner! Still converting at 4%, with the previous example you only need 100 visits per day, which is totally achievable in a couple of months of work.
Everyone likes to budget, and everyone wants to provide good deals for their visitors. Hey, we have the customer in mind, right? That's good, but many people want the best, they don't what's cheapest. And it's your job to identify the best, the cheapest, and the most suitable for the customer. That's what you get paid for!
List some high ticket items on your site and highlight some of their awesome features. They make these products because SOMEBODY wants them. It might not be you, but somebody does, and somebody will buy it, with or without you.
What will get you more sales in the future? If you sell a coffee cup, end of story. The person has a cup, you have a commission. Bye bye!
Promote a DIY solar water heater instructional guide instead, and you can recommend all the parts to go along with it. Other solar and “green” and energy saving products would work too. A repair guide, upgrades, and maybe even a subscription to a membership site have potential as well.
A sale doesn't have to end with a sale. It can be just the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship.
You don't need a spreadsheet of the thousands of products you plan to review and promote on your site at this point. It's good enough to just get a general concept, take some mental notes, and start writing your first product review.
Grab a giant list of everything related to your niche and work your way through the list one by one. It's boring. It's mechanical. But it works.
Often enough, someone will ask me to review their website to figure out why they aren't making money yet. I see tons of great content, but just one or two reviews. My advice is to start cranking out product reviews. They've done the groundwork already. It's time to make money!
Sometimes you simply can't know what will be a hit or what you will rank well for. The wider your web, the more flies you're going to catch.
General Product Review Template
There's no specific way to write an article for a product review. In fact, you can put affiliate links any place on your website and make money! There are as many styles writing as there are methods of earning money through affiliate links. As you grow your website, you'll figure out what you're comfortable with and what works for your audience.
That being said, a very basic formula looks like this:
- Introduction + Affiliate Link
- Supporting Content
- Conclusion + Affilaite Link
The first affiliate link will get more clicks but lower conversions to sales. The last affiliate link will get fewer clicks but higher conversion to sales. That makes sense, right? The impatient people click the first link, but are impulsive and frequently close the page. A smaller number of deep readers read to the end of the article, but by the end they are convinced to buy.
Write Reviews Of Stuff You Don't Own
If you have a budget, buying products is a huge advantage. You get insider knowledge about how the thing works, and original photos you can use to make your review stand out. The vast majority of people do not buy products for their affiliate reviews, so it's pretty obvious if you have unique photos on your site.
That being said, not everyone has a budget, especially if you are just getting started. It's still possible to write helpful product reviews that convert to sales. How?
You are an expert!
Even if a doctor has never tried a specific medicine, he can still read the label and the studies to understand the benefits and side effects. A patient who is trying the medicine has first hand experience, but his opinion may not be well-informed.
As I see it, there are three main angles to writing reviews of stuff you don't own. I break them down here.
Get Conversions & Sales
Once you start getting traffic to your reviews, it's not like the money is going to start cascading in. There's still a lot of work to be done! You need to turn that one sale per month into one sale per week, then one sale per day, then three sales per day.
Getting your product review to convert better is a challenge! Personally, I'm a lot better at cranking out reviews and seeing what sticks. However, you are leaving money on the table if you are not tweaking your reviews to optimize conversions.
If you are getting 200 visits per day to a page but only one sale, there's a disconnect somewhere. Why are only 0.5% of people signing up?
It could be a problem with the content, or that the offer doesn't match the content. It might be that your page is getting discovered through one set of keywords you didn't expect (check Search Console).
For example, imagine you created an article titled “How To Brew Green Coffee” and your intent was to teach people how to make coffee with unroasted coffee beans. However, on the page you also mentioned the word “roasting” a couple times. Google might interpret your page as talking about how to roast green coffee beans.
If people are landing on that page looking for information about home-roasting green coffee beans, they are not going to convert as well since the page was not relevant to their search.
It could also just be a problem like not enough affiliate links.
Creating a link in WordPress is Easy. Here's a video on how to do it, but basically you just highlight the text you want to make a link with, then click the “link” button in your WordPress editor. Watch the video to see how this applies to images.
Finding your affiliate link is another story! IT can be kind of confusing for newbies. Many affiliate programs and affiliate networks just shove a bunch of code in front of your face and expect you to know what to do with it.
Unfortunately, there are so many variations that I won't be able to cover them all. I can give you a couple rules of thumb and a demonstration though!
Firstly, your LINK will begin with https. Secondly, the link will end with a number/letter combination or a forward slash (/). Test the link out before to make sure you didn't copy any extra code and link to a 404 (missing page). This type of link works exactly like I show in the video, and like any normal type of WordPress link.
If you see something like <iframe> or <div> or any < > combination, you have some HTML code on your hands (see below). Watch this video to see how to extract your affiliate link from the HTML code if need be.
I don't use HTML affiliate code a lot because I like to have control over what my links say and what images they display. However, most affiliate programs will provide you with pre-made phrases and images you can use to promote their products. Below is a screenshot of HTML code from an affiliate network.
As you can see in the tab of the image, I can select “Link” for just the link version.
So what do you do with HTML affiliate code?
If you are using the Classic editor, you need to switch to “Text” mode. If you are using Gutenberg, you need to add a Custom HTML block. In the Classic editor, you can just flip back to visual when you are done, and you'll see the new image/video/hyperlink. In Gutenberg, you'll just see the HTML code. You can click “Preview” to see a preview open up and see if the code worked!
The word “banner” just describes a flashy advertising image with your affiliate code. Most of the time people place these in the sidebars or other widget spots on their site. It's a common way to advertise on blogs.
The problem with banners is that they are not very targeted. The offer never changes, no matter what someone is searching for. Someone who lands on your winter camping website may be looking for waterproof boot reviews, or a tutorial on how to make fire in the snow. Either way, they are going to see the same ad in the sidebar.
Even so, these can get clicks and conversions!
Getting a banner to display in a widget is easy. Grab a Text or Custom HTML widget, put it where you want it, then place the full HTML code into the text widget and save.
The next lessons is a recap of what we've done so far. Level 2 of the tutorials are not necessarily in order like the first level. Just pick and choose what you think you need to work on.