What’s the Best Type of Affiliate Site? [Case Study]

This guest post is by Anshul Dayal of Nichsense Niche Marketing.

Once upon a time, making money with affiliate marketing and AdSense was a question of following this step-by step recipe (circa 2009):

  1. Find a product to promote on Clickbank or other affiliate networks.
  2. Find a low-competition keyword.
  3. Register an exact or partial match domain.
  4. Write up a product review stuffed with keywords (which was of course always positive).
  5. Plaster the site with affiliate banners, links, and AdSense.
  6. Launch website or blog and wait for traffic.

Sound familiar? I can certainly relate to that, as I have built such sites during the early phases of my internet marketing endeavours. Fast-forward to 2012, and suddenly things don’t look as rosy for anyone looking to put up hundreds of these sites and quit their day jobs.

Before we start the actual comparisons between various affiliate models, I’d like to take a moment to explain the definition of an affiliate site for readers who may be new to affiliate marketing.

The idea here is that visitors may be looking for information on a product (eg “weight loss pills”) by means of organic search. A typical affiliate site will usually provide a review of such a product with affiliate links, and if a visitor makes a purchase or takes action through these links, the site owner earns a commission from the vendor for the referral. Such a site is usually based on the recipe I talked about above, which often provides very little in terms of genuine information and is purely designed for affiliate sales.

With constant changes in the search engine landscape (especially the Panda update from 2011, and more recently Panda 3.3) the above recipe is no longer enough to build what we would describe as a successful affiliate site. In fact, now you can safely say that Google is on a mission to weed out these thin affiliate and AdSense sites for good—it’s even de-indexing them completely from its search index.

Amongst other factors, Google is now making it difficult for established affiliate sites that are thin in content to rank in the search results. One of the other interesting and emerging trends associated with such affiliate sites is the user clickthrough rate (or CTR) in organic search results. Over the years, many marketers have realized the power that exact-match domains have held with search engines like Google, and were heavily exploited for affiliate-type sites.

This has somewhat impacted the way exact-match domains are now perceived by many people and they will be hesitant to click on such sites when they show up in the search results, as they are commonly regarded as low quality. To demonstrate this a little bit more, let’s take a look at a search term like “cheap office supplies”. Here is what typical search results may look like:


Which search result you are more likely to click on? My guess would be either staples or Officeworks (if you are from Australia).

Using that information, let’s compare two affiliate site models as case studies:

  1. An affiliate site based on the most common model: a micro-niche site. These sites typically contain four or five pages of content (most commonly articles and reviews) and are for most part focused on getting visitors to click on affiliate links or AdSense ads.
  2. An affiliate site you would be proud to show your family and friends, which I describe as an authority blog, where “real” people would turn to look for real and trustworthy information and is more likely to convert affiliate links to sales in 2012 and beyond.

Let me just add that examples discussed here are not my sites, but I do own just over 50 AdSense niche sites ranging from micro-niche sites like the first model (with around five pages of content) to authority sites based on the second model (with anywhere from 20-100 pages of content).

Without a doubt I am now a strong proponent of the second model, with clear emphasis on delivering content and value.

Case study 1:

This is an affiliate site which fits nicely into the first model. It offers a “review” of the the popular African mango pills for weight loss. Interestingly, the domain also contains the word “scam”—a common tactic employed by many marketers who claim to provide visitors with information on the legitimacy of the African mango weight loss pills.

The site follows a layout common amongst the majority of micro-niche affiliate sites: a landing page with a product review claiming to inform visitors if the African mango pills are a scam, one or two weight loss images, a YouTube video, and lots of affiliate banners.

As expected, the product review dispels the African mango pills scam and gives it a thumbs up with an affiliate text link conveniently located below the article body. In terms of other content, there are links to two other articles which are somewhat related to weight loss.

A quick look at the SeoQuake toolbar reveals just six pages of indexed content, which is common amongst affiliate sites of this nature. As you can see, a site like this can be built in a day, but is it a sustainable model? Let’s look at the second case study for a comparison.

Case study 2:

This particular site is also focused on the weight loss niche, but it’s based around many pages of weight loss-related content and unlike a typical micro-niche site, you don’t land on two big blocks of AdSense ad units or multiple affiliate banners in the widget.

Instead, visitors are invited into the site with a sliding banner of pleasing images, and links to various articles as they scroll down. It is interesting to note that many of these articles are also optimized for several weight loss-related keywords (eg “Jenifer Hudson weight loss”).

So, where are the affiliate links? They are nicely positioned alongside many of the rating-based product reviews inside the weight loss products category. Additionally, the visitors only see AdSense ad units as they navigate to deeper and individual posts within the site—not on the landing page.

Another key attribute commonly associated with a high quality site is the use of relevant categories to carefully group similar posts and content. Categories make it easier for users to find related information, and encourage them to stay on the site longer. follows this standard quite well with several relevant categories conveniently listed in the top navigation bar.

Visitors are also encouraged to sign up for a free weight loss tips guide, through a clean and well positioned opt-in box. Additionally, a Facebook Like box is also positioned on the sidebar, with a significant number of fans for a site of this nature. If I was to pick a negative, it would have to be the lack of social share buttons within the content, which is now used as one of the key signals of quality by search engines like Google and Bing.

In terms of statistics, SeoQuake reveals a whopping 1460 pages of indexed content for this site, and a closer look at the site’s traffic statistics through SEMRush reveals an estimate of 6500 monthly unique visitors from its top 20 organic search terms.

Based on these numbers, we can estimate a monthly revenue of at least $10-15k with a conservative conversion rate of 10% and possible AdSense revenues of $1500 with an average CTR of 5%. That said, the actual revenues are possibly a lot higher as we are not even considering any sales through email marketing and long-tail traffic.

As you can see, there is a lot more work involved with building such a site, but no doubt this particular site is likely to earn significantly more revenues in the long run. It’s something that has the potential to be a real sustainable business for marketer of any level.

I want to add that you don’t necessarily need thousands of pages of content to build a high quality affiliate site. Even ten to 20 pages can often be enough—as long as the information you provide comprehensively covers your chosen niche or topic, and is not just one or two biased articles with affiliate links.

So which model are you more likely to choose now for your next affiliate site? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

Anshul Dayal is the author at Nichsense Niche Marketing blog offering cutting edge niche marketing strategies for starting a real, sustainable and profitable online business. You can download his step-by-step guide to launching your own profitable niche website on his blog

Blog Smarter: Turn Your Blogging Skills into Successful Affiliate Promotions

This guest post is by Regine Becher of Syndicated Partners.

Like most bloggers, you probably want to make some money from your blog. Chances are good you’ve tried things like writing product reviews or putting banners or links to affiliate products into your sidebar.

But while many bloggers have mastered the “Art of Blogging” (or at least the basic principles) successfully, earning money from your blog doesn’t seem to be that easy. So what could be better for you than to use your blogging experiences and skills to improve the results of your affiliate promotions?

In this post, I’ll show you how you can re-purpose three of the most successful blogging strategies to get more out of your affiliate promotions. As a nice extra, these tactics will also have a positive effect on your blog. But more importantly, you’ll learn how you can merge them into a combined and even more powerful strategy for your affiliate promotions.

While some of what I write may seem simple or self-evident to the more experienced affiliate bloggers, it’s this way of tying it all together into one strategy that will make the affiliate promotions on your blog really stand out.

Let’s look at the three important blogging strategies on their own first.

Write (and promote) for your audience

You know that well enough—if you want your stuff to be read, it has to match your audience’s interests. The same is true for your affiliate promotions, in particular for the products you choose to promote: they have to be relevant for your audience.

This sounds self-evident, but frankly I’m stumped at the number of bloggers who have an affiliate banner for a hosting company on their blog—even though their audience clearly isn’t thinking about computers or internet when visiting their blog.

So instead of promoting your hosting company on your garden blog, why not try it with an affiliate link for garden tools, or link to an ebook about gardening?

Publish (and promote) quality

You know the game… Quality content attracts real readers which are interested in the topic. An excited and engaged audience. (Just look around here on ProBlogger if you don’t believe me.) It also makes people stay on your site longer, come back for more, engage with you and others, and recommend you to friends.

Just the things you want for your blog.

The same holds true for any products you promote: choose quality. Again, this seems to be self-evident. But take a look around at some blogs and see what they promote. (Or take a close look at your own blog, just for good measure.)

A lot of times, I see just the same banners or “product reviews” for the same old products. It seems that a lot of affiliate bloggers don’t bother to pick a product by its quality. Nor do they care about the “quality” of the vendor, i.e. about his integrity, and about how much he cares about his customers.

In the long run, your readers will notice the difference. And they will trust your recommendations just because they know you watch out for them.

Even the quality of the affiliate program should matter to you as affiliate. After all, you can and should expect a fair treatment for your efforts. Affiliate promotions are a business deal between the vendor and you, the affiliate. If a vendor doesn’t care about the success of his affiliates, why should you bother to promote his products?

So, again, be picky. Choose the right kind of products to promote.

Establish expertise—not only for yourself

This powerful blogging strategy has several facets which can all play together:

  • You can establish yourself as expert on your own blog by posting the right kind of content.
  • You can establish yourself as expert to a wider audience by guest posting on other blogs.
  • You can establish other people as experts on your blog by publishing their guest posts.
  • And you can establish yourself as a “meta expert”, as the go-to guy/girl of the experts in your field, by publishing a selection of guest posts by recognized experts in your field and/or by interacting with them on your blog, e.g. through interviews.

Again, you can make use of the same strategy in your affiliate marketing. If you want your readers to buy the products you’ve selected for them, they need to do two things: trust your judgement, and trust the vendor to deliver quality. A big step towards the first is if your readers see you as the expert. That will make them much more likely to trust your recommendations.

But don’t forget about the second part, about trusting the vendor. Before somebody buys from a vendor you recommend, they have to be reasonably sure that this person will be honest, and that (s)he will deliver quality.

To some extent, you can establish that trust towards the vendor with your recommendation: if readers see you as trust-worthy, your recommendation carries some weight, too.

But you should also consider establishing expert status for the product creator on your blog. Then when a reader clicks on your affiliate link, he will already be prepared to trust the vendor whom he sees as expert.

Tie these strategies together for even more power

Just by using these three strategies, you can improve the results from your affiliate efforts a lot. But there’s a very simple, though rarely used way to combine these strategies into something even more powerful:

Publish guest posts by product vendors on your blog, and include your affiliate link in the byline.

Now, just to be clear about it: I’m not talking about promotional content or “product reviews”. I’m talking about guest articles with real, quality content. And about establishing the vendor as the expert (unlike a product review, where you are the “expert” who reviews). And, of course, about picking and promoting the right kind of products in the first place.

To fully understand the power of this strategy, put yourself in the shoes of your readers for a moment:

They come to your blog. They know you publish good stuff, and you’re an expert in the field—you’ve done your best to establish that status. On your blog, they read a guest article by another expert. It contains great content, is helpful, informative, and entertaining.

They like the style and want to read more of the same.

Do you think they’re likely to click on the link (your affiliate link) in the byline? And do you think they might be willing to spend money on a product by this expert?

To achieve this, you only need to re-purpose and tie together the three simple strategies you’re already following when you blog: write for your audience, publish quality, and establish expertise. Do this by choosing the right products, and then publishing informative guest posts by product vendors with your affiliate link included.

In return, you get more out of your affiliate promotions for everybody involved:

  • Your readers get to read great content.
  • You recommend a good product which will improve your readers’ lives in some way.
  • You make it easier for your audience to trust your recommendation, to buy the product and thus to improve their life.
  • The vendor has a chance to make more sales and get happy customers.
  • And you? You benefit from fresh quality content. You have a chance to enhance your reputation even further. And of course there’s the thing with the affiliate commissions…

In short, it’s a win-win-win. What I like most about this strategy is its simplicity. Despite being a really powerful strategy, it’s also about as simple and easy as it gets.

To show you just how easy it can be, I’ll give you the outline again in eight simple action steps. Why don’t you just give it a try and actually do the steps while you read along?

1. Choose a few good products to promote

By “good”, I mean quality products from trustworthy vendors with a quality affiliate program. And of course products which fit the interests and needs of your audience.

2. Sign up for the affiliate programs of the vendors

Make sure you read the terms of the affiliate programs, and are happy with them.

3. Check the existing promotional material

If the vendor offers promotional material for his affiliates, browse through it to check if there are any suitable articles you could use.

Don’t be disappointed if there aren’t any, though—usually vendors provide what is most asked-for by affiliates, and most affiliates don’t use this strategy… (bad for them, good for you!).

If you find ready-made articles by the vendor anywhere, make sure you’re allowed to enter your affiliate link. If in doubt, ask. If no suitable articles are readily available, go to step 4.

4. Get in touch with the vendors

Introduce yourself, and give them the URL of your blog. Be professional: you’re contacting a potential business partner.

Ask for suitable articles, and explain what you want to do with them (establish the vendor as expert on your blog, give your audience good content, and generate sales for both of you). It should be clear that you’re not looking for purely promotional material, but for actual content.

Make sure it’s absolutely clear that you will use your affiliate link in the resource box and/or the article content—you don’t want to risk any misunderstandings about this.

To increase your chances of getting suitable material, you can also point out that the articles could have been published elsewhere before. Most vendors, especially the more established and successful ones, won’t provide each affiliate with a different set of “unique” articles.

I’m not going into the depths of the “unique content” discussion here, but since this is not primarily an SEO strategy, it may not matter for you whether the guest articles on your blog have been published in other places, too. The quality of the articles is much more important! The internet is a huge place, and chances are very high your readers haven’t seen them before.

5. Read between the lines

Not every vendor will send you suitable articles. But regardless of that, their replies might tell you a lot about how they do business, and how they treat their customers and affiliates. Even if somebody can’t provide you with articles, he/she might be a great guy or girl, and there might be options for other business ventures in the future.

Just be open for ideas.

6. Check the material you get

Seriously. You want to feature the vendor as expert. So to make this strategy work, you have to stick to your standards. Make sure you only publish articles which:

  • are a good fit for your audience and topic
  • contain real content, are entertaining, informative, or helpful
  • aren’t promotional
  • meet your quality standards

A good test is to ask yourself if this article would be worth publishing without your affiliate link. If an article doesn’t match your requirements, don’t use it.

7. Insert your affiliate link

Insert your affiliate link for the vendor in the places you two agreed upon. Then double-check the link, just in case.

8. Publish

To add even more leverage, don’t just publish the article on your blog. We’re talking about serious, quality content here—about guest articles you could and should be proud to anounce to your audience and to the world.

Use social media to point people to the article. Link to it in your newsletter, or publish it in your ezine. Add it to an autoresponder sequence for your mailing list, so that any future subscribers can read it, too. Or link to it from your “thanks for opting in” page.

After all, if you’ve chosen the right kind of guest article, your audience will love you for the pointer to the post! Once you’re done with all the steps, go back to step 1 and start over.

The biggest enemy of success…

We’ve all been there: you read about a great new strategy that would move you forward quite a bit. You’re very excited about the idea, and make plans to implement it as soon as possible. Only “asap” usually turns out to be tomorrow. Then next week. Then next month. And then never.

Sound familiar? Why don’t you do it a bit different this time? I’ve given you eight action steps above. Take a piece of paper or open a file right now and start a list of suitable products and affiliate programs. If you’re already signed up for such affiliate programs, go straight to step 3. Check the available content for suitable pieces. And if you can’t find any, don’t pass go, proceed with step 4 and send a note to the vendor(s). Right now.

Worst case is you’ll spend the next hour getting in touch with potential business partners—not the worst thing that can happen to you today, is it?

Editor’s note: tomorrow, our final posts in this series look at blogging smarter (and more profitably) with WordPress.

Regine Becher is an affiliate manager and JV broker. To help affiliates and bloggers get more out of their affiliate promotions, Regine runs a service called Syndicated Partners, where affiliates can download quality articles and publish them with their affiliate link inside.

5 Tips for Maximising Your Earnings from Amazon’s Affiliate Program During the Holidays

With the holidays almost upon us, now is a time for bloggers who are Amazon Affiliates to act to capitalize on what is usually one of the most profitable times of the year.

While Amazon is not my biggest source of income (it makes up around 5% of total income for me) it does spike at this time of year. Here’s how Amazon performed in 2010 and into the early months of 2011 for me.


As you can see, December is always the biggest spike in commissions for me, but November and January are the second and third highest earning months of the year.

Obviously the holidays are times when people are in a buying mood, and with all the holiday sales already under way, now is the time to act to maximize your commissions with Amazon if its an income stream you want to get the most out of.

Tips for maximizing Amazon commissions

So how do we get our commissions up in the coming weeks? Here are a few quick tips to start with:

1. Get people in the door

Okay, this isn’t rocket science, but the best thing about promoting products on Amazon is that it’s one of the best-optimized online retail stores. Amazon are known for testing their design and sales techniques and, as a result, if you get people in the door of, you’re well on the way to getting some commissions.

The cool thing about Amazon is that anything people buy once they’re in the door from your referral link will earn you a commission. So while you might suggest a book or a camera, if they end up buying a ride-on lawn tractor you’ll take a commission for that (don’t laugh—I sold one of those once)!

So drive people to Amazon and let the site do its work. Much of what I’ll outline below are some techniques to get people in the door.

2. Promote the sales

Amazon currently have a lot of sales going on. Black Friday sales are already underway and Cyber Monday sales will follow—in fact, in the leadup to Christmas there will be regular sales and promotions going on in most departments.

The key is to watch for what is currently on special and to be promoting the best of it. For example, in their photography department they have some great cameras on special including one that we use at our place—the Canon Powershot S95. I promoted it a couple of times on social media earlier in the week and saw several sales.

So keep a watch on what’s on sale in terms of products that relate to your niche. Choose the ones that will fit with your audience the best and promote them!

3. Bestseller lists

People love to see what other people are buying to help them determine what they should buy. There are many ways to utilize this in your own promotions on Amazon.

  • Use one of Amazon’s bestseller lists: Almost every type of product on Amazon can be sorted based upon what is selling best. For example here’s their Best Selling Digital Cameras and Gear list. You can refine these further to hone in on specific types of products, like DSLRs, Lenses, Point-and-Shoot Cameras.
  • Affiliate stats: Another way to create a bestseller list is to look at the stats that Amazon gives you as an affiliate to see what people have bought previously via your affiliate links. This will only work if you’ve referred a decent amount of sales, but it’s particularly useful if you do, because you can present the list as being the bestselling products in your community. That’s how I created the Popular Digital Cameras and Gear page, which is my top-earning Amazon affiliate page on dPS. I similarly do smaller focused bestselling lists like this one for lenses.
  • Surveys: Surveys are another way to create these lists. Survey your readers to find out what their favorite products are, and report back to them the results (example).

4. Buying guides

Another type of list post that readers love, and that converts well, is the “buying guide,” where you walk your readers through a variety of products of a certain type or price point. It’s like a list of mini-reviews of products that your readers might find useful.

An example of this that worked well for us last year was 15 Must-Have Photography Accessories under $25.

5. Hypotheticals

This one is a little from left field, but has worked well for me on two occasions (and I’ll be running it again in the coming days). On each previous occasion I gave my readers a hypothetical sum of money to go and spend on Amazon on cameras.

The challenge was to go and research what cameras they would buy from the Amazon Camera section and then to come back and report on the products they’d buy. The links to the section I suggested they go to were affiliate links (I also made some suggestions on cameras that they might like to look at) and in the days after the post went live commissions spiked.

Readers also loved the challenge—we had hundreds of people come back and share what they’d buy with their hypothetical money! Update: I’ve just posted this year’s hypothetical post here.

Other great techniques for making money during the holidays with Amazon

There’s a lot more tips and techniques to read on making money with Amazons Affiliate program. I’ll link to some more extensive articles below but wanted to highlight these five techniques because I think they particularly relate to this time of year.

Here’s some further reading from a series of posts on the topic. The tips are not specifically holiday-related, but will give you a great overview of how to make money with Amazon. They also contain a lot of tips that would be relevant to other affiliate marketing efforts.

The Ultimate Guide to Professional Product Review Pitches

This post is by Chris Wise of Expressionables.

Product review blogs are one of the best ways for ecommerce sites to spread the word about their products and build backlinks to increase organic search traffic.

That being said, there are thousands of small-to-medium-sizes product review blogs on the Internet all vying for the opportunity to secure free products for reviews and giveaways. Large, recognizable blogs will almost never have to request products to review or give away, however 95% of product review blogs do not fit this description.

In order to keep a steady stream of products to review coming in, it is almost inevitable that smaller bloggers will have to pitch to vendors.

Being an ecommerce marketer myself, I receive on average three to five pitches a week from small blogs wishing to review and give away my products; 90% of these requests are turned down for many of the same reasons.

Hopefully upon reading this, those small product review blogs will come away with a better idea of how to compete with the big boys and score more luxurious and expensive products to review, more often.

Use your own domain

If you host your blog on a blogging platform subdomain, you can’t expect to review expensive products or offer lavish giveaways.

I can tell you now, having a blog at “” doesn’t give the best first impression. While it isn’t a deal-breaker, it will definitely hurt your chances of scoring reviews for big-ticket items. I know it may be a difficult task if you already have a large, established site on a subdomain, but in the long run it will help you immensely to switch.

If you don’t mind reviewing small items like toothpaste and doorstoppers, then don’t worry about switching. But for everyone else, rectify this problem by simply purchasing and hosting your own domain; I promise, it will be worth it. Note: make sure you 301-redirect all of your pages to the new domain!

Personalize your email pitches

If you’re going to request a review, don’t send that request in the form of a templated, generic email. It’s understandable that you may not be able to find a specific contact name, however the email should still be personalized with factors that are within your control.

Each email pitch should be personalized with the following details:

  • Who are you requesting a review from (vendor’s name or specific contact name if possible)?
  • Which specific product you are requesting to review?
  • What made you specifically choose that product/vendor?
  • Why is your blog is a good place to showcase a product review?
  • When do you plan to feature the review?
  • How can it specifically help the vendor?

Here is a bad example:

“We love testing out products and blogging about our results, and we believe our readers would be interested in your products.”

Hmmm. Why do you believe your readers would be interested in my products?

Send current, correct stats

Showcasing your blog’s strong points is a great way to convince a vendor that your blog is a great place to review their product.

  • Subscriber stats (email list, blog followers, RSS subscribers, etc.)
  • Unique monthly visitors
  • Unique monthly pageviews
  • Pagerank
  • Moz trust, Moz rank, and domain authority (found using Open Site Explorer)
  • Twitter and Facebook followers/fans.

This stuff is all great. But guess what? If it is not accurate, it is really not great at all. It shows laziness and a little bit of incompetence.

These stats are not that hard to check. If you claim your site gets 50,000 unique visitors a month and I go on Compete or Quantcast and see that your data is unavailable, we have a problem. Pagerank is updated about twice a year, so there’s no excuse for not having accurate figures. And instead of using an exact number of Facebook and Twitter followers just use something like “2,000 plus”.

These may seem like small details, but they make a big difference in the eyes of a vendor.

Provide evidence

This is a no-brainer. Mention recognizable brand names that you have worked with in the past. By showcasing past successes to your prospective vendors—via testimonials, case studies, and so on—your conversion rates will undoubtedly increase. Though this is not something I would include in your email directly. It should be incorporated something like this:

“See how our other sponsors are raving about their experiences with us here.”
“Our product reviews have the ability to increase your traffic by this much.”

The idea is to provide a vague reference to the positive experience others have had, with a hyperlink to a page full of content that talks about it in more detail. This leads to more engagement and helps to increase your chance of securing a product review.

Be concise and typo-free

Keep your product review pitches short and sweet. While you want to be thorough in your request, you do not want to overwhelm the recipient to the point that your email gets deleted without even being read. Here are some pointers:

  • Use bulleted lists whenever possible.
  • Do not include unnecessary information (I don’t care to read an “about us” in a review request. Just link to your “about us” from within the email).
  • Don’t include unfavorable data (e.g. a Pagerank of 0).
  • Do a spell check before sending an email.
  • Let someone proof read it.
  • Ask yourself, “If I got this email, how would I respond to it?”

The ideal length of a product review request is between 150 and 350 words (depending on the products requested, size of the vendor, etc.), but definitely no more than 400 words in any case.

Do use PR services, but don’t spam

PR networks are a great way to reach hundreds of vendors at the same time with your product review pitches. Try services like:

I must warn you, though: do not spam these services. People who are subscribed to these services will see that your are spamming (the emails are mailed daily) and will undoubtedly be turned off by your desperate tactics. Do not make more than one request on the same day, and do not make requests daily (I would say no more than once a week).

Include your phone number and address

So many of the requests I receive are lacking these two vital tidbits or information, and it always raises a red flag for me.

If you are going to take the time to contact me and ask for free stuff (albeit for promotion in return), at least have the decency to include basic contact information so that I may discuss the proposal further with you if needed. For big-ticket items, many ecommerce vendors would like to speak with the reviewers over the phone, rather than simply communicating by email. It’s a simple addition to your pitch that can make a world of difference.

Follow up if your request goes unanswered

I can honestly say that I have received review requests from bloggers that I intended to follow through with, but simply forgot to answer due to other pressing issues that popped up throughout the day. Had the blogger simply sent a polite, brief follow up, it would have:

  • showed me that they were truly interested in my products
  • enabled them to actually do the review for my products
  • made me more likely to offer additional items for review.

So keep records of your requests, and make it a point to follow up on the emails that get no responses.

Don’t ask for extras in your initial pitch

Patience is a virtue. Even though you may be interested in exclusive coupon codes or help with promoting the review (links, PR, or social mentions) do not bring that up in your first email. Believe me: ask for too much and you will get nothing. Relationships need to be fostered first, then the additional requests will be better received.

The perfect pitch

Follow those guidelines and I can almost guarantee you will have an opportunity to review more expensive products, more often. The best part is, after a while, so many vendors will be coming to you for review pitches that you will have to turn them down.

There are definitely other do’s and dont’s out there—if you have any experiences, examples, or suggestions of your own. I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Chris wise is head of SEM for the Expressionables family—an online network of sites specializing in everything from personalized gift wrap and party invitations to B2B products and customer appreciation programs.

6 Tips for Dressing Up Your Product Reviews

This guest post is by Peter Lawlor of B2Web.

One of my favorite methods of monetizing my blogs is by promoting products as an affiliate.

As an affiliate, I have the opportunity to learn all I can about a product I promote, and share what I know, including likes and dislikes, with my readers.

I’m constantly experimenting with ways to pre-sell products, with a focus on quality content and dressing up reviews with eye-catching and informative techniques.

In the end we have two goals when promoting products as an affiliate:

  1. Attract targeted visitors to your pre-selling page.
  2. Persuade visitors to click your affiliate links.

Pre-selling is both an art and a science

The art of pre-selling lies in the unknown qualities of your posts that encourage people to click your affiliate links.

Dressing up

Image copyright gemenacom -

It could be:

  • voice
  • sincerity
  • reputation
  • the way you present information on the product
  • your shared experience of the product
  • the design of your website and/or post layout
  • contextual aspects of your affiliate link placement.

The science of pre-selling entails:

  • attracting traffic, be it organic traffic from the search engines or paid traffic
  • the formatting of tried and proven pre-selling techniques (i.e. tables, charts, and quality of a review).

Taking all of these criteria into account, I use and test six methods for dressing up product reviews and other pre-selling pages when promoting products as an affiliate.

6 Tips for dressing up reviews and other pre-selling articles

1. Use images

I use a slightly unusual approach when procuring images for my pre-selling posts and pages. Many bloggers go to large image retailers and grab an eye-catching image for the post. I rarely do this.

Instead, I use screen capture software and capture many images from the vendor’s website. I also use any images provided by a vendor (usually physical product vendors have several images affiliates can use). For example, I may use an image of a vendor’s home page at the top-right of the post.

One type of image I like using in my posts is pricing images for products that offer various packages, and present these in a stylish pricing comparison table. I simply screenshot them and include an affiliate link to the vendor’s order page on my blog.

If you’re selling a digital product or web-based software, buy the product or sign up for a trial offer so you can take screenshots of the back end of the service. You can use these screenshots to show how easy it is to use a product, or turn a series of screenshots into a how-to tutorial.

2. Tables and charts

I love websites that use tables and charts to present a great deal of information in a succinct manner. For example, you can set out the product features and specifications, along with a brief write-up, in an attractive table or chart. I also like using tables and charts to compare products within a product-line or industry.

I use WordPress and both TinyMCE Advanced plugin and/or the WP-Table Reloaded plugin for creating tables and charts.

3. Demo videos

You can take the image screenshot method further by creating demo videos of the product you promote. For example, if you’re promoting web-based software, you can do a screen capture video of yourself using the service. Again this forms a great pre-selling demo that informs your readers about the product.

If you’re promoting physical products, you can make videos of yourslef using it, assembling it, or pointing out its various features.

4. Quote boxes

Some bloggers like to include quotes taken from reviews and testimonials of the product they’re promoting. You can dress up re-published reviews with the Quote tool in the WordPress visual editor.

I use the Quote tool for parts of a post and reviews other than quotes. It’s an easy, fast, and stylish method to split up your posts for your readers.

5. Coupons and sales pages

A coupon and sales page is a no-brainer for any affiliate marketer. Many vendors, whether they sell physical products or digital products, routinely offer coupons, sales, and discount opportunities for affiliates to promote.

As a blogger and affiliate marketer, you have a great opportunity to earn commissions with these discounts. You can create a dedicated post setting out the discounts your readers can use.

Be sure to do some keyword research first to see what type of “sale”- or “discount”-oriented keywords consumers in your niche use to look for deals. Then, optimize your sales and discount page for the most used terms. Personally, I like displaying multiple coupons, sales, and discounts in a table.

6. Bullet points

Using bullet points isn’t new, or an earth-shattering technique. However, it merits mention because bullet points are effective in dressing up any type of web page, including pre-selling pages.

At the end of the day, it’s a great idea to try different techniques, both in your writing style and the visual presentation of you your product promotions as an affiliate.

How will you do it?

There certainly is not one way to promote products as an affiliate on a blog. The key is offering your readers variety and providing information in a useful format that helps them with their buying decision.

Although the above “dressing-up” techniques help you pre-sell, the most important element of your reviews and other pre-selling articles is the quality of your content.

What’s been your experience of pre-selling affiliate products? Share your tips and advice in the comments.

Peter Lawlor is a contributor to B2Web which is a site all about using WordPress which includes video tutorials, in-depth video-based reviews and theme recommendations such as the Genesis Theme by StudioPress.

Boost Your Blog #12: Create a “Best Seller” List

Continuing our discussion of things you should be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

12. Create a “Best Seller” list based on Amazon Affiliate reports

If you promote products on the Amazon Affiliate program, why not dig into the reports, look at what your readers are buying, and create a “Best Seller” list?

I created one of these on my photography blog, and I update it every six months or so (see it at Popular Digital Cameras and Gear).

I link to it from the front page of my site, and it drives significant income each month in commissions. Read more about Best Seller lists here.

Do you have a Best Seller list on your blog?

Boost Your Blog #11: Link to Hosts and Theme Providers with Affiliate Links

Continuing our discussion of things you should be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

11. Link to your hosting or blog theme provider with an affiliate link

I spoke with one craft blogger recently who has a medium-sized blog and told me that her third-strongest income stream came from two links in her sidebar that simply pointed people to her blog host, and to the WordPress theme she uses. Each was an affiliate link.

Around the links she displays a short blurb on why she uses the services, along with a no-pressure call to action for other bloggers in her niche who are looking for such services. She also includes a note saying that the links are affiliate links, and that sales helped her run her site.

She saw weekly sales from each link and, over a year, they added up to a five-figure income (particularly as the hosting commissions were recurring).

Do you link to your blog’s host or theme provider with affiliate links?

15 Indirect Affiliate Marketing Tricks that Work

This guest post is by Harrison Li of Blog Lectures.

If you have ever bought something online, with no doubt, there have also been times when you rejected buying a certain product. And if you won’t buy it, the seller loses money.

What about when you do buy something? As usual, you check out the item, all excited, and make sure it ships to your place as soon as possible.

But, behind the scenes, there are tricks that naturally go unnoticed that were used to magnetically entice you to purchase. Those are what I’ll be teaching you today.

1. Increase your font size

This is what turns off a particular group of Internet users who are potential customers but don’t purchase. And it’s due to one little issue: the font size. If the font is too small, customers will definitely hate reading from the monitor. Turn it up—use at least 14-point font. It’s the new regular font size.

Now, I’m not just talking about blog posts, squeeze pages, or sales pages. These changes will have to be made where ever your customers are reading—even emails are not an exception.

2. Utilize a squeeze page

Whenever you’re trying to capture your customers’ email addresses, you need to use a squeeze page—a page where you offer a freebie and capture the lead, so you can promote products to him or her in the future. Optimize Press is an essential tool here.

3. Focus above the fold

“Above the fold” is a term referring to the top area of the website, which you don’t have to scroll down to see. People these days have short attention spans; you must make sure what you say in this section of the page is attractive and enticing enough to actually get a person to read every single word.

4. Write attractively

You’ve got to get your visitors reading what you have to say word after word. But of course, give him some space, don’t jam a full paragraph in there! A successful technique is by crafting attractive headlines that drive the reader insane wanting to know what you have to say in the words that follow.

Repeatedly tease your customers and finally capture their emails with a freebie. This is exactly what you need to do—make them go crazy—but in short paragraphs so your communication can stay on readers’ short-attention-span radars.

5. Always offer a freebie

Most of the times, bloggers offer a free ebook. This isn’t always the case, but if you’re an affiliate for an ebook, it is recommended that you write a short book review or jot down some of the valuable information you can find inside the actual book, and give it to your readers free. (This is when you get them to join your mailing list.)

6. Remove the Name field

When you offer a particular freebie in exchange for your customer’s name and email address, leave out the name field and just offer the email address field. You may be shocked to see your conversions move up by over 20%. This is due to the nature of laziness, and the idea that “less is more.”

7. Change the action button

In case you didn’t know, it is possible to change what the sign-up button says and how it looks. If you have a dull and boring sign-up button that said “Join” or even “Sign Up” then, trust me, you’re leaving plenty of potential revenue on the table.

It’s a fact that changing the submit button to something attractive can yield higher conversions. Ideas: “Instant Access,” “Instant Digital Download,” or “Free Entry”. The ideas are countless. Test each one out and see which performs the best for you.

8. Less is more

This concept applies every time you try to get someone to perform an action. Consider squeeze pages. If your visitors see a Captcha box, an “I agree to the terms and conditions” box, or a zip code box, then obviously the customer is going to panic and wander away. Rather than displaying all those boxes that are not importantly necessary, take them off the page. The fewer options you provide, the more actions you’ll receive.

9. Affiliate links: to cloak or not?

There are two types of customers: those that know about link cloaking and those that don’t. If you cloak your links, over 70% of the visitors who know about it will definitely not click on your affiliate links. My suggestion is don’t cloak links. Let everyone know they’re affiliate links, explaining it with reverse psychology if you like!

Here are some interesting poll results. The question was, “Do you disclose affiliate links?” Check out the results.

10. Introduce yourself

This is in fact a law of selling goods: you as the salesman have got to introduce yourself to the customers, so they know and trust who they are buying from. No one wants to buy from a random stranger they found on the Web. A great thing you could do is upload a picture of yourself in a positive mood to your About page, or your site’s sidebar.

11. Speak from personal experience

This step is not entirely necessary but is recommended if you want to increase your conversions. If you review a product that you have not personally tried yourself, then it’s technically not a review and if your customers know about this, it becomes an instant turn-off to some of them. Make sure you test out something before you recommend it to others.

12. Use testimonials

This plays an important role in sales, as it creates social proof. If a customer doesn’t see anyone else buying the product, she might wander off and buy from other well-known sources. On the other hand, don’t display too many testimonials—that’s a mistake I see a lot of times. All you need is quality, not quantity. If you have been featured on CNN news or something like that make sure you let your customers know about that, too.

One more thing: on each separate testimonial, include a picture of the person who wrote the testimonial. It would be even better if you could get them to hold the product in the picture if possible. Another word of advice: at the end of the testimonials, write a short message that says something like, “Once you’ve tried this product, I can feature your testimonial here!”

13. Use a human voice

Please, talk in a personal manner—as if you were talking casually to your friends. This is the key to winning your readers’ hearts, and getting them naturally coming back. Whether it’s on sales pages or in emails, talk like you were chatting to your friends. Not only does this help enhance your relationship with potential customers, it also increase trustworthiness and brand awareness.

14. Use visualization

We’ve all heard of the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. That idea also applies to places where you promote affiliate products. You need to let your customers feel comfortable on your site. So your blog design in particular, as well as images you use to decorate your product, are important. Consider using premium photos—Fotolia might have what you want.

If you are providing an ebook as a freebie, then you will definitely need to use a 3D cover maker. I recommend MyEcoverMaker. Give their free templates a try, and see for yourself.

15. Readers first, promotion last

Whatever you do, make decisions for the readers first, and lastly for your own good. Whilst making any promotions or launching any products, a good rule of thumb is to list out the benefits and advantages to the customer. That’s it—nothing else. Remember, people are only reading your blog because they believe you have the solutions they need. And you will always have to hand out free “samples” of the product you’re promoting before you actually promote it.

In other words, don’t rush for the money-making bit. Wait for it, and be patient.

Action summary

I’ve said a lot. Now it’s time for you to either take actions or remember the advice for your future needs.

  1. Use a bigger font size for your content.
  2. Always use a squeeze page for capturing leads.
  3. Optimize your “above the fold” to counter people with short attention spans.
  4. Write with wise words that attract readers to read everything you have to say.
  5. Always offer freebies as a “bribe” for capturing leads.
  6. Remove the Name field from your signup box for higher conversions.
  7. Change the Submit button to something more appealing.
  8. Apply the “less is more” concept to your work.
  9. Don’t cloak links and use reverse psychology to get the most sales.
  10. Introduce yourself to the customers, with a photo.
  11. Tell your personal experience with the product you’re promoting.
  12. Display quality testimonials and invite new customer testimonials too.
  13. Talk in a friendly and casual manner, and don’t use difficult academic words.
  14. Blend your content with images and decorative designs.
  15. Get straight to the fact and let your readers know what you are on about, then sell.

Additionally, here are some great reads from the ProBlogger himself:

Got any extra words of advice you would like to add to this list? Feel free to add them in the comments.

Harrison Li is a 14-year old teenager blogger who is often disrespecfully looked upon due to age, he offers in-depth blogging advice and marketing strategies that you’ll find no where else, see for yourself why it is worthwhile by joining the other readers who love the Blog Lectures newsletter.

11 Wacky Things Bought via My Amazon Affiliate Links in 2010

41YV-RikOUL._SX385_.jpgIt is the end of the year, and time for a little fun.

What’s the funniest, weirdest, or most surprising thing someone has bought through one of your affiliate links on Amazon?

I was trawling through my Amazon Associates reports yesterday to see what items were selling, and here’s my list of the funniest things people have bought in 2010 (note: the following links are all affiliate links):

Warning: #1 is a little NSFW. Please look away if you’re easily offended. It certainly made me blush.

  1. Jimmyjane Little Platinum Eternity Vibrator with Diamonds (Update: no longer available on Amazon) – this one made me laugh out loud, both because of what it was, and because a little over 8% of $3250 is nothing to be sneezed at! Interestingly my tracking links show that the sale came after someone clicked a link here on ProBlogger. I don’t know who bought it but I hope you have a very merry Christmas.
  2. Lobster Pot Adult Costume (pictured here) – someone’s gearing up to surprise their family at Christmas lunch this year (this was bought in the last week).
  3. Perky Pet 209 “Our Best” 30 Ounce Hummingbird Feeder – who would have thought there were enough 30 Ounce Hummingbird Feeders to have to differentiate this one by saying it’s the “best” one?
  4. 41q4hIgSQQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

  5. Dart 31112212 Race Series 9.025 – if you’re looking for one of these engine blocks for your Chevy, you better hurry—they only have 2 left in stock! And they’re only $4662.27!
  6. Vampire Bites – I can’t express how disappointed I am to find that these are out of stock!
  7. Santa’s Lump of Coal Christmas Soap – as I compile this list the Santa Coal Soap is in the top 100 beauty products being sold on Amazon. I think that I could be in the wrong niche.
  8. 21ICoG542BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

  9. Muscled Foot Model Articulated Extremity – no home should be without one … or two!
  10. iRobot Roomba Pet Series 562 Vacuum Cleaning Robot – I should get one of these to permanently follow my kids around.
  11. Classic Rowing Machine in Black Walnut Wood Accessories: Heart Rate Receiver – I do prefer my rowing machines to be in Walnut Wood.
  12. CS88BN – COLD STEEL NADACHI SWORD – probably bought by a blogger wanting to deal with trolls.51Pu-A3NwIL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
  13. Stern Pinball Iron Man™ Arcade Pinball Machine – I want one!

If nothing else, this list should prove the power of getting people in the door at Amazon as a way to build your income from there.

What’s the funniest, wierdest or most surprising thing you saw bought on Amazon via your affiliate links in 2010?

Also – what was the largest sale you saw this year?