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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 “yoursite.blogspot.com” 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.”
Or:
“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 - Fotolia.com

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?

How to Increase Affiliate Income by Hitting the Affiliate Marketing Sweet Spot

At BlogWorld Expo this year, I presented some tips on affiliate marketing in one of the sessions I ran on monetizing blogs.

One of the most powerful affiliate marketing concepts—one that can make or break an affiliate campaign—is summed up in this slide:

Screen shot 2010-11-05 at 1.23.05 PM.png

The key is to find the overlap between the intent and need of your reader, the product you’re promoting, and the message you use to promote it with.

To say it another way, the product, reader need, and your promotional message need to be related. The product needs to relate to your audience, and you need to promote it in a relevant way.

Let me give you an example of an affiliate promotion on a blog that I saw recently where there was no sweet spot.

Missing the mark

I won’t reveal the blog because I don’t want to embarrass the blogger but the blog’s topic was beauty and fashion.

  1. Reader Intent - The blog’s content focused on the topic of beauty and fashion, and the blog’s comments revealed that readers were there to explore that topic (so the reader intent was to learn and talk about beauty/fashion).
  2. Product – The product being promoted on the blog was my 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook. While I’m flattered that the blogger wanted to promote my book, there’s not a great deal of immediate overlap between the reader intent/need and the need that my product solved. My ebook helps people improve their blogs; the reader intent was to talk lipstick, skirts, and stilettos.
  3. Message – The promotion was a banner ad. There was no in-content promotion—the blogger had simply used one of our default banner ads in the sidebar. As a result there was no tie-in, or message that tried to close the gap between reader need and the product. Perhaps if the message had been a blog post written to highlight how the product could be helpful to other fashion/beauty bloggers, or a call to fashion/beauty bloggers to work through the ebook together (making things more relevant to the audience), the promotion might have been more successful. However, the banner ad alone provided no obvious tie in.

There was no sweet spot here. As a result, the promotion saw no conversions.

Take-home lessons:

  1. Know your reader intent and needs.
  2. Find affiliate products that solve those needs.
  3. Promote products in a way that’s relevant and that communicates how the product will solve reader needs.

Further reading on affiliate marketing

  1. 10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs on your Blog
  2. 6 More Tips for Affiliate Marketing on Blogs

How to Make Money on Every Holiday

Guest post written by @ChrisGuthrie from Make Money on the Internet

I made a little over $60,000 in the past 12 months using Amazon’s Affiliate program and it’s actually my primary income stream. Many people are turned off by Amazon primarily because of it’s short 24 hour cookie length, but I want to show an example on how I make money using Amazon by focusing on the holiday shopping season every holiday. The next holiday coming up is Father’s Day and will be your opportunity to make some money today. But before we get to that I highly suggest you read some of the tips Darren has written in the past on how to earn money with Amazon which can be found here, here, here and… here! I also shared my own Amazon tips to earn more, but in a twist I used Amazon tracking ID’s for every single strategy all through 2009 so that I could determine which specific tactics were the most effective in terms of how much revenue they generated. The results can be seen here and in doing this I found out which tactics should be avoided as well.

How to Make Money with Amazon Today:

Now that you’ve read the tips above you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Alright that sounds great but, I’m still not sure where to start.’ Well, if your blog is in any way loosely related to consumer goods (almost everyone) there is an easy way to get started today by promoting deals for Father’s Day. Most bloggers focus on just the big holidays and shopping periods like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas. These are all great, but you can take it one step further by promoting products on almost every holiday without annoying your readers (I would skip this holiday though unless you have a blog about Pirates). Early last week I received an email from Amazon’s Associates team that stated Amazon would be running Lightning Deals for Father’s Day for the first time from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM PST on Monday June 7th through Wednesday June 9th to celebrate Father’s day on June 20th. Amazon frequently creates landing pages like this for holidays so for every holiday worth promoting just search for the respective holiday landing page and replicate this strategy below on future holidays. Promoting products around the holidays is the best way to make money without looking like it’s your only focus. First I’ll show you a simple blog post I’d write for my cooking website and second I’ll break down the steps I incorporate into most of my posts designed to make money with Amazon:

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Great Deals for Dad on Amazon This Week

Amazon will be running lightning deals from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM PST on Monday June 7th through Wednesday June 9th to celebrate Father’s day on June 20th. For those that aren’t aware – lightning deals run for only a few hours and the very best deals tend to sell out quick so be sure to keep your eye on Amazon.com/fathersday so that you don’t miss anything. In addition to the lightning deals there are already great prices on Shun cutlery products like this 22 slot bamboo knife storage block:


(Information pulled from an Amazon plugin I use)

Again, the lightning deals only run from June 7th to June 9th so watch Amazon.com/fathersday and if there are any great lightning deals on cooking products I’ll be sure to let you know on the blog here and via our free newsletter. Sign up for our newsletter now and get your free guide to Summer Grilling Healthy Meals and to ensure you hear about all the great Father’s Day deals that will be shared this week.

See more Fathers’s Day Deals at Amazon.com

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How I write the Father’s Day Deal Post:

Step 1: Go to Amazon.com/fathersday to find potential products to promote

Step 2: Sort through to the appropriate section for your website and look for pre made “deal images” like the one above that can be used on your website (Amazon usually creates several of these for sales within each product category)

Step 3: Save the image and generate an affiliate link for the page it goes to. Use this in your blog post somewhere as people love to click images especially if they outline the specifics of a sale.

Step 4: Start writing the blog post and linking to Amazon products and the father’s day home page where appropriate (see above as an example)

Step 5: Optional I use an Amazon affiliate plugin like PHPzon, Review Azon etc. to quickly and easily toss product information into my blog posts but this can also be done manually instead
Important Note To Potential Shoppers: Yes, a knife holder would make a terrible gift for Father’s Day though lol so pick something different, remember that was just a joke example.

Step 6: Reinforce that you’ll keep the reader up to date on the best deals via your blog and then take the time to promote your newsletter so that they don’t miss out on any deals you will send to them over the next few days.

Step 7: Finish the post with another link to the Amazon.com Father’s Day page

Step 8: Over the next few days watch the Amazon’s Father’s Day page for Lightning Deals that are appropriate for your audience. When the deals crop up write a quick blog post about the product on sale and send an email to your newsletter. Remember to write the blog post and send the email quickly as the popular lightning deals really do go fast.
Step 9: Required Buy me lunch with your increased Amazon earnings next time you’re in Seattle, WA.

The important thing to remember is that you can make money and still provide value to your readers at the same time. People have either forgotten Father’s Day is coming up soon or they’re already starting the process to find a gift. If you’re the first person to tell your readers that Father’s Day is upon us AND there are some sweet deals on products he might like your readers will thank you for sharing this information. This is just one way I make extra money during the traditionally slow season.

Now that you’ve learned how I make money on every holiday with Amazon, I’d love to see people actually take the advice and use it. Share your father’s day posts in the comments below and let me know what you think of this strategy.

Chris Guthrie has been a full time internet entrepreneur since October 2009 and has been earning money online since 2005. When he’s not working or playing Xbox 360 he enjoys speaking in third person. If you learned something from this blog post you’ll probably learn more by subscribing to his blog.

Is eBay Partner Network a Good Affiliate Program for Your Blog?

A guest post by Dee Barizo

_wp-content_uploads_2010_03_epn-logo.jpgeBay’s affiliate program doesn’t get mentioned much in the problogger space, but it’s been the best monetization option for my collectible card game blog.

The program is called eBay Partner Network, or ePN for short. It’s been a great for my blog. AdSense was a flop because most of the ads being served were irrelevant. On the other hand, ePN earns over 10 times as much as AdSense. Also, I use simple text links to promote eBay so I don’t have to clutter my blog with big distracting ads.

I thought I’d write about ePN to give you another monetization option. It’s generally a good idea to have multiple income streams to diversify your earnings. I believe ePN can be a viable program for many bloggers.

In this post, I’ll give a quick overview of the affiliate program. Then I’ll share some questions for you to consider to evaluate if ePN is right for you. Hopefully, by the end of the post, you’ll have a good idea whether or not the program will work well on your blog.

ePN Overview

ePN is similar to AdSense because it pays per click (although AdSense also pays on a CPM basis depending upon what ads are served). However, ePN is an affiliate program rather than an ad network like AdSense. Therefore, your traffic must generate revenue for eBay or else you won’t get paid. If your traffic doesn’t convert, then your earnings per click can go down to zero and you risk being dropped from the program.

eBay originally paid affiliate marketers a percentage of the transaction fees. But just recenty, in October 2009, eBay switched to a payout system called Quality Click Pricing (QCP). In this system, affiliates are paid based on an algorithm that takes into account several factors including revenue from sales, the long term value of new users, eBay advertising revenue and PayPal revenue.

ePN offers several tools to promote eBay on your blog. These tools include banner generators, link generators, an RSS feed generator, product feeds, and an API.

Questions to Consider

Is there an active market for eBay products in your niche?

Check eBay to see if there are many listings for products in your niche. This page is a good place to start because it lists all the main categories on eBay. Also, you can use eBay’s search box for market research. Search for common products in your industry and see if many auctions show up. If there is an active market, then ePN may well be a solid income source for your blog.

Even if you’re in obscure niche, I would still check eBay. You may be surprised at the wide range of products on the site. eBay has an active market for many things including antiques, books, clothes, cameras, computers, DVDs, industrial equipment, musical instruments, pet supplies, sporting goods, tickets, and toys. You can even buy automobiles on eBay.

Are you an affiliate marketer or willing to become one?

You don’t have to be an affiliate marketer right now, but you need to be committed to the trade to fully realize the benefits of ePN. As an affiliate marketer, you’ll have to focus on selling products and converting your readers to buyers. These skills are different from generating traffic and producing content.

Still, if you understand your audience and have a relevant site, it won’t be too difficult to get your readers to spend money on eBay. But you may have to learn different skills to make ePN a viable income stream.

Do you have a quality site?

One of the reasons why I wanted to write this post for ProBlogger is because blogs that follow Darren’s advice are often great sites to run affiliate programs.

eBay is looking for relevant sites that have unique or value-added content. These types of sites tend to do well with ePN.

The eBay team published a white paper on Search Engine Marketing Journal titled The Coming Evolution in Affiliate Marketing: A Focus on Quality (pdf file). This paper was based on their advanced tracking and research of their affiliates.

In this paper, they write:

Affiliates who take the time to create high-quality sites with value-added content tend to perform better than those who simply slap together hundreds of sites that contain very little other than affiliate ads and AdSense. It probably doesn’t come as a shock that ads crammed five or ten to a page on ringtone sites don’t capture the same quality of users as well conceived ads thoughtfully integrated into product-oriented content.

They note that small and mid-sized affiliates often outperform larger ones because they add a lot of value to their sites.

If you’ve built trust with your audience and have relevant, quality content, then your blog could be a great place to promote eBay.

Do you have a plan for promoting eBay?

I applied to ePN a couple months ago, but my blog was rejected. I think one of the reasons why my blog was rejected is because I didn’t give a plan for promoting eBay.

I thought of a marketing strategy and then resubmitted my application. My plan was simple. I would tell my readers that eBay offers low prices on the cards I write about. Then, I would link to the relevant eBay search pages. My second application was accepted.

You want to have a plan before applying so that eBay knows you’re serious about promoting their offers.

Can you send a good amount of traffic to eBay?

Traffic is important because the more click data the ePN algorithm has, the more accurate your earnings will be. If you don’t send a lot of clicks to eBay, you will receive a default earnings per click (EPC) amount that is assigned to the smallest publishers. You could be missing out on the earnings you deserve.

eBay hasn’t given a benchmark on the number of clicks that will give you the default EPC amount, but based on my experience, I would aim for at least 50 clicks per day.

Apply to ePN

If your blog seems like a good fit, you should apply to eBay Partner Network. One quick tip for the application process: Give a lot of info about your blog (like traffic, RSS subscribers, Twitter followers, etc.) to increase your chances of getting accepted. Also, don’t forget to mention your plan for promoting eBay.

Along with running a gaming blog, Dee Barizo is a project manager for affiliate sites. His newest project is The Best Degrees, an online degree site currently in the alpha state.