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                                                                  Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

                                                                         For More Traffic
                                                                              and Sales

     The magazine about building an af filiate business...not just small checks

       Startup Budget
       Smart ROI
       First Site Tips
       Staying Sane

                                                                                 Avoid Bad SEO
                                                                                     That Can Get
Volume 1, Number 10
September 2005
                                                                                     You Banned!
                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
  2          On each page, click “Affiliate Classroom” to return to this Table of Contents     Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

                                     Reality-Based Budgeting and ROI
                                     How do you know if you’re spending smart?
 Cover Story                         When can you expect to turn a profit? How
                                     do you decide if that software or ebook is
                                     worth it? Here’s what the gurus forgot to tell
                                     you about money and affiliate marketing!

Articles                                                                                      Departments
11   The Realities of Budgeting                                                                        3     Editors’ Corner
and ROI for Affiliate Newbies                                                                   Whether you’re a newbie or a
                                                                                             pro, there’s one thing all affiliates
Every affiliate business starts with money.
                                                                                                     need to focus on - profits!
Here’s how to handle it wisely.

32      7 First Site Tips                                                                                  4     Your Letters
To sell affiliate products, you need to get                                                  Can you use articles to get good
that first web site built! Here’s our best tried                                                 backlinks when promoting to
                                                                                              highly specialized niches… and
and true tips for launching your first ever
                                                                                             what is “blog and ping,” anyway?
web presence.

43 Podcasting - Coming to a                                                                        28      Reviews & News
Computer Near You!                                                                               Learn about Wordpress with
Podcast basics… and how this technology                                                          these two experts… plus the
                                                                                                Linkshare sale, Google’s new
can give you an edge with the right markets.
                                                                                              blog search engine, and MSN’s
                                                                                                              Adwords clone.
48  Stay Sane During the Silly
Season - Self Management Tips                                                                                 38      SEO Talk
It’s the wildest time of year for most affiliate                                               Can you get banned by Google
merchants, and these five tips will keep you                                                 out of ignorance? You bet! Avoid
                                                                                              these bad SEO on page factors
from going crazy - no matter how many sites
                                                                                                         and don’t get banned
you’ve got going!                                                                                                  by mistake!

 Coming in October... The BIG monetization issue! How do super-affiliates monetize for success? How do
 you get big conversion boosts? And are you leaving money on the table? All here:

             On each page, click “Affiliate Classroom” to return to this Table of Contents     Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
  3                                                                                Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


        The Profit Factor
                      This month, Affiliate Classroom Magazine decided to do a cover story on a topic that
   “It’s profit -     few affiliate training sites or programs address in detail: How much money do you
                      really need to get started in affiliate marketing?
   not your pretty
                      That’s what you’ll find in our article on The Realities of Budgeting and ROI for
   web site, your     Affiliate Newbies. It not only deals with the subject of start up finances, it also gets
   search engine      into the nitty-gritty details you often don’t learn about until AFTER you’ve embarked on
                      your first affiliate marketing venture.
   rank, your
                      But even if you’ve got the money, you also need to have some venue for making sales.
   traffic, or your   And that means a web site. Given that the majority of questions to The Affiliate
   gross sales -      Classroom are about how to build web sites, we collected seven truly practical first
                      site tips that should help you get over any jitters about building your first web site.
   that supports
                      If you’re an advanced marketer, we’ve got some good advice for you, too. In our article
   your family,       on staying sane during this peak season, beginners and pros alike will find good ideas
   pays for your      for preventing thousands of details from taking over your life, eating up your free time,
                      and stressing you out.
   house and car,
                      And for those of you who want to try a new marketing tactic during the holiday sales
   and keeps you      season, check out our article on podcasting. We not only introduce you to the basics
   nice and           of this fun new online tool, we’ve included some bonus tips on how you can make
                      podcasting pay.
                      Finally, pay special attention to our SEO article this month. In it you’ll get expert advice
                      from Brad Callen, who explains how many marketers give their sites the kiss of death
                      in Google - sometimes without knowing it. Even if you’re well beyond the newbie stage,
                      you’ll want to check out Brad’s excellent analysis of on page SEO practices that are
                      bound to get you banned.

                      And as always, there’s some top flight advice and information prompted by Letters
                      from our readers. You’ll find out how articles in even the most obscure niches can
                      get you backlinks and boost traffic. And we explain what “blog and ping” is really all
                      about, as well as WHY it’s still very much alive and well (if you do it right).

                      Every business requires some start up money and start up know-how. If you’re an
                      Internet marketing newbie, we hope this issue helps you embark on your new affiliate
                      business with your financial eyes wide open. But even if you’re an expert in online
                      business, you’ll find plenty to remind you to keep a clear eye on the good old ROI.

                      In the end, it’s all about profit. It has to be. Because it’s profit - not your pretty web site,
                      your search engine rank, your traffic, or your gross sales - that supports your family,
                      pays for your house and car, and keeps you nice and solvent... so you can keep on
                      selling, growing, and prospering.

                                                                               Helen Swann
                                                                                   Managing Editor
                                                                                   Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
4                                                                              Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


     Can I really use articles
    to promote in tiny niches?

    What is “blog and ping?”
Write to us at Don’t forget to put “AC
MAGAZINE LETTER” in the subject line of your email. Sorry we can’t reply
personally to all your questions. Current members of AffiliateClassroom    “To develop your
always receive personalized answers to any marketing questions in the      strategy for using
Members Forum.
                                                                           highly specialized
Can articles generate good incoming links                                  articles as a linking
without submitting to article directories?                                 tactic, you need to be
I’d like to take advantage of the backlink opportunities that come
from writing articles and submitting them to article sites. But in         sure you do two
my niche (very technical enterprise level software), the typical how-      things: first, write
to article that’s written for a general audience just doesn’t work. If
I wrote articles like “What should you look for in a data
                                                                           the RIGHT type of
management system?” my market would laugh me off the street!               article for your niche;
Any ideas for how someone like me, with a super-specialized niche,         and second, target
can still cash in on the marketing possibilities of articles? -
Datamaniac                                                                 both AUTHORITY
                                                                           sites and article
You make a valid point about online article directories - most
of them are tailored to publishers who need content for                    directories to get the
general or mass market audiences. However, that doesn’t                    maximum benefit.”
mean you can’t get terrific backlinks through article marketing.

In fact, if you play your cards right, you will probably have an
ADVANTAGE in getting good incoming links with your articles.
That’s because it’s likely you’ll have fewer competitors for
important page real estate. You just need to shift your thinking
a little bit. Stop thinking about the mass market web audience
and hundreds of backlinks, and shift your thinking towards
getting a few quality links from authority sites frequented by
peers in industries related to yours.

To develop your strategy for using highly specialized articles
as a linking tactic, you need to be sure you do two things: first,
write the RIGHT type of article for your niche; and second,
target both AUTHORITY sites and article directories to get the
maximum benefit. Your goal is not to get published on
thousands of mass market sites. Instead, you want to get links
from high traffic, high PR sites that will turn YOUR site into an
authority site in no time!
                                                                               Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
5                                                                 Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

                                   Let’s look at this strategy in more detail. First, think
                                   carefully about the type of article that will work best for
                                   your niche. There are five basic categories of web
                                                       News/Current Events

                                   Let’s look at each type of article in more detail, and think
                                   about which type of article will work best for your area of

                                   Trade/Specialty articles are written for a niche audience
                                   of specialists. We suspect this will be the primary type of
                                   article you’ll be writing. Of course, there are many other
                                   types of specialists, too, with some overlap between each
    “Being able to write a
                                      Industry “insiders,” people who have spent their lives
    trade/specialty article            working in a particular industry or with a particular
    actually gives you an edge         product, and who share a common technical
                                       language and jargon. (This is your niche, the software
    that few online marketers          and Information Technology community.)
    have. Anyone who                  Members of credentialed professions (doctors,
                                       lawyers, engineers, real estate agents, etc.)
    publishes this type of            Researchers, such as scientists or anthropologists
    article automatically             Hobbyists and collectors
                                      Members of clubs, societies, and organizations
    earns EXPERT status. This
    is not only valuable for       Are you beginning to see the linking possibilities of sites
    getting your articles          catering to specialists? Being able to write a trade/
                                   specialty article actually gives you an edge that few
    published on authority         online marketers have.
    sites, it may also allow you   Your articles automatically become unique and valuable.
    to recycle your articles       They can contain your original research, industry
                                   updates, the results of tests or experiments, reviews of
    into high conversion lead      trade or scholarly books, detailed analysis of a problem or
    capture publications,          topic, or descriptions of procedures or techniques.
    such as white papers,          Anyone who publishes this type of article automatically
    case studies, or               earns EXPERT status. This is not only valuable for
                                   getting your articles published on authority sites, it may
    downloadable special           also allow you to recycle your articles into high
    reports.”                      conversion lead capture publications, such as white
                                   papers, case studies, or downloadable special reports.

                                   Trade/specialty articles also give you access to an
                                   important group of online movers and shakers: journalists

                                                                  Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
6                                                                       Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
LETTERS…           C O N T I NUE D             Advertisement

and reporters. If you can get just a couple
of these types of articles into the hands of
reporters who work for authority sites, you
may find yourself being quoted in news
                                                  “Put Your Ad
stories - or even being published in print.
Of course, to write these types of articles,
you must actually be an expert! Obviously
this isn’t a problem for you.
You may also be able to use
informational articles that are written for
an educated but non-expert audience.
                                                   And Reach
Some ideas for these type of articles are:

    Product reviews/recommendations

    Product descriptions/specs

    Definitions and layman’s explanations
    of technical terms

    Beginner’s guides

    Reference guides

    Historical background                                             HURRY!
    Book and movie reviews
                                                                      THESE AD
                                                                      SPOTS WILL
    Commentary and op ed

Before you discount the value of writing
for this type of audience, remember that
there are literally millions of people who
read magazines and non-fiction books
                                                                      SELL OUT
about “egghead” topics in the sciences
(astronomy, physics, biology) and
technology (history of computing, artificial
intelligence, etc.). Only you can decide
whether you can give selected topics in           This HALF PAGE ad with clickable links could be
your area of expertise a more generalized
                                                  yours next month. Grab this chance to get your ad
                                                  seen by our list of 25,000!
Another option you can try is the news/
current events type of article. These are
usually summaries of news items. Press
releases and product announcements fall
into this category. You are in the rare
                                                     For current ad rates,
position of being able to write news
articles for specialists. Excellent news               email us NOW at
topics can include:

   Computer software or hardware

                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
7                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

LETTERS…            C O N T I NUE D

    Reports on exhibits, expos, and trade shows

    Industry updates
                                                                        “Write your
Creative articles probably don’t apply to your area of expertise,
but they can work very well for certain niches. These include           articles, get them
short stories, humorous pieces, satire, spoofs, and even poems.
Creative articles tend to be under-utilized in SEO, which is a          published on an
shame. The sky is practically the limit for affiliate marketers with
a flair for humor or story-telling. Possibilities include...
                                                                        authority sites,
       Mystery and suspense
                                                                        and then publish
       Horror and thrillers
                                                                        excerpts or
                                                                        versions on your
       Science Fiction
                                                                        own blog. You can
       Historical Fiction
                                                                        even do this with
                                                                        forum postings.”
As for the last category, this one may be the easiest type of
article to write. Journal/Blog articles are written in a personal,
sometimes even confessional, “dear diary” style. The advantage
you have is that many blogs are written by specialists, for
specialists. Blogs can incorporate ANY of the article types,
though blog entries tend to be shorter than most articles.

The biggest problem with blog articles is convincing webmasters
to re-publish articles you’ve already posted on your blog. Some
will, but many don’t want to send traffic to your blog. Your best
bet is to write your articles, get them published on authority sites,
and then publish excerpts or condensed versions on your own
blog. You can even do this with forum postings. (Linda Buquet
does this very well on her 5 Star Affiliate Programs site.)

Okay, now that you know what TYPE of article should work well
for your niche, WHERE will you publish these articles?

First, NEVER underestimate the value of publishing technical or
specialty articles in general article directories. For one thing, if
the directory has a category that’s even remotely connected to
your niche, you may be one of only a handful of contributors on
that topic. You’ll still get all the benefits of a backlink from the
article directory, and ever quality link helps.

Second, do Google and Yahoo searches on your keywords, and
note down all the sites from which you’d like to get links. Make
sure you note down the contact information of the webmaster.
(You’ll probably want to keep track of this in a spreadsheet, or

                                                                          Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
8                                                                               Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


                                you can use link management software like Arelis.)

                                Examine these sites carefully. Do they publish articles, news reports,
                                reviews? Do they offer free white papers, case studies, or special
                                reports? Do they have an opt-in exchange with industry ezines or
                                newsletters? Your goal is to decide what types of copy they can
                                use - so you can provide the copy in exchange for a link!

                                Once you have a good idea of what will appeal to the webmaster,
                                come up with at least three focused, unique, and preferably
                                keyword-rich topics you can write about. It’s a good idea to do at
                                least a rough draft of each article ahead of time, too.

                                If your articles are on an in-demand topic, with a tight focus, you
                                should have no trouble getting them accepted by webmasters. Good
                                articles will offer solutions, and will have a catchy title that includes a
                                keyword that webmaster is sure to want.

                                So once you prepare your titles and draft your articles, start
                                networking with those webmasters! Send them a personalized email
                                that shows you’ve actually read their web site and understand the
    “If your articles           type of visitors they want. Tell them the title of your articles, and ask
    are on an in-               if they’d like to publish them on their site. (If you’re offering a white
                                paper, case study, or special report, give the title plus a synopsis of
    demand topic,               no more than three sentences.)
    with a tight                It also NEVER hurts - especially if the site has very high PR - to offer
    focus, you                  CUSTOMIZED or EXCLUSIVE articles just for that webmaster (of
                                course, make sure you honor your agreement not to publish them
    should have no              elsewhere). Webmasters love free, NON-DUPLICATE content.
    trouble getting             You might want to check out the articles on linking and indexing in
    them accepted               our July issue for more ideas on how you can use specialized
                                articles to get high quality incoming links.
    by webmasters
    Good articles               What is “blog and ping,” anyway?
    will offer                  Sorry if I sound like a total idiot, but what is “blog and ping?” Everybody
                                seems to be talking about it, but I need someone to explain this in baby
    solutions, and              steps for me! - SuchANoob
    will have a                 No problem, and we apologize for assuming that “blog and ping” is
    catchy title                now part of everyone’s online vocabulary! Most likely you already
                                know that "blog" is an acronym for "web log," a type of web site
    which includes a            organized like a diary. If you go to, you’ll find all
    keyword that                kinds of recently updated blogs in action. As you can see, they are
                                all organized by date, with the most recent additions to the blog
    webmaster is                (called “posts”) at the top of the home page. Older posts are at the
    sure to want.”              bottom of the page, or in the archives, which are also organized by

                                                                                Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
9                                                                             Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

LETTERS…            C O N T I NUE D

Once you check out a few blogs, you’ll see most of them are updated
                                                                               “When you ‘blog
frequently - at least once a week, sometimes every day, and in many            and ping,’ you
cases several times a day. (Once in a while you’ll also find a blog that
hasn’t been updated in years, but that’s rare!)
                                                                               create a new post
                                                                               on your blog, and
If you compare blogs to other kinds of web sites, you’ll realize that a
blog is a different concept from your basic static HTML page. Most
                                                                               then send out a
ordinary web sites, even a lot of e-commerce catalog sites, aren’t             signal to blog
updated every day or every hour! They might be updated once a
month, or they might have pages added to them. But they don’t have             servers around
a running series of “posts,” like diary entries, every single day.             the world, saying
And that’s what makes blogs so popular today - the fact that they are          hey, I’ve updated
organized, not in “pages,” but in “posts.” Because a post is just one          my blog! Frankly,
individual text entry, most blogs have several posts on their home
page. They also have multiple posts on all their archive pages.                it would be much
                                                                               more accurate -
This is the crucial aspect of a blog - the home page gets updated a
LOT - every time you add a post.                                               and less
                                                                               confusing - if it
Because blogs get updated so much, search engines with a strong
preference for recent material - Yahoo in particular - like to send their      was called ‘POST
spiders to read those new posts and put them in their index. How               and ping,’ but we
does Yahoo KNOW when your blog has been updated? When you
send what’s called a “ping.”                                                   won’t quibble!”
A ping is a little program - basically a brief “I’m here, are you there?” -
that sends out a request for a response from another computer on a
network. Have ever connected two computers on a home network?
When you linked your computers, you “pinged” the other computer to
make sure it could "talk" to the other one.

When you ping on the Internet, you send out a request to see if a
remote server knows you’re there and is responding. Whenever a
blog is updated, it sends out a “ping” to special servers that keep a
catalog of the world's blogs in their databases.

So when you “blog and ping,” you create a new post on your blog,
and then send out a signal to blog servers around the world, saying
“hey, I’ve updated my blog!” Frankly, it would be much more
accurate - and less confusing - if it was called “POST and ping,” but
we won’t quibble! ;-)

Now why is “blog and ping” so important, and why is everyone talking
about it? Because it can be used to help get your site crawled and
indexed by the search engine spiders a lot quicker than they normally

Because the ping triggers the spiders to come look at your site, any
links on your blog also get crawled - especially if those links are in
your actual posts. If you have your own blog, you can post links to
your affiliate sites, and even individual product pages. When you ping,
                                                                              Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
10                                                                           Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


                                the spiders will find those pages right away… and in most cases, start
                                adding them to their index a lot sooner!

                                Of course, like all indexing methods, “blog and ping” has been abused.
                                Marketers go crazy, set up dozens of free blogs at, and
                                then use software to post links to those blogs every few minutes! (It’s
                                no wonder that Blogger shuts those free blogs down pretty quickly!)

                                The most legitimate way to blog and ping is to create your own blog.
                                Wordpress is an excellent free blogging software. It is available at
                      , or if your web host has the Fantastico suite of scripts,
                                you can install Wordpress through your control panel with just a few
                                clicks. You can also try out a free blog, which can
                                sometimes get you into Google quicker, since Google owns Blogger.

                                Your blog can be the “front end” of your affiliate site, so the home page
                                of the blog becomes the home page of your site. Or you can host the
                                blog on a subdomain or in a subdirectory of your site. Then write posts
                                with real content - it can be news, reviews, or any other useful
                                information - and make sure you include links to your product pages.
                                When you publish your Wordpress blog, it is set up to send out a ping
                                to, one of the biggest blog ping servers in the world.
  “Because the                  Some ping servers also store "RSS feeds" of your blog's entries. RSS
  ping triggers the             feeds are simply the posts on your blog, presented in a special code
  spiders to come               so they can be displayed on other web pages or in "rss news readers."
                                Every time you send out a ping to these special servers, you tell the
  look at your site,            world that your blog has been updated and there's more to read! In
  any links on                  theory, this can increase traffic to your site and even get you backlinks.
  your blog also                Blogging and pinging does NOT get you into the search engines
  get crawled -                 overnight. Right now it works best for getting into Yahoo. But often
  especially if                 MSN, and even Google, will follow when they do their next update. So
                                if you blog and ping, and get some natural backlinks from pages with a
  those links are               PR3 or higher, blog and ping can help you get into Google in a matter
  in your actual                of a few weeks, rather than the many months it normally takes.
  posts. If you                 In fact, last month Affiliate Classroom members got access to a case
  have your own                 study in which the Editor of Affiliate Classroom Magazine describes
                                how her mother used an ultra simple - and free - blog and ping method
  blog, you can                 to get her web site deep indexed in Yahoo in about a week.
  post links to
  your affiliate                So if you hear that “blog and ping” is dead, it isn’t! It works right now.
                                What’s dead is spamming the ping servers. Sending hundreds of
  sites, and even               automated pings a day will work - but your IP or blogs will get blocked
  individual                    in short order. Stick with blogging and pinging carefully and slowly, and
                                you’ll be surprised at how much it can help with getting your sites
  product pages.”               crawled and indexed.

                                                                             Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
11                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


  Realities of Budgeting and

 ROI for Affiliate Newbies
                      How much does it REALLY cost to get started in affiliate marketing? What if I
                      have NO money? Is affiliate marketing a good way to bring in fast cash if I’m
  “Unlike other       flat broke? Do I really need all the software and ebooks and courses I get
                      emails about every day? And where, oh where are the profits?
  types of online
  retail - say        In this article we’re going to talk about the economic realities - good, bad,
                      ugly, and pretty - of getting started in the affiliate business. Many newbies fall
  selling physical    prey to the myth that all you need is an email account, a web site, and some
  products, drop      “magic secrets” from the latest hot marketing product, and in no time flat you’ll
                      be lying on the beach while your mailbox fills with checks. But in all honesty, it
  shipping, or        takes a lot more work - and at least a little more money - to make most affiliate
  opening an eBay     businesses viable enough to create steady cash flow.

  store - you won’t   First, we’ll go over the ultra-basic STUFF - both online and offline expenses -
  need to spend       that every new affiliate needs to budget for. Then we’ll talk a little bit about the
                      unique challenges of cash flow that every affiliate faces. And finally, we’ll
  anything on         discuss the concept of ROI - Return On Investment - and why you should
  products or         constantly track how much profit you make for every dollar you spend.

  inventory. After
  all, affiliate      How much money do you REALLY need to get up and running?
  marketing is        It doesn’t matter if you just want to make a few extra part time dollars, or quit
                      your day job and become a full time netrepreneur. To get started in affiliate
  about selling       marketing, you’re going to have some initial expenses.
  OTHER people’s
                      Sure, you probably already have a computer, a connection to the Internet, and
  products.”          basic software like Microsoft Works or Office. But it takes a little more than
                      that to get up and running in a web-based business.

                      The good news is that unlike other types of online retail - say selling physical
                      products, drop shipping, or opening an eBay store - you won’t need to spend
                      anything on products or inventory. After all, affiliate marketing is about selling
                      OTHER people’s products.

                      Still, you need to be ready to budget a certain amount for ongoing monthly
                      costs. And your bank account must be able to absorb those costs until you
                      start to turn a profit. This is because EVERYONE - no matter how smart or
                      web savvy - makes mistakes in the early phases of their online business. You
                      need to have enough financial cushion to ride out those mistakes without
                      maxing out your credit or going hungry!

                                                                           Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
12                                                                              Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

C OV ER S TORY …                C O N T I NU E D

To help you project exactly what those monthly expenses, as well as
those “mistakes” might cost, some estimates follow. Keep in mind
these figures are in U.S. dollars and apply to U.S. residents. Your
costs for things like Internet connectivity, or even a computer, can be             “Some suburbs
much more depending on where you live in the world.
                                                                                    may have near-
So if you don’t reside in the U.S., we’d advise making a list of all these          exclusive
items, then doing some research both online and offline. The more
accurate your numbers, the fewer surprises you’ll have - and the less               broadband deals
likely you are to lose profits!                                                     with local cable
Typical Online Expenses                                                             companies, or if
                                                                                    you’re using an
ISP (Internet Service Provider)
Expect to spend anywhere from $10-$30 a month for dialup service,
                                                                                    alternate company
and $30 to $99 a month for broadband. If you’re on a very tight                     for local phone
budget, stick with your dialup service, and invest a modest extra $9-15
a month extra for good accelerated dialup, such as the one offered                  service, they may                                                                       not allow DSL on
You can also buy excellent stand-alone accelerators that will work with             their lines.”
any connection, such as Affiliate Classroom has
tested both of these services on Windows XP and Windows 2000, and
found them to run without a hitch. With accelerated dialup, there’s only
one catch: virtually all work only with Internet Explorer (sorry Firefox

But what if you want broadband... why the wide range of prices? In
many parts of the US, the least expensive form of broadband - DSL -
is still not readily available. This isn’t just true of rural areas, either.
Some suburbs may have near-exclusive broadband deals with local
cable companies. So if you’re using an your cable company for local
phone service, they may not allow DSL on their lines.

But if you’re lucky enough to have readily available DSL, on the whole
it can’t be beat for speed and stability. You may be able to take
advantage of a special on equipment and installation. In the absence
of a promotional deal, expect to pay anywhere from $39 to $89 for
equipment, $39 to $50 for installation, and then $39-$59 monthly for the
service. Remember, you MUST have a land line to install DSL. But
you don’t need an EXTRA phone line - you can use your DSL and talk
on the phone at the same time.

If you live in an urban area but can’t get DSL, cable broadband is
probably your next best option. Installation starts at $29 but it can run
much more, and get ready for monthly charges of $49-$69,

If you live in a rural area, wireless or satellite will probably be your only
broadband options. Satellite Internet equipment and installation can
run $199 to $599, and if that isn’t delightful enough, you can look

                                                                                Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
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                                forward to a monthly fee of $69-$99. Is it worth it? Sad to say,
                                satellite Internet isn’t that much better than good accelerated dialup.
                                And it can “die” on you when it’s raining, snowing, or other weather
     “Is broadband              conditions mess with the satellite.
     absolutely                 Is broadband absolutely necessary? To be honest, NO. Some of
     necessary? To be           the web’s top Internet marketers live in rural areas where dialup is
                                still the only way they get online. Not only do they manage, they
     honest, NO. Some of        make excellent incomes.
     the web’s top
                                In many ways, buying broadband means you’ll be trading the time
     Internet marketers         you’ll save against the extra expense. If you work a day job with
     live in rural areas        some financial stability, with only a few evenings and weekends to
                                build your business, broadband may increase your productivity and
     where dialup is still      help you get your affiliate business off the ground a lot quicker.
     the only way they get
     online. Not only do        Hosting
                                Expect to spend $15 to $30 monthly for good, reliable hosting.
     they manage, they          Frankly, any more than that is overkill for a beginner.
     make excellent             You definitely don’t need a dedicated server or VPS - or you won’t
     incomes.”                  until you have more than 25 sites, which will take a little while to
                                build up And as a beginner, you don’t need add-ons like shopping
                                carts, SSL certificates, or interfaces for credit card processing,
                                though it’s nice to have that capability for the future, when you
                                develop your own upsells.

                                The one thing you should NOT skimp on when purchasing web
                                hosting is SUPPORT. Real newbies need to be able to email their
                                host and get an answer within 12-24 hours. So for beginning
                                affiliates, The Affiliate Classroom’s preferred host is EHosting4U.
                                com. The monthly $19.95 fee includes ample space for web pages,
                                very generous bandwidth, multiple domains, databases, and
                                Fantastico, a suite of scripts that makes installing blog software like
                                Wordpress a matter of typing in a few fields and clicking “install.”

                                But even more importantly, provides good
                                support, especially for beginners. Affiliate Classroom students
                                also receive a preferred rate and extra special customer care.

                                Oh, and if you’re wondering whether to choose Windows or Linux/
                                Apache hosting, we recommend Linux/Apache hands down. While
                                Windows stability has improved a lot in recent years, virtually all the
                                scripts you may eventually need to use run best - or only - on Linux.

                                Domain names
                                These days, you shouldn't have to spend more than $15 for a .com
                                name, period. If anyone tries to charge you more than that, it’s a rip
                                off. Good registrars include,, and
                       For speed and ease of use, as well as having all the

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extras (like email forwarding) built in with a good support team, can’t be beat.

Namecheap also periodically offers free “WhoIs Guard” with new
domain registrations. This service keeps your personal information -
especially your email address - hidden from automated programs that
troll the web, harvesting email addresses. It’s just another way to help
keep spam at a minimum, and we recommend that newbies get WhoIs
Guard with all new domains.

Remember you will need to renew your domain name every year, so use
a valid email address - one you check regularly and is not likely to
change - whenever you register a domain name.

Web site design
If you don’t want to create your own sites, expect to pay a pretty penny
for outsourcing. Your first site could cost anywhere from $375 to
$1,500. That’s for a 15-20 page starter site, NOT including content or
updates.                                                                            “Knowing a little
Are you thinking “Ouch, that’s a LOT of money!” You’re right, it is. This is        HTML and site
why Affiliate Classroom recommends that ALL newbies, no matter how                  coding not only
technically challenged, learn enough about HTML to be able to modify
simple web templates to their liking. See our article in this issue on First        saves you
Site Tips for ways to make your first exposure to HTML much less
                                                                                    money. It
                                                                                    EMPOWERS you
Knowing a little HTML and site coding not only saves you money. It
EMPOWERS you to make changes to your site at any time. There is
                                                                                    to make
nothing more frustrating than having to wait anywhere from a week to a              changes to your
month to add new products to your site. Remember, in online business
there’s an important concept called “opportunity cost.” Not being able to
                                                                                    site at any time.
move quickly can hurt you badly.                                                    There is nothing
But even if you have money to burn, knowing how to do rudimentary
                                                                                    more frustrating
web design means you can check outsourced work to be sure proper                    than having to
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) design techniques are being used.
                                                                                    wait anywhere
An excellent way to save money on your first site is to purchase a set of           from a week to a
SEO-friendly templates, then modify them to include your content and
products. Affiliate Classroom recommends the search-engine
                                                                                    month to add
optimized templates from                                        new products to
Starting at just $67, Golden Pinecone template sets are available for
                                                                                    your site.”
use with popular site design software, including Microsoft FrontPage
(often bundled with Microsoft Office, or about $179 by itself)),
Macromedia Dreamweaver (pricey at around $300, and definitely for
power-builders), or SEO Website Builder ($147, reviewed in the our
January issue). Excellent basic templates also come with XSitePro
($197), which is certainly the easiest of all the site creation programs
we’ve tested.

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                                   If the price of design software is just too high, never fear. You can
     “Affiliate                    use a 100% free web page editor called NVU ( This is
                                   open source software, meaning you can download it for free
     Classroom                     (donations are appreciated by the developers, of course!).
                                   While you won’t get personal support with NVU, a user forum is
     encourages                    available. The only downside of NVU is it can be slow on some
     EVERY affiliate -             computers. But in Affiliate Classroom’s tests, we’ve found NVU
                                   to be very easy to use, with plenty of functionality that’s similar to
     even people with              FrontPage. We even use it in many of our training videos. And
     the budget to                 since it’s 100% free, it’s the most economical choice of all.

     hire freelance                When you calculate the do-it-yourself costs, the one-time hit for
     writers - to learn            software and/or templates is nothing compared to outsourcing
                                   every little thing. Obviously, taking the trouble to learn to modify
     to write their own            your own templates certainly makes economic sense. But it’s
     content. Even if              even more important to have the flexibility to change or add web
                                   pages any time you want to.
     you are not an
     expert with                   Expect to pay anywhere from $70 to about $450 to get up and
                                   running with your first site.
     spelling, or                  And if you are REALLY strapped for cash, you can use a blog as
                                   your very first site. An account at is free, though
     punctuation,                  you don’t OWN that site, so it’s ultimately out of your control. A
     writing rough                 better way is to install a Wordpress blog ( on
                                   your site.
     drafts gets you
                                   While Wordpress isn’t optimal for creating sales pages, it’s more
     involved with the             flexible than it first appears. And while it can be challenging to
     products you’re               customize, excellent low-cost tools (see this month’s Reviews)
                                   make it a lot less intimidating. Because it’s a blog, and creates an
     offering.”                    automatic XML feed, it can be used to help get your site indexed
                                   a bit faster. It may cost you anywhere from $40-$70 for some
                                   Wordpress education, but the software itself is free.

                                   Web site content
                                   You can’t put up an empty web site and expect to make money.
                                   You need content - words and graphics - to fill those pages. That
                                   means pre-sales copy, such as informational articles, news, or
                                   reviews, as well as product information and sales-oriented
                                   writing. It’s also a good idea - if you’re not sending people directly
                                   to the merchant’s sales page - to include some sort of photos or
                                   pictures of the products you are offering.

                                   Affiliate Classroom strongly encourages EVERY affiliate - even
                                   people with the budget to hire freelance writers - to learn to write
                                   their own content. So what if you are not an expert with grammar,
                                   spelling, or punctuation? Writing rough drafts gets you involved
                                   with the products you’re offering. Only YOU can add those

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special touches that come from experience with the product and
expertise in your niche.

Now if you want to produce web site copy that will help you get
good search engine rankings, you need to know what keywords
to use in that copy. Keywords (or keyphrases) are simply the
words people type into a search box on Google, Yahoo, or any
of the other major search engines.

So you need to find out what phrases that are related to your
topic are being typed in by real people every day. You can do
this with free tools like or Overture’s tool (the
URL moves around, so type find it by typing “overture search
term suggestion tool” into your favorite search engine). Or, for
much more accurate research, you can purchase a service like
Wordtracker ( for one day for under $10
(yes, you can do a LOT of research in one day!).

If writing is difficult for you, or you have very little time, a
professional writer can be a lifesaver. But consider providing that
writer with your own notes and ideas, because that helps the
writer give your copy a personalized touch.

If you hire a copywriter, we recommend that you hire the best.
Dull, lifeless copy is worse than none at all - it puts prospects to
sleep! You can sometimes find “budget” writers who will work for
as little as $5 for an article of 300 or so words. Sites like have a forum where you can advertise
for low-cost writers.

The quality of budget writing is sometimes iffy, so you should
ALWAYS ask to see writing samples before you hire. And when            “If you really want
you pay rock bottom prices, remember that there are risks. For
example, some unscrupulous freelancers will give you copy
                                                                       your site to be
that’s “copied” from another web page, or copied straight from a       properly optimized
niche products resale package. The first is a violation of
copyright law, and the second us probably against the TOS of           for search
the niche package. Either can get you in trouble.                      engines, you
So when hiring budget writers, be prepared to run their work           should work with
through a service like to be sure it hasn’t been
stolen from another web site. Do this BEFORE you pay the
                                                                       writers who can
writer. Once the work is bought and paid for, YOU - not the            produce good,
writer - are the one responsible for abiding by intellectual
property laws.                                                         natural sounding
If you really want your site to be properly optimized for search
engines, you should work with writers who can produce good,            copy.”
natural sounding keyword-optimized copy.

Hiring professional copywriters is not cheap. Expect to pay

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                                   anywhere from $50 to $139 per article or web page,
                                   depending on the topic.

                                   Of course, when you’re paying those kinds of prices, you
     “Your own writing             should expect and demand the best work. Most writers in that
                                   league will give you free revisions within a certain time frame,
     may not always be             and will work closely with you on making the writing “just
     grammatically                 right.” They may also have extensive marketing and sales
                                   skills, which can really set your site apart from the crowd.
     perfect. But it will
     sound like YOU.               However, there are several alternatives to paying hundreds,
                                   even thousands for professional Writers. The most obvious is
     That personal                 to learn to do it yourself. Some of the most successful online
                                   marketers write all their own copy.
     voice can be very
     compelling in the             Your own writing may not always be grammatically perfect.
                                   But it will sound like YOU. That personal voice can be very
     mostly impersonal             compelling in the mostly impersonal world of the Internet. For
     world of the                  example, Allen Says, founder of the popular Warrior Forum,
                                   writes all his own copy, and considers effective copywriting a
     Internet.”                    much more valuable skill than search engine optimization
                                   (see our review of his latest book in our July issue).

                                   Another alternative is to grab information articles from the
                                   large article directories, such as, Ezine-
                         , or However, you will have to
                                   include the author’s resource box and a live link back to the
                                   author’s web site in order to reprint the articles. These can’t
                                   substitute for well-written reviews or sales copy, but they can
                                   add useful tips and “fill out” a site.

                                   Another way to add useful content to a site is to include news
                                   with RSS feeds. You can use software such as RSS
                                   Equalizer ( or PowerRss (easybiztools.
                                   com, see review in our August issue) to pull news from
                                   various online sources and convert it to HTML on your pages.
                                   Tools such as this can cost anywhere from $100 to $200, but
                                   it’s a one-time cost for use on unlimited sites. A lower cost
                                   alternative is CARP ( Just be ready to
                                   invest some time in learning to install and configure these

                                   Services such as EZRSSFeeds,com make adding all kinds of
                                   content to your sites extremely easy. It’s simply a matter of
                                   pasting a small bit of code into your pages, then going to the
                                   EZRSSFeeds site and telling it to send keyword-targeted
                                   news to your pages. News and articles then show up as pure
                                   HTML, a big plus for the search engines. However, expect to
                                   pay anywhere from $79 to $99 or more per month for this type
                                   of service.

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When it comes to the content game, remember that there are two
advantages to using news feeds: they provide constantly updated
content for the search engines, and they give your visitors a reason to
bookmark your site and come back over and over. Few prospects buy on
their first visit, so the more reasons you give them to return to your site,
the more likely you are to make sales. And news in all its forms is one
excellent way to attract those repeat visits.

Email auto response system
An autoresponder is a third party service that allows you to capture
visitor email addresses when they fill out a form on your site. It also
stores email lists securely, and sends messages to your list on a timed
sequence. With an autoresponder, you can automate promotions and

An autoresponder system can run anywhere from $15 to $40 per month.                 “Do you need
But the good news is, you will probably get a free basic auto responder
service built right into your hosting plan. includes an
                                                                                    to advertise
excellent, flexible autoresponder with plenty of functionality at no extra          right away?
Some affiliates feel it is an advantage to have your autoresponder hosted
with a third party service NOT on your domain. Why? If someone
                                                                                    NOT. But it’s
accuses you of spam, your entire domain won’t end up on a blacklist.                good to plan to
But a third party service can also get blacklisted - and for no other reason        reinvest some
than it’s a mailing service! The good news is that the third party services         of your initial
tend to rotate on and off the blacklists, so they are not blocked
indefinitely. Some good autoresponder services include the ones                     profits into
provided at,, and
                                                                                    TESTING some
Advertising costs                                                                   advertising
Once you’ve built your first site, you’ll hit a point where you’re going to
want to test various forms of advertising. Even if you are making good
money from free promotion, the right advertising can help boost your                since effective
profits considerably.
Do you need to advertise right away? Absolutely NOT. But it’s good to
plan to reinvest some of your initial profits into TESTING some
advertising campaigns, since if you hit a good advertising venue you can            dramatically
dramatically boost profits for a relatively small investment.
                                                                                    boost profits
Don’t embark on multiple ad tactics at the same time. Test one type of              for a relatively
advertising, look at your ROI (we explain ROI later in this article), then
work on improving your return by tweaking your ads or testing a different           small
form of advertising.                                                                investment.”
Here are some costs for a round of very modest advertising tests. A
starting ezine advertising test budget can be anywhere from $25-$200

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                               per month (the good news is many smaller ezines offer low-cost ads
                               and have loyal audiences). For a PPC advertising test budget using
     “A serious                Adwords or Overture, set aside $100-$150 for one to two month’s
     warning for               worth of advertising.
     anyone doing              Finally, banner advertising can be very inexpensive, but also very
     business online:          low return. It really depends on the type of product and how good the
                               banner is. Start with a small budget of $50, and watch the response
     Don’t do it if you        you get carefully.
     don’t have virus
     protection,               What about offline expenses?
     adware-                   If you’re truly starting from scratch, here are the basics:
     removal software,         $400-$1000 (one-time expense, though you should expect to upgrade
     and anti-spyware          or replace a PC every 4 years if you’re using Windows - to run
                               optimally, the Windows operating system tends to require more and
     software!                 more processor speed and memory with every new version )

                               Land line telephone
     Virus protection          $30-$60 monthly - but you most likely already have this!
     programs do NOT           Basic workspace
     remove adware or          You need a surface to work on, even if it’s an old used desk from the
                               thrift store. Make sure it’s the right height for your particular build. And
     scumware. And             one thing you should NOT skimp on is a decent chair, which can
     adware and                prevent back and neck pain. If you don’t have these basics, expect to
                               spend anywhere from $75 (at the thrift or used office supply store) to
     spyware                   $500 or even more.
     programs do NOT
     protect against           Productivity software
                               Operating system (like Windows): $100
     viruses. You need         Office productivity software: $100-$200
     them ALL.                 Internet software
                               A serious warning for anyone doing business online: Don’t do it if you
                               don’t have virus protection, adware/scumware removal software, and
     Fortunately, some         anti-spyware software!
     of the best of
                               Virus protection programs do NOT remove adware or scumware. And
     these programs            adware and spyware programs do NOT protect against viruses. You
     are free or very          need them ALL. The good news is that these programs don’t have to
                               be expensive. Some of the best are 100% free. So there is no excuse
     low cost.”                for leaving your data - and your business - unprotected!

                               Virus protection: $50-$100 one-time, or get the excellent and very
                               effective AVG software from for less than $40 for
                               two years of protection.

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Scumware/adware cleaner: Lavasoft’s Adaware SE is
available from Lavasoft,com in either a free or paid version,
and for most users the free version works well. You can also
spend $30-$60 for paid products.
                                                                         “One of the great
                                                                         advantages of
Spyware/parasiteware blocker: Some of the best is absolutely
free. We recommend the excellent Spybot Search and
Destroy, available from .                                    marketing - the
You’ll also need a browser, such as Internet Explorer, which             thing that still
comes bundled into Windows, or Firefox. Browsers are almost
always free.
                                                                         makes it readily
                                                                         accessible to
Finally, make sure you have an email program. Windows
computers usually come with Outlook Express, and Outlook                 most Internet
comes with Microsoft Office. But if you want to try an email             marketing
program that’s a little less prone to security and virus issues,
Mozilla Thunderbird is a good one, available from Mozilla at             newbies - is that                                                             it’s still one of the
Affiliate cash flow - a world of ups and downs!                          least overhead-
One of the great advantages of affiliate marketing - what makes
it readily accessible to most Internet marketing newbies - is that       businesses you
it’s still one of the least overhead-intensive businesses you can
get into.
                                                                         can get into.”
Sure, there are initial costs - no way around that. But if you
already have a computer, basic software, and a stable Internet
connection, a few hundred dollars can get you a first-class set up
with all the basics for building some sites and finding out what
works for you. And if you’re frugal and careful and willing to do a
little more do-it-yourself, your monthly expenses can easily be
less - much less - than $100 for a full-fledged, profitable

To start cheap, start small!
Many marketers start with simple web sites of just a few pages,
selling one product, and SLOWLY add on content pages, a blog,
an opt-in mechanism, and related products little by little. They
buy their domain, a hosting plan, build their own bare bones site,
then very gradually add on to this structure.

That type of set up costs about $10 dollars for a domain name,
and then no more than $20-30 dollars per month for hosting and
an autoresponder. It’s about as cheap as you can get, and it can
get you started with virtually no risk. (In fact, it’s how the founder
of Affiliate Classroom, Anik Singal, got started while living on a
meager student budget.)

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                                  But there is one non-expense aspect of affiliate marketing that
                                  can have serious consequences for your cash flow, at least for
                                  the first few months. And you only have so much control over it.
                                  We’re talking about when you can actually expect to those
                                  affiliate payments to arrive in your snail mailbox.

                                  Merchant payment policies dictate your cash flow!
                                  Very few affiliate merchants pay you immediately. The delay
                                  can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Some
                                  merchants also have a minimum payment threshold you must
                                  meet or exceed before they process your payment. That means
                                  you must earn a certain amount in commissions - anywhere
                                  from $20 up to several hundred dollars - before they will mail
                                  you a check.

                                  Stop and think about that for a moment. Even if your web site
                                  starts making sales the day you put it up, you may not actually
                                  get PAID for those sales for several months - or longer. That
                                  makes the first stages of your affiliate business vulnerable to all
                                  the problems of delayed cash flow.

                                  These payment delays are part of doing business in the affiliate
     “Even if your web            marketing world. And they’re not as unfair as they seem. Look
                                  at it from the merchant’s perspective. Those who sell hard
     site starts making           goods want to be sure they process any returns or exchanges
     sales the day you            before they pay affiliates. In the case of digital products,
                                  merchants have to protect themselves against fraudulent credit
     put it up, you may           card orders, which means watching for suspicious refund
     not actually get             requests.

     PAID for those               Even the biggest quasi-affiliate program in the world, from one
     sales for several            of the richest companies in the world - Google’s Adsense - pays
                                  only after you’ve generated $100 in a given month. Accounts
     months - or longer.          are reviewed to make sure that clicks are legitimate and that
                                  your pages comply with the terms of the program.
     That makes the
     first stages of your         The upshot is, if you’re in a desperate financial situation, or
                                  barely making ends meet, don’t expect an affiliate business to
     affiliate business           generate immediate cash flow! If you really want to make fast
     vulnerable to all            cash, hunt down the rare programs that pay you instantly via
                                  Paypal, when a sale is made. Unfortunately, most of these
     the problems of              programs pay relatively small commissions (say $5 on a $30
     delayed cash flow.”          sale), so you will need to make a lot of sales to make decent

                                  If you can, promote merchants who have low minimum payment
                                  thresholds and monthly payouts. This is part of choosing
                                  merchants wisely, a topic we covered at length in our August

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Most new affiliates find that it’s smart to be in a position to roll
along financially without bringing in any commissions for a while.      “A successful
This allows you to invest in your business, launch, and test without
                                                                        affiliate is an
                                                                        affiliate who
Common sense ROI (Return On Investment)                                 turns a good
Reality check: What makes a successful affliate? Is it being
number one on Google for your keywords? Getting 100,000
                                                                        profit every single
unique visitors a month? Having an opt-in list of 15,000?               month.
No. A successful affiliate is an affiliate who turns a good profit
every single month.                                                     PROFIT - not
PROFIT - not traffic, search engine rankings, or gross sales - is
                                                                        traffic, search
what makes you successful. Yet there are many affiliates who            engine rankings,
have web sites with excellent search engine rankings, hundreds of
content pages, and plenty of traffic - but very lackluster sales.
                                                                        or gross sales - is
Others build up a massive opt-in list, yet their list doesn’t really    what makes you
make them very much money. Some affiliates even make a LOT of
sales and bring in substantial revenue - yet after they pay for all
their expenses, their profits are pretty dismal!

At some point along the line, all these affiliates lost sight of the
primary reason they started their online business. ALL
businesses - no matter what else they do - must make a profit.
Their expenses have to be less - preferably a LOT less - than their

No affiliate site can be considered truly successful until it makes a
substantial profit. This is why you need to understand and USE the
concept of ROI - Return On Investment - from the very first day
you start your affiliate business.

Calculating ROI
The basic formula for calculating ROI is actually fairly intuitive.
What you need to do is figure out your Profit-Minus-Investment,
then divide that number by your Investment. The number you end
up with is your ROI% .

Let’s say you spent $195 on buying a domain name, putting up a
brand new site, and running advertising in ezines to promote a
new product. We’ll also assume that you set up a special landing
page or used a special link for this advertising campaign, so you
could track exactly how many sales you make from these ezine
ads (we’ll discuss the importance of tracking in a moment).

As a result of this ad campaign, you make $435 in sales. Now let’s
calculate your ROI:

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                              Your Total Investment: $195
                              Your Total Gross Profit Before Subtracting Your Investment: $435
                              Your Total Gross Profit After Subtracting Your Investment: $240 ($435-195)
                              Your Return on Investment (ROI): 123% ($240 divided by $195)

                              As you can see, ROI tells you what percentage return you got above
                              and beyond your investment in this project.

                              In this case you made $240 ABOVE AND BEYOND your investment of
                              $195. That’s a return of 123%.

                              Is that good? It all depends on what your goal was, and whether you
                              think you can improve your ROI. For example, if you improve your sales
                              copy, and then spend another $195 on advertising, you could make
                              $670 in sales. So now your ROI has gotten quite a boost:

                              Your Total Investment: $195
                              Your Total Gross Profit Before Subtracting Your Investment: $685
                              Your Total Gross Profit After Subtracting Your Investment: $490 ($685 - $195)
                              Your Return on Investment (ROI): 251% ($685 divided by $195)

                              As you can see, simply by tweaking your sales page, you’ve more than
                              DOUBLED your ROI. Note that ROI is not the amount of sales you
                              make. In the example we just looked at, you didn’t double your actual
                              sales. You doubled the percent of return you’re getting on the
                              investment in advertising.

                              Obviously you always want your ROI to be as big as possible. One way
                              to do this is to keep good records, and track every investment in your
                              business. Obvious examples of things you should track include
     “Obviously you           advertising in ezines, PPC campaigns, and other types of advertising
                              you purchase.
     always want
     your ROI to be           But what about some not-so-obvious examples? If you’ve decided to
                              use articles to promote, you might purchase article submission software
     as big as                like Article Announcer ( It’s going to be
                              difficult to separate out exactly how much money each article is bringing
     possible. One            in, since articles build backlinks, which increases your search presence,
     way to do this           traffic, and so on. So how can you tell whether the software is increasing
                              your ROI?
     is to keep good
                              You can COMPARE the ROI of your entire business BEFORE Article
     records, and             Announcer and AFTER Article Announcer. Yes, it’s going to be rather
     track every              rough and unscientific. Fanatical accountants out there will frown on
                              how un-precise this is. But it’s good enough to tell you whether running
     investment               an automated article campaign is going to build your business or hurt it,
     in your                  and whether the software is paying for itself.

     business.”               So if you’ve been in business for three months, perform the same
                              calculations in our example, but add up ALL your affiliate expenses and
                              ALL your affiliate sales. Calculate profit, then ROI. That will show you

                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
24                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

C OV ER S TORY …                 C O NT I N UE D

ROI for a three-month period.

After using Article Announcer for three months, run your ROI
                                                                           “At least 60% of
calculations again. (Don’t forget to add in the cost of Article            newbie affiliates
Announcer as part of your investment.) If your OVERALL ROI is
HIGHER because you’ve begun using Article Announcer, it’s
                                                                           take more than
clearly helping your business. Great!                                      two months to
But what if it’s worse? Don’t automatically blame it on the article        get their first
software! Instead, go back and look carefully for other factors that
may have lowered your ROI. You’ve MUST be sure you separate
                                                                           simple site up
out ROI-lowering stuff that might have NOTHING to do with your             and running.
article submission strategy.
                                                                           Why? It’s usually
What are some of those ROI-lowering things? Let’s take a look at           because the new
the most common ones:
                                                                           affiliate is
What eats into ROI?                                                        overloaded with
Believe it or not, the single most important reason to calculate ROI
on a regular basis is not to see whether a particular ezine ad or          information, and
software is boosting your profits. The REAL reason is to highlight
hidden or unnecessary expenses that can be killing your profits.
                                                                           is trying to build
                                                                           the PERFECT site
Let’s look at one of the most common expenses that seriously
erodes the profit of affiliates - especially newbie affiliates: spending   the first time
money on marketing education.                                              out.”
Look, we have NOTHING against affiliate training materials,
courses, and software to help boost efficiency - heck, Affiliate
Classroom is in the education business. But many new marketers
have a tendency to become addicted to new marketing ideas and
tactics, without ever getting the basics down.

For example, at least 60% of newbie affiliates take more than two
months to get their first simple site up and running. Why? It’s
usually not because of the technical challenges, since free and low
cost templates are readily available, initial keyword research can
be free or cost less than $10, and with good support, hosting is
very easy to use.

It’s usually because the new affiliate is overloaded with
information, and is trying to build the PERFECT site the first time
out. The delay is not because of lack of knowledge or not knowing
some special “secret.” It’s because they aren’t moving forward with
the information they already have.

Many affiliates don’t even realize they are taking a “hit” from day
one because of lost opportunities. Every day you don’t have a site
up, is another delay in getting search engine indexing, building an
opt-in list, and making sales. If you find it hard to force yourself to

                                                                           Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
25                                                                       Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

C OV ER S TORY …       C O NT I N UE D

                                    actually build and launch that first site, tell yourself, “Even if I
                                    only made $5 a day from this web site, then every week that
                                    goes by is COSTING me $35. That’s $140 a month!”

                                    But in addition to the opp cost, there’s all the $37-$97-$197
                                    ebooks, courses, scripts, and “extras” that can run to several
                                    hundred dollars a MONTH. Unless you can turn all that extra
                                    knowledge or software into sales, you’ll be losing money!

                                    Of course we’re biased, but that’s why we believe the
                                    monthly Affiliate Classroom fee of $27 is an excellent value
                                    for newbies and advanced marketers. The step by step
                                    business plan provides a 1-2-3 blueprint that covers all the
                                    basics of creating your first money making site - from
                                    choosing the right merchant to developing your first joint
                                    ventures. This much usable education simply isn’t available
                                    for $27 - or even $297 - especially since the education is
                                    constantly updated.

                                    But more importantly, an affiliate who takes ACTION on the
                                    education, and follows the proven business model, can
     “Outside of                    actually be IN PROFIT within a month or two. Affiliate
                                    Classroom’s special software almost forces you to follow the
     Affiliate                      business model, and it manages your affiliate projects. By
     Classroom,                     simply taking action quickly, and getting help from the
                                    friendly forum as needed, the odds of showing positive ROI
     information can be             on a $27 investment are quite high!
     VERY expensive.                The problem, of course, is staying focused, especially when
     And it is usually              you’re constantly getting offers pushing the latest and
                                    greatest new product. It’s not unusual to get offers for a half-
     incomplete.                    dozen or more “new” training ebooks every week, costing
                                    from $47 to a couple of hundred dollars each. More
                                    comprehensive courses can cost in the neighborhood of
     You will get the               several hundred to thousands of dollars.
     most bang from                 Advice: Go for low-cost, high support, MANAGED training -
     your educational               like the training you get from Affiliate Classroom. Don’t be
                                    an affiliate who worries so much about “doing it right” that
     buck by LEARNING               you can’t finish your first site.
     from your first site           Outside of Affiliate Classroom, information can be VERY
     and from other                 expensive. And it is usually incomplete. You will get the most
                                    bang from your educational buck by LEARNING from your
     affiliates - not               first site and from other affiliates - not from yet another guru
     from yet another               or guru-wannabe. The Affiliate Classroom system pushes
                                    you to get your first site built, up, and running. And then we
     guru or guru-                  push you to get your second site done.
     wannabe.”                      Sure, you may not be 100% happy with your first sites. In a

                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
26                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

C OV ER S TORY …               C O NT I N UE D

year you may decide to overhaul them completely. But you will learn
MORE from building these first sites, interacting in the AC community,
and testing things out than you will learn from a thousand dollar home
study course. What those super-systems can’t teach you is the FEEL
for what works best for you.

So in spite of what some gurus say about spending vast sums on
education each year, we advise you to use AC to learn more, more
cheaply. Accomplish the entire process all the way through, from start
to finish, a couple of times. THEN decide what more you need to learn,
and purchase products that interest you.

Remember that your goal is not to become an expert in affiliate
marketing KNOWLEDGE. Your goal is to be an expert in PROFITS!

This advice doesn’t apply in the same way to software, however. Each
year a handful of software scripts come out that are definite time
savers. For example, XSitePro is an excellent software investment,
and well worth the money if you don’t already have a site builder or
want something more powerful than the free NVU. Specialty software,
such as RSS2Blog, can make updating multiple blogs much easier.

But you should NOT invest in every software tool - only those that will
work WITH your business model. Another good reason to get your first
couple of sites up and running: how will you know what your most time
consuming or difficult tasks are until you actually TRY them?

The other thing that eats away at ROI is NOT testing, tracking, and
choosing to REPEAT the things that yield the highest return on your
In advertising you’re not just looking to get a decent ROI. You also           that your goal
want to squeeze the MOST from your advertising dollar. If running a
$50 banner campaign yields $100 in sales, you’ve gotten a good                 is not to
return. But if $200 of PPC gets you $1000 in sales, the PPC is
definitely making you more money!
                                                                               become an
                                                                               expert in
Even though you’d prefer to spend only $50 a month on advertising, in
this example you’d be foolish not to spend the $200. When you spend            affiliate
$50, your ROI is 100%. But when you spend $200, your ROI is 400%.
It would be short sited not to take the 400% return wherever possible.
Dumping the banner campaigns in favor of PPC just makes sense.                 KNOWLEDGE.
Ultimately the most successful affiliates find one or two promotional          Your goal is to
channels that provide really high ROI for particular products - such as
ezine ads or article promotion. They stick with those methods because
                                                                               be an expert in
they consistently yield the highest ROI.                                       PROFITS!”
Future power-affiliates budget wisely from the beginning. They know
that knowledge doesn’t make them a good marketer, but profits do.
They know that there’s no better education than ACTION. And finally,
they never take their eye off ROI!
                                                                          Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
    27                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

                                    “Put Your Ad
                                     and Reach
                                    YOU MUST HURRY!
                                    These full page ads
                                    will sell out fast!
  This FULL PAGE ad - with clickable links - could be yours next
  month. With a circulation of 25,000, Affiliate Classroom
  Magazine offers TOP value for your online advertising dollar!

                    For current ad rates,
                      email us NOW at
                                               Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
28                                                                                       Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


   Products & News
   Basic and advanced Wordpress products...
   Linkshare changes hands… Google launches blog search...

Wordpress Videos                                      Top 10 Tricks to Conquer Your Niche
                                                      with Wordpress
Author: Brandon Hong
Rating: Five out of Five Stars                        Author: David Pankhurst
Level: Beginner                                       Rating: Five out of Five Stars
                                                      Level: Intermediate to Advanced
With the release of this video library, Brandon
Hong has made Wordpress blogs a viable                Blogs have been touted as the “holy grail” of quick niche site build-
tool for EVERY marketer - even total begin-           ing, since the personal, newsy nature of blogging seems “made to
ners. A low one-time fee gives you lifetime           be niched.” But the problem is that most out-of-the-box blogging
access to a vast collection of short, easy-to-        software lacks search engine-friendly tweaks. But now David Pank-
digest videos that walk you through every as-         hurt’s excellent ebook on Wordpress, the free open source blog-
pect of Wordpress installation and configura-         ging software, has changed all that.
tion. For anyone who is an absolute Word-
press beginner, this video collection will take       Pankhurst’s book covers every tweak you need to make your
much of the fear out of “breaking” Wordpress.         Wordpress blog a search engine magnet. Especially valuable are
                                                      his instructions and plugins, such as his automated post plugin that
If you’ve ever struggled through the infamous         will post to the right categories at the right intervals, and publish
“5 minute Wordpress installation,” you’ll see         and ping on a schedule you determine.
the entire process in plenty of detail, along
with an equally clear procedure for a Fantas-         Just as valuable are the tweaks for adding title, keyword, and de-
tico install. Other topics include plugin installs,   scription metatags to your archived posts, and for automatically in-
theme changes, how to keep Posts and                  cluding Adsense on every page of your blog without violating
Pages straight, and how to back-up your da-           Google’s TOS. Top 10 Tricks also reveals valuable advice for
tabase.                                               keeping comment spam from gumming up your niche blogs and
                                                      driving you crazy.
Once you’ve got those under your belt, you
might want to check out videos topics like in-        If there’s any downside to this well-written, clear, and highly practi-
cluding adding Adsense or Amazon to your              cal ebook, it’s that it assumes you already know how to do a basic
posts, how to set up Permalinks, and using            Wordpress installation - and that you’re not afraid to play around
the Feedburner plugin                                 with cutting, pasting, and adding a little bit of PHP code to the
                                                      Wordpress templates. So if you’re a complete beginner, with zero
The only downside to these excellent videos           Wordpress experience, learn the basics from Brandon Hong’s
is that English is not Hong’s native language.        Wordpress beginner videos first - then grab Top 10 Tricks.
So it may take some listeners a minute or two
to adjust to his delivery. But this was NOT an        If you’re an intermediate to advanced marketer, want to add the
issue for our testers, and since all the video        power of blogging to your marketing tactics, and don’t want to
content has been compiled into readable               spends hours digging through the Wordpress Codex to get an-
PDFs, you can follow use the text as a guide          swers to your customization questions, Top 10 Tricks will give you
to the videos - a great idea we wish more             fast answers to niche-ing your blog in record time.
video trainers would use!
                                                      Even after installing a dozen blogs, we find ourselves returning to
If you’re a newbie who needs to get up and            Top 10 Tricks for advice and to use the excellent, non-buggy plug-
running with Wordpress fast, these videos             ins that come with it. Because of its low price, we consider it one of
get our highest recommendation.                       best marketing references we’ve purchased this year.

                                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
    29                                                                     Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

                                                         Affiliates: Looking for…
                                                         Honest affiliate programs?
                                                         High commissions?
                                                         Free datafeeds and page-builder tools?
                                                         The latest industry news?
                                                         Support and answers?

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     If you need the straight scoop about honest merchants,
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     managers who work with you proactively to help your
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     Visit our site, forums, and blog today for
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                                                                           Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
30                                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
N E W S & R E V I EW S …               C ON T I NU E D


LinkShare Sold in $425 Million Deal
                                                         Even if
Portal and e-commerce giant Rakuten
(JASDAQ: 3755, market cap. $9.7 billion as               Google Never
                                                         Told You...
of Sept. 5, 2005) completed an agreement to
acquire Internet marketing firm LinkShare for
$425 million in cash.

LinkShare, a privately held firm, has over 500           How to send your
clients, including American Express and Dell.
The New York-based company provides                      Adsense CTR
technology to track, manage, and analyze                 skyrocketing...
the performance of sales and marketing. As
of 2004 it held nearly 2% market share in a
highly competitive marketplace.                          What ad formats get the
The deal, brokered by Morgan Stanley for                 most clicks…
Rakuten and Goldman Sachs for LinkShare,
provides the joint firms with a global
presence in on-line financial services, B2B              Ways to optimize for the
trade in used goods, on-line hotel and air               best keywords…
travel reservations and even a baseball
team, the Rakuten Eagles.

LinkShare, with revenues of $1.4 billion and
offices in San Francisco, Denver and
Chicago, will retain its current management
                                                                           We will!
team, including CEO Stephen Messer and
President and COO Heidi Messer.                          Many AdSense publishers are getting
In a communiqué to its affiliates, LinkShare's           massive checks from Google every month. If
CEO said, "This gives LinkShare access to                you’re not making all you hoped for from
the resources of a large, well-capitalized
parent. Rakuten will be our platform to                  the Adsense program, get these Adsense
expand globally. Our affiliates will benefit by
increased volume, which means growth for
                                                         secrets and start earning more money from
everyone."                                               the visitors you already have!
Rakuten provides on-line shopping, travel,
auctions, and other services via the Internet
and Internet-enabled cell phones. The
Japanese-based firm is a highly diversified
portal with a presence that extends to
                                                         You CAN make more money
broadband entertainment and financial
services. Rakuten Securities is one of                         with Adsense.
                                                          Click here now for REAL
Japan's most active on-line brokerage

Discussing the acquisition, Hiroshi Mikitani,
Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, said,                           Adsense Secrets!
"LinkShare's performance-based marketing
expertise across affiliate, search, and e-mail
provides Rakuten with an excellent first step            This product is not in any way affiliated with Google, nor does
to launch our U.S. operations and continue               Google endorse it. AdSense and Google are trademarks of
our international expansion."                            Google, Inc.

                                                                                          Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
 31                                                                                            Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
N E W S & R E V I EW S …                 C ON T I NU E D

Google Launches

                                                                          This Could
Blog Search
Google, the company turned verb,
now offers users a tool to search
blog content in real-time. Over two

                                                                          Be YOUR Ad!
years after Google acquired Pyra
Labs, creator of the popular Blogger
publishing service, the company has
finally delivered on its long-
promised blog-search capability.

The blog search engine scans
                                                                          QUARTER PAGE ads just like this one
content posted to blogs in near real                                      are available right now. But you’ve got
time, according to Jason Goldman,
Google product manager for the                                            to hurry! With a circulation of 25,000,
new feature.                                                              these spots are sure to sell out FAST!
The feature is not a true full-text                                       Grab yours now… before they’re gone!
search capability since some
publishers only syndicate excerpts
of content via RSS (Real Simple
Syndication, automated content of
interest notification and download
                                               For current ad rates, email us NOW
The search tool does not attempt to
index the full content available on a
publisher's web server. Instead, the
crawler identifies potential blog
material by looking at meta data,
links and other clues in searching       Microsoft To Sell Targeted Search Ads
for feeds. It will not crawl content
disallowed by a publisher.               In an effort to compete more effectively with Google and Yahoo, Microsoft (NASDAQ:
                                         MSFT) will offer a means for advertisers to target ads by sex, age, or location. It plans to
Results are returned in the form of      upstage Google by offering advertisers the ability to target by demographics, in addition
individual blog postings, neatly laid    to Google's limited targeting by location and time and day.
out with titles, dates and excerpted
content. Results are sorted by           To date, the ads placed on MSN's search service have been sold by Yahoo. MSN plans
relevance, using Google's web            to place search results in order of expected revenue return. Like Google’s Adwords, an
search ranking algorithms.               ad with a lower bid per click, but which is clicked more often, will tend to show up higher
                                         in the list of results.
A number of search tailoring
commands are available, allowing         The MSN system will let advertisers specify a bid for each user click, and bid a different
results to be limited by title, author   amount based on individual user characteristics. Yahoo's system, alternatively, is based
and date or date range. Results can      only on auction price, and ads with the highest bid are listed first.
also be limited by language or
filtered by Safe Search. The tool        Microsoft has a large database of such information as a result of its widely used Hotmail/
also finds a comprehensive list of       Passport e-mail service and other MS software registration mechanisms. Google has
sources linking to a post or blog.       eschewed this approach over concerns about user privacy.

Google does not currently offer any      Microsoft only last spring replaced the technology acquired from Inktomi with in-house
mechanism for submitting a blog to       developed components. Though acknowledging their lag in search technology and
the search service. Other major          related advertising, Senior Vice President of MSN Information Services Yusuf Mehdi,
search engines have been working         states he is working to close the gap between MSN and its competitors.
on similar offerings, but Google is
the first to make the feature            "We will offer advertisers better value because of the superior information we have about
available. It's available at www.        our audience." Mehdi expressed confidence that with its superior ad placement formulas, and search.        MSN could effectively compete with Google and Yahoo to sell ads on other Web sites,                             offering its customers higher ad revenue.
                                                                                               Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
32                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


      7 Tips To Help You
  Build Your First Web Site
                     Most new affiliates are intimidated by the idea of building that first web site. It
                     initially seems like such a mysterious process. Making words and images
                     magically appear on the Internet, especially if you’re not artistically inclined,
  “Complexity -      can be downright scary!
  especially on
                     This is understandable. For most of us, the first time we looked at HTML or
  the web - has a    PHP code, our eyes glazed over. What does all that gibberish mean? Yet
  way of slowing     once you get over the initial fear (or fog!) that goes with your first exposure to
                     HTML, you’ll discover that building a simple web site is not rocket science.
  down. The more     In fact, there are many little things that can make building that first web site
                     much, much easier. In this article we’ll share seven easily-overlooked tips that
  complicated        keep on helping Affiliate Classroom students get those sites built a lot
  your site, the     faster - and without having to go to HTML classes for a month!

  more time it       Tip #1 - Simplify, simplify, simplify!
  will take to
                     What’s the worst mistake most newbies make when building their first web
  build.”            site? They try and do too much! Complexity - especially on the web - has a
                     way of slowing everything down. The more complicated your site, the more
                     time it will take to build.

                     So instead of adding an opt-in form, news feeds, feedback forms, link
                     exchange script, forum, floating popup, PHP includes, and a gazillion other
                     things to your first web site, go for the minimalist approach. Stick with plain old
                     vanilla HTML, the bare minimum of basic pages, no graphics (or just one or
                     two), and text links.

                     You know those simple pages you see all over the web - the ones with wide
                     borders on the left and right, a graphical header at the top, text links at the top
                     and bottom, and some copy? We know, they’re not be very exciting. But that
                     template is incredibly simple to work with and modify. It’s search engine
                     friendly. It’s easy to add text links at the top and bottom. And it’s almost
                     impossible for even the most obscure browser to “break” the layout.

                     Instead of pressuring yourself to build the “perfect” site, force yourself to scale
                     back and build a WORKING site. By deciding up front to build something as
                     simple as possible, you’ll discover the advantages - and limitations - of
                     extreme simplicity. Even drop dead simple sites can make sales, get incoming
                     links, and get indexed in the search engines.

                                                                          Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
33                                                                                  Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
F IRST SITE TIPS…                 C O N T IN U ED

Of course, this first bare bones site will not do everything you want. But it
will be operational quickly. It will force you to learn how to make a change
to your HTML, upload the site, and see the results of your changes. It will
give the search engines something to spider.

And because it’s so simple, you can reverse-engineer or even rebuild it
later on without hiring a team of programmers. As a rule, it’s much
tougher to “un-complicate” a site than to make it more complicated.

Tip #2 - Decide on the purpose of your site before you build.
It’s amazing how many of us start building a web site without knowing
what we’re going to do with it! You can prevent spinning your wheels and
re-doing your site over and over again if you practice some simple goal-
setting first.

So before you do anything else - before you buy templates, software, or
outsource - decide what you want this first, simple site to do. Do you want
to put up a review of a product, add a few pages of articles, get the feel of
building a content site (and maybe apply to Google’s Adsense program)?                   “This first bare
That’s PLENTY for a first web site - and it’s a good starting point for any
affiliate web site.
                                                                                         bones site will
                                                                                         not do
Or would you prefer to use your first site to do some viral marketing - give             everything
away some free reports or get some newsletter subscribers? That’s also
a perfectly valid way to start - and the type of site you can add to easily.             you want.
Or maybe you’d like your first site to simply sell an affiliate product on the
                                                                                         But because
very first page, to test out your sales letter writing skills. Again, a perfectly        it’s so simple,
legitimate goal for a simple web site.                                                   you can
Any ONE of these is a great goal for a first web site. All have their                    reverse-
advantages and disadvantages, which you’ll discover as you build them.                   engineer or
And all can be the starting point of a larger, more complex site.
                                                                                         even rebuild it
But if you combine too many of these goals into your first web site, you’re              later on without
going to get bogged down in details, like “What’s the best place on the
page for my opt-in form? Should I put sales copy on my home page? Or                     hiring a team of
a review? Or an article? Or should I just make it a Welcome page? How                    programmers.
do I organize the internal linking structure?” And so on.
                                                                                         As a rule, it’s
So choose a limited, focused goal for your first site. Stick with that goal,             much tougher
and accomplish it.
                                                                                         to ‘un-
Tip #3 - Get design and navigation ideas from other sites.                               complicate’ a
                                                                                         site than to
Once you’ve decided on a goal for your first site, don’t reinvent the wheel.
Do some searching online in your niche or related niches, and look at a                  make it more
LOT of sites.                                                                            complicated.”
Find sites with a goal similar to yours. Study their web page design and
linking structure. Click around those sites, and determine what works,
                                                                                    Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
34                                                                      Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


                          what’s confusing, and what’s downright bad.

  “Find sites with a      The point of this exercise is to NOT to copy these other sites, but to learn
                          from the mistakes of others. You’d be amazed at how using other
  goal similar to         people’s sites can show you what you DON’T want to do with your own
  yours. Study their      site!
  web page design         If you spend an evening doing this, you’ll avoid wasting days or even
  and linking             weeks developing layouts, graphics, tricked up navigation, and obscure
                          linking structures that you’ll have to re-do because they’re annoying or
  structure. Click        useless. Of course, you should also bookmark, and take notes on, the
  around those            GOOD stuff that other webmasters are doing. Which leads us to our next
  sites, and
  determine what          Tip #4 - Put it on paper.
  works, what’s
                          As you research other sites, make notes. Print out specific web pages,
  confusing, and          and use a highlighter to draw big circles around the details you want to
  what’s downright        remember. Write down what you like or don’t like right on your printout
                          with a colored marker. Use a separate sheet of paper to write down ideas
  bad. The point of       for content and good link anchor text.
  this exercise is to
                          This is a vital step if you’re someone who has trouble visualizing what
  NOT to copy             your site should look like. You’ll be amazed at the clear mental picture
  these other             that will take shape during this process.
  sites, but to           And don’t stop with picking apart other web sites. Now take a blank
  learn from the          sheet of paper, and sketch out what your site should look like. You don’t
                          need to be an artist. Just turn the paper sideways (landscape), which is
  mistakes of             more like the layout of a web page. Then draw blocks - for the header,
  others.”                the navigation, the copy, and so on. Use pencil so you can erase - and
                          remember to KEEP IT SIMPLE!

                          Finally, turn the paper over, and create a navigation diagram. First draw a
                          box in the middle, and label it “Home.” Then draw boxes around it, one
                          for each page that your Home page will link to (for example, FAQ,
                          Newsletter, Contact, Privacy Policy, Earnings Disclaimer, Sitemap,
                          Articles, etc.). Draw lines between the boxes to represent the links.

                          The reason this navigation diagram is important is simple. If you find
                          yourself drawing too many lines between too many boxes, and your
                          diagram is a big maze of intersecting lines, it’s time to take a step
                          backwards and SIMPLIFY! You’re building your first site, not the
                          Wikipedia! Look for ways to simplify the navigation, or consider building
                          sub-sections of the site in manageable stages, rather than all at once.

                          Tip #5 - Decide how much of the work you can do yourself.
                          Now’s the time to decide if you need to hire a designer, roll up your
                          sleeves and build it yourself… or something in between.

                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
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F IRST SITE TIPS…                C O N T IN U ED

If you decide to hire someone, go to the freelance sites such as Rentacoder.
com,,, or to shop around (if you’re a
member of The Affiliate Classroom, you can get recommendations and
discounts on SEO-friendly web design in the Members Area). Your notes and
printouts will come in handy when hiring someone, since you’ll have a starting
point for discussing what your site should and shouldn’t include. Just be sure to
hire someone who understands SEO completely, and will produce pages in clean
HTML code.

If you decide to do it yourself from scratch, see Tip #6. And what if you decide on
the “in between” option?

As explained in this month’s Cover Story, there’s an advantage to learning to
design a simple web site - you will know how to make changes to your web pages
when YOU want to, not when it suits someone else’s schedule. It will also give
you insight into the “guts” of a web page. And finally, it will teach you a great deal
about on page search engine optimization.

But you don’t have to start from a blank page. Many of the most successful
marketers built their first few sites themselves by copying a basic template - like
the ubiquitous wide-margined “sales letter” template - and modifying the HTML in
a WYSIWYG editor (like NVU, FrontPage, or Dreamweaver).

So by “in between” we mean that you can purchase some good-looking, semi-
custom templates, and add content and links to them. You’ll be starting with
something clean and tailored to your niche, and you’ll be able to open these                   “There’s an
templates in a WYSIWYG editor to make your changes relatively easily.                          advantage to
“In between” also means you’ll still have to learn a little about HTML, you’ll                 learning to
probably make a few mistakes, you’ll get frustrated, and you’ll have to spend                  design a
some quality time looking up HTML answers online ( has some
good HTML tutorials). But if you start with a SIMPLE site and a SIMPLE goal,                   simple web
you’ll learn not just HTML, but how to take control of your site when you need to,             site - you will
and how to communicate with web developers when you expand your business.
                                                                                               know how to
Tip #6 - If you have the funds, buy site building software that eliminates the                 make
guesswork and a lot of manual labor.                                                           changes to
The Affiliate Classroom is literally inundated with stacks of emails about what
                                                                                               your web
web site builder to use. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question. If            pages when
you have a recent copy of FrontPage bundled into Microsoft Office, you can do a
lot with it right out of the box. Or you can download the excellent HTML editor
                                                                                               YOU want to,
called NVU ( that’s 100% free.                                                         not when it
But there are many advantages to using site building software specifically
designed for MARKETING web sites. These tools automate certain tasks and                       someone
have SEO-friendly templates built right into them, which can save you time when                else’s
you add content or products to your sites, or when you change the navigation.
Their interfaces are primarily wizard-based, meaning you “fill in the blanks,” build           schedule.”
a set number of pages, and interlink them without having to load in each template
separately and do a lot of hand-coding.

                                                                                  Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
36                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


                                The most powerful and feature-rich of these tools are XSitePro
                                ( and SEO Website Builder (seo-website-builder.
     “Remember,                 com). Both were designed by marketers, for marketers. Each tool
     there’s only one           has its own special strengths, but both are excellent values.

     kind of site               Both XSitePro and SEO Website Builder contain market-tested basic
     that’s a                   templates, so they take much of the guesswork out of design - a
                                definite plus if you don’t trust your eye or your instincts about ‘what to
     GUARANTEED                 put where’ on web pages. And both make quick work of creating
     money loser.               navigation structures, updating them, and building sitemaps.

     It’s the one you           If you’ve been having trouble getting your first site off the ground, an
     don’t build! Even          investment in these tools can pay for itself relatively quickly -
                                especially when you also act on our suggestions for planning and
     if you make no             researching your site.
     money from your
                                NOTE: SEO Website Builder and XSitePro are NOT “page
     first site, and            generators” like Traffic Equalizer (TE) or Directory Generator (DG)!
     even make every
                                Both XSitePro and SEO Website Builder are designed to streamline
     mistake in the             the process of building substantial content sites that include articles,
     book while                 news, reviews, and the type of product-related content that’s the
                                bread and butter of affiliate marketers.
     building it, you
     WILL learn                 TE and DG are designed for a different purpose - to build “scraper”
                                sites that generate hundreds, even thousands, of low-content pages
     from it.”                  that “scrape” search engine results. We do NOT recommend
                                investing in TE or DG for building long-term affiliate revenue sites.
                                They are for advanced marketers who understand the risks of using
                                them, and who are willing to build on “disposable URLs” for testing
                                products or acquiring short term traffic spurts.

                                Tip #7 - No matter what, PUSH yourself to get that site LIVE!
                                Remember, there’s only one kind of site that’s a GUARANTEED
                                money loser. It’s the one you don’t build! Even if you make no money
                                from your first site - even if all you make is every mistake in the book
                                while building it - you WILL learn from it.

                                So even if it’s just a few pages… even if you start with nothing more
                                than a simple product review or one brief article… get your first site
                                up and running. Then get some feedback from friends and other
                                marketers, make changes, add more pages, and build some more.

                                Finally, never underestimate the power of that first clumsy web site.
                                Many baby-level sites can grow up after a Google update. They may
                                get a few good incoming links without you knowing it. Even your very
                                first site building effort can one day reward you with good page rank...
                                and slow but steady sales!

                                                                          Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
    37                               What’s the KEY to
                                                 Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

                                     affiliate success?

                                     Top niche
                                     products from
                                     Where do you find

  Inside our classroom!
                The Affiliate Classroom features
                trusted merchants from 5 Star Affiliate
                Programs, one of the most respected
                names in the industry. Ready to join the site that
                shows you how to build an honest, long-term online
                business… not just small checks?
                Click here NOW!
                                                 Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
38                                                                 Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


     Are You Trying
     To Get Banned?
     By Brad Callen
     Professional SEO

 “If you’re going to     Q: I’ve been patiently waiting for several sites to get indexed in
 do any sort of          Google. My problem is, I’m not sure how to tell whether a site
 affiliate marketing     just hasn’t made it into the index yet, or whether it’s been
 online, you need to     banned. I’ve been trying a lot of different techniques to get
                         indexed, and I’m worried some of them may have backfired! Is
 make sure you’re
                         there any foolproof method for seeing whether my site has been
 NOT clueless about      banned from Google, and why?
 tactics that can kill
 your chances of         An excellent question… which prompts a question from me to all
 getting into            newbie webmasters. Are you asking Google to penalize your
                         I'm sure you're probably thinking, “Of course not!” Yet daily I see new
                         people complaining in search engine optimization forums that their
                         websites have been banned by Google and they "have no idea why."

                         These people claim they've done nothing wrong and are absolutely
                         clueless as to why their site is no longer in Google. That may be true.
                         But if you’re going to do any sort of affiliate marketing online, you
                         need to make sure you’re NOT clueless about tactics that can kill
                         your chances of getting into Google.

                         So first I’ll answer your question about banning. Then we’ll get into
                         what NOT to do when optimizing on-page ranking factors so you
                         don’t get banned in the first place.

                         How do you know if you've been banned?
                         First, let’s go over how to see if you're clearly banned by Google.
                         Often people think they've been banned, when in reality they've just
                         dropped in ranking and can't find their website. Here are the two
                         most important things to check:

                                1. Google's search results.
                                2. The Google toolbar.

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SEO TALK…            C O NT I N UE D

How to check Google's search results
Go to Google and enter your entire URL into Google's search box. In this example we'll use a made up

                                                               Notice that Google says there is no
                                                               information available for this URL? This
                                                               means that the URL is no longer in Google's

                                                               If you enter a brand new website into
                                                               Google, you'll always get this message until
                                                               the website has been indexed. But, in this
                                                               case, our website has been banned by
                                                               Google for some reason.

The next thing to check is the Google Toolbar. Download the Google Toolbar here:
Once it's installed, simply visit your website. If the Google toolbar is completely gray, this means you have
been banned by Google.

This is a banned site (most SEOs call this "gray barred.”)

This site hasn’t been banned (it’s got some kind of Page Rank)

Now that you know how to tell if your website has been banned, it’s time to ask a more fundamental

What can cause your website to get banned?
There are both on-page ranking factors AND off page ranking factors. Used correctly, all can help your
site rank well. On the other hand, used badly, they can cause Google to ban your site. I’m just going to
focus on the on-page things that can get you banned, since those factors are in your immediate control.

Before I begin, I want you to know that even though many websites still get away with doing some of
these things, they do NOT help your rankings. At best they’re a complete waste of time. At worst, Google

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SEO TALK…             C ONT I N UE D

will catch up to you and dump your site. If you’re tempted to try these tricks, ask yourself if it’s worth the
risk, especially when doing them won’t help your rankings anyway.

Hidden Text
Hidden Text is text that users can't see when they visit your page. Some webmasters think that doing this
adds keywords to the page without interfering with what the visitors see. The search engines can still see
the hidden text, even though visitors can’t.

For example, let's say you have a white background on your website. If you wanted to hide text, you
would simply make the color of your text white (#FFFFFF). Users can’t see it, but spiders can. I did a
quick search in Google and quickly found an example of a website using hidden
text. Have a look:

Are you wondering where the hidden text is? Let me show you. I went to the website and clicked "ctrl + a"
on my keyboard. This will highlight the entire webpage as shown below. Now you can clearly see the
hidden text at the very top left side of their website that says "fat loss body fat abs weight loss
diets bodybuilding dieting tips abdominals." The red arrow is pointing right at it!

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SEO TALK…             C ONT I N UE D

 These are keywords this site wants to rank well for. They want the spiders - but not their visitors - to see
 these words up front. So they made the text white, to disappear into the background. As of this writing, if
 you go to Google and enter "fat loss," this site actually ranks #1. But trust me, it's definitely NOT because
 of the hidden text. They rank well because of all their other excellent on-page ranking factors.

 Frankly, I wonder what this site’s webmaster is thinking! If they were smart, they would remove this
 hidden text. They would still rank #1, but they would not be BEGGING Google to ban them!

 Alt image tag spamming
 This is another way that people try to cram in keywords that search engines can see, but visitors can’t.

 The following is a website that wanted to rank well for "cabbage soup diet". They’ve inserted a graphic of
 a cabbage - makes sense, right? They've also added an alt image tag to the graphic. What does the alt
 image tag do? When a visitor hovers their mouse over the cabbage soup graphic, a little popup will

 Ugh - notice how many times they've repeated the word "cabbage soup" and "cabbage" in the alt text?
 Way too many! It serves no purpose other than to cram as many keywords as possible into their page.

 The real purpose of an alt image tag is to show a description if the graphic will not load, or if graphics are
 disabled by their web browser. Blind users really appreciate these tags, since special accessibility
 browser plugins can read out the description.

 Bottom line, you want to steer very clear of Alt image spamming. Using an alt image tag is okay, but
 NEVER even come close to overdoing it like in the example above. A good alt image tag in this case
 would simply be: “cabbage soup diet graphic.” In other words, a plain description of the graphic and NO

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SEO TALK…               C ONT I N UE D

Meta Tag Stuffing
Meta tag stuffing is a completely outdated technique. It happens when people throw in thousands of the
same exact keyword into their meta tags. For example, the following website is trying to rank well for
"tents". Let’s look at their Keyword meta tag:

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="tents, TENTS, Tents, tents tents tent supplies, tents, tents tent,
tent, Tent, TENTS, tents, Tents,tents, TENTS, Tents, tents tents tent supplies, tents, tents tent, tent, Tent,
TENTS, tents, Tents,tents, TENTS, Tents, tents tents tent supplies, tents, tents tent, tent, Tent, TENTS, tents,
Tents,tents, TENTS, Tents, tents tents tent supplies, tents, tents tent, tent, Tent, TENTS, tents, Tents
tents, TENTS, Tents, tents tents tent supplies, tents, tents tent, tent, Tent, TENTS, tents, Tents">

This is obviously ridiculous. Google doesn't even use Meta Tags when ranking websites. Google WILL
penalize this. It WILL NOT help you. Why would anyone do something like this? Stay away from it.

Title Tag Stuffing
The title is what appears in the top left hand corner of your webpage. Below is an
example of Title Tag Stuffing.

Here the arrows points to the keyword repeated over and over again, in every possible combination, in
the Title tag. This serves NO useful purpose. It won’t get you ranked any higher and it can get you
banned. Don't do it.

You only need to include your keyword(s) one time in your Title tag. In fact, if your keyword appears more
than just ONCE, it will DILUTE the effect. Repeat the keyword over and over, as in the example above,
and you it’s like jumping up and down and yelling, “Hey Google, I’m TRYING to get banned!”

Are YOU asking Google to ban your site?
Why are people continuing to do things that will eventually get their sites banned? Why are they wasting
so much time and effort on tactics that don’t work and hurt them in the long run?

Frankly, most of them are reading the wrong ebooks or listening to the wrong people. They read a free
SEO book that’s several years old, not realizing that if you’re going to play the search engine marketing
game, you need to stay up to date. Four-year-old forum postings about how to get high rankings are not
only old news, they often contain techniques that are the kiss of death of any site that uses them!

So if you’re concerned about grabbing and maintaining a good spot in the search engines, check your
sites TODAY for the problems we’ve just discussed. And make sure that ANY new site you build is
squeaky clean when it comes to your Meta tags and Alt tags. And don’t even experiment with anything
that could be construed as hidden text. Remember, Google won’t send you a warning before dumping
your site from its index.
Brad Callen is the creator of SEO Elite, the web’s most powerful link building software (available at
You can check out Brad’s blog at
                                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
43                                                                     Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


  Podcasting: Coming Soon
     to a   Computer Near You!
                      The history of media goes back at least as far as cave paintings more than
                      ten thousand years old. (The Lion's Cave in South Africa contains drawings
                      dated at 43,200 years ago!) Fortunately for us affiliate marketers, the latest
                      content and technology is every bit as interesting - and a lot more

                      The latest technology buzzword in marketing circles is “podcasting.” Just
                      what is it - and why should you keep an eye on it?

                      What is Podcasting?
                      A podcast is essentially audio (and sometimes video) content downloaded
                      automatically to your computer, which can be listened to via any of the
                      popular media player software or hardware options. A podcaster, who
                      could easily be you, places an MP3 file on a host.

                      Then along comes a subscriber with RSS (Real Simple Syndication)
                      software that checks for new content. It finds your podcast, downloads it
                      (all without user intervention), and the subscriber gets your audio

                      The content of this audio can then be played back using Windows Media
                      Player, Real Player, or one of the many other popular audio programs. The
  “Unlike             podcast can even be burned to a CD or downloaded to an MP3 player.
                      (Despite the similarity in the names, an Apple iPod is not required to play
  traditional         podcasts.)
  radio programs,
                      What form can the content of your podcast take? Since it’s just pre-
  podcasts are        recorded audio, it could be anything -- and these days it is. Podcasts are
  different in one    being made of old vinyl records (, Howard Stern style
                      commentary (, information on cooking (pacificpalate.
  very significant    com) - even the US Presidential weekly radio broadcasts are now available
  way. They can       via podcast (
  be highly           Unlike traditional radio programs, though, podcasts are different in one very
  targeted.”          significant way. They can be highly targeted. A large enough audience for,
                      say, Amish quilts, doesn’t exist to justify the cost of a standard radio
                      program. Even a small station, whether hosting a show or charging for
                      advertising, would have to spend tens of thousands to support the
                      infrastructure for such a program, let alone create and broadcast the

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P O D C AS T I N G …   C O N T I NUE D

                              But on the other hand, a podcast can often be created and distributed for
                              only the cost of your time! Obviously this means that the niche marketing
                              possibilities for podcasting are wide open.

                              Of course, before you can actually use podcasting for markeitng, you
                              need to learn how to podcast. So let’s look at the steps in becoming a

                              Get started - subscribe...
                              Subscribing to podcasts is almost as simple as subscribing to any other
                              kind of Internet distributed content. You'll need a computer (which, since
                              you're reading this, we can safely assume you have) and some software.

                              We recommend that you look at packages that can be loaded onto
                              multiple platforms (Windows, MAC, or Linux) such as Blogmatrix
                              ( There are many to choose from, so your best bet is to
                              do a search on podcast software and look around for a product that
                              matches your comfort level. Check out iPodder ( for
                              available software (such as Ipodder from that terrific open source group,
                              Source Forge).

                              You also need RSS software, such as Pluck ( or Awasu
                              ( - Windows only but very easy to use). These types of RSS
   “A podcast can             programs are generally available at no charge, and they are usually
   often be created           simple to install and configure. Just download, double-click, and follow
                              the on-screen directions.
   and distributed
   for only the cost          To test out your installation, try subscribing to and playing some podcasts.
                              You’ll find a great selection of thirty-second sample programs at The
   of your time.              Podcaster Bunker (
   Obviously this
   means that the             Create your first podcast...
                              Becoming a podcaster is only slightly more complicated than becoming a
   niche marketing            listener. You'll need a microphone that will hook up to your computer, and
   possibilities for          software capable of creating audio files, usually MP3. An easy to use,
                              multi-platform package can be downloaded at Audacity (http://audacity.
   podcasting are   
   wide open.”                Once you have the software, you can record, edit, cut, copy, splice, and
                              export your files. For talk-oriented content, recording at 48-56k mono is
                              adequate. But for music you'll want to use the higher 64-96k stereo
                              setting. Remember, the larger the number, the more space consumed by
                              the file and therefore the longer it will take to download. Always try to
                              record at the lowest setting that gives acceptable quality.

                              Once you’ve recorded your podcast, you need software to help you create
                              the needed RSS file that allows the subscriber to get your podcast, such
                              as what you’ll find at Feedburner ( This is done in XML

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P ODCASTING…                C O N T I NUE D

format, a text file with layout similar to HTML - but with special tags -
containing information like the Title, the URL to your file, the topic, etc.
Another good software package is available at EasyPodCast
( which also provides statistics about readership (or                    “Generating
should we say “listenership?”).                                                          revenue via
Again, just download the software and follow the simple directions in the                podcasting can
help file. (Yeah, we know... but in this case it's true - it really IS easy!)            at first look like
                                                                                         a challenge.
... and distribute!
Once you have your podcast file, you'll need a place to store it.                        But it’s actually
Fortunately, this is no more complicated than for any other kind of file.                easier than
Any standard hosting service, with adequate storage and bandwidth,
should work.
                                                                                         many other
                                                                                         venues. Your
In these days of multi-media files - photos, movies, and so forth - having               fixed overhead
enough storage usually isn’t an issue. Most hosting companies provide
more than enough space and bandwidth. You’ll only need to be concerned                   costs for
once you have a lot of podcasts to archive, and with the price of storage                producing a
going down every day, you still won’t be looking at a huge expense.
                                                                                         podcast can be
Finally, the loop is closed by getting someone to subscribe to your                      negligible, or at
                                                                                         most very
Making money                                                                             small.”
Generating revenue via podcasting can at first look like a challenge. But
it’s actually easier than many other venues. Your fixed overhead costs for
producing a podcast can be negligible, or at most very small. Your
investment of time - or paying someone to create content - represents the
largest chunk of expenses.

Standard advertising techniques can be used to attract subscribers, and
those subscription fees or sponsors can be used to generate more
income. Easier said than done, of course, but with podcasting the content
is audio (or video), along with the significant advantages offered by those

Of course, it's only a matter of time until history repeats itself. Just as vinyl
music recordings and old movies gained new life on CD and DVD, it won't
be too long before some entrepreneur (maybe you!) converts those same
offerings into podcasts.

Keep in mind, though, that even though FCC regulations don't cover this
format - yet - copyright laws still apply. ALWAYS get permission before
using copyrighted music, writing, news, or any other content that’s not

Niche marketing with podcasts
With the winter holiday season approaching, some of our Affiliate
Classroom instructors got together to do a little “podcasting
brainstorming” about how to use this technology to boost your seasonal
                                                                                    Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
46                                                                            Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
P ODCASTING…           C O N T I NUE D

                                   marketing efforts. Here’s five ideas - as of this writing, ripe for the
                                   taking - for holiday marketing podcasts:

                                   #1 - Self Help
                                   A series of short daily self-help recordings, written to help people
                                   cope with the common forms of stress and depression experienced
                                   by so many during the Christmas season.

                                   How to make money? Send listeners to your affiliate web sites that
                                   offer self-help courses, tapes, and books. Don’t forget to talk about
                                   and review one of those self-help products in each show.

                                   #2 - “The Where To Buy It Online Show”
                                   This could be niched to any type of market - where to find gifts for
                                   seniors, employees, the visually impaired, fishermen, or quilters.

                                   What’s the money-maker? Easy. Make sure you’re directing your
                                   listeners to YOUR affiliate web sites! (Another reason to get those
                                   holiday sites built yesterday, with an aggressive link strategy and viral
                                   marketing tools to back them up.)
     “The profit potential
     in food and recipes           #3 - Spiritual Pods
                                   The winter holidays are supposed to have a religious - or at least a
     is always huge,               spiritual - component. So create a podcast where you read from
     especially since you          spiritual texts, discuss ways to keep the holidays in perspective, offer
     can niche this one to         tips on keeping kids from going overboard on materialism, and
                                   promote simpler values.
     any type of special
     diet or sub-niche.            Think you can’t make money with this one? Think again. If your sites
     How about holiday             cater towards family products and activities, wholesome
                                   entertainment, and balanced healthy lifestyles, this could be a great
     food talk for low-            fit that you can feel good about while turning a profit (and doing your
     carbers, diabetics,           part to keep people focused on what’s REALLY important).
     vegetarians or
     vegans? What about            #4 - Nostalgic Holiday Food, Cooking, and Recipes
                                   Who doesn’t love to reminisce about Grandma’s Christmas cookies,
     a Kosher holiday              luscious homemade eggnog, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire?
     podcast? Recipes              People don’t have to SEE you make a Buche D’Noel to drool over
     for kids - or guys who        your top secret family recipe.
     have never cooked in          Combine recipes with stories and memories. Or solicit holiday food
     their life - can              questions, and answer them on your show (how about getting
     make? Or best of all,         Grandma to be a guest?). You can niche this one up, down, or
                                   sideways, and even add crafts and decorating ideas.
     gifts for those
     gourmets in your              The profit potential in food and recipes is always huge, especially
     life?”                        since you can focus on special diets or sub-niches. How about
                                   holiday food talk for low-carbers, diabetics, vegetarians or vegans?
                                   What about a Kosher holiday podcast? Recipes kids - or guys who
                                   have never cooked in their life - can make? Or best of all, gifts for
                                   those gourmets in your life? Use this podcast to promote sites that

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P ODCASTING…               C O N T I NUE D

offer kitchenware, tableware, appliances, luxury foods, spices and hard-to-
find ethnic ingredients, coffee and tea, chocolates, and of course
cookbooks. Move over Martha.

#5 - Holiday personal finance and recovering from a debt hangover
Most people over-spend during the holidays. So how about a podcast with
tips to help them manage their money better, avoid a spending binge,
prevent credit card max outs, and advise them on how to get more bang
from their holiday buck?

How to make money? From debt management, financial counseling,
mortgage refinance, and other financial education and services affiliate
programs. Podcasting may be an especially good way to promote pay-
per-lead programs. There are many choices in this industry, all pay well,
and the prospect simply has to fill out a short application form for you to
make money. There’s no more natural and credible way to “sell” these
programs than with commercials that encourage listeners to fill out brief,
no-obligation form - on your site, of course!

Before you go running to buy a new microphone, remember there are still
some uncomfortable limitations in podcast technology. For one thing,
podcast content isn't very searchable. And hosting can get expensive if
you really develop a following. Worse still, just as in the early days of
cable - think do-it-yourself community programs - the quality of podcasts is
variable. If podcasters don’t produce quality programs, it could be labeled
as the next “cheesy” online medium.                                                    “Google
Still, for a new medium only available in the last year or so, there's already         hits on
a stunning amount of activity. Google hits on “podcasting” are in the 30
million range, up from only a few thousand a year ago. Maybe it’s the                  ‘podcasting’
popularity of Internet radio that’s making podcasting so “hot.” Pods are
really just a clever online twist on what we’ve been listening to all our
                                                                                       are in the
lives - radio. And they’re hot - just in time for holiday marketing.                   30 million
Summing up
                                                                                       range, up
Every day new content comes online. As marketers, we tend to think of                  from
simple how-to information as being “content.” But just take a look at
today’s available podcasts, and you’ll discover a slew of niche marketing              only a few
possibilities.                                                                         thousand a
You’ll find podcasts on medical diagnosis information aimed at physicians,             year ago.”
travel guides, political debates, legal advice, and many more. At ipodder.
org you’ll find lists with over fifty different categories. Each one represents
dozens of untapped niche markets you could be reaching out to.

So jump in the pod... And hey, we’ve been looking for a really good
podcast on Amish quilts. Maybe you can help us out!

                                                                                  Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
48                                                                      Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


  Staying Sane During
    the Silly Season!

                        Something seems to happen in online marketing circles right after the first of
                        September. With summer over, everyone’s suddenly back at their computer -
   Our top five         searching, shopping, and buying like mad.

   tips for staying     If you were wise and spent your summer building your fall and winter holiday
   sane                 niche sites, it’s time to start getting links, sending out articles, and driving
                        traffic in a big way. And if you’re behind on site building, you’re frantically
                        playing catch up. No matter which boat you’re in, could it get any crazier?
   1 - Be organized &   Well, here at Affiliate Classroom, we have a confession to make. Even
   disciplined.         some of us veteran marketers are not always perfectly organized (don’t
                        faint). In fact, after a busier than usual summer, some of us are having to
                        scramble to get our new holiday sites up, indexed, linked, and making sales.
   2 - Automate as      In other words, we’re behind and in a big hurry just like you!
   much as possible.
                        So what do the web’s super affiliates and top marketers do when they’ve got
                        too much to do and not enough hours in the day? How do they cope with the
   3 - Use project      silly season? Here’s out top five tips for getting that workload under control…
                        and staying sane so we not only enjoy the profits, we have fun getting there.
   software.            Tip #1 - Be absolutely fanatical about organization and self-discipline.
                        Yeah, we know, organizing every little thing and being self-disciplined
                        doesn’t exactly sound like fun. But if you want to accomplish more in less
   4 - Use private      time, old fashioned virtues like neatness, planning, follow up and follow
   label articles and   through really do make life easier.
   information          So starting today, set weekly and daily goals. Do you need to get 6 sites built
   products to jump     by the end of October? Write down your goal and set in-between goals that
   start viral          you know you can reach. If you simply don’ t have enough hours in the day,
                        FIND time. Get up early or stay up later.
                        Make to-do lists of essential tasks, and checklists of routine things that have
                        to be done for every site you build. And you don’t need special software to do
   5 - Outsource as     this. You’d be surprised how many top marketers have a few fat spiral
   much as possible,    notebooks - the kind your kids use in school - to keep all their checklists, to-
   especially stuff     do lists, idea lists, and lists of web sites, hosts, usernames and passwords.

   you’re slow at.      Some marketers write EVERYTHING in one single notebook - for them it’s a
                        super-diary. But most prefer to use three notebooks: one that lists all their

                                                                        Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
49                                                                         Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


                       web sites, with hosting and domain registrar details, subdomains, related blogs,
                       programs and products promoted on each site, and usernames and passwords.
                       Another notebook is for daily goals and task lists, and the last one is for
                       marketing ideas. Spiral notebooks work because pages can’t get lost, you can
                       get them as big and fat as you want, and they open and stay flat.

                       So get your desk organized, file those papers away, dust off your workspace,
                       grab a notebook and calendar, and make your plan of attack. Even if you don’t
                       make every one of your goals, by setting up daily tasks and writing things down,
                       you’ll accomplish at least 20% more than you otherwise would. If nothing else,
                       you won’t waste time staring into space - you’ll ALWAYS have something else
                       on your list to keep you busy (sigh!).

                       Tip #2 - Automate as much as possible.
                       If there ever was a time to automate as many aspects of your business as
                       possible, this is it. You don’t need to buy every new script or software out
                       there - that would be counterproductive, since installing and configuring scripts
                       takes time, too.
   shouldn’t           And you shouldn’t spend money automating a process if you’re not even
                       DOING the process. For example, if you’re not posting to multiple blogs
   spend money         regularly, there’s no need to invest in RSS to Blog, no matter how excellent the
   automating a        tool is. During the silly season, accomplish at least some of your current goals
                       before you add a whole new set of marketing tasks to your life.
   process if
   you’re not          It’s also worth looking carefully at the functionality of any new tools that are
                       released, and asking yourself “How can I use this product to save time RIGHT
   even DOING          NOW?”
   the process.
                       Also, take an inventory of the tools you currently own, and consider whether
   During the          you’re getting your money’s worth from them. And can you find new uses for old
   silly season,       automation tools you may not be using much right now?
   you need to         Here’s an example. It’s never a good idea to bet the farm on a site built with an
   accomplish          automated page generator like Traffic Equalizer or Directory Generator. But
                       who says you have to use those programs to build 5000 keyword scraper sites?
   at least
   some of your        If you’re an advanced marketer who has played with any of these automated
                       site builders, you know that with the right template, these page builders can
   current goals       crank out 5-10 interlinked HTML or PHP pages in a minute or two. So try
   before you          thinking about these tools differently, using a “less is more” approach.

   add a whole         You can use any page generator to whip out SMALL groups of interlinked
   new set of          pages, all based on a shared template, whenever you want to add a touch of
                       fresh content to your sites. You can create sub-directories of “skeleton pages”
   marketing           in which you can plug a few articles, product descriptions, or tips. If you use
   tasks to your       DG, all the generated pages will be nicely interlinked, and Traffic Equalizer will
                       build a nice site map for each little directory.
                       Because the token systems in these products are usually drop dead easy to
                       add to ANY template, no matter how complex, you can constantly create pages

                                                                           Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
50                                                                                Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

S TAY I N G S AN E …           C ON T I N U E D

in small batches - and you needn’t use spammy scraped content. The
trick to making this work is through the creative use of server side
includes. Sprinkle them through your templates, and then populate the
includes with new content and links to related products over time.

What about other products in your marketing arsenal? Are there ways
you could be using your autoresponder, blog and ping software, template
collections, article distribution software, and other tools to save you time
every day?

Tip #3 - Use project management software.
If you’re a member of The Affiliate Classroom and you’re not using your
Portfolio to keep track of your affiliate IDs, site-building tasks, keyword
lists, and where you are in the site building process, it’s time to start!
Being self-disciplined and organized is like exercise - it’s a lot easier if
you have a personal trainer to help keep you on track. That’s what your
Affiliate Classroom portfolio does for you.

If you’re not a member of The Affiliate Classroom, at least begin using
some kind of project management or organizer software to track what
you have and haven’t accomplished. You can start by using Microsoft
Outlook. Or shop around and look at some of the free-standing project
management software programs available for small business use. While
not cheap, these programs can be great sanity-savers when you’re
juggling lots of site building projects at once.
                                                                                    “Being self-
You can also look for organizer software designed especially for affiliate          disciplined and
marketers, though we’ve yet to find one that’s robust enough for our
needs. Most affiliate-specific software tends to be a little too limited to the
basics of affiliate record-keeping, and don’t have robust task-                     is like exercise -
management features.
                                                                                    it’s a lot easier if
Tip #4 - Use private label articles and information products to jump                you have a
start viral campaigns.                                                              personal trainer
We know, we know… we keep harping on articles as a great way to build
backlinks and get targeted traffic to your sites. But let’s get real - when         to help keep you
you’re trying to develop several niche sites at once, do you have a couple          on track. That’s
of hours a day to devote to writing?
                                                                                    what your
Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on article                  Affiliate
marketing. With all the new “private label” product and article packages
being launched, for a modest monthly fee you could get access to                    Classroom
enough “raw” articles, in enough niches, to shave at least 50% off the              portfolio does
time it normally takes to produce a viral report or auto-responder series.
                                                                                    for you.”
And unlike public domain material, private label content tends to be up to
date, written in a contemporary style, and about topics that are in high
demand. All these pluses make these types of content licenses worth a
good long look. Check out the Niche Content Packages at www.niche- for the best service we’ve found so far.

                                                                                  Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
51                                                                          Affiliate Classroom, September 2005


                           If you’re worried about duplicate content, you don’t need to with most
                           private label content subscriptions. Licenses to these packages usually
   “If you have a          limit the number of users, and more importantly, require you to alter the
                           content in some significant way. As long as your fellow users play by the
   limited                 rules, you’ll all be putting your unique spin on this content - while saving
   outsourcing             yourself a lot of time.

   budget, try to          The only downside to these new private label packages is they may not
                           offer articles in your niche. These services tend to stuck with the popular,
   focus on                big money themes, and only cover a few different topics a month. If you
   outsourcing two         really need unique content on, say, Amish quilts, you may need to bite the
                           bullet and hire a writer. Speaking of which...
   specific types
   of tasks: the           Tip #5 - Outsource as much as possible, especially the stuff you
   ones that eat           tend to do slowly or procrastinate about.
                           Finding freelance talent is getting easier and easier these days, thanks to
   up the most of          sites like,,, Elance,com,
   your time, and, and And those are just some of
                           the better-known freelance sites out there. While outsourcing can have its
   the ones you            ups and downs, it’s an extremely valuable strategy if you use it wisely.
   tend to keep
                           If you have a limited outsourcing budget - and who doesn’t - try to focus
   putting off.”           on outsourcing two specific types of tasks: the ones that eat up the most
                           of your time, and the ones you tend to keep putting off!

                           For example, let’s say you hate putting up blogs and tend to keep pushing
                           that task off to the side. That’s definitely a task you should outsource. It
                           doesn’t matter that setting up blogs is simple for you and only takes 10
                           minutes - if you hate it and put it off, then it’s not getting done no matter
                           how easy or quick it is!

                           So get the domains for all the blogs you need, make a list of the
                           customizations you want done… and outsource. Better yet, set up 10 or
                           20 domains or subdomains for all your blogs, then outsource in groups of
                           10 or 20 at a time. This makes good headway on the project and gets it
                           out of the way. And more importantly, you now have those blogs at your
                           fingertips and can USE them to get indexed.

                           Similarly, outsource tasks that you may like and even be good at, but
                           can’t do very quickly. For example, you may love playing around with
                           graphics in PhotoShop, and get a big kick out of designing gorgeous
                           headers and logos for all your sites. But if you also get so lost in the fun
                           that you spend a full day creating just one header, it’s really time to let go
                           of this task and outsource it.

                           ‘Tis the season for new niches, new upsells, new JVs… and new ways to
                           profit from your affiliate business. But don’t forget to add some balance to
                           your life. Take at least a little time for family, friends, hobbies - and to
                           contemplate the things money can’t buy. Enjoy it all - the frantic times and
                           the quiet times - and you’ll find your affiliate business will reward you
                           emotionally as well as financially.
                                                                            Affiliate Classroom, September 2005
52                                                                                 Affiliate Classroom, September 2005

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