Today, I’d like to “bust” an affiliate marketing myth that’s been making the rounds since… well, since affiliate marketing started.

It goes something like this…

To be successful as an affiliate, just join any affiliate program, slap their banner ads onto a basic Web page – and presto, you’ve got an instant Web business that will make you money hand over fist!

For the record, yes, you can make a lot of money by marketing other peoples’ products on the Internet… but no, affiliate marketing is not a shortcut to instant wealth.

As with any other online business, building a successful affiliate site still requires research, planning, and – here’s that four-letter word I keep insisting on using – work.

It’s like building a house. The more solid the foundation is, the more stable the entire structure will be. So if you’re thinking of starting your own Internet business promoting affiliate products, here are four strategies you must follow to guarantee you’ll earn the maximum amount of commissions…

Strategy #1: Start by finding a niche market.

I’ve probably said this a million times, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face… Do not get started by choosing the affiliate program you want to join.

Most people who start affiliate sites make the mistake of first picking the products they want to promote, because:

  • They look like they’ll be fun to sell.
  • They think people will want them.
  • They offer the highest commissions.
  • They assume the products must be profitable, because so many other people are promoting them.

Trust me, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. You’ll end up working around the clock trying to drive qualified traffic to the site… and failing miserably. (And you’ll likely drop a hefty chunk of change on pay-per-click ads in the process.)

So do your niche market research first…

  • What are your interests?
  • Within your areas of interest, what kinds of problems are people going online to try to solve?
  • Which of these problems seem to be neglected by most of the sites out there?

Identify a group of people who are desperately trying to find something online without success – and then offer them that something. They’ll snap it up.

Strategy #2: Make sure your products are relevant and related.

Nothing frustrates me more than seeing all of those affiliate sites out there with banner ads promoting everything from cheap holiday travel to pet health insurance to steak knives to Internet marketing tips… all from the same page!

I call them “flea market” sites, and they’re a complete waste of time.

Make sure that any products you promote are closely related to your niche, and closely related to each other. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to find qualified traffic for your site, and you’ll have a heck of a time writing copy that directly relates to your visitors’ needs.

Even worse, you’ll risk hurting your credibility. Because rather than looking like someone who has the interests of your visitors in mind, and really wants to help, you’ll look like someone who is out to sell anything to make a buck.

Strategy #3: Build a strong opt-in list, then establish lasting relationships with your subscribers.

When you’re an affiliate marketer, e-mail plays a big role in your ongoing promotion efforts. So make sure you start with a strong opt-in offer containing truly useful free information that’s relevant to your visitors. Then, over time, continue to send your opt-in list even more free information.

The more you can prove to your subscribers that you’re a reliable source of useful information… the more you can train them to look forward to hearing from you… the more successful you’ll be.

Not only will you build a rapport with your subscribers, you’ll establish yourself as an expert in your field, making it easy for you to recommend your products. Which brings us to my final affiliate strategy…

Strategy #4: Personally recommend your products for maximum conversions.

If you were in the market for a new television, would you be more inclined to purchase a particular model because you saw an ad for it on TV… or because a friend that you trust recommended it?

You’d likely go with the recommendation, right?

That’s what most people would do… which is why plunking down a bunch of affiliate banners or links in a website, and then hoping that someone – anyone – will decide to click on them, is not going to make sales.

Remember, you’ve been building relationships with your customers through e-mail marketing. They trust you. They view you as an expert. So now they’re open to your opinion.

Take advantage of that to tell them about the products they should consider purchasing… and why they should own them. They’ll actually appreciate the recommendations – and, as a result, your conversion rates will soar!

While affiliate marketing isn’t the “magic bullet” that will let you enjoy instant success online, it is possible to earn substantial profits promoting other peoples’ products… if you do this:

Start by clearly defining your market. Then build an information-rich website that your audience will want to visit. Be sure to include only products that are relevant, and take advantage of your site to build your credibility and establish yourself as an expert.

At the same time, build a large list of qualified subscribers, and take advantage of e-mail marketing to both build lasting relationships and promote your products.

With the right planning and research – and a reasonable amount of effort – you’ll be well on your way to a successful website recommending affiliate products.

[Ed. Note: If you’re looking for freedom and income, you can’t do much better than starting your own business. Internet marketing expert Derek Gehl has helped thousands of people grow online businesses that generate $100,000 a year – and often much more! Learn how you can start a “hands-free” Internet business right here.

You CAN start an Internet business – or accomplish any goal you set for yourself. And with expert advice and goal-setting strategies, achieving your dreams can take as little as 15 minutes a day.]

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