Recently, I attended the first ever Affiliate Summit Meetup Day. Affiliate Summit recently launched a nation wide circuit of meetups to bring affiliate marketers together in local networking and learning groups.
The meetups are currently held in Orlando, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Denver, Baltimore, Melbourne, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and my home-town, Austin. The Austin meetup, featured a presentation by Shawn Collins (@affiliatetip) entitled “Affiliate Marketing for Newbies”. In the presentation Shawn laid out seven things you should focus on when building a new affiliate website.
Picking a Topic
Shawn recommended that you pick a topic you’re passionate about. He warned that picking “Flavor of the Day” topics for your site in response to Internet trends can lead to a faltering commitment on your part. Stick with things you’re passionate about and you’ll be more likely to dedicate the time and energy you’ll need to in order to be successful.
Find Your Voice
When picking your writing style, Shawn advised to use your own voice. Don’t try to be an award winning journalist. You’re you, write like it. He also advocated the use of editorial calendars so you’ll have a clear plan about the type of content you’re going to create. This can avoid time wasted on aimlessly wondering about what you’re going to write about next.
Choosing a Domain Name
So you’ve been pouring over your domain tool for days with your thesaurus frayed at the edges trying to come up with the perfect domain. Oops. According to Shawn, you should be spending no more than 20 minutes picking the domain name. With Matt Cutts coming out and saying that keywords in the domain will be “less helpful” in the future, this advice holds some weight.
I personally like to do a US trademark search when I’m picking a domain name, just to see if I can avoid any trademark entanglements down the road.
Shawn gave a plug for his favorite shared hosting provider BlueHost and his favorite dedicated server host Liquid Web. Everyone has their favorite hosts, but I’m sure Shawn has some interesting battle stories that led him to these recommendations.
Driving customers to his websites isn’t good enough for Shawn. He’s a fan of promoting and sending out newsletters to website visitors. His service-of-choice for automatically generating newsletters from website content is Aweber.
Affiliate marketing can be a bit of a waiting game, which is why Shawn stressed this point most of all. He reminded everyone to build content first and not focus on monetizing right away.
When picking ads, pick the ads that are most relevant and not the most lucrative. If you have a site about German Sheppards you probably don’t need that weight loss offer do you?
In addition to picking the right offers to run on your site, Shawn said to test, test test and not to expect to earn money from your site for months. As with most things in life, being successful at affiliate marketing takes hard work and patience.
Where to Find Affiliate Programs
Shawn’s main advice here was to Google the keywords covering the topic of your site and add the word “affiliate program”. In addition to this, publishers often use affiliate network listings, directories, conferences and a whole host of other methods to find affiliate offers in their niche.
About the Austin Meetup
The crowd at the Austin meetup was a healthy mix of affiliate marketers, affiliate advertisers and all around online marketing geeks. Brett Tabke was in attendance and even jumped in to help shed some light on a few SEO questions from the audience.
With such a vibrant meetup community in Austin, the bar was high for Affiliate Summit’s first Meetup Day, but the organization was good and the audience was smart and interactive.