How to Sell Products Online as an Affiliate

how to sell products onlineAfter my last post, I received an email from Ralph with a question about how to sell products online as an affiliate - specifically physical products through networks like Commission Junction and Linkshare...

Lynn,
I read your wonderful post about the life of a super affiliate - It was great and I know you put in long hours and hard work to get to this stage.

Lynn, I am a newbie and would like to know when you promote affiliate products from LinkShare and Commission Junction - Do you build a landing/sales page and market it by writing articles with a link back to the landing page? I am trying to understand the best way to get started marketing physical products.

Thank you,
Ralph

Hi Ralph,

The process of selling anything online as an Affiliate is pretty simple. People get online to search for products, information, deals, to get help with their buying decision, etc. Your job as an Affiliate is to add value to that process.

how to sell products online

First you have to figure out what your buyers are searching for, and where they are searching. Are they the type to ask peer groups for recommendations? Do they search on Google? Are they on Facebook or Twitter?

What are they asking and talking about online? The first place to start is with traditional search. You find out which keyword phrases your market is using, and you target those keyword phrases with your product recommendations.

How to Sell Products Online

What you're asking is how you frame those recommendations, and how you set up the pages that have your affiliate link to the product(s) you want to sell.

The key is to look at each keyword phrase you are targeting, and come up with a strong message to market match for that search. Consider what they are really searching for, and how you can offer them the ideal solution. Are they looking for information, a specific solution to a problem, reviews/comparisons, pricing or deals?

Whatever they are searching for, specifically, that's what you want to deliver.

It's easiest to just ignore all the internet marketing terminology (landing page, mini site, authority site, flycatcher page, etc) and instead consider how you can best serve that market. This concept is easily lost if you get sidetracked by all of the buzz words and trends, but it's the key to good conversion rates.

In the Affiliate Site Options post I shared some specific examples of various types of affiliate sites. Look those over to get a better idea of ways you can serve your market. Some of them are ecommerce-style sites that look more like an online store, but send the visitor to the merchant (via an affiliate link) to checkout and purchase the featured product. Others are blogs or informational sites that answer questions and lead into a call-to-action.

To answer your question more specifically, I don't generally create a one-page promotion as an affiliate. I create a blog or website around a market or topic, and use that to recommend products. I never create an affiliate site around a specific product, but around the topic.

For example, instead creating an affiliate site around "brinkman grills" or "weber grills", I might create an affiliate site like GrillDominator.com - which is currently available, by the way - that includes all grill types (gas, smoker, charcoal), reviews and comparisons, instructions & products needed to build your own grill, etc.

I prefer to build an authority site on a topic, and then make recommendations on the keyword level. Meaning each page of the site serves it's own purpose, and leads the visitor into a specific call-to-action that matches the search that brought them there.

Article Marketing is something that I use for inbound links, often to specific pages on my affiliate site - which is called deep linking. It's very effective, but it is just one of my marketing strategies in the overall marketing plan.

In the GrillDominator.com example I gave above, I would use grill recipes that get searched frequently as content for my articles. They are informational searches (vs commercial searches) but highly relevant to the site topic... and so great for a source of quality inbound links.

The more we talk about it, the more complicated it sounds. But it really just boils down to common sense marketing, and figuring out how you can best serve your market. Get in the shoes of your ideal visitor every time you analyze a keyword phrase. Consider what you would be looking for if you were searching that phrase yourself - and create that. Your market will thank you for it. Everyone is sick of wading through junk to get to the results they're actually looking for...

I hope this answers your question. If not, or you have more questions, feel free to ask below. That goes for anyone reading along, of course. πŸ˜‰

Best,

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn’s unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews…moreΒ»

Discussion

  1. I am always all ears when you talk about promoting physical products, because I have all these ideas brewing in the back of my mind for affiliate sites that I want to create. One of these days soon I need to sit down and narrow it down to one thing and start there.

    • Almost all of my niche affiliate sites revolve around physical products. From dart supplies, to patio furniture, to Elvis bobbleheads (lol). People shop online. I shop online. And physical products are easier to sell than info products in my opinion...

      • Steve Balliett says:

        Hi Lynn,

        That was a very thought provoking statement you made in that "physical products are easier to sell than info products".

        I read that somewhere else from another marketer. I believe it was Matt Carter, if I'm not mistaken.

        How can you write a review about physical products if you cannot afford to buy them?

        This is a little confusing. When I was doing offline cold-calling B2B sales, I learned that you have to become a product of your product, by using that product to develop a more convincing testimonial.

        Perhaps you could clarify this for all of us newbies.

        Thank you. = )

        • You don't. And you won't necessarily need a product review to sell every type of product. You can do your research though and share that data with your visitors. For example, where they can get the best deal or free shipping on that product. You can compare specs between two similar products and point out the strengths and weaknesses of each. You can share a general analysis of consumer reviews.

          You can also elicit reviews from consumers and even host contests. Off-site, you can ask on sites like Yahoo! Answers and MyLot.com and request permission to reprint their responses.

          Of course personal reviews and case studies are going to convert better, but they aren't always practical. Sometimes the best way to serve your market is to give them the latest deals, or price comparisons (see link below)...

  2. Lynn,

    I love the way you explain this process for Ralph.

    I agree with you about the buzzwords and hype that get people all mixed up about what to do.

    I always tell people that the most important thing you can do is to learn to be effective at converting traffic.

    Traffic without conversions means nothing. You can get all the traffic you want, but can you convert it?

    Like you mentioned in the post, adding value and understanding the intent of the consumer will increase you conversions and the ability to make money.

    By the way, I am getting hooked on your content! Hopefully I can catch you next time you are in the Atlanta area so we can connect.

    Tommie

  3. Lynn,
    an other post that I can point my better half to, so she understand better why i spend so much time on this. Very good explanation on having a broader niche site compared to product specific niche site - thanks.

    Btw, do you do the graphics like used in this post by yourself or where do you get them from?

  4. Clare Swindlehurst says:

    That's a very valid point @FreeSampleMan - if we were trading on the stock market we wouldn't dream of putting all our money into one company. I think the same is true in IM - it's all about spreading the risk so that your business doesn't disappear if something happens to one of your "suppliers". Could be FTC shutting down the supplement industry - could be your highly marketed clickbank product owner withdrawing their product.

    • I agree with you both, but you want to start out with one project and take that project all the way from start to profit. Once that project is complete, automated, and in maintenance mode... then you start the next project in the same way. Over time you'll build a small, manageable portfolio of sites/businesses that you can maintain part-time, which is ideal.

      Just don't try to start 3 projects at once. It's chaos, and failure in the making! πŸ˜‰

      • tracey durrani says:

        I am so confused and do not know where to begin. I thought I wanted to do an ebook, then I started a blog, now I am interested in affiliate marketing! I was thinking to do all three from my blog, is this possible? How do I decide. I have very little budget and need cash YESTERDAY lol. Any advice would be amazing.
        Tracey

        • Steve Balliett says:

          Hi Tracey,

          I'm sure Lynn would agree with this statement.

          ==> One Thing At A Time <==

          Lynn just mentioned that we should take one thing from Start to Profit.

          I know what you are going through. I am in the same boat with you.

          I use FREE everything I can from using FREE Linux Mandriva operating system on my desktop computer, to FREE WordPress Theme, to Open-Sourced Softwares.

          Stay focused. Find a mentor. Stick with them. Get training. Do Google research too. Constantly educate yourself on everything you do in your business.

          I virtually have a tight budget to run my hosting, domains and autoresponder. Everything else I use for FREE.

          Learn one thing at a time. Don't get overwhelmed. I did at first. I'm not so much as I was 4 years ago.

          Internet Marketing is an education. It takes a while to learn and get up to speed just like any new job.

          I should know. I've had more jobs than my fingers and toes over the years.

          Stay focused, keep learning and give yourself time to process what you are learning.

          I know all about this. I have ADHD. So it takes me a long time to process this Internet Marketing information.

          You can do it. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed.

          Take a deep breath and keep on doing your Google research when you have questions that come to mind.

  5. Thank you for yet another well explained post.
    What I took away from this is that if I satisfy the customers needs the form will take shape by itself.

    • Right. It's a simple mindset shift, really. Instead of looking at a project from the position of "how can I get rich on this?" you look at it asking "how can I best serve this market?". Truly serving a market is where the profit is.

  6. >>... deep linking. It’s very effective ...<<
    An added advantage to directing the visitor to a very targeted place is that the SE spiders get deep into your site for indexing.

    • That's true. You want deep links into your site, and you also want to deep link to specific pages/products in your recommendations for higher conversion rates.

  7. Matthew Zinda says:

    Lynn-

    You are a genius.

    All of the people that I would consider successful, in any business, have one piece of advice in common. DELIVER VALUE.

    People hate salesmen, but they flock towards helpful people, who have their best interest in mind.

    Most people understand this concept, but many of those people don't actually implement it. Unless you actually implement this advice, you will be spinning your wheels, and working way harder than you have to, actually doing more harm than good to your business.

    Delivering value is the common denominator in the equation for success.

    Thank You-

    Matthew Zinda

  8. Matthew Zinda says:

    Lynn-

    I'm sorry to post twice, but I forgot to mention the other reason why you are a genius.

    Telling people how to get a link back to their site by putting their keywords in their name, creating an anchor text, is a piece of work, and I mean in a good way.

    I like to see the good guys, and gals, win.

    Thank You-

    Matthew Zinda

  9. Sherie Smith says:

    Lynn, here's another example of your easy to understand training. Most of us get bogged down trying figuring out how much of our important information to include in our articles. Instead, your idea to use grill recipes is a simple but effective solution. Works perfect for this theme example and you would save all the 'goody' for your actual site pages.

    • This is a huge point - about how/where to use informational content that doesn't generally convert. It's perfect for that all-important link building! You can use this type of content as a thread in a niche forum, on a Squidoo lens or blogger blog, in article marketing, guest blogging, etc.

      Some informational content can convert to a sale, and other types are not targeting potential buyers at all. All it takes is a little common sense to figure out how to best use & place your content to get the most out of it...

  10. Kathlene says:

    Thank you Lynn. I have been curious about promoting only one affiliate product over doing a broad landscape as you suggest. Not putting all of your eggs in one basket is good and not all products are created the same. Give the customer a chance to look over several to see what will suit their needs the best. Even Wally World has more than one type of water filter or bicycle.

    Thanks again.

    • This is true as the bigger picture, but you also don't want to offer too many options in any one place. Too many options will confuse the visitor and decrease the conversion rate. So on the page level, you want to have a very clear call-to-action that specifically matches the search term that page is optimized for.

      The main point with an affiliate site is to add value to the process, and to help your ideal visitor make their buying decision quickly & easily.

  11. I appreciate the fact that you actually answered the question, and gave valuable thoughts on actually doing affiliate marketing. It seems far too many of these blogs I read give a "hire me to show you how" answer.

  12. Keith Davis says:

    Hi Lynn
    Good to hear you say...

    "I never create an affiliate site around a specific product, but around the topic."

    I've got my site created around a topic i.e. public speaking, but now I have to find a product or products.

    Any tips on finding products?

  13. I think this is the secret to Lynn's success..."It’s easiest to just ignore all the internet marketing terminology (landing page, mini site, authority site, flycatcher page, etc) and instead consider how you can best serve that market."

  14. Your affiliate site options post was a biggie for me. I have a couple of affiliate sites and some are doing great while others fail miserably. The "bad" ones are mostly without any kind of direction. Just set up quickly and then I already started link building.

    I like the idea of creating a authority site instead of some crappy site with just a few pages. Why do people trust those sites anyways?

    Thanks for another great article

  15. Hi Lynn;

    Do you have any examples of how an e-commerce style affiliate site should/can look? Particularly using the WordPress platform? I've been trying to come up with something for months but I'm stumped on how to set up the structure of the site, a "add to cart" page, etc.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Kenni,

      You won't need a shopping cart or Add To Cart page on an affiliate site, since you are sending visitors to the product/checkout page on the merchant's site through your affiliate link.

      I do have some examples in this post:
      http://www.clicknewz.com/2168/affiliate-site-options-continued/

      WordPress is simply a CMS (content management system) or means of creating a site just like anything else - Dreamweaver, XSitePro, etc. Do a search for sites in your niche and make note of the elements you like and want. Like top navigation, a left sidebar, a header graphic, etc. Then find a WordPress theme that has those elements.

  16. Mary Chamberlain says:

    Lynn,
    Just wanted to say how incredible this is. It seems this is THE place to come for newbie info. Thank you soooo much.

  17. I think this sentence sums it all up, "The more we talk about it, the more complicated it sounds." That is what held me up for so very long. The more I read, the more confused I became. Then one day I decided I was done reading. I was going to get started and figure it out from there.

    • One of my tricks is to implement as I learn. I only study things I need to learn to accomplish what I am working on right now. And I take action and DO what I learned. Right then and there.

      Otherwise you could spend years learning... Which unfortunately doesn't pay!

  18. Elizabeth Ashe says:

    Lynn you broke it down this time girl! I have a product site that is next up on my list after finish my other niche site, can't wait to get started on that.

    Luv your info, you are always an inspiration every time I read your posts.

  19. Boomer54 Mark says:

    Great post again! You are spot on to focus one site at a time, as they say go an inch wide and a mile deep and crush the vertical. Get the site on just maintanence mode then move to the next vertical.

    Also, ask four questions:
    1.What services or recources do my readers need?
    2.What problems need solving?
    3.What items of content would they appreciate?
    4.What additional value can I add?

    I wanted to share of a tool that has helped me and is from Michal Campbell of DynamicMedia.com.

    Wordtracker Question Tool: http://labs.wordtracker.com/keyword-questions

    Put in your vertical and the most asked questions will appear. It is a great starting point.

    Also,if you are interested in SEO, he has a great site that is just all info about this subject and how to get ranked quickly for long tail keywords. http://www.jigglingtheweb.com.

    Thanks again for the great blog post and letting me share.

    Boomer54 Mark

  20. Hi lynn,
    I am new in affiliate marketing. I didn't know more about Affiliate before i read your articles about it. You have shared very nice informative and descriptive article that will help me to learn affiliate marketing. Thanks for this post.

  21. Arafat Hossain Piyada says:

    Due to you, I'm on the way to publish a site which depend on affiliated product. As I'm in the learning stage in this market all your tips is just invaluable for me; I love to store them in my human hard disk permanently.

  22. Hi Lynn and everybody.
    I am trying to enter into this, I've been reading about affiliate marketing and I read about clickbank , etc. But how -if I got a niche- can promote books but also products ... ? Also do you have a kind of a path that I can follow to put one website to start promoting ... I'll appreciate your help ... please reply to my email

  23. Knowledge Worth Knowing says:

    I like the idea of creating an entire website after your affiliate product. That takes a ton of work but I believe it seperates the men from the boys. Successful affiliate marketing takes more work than a lot of people are willing to put into it. Lynn is successful because she works hard and of course she knows marketing strategies, but those strategies really aren't that difficult to learn. Most people use them, but to what extent. If people make no money for 5-6months they give up. If only they would stick with it a few more months.

  24. Hi Lynn,

    I have read so much lately about the importance of cloaking affiliate links and I am wondering what you do on your niche sites? Do you feel it is or is not necessary?

    Thanks!

  25. LaTara Ham-Ying says:

    Ok I just need to say that reading your content on affiliate marketing has made it so much easier. I gave up a few years ago.

    But I have a domain I purchased that is geared towards helping people learn ways to be frugal and healthy. I go to the grocery stores and see so many people shopping horribly for their families because they think you can't shop smart and be healthy. I have been doing it for over 8 years now so I know that you can!

    I am ready to move forward with all because of reading your content. I already had my marketing in mind but was unsure about it.

    Question:

    I am considering not using my real name on the site, but a pen name so as not to confuse people since I have worked hard to develop my brand. Do you think it is ethical to have a pen name on an affiliate site?

    Hope I am making sense!

    • Of course it's ethical. I use pen names all the time. Authors have been doing it for ages - well before the Internet was even on the scene.

      • LaTara Ham-Ying says:

        LOL, funny thing is that I sorta answered my own question once I hit submit. I thought about book authors and then said DUH πŸ™‚

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