Mei Ling’s BA in Affiliate Marketing – Part 2 – What is Affiliate Marketing?
May 18th, 2009 by estreet

Will Martin-Gill of the eBay Partner Network writes:

affiliate marketing — or paying online publishers to drive quality traffic to a company’s Web site based on the purchases and revenue they help generate — has quietly grown into a $6 billion+ industry. Jupiter Research expects affiliate marketing to grow another 13% year-over-year through 2012.

There is an overwhelming amount of niche markets and techniques used by Affiliate Marketers (AM). I’ve given myself a week (or two) to make sense of the mass of loudly broadcast information on AM. There are credible sources who provide AF information and tools, but it takes time to read through, process and filter out the deceptive claims of “make easy money in minutes”.

The “affiliate” part is simple: earn a commission for sending a buying customer to a destination site. Affiliates want to increase their earnings by increasing traffic to their own site and pre-selling products before sending users to the destination affiliate site. For example, posting a product review will get targeted traffic to your website and make people want to buy the product.

“Marketing” is where AM gets complicated. John Reese simply says that your assets are an email/member list and content. Marketing is the methods you choose to promote your content to your user list.

Here’s a simple checklist to understand any AF’s business model:


  1. Target audience: shoppers ready to checkout
  2. Website Content: People powered coupon codes, revenue share when people post on the site
  3. Source of traffic: Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay people to post on blogs
  4. Monetization source: retailers, Google Ads

CNET reviews:

  1. Target audience: Tech shoppers
  2. Website Content: reviews of tech products
  3. Source of traffic: Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO), inbound links
  4. Monetization source: retailers, Ads


  1. Target audience: Star watchers
  2. Website content: dishing on the stars
  3. Source of traffic: Natural SEO, inbound links
  4. Monetization: retailers, ads

As you can see, there are many practices, techniques and strategies. The simplest strategy is to promote eBay or Amazon items on a blog. The most attention grabbing AFs use hype and popularity to draw large numbers of followers who they then monetize. Then there are the quiet AFs like Kaboodle.com and MSN.com.

Now to review the Affiliate Marketing tools that I reluctantly decided to sign up for, but pledge to use without resistance. There is too much information for 1 or 2 posts, so here’s an overview.


  1. Opportunity.com ($40 per month):
    John Reese’s new site has a series of instructional videos that start at the beginner level. As I mentioned before, he starts with the most important assets for an affiliate marketer: 1. an email/member list and 2. content.

    This site is oriented to the non-technical, so it would be a good fit for eBay sellers. In fact, John says technical work takes time away from money making activities. Hmm…there is truth to that. I’m guilty of spending too much time creating features and not enough energy on marketing. But I think you need a technical solution and technical capability in order to scale your results.

    Impression: Good introduction. $40 a month is too much. But then I paid $75K for my MBA from Northwestern University. { Shrug }

  2. Shoemoney tools ($9.95 1st month, $100 per month after 1st month):
    Shoemoney provides tools for an active Affiliate Marketer to use. It’s more advanced than Opportunity.com.

    The first thing I saw under the SEO tools tab is the domain marketplace. It shows a list of unregistered domains for sale, the number of inbound links, and where the links come from (.gov, .mil, .edu). The prices are around $10-30 each but you can’t see the entire domain that you are purchasing. They show hidden domains like this: xxxshop-xxx.net. There’s no guarantee that the links actually drive traffic to the URLs for sale.

    My impression: I’m not sure if the tools are more useful than free tools yet. I have to dive in further. It would be better if they added written help text in addition to the video tutorials, but they have good support personnel.

  3. Tim Buchalka (FREE so far)
    Tim promotes his videos and tools on Twitter. The thing I like about Tim is that he doesn’t use a lot of hard-sell hype. He is simply persistent and uses positive language.
  4. SEObook.com
    This is the most cerebral of the bunch. They mostly focus on techniques to drive traffic to your site using natural search engine optimization (SEO). I follow all of their SEO advice on my site.

Next post: Domain strategies.

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