Can’t I be an Internet Affiliate without a website?

Well, yes. There are actually ways to do Internet Marketing without the need for an actual website. However, there are a few arguments why I would not do that before I give you some ideas floating around about this topic.

Here is why you should have your own website:

Potential Returning Readers

In most cases, having a website gives you a great chance of having returning readers. If your content is felt as being worth the read, there is no reason for someone to come once, read one of your posts from top to bottom and then just leave forever.

I know I don’t often return to a website, but when something really piques my interest, I make notes of it, somehow. Add it to my bookmarks, in a file in a specific directory, etc. This way, I get the necessary data to return to the site.

My websites that are not blogs about one very specific subject (i.e. Niche Websites), do not get very many people returning. For example, I have a technical website called The Linux Page where I talk about all sorts of technical problems I encounter and, in most cases, enter the solution on the same page (like a question/answer website). The problem of that website is that nearly every page is about something quite different.

Yes. I have quite a few pages about certain topics such as Microsoft Access or Networking and Hackers. But still, many pages are just about such varying subjects that it’s difficult to get a readership.

Potential Signups

Although not mandatory by any means, it is possible to get people to signup to receive emails about your subject.

For example, if you have a Website about Astronomy, you may be writing at least one article a month that you want to share with your users. That’s 12 chances to get these users to come back to your website and read other posts and possibly click on your Internet Affiliate links.

Your email should not only include the main article you think is worth reading because it talks about something new in your subject, such as the fact that we actually have many black holes at the center of our galaxy, not just one or two, and you can include a few others at the bottom and a sidebar with possibly a product review or the latest photos of the sky you took in this last month. Things that will incite people to click on your links and end up on your website.

It is most often not easy to get signups from people who visit a place just once and end up buying a product from you. They are likely to quickly unsubscribe because the only thing you will be able to do is to sell them more and more things instead of building a relationship that includes a way to share your knowledge with them.

Potential Sharing

I think that the potential for sharing is much greater if you have a website with content of interest. Frankly, if you just have a quick ad somewhere that gives people a way to purchase one product and voilà, chances are, that’s going to be limited to just that.

A page like this one, on the other hand, can be shared over and over again. Over time, this increases the value of my website much more than having a few quick sales and having a high-value website is a great way to having more hits and thus more sales that last longer.

The only content I’ve seen shared when someone just purchased something is when they absolutely have to brag about what they just purchased. Not what I’d call a good method of increasing sales. Oh and those pyramid schemes too (a.k.a. Multi-Level Marketing/MLM). That works great if you’re into that sort of thing. Personally, I don’t like MLM. I have looked into it and I just can’t resolve myself to do that type of sales and marketing.

Why I Removed AddThis, though

I had AddThis installed on my websites. This plugin adds social media buttons for easy sharing on pages. It makes it really easy to share, but the truth is that my visitors never used them. I’ve see a very few people saying that they had a positive experience with those.

The truth is that a really good post that is worth sharing will automatically be shared. The users who have enough influence to make a difference know how to do that anyway. They go to their browser location bar, do a Copy, go to their social media account and paste the URL there. Done.

There are several reasons why this is better than using a service like AddThis. A direct link has much more power. Yes, the link is going to be transformed by Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. but that shortening is considered as being neutral by those services. The link is still viewed as a direct link if it doesn’t go through yet another service such as AddThis. i.e. reducing the number of hops by one is good for SEO ranking and social services give a higher rank (as in: are more likely to show your link) when you offer a direct link in posts.

Another drawback from the different social media buttons is that they tend to track what people do by creating a cookie and their links are also used to track clicks. This is frown upon in the European Union (see my post [to be] about the GDPR). Therefore, you may end up limiting your website visitors dramatically if many of your visitors are usually from Europe.

All of that being said, for some type of websites, sharing buttons work extremely well. I’ve seen really high numbers of shares on news websites, for example. For a Niche Website, though, I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. Plus, on a smart phone, I had the problem of having a “We use Cookies” + “AddThis buttons” simultaneously. Not only that, if you want to allow the user to avoid cookies, that would mean avoiding the AddThis buttons altogether too. Such a feature is not yet available out of the box.

What should I do if I wanted to try AddThis anyway?

So, as I mentioned above, some people use services like AddThis with success. After all, this offers a really easy way for your visitors to share your pages. You’ll notice that not that many people use it, but once in a while, it can create a really nice little spike of traffic when it happens, always worth the effort since you just have to install that one plugin and forget about it.

To install AddThis on your own WordPress website, go to Plugins » Add New and then do a search for Share Buttons by AddThis. This gives you access to all the feature offered by AddThis. Especially, you can create various settings in your AddThis account to define how and where the buttons should be shown and whether they should track clicks.

If nothing else, having the buttons can help you to share your posts quickly. However, remember that all social media websites prefer to get originals and thus direct links to your pages. They give more weight to such links. So still consider going to each one of your accounts and post the link with an additional small description. Also avoid the Copy & Paste of that extra description. Be original on all accounts and it will increase the flow. On the other hand, if you’re not a strong influencer, your posts will probably not be seen by that many people. So don’t spend too much time doing such. It’s a good idea to have such because it increases your backlinks, albeit with a “nofollow”, but Google still takes those in account as expected.

Here are a few counter-arguments:

Sales and Choices

One thing that is always difficult is to decide between offering a choice between multiple articles or forcing the sale to one single product. One big problem when you offer to someone to make a choice is that they may no take their decision and you just lose the sale.

Your website is likely to offer choices.

A stealth sale process sending people to one page with one specific product, which may have many bells and whistles—bonuses, can be much more effective to make a sale. However,  you need quite a bit of traffic for that to succeed. In most cases, you can get 1% to 3%. The higher only if somehow your traffic is really well targeted.

So this is definitely an argument against your website.

At the same time, if you lose the sale on a stealth sale process you sure will never see that person again. On your website, he may have a hard time on his first visit, the second time he comes by, he may just go for it.

I personally prefer a softer sales process. A process where I don’t have someone behind my back begging me to take my credit card out and pay him $5,000 to see what’s inside… If I can take my time to decide to enter or not, I think it’s more valuable. I may lose the special 50% off, though. Oh well…

Here I think you have to decide for your self which method you like best to decide whether this is a pro or a con for having your own website.

Time Is an Investment

It takes time to build a good website. Especially, you need good fat content.

The costs to get your own website are so small now a day, that you should not really consider that as a show stopper. For example, Bluehost offers really cheap websites include your very own domain name which can get you started in no time… well, the website will be up and running in less than a day (if you know what you’re doing, 1h top).

In comparison, to type 30+ long posts of 2,000+ words on that website, how long is that going to take you? For me, I can generally write one good researched post in about one day. So 30 posts it takes me about 30 days. For many people, this is simply not tolerable!

The solution to that problem is to use advertising or have a strong presence on social media. However, I personally see that as a bigger gamble as there is no guarantee that your investment (in ads and potentially products) will result in sales and a positive Return On Investment (ROI). That being said, many have succeeded in this field and apparently for them it’s easy… If you understand the sales process well, this may be a really good way for you to move forward. You can invest $100, generate $200 in sales, you doubled your money! Rinse and Repeat! This is one of the best investment compared to the stock market (i.e. it generally takes months if not years to double your money on the stock market.)

Maintenance is Time-Consuming

Clearly, if you have a website, you want to maintain it so it continues to work. If you just leave it alone, it’s not going to do anything for you and if it costs you some money to have it, you should also maintain it.

Again, this is mainly time-consuming. That being said, I think that if you can get at a high enough level where you can afford paying someone to do the maintenance for you, that problem is already resolved.

Maintenance includes three main things for a website:

(1) On the technical side, it means keeping your website up to date. WordPress itself automatically updates itself by default. Although you can turn off the option, I suggest you don’t. But that’s not time-consuming at all. Plugins, though, are not automatically updated. You have to come to your dashboard and click on a few buttons. Unless you have private modules (paid for and not allowing automatic updates) then it actually becomes a real pain.

(2) On the content side, you need to add new content once in a while to kick your website back on the road of being on the Google front page for important searches in your market. This is important, although if you have a real niche without much if any competition, it won’t matter as much. However, real niches are generally very narrow and don’t have that many followers (if they had, you’d get tons of competition, like my website here, the Internet Affiliate market definitely very crowded.)

(3) On the link/ads side, you need to make sure your affiliate links continue to work and that if you get over 100,000 users on your website, adding ads can increase your bottom line. This is great, but in most cases, ads just don’t make it magically to your website. The provider you have may disappear. Their ads may stop performing. There could be other problems too. Some legalize changed and you need to update your disclaimer or your privacy policy and until then the ads stop working.

Again, this mainly comes down to the amount of time you have to handle your website. If all of those points sound like terrible chores to you, then this is probably the worst you could do: have a website!

Traffic (or lack thereof)

Website or not, it’s not easy to start getting traffic. Traffic is limited and you have to compete for it. Unless you have a really good niche and good posts that are attractive, on trend, etc. no one is going to come to your website.

Simple. It can take a long time to learn how to make a website that Search Engines like and send traffic to. The truth is that within about 6 months you should start seeing traffic coming in. Most people do not have that kind of patience, though. However, after a while, a website is likely to become unstoppable. In other words, traffic continues to pour in without you having to learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That’s when you start to rip off the true benefits. That being said, getting started without any returns for a long while can be tedious.

In other words, once you feel comfortable with making money from videos, creating a website become pretty easy for you, since you can hire someone to do it all for you (you already don’t have to install any code, but once you have an up and running website and an income, you can use your income to pay someone to write the website content for you!)

The No Website Strategy

There are two I know of that seem to work well these days: YouTube and Instagram.

YouTube

I’m sure you heard about YouTube. You can create videos and have your affiliate links near the top of your description and in the video as clickable areas. These clickable areas make for an interactive video, in a way.

Note, however, that some companies may not allow you to have links from a YouTube video to their pages. Amazon, for example, wants all the links to be accessible by their spiders (they call those links: Public Links.) Having an Amazon link on YouTube is therefore not allowed. Actually, Amazon clearly says that the links have to be on your website. So I would not attempt that one.

As a result, you want to find companies that clearly allow you to use your affiliate links on a platform such as YouTube.

YouTube videos can go viral, however, seriously, I would not count on that. It not likely that your video will go viral. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but the likelihood is low.

Your first step is to decide on the Niche Channel for your YouTube videos. This will be in link with the type of products you want to sell. On such a channel you definitely do not want to mix multiple niches together. You may want to check out my page about your Niche Website Selection. The process is the same for a Niche Channel on YouTube.

Some of the people who talk about this type of marketing say you can distinguish different type of channels:

  • Product Review Channel—make sure you can get products to review, it is important to understand that you’re going to have to display said products in your videos
  • App Review Channel—a channel that talks about smartphone apps. You probably want to have at least an iPhone and an Android; remember, though that people with an iPhone are much more likely to purchase an app. even though the market is much narrower you are more likely to get money from those users, in many cases, though, some companies pay you $0.50 to $1 per person who installs an app. (however, this has gone bad with Google, I do not recommend such for Android because it actually can badly hurt the company that is trying to get more subscribers.)
  • Software Review Channel—talk about the software you test, of course, choose software that offer Internet Affiliate links

Here are five steps you want to follow to get good YouTube videos with Internet Affiliate links:

Select Good Keywords

There are many things to talk about in regard to keywords. Yours, when uploading a YouTube video, must be in the title. Do some research on YouTube, see what comes up when you search various things similar to what your video is going to talk about. These are likely your keywords.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You want to do this search before you create the video so the video is dead on what people are currently interested in and thus will be searching and will be watching and your video is not unlikely to be one of those that they watch.

Another method is to go to Google Trends and see what they say in regard to your selected keywords. Are they on trend. If yes, then these are good choices. If not, try pushing your search further.

I’m definitely simplifying here.

Hook Your Viewers

One very important aspect of your video is to get your viewers hooked. At the very beginning of your video, you must talk about what your video is going to bring to your viewers. If they like it, they are likely to stick until the end and this is golden. YouTube is all about showing (promoting) videos that people watch from start to finish. This is a great benefit to them because that means the user will stay on the site longer and possible click on ads and they (and their affiliates) make a little money out of that.

Remember that on YouTube one of the most important things that can happen for you is to get many views on your videos.

Have a good Thumbnail

Your video thumbnail is a small image that people see when they go to YouTube. If it looks appealing, they are likely to click on it. However, make sure that you use a picture that reflects the contents of the video. If you expect people to subscribe to your channel, don’t lie to them up front.

Channel Calls to Action

What also brings more viewers to your channel is having more subscribers and likes.

Now, you may not believe me, but if you don’t ask for people to subscribe and like your videos, it’s likely that they will pass. We all know we can click on those buttons but we most often ignore them.

With a call to action in your video, you magically increase both those numbers. Many will ask at the beginning and once again at the end. Make sure to ask after the hook. You don’t want to ask up front without first talking about having some value in your video.

Isn’t it dirty to ask people to subscribe and like my videos?

That’s up to you to decide. How many people did you block because they asked you kindly to subscribe to their channel? Did it upset you and you ended up click the Dislike button when this dude asked you to like his video? There you go. (Hey, you don’t have to tell me, be truthful to yourself, okay?)

Internet Affiliate Calls to Action

Of course, your video is going to talk about something that you want your viewers to purchase so you better have a few links or even just one link—remember, eliminate choice in a sales process, so one link is really all you need. By giving a choice to people they won’t be able to decide what to select and you are more likely to lose sales as a result.

I won’t go into more details about this one. It’s not my domain (at least I’m not interested in it.) However, this is certainly the crux of your YouTube strategy as an Internet Affiliate. You need to have a link to the product you want your affiliates to purchase.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:

Your Links must come with a disclaimer, not only the fact that you are going to make money when they purchase the service or product, but also the usual disclaimers such as “may not work for you” if you are offering a marketing course.

However, for people to start clicking on that link of your (especially in the description) you must have a video which is loaded with good content. If you are doing a product review and have a sleepy voice, it’s not going to be very exciting to the viewers. You need to be excited about what you are testing even if you think it’s not as good as you’d hope. If you’re happy and are smiling, more people are likely to purchase. Obviously, some products (especially expensive ones) warrant seriousness so not too much smiling, but a positive attitude when doing sales is the most important part.

The video must give something to people who are going to watch. Be it a good laugh or a real view of what the product can do for them.

Also, in sales, it is often that your closing is repeated at least 3 times and it is customary to mention very early on what the deal you are going to talk about is (i.e. your video agenda.) That way people who really are interested stick around and you don’t waste other people’s time.

Note that the possibility to purchase the product or service should be and remain 100% the choice of the listener and not something they should be forced into. Be smooth.

Instagram

I think this one is more complicated.

Processes to get customers from InstagramInstagram is peculiar in the way it works and the current solutions can be viewed as being somewhat negative. For example, to get sales on Instagram, you need to get followers and this is done using robots.

The way it works is very similar to what we have on Twitter. You (the robot really) start by following someone. That someone is likely to follow you back. You can then unfollow the person since they fell into your trap. This is an important step since you can only follow so many people (contrary to Twitter, there is a limit to the  number of followers you can get on Instagram, like on Facebook.)

From there, you hope that your new friends follow your only link (Instagram is limited that way!) That link sends your friends to a landing page where you want to collect at least their email. This page should talk about a certain offer / added value. Once they registered, you send them to your affiliate page.

With the email address, you also set up a campaign which allows you to send additional links to your new subscriber friends. These links are also some of your affiliate links. So whenever one of these friends purchase a product or service following your links, you get a commission.

Note that this is probably more complicated than the YouTube offer above, although in reality, at some point you will probably want a similar setup to get email addresses and build your mailing list in order to make money from it.

This solution does not require a website, but you need to have a robot and a landing page and an email responder which means things that in most cases, aren’t free (in case you wanted something totally free) and also it requires some work too. The responder needs to have some 12 emails or more and the landing page is a very marketing based type of page so you want to know what you are doing there too.

That being said, once all is in place, it’s automatic and you can just wait for the returns to fill your wallet.

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