How to Make Your Own Affiliate Site

1 Dec

It never fails. Everytime that I show my site to someone and tell them how
much money I have made off of it over the years, they always say “You gotta show me how to do this!”. Well, I’m tired of
wasting my breath on this subject so I’m going to write down everything that’s needed and just point people to this article
from now on.


First off, a little history may be in order. I created my site about seven years ago after a friend told me of someone he knew that was making something like $60k a year from his own
website. I checked out the website and saw that it was an affiliate site. An affiliate site is a site where there are
special links to online stores and if someone clicks on one of those links and then buys something from that store, the
site owner gets paid a percentage of the sale. It seemed easy enough to do and I knew enough about html to do it, so I
decided to give it a try.


I couldn’t afford to risk much in trying to create a new business as I didn’t have a lot of money. The only site I
had created up until then was just a free site on Geocities, so I didn’t really have any knowledge about what it took
to set up a “real” website. After doing a little research, I found out that you really didn’t need a lot of money to set
up a site and to get your own domain name. Basically if you have $150 (a year) to spare and some free time, you can create
your own online business site to make extra money with.


How much money? I can’t say that I have been able to quit my day job (yet), but I have made significant amounts of money
from my site. How significant? Some months I have made nothing. Some months I have made thousands. 2005 was my best year
ever- I made over $25,000 from my site! How much you make really all depends
on the fickle nature of the search engine gods and on how much work that you want to put into your site. Some people have made
fortunes from affiliate sites, but I assume that the ones who do have made it their life’s work and spend most of their time
working on their site, studying the search engines, and how to beat them. I put very little work into my site (and it shows),
but it has still provided me with a good deal of extra income.


Still want to know how to do it yourself? Here’s how:


Step 1 – Learn HTML


Most of the friends that I have showed my site to already knew how to make webpages with HTML. If you don’t know anything
about HTML, don’t worry; HTML is easy to learn and you don’t need to know much to get started. If you can make a simple webpage
with links on it, that’s all you really need to know to begin building your site. If you need help with this, I suggest reading a book like
HTML in Easy Steps. I’ve had good luck with the other books
in the Easy Step series. They’re small books that give you just enough info to get started without confusing you with theory and
they’re cheap- only $10.


You don’t need to spend any money for a tool to create web pages in. You can use any text editor, even Notepad works. If you do a search on Google for
“free html editor”, you’ll find lots of free tools that you can try.


Step 2 – Set Up Your Website


Ok, now that you know how to create a webpage, its time to start setting up your website. To run your website you will
need a webhost. That’s a company that hosts websites on their servers. You can get a lot of webhosting bang for your buck
if you know what to look for.


The main things that you will need to think about as you choose a webhost are: price, language support, and database
support. If you only know HTML, all you have to worry about is price. If you need support for ASP, PHP, MYSQL, etc., you
will need to do a bit more research before you make your choice.


What’s a good price for webhosting? You can pay hundreds of dollars a month for dedicated hosting, but your site will
work just as well with a webhost that costs less than $10 per month. Another thing you need to consider when comparing
the prices of the different webhosts is how much they charge to register domain names for you. This can range from free (yay!)
upwards of $20 per year.


Getting set up with on your chosen webhost should be an easy task. It usually requires no more than filling in some personal
info and your credit card number. The only hard part is picking a domain name to use for your website. Unfortunately, most
good, short names are already taken. Either make up a new word altogether or combine two or more words into a name.
That’s how I ended up with Bargainstrike as a name.


Some sites chain words together with hypens in order to gain an advantage
from search engines. An example of this would be: [http://www.buy-cars-online-cheap.com]. While this may help your search ranking
on some search engines, I would advoid naming your site like this. It’s a practice that’s likely to be penalized by Google
and others someday. Fixing a problem with a domain name problem like would not be easy to fix.


Step 3 – Register with Affiliate Companies


Affiliate companies are the middlemen between online stores and you. They provide you with the links
to different stores, record the amount of traffic and sales that your links send to those stores, and they send you
your payment for this. You really can’t run an affiliate site without registering with at least one Affiliate company as
very few major stores run their own independant affiliate program. There are lots of different ones that you can sign up
with, but there are only three major ones that you really need to registered with. They are Linkshare,
Commission Junction, and Performics. And of
these three, Linkshare is by far the most important one to belong to. At least 90% of my money comes from Linkshare links
as more major stores with affiliate programs use Linkshare than any other affiliate company.


After you have registered with an Affiliate company, you will need to sign up with the companies that you would like
to affiliate with. This can be tricky expecially when you are just getting started. Some companies check out each applicant
by hand to make sure that your site meets their standards. Since your website isn’t even built yet, you will get rejected
by these companies. The good news is that there are a lot of companies who automatically accept all applicants without
checking anything. These are the ones that you are looking for at this point in the game. Later, when your site is actually
running and getting some traffic, come back and try registering for the ones who declined your application before.


After you get accepted into a company’s affiliate program you can then get the links that point to that company’s
products and promotions. These links contain the affiliate tracking codes that are necessary for giving you credit for
sending them a sale. Take care that when you copy them to your site that you get the entire code for the link.


Step 4 – Build Your Site


Ok, this is where it all comes together. If you haven’t built a website before, it can be an intimidating task. What
should it look like? What colors should everything be? What fonts should I use? The best advice I can give about the look
and feel of your site is to look around the internet, find some sites that you like, and try to copy the look in your design.


A thing to remember is that since you only get money for sending people to another website, your website is not a
final destination. It is a conduit. It should be functional and fast. The best way to achieve this is to keep your design
simple and keep graphics to a minimum. When in doubt, look at how Google or Yahoo designs their pages.


Your home page should contain links to all the rest of the pages on your site. Its main function is to allow search
engines to easily spider your entire site. It should also be easy for users to find what they are looking for, but don’t be
fooled- most people will never see your homepage. If you build your other pages correctly, users will go to them much more
often than your homepage.


All of the other pages on your site are where you make the money. Build a separate page for each companies affiliate program
that you belong to. Put the name of the company along with what ever search term that you want to key on in the TITLE element
of the page. The title of the page is by far the most important thing that search engines will rank your pages on. Now
get some links to their site from the affiliate site that this company uses and put them in the page. Add some text describing
the company that you are linking to and perhaps their banner image. Do this for each of the stores that you want to link to
and your basic site is done.


Once you have your site done, ftp all of it to your webhost. There are some free programs to do this with, but I usually
just use the one that built into Internet Explorer.


One final thing, don’t use pop-ups, pop-unders, or any other devious tricks on your visitors. Don’t spam people with
emails. People who do these things are assholes. Don’t be an asshole.


Step 5 – Promote your Website


Now that you have a working affiliate site on the web, the money is just going to start pouring in, right? Not exactly.
First off, nobody will find your site until you get listed by the search engines. To get started, use a free automated URL submission service like Sitesearchsubmit [http://www.sitesearchsubmit.com]. Fill in your website’s URL and email address and Sitesearchsubmit will submit your site’s address to many of the top search engines automatically. Next, you will need to manually submit the address of your page to the search engines that don’t allow for automated submission like MSN and Yahoo.


Now be patient. Some search engines can take 3-4 months to list your site. Some will have your site indexed within a month. Just do a search for your site’s name once a week on each search engine to see if has been listed yet.


Once your site has been listed you can start testing to see how you are being ranked for the keywords that you are using.
If you would like to find out what keywords are important to ranked high for, do a search here for suggestions.
Do some research on how to optimize your pages for search engines. I won’t go into that here as search engines are constantly
changing how they rank pages and such info is quickly outdated. Make some changes to your site and wait until they re-indexed
(Google will usually index your site every month) and see whether or not your changes made a difference. Keep doing this
until you have the ranking you want or until you give up in frustration.


Search engines are fickle beasts. Be patient as it will probably take at least a year before you see your first check.
Also, don’t give up when the search engines leave your site high and dry sometimes. I’ve had an entire year before where
my traffic almost dropped to nothing and then the next year it went through the roof- all without me making any changes to
the site at all. Stay in it for the long run and you will make money.


by


Ocsha

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