==== ====Learn More About Affiliate Marketinghttp://www.imz6.com==== ====The following interview with Shawn Collins, a prominent expert in theaffiliate marketing field, should prove instructive to the reader. Shawnhas enjoyed a meteoric rise in the field and now runs his own affiliateprogram management and consulting firm. As this interview is inherentlylimited in scope, one is encouraged to read more about Shawns experiencesin the field and the advice he dispenses through his books, conferences,blog, articles, reports, and weekly radio show. The reader can also meetShawn at the Affiliate Summit, a "cant miss" conference for thoseinterested in excelling in the competitive world of affiliate marketing.Q. Shawn, how would you describe your initial experiences with affiliatemarketing?A. It was back in 1997. I had a dial-up account on AOL, a 14.4 modem anda desire to make more money. At the time, I didnt know a thing aboutcreating websites, marketing, etc. But I went through a tutorial at AOL onwriting HTML and picked up the basics. Then, I created a hideous, singlepage site about New York City and put up some Amazon links. I never earneda cent on that site.Q. What growing pains did you endure at first? What were the biggestobstacles and challenges from that period of time?A. Back then, there was a monopoly on registering domains, and it cost$35 a year. At the time, that was a bit prohibitive for me (I didntrealize what a good investment a short name would be). That was a trend -an unwillingness to invest in my affiliate efforts. I was going the freeroute with tools, hosting, etc. That definitely delayed my progress.Q. What was your first "Ah-ha" moment? How did you incorporate thelesson learned into your affiliate marketing business?A. The first time I got my reporting via email from Amazon withinformation on commission earned. Back then, there was no option to loginto an interface - just a periodic email with affiliate stats. When Irealized it was real that I could earn money this way, I was excited andmotivated. This persuaded me that I was wasting my time working inmagazine publishing - it was time for me to get into a line of work thatwas stimulating and rewarding.
With my limited affiliate marketing experience, I managed to get a jobwith a start-up in 1997 called Medsite.com, and I bluffed my way intorunning the affiliate program there. Ive enjoyed my work ever since.Q. Without mentioning names, have you joined affiliate programs that didnot keep their promises and/or provide appropriate compensation? Whatmeasures did you take when confronted with this situation and what advicecan you give others to avoid this circumstance?A. Lots of affiliate programs lie in their recruiting efforts - theytalk about how easy it is to earn commission from them. Thats simply nottrue - its not easy. I just dont pay attention to most recruitingefforts from affiliate programs. I would encourage affiliates to ignoreproclamations of easy earnings and high EPCs - the most important thing isto test everything yourself and promote what works for you.Q. How has affiliate marketing changed in the last seven years? Whatstrategies would you implement now that you would not or could not doyears ago?A. The industry has matured greatly. Seven years ago, many affiliatemarketers were content sites which relied on 468x60 banners. The analyticswere primitive and fewer companies offered affiliate programs.Now, the industry is so diversified. Essentially, any way to market onlineis being leveraged by affiliates... including comparison shopping,domaining, video, SEO, e-mail, social networks, PPC, rewards programs,etc.If I could turn back time, I would have started up multiple nichecommunity sites back then for popular topics. By now, if nurtured theywould have grown nicely and become lucrative affiliate sites.Q. If one is gifted marketing an affiliate product or service, is itlikely that this individual can effectively market his/her own products orservices? Should people look into developing their own items whilemarketing or instead of marketing others products/services?A. Id say anything that is already selling online can be effectivelymarketed through an affiliate program. Selling your own products orservices can certainly provide more rewards in the best case scenario, butthen youve got a lot more risk, too.If somebody has the infrastructure and know-how to sell a certain productor service, Id say to go for it. But dont take uncalculated risks.Q. What are crucial mistakes that newbies tend to commit?
A. Lack of investment and understanding. Its really difficult tosucceed in affiliate marketing if you are unwilling to spend the time andmoney required to develop a long-term strategy. And affiliate marketing ismost certainly not a quick endeavor - it takes patience to endure andsucceed.Q. What are some of the creative (perhaps seldom used) strategies toemploy in the affiliate marketing field?A. Simply going beyond the banner. There are a lot of excitingopportunities out there with Web 2.0. Its just a matter of figuring out aunique angle.Q. How long does it realistically take to build a full-time income withaffiliate marketing, assuming "full-time commitment"?A. I dont think you can qualify and quantify passion. And to me,passion is an essential ingredient in affiliate marketing success. Also,there are so many variables, like the size of a given vertical, themargins involved, competition, etc.Q. Is it easier to build income from this type of marketing now or wasit easier years ago? (Please consider competition, Internet usage, adventof Adwords and Pay Per Click, etc.)A. It was never easy. There was certainly less competition in the past,but also less in the way of options of advertisers to choose and methodsto promote them. Plus, there is the continuing growth of ecommerce. Ithink the opportunities for success are just as healthy now as they wereyears ago.Q. While I know that you do not recommend any particular affiliatemarketing programs, in your estimation, what are the "hottest fields?"A. The "hottest fields" are a slippery slope. They change over time. Ithink the hottest field for any given person should be the area thatinterests them most. You can certainly go out there as a mercenary andpromote the most lucrative thing at the moment, like ringtones or debtconsolidation, but I suggest going with a long-term plan in an area thatinterests you.Q. Is there any affiliate marketing software that is a "must" when onepursues an affiliate marketing venture?A. This really depends on the type of affiliate. There are softwareprograms that help optimize affiliate efforts for different affiliates.For instance, if youre working with data feeds, you should check out
WebMerge.Q. What are your views concerning affiliate marketing networks such asLinkShare and Commission Junction?A. I think theyre the backbone of the industry. The affiliate networksaccount for the majority of large affiliate programs, and they alsoprovide a level of convenience in that you can consolidate a lot of youractivity under a few logins.I would like to see them work together to establish standards. Forinstance, there is a lack of standards in data feeds, which is a challengefor the folks using them.Q. Can any absolute statements be made regarding the most lucrative typeof affiliate marketing payment system (e.g pay per sale, pay per click,etc.)?A. In general, CPA seems to be more profitable, especially offers forproducts and services that are not physical items.Q. What influence, if any, will blogs make on the affiliate marketinglandscape?A. I think some are influencial in the way networks, merchants andaffiliates operate. For instance, Jangro.com is considered to have had animpact in the decision by Commission Junction to change their plans on theLink Management Initiative (LMI).Q. What are, statistically, the best avenues to market an affiliateprogram?A. It depends on the vertical. Email and PPC work well for some CPAoffers, while an established web presence can be more important forselling goods on a revenue share.Q. Do you see any future trends in the affiliate marketing field?A. Smaller affiliate programs. Affiliate managers are focusing onworking more closely with fewer affiliates. Also, I think well see anincreasing number of affiliates embrace the opportunities out there withWeb 2.0 and innovate with the new tools that roll out.Q. What current projects are you undertaking in affiliate marketing, includingyour work with the Affiliate Summit?A. My main focus is Affiliate Summit, the largest affiliate marketingconference. Our last show had over 2,000 this past January in Las Vegas.
We also have events scheduled in Miami (July 8-10) and London (September28) this year.Additionally, I provide affiliate management and consulting services asShawn Collins Consulting, and I publish an annual report on affiliatemarketing benchmarks called AffStat.I also have a blog at http://blog.affiliatetip.com where I post dailyabout issues in affiliate marketing. And Im the co-host with LisaPicarille, Editor-in-Chief at Revenue Magazine, for the weekly show,Affiliate Thing, on WebmasterRadio.FM.Q. What do you attribute your affiliate marketing success to (e.g.,building content, writing articles, following footsteps of a mentor, forumparticipation, etc.)? Please include any last words of advice for one whoaspires to succeed/excel in the affiliate marketing field.A. Its all about dedication, tenacity, and relationships. I dont lookat my affiliate marketing activity as a job, but rather a fun, profitablehobby. Over the decade Ive been involved in the industry, there are waytoo many factors to list that have contributed to my success. But Id saythe most important of all is to constantly endeavor to learn from others._____________________Conclusion - Dos and Donts of successful affiliatesAnalyzing the success stories, we may conclude the following dos anddonts of being a successful affiliate:DosBuild a useful website. Visitors must gain some benefit by visitingyour site.Retain visitors through unique content or adding your "personaltouch." Provide something unique / personal on a consistent basis so thatvisitors will be motivated to revisit your site.Sign up with a known and established affiliate program.They havetheir tracking systems updated and so you can be rest assured that youwill get your payments.Market your affiliate program so that you can increase the number ofvisitors who see your affiliate offering.Optimize your website so that you get a high ranking innatural searchengines.Know your competition. You have to provide something better thanthem.Choose the advertisement model that is in line with your overallbusiness model.Launch your site for some time, before joining any program. Goodaffiliate programs may like to see your site and study the traffic beforeenrolling you.Look for outside help. You may employ skilled people.Use blogs and RSS feeds forpromotion.Remain active in your industry. You must know the latest trends andneeds of visitors.Donts
Join just any affiliate program. Many affiliate programs are outrightfrauds.Ignore your competition. They are the best evaluators of yourproducts/services.Get obsolete. Update your content regularly.Rely only on banner ads.Experiment with all types ofadvertisements.Waste time. Be the first to capture any new opportunity.Encourage spamming.You will get blacklisted.With successful identification of customer needs, providing a way tofulfill those needs, and collaborating with established affiliateprograms, it is possible to create your own affiliate success story. Youjust need to manifest a methodical, patient approach and perform lots ofhard work. But raising an affiliate program cash cow is certainly worththe effort!Author, Andy Lax, is an account manager at IntelliCollect – a merchant account company thatprovides merchants with credit card processing and electronic check processing capability. Thiscredit card processing company, http://www.intelli-collect.com, offers the best rates, exemplaryservice and their own potentially lucrative merchant account affiliate program http://www.intelli-collect.com/affiliates.htmlArticle Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andy_Lax==== ====Learn More About Affiliate Marketinghttp://www.imz6.com==== ====