Affiliate marketing is a solid way to build an online business and earn a decent income. Attending Affiliate Summit, the premier affiliate marketing conference, will dissipate any doubts anyone may have about making money online blogging. Google itself launched the Google Affiliate Network in 2007 to help bloggers discover new advertiser referral programs and learn blog monetization. Google Adsense itself is actually one of affiliate marketing programs.
In the affiliate marketing arena, it is said that 5% of affiliates earn 95% of the generated income. The question is. How can you join the small percentage of affiliates that succeed? I will give my perspective based on my experience with the weight loss market.
Weight loss is a huge market. Americans spent more than $40 billion last year on weight loss programs and products. From diet pills to diet food home delivery and from weight loss camps to one-on-one sessions with nutritionists and dietitians, weight loss products and services have taken a myriad of different shapes. This gigantic market that serves 71 million dieters continues to expand following the rising obesity rates.
Following are 4 critical facts young entrepreneurs in the weight loss market need to know, but don’t.
1. Focus on a Few Products Only
Being niche is key to niche affiliate income. I often see affiliates who feature hundreds of weight loss products on their sites. They make pocket money. On the other hand, I have friends who make half a million dollars annually promoting only a handful of products. OnlyCookware.com is a prominent example. My friends Paula and Wanda, the Australian ladies behind this blog, make over $1,000 a day promoting fewer than 10 Amazon products (their site features thousands of products but they have focused their promotional efforts on just a few of them).
As big as the weight loss industry is, so is the importance of choosing a laser sharp niche to work on. You have to turn your eyes from the ocean and focus on a narrow but deep area of demand. We have all heard at some point or another that the more niche you are, the higher the chances to succeed.
As in every endeavor, specialization is rewarded more than generalization, which is why a face plastic surgeon makes a heck lot more money than a family doctor. Open an affiliate “wallmart” and you have a recipe for disaster.
2. Go For Stability – Do Not Market Fad Products
The word “fad” perfectly finds its meaning in the world of weight loss products. The weight loss industry is full of products that appear today only to disappear next year. The Hoodia rise and fall is a good example. Hoodia diet pills contain a plant extract with clinically documented appetite suppressant properties. Derived from a cactus in South Africa, Hoodia became extremely popular in 2006, until an academic laboratory analysis revealed that over 75% of Hoodia products sold in the US are counterfeit. Due to the huge demand and the scarcity of the imported plant, adulteration had risen to the sky. Huge drop in sales followed soon after.
I remember, in 2008, when I started my weight loss affiliate marketing site, I was thinking of marketing Hoodia. Thankfully, a 45-minute call to the affiliate manager that worked for a respectable Hoodia importer, helped me see the upcoming burst of the Hoodia bubble.
Build Your Business on a Solid Foundation – Don’t Associate With Scams
You don’t want to be associated with products that do not deliver. Deceptive and misleading weight loss products abound. Hardball marketing can surely make scam products sell like crazy, but only for so long. The companies that represent such products will soon vanish and so will your affiliate commissions.
A prominent example of a scam case is the Acai berry, an exotic fruit cultivated in South America that has been hyped the past 5 years more than any other weight loss product in the history of earth. Of course, although this purple berry from Amazon is undoubtedly a great antioxidant with great nutrients for your health, no proof exists that it accelerates your metabolism and burns body fat.
Even today, the “Acai for weight loss” demand continues to be big. Google Adwords Keyword Tool gives 49,000 monthly searches for “Acai berry weigth loss”. Interestingly, the monthly searches for “acai berry scam” are 60,000! Talk about building your business on a shaky ground.
Get Targeted Traffic. Go After Very Niche Keywords
Behind every niche there are keywords. In fact, when we talk about “niches” we actually mean keywords that bring specific visitors to out blog. A keyword is a key that unlocks a specific door to provide access to a market niche. Electronic commerce is all about keywords. The keywords your blog ranks for determine, reflect, represent if you will, the niche you are in; they are an expression of the narrow slice of the market you are going after. The keywords you rank for in the search engines determine the type of visitors your site will receive.
You want these keywords to be very targeted. You want to rank for keywords that bring buyers not just browsers.
In the keyword world, there are three categories of people; the buyers, the information seekers, and the unintentional browsers or tire kickers. Obviously, we want the buyers. We want to provide our readers the information they are looking for AFTER they have made their purchase decision. We want to attract people who are in the last stage of the purchase decision process. We don’t want the browsers. We don’t want the lookers. At best, what browsers and lookers can do is click on a Google ad and then leave the site.
Let’s look at a few keywords that a hypothetical person, Mary, types on Google before she converts from a browser to a buyer.
“Weight Loss Programs”. Mary does not have something specific in mind. It is 4:45 pm and she is sitting at her office waiting for the boss to leave first so that she can go home for the day. She types “weight loss programs”. Why? Who knows. May be she wants to see the definition at Wikipedia, to educate herself. She may want to find out if lab band surgery falls within the definition of a weight loss program. Or she might want to help her 15-year old son collect information for his essay at school about “Children Obesity: Are Big Macs At Fault?”. Mary has no intention to buy anything. She is a tire kicker.
“Best weight loss programs”. Hmmm, this is a different Mary. She has recognized a problem. She is probably facing weight issues and she may be looking to shed some pounds with a diet plan. Or, she may want to help Susan, her overweight friend who is getting married soon, lose her muffin top and fit well in her ready-made gown. She wants to know what diet plan would be best for her. Mary is an information seeker.
“Does Medifast work”. Aha! Mary discovered Medifast already. Good for her because Medifast is a clinically studied program recommended by more than 15,000 during the last 40 years. She just wants to know how it has worked for others. She looks at blogs and forums to dig out the truth about Medifast. She is evaluating the product. Mary is still an information seeker pondering over a buying decision.
“Medifast coupon.” Holy cow! Mary has finally landed on the Medifast site. She chose the meal replacement package that is best suited for her and right when she was about to check out she noticed a little box with a note: “Enter coupon to get discount”. Back to Google she goes, types “Medifast discount”, lands on the first coupon site she finds and grabs the code. She now types SAVE50 in the Medifast coupon box and clicks on the Buy button with a smile. Bingo.
You want to rank high for “buying” keywords, not “informational” keywords.
Based on my experience, focusing on a small number of proven services or products and targeting the right keywords is key to making money on any niche.
Matthew Denos, PhD, is a biologist who conducted research in various academic institutions from 2000 to 2010. After reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book series “Rich Dad Poor Dad” he followed his passion to become an internet entrepreneur. His goal is to create businesses that work for him so that he does not have to. He currently maintains a blog devoted to weight loss programs and features a 2011 Medifast coupon code and Nutrisystem discounts, two clinically proven meal replacement weight management plans.