Sunday, March 23, 2008

Let's Make News With A Not New Affiliate Internet Widget

We've heard before that Social networkers turn into social sellers ~ at least that's the dream; that word of mouth, from friend to friend, one trusted person to another, will promote your product or service for you. But this story is specifically about a new Facebook application:
BSocial Networks Inc. has launched Market Lodge, a system designed for Facebook that enables the social network's users to create miniature e-commerce stores on their Facebook pages. Market Lodge allows Facebook users to select from 1,100 products from 50 retailers items to sell in their own shops.

Facebook users get a 10% commission for every product they sell (deposited in personal PayPal accounts), bSocial Networks gets a 35% to 50% commission, and retailers get an outlet to sell products to the 50 million consumers on Facebook without having to advertise, says Sue Spielman, bSocial Networks co-founder.
Sounds nifty, but really it's just another affiliate widget. Nothing against widgets; making it ultra easy for folks to promote means there's more likelihood they'll actually insert the affiliate code, especially if the interface is easy to use and automatically updates. But fundamentally, this isn't anything new. Right now any user at Facebook or other social network site can insert affiliate links as they wish.

And you'll note that unless you are the manufacturer or otherwise a direct seller of the product you'll not be able to afford commissions of up to 60%.
BSocial Networks plans to expand its initial offering of 1,100 products to thousands of products. Current retailers include Aurora Nova Skin Care, Holistic Pet, Inner Waves Organics, Oona Sara Designs and White Swan. The company also plans to expand its Market Lodge offering, initially created using the Facebook application program interface, to other social networks.
At least half of these products can be found at Amazon; which as most of you know, welcomes affiliates with adult business. The Amazon affiliate program not only offers many widgets, has a great history of making payments to affiliates, but with the wide range of products you often find additional monies earned with sales in categories you've never imagined.
"This is a consumer-to-consumer business platform that lets anyone in the social network create a personalized marketplace that reflects their hobbies and interests," Spielman says.
Not to become The Amazon Marketing Whore, but Amazon allows this with their affiliate stores, which can be designed to match your own brand &/or personal style.
"And when social networkers share their Market Lodge, they share with all of their friends in a setting of social trust, a social bond."
Or social annoyance; as the case may be.

While no one really minds if a friend or family member makes 50 cents off your purchase of naughty lingerie (especially if they never know what it is you bought), affiliate marketing in social networks can be about as much fun as that forced Avon purchase you make from the neighbor lady once a week ~ or the wrapping paper, oranges & scouting cookies you feel forced to buy at work.

Trusted or not, the push of 'buy this' all the time can get really tiresome. Even if it's not done by a marketing professional.

While the new application doesn't appear to be adult-friendly, you can find out more about bSocial's Market Lodge here.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Non-Adult Affiliate & Ad Friends

Adult webmasters and bloggers, don't overlook mainstream revenues. Even if they often overlook you *wink*

Here's a very brief list of mainstream programs which you can make money with:

#1 Amazon. Amazon apparently gets it. They realize that if folks are at your site, they've already decided for themselves they like adult content and that your linking to them means money. Amazon carries sex toys, sex history books, erotica, lingerie, adult films and often, with their third party sellers, hard to find items.

#2 Barnes & Noble, though carrying much less than Amazon, does seem to be OK with adult affiliates.

#3 ShopZilla apparently is OK with erotica and sex talk ~ it's uncertain just how far they'll go. They have lingerie, adult toys, personal care etc.

#4 EBay. Can completely suck, but if your site is more risque than really adult, it's a very fine program. Sex-Kitten was pulled due to it's explicit nature (video clips & photos in reviews), however sites which focus on pinups, art, (at least some) written erotica, and tease in general can do quite well. (And I'd avoid BDSM themes too.)

Other possibilities:

Some lingerie shoppes are open to adult content. You'll have to read their TOS because for everyone who allows adult sites to be affiliates, another one (or two) won't.

Ditto poster &/or art print sites.

Some drinking supply (bar ware) &/or alcohol merchants also 'allow' mature content, as do many gambling sites and smoking shops.

As always, think of what your niche/readers/members are likely to be interested in, then do your research.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Site Sponsor Matters

Over at Cozy Frog Titmowse has an article on choosing a sponsor. Most of it I agree with, so I highly recommend it. Especially the, "Maybe the message board philosophers are correct. There is no "best" sponsor ­ there is only the "right" sponsor."

However, there are a few additional points I'd like to make.

When Titmowse discusses testing a sponsor she says, "If you market a sponsor for a couple of months with no results, find another sponsor. If you are making money with a sponsor, keep them."

I think this is too simple. It suggests that after a few months poor performance by a sponsor is 'all on the sponsor.' This may be true; but it also may not be true.

Sponsor performance also depends upon what you do.

Titmowse covers some of this in her piece Designing With Niche In Mind:
For example, say you decide to promote a BBW paysite. You think the niche is funny. So you build a point-and-laugh free site, chock full of insulting text, degrading graphics and ads for your sponsor. Your site receives all kinds of traffic but literally nobody clicks your ad banners. Why do you think that is? Do you really think that the point-and-laugh crowd is going to shell out money for a membership to a BBW paysite? Did it ever occur to you that your niche-based design insults the very people that happen to like big women and are aching to find a site where they are welcomed and appreciated? Sure, if you design a site that honors BBW models, you probably won't get as much traffic, but the traffic you get will be targeted to sell. You won't waste bandwidth on a bunch of gawking freeloaders.
Design issues aside, there are other matters such as the quality of your posts/articles, your authority, and of course, your traffic. All of this affects sponsor performance.

It's easy to blame a sponsor, go get another. But they aren't the only factor.

Your sponsor can be doing everything right, but if you don't pay attention to these matters, well, sponsor choice just doesn't matter.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Affiliates Vs. Paid Posts

But Gracie, how are paid postings any different than a blogger promoting a site via affiliate programs? Well, that's rather like saying commission sales is like payola.

In commissioned sales, you are paid for your performance. You make a sale, you get a cut. The reason folks join individual affiliate programs is that they believe they can make money off of it. Why? Because they like it or that their readers will. They select programs they are naturally interested in, those which suit their blog theme or mission, those which seem to fit their style. They believe in it so they invest their time &/or effort in selling it for the reward of part of the sale.

Can they lie? Sure. For example, anyone can say they're a member of a paysite and they love it so much they're telling you to join to ~ when they've never done more than see a tour page. But then again, anyone anywhere can lie.

Can a blogger or webmaster be solicited to join an affiliate program? You bet we are. But since we aren't paid to select them, we decide if this would be a good fit for our readers ~ because that's how we'd get paid. We decide if the site or product is worthy of our lending our name to it ~ because our readers who got burned would sure let us know. At least the good ones do this.

In payola or pay per post, you are paid for your mention of the item ~ your 'play' of it, if you will. This means, whether you like the product or not, you get paid to mention it. Each and every time you mention it. And from any company willing to pay. (And many of these companies are equally oblivious to targeting in this "post about me now!" mentality; so honestly, what's the point?)

Some of you will argue that bloggers may pick and choose what they will mention, what paid postings they will do, but kids, let's be as honest as the day is long and admit that there are many people in the world (not just the Internet) who are hungry for money and will take what is offered. The incentive, the "pay," is to "post," not to be authentic, not to match blogger readership, or anything else.

We're not talking about small sums either. Affiliates generally pay a smaller amount per sale, whereas paid postings are larger sums up front or at least much quicker than waiting to reach an affiliate pay-out limit. The proverbial 'quick buck'. (Too bad their momma's didn't tell them there's really no such thing, because once the word gets out that you're only after a quick buck, who is gonna give a f***?)

I've been offered up to $85 for a paid posting ~ one that I wouldn't even need to write because they would write the 'article' for me. That's free content, supposedly tailored for my readers, plus $85 in my pocket ~ and I turned it down because I care, damnit. I've also turned down ads for products which are illegal, products I believe to be dangerous, and just plain old shams (the latter of which mostly come into this blog).

I may whore my wares, the wares of other, but I'm honest about that. I'll whore what I like, thank you, and when I do, you'll know it.

But I'm not going to sell my soul, my loyalty, and in the process sell you all out too. My word matters to me. It's one of the few things, I'm told, I get to take with me when I leave this place.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Affiliate Leads

SLA (Sensual Liberation Army) has a guide to adult affiliate programs for bloggers and webmasters. As they say:
Deciding which affiliates are for you isn't always easy. Everybody has a different niche, a different audience. You also have to decide what your own aesthetic is, and decide what you can sell in good conscience. Some of our favorite sites make us no money at all. We can't tell you what your aesthetic is, but we can tell you what generally sells well for us.
So you'll need to decide what works for you, but if you've been looking for some ideas, it's a good start.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blog Field Trip: Limited Floor Space

It never ceases to amaze me that folks with blogs and websites believe their virtual spaces are infinite. Size of hosting/server space aside, I'm talking about the space on any particular 'page' a person sees. When looking at your web design layout or blog template, you do not have infinite space. At least not in functionality. Filling every inch with text links, banners and buttons, boxes, graphics, etc. results in too much information. Like your desk, just because it can hold 500 pounds of paper doesn't mean you can find a damn thing on it if it does.

Fundamentally this is due to human weakness. All those links and banners on a page become a jumble & we just can't take it all in. So if your sidebar (or webpage space) is filled with link swaps, banner trades, affiliate ads, links to your own site goodies and products, it may be too overwhelming for your visitors.

Coming from an extensive retail background, I typically view website page space as retail floor space. You have your front window, which is your content (images, articles, blog posts) and then you have sales floor space. If your blog sidebar is too cluttered you need to simplify to move shoppers (traffic) to your goods. In a real store you make sure shoppers can walk about, giving them isles, and featuring key items. It's no different with your blog or website.

Since this is a field trip, let's look again at Slip of a Girl's blog. I must first warn you that Slip and I discussed this months ago, so her clutter problems have (in large) been fixed, so when you go look you won't see so many of the boo-boos and errors discussed. However, I'm certain you've all had experiences at cluttered blogs; enough to know how 'bad' it can get. Anyway, the 'before' isn't as important as the 'after' ~ and neither is as important as the conversation and process of moving from one to another.

Slip came to me complaining of poor affiliate sales, asking me to look over her blog and give my opinions. Her blog sidebar looked like a to-do list at holiday time. Her links were not grouped (as they are now) so it was one long sidebar-O-rama of links and a hodgepodge of images & widgets.

Most of her affiliate links were/are lingerie related. (It makes sense if she's dishing lingerie to try and get a bit of money for all her work on said bits of nylon and lace.) But there were a few others there as well, hidden in a long list of catch-all links. Our first discussion was on the performance of her links.

Slip said, "Out of the 32 lingerie affiliate programs, I've only had sales from 3 programs. And these are at the top of the blog, so even if it's a short entry these lingerie store links are visible. The others? Maybe one or two sales. I don't see why they are so low with the traffic numbers I am having -- they are sites for lingerie lovers."

After comparing her pile of links to a real store having the lingerie in piles on the floor, she went to work. Slip identified not just which items/links sold well, but those that she simply insisted were part of her inventory (favorites she wants to support). She weeded out the rest. This resulted in a shorter, more concise list of links ~ or lingerie items in inventory if you will.

This also makes sense from an authority point of view. If links are recommendations, you certainly can't be honestly saying you recommend every lingerie store out there, can you? To be authoritative you select the best, the creme de la creme, your real favorites, and ignore the rest.

Next, we addressed the issue of the other product piles on the floor.

Slip defined the other products/links this way, "The non-lingerie links are mixed lot. There are stocking models, cross dressers, personal friends, link swaps with sex blog directories, general fashion sites, a few other stores I like which are not lingerie related... A real mish-mosh."

"So why not break them down as such ~ as much as you can ~ and label them that way?" I said. "This way folks interested in fashion, can find fashion; those into more racy sex sites can easily find them, etc."

Slip did just that, organizing her links in a more orderly fashion. Taking the text link groupings (each category given a header or name in her own wording to allow for personality), and listing them in her opinion of which were most relevant to site visitors (based on her blog entries, popular searches, keywords). In doing this, Slip created isles for shoppers.

Now she had most of the stuff off the floor, but there was still the issue of widgets ~ you know, site script feeds, badges and other automatically updating toys & visuals.

Since a sidebar of all text links (even if boldly separated into groups) can be mind-numbing, these widgets allow for practical matters of spacing (not to mention personality). Likewise, images, buttons and banners. Like mannequins displaying featured fashions, or sales racks with toppers announcing sales, these draw the eye.

The result is a sidebar which a person can scan and readily find what they are looking for.

But the proof is in the cash register; did Slip increase her sales? "My clicks to affiliate sites increased by 50% (not just to those stores I kept on my blog, but I mean overall clicks!) and within days I had sales. I'm not going to retire on this (yet!), but there sure was proof that housekeeping and clearing to make isles works!"

At this point I should make a disclaimer: Slip is one of my affiliates. So I have a bias. *wink* But this too adds proof that wise use of floorspace works; even I noticed her referral clicks increased.

Slip wisely realizes she's not done. "I've made a schedule for doing this housekeeping monthly, including rotating/changing banners, checking dead links etc. This way, I can weed out dead stuff, keep it neat and tidy, just like rotating store stock."

And Slip now uses this whole idea when approached for link swaps.

"Other bloggers noticed the traffic I was sending their way and asked to swap with their other blogs -- or sent friends my way. I now use the 'isles' to evaluate if trading my floor space for their floor space is a good idea. Not just checking if the blog is related to mine in content/visitors, but do they have isles? No sense in me being buried in their link pile -- needle in the haystack and all that. And when stores contact me regarding joining their lingerie affiliate programs, I can honestly evaluate if I want to do it -- and politely decline knowing that I made a good choice and why. Thinking of links as inventory and floor space really helps, especially if I have to say 'no thanks' to them."

So take a look at your website or blog. Are you making the most of your floor space? If not, what are you going to do about it?

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Give Us Sam Sugar, Luv

In the recent Sugasm Sam of Sugar Bank had a link to his post, 5 Ways To Keep Your Blog Off Digg. While every last bit true, this 'bad news' dovetails nicely with my piece on linkbait. More precisely, Eric Ward's piece should assure Sam that he doesn't want Digg anyway.

Inspired by that blog post, I poked about his blog. Seems Sam has some excellent bits on the biz and so I've added him to my list of whores. Here are a few posts that are worthy of singling out:

The Best (And Worst) Adult Affiliate Programs

The Future's So AdBrite, I Gotta Get Paid (Which relates to: Contextual Ads In Context.)

Obviously Sam is one of the classy purveyors of porn: He knows what he's doing and why, and he's willing to share. Kudos.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Working With Affiliate Programs: Conversion Rates

Gracie answers questions regarding making money with affiliate programs.

Most folks ask the basic question, "How can I make more money from affiliate programs?" The answers are based in several key areas: traffic, audience, encouragement & authenticity. Before we get into those answers, we need to be clear on some basic information first.

One of the most confusing things about affiliate programs is the phrase "conversion rate". Most affiliates do not fully comprehend what this is.

Conversion rates are based on clicks that result in action such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter or becoming as a member etc. Typically presented in percentages, these rates are determined by the number of sales over the number of clicks sent.

As an affiliate, you are not talking about the number of clicks to that site from yours, but the number of sales you made at that site. In other words, what is the percentage of people you sent via that "Join Now" link who actually joined?

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that many business articles discuss the conversion rates of retailers not affiliates. This article, for example, says that Amazon's conversion rate is 12.8%. Saying that 12.8% of the people at Amazon.com make a purchase is much different than saying that Amazon Associates have a 12.8% conversion rate. That would be an incredible affiliate conversion rate ~ incredible because I don't know of a single affiliate program which can say such a thing credibly. It would be an amazing claim, and likely made up.

The reason that many retailer conversion rates are much higher than affiliate conversion rates is due to branding and site popularity. Plenty of people type in 'amazon.com' in their web browser (or have it bookmarked). These people likely have already decided to make a purchase, or at least are looking to see if a specific work is available. A person at your blog or website who clicks the link to a book or whatnot at Amazon may be mildly curious or politely looking at what you point to, but isn't necessarily interested in buying anything at the moment. Since the traffic you send is likely less interested in making a purchase than the determined person who goes directly to Amazon, you'll have a smaller conversion rate than retailer conversion rates.

These retail rates can be used to evaluate affiliate programs, if one assumes they are honestly reporting them. Sometimes conversion rates, retail or otherwise, are just plain not available. They are part of the vast hidden numbers which lie in the dark inner chambers of webmasters, site owners and other gatekeepers of knowledge.

Internet Retailer has info on affiliate conversion numbers (from 2005) which is clearly mainstream numbers. In reading and talking with adult webmasters, I believe that the average conversion rates for adult affiliate programs fall between .025% to 2% ~ the latter called 'ridiculously high' by some. Don't take my numbers as gospel because, again, the info is heavily guarded and those who have shared their numbers with me did so privately so I won't name names ~ but be it sex toy sales, membership joins, phone sex calls, or video downloads, the numbers for affiliate sales are slim. This doesn't mean you can't make money, it just means you need to rethink your expectations ~ and use this knowledge.

With conversion rates for affiliates relatively low you'll need to pay attention to your traffic ~ even if the conversion rate stays the same increasing eyeballs increases the number of sales. But more than that, you'll need to think about where to place affiliate ads/links, how to make the most of them, and what you can do to be an authority so that your recommendations are trusted.

Next week's newsletter will be all about authority and authenticity, so if you haven't yet subscribed please do so.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Affiliates and Product Reviews

Valentine's Day is another big adult buying season. You can capitalize on it with product reviews and affiliate links.

Focus on getting those product reviews written & published ASAP. Even those that are published too close to the holiday in terms of shipping time for consumers will bear fruit ~ Remember, folks receive cash and gift certificates. Your 'late reviews' may garner you sales after the holiday too.

If you have 'old' but hot products which you have positively reviewed some time ago, remind your visitors of these gems. You can even make holiday gift lists, "Top 10 Sexy Gifts For Women" etc., which link to those older reviews.

If your site isn't one of those that has been doing product reviews, this is difficult to begin now ~ there's very little time to get product, use it, write & publish reviews. However, there are some ways around this too.

Bloggers have it easy. Simply make an entry regarding all the 'buzz' about some new product. Do not lie and say you tried it, but mention how you predict it will be The gift this year, or mention how badly you want one. If you have newsletters (and if you don't, please remind me to smack you with rolled up newspapers!) you can do the same sorts 'entries' in those publications.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Affiliate Programs 101

Since in my business I offer affiliate programs, I'm often asked questions by affiliates (or those who wonder if they should become one) lots of questions about them. I do post helpful articles in my affiliate newsletters, but I thought I'd also post a series of articles here ~ a more permanent record, if you will.

So, today, we begin with Affiliate Programs 101.

Basically all the programs work the same. You get paid for either hits to other websites, or you get paid for sign-ups/purchases.

To me, the difference doesn't lie in which type you use, but rather how targeted the program is to *your* audience.

For example, if your site is an amateur webcam, and you don't do 'anything real kinky' you probably aren't best to choose bsdm & spanking affiliate programs. You should stick with more amateur sites, or at least those that 'look like you.'

Which does not mean blondes should only pick blond affiliates; I mean that you should remember who visits your site, and why, and give them more of what they want. For example, you might want one 'professional' blonde model site affiliate program to capture those who aren't into amateurs, as well as a few other amateurs (who are different enough from you so you don't give away your target audience), and perhaps some videos or sex toys of the same flavor as your site.

The more the affiliate program is tailored to you site visitors, the more likely the visitors are to be interested in the programs you offer.

And this is where the personal recommendation works much better than a bunch of banners. Folks like to feel you personally have used/tried the programs/products and like them. It makes them feel like they are a friend or at least among like-minded folk.

So, be selective in what you offer. And be selective in how much you offer...

Less is more, not just in what your models wear, but in affiliate programs.

A page with 20 blinking banners only distracts ~ No one knows where to go first!

By keeping your selections to a few per page, you can make them fit the page content, *and* make the recommendation stand out.

These are my opinions (of which I have many) ~ I'd love to hear your thoughts on & experiences with affiliate programs. If you'd prefer not to talk shop in public, send me an email. I may publish your question with my comments here, but I won't use your name unless I have your permission.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Basics For Bloggers

Steve Pavlina's How to Make Money From Your Blog covers some of the basics of blogging. He also does a nice job of discussing the myth of horrible reactions to advertsing and donation requests by readers. This would also apply to affiliate ads.

Don't tune out on the first bit on Google's Adsense in Superaff's "Focus" article just because adult webmasters cannot use it; there's sound advice here. And even more when it gets to the discussion of the 'cart before the horse' mentality.

If there's one thing I can say in summation regarding these two articles ~ besides "Go read them!" ~ it's that both these pieces take on the premise that you, the blogger, are going to remain focused on and committed to your blog. Which is not always done. (More on that in the first newsletter to be sent next week ~ so, have you subscribed yet?)

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Gently Scratching Your Niche

Continuing our talk, let's talk about how to scratch, gently, but vigorously!

When you have a niche site, you are tailoring a site to one specific market. This means a narrower target, but don't think that is 'bad.' On the contrary, I think it is a sure fire hit. By narrowing your target, you need not take aim at everything and anything; you are allowed to be precise in your aim!

We covered how you need not link-up with everyone & anyone. Not only does this mean you provide 'good matches' for your site to be found, but you also limit those you offer on your site. Your links pages are smaller, meaning less reason for visitors to leave. And you may refuse to swap or partner easily, and gently, with a simple reply of, "Thank you, but it is not our client base." (Usually this is enough to rid you of unwanted requests too, if you state your policy clearly.)

Now, let's think about where you do want to be, and who you want to be swapping links with...

Let's say you have a site about 'big black booty' ~ which is all any lover of black female ass could want. You know you shouldn't be on 'big knockers' or 'oral cum shots,' but where do you want to be?

Well, likely any female booty site will be a start. And sites with black models in general. But what is the fantasy really about?

Is it for white men, who have not yet dared to touch black booty in real life? Is it the fantasy of black women looking for more black women? Is it just because they like big butts & they cannot lie? Maybe it is all of the above. Then you have the opportunity to link, partner, and swap with sites that are similar in fantasy.

But let's say, your site is all about an even smaller niche... You are a 'big black booty bondage site.' You rope 'em, tie 'em, and even spank 'em. Then you may wish to narrow your partnerships & marketing to sites that are bondage themed, and black themed, and other 'big butt' sites, but thinking carefully about the types within these sites...

If your site is classy, with more art type photos, then model sites are still a good bet. Probably a better bet than amateur ones.

If your site is all about the rough sex and not-so-much the 'art' quality, then look for sites with the same edge.

Is your site heavy with written erotica? Then look for other sites that offer the same. Erotic readers are more likely to want more erotic stories than just pic sites, so remember that in your partnerships.

Now, all of this applies to your scratching on your site as well.

Keywords are any text on your site, so what you write there to describe your site accurately will be keyword rich. Again, don't use 'blonde white amateur teens' if you are a 'big black booty bondage' site. Number one, don't mislead your paying customers! Number two, it won't bring in who you want.

Using any popular words just to get traffic or paying customers is scratching yourself to bleed.

Yes, bleed. It will only hurt you. If you have to refund, or even end your site because the word is out that you lie about your offerings, you are in trouble deep. Besides, surfers who find you for those non-existent blondes *do* cost your something. Time, yes. Refunds, maybe. But what about your bandwidth costs? Your word-of-mouth advertising? Oh, yes, and the fact that you are not really focusing on the customer you do want? How are they to believe you really are the 'big black booty bondage site' if they see 'blonde teens' written everywhere (or even anywhere)?

Other examples are describing features you offer.

If you don't offer chat, don't mention it. If you do have message boards to meet members &/or models, mention it; if not, do NOT.

Simple, right?

Ok, now look at other parts of your site... Aside from your true content, what else do you offer? Links, we discussed. But what of affiliate programs? Special offers? Promotions? All of these should be tailored to your niche customer as well.

Only offer items that will be of interest to your real customer. Don't offer them videos on gay men if your big black bound booties are not male. Don't offer a special discount on your other site about Brittany Spears look-alikes.

Not only does it mean nothing to your big black booty bound lovers, but it detracts from keywords etc.

Always, *always* think about what they want more of, and you will scratch the niche, nicely.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Basic Affiliate Tips

If you have an adult website, you can cash too in with affiliate programs. (And if you manage an affiliate program, take note as well ~ Your sales are also affected!)

Match the affiliate programs to your site content. If you're a gay male site, focus on products that appeal to that audience. Don't waste your time & valuable space on breast enlargement creams. Don't compete with yourself over your visitor's sale. Consider each ad to be a personal recommendation. You are telling them "This is the best site for bondage videos" not "Look how many places sell stuff."

Along these lines, don't compete with yourself for any sale. Does your site exist to sell it's own memberships, or make money off of your competition's affiliate programs? (And believe me, visitors will think of this themselves!) If you are a pay site for foot fetish folks, convert visitors to your site; don't give them reasons to sign up with other foot fetish sites. At least, not until you've exhausted all possibilities of keeping them for yourself. So don't give away customers too early.

And don't do it for 'a better ranking.' Ranking, shmankings. Affiliate links do not help you with your ranking because of the code to track them.

Consider the marketing material as well as the site/program. I can't tell you how important this is ~ especially for webmasters with little ability to make nice graphics. If you have a vanilla romance site, your surfers may freak out at very graphic hardcore BDSM images. Or maybe not. That's up to you. ...You'd better know your site's fan base & market!

If the affiliate program only offers the old 'traditional' 468 X 60 banners, and this doesn't work with your site's design, or you can only stuff them at the bottom of pages like a greedy after thought, what good are they? If the banners are all primary colors, and your site is in pastels, how is that going to look? Keep promotional materials in line with your site design.

It's a fact: If your site visitors see the same graphic in the same place for too long, they'll virtually become blind to them, and you won't move traffic out, let alone convert to sales. Give your visitors new (or at least new to your site as far as look & placement goes) images to get their attention. Rotate images, banners and text links; you'll not only keep eyes looking more, but you can watch your stats for which styles perform best.

The bottom line: If the affiliate program management doesn't offer you options, you're going to be rather limited ~ and with so many affiliate programs available, you'll be able to find others that offer you choices.

Similarly, affiliate program management should offer you occasional updated marketing materials. If it's a photo site, they should periodically offer you some new picture sets. They also should offer you some updated, fresh banner designs as well.

Don't go overboard. Don't plaster the joint with every affiliate program you can find. Even 20 different links to the same program or site causes confusion. Some choices & options are a good thing, but remember, folks are busy & easily distracted. It's like walking into a department store and asking the shoe salesman for the best Italian red leather pumps with 6 inch heels ~ at most, he should bring you two pairs. Anything more is too much and he appears to be A) unaware of which is 'best,' &/or B) trying to sell you the whole store.

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Affiliate Tips

Many bloggers are making good money with affiliate programs, as are webmasters, cam-girls, and directories. Here are a few basic tips to generating income with affiliate programs.

Top affiliates always do the following to promote sales:

- Rotate and update buttons, banners and text links to give visitors something new to consider.

- Include links in email signatures.

- Match affiliate programs & products to your web content.

- Include links in Yahoo Groups, MySpace and other community places where it is appropriate.

- Update their visitors on new sales and promotions (and take outdated links out!)

But don't rely on just text links or even banners. Include real content about what you are trying to sell: a feature article or product review gets readers interested.

And then, re-use your content:

- Send it out in your newsletter or ezine.

- Include a link to a popular article in your email signature.

- Submit your articles to online article directories, free content sites, and for free distribution with the agreement that your affiliate links remain intact. Even offline media (magazines, newspapers, newsletters, TV, radio) can bring traffic and sales if you include your URL (which has attractively placed affiliate links, of course!).

Other general tips:

Use your affiliate link with an image of a product where ever possible -- even if only to recommend a 'favorite', 'top pick' or quick testimonial.

Free sites, it's fair game to ask your readers to support your website/publication by making their purchases from your affiliates list. Reminding them that it's these funds which keep the site free is not only appropriate, it's true. If they appreciate the site, it's likely that they will respond with a purchase or at least not be offended.

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Are You Missing Natural Site Traffic?

In 1948 Kinsey noted that human sexuality is not an 'either/or' proposition. In Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. it was stated thus:

"Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects."

In other words, one is not 100% straight, or 100% gay.

This situation is one that webmasters would be wise to exploit. One such webmaster is Drew, of ThreePillows.com. He says "I have news for you... Whether you run a gay site or straight site you have bisexual surfers. We are everywhere. We are cruising gay linklists and straight linklists. We are members of gay bear sites, straight teen sites and all kinds of sites. Ever wondered why you get some gay sales from your straight sites? Tracks left by bisexual surfers."

It makes sense. If folks tend to be somewhere along the continuum, there are natural tendencies to be bisexual.

But don't just take my word ~ or Drew's ~ as proof. Look at the chart below, part of Kinsey's work, which shows the many gradations that actually exist.



0 - Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
1 - Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 - Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 - Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 - Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 - Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 - Exclusively homosexual

Now are you convinced?

There's bisexual traffic in them-there straight & gay sites.

"The first thing you can do is recognize that you have bisexual surfers and target them." says Drew. Naturally, Drew recommends promoting his site, via his webmaster affiliate program, Bi-Bucks.

Drew cautions "Understand that many bisexuals are in the closet - much more so than 100% gay men and women. Discretion and security is a key selling point."

So, in a world of implants, stunt cocks and other fake porn, bisexual traffic might be the only natural thing left in porn!

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