A Review of James Martell's Affiliate Marketer's Handbook
I have a girlfriend and a job. I like my girlfriend a whole lot better than my job and she feels the same way. One of the things we have been doing for the past 6 months is talking about how cool it would be to quit our jobs and do a full-time business on the Internet. Its all my fault. I started this dreaming by telling her things like: thereís has got to be a way to do it, we just need to find out how.
Quite by accident I stumbled across James Martellís Affiliate Marketers Handbook ó 2005 and I think Iíve got it. I had only a vague understanding of affiliate as it applies to Internet marketing and I did have some doubts at first. I confess to a case of contempt-prior-to-investigation because when I first opened this e-book I thought it was some kind of MLM nonsense. I donít do MLM, not even a little bit.
I can assure you that no where in this little how-to book on affiliate marketing will you be asked to buy into something. There are no meetings that you need to drag your friends to, quickly converting them to distant acquaintances. No down line that you need to keep motivated to create your income. And most importantly, no web space to sell to soon-to-be former friends, no soap, no gummy bears.
For those wishing to get rich quick while sleeping, donít bother reading this book or this review. This is a method which can provide income if you work at it. And if you work hard at it, a good income. That is all James Martell claims and in my experience that is what you can expect. So, after that reality check, lets drill down into this little ebook to find out what it does say.
To begin with an overview of affiliated marketing, as presented in the book, Amazon.com (a seller) pioneered the concept of offering a small fee to any web site (an affiliate) who would place a link back to Amazon of any product sold on the Amazon web site. It wasnít very much, maybe a nickel or so; the theory was that if you wanted to discuss a book on your web site, you would like to get something for telling your visitor where she could get that book. The business plan caught on and pretty soon many sellers copied Amazon. Someone, probably 10 seconds after Amazon, realized they could get paid for becoming a kind of boutique Internet marketer in which they created a web site devoted to groupings of like products, all of which were sold by affiliate sellers.
OK, so whereís the magic? Lets suppose you decide this is a good idea and you decide to make a site selling gold socks. You go out and find all the affiliate retailers who are willing to let you put their logo for gold socks on your website and agree to pay you a dime every time someone clicks on their link. If thatís all you did, youíd be sitting around for a long time before anyone knew you were there, much less people who were actually in the market for gold socks. And youíd better not quit your day job just yet. In James Martellís Affiliate Marketers Handbook ó 2005, we are taught a better plan in 8 steps. This plan works from carefully chosen products and works ďbackwardsĒ. Gold socks? ó stupid idea. Clothing boutique? ó good idea. And that is the magic. Lets drill down a little deeper and paraphrase these 8 steps to support our discussion here.
Step 1 is about creating an organized infrastructure for yourself. You may think you donít need advice about organization and you may be right. On the other hand, maybe you do. For example, a username/password database to manage a large number of different UN/PWís is probably too basic for you, but for some of us, the structure is welcomed. This may be a working definition of my ADD. In any case a careful read of this step, following the directions explicitly, just might save you some serious turmoil in the near future. Having an expert help you lay down an organized infrastructure based on what you will need in the future is priceless. Too, I like the following philosophy from page 129:
Plus, do not set yourself up for failure by thinking you will get rich overnight.
If youíre doing this part-time, while holding down a full-time job, then it would be wise to set a realistic goal of, letís say, $500/month for your first site.
That amount is VERY realistic. And once achieved you can build from there.
Step 2 was the first realization of my own back assward thinking about Internet Marketing. See, I thought you get a product and then market it. Jamesí program tells us to get marketable products first. It does make a modicum of good sense. There is no point selling wadgets if everyone is buying widgets. And if you must sell your beloved wadgets, thatís OK too, just donít plan on paying the dental bill with the proceeds.
The rubber meets the road when it comes to finding out what people are looking to buy on the Internet and which merchants offer good affiliate programs. He details how to use Commission Junction (there are many others) to define the best industries. Commission Junction (www.cj.com) collects data on retailers who offer affiliate marketing programs. Again, I was happy to get the detailed instructions on the effective use of this humongous database. The process of deciding which retailers have the best affiliate programs requires a few hours of careful thought. But following directions here can save you a lot of time later. About evaluating and comparing potential advertisers, he says:
Make note of their commission structure. Look at their home page.
How does it compare to others in the same category?
Is their affiliate join page user friendly? Or, does it employ a lot of lawyer jargon and demonstrate an attitude of restriction in their policy requirements?
Do they seem to appreciate their affiliates?
THATíS the key as far as Iím concerned.
Step 3 makes me cringe just a little, as in why didnít I think of that. James claims there is a way to determine the most common words that are searched in the major search engines. He further wants us to use these most common keywords in our nascent web site, including naming the site. He tells us how, in minute detail, of course. His words:
And, this is because you will gain an AWESOME strategic advantage when your domain name contains the most popular keywords for your industry, -- especially since the advent of link popularity as a MAJOR search engine ranking technique.
The idea is to be easily found by people who are trying to find you. That is about getting ranked high on the search engines. I was astounded to learn that www.wordtracker.com provides this keyword data and in my perusal of their site, I found ideas coming to mind about how to capitalize on this information. To stay focused, however, we are reminded to always find keywords relating to the industry chosen in step 2.
Step 4 covers the technicalities of web design using FrontPage templates, a little on HTML coding, domain name registration, and web hosting. These are topics I wish I had known when I first cracked my book on Microsoft FrontPage 98 a few years ago. I say this because I think James Martell does a great job of making a potentially confusing area, especially for beginners, imminently simple.
I donít care how you slice it, designing a web site is a challenge. IMHO anybody who says otherwise is a wanker. There I got that off my chest. But it can be made more difficult or more easy, depending upon oneís attitude and willingness to learn and take advice. And most importantly upon having a good source of information. The biggest problem I have faced in this process is seeing the forest for the trees. In my view James scores highest in this area.
After you get the latest update of FrontPage, buy a few templates, get a keyword-based domain name and a hosting service ó donít worry, this is detailed quite nicely in the book ó you publish to the Internet, and that is a way cool experience. Hells bells youíll probably run back to your site every morning for a week just to see it on the Net. I did and I love it, though I confess it never seems to be perfect, but thatís just me.
But Iím getting ahead of myself, not too uncommon in the web design world. Before we get on the Net there are some critically important steps to take. Just read on.
Step 5 is a detailed answer to the question: how do I get noticed on Google (or Yahoo, or, or, or)? I decided when HTML first came out that I did not want to learn it. I am so lazy that certain people routinely to hold up a stick to tell if I am moving. I knew there would be a lot of software that would do it for me and I was right this time. That is what FrontPage does. This chapter is about manipulating HTML on your web pages to make it very friendly to search engines. James is pretty good about respecting this part of my intellectual indolence. James, thanks.
That doesnít mean I can afford to be a chicken about learning how web pages are constructed. I am not a chicken.
This 76 page chapter is a behemoth and is pretty close to the nitty gritty of what James has to offer. You will learn about Title tag, Page description meta tags, Keyword meta tags, Alt tags, Headline #1 (H1), and Headline #2 (H2), among other things. In this review I will not detail these topics except to say the way they are presented makes this potentially tedious process as easy as I have seen. And we like easy, donít we.
This is all for the purpose of being search engine friendly and having your site migrate to the front of the search engines when putative customers search on the well-researched keywords. For me this is the money shot.
Step 6 gets you intimately involved in Commission Junction, where you will sign up for some affiliate programs...well, let James tell you:
Öyou will have become a member of the Commission Junction network as a publisher, downloaded, printed and studied their 57-page Publisher Account Manager Guide, joined some of their most lucrative affiliate programs, selected links from your chosen advertisers, copied the HTML code for each into the appropriate Product page, embedded protective shareware into your pages to protect them from Ďscumwareí (more on that later) and previewed all Product pages to ensure merchant links are loading correctly.
This is serious business. You work hard, you get paid well. Every page you read or create is an investment in yourself. Youíve made it this far, so no doubt you have some heart and are very motivated to make a decent living as an affiliate marketer. Letís get to the homestretch.
Step 7, in which we finally get to upload to the Net and submit to the search engines, produces something you can show your girlfriend. (My GF, it turns out, beat me to it. Only she didnít run through the house going whoopee, so I didnít notice. Demure little thing.)
We are directed to www.selfpromotion.com, a site that is donation-only and very user friendly, to automate the submission of this web site, we have so carefully created, to a bunch of search engines. The point is we want to be seen by people who matteró customers who search on the keywords we have cleverly embedded throughout our web site. James has a lot to say about www.selfpromotion.com with its Tooter tool. Thankfully, he covers some of the basics about pay-per-click engines and other important but difficult to find information.
As usual the detail that James provides is gratifying. For example www.hitslink.com, a low cost multifunction hit counter for your site is a gem and provides quite a lot of information about your site visitors.
Step 8 has some final touches that serve to increase our Google (and others) standing considerably. I believe him when he says this is inside information and I wonít go into detail here. Its about ranking by popularity and some relatively simple things we can do to make this whole thing come together so we are looking very professional.
Since my writing is getting smaller and smaller, I must be at the end of the page, so letís finish this up and go home.
As I have worked through the tutorial, and at the same time shared it with you in this review, you may wonder if this is a really easy business. I donít think so. It takes quite a lot of time to wade through the material and, at least for me there is a fairly steep learning curve. I have been assiduously reading about affiliate marketing lately and man, the field is crowded, both with some honest business people ó I consider James in this category ó and with some dunderhead hucksters who have flashy blinking-light web sites selling get rich (wealth is a common term here) yesterday schemes. I find that crap sickening and always wonder who is gullible enough to go for their pitch. So, sorting the wheat from the chaff is an ongoing challenge. Iíve read some things from payola analysts who would swear the pope is a Jew if the price is right, who try to tell you how successful you can be if only you follow the masters plan for financial salvation. (Projectile vomit here.)
When I view this as a job, albeit one my girlfriend and I can do together at home, but still a job, I do get a little warm and fuzzy. I guess its something about working in my underwear and only going out to shop and party or ride my bicycle or stare at daisies in the park. But lets not fool one another by claiming there is something automatic about this. A lot of people want to make a buck in their underwear and, like you too, bubba, I am no supermodel and make sure I am fully dressed when a camera is within about Ĺ mile. That means there is competition and that means that though I can take a nap when I feel like it, I had better make plans to work to stay ahead of the wolves. This brings me to a final point about my little friend, James Martellís ebook.
He evidently started this business giving work shops in 2001. We all know what a changing behemoth the Internet is ó think build a 50 story building on the shifting sands of the Sahara ó and by god keeping current is a problem. His solution is pretty cool, I think. James Martellís Affiliate Buzz is a 30 minute audio thing you can listen to periodically for $10 per month. He ainít getting rich here, likely this fee just about covers expenses in creating the thing, but it is worthwhile because getting updated information about the ever-shifting sands of affiliate marketing is no mean feat even for the jaded professionals among us.
Do you want to create a web site that is built around key words and sells things that people want to buy on the Internet? Do you want to have an ear plastered to the warm, shifting sand of the Internet in one of the few successful business plans to emerge about how to do Internet marketing? Do you want to stay home to fight with the kids and see first hand what a deserted place the park is on Wednesday afternoon with no particular time that you have to pedal on home? Would you like to see your PayPal account go up more than down? If so, then James Martellís Affiliate Marketers Handbook ó 2005 is a damn good place to start and worth every nickel you pay to get your sweaty eyeballs on this little ebook. IMHO.
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