Time and time again I see the same mistakes made by beginning affiliate marketers. They identify a high paying keyword - like “affiliate marketing", “search engine optimization (SEO)", “Adwords" or themes like legal advice or credit advice - and they try to break into that market hoping for quick returns. Unfortunately, that market is saturated with long-time experienced affiliate marketers who work full time to maximize their own profits.
My philosophy for beginners is: Start Small, Finish Big!
Step 1: Forget about high paying keywords. The money in affiliate marketing is steady growth of your target market. How is this done? By creating an ever expanding site, filled with original content that people will return too over and over. Chances are that a one-time visitor will not buy anything off your site. If you can keep people coming back and establish yourself as an expert in your field, then your visitors are more likely to take your advice and purchase whatever product or click whatever link you suggest.
Step 2: Forget about SEO for your home page. Build a site that YOU would revisit over and over. Put interesting links on your front page. Create dynamic content - like a blog. Be sure to include a “What's New" section that lists all the new articles you have written and posted.
Step 3: Now that this is done, look for affiliate programs. Search Commission Junction, LinkShare and Clickbank for products to promote. Be creative!
Lets look at these steps and walk through a practical example.
Let's say that my interest is in collecting pens. Seriously, pens. My first step would be to identify some keywords relating to pens. A quick browse over to the free Google Keyword tool and I get the following list of terms :
mont blanc pens
Now that I have my list of terms, it's time to start building a site. I write a bunch of articles - preferably one for each keyword. Use a SEO software to check each article for structure and keyword density. More about SEO here. I create a home page all about pens, with a blog that I update every couple of days with a review about a pen I used etc. Find a webhost and buy a domain that reflects your interest - all-about-pens.com or something.
Now that my site is ready to go life, time to fill it with affiliate links. Be creative - everyone can spot a hard sell a mile away. So, for example, become an ebay affiliate and create a vertical banner with designer pen auctions in it. Become and associate of amazon.com and post links to books about the history of pens and pen collecting. Put some Adsense on your pages.
Now promote your site. Cross post your original content articles on free article directories, with links to your site. Create Adwords ads around your key terms.
Before you know it you will be earning money!
Martyn Carver is a successful affiliate marketer and webmaster of Retire with Millions and Testosterone Zone