Marketing falls into two general categories:
- An Online Store which you
have some control over... but depend on another business
to service and
- Banner ads which drive traffic
from your site to a destination site, which pays you a percentage
of the sale for your trouble.
The commonality of both sites
is that while you receive a commission on the sales, you don't
actively manage the back end (stocking, shipping, transactions)
of the sale.
Amazon.com is the granddaddy of the
affiliate marketers, but today there are literally hundreds,
no thousands, of companies who are happy to let you market
their products... and will even pay you a percentage of the
sale if you are successful. Want to sell logowear from your
allows you to use your own graphics to create "print
on demand" products. A link from your site to theirs
and you're in business.
What do you look for in an
Online Store relationship? Longevity
would be high on my list. Have they been around a while and
are they producing products your customers might like to buy?
Building an Amazon.com store has always been a nice addition
to any site. You can build a bookstore around your site's
specific topic, or branch off and add books which interest
is popular with non-profits because it is an easy way
to raise funds, and promote the cause. There are other "store
in a box" outfits online, but I would caution you against
entering into a relationship without giving thought to the
nature of those stores. A generic store which sells a bit
of everything and will customize the store with your logo
sounds, at first blush, like a grand idea. But it is unlikely
you'll sell anything.
Banner Ad Sales
Now, you probably don't want your site
awash in flashing, spinning, collapsing, banner ads. Not only
is it tacky, but it is so annoying it is unlikely anyone will
visit you more than once. But affiliate marketing can turn
a "brochure" site into an "e-commerce"
site at someone else's expense. At the same time, you are
providing your customers with something they really want.
A banner ad sale can be as obvious as the banner at the top
of this page, which encourages you to use the affiliate marketing
service cj.com, or as unobtrusive as the banner ads running
down the side of the chicken
pages from the Farm at Morrison Corner. This page was
put up because the farm had so many requests for more information
on raising a small flock, they couldn't process them all.
Note the link to "Lehman's" at the side of the page.
The Farm will get a modest percent of any sale made through
that link, but more importantly from the Farm's point of view,
they don't have to stock, ship, or have anything to do with,
the merchandise. They can direct viewers, who would otherwise
be emailing them to ask "where can I buy...?" directly
to a source where they can buy, greatly simplifying
Despite what they'd have you believe
on the affiliate marketing sites, you're not going to get
rich as an affiliate marketer unless your site has an awful
lot of traffic... or you have a large circle of family and
friends you can convince to shop only through your links.
The Lehman's link on the chicken pages has yielded $10 in
commissions over 2002. But that's $10 more than nothing would
have yielded, and it spared the site's manager from endless
emails requesting vendor information.
One of the larger affiliate programs
with a wide variety of merchants and an astonishing array
of products is "Commission Junction." Sign Up is
free, and although the commissions seem negligible, you can
build a gift shop within your site... and never have to pack
a box or meet a shipping deadline.
To sell products and services from your site, sign up with
A Faux Store
Ebay offers a new service which will create
a custom linked box, or banner, for your site. You can use
this banner to display only your auctions, or auctions of
goods which dovetail with your site. So, for example, WoolandFeathers.com
has a series of pages on raising sheep. We can create a custom
search for sheep related tools on ebay, and drop that search
right onto our page, like so:
To take advantage of this, you need to have an account with
an account with Commission Junction. You can either sell
on ebay with these links directly off your own site... or
"sell" other people's auctions.
Affiliate marketing gives you the opportunity
to add value to your site which sets you apart from your competitors.
A small inn with a gift shop filled with Vermont picture books
and maple syrup is more memorable than one which offers little
more than pictures of rooms.
Be creative, use your imagination,
and build yourself a little store.
Your Product, Their Servers:
Selling with PayPal
Just Make it Go Away! saving and
selling the ebay way
Ecommerce: The Powerful Hosting Retail Store: full ecommerce
at a bargain price (soon!)