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Affiliate Marketing Digital Strategy

The 7 opportunities for finding affiliate marketing niches

john chow

find affiliate niche

I believe everyone can agree with me on this statement: there are thousands of possible niche choices, yet, a thousand people before have promoted them and this makes them really competitive. Finding a great niche that is profitable for affiliates can be a daunting step.

How can we even begin to look for the cash cow niche? If you want to find it, you should start looking at different opportunities for discovering a great niche.

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Affiliate Marketing Digital Strategy Uncategorized

Request Free Chapter

The 92 pages Affiliate Marketing eBook, structured in 13 chapters, is your must-have guide to affiliate marketing – from the ground up.

Backed by an extensive inventory of examples, how-to guides and real life examples, this kit delivers all you need to make you a successful affiliate marketer.

Request your free chapter from my book now. It is 100% free, no obligations at all.

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How to create a Successful affiliate marketing strategy and make money within 3 months

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Affiliate Marketing

Top 10 Global Affiliate Networks compared

Affiliate Newtorks

Affiliate Newtorks

The way affiliate marketing works is simple: it’s a performance-based advertising channel in which a business pays a commission for a conversion to one or more affiliates.

The industry involves four players: brand, network, affiliate and the customer. All these players are not always involved at the same time; some brands have an affiliate program and they manage the relationship with affiliates directly. In other cases, networks have offers for the affiliates to choose from and they also take care of payments.

If you are an affiliate and want to start with a Network, which I recommend you do, use one of these from the list below. They provide reporting, tracking, payments and, most importantly, access to a large base of merchants (companies) and all type of commission packages (CPL, CPA, CPC).

It’s not easy to start with a Network if you don’t know what they offer. So Imake your life easier and review all the 10 best affiliate networks globally!

For affiliates, all these 10 networks include a central database of available affiliate programs organized by category and popularity to choose from. They are free of charge for affiliates.

Before focussing on the list of networks, let’s focus quickly on their payment methods. Networks use three models:

  1. CPA: Cost-per-Action, often called also PPS (Pay-Per-Sale), which is the amount of money a company pays to an affiliate for each sale. Merchants love CPA-PPS payments because for them it’s low risk and it allows them to generate a huge amount of sales and pay only if the sale is generated. That’s it. They don’t pay for anything else. For this reason the CPA commission are often very high, they are supposed to attract affiliates that can generate high volumes of sales.
  2. CPL: Cost-Per-Lead, the amount of money companies pay for each lead generated from an affiliate marketing campaign. Normally a lead involves the email registration and some extra information of a new user that can be used for marketing purposes. Common leads are, therefore, accounts sign ups, free trials, free demos, dowloads, webinars. Because a lead doesn’t produce a new sale and are much easier to generate than sales, companies pay a very small amount of money for each lead. Affiliates love CPL commissions because it’s easy to produce them and don’t go into a validation process. For the same reasons, companies don’t like paying per leads.
  3. CPC (Cost per click): how much you pay per click to generate sales. All PPC (Pay per Click) campaigns on AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms are calculated on this basis. Also in this case, clicks don’t produce any lead or any sale, it doesn’t even mean clicks are valid. For this reasons companies don’t like affiliates to run PPC campaigns and if they do, companie salways prefer to pay per sale or per lead.


1 – CJ Affiliate by Conversant


CJ Affiliate by Conversant is the most famous and one of the first affiliate marketing networks founded in 1998. If you already work in affiliate marketing you have heard of it. This network was in my experience the first one I have ever approached to start selling online. Formerly known as Commission Junction, CJ Affiliate by Conversant is a global network with local offices and it offers millions of different products.

Nearly every major retailer has their affiliate programs on CJ Affiliate, which makes them as close to a one stop shop as you can get in the affiliate marketing business.

I have promoted over 50 products from CJ Affiliate and didn’t have any issue at all. I like their payment method, they pay with 20 days form the day you make the first sale, which means that you’ll get your commission paid out in a timely manner each month. The reporting suite from CJ Affiliate is pretty impressive, which is a big advantage for marketers who plan to spend their time optimizing their sales performance.


  • Offers conversion data by country which comes useful when internationalising your affiliate sales;
  • Reliable payments every 20 days in over 200 countries and 150 currencies on the most reliable methods: direct deposit, checks, Payoneer, Paypal, Wire transfers.
  • Real time transactions monitoring. This is one of the top features of CJ, their reporting dashboard is impressive, allowing affiliates to analyse their data for campaign optimizations in great details.


  • Poor technical support. Being a huge global network has its disadvantages. They try to avoid contacts unless really necessary.

Click here to visit CJ Affiliates



2 – Rakuten LinkShare


Formerly Buy.com, Rakuten.com has grown into a giant. Rakuten rank among the top 3 ecommerce companies in the world with over 90,000 products from 35,000 shop owners and more than 18 million customers.


There are a few slick features of Rakuten LinkShare that differentiate this platform from the rest. For example, the offer the opportunity for testing different banners automatically: when you upload banners and start a promotion Rakuten starts testing and gives you the most popular banners. Instead of having to manually select which ad you want to run on your blog, LinkShare lets multiple versions rotate with only one small piece of code.

Compared to CJ Affiliate, Rakuten LinkShare have around 2,000 partners, this is considerably less than CJ Affiliate.

The other element that differentiate LinkShare from competitors is the attribution. Instead of looking at the last touchpoint of a customer, LinkShare shows you the whole funnel, from different devices, marketing channels, campaigns so you have a clear picture of which element of the campaign best drives your sales.

attribution modelling


Rakuten is much smaller than CJ Affiliate with around 2,000 retailers. Also, payments seem to be an issue, Rakuten only pays when they are able to collect them from retailers so there isn’t a clear date or time frame in which payments are made.

Click here to visit Rakuten



3 – Amazon Associates


Amazon Associates

Amazon needs no introduction. Its affiliate network, called Amazon Associates, allows you to tap into 1 million of products to advertise to your customers.

Beginners to affiliate marketing with even the most limited technical expertise will have no problems in getting up and running with the Amazon associates program, while more experienced marketers can create custom tools and websites with the APIs and advanced implementations available to them.

Amazon pays on a monthly basis, 60 days after the end of each month. For example: Payment for January is made in late March, assuming your account balance is at least $25.

The major drawback of the Amazon affiliate network is the commission structure. Their commissions start out as low as 4% for smaller affiliates, yet they can be as high as 10% for high traffic affiliates.

Here you can see the earning fees with Amazon Associates

Also, as most of the products which are sold on Amazon are physical goods, you will have very few options to refer sales that generate a recurring monthly income.

Click here to visit Amazon Associate



4 – ShareASale




ShareASale has been in business for 15 years, exclusively as an affiliate network. Their reputation is extremely good; they are known for being an honest business. The Shareasale platform has about 3,900 merchants listed, of which over one thousand are exclusive to them.

ShareASale publishes a large amount of data on each of the offers they are running, these include:

  • Earnings per Click
  • Reversal Rates
  • Average Sale Amount
  • Average Commission

The element that differentiate ShareASale from the competitors are the deep linking structure, which allows you to promote different products within the same category. Instead of promoting every different product from a company, you can promote the same type of product from several companies

For example search for “Throw pillows” and promote all those pillows from 4 different retailers.

Throw pillows

Another interesting feature is the video ads. Instead of having banners, you can promote products through videos provided by the merchants.

ShareASale pays out on the 20th of every month, assuming your account balance is more than $50.

Click here to visit ShareASale



5 – ClickBank



ClickBank is one of the oldest Affiliate Networks, founded in 1998 same year of CJ Affiliate and it’s now on the top 100 biggest retailers in the US and Canada. In 2015, it offered over 56,000 products in over 200 countries.

It is specialized for helping selling eBooks and digital content such as webinars and advice services. Recently thay have seen 12% growth in the cooking, food and wine category and a 56% growth in the ‘spirituality’ category.


  • Clickbank doesn’t require any pre-approval for affiliates. Absolutely anyone can apply and start promoting any type of products. This is great for new affiliates who don’t have websites and want to promote on a small scale.
  • ClickBank gravity score. This feature sets them aside from competitors. Clickbank invented the Gravity score, which essentially is a calculation of how popular a product is for a period of 8 weeks. The higher the number the better. As they say in their website, 100 Gravity score means that there is a lot fo competition for a product. But don’t let this put you off because lots of competition means lots of demand for that product. I would recommend when you choose a product to check they have a gravity score of at least 30.
  • Product stats. Clickbank adds up more information to a product such as how many times it has been sold, how much money affiliates are making from it, the amount affiliate will make in the future from recurring billing, chargebacks, refunds and conversion rates.
  • Payments: Clickbank pays often, every 2 weeks, assuming you have at least $10 in your account balance.
  • High commissions: many offers have commissions as high as 60% of the total value of a sale. Compared to Amazon (up to 10%), 60% is a very good percentage.



Because Clickbank allows everyone to sign up as an affiliate, this means many affiliates do not have any experience in selling and this can be a huge waste of time.

Click here to visit ClickBank


6 – Affiliate Window


Affiliate Window

Part of the Zanox Group, Affiliate Window provides instant access to over 1,600 brands globally across 77 sectors in 11 territories. It seems that in 2015 they have generated 39.5M sales and received a total of £196.7M in commissions.


Affiliate Windows pay 2 times a month in multiple currencies for a low threshold of as little as $20.

They differentiate themselves on transparency of payments, which they call “Traffic Light Payment System”, that shows the timescale when affiliates gets paid. It works as follow:

  • Green – Affiliates will be paid for all confirmed commissions regardless of when the Advertiser pays Affiliate Windows.
  • Amber – Affiliates will be paid for advertiser commissions only when payment for the corresponding invoice has been received by Affiliate Window.
  • Red – Publishers will be paid for advertiser commissions only when payment for the corresponding invoice, and the other outstanding invoices, have been received by Affiliate Window. The network would recommend publishers do not promote advertisers who are set to this status.


Another plus is their amazing support, they offer live chat for all affiliates and deal with every issue in a tamely manner.


They focus mainly in Europe, in the UK in particular. They still have a US presence and it’s increasing over time but nothing if compared with CJ, Amazon or Clickbank.

Click here to visit Affiliate Window



7 – Tradedoubler




Founded in 1999, Tradedoubler has grown into one of the world’s leading performance marketing companies. They are a small network if compared to the previous one; they provide around 2,000 advertiser brands and have an affiliate network of over 180,000 active publishers. In 2015 they generated around €2.1 billion in revenue for their clients through e-commerce and mobile commerce across 69 countries.


  • They provide some very distinctive, web development and formatting for new affiliates looking ot monetize their sites.
  • Also they look after payments, billing and provide a data suite with real time results of sale transactions.
  • Tradedoubler charges a sky high fee to retailers as high as €25,000. This means that affiliates will have the best choice of offers available because only huge companies can afford this entry fee.


  • Their support doesn’t seem to be very quick, they reply to support email after 5 days, which in affiliate marketing is a long time.
  • Unfortunately they don’t reveal any commission information until you create an account with them as affiliate. But I can tell you from experience that their commissions are as low as 10%.

Click here to visit Tradedoubler

8 – AvantLink



Founded in 2005, AvantLink is focussed on US, Canada and Australia only, not truly a global network but one that can provide the highets quality of merchants. It’s difficult to become an affiliate with AvantLink becuase they have a strict application process, i.e. they only select affiliates that have a website to promote ecommerce products. Bloggers, website owners, publishers can all join the network and earn a commission on sale (CPA).


Advanced feature called Link Encoder (ALE). This powerful function allows an affiliate website to automatically convert all existing links from your merchant into affiliate links. So instead of creating manually one affiliate link per each product you want to promote, Avantlink converts all products into affiliate links for you, so you will get quickly a list of products and start promoting wihtin minutes.

AvantLink explains this tool with an example:

Example: Let’s say you have a beauty blog / website that has been live for quite some time and you post regularly. Now you have a ton of content – both current and historical posts – and you want to go back and ensure that affiliate links are added so you’re able to monetize your content. The good news is that you don’t have to go through every single one of your posts.”

link encoder

Another good thing is that if you have a hot affiliate website with many visits and you can produce large volumes of sales, your chances of making money will increase thanks to the paid placements tools. Paid placement is a bidding system that allows merchants to bid to secure promotions from hot affiliates and if they want to beat competitions, they have to bid higher. As an affiliate you will receive many bids and the more sales you make the more high bids you will receive because merchants will want to compete to be on your website.

They make a payment when you reach $25 in account balance every month.


When you start you will only get up to 10% commissions so for a long time you won’t make much money with AvantLink.

They have a strict selection process, they only select affiliates with experience in copywriting, blogging, affiliates with large social media following and with websites useful for ecommerce merchants.

Click here to visit AvantLink

9 – MaxBounty



Founded in 2006, MaxBounty is not as big as CJ, Amazon or ClickBank, they only offer 1,500 compaigns to choose from within the following industries: market research, diet, dating, finance, real estate, social games, travel, downloads, education and a few more.


One of the distinctive features of MaxBounty is the $1,000 bonus to new affiliates. Yes, you heard me!

They gift new affiliates with $1,000 if you satisfy these conditions: you have to register as MaxBounty new affiliate, earn at least $1,000 each month for the first three months and in the forth month you are gifted with $1,000 bonus.

Weekly payments: you do not have to wait 1 month to see commissions in your bank account, MaxBounty pays you quickly every week with the most common payment methods: via Check, PayPal, Payoneer, eCheck, ACH, Wire, or even Bitcoin.

MaxBounty University: they offer free training for new affiliates. They are video based training program exclusively for MaxBounty affiliates.


Not so many industries to choose from if compared to CJ, Amazon and previous reviewed networks.

When you apply as an affiliate they will call you to ask if you have any experience in producing high volumes of sales. So the process to become an affiliate can actually be difficult.

They only offer a Cost-Per-Sale commission so you can’t earn anything from generating leads or clicks.

Click here to visit MaxBounty

10 – RevenueWire





RevenueWire is a comprehensive solution for ecommerce websites that want to outsource their sales to them. For affiliates, RevenueWire becomes RevenueAffiliates, the affiliate department dedicated 100% to affiliates promoting the ecommerce products. RevenueAffiliates offers only digital products, not phisical goods. This is similar to ClickBank.

They don’t disclose any information about number of offers but I know that they extend to over 200 countries worldwide and make payments in 63 different currencies so we can say it’s pretty big.


They select their advertisers strictly, which means they only recruit those companies that can pay high affiliates commissions. Their top affiliates earn over $250,000 a month!

They pay every 2 weeks so it’s pretty quick.

The commission can be ah high as 75% of the total product sales amount! This is way higher than most affiliate networks such as CJ, Amazon, ClickBank

Your payment will arrive as long as you have $25 in your account balance.



They are very strict in approving affiliate sales. This is due to several checks during the sale approval process, which can take a long time. Unfortunately with digital goods, there is a high number of frauds and RevenueWire doesn’t take any risk, they check everything.




Knowing which network is the best it’s not an easy task. In my opinion, these 10 networks differ so much from eachother that it’s hard to say who is the winner. Choosing which one is best for your affiliate needs goes down to what you need to promote and what your capabilities are. For example, if you look for quick payments, choose RevenueWire or MaxBounty, they pay weekly or by-weekly.

But if you look for a well known and respected company, go for Amazon Associates and CJ by Conversant.

I hope I have given you a good comparison of the top 10 affiliate networks globally.

Can I ask you a quick favour? This article reached 3,000 words, it took me 2 weeks of time to research and write this amazing amount of good information so please share this content for me! Thanks a lot!





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Content Marketing

What is smart content?

guest post

Note: this is a guest post. Authors bio below.

guest post

There is no doubt that in the world of marketing everyone wants to stand out from the crowd, however those days when content creation worked for everyone, is a thing of the past. The reason for this has to do with the fact that content marketing can also be counterproductive because as everyone knows it works, they focus all their efforts on generating more and more content to the degree that the Internet has a lot of information.

Hence the importance of working with smart content as a powerful value tool for advertisers trying to reach the right target audience with the right message at the right time.

Planning Your Smart Content Marketing

For those who are not sure where to start, the first thing to check is the data that is being collected. Next you must create a wish list of information that would be great to obtain from an ideal world of marketing. It is also desirable to ask about what kind of information is needed for better decision-making and then take all the necessary steps to close the gap, working on the analysis and with information technologies in order to create a unified database.

The company has to work with its product managers to make data collection the main product experience. By collecting data that is now required, you can minimize the amount of time that may be required later. That is, you can get a value proposition for advertisers much faster than competitors.

Related articles: Branded Content Or The Art Of Connecting With Your Target Audience

This can also indirectly offer more value to audiences and by creating smarter content you can better appeal to needs. Along with this, another of the things that can be done to generate smart content is to create dedicated email campaigns.

You can take the smart content generated for the email lists and tailor the messaging accordingly. Most importantly, companies will be able to collect information and make improvements immediately when viewing tracking metrics for mail marketing.

By creating smart content, you can also create a cycle of continuous improvement and value added for the audience and advertisers, all of which in the end will achieve the best results than with the generation of traditional content.


Author BIO:

Devoo Banna

Devoo Banna is the Customer Success Content Manager at DigitalMarketingTrends. He has been working at Digital Marketing Trends for over a year and is constantly pushing out new content to keep users engaged. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter

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Analytics Reporting

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager What is?

Google Tag Manager What is?

In this post I will try to explain you what is Google Tag Manager (GTM). Probably you have already heard about GTM when mentioning Google Analytics or Google AdWords. They are all brothers from the same family.

Tag Manager if a free tool from Google that allows you to insert a code snippet (tag) within the HTML of a website. In other words, it’s a tag management system. Ok, all cool, but what am I supposed to use this tag management tool for?


Tag Management System


Let’s make an example:

If you work for an organization and you have to manage several websites, you also must have experienced several marketing tags created from several marketing tools (Facebook Ads, Affiliate links, LinkedIn Ads, Analytics, AdWords, etc…). If you want to implement these tags you should insert them one by one into your website pages, which means involving developers or perhaps technical support. This means also that you will have to wait until they have some free time to do this job for you, probably they won’t insert the tag correctly and maybe more issues will arise that you didn’t think of. A huge mess!

With the Tag Management System, however, you can insert only 1 tag, one code snippet, making their life easier and yours too.



Google AdWords + Affiliate Links + Google Analytics + Facebook Ads + LinkedIn Ads + other tags = your website



One code snippet = your website


The result?

You’ll be faster and more efficient.

The main advantages are:

  • Speed: within a few minutes and a few steps you’ll implement the code into your website. You do not have to wait for technical implementation processes in your company…if you know what I mean!
  • Ease: thanks to the Google Tag Manager interface it’s easier to create and modify tags, triggers and variables. It’s a practical and fast way to play with tags for those who don’t eat and digest codes all day.
  • Reliability. You can check if you tag works instantly, so you can fix errors without asking your developers and without risking of losing your analytics data.



A closer look


Let’s have a closer look on how to use GTM for affiliate marketing.

Problem: The company you are promoting as an affiliate gave you their affiliate links and you need a report on the number of times these links, that you placed within your website, have been clicked by your users. In other words, you need to track users that move away from your website (outbound clicks).

Before Tag Manager, the only way to read this report was using a third party reporting tool, probably provided from your client or from another tool, perhaps a paid one.

With Google Tag Manager you can simply create a new tag, which is a container that includes some variables and triggers, which decide where the code has to be placed and when to activate it.

This way you can activate and deactivate the tag from Tag Manager, without touching a line of code within your website.

Lastly, you will need to check your Google Analytics to have a report on users that move away from your website.



  1. Google Tag Manager will create a code snippet, that you need to insert within the HTML code;
  2. You can create as many tag as you wish from the Tag Manager interface without touching a line of code.

Now that you know what tag Manager is, you can create your account and start using it!


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Affiliate Marketing

Reviews websites: how to make money even when you sleep…without actually working!

Affiliate Marketing Revenue

Affiliate Marketing Revenue

Let’s be honest…

You love making money online, don’t you?

And possibly, beside making money online, you might have already tried to be an affiliate…

If so, you are part of those who work as an affiliate, aren’t you?


…so let me guess.


You have sold other companies’ products online, you have started posting on social media about the features of this product and how good it is, perhaps you have written a review on Amazon and attached the affiliate link to it…hoping that someone would click to that link and go the brand’s website, purchase the product and finally you could receive the affiliate commission…

But this has actually never happened.

Nobody clicked on that affiliate link, no leads were created, nobody purchased that product, no pay check for you…

But where did I get it wrong?

You are not the first person to ask this question.

Everyone who does affiliate marketing sooner or later wonders how to make money online by promoting others companies’ products and monetize their efforts.


How do you make money with affiliate marketing?


In this post, I would like to provide some options on how to make money with affiliate marketing from my own experience in working as an affiliate for more than 5 years. I have managed my own blog, where I have written reviews and product descriptions to promote third party companies.

In this post, you will discover the following:

  • How to transform your product promotion into a job (that makes you money when you sleep);
  • The formula that nobody tells you on how to start successful partnerships with companies when promoting their products;
  • Strategies used by professional affiliate marketers to monetize with their blog;
  • How to get extra benefits when promoting someone else’s product or service.

Would you like to step out of the crowd and reach these objectives just like I have done? Good, then keep reading.

Warning: this post is also for companies, not just for individuals!

The strategies described here today are also useful for companies, that can always find this information useful to understand how their affiliates work. So even if you are a company, keep reading because you will discover how people promote your products.


How to transform your product promotion into a job (that makes you money when you sleep)


In the US and English speaking countries in general, the most part of affiliates start this activity spontaneously and quickly.

The reason why everyone starts affiliate marketing is because they want to make money and promote a product that they think it’s useful to have.

There aren’t many affiliates who started with a strategy in mind, setting up objectives, making this activity a proper business.

But like every other online activity, there is a period of trial…that is not longer than 1 month, in some cases even less, 2 weeks. If you see results within 1 month, then you keep going, otherwise you drop it.

Being an affiliate means doing lots of different things:

  • Find the proper product with good conversion rates;
  • Calculating profits and losses;
  • Writing product descriptions;
  • Attaching affiliate links to every product review;
  • Promote your own descriptions and reviews;
  • Interact with social media and other bloggers;
  • Build a website and bring traffic to it.

In 1 month, you should be able to understand whether these activities are right for you. You also have to understand if you can do all of them or just a few and for how long (once a week or more often?)


Why would you promote someone else’s product?


The success of your affiliate marketing activity doesn’t come from how you do it, what you promote and when, but from who you are promoting to…your audience.

I am not talking about volumes here (which are also important, but don’t get too stressed about them), but about quality.

At what stage do you realize that affiliate marketing is working for you?

  • When people thank you for making them discover a new product;
  • When companies start to approach you, and ask you to promote their products.

Then it means you are becoming popular, authoritative. This means things are getting serious.

That’s the moment in which, those who started as a hobby then ask himself:


now what? 

Now the going gets tough, there is a decision to take, you need to understand your weaknesses and strengths and you must choose between the following:

  • If you want to become a professional affiliate, you need to buy a domain name, write decent reviews of your products, inform people of what you do and become a one stop shop website that offers constant advice on new products and services; you need a logo and lots, lots of information to provide to potential customers.
  • Or you can stop moving forward and stay still, just the way you are.

Without any problems, no hard feelings. You can still promote a product occasionally, put a new product in front of your friends and family.

Basically, you get the smallest piece of the cake.

If big companies contacted you to start promoting their products, it means you are really good in what you do, it means you stand out of the crowd, whose promotions last 1 day and don’t produce any result for anyone.

You need to move quickly, take your pyjama off, put some smart clothes on and welcome visitors in your virtual home:


Your reviews website.

Thanks to the new suit, your business can start and a new world of opportunities will be welcoming you.

A world that is not easy, that is very competitive.

It’s a competitive world, where you can’t network with other affiliates and there is too much focus on creating money making machines. However, in the affiliate marketing world, there is space for everyone.

Because the Internet belongs to everyone.

You don’t have to please everyone, it’s just enough if you choose your niche market, your own followers and the game is started.

But, most of all, you must be committed. If there is something I have learned myself in these 5 years of affiliate marketing is that commitment bring results.

What type of commitment?

  • Be persuasive
  • Write detailed reviews
  • Answer people’s queries and questions. All these aspects are very much appreciated by organizations that approach you because they show you know your game and you are available to solve people’s problems.

But let’s talk about how to generate a revenue from partnerships with companies, by promoting them on your reviews website.

First of all, we need to differentiate two types of revenue:

  • Direct revenue
  • Indirect revenue


Direct affiliate revenue


It’s the type of revenue that brings you money directly into your bank account.

Without much ado.

You basically provide a service followed by:

  • A receipt for the performance (the minimum amount will depend upon the fiscal rules within your country);
  • Invoice (if you have a VAT)

…and the client pays you.


Money. Cash.


Obviously, the amount is proportional to the numbers and volumes and at some point, you will discover that you can’t go over that amount, unless you have a team of people that work for you and you can aim at higher targets (which means $50,000 a month and over).

How do you monetize a review website to get a direct revenue?

There are many ways to monetize your reviews website. I have written a lot about it on this post.

Some of the services you will offer can lead to more permanent relationships or, at least, long term ones.

This is how you can monetize your reviews website:

  • Blog posts: you can get paid for writing and publishing a post about a product or a topic, which includes the affiliate link to the client’s website. These are, in most cases, the easiest ways to get paid directly into your bank account. Can I give you an advice? Accept those offers only if they are relevant to your audience/ topic; there is the risk you lose your credibility, otherwise.
  • Banner: this is a good option when your got volumes on your website. Normally the click through rate is very low, so it makes sense publishing some banners only if you have a large audience.
  • Real affiliations. You receive a commission for each conversion that you produced from your review website. It depends on the type of commission, you can earn more or less. I have written extensively about how to set up a strategy on this post.
  • Writing reviews for other websites. There are many websites out there that outsource reviews to external consultants and affiliates. If you are good in writing, you will get noticed and you can join their staff to work remotely. You can share your experiences about products and get some benefits for your own website, like increasing your social followers, since you will share your posts on your accounts.
  • Attend conferences and trainings days. If you get invited to an event or a conference you can speak about affiliate marketing, where you will be asked to talk about a specific topic within the industry. You can request a payment for the job, like a participation fee.
  • Sell eBooks, info products. If you are a real expert in your area you can do like I am doing here, open your own blog and sell your own eBook. You won’t get much money from them, but you get a lot of exposure and all the benefits I have talked about above will be amplified because of the eBook.
  • Brand ambassador. When you are expert in a niche market, companies can appoint you brand ambassador or testimonial. You can test their products before they are launched into the market and tell your experience on the web. Obviously we are talking about paid jobs and if you add conferences, banners, reviews, you can get to a decent level of revenue!


I would say it’s not bad, isn’t it?


Now to the direct revenue, you can add the indirect one too.


Indirect affiliate revenue


Indirect revenues are benefits.

Affiliates are often given certain bonuses, including the following:

  • Free products and services;
  • Occasional gifts;
  • Free hotel and trips to attend conferences.

Me personally, I do not have time for those trips as I got a family and I tend to decline all invitations. However, with time, I have developed a strategy myself that allows me to make money online even when I sleep.

You just need to have a clear project in your mind that you can pitch to:

  • eCommerce companies;
  • People responsible for the marketing of some companies;

Since we are talking about a very specific niche that only few people talked about, I have decided to product an eBook myself, which is a 120 pages book that explain step by step the right strategy for an affiliate (and also for a company) to build their own affiliate activity.

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How to build a publisher’s revenue strategy that actually works

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Media companies are under a lot of pressure to meet requirements of their readers and their clients. According to a research from eConsultancy, 40% of publishers describe their digital ad revenue as shrinking or static in 2015.

Publihsers revenue


Among the causes of this decreased revenue, we have Adblock on the rise. This cause is not, tough, a bad news for publishers, it can be taken as a motivation to improve their digital advertising and revenue streams. Like any other business type, you only make money when you make your stakeholders happy. In the case of publishers, stakeholders are readers, if you start to inundate them with unwanted and unrequested pop-ups, banners and things of this sort, automatically you can expect your business to suffer too in the long run. Even if you might be able to sell a few banners, you can’t think that in the long run people will like them.

To support my statement, research shows how ineffective and annoying banners are and this could be enough to convince you that it’s not the right decision to take, or at least it’s not the right commercial pathway to success. When it comes to a commercial decision on how to increase / create new revenue for publishers, there is another way. I am not saying that the following way is “the way”, that you must use it, but it’s a suggestion on how to improve your revenue as a publisher.

The most obvious option to make money for publishers is to increase and repeat the audience share. The biggest are your readers, the more you can charge clients when they want to buy advertising spaces for you. You might argue that increasing the audience is something that requires time, investment and skills. The other option is to make your audience so of high quality that your clients cannot live without. You know they say “Content is king”, we can say “Audience is king”.

1- Social Media audience

Now, the challenge on how to increase the audience can be done with $0 budget. How to do this? Simple, increase your social media followers. There are plenty of guides on how to increase your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

The reason why I suggest to increase social media followers for publishers is that it has been demonstrated that social media, Facebook in particular (despite my dislike for the privacy issues of the platform), are the best audience generators, both in terms of volumes of new visitors and returning visitors.

Social Media are not your competitors; they are your allies. Even the Domnic Carter, Chief Commercial Officer of the Times, one of the UK biggest Media and News company, said in a recent speech at Technology for Marketing in London (which I have attended), that they use Social Media as their allies.

Sharing news on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter needs a mini strategy on its own, there are plenty of best practices to follow for link bait, building better headlines, how to engage people on social media, etc…it’s not in the scope of this article to explain what these strategies are, maybe I can produce a new article just on this topic.

Anyways, the main point is that growing your audience on your website by improving those visitors’ channels sources can increase your value to clients.

In the company I work for, one of the most frequently asked questions we have from clients is: “How big is your audience?”. We are in a B2B environment, we produce news for a specific niche of people that we can count to the thousands, not the millions. We talk about news in the workboat and offshore marine industry, we don’t provide global news and issues. How many readers can we possibly get in the entire world? Even with our best marketing efforts and with our biggest investment, we are not able to get more than 2,000 readers a day on www.maritimejournal.com.

But because the volumes are small, our clients are not impressed and this causes confidence issues with our sales and business development team, who are constantly challenged on how to justify the value of our advertising spaces, whatever they might be.

No matter how many times we tell our clients that our audience is composed of quality people, that our readers are CEOs, Chiefs of Marketing, Chief Engineers, Naval Engineers, Project Managers and all the people in the top management positions within the maritime industry; no matter how much emphasis we put on audience quality; no matter how many times we repeat that we are not in the numbers’ game, clients still are not impressed.

The solution to this issue like I mentioned before is building an audience. When I say this, I don’t want to contradict myself, I am not after the volumes, what I mean is that social media can be used to create a pipeline of readers that are loyal to your brand.

The next step is getting rid of banners and focus on delivering quality information to your new acquired audience. This is when native advertising comes into play. Because I mentioned the issues with Adblock before, native advertising has the big advantage of not being blocked by adblockers. Native articles, sponsored articles, editorial pieces that are sponsored by a client and fit into your brand guidelines are the next product that could generate enough revenue.

The other reason native ads are a good idea is that it provides information to readers that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. This about a product review (sponsored), a new event to attend description (sponsored) and new product release from a company (sponsored), these are all piece of advertising that provide useful information to readers, for this reason marketers avoid to pronounce the A word (Advertising) when it comes to native, it’s not really advertising, it’s an approach to revenue that has a higher value for both stakeholders: your readers and your clients.

2- 4 native advertising best practices

The first thing to keep in mind when writing a piece of native ad, is that you are not an editor (unless of course you are), you are primarily a marketer writing a piece of content that is paid for. So the first thing to do is the following:

  • Mentioning the sponsored side of the article. Transparency is critical, you have to say that the article is “sponsored” because people are not stupid, the most critical minds will leave your site and never come back if they notice you are trying to fool them.
  • Add another level of transparency by informing your readers who promoted the article so for example you can add a “Sponsored by Coca Cola” so you give an idea of who asked for this native article to be published on your website.
  • Next to the sponsored and promoted by… you need to add the company logo, this will deliver recall and it represents an added value for your client who is investing in your audience. Required brand logo 1:1 aspect ratio and 50 pixel minimum.
  • Mobile experience. Make sure the native ad is visible on all these components from a mobile perspective, you don’t want to miss the opportunity of your readers changing devices.

3- Keyword research audience

In addition to the audience you already have on your website and the audience you have created on Social Media, you can also – if you have the skills – find new audience by keywords using search engines. AdWords and Bing are two places that allow you to access new audience on the widest possible scale. By utilising keywords, search engines can bring new targeted audience to the native article, thus amplifying the effect of your audience reach.

4- Put everything together: you got a new product to sell!

Ops, you got a new product to sell! The native side, the social media element and the search engine component are three elements of a new product for your clients.

What am I talking about?

If you put these three elements together, you have created a bespoke package that delivers access to not only your audience, but also new targeted audience using a combination of paid posts on social media, AdWords and a sponsored article on your website.

The advantage of the three elements put together is that you can drive traffic from social media and search engines to a sponsored article. In this way, you can offer added value to your clients because you solve them a few problems:

  • Finding new audience online for their sponsored article
  • Getting targeted traffic based on keywords, social media demographics and your own website’ audience
  • Get the opportunity to talk extensively about their new product/ service in an article of 1,000 words or more;
  • Not being blocked by Adblocks, if alternatively, they would use banners to promote something
  • Produced new traffic to the client’s website;

On the other side, you have provided real value to your readers by:

  • Giving information and details about something new
  • Provided transparency on who and why wrote the article
  • If you wrote right, you also entertained and informed with videos, images and interesting content.

5- The skills to make this happen

As with every new strategy in business, you need the right people at the right place.

For the article production, you need editors that are willing to sacrifice a bit of their editorial integrity towards revenue by producing sponsored content. This is not easy to do, sometimes editors refuse to get themselves involved into something that doesn’t offer journalistic value. If they refuse, you need to hire a content marketer or train the editor, the choice is yours.

AdWords specialist, someone that can conduct keywords research for the specific client and the specific sponsored article, so to offer a bespoke AdWords campaign tailored only to the specific client.

Social Media Manager, someone who can run paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and possibly Instagram or any other social media that you believe your audience is involved in. You can learn yourself from unlimited tutorials on YouTube how to start paid ads on social media. This should be enough to start making a few campaigns.

Business Development Manager, the person who can make your leads enthusiastic about your audience and the whole proposal, has experience in sales and can easily explain complex digital marketing campaigns in simple terms.

6- The revenue potential

Once you got the package together, you have given it a name, produced some brochures and trained your business development team, the last step is to figure out how to make money out of this. The package obviously has some benefits as discussed above, but it’s up to your organization, your team, your resources to decide how much you want to charge your client.

But I am happy to give a few considerations and advices. Make a P&L scenario to understand what are the expenses for running this product and try to figure out, from the loss number, the breakeven number. For example, if you need to spend £5,000 as an organization every month to make this product attractive to your clients, then you need to divide £5,000 per the number of sales you can make. Is this 5 or 10? If it’s 5 sales a month, then you can charge each client £1,000 per native article, plus related components.  If you, instead, can sell 10 of these packages, you can charge £500 per client. Or you can follow this guide.

The decision is totally up to you and your organization, you can decide whether you want to increase revenue or number of clients. If it’s revenue you should charge more, if it’s client you can charge less to make client acquisition an easier target.


Making money for publishers doesn’t have to be a hard and long process, it can be simple and straightforward if you know how to add value for your clients and your readers.

The new product package is a pure product development process that needs some skills in digital marketing. But as you have seen, it can be done with $0 budget, if you have experience with social media and AdWords.

You can also take AdWords out of the game (or Social Media), if you don’t know how to use it and never ran a campaign before. In this case the value you provide is a bit smaller but still very attractive. Just remember to put the native sponsored article in the centre of your campaigns and drive traffic there to amplify the audience.

This way your sales team won’t miss the confidence necessary to sell the right stuff to your clients, the value is there, benefits as well.


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How long does it take for backlinks to influence ranking? The case of directory entries

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During my job at the company I work for, I was asked to find ways for our sales team to increase the company digital offering by supplying them with extra sales collateral. In other terms, our company sells directories, among other collaterals, which are mini webpages within our websites for companies that want to be


listed and found by potential customers. For example, a directory entry contains information about the client’s name, address, contact details, core business and it’s ordered in categories. Also, the directory leads to the client’s website and contains their email address so potential clients can contact them.

Our sales team has the necessity to find a value for money, so when they sell to a client a new directory entry, they can find benefits and advantages.

My job is to provide these benefits to enhance the offering and make the sales team’s job easier, thus increasing the company’s growth (revenue).


Nobody cares abour Page Views

At most basic level, Google Analytics supplies a lot of information about directories traffic on device, country, traffic source, etc… Types of reports you can build is virtually unlimited. The problem is that our company is a B2B company, we don’t produce huge volumes of traffic, we have never had in the last 12 years since our websites existed. What we produce are different type of sales collaterals that we provide to our potential clients:

  • Traffic behaviour. Determining who are the people visiting our websites, what directories entries they visit, what do they look for, how long do the stay on the website. These metrics give us an idea of how they behave with us.
  • Time on site, page views, bounce rates are typical information that help understand what people find interesting on the website and how much they like it.
  • Organic, PPC, Social, Referral and the most obvious grouping are also important to understand how people find our website, what keywords they use.


Therefore nobody cares about our directory entries

The problem with these collaterals is that clients are not impressed. They buy the directory once, they receive these GA reports, they see numbers are low and don’t think a directory entry can produce any type of result for their investment.

They are right, but only if you look from the volumes perspective.

If you look at the numbers, they are low. Really low. A typical directory entry is viewed on average 15 times a year. How do we explain this? The reason is that we have listed on our website over 1,000 companies and we got 1,000 visitors a day. Some of these visitors, normally 10%, visit directories entries, the rest of them just read our news. No wonder every directory entry has such a low number of visits.

This is a real turn off for our clients, who think the money is not worth the investment from their marketing budget. They prefer to spend elsewhere.

The counter argument would be that we are not in the numbers game, as I said before, we don’t provide huge volumes, we never have. But is this sufficient to persuade them of our directories value?


What value can directories provide to our clients’ websites?

If it’s not the volumes, it’s not the leads, what is? Why shall clients buy a directory form our website? What return on investment can we offer them? Is this just a complete failure or can we find something good?

I have always tried hard to find benefits where people don’t see any. Our websites exist since 2004 and every SEO knows that this is a good piece of information for search engines, this means websites are ranking since back then.

Value n.1: good domain authority

So what I have done was trying to determine the domain authority by downloading the Moz bar on Google Chrome. The Moz toolbar gives you domain and page authority information and this is one of the most used tool sets for SEOs.

Second, having identified that the domain authority for was not bad (43/100),  I have then built the sale collateral.  See table below.

Value n.2: comparison with competitors

The next piece of information that makes the puzzle complete was collecting our competitors’ domains authorities. Since our industry is pretty much at the stone age when it comes to websites, UX, SEO, design, comparing the 43/100 domain authority with our competitors became a satisfying exercise. I have found out that out of 7 competitors, only 1 had a better domain authority than us, which was 48/100. Every other website had a low authority, some of them as low as 21/100.

This was the first good news for our sales team, I have built them a comparison table to raise their confidence that our websites are of better quality from SEO perspectives than our competitors’.

The table looked like this below:

SEO Attributes Our website Competitor 1 Competitor 2
Domain authority 43/100 21/100 48/100
Home page authority 55/100 30/100 55/100
Other attributes number number number


Value n.3: Improved SEO ranking

The next question is: why is domain authority so important? Can it really become a sale push?

Now this is the most tricky and difficult part of the entire experiment.

Assumptions: Plenty of SEO research shows that good domain authorities websites are those website you want to have links from. This is because the link juice can be transferred from their website to your website, basic link building tactic.

Because of the good domain authority of our website and because of how long it has been ranking, its backlinks and the value and amount of fresh content we provide every day, it makes it a very attractive place to build links on behalf of our clients.

Methods: we have taken a sample of 35 clients, added those 35 clients into different directory entries, one for each of them, created links to their websites from selected keywords.

Example: the links on their keywords followed all good practices, so hyperlink with anchor text with the same destination page of the client. For example, if a client has a product page about “air conditioning”, their link from our directory would have “air conditioning” as anchor text and link to that page.

We also added optimized images, videos and lots of text on our directory to push the value and make Google bots life easier when crawling the directory page.

Monitoring: we have monitored client’s ranking before we published their directory entry and after, on a weekly basis and create an Excel report that keep track of these fluctuations in SERPs.

Period of time: 8 weeks.

Limitations: we don’t have direct control of our client’s websites, so the increase in ranking could not be entirely merit of our high authority and linking, it might be due to a good website that our clients already have, so we don’t know for sure how Google valued all the SEO elements that contribute to the improved ranking and which weight Google gave to each of them.



SERPs fluctuations

Average SERPs fluctuations

From the results above we can see fluctuations on SERPs for our clients’ websites. But in average for the 35 clients on week 1 (before we created the directories with the link), they were ranking on average 39 (end of Google page 4). After the experiment on week 8 we managed to improve the ranking to position 23 (top of Google page 3).

This means that some clients will rank on page 1, while others struggle on page 5-6-7 of search engines, but on average the ranking has improved.


A new arrow on your bow

These results had a strong impact in the way our sales team pitch the directories to our clients. The basic Google Analytics reports that once were used to show trends are now abandoned towards a more sophisticated approach.

The most important take away for our sales team is that, while it’s true our directories still get few page visits, which doesn’t seem a very persuasive argument, directories now have an impact on our client’s SERPs, which is far more powerful than any other sale collateral.


Towards an agency-as-a-service transformation

In our limitations above, we have identified that one of the problems of this research is that we don’t know what clients do on their website (that’s why we can’t always win SERPs for them). Therefore we can develop further sales collateral by getting their logins for GA and Search Analytics.

With those two new toolsets, which are the daily tools SEOs use, we can improve their ranking even more by looking at their data and giving recommendations to our clients on how to improve the website.

This switch of service we provide, from a pure directory listing to a 360 degree SEO service can really transform the way my company advice our clients to have a more positive impact on their SERPs.


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What makes a good digital marketing report?

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Building and delivering a great digital marketing report for your clients can present some obstacles (and how to overcome them).

I recently started creating customised reports for our clients at the company I work for. I thought that this would be a simple task to do: just put together all stats from different campaigns channels into one document, add some charts to make it look nice and make the report available on a weekly basis to the client.
However, the more I was working on building the report, the more I realized that was an big amount of non sense. I have started having doubts on the utility of this report (it happens to question when I work independently): what does the report really say about the campaign? What type of decision can we take to reach the campaign objectives or to improve it? Are the objectives even feasible or just a result of a SMART exercise? Are we even sure clients see the value of what we deliver?

This is obvious for many but not for me. I suddenly realized the report to be considered good has to be of exceptional value. A good report is really vital.

In digital marketing, as opposed to traditional marketing (print, billboards etc…) everything can be reported, you can measure everything. This is why reports are the result of your efforts and set the bar of performance. While in printed ads you cannot tell how many people interact, in digital you can. Numbers don’t lie. A weekly report makes clients happy because it shows the progress of your campaigns. It can compare forecast and actual results to see where we are going and how we are achieving objectives.

The article focuses on what we should look at when we build a report and what we want our clients to know to make them happy.

Nobody cares about your metrics

Eveyrbody knows that a good report should contain informatoin about the most obvious. If you are doing, for example, a report on PPC campaigns, then you need top search queries, quality score, CTR, impressions, clicks, possibly conversions and conversion rates, to start with. These are generic metrics that I set up and we can go on dozens of different details but it’s not the scope of this article. We are trying to determine what metrics make sense.

When I say that nobody cares about your metrics, I am referring to the CTR, quality score etc…nobody cares. Is the objective of your campaign to have a good quality score? Who cares about it. AdWords became too expensive for everyone and this makes quality score completely irrelevant. The biggest worry is how to make money from it.

Set up objectives beforehand

SMART objectives are not just a pointless exercise, they are the fundamental part of your strategy, they can impact your client’s relationship. If you agree in advance of what the main objectives are, you can then work on your tactics. Reports should then reflect this!

If you start by making objectives right, then you are half way through success. It’s like someone says “I want to cross the ocean”. And then you reply “have you got a boat?”, if the answer is no, then you got your first objective, building the boat. Reports should then reflect how the building process is going and how it’s improving over time.

What’s wrong with your campaigns?

Another good practice is to look in the report at areas that clearly need improvement. I like to start with priorities and give it a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 is the most important and 10 the less important issue to focus on. Again, this depend so much on the objective you set up at the beginning.


Most viewed directory entries on my website

This reports for example shows that my client’s directory entry, Sabik, is the third most viewed directory on the entire website. The problem is: how good is this? Is it good enough? Is there anything wrong?

It depends, again. If my objective is to increase the directory’s entry page views then it’s probably a good result. But if the client spends thousands of pounds to be there, then it’s probably not good enough.

having the big picture in mind at strategic level, will help you focus more on tactics on how to go from position 3 ot position 1 and improve your campaign. In order to do this, you can look deeper into every channel that sends traffic

Report score

Report score

I have a look at main KPIs and give it a score on the different levels (directory traffic, native article traffic, etc…). What I am doing is trying to understand the impact each channel, Faceboo, Twitter, LinkedIn, AdWords, Native Article to each KPI and then calculate with a simple Excel formula AVERAGE what’s the total impact for the channel.

The information I get is used for investigating more into each channel to find out why is not performing as it should. What’s wrong with the campaign? Find this out from the report score.

Logical thinking

If you show this logical thinking broke down into steps, then you can have a clear picture.

1- Directory traffic underperforming on AdWords?

2- This means AdWords doesn’t contribute to the directory traffic

3- Since AdWords is set up for search ads and display ads, this means probably there aren’t enough clicks to the ad

4- This can be explained in many ways: you do not have any Site Link, not suing add extensions, no extended headlines, no call to action.

5- Check all these best practices and see if the traffic improves.

6- Go back to the report score and update the number for AdWords.

This way you should see traffic increase on the directory entry for Sabik, which will lead to increase in the top most viewed directory entries on your website. Which was the first objective of the campaign.

Format matters

Once you have figured out that improving the original objective can be done by using the report, you have completed half the job. You have achieved what it makes more sense to achieve: that the numbers you show your clients are finalized to the main objective and what decisions you can take to improve the campaign.

The last part of building a good digital marketing report is the format. Adding charts to compare the good with the bad and the ugly, choosing colours, choosing type of diagrams are fundamental in the look and professionality.

What I like to add in my reports are these elements:

  • Brief summary of the campaigns
  • Channel summary
  • Priority of issues
  • Report score
  • Steps taken on how to fix issues
  • Report itself
  • Conclusion

The last thing you need to do is finding an automated reporting tool that can allow you to pull information directly from the channels you use. This way all you need to focus on is improving the campaign, by saivng time and effort from building and sending it.


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