Monday, January 30, 2006

Monetizing as a Service

Podcast.

Despite the fervor about "monetized" domain names that consist of little else but links to ads, don't be deceived. That's not the best way to make money with your affiliate programs. The best way, at least at this point, still involves traffic -- traffic you've generated from the quality and intrinsic value of your site. Don't alienate your hard-earned traffic by surrounding them with distracting, chaotic banners, chicklets, and text links. Instead, use the tips below to carefully craft a plan that will optimize click-throughs and conversions to commission-bearing sales.

1. Avoid cognitive overload. Don't stick up random ads and try not to overdo the ads. Don't create a forest of virtual billboards. The result is clutter and an enormous distraction, which means that all will be ignored.

2. Understand your audience and their needs. Get to know where they want to be. Provide tools (or products) to help them get there.

3. Why are they here? What do they want? Understand what motivates your visitors to browse your website in the first place. What do they expect to gain by visiting? What do they expect to take away? What are the benefits, specifically, that they expect to derive from visiting your site.

4. Life is good -- and even better with the products you recommend. Make a list of life and work-enhancing products and services that relate directly to your readers. Connect them to your own ultimate mission and vision. This will help you align your own goals with the needs and desires of your readers. It can lead to an understanding of how to develop a sustainable site.

5. Don't throw away the past. Build on it and make it work for you! Develop ways to link the present with the past. Do not throw away what you've developed. Create archives. Create easy-to-follow indices. Then, find ways to identify the best product.

6. The future is golden - tell your visitors how. Anticipate the future. Envision the future with as much specificity as you can. Prepare yourself mentally and set the stage.

7. One-of-a-kind products, offered only by YOU. Develop unique products to market on your site. Do this after you fully understand the needs of your visitors, and the kind of readers you'd like to attract. Avoid getting into products that will simply place you in competition with others offering the same product but at a lower price. Focus on value-add, and customize in order to make your product differentiatable from others.

8. Integrity, quality, trust. It matters. Ethics and core values.

9. How, then, shall we affiliate? Affiliate relationships: direct? or, via an aggregator such as google adsense? How do you decide?

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