Why Get Into Affiliate Marketing?

With the advent of business bookmarking, earning profits is a goal not only for firms advertising their products and services on the web, but also for the common web user, through a program called Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing, basically, is a relationship or an agreement entered between two websites, with one site being the merchant’s website and the other being the affiliate’s site.

In this relationship, the affiliate allows the merchant to advertise his products on the affiliate’s site. The merchant, on the other hand, agrees to pay the affiliate in whatever method or payment term they have agreed into. This generally means easy income for the affiliate, as he/she would do nothing but place the retailer’s/merchant’s ad on his site. This would also prove to be truly advantageous for the merchant, as getting affiliates to advertise their products would be a less costly than hiring an advertising firm to endorse and market their products.

Affiliate marketing is considered easy, and is probably one of the finest ways to earn profits online, unless otherwise you are a businessman and would rather sell your own products online than advertise other merchant’s products on your site. However, even online retailers can benefit from affiliate marketing programs, since affiliate marketing truly works for both merchants and affiliates.

There are a wide array of modes on how a merchant would compensate the affiliate for his services, and for the webmaster, these methods simply translate to the method by which he would earn quick profits. Among the more regular methods of compensation are the pay-per-click method, the pay-per-lead method, and the pay-per-sale method.

The pay-per-click method is the mode most preferred by affiliates, since their site’s visitors would only have to visit the advertiser’s site for them to gain cash. Gaining good profit on affiliate marketing programs, however, does not depend so much on the compensation method as it does on the traffic spawned by your site. A website that can attract more visitors would usually have the greater chance of earning from affiliate marketing programs.

In this program, the affiliates play a crucial role. Affiliates are marketers who work on a commission or bounty basis. It is estimated that there are over one million affiliate marketers and they vary in size from a single individual or entity, to companies of several hundred, or even a thousand. Affiliate Marketers put up websites to draw communities of consumers. These communities are generally vertical or topic specific in nature and consist of chat rooms, blogs, and informational websites.

Affiliates attract thousands of interested users who are offered products and services that are in tune with their interests. Affiliates exhibit your ads to their website visitors in hopes that the visitor will purchase a product or service. Affiliate identification links are implanted in the destination URL to track and report the sales on your website back to the affiliate accountable for conveying you the buyers. The affiliate networks track the sales and manage the payment or bounty that is paid to each affiliate.

This method, however, doesn’t come for free, and usually can cost some money. Website hosting, website development, which covers the tools or the services of a web developer, and marketing are usually stuff you need to pay for, and becoming a successful affiliate takes a great deal of time and patience.

7 Tips On How To Select A Good Fundraising Auctioneer

Although it may sound cliche, it’s true. A good Fundraising Auctioneer does not cost you money. A good Fund Raising Auctioneer will make you money. As a matter of fact, a good Auctioneer can be worth his/her weight in gold because they can raise your entire year’s budget and more…in one single night.

When your group or organization is searching for a Fund Raising Auctioneer, here are seven important tips to help you select the best Auctioneer for you.

1) Auction Industry Experience: Auctioneers are not all the same. Just as Doctors and Lawyers have different levels of experience and different areas of specialty, so do Auctioneers. Some Auctioneers have considerable experience while others are fresh out of Auction School. Most Auctioneers are generalists; others are specialists. Some have excellent reputations, others do not. Some specialize in Fund Raising Auctions, others could care less about them. And if you select the wrong Auctioneer to handle your event, your decision could cost you dearly. Your objective should be to locate an Auctioneer with considerable experience, an impeccable reputation, and someone who understands the intricacies of running a highly successful Auction, from start to finish,

2) Fund Raising Auction Experience: Not all Auctioneers make good Fundraising Auctioneers. Automobile Auctioneers are often considered to be the best in the business because they talk fast, and sell fast, selling perhaps 150 cars per hour. That rapid fire approach works well with cars, and on television (can we say “Barrett-Jackson Auctions”). It does not necessarily work well with Fund Raising Auctions because most attendees at your event are not Auction-oriented. Some are uncomfortable with the Auction process because it’s new to them. Many have never attended an Auction before, and your Auctioneer needs to move somewhat slower to cater to their needs. An experienced Fundraising Auctioneer will understanding how to deal with your audience, how to read your crowd, and how to generate more money for your cause.

3) Reputation and Name Recognition: Your objective is to hire the best Fundraising Auctioneer available. Which one do you hire? Often the best approach is to find out who the other non-profit groups in your area are using. If the same name keeps popping up, it’s appearing for a reason. And that reason is because those groups are happy with that Auctioneer’s performance and the amount of money that Auctioneer is raising for their group. Some Auctioneers have wonderful reputations and are highly regarded in the community; others are not so highly respected. Be sure you find one who will represent you well.

4) Pre-Event Ideas and Innovation: An experienced Fund Raising Auctioneer will usually have a better understanding of how to run these events than your entire committee combined. Most non-profit Fund Raising Committees have one or two paid staff members and the rest are volunteers, often having little or no Auction experience. Committee turnover usually means that experienced volunteers will be replaced with inexperienced volunteers, which further compounds the problem. A good Fund Raising Auctioneer will get you through this. They will meet with your committee prior to the event. They will help you understand what sells best, what doesn’t sell well, how and where to acquire sellable merchandise, and how to run a smooth and successful event. We are aware of instances where the auction revenue more than doubled in just one year as a result of the recommendations made by the Auctioneer. This service alone is worth any fee that you pay to your Auctioneer.

5) Enthusiasm For Your Cause & Event: You can find the best Auctioneer in the world, but if they are not enthusiastic about your event, find another Auctioneer. Enthusiasm is contagious and your crowd will clearly sense if your Auctioneer believes in what you are doing, or is simply going through the motions and doesn’t really want to be there. Your Auctioneer represents your organization at the podium, so be certain to hire someone who projects the best possible image for your group.

6) Salesmanship. The Ability to Work a Room: This is what separates the professional Auctioneer from the inexperienced volunteer. All too many groups have the mistaken belief that if they secure the services of an unpaid volunteer to call the Auction, they will be saving themselves money. But the truth is that this decision costs them money. A “Volunteer Auctioneer” is usually someone known to the group, e.g. a board member, a parent, a local politician or a local celebrity. That individual may feel comfortable in front of a group, but they don’t know how to squeeze money out of the room. A good Auctioneer can work the room, they can sense when the bidding is done, they will move the Auction along quickly, and will always solicit more bids from the room than any volunteer Auctioneer.

7) Special Pledge Appeals: A Special Pledge Appeal can often double or triple the amount of money raised at a Fund Raising Auction…in only a matter of minutes. But far too few groups take advantage of this Fund Raising tool. If you find an Auctioneer who satisfies Tips #1 – #6, and who is also effective at implementing a Special Pledge Appeal…look no further. That Auctioneer is an experienced Fund Raising Auctioneer, they understand the true power of Fund Raising Auctions, and will be able to raise considerable amounts of money for your group…year after year.

In summary, don’t judge the Auctioneer by the fee that they charge. Rather, consider all of the pre-event support, innovative fund raising ideas, auction-day bid calling, the increased revenue stream they bring, and the overall success of your event. When all is considered, if you selected the right Auctioneer, at the end of the night your crowd will be saying “Thank You for letting us spend our money with you. We will be back next year…with our friends”. That is the ultimate sign of a successful Fund Raising Auction.

Does Your Forum Suffer ‘Toxic Forum Syndrome’?

As a student of human nature, as well as a long-time forum member and owner, I am in a good position to offer some general thoughts (call it a rant if you like!) and guidelines regarding ‘net based forums. I guess I am as qualified as any to comment from the user’s side of the equation. Currently, I read or post to a least a dozen forums per day, some revolving around my line of work and others related to my hobbies and interests: fitness, health, bodybuilding, longevity, weight loss, audio-video, military, law enforcement, firearms-to name a few.

I can also comment from the owner’s side, as my two forums-Fat Loss Revealed and Bodybuilding Revealed-have over 10,000 active members. Not the largest forums on the ‘net for sure, but not small time either.

This article is not about how to market a forum to “drive” traffic or anything like that. Rather, this article is concerned with the culture of a forum, which directly impacts its long-term success. These comments are based on what I have seen and experienced, as both a long time forum user and owner, about the major downfalls and mistakes that ultimately lead to unhappy members.

Forum Culture

Every forum has its own culture. That culture always starts with the owner of the forum. It’s a direct reflection of what the owner does, or does not do, with their forums, such as the moderators (mods) they choose, how much power the mods are given, how much personal control the owner maintains, how active he is, and so on. The forum reflects the personality, values, goals, etc. of its owner. The “buck stops” with the owner of the forums, as he is literally the captain of the ship. As an owner, if you wish to run a successful forum long term, you should be on the look out for the following problems.

The Member Cabal

The member cabal is inevitable on any forum, but it’s not inherently a negative. All it means is that a group of long term “regulars” have formed their own clique. It can be a helpful, productive group that’s supportive of new people coming into the forum, or it can be highly damaging. It’s up to the owner of the forum and the mods to keep an eye out, and keep firm control over the member cabals that form. The type of cabal will be a direct reflection of the forum’s culture, which reflects on, as mentioned above, the owner of that forum.

“Beating up the new kid”

This is a logical transition from the above, because it usually, but not always, involves the member cabal. Many forums have a culture where every new person is “initiated” or generally hassled, simply due to the fact they are new to the forum. I recall one forum I visited regularly, which had a guy with an avatar that said something like “I sh&% on the new guy.” Mods, as representatives of the owner, should not tolerate this behavior, as-if not cut off early-it will only grow.

It’s the perfect way to assure a small group of people run the forum, and if it’s not prevented early on, the owner can literally lose control. New members looking to join won’t when they see the abuse, or else it will turn into one of those forums with a few active members and a bunch of lurkers, as few will actively participate due to the abusive member cabal. On the other hand, a friendly member cabal welcomes and accepts new people, and helps the forum grow.

On my forums, for example, my “regulars” are one and all friendly, helpful, and welcoming people. That’s because I have great mods, and make sure the forums are always going in the direction I feel they should, based on my overall guiding philosophy and principles.

The Moderator Cabal

Similar to the member cabal, but potentially much more damaging to a forum, is the moderator cabal. Again, it’s pretty much inevitable such a cabal will form when you have people working together, even if it’s a virtual work space. And again, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, but the owner of the forum needs to keep a very close eye on the moderators. Pecking orders, cliques, etc. will form, and unless the owner of the forum keeps a tight handle on his forum, it can quickly get out of control. I have seen forums where there was more drama behind the scenes with the mods than could be found on the forum! Like any office space-virtual or otherwise-the culture starts from the top down, so the owner must put time into the back end of the forum, as well as the front.

I know too many forum owners who have let their mod cabal essentially take over their forums, chase off members they don’t like, chase off, or generally harass, other mods they don’t like, and so on. The owner of any forum who takes a “hands off” approach will have a mess on his hands sooner then later. I spend at least a few hours per day on my own forums making sure they’re all running smoothly, supporting members and mods equally, and assuring the ship is heading in the direction it needs to, as reflected in the mission statement of the forums.

To finish my point, and continue with the ship analogy: big ships develop a great deal of momentum, so setting the course early, and making small adjustments, takes less energy and time than attempting to alter course once that ship has gotten it’s full momentum up.

“Mod as God” syndrome

As the member cabal section transitioned perfectly into the “beating up the new kid” section, the mod cabal transitions into this section. The “Mod as God” syndrome is, without a doubt, my personal peeve. It can be all the members of a mod cabal, or an individual, and it’s very destructive to any forum. This syndrome appears to start when a mod decides the section they mod, or the forum itself is their personal fiefdom. These mods often set different standards for themselves than for the members. Like the member cabal, they may insult, belittle, or generally hassle a member they have taken a dislike to, and if that member attempts to defend themselves or respond, the mods will ban them or use other penalties at their discretion.

This double standard is damaging to the morale of any forum and unacceptable behavior by the mod(s) in question. It’s also a very common problem on many forums where a mod has decided he or she has additional rights above that of the members, and their word is law, even if they are often responsible for the problems.

A similar issue is favoritism, where one member can say or “get away with” far more than others. Mods should be objective and fair; once they decide their word is law, they are no longer able to objectively carry out their jobs. Again, this comes about due to the owner of the forum not being the true overall guiding influence on the forum. The only word that is law on a forum is the owner’s-period. However, if the owner is not an active participant, and/or allows mods to abuse members, then sides with the mod (even when it’s obvious that mod is way out of line), he loses authority and credibility with the members.

The forum ultimately suffers. Productive members of the forum will leave, the cabals will stay and grow stronger, and the forum will cease to be relevant within its intended niche.

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I have been banned from forums. A few times temporarily (though I will generally not return to that forum anyway), and a few times permanently. I’m not proud of that fact, but I am also not the least bit ashamed of it either. Whenever it’s happened, it was for one of the reasons I mentioned above.

Personally, I simply will not tolerate the “mod as God” syndrome as either a member of a forum or as the owner of that forum, and when a mod attacks me-or is clearly being biased or playing favorites-I will let them know it. I will not tolerate it on my own forums, and if I feel a member is right and the mod is wrong, I will side with the member. That has never happened on my forums, however, and that’s because I’ve stepped in long before it ever got to that point. I don’t put my mods in a position where they have to defend themselves, and they know I will deal with it well before that.

The members of my forums know I always take a fair and objective approach to the issue or dispute. It’s part of my mission statement, and is an essential component of a healthy, successful forum.

The Missing Mod Syndrome

There are also forums where you know there are mods somewhere, but you can’t figure where, or even who, they are. They don’t seem to do any actual moderating, don’t keep the forum running smoothly, and may show up to lock a thread after some flame war has been taking place for days or longer. These “hands off” mods and owners tend to end up with a ‘free for all’ type forum. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that if that’s what the owner wants and the members enjoy, and such forums have their own niche, but they are not for me and not what I recommend owners strive for. They are generally a big mess of flame wars, member cabals, and a waste of time for those people who actually want to talk about and read about relevant topics that such a forum pretends to offer.

Conclusion

One or more of the above pitfalls can produce what I call “Toxic Forum Syndrome.” The forum is sick and is in need of fixing. Obviously, prevention is always better than treatment, so it’s best to be proactive and “hands on” as the owner of a forum, rather than reactive. Members of forums will probably recognize the above categories from forums they visit regularly, which should help them decide whether to move on, or attempt to be part of the cure vs. the problem. I identified these problems over many years as a member and user of forums, so when I decided to start my own forums,* I was fully aware and prepared to avoid them. So far so good…

* = Access to my Fat Loss Revealed and Bodybuilding Revealed forums comes with the purchase of my ebooks under the same name.

Author Bio

Will Brink is an author, columnist and expert in the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and has been extensively published. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences.

His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications such as Lets Live, Muscle Media , MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Exercise For Men Only, and numerous others.