Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Affiliates 101 Part 4 – Cooking up Success

A long time ago, when I was in college (back in the Jurassic – I majored in rock breaking), a friend of mine made me some chocolate chip cookies. They smelled good, but they looked pretty normal. Nothing special or fancy about them. They looked like, well, you know, cookies.

Still, I’m not one to turn down a CCC when it’s offered. I took a bite and died. They were the most incredible chocolate chip cookies I had ever tasted. Just the right texture, delicious flavor, absolutely incredible. I was in awe! I had to know the secret!

So, I asked the guy what he’d done to cook them.

“You know, I just baked them. I keep an eye on them so they don’t get too done…”

What was the recipe?

“Just a normal CCC recipe. Nothin’ special…”

So what made them taste so incredible?

“Oh, that! I just don’t scrimp on the ingredients. I don’t use margarine, I use good butter. The chocolate chips are Ghirardelli’s, and it’s good flour.”

I learned something very important that day, and I’ve learned to apply it over lots of different situations. That is, that there are three parts to any system: Input, Process, and Output. If you change any one of the first two, you’ll see a corresponding change in the third.

Think of it: If I’ve been baking cookies and they always turn out bad, or at least not as good, I could change a lot of things about it. I could change the process, for example. I could adjust the temperature of the oven, or I could be more careful about the time of the baking. I could mix the ingredients better, or make the dough balls smaller or larger as they need to be.

Or, I could change the input. I could, as my friend did, choose higher quality ingredients. I could follow the recipe closer to make sure that I’m more accurately balancing the amounts of ingredients. I could put in more chocolate chips. For my money, you can never have too many chocolate chips.

Either, or both of these efforts will, in the end, make for a better cookie.

What on earth does this have to do with your website’s affiliate programs?

There are two things that you can change about your website efforts that will make you more affiliate money. One is the input, or the number of the right kind of people coming to your site, and the other is the process, or the way you set up your site to encourage them to click to the retailer and make you money. It’s all just simple numbers. A certain amount of people come to your website. A certain percentage of them will click on an affiliate link and buy. If you want that last number to be higher, either increase the amount of people that come into your site, or increase the percentage that click. Or both.


First of all, do all you can to drive traffic to your site. Try Inbound linking, social networking, lots of good keywords in lots of good content, participation in forums or viral marketing. These are all good ways to get more and more traffic into your site. If you drive more in the front door, more of them will click out the back door to buy.


Having good information that entices people to buy is a big part, like we talked about doing last week. Having affiliate links with products that relate to what you’re writing about in your content will make more people want to click on them. Making good product recommendations can help as well. And, if you’re promoting your site in areas that relate to your site’s focus, then the audience that arrives at your site will be more interested in your content and your links, so they’ll be more likely to want to click and buy. All of these things will increase your conversion percentage.

Running an affiliate site takes a lot of time, both in terms of maintenance of the site and ongoing promotions. But it can be very rewarding, both financially and personally. I say, go for it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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