You all know that I love the Amazonian Profit Plan and think it’s the next best thing to a rat trap when you’re living in a rat-infested cheese hole – I am now launching Commission Junction Profit Plan. OK, not really – I’m a far cry from any sort of product launch, if ever.
Since Commission Junction continues to make me a happy camper in internet marketing, and everyone I know of that admits to being a CJ affiliate says, “I can’t figure it out” or that they can’t make money – I’m living and breathing proof that you’re leaving money on the table.
My wife, by the way, is living proof that the Amazonian Profit Plan plain works – she and I are both ramping up our efforts in Amazon and she beats me in conversions so far, but we target two different price ranges. I still (barely) beat her in brass tacks dollar amounts…barely.
Don’t read this post as a bail-out on Amazonian Profit Plan, I’m writing it for anyone who’s frustrated in their lack of success with CJ, which I think is woefully misused and misunderstood by most.
This is now a series of posts, find the remaining parts here:
Commission Junction rocks. You just need to know what to look for, and there are three main methods I use to find what sells. Of course, unlike the Amazon market place, you can’t see which products are bestsellers or which products have the most reviews.
It’s vastly different than the simplicity of Amazon. What I suggest is that if you have a website up and want to add some other products to your mix, then check out CJ and just look under the “Get Links” section. Then go through the categories – and it’s fairly simple from there.
Unlike other affiliate programs, you need to apply to every vendor you want to market for. This turns a lot of people off – but all it did for me was make me try harder. Stubbornness pays. :)
To get started, you might have to apply to a dozen or more programs before getting accepted. Again, this might turn off some – and that’s good! Less competition.
What I’ve never really told anyone – to my shoddy recollection – is that I had to apply to about a dozen places in CJ before finding an advertiser that was in my niche who was as hungry for sales as I was.
Don’t give up. You just need to find the right advertisers. More than that, you need to try to find what sells…
My 3 main methods to find what sells in Commission junction
I mentioned there are three ways I use – disclaimer: it ain’t rocket science. I realize that, but my blog is meant for newbies as well as more advanced folks. Hopefully what I’m about to say opens some eyes – or I’ll die in infamy.
I’ll take my chances.
- Go For New Advertisers
- Check Their Terms: Cookies, Performance Incentives and Finally: Landing Pages
- If They Ain’t New: Look at Their 3-Month and 7-Day Sales Track
You don’t want to get too deep at this point, which is why this is just “part one” – in part two I’ll go over what to do when you get in to the programs you choose, with market research and content planning.
For now, you just want to see who you’ll bother with, and who will make the most sense to chase down.
Go For New Advertisers
This is the best bet for a number of reasons. First – these guys are as hungry to make money as you are, relatively speaking. [Unlike most of you reading this, they've probably already made millions - but they want to expand and are new to the CJ market place is what I mean.]
These are the least likely to deny your application to join their program. They are also the least likely to have competing affiliates. They’re new, after all. :)
Of course, you’ll find a few that belong to CJ and to Pepperjam, or to Amazon and a host of other programs as well – don’t sweat it. You’ll still have less competition in terms of choosing a CJ affiliate program if they’re new – and they’ll be eager to get you going.
I gave away the next point a bit in pointing out the performance incentives on the new advertisers – you’d be remiss to pass up that golden goose egg…
Once you have a look-see at these guys, you need to double check a couple more points.
Check Their Terms: Cookies, Performance Incentives and Finally: Landing Pages
You have an advertiser – now open them up and see if they’re worth bothering with. You don’t have to have all these bells and whistles – sometimes the plainest horse rides the fastest.
But it’s a beautiful thing to read the words, “Performance Incentive” – it gives me chills.
Sometimes, my wife and kids will stop me in my tracks just by whispering, “performance incentive.” No matter what mood I’m in at the time (like I get into moods!)…that one melts me like butta.
My main criteria for a new advertiser:
- Cookie length – the longer, the better.
- Performance Incentive – not necessary, but definite plus.
- Evergreen niche – like finances, education, romance, health, beauty, insurance, luxury.
- Landing Page Quality and Links
OK, “luxury” may not sound evergreen – but it is. Using luxury items is a good mix, and man those checks can add up quickly!
I go for evergreen niches because I don’t like volatility in my income. I have 8 kids. Go figure. I’m careful.
Cookies are a funny thing – your sales can snowball. So in November when I cleared over $2500 from Commission Junction, I’m not sure when those original clicks came through.
I will tell you that I swing a big bat – I go for pricey items.
I do that with Amazon as well (which is why my $79 commission jumped to $235 on Amazon in a day – it’s all in what you sell and how much you want to make, and how fast). I also do that with Plimus and frankly, just about anyplace.
You will sell less items this way – and it’s just the way I choose to operate at the moment – but it pays quicker. That’s not really part of the “Commission Junction Profit Plan” – just telling you how the cookie crumbled.
If your cookie length on Amazon is 90 days tops (if you can convince your visitors to put their items in their shopping cart), so far on CJ I’ve found 6 months to be more common in the hungry advertisers. The longer the cookie, the “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money” you gonna make.
[Warning: this is NOT a politically correct video. I don't care, though - because the Wayans Bro's were mah peeps.]
Just a quick note on Performance Incentives – you might not think you can hit the PI. BTW, I mean “Performance Incentive” and not “Philippine Islands” where my mom’s from.
You might take months to do so. It will take a while to get your traffic, rankings and content in place before you hit all 8 cylinders – but believe me, you can hit those bad boys.
My PI’s in one program are at the $20k a month level of gross sales for the top tier. Never thought I’d do it. I hit it 2 of the last 3 months. Still can’t believe it myself.
Those checks are in the tune of $600+ for me – uh, yeah. Go figure. I look for PI’s.
I also look at their payment terms, like the percentage of the commission or CPA (you’ll find a number of Pay Per Call or Pay Per Lead advertisers in CJ). Some are flat rate, others are giving incentives for certain actions – which informs you how you instruct your readers.
Of course you want to hit the higher paying items, rather than the one dollar leads if you can. If it would be more money to advertise a higher paying product, then organize your review and content that way.
“Landing Page Quality and Links” – I check out the landing page of the links they provide. You can do this by clicking on an advertiser and you’ll see a box open up with their “Banner, Text, Discount, Hot Product” etc. links – just check them out.
Follow the links to the landing pages by selecting “Destination Page” once you open up a link type – and you need to put on your thinking cap. This is subjective unless you’ve been in web design and have split tested campaigns or whatever – but look at the page through the eyes of a consumer.
What do you do? Bounce? Does it look legit or scammy? I’ve found a few duds that I wanted to laugh at – and a number of lunkheads sporting crummy web design and horrendous quality of products…how do I know their product quality?
I research. It seems like overkill, and I only do it when my BS meter explodes and the rest is simply a Google News search, Insights for search and checking our “Discussions” in the Google sidebar under “More Search Options”.
Tracey Edwards wrote this Google Products post to find some products to promote as well – you can easily do some research that way to find out if your product is a seller or waste of time.
I only bother with this time to time – when I think something’s too good to be true. By the way – I always check the landing pages.
I almost always check out Google News for the advertiser as well, if nothing shows up in Insights for search in Google – these will tell me if an advertiser has a trend up or down (if any), or if there is any news (good or bad).
If a bad reputation has soiled the advertiser, I don’t bother. I’m not interested in convincing the country, if not the planet, that “XYZ Manufacturing” is trustworthy all of a sudden – I’m in this for the money, not for running some Public Relations campaign.
If They Ain’t New: Look at Their 3-Month and 7-Day Sales Track
Open up the advertisers that appeal to you – then check their stats. This doesn’t apply to new advertisers because they have no track record in most cases – unless you recognize their brand. Regardless, check out the established affiliate programs on CJ.
Here’s a screen shot – and you find these guys in the menu bar at the top of CJ’s home page.
Get Links > Advertiser List OR Get Links > General Categories
Then check the 3 month and 7 day sales records, and this is done both at the “top level” which shows the aggregate of all the sales in CJ for that program – as well as the specific links that did it once you open up an advertiser. This is CRITICAL for me when I choose which banner or text links to use.
If you go with a new advertiser, the downside is that you won’t know. It’s a crap shoot – but roll the dice, already! Dealing with new advertisers means you will be cutting teeth. Play with it and test it out.
For established advertisers, though – you want to drill down and check out their individual links and use those that have a proven track record. It works like nobody’s business.
So you have your products or affiliate programs you want to promote – now what? You take the plunge and apply. This is the part where I think people jump the gun – because they apply without a website, and with no proven record of success.
Unless you’ve sold well for another program in the niche – or just in general in CJ – you’re a nobody, a green horn. There’s no incentive for the advertiser to say, “Yes, we want you on our team.” You have to have something to show.
Before you apply – you should have a website that’s ranking or selling a similar themed product. This is critical if you expect to get in – but in the meantime, there’s Amazon as you rank a site for the terms.
This is another reason a number of people don’t bother – but I’m telling you: bother with it. You really want a piece of this mince meat pie. The cookie length, variety of advertisers, and Performance Incentives = Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, and Mo’ Money.
After you have a website or otherwise a proven track record – you apply – and then sit on your can.
Yeah, not quite – but it’s not hard: you apply, then send an immediate email to the affiliate manager that you’re the next best thing to real Californian cheese. It doesn’t take much – just show a genuine interest.
If your site is in the middle of a Google dance, tell them you’re in a massive backlinking campaign because you just downloaded Michelle’s How I Backlink report and you mean business.
Tell them your SEO or PPC battle plan in brief and why they need you on their team – and I’m just talking 2-3 short paragraphs tops. Is it worth it? I’ll tell you in a few days with my January earnings post. ;)
Affiliate managers are amazing people to work with, by the way – the seasoned ones are great for ideas, or you can share with them your ideas, ask them for a creative banner that you think would do well – whatever it is. Starting off on the right foot by showing just a little bit of hustle will get you in the door more often than not.
What If You Use Amazonian Profit Plan or Profitzon?
There are a number of ebooks as well as Dave’s monumental How to Make Money with Amazon post – an incredible read, that – that tell you to focus on Amazon. If you have a site on Amazon as a primary affiliate opportunity, focus on Amazon.
I mix my sites currently for two reasons:
1) I started with CJ and got into Amazon later – and now I’m hitting my performance incentives for CJ. In January, I received a $700+ incentive check. I’ll be getting more like it in the ensuing months. I’d be the village idiot not to stick with what’s been working.
2) I only choose programs on CJ that out-match Amazon in terms of cookie length, incentives and exclusivity. If I find products that can be found for less on Amazon, I’ll plug the Amazon product instead – because I figure my visitors will do the same anyway.
It’s up to you if you want to mix your affiliate programs on your site – I’d really look for those products that are not currently sold on Amazon and would keep them separate (at least on the review pages themselves: don’t send the visitor to both on the same page).
Bottom line is that if a visitor finds the product on Amazon for $50-100 cheaper than what I’m selling it for – I’m more than likely not going to make that sale unless the CJ advertiser has a coupon.
Always look for discount/coupon links – and TELL your visitors that the price with your exclusive coupon is cheaper than the price at Amazon [only if it's true!].
Of course, Amazon can lower their prices and eventually will price you out in more cases than not – that’s OK. Then you just switch to the Amazon link. “Simples” as Dave would say.
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