Going From Affiliate To Vendor

November 2, 2011

General

WOW! 1 month or so since my last post. How time has flown by. Have been pretty busy in that time, but also took a couple of weeks off and relaxed a little, as you do ;-) I do this every now and again to recharge my batteries (probably a little too often!!).

I’ve really been looking forward to writing this post as I’m sure it will be of benefit to many affiliates. It’s about my process of going from an affiliate to a vendor for one particular website and one particular niche. No doubt, this is something I am now looking to do on a couple of other sites too in the coming months!

The Why…

Because you can make more money! If you control the traffic, then you have the power. As affiliates we decide who to send our traffic to, and keep our figures crossed that it converts well. If you sell the products yourself, you have  a greater chance of conversion for two reasons:

1. All potential customers remain on your site (which is built to sell). As opposed to only a percentage clicking through using the affiliate link.

2. Simply put – you get a greater share of the actual profits. When I say greater, I mean you get all – instead of splitting the dollars (or pounds).

Sounds good, right?

Now hold on a minute there…

I need to clarify something here. This is not something which is really practical or possible with physical products. I don’t expect any affiliate to start stocking up on televisions or refrigerators for example! Although, in theory, if your traffic was that HUGE, you could go from being an affiliate to a merchant even with certain physical goods. Why not?

I am of course referring to digital products or information products.

This particular experiment (now a permanent change) was for a site where people are looking for information and are desperate for it! Think of keywords such as “fast” and “now” – these imply that someone wants the information quick and they are normally willing to pay. To cut a long story short, it worked as I anticipated, and worked out pretty well.

I’ll be a bit more detailed now :-)

This is great. But what if you could sell to the customer directly?

The Background

So earlier this year, I did some keyword research and built a website for the UK market on a particular niche. The particular niche is competitive, but my research showed that it was still a good opportunity. It’s for a specific “need” or “want” that people have. You know when users type in “how to…” into Google. That sort of thing. You get the idea, right?

Typically, such users will be bombarded with eBooks. And yes, these eBooks are selling. Analyse your market and recognise that people sell or promote things a certain way, for a good reason.

Ok so I went about creating this site, content and doing the link building.

Fast forward 4 months, and I had created an affiliate website that was ranking well. When I say ranking well, it was top 5 for many of it’s primary keywords and was getting good traffic. I was promoting a particular eBook that I found on Clickbank. It was selling pretty well, but considering the traffic my site was getting, not well enough. I was averaging 2 sales a day.

Now here’s what the problem was….

  1. Person looking for information finds my site on Google
  2. I don’t offer a specific solution. Many leave site.
  3. Some remain on site and click on the affiliate link.
  4. Completely different site – many leave that site too.
  5. Only a few are convinced enough to buy from that site.

You get the idea?

I had a fairly high bounce rate, and though the visitors I was sending through my affiliate link were converting fairly well (5% conversion), most people did not click through!

I started thinking outside the box. I wanted to monetise my site to make more money. And it occurred to me pretty quickly, that it’s NOT DIFFICULT to become a vendor in any particular niche. Especially when it comes to information products. No you do not need a passion for the niche, just an interest and motivation.

Most eBooks that sell well, the ones that make their authors millions every year, are created by internet marketers who probably do not have a clue what they are actually selling. Having said that, I did have some passion for this particular niche as it’s something I had looked into myself.

After about 10 seconds (yes I made up my mind pretty quick on this one) I decided that is exactly what I would do. Hopefully you can see why I thought it would be beneficial to me. And from here on, I will talk briefly about the process of going from affiliate to vendor.

The Process

Ok, so three big challenges lay ahead.

1. Creating an eBook that people would buy.

2. Converting the website so it sells my eBook.

3. Being able to take in Money through a payment processor.

Here we go!!

1. Creating an eBook that people would buy.

Well it was pretty simple really. I got clued up on the subject matter (something I already had interest in). I then purchased about 4-5 eBooks in my particular niche, and saw what sort of information they were giving and the structure they gave it in. These books all had commonalities.

Based on this, I devised a strategy on how I would want my eBook to look. I also wrote a good chunk of the content myself. And then outsourced the rest. I found someone on Elance.com who could look deeper into the topics, and write original content that was helpful.

Within a week I had a 70 page eBook – my total costs for outsourcing were around $300. I went over it to make sure all the information was good and relevant, and made any changes that were required. I also had a  cover design done, and made sure it looked pretty neat inside too.

Obviously, I have glossed over some of the specific details of all this but I’m sure you get a good idea of what sort of things you would need to do.

2. Converting the website so it sells my eBook.

My first step was to change the WordPress theme (which I could sell on) whilst keeping the content already on there.

I did not immediately want to jump overnight from a content affiliate website, to one which sells a product – with a complete change in site appearance.

So I introduced changes slowly.

I then went on Elance.com and found someone who could tweak the WordPress theme I wanted to use, and also create graphics which sell. I simply pointed out a few other websites which were selling my sort of eBook, and asked the designers to take certain aspects of what they did and merge them into this new design. I worked on this new website, and what sales copy I would use, on a subfolder of the domain. Over the weeks, I tweaked the design with them and changed the sales content.

It cost me $300 to get the WordPress theme designed how I wanted it.

When everything had been thoroughly tested (including payment processing which I talk about next) I changed the theme and uploaded the relevant content. I also kept the content that was on the homepage previously, and nudged it down to the bottom of the homepage, below the sales process. I created proper selling page, and linked to it on the homepage. The customer has the opportunity to buy, or get more details (taken to the real sales page).

3. Being able to take in money through a payment processor.

I looked at a few, such as Clickbank, E-junkie and many others. But in the end, decided it was best for me to start taking the money myself via PayPal. I may change this to someone like Clickbank in the future, once the website has developed.

The hard bit was finding a suitable WordPress plugin, that would allow me to do this. That is – to integrate PayPal as a payment processor, with a password protected area where the eBook could be downloaded from.

I looked at a few, but in the end settled for Digital Access Pass (DAP) which I would highly recommended. It integrates with virtually everything, has tons of features, and can be used to sell products or Membership sites. This gives me options in the future. Did I mention it can be used on as many sites as you wish?

The Results

Wow, this is turning into a long post. So will make the rest as concise as possible. The results were astoundingly good.

I had to make sure that my eBook was good, and that my sales content and website was top notch. All in all, I spent over $600 with a fair few hours of labour.

Average sales as an affiliate per day = 2

Average sales as a vendor per day = 5

Was it worth it? Hell Yes!

Don’t forget, you are taking all of the profits and not splitting. The only other downsides are the customer support which you must give (well I offer it as part of the deal) and the refund rate (I offer an unconditional 100% money back guarantee). This of course affects the profit a little.

But I make much more now, then I did as an affiliate even taking everything into consideration. The money made has already recovered what I spent (changes were made last month).

Conlusion

So the purpose of this post was to highlight why going from an affiliate to a vendor can be a great idea!

If you are getting good traffic to your site, and it’s a niche where people are spending money (on eBooks, memberships, content, software, other downloads) then why not consider creating your own product and selling it directly?

The two reasons I gave earlier = more profit.

More people will convert overall. And, you are taking all the profits.

Well, that’s it. Writing this post has exhausted me. I was thinking of breaking it down more, but I think the overall gist of what I did and what you can do too, will be helpful. Please share and subscribe.

Until next time…

Kamran

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