Making Money With Google Adwords and Affiliate Programs

This is a basic article on getting quickly set up to make money using Google Adwords and Affiliate programs. When I say quickly, I mean within about an hour; with possible profits within 24. Don't fall in love with that 24-hour number, though; results vary.

If you're already the Adwords Master, you won't learn much here. In that case, just relax and enjoy my pleasant - yet elegant - writing style.

Let's start with a few definitions:

Google Adwords: This is Google's main paycheck and you'll be helping to pay it -- but not until they give you some results. It's a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising service. If you're unfamiliar with PPC services, basically you create an ad in Adwords, choose some keywords, and then "bid" a certain amount (the maximum you will pay) for each ad a user clicks when doing a Google search that includes those keywords.

Bids start at $0.01 and can go up quite high. The order in which your ad is listed depends on your bid. For many keywords, getting in the top three - or even the first page of a Google search result - can be quite expensive. To see how it works, do a search on Google (for anything) and look at the ads that show up on the sidebar. Those are Adwords ads, targeted at the keywords you searched on; if you click on one, an advertiser is paying some amount for it. This is your advertising tool.

Affiliate programs: These are products you can advertise for a company. When a lead or sale is made (depending on how the company has set up their affiliate program), you get a cut. Some companies run their own affiliate programs, but many of them use Affiliate Networks like Commission Junction or Linkshare.

Affiliate Networks are companies that run affiliate programs for a bunch of other companies. Commission Junction is the big dog of affiliate networks, with a huge range of companies to choose from; it's what we'll be using in this article.

Let's go through the steps. You're going to sign up with the appropriate services, choose a product or two to sell, set up some ads, and then watch and wait. You should be on your way to Finding The Money within about an hour. Without paying anything.

Step 1: Get all the registrations out of the way.

Sign up for Commission Junction

Sign up for Google Adwords

Step 2: Decide what your product(s) will be.

Once you've set up an account with Google Adwords and Commission Junction (no fees involved), you're ready to pick a company or two to make some money with.

Go through Commission Junction's company directory and pick one or two that look good to you - companies that offer good commissions and that you think are sellable.

A cool feature of Commission Junction's is the ability to sort the companies by how much money people are making with them, weekly or within the last 90 days. Some companies will allow you to join their affiliate program immediately and some may want to review your website first. To get started right away, keep applying to companies you like until one automatically accepts you.

Step 3: Set up your ad(s).

By now you should have a product to sell (via Commission Junction) and a means to sell it (Adwords). All that's left to do is to write a small ad, bid on some keywords, and wait for the clicks. I'm not going to go too much into how to write the ads, but here are a few pointers:

  • Try to include the keywords you're using in your ad copy; they'll be bolded by Google when someone does a search and your ad comes up. Attracts more attention. Good.
  • Avoid exclamation points and superlatives. One exclamation point is fine, if it makes sense to add one. On superlatives, e.g., "best", "top", "ultimate", don't use anything that isn't true. If your product is recognized as the best in its class, then "best in its class" is fine. If it isn't, don't lie. Google will get mad at you.
  • Do your best to think about how your ad will look to someone who is searching on Google and happens to glance at it. If you were looking for information on a given subject, what might make you want to follow your link?
  • Do searches on Google for the keywords you're using and look at the ads of your competitors. The first few ads are likely written by people who know what they're doing. Don't plagiarize, but do look for inspiration.

About keywords: stay away from extremely general ones, they won't convert well. If you're promoting an online music service, don't bother using "music" as a keyword, or at least make the bid very low. Like $0.01. "Online Music Services" would be a good keyphrase, "Buy Music Online" would be even better. "Free MP3s" would be horrible. Think about the kinds of keywords that might indicate a person interested in buying your product.

Step 4: Watch and Refine

Adwords has pretty decent reporting, and this is where you'll fine-tune your ads. You may find that one ad generates a lot of clicks with a low conversion(sales) rate while another ad doesn't generate many clicks but has a much higher conversion rate. You'll be able to see how many times your ad has come up in searches as opposed to how many times it's been clicked, and compare your ads that way.

Fine-tuning could involve refining your ad copy, removing keywords that are costing more than they're worth, bumping up the bids on a high-converting product, or lowering the bid on a highly clicked but lower-converting ad.

There are other subtleties such as calculating Return On Investment (ROI), which is how much it costs you to advertise a product compared to how much profit you make from it. If it costs you $50.00 to make $100.00, your ROI is quite good. If it costs you $50.00 to make $30.00, your ROI is in the negative. Bad. Fine-tune that ad copy, keywords or bids; and if that all seems to fail, consider dropping that product for a new one.

Step 5: Get Paid

You've now gone through a very simple process that allows you to make money online; and it didn't cost a dime. The only money you'll be paying will be the result of getting clicks (monthly). Pretty painless, no?

You might be wondering why everyone isn't doing this, if it's so easy. Well, everyone is doing it. Competition is, to say the least, fierce. But the pie is big, and noone gets it all. You may do quite well even from the start, but the likelihood is that through trial, error, and persistence, you'll slowly gain your competitive edge.

So, there you have it: a simple, easy way to start Finding The Money. Like most other things, your success is going to depend on how much effort you put into it and how persistent you are. But that's all we wanted in the first place, right?


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