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To Website or Not to Website...That's the Question
by Bruce Dagel
You want to make money through the Internet but you don't have enough experience or capital to start your own online business? You don't have to worry, lots of online marketing options exist for you. One of these options, and may I say the best, is affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing provides first time online marketers like you the chance to market something online without even having your own product to sell. All you have to do is to sign up with an affiliate marketing program, which can be owned by an online merchant or retailer or can be a stand-alone marketing company, and start picking the products you want to promote. As an affiliate, you are paid by the merchant for your services on a commission basis. That is, whenever you have directed a visitor to the merchant's site and the visitor actually buys something, you get paid. A couple of obvious examples here are Amazon.com, Neil Shearing's Scam Free Zone, and SFI Marketing Group.
Becoming an affiliate in an affiliate marketing program is often quick and easy, and for most affiliate programs, signing up is also free. But despite these and all the benefits being promised by affiliate programs, many people are still hesitant to get into affiliate marketing. One of the reasons why a lot of people remain hesitant is the lack of a website to start marketing his affiliate products. This now leads us to the question of whether or not a website is required or necessary in affiliate marketing.
Scads of people say that you can do affiliate marketing without a website. Truthfully, one really can start promoting and marketing affiliate products without a website, and there are lots of ways of doing just this. In fact, many affiliate marketing strategies that lead to success work quite well without actually having a website of your own. Among these strategies are email marketing, offline promotions, writing e-books, writing ezines and engaging in online discussions like forums, chats, message boards and others.
Email marketing, or maintaining email lists, is actually the most popular affiliate marketing strategy that doesn't require the affiliate to maintain a website. In this affiliate marketing strategy, what you basically do is maintain a list of the email addresses of your prospective customers and provide them with articles that are relevant to the problems solved by the affiliate products and programs you are promoting. Articles that you provide your to contacts need not always be promotional, for many individuals find such types of email annoying. Rather, it would be better if you provide them with something instructive or helpful with only small text ads that link to your merchant's site. Even better is to have the links appear as a natural part of the article, not as an ad. (Did you notice the links at the end of the second paragraph?)
There are many ways that you can promote your affiliate products offline. Among the common methods used for such promotions are classified ads, brochures and fliers. Generally, classified ads work better than the other two because they appear in periodicals that often get a wider audience and often stay around longer and get seen more often.
If you have a knack in writing, writing an e-book can be the best way for you to promote your affiliate products in the absence of an actual website. Just as in emails and newsletters, your readers would better appreciate your e-book if it is not too promotional but is rather informative. Be sure, however, to make the contents of your e-books relative to the actual affiliate products you are promoting. And just like in email marketing, you can just place text ads or banners somewhere near the end of your e-book that links to the merchant's site. You can also have words or phrases in the e-book link directly to your products or the merchant's website where it fits in naturally.
Ezines are emailed publications that aim to inform or teach individuals about a particular topic. When you want to be an affiliate and you don't have a website, you can easily use ezines to promote your affiliate products or to insert links to your merchant's site. If you eventually have a website, your ezine article may actually work well as content for your site. But since you have no website, you can just submit your free ezine articles to various websites that host articles for ezines, such as ArticleCity.com, goarticles.com, ezinearticles.com and others.
With or without a website, you just can't ignore online discussions because they are great ways of marketing your affiliate products. In chats, forums, message boards and discussion boards with topics related to your products, you can easily find people who may be interested with the products you are promoting. Just be very sure to read and follow the rules of the discussion! It helps dramatically to first become familiar with the discussion you wish to use by reading and then reading some more of the existing conversations.
With all these strategies, it certainly appears that one really doesn't need to have a website to start marketing his affiliate products and promoting his affiliate programs. Truly, starting in an affiliate program without a website is easy, but getting successful in affiliate marketing without a website is another thing. While one can actually gain enormous success in affiliate marketing without a website, it is a rare instance that "newbies" like you can reach high levels of success without one.
Having a website is not really a prerequisite in entering into an affiliate program, unless otherwise the program owner would require you to have one. But while this is so, I would still recommend that you have for yourself a website, if not now, then maybe at a later time. Having a website creates a lot of advantages in affiliate marketing. For one, it provides you a place where you can creatively promote not merely one of your affiliate products but all of your affiliate products. With a website, you can also advertise your affiliate products to a wider market. As with the articles mentioned earlier, you can and should use that website to become known as an expert in your field, one that can be trusted to help your customers feel that you are there to help with their problems.
Again, having a website is not a requirement in affiliate marketing. But with the advantages that a website can provide, I'd rather have one for myself and make affiliate marketing a lot easier for me.
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