Affiliate Quick Tips

Affiliate Quick Tips – Using Cashback Sites For Merchant & Niche Research

I’m resurrecting an old post format I used to pop out on a weekly-ish basis where I shared anything I’d thought of, or found on my internet travels that didn’t quite justify a decent post of it’s own, and didn’t immediately fit into any upcoming post ideas.

Merchant Research – A Shortcut

Often when I have a wee lightbulb moment and come up with a niche idea, the first question is “where’s the money”. For me, there’s no point in moving forward unless there’s quality merchants I can leverage to monetise the flash of inspiration.

Have you ever tried to navigate the various merchant directories on the networks? Yuck. The categories aren’t great for the most part. I quickly adopted the habit of popping onto sites such as Topcashback here in the UK.

Using their search functionality and (much more intuitive) merchant categorisation I can quickly discover:-

  • Merchants with affiliate programmes in the niche area I’m researching.
  • The commission rates they offer. Some offer special deals via cashback that don’t reflect their standard rates, and many offer much lower rates for cashback (for obvious reasons). If you see a 1% or 2% rate it’s worth double checking at network level.
  • Which network they are with. I also use this if I simply need to work out where a merchant has their program and they aren’t detailing it on their own site. I usually just click on the cashback link and watch what the URL does to see which network pops up in there.

Slight proviso – not every merchant works with cashback sites, but enough of them do to make this a handy “finger in air” way of discovering who is in a space. Particularly when you’re at the “pie in the sky” stage of an idea.

Once I have these outline facts I can hop onto the networks and hopefully get some info about how well they convert and if they are likely to want to work with me.

Stand by for more affiliate quick tips in the coming weeks. I’m trying to get better at noting these ideas in the back end of the blog here so I can batter out a quick post when I’ve finished work for the day.

5 replies on “Affiliate Quick Tips – Using Cashback Sites For Merchant & Niche Research”

Hi Kirsty,

Just saw your name on a tweet from Rich Hickson and thought “wow, that’s a blast from the past!” Hope all is good with you and just had a read through your Twitter, great to see you are still doing some affiliate marketing and squeezing a bit of cash out of it.

I used to read all your stuff during the 2008 Affiliate Gold Rush (the good old days!) along with Amit Mehta (remember him?!) and Kieron Donaghue and a few others. Would absolutely love to read a blog one day about how things have changed in the last 10 years. For me, I think the cashback sites have had a huge impact on Affiliate Marketing and it’s demise for the smaller freelancers. What with this and Google Panda etc I gave up years ago.

The whole affiliate marketing world seems like a ghost town now, no blogs, forums, not much happening at Awin. I suppose Awin are only really concerned with the big boys like Quidco and TopCashBack who are the “super affiliates” of the day.

Anyway it was great to have a read of your always interesting and entertaining tweets and blogs.

All the best

Hey Bradley, thanks for dropping by!

I feel like I’m almost the last person still making a living from affiliate marketing – there’s still plenty though. As you say, it’s all become a bit fragmented and there’s not a lot of online buzz around the sector. Interesting thought on the blog. I’m still doing really well, in fact, I’m doing better than I did in 2008. I’m also still applying similar processes and techniques to do it. Probably it has become much harder though, and it’s been a good thing I’m really decent at nutting out PPC. The SEO doesn’t do anything for me any longer (although I am hoping to get back into it in some form just for the joy of it).

Anyway, I do hope to be blogging a little more than I have been. It’s not easy these days with kids on the scene, but I’m going to keep on trying. Better to do something than nothing!!

Interesting to see a leaning towards Bing and not much mention about Google Adwords. Do you find the CPC on Bing and search volumes are pretty good? I was quite surprised how well the Bing worked for my ecommerce site (that caters to 60+ pensioner market), I think it is well embedded in Windows 10 and with Windows 7 going end of life at the end of the year I am sure Bing will grow even more in market share.

Might have another go with mini Amazon sites, I know it is not direct PPC but I think there is still some good traction there with the benefit of capturing a full basket at times. I tend to focus on the peak 8-9pm time slots and if it works expand from there.

Those PPC skills you have are so valuable, I am sure there are many businesses who would love to utilise those skills of yours for a fee and not have to deal with hefty agency fees, lofty retainers and % cuts etc

I make most of my money from Adwords to be honest, but from doing just one thing on there. I also decided I shouldn’t really be talking about Adwords because it can be a bit of a tricky beast as an affiliate. I do think Bing is underrated. Volume can be patchy, but in many areas you can get decent traffic flow. Sometimes, I get just as much from Bing as I do from Adwords because of reduced competition. I earn most of my money from landing sites to be honest, I just haven’t spoken about them much. I chat about the direct PPC on Twitter because it’s one of those things where you need the least technical knowledge. It also feeds info into later landing site projects.

I think you should give the Amazon sites a bit of a go for sure, it’s easy to get a good range of products up, and some of the categories appear to have decent commissions. I’m not doing anything at all with them myself, but it’s on my “have a wee go” list for sure!

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