Purist affiliate marketers would probably never link to a product if it doesn’t have an affiliate program.
In fact, they wouldn’t mention it and definitely wouldn’t write an article about it.
It’s pay to play, right?
Me? I will and do link to products with… I’ll say it… a regular link.
Why would I do such a thing? Because I monetize my sites with ads.
Okay, I do use affiliate links when available. But affiliate links aren’t a prerequisite.
Golden Tip #1
Here’s a good tip – products without an affiliate opportunity often have less competition.
There are 2 scenarios:
- Product doesn’t have an affiliate program.
- You applied but weren’t approved.
I mention and link to products in both scenarios.
I don’t hold a grudge if rejected. And yes, I still get rejected here and there. Don’t take rejection from an affiliate program personally.
Golden Tip #2
Before you run out and write some review of a product without an affiliate program, read on.
Golden tip #2 is use some cloaking mechanism to create your links. I use Thirsty Affiliates plugin. Create your links with it. It’s done exactly the same as if you insert an affiliate link. Instead, you insert the plain old link to the product.
Why go through the trouble of cloaking?
I’ll tell you why.
If ever an affiliate program or affiliate link is made available, you need only change it in the cloaking software one time. You change one link that converts all the cloaked links on your site into an affiliate link.
You may be rejected by an aff program today, but next year that same merchant may come a’knockin’. That’s happened to me on a few occasions.
It’s also possible that a product with no affiliate program today rolls one out down the road.
Many merchants in those affiliate networks aren’t in any of the other mainstream affiliate networks and don’t have anything in-house.
If they’re in Skimlinks or Viglink, you’re golden.
What if the merchant isn’t in Skimlinks or Viglink?
Ask them if they’ll do a custom arrangement for you. I’ve done many custom referral arrangements. You can go about it in one of three ways.
1. Custom landing page: You have the merchant create a custom landing page for you. When referrals buy or opt in, it’s tracked to you.
2. Create your own form: You can refer people to fill out a brief form which once completed gives them the merchant information. Your form stores the referral info in a spreadsheet which you provide to the merchant.
3. Hire a call center: I did this for years with local businesses. I published local lead gen companies. I collected leads via a telephone number answered by a call center who collected info and forwarded the call to my client. It worked like a charm. I got out of this because I operated in a law niche which imploded when the government made changes to the industry… basically decimated the industry going to a quasi no-fault system for car crashes.
If you go the call center route, the referalls must be lucrative warranting such an expense and the hassle.
Back to the main point
The main point is when you monetize a site with ads, traffic earns money. When you see good keyword opportunities for product-oriented searches, that’s potentially high-value traffic. Because it has no affiliate program, it often won’t be as competitive.
This opens up many opportunities.
It also applies to low-cost popular products.
Many affiliate marketers pound the table that you need to focus on products that cost more money.
“It’s just as easy to sell a high priced product as a low-cost product,” they say. That may be true, but it can be far easier to rank for a low-cost product because other affiliate marketers ignore it. Moreover, many low-cost products have an unbelievably high number of searches.
Does that I mean I don’t use affiliate links?
Of course not. I promote all kinds of stuff that have an affiliate program.
My point is don’t avoid products just because they don’t have an affiliate program. It may be a very good traffic opportunity that earns you solid ad revenue.
Now open up your favorite keyword research software and look for some great non-affiliate and low-cost product keyword opportunities in your niche. I assure you that there are some great opportunities.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.