Step Three: You need Twitter (really?!)

So, it's been awhile but I'm back to documenting my process for creating new affiliate marketing sites.  This step might be optional if you are starting a Niche Store, but it's definitely necessary for community forum sites and blog sites.  Heck, I think it's necessary for any site if you want to get visitors right now.  I'll be honest with you here, I never really got twitter.  I mean, sure I had a Facebook account but that's about as far as I went with the whole social networking thing.  Twitter just seemed like Facebook, only with just the status updates and nothing else and that didn't make sense to me.  I figured it was something that teenagers were into.

Well, the truth is that twitter is an invaluable marketing tool for a few reasons.

  1. Google seems to really "love" Twitter.  So, if people are tweeting @you it's probable that Google could index Twitter and see these @you links pointing back to your twitter profile and then back to the site you are promoting.  So, having an active twitter following can really help with your search engine optimization.
  2. Heck, if you have a few thousand twitter followers then you'll get tons of traffic just from Twitter referrals.  This is nice if you've just launched your site and you are impatient.  That is to say, you don't want to wait around for 2 months for your organic traffic to start showing up.  Just build your twitter following and get folks visiting your site from the get-go.

There are three Twitter software tools that I can't live without.

  1. Bird Feeder - Bird Feeder is a miracle.  It makes it incredibly easy to build your Twitter following very rapidly.  Effectively, each day you can un-follow Twitter account who aren't following you back, then make sure you follow everyone who newly started following you and then you can follow new users (based on things like keywords searches, hashtags, who they are following, etc).  So, if your money site is all about doorknobs then you can follow users who use the word "doorknob" and then the word "vintage" or the word "antique" and not the word "sandwich".  Or, if you find another twitter user with 20,000 doorknob-loving followers then you can just follow his followers each day.   I'm only a few months into Affiliate Marketing but I already have a dozen twitter accounts each with 2000-3000+ followers.  I couldn't have done it without Bird Feeder.
  2. Twitter Tools Plugin for WordPress - Twitter Tools is a great free plugin for WordPress.  Basically, you can configure it to auto-tweet every time you post a new page or post in WordPress.  Conversely you could also have it convert your tweets into blog posts, but I don't really see the point in that.  Also, you can use the Twitter Tools sidebar showcase the last # of your tweets.  I dig that because I fee like if I tweet @someone or retweet them then I've also effectively posted a link to their twitter page (and hopefully their site) on my page.  So, it's a good way to help other folks out.
  3. TweetMeme Button for WordPress -  TweetMeme is that little green button in the upper right of this page.  It shows how many times your URL has been tweeted and it also makes it very easy for users to retweet your page, if they like it.

So, those are the Twitter software tools that I can't live without and why I think Twitter is an invaluable marketing tool.  In my next Affiliate Journal post, I'll talk about other WordPress modules that I can't live without.

Step Two: Where to host your new site?

So, last week, in my post, "Step One: You need a domain, right?", I talked about how to minimize your spending when getting your hands on some choice domains.  That's all well and good, but now that you've got these domains, you need somewhere to host these sites, right?

My background is 15+ years in Cisco and Linux consulting so I already had quite a few servers on hand that I could have used to host my new affiliate marketing sites.  However, I chose not to host it on my existing servers.  Why?  Good question!

My existing servers are dedicated physical boxes on which I have root access.  They are very locked down and secure and I audit any and all code that I run on these servers.  I use them for hosting client's websites and typically these are websites that my company (through my brilliant development guy) has created for them.  I wouldn't say that I make any money on the actual hosting, but I definitely break even.  But, it's more important to me that I control the development environment and that I provide them reliable hosting of their site.  Let's say that we developed a site for them and they chose to host that with Joe Schmo's hosting.  Well, if they have a negative hosting experience, they are likely to attribute that (unfairly, maybe) to my company.  I don't want that to happen.

So, since these servers are so locked down and reliable, I want to be really careful about what software I run on them.  And, let's face it, if you are turning up a handful of affiliate sites a month, you aren't as focused on security as you are on QUICK.  You need to turn up sites now.  Now, while there are lots of great content management systems for this (Drupal, WordPress, etc).  I wouldn't exactly give them an A+ when it comes to security.

What would happen if your Vintage Doorknob niche store (running on an outdated WordPress, because you are too dang busy) get's hacked and now your paying web clients are also compromised.  You can't have this happening.  You don't want to risk this steady hosting income because you got sloppy.

But, you NEED WordPress, Joomla or Drupal!  Heh.  That's where Host Gator comes in!  For a meager $7.95/month (on their "Baby plan") you can have:

  • Unlimited Disk Space
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Domains

I challenge you to find more affordable hosting.  It doesn't exist.  (but, if you find, it lemme know).  What I love about Host Gator is how quickly I can setup new WordPress sites using Fantastico De Luxe.  It's pretty much the software equivalent of those tiny elves that fix shoes.  Only, they are making WordPress sites for you... not shoes.  C'mon.  Keep up here.

Once you sign up with Host Gator it wouldn't be a bad idea to create some sort of backup/restore plan.  Just because of the cost of the service, I wouldn't be surprised if some of their other clients are less than reputable.  So, you have to be prepared if someone from the Russian Business Network seizes the entire shared server or something else terrible happens.

I use Automysqlbackup to backup all my MySQL databases onto an off-site server and I use BackupPC to backup all of my public_html directory from Host Gator.   This way, if the unforeseen happens, I can quickly get my sites up and running again on another server.

Now, I don't want to scare you.  I just want you to be prepared.  You need to minimize your overhead and $7.95/month hosting for ALL of your affiliate sites is a no-brainer!  Hosting them anywhere else just doesn't make sense.  Order your Host Gator hosting today!

Step One: You need a domain, right?

Let me begin by saying that I'm not an expert affiliate marketer, I'm just starting out, but I wanted to share what I'd learned so far with the hopes that a) some experts might chime in and hit me with the clue stick and b) I could help someone else who is just starting out like me.

So, I've written up a little checklist for myself to follow, every time I add a new website.  And I'm going to work through that over the coming weeks.

The first step is "Think of a domain name, dummy".  One thing that I often do if I'm drawing a blank is use the Google Adwords Keywords Tool.  For this example, let's assume that I want to make a niche store for doorknobs.  So, I might type in "doorknobs" or "buy doorknobs" and leave "use synonyms" checked.  Then I sort the results by "Local Search Volume".   For the "doorknobs" keyword, there were something like 300,000 searches in September alone.  You are never going to be able to crack that one.  But, hay, look at "antique door knobs", there are 14,800 searches in September for that keyword.  That seems like something we might be able to work with.  So, then I try to incorporate those keywords into my domain name.

Once you have the domain name you want, you need a domain registrar.  I used to use Dotster for this and I have no problems with them at all.  They've been very easy to work with, but I needed to find the cheapest registrar out there if I was going to be registering dozens of domain names.    That lead me to the World's Largest Registrar -

Go ahead, search to see if your domain is available:

Find a domain name now!

.com .us .biz
.info .net .org
.ws .mobi .me
.in .at

If the domain you wanted was taken, you always have the option to Backorder Domains but that hasn't ever really worked out for me. I'd just look for another good domain name and keep moving forward. You don't have time to wait and you should be trying to spend as little as possible.

Speaking of spending as little as possible.  If you think you are going to get pretty gung-ho on affiliate marketing, then you should consider using Go Daddy Bulk Domain Registration or the Discount Domain Club both of them can save you money if you are doing a handful of domains.  I think the Discount Domain club costs about $81-89/year (depending on your commitment) but the domains are deeply discounted.  I did some quick looking at it looks like it would take something like 23 .com domains to see the break-even point.  So, keep that in mind.

Ok.  So, now you have your domain name.  In Step Two, we'll talk about your hosting options.

Go Daddy $7.49 .com domains

Affiliate Marketing – The journey begins

The journey begins, alright.  Just hopefully not into the "dark side".

Howdy all, I am a 15-year sysadmin with a strong focus in Cisco and Linux.  I recently decided to get my feet wet with affiliate marketing and this blog is going to document my journey.  I imagine being beset by many dangers and hidden evils as I try not to lose my soul.  Maybe documenting this process will help me to hang to my morals as well.