A few weeks ago, Nick Reese sent me a copy of his “soon to be published” e-book called Traffic and Trust. He had mentioned having read my stuff over the years and how much he liked it and said that he'd love to get my opinion on the book:
“After more than 9 months the ebook is finally wrapped up and finished. I wanted to shoot a copy your way and see if it got the “Sugarrae Stamp of Approval.” The ebook is attached.
I really worked to make it completely different than the spammy get rich-quick shit you see everywhere. I think if more affiliates just looked at commercial intent we'd see a lot more success stories. This book includes tips like that.”
I get these requests a lot. But I like Nick. He actually knows his shit. And I know for a fact what type of affiliate sales he's been able to generate. So I felt obligated to do it. Even though I didn't have high hopes. A lot of times these info products are bullshit. But, I told him I'd do it. And it went into my “to do” pile. Where it stayed.
Then yesterday I posted (swear to god) without ever having looked at his book that I had to discontinue my “creating a niche affiliate site” series due to the project being compromised. I felt really bad about the number of folks I knew trying to break into affiliate marketing that had been using it as a “intro” to the creating their first affiliate site.
Then last night, I found an an email from Nick right before I headed to bed asking how I'd liked the e-book (because it was the night before the launch date).
Damn it. I hadn't even looked at it. So I told Sean I needed some time to read through it. I'd told Nick weeks before I would only mention it on my blog if I truly thought it was a good e-book, regardless of how much I liked him. But I figured I at least owed it to him to read it before it launched.
For years, people have been asking me to write a “newbie” guide to true affiliate marketing. Not “wham, bam, thank you ma'am” but building real, true affiliate brands (think personal brands like Sugarrae or business affiliate brands like BBGeeks.)
Nick's book, Traffic and Trust, I shit you not, is the book I would have written if I weren't too
lazy busy to write it.
As I read through the book, I found Nick even using the same anecdotes I've used for years offline to try and explain affiliate marketing to folks (I'm not at all saying he ripped them – I use them offline, merely saying that we seem to think alike.)
He explains affiliate marketing and how to do it – in a sustainable way.
“To take this a step further, smart affiliates will only promote products that will be of benefit to their audience. In essence they act like a gatekeeper for good and bad products.”
I've said it before and I will say it again. Like my commercial brands, when it comes to my personal brand, no forty dollar commission is worth selling my reputation for. If I don't actually believe in the product, you won't find me recommending it. You won't find my commercial sites highly rating a shitty product. I have always said:
My focus is about the users. If I have the users, I will find a way to monetize them.
Nick seems to believe in a lot of the same core principles that I do.
He goes in depth in what he calls “micro-campaigns” (I refer to them as niche sites) as well. Most of what I planned to cover in my niche affiliate marketing series is discussed in this book.
Chris Brogan – who contributed to the book – stated at one point:
“In the case of good affiliate marketing, you work for your buyer, not for a boss.”
Exactly. And what makes building affiliate brands so awesome is that if you build within an industry with multiple merchants, then you can choose your buyer. You deal with a lot less bullshit as a successful affiliate than you ever will working for almost any boss, in any industry.
Nick covers the core principles of traffic, trust and reputation. The book addresses PPC but if you're looking to go the PPC route, this guide isn't for you. The focus here is on building an organic online presence. I felt like I was reading a summary of my 2006 post on traffic development as the new form of link development (which a lot of people still don't “get”) when I read:
“Traditional media is all about attention and on the web traffic is attention…. The easiest way to build traffic starts by looking at traffic from an attention standpoint.”
And he doesn't just say it, he goes on to explain to you in a step by step manner how to achieve it. Many are updated versions of ideas found all over the web (such as in my guide to launching a new blog) – but it is all concisely in one place. And explained in a manner I feel comfortable saying “yes, that's how you freaking do it.”
Now, not everything was roses. However, I put “issues” in quotes because my issues were minor:
In the book Nick uses a pretend merchant for the sake of example called “Green Mart” and in explaining how affiliates benefit their business, he said:
“Since the launch of Green Mart’s affiliate program, its affiliate base has steadily grown and is quickly approaching 150 active affiliates. Each of these affiliates are actively “growing the pie” or adding to the bottom line.”
Now, any experienced affiliate knows that 20% of the affiliates produce 80% of the sales (and that's being generous – many will say more like 5% and 95% but I digress.) I get Nick was simply trying to make a statement to be simple for examples sake, but I felt the need to address it because to me, it can imply a false expectation to merchants that may be reading my review, and subsequently, the book.
Nick also recommended a few plugins if you decide to use WordPress as a CMS system for your affiliate site. I'd like to state that I would change the SEO plugin recommendation to Yoast's WordPress SEO Plugin and the plugin to handle affiliate links to the Eclipse Link Cloaker (even though it's paid.) I'm not saying his recommendations are “off” at all – just that I have no experience with them – so in my personal bubble, those two would replace his recommendations.
In his section about affiliate approval, he says:
“Some affiliate networks are picky about who they accept but if you talk with the person doing approvals and tell them you are serious and are just getting started, you typically won’t have any issues getting accepted.”
I'd like to note that big brands are almost always difficult to be accepted by. So if you're building a site that is centered around them, you may want to wait or show them another site you own (of possible) that is successful to convince them to allow you on board.
Lastly, Nick mentions using a disallow directive in your robots.txt file on the folder you house affiliate links in (which I absolutely agree with) but I'd also like to recommend that you also add a noindex directive for the folder as well. So, it would look something like this on my websites:
The final word
If you've been looking for a guide to building an affiliate site you can actually be proud of, Nick sums up the sentiment of the book in the following two statements:
“Your online presence is your brand. Even though you might not be a multi-billion dollar, multi-national mega-corporation, you can still build your reputation.
“Always be sure to produce quality work and you will be certain to get quality results. Put out a bunch of rubbish and you should expect rubbish results.”
Nick's How to Turn Traffic and Trust Into Sales is likely as close as you'll ever get to that.
Now, I didn't pay for the book. As I stated in the opening paragraph, it was given to me. But it's absolutely worth the price ($97). To prove that, I'll buy two copies with my own money to give away to you guys…
Win a copy
To everyone else, seriously, buy the book if you have any desire to become an affiliate marketing. If you actually DO what it says, you'll make it back over and over and over.