If I’ve learned anything from my experience in affiliate marketing, it’s that you get back what you put into it. Perhaps long-tenured affiliates can ride their previous successes, but anyone who has entered the business in the last few years needs to put in serious effort in order to realize significant gains.
This reality leads many affiliates to wonder how they can pour even more effort into their businesses. We have just 24 hours in a day, so all we can do is use those hours more efficiently. With the proper tools, we can cut down on the time and effort it takes to perform certain tasks. That opens up our time, allowing us to make even greater efforts.
Looking for some tools that will save you time and make your affiliate efforts more effective? Check out these five. They’ll provide quite a bang for your buck (even though some are free).
1. Raven Tools
In truth, this list could have been much longer. Affiliates require many tools for success, including keyword research, backlink checkers, link managers, analytics software, and more. While there are plenty of quality tools that focus on one of those functions, Raven Tools brings them all into a single tool. It might be the most helpful one for any affiliate.
Raven starts with on-site analysis, letting you check your preferred keywords and competitors. It also provides you with a number of other on-site analytical points, including integration with Google Analytics. After that it allows you to conduct in-depth research on not only your site, but other sites as well. You’ll see a wide array of statistics such as MozRank, get an idea of the keywords the site competes on, and a comprehensive look at the site’s backlinks.
If it stopped there Raven would be a quality tool, but it extends even further with these features.
- Link manager. Building links is essential for any affiliate site. Raven’s link manager makes it easy to keep track of your link building campaigns.
- Site finder. Want to know how much help you’ll get from a backlink on a particular site? Check it in Raven’s site finder, and automatically add it to link manager.
- Social management. Looking to engage prospects through social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook? You can plug your accounts into Raven and take advantage of management tools such as scheduled post and traffic data.
- Content services. Want to check if your articles have acceptable keyword density? Raven has a feature for that. Even better, it links up with Textbroker’s content creation services. For a small fee you can have someone create your site’s content for you.
Raven Tools marketing software might cost a pretty penny, but given all of its features it can be highly worth it. Not convinced? Perhaps a 30 day trial will provide you with better insight.
One challenge any affiliate will face is handling income from multiple sources. These can come from affiliate networks as well as individual affiliate programs. They all need to be accounted for, and they all need to be accurate. While a simple spreadsheet might work for your own records, there are other factors to consider — taxes being chief among them. Serious accounting software can be of the essence.
There are a number of accounting programs you can purchase outright. The problem is that tax code updates every year, so you need a new license before you can file. Those costs can add up, considering tax and accounting software typically costs hundreds of dollars. QuickBooks has an alternative plan. They charge a monthly fee. It still adds up, of course, but you’ll always have the most up-to-date version of the software, complete with a web interface.
Too used to your spreadsheet to make changes? QuickBooks can import right from that Excel sheet. In addition, it can pull information from your bank account, helping double-check any information that you input. You can even create invoices and pay bills right within the software.
They also do it right with a 30-day trial. You can check out QuickBooks accounts software for free to start, and for a reasonable fee thereafter.
3. Google Alerts
A few years ago, no one would need to place Google Alerts in a tools list. Almost everyone used it. Yet in recent years it has seemingly fallen out of favor. People are discovering content through social channels such as Twitter and Google+ rather than through alerts and RSS feeds. Yet I submit that for an affiliate searching for content ideas, Google Alerts still represents the best method for discovery.
Think about it this way: do you have time to constantly check your Twitter feed for content you find interesting? Most people want a de-cluttered Twitter feed, since too much clutter makes Twitter a distraction rather than a social tool. Unless you’re super plugged in, you’ll miss plenty of content if you rely on Google+ or even Facebook for content. And even then, you’re probably finding content that people have already seen (and moved on from).
The beauty of Google Analytics is that it scrapes the web — both newspapers and blogs — for results that are relevant to your keywords. You can get them through email or through RSS, either daily or as they hit. That gives you control, since the data is coming to you. Even more, you’re discovering content that perhaps isn’t already over-shared on social platforms. That makes it more compelling to re-create that content for your blog.
Unlike the first two tools, Google Alerts are free Give ‘em a shot and see if they can help you formulate fresher content ideas.
Even the most connected affiliates don’t have accounts with every possible service. In many cases it’s just not worth the effort to sign up. In others, you might not know one exists. You might be writing content perfectly suited for a particular affiliate program, but don’t know that you’re passing up income. VigLink provides you with the tools to finally capture income from those programs.
VigLink works in two ways. First, it adds affiliate tags to any qualified links on your blog. If you link to, say, Best Buy using the straight URL, VigLink will append an affiliate code. You’ll then split the commission. The second part might be the most valuable, though. VigLink can detect keywords in your post that are relevant to particular merchants. It then adds a link to that keyword, using an affiliate code. Again, revenue is split.
VigLink is not for the lazy. There are clear opportunities for every affiliate to earn direct income either through merchant programs or affiliate networks. VigLink is merely a supplement that helps affiliates capture income they otherwise would have left on the table. Check out VigLink skimmer for a more detailed overview and terms.
5. Eclipse Link Cloaker plugin
The idea of cloaking links might seem shady, but it is actually a best practice for affiliates. Many an affiliate has lost revenue due to the obviousness of their code in the link. Some users, not wanting the affiliate to earn a commission, will simply visit the site without clicking the affiliate link. Other affiliates might visit the site, but use their own code when buying. By cloaking your links, you’re making that more difficult to accomplish.
There are a few link cloakers out there, but the Eclips Link Cloaker plugin for WordPress adds one killer feature: automatic linking. You set up certain keywords with relevant links, and the plugin will automatically scan your site and add them. This is particularly useful for affiliates who blog daily, using the same links over and over again. Setting them up automatically saves time and effort.
(Plus, don’t forget the benefit of having the links point to your site.)
Yes, you do have to buy Eclipse Link Cloaker for $57, but think of it in terms of ROI. Will you capture an additional $57 in revenue with it? A motivated affiliate can probably recoup that in a month or less.