What An Experiment With ClickBank and LinkShare Taught Me About Affiliate Marketing

I write articles for a living, but you will rarely see my name on anything I do. Nearly 100% of my articles are published under a different person’s name, on article directories just like this one. I’m fine with that. I get my money, I start the next article, life goes on.

When I first got into this job, I had no idea what the articles were used for. I had just left my job at a call center and knew literally nothing about online marketing or affiliate marketing or anything like that. I still don’t really. But, as I wrote quietly in my shadowed corner, I noticed that a lot of the articles I was assigned had to do with either ClickBank or LinkShare, two affiliate aggregates that bring together a lot of products (in the case of ClickBank) or online retailers (in the case of LinkShare).

The thing about these websites is that there are a lot of people on the internet claiming to have made thousands of dollars weekly by using these affiliate programs. I decided to do a little experiment of my own to see if any of this hype could be trusted (turns out most of it can’t). But, since both sites are free to join or use, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying.

ClickBank

This is the first site I tried. You sign up, and then go to the marketplace area where you can see all the products that are available for you to promote. Let’s say we go into the Cooking, Food, & Wine section. Here you have a list of all the products that fall under this category. The top one is an as seen on TV “Restaurant Secrets” cookbook.

This is accompanied by a little sales pitch from the seller explaining why you, the promoter, should be SO interested in promoting this revolutionary (sarcasm) new cookbook, and oh all the money you’ll make! Ignore that. What matters is the little stats below that, including initial money per sale, average money per sale, some other things, and the grav, or gravity. The gravity of a particular product is a calculation based on the number of affiliates who earned a commission by promoting that product over the past 12 weeks. Higher is better.

So did it work for me? I promoted 4 different products, each with a gravity of 75 and up, the highest reaching 132. I wrote two articles for each one, including the affiliate link, and posted them to various article directories, I’d say it was about 6 directories. My earnings:

First week: $0 Second week: $0 Third week: $36 (!) Fourth week: $9

Was it awesome? Heck no! That’s $45 in a month, which is barely enough to take my girlfriend out for a quasi-nice dinner, almost enough for Red Lobster.

I did learn some things though. First of all, yeah it’s possible to make some money on ClickBank. How much? I don’t know, but consider that I put roughly an hour of work total into writing all of the articles, maybe a half hour submitting them all, and you’re looking at about $30 an hour. More than I could make flipping burgers… for one hour a month. Now let’s look at LinkShare.

LinkShare

This website is for the promotion of retail websites like buy.com. Someone enters the site through your link and makes a purchase, you get a percentage. It’s usually between 5 and 15% from what I saw, depending on the retailer.

To be approved for a retailer’s affiliate program, they have to review your general profile (which you set up when making your LinkShare account) and then let you know, usually between an hour and a day later, if you can promote their stuff. I don’t see why they’re so picky, since you’re giving them free promotion for the most part, but let’s let them have their fun. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t rejected out of the 6 programs I applied for.

You can choose to use text links or banners, which you can paste all over your website, blog, or article databases all you want.

I once again wrote two articles for each retailer I wanted to promote, which turned out to be 3 out of the 6. Laziness is a killer guys. I went through the same routine, which all said and done took about 2 hours this time. Aaaaaand the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

Week 1: $42 Week 2: $76 Week 3: $84 Week 4: $125

Which brings me to a grand total of $327 for the month. I plan to go back to this sometime in the future and try it out some more, but as hard as it is to believe, freelance writing is actually pretty difficult, time consuming work. Between that and a now and then girlfriend I rarely have time for little experiments like this. It still doesn’t beat my freelance writing salary, which now that I’ve been doing it for awhile is about $2,000 a month, but I think sites like ClickBank and especially LinkShare have definite potential if you’re able to invest some time into them. Not to shamelessly plug:) but I started freelancing at Freelancer.com, so for all you aspiring scriveners out there, well, there you go.