Joel Comm Explains Affiliate Marketing

Joel Comm is one of the first people I learned from. He has a great way of explaining things so you really get it. And Joel is one of the people you really want to watch!

He has been on the Internet FOREVER, since he created a video game as a young kid which he later sold to Yahoo for millions. He created the first Internet Reality Show, The Next Internet Millionaire — which I wrote about a while ago. See

He also created several iPhone apps including one that went viral — iFart — and he literally wrote the book on Google Adsense.

So listen to how he explains Affiliate marketing.

I’d love to hear any questions you may have after hearing Joel explain affiliate marketing. I’d also like to know what part of affiliate marketing are you finding hardest to do? What do you love? And what do you want to know more about affiliate marketing? Please leave a comment below so that others can learn from your experience.

Craft Businesses Thrive During the Holidays and Recessions

Ginger bread house - craft businesses

Our ginger bread house

My thoughts turned to craft businesses this week when my daughter and I headed off to Michael’s, America’s largest specialty arts and crafts retailer, to buy supplies for a holiday craft. We had thought of making ornaments but Lisa didn’t like the available materials so we decided to make a ginger bread house instead. For anyone who doesn’t understand the appeal of crafts, it’s not always the way your finished item looks; it’s the experience of creating it.

My daughter has had a stressed-filled year so I am a fan of anything that makes her laugh nonstop. And the two of broke into raucous laughter as we tried to keep our various candies from falling off our crazy little house. We had the best time making our little cookie house; it was so much fun that we smile every time we eye our little concoction.

Thinking of this I wondered how big is the craft business? Where is there money to be made? Michaels’ and other craft retailers like AC Moore, Toys R Us and Jo-Ann’s Stores appear to dominate this industry that serves the women over 35 who spend the biggest bucks on arts and crafts materials. In this highly concentrated industry, the top 50 companies generate about 85 percent of the revenue, according to First Research data on the toy and hobby industry.

I never found an actual dollar amount for the size of the industry, but my research turned up lots of interesting little facts. In May, described cake baking and decorating and the hobby industry in general as one of the best small businesses to start this year citing the comfort factor. When times are difficult people turn to products and activities that provide comfort. So if you’re in the craft business or looking to start one, you’re in the right place at the right time.

Cover of Crafts 'n Things Magazine

Craft 'N Things Magazine

Toys make up about 30 percent of this industry, followed by craft supplies at 15 percent, kitchenware and home furnishings at 10 percent. Other products include games, hobby goods, artificial flowers, and sewing and knitting materials. Toy stores may provide assembly or delivery services. Hobby stores may offer classes, known as “how-to” seminars.

Consumers will continue to be deal minded with emphasis on gifts people will really use and lots of do-it-yourself projects. Large companies offer wide selections with deep discounts. Smaller companies should probably stick to specialty products, provide superior customer service or serve local markets, according to information provided by the Craft & Hobby Association.

The industry is significant enough for the Wall Street Journal to carry a story this week about the  intersection of the craft site Etsy with social media. As the Journal put it, “online retailers (such as and Etsy Inc.,) are experimenting with the idea that friends can make shopping easier.”

Lisa's beaded necklace

Crafts - Beaded jewelry

Etsy has a special challenge. It’s a website where small craft businesses promote their wares. The problem is that the site still is struggling to attract the mainstream consumer. So this social-shopping idea could be major for the many crafters who populate Etsy. The idea is to use Facebook ‘Likes’ to get friends to recommend their preferences – making it easier to give your friends gifts they will actually like.

Such social-shopping efforts are still in the experimental stage, according to the Wall Street Journal. But in a separate article, JWT and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, two big New York based advertising agencies says such social-shopping efforts or “shopper marketing” is definitely the future. The two agencies have formed a joint venture in North America to help marketers and retailers guide consumers on the so-called path to purchase.

“The battle to land on shopping lists or in shopping carts starts long before consumers set foot in stores as they spend more time researching potential purchases online or asking friends on Facebook what to buy,” according to JWT/Ogilvy Action as the joint venture is called.

So what does all of this mean for the small home based crafter or information marketer? With a little further research I learned that 24 percent of holiday shoppers said they were making gifts, representing an increase from last year.

What can we expect in 2011?

Research by Ogilvy suggests that consumers are definitely still feeling the pinch from the recession. Consequently,
• 52% – cook dinner at home more often
• 33% – keep a car longer than normal
• 30% – pay down debt
• 27% – stop taking a vacation
• 26% – create and stuck to a budget

So what does that mean for marketers?
Summing up the lessons from the research, Graceann Bennett, Director of Strategic Planning at Ogilvy, says marketers have to follow the path the consumer takes from Facebook to groupon to review sites. Coupons and percentage-off deals are no longer enough, said. The pre-sale is more important than ever which is why you’ll see more stores opening at midnight, 3am and other off-hours with limited “special price” to get shoppers in the door.

If you are an affiliate marketing running a review site, it’s important to understand the environment in which you are operating if you’re to succeed in getting commissions.

Well, I started talking about craft businesses and I’ve gotten a little off track. But I hope this information gives you food for thought as you plan your promotional activities for 2011. Have a wonderful holiday and happy crafting.

Sonoma Vineyards and the Fine Art of Wine Tasting

Marcia at Viansa Vineyard
Here I am at the Viansa Vineyard. Isn’t this a great old structure?
A view of the Viansa Vineyard
A view of the Viansa Vineyard

Most Marketers agree that one of the best ways to get your customers to buy is to get them to sample what ever you are selling. That’s why you give away an eBook, special report or short video to introduce a bigger product or to get people to join your list. For the same reason you’ll see software manufacturers and membership sites offering a free trial in hopes that people won’t want to go without their product or service once they have experienced it.

But nowhere is the art of sampling practiced in such style as the Sonoma Vineyards in Northern California, where you’re sure to take home a bottle or two once you’ve tasted the season’s best vintages.

Gardens at the Kline Cellars 
Palm and Gum Trees at the Kline Cellar Gardens
 Palm and Gum Trees at the Kline Cellar Gardens


At Cline Cellars, our wine tasting experience began with a stroll through incredible gardens with ancient palm and gum trees. The gardens also featured a tiny zoo of rare birds like pheasants. An old train car sporting a table dressed in a white cloth looked as if it was just waiting for a party. The crisp air and brief stroll put you in the mood for wine tasting. Here you can sample for free.

The atmosphere in the small shop is festive just four days before Christmas. Customers surround the bar where the proprietors describe the merits of the various wines before you pick the ones you want to sample. The bar is crowded and I’m a little winded from my walk so I find a place on a bench nearby.

Lisa and I sampling wine at Cline Cellars 
Lisa and I sampling wine at Cline Cellars


But a silver-haired gentleman from behind the bar—perhaps the owner—brings me a sample of a special wine that you drink with dark chocolate, a Cline 2006 Late Harvest Mourvèdre.  And I think what a wonderful way to engage your visitors. That’s a challenge webmasters face daily – trying to get your site visitors to stay long enough to sample the content of your website. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the Sonoma vintners.

Small Business Marketing Doesn’t Get Any Simpler than a San Francisco Farmer’s Market

I haven’t been able to blog for a few days, what with packing and spending a day in airports and at 40,000 feet in the air, as I traveled to spend the holidays with my daughter in San Francisco.

San Fran Farmers' MarketIf you have only experienced the City by the Bay as a tourist, you may never have seen one of its farmers markets – which as small businesses go, is about as small and as close to your customer as you can get.

So I wanted to share a few photos I took at Alemany Boulevard which serves some of San Francisco’s residential neighborhoods.

It’s the day after a rainy night with turbulent winds. Only a fraction of the normal crowd ventures out after it rains. So it was pleasant walking around the various booths, viewing fruit that for me is a bit exotic such as these pointy, odd-shaped lemons.

Pointy-shaped lemons at San Francisco Farmer's Market

I dressed for the cold with too many clothes. It’s drizzling, but not as cold as I expected.

San Francisco is a delightful mix of cultures and colors, unlike what you’ll find in the East. Here my daughter poses with her bag of goodies.

It’s the one place where palm trees and tropical flowers blend with 50 to 60 degree temperatures and that famous San Francisco fog. It was so thick the day before I couldn’t see the bay that is easily visible from my daughter’s kitchen and living room windows. But by Saturday, the fog has lifted leaving only the light drizzle.

If you ask me, this is just one of the great spots that make San Francisco so much fun. Every year, I have a new experience ranging from great restaurants and museums, to Sausalito Shops near the Golden Gate Bridge—one of my faves.

Simple sign promoting fare at San Francisco Farmers' Market

Ironically, in one of the world’s techiest cities, good food, a regular location and a colorful sign get the job done. Marketing doesn’t get any easier than this!

MaxBlogPress Christmas Special for Bloggers

Typically, I don’t promote big-ticket items this close to Christmas, but I don’t want you to miss out on a special deal guaranteed to help you with your blog that MaxBlogPress says it will never repeat.

MaxBlogPress Xmas specialMaxBlogPress is offering five of its hottest products for less than it usually charges for one of these blog tools, but there’s a catch. This deal with savings of 70 percent off the regular price is only available until TOMORROW (Dec. 14) at midnight.

I almost missed this one myself. I took a look at MaxBlogPress’ Ninja Affiliate this summer and added it to my wish list. The company describes this tool as a lethal affiliate tracking tool for WordPress bloggers. More recently, they MaxBlogPress introduced its Subscribers Magnet, a product that increases your ability to build a list with several features that fill in the visitors name and email automatically, so all your visitors have to do is click the submit button.

Other tools include:

  • The WordPress Wizard 2.0, a coaching program with input from some of the most successful bloggers around – ProBloggers like Darren Rouse and Chris Garrett.
  • The $365K Blog Traffic Formula
  • RSS Email 2.0

 Grab your copy of the  MaxBlogPress Christmas Deal.

I am planning a lot of great things for the readers of the Savvy Marketing Secrets Blog going forward. So join my list or my feed. Also, please leave a comment and tell me your greatest concern for your business for 2011.

5 WordPress Plugins with SEO Benefits for your Blog

Website Magazine coverI just took a look at the August issue of  Website  where I found something that really fits the topic we have been talking about this week. Nick Stamoulis, President and Founder of Brick Marketing a SEO and SEM company, described five WordPress plugins that will make your SEO easy.

If you can still find that issue, you may want to grab it. But just in case it is no longer available, I’ll repeat Stamoulis’ recommendations here:

  1. WordPress logoAll in One SEO Pack – Nick suggests that you grab this one first because it lets you write custom meta information for all your posts and pages. It has been downloaded nearly five million times and is considered the industry standard.
  2. Contextual Related Posts – This post will display related blog posts at the end of each published post by seeking those with relevant tags. I didn’t know about this one. I’ve been doing this manually so I’m going to look for this one right away. It helps in two ways — with internal linking and to keep visitors on your site longer.
  3. SEO Smart Links – This plugin interlinks your posts and pages as you write and publish, which is also a great way to strengthen the SEO elements of your site.
  4. WP-DB-Backup –  This may seem more important for security than SEO, but as Nick explains, if you lose all your value content, it will really set your SEO efforts back. Using this plugin you can email a backup file of your entire database anytime you want. With this backup, you can get your blog back up quickly if something should happen.
  5. Google XML Sitemaps – Most webmasters know how important it is to create Google SML Sitemaps to help the search engine find your content quickly. This plugin lets you update your sitemap automatically as you add new content.

Some premium themes come with some of these plugins built-in, so you might want to check before you try to add these plugins.

 Nick makes another very important point. While it is important for you to optimize your WordPress blog, it is vital that you create your content for humans not search engine robots. Your blog may get a quick boost with SEO, but it’s long term success depends on the quality and value of your content for your site visitors.

WordPress Plugins for Affiliates