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The Business Model
All work from home entrepreneurship ideas fall in two categories, businesses that use the home office as a sales outlet, and online businesses that sell through the Internet and use the home office only for processing. Home businesses such as pet setting, home instruction, home based craft creation, and gift basket businesses that use the home office as a sales outlet are usually scaled down “cottage” versions of conventional businesses. Such ventures require the entrepreneur to allot and spruce up a dedicated room in the home, invest in furniture and tools, and obtain permits and licenses. Internet-based businesses such as data entry services, transcription services, affiliate marketing, and independent retailers on the other hand can operate out of anywhere, and require little more than an computer and Internet connection.
Among Internet businesses, affiliate marketing ranks among the best option. The Internet abounds with merchants and webmasters trying to boost online sales of their products and services, and most of them offer affiliate programs to drive traffic and sales to their websites.The affiliate marketer increases traffic to the merchant's website and the merchant offers the affiliate marketer a commission on the sales generated through such traffic.
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How to Begin
Joining affiliate programs is simple and fast, and usually requires accessing the web page, signing up, and waiting for the webmaster’s approval. The webmaster provides the affiliate marketer with a unique affiliate ID to apply to the links that directing traffic to the merchant's website. The challenge however lies in identifying suitable affiliate programs, and separating genuine opportunities from scams.
The home-based entrepreneur needs to spend time researching available opportunities and then ensure the reliability of the merchant offering the service before joining. A Google, Yahoo, or Bing search followed by browsing popular forums invariably provides basic insight into the credibility of the proposal. The scam-check apart, look at the per click visit rate of the merchant’s website, or the number of sales made per 100 visits. The higher the number of visits converted to sales, the greater the chances of commission revenue.
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Affiliate marketers use a link that contains the unique affiliate ID and directs to the merchant's e-commerce website. They spread this link through all possible means such as social media, emails and others, and one principal means is by launching a website. Setting up a website for an affiliate marketing business is relatively simple. Follow these three basic steps.
- Choose and register a domain name. Select from the available names by searching the “Whois” directory.
- Design web pages. The most basic type of web pages contain simple HTML codes that generate automatically when the document is “saved as HTML” in Microsoft Office and other common software. More complex interactive web pages require additional programming and advanced web design skills.
- Write effective content. A good website contains content relevant to the products marketed. Make sure to write SEO optimized content to top search engine rankings
- Reserve server space to host web pages. Popular online forums like Web Hosting Talk and others are a good place to identify service providers who offer domain registration and web hosting services. Sites such as Weebly.com offer free hosting space.
The website of the affiliate marketing business is the equivalent of a “retail outlet” or a traditional business, but unlike a physical retail shop, all it takes is a credit card or a PayPal account and a few mouse clicks to set it up.
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Signing up for affiliate programs and launching a website with relevant content to promote the affiliate program links effectively sets up this home-based business. A website by itself however rarely attract any visitors. Drive traffic to the website so that people see the affiliate links, click on the links to reach the merchant’s website, and perhaps effect a sale. The following are easy and inexpensive ways to drive traffic to any website
- Sign up for Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement programs such as Google AdSense. PPC programs place sponsored links that pop up when potential customers enter keywords into search engines looking for websites relevant to their needs. The advantage for advertisers is that charge incurs not on display of the ad, but only when visitor actually click on the link. Perform some keyword research and select the right kind of keywords for the products marketed.
- Become active in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other popular forums, and start a blog. Write articles and answer questions regarding the products marketed. Use article directories such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg to promote such articles, increasing the chances of interested users visiting the merchant link embedded in such articles.
The affiliate marketing business is not only the quickest home based business to start, but also one with maximum potential. Once the marketing efforts are in place, it becomes easy to diversify from affiliate marketing and expand into related areas such as online sales.