Graphic Designer Finds Cash Cow With Home Business Ideas

GotDot.com profiles Andrea Thompson a graphic artist and affiliate marketer who loves web design and making money with home business ideas.

Andrea first learned about affiliate marketing while volunteering to help build a website for their local church. Her husband didn’t understand why she was donating her services, considering at the time she was working a full time job as a graphic designer and building websites for her own freelance clients.

But, sometimes things happen for a reason. While working for the non-profit, website Andrea met James Martell, an entrepreneur, successful affiliate marketer of over 70 specialty shopping sites, author of the James Martell’s Affiliate Marketers Handbook, who just happened to be working on the community website. One thing led to another and James approached Andrea about doing web design for his affiliate marketing business.

At the time Andrea didn’t understand what the business was about, so she met with James and his wife. They showed her several checks and just kept smiling. But it was all still a mystery. Pieces of it, she’d come to understand by doing web design work for James and a team of affiliate marketers. But it would be months before Andrea went from doing design work for affiliates web sites, to reading James book detailing a proven 8-step system™ for success with affiliate marketing, to ultimately launching her own affiliate marketing baby site.

When the first checks came in Andrea remembers, jumping up and down and saying, “Holy cow it works.” And there’s been another and another check, for Andrea’s discovered what so many affiliate marketers know, that the revenue stream just keeps on building.

What is an affiliate program?

Simply put, an affiliate program is a business relationship where one website owner (a “merchant”) agrees to pay another website owner (an “affiliate”) a commission for referring customers.

Merchants typically manage their affiliate program by joining a commission network such as Commission Junction or LinkShare who provide third-party tracking and infrastructure or by purchasing and installing specialized tracking software on their own server.

See Commission Junction and LinkShare for a list of merchants who are looking for affiliates to promote their products and services.

How Andrea Thompson started making money with affiliate marketing

Over the last 2 years, Andrea’s gone from being financially challenged with a young family to being able to quit her “day job”, and is now living and breathing affiliate marketing whether it’s designing affiliates web templates or working on her own affiliate marketing sites.

The combination has turned everything around. Andrea works at home now, balancing family life and kids, and has the flexibility to enjoy it all.

Andrea remembers how James kept saying to her, “You are a natural at this, just do it, run with that enthusiasm.”

The first affiliate marketing site Andrea built in February was a baby site. Andrea says, “In the beginning I made mistakes, because I build websites I kind of had the attitude, I know this. But I’ve learned if you’re serious about making money and being in affiliate marketing you really have to follow James book to a tea. James breaks it down into baby steps. He has this amazing way of speaking to techies and non techies.

Got Dot: What’s the money like?

When Andrea first started building her baby site, she did not have a clear goal about money. She got excited when the first check for $20 came in, then $90. Now the baby site is making around $1000/month.

Andrea says, “Now I know it’s a sure thing. Any site I build is an investment.” Andrea follows the same methods for web site construction developed by James Martell. These principals are incorporated into Andrea’s sites featuring: home fitness equipment, maternity clothes, and designer baby clothes.

Got Dot: Can you explain a little bit more about the Affiliate Buzz?

Andrea listens to the Affiliate Buzz, while designing websites and explains how before listening to what James talks about, you can read more information about the issue or look up past topics. Andrea says, “The Affiliate Buzz helps me stay on target and make plans. My favorite part is the motivational section. Just hearing people talk about affiliate marketing helps so much and networking with the other affiliate marketers is real valuable.”

Once a month Andrea meets with other affiliate marketing ladies, Andrea says, “The running joke is how soon can, we start talking about our websites. Recently, one of the gals had a birthday, so we all asked about the kids, but before answering, everyone wanted to know about the commission checks, the web site traffic, the search engine positioning. So we all gave the lowdown then got back to socializing, but it always kept coming back to affiliate marketing. But these times are fun too, through socializing you get these little tidbits that people are doing. Just hearing others success makes it real.”

Got Dot: What’s the biggest wow, from reading James’ book and launching your own affiliate sites?

Andrea mentions link partners: The key is making sure the link partner links to keywords. In James’ book, he describes the software program, Wordtracker, and how you can get a free trial and find out about the top keywords on the search engines. Andrea liked the program so much she bought the full package and uses it all the time.

She explains how with her web design business, the keyword she asks link partners to link to, is "low cost website design", versus the name of the business, Golden Pinecone. Andrea says, “When people do blind searches on the net looking for low cost website design, it has nothing to do with my business name, it’s all about the services that are part of Golden Pinecone.”

Got Dot: What’s it like working with the other affiliate marketers, when you develop their websites?

Andrea says, “The enthusiasm is incredible. These people are literally all fired up and I’m the same way. I wake up in the morning, excited. I have three kids and just saw the Grinch cartoon. At the end of the cartoon the Grinch is so happy his heart is bursting out of him, that’s how I feel. It’s this uncontained enthusiasm. Everyone knows they are onto something big, that’s why I quit my job working for someone else. I wanted to work with the enthusiasm all the time. I feel like I’m bursting with energy, overflowing with energy and ideas.”

Got Dot: What are the websites like that you design for affiliate marketing?

Andrea describes the websites templates as following the James Martell web style, lot's of white space, no flashing, or distracting graphics. The templates all have energy, look classy, without being stale. Another key part of the design is making sure they don’t look like templates or all look the same. In fact, Andrea, will not let another person in a niche use the same template. She even has a tracking system to keep designs separate.

All the web templates are lean and professional, embodying the philosophy: less is more. The content has to jump off the page. Lots of times the users are not designers so what ever graphic is designed has to be good, the focus is on functionality first. Each client can choose the color and design the header. A key factor in design is creating something that speaks to the product and that is not time related or won’t go out of fashion; with affiliate marketing that’s really important, since manufacturers and products come and go.

Got Dot: What advice would you give to someone starting affiliate marketing?

  • Work hard, follow the system in James Martell's Affiliate Marketers Handbook.
  • Take it seriously. Andrea says, “In beginning I treated affiliate marketing like a hobby. I was tinkering with the baby site. When the first money came in I got serious and read the book again and treated it like a business.”
  • Do it right the first time.
  • Understand and follow the basics. Andrea says, “Some folks in the business spend too much time researching and analyzing the results. Instead of over analyzing things write more articles, and get more link partners.”
  • Read James’ book every since months to stay focused and on track.
  • Listen to the Affiliate Buzz for tips.
  • Just do it, like James says.

Andrea says, “Give affiliate marketing home business ideas a chance. Before you know it, your family will catch the enthusiasm too. My husband and sister are reading James book now and friends are interested too.”

Like Andrea says when the checks come in, “Holy cow it works!”

Alan followed a simple 8-step-systemô for affiliate marketing created by James Martell, entrepreneur, successful affiliate marketer, and developer of over 70 specialty shopping sites with topics that include weight loss programs, fluorescent lights and skate bearings; and is also in the business of helping those people interested in making money using affiliate programs.

Related Resources:

  1. James Martellís Affiliate Marketers Handbook
  2. James Martell's Affiliate Buzz
Got Dot is a freelance writing firm profiling successful affiliate marketers.

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