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I am struggling to make this e-mail sound kind and helpful instead of harsh and critical, but it’s a touchy subject: affiliate marketing.

Listen: I get approached all the time by well-meaning newbies who want me to help them get started in Internet marketing. They want to sell my products as an affiliate. They then expect me to become their private tutor (for free) and teach them the Internet marketing business (for free).

Their logic is that it behooves me to do this since once they are established, they will sell lots of my products and make me a pile of money.

I hate to burst your bubble, but that virtually never happens.

All large and mid-size Internet marketers know the 99/1 rule: that 99% of your affiliate revenues will come from 1% of your affiliates.

This 1% is often referred to as “super affiliates”—experienced, already successful marketers capable of selling a lot of your product.

Almost without exception, super affiliates are large and mid-size Internet marketers with big lists and thorough knowledge of how to sell information products online.

The good thing about super affiliates is they will never ask you to teach them how to sell your products on the Internet, because they already know how.

The bad thing about super affiliates is that every other marketer wants to sell his or her products to the super affiliate’s list.

Therefore super affiliates are slammed with marketers begging to do a joint venture (JV) with them, making it very difficult for you to stand out from the crowd and make a deal with the super affiliate.

An effective strategy for forging a relationship with a super affiliate is to communicate with them on a person-to-person level, and a good way to do that is to meet them at an Internet marketing conference they produce, speak at, or attend.

I have also found you can stand out from the pack of wanna-be partners by following the super affiliate’s writings and sending sincere e-mails of praise and appreciation when they write something that particularly speaks to you.

Another way to entice a super affiliate is with an oversize commission: offer them 70% of sales revenues instead of the usual 50%.

And the product price has to be at least $100 and preferably $300 or higher; they won’t get excited about getting a 70% cut of a $12 paperback book.

Note: Do not send your book, DVD set, or audio CD album to the super affiliate unsolicited. They are buried under mountains of material, do not want more, and will most likely throw your product out without reviewing it.

But what about the other 99% of affiliates—the average Joe or Jane who wants to be YOUR affiliate and sell your products to their list (which they don’t have yet)?

Most of them will never make a single sale, and almost all of the rest will sell at best a few dollars worth of your products—nothing significant.

But even though these 99% of affiliates will account for less than 1% of your sales, they will demand 99% of your attention with their questions, concerns, and requests.

Should you give it to them? If an affiliate needs instruction on running an Internet information marketing business, I recommend they read or listen to one of my books or audio programs on Internet marketing.

Some super affiliates offer coaching programs. Because I do not offer coaching to individuals, I can’t work with affiliates one-on-one as their advisor, and they have to go elsewhere for mentoring. If I helped them all for free, I would have no time for my paying copywriting clients, and my writing income would nosedive.

Another issue that comes up with the regular affiliates is asking for “review copies”, which is another way of saying, “Give me your product for free because I don’t want to pay for it.” My answer is: no.

Their reply: “Well, then I can become an affiliate and buy it for half price, right?”

Again, no: the 50% commission is for sales you make to other people, not product you buy for yourself.

This may seem harsh to you, but trust me: once you have a year or so of experience in your own Internet marketing business, you may very well come to agree with me.

Do I have a grudge against tiny affiliates? No. Most of them are nice, intelligent, well-meaning people. But they grossly overestimate their value or revenue potential to the larger potential JV partner. This I know from nearly a decade of experience as an online information marketer.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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