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Passive Internet Income Sources
by MARC GUNN, author of Celtic MP3s Music Magazine
Recently, there was a discussion on the MusicThoughts list regarding how to develop passive income as a musician. Of course, there are many types of passive income open to musicians, but this discussion in particular involved using affiliate programs to earn money.
For the newbie, affiliate programs are program online that allow you to earn money by selling products or services that you do not own. Companies like Commission Junction, LinkShare, ClickBank offer a variety of a affiliate programs on every subject. While companies like Amazon.com (books, music, and more), MP3DownloadHQ (free music downloads) offer more specific products or services.
Building a successful affiliate income is NOT easy. And as internet companies come and go, they are also not a hugely reliable source of income for the long-term. I prefer to focus on offering products and services for my active websites, but most of my websites were created with affiliates in mind. Consequently, I've learned the affiliate game quite well.
Most people don't like sharing how much they earn from passive income. So finding those stats Will be difficult. But frankly, I prefer helping folks with facts.
So, here's a couple notes on the various passive internet income sources I earn or have earned in the past:
1. Google Adsense.
Google CAN be great, but a lot of it depends on what keywords your site is focused on. Head over to PixelFast offers a great Overture Keywords and Bid Amounts Tool and you can find out how much people bid on certain types of keywords through overture.
Having done testing which got me banned from Google I learned a few things when I was using Google Adsense. I found on the average, I made about pittance on each of my random websites. Some however, did MUCH better. Namely the 'free music downloads' websites.
You'll note at PixelFast that companies bid heavily for those keywords with clickthrus averaging at about 45c per click. Seventy percent of the income I earned on Google was from one free music download website that somehow made it high on the search results. I'm not allowed to say how much I made, but you can do the math when a site gets approximately 500 unique visits a day and has a 5-10% clickthru rate.
The point is if you create and promote webpages with high impact keywords, you will do fairly well.
2. Affiliate Programs.
Since I'm no longer with Google, I've sense learned to find other alternatives using Google style ads. You can those on my Directory of Free Music Downloads as an example.
I've found other affiliate programs to fill the gaps lost by Google through:
I also earn another $100-150 per month from the Bards Crier Music Marketing and Promotion Ezine's various affiliations with IMHO some of the best music marketers out there. Course, I also have a decent online CD sales income, and other artistic projects that earn me money (and I still have a day job for at least another year).
- Clickbank. I've focused primarily on free music downloads. The big problem I have with Clickbank is that my Mozilla browser at home doesn't like their redirects. But I still earn about $500 per month from Clickbank.
- MP3Dollars. This is a free music downloads site for MP3DownloadHQ. Their affiliate links are good redirects. So I've made them much more prominent so as not to lose income that might've been lost from Clickbank. The affiliate program is solid paying 50% of the money they earn. So I earn about $500 per month from them. Best of all, it's paid weekly!
- Amazon.com. Usually earns me about $50 a month. And this comes from a lot of heavy referrals from my Celtic MP3s Music Magazine.
- Commission Junction. Their redirects seem to have the same problem as Clickbank. I mainly use them for web hosting services that earn about $150 per month.
- Linkshare. I've used it for years. Earned no money (like the vast majority of affiliate programs I've tried). I did sign up for iTunes earlier this month. And we'll see if that changes matters at all.
3. The Key to remember when you're making money with affiliate programs is really to blend it into your website.
For instance, if you go to thebards.net. You can download our MP3 "Tolkien (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings)" on the homepage. It downloads from amazon.com using my affiliate link. So it creates another cookie which hopefully will earn me more income from future amazon.com orders from that customer.
Prominent ads also work like at my Directory of Free Music Downloads. Meaning, Google has really hit upon a great style of advertising. Oh, and Vertical ads out perform horizontal ads.
I'm also a big proponent of creating a website that will earn you income as well as popularity. Again, check out the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine. The site is designed for two purposes:
There is one other aspect I would like to point out that will make whatever you do more money. It's sales letters. Quite honestly, I detest hard sales. I don't typically care for sales letters online. But they DO perform well.
- Promote independent Celtic music by luring in signed Celtic music fans of Enya, The Chieftains, etc. It's a technique I learned from David Nevue's How to Successfully Promote Your Music on the Internet and has proved exceptionally profitable, and
- Promote my music. You'll see a lot of links and information about the Brobdingnagian Bards and my own solo Celtic music recordings.
Some of the best-selling webpages are composed of one long sales letter like some of the stuff you'll see at indiebiz.com. I've no doubt that David makes well-over $3000 a month for any of his webpages just from some of his passive income sales letters. By learning about copywriting, you can create webpages to perform just as well to promote your affiliate programs. It's an amazing skill to have.
One Last Important Note: I have NO Faith in most of my internet affiliate income. Sure I think Amazon will be there for years to come. But the passion for 'free music downloads' will die with the next internet fad.
My suggestion is to create a hard product that you can sell. For instance, create and sell ebooks using your knowledge and those sales letters I mentioned. People are willing to pay fo your knowledge of the most mundane things. It's not about being stupid, it's about ease. If you can compile that knowledge and sell it, more power to you!
You will constantly need to fine tune everything. And learn how the search engines work.
Passive money on the internet is not unreasonable. But it's also not easy. It takes quite a bit o'work and a lot of patience because it can take months for search engines to find out if you're website is important.
Hope that helps some folks, slainte!
Bard Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards has helped 1000's of musicians
save and make money with their musical groups through his monthly newsletter,
Crier Music Marketing and Promotion Ezine. Now you can get FREE "how-to" music marketing and promotion advice by visiting www.bardscrier.com. No time to visit the site? Subscribe to the Bards Crier Ezine for Free. Just email email@example.com