What is Clickbank — Building and Selling Clickbank Websites
One of the best things about the Internet is that anyone can create a product and sell it to individuals around the world. No matter what consumers are looking to buy, there’s probably someone selling it online.
As it happens, that’s also one of the worst things about the Internet. If you have an idea for a product, someone somewhere has likely already had a similar idea and is already selling it.
There is a lot of stuff on the Internet, and one way to cut through the cluttered competition is to have more people talk about your product. They might write reviews or post links back to your product on their website.
The more your product shows up on different sites, the more people are likely to pay attention. The challenge for sellers is how to make that happen.
That’s where ClickBank comes in.
As Seen on the Internet
ClickBank is an online retailer with three types of users: creators, customers, and affiliates.
The ClickBank marketplace focuses on digital lifestyle products created by entrepreneurs from around the world. Product creators list their products on the site and get access to both millions of customers and tools that can handle the business side of things.
Consumers can find everything from recipe books to travel guides to DIY guides. While customers can buy products by visiting the ClickBank site, more often they find these products via promotions on affiliate sites.
ClickBank offers great opportunities for affiliate websites. Because it is a fairly simple process, a smart site owner can make money by promoting products sold by ClickBank. And because the products are generally 100 percent digital, meaning there are very few tangible overheads (printing costs, staff, warehousing, etc.), there is the opportunity for a large payout, if you promote products strategically.
Like any other online affiliate model, your website promotes these ClickBank products as an affiliate and earns a commission whenever someone buys that product using the affiliate link. Think of yourself as the marketing division for the product creator — they make the product, and you get the word out about how great the product is. You make money by driving people to their product and convincing them to purchase it.
The upside to this model is that you don’t have to do the work of creating and stocking the product, and you can earn a solid commission. The downside is that you need to do some legwork to make sure the products you choose to promote are both legit and presented well.
Getting Started is Easy
Creating a ClickBank account, which is the starting point to be either a product creator or an affiliate, is fairly simple (and free!). There are a few things you want to gather before you start the process, including the contact information you want to use, the official name of your bank, and an Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you don’t have an EIN, your Social Security Number will work (though ClickBank encourages affiliates earning more than $600 to set up an EIN).
First, you’ll need to provide your contact information:
Then, you’ll set up banking information:
And finally, you’ll create a nickname and password for your account:
Note that your account nickname is what customers will see during the order process and that it cannot be changed once your account is created (so choose wisely). Choose a nickname that reflects your business name. Don’t choose a nickname like you would for your Reddit account or your online dating profile — be professional and concise. Your nickname will go into the code when someone clicks on your link, so choose something that fits well into the code.
Once you’ve completed these steps, check your email for a verification link. Once you click that, you’re all set up and ready to get started on the fun part of the process.
The Marketplace — Choosing Your Product
As an affiliate, the next step after setting up your account is to start looking for products to promote. Your first stop is the ClickBank Marketplace. Again, the process is straightforward, but ClickBank also offers how-tos and tips if you need them.
You can search by keyword, or you can browse through the 24 categories to find a product that interests you.
Before we pick a category to look through, let’s go over a few definitions…
- Hops: When you choose a product to promote, you get a HopLink to place on your website. Each time someone purchases a product through that link, it counts as a hop.
- GRAVITY: Listed as Grav in the stats window, this number is something ClickBank calculates to show how many different affiliates earned a commission by promoting a particular product over the previous 12 weeks. A higher number indicates popularity (what’s “hot”), but it can also indicate that you’ll have more competition promoting that specific product.
- Commission: The rate (not the amount) earned on the sales for a particular product.
- Rebill: Products like memberships or subscriptions where a customer is billed in multiple installments.
- Initial sale: The amount of money you (the affiliate) earn each time someone buys a product through your affiliate link.
Now we can take a look through the Cooking, Food, and Wine category. The image below shows two search results, both cookbooks:
For every product ClickBank offers, you’ll see the name of the product and a brief description designed to attract affiliates, plus the following data points:
- Initial $/sale: the amount of money made per product
- Avg %/sale: the commission rate on the sale of a product
- Avg Rebill Total: if the product has recurring sales (the first product does not, the second one does)
- Avg %/rebill: the commission rate on rebill sales
- Grav: how well the product is doing for affiliates
You can also see that ClickBank notes the average amount made per sale — this number includes the total of initial and rebill sales. If, like with the first product in our search, there are no recurring sales, this number will be the same as the initial sale amount.
These statistics can help determine which products are good ones to promote. First, you should consider the amount of money made per sale (Initial $/sale) and the commission rate (Avg %/sale). These numbers are two ways of saying the same thing — the money you make when a product is bought through your hop link.
Even if the dollar amount looks substantial, double-check the percentage rate of the commission. If it’s not above 40 percent, you’re probably not making enough off an individual product to justify your time investment in promoting that product.
Second, check to see if the product has rebills. It’s not a case of rebills are better than no rebills; it’s more that if a product has rebills, your percentage/commission rate should be higher on the total average sale number (the big number in bright green to the right of the product description).
And finally, consider the Grav number. A high number indicates a hot product, but it can also mean that you will face more competition. If you can build a better affiliate site than your competitors, you might be able to become a leader in that niche market. But, even though it’s a riskier strategy, you might also have more success taking a lesser known (but still legit) product and making it shine.
Once you’ve determined which products look like good options, you should consider if they fit with your brand. If the product doesn’t support your brand, it’s better not to promote it, even if it’s a popular product. For example, if your website is all about maintaining luxury cars, linking to a book of recipes probably doesn’t make sense for your brand.
Once you choose which product to promote, all you need to do is click on the Promote button, and you’ll get this pop-up screen:
Your account nickname should be filled in automatically, but if not, just add it here, and you can also add a tracking ID if you like. The tracking ID is only visible to you, not to the product vendor.
A tracking ID is a string of characters you can add to the hop link to help you track and compare different sources of traffic. For example, if you were going to promote the same product on your blog and on Twitter, you could use different tracking IDs for each platform so that you would know which platform brought in more customers.
For more advanced tips on using hop links, check out ClickBank’s great tutorial.
Once you have your hop link, simply place it on the platform of your choice. You’ll get two versions of the link, a direct URL that you can use with no formatting (for example, in an email or on social media), and the link in HTML code. You can embed that on your affiliate site, create a banner ad, or post it in a forum.
But like any good online business, a link is only as good as the content that surrounds it.
Content is King
If you’re already making money with a website, you know how critical your content is. If you don’t know that, you should learn it now, or risk never building a successful online business.
If you don’t have good content, you won’t have customers.
ClickBank products generally link back to a page featuring the product (remember, most customers find the product through searches or external links, not by going directly to ClickBank’s marketplace page). So as an affiliate, you should check to see what kind of content the vendor offers. Is the page featuring their product one you want to associate your business with?
Is the page well made? Does it do a good job of selling the product? If you were searching for a product to buy, is this a page that would encourage you to buy that product?
The products that do the best on ClickBank are the ones with strong content selling them, and if there is strong content on the product page, you can bet it’s content that is using search engine optimization (SEO) well.
You should think of using ClickBank like you would any other affiliate business model or how you would make money blogging. Build trust with your customers and offer them quality content, and you’ll find a solid customer base.
In other words, do due diligence on any product you’re thinking about promoting. Sure, you can go by their stats alone, but if you take the time to check out their main product page, you can avoid linking your page to low-quality sites (that is, sites that don’t update their content, have broken links or dated graphics, or who don’t have a polished presentation).
If you’re linking to a product, you’re endorsing it. So don’t endorse anything you don’t buy into yourself. Don’t endorse anything you know is false or questionable.
Once you’ve chosen the products you want to promote, the content you build to promote it matters, too.
You can choose to build a banner ad or an in-content link to promote the product, but that only works if the content around it is relevant. And even then, it can look forced or out of place. This way is the low-hanging fruit — sure, it might get you a few clicks and maybe a couple of sells, but you can do better.
Remember, you’ve chosen to endorse and market this product. If you really want to make money doing that, you need to invest some time and effort into doing it well.
Add value to the discussion of the product: you might create content that doesn’t include a sales pitch at first. Keep it on topic, but don’t include a hard sale. For example, if the ClickBank product is a guide for clean eating, you might have an article that looks in detail at planning meals, and then at the end of the article, provide an opt-in for more information. Once you have the customer’s email, you can offer them a more direct sales pitch with the link to the product you’re promoting.
Selling an Affiliate Website
If you’re thinking about building an affiliate website to sell, you want to make sure your content is on-brand and high quality from the start. The more your site is considered an authority, the more value it has.
Create strong, original content and find ways to build trust with your audience. If you build that solid customer base, your affiliate site will be attractive to potential buyers.
Another way to make your business interesting to potential buyers is to make it difficult to copy what you’re doing, so that a buyer knows they are getting 1) something it would be harder for them to build from scratch and 2) something with greater value because it’s not like other sites out there.
Go Forth and ClickBank
On the one hand, the affiliate process offers the chance for website owners to easily make money — they don’t have to create, store, or ship a physical product themselves. It seems like all that needs to be done is pick a product, slap a link on your site, and watch the green roll in.
But, as with anything good in life, especially the premise of making money online, it’s not quite that easy. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. ClickBank is a simple process by which your website can make some money, but only if you are smart and strategic about it.
Creating an account is free, and the process of promoting products on your website is not complex, but remember to be mindful about the products you choose to promote.
Just like any other affiliate business model, only promote products that support your brand and have quality content. Make your website a trusted authority, and any products you choose to promote will have a leg-up on the competition. And once you’ve built a solid ClickBank affiliate site, then, like with any other affiliate business, you’ll find interested buyers.
Photo credit: Syda_Productions