Case Study: A Super Affiliate’s Date With Destiny

Jeff Belton spent over a year learning how to master search engines. He turned that knowledge into an automated affiliate system in his spare time. He now lives on a tropical island with the money he earned from an affiliate program.

An amazing thing about successful people is their focus. Jeff focused on learning how to position keywords on search engines for Match.com’s personals service. It’s a competitive, profitable program that pays extremely well.

Web surfers who query search engines (that’s nearly everyone) express what they want to find on the Net. The search results determine where they go. Jeff’s system ranked his sites high in those results, delivering traffic to generate profits. I asked him to tell me more about his system.

DUNN: How did you begin with online personals?

BELTON: In late 1995, I had a GNN subdomain [a listing on an extant site, such as http://www.gnn.com/members/belton]. It was a singles site targeting African-Americans. I got submissions via email, edited them, and pasted them on my site. I promoted it in the search engines, and traffic built to 800 visits a day. It got to the point where I couldn’t handle the submissions.

One day, I ran across a banner ad for Match.com. I knew their program would eliminate all the submissions work. I joined, set up several affiliates, and started to drive traffic to it from my site.

The first month, I made $84. My cost was only $20 or $40 for access, I didn’t put much time into it, and so it was worth my while.

I continued to promote it in the top eight search engines. I never spent money on advertising. I just did search engine work, like maximizing my pages’ metatags to rank me favorably on top-10 results. My traffic continued to increase. So did my income. It grew to the point where I was top dog on Match.com’s earnings list.

DUNN: Any advice for people who want to do this on their own?

BELTON: If you want to join a program, be prepared to do a little research and find out if others are successful with it (visit Refer-It, AssociatePrograms.com, or ReveNews). Find one with some success, develop a way to generate traffic for that product or service. Then duplicate it. It’s that simple.

DUNN: Are you a proponent of obtaining several domain names and building different sites targeting niche markets?

BELTON: That’s a very good suggestion. Come up with themed sites. If your program involves romance or dating, integrate dating into your theme site. If you’re about travel, discuss romantic travel. Create minisites for each theme or specific product.

DUNN: You were telling me the time commitment isn’t more than four hours per week.

BELTON: I did spend time in the early days learning search engines and building my system. An affiliate’s site starts generating traffic immediately if it is in a search engine. If they’re consistent and submit to other engines, traffic will grow. The ones who don’t consistently work on traffic fall off, and so does the money they earn.

DUNN: Every program has top affiliates from other parts of the world: Australia, Europe, Canada…

BELTON: As long as they have enough people interested in the product visiting their site, they can make money. Everyone has a different amount of money they need to cover expenses. For a lot of people outside the U.S., a couple hundred dollars makes a big difference in their lives. Be careful of rogue affiliates, particularly in Eastern Europe and Asia. There are some smart programmers in that area who can defraud you.

DUNN: Any closing comments?

BELTON: Any individual with a desire to build an Internet business can start using a program like this. I gained experience without spending or losing money.

When I met Jeff, he was quitting his job at a major telecommunications company after generating $65,000 a year in his spare time with Match.com. He’s now earning much more and operating out of Trinidad, where he always wanted to live.

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