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Lesson #23



In this lesson, we will cover the preparation required for placing free ads on the Internet. We touched on some of the free advertising strategies is Lessons 4 and 5 of this online course. In this lesson, we will take a more in-depth look. In our next lesson, we will discuss in more detail the process of finding effective places to advertise.


People come to Affiliate Marketing from many different circumstances. While the fortunate have substantial money to invest in building their new business, some have no money to invest at all. (I recall one SFI affiliate from the SFI Discussion Board who was homeless. He would go to the public library to access the Internet everyday in order to work his SFI business.)
As with all things, the more you have to invest, the easier and quicker it will be for you to build your business. But, affiliate marketing, especially with the SFI Marketing Group, can be done successfully without any financial investment, if you must approach it that way.

Even if you do have money to invest in paid advertising, you should learn the ropes of free advertising. The learning experience is valuable and will help you be more efficient with paid advertising. Also, learning the ropes of free advertising will enable you to teach your team members who do not have money to invest in advertising.


Online advertising strategy involves four elements. You need an ad. You need a URL (Website address) or an e-mail address to which the ad will point. You need to be prepared for the posting process. And, you need a location to place the ad.


SFI Affiliates can obtain approved ads from the Marketing Aids link on the SFI Resource Center site ( You should use only these approved ads if they are pointing directly to your SFI Gateways or if your ads mention SFI by name. If your ads are pointing to your own Website and do not mention SFI, you are free to create your own ads.


With respect to the URL to which your ads will point, all SFI Affiliates are furnished several Gateway sites upon signing up for SFI. A few of the gateways are used to sign up new affiliates on your team. Others are for selling specific SFI products and services. For example, at the time of this writing, the "SIM" and "FREE" gateways are used to sign up new affiliates. The "GD" gateway is used to sell the domain name registration service. The "LD" gateway is used to sell SFI's long distance service. The "ISP" gateway is used to sell dial-up Internet access service. The "IAHBE" gateway is used to sell memberships to the International Association of Home Business Entrepreneurs. And there are others.

If allowed at the location where you place your ads, your ads can point directly to these furnished gateway URLs. Many of the ad sites, however, ban the large affiliate programs such as SFI (due to sheer volume), and you will need to have your own Website or doorway page for the ad to point to. (You then put the gateway links are on your own site and people who respond to your ad can access them there.)

The other possibility is to use an e-mail address in an ad, rather than have the ad point to a Website. Many people suggest that using an "autoresponder" e-mail as the pointer in your ad is the most effective way to go.

You should not just use an ordinary e-mail address, however. Most of your responses to an e-mail address in an ad will be insincere. It is very common, when you use free advertising, to receive numerous e-mail responses to the effect of "I saw your add and see that you are interested in making extra income. I would like to talk to you about that." Such responses are nothing more than someone trying to get you to join their program. These e-mails, which are automatically generated, really are not interested in information about your program. Thus, your ad needs to point to a Website where the serious responders can sign up immediately or to an autoresponder that will automatically send them further e-mails pointing to your URL. Otherwise, you would have to work your way through all those e-mails to find those who are serious and then point them to your gateway manually.

The argument for pointing to an autoresponding e-mail rather than a Website URL in your ad is based upon the fact that many people will not sign up on the first encounter with anything. People need time to mull it over in the back of their minds. Some studies suggest that it takes seven to 11 contacts before most people will commit to anything online. Setting up an autoresponder to send out seven to 12 messages over time increases the odds that someone will sign up.

In my opinion, it is better to have your ad point to your own Website and then let the Website have a sign-up form for further contact--i.e. a newsletter or e-mail series--than to use an autoresponder in your ad. This reduces the odds of spam complaints and is a bit more professional manner of creating the additional contacts needed to achieve the signups. (I can't help but envision these autoresponding e-mails still triggering each other and still trying to convince each other to sign up for something long after the humans who set them up are dead and gone.) The more personal your communications, the more effective they will be.


Secondary E-Mail Address
Whether your ad is designed to point to a URL or an e-mail address (autoresponder or not), all ad locations will require that you submit an e-mail address to the site host in order to post an ad. It is absolutely essential to obtain a secondary (often called "throwaway") e-mail address for this purpose. Posting ads will result in your e-mail getting farmed by the spammers and you will receive tons of spam. Do not expose your primary e-mail address to this! You can acquire e-mail accounts fairly easily these days from your ISP or from one of the free e-mail services, such as Yahoo! or Hotmail. You have to give an e-mail address to post ads anywhere, so create a new e-mail account just for this purpose.

Physical Address And Phone Number
Many sites also require you to give an address and phone number. Although these are "required fields" in the form to post the ad, many people get away with just typing "N/A" or similar text in these fields. There are ethical issues here that you will have to resolve for yourself. The ad posting service is being provided in exchange for your information. In a real sense, you become a lead for the host site. It would not be ethical to provide false information to acquire the service. Some people even set up secondary post office addresses and phone numbers (like the secondary e-mail) to avoid this ethical problem. Others do provide their primary contact information and deal with any resulting telemarketing or junk snail mail as it arrives.

Tracking System
Also essential is to set up a tracking system. Tracking is crucial. Without it, you do not know which sites are working and which are a waste of time. At a minimum, each ad you place should have a tracking code in it that exclusively identifies the location you placed the ad. With some tracking systems, you can also code for the specific ad used, the date and time you placed the ad, and other variables. SFI provides keycoding to track your ads. The keycode is three digits between 001-999 which you place, preceded by a period, after your SFI ID in the SFI gateway URL you use in the ad. You will need to set up your own system of matching keycodes with locations. Be sure to record a keycode for each ad you place. Start a list of keycodes and the corresponding ad locations and keep the list safe and handy.

For each advertising campaign, you will need to pick the gateway or Website that will be the target of your ad. Then you will need to pick the ad you will be using. Then you are off to find some places to post the ad. For each place you post, remember to keycode the ad's URL and record the location of your ad on your keycode list.


The big issue is where to place the ads.

Do not think of this issue as being one of acquiring a list of Websites from someone or someplace and then placing your ads on those Websites. It doesn't work that way, and I will explain why in a moment. Instead, you must think of it as a process. While others can't tell you where to place the ads, they can teach you the process of finding sites on which to place your ads.

Let me make an analogy. Let's say that you are in a group of 15 people who are going blackberry picking. The field that you go to has more than enough blackberries for everyone. But, the bushes are spread out over a large area and each has only a few blackberries on it. It would make sense for everyone to spread out with much distance between each person and each go from bush to bush in their area picking the blackberries. What would not make sense would be for everyone to stay clumped in a group and, as soon as anyone found a bush, all 15 try to pick from the same bush at the same time. Only the first two of three people would get any blackberries and the other 12 or so people would only serve to be in the way and to stomp down the nearby bushes before anyone could pick from them.

In a way, many of the Websites that accept free ads and are effective are like those blackberry bushes. They have a limited capacity to produce results. They only work for anyone because everyone is not posting there. No matter how unselfish affiliates who have found effective advertising sites may be, it is not in anyone's interest to publish the site on a list somewhere for all to use. That usually only serves to kill the sites effectiveness for everyone.

So, your task is to learn the process to use to continuously find new and effective advertising sites. Some sites, while very effective at first, have a limited audience and thus a limited capacity to produce results for your ad. You will likely need to move from site to site as the sites' capacities are exhausted.

The Internet is vast and constantly changing. New sites crop up all the time to replace the old ones as they lose their effectiveness. Thus, the process of searching for places to place your ads is a continuing process. Fortunately, it is also a very interesting and exciting process.


Free online advertising can work for affiliate marketers provided they are properly prepared and approach the process in the right way. To be prepared, you need to have an effective ad, you need a target URL to which the ad will point, and you need to be prepared for the posting process. This includes having a secondary e-mail account and a tracking system in place. Finally, you need to understand the process of finding effective locations to place your ads.


In our next lesson, we will discuss in more detail the process of finding effective free ad sites. In the meantime, it would be helpful for you to review lesson seven of this course, which introduces you to some of the concepts we will be addressing.

by George Little
Copyright (year) Panhandle On-Line, Inc.
License granted to Carson Services, Inc. for distribution to SFI affiliates. No part of this work may be republished, redistributed, or sold without written permission of the author.

For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see

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