Link Me Up!

Business - February 3rd, 2006
Woman working at home

Housewives and big businesses agree on affiliate marketing

by Laura Fumiko Keehn

How would you like to sit at home, keep a blog (online di­ary), and make lots of money? How about making money to the tune of ¥500,000 a month? According to Tomoko Kobayashi, housewife and mother of two, it’s more than possible through affiliate marketing.

Kobayashi has been dubbed a ‘charisma housewife’ by the Japanese media, and has be­come somewhat of a hero to stay-at-home-moms all over the country for not only mak­ing money independently, but for inspiring people through her book entitled Shtifu mo Kasegeru, Pasacon de Gesshu 30-man (which translates as ‘How Even Housewives can Make ¥300,000 a Month Using Their Computer’), published in 2004. Her book was so popular, she released an updated ver­sion in 2005, this time with a title that translates to ‘How Even Housewives can Make ¥500,000 a Month Using Their Computer,’ a feat she managed to achieve in the past year. A quick search of the internet reveals pages of sites singing the praises of Kobayashi. “[This book] gave me courage,” gushed one excited customer reviewer of her book on Amazon.com’s Japanese homepage. “Read­ing about her difficulties and troubles made me realize that it wasn’t a simple road to success, which made |her advice] more believable, and that also gave me the cour­age to believe that I could do it too,” she writes under the handle name micho_tochi. Success stories like Kobayashi’s have inspired hordes to log on and blog out. And no wonder. Hokuto Kasai, Webmaster for Japan.Affiliate-SoGo.com, a Japanese affiliate marketing information website, believes that “affiliate programs are one of the easiest ways to make money online.”

But how exactly does affiliate marketing work? The concept is actually very simple. Individuals receive com­pensation for business generated through their websites. For example, you could start a blog and write about your experiences at restaurants. If you have an agree­ment with the restaurants you write about, and those restaurants receive business through your website, you get money! Not only is this great for you, the affiliate, but it’s also great for the merchants, as they only pay for advertising that was successful. Affiliates can either con­nect directly to the merchant, or go through an Affiliate Service Provider, which connects the affiliates with the merchants. “Affiliate programs create a win-win situa­tion between Electronic Commerce (EC) merchants and affiliate users,” Kasai tells Weekender.

The concept really isn’t anything new; Amazon.com has been using affiliate marketing to its great advantage since 1996, almost immediately after its launch in 1995, and prominent U.S. affiliate service provider Linkshare has also been around since 1996. Interestingly enough, Japan has become increasing­ly interested in this form of marketing, and global companies have also become interested in Japan — a country with an incredibly internet-friendly popula­tion. Rakuten, Japan’s top on-line internet shopping portal and the seventh largest internet company in the world, has purchased Linkshare. The fact that the U.S. company initially chose Japan as its first overseas market is evidence of the growth of interest within, and for, Japan.

However, affiliate marketing may be a ‘win-win’ situation, but it isn’t always a ‘success-success’ proc­ess. True affiliate marketing success stories are few and far between. For every Tomoko Kobayashi, there are countless affiliates who make next to nothing on their links. When asked what type of people are able to make money through affiliate marketing, Kasai said “people who have time… More importantly, they need to have an ‘idea’ different from others in order to succeed.” Indeed, visit the homepage of Tomoko Kobayashi, and you can see that hers is no typical blog. Under the handle name of Aidama, Kobayashi has created a housewife-friendly web­site introducing useful products, and answering the troubles of fellow net surfers (nayami means to worry or distress over). Just read her book to see that posi­tive results through affiliate marketing were anything but instant. Kasai agrees that to really make money, patience is absolutely necessary.

For the patient and the clever, becoming an af­filiate is one way to make money. However, the real winners may be the affiliate service providers. Yahoo! Japan seems to think so. The company may be mak­ing moves to acquire the affiliate service provider ValueCommerce. The truly patient and clever may want to jump on this bandwagon.