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“From ZERO to SIX FIGURES with Affiliate Marketing” courtesy of (Sugar) Rae Hoffman-Dolan

Sugarrae Hoffman’s take on Affiliate Marketing

I’ll try not to use too many puns when referencing the presentation tonight but that will be hard. Especially considering the sweet tactics Rae Hoffman has used to master the world of affiliate marketing.

So who is Rae Hoffman-Dolan? Well, first of all, you may know her better by Sugarrae, at least that’s what her twitter handle says.  She’s the CEO of Sugarrae SEO Consulting, wears three hats at MFE Interactive and two for Speedy Incorporation. She’s your favorite SEO’s favorite SEO and at the root of her success, she says she fell into this industry by accident. What luck.

Any SEO knows that it takes more than just a bit of luck to make an impact and be sustainable in the SEO industry. Sugarrae has had the ingenuity and creativity to do both. Her progression is a true testament that anyone can make it marketing lucrative.

Hoffman-Dolan is making her first appearance at DFW SEM tonight and the audience came prepared to take notes and absorb as much wisdom as possible. With a full house and an introduction by board member Christine Churchill, Sugarrae takes the podium.

She has been doing affiliate marketing since 2001 and was in the web marketing business in 1997. She began her internet journey after beginning a support group for children with bilateral ischemic. The site spurred her interest in affiliate marketing as a way to make money and support her handicapped child. She began devoting her time and brainpower to finding ways to monetize her efforts.

Before she knew it she was deep in the world of SEO, swimming in title tags and meta tags. Within two weeks she had an understanding of SEO and affiliate marketing and not soon after she was beating the big boys – and people were taking notice.

The Basics

This is not Get Rich Quick Scheme

“This takes work,” Hoffman says. Although she spends four hours a day in her pajamas working on her technique, she wants us to know that groundwork is a necessity.

Most Clients Suck?

Not how most consultants would approach their business but there is some truth to what she says. Whether we will admit or not, there are clients who suck whether they micromanage or don’t want to pay the right amount of money. The incentive to select your own clients is something the entire room is itching to do.


How Affiliate Marketing Has Evolved

  • Longevity isn’t about bycheapbulewidgests.com
  • Evolved affiliates are thinking about branding
  • Focused on creating a site that ranks because it should not because of algo gaming
  • Understand that trust translates to money

Evolved affiliates are not

  • Throwing up banners and waiting for sales
  • Willing to do anything to make a buck

Getting Started

“You don’t need to know it you, you need to be willing to learn about it. OR “Be willing to learn about something that’s going to get you paid.”

Keyword Research

  • Check the traffic volume
  • Check for number of adwords advertisers
  • Check for number of affiliate offerings and earnings
  • Check for active competition
  • Check SERP (result pages) competitive

*More advertisers more competition

Mapping Out Your Site

  • Choose a domain name
  • Branding vs. keywords and the sweet spot in between

Content Strategy

  • True unique strategy
  • User-generated possibilities: “You cannot misspell stuff.” But your consumers can. Use it to your benefit because whether they’re spelling perfectly or wrong – its content that will draw in traffic. Usually, people making grammatical corrections.
  • Initial content (filler)
  • Strong launch pieces: Only 20% of your content will be the best thing your reader will ever read. Make sure it’s good enough to keep visitors coming back to your site.
  • Linkbait topics: What strong pieces of your content that you will be able to go out to and draw people to your site?
  • Plan both horizontal and vertical future site expansion possibilities.
  • Don’t pigeon hole yourselves with keywords. Always think long term and give yourself some flexibility.
  • Exact match domain names are lazy SEO. You want to build your site around something that is unique. Not what Google is currently doing.

SEO Strategy

  • Plan for URL structure
  • Plano for On-Page Strategies: If using WordPress ensure you’ve tightened its SEO “friendliness” to the max.
  • Advantages of propping: The commercial part of your site is like your table top and your blog is like your legs. You need a blog so you can go post content that is relevant to your business (be it random or not). They create social signals and of course, Google loves them.

Social Strategy

  • Register all social accounts
  • Decide which social sites are relevant to your business (mostly Facebook and Twiter).


  • Launch beta version: Don’t worry about timing. Just do it! (but don’t forget about it).
  • Eventually, get a professional design
  • Thesis advantages for low budgets.

PR Strategy

  • Create a list of linkerati
  • Networking within your community
  • Professional and real press releases: If your site has nothing on it that’s press release – get some. Press releases work and can be picked up by niche markets that you want to target.
  • Link development
  • Social “pushes”: There can only be so many Twitters:  Meaning there can only be so many names that mean absolutely nothing that you’re trying to turn into a brand.

Point of Difference

Identify what other sites in the industry are missing and fill the hole with:

  • Podcasts
  • Tools
  • Blogs
  • Information
  • Reviews
  • Innovation
  • Personality

By filing the hole first, you can reap the benefits before even larger companies can catch on. Hoffman was able to take advantage of track phone reviews before CNET – earning a preferred rating on Google.

Building Traffic to Your Site

  • Traditional link development opportunities: Get targeted anchor text when the opportunities arise.
  • Traditional public relations opportunities: Press release, networking within the professional community and other site owners.
  • Social opportunities: Networking within the user community and your target market.
  • Avoid Roadblocks: Don’t slow down, don’t get distracted.

Monetization Strategies

Multiple affiliate programs

  • Honest reviews
  • User reviews
  • Target ads
  • Monster affiliate networks: Resource – skimlinks.com
  • Contextual advertising

CPM and flat-rate advertising

  • Know your demographics
  • Quantcast – it’s free!
  • Recurring billing
  • Professional setup
  • Time commitments – weigh the pros and cons
  • Mailing Lists: They work! Pay to have them set up, you can use subscribers for conversions later.
  • Blog broadcasting: But be careful, not everyone “gets” RSS and it doesn’t make any money.
  • Additional advertising space
  • Twitter: (yes, seriously) and other social networking (ok, not really)

Educating desirable merchants:

  • Increase brand awareness,
  • No payments unless affiliates make sales
  • Independent programs: myaffiliateprograms.com
  • Network programs: sharesale.com

Need more examples of affiliate marketing sites with success stories? Check these out:

  • Bankrate.com
  • Epinions.com
  • Tripadvisor
  • Lowermybills.com

She’s a fast-talking, white-collar redneck and has all the attitude that goes with it. One thing is for sure, once you met her, you won’t forget her and once you tested her skills, you will be happy you did.

Sugarrae Takeaways

Thanks to DFW SEM and Rae Hoffman-Dolan for allowing WrightIMC to cover this event. Be on the lookout for updates for DFWSEM’s next meeting on Nov 16 – “The State of Search” and mark your calendars for the first annual DFW Jingle Mingle Holiday Party on Dec. 1st.  Follow @DFWJingleMingle for more information!

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