educational

FHGs: A Valuable Resource

Cheryl Cain
As with any business, the affiliate game takes some planning to effectively mount a traffic campaign that is going to take unique hits and turn them into conversions. A conversion is when a surfer hits that buy button, scoring a sale for your sponsor and, of course, a commission for you. One of the most powerful and flexible tools of the trade is the "Free Hosted Gallery" often referred to as FHGs.

For newcomers to the affiliate game, the flexibility of the Free Hosted Gallery is not so well understood, and their potential is rarely used to its best advantage. Often you'll find newcomers frustrated as they attempt to submit these galleries to the myriad link lists out there, only to be turned down by most of them. In this article, we are going to take a quick look at why this is happening and then suggest some concepts where these FHGs will be of more benefit to you.

Imagine for a moment, if you will, being the owner of a major link list. On such and such a day, some big sponsor issues a new bank of fresh FHGs and suddenly your submit folder is teeming with hundreds, if not thousands, of the exact same gallery from that sponsor's affiliates. What do you do? Simple, you accept the first one you come to and the rest are a duplicate. Correct? Then as time moves forward, new affiliates are doing the exact same thing, submitting the same gallery to the same link list. The link list operator's job is to post an ever-changing bank of new galleries for the surfer traffic to look at. He's not going to keep his surfers interested if they are looking at the same gallery time and time again.

So, by now, you are probably wondering exactly what you are supposed to do with these things. Free Hosted Galleries are intended to provide content for an affiliate's site in terms of both content filler and as a point of upsell. As with any promotional campaign, a strategy needs to be developed that provides entertainment, tease and, finally, an offer. Most webmasters will use the FHG in concert with their personal hub -- a site that provides similar functionality to that of a link list, but generally only contains links that are specific to the sponsors that webmaster is generating traffic for.

For driving traffic to their hubs, webmasters will often make use of licensed content for the purpose of submission to the various link lists. This licensed content provides the means of submitting more unique material to industry link lists making for a much better acceptance of your submissions. The link back point, of course, points to your hub, where your array of FHGs and other licensed materials provide entertainment for your surfers. The ultimate goal, of course, is to promote sales to your sponsors and grabbing your share of those commissions.

Free Hosted Galleries are generally available in an array of formats. Sponsors often supply these resources as individual images or image collections, while some are pre-made into a TGP format and others are generated into an entire TGP system ready to post on a functioning site. The large array of supplied formats provides for a wide variety of applications for the creative webmaster. Large referral operations will section their hubs into niches and use the FHGs to guide traffic to the surfer's varied interest areas that match their tastes to the sponsor's products. That is known as a form of pre-qualification of traffic and yields a much higher conversion ratio then simply trolling for traffic.

The use of FHGs is limited only by the imagination of the person utilizing them. It is important to note, however, that there are acceptable use terms associated with the use of a sponsor's free-hosted materials. Make sure that you check out your sponsor's terms of service for any restriction there may be their use or you may find your account unpleasantly cancelled. Generally speaking though, sponsors are counting on an affiliate's creativity and resourcefulness to construct an appealing and profitable profit center that will send them sales while earning their affiliates commissions.

In a future article, we're going to take a look at specific applications of these free-hosted galleries and how to apply them in such a manner as to guide and pre-qualify traffic through any given campaign. For now, thinking about a manner to create a unique experience for your surfers will go a long way to raising your profit level. This is one of the few areas where you do not want to look like everyone else, and the flexibility of the FHG lends itself to those creations.

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