[This article may only be relevant those of you who have blogs/websites.]
When I started lending money on Prosper nearly two years ago, I didn’t think too much about it. I deposited $100, lent it out, and then didn’t think about the money for another two months. I went back to look at my Prosper account and put a little more money to work about the time that I started Lazy Man and Money. I continued to add money at a regular pace, writing about my experiences, and trying to maximize the use of my money. After a few months, some important people at Prosper noticed my writing and we began to correspond regularly.
As luck would have it, Prosper decided to start a referral program. By joining it, I could earn money from Prosper doing what I had always done, writing about Prosper. I could have gone back to all my old articles and added my referral code (probably still should) . However, I’m much too Lazy for that. So, I simply insert the referral code in any new article about Prosper. [Editor's Note: Any Prosper page not part of the Blog or Forum can have your referral code added to the query string -- http://www.prosper.com?referrer=<screenname>]
It was around day 10 of the program, when Prosper called and said, “What are you doing to attract so many people?” I told them the simple truth – I didn’t know. I explained what I did, but I couldn’t really tell them why it worked. Without being able to track where people are coming from my hands are tied. There’s no easy way to know if people are coming from a button on my site, an article that I wrote three months ago, or the link that I put in my RSS Feed. A couple of months later someone different from Prosper asked me my thoughts on the referral program again. They specifically wanted to know how it could work better for me. Most recently, they asked me to write this article to share my “secrets” with you. I prefer to write articles about how to handle your finances rather than ones on how to make money online, but hopefully this will be of help to someone. There’s no one secret to referring people. My successful recipe requires many ingredients.
- Have a personal finance blog My blog has a broad appeal since everyone deals with money in some way. However, my blog is also focused in that it deals with only core concept – money. I don’t ramble about my cat one day and Ron Paul the next. I would caution against being too focused. If all you write about is Prosper, you’ll likely only have people from Prosper visiting your site. There’s nothing wrong with that, but your readers have already made the decision to join Prosper.
- Write about Prosper – This sounds like an easy one, but I know a lot of people with just a button on their website. That’s their whole plan for referring people to Prosper. While a button is nice, your readers like to read what you write. Of course, writing about Prosper is a lot easier if you’ve used it at some point. I’d recommend making sure you are diversified, before you sign up.
- Network with other Bloggers – I didn’t do this just for Prosper, but I wanted to learn from people. One friend of mine is a powerful blogging source, who has had millions of visitors to his blog. I noticed that he had written about Prosper, yet didn’t join the referral program. I politely asked him if I could pay him to add my affiliate code to the link in his article. He was kind enough to do it for free. This is one of the many reasons why he’ll easily have 5 million people visit his blog this year: What’s It Like to BORROW Money with Prosper?
- Place ads on your RSS feed – I run my blog on WordPress, which gives me a few options to do this. I use Text Link Ads’ Feedvertising product. However if you don’t want to join their program, you could simply grab this sig2feed plug-in.
- Focus on Lenders – Perhaps it’s the nature of my blog, but I’ve had very little luck getting borrowers to sign up for Prosper loans. I had thought that there would be some people with big credit card debt that could benefit from Prosper. I can’t say why this is the case, but I’m not going to swim upstream and try to write how borrowers can benefit. Your experience may differ from mine.
That’s all I do. If I really wanted to spend a lot of effort promoting Prosper I’m sure there are other ideas that I could implement. However, I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done. I don’t want to get caught up in the trap of writing specifically to try to generate money. My readers would realize that I’m not providing any unique ideas and stop coming. Every blog owner knows that readers are the lifeblood of the blog.
Lazy Man has been a lender at Prosper since February 2006. His lending has been written up in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper. He is the author of the personal finance blog, Lazy Man and Money. He enjoys watching Boston sports while sipping diet cola.