Selling products as an affiliate via your blog is an excellent way to make a buck. In fact, you can often do a lot better with affiliate marketing than you can with banner ads. Most banner networks (like Adsense) require that you have a LOT of traffic before you’re going to see any decent income. On the other hand, with affiliate marketing, you do not need thousands of page views per day to make it worth your while.
In this post, I wanted to cover some of the absolute basics of affiliate marketing for bloggers.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
In short, it means you are selling somebody else’s product in return for a commission.
You have an audience for a particular market. So, you recommend a related product which you believe in to your audience. If they buy it, you earn the commission.
When you promote a product, you will use a special affiliate link (unique to you) to link to that product. If the person ends up buying, it’ll be tracked back to you so you get the credit.
Where To Get Involved In Affiliate Programs
There are a lot of places out there where you can get involved in these programs, and they generally fall into three categories:
- Affiliate networks
- Advertised affiliate programs
- Unadvertised affiliate programs
Affiliate networks act as huge marketplaces for affiliate offers. Networks like Clickbank, Commission Junction, AzoogleAds, Market Leverage, Pepperjam – and many more – all these networks act as central repositories for affiliate offers. You can sign up for offers which are related to your audience, then promote them. Any commissions which you make will be sent to you by the network as a check or ACH payment.
The advertised affiliate programs are programs that are not part of one of the major affiliate networks, but are still open for public signup. Generally, you’ll find these at the bottom of a sales page in the form of a link for affiliates to sign up. So, if you find a good, related offer for your audience, you can enroll for the affiliate program and you’re off to the races.
An unadvertised affiliate program is one which is by invite only. Often you will find these types of programs set up around major launches by “gurus” in the market. It is driven by the power of personal connections. These product creators don’t want just anybody promoting their product, so they make their program invite only.
How To Promote
Use your blog to promote your affiliate offers. Even better, use your mailing list.
Generally speaking, the weakest method of promoting an affiliate product is by putting links on your sidebar or using banner ads. People are generally blind to banner ads and your click-through rate is going to be pretty low.
On your blog, the best place to promote is the content itself. That is what people are paying attention to. So, you write a dedicated post about the affiliate product and you link to it. A much more tactful (and fruitful) way to do it is to create actual, useful content and then link to the affiliate product as a tool they can use or as a source for additional information.
I also recommend you pick up a copy of the MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate plug-in, which will allow you to track affiliate links, shorten links, as well as auto-link certain keywords to your offers throughout your entire blog. Very convenient.
Another great tactic is to create a video offering some useful information related to the product, then at the end of the video you route the viewer to the product. Now, be careful – this is NOT meant to be a commercial! Instead, you’re providing USEFUL content. THEN you link off to the product. Take that video, get it all over the place via TubeMogul, then embed it on your blog and use your social media profiles to drive traffic to it.
Your mailing list is going to be a HUGE source of income for you by way of affiliate offers. The conversion rate from a single email to a mailing list will generally be a lot higher than your blog.
Some Rules of The Road
As you’re chasing the blog monetization goal through affiliate marketing, it is important that you keep some things in mind here:
- Don’t be a whore. Seriously, blogging is about useful content, first and foremost. Don’t just promote things for the sake of hoping to hook a few sales.
- Maintain Your Honor. Only promote products to your audience that you actually believe in. You do not want the reputation of being a person who will promote anything and everything for a buck. Nobody will take your recommendations seriously if you do that.
- Foster the relationship. Ultimately, people will buy based on your recommendation only if they know, like and trust you. So, your primary efforts need to be on building up likability and being worthy of their trust. Provide a lot of value to your readers. Strive to help them and make their lives easier in some way. Maintain that relationship with them. THEN, when you decide to recommend a product to them, they’ll be much more likely to take you seriously.
Short of selling your own products, affiliate marketing is perhaps the best way to monetize your blog. When done correctly, you can make a lot of money at it, all while providing value to your readers and having them thank you for it.