Affiliate programs are quite a different way of monetizing your blog than advertising and while there are some similar principles that come into play when optimizing them they also take a different mindset to fully realize their potential.
The beauty of affiliate programs is that they have the potential to pay a lot more than most advertising programs (if you choose the right product) – the challenge is that you only earn money from them IF your reader actually takes an action (usually when they buy the product).
Choosing Affiliate Programs
There are literally hundreds of thousands of products and services that you can promote with affiliate programs on your blog. When you consider the array of products that Amazon has available (just one of many affiliate programs you can use) it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the choice. How do you make the decision what to promote? Here’s a few things to look out for:
Contextual Affiliate Products – one of the lessons you can learn by the major success of contextual advertising programs like AdSense is that it is much easier to get people to take action when the ad/link for the product relates strongly to the context/content around it.
As a result – when choosing which affiliate product and program to use on your blog the first think you need to think about is the topic that you’re writing about. Ask yourself some questions like”
- What is my topic?
- What do people come to my blog looking for?
- What is the intent of my readers when they are on my blog?
- What types of products would my readers naturally be interested in buying?
As you begin to answer these questions you should get a feel for the type of opportunities that there are for affiliate programs.
Keep in mind that not all topics work well with affiliate programs and that it might be that they just are not right for your blog. Don’t fall into the temptation of running them just for the sake of it – it might be that you’d get a better conversion by dedicating the space on your blog to advertising programs rather than affiliate programs.
Quality – the affiliate space is one that is unfortunately full not only of legitimate and quality programs and products – but also quite a lot of rubbish.
One question to ask yourself when looking at options is:
‘what impact will promoting this product have upon my blog’s reputation?’
Whether you like it or not – the things that you promote on your blog say something to your readers about who you are. If you link to and promote low grade rubbish this can have an impact upon you.
This applies on a number of fronts:
- the products you link to (are they quality?)
- the quality of the site you link to (are they cheap and nasty sites?)
- how you link to them (ie the words you use in your link and whether you actually recommend it or not)
- the programs behind the products (ie I use Amazon on a lot of my sites because they have a good brand that is trusted by many readers)
Reader Location – one factor to keep in mind when choosing an affiliate program is the locality of your readers. This is an issue particularly if you have a site with a lot of traffic from a particular location.
For example – one of the downsides of Amazon is that they do not ship electronics internationally. This is a problem if you have a gadget site with a large readership from Australia for instance and it might be worth looking for a more localized affiliate program.
Tangible Products - if you’re thinking of optimizing your blog for Christmas you’ll have much more success in promoting actual physical products than some other types of affiliate products (such as e-books). While e-books can be quite good programs to promote – they are not really Christmassy.
I’ve written on a few affiliate programs that you might want to check out at:
Tomorrow I’ll write more on how to improve your affiliate programs performance.
This post has been a part of the How to Fine Tune your Blog for Christmas Series.