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How to Choose Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

christmasAnother task that is worth doing in order to prepare your blogs for the end of the year is fine tuning your affiliate programs.

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.

Affiliate Programs

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.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I’ve mostly been relying on Amazon and CJ, although I recently applied for Azoogle. My main problem right now is that affiliate-type programs don’t work very well on my sites (for whatever reason), so I haven’t been utilizing them as heavily as I could.

  2. Jim Kukral says:

    Good stuff Darren. Glad to see someone finally promoting the cpa model.

  3. Jim Kukral says:

    @fivecentnickel, it’s an art really. You need to think of your readers as friends. Let me ask you, if you were at a friends house and they said “hey, if you go to joe blow store and use my name if you buy something I get $5″, do you think your friend would?

    Yeah, they would. So on your blog, if you just throw up a bunch of ads and not make an effort to educate or even ask your friends to help you out, you’ll find that they’ll just think they are ads and ignore them.

  4. jhay says:

    Affiliates still don’t work my blog, it’s still quite young and maybe in year’s time. In the mean while, Adsense and TLA does the trick for me.

  5. rangga says:

    One more for the list, shareasale.com. Even tough they’re less attractive than cj or linkshare, (less banner and some unpopular merchants) they probably give better payoffs if you pick the potential partners.

    one more advantage is you can make the customize referral link to refer directly to any of page within the partner’s website, instead to the homepage

  6. Jim Kukral says:

    @jhay,

    Question for you. How many visitors do you have per week to your blog and how much money do you make via Adsense every week? You can email directly at [email protected] if you don’t want to answer here. I’ll keep it private I assure you.

    @rangga

    Yes, shareasale is an awesome network. The offers there are no less valuable than cj or linkshare, and many, many people would argue that their zero tolerance spyware policy is by far leaps and bounds better than any other network.

    The thing about affiliate networks in general is they don’t cater to bloggers who don’t know affiliate marketing. We’re changing that.

  7. domain freek says:

    I really think the adsense is a wonderful programe.

  8. One thing that I have found to be very important with regard to affiliate programs is not to leave your potential customers out in the cold. In other words, don’t just think ‘Cool, I’ve been paid…I can ignore them now’. If you do decide to ignore them then you will have little chance of building a downline in any affiliate program that you work woith.

    Instead, you can kill two birds with one stone. I personally pre-write a response that will be mailed out to anybody joining a particular affiliate program. In this response, I will congratulate them on their decision as well as reinforcing that they have made the right decision. Also, I will offer my contact details and invite them to contact me with any questions so that I can help get them started. This, of course, ensures that they feel like a person rather a statistic. Finally, in this e-mail response, I include details about how to market their affiliate link. Other than being helpful to your downline, this will also help yourself as they join the various free traffic programs that are recommended and earn advertising credits for you by their own efforts.

    You may be thinking that this sounds like a lot of work. However, by spending the hour or so up front to write a decent response, your downline feels important and you improve the popularity of your own website. What could be better than that? The moral here is “Don’t try to take shortcuts when dealing with your downline”. After all, you only get out of life what you put in!

  9. Jim Kukral says:

    Hey, Darren, why was my last comment deleted? All I did was point out that MLM isn’t affiliate marketing. Let me know.

  10. Darren Rowse says:

    not deleted – just changing servers and some comments were lost while things were propogating. Sorry.

  11. Mark S. says:

    Good stuff on choosing afftiliate programs. If you can write/blog about something you know AND find an affiliate product to go with it, you’re ahead of the game.

  12. Graham says:

    Your own affiliate program is the best, practice, practice.. Otherwise i would go with the most profitable company, and pays good commissions to it’s affiliates.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Finally! We see a professional blogger coming around to talk about the power of a CPA (cost per action) model for bloggers! Caught this over at 5-star. [...]