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What Works with Affiliate Sales

This post was submitted by Chris Garrett from ChrisG.com

The other day I was telling Darren about an accidental affiliate success I had on my digital SLR blog with a dirt cheap ebay gadget (GadgetInfinity ebay slave triggers). We thought it might make an interesting guest post for Problogger readers as this audience likes to learn tips for how to make money and I learned a lot from this happy accident myself.

How did this early Christmas present fall into my lap?

Last year through Strobist.com blog I became interested in photography lighting. Like most people who followed the tutorials I started acquiring all the gear I needed. One item was out of my budget though. It was an accessory that allowed you to trigger your flash remotely via radio signals. The price was just too high for my amateur photography budget (and my marriage!). All was not lost, I heard about some cheap knock-offs doing the rounds on ebay.

After research it seemed most people were either absolutely in love with the gadgets or dead against, either because of a bad experience or out of snobbery. As the price was so low I snapped up a set, at the very worst it would make excellent content for my blog.

I couldn’t have been more happier with the gizmos when they arrived. Not only were they cheap, they worked and opened up my flash photography in a way I couldn’t have hoped for. Being the geek I am I had a variety of gear to test the gadget with so I could right away reassure people that they in fact did work with Canon brand flashes. This added considerably to the weight of my recommendation.

Once I had written my post I recalled I had signed up for the CJ ebay affiliate program. (I was going to write a blog about ebay). As these products were mainly available via ebay I took the opportunity to go back and edit my links with my affiliate codes.

Immediately something wonderful happened, I was making commissions! One or two came in almost right away. What really sent the sales coming in though was a link from Strobist. A few days later I was getting search traffic also.

Why did it work so well?

  • Empathy – It was a geniune recommendation from someone in the same position as the audience
  • Topical – The product was “hot” but the available advice was divided, people were researching before buying
  • Authority – I had some credibility in the area, compounded by an authoritive referral to that page from Strobist
  • Fear – Risk was reduced because I had removed the fear factor (“oh it *does* work with Canon!”)

Those are specific lessons but there are also general learnings we can take that always apply

  • Specifics sell
  • Stay on top of your niche so you can detect hot products early
  • Comparisons against bigger, better and more expensive products works to upsell or positively differentiate the lower-priced alternative (win-win)
  • Links from the post, in context, drive far more sales
  • Try to link to the specific product wherever possible
  • Big brand names and hard to find products sell far better than generics
  • Choosing to go via ebay provides secondary income from signups

Look at the post, you wouldn’t have dreamed at first glance this would have been an ebay sales machine but it worked and it worked well. What could you do if you actually went out and designed your posts to sell?

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. Shane says:

    Thanks for the tip, but when I looked at the post I couldn’t find the ebay link. Can anyone point me to it?

  2. Shane says:

    Okay, I found it. The links in the text show up only faintly different in color in my browser. I would use a more obvious link, but that is just my preference.

  3. Hmm… I’ll make sure to come back to these aff marketing posts on problogger, once my blog is old enough :)

  4. Casey says:

    Lucky you! I need to sign up for an affiliate program as I’ve been too lazy to do so.

  5. Etienne Teo says:

    Great tip there chris, i thought it was a good call and to allow user to know how you made money will your SLR camera.I love your writeup in your blog.

  6. Pua says:

    thanks problogger for some more insight into the affiliate sales stuff. so far, i had no luck with my affiliate ‘sales’, not on my sites and neither on my blog.

    i like your point to compare the product with other companies and also show my own experience in a target post. easier said than done with my hawaii vacation blog which is obviously about hawaii and vacation. i am an affiliate with ’1and1.com’ and ‘vonage’ which i am pretty happy with. i guess i need to wrap that up in a post?! thanks for your feedback, pua

  7. terra says:

    I never really would have thought about this! Another great idea for non-photog blogs would simply be to review products related to your niche’, and of course sign up as an ebay affiliate for those products and list them on your posting. I guess the main objective is to be very honest about these products… you don’t want your audience not trusting you after they end up buying a busted up product on your recommendation.

  8. Yes absolutely be honest, both because it is the right thing to do (obviously) but also you will be more credible if it is a “warts and all” review rather than a hypey booster post

  9. Mike Goad says:

    Interesting idea, Chris. I think it would be easy to overdo it, though, if one isn’t careful. An occasional review would be fine, unless that is the focus of one’s blog.

  10. I strongly agree with you. When I was starting with affiliate marketing I was writing long tailed articles about the product without being honest and without showing any bad side of the product (which looks phissy in many times)

    Now I write smaller reviews but strict to the meaning, and I have much more results even when I am saying bad things. People know that there is no “perfect” product so they want to know possible problems before buying, and the fact that you write those make them feel better both about you and the product :)

  11. Teryn says:

    Thanks for the pointers. Sounds like an awesome thing to stumble into.

  12. Emmet says:

    I find it quite difficult to get any attention to my adsense, but the amazon affiliate stuff works well. How does the ebay affiliate program work? Well??

  13. Depends on your niche but I find ebay works ok, it is very occasional you will get a signup (who hasnt got an ebay account now?) but I get a good trickle of sale commissions from my camera blog. It’s like amazon, you probably get money from people who were going to buy using the service anyway

  14. Wow. I didn’t quite get where you were going at first. But then I realized that you can stumple upon interesting points.

  15. Sterling says:

    Affiliate sales through a blog and/or podcast works like crazy! We add affiliate links to everything; books, products, course, anything that you can get an affiliate commission on. Suddenly we were getting a huge income stream off something we do anyway, recommend stuff.

    The big KEY to this is only recommending stuff you REALLY have gone through. Credibility in this type of relationship is very important and I don’t imagine it would be easy to recover if you loose your credibility recommending something that is terrible and you haven’t really seen.

  16. Hm… I’ll have to remember that…

    That same principal can be transferred to blogging.
    You often blog best about stuff you know about and love. You’re posts will be more interesting/gripping if you hold the topic near and dear to your heart.