Google Referral Program

It looks like Google are starting a referral program for AdWords. Check it out at the Join the Google Referral Program page:

‘The Google AdWords referral program (beta) is for web sites whose customers and visitors include small to medium-sized businesses, and who want to help those companies become more successful by running Google AdWords. The program works by giving approved sites unique links to Google, then compensating the referring site for passing on a new AdWords advertiser.

Joining is easy, and free

1. Apply.

2. Once you’re approved, place a Google AdWords referral program link on your site.

3. Earn $20 for each advertiser you refer.’

You can learn more about it here and apply here. It’s by invitation only at the moment but you can apply and be notified when they expand the program.

What’s it all mean? It seems Adsense are on a recruiting drive for new Advertisers and they’re willing to pay for them – the competition must be heating up.

Thanks to Mark for the notification of this.

Update – looks like Google are getting ready to roll all this out soon – as they’ve updated their policy page to accomodate it as Jen has just posted.

10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs on your Blog

We’ve now looked at a number of popular affiliate programs for bloggers and today I’d like to finish off this series by giving a few tips that should help bloggers get the best results out of any affiliate program that they choose to run with.

1. Consider your Audience

It almost goes without saying – but it’s worth putting yourself in your readers shoes and consider what they might be looking for as they surf by your blog. Are they shopping for specific products? Might they be looking for related products or accessories? What would trigger them to purchase? Start with your reader in mind rather than the product. If you take this approach you could end up doing your reader a favor as well as making a few dollars on the side.

2. Genuine Recommendations and personal endorsements always work best

There are literally hundreds of thousands of products and services for you to choose from to recommend to your blog’s readers but making money from them is not as simple as randomly adding links to them from your blog. Your blog’s readers come back to your blog day after day because something about you resonates with them – they have at least some level of trust and respect for you and perhaps the quickest way to destroy this is to recommend that they buy something that you don’t fully believe will benefit them.

The best results I’ve had from affiliate programs are where I give an open and honest appraisal of the product – including both it’s strengths and weaknesses. The most successful affiliate program I’m involved with here at ProBlogger is Joel Comm’s e-book which I reviewed here. If you read the review you’ll see that I not only tell readers who I believe the book is for but I also mention those it is NOT for. In a sense I critique it. On a surface level one might think that this wasn’t a wise move and that I should have given a glowing review – however the sales that I’ve had through the program have proven otherwise. People want to know what they are buying first and even if they know a product has limitations they will buy it if it meets their particular need.

3. Link to Quality Products

We all like to make sure we’re buying the best products money can buy – your readers are no different to this and are more likely to make a purchase if you’ve found them the best product for them. Choose products and companies with good reputations and quality sales pages. There is nothing worse than giving a glowing review of a product only to send your reader to a page that looks cheap and nasty.

4. Contextual Deep Links work Best

When I started using the Amazon Associate Program I naively thought that all I had to do was put an Amazon banner ad (that linked to Amazon’s front page) at the top of my blog. I thought that my readers would see it and surf over to Amazon and buy up big – thereby making me a rich man. Nothing could have been further from reality – I was deluding myself.

I always says to bloggers that I’m consulting with that they should learn something from contextual advertising when it comes to affiliate programs. The secret of contextual ads like Adsense is that a reader is reading a post on a particular topic on your blog and when they see an advertisement for that same product they are more likely to click it than if they saw an ad for something else. The same is true for affiliate programs. A banner to a general page on every page on your site won’t be anywhere near as effective as multiple links throughout your blog that advertiser products that are relevant for readers reading particular parts of your blog.

So if you’re writing a blog about MP3 players and have a review for a particular product – the most effectively affiliate program that you could link to from within the content of that page would be one that links directly to a page selling that specific model of MP3 player. This is how I use the Amazon program today. It is more work than contextual advertising because you’re not just putting one piece of code into a template but rather need to place individual links on many pages – but I find that it’s been worth the effort.

5. Consider positioning of links

One of the things I go on and on about with Adsense optimization is the positioning of ads. I tell bloggers to position their ads in the hotspots on pages (like the top of a left hand side bar – or inside content – or at the end of posts above comments etc). The same principles are true for affiliate advertising.

6. Traffic levels are Important

While it’s not the only factor – traffic levels are obviously key when it comes to making money from almost any online activity. The more people that see your well placed, relevant and well designed affiliate links the more likely it is that one of them will make a purchase. So don’t just work on your links – work on building a readership. Not only this, consider how you might direct traffic on your blog toward pages where they are more likely to see your affiliate links.

7. Diversify without Clutter

Don’t put all your affiliate efforts into one basket. There are plenty of products out there to link to so there is no need to just work on one. At the same time you shouldn’t clutter your blog up with too many affiliate program links. If you do so you run the risk of diluting the effectiveness of your links and could disillusion your readership.

8. Be Transparent

Don’t try to fool your readers into clicking links that could make you money. While it may not always feasible to label all affiliate links I think some attempt should be made to let people know what type of link they are clicking on. I also think consistency is important with this so readers of your blog know what to expect. For example here at ProBlogger usually put a note beside or under affiliate links to simply let readers know that that is what they are. On my Digital Camera Blog I don’t do this because of the large number of such links make it clear by the text around the link that clicking on it will take them to some sort of shop or information where a purchase is possible (ie a link my say ‘buy the XXX product’ or ‘get the latest product on XXX’.

9. Combine with other Revenue Streams

Affiliate programs and advertising programs are not mutually exclusive things. I’ve come across a few people recently who have said they don’t want to do affiliate linking because it will take the focus off their Adsense ads. While there is potential for one to take the focus off the other – there is also real potential for both to work hand in hand as different readers will respond to different approaches. You should consider the impact that your affiliate links have on other revenue streams – but don’t let one stop the other.

10. Track results

Most affiliate programs have at least some type of tracking or statistics package which will allow you to watch which links are effective. Some of these packages are better than others but most will at least allow you to see what is selling and what isn’t. Watching your results can help you plan future affiliate efforts. Keep track of what positions for links work well, which products sell, what wording around links works well etc and use the information that you collect as you work plan future affiliate strategies.

UPDATE – Check out my update to this post – 6 More Tips for Affiliate Marketing on Blogs.

What tips would you give someone getting into affiliate programs? What has worked well for you? What hasn’t? Share you experience and ideas on affiliate programs below.

Affiliate Programs – Linkshare


This post is part of a series on Affiliate Programs for Blogs

LinkShare (aff link) is another affiliate megamart like Clickbank whereby you sign up as an affiliate and then have access to hundreds of affiliate programs all via the one system. If you want to get into the affiliate programs of names like iTunes, Dell, Disney, Footlocker then LinkShare is your best bet.

I’ve used LinkShare for just a few months now and have had moderate success (averaging $150 per month). I’ve used it pretty selectively on just promoting a couple of products and know it’s something I should work on a little more as its got such a wide range of products and is reasonably easy to use.

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Affiliate Programs – Commission Junction

Cj Logo
This post is part of a series on Affiliate Programs for Blogs

Commission Junction is another affiliate program mega store (like clickbank) that offers thousands of products from different industries for you to get commissions from.

In a sense CJ is a middleman between you the affiliate and companies who have products to sell.

I’ve used Commission Junction for a year or so now and have never really had much success with it – partly because I’ve not found many products in it that quite fit with the topics that I write on and partly because I have found other programs (like Amazon) to be easier to add to my blogs.

In fact I’ve used Commission Junction so little in the past few months that today when I logged onto it I found that my account has been deactivated (I’ve since reactivated it).

Once you’ve applied to join Commission Junction you then need to apply to join some of the many programs that run within it. Each advertisers in the system has their own program and if you wish to promote their products you apply to do so. Once your application is approved you are then able to use links provided to promote their products.

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Affiliate Programs – Clickbank

Clickbank-LogoThis post is part of a series on Affiliate Programs for Blogs

Clickbank is another affiliate program that I know quite a few bloggers use. I’ve used it myself to promote a small selection of products with moderate success.

The product I’ve seen the most success with is Joel Comm’s What Google Never Told You About Making Money with Adsense (affiliate link) which I reviewed here. I think I had some good results with this product because I’d personally read and used it and gave an honest appraisal with it for my readers. Personal recommendations are important with all affiliate sales – but especially with Clickbank as some of their products have a pretty average reputation.

Many of Clickbank’s products are e-books and software products – which are broken down into the categories of Business to Business, Computing & Internet, Fun & Entertainment, Health & Fitness, Money & Employment, Sports & Recreation, Home & Family, Marketing & Ads, Society & Culture.

As I note below – while the money can be good with Clickbank – you might pay for it with the ‘cheap and nasty’ feel that many of it’s products have. I would strongly recommend that you carefully consider which products you link to and suggest that you (or someone you trust) has personal experience of them before recommending them to readers.

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Affiliate Programs – Amazon Associates

This post is part of a series on Affiliate Programs for Blogs

Amazon Associates Program

Amazon’s Associate Program is perhaps one of the most popular ones for bloggers because it is pretty simple to use and has such a wide range of products in their system ranging from books, to electronics, to jewelry, to CDs and DVDs etc. It’s also great because there are many tools that can be used to integrate it into your blog including WordPress Plug ins. Some bloggers even integrate Amazon stores into their blogs (something I need to get set up).

Another beauty of the Amazon program is the variety of ways that they give you to link to their products. Even using just their basic tools on the Associates page you have the option to link to products using text links, pictures, buttons and a variety of keyword triggered techniques.

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Affiliate Programs For Blogs

Ok – it’s time to kick the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog into overdrive and talk about a few ways that you can make money from your blog.

Let’s start with Affiliate programs (this will be a mini series).

What is an Affiliate Program?

To oversimplify it – an affiliate program is a system that pays you a commission when people buy a product having found that product via your blog. Let me use an example. If you click on this link for Jeremy Wright’s upcoming book – Blog Marketing (something I’m genuinely interested in reading myself) you’ll be taken to’s page for that book. IF you purchase it I will get a small commission for sending you there (the commission is somewhere between 4 and 9% of the price at Amazon – depending upon how much you sell, what the product is and a number of other factors).

Affiliate programs come in a massive array of shapes and sizes and on thousands of different niche topics. Over the next few days I’m going to speak about a few Affiliate programs that you might wish to try out and then will give some tips as to how to use them most effectively.

This series continues at – Amazon Associates Program, Clickbank Affiliate Program, Commission Junction Affiliate Program and Linkshare’s program. Also read the final post in the series – 10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs on your Blog.

Making the most of ecto

At first sight, ecto seems to be a simple desktop client that allows you to author content for your blog. There are a couple of advantages desktop blog tools offer over control panels: You can write entries while offline, keep a local searchable cache of published entries and drafts, use spell-check, manipulate images and movies before uploading, to name just a few.

But ecto for MacOSX (and soon also the Windows version) does even more than that, it can help you to raise your blog’s visibility in the blogosphere and even make a bit of profit. This blog entry will show you how to make the most of ecto.

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Affiliate Program Tips for Bloggers

Shai gives some good tips on hope to Make The Most Out of Affiliate Programs:

1) Provide good reasons for readers and visitors to keep coming back to your site where you have your affiliate links. Or, if you primarily promote via email, make sure that you give readers and subscribers a lot of reasons to keep opening and reading your emails. It’s just so much easier to delete things nowadays! Just deliver great content, provide user interaction, come up with clever contests… the possibilities are endless.

2) Maximise your visibility. Working on your site’s promotions and SEO is important. If you can’t do it yourself, or if you have limited knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO), then make sure that you get advice from people who know more than you do on this matter. Always remember that the more people who find your site, the more chances you have in showing your affiliate products….’

One tip I’d add to her great list is to keep your affiliate programs as relevant to your blog’s content as possible.

The success of Adsense contextual text links is that they ads usually match the content of the site so well. At times you’ll be reading about a particular product and then see an ad for it – the naturally thing to do is click.

Often bloggers don’t take this same principle and put it into practice with their affiliate programs. They just leave a generic button on their side bar and don’t make any effort into increasing its relevancy to their site.

The best performance I’ve ever had from an affiliate program is when I’ve managed to be blogging about something and then find an affiliate program that matches it well and have placed links to it inside or at the end of the content (with appropriate disclosure statements). Perhaps the easiest program to use with this strategy is Amazon which has so many products that can be linked via picture or text deep within your site and not just on your sidebar.

For instance on my digicam site I have links to the actual products that I write about on many of my posts on cameras. This does take some effort to set up but is well worth it.