Is there a difference between affiliate marketing in general and affiliate marketing specifically for bloggers?
Technically, no. In my mind, yes.
I’ll explain why.
But first, so you know what you’re in for…
In today’s post:
- I’m sharing a quick story about when I was a slimy affiliate-marketer-wanna-be
- What affiliate marketing is
- How to pick the right affiliate programs for your blog
- When to use affiliate banner ads
- When to write affiliate review posts
- Time investment
- Long term revenue possibilities
- Alternatives to affiliate review posts
- How to increase your sales potential
Why I believe Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers is different from Affiliate Marketing
A couple of years ago, I had 12 blogs. Nine were specifically for affiliate marketing.
I followed through with what the “gurus” taught. Find a niche that has a need and offer a product that fills that need. I did make a few hundred dollars but in no way was I successful.
Why? Because I am a blogger.
Researching the public’s major pain points, finding a product to fix that pain and then writing copy to sell the product, wasn’t my cup of tea. I had to actually buy the products and try them myself, not because it was “required” but because I couldn’t write the damn sales copy without knowing the product. I’m lucky I broke even considering how many digital products I ditched.
At the same time that I was trying to maintain these 9 affiliate marketing sites, I also wrote review posts on my personal blog, After Bedtime Blog.
These review posts ranged from WordPress plugins to products to soothe psoriasis symptoms to a weight loss program for women. These were products and services I had used, found great success with and knew that either my audience could use it or that there were people searching Google for it.
Eventually I shut down the 9 hard-to-maintain, soul-sucking affiliate sites and focused on my blog.
The following year, my personal blog’s review posts generated more income than the sum of those 9 affiliate blogs (by thousands of dollars).
Because on the blog, I was passionately promoting products and services I had used and believed in. I was not building a site around a product I wanted to sell. I was recommending products I’ve used that I felt my blog’s audience could benefit from.
This is why, in my mind, there’s a difference between affiliate marketing for bloggers and affiliate marketing.
Affiliate Marketing Is…
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting products or services offered by businesses/entrepreneurs and receiving commission in return for sales you’ve referred.
You recommend a product, you’re paid per sale.
You can add banners to your sidebar and write posts as you would with sponsored advertising.
If we want to nitpick, adding a banner to your sidebar is not necessarily recommending a product. It’s exposing your audience to a product you believe they may find appealing. I know it’s splitting hairs, but it’s no different from having display ads in your sidebar from Adsense. Just wanted to be thorough here.
Affiliate marketing for bloggers can truly be profitable while being so much more enjoyable and not soul-sucking like affiliate marketing, as long as you know your audience and provide them with something of value.
How to pick the right affiliate programs for your blog
There are tons of affiliate programs available. Familiar with the Set it and Forget it Oven or the NuWave oven? I had both and was an affiliate for both once upon a time when I had a healthy lifestyle blog.
Choosing the right affiliate program has nothing to do with what it pays. Picking expensive products/services that pay high commission to promote will not make you a dime if the product/service’s target market is not you blog’s audience.
I chose the advertising and affiliate banners I place in my sidebar based on what can fill my audience’s needs. The majority of this blog’s audience is mom entrepreneurs with WordPress blogs who are building a web based income generator – whether it be via blogging or their own web based business.
You’ll notice I have banners in my sidebar promoting services to boost your blog’s speed, to protect your blog’s copyright, to stop comment spam and for my blog design services.
I also have a banner that leads to my weight loss for women post. It’s not related to my blog content but building an online empire while caring for your family is really bloody stressful. That post relates to my audience of fellow mom entrepreneurs who need support when trying to balance life and lose weight. Knowing your audience is key to building a successful web based business.
When to use affiliate banner ads
Use affiliate banners if:
1. You have a brand new niche blog and want to get your audience accustomed to seeing ads in the sidebar. A niche blogger knows exactly who her target market is and will be able to advertise products and services that she knows will relate to her audience.
2. You have an existing blog (multi-topic or niche) and know who your audience is. For example, if you blog about parenthood, kids fashion or KNOW that your audience is mostly moms, Lola Trading Charm’s affiliate program is a good fit. If you blog about beauty or wellness, Escents Aromatherapy may be a good match.
3. You’ve used a product, love it and know your audience may be interested. For example, are you a Food Blogger and love Rachel Ray? The Rachel Ray Store pays 7% commission to affiliates.
4. Bloggers have an advantage over online magazines and newspapers because bloggers network with other bloggers. This makes adding affiliate ads of products and services you’ve used, related to blogging, totally acceptable.
An example of affiliate programs and their pricing structure.
Amazon has a Performance Fee Structure beginning at 4%. It increases based on sales and referrals.
Lola Trading Charms is scheduled to launch their affiliate program on December 13, 2013 and is paying 20% commission.
Women’s clothing retailer Romwe.com also has an affiliate program and pays 10% commission.
Escents Aromatherapy pays affiliates 20% commission.
My Food Diary’s affiliate program pays $7.50 per referral.
When to write affiliate review posts
Only write review posts for product or service that you have used. This goes for sponsored posts along with affiliate posts.
Because it will be so fake that people can pinpoint where you lie and dog you online, across social media, for being a money hungry blogger?
No matter how good a writer you are, you can never do justice to a review of a product you have never used. So instead of your post being something so awesome people share it and click through and buy whatever you’re promoting, your post will be…Un.
Unworthy of the few minutes of my life that I will never get back.
Unbeneficial to your audience. (according to merriam webster, unbeneficial’s actually a word but it looks weird to me and the spellcheck)
Writing a thorough review of the product/service and promoting that review will generate more sales that just adding a banner to your sidebar. I’m not saying that only having a banner ad in your sidebar is useless. I am saying that if you’ve had first hand experience with the product or service, write a review. It takes longer than copying and pasting code into a sidebar widget, but well worth the time investment when executed correctly.
Should I clarify “correctly”?
Do not copy and paste the product specs from the product’s sales page.
Write about your experience. Explain why you needed or wanted this thing. What “need” did it fulfill?
Mention the alternatives. Explain why you went with this specific product or business.
Add pictures of the product. Add video. If it’s a services, link to the results.
For example, last year, Little Love Media organized and arranged my Pinterest Boards in such a manner that I’m absolutely productive when it comes to Pinterest. No getting sucked in for hours anymore. I recently added new boards, so I’m not so organized anymore, but I’m still totally productive. If I were an affiliate, I would write a post detailing: time savings, productivity effects, network growth, traffic growth, what my initial problem was and how hiring LLM has improved my workflow.
Long Term Revenue Possibilities
I have a 28 month old and 18 month old review post of services I’m an affiliate of, on After Bedtime Blog, which are still making me sales today (even though I haven’t blogged there in 6 months and the site’s ranking has gone to crap).
Those sales are made by visitors who found my posts in the Google Search Results.
Search Engine Optimizing a thoroughly written post will increase your revenue possibilities.
Alternatives to affiliate review posts
When I buy a product or use a service, it’s to fulfill a need.
When I have a “need” I’ll Google it.
How to speed up WordPress.
How to stop WordPress Comment Spam.
How to copyright my posts. (This is how I learned about DMCA, purchased the service, used it and then decided to become an affiliate of it.)
An alternative to writing review posts is to not write review posts to review a product. Write a “how-to” post to solve a problem that, whatever you’re pimping, solves. Here’s my post that includes the affiliate link to DMCA.com.
You’ll notice this post is not a review of DMCA.com,instead it shares:
- why you should protect your content.
- how to protect your content.
- how to deal with slimy content thieves.
- a word about creative commons
- more about DMCA.com
Another example is my post on stopping WordPress comment spam. This is a huge issue lately. Since many of my clients have Commentluv Premium, I configured the anti spam module of the plugin for them, saw the results were successful and a month later wrote a post on How To Stop WordPress Comment Spam. The post is not a review of Commentluv. The post covers:
- Why people spam your WordPress blog (and how they make the time).
- How spam comments affect your bounce rate.
- How to tell the difference between real comments and fake comments.
- How spam comments can tear down your blog.
- How you can stop WordPress comment spam.
The post mentions a free alternative and offers a freebie download pdf with steps to configure CommentLuv Premium.
Your “review” posts will rock IF they answer a question, solve a problem, do “something” that your audience can benefit from. This applies to both sponsored posts and affiliate review posts.
How to increase your sales potential.
Don’t depend on a Related Posts Plugin to pimp your affiliate review post when it gets old.
Create banners to promote your affiliate post and place the banner in the sidebar linking to the post.
Buy ad space for those same banners from other bloggers. Or banner swap with another blogger.
Search engine optimize your post so it will be found in search engine results.
Create a Resource Page of the tools of your trade and add it to your blog.
Join networks that allow you to create lists with links in them. I have a list on TheSkinnyScoop.com that has had over 6k views. I need to update it again. I created a list to the best plugins for WordPress. One of the items on that list links to my Stop Comment Spam Post. Check it out.
Take. Action. Now.
Find out the common interest among your audience and serve up ads that they’ll find appealing. The beauty of an affiliate ad is, you can take it down whenever you want.
Niche blogs will find choosing affiliate programs super easy. Write about what you’ve used, place ads in your sidebar to products/services that share the same target market as your niche.
The rest of the Blog Monetization Series: