Pay-per-click advertising through services like Google Adsense can make your blog profitable, but it usually isn’t the most efficient way to bring in money from a blog. The problem with pay-per-click is that the payout for each click is simply too low. The advertisement you show may be for a product which cost hundreds or thousands to purchase, but you’ll often end up receiving less than a dollar for one click.
Setting up an affiliate program can provide a large boost in revenue. Affiliate programs pay when someone you referred actually make a purchase, and you receive a set amount or a percentage as compensation. This can add up to a large amount of income. ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse, for example, lists affiliate income as his number two income source, just slightly behind Adsense.
At first glance, setting up an affiliate program can be difficult. However, it really isn’t as hard as it seems, and the rewards can be great. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.
Step 1: Find an Affiliate
Affiliate programs are very profitable, but there are many smaller blogs which don’t use them. Why? Because affiliate programs are a bit harder to find and use than pay-per-click ads. Adsense is incredibly visible and simple to use – all you have to do is copy-and-paste some code into your website. To reap affiliate income, however, you have to find an affiliate, and there is no single, dominate go-to source.
There are several popular websites which make it easy to find affiliates. These match-making websites allow bloggers to sign up and search a database of businesses looking for blogs to become affiliates. The range of products and services offered through affiliate programs is broad. This is a good thing, because it makes it easy to find someone whose product fits your blog’s theme. Becoming an affiliate for someone who is selling fitness advice doesn’t make much sense if your blog is about airplanes.
Some of the best websites for finding an affiliate program include:
- Amazon Associates – Amazon.com offers an easy, flexible affiliate program. You can link to any of their products and earn a percentage (usually 4 to 6%) of each item sold.
- Affiliate Scout – This huge database lists hundreds of affiliate programs which you can sign up with at any time. You’ll probably find a suitable affiliate program here no matter your blog’s topic.
- Commission Junction – Commission Junction manages affiliate programs for some of the largest companies online today. This includes websites like Rakuten.com and Newegg.
Step 2: Set Up the Affiliate Links
Affiliate programs work on a very simple principle. You place links and/or information about a product or service on your blog or website. In return, you receive a commission whenever a person purchases a product or service by clicking through your links.
While the manner in which you earn income is different – you’re paid on commission rather than per click – making money from an affiliate program is also ultimately subject to the almighty click. If no one clicks on your affiliate links there is a 0% chance than anyone will buy the product or service you’re advertising through them. It is up to you, then, to set up the affiliate links and make them attractive.
This can be done simply by placing links on your website just like you would a normal pay-per-click ad. Chances are that if you have high traffic someone will, eventually click and buy. To be truly effective, however, you need to do a little advertising. The most effective way to do this is through recommendations.
For example, let’s say that you know about computers. You also know that a lot of people are searching for information on how to repair computers. In order to set up your affiliate links, you might write about the top three PC repair books currently available and then link to PC repair e-books with affiliate programs. This is just one example – any sort of recommendation will greatly increase the chances that someone will actually purchase through the affiliate program you are a part of. There are some bloggers who set up entire blogs focused on recommending a single product. While this appears cheesy, it can bring in a lot of money if you are proficient at writing advertising copy and you know how to do keyword research.
Step 3: Enjoying and Growing the Rewards
Most affiliate programs pay on a monthly schedule. Large programs, like the one through Amazon.com, will be able to make direct deposits to your bank account or send you a check. Small programs, like those which are operated by a single person selling an e-book, will usually only pay through Paypal. Be sure to confirm that the affiliate program you are entering can pay to your location, as many smaller affiliate programs have difficulty paying affiliates in foreign countries.
The sky is the limit with affiliate programs. Once you’ve figured out how to write a convincing recommendation which brings in customers to the affiliate program you can repeat the formula for numerous products on numerous blogs and websites. Those who bring in major money off affiliate marketing usually do so with a legion of blogs dedicated to different topics.
With that said, affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. Simply signing up as an affiliate with a few affiliate programs will be enough for many bloggers, and it will also be enough to boost your income.
Do you have any affiliate directories to suggest? How about a particular rewarding affiliate program? Share them in the comments.