If you’re cash-strapped or simply looking for a way to make a few extra dollars from your online marketing efforts, you may be tempted to try affiliate marketing this year. The good news is that your existing social media outlets can be used as a platform for integrating affiliate marketing. Your established readership is already primed to consider your opinions, making it a lucrative opportunity when used correctly. There’s also little to do in terms of set up, as you already have a forum for communicating and recommending the products and services for which you become an affiliate. So, with these favorable conditions in place, how do you go about making your blog a source of affiliate dollars?
1. Know Your Audience — You’ve hopefully been blogging for a while before deciding to introduce an affiliate element to your postings. The longer you’ve been blogging, the more likely it is that you have a good handle on your audience and what it is they expect to find when they stop by your page. You must consider these expectations before using your blog for affiliate marketing, as success will only be enjoyed when you hit upon exactly the right mix of products and services that resonate with your readership. In this sense, affiliate marketing is a lot like any other form of advertising – you need to know your market and where your likely buyers are to get the best return on product placement.
2. Consider Visitor Numbers – While not the most time-consuming of internet marketing activities, you will still need to set some man-hours aside in order to make any kind of return on your affiliate marketing. Before you even start recommending products for cash, ask yourself if your blog’s readership is large enough to make the endeavor viable. The more people seeing your product placement, the more clickthroughs will register, the more purchases there’ll be, and ultimately the more dollars you’ll earn, so visitor numbers are a crucial element for success. Continuing to work on your blog by building a relationship with your readers through informative, interesting content and thought-provoking debates will have a direct impact on how many purchases are made via your affiliate links. You may also want to work on some off-page link building to direct more relevant traffic through on a daily basis. While this will also require a considerable time investment, it will give you an increased likelihood of a cash return on your investment links by exposing them to a larger audience.
3. Pay Attention to Content, Context and Deep Linking – It’s not enough to simply place an affiliate link on your blog – be it in the form of a text link or image ad – and expect your visitors to do the rest. Simply dropping an advert onto your blog in this manner will devalue your postings. It also goes against all of the tried-and-true rules for online advertising success. Good blog-based affiliate marketing follows many of the same patterns as other forms of advertising – consider the content of your page and the context of your post before deciding how and where to insert an affiliate link. You must also ensure the link is deep-linked – so if you’re talking about your new iPod for example or reviewing a laptop, a text-based link to an electronics retailer or computer specialist is a good choice. Rather than linking through to the home page of the affiliate, try and link to the particular product or related accessories. You do not want to send your user of to a catalogue page where they are required to wade through dozens of other products to find the product type you’ve been discussing. They simply won’t waste their time. But, send them through to the exact landing page for that product and they’re more likely to buy.
4. Don’t Try To Fool Your Readers – You enjoy a good relationship with your blog’s readers – that’s what makes your blog such a good outlet for affiliate marketing. They know and trust your opinions and visit your site because they know they’ll find what they are looking for. Trying to fool your readers by not announcing your affiliate link is an easy way to turn the relationship sour. Transparency is vital in any affiliate campaign and the manner with which you announce your link can be tailored to suit your blog style and the volume of affiliate networks you’re involved with. If you plan to have just a few affiliate links on your blog, a note just before or just after the link to let readers know that it is an affiliate is feasible. If you have more than a handful of links, an individual notice per link will be counterproductive. Instead, you may want to consider a site-wide disclaimer, advising your readers that you do use affiliate links throughout your blog.
5. Combine With Other Forms of Promotion – The more eyeballs your affiliate links receive, the easier it is to make money. Therefore, you’ll need to give a high level of exposure to your affiliate programs without appearing spammy and annoying your core audience. One way to do that is to combine with other forms of promotion such as a Twitter feed you have linked to your blog, so that when you update your Twitter feed with details of a new blog post, tie that in to your most relevant affiliate link. If you’re keen on online PR and plan to release a news item fairly regularly, it may be worth including a relevant affiliate link where appropriate. Again, context, content and deep linking are key, just as they are on your own blog.
Keep these five tips in mind as you begin your foray into affiliate marketing via your blog, and you’ll be on the way to success.