You’ve set up your blog. You’ve developed your content focus and publication schedule. And you’ve already attracted an audience. What’s next?
Monetization, of course!
Having a popular blog is an accomplishment, but being able to earn money from your blog is the ultimate goal. Of course, you don’t want to shift focus and start using your blog purely to sell.
This is where affiliate marketing comes in.
What is affiliate marketing?
Many blogs out there aren’t written purely to sell products, but to entertain, inform, or analyze. Most of their content isn’t intended to sell and many are run by people who don’t actually offer any products or services of their own. So, how do they make money? They engage in something called affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing involves four players:
- The merchant, who sells a product.
- The publisher, who promotes the product.
- The network, which helps the merchant and affiliate connect.
- The customer, who makes the purchase.
Bloggers looking to earn money from their blogs can supplement their content with posts about products that are of interest to their audience. When readers purchase the product via the link contained in the blog post, the blog owner earns a commission from the merchant offering the product. Bloggers join affiliate networks in order to find merchants and products to promote.
Seems pretty easy, right?
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing. More of your readers buying the product = more money earned, so it’s important to introduce your readers to these products the right way.
How to maximize affiliate marketing earnings.
Since your earnings depend on your readers purchasing the products you promote, it’s crucial to make sure that you promote products that are relevant and appealing to your audience. If you run a fitness blog, then you’re likely better off promoting yoga mats than tractor parts. If your audience is made up primarily of men aged 35-50, then maybe women’s shoes aren’t the best fit. Your understanding of the demographics of your audience should guide the selection of the products that you choose to promote. So choose wisely!
Another way to maximize your earnings is to avoid obvious hard sells and to be honest about the product. Only choose products that you believe in, and ideally products that you’ve had a chance to use. Remember, your readers will be purchasing the product because they trust you. If you write a post extolling the virtues of a product that winds up being of poor quality, it’s your reputation that will take the hit. If you don’t feel comfortable writing a review of the product, you can always just add a link or an ad somewhere on your blog’s header or sidebar (although that may be less likely to grab a reader’s attention!)
Where to find products to promote.
There are many affiliate networks out there, offering a huge assortment of affiliate products to promote. I’ll just list a few here, but I highly recommend that you do your own research as well — each network has its own policies, products, and payouts, and you want to make sure that each of those are a good fit for your blog.
Shareasale: This network includes over 4000 merchants, a quarter of which are exclusive to the network, and offers monthly payouts.
CJ Affiliate: Another large network, this one offers a number of different ad sizes and reporting options.
Rakuten: This network offers sophisticated coding options that allow for the automatic rotation of a number of different banners on your site, which can help optimize sales.
Amazon Associates: Amazon’s technology is easy-to-use, which makes it a good choice for absolute beginners, though some of their commission payouts can be on the low end.
Remember: this is just a small sampling of the many networks out there. Take your time and find the networks that work for you — and your audience!