Affiliate marketing is a very hot topic in the blogging world. There are many people making a comfortable living doing only affiliate marketing. So how can you profit from it on your own blog?
Let’s start by defining “affiliate marketing” for you. Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting a company or product for a monetary reward. So an example is the Amazon Associates program where you get paid a percentage of sales by using your affiliate link to link your readers to products on Amazon.com. Because it is a pay-per-action business, affiliate marketing sometimes get a bad rap. A lot of spammers set up sites with useless content and tons of affiliate links in hopes of getting rich quick. There are many things that you can do to make sure you are doing your affiliate marketing the right way.
Do you look up reviews before you buy things? I know I do. What about this: do you have a particular site or reviewer that you trust? I know many people do, and they put a lot of trust in those people’s recommendations. So why not incorporate those ideas into your affiliate marketing plan. Instead of putting up as many high paying links as possible, choose your strategy more carefully.
Here are a few things to help you do your affiliate marketing the right way.
Be open about getting paid.
This is the most important idea for affiliate marketing the right way. First up is the legality of it. The FTC requires you to disclose your relationship with affiliates. So take care of that before you do anything else. Another reason you want to be open about links being affiliate links is that you want to come across as open and honest with your readers. If your content is good and you are likable, people will want to help you out. If they know that purchasing a product through your link will help you out, they may be more inclined to do so. Being likable here is key. If you’re not likable, why would anyone want to help you out? Also, if you are not honest about your affiliate links and people catch on, they’ll wonder what else you are hiding on your blog.
When your blog starts to grow, you’re going to get more and more invitations to affiliate programs as well as pitches for product reviews and sponsorship. While it is easy to take them all, you have to be selective. If you are promoting every product under the sun, your words and recommendations will fall flat. Why would I take recommendations seriously from someone who endorses a different product every day? There’s no way you can honestly recommend 6 different microwaves. (Maybe there is, but you catch my drift.)
Do not write a post for affiliate sales.
While it is okay to have the idea of affiliate sales in the back of your mind, your first priority for your post should revolve around your content, or your story. Write the story and link to the products that compliment the story, or the products that others would need to accomplish what you did in your post. People are not coming to you blog for recommendations on a digital camera, but if you have a photography tutorial post, that might be a good place to leave an affiliate link to the camera or lens that you use. Just link the one that you use, or that you talk about in your post. Listing 20 lenses to give readers options may sound like a good idea, but your post and recommendation will totally get lost in the mix and you’ll wind up converting nothing. Again, the main idea here should be helping your readers, not trying to get them to buy as much stuff as possible.
Why would someone use your link?
When you are placing an affiliate link, ask yourself the question: “why would someone click this link?” If you cannot answer that question, you probably shouldn’t insert that link. If you’ve offered an honest review of the product, or if you’ve talked about a positive experience with that product, you are giving your readers a reason to click the link. Just randomly putting a link with no background and your endorsement is obviously forced, you’re not going to get any activity and you will eventually lose readers because they will pick up on your lack of content and surplus of links.
Actually use/love the product.
If you can show yourself with the product, that will go a long way. If you have pictures of yourself using the product, your endorsement will be taken much more seriously. Obviously, an endorsement is much more believable when people can actually see you using the product. Unfortunately, there are so many money-driven endorsements and phony promotions of affiliate links, that when people see that you actually are using the product that you are endorsing, they are so much more likely to click your links. It is also important that you honestly love the product. When you endorse a product on your site, that product becomes an extension of your site. If you recommend a bad product, you’ll be certain that you will hear about it and your reputation for recommending useful, quality products will go out the window. Also, it goes without saying that it is in incredibly bad taste to knowing promote a bad product just for the sake of getting paid.
So in summary, only use an affiliate link if the link is adding value to the post. Disclose the affiliate links as paid links. Only use an affiliate link if you would purchase, or have purchased the product yourself. Ask yourself how the affiliate links are helping your readers. If you can’t answer it, re-evaluate your post.