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6 More Tips for Affiliate Marketing on Blogs

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of June 2009 Affiliate Programs 0 Comments

Almost four years ago I wrote a post here on ProBlogger with 10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs on Your Blog.

In that post I suggested the following tips:

  1. Consider your Audience – start with your reader when considering what to promote. Relevancy is key.
  2. Genuine Recommendations and personal endorsements always work best – recommendations of things you personally genuinely like are always best.
  3. Link to Quality Products – the better the products that you recommend the more your readers will thank you for suggesting it.
  4. Contextual Deep Links work Best – in general you’ll have more luck promoting a product from within a post than on a sidebar
  5. Consider positioning of links – links/banners that are in parts of your post/blog that where readers look work best (top of posts for example)
  6. Traffic levels are Important – the more eyeballs your promotion gets the better
  7. Diversify without Clutter – some products work better for some audiences than others – so promoting a variety of products can be good – promoting too many is of course not good.
  8. Be Transparent – don’t try to trick people into clicking your links. I’ve changed my stance slightly on this – I used to put (aff) next to any affiliate link but in the end found readers were just annoyed by it or didn’t understand what it meant. Now I use site-wide disclaimers to talk about it.
  9. Combine with other Revenue Streams – every blog is different, some will work better than others with affiliate marketing while others will work better with adveritising. However I find on many blogs advertising and affiliate marketing can work well in tandem.
  10. Track results – if you don’t have some way of working out how your promotions are converting you could be wasting your time.

As you can see – I’ve changed my opinion a little on the way that I express #8 but apart from that I still subscribe to all of the advice in that post. However I’ve also learned a lot more about affiliate marketing. In fact over the last four years the revenue that I make from affiliate marketing has continued to grow – to the point that it now probably makes up around a third of my online income (it varies from month to month).

So I thought it might be time to build upon the 10 tips above with some more lessons that I’ve learned.

11. Build Your Network Before You Need It

Perhaps the biggest thing that I’ve learned about affiliate marketing is that it works best the bigger and stronger your network is. I mentioned in my first list that ‘traffic levels are important’ – this is true, but connected to it is your ‘network’.

Whether it be loyal blog readers and subscribers, your email list, your Twitter connections, your Facebook friends or some other social network – the better your network the better you’ll do at driving affiliate sales.

It’s not just about size – the size of your network is only part of what I’m talking about here. Also important is the depth of relationship that you have with your network/readers and the amount of trust that they have in you. If you have consistently helped people and been useful to them over a long time they’re probably more likely to respond to your recommendations.

Relevancy/Focus counts – The other key part of your network is how relevant it is and how focused it is upon the topic that you’re doing promotions on. For example – I see some people on Twitter running competitions to build their follower numbers in a way that just brings in any follower that they can. The problem with this is that they end up with a large but unfocused network. I personally would rather have a smaller network who all shared the one interest than a large one who just signed up to get a prize.

Lastly, a network takes time to build – if you think you’ll be doing some affiliate marketing at some point in the future – start building your network now, before you need it. This gives you time to build the depth of relationships, trust and focus of your network before you begin promoting affiliate products.

12. Try different Mediums

I’ve alluded to this above already but one of the things that I’ve noticed over the last few years is promotions work differently on different mediums.

For example: some affiliate promotions seem to convert best in a blog post, others work best when you send an email to a list you’ve been building while others seem to take off on Twitter or other social media sites.

The key is to try different approaches, to have build up your network before you need it (see above) and to track the results for each promotion so you can check what is and isn’t converting.

13. Multiple Promotions of the same Product

I spoke about this at Blog World Expo last year in a session but don’t think I’ve written about it here at ProBlogger. Here’s what I’ve found:

If you write a single blog post promoting an affiliate product you’ll have a certain percentage of readers buy the product (the % varies a lot). If you are able to follow that up with a different type of post a few days later it can reinforce the promotion.

Here’s how I’ve done it on my photography blog:

  1. Blog Post 1 – a post announcing a new product, giving some benefits, sharing who the product is relevant for etc.
  2. Blog Post 2 – a post a few days later that is an interview with the person behind the product – exploring why they made it, expanding upon what it includes, who it’s for and giving the product context. I’d try to also include some tips or suggestions for readers who don’t buy the product in such an interview so it is a useful post for everyone.
  3. Email List – later in the week email out the subscriber list linking to the previous posts and reinforcing the promotion.
  4. Tweets/Followups – I would also include a few Tweets about the promotion through the week and would consider a 3rd blog post a week later – perhaps some reader reviews of the product.

The key is to not spam your network but to find interesting and useful ways to draw attention to the product multiple times over a week or two so as to reinforce it and give those who take a little longer to make a decision the opportunity to get the product.

14. Bonuses Work

There are many techniques that internet marketers use to increase sales of their products. I find some a little ‘cheap’ and ‘nasty’ but many do work. Two that I’ve found less offensive and/or manipulative are where you add value to the affiliate promotion by either adding a bonus of your own to the offer and/or getting the person behind the product to offer a bonus or discount just for your readers.

I’ve done this a number of times on my blogs and have found that conversions are significantly higher.

15. It takes Time

A theme that regular readers of ProBlogger will recognize is that making money from blogs (through any method) takes time. While an affiliate program does have the potential to make you a lot of money very quickly – it almost always comes after a lot of work and once you’ve spent a lot of time and effort building out your network.

The early days of building your network may see very little (if any) results. I personally earned very little from affiliate marketing in my first year or two of blogging but as I mentioned above in the last year or two it’s really begun to exponentially increase – partly as a result of getting smarter with my promotions but partly just as my network grew in size and quality.

16. Timing is Important

One of the things I’ve learned over the last week of launching my own product is just how much difference there can be in the rate of sales at different times of the day and week. It would vary depending upon the location of most of a blog’s readers but for me sales have been significantly up during business hours in the USA and on weekdays. No real surprises there.

The lesson translates to promoting products – unless the product has a real focus upon the type of people surfing the web on the weekends or late at night you’ll want to time your promotions to those times of the weeks that your audience is online. Similarly – avoid public holidays – this last week even though we launched the workbook 3 days after Memorial Day in the US I suspect we lost a few sales as some people took the week off.

What Would You Add?

I know that many readers of ProBlogger have experimented a lot with affiliate marketing. What advice would you add? What techniques have you used (or seen used) that work?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. It will take some time, especially to build your network. I guess we all need to maintain credibility and integrity with our readers and especially the loyal subscribers/visitors. They are quite important especially if we want to sell certain affiliate products that are not widely popular

  2. Great information you have added, actually doing affiliate marketing, I usually buy the product I’m promoting and when I write a review of it, I will usually take the product picture if it is physical product and if it is digital product I will take screen shot of the product download page so that my readers knows I did buy what I promote which lead them to believing my review is not fake or just wanted them to spend money on me.
    As you know there are many affiliate that does not buy the product and still write review of it and thus their review doesn’t add to the trust of the reader.
    Pictures is one kind of a great way to show believability and trust between you and the readers.

  3. I believe that the most important thing to remember is to be geuine. (“Genuine Recommendations and personal endorsements always work best “)

    Through blogging, you create your brand. This brand has a certain trust factor associated with it – your readers like you, and trust you when it comes to stuff related to your field of expertise.

    Therefore, it is your responsibility to live upto their trust.

    This means that you shouldn’t recommend any random product, even if it is in your niche. Recommend only the products and services that you have tried and liked.

    That, I believe, is the only way you can earn substantial sums through affiliate marketing in the long run.

  4. Hi Darren
    Superb post.
    Can you post anything that helps bloggers to create an e-book and keep it downloadable.

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc for blogging tips and hacks.

  5. For me, relevancy is the key.

    Create relevant niche blogs and sell related affiliate products.- works best for me.

    Imagine going to a blog about credit cards but the blogger is trying to sell you wordpress themes.. lol

  6. I guess I am too early stage to make much from affiliate marketing, but I have been training the guns.

  7. The only affiliate program I use is Amazon for books that I review.

    Personally, if I’m reading a review of a book, movie, etc I really expect the blogger to have an affiliate link. After all, it’s going to cost me to same amount, so why not let you take a commission? I guess someone could write overly positive reviews to get someone to buy – but if you’re going to do that, why not just pick a book/movie that you actually like?

    If I was going to have a multiple step marketing campaign, I’d probably disclose it in the post, unless it was pretty obvious. Most of the time, Problogger’s affilate marketing seems fairly obvious, in a good way – I don’t feel that you’re trying to dupe us into believing that there ISN’T an affiliate relationship.

  8. @BlogSEOExpert – SEO for Blogs: that’s one great comment and I have to agree, random recommendations might work for a short period, but in the long run, the more your readers trust you, the better.

  9. Being one who will devote a great deal of time these next few months monetizing my blog, I found this post very helpful.

    I liked tips 15 and 16. While most of society looks for a quick fix anything worth while takes time. Keeping this in mind during our quest is essential. Timing is also important. Daniel Scocco of Online Profits advises to never start promoting on the weekend as many choose to enjoy brainless activities after a busy week.

    I look forward to trying and implementing numerous strategies. :)

  10. I’ve been reading your book ProBlogger and I am very excited about the possibility of partnering with an affiliate program one day. I feel that I should wait until my daily traffic is a big higher though.

  11. Hi, Nice post as always, But i think one shouldn’t use Affiliate marketing at starting phase , it degrades blog’s reputation, but when our blog is popular, then this is a great source of income :D
    Thanks for the tips .

  12. Amazing lessons and truths about Affiliate Marketing on Blogs …

  13. im totally newbie to aff marketing, still trying to get decent traffic :)

  14. Darren, the only thing that I would add is that recession is likely to rapidly increase the number of companies who move from CPM advertising more towards ‘paid for results’ affiliate marketing.

    Therefore it is more important than ever that content website publishers should understand how to maximise affiliate revenues because they could quickly become their most important income stream.

  15. I’m still quite new to affliate schemes though I find that recommending quality products that I myself use, and most importantly, a product that is relevant to the target audience really does help with those clicks. I guess its all about marketing for the right crowd.

    Consequently, I signed up to affliate networks which have little to do with my blog, and its no surprise that nobody really clicks on them.

    I always tend to view my blog from the third person perspective, and try to scrutinise what’s good/bad with my blog. Most of the time, I just ask myself whether I would click on the ad that I’ve put up, I mean, if I think I won’t, then it probably means that most of my readers won’t either.

    Don’t you (Darren) always say that bloggers tend to attract like-minded individuals?

    Assume your audience is you, and apply techniques to wow yourself.

  16. Great continuation of the original post with some good new tips.

    I just blogged it and linked here for my 5 Star visitors to read.

    Thanks,

    Linda Buquet

  17. Targetting the right keywords that appeals the crowd whom is willing to buy is the key.

  18. Before any of these may work I believe an average of 1000 visitors per day is required. I may be wrong, what’s a good number of visitors do you believe you need to make any decent cash?

  19. Affiliate Campaigns in blog posts has bring me more than 800 clicks in just one month.

  20. You’ve covered it succinctly.

    A challenge is to diversify without clutter. It’s challenging, because we want to give the reader everything, that of course doesn’t work. I try to keep it simple, and go deep, not wide. I try.

  21. I am just getting started in comparing affiliate marketing opportunities but from a consumer or blog reader perspective, reviews and endorsements can be effective in getting conversions for affiliate marketing on blogs. I have been interested in a few programs based on the fact that one blogger wrote about her experiences with them whether those experiences were beneficial or not so good.

    She also posted photos every now and then showing the results of certain products or programs that she has used or tried out. After reading her observations, I weigh the options and decide on where to go from there. Reviews are the tip that I can give on Affiliate Marketing so far.

    Another helpful tip may be comparisons. Bloggers who are involved with affiliate marketing can take a few products or services and do a comparison between them, highlighting the advantages and the shortcomings of each product or service, kind of like a Pros and Cons list.

  22. I’ve yet to have much luck with the affiliate links, but I not giving up yet! :)

  23. Awesome post Darren. Thanks.

  24. I have one question about this, if you (or anyone) read through this, could you answer it in another post? Try to ask Darren on Twitter with no success. Here it goes:
    Is there a way to organize a large quantity of affiliate links in WordPress blog? I don’t suppose you have to sign in to the merchant site every time you need to insert the code? My blog is still new-born but wondering how the pro manage 30-40 affiliate program, pretty amazing? Care to share in a post in the future. Thanks in advance.

  25. We’ve just started to add a few affiliate links on our site but haven’t put a ton of effort into it due to lack of time. This has inspired me to make it a higher priority. It’s so hard to get discouraged by poor results when your new to something.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  26. Darren, I think you missed your calling. You should have been a teacher – your clarity and pace of thinking really suits your students.

    I can tell you that I am really enjoying your teaching.

  27. Darren, this is a great addendum to your previous post. I posted some tips for my clients / followers a while back that can be found here: http://www.cottonrohrscheib.com/blog/2009/03/31/my-approach-to-monetization/ and I was amazed that even I had a few things common w/ you in my approach. lol.

    I posted an addendum today as well w/ your tips, http://www.cottonrohrscheib.com/blog/2009/06/01/more-affiliate-marketing-tips/

    I just wanted to thank you for giving your time and knowledge back to your readers! You are one of about 5 folks that I actually recommend to my clients as a learning resource.

    Keep up the good work!
    Cotton Rohrscheib
    Partner, Co-Founder
    http://www.pleth.com
    http://www.cottonrohrscheib.com

  28. Darren, I am not sure if you have written about this in the past, but a list of his recommended affiliate programs could be really helpful. I know that you probably make private affiliate mentions most of the time, but if you have tried some affiliate networks with relative success, it would be great to know it

  29. It is very helpful. I guess I am not at the stage to consider affiliate marketing. I am still at my early stage to grow the traffic of the blog. Some tips of growing traffic fast would be very help to me too

    Big Lost Today on Stock Traders Blog

  30. Nowadays it is impossible to write a review about a product which we have not tried. The slightest words can give us away and potray us in bad light. Thumb rule: promote an affiliate product only if you believe that the product will be useful to your blog’ readers.

  31. Nice post, thanks Darren. Some solid ideas here.

  32. What do you have to write to get a response from Darren?

    It’s just a thought!

  33. Agreed, networks take time to build, forever it seems. But to be successful you have to have a large following.
    Regarding the bonus work — I wonder how you were able to get the person/company behind the product to offer a bonus for just your readers? Are you thinking like an outstanding product review for the product or what?

  34. Hi i posted a review on a circular polarizer on my photography website. What do you think of the review. Was it any good? It was more general talking about them all rather than a specific one. Is this a good idea? http://photofingers.blogspot.com
    I also a affiliate amazon link at the end of it!

  35. “Multiple Promotions of the same Product” makes a lot of sense to me.

    Thanks for sharing Darren!

  36. Integrity is everything. I don’t recommend a product unless it is something I would personally use or recommend to a friend.

  37. You make me happy with this post. i have been searching for best APs for my blog. i have found some, but waiting for the perfect timing to step in. my blog is still new but already picking up in terms of traffic.

    it needs time indeed, and maybe when time comes which is a month from now i will jump into the scheme.

  38. Deep links do really matter in terms of getting better traffic!

  39. I have been ohhing and aahing for the past year about getting into affiliate marketing. I’m finally going to do it and I’m hoping to find some good tips and help from this blog (and maybe a few others).

  40. I have been building a hanful of blogs for a year or so now. Content, good. Design, good. SEO, good. Focus and target audience for ads and affiliate marketing? Hmm.

    My problem is that some sites are UK based, but there just aren’t enough promo opps or traffic numbers for UK readerships. But if I target at the US too, then I am introducing links and products that might not be available to the UK.

    I hate that not enough blogs and sites ‘think local’, but until other countries catch up to the US programs, I’m not sure what the solution is.

    (Also just tweeted you this question.)

    Great tips in the article. Thanks!

  41. Hi Darren

    Thanks so much for your post. It summarize everything in a well organized and easy to follow order.

    I started monetizing my site 6 months ago, and I think I was so excited to start doing it, that I didn’t take enough time to evaluate what will be the best strategy of monitezation for my site.

    I would recommand strongly for anyone who is starting to monetize, to take it slowly, make sure you have enough traffic, quality contnet, some online credibility, and plan it wisely.

    Sharon

  42. Promoting the product through the post seems to work more effective than just put the ads on the sidebar.

    I love the #13 tips. Never thought about that technique. I guess when they’re more discussion and information about a product that we’re promoting, there’s a big chance to attract readers/visitors to buy the products =)

  43. A very apropos post. A few points:

    1). I recently completed the “30 Day Challenge” by Ed Dale and Dan Raine and it is awesome. I don’t know what’s in the water in Australia, but you guys crank out some superb marketers!

    2). I’m promoting affiliate products as a way to test my market before I either purchase products wholesale or create my own info product. My blog/affiliate offer needs some work though.

    3). I just posted a question on Warrior Forum, LinkedIn Answers, 4 Hour Work Week forum, and to Gyutae Park about how I can get 3 affiliate sales per day. Then I checked my Problogger RSS feed in Viigo and came across this post…. Coincidence? I don’t think so…

    4). A picture is worth 1000 words… as a follow-up to this post, why not show links of affiliate pages that are doing things just right?

    Thanks,
    Raza

  44. My advice is simply “Every Little Bit Helps”. By that I mean, don’t dismiss an idea or a method just because it no longer works well.

    For example, I’ve heard many people say to not bother with Adsense because it doesn’t work anymore. Well, maybe it doesn’t work as well as it used to, but that doesn’t mean don’t use it.

    How hard is it to throw an adsense ad on? Not very. That ad bringing you an occasional click is a lot more than you’d get from not having it at all. Every little bit helps.

    I’ve heard many times to not bother posting a comment when there’s been 10 or more already because no one will read down far enough to see yours.

    Okay, well I’m approximately comment number 43, so if I followed that advice I wouldn’t comment at all. But someone may read down that far and like the advice and maybe not.

    Maybe they’ll click through to my site, maybe not but that’s not the point. The point is that I have something that I consider to be valuable to contribute. Every little bit helps.

    Because all those “little bits” add up. I tend to agree with another marketer who would rather have a little bit coming in from multiple sources rather than a lot come in from a few sources.

    So don’t write off something because it doesn’t work well if it doesn’t take a lot of effort. Go for it and take whatever it gives you because that’s still 100% more than the zero percent from having nothing.

    Hmmm, maybe I’ll use this comment for my next blog post. :)

    – Jeffery

  45. I like it is not about size. This is very important with traffic. If you have relevant traffic you would make money from them. Bloggers should focus on relevant traffic and not on quantity.

  46. Point 13 seems pretty useful. I have to try it. So far my promotions were just a simple review.

    Thanks for the wonderful tip.

  47. wow is nice and good tips, thanks for share in here sir

  48. Darren-

    First, congratulations on your product launch. A lot of work for sure, that hopefully will reap a good reward for you. Thanks for reposting, adding to it, and opening the conversation to add further still.

    I just posted a review of a WordPress SEO product today, and incorporated video. We’ll see how today’s post does, but previous post results show that when using video, conversions and click-thrus are noticeably higher than without.

    While I agree with transparency, the truth is, we must make money to survive, so I think transparency suggested (through sitewide disclaimers) is a more balanced approach.

    Regards,
    Travis

  49. Thanks for the great post Darren, I have to think that the main factor with this has to be trust a good readership will go a long way

  50. very deep post, i am doing Affiliate Marketing in ukraine and russia, but when i read this post, i thing i need to work on some things i havent done yet

    thanks Darren, great post

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