In this series I’m seeking ways for the small time blogger to develop a modest cash flow of $100 to $200 a month with their blog. We know the big time A Listers rake in a lot of cash but what can those of us toward the bottom of the list do to monetize effectively? In this part, I’ll be looking at affiliate offer programs and what I’ve observed about them.
What are Affiliate Offers?
In general, an affiliate offer is an ad you run where, if the user clicks on it and takes an action, such as a purchase or providing lead information, you get paid. These ads are often called Pay-Per-Action or Pay-Per-Purchase. The commission on these ads generally runs between about a dollar or two for a good zip code or email lead to over $100 for large product purchases.
One thing to note about these offers is that often they’re restricted to the US. This can be a problem for those who live elsewhere in the world. However, some providers are offering country specific offers beyond the US so check for them.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of providers for these ads, some good and some not so good. They’re generally segmented into 3 areas, commissioned product sales, digital services and affiliate marketing, although there is some crossover. Let’s look at a few that I’ve dealt with and you can add any others you’ve dealt with in comments (no affiliate links please).
Commission Junction and Shareasale
These two services primarily provide offers that pay a commission for the sale of a product. Merchants typically approve or disapprove of your site on a case-by-case basis before you run the ads. If they don’t like your site for any reason, you’ll be rejected. However, some do approve automatically.
My observation about these two providers is that Commission Junction has a wider variety of advertisers, including big names like eBay, but that they’re far more picky about who they will accept. You’ll also find service complaints about CJ as well if you Google for it. Shareasale has fewer opportunities but acceptance by merchants is usually easier.
The key to making money with these ads is the same as with the affiliate widgets I mentioned in the previous part: a product orientation, loyal readers and well targeted new visitors from search engines. If you have these ingredients with well placed ads you should make more money than you would with Adsense in the same slot. If you don’t, you probably won’t make much at all.
Clickbank is the home of the get-rich-quick eBooks and other digitally delivered products. You’ll find a huge amount of sleaze here along with a little decent stuff. The real money to be made at Clickbank is in selling your own digital product, not in selling other people’s products. Turning your pillar posts into an eBook and putting it out here with a little hoopla can make a nice profit.
Using the affiliate, or hop, links really won’t do much for you in most cases. Unfortunately the vast majority of the offers are sleazy and using them will make your blog look sleazy too. Incorporating one of these offers into a pseudo-review post is generally how people try to sell these. I find this a bit too sleazy for my taste but it may work better than just plain text links in a sidebar.
The commissions paid are usually good and there’s no qualifications required beyond just the initial sign-up to run the offers. However, there are payment rules that must be met. These can delay payment so make sure you read the fine print.
The bottom line is that there is some money to be made here but you may feel like you need a shower afterwards.
Azoogle, Copeac and NeverBlueAds
These ad brokers are geared more toward Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns linked to product landing pages than blog advertising. Here’s where you’ll find a plethora of ringtone and dating ads, ”Win a Free iPhone” survey offers and the like. These ads can really bring in the dollars when coupled with a well crafted PPC campaign but do they work for your average blog?
In my experience, no, they do not at the average traffic and click-thru rate of a blog. They might be an option for certain blogs, perhaps ones concentrated on a hot product area like dating advice, but your average blogger would do better elsewhere. I’m running 5 of these ads in my sidebar right now and they’ve seen the least clicks of all the sidebar links.
I’d say hook up with these 3 companies if you want to do PPC affiliate marketing, they’re great for that, but they won’t be much good for monetizing your blog.
Of course, there are several other affiliate ad brokers and programs out there. Some are targeted toward particular niches and some are more generalized. Always check the reputation of these companies because there are plenty of quick-buck scammers who’re in this market.
As I mentioned, the key to making these offers work is having a sufficiently sized audience that’s receptive to them and getting search traffic looking for product information. Without these components, your earnings from these ads will be less than other options.
Have you had success with affiliate offers on your blog? Have you thought about trying them. Leave a comment and let me hear your thoughts.