Your Blog Monetization Options: Part III - Affiliate Offers

Affiliate Ads

This is the third in my series on Blog Monetization Options. Previous Parts: Part I - Pay-Per-Click Ads, Part II - Affiliate Ad Widgets

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?

Posting an Affiliate OfferIn 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

Selling on Commission 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

There’s money in mud 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

Hot Pictures are common in this kind of advertising 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.

Conclusion

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.

 


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4 Comments »

Comment by Todd Morris
2007-12-08 23:43:01

Hi Frank,

In reading all three of your posts, I think I’m seeing a trend here … blog advertising is usually only effective if you’re getting a fair amount of traffic. What this says to me is, most of us would be better off really limiting the amount of advertising we display (in the beginning) and instead concentrate primarily on bringing in traffic. Am I “hearing” you correctly?

Comment by jfc
2007-12-09 00:18:59

Hi Todd,

Traffic is a big factor in monetization but not only quantity but quality. For example, I have some HTML mini-sites that do much better money-wise that either of my blogs but have less traffic. That’s because they have a high level of product orientation and have been around long enough to place well in search, particularly on long tail searches.

When to monetize is a common debate. I think it’s better to try things right from the start but others think build traffic and loyal readers first then introduce ads.

 
 
Comment by ivy
2007-12-10 01:06:01

When it comes to monetization, I think it depends on your strategy really, and the type of audience you want to reach. If you are starting a Make Money Online ad, your audience actually base your authority by number of subscribers AND the type of sponsors you have. So imagine if I go to John Chow’s site, and see him writing about Making Money Online, but don’t see a single ad on his site, I would question his authority on what he is writing.

However, look at Skellie (www.skelliewag.org). She has a different focus. Her style primarily consists of getting involvement from her readers and even with a healthy subscription rate, she is not showing any advertising until I suspect when she has enough traffic to know that she can make enough to live off her blog alone. But while her blog is also targetting people who want to make money online, she focuses on innovation and ideas. As a result, the loyalty and involvement of the fans to her blog is amazing.

It is true however, that as a new blog, its the catch 20 situation where you can’t get advertisers for your blog because of the low volume of traffic, and you can’t increase your traffic because people don’t want to spend time on a new blog.

It comes back to the age old idea that value is the key. As long as you keep providing good value and work on your SEO and blog promotion, it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you focus on your audience and build on their loyalty. They will be much more forgiving and enduring of times when you are experimenting and give you valuable feedback.

That said, just want to say a word of Thanks to you Frank, for taking the time to review all the different affiliate programs! I know how time consuming it can be and appreciate you taking the time to do it.

Cheers,
Ivy

Comment by jfc
2007-12-10 01:27:18

Thanks Ivy,

One of my goals with OpTempo is to experiment with the way blogs work both from the getting traffic and monetization perspectives. That’s why I’ll go against some trends, like doing a 200 post blitz or using huge sidebar ads rather than the ’standard’ block of 125×125 ads.

One of the nice things about blogging is that you can experiment without investing a significant amount of money like you have to with Pay-Per-Click campaigns or online sales/eBay. All it takes is investing the time.

 
 
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