Right, you’ve started your new blog or website. You’ve published your articles and fine-tuned the product pages (if you have any). Everything looks rosie (well, in your garden anyway). Traffic is building nicely on your site due to the fantastic digital marketing efforts you have sweated over. Right?
There’s one minor detail missing. It’s one of the main reasons you started this blog or website in the first place. You wanted the freedom to work whenever or wherever life took you. You wanted more choice, to break free of the 9-5 chains that kept you rigid. Can you remember what’s missing? It’s monetization of course! What the heck is that you may ask. Many bloggers or web owners at some point will try to turn their site traffic into profit. Simple! Really?
As your traffic builds so do the opportunities to monetize. If you can do this in a calculated and strategic manner, it will pave a path for you to make a passive income online. I use the word ‘passive’ very loosely here.
When I say passive income, what I really mean is, in the beginning, you must work really hard, lay down the foundations, improve onsite user experience, signpost a clear navigable path for users to easily convert. These steps are essential if you are to have any chance of making money online, let alone working for yourself at home.
Maybe it’s wrong of me to throw focus on monetization from the start but if it’s built into the strategy, the future planning of your blog or website, then the transition to monetization will be smoother. Earning an income online is more often than not a byproduct or even an afterthought of web growth. The way I usually look at it is traffic=eyeballs. Strategically planned relevant traffic=monetization.
One of the most popular methods used to make money online is through Affiliate Marketing Websites. It is a powerful medium and when implemented in the correct fashion it can yield generously. In the beginning, it is essential to research the Affiliate Programs that will add value to your blog. Be sure to match Affiliates to your topics.
It wouldn’t make sense to pepper your Dog Grooming article with Affiliate Links pointing towards Human health products. The conversion rate would be dire. On the other hand, complementing your article with Affiliates such as Doggy Shampoo or Canine healthcare products would be the clever thing to do. While traffic to your website is so important, matching the right Affiliates with the right content and engaging that traffic is golden.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the good, bad and ugly of Affiliate Marketing. There are some great resources available online and we at Web Income Tips are no different. We offer as you as much help as possible. Enjoy the read!
What is Affiliate Marketing?
My apologies for not explaining affiliate marketing sooner, especially if you are new to it but I wanted to lay a foundation that supports the importance of a well thought out website or blog.
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is when a brand or a merchant pays affiliates (users who promote the merchant’s products like YOU) a commission when new users purchase from the merchant website. Normally speaking an affiliate will only get paid after a transaction has been made.
Affiliate marketing is based on performance. The more users you refer to the merchant website that purchase, the more commission you can make. It’s a simple model that works.
What is an Affiliate Program?
To keep it simple, affiliate programs or associate programs are an agreement between an online merchant website and an affiliate website (you), that offers a commission in return for site visits, engagement or purchases.
Payment is based on the affiliate programs commission levels. In a nutshell, they pay you to send converting traffic to their website. There are many programs available from general products or services to product-specific niches that cater to specialist websites.
Some affiliate programs pay by the number of visitors that visit their website via affiliate links or banners placed on your website. The affiliate program supply creative banners or links with an affiliate code embedded into its url. This is essential for tracking conversions.
Brands offer affiliate programs as it is a fantastic way to sell products online. It is a cost-effective way for them to implement a far-reaching marketing strategy.
What is an Affiliate?
If you have a website or a blog that meets the criteria of an affiliate merchant, you can become an affiliate of their products or services quite easily. The goal of any affiliate (in our case anyway) is to introduce a product or service to an online audience who may complete a transaction/purchase on the merchant’s website.
Many bloggers will promote affiliate programs as it’s a popular strategy to monetize their blog or website. They may review a particular product or feature a new product that relates to a topic they are writing about.
A reader or user can click a hyperlinked piece of text or a banner ad within the content to enter the merchant site. The blogger will use a unique piece of tracking code that the affiliate program has supplied. This code tracks the source of the purchase and can attribute the purchase to the affiliate.
The Reality of Affiliate Marketing Websites
Affiliate marketing is a very real business strategy that enables monetization of your website or blog. Many people choose blogging as a pastime as the attraction of working from home is very enticing.
Before we go any further I’d like to bring to your attention a little caveat of mine on affiliate marketing success stories. Beware of those Gurus and Mavens out there who claim that thousands of dollars can be made monthly by doing very little. Run as fast as you can from these guys cos they certainly aren’t making it themselves. This is pure BS.
Now, don’t get me wrong, thousands of dollars can be made but you must work hard to get it. You must plan, plan, plan. How do you think all that engaging traffic comes to your blog or website in the first place? Clever planning, logical strategies, creative thinking and consistent slog is what attract them.
6 things we like about Affiliate Marketing Websites
- The majority of affiliate programs are free to sign up to. This is fantastic for those of your who want to keep your Blog/Website costs down at the beginning.
- The product is already there waiting for you. Plug it in and play!
- There is no need for you to store zillions of ‘Widgets’. You don’t ship, the merchant does.
- You can work from home and decide your own hours. Don’t forget the wifi.
- This is a fantastic way for bloggers to make an income. You have already built the platform. The affiliate products or services can be added at any time.
- With the right marketing strategy in place, you can potentially make a nice passive income that works for you 24/7.
6 things we don’t like so much about Affiliate Marketing Websites
- Traffic. We need to build a website that attracts people, potential buyers. This takes time and effort. If you are willing to put in that time then go for it, you won’t regret it.
- Choose quality merchants that have a good reputation. Do your research, check out the reviews. Bad quality products or service will kill your hard earned credibility.
- There can be a lot of competition for some of the more popular affiliate programs. Make sure your marketing is better than your competitors!
- As an affiliate, you don’t have any input into how the merchant conducts its business. There has to be much trust on your behalf.
- Beware of companies that don’t pay too easily. Although you get a unique tracking URL, it can be difficult to track the user once they leave your website and enter the merchants.
- Up Selling or reselling can be a little difficult as the merchant holds all the cards. They effectively have all the buyers information. Many good affiliate programs will compensate affiliates for additional purchases.
Affiliate Marketing Websites – 4 Steps you need to make (maybe 5)
There are many steps that can be taken to become a successful Affiliate Marketer. Running Affiliate Marketing Websites or Blogs is one thing but running them as high converting affiliate sites is another. I have highlighted the steps that I feel are the most important to get you up and running. It’s a learning process, so don’t be afraid to learn.
1. Review the Products in Your Niche
There are many affiliate programs available to would-be affiliates like you. The key here is to match a merchant with your Niche. Make sure the products have relevance to your onsite content. Try out the product for yourself. Test it, disassemble it, smash it.
You are only as reliable as the product you are selling, so be careful. Do whatever you have to do, so that you can give it the credibility it needs to sell. You can’t sell anything easily if you don’t believe in it.
2. Generating Traffic to Affiliate Marketing Websites
I mentioned the dreaded word ‘Traffic’ earlier. This is the lifeblood of all Affiliate Marketing Websites, you need to understand this. The reality is, that if you have no traffic you have no sales, period. Traffic constitutes a user that ‘magically’ appears on your website. They don’t have to do anything to fall under the collective term of ‘traffic’.
So how do you get traffic to your website? This is a very specific question that requires a very broad answer, for now. We will address all aspects of traffic generation later with a breakdown of all digital channels worthy of using.
There are many ways to generate traffic online. Firstly, let’s not confuse traffic with ‘traffic’. In my experience, you will get traffic or users arriving on your website that doesn’t convert. Not everyone is a warm lead and wants to purchase.
Some users are in consideration mode, some are curious, some are just bored but some are warm and are looking for a solution that you may offer. The ‘warm’ users, as well as the consideration mode users, are the guys you want. They have landed on your website at a time that they are most likely to make an action.
The others although are at a different stage of the sales/consideration process may or may not carry out an action other than bounce off. They might be the wrong type of traffic altogether.
Your main focus should be towards those ‘warm’ users who show interest but not discounting those colder prospects either. Colder prospects can always be converted at a later stage. We’ll show you how.
3. Affiliate Marketing Websites must deliver
When a user visits your website, your job is to make them feel as welcome and as comfortable as possible. You have an average of 3 seconds to convince that user to stay. Otherwise, they’re off to one of your competitors, fact!
There are hundreds of businesses, websites and blogs fishing the same waters for traffic as you. Many of them are powered by nice shiny affiliate links and banners, just like you. If you can hook a user, hold on for dear life, don’t let go!
Creating a User experience that keeps the user hooked can be a complex process. The irony is that although the process itself is complex, the end result for the user is simplicity. They cry out for simplicity.
They need to be told what to do, and what I mean with that is a website that is clearly signposted with no surprises. We will visit the complex world of User Experience in a later post. I just wanted to flag it as a must when implementing an affiliate website that will work!
4. Build an Email list
This is possibly one of the most important strategies you will implement in your quest to monetize your blog or website. Make sure you give ample opportunities for a visitor to subscribe. Offer a monthly newsletter, a free email course, free discount codes, a competition. Offer value in exchange for that beautiful shiny email address. Remember Reciprocity, it pops up everywhere.
When a user signs up or opts in, you can market to them with all of your offers. They have agreed in advance to receive your communication so utilize that privilege.
Keep your audience engaged by sending them regular updates and offers, say one per week/per month but don’t overwhelm them. Choose your moments and offers well.
Be sure to include a clear call to action and a link to your affiliate products in every email marketing campaign. Users love to be told what to do next. Users who have to keep guessing, usually unsubscribe. Fact!
If treated with respect your email list can become the goose that lays the golden egg. These users have already agreed for you to engage with them. Good chance that they didn’t land on your website by accident, so, therefore, they are warm prospects. Keep them that way.
(5) Oh and most importantly…
One of the most powerful tactics that I would highly recommend is reciprocity, especially within the Affiliate Marketing arena. Reciprocity simply means an exchange of something with others for mutual benefit.
How does Reciprocity work on your website or blog?
Well, there are many ways you can add value to the customer experience. One of those is giving users something in return for them making an action on your website. If they kindly hand over their email address, what are you going to give them?
Samples of added value would be a discount code for future purchases, a free ebook, a free course, something that adds value. Give them something that makes them feel that they have received more than they have given. That’s reciprocity. It works so well when it comes to affiliate marketing. Get creative!
There are many simple things you can do to make your website more sticky. The list below features some of the suggestions that will help improve your conversion rate thus helping your affiliate earnings.:
- Make the Website easy on users eyes – No surprises here. Do what you say you are going to do. Choose your colors and brand well. Think of you website as a physical shop. What would you do?
- Update it regularly – Keep it fresh, don’t stagnate. Users and Google don’t like this.
- Make the content engaging – Give your users an excuse to hang out on your website with great articles and video content for them to consume.
- Keep the website simple and easy to navigate – Signposted navigation. This is how users like it. Let the website think for them.
- Provide Value – Remember reciprocity?
Key Affiliate Marketing Takeaways
Know your Niche – Be comfortable with the Niche you choose.
Find an affiliate program that works for you – Be sure that they offer a commission rate that enables you to reach your goals. There is no point promoting a product that yields very little.
Be sure to research the affiliate program. Review what others say and choose wisely.
Is there enough traffic in your Niche? Do Keyword Research often.
Are your money pages optimized for the Keywords you are chasing?
Is your website easy to navigate?
Does your website convert?
Measure everything. Install Google Analytics, its free!
To be a successful Affiliate Marketer, you must work at it. Don’t expect instant results, they don’t exist. Come up with a strategy that you can stick to and at the same time change if need be. The best strategies are always evolving. Listen to your audience, understand their needs and give them what they want.
Whether you are Starting Your First Blog or Website, learning the ins and outs of digital marketing or anything related to making money online, Web Income Tips are here to help you. Just ask!