This article is Part II of a series on How to Make Money from a Blog. The first article was How Do You Make Money from a Blog? A Beginner’s Guide to Internet Advertising.
Last week I talked about the different internet advertising models for making money from a blog: Affiliate Advertising, CPC Advertising and CPM Advertising. Let’s dive a little deeper into the details of affiliate advertising for bloggers.
Although you can put affiliate ads on your blog from day one, there are a few things that you need in order to make money from affiliate ads:
- You need an audience (site traffic) that is interested in a specific topic
- You need to select the right affiliate offer for site visitors
- You need to present an affiliate ad in a way that compels your visitor to click on it
- You need a tracking system in place to understand and analyze what converts into a sale with a merchant and what doesn’t
Step 1 :: Building a Targeted Audience
Although this is critical to the success of affiliate advertising, this basic step is important for all money-making strategies (and not just for blogging). You must have a specialized niche and topic for your blog that will draw a unique audience to your site.
This doesn’t mean that you can only write about one thing. Even though this is a home business blog, we’ve even gotten away with writing about Harry Potter, social networking for babies, and Nelson Mandela without ever straying off-topic – as long as you find a way to make a topic relevant to your audience, you can make it work (and never get bored writing!).
For more on building targeted traffic read:
An Introduction to Social Media Strategy and Socially Driven Content
My 8 Hours As A Blogging Socialite
Do You Have a Seasonal Search Engine Optimization Strategy?
Step 2 :: Selecting and Promoting the Right Affiliate Offers
I wish I had a magic one-size-fits-all answer as to how to know what is a great affiliate offer that will convert into a sale. But the only way to figure this out with your blog and your audience is to test, test, test. When I first started out, I thought that mail order home office products & furniture would be a natural fit with the site readers – I never made a penny off of the hours of work I put into building that dang affiliate store.
On the flip side, I also never would have thought that a measly $3 commission would ever add up to much. But I have found that this free local advertising listing offer from MerchantCircle.com has been a consistent revenue performer for all of my blogs for many months in a row, adding up nicely over the long haul.
For more on getting the right affiliate offer in front of the right visitor:
Affiliate Marketing Lessons Learned from Merchant Mistakes
How I Grew My Blogging Profits While My Traffic Numbers Went Down
Step 3 :: Ad Placement and Choosing the Right Ad Creative
While it is fairly easy to slap some banner code into your template, it’s not so easy to have that convert into an affiliate commission for your pocketbook.
Although I do have banner ads on my site, honestly the best way to get an affiliate ad to convert into a sale is within the text of your post. It’s especially important to “pre-sell” your reader on the product or service you are promoting. Reviews, testimonials, or how-to articles have been the best performing ways to promote affiliate offers. An example would be the recommended resources in Top 10 Internet Home Business Ideas You Can Start and Run in Your Underwear.
Generally speaking, text ads perform better than banner ads. But banners can and do work well, depending on your niche (the more tech-savvy your audience, the less likely they will click on a banner ad).
Other ways to promote affiliate ads, in order of best to worst performance:
- Place a text ad within a post, but separate from the content such as this:
- Place an ad between a post and your comment box. (Actually, I prefer to put Google AdSense ads here because the click-through justifies it).
- Place an ad in one of these areas recommended by the Google AdSense heat map (the darker orange is the preferred placement spots):
(Thanks to Beau for the reminder that Google has a different recommendation for blogs!)
For more on ad placement and advertising strategy:
Monetize Your Blog Like an A-Lister
Step 4 :: Track and Analyze!!!
The most valuable things I have gotten from blogging for a year and a half have come from the mistakes I have made. As I could see what didn’t work over time, I was able to adjust and change things to find out what did work.
As you build traffic, you can start analyzing the sources and understand what is the best place to promote your revenue-generating content. Social media traffic is fantastic for readership, page views, and SEO, yet is terrible for affiliate marketing.
Most affiliate networks will give you great stats in regards to how well your ads convert (from views –> to clicks –> to sales). Commission Junction gets my top award for the best analytics, which also offer trend graphs so that you can see your clicks, impressions, earnings, etc. over time.
For more on using analytics to optimize your affiliate advertising:
Increase Your Blog Revenue with Analytics :: Part I
Increase Your Blog Revenue with Analytics :: Part II
If you really want to learn affiliate marketing, there are two products that I recommend extremely highly – and put out by people who have made lots more money than I have at it. If you put into practice what these people teach, I guarantee you will make your money back and then some:
I can’t recommend this book more highly. Rosalind lives her mission to help other affiliate marketers succeed, she’s one marketer you can trust for great advice and her book really delivers what it promises.
For a more hands-on learning experience, try the Affiliate Classroom. They have a full resource site, tutorials, case studies and an active community of affiliate marketers. And considering you can try it for $1 for the first two weeks, you really have no excuse to not give them a go.