When I started my first real blog, I was mostly blogging about my life living in Lima, Peru. A huge part of that was learning about the local cuisine, so I posted a lot of recipes for Peruvian dishes as I learned to cook them.
Well, it wasn’t long before I started getting emails and comments from people asking me where they could find all the ingredients I was using – it hadn’t really occurred to me that some of the spices and ingredients might be difficult to find.
So I did a little searching around, and found that Amazon.com sold quite a few of those ingredients (who’da thunk it??). So I got an Amazon affiliate account and started linking out to the products from my blog.
To this day, I still get sales from those links.
And I’m telling you this to so you’ll understand why affiliate marketing is such an AWESOME way of making money with your blog. For me, the key to making money with your blog is helping your readers, and if you can sell them something that will solve a problem or make something easier for them, it’s money in the bank, baby.
But not all affiliate programs are the same, and before you dive too deep into something you should know what you’re getting into. I’m going to go over some of the questions you should answer before you sign up with an affiliate program.
What Product Interests You?
This is one of the most important things – you don’t want to sell things that you aren’t interested in. In fact, for the most part, I don’t like to offer anything for sale that I haven’t already bought (or at least been given a sample of) for myself.
Of course, like I said before, you want to offer products that mesh with your niche. It really wouldn’t make sense for me to have links to exercise equipment on this blog, right? People who come here aren’t looking for exercise equipment, they want to know how to make a blog that makes money, so I offer products that I know will help them do that. I know the products work, because I use or have used them myself.
So make sure that you only offer products that you are interested in, that you trust, and that your readers will be eager to try.
What does the Sponsor Website Look Like?
When your reader clicks on the affiliate link on your blog, where do they go? The page they land on is called the “landing page” (go figure!). You might have found an amazeballs product to sell, but if the product landing page is ugly or unprofessional looking, your reader might say “ew” and click right back off of it.
And worse than not making the sale, you might lose a little of their trust if they think you’re sending them to some skanky part of the internet. So before you link out to a product, ask yourself:
- Is the site user-friendly?
- Are there images of the products available for viewing?
- Does it provide rich content?
- What are past and current visitors saying about the website?
Reputation is all you have in business. Make sure that you choose reputable sellers to partner with for affiliate promotions if you want to keep your readers’ confidence.
What is the Conversion Rate for the Product?
Conversion rates refer to the number of people who actually buy the product after clicking on your affiliate link. This is usually shown as a percentage, and you want it to be as high as possible.
Depending on the product, the seller may have conversion rates available – for example, they may tell you that they have a 4% conversion rate; that means that for every 100 people who click through to the landing page, four of them go on to buy the product.
That would be a pretty good rate, but if you want to turn a profit, there are other things to keep in mind.
What is the Average Order Volume?
The Average Order Volume (AOV) is the average amount of money that a consumer spends in a transaction. Depending on the product, it could be as little as a dollar or… well, as high as it can go.
You see, some sellers have “upsales” – you may link out to a single product, but once the person is on the seller’s page, they may be offered higher priced add-ons or additional products. And if they do purchase those items, you get the commission for that, too!
This is one of the reasons so many people love being affiliates for Amazon.com – have you ever noticed it’s almost impossible to just buy one thing once you’re there?? I might send someone there to buy some Peruvian spices, and before they’re done they’ve bought a new slow cooker, a back pack for the kid and the latest Stephen King novel – and I get paid for it all.
If the AOV for the seller is very high, you can still make good money, even if the conversion rate is low.
What is the Commission?
Now we’re talking about the real nuts and bolts – How much are they going to pay you for getting that sale? The commission rate, when combined with the conversion rate and the AOV will determine how much money you can make.
Let’s say that you get a program with a 10% commission rate. If the average order is $60, then you’ll make an average of $6 per order. Now, combine that with the conversion rate of (for example!) 4% – that means for every 100 people you send to the seller, you will average $36.
Of course, this is never going to be exact, because these are averages; a huge order one month may balance out a bunch of small orders another month. But this is a way to come up with realistic numbers to compare different affiliate programs before you invest a lot of time into it.
Let’s look at Amazon one more time – their base commission rate is only 4%, not very high compared to a lot of sites. But because it’s such a trusted site, and because people tend to buy more than they came for, if you send enough traffic, you can make a considerable amount of money if you send enough traffic. That’s why all these things need to be considered when you’re deciding on what programs to promote.
What Tools are Available?
I love sellers that provide lots of affiliate tools! These are all the goodies that the seller provides you with to help you promote their product effectively. It can include banner ads, text ads, coupon codes – all kinds of stuff! Some affiliate programs even provide you with text you can use in blog posts or in ads. One program I used to promote even provided keyword lists to use for writing blog posts and creating ads.
Also, make sure that the seller provides some support. It’s the WORST when you’re having trouble with your program, and can’t get any response from the seller! Lack of tools or lack of support means they just don’t care about you as an affiliate – I wouldn’t waste my time selling their product.
Is there Competition for this Niche?
If you’re already blogging and are looking for programs to promote to already established traffic, the competition isn’t going to be as important to you – you’re looking for products that will help the readers you’re already getting. But if you’re thinking of building niche blogs based around selling a certain product or type of product, you need to know how strong the competition is in order to determine if you can still earn decent money.
This is where keyword research will come in. You need to know if people are looking for the product, how they are looking for it (what keywords they use in search) and how many other people are already offering it to them. Also, take a look at other blogs that are already promoting similar products – how are they ranking? How attractive is their blog or website? How can you do it better or different?
There are sooo many different affiliate programs out there to choose from, and I guarantee you that no matter what you blog about, you can find something to fit your needs and your niche. Just make sure you do a little research ahead of time, and make sure the program you choose is right for you and your readers before you spend a lot of time promoting it.