Anyone who takes the time to share their thoughts and opinions online would like to make a couple bucks for their time and energy. Joining an affiliate program is the easiest way to get started with blog content monetization. Blogs with as few as 25 page views per day to sites with over 100,000 page views a day can earn income through affiliate programs. Obvious disclaimer: the more readers you have the higher your chances of making money on your blog.
How they work: Affiliate programs allow bloggers to append tracking parameters to outbound links that point to partner retailer sites within their blog posts. When blog readers click through to the retailers site and transact you get a commission for the sale since you referred the reader to the retailer. Commissions can range from 5%-18% of each transaction amount. Retailers set their own commission rate – not all retailers within a network will have the same commission rate. Each retailer within and affiliate network also sets their own cookie window. Some set them at 15 days, others at 90 days. This window is the timeframe in which the transaction must occur in order to receive the commission.
I’ve been working with affiliate programs during my Online Marketing day job since 2008. Here is a rundown of the best networks on the market.
Old-Skool Networks: These networks require bloggers to log into the network to find content from their partner retailers to write about within blog posts. You can also find banner ads and text ads to embed on the site. Once you find content that you like, you copy and past the links (and creative if you’re using a banner ad). The problem with networks that operate this way is that it takes a lot of time to get the links inserted. Bloggers are hunting and pecking around the network for content that is relevant to their readers. Top networks that operate this way are Google Affiliate Network, LinkShare, Commission Junction, and Pepper Jam. Of these, Google Affiliate Network is my favorite, since it’s a Google product it’s fairly straight forward to use and they work with the major retail players in fashion, beauty, and home decor.
Super Fast, Automated Networks: As the heading suggests these networks are best for people who are short on time. The main players in this space are Viglink and Skimlinks (I prefer Viglink). When you become part of their network they begin automatically tagging your links, on your behalf, as affiliate links. This means you don’t need to log into their interface and find the right links containing the tracking parameters. On top of that, when you mention a retailer they partner with in a blog post, but don’t link to it – they will automatically insert a link for you. It’s so cool and super fast. The retailers these two companies partner with are not very industry focused, though they each work with over 13,000 retailers.
The Niches: Fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and home decor affiliate networks are popping up left and right. I haven’t worked with any, so I’m not sure how quick and easy they are to use. The main networks are Reward Style and Fashion Traffic. If you never divert from fashion and trend topics these networks will be perfect for you!
While there are many affiliate programs available, I recommend you begin with what you can manage. Sign up as a publisher with GAN and Viglink and test them out for awhile. If you have advertising space on your blog yuse GAN to find banner ads. Everyone should join Viglink (right now) because you essentially do nothing different, and you watch dollars flow in!
Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed this article. I welcome your comments and questions below.