Is it a good idea to use a blog for affiliate marketing?
This was one of the questions that I happened to answer on Quora a few weeks back. And it wasn’t the only question asking if blogging is a part of affiliate marketing.
The internet marketing niche is a confusing one.
The many aspects like digital marketing, content marketing, blogging, affiliate marketing etc., all confuses you to an extent that you don’t know if they are similar to each other or, are different from each other.
The fact is that a lot of these terms are actually interchangeable and can be used in lieu of the other. Some of them are even overlapping to a great extent.
For eg: blogging is a subset of content marketing and content marketing is a subset of digital marketing. Similarly internet marketing envisages pretty much all of these.
So, how is affiliate marketing connected to blogging, you ask?
We will be discussing it in detail but to begin with, keep in mind that “Blogging is one of the many channels that affiliate marketers use to promote their products and probably one of the most effective ones”.
In fact a lot of the successful affiliate marketers use blogs as the single channel to promote their affiliate products. We will look at how some of them are using their blogs, but before that let us look at why starting a blog for affiliate marketing is the best strategy.
Why should You Start a Blog for Affiliate Marketing
If you are looking at building an affiliate marketing business as a source of passive income, then it is important that you set your channel of promotion up for the long term.
And off all the promotion methods, blogging is the one that can be permanent and the most reliable.
Let me explain.
I started affiliate marketing in early 2006 and I preferred to go with YouTube.
I spent hours putting together videos that were informational and subtly promoted a few affiliate products. The videos ranked on the first page of Google and revenue started coming in.
But then, some crook somewhere raised a flag with YouTube saying one of my video violated a policy guideline. YouTube claimed to have sent a couple of emails to me but I never received those.
And YouTube suspended my channel with the 25 odd videos and in spite of repeated requests and appeals they never restored my channel.
So with that channel went all the income from it as well.
Imagine the frustration when you build something and you do not even have control over it.
It is this limitation that an affiliate marketing blog addresses.
There are more such benefits in starting a blog for affiliate marketing. Let us look at these benefits in detail.
Benefits of starting a blog for affiliate marketing
It is normal for bloggers to run affiliate promotions on their blog. They already have an audience for their content and when that is an engaged audience it makes sense for them to promote affiliate programs on their blog as another way of monetizing their blog.
That is the blogging model.
While there are other monetization methods too, that blogs adopt, affiliate marketing is something that is an inherent part of the blogging model.
And why shouldn’t they?
If they can earn a few hundred or, thousand dollars by just putting a few affiliate links on their blog, why wouldn’t a blogger want to do that.
And when we talk about starting a blog for affiliate marketing, it is this exact same model that we are going to replicate. Albeit, with the only difference that our blog will have an objective of promoting some specific affiliate products on it.
In fact our plan involves first selecting the products to promote and then setting up a blog unlike in the case of a blogger who already has a blog and it is then that he picks the affiliate products to promote.
So, why is it that we are recommending a blog to run your affiliate marketing business?
What are the benefits of starting a blog for affiliate marketing?
Let us look at these benefits one by one.
Easy to setup
WordPress is the preferred platform for bloggers and WordPress has come a long way since 2006 when I started my first blog. Their famous 5 minutes install which hasn’t changed a lot in spite of the platform going through a lot of changes, is one of the primary reasons why bloggers prefer WordPress.
Or, if you don’t want to go through the hassles of downloading and uploading, then pretty much every hosting provider has these ready-to-install option which is a one-click solution to installing WordPress.
Here is how it looks on Hostgator.
All you need to do is a few clicks and input some information and your affiliate marketing blog is up and running.
Easier to rank
A blog is easier to rank in comparison to that of a YouTube video.
Some of you might disagree with me, but it is true.
With Google’s ever changing algorithms and how they have changed the way they treat video and YouTube videos in specific, the only option you have to rank your videos is to upload your video, do the basic SEO and then pray that the rest of the metrics like watch time, engagement etc. favors you and your videos rank.
But in the case of a blog for affiliate marketing, there is a lot more control over how you could get your articles to rank.
On page optimization, off page optimization, building backlinks, buying expired domains with authority, building social signals etc. are just some of the things that you could do to get your site and your pages ranked on Google.
My experience with YouTube taught me that, “you shouldn’t entrust the responsibility of rearing your children to somebody else. If you do, then don’t complain about their tantrums”.
YouTube is an amazing place to build your authority and your fan base. But everything that happens there is still beyond your control.
And when it comes to affiliate marketing, what you are promoting might seem absolutely legit and genuine to you but might not be the same for YouTube and their guidelines.
Also, not all of the viewers there are well-groomed human beings. Some are pure mischievous brats, who can hit that “thumbs-down” button just because they happened to come across the video on a Monday and on Mondays they are generally in a bad mood.
In fact, I came across one such guy in a meetup, who was going ga-ga over how he reports channels for some lame reasons, how he down-votes videos and how he uses services to generate worthless traffic to videos so that they can be taken down. And all this just to prove that YouTube can be hacked.
Would you really want to take that risk?
With a blog, the biggest advantage is that you have complete control over everything. Nobody can tarnish your blog’s image and nobody can take down your content except in the case of a hacking attack, which too can be prevented using a good security plugin.
Blogs give you complete flexibility on pretty much everything.
Outdated content can be updated, affiliate links to products that are no longer being sold can easily be replaced and every one of the action of your blog visitor can be tracked and analyzed. No other promotion method gives you this kind of control and flexibility.
I have forgot the count of how many times I have changed some of my affiliate links.
In fact it isn’t uncommon for companies to switch off their affiliate programs. And when they do, they will just send you an email asking you to make the changes required at your end in order to divert the traffic elsewhere.
Changing your affiliate links is a breeze especially when you are using a cloaking tool or, plugin like Thirsty affiliate. You don’t even have to search which posts and pages have the links. All you need to do is change the destination link in your thirsty affiliate dashboard for the cloaked link.
Similarly in some of the niches like technology, things change fast. And this might require you to update your content so that your content doesn’t look obsolete. Doing that with your blog is again very simple.
Email List Building
Of all the activities involved in setting up an affiliate marketing business, traffic generation is the most difficult.
It takes a lot of effort, time and money to generate traffic and to send them to your affiliate pages.
But the biggest problem is that, unless they are made to see the same offer a few times, they don’t buy. According to a study by Episerver,
Most transactions don’t happen during an initial visit to a website. According to their report, nine out of ten (92 percent) consumers visit a brand’s website for the first time to do something other than make a purchase. Even when visiting a brand’s website or mobile app with the intent of purchasing, a third (32 percent) of consumers rarely or never make a purchase.
So how do you ensure that you make the most of every one of those visitors coming to your site?
That is by capturing their details; by building a list.
In fact, most sales in affiliate marketing happens in this list in comparison to the number of sales that happen directly from the blog.
And this is one of the biggest and the most important benefit of using a blog for affiliate marketing.
Strategically place them at different places. For eg: you could place them on the sidebar, inside your content, as a lightbox optin or, even as a hello bar.
Put a few good lead magnets in place and offer them to your subscribers in return for their email.
Once you have built a list, send regular emails and engage with your subscribers. You can subtly promote affiliate products to your subscribers in these emails.
How profitable is your email list will depend upon how engaged your list is. And if you want to learn how to do that, I would recommend Andre’s email marketing course.
How to promote affiliate products on a blog
Now that we know the benefits of starting a blog for affiliate marketing, let us look at some of the marketers who use a blog for affiliate marketing and how they are promoting affiliate products on their blog.
You can put together a resources page on your blog, with the products and services that you are using and would strongly recommend.
You can keep adding to this page. But at the same time, ensure that you write a few lines on why you recommend that product and how it has helped you.
One of the best example is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income. He has a resources section which primarily recommends affiliate products. These are products that he is using or, had used in the past.
Another way is to add banner ads in your blog sidebar. This is a nice way to get people to click over. There are a few things that you might want to keep in mind.
- Don’t clutter your sidebar too much unless you are planning to sell banner ads on your site
- Use the conditional appearance option for widgets to display contextual banner ads to specific posts
- Ensure your banner ad isn’t a distraction to your content
Contextual recommendations have the best probability of being clicked. So I would recommend you only show contextual banner ads.
I particularly like the clean look on the sidebar and how it does not distract you from the real content, but at the same time subtly tells you that “I am here”.
Another method of promoting affiliate products is to write review posts on you blog. This is one of the most common methods of promotion used by most bloggers.
There are a few advantages to this method. Since “product+review” is a buyer keyword and anybody searching for this term will have a high buying intent, the conversion rates can be really high.
Also, since competition for such keywords are generally low, you could easily rank for such terms.
But then the success of such posts depends on how well you write your review and how well you present it.
Authority Hacker does it in a very engaging way.
In Menu Recommendations
This is another innovative way of recommending products. Though I haven’t seen a lot of blogs doing it, Shout Me loud does it in a nice way.
They add a menu item which doesn’t hide the fact that it is a recommendation. When you click over to the page, you will either find a review, a comparison or, a straight recommendation with the features and benefits explained.
If you have an engaged audience, then this is an excellent way of promoting affiliate products and at the same time helping your readers.
In post affiliate links
This is something that I recommend to my students a lot.
I have always believed that recommendations are well done, if it is done contextually. The probability of you clicking over to a product that is in context to what is being discussed is much more and hence the conversions are always better.
And, if a visitor to your blog is spending a few minutes to read your post, it essentially means that he is engaged with your post and liked what you are talking about.
Wouldn’t that be the best time to subtly promote a product?
Imagine you have a post on “How to buy the right Air Conditioner – a buyer’s guide” and during the post you recommend a good voltage stabilizer. Wouldn’t the chances of them clicking through and buying the stabilizer increase?
This a post on Content Marketing at Copyblogger. Look at how they promotes Convertkit as they are discussing email marketing.
In post links work really well and most bloggers make money recommending affiliate products using this method.
Conclusion – Over to you
Starting a blog for affiliate marketing has a lot of advantages and I am sure you would have understand the value of using a blog, in this post.
If you have any questions or, need any help I would love to answer those. So do reach out to me.
Now its over to you.
Take action, start a blog and start your affiliate marketing business today.
So which out of these do you think is the best way of promoting affiliate marketing products in your blog?
Comment below and let me know.
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