I’ve been tentatively exploring various affiliate marketing options for my personal development blog. My thinking was that I might be able to make enough income as an affiliate marketer to be able to attend conferences and workshops that would help me improve my blogging and social networking skills and my blog content.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is another term for CPA (Cost per Action) Advertising. This is a form of advertising where the advertiser pays based on specified actions taken by the end user. Some examples would be filling out a form after clicking on the ad or purchasing a product after clicking on the ad.
Affiliate programs are revenue sharing arrangements set up by companies selling products and services. As a web site owner, one is paid a commission for sending customers to the company. Provided your blog has high enough traffic and the targeted audience for the products and services being offered , one can make income from affiliate programs based on a percentage for each sale.
Affiliate marketing programs
My starting point was reading Karen Cotton’s brief ehow article titled How to choose the best affiliate programs. I then read 32 other articles and along the way discovered that products that relieve joint pain, back pain, or migraine pain, self help books and programs, and those aimed at improving relationships are among the favorites in the personal development blogs niche.
First and foremost to achieve success in affiliate marketing you need to be knowlwedgeable about your product/service and be able to promote in the right way, at the right time, to the right audience. There are two approaches an affiliate marketer can take when it comes to choosing an affiliate product/service to market. The first approach is to choose to promote a product/service that’s currently in great demand and may sell quickly. The second approach is to choose a product/service that you use yourself and can vouch for. I decided that the second approach was the way to go as I believe it would be far easier to market a product/service that one is already familiar with and sold on.
I read all the common sense advice regarding selecting an affiliate program that has
- a website;
- a contract;
- detailed instructions;
- FAQs and support;
- and a good reputation with web site owners and product/service providers.
I learned about affiliate software – software that, at a minimum, provides tracking and reporting of commission-triggering actions (sales, registrations, or clicks) from affiliate links. And I also learned about two tier affiliate programs – affiliate program structure whereby affiliates earn commissions on their conversions as well as conversions of webmasters they refer to the program.
Affiliate marketing fraud and scams
There is a distinction between fraud and unethical activity and I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t get burned by either type of activity. So while researching I typed “affiliate fraud” into Google and the SERPs produced an infographic. I’m not posting it here as it’s oversized for my blog. The infographic was produced by Ace Affiliates and they provide reviews in the categories of credit cards, health, insurance, dating, retail, and web hosting.
Ace Affiliates is in the business of reviewing affiliate marketing programs so that publishers can make an informed decision about which affiliate program to join. We are a resource for all webmasters, from the relatively inexperienced individual who simply wants to know how to make money online to the experienced affiliate marketer who wants relevant reviews all in one place.
These are the risks identified by by Ace Affiliates:
1. Duplicating – creating a clone of a legitimate site.
2. Spamming – sending mass emails under the guise of a legtimate brand.
3. Squatting – creating a site under a common misspelling of a legitimate site.
4. Diverting – creating deceptive links that do not pay the intended affiliate.
5. Faking – creating the illusion of many clicks on an affiliate link to drive up earning on a CPC program.
6. Stealing – making purchases on a stolen credit card to earn bogus commissions or drain a merchant’s coffers.
These are the solutions identified by by Ace Affiliates:
1. Forums – Join a forum that shares information on fraudsters.
2. Communicate – Talk with affiliates about their business and tactics.
3. Blacklist – Maintain your own list of fraudsters.
5. Checking – Thoroughly check affiliate’s sites.
6. Approve – Avoid automated approvals when addining addiliates.
Source: Affiliate Fraud: The Risks and The Solutions
See also: 5 Examples of Affiliate Program Scams
Notes for WordPress.com bloggers
The information found at these links below will express the limitations with regard to advertising and affiliate progams re: WordPress.com blogs. WordPress.com blogs cannot be used to drive traffic to third party sites (TOS section 2, 5th bullet down) http://en.wordpress.com/tos/
- Types of blogs allowed and not allowed at WordPress.COM. Take particular note of this section.
Affiliate marketing blogs: Blogs with the primary purpose of driving traffic to affiliate programs and get-rich-quick schemes (“Make six figures from home!!”, “20 easy steps to top profits!!”, etc). This includes multi-level marketing (MLM) blogs and pyramid schemes. To be clear, people writing their own original book, movie or game reviews and linking them to Amazon, or people linking to their own products on Etsy do NOT fall into this category. http://wordpress.com/types-of-blogs/
- No blogger initiated advertising on free hosted WordPress.com blogs
- Purchasing a domain and domain mapping for it changes nothing if your blog remains free hosted by WordPress.COM
The Domain Mapping Upgrade does not enable the permission to use advertising, any kind of prohibited code, or upload additional themes and plugins. With the upgrade, your blog will still be hosted here at WordPress.com, which means that you will not have FTP access to your files and must still abide by our Terms of Service accordingly. http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/
- WordPress.COM versus WordPress.ORG
I’m undecided about whether or not I want to pursue affiliate marketing. I was turned off by the number of pop-up advertisments I experienced and by the appearance of the sites I visited. The only affiliate marketing program I have any interest in at this point is Amazon books.
As an Amazon affiliate you earn up to 10 % in commission for each sale you generate (normal commission is 8.5 %). Members of the Amazon book affiliate program get access to Associates Central – Amazon’s extranet for associates. Here you can build your links and see your traffic and earning reports. You will also get the latest news and find out about new opportunities available through the program.
1. Are you currently involved in an affiliate marketing program? If so, would you recommend it to others?
2. Have you ever been burned in an affiliate marketing program? If so, what happened to you?
3. Are you interested in affiliate marketing and if so, what kind of products/services would you be interested in marketing?