So you’ve decided to monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, and you’ve chosen an affiliate network that’s right for you, your blog topic, and your audience. And that affiliate network offers you all kinds of “creatives” you can use to promote products and services that you’re willing to stand behind. There text links, and banner, and widgets oh my. Now the question that remains is “what are you going to do with all of it?”
It’s easy to pack your blog full of ads, but that’s necessarily going to roll over well with your readers. You’re going to need to keep a few things in mind so that you don’t disrupt user experience and lose the traffic that it possible for you to become a successful blogger and affiliate marketer in the first place. Well, depending on what your blog topic is and the range of products you’re promoting as an affiliate marketer, you have a couple different options.
Now, just about every affiliate program will offer you text links, and these are great to put in the body of your posts. The only catch is that the affiliate program you belong will probably have to have an array of products for it to be worth your time.
For example, if I have a travel blog and I join the affiliate program for a travel site, then I’ll be able to get text links for hotels and flights no matter what I’m blogging about. Whether I’m blogging about the Top 10 Caribbean resorts or a new tourist attraction in NYC, I can name drop a few different airlines and hotels that my readers might want to consider if they’re planning such a trip.
If you’re promoting a more narrow range of products on your blog, however, you might find text links less useful. For example, if I only blog about iPhone Apps, I can’t reasonably link to a site that discount iPhones in every post. For starters, it will suggest that I’m suggesting that that page is the most relevant page for iPhones, and that will erode my credibility as an authority blogger. Furthermore, it will look kind of ridiculous that have the same keywords as a hyperlink all the time.
Flash and GIF banners are a bit more straightforward in their implementation. Basically as long as you don’t plaster them all over your site, and keep them in places that are appropriate for a blog ad, you can’t go wrong.
In addition to the usual header and sidebar banner place, however, blogs offer you a couple other options. For instance, you can place an affiliate banner between the text and the comment section of a post. First, banners there won’t clog up your index page. Second, the users that will see them are the engaged ones who have already clicked through to the individual post. This way, you can make sure that active (rather than passive) users see your banners, without eroding the user-experience of your index page.
Another place to, er, place affiliate banners is in your RSS feed. The advantage of RSS ads is two fold. First, the readers that are going to see it are the regulars that subscribe to your feed. This means that they already enjoy and trust your content, and are that much more likely to defer to your recommendation.
More importantly, because an RSS feed is void of all design elements, a banner stands out that much more. Your readers, then, are bound to notice them. Consequently, if you’ve been doing your job of maintaining their trust and showing them products that are relevant to your content, your RSS affiliate ads should convert relatively well.
Instead of using your sidebar real estate on regular flash or GIF affiliate ads, consider widgets. These often rotate products everytime the page refreshes, and will show your readers products based on their geographic location.
Provided you’ve joined an affiliate program that has a wider range of product offers that are relevant to your content, then, widgets can be effectively way to keep your sidebar looking fresh. This dynamic affiliate marketing tool will help prevent your trusting readers from going banner blind, and keep and eye on real estate other than the post content.
Now remember, the trick to being a successful affiliate blogger is tied up with why bloggers can make such affiliates in the first place: you have an established rapport of trust with the community that you’ve built around your content.
So when you’re considering where to put what affiliate marketing tools where, you have to keep it clean. You have to respect that community and its experience. If you try to spam them with affiliate links, you just end up spamming your own site, and before you know it, your readers are gone and you haven’t made a dime.
Rather, approach affiliate blogging as you would a good friend. As an affiliate blogger, you must always think relationships before sales. Make the products you promote add value to the relationship you have with your community instead of sapping value from it.
If you don’t, you won’t be much of a blogger for very long, and you’ll be in no position to make any referrals or sales because you’ll have no traffic.