So you’ve been blogging for a while. You’ve chosen a niche a topic that you’re passionate about and you’ve optimized your blog posts. You’ve become an authority blogger who generates organic traffic, and your visitors leave comments. But one questions still looms: how do you monetize your niche content?

If you’ve built your blog into the community of readers that a blog is supposed to be (and not vacuous content portal), then affiliate marketing might be your ticket to monetizing your content. Affiliate marketing offers bloggers an opportunity to promote products/services that are relevant to the community of readers they have built, and receive a commissions on any sales that they generate.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing model. This means that publishers are rewarded for actual results. That is, publishers receive a commission for any sales or sign-ups that they refer to the advertiser.

Affiliate marketing aligns advertisers with the right publishers because there is no incentive for publishers to promote a product that their readers aren’t interested in. It’s a low-risk strategy for advertisers because their marketing budget isn’t consumed by invalid clicks or un-targeted impressions. It’s a great opportunity for bloggers because they can earn commissions by giving their readers the information that they’re looking for.

Bloggers and Affiliate Marketing

Unlike other webmasters, bloggers don’t just have visitors, they build communities. Blog readers come to you blog for niche content that they trust. When you blog about something, they know that you’re an independent third-party, and not a corporation with a loaded agenda.

This means that you have influence. You can use that influence to inform your readers about products/services that are relevant to them.

Making an online purchase is often daunting for consumers because there are so many alternatives. Between competing manufacturers and competing merchants, choosing what to buy and from where can be overwhelming.

As a blogger, you’re able to profit from helping in that purchasing decision. Simply:

  1. Locate the products that you are willing to put your name behind.
  2. Find a merchant that sells that product and has an affiliate program.
  3. Then whenever you blog abour that product (either as a review or in a passing mention) use an affiliate link.

Affiliate links often lead to pages where users can buy the product or similar one. By virtue of referring the user to site, you’ll make a commission on any purchase that that user subsequently makes.

Since you have a rapport of trust readers, endorsing a product will likely stimulate the reader’s interest in the product. That interest is much more likely to convert into a sale than simply placing a banner ad or button in your sidebar.

Also, blogs are so SEO friendly, so you’re also likely to pick up some organic traffic of visitors researching the product in question. Since those users are already looking into making a purchasing decisions, your endorsement can sway them one way or another, and you can subsequently make a commission off that sale.

Things to Watch Out For

The first thing to bear in mind as an “affiliate blogger” is that the affiliate marketing potential of a blog lies in trust. Consequently, if you explicitly endorse a product, you want to make sure that you’re comfortable putting your name behind it. After all, it can end up ruining your reputation

The second thing you need to remember is that you’re a blogger, not a salesman. Never allow product promotion to overrun your regular blogging mandate.

Your readers trust you because you’ve helped keep them informed. Once you stop doing that, they’ll stop coming. You must strike a balance, then, between product reviews and regular posts. You can, of course, always place affiliate banners and buttons in your sidebar, for example, under a heading such as “Products I Like” — just make sure you really like them.

Finally, affiliate marketing does not work with every blog topic. In fact, it works best with fast moving consumer goods.

A blog about travel could promote vacation packages or luggage, and a fashion blog could promote clothing. If you’re blogging about technology or blogging, however, it might be more challenging to products that your readers will be interested in buying while they’re on your site. You should always consider, then, what your readers are looking for when they’re on your blog and what moood they are in before you go out of your way to join affiliate programs and populate your blog with their links.