Want to make money online? Affiliate marketing may be the way. This article explores the many methods people use to monitize their blogs.
Today’s article is taking a small detour from the world of SEO to focus on blogging. Many of us blog for fun, to build a following or to make money. A lot of guides on affiliate marketing either don’t cover how to build an audience, or give really bad information on what sort of content you should be writing.
If you blog for fun you may not of thought you could turn your hobby into a career.Large blogs make an absolute killing in affiliate referrals. It is not unusual to see people posting cheques of £10,000 from one months earnings or even more. Read on to learn how to get a slice of this pie.
- Identifying revenue streams
- Choosing your affiliate program
- How NOT to make money blogging
- The “squeeze” page
- How to start making money blogging
- Audience building strategy
- How to make money from an existing blog
- How to get reviews highly ranked on Google
Identifying revenue streams
Blogs can make you money in several ways. There is:
Direct – as a sales tool for a product or service you offer. This is how www.optimise-u.co.uk works. By blogging the ins and outs of SEO I can help people decide whether they can optimise their own website or if they need professional help.
Affiliate – as a sales tool for a product or service somebody else offers. This is good because often you present adverts as reviews and embed links in the content of articles which are giving relevant useful information. If you find the right product you can earn over 75% of each sale. You don’t need any stock and don’t incur any fees.
Third party ad schemes – offer a far smaller payout than affiliates. Google Adsense is an example of a third party advertising scheme. It returns targeted adverts based on what websites your user has previously visited. Usually the best 3rd party ads are PPM (pay per mille) meaning that every thousand people who view the advert by landing on your page gives you a agreed payout. Some third party ads offer PPC (pay per click) systems where you get paid for each person who clicks on the advert. Depending on how relevant these adverts are to your website will decide whether you are better with a PPC or PPM system.
One risk of third party banner ads is that they slow your site down. Also if they aren’t positioned carefully they can negatively effect both user experience and SEO by covering up other content. If you do choose to go a scheme like Google Adsense you want to regularly update your blog. The more content you have the more chance that you will have of people seeing an advert they want to click on.
Choosing your affiliate program
There are literally millions of affiliate programs out there. You want to look for a product that fits with what your blog is about and ideally is something you know about. Try and come up with a fairly niche group of products with a similar theme. This will make blogging easier. Some popular affiliate programs include:
Ebooks – Do a Google search for e-book affiliates. Usually you will be able to find a good few e-books on topics relevant to what you are blogging about. Some eBooks offer up to 90% in commission for sales.
Amazon associates program – Amazon is a cheap website so doesn’t give amazing commission. The great thing about amazon is that so many people know about them and trust them. If you link people to a product they want on amazon they will trust it is good value rather than searching for a better deal elsewhere. The amazon catalogue is huge as well so you will be able to find a lot of great products on there. It is easy to end a blog reviewing a product with “if you are looking to buy this check amazon for the best deal” with a link in the text.
Commission Junction – This website also has a huge catalogue and offers a good commission %. Sign up to view their catalog and choose a product that will suit your blog.
How NOT to make money blogging
First it would be best to cover how not to make money through blogs. The single biggest mistake is creating a blog with a non existing audience purely to make affiliate or third party sales. Even if you are an SEO wizard this just won’t work. The end result will be a mechanically written website which is clearly just there to get affiliate sales. You want your personality to show in your content because this is the easiest way of putting a unique spin on what may have been covered already by others.
You can’t just rely on Google picking your content up anymore. Unless your content is worth reading and linking to chances are they won’t. If you are covering a product so niche that nobody else is writing about it chances are nobody will be searching for it either. This is the only situation where you MIGHT be able to rank highly on Google without having a reason that a potential audience would read your content. If you are creating content just to make sales you won’t get any regular followers. Even when you have an established audience make sure you balance sales focused blog entries with entries giving information away for free.
The best salespeople sell products which they believe in. It is harder to convince somebody a product is good if you are thinking you are ripping them off the whole time. So don’t create a website focused on one product and then write all the content focusing on this one product. People will easily see through this. You need to give the impression you are giving great advice so if you think your content is a bit weak so will everybody else.
- Don’t just focus on sales.
- Don’t write your content based on what you are marketing. Base what you are marketing around your content.
- Don’t sell a product you don’t believe in.
- Don’t go overboard with banner adverts.
The Squeeze Page
We have all seen websites which look something like the image above. They are known as squeeze pages. Simple one page landing pages designed to “Squeeze” a piece of information from you – usually your email address. They are often employed by get rich quick schemes. Always avoid squeeze pages – if people are so desperate for your details it is unlikely that they will have anything useful to give in return except piles of spam.
Often squeeze pages get your email and then try and sell a course in online marketing. The course teaches you how to make your own squeeze page and then sell the course yourself as an affiliate. While some people have made money doing this I personally consider it to be an immoral practice and should be avoided – these are glorified pyramid schemes. One page websites can be very effective for marketing, but if they don’t have a clear product they are selling avoid them like the plague. Somebody may be getting rich from their schemes but it won’t be you.
Up until a few years ago squeeze pages had good SEO because they often have so much content on one page. Now they rarely rank at all – Google has identified the majority of them as spam.
How to start making money blogging
Have you noticed how all these self styled guru’s all write in the first person. There are millions of ways of making money online but 99% of people who are successful write in the first person. This is because it directly addresses your audience and starts the process of building a relationship.
Starting out you really can’t skimp on quality. You need need to build an audience based on great content. Create a blog about something which you are knowledgeable about. Create social media accounts so that you can build a following who regularly read your blogs. Over time when you are getting a fair amount of daily hits to your blog start to introduce product reviews based on relevant products to your blog. Traffic is the main dictator on how much money you will make both from third party ads and affiliates. At this point if you aren’t familiar with SEO I would recommend reading my startup SEO guide as it will help you get traffic from Google.
Quality is an interesting thing. If you are writing a blog you want to be able to present yourself as an expert in your field, otherwise who will read what you write. All your articles must be well written and researched. A quality website has to sell a quality product. This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Try to find products that are expensive, but are also high quality so that you feel good putting your name behind try promoting it.
When you are starting out it is better to focus on writing great product reviews or a how to guide instead of making money. If somebody sees a product that you are advertising that they don’t know about, but choose to buy and find to be a good product, they will then be more likely to regularly follow you. They will be more likely to tell their friends about you. They will be more likely to buy other products you recommend. If the products have affiliate programs great, you have a good chance of making some money. If not write the article anyway. You want to create an audience who like the reviews and guides you write and follow you because of these blogs.
Always include your affiliate links contextually as you are writing. Make sure the links are naturally a part of your article. Never add links at the end or beginning of your blog this will just make them look like they are afterthoughts.
It is best to create unique content. This will be more likely to rank for niche search terms and get you more traffic. If you are covering topics which other people have already covered make sure you are bringing something new to the discussion. The most important thing for you to do is build trust. If you are just starting to establish an audience all it takes is one article to be overly pushy or sales focused and you lose the following which you worked to build.
- Always write quality blogs on relevant topics.
- Don’t focus on cheap products which you think are easy to sell – you want to build a quality brand.
- Include the links naturally in the body or context of your article.
- Always create unique content.
Audience building strategy
People need to find you somehow. If you are being found on Google that’s great, but it usually takes a while before you are able to get to this point. First you need a hook – a great piece of content which gives readers something for free. Whether it is an actual product, promotion or deal which is exclusively yours or just really useful advice on a subject nobody else is giving. The next step is to promote your hook.
Generally spam is automated and has far more negatives than positives. Do you want to permanently destroy your websites SEO while getting blacklisted from large chunks of the internet? Don’t spam. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t join forums which are related to your topic and over time link to some of your content. This can be a free way of generating traffic but it is usually pretty slow. Like blogging using forums to generate traffic is much more efficient if people on these forums trust you so it is better to focus on one or two forums and don’t put links into every piece of content you have.
Find out who the real heavyweights in your industry are and reach out to them on social media. Just drop them a quick message letting them know who you are and what you are about. Trust me you have a good chance of them getting back to you. I have a 3000+ word guide on how to properly network.
Google+ seems the best social platform for me – it is the perfect balance of Facebook’s social and linkedin’s network but you should try to use every platform available. Reach out to people one by one and really personalise your message. After a while they will start to share your content. Don’t push your message and go for the hard sell, let your personality shine through.
Social media advertising
Social media advertising is a very cost effective way of audience building. When promoting your hook over Facebook, Twitter or Google+ your goal should be to acquire followers. If people like your Facebook page for example they have a chance of seeing every blog entry you write. Generally if you pay for social media advertising you can get 1000 people to see your blog entry for around £2.00. If you are writing great content with the odd affiliate link naturally included in your text you are likely to make money directly from social media advertising while building your audience. If your content is particularly good people may build links to it which will have a positive effect on your SEO.
Try and write as much on your hook as possible if you are going to focus on social media. The longer an article is the more often it is shared. Over time you will need less and less paid advertising, so only promote articles which you think will be popular.
Multimedia affiliate promotion
Depending on your skill-set and what you are promoting/what your blog is about making video can be a great way of showing the benefits of a product. Youtube has it’s own audience and generates massive amounts of traffic daily. Making video reviews is a great way of tapping into this traffic, while building a YouTube audience and improving your search rankings because Google likes videos. Win Win Win.
For some niches with VERY high mark-ups you will be able to make money through Google Adwords. If you want to risk Adwords use ultra long tail keywords and build landing pages so that they really seem like your visitor has found exactly what they were searching for. This will maximise conversions and make Adwords more likely to be effective – but test this method thoroughly before committing a large budget to it.
Over time you will learn which articles fit your audience and are good at generating sales. Guest blogging is a good way of reaching a larger audience while boosting your pages SEO. Your guest blog should expand on the content of ONE of your articles. You don’t want to fill guest blogs with links because Google (may) recognize this as spam. On top of this if you put too many links in your articles other blogs are unlikely to be willing to publish them. Find a large blog with a similar theme to your one and write an article which is relevant and has a similar theme to your first blog entry. Then include a link into your guest blog and watch as you get traffic and more affiliate sales. Simples.
Maximise your engageability
To improve your SEO and make the most out of each visitor to your site it is recommended to work on your pages engageability. Engageability – or how people engage with your page – is important for affiliate marketing. The most useful thing you can take away from the guide linked above is preventing people from bouncing from your blogs (pressing back before they read your content). If you write a long guide it is best to add internal page linking in a contents. That way if people come to your page with a specific question it is easy for them to find the answer.
Always end your blogs with links to more content as well. If your reader likes what you have written but hasn’t followed any of the links in the body of your article you have a good chance of directing them on to other blogs they might like.
Another important thing to consider is whether your page is responsive – does it read well on mobile phones as well as desktop computers. If the answer is no then you are losing out on a lot of potential traffic, as well as damaging your website’s SEO.
Making money from an established blog
Making money from an established blog is much easier than trying to start from scratch. The same basic principles are there but you should already have an audience. The main thing to focus on is including links to products relevant to what you are blogging about. Make sure you don’t suddenly change the tone of your blog by becoming an affiliate – that’s a great way to lose your audience.
EBooks – If you have an established blog and you are knowledgeable about what you are writing about it might be time to write an eBbook. Look through the blog entries you have already written, if a lot of them are focused on a similar theme you can string them together and make each blog entry a chapter of your eBook. When you have your eBook you can either try and sell it to other affiliates, or give the book away for free in return for people signing up to your email list.
Online Lessons – Another way of branching out is by doing online lessons or masterclasses. Depending on what you are blogging about ask whether you can teach people things that they would pay to learn. Keep the prices cheap and make more in depth articles with videos and lesson structure.
Events – as you establish yourself events are a great money stream to branch out into. You are an expert in your field with an audience, why not charge them for a face to face masterclass.
Email lists – are a great way of making money because you can use them to send adverts and deals direct to people’s email address. Decide if you think you will make more money in the long run through selling your own eBook, or other people’s affiliate products.
web.blogads.com – BlogAds is one of the best blog marketing platforms. You create a profile and businesses looking to advertise contact you with an advertising opportunity for your blog. The great thing about BlogAds which makes it stand out from similar programs is that you – the blogger – set your price. Advertisers then see your profile and decide whether their idea fits with your blog’s theme and if the price is right. To stand out you need a well established, high traffic blog. If this sounds like you, BlogAds is likely to be one of the more profitable ways to monitise your blog.
How to get reviews highly ranked on Google
So you have your niche products and want to start writing reviews. Reviews are great for generating traffic. Google now allows you to highlight what a review is to them in the coding of your page using “rich snippets”. Rich snippets give a start rating between 1 and 5 which is visible from Google. This is a great way of getting your product listed on Google. If you find a product and search for “[product] review” on Google and none of the results have these stars like the image below:
It will be very easy for you to rank as nobody else has highlighted that their blog has done a review on the topic you want to write. Simply fill in the micro data generation form it will generate your rich snippet for you. It may take a while for Google to list your blog but when they do chances are you will be rank 1, as long as nobody has got there first.
If you are knowledgeable about coding visit schema.org for more information or watch Google’s video on the topic below:
This is a fairly simple guide but very few existing guides have advice in them on how to actually grow your audience. Most existing blogs on the topic of making money blogging are written to brag about how much money their author has made. There is a saying in SEO “content is king”. If you create great content people will link to it and you will find over time you will get a good ranking on Google. The same is true with affiliate blogging. If you write great content and follow the advice given in this blog you will build an audience and generate sales.
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