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How to earn money from your website: Affiliate Marketing

Making money online is essentially the same as offline ventures in the sense that you, generally, have three options: produce and sell your own products, sell the products someone else has produced, or promote the products and services of someone else for a fee. In marketing, we are generally doing the latter, that is, selling a service.

Here, we discuss one such service you can utilise to monetise your website: affiliate marketing. In this introduction we cover the basics of affiliate marketing (What is it? What is it for? How does it work?) so you can determine whether it’s a possibility for you, and whether to investigate further.

What is affiliate marketing?

One of the best ways to monetise your web presence is to join what is known as an affiliate program. In a nutshell, you, as a website owner, market the products of a company by placing advertisements and/or text links, who then pay you a commission on leads or sales driven by your site. Hence, you become that company’s ‘affiliate’ in their marketing efforts.

Affiliate marketing can involve various methods of advertising on your website, such as display ads and pay-per-click (PPC), as well as content and email marketing. It is therefore quite a flexible solution in that you can utilise display advertising, but can also link to your affiliate partner naturally within your content. It encompasses any form of advertisement or marketing strategy you employ on behalf of your affiliate merchant partner on your site (where the performance is tracked using a unique affiliate ID), in order to calculate your commission.

Affiliate networks

If you were to develop affiliate partnerships individually, it would inevitably be time-consuming to the point of diminishing the net value to you. Affiliate networks are far more efficient models for this practice, whereby a third party acts as an intermediary between affiliates and businesses.

The benefit for you is that it saves valuable time and effort, and allows you to create multiple programs much more easily. In addition, affiliate networks often offer a host of management and reporting tools for merchants to ensure that suitable partners are matched. There are also many tools available to you to quickly and easily implement affiliate advertisements on your site, such as WordPress plugins like this one, which allows you to place banners as a widget without the need to edit code.

If you’re using several affiliate networks, it can be challenging to build something like a comparison engine or a cashback website. Fortunately, you can integrate an affiliate API from multiple affiliate providers into custom applications because it unifies all the data you need into one API.

Relevance is key

Of course, for this to be successful in the sense of generating more leads and conversions, the products or services must be relevant to the audience of the affiliate’s site. One thing users certainly don’t want is to be inundated with advertisements for products that have nothing to do with their interests. Similarly, today’s consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to more overt ‘hard sell’ marketing tactics. In other words, if you run a health and fitness blog, then your readership are more likely to engage with affiliate ads or links leading to sports clothes and healthy eating products, which results in a higher commission for you.

Therefore, affiliate marketing ought to be conducted in a way that also provides value to your audience in some way, whether it’s incredibly relevant product banner ads or recommendations you make within your content. As this infographic shows, users respond best to content that inspires, informs, and entertains. Another important point here is to disclose the fact you’re part of an affiliate program, so to ensure your audience do not feel misled. When these elements are in place, there’s no reason why you can’t serve the needs of both your followers and affiliate partner simultaneously.

In short, affiliate marketing is an effective and flexible method of monetising your website in a time-efficient manner. What’s more, it allows for the improved targeting of specific demographics and, when integrated thoughtfully, need not compromise the reputation and integrity of your content.