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8 Principles for Effective Affiliate Marketing on a Blog

8 Principles for Effective Affiliate Marketing on a Blog

By Pat Flynn on

In a little over a year, this blog alone has earned me $6,931.97.

Compared to my other online businesses, that’s not very much at all – but considering I don’t sell anything on this blog and have only 4 125×125 ads (below the fold) in the sidebar, I’d say that’s pretty darn good. My point here is that you don’t have to aggressively sell or advertise to your audience in order to earn some decent cash on your blog. You can do it by being honest and smart with your affiliate links.

Some critics might say that I probably could have earned more. Maybe if I placed Google adsense within my posts. Maybe if I had more advertisements in the sidebar. Maybe if I had text link ads. Maybe if I did product review posts.

I disagree.

All of those things take away from the main focus of this blog (which is the main focus that ALL blogs should have) – the content. If you write excellent content – things that get people excited, things that people haven’t seen before, things that make people want more – you’ll have the potential (and more importantly, the foundation) to make money online.

Pat’s Principles for Effective Affiliate Marketing on a Blog

Per a number of email requests, here are the rules that I apply when it comes to affiliate marketing on this blog. You may have a different way, but this is what works for me.

1. Affiliate Marketing Starts With the First Impression

First impressions are huge because they set the tone for a visitor’s entire experience through your website, including any possible transactions that may take place now, or in the future.

What is the first impression that you get when you go to a site and it’s splattered with advertisements, for example? What does a site like that say to a first time visitor?

“Hi, nice to meet you – click here so I can earn a buck?”

It’s like if you met someone for the first time and the first thing they ask you is if you’re interested in buying something from them. It reminds me of those guys who sell jewelry from inside their trench coats. Maybe you’d buy a “folex” (fake-rolex) from them once, but you’d never do any kind of business with that person beyond that.

I’d much rather get to know somebody first, trust them, and then have them tell me what they might have to offer. Or better yet, be genuinely interested in what they’re doing, and ask them about it myself. This is the kind of philosophy that I use when promoting other people’s products.

What do you see when you land on my homepage?

2. Only Promote Products That You Have Used.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the way I earn money with affiliate links in ALL of my online businesses is by promoting only products that I have used, and only what I would recommend to my friends who want to achieve similar results. I feel that anyone with an audience has a responsibility to do the same thing.

There’s something fishy about someone promoting Apple Computers who only uses a PC.

3. Always Describe The Product That You’re Promoting.

If you have an affiliate link that’s just a banner ad, or a link at the bottom of a post with no real description – it’s a waste. If you’re actively promoting a product (that you’ve used), you obviously know something about it. Share your knowledge with your audience, and they’ll be intrigued and more likely to click through to learn more.

4. Content First, Affiliate Link Second.

Although I just said you should always describe the products you promote, the content that you write should drive the affiliate links that you offer, not the other way around. Don’t write posts just for the sake of placing an affiliate link within.

5. Share Your Experience With the Product.

When describing whatever it is your promoting, share your experience! If you can throw in some data or graphs to go along with it, even better. Back when I was more actively writing about eHow, I promoted an eBook that I read which helped quadruple my earnings per article. I created a graph that showed how much I earned before I read the book versus how much I earned after. To this date, that eBook has been one of the most successful affiliate promotions I’ve done on this blog.

6. Only Promote One or Two of the Same Type of Products.

There are a number of reasons why you should never promote more than two of the same type of products:

  • The more products you promote, the less believable each of them becomes. If today I recommended Company X, and tomorrow I recommended Company Y and Company Z, each of their “stock” immediately goes down.
  • The more products you promote, the more difficult the decision to choose between them becomes. I’ve been to a number of personal finance websites that offer sign-up bonuses for 4 to 5 different banks (sometimes within the same post!). It hurts my brain.
  • If you keep promoting the same products time and time again, your audience will begin to realize that there must be something special about the specific ones you keep bringing up.

7. Starve the Horses and Feed the Stallions

This is a fancy way of saying that you should only promote the products that you know make you the most money, and forget about the ones that don’t. You will only know this after trial and error, so see what works, and get rid of the rest.

For a while, I had a number of banner ads on this blog that were not generating any type of income for me. There’s no point in wasting valuable ad space with banners that don’t pay out.

Test, test, test.

8. Utilize a Resources or Tools Page

A resource or tools page is a page that consists of helpful links to websites, products and services related to your niche. This is a perfect spot for affiliate links, so take advantage of this if you haven’t already.

It takes the “books I’m reading” area you often see in blogs (within Amazon affiliate links) to a whole new level. not only is this great for you, but it’s extremely helpful for your readers who may be looking for additional resources related to your niche. Plus, they may come across products or services they weren’t originally looking for while on your resources page.

Everybody wins.

Is Affiliate Marketing a Form of Passive Income?

In the pay-per-click sense of the term – I don’t believe so. There’s too much upkeep and constant checking of data each and every day for it to be even a little passive.

But, affiliate marketing with a blog with these principles in mind – absolutely. The blog posts that you write today will be on the web for a long, long time. Any affiliate links embedded in your posts will be included as well.



Want to try your hand at affiliate marketing and deliver even more value to your podcasting audience? The Smart Podcast Player affiliate program lets you reap the benefits while you “share the wealth” of the best podcast player for power users with your fans. Learn more and sign up here.

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