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Your Mom Blog and Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is very similar to finding regular advertisers for your blog. The key difference is that with affiliate marketing, you get paid only when you refer a sale or lead to a merchant. Multimillion-dollar companies such as CouponCabin.com and BradsDeals.com started with humble roots in affiliate marketing. That being said, not every blog can create a large income from affiliate marketing.

Affiliate links are HTML or JavaScript links that work much like a regular link. They can be either banners or text links and send your visitors to the sales page of the product or service you’re recommending. These links are more sophisticated than a regular link because they track the referral from your blog so the advertiser can pay you the commission should a sale be made.

An important part of affiliate marketing is your click-through rate (the percentage of visitors who click that affiliate link) and your conversion rate (the percentage of people who click your affiliate link versus the percentage of people who actually buy something from the advertiser after clicking your affiliate link).

Say an average click-through rate is 1.5 percent, and a good conversion rate is around 2 percent. So if you have 100,000 visitors, 1,500 (1.5 percent) are likely to click the affiliate link, and of those 1,500 clicks, only 30 (2 percent) are likely to buy the product and earn you a commission. Your blog traffic has to be fairly substantial if it’s going to be a good candidate for affiliate marketing.

The other important criterion for a blog to be a good candidate for affiliate marketing is that the topic needs to be related to specific products or services. Many blogs, especially more personal mom blogs, don’t often talk about products on a regular basis. The most successful affiliate blogs tend to focus on product reviews or product information.

Even though affiliate marketers don’t sell products directly, in a sense they pre-sell products to readers. Here’s a good way to think about affiliate marketing: Think of it as a personal recommendation to a friend.

Blogs that don’t do well with affiliate marketing tend to be those that don’t have content that relates to products or services sold through affiliate programs. Personal blogs or news and commentary blogs are examples. Even some product blogs might not do well if their content attracts an audience that’s heavily focused on finding freebies instead of paying for things.

It’s not that these readers don’t make purchases; it’s just that they aren’t looking to make a purchase when they come to this kind of site. An exception to this would be if you could find an affiliate program that offers coupons or pays for leads.

A lead is defined differently by each merchant, but can include things such as a site registration, a newsletter signup, or a formal request for information from the merchant. Specific actions have to take place in order for the lead to qualify for a commission, and usually payment for a lead is quite low, on the order of $3 or less.

The good side of this is that because the user doesn’t need to make a purchase, it’s more likely that you can get a qualified lead commission. Don’t let the low amount of payment deter you from promoting lead-based affiliate offers.

The last criterion that will help you determine if your blog is a good candidate for affiliate marketing ironically has nothing to do with your blog. Instead, it depends on what state you live in. For example, Illinois recently passed a new Affiliate Nexus Tax law.

The simplified explanation of this law is that it requires all U.S.-based online retailers (like Amazon.com) to collect sales tax from Illinois customers if an Illinois-based affiliate (like me) refers the sale to Amazon.com. The unfortunate side effect of this law is that online companies would rather stop working with Illinois-based affiliates than collect the tax.

It’s wisest to ensure you don’t have too many eggs in one basket. Build your blogging business carefully so that a sudden new development such as a new tax law won’t put you out of business.

This is a rapidly changing policy initiative that is affecting more and more states recently. To find out whether your state laws may impact your affiliate marketing efforts, check out the Nexus Tax section of the Performance Marketing Association website.

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