There are plenty of guides out there, including this one by Rosalind Gardner, that explain the ins and outs of affiliate marketing and how to make it work for you. Many people get very excited after reading books like The Super Affiliate Handbook: How I Made $436, 797 In One Year Selling Other People’s Stuff Online.
There’s just one teeny little problem–not with Gardner’s book, but with the people who read it and get over-excited. Bloggers who think they can throw up a few posts and a few subsequent affiliate links and turn a profit tend to forget that you have to have an audience in order to get the clicks. And since most affiliate programs don’t pay you by the click, but rather by the purchase, that equation gets a little more challenging.
The key to a successful affiliate program on a blog or website? Focus. Decide what you want to do and stick to it. If you want to supplement a blog with some affiliate income, there are strategies and techniques you can use specifically to that end. If you want to create a portal strictly for e-commerce transactions there are different strategies. But the big mistake some new affiliate program users make is trying to shoehorn the affiliate stuff into their existing content without thought of how it affects the reader’s experience on their site.
There are plenty of ways to work in affiliate content into an existing blog. But you should try not to kill your pre-affiliate style and tone when doing so. If you run a blog for runners, it’s going to be a tough sell to get your readers to click on a bunch of affiliate links to home stereo gear. Especially when you could be running affiliate links to stuff your running blog readers might actually NEED. Like iPhones, replacement headsets, wristwatches with mp3 players in them, etc. You get the idea. Don’t try to sell EVERYTHING with affiliate links…stick to things that are relevant to the topics you’re passionate about.
My advice? Read books like The Super Affiliate Handbook with the idea that you’re going to tailor the advice you get to your specific website or blog. Mutate those ideas into something that works specifically for you. Don’t revise your own blog to conform to somebody else’s notions of how to sell or get more clicks.