Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing generally means marketing done online for the benefit of an online merchant, usually in the form of ads on websites, blogs or other social media in exchange for payment, which is monitored by 3rd party networks.

Wait!  What?

  • You have a website or a blog. (You’re the publisher AND the potential affiliate)
  • Online merchants are willing to pay to advertise on websites and blogs. (They are the advertisers)
  • Affiliate networks put publishers and advertisers together and provide the framework for tracking response and payment.
  • Affiliate managers (sometimes called Program Managers, and further identified as Outsourced or In House) manage the affiliate sales channel for the merchant. This could mean anything and everything from advice, recruiting publisher/affiliates, setting up network accounts, ad creation, campaign and promotional ideas, and probably another hundred things like reporting, tracking and networking.

There are many ways that publishers can get paid:

  • PPC: Pay Per Click means that you, the publisher, are paid a set amount if someone clicks on the ad.
  • PPA: Pay Per Action means that something more has to happen before you earn any pay. That might mean a completed sale, or it might be a form filled out or even a zip code or email address provided.
  • Ad Placement: You have priced the available space on your web page and the merchant pays that amount directly to you or an agency on your behalf.

Which way is best?

The answer to that question depends on your specific website and your business model. Let me provide a few examples, which are not even close to a complete list:

  • You’re a beginner and you don’t have very many followers or readers yet. Your writing is about one specific topic or lifestyle.
    In this scenario, you could start out with Google ads placed around your content, which is a PPC (pay per click) method. When you have enough of an audience interested in the topic, a network would be the place to look for related online stores to advertise.
  • Your blog is the “go-to” place for the topic and you have a huge list of people who subscribe to your feed or your newsletter and wait eagerly to see what you’re going to talk about next!
    You are in the enviable position of being able to negotiate paid placement! You can provide the stats to show advertisers how many unique visits you get daily, how many average page views and probably the demographics of your audience.
  • Your site idea is more about general shopping and you want to offer several possibilities in more than one category. Maybe it’s about gifts, maybe it’s about sports, maybe it’s about travel or fashion or babies.
    The place for you to start is with the most common affiliate marketing scenario: pay for action, which is another way of saying commission on sales. An affiliate network usually has hundreds or thousands of merchants to review; learn how to pick the right ones and you can surround your blog posts or review pages with relevant ads and get paid when your readers make a purchase!