Monetizing a website with affiliate programs can be profitable if you choose the right ones for your website and type of traffic. I’ve tried multiple programs, both in-house and networks and can share some tips based on my experience working with them.
Below are some quick tips to help you choose affiliate programs for your website or blog.
What to Look for in an Affiliate Program
1) Look for for relevant product and services. You want to promote or recommend services and products that are related to what your site is about. As an example, don’t try to promote food products on a blog or site about carpentry if your ultimate goal is to make money with the website. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun sometimes.
2) Promote a service or product you’ve used or know well. It’s always a good idea to promote those products or services that you have personally tried. If you don’t, you risk recommending products and services offering sub-par quality and/or customer service. There are times when you can work with a program even if you haven’t personally been a customer. Use your judgement and make a good decision on this one.
3) Choose affiliate programs that pay well and pay on time! This is critically important. Make sure the programs pays a fair commission and that they pay on time. Compare the commission rate to similar programs. If you’ve opted for affiliate programs on one of the major networks, you don’t have to worry too much about timely payments. This is one of the main benefits of using networks. If it’s an in-house affiliate program do your due digilience. Make sure they have a track record of making payments to affiliates on time! There are many out there who cheat affiliates out of their hard earned commissions. Been there.
4) Beware of thresholds. Many affiliate programs will not pay out until you’ve reached a minimum threshold. This may not be a problem if you have a lot of traffic, but for many affiliates just starting out this can be an issue. I personally like to be paid regardless of the minimum on my account — especially if it’s an in-house program.
Actually, this is what prompted me to write this post. I inadvertently began promoting an in-house affiliate program and somehow missed the fact that there is a $50 minimum threshold for payouts. This means I would have to generate at least $50 in commissions before being paid. I don’t like this. I understand why it’s done, but still I expect to be paid for sales on time regardless of how small they are. I suppose this is another reason to go with a network.
5) Test, test and then test some more. Test out the programs to see if they actually convert for you. If they don’t move on to something else or simply monetize with Adsense. Don’t waste your time promoting somebody else’ project. Some sites just don’t convert well — in other cases there may be issues with leakage. For example, some sites have phone numbers that allow customers to call in orders. You wouldn’t get compensated for this transaction.
6) Look for generous cookies. Some programs look great until you realize the cookies have a short life. I prefer those that at the very least last for 30 days. You want to get credit for transactions that happen after the first visit!
There are many other factors to look for including updated banners, program approval time, trademark issues and more. I think I’ve included the essentials in this post. My last recommendation would be to not spread yourself thin. Try to stick to a few programs. It will be easier to manage and measure your affiliate marketing efforts. This also allows you an opportunity to build a long-term relationship with your affiliate program manager.