By Bryan Curry
I am a big fan of affiliate marketing programs. The reason being with affiliate marketing, if done appropriately, everyone wins. You make money with affiliate programs and your podcast audience and website visitors receive valuable services and products that are recommended by someone they have a relationship and level of trust with. To maximize your earning potential we have provided you here with the 8 best practices to make money with affiliate programs.
1. Choose Appropriate Affiliate Partners – You have built a podcast audience around a specific topic, category or niche. Use what you know about your audience to identify services or products that you feel will be beneficial to them. If you are podcasting about music or movies, choose an affiliate partner like Netflix, or a music and movies retailer. Don’t choose an affiliate partner like a flower shop which is completely unrelated to your podcast topic. The flower store may have better commission rates but your conversions will be very low and you will not make money.
2. Placement Of Affiliate Ads – Most first time visitors to your website will make a determination about whether to stay and read your website or bounce to another site in the first 10 seconds. If your landing page is plastered with ads from top to bottom, making the content hard to read or hard to find then most people will leave your site. You want your affiliate ads to be contextual whenever possible, within a post discussing their products or services or on a page dedicated to affiliate partners. Having affiliate program ads as part of your page template is fine as long as they are not obnoxious or excessive in number. There are a number of ways to experiment with the placement of affiliate ads. You can place banner ads across the top of the page, block ads on the sides or within the content as well as text ads which can be incorporated into your site content. There are no rules about what works best, you will have to experiment and see what works for your audience.
3. Don’t Overdo It – If your site has too many ads, visitors to your site will feel like you have designed the site to sell products and services and not to offer them valuable content. Having a site that feels like an online store only works when your visitor is looking to buy something and they have come to your site specifically to make a purchase. For some podcasts, this is exactly what you want. If your podcast is promoting your business or a product you sell then you should absolutely tailor your site to cater to people who have heard the podcast and are coming to your site to make a purchase. If you are relying on affiliate program ads to try and convert some of your podcast listeners into affiliate revenue then they are coming to your site for a different reason. They are coming to your site for content, quality content. If they arrive at your site and there is nothing but a string of ads then they will be turned off and may not return to the site, so don’t overdo it when placing ads on your page.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Promote Your Partners – Through your podcast and interaction with your listeners you will over time build a relationship with them. If you have a product or service that you use and you think will be beneficial to your audience then that is a prime candidate to select as an affiliate program partner. Once you have the affiliate program setup promote it to your listeners. This is not cold-call marketing. These people trust and want your opinions. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be listening to your podcast.
5. Be Honest When Reviewing Affiliate Partners Products – Inevitably, you will have some listeners who claim that you have sold-out by trying to make money through your podcast. There are two ways to address this. First, be honest when reviewing or promoting an affiliate partner. Tell everyone up front that this is an affiliate program and if they buy the product or service you will make money. Then be honest about the product or service. Why are you recommending it? What is good about it? What is bad about it? People will be more trusting of someone who is up-front about these programs than someone who dances around the issue and doesn’t reveal the relationship between what you are doing and what you are selling. Remember, these people want your opinion, give it to them. Secondly, for those people who criticize you for trying to make money off of your podcast remember a few things. It is very easy to criticize someone anonymously over the internet. You have put a lot of hard work, invested money and time into your podcast; you should not feel like a sell-out for trying to recoup some of that investment. You are providing entertainment, information, advice, and now a potential product or service, there is nothing wrong with being compensated modestly for doing all of that. When you receive emails or comments from people like that, do not shy away from them. Bring them up in the next podcast or address them in the comments on your site. Be very polite, do not respond venomously, just let everyone know what the affiliate programs are, why they are there and tell them that you are in no way trying to deceive any of them, that is why you were so up-front about letting everyone know from the beginning that you were being compensated by the affiliate program.
6. Choose Partners That Pay A Commission You Are Happy With – The types of affiliate program commissions vary widely. Some will pay you a % commission on any purchases made, others pay a flat rate. Some will continue to pay you monthly commissions for subscription services they receive, others pay a one time payment. The % commissions vary as well. Some pay 10% up to 40 or maybe even 50%. Look around and find one that you like. Try it out, if you aren’t happy with the program, try something different. You have to be flexible and keep trying until you find something that works.
7. Traffic And Conversion – For a successful affiliate program you need traffic and lots of it. Not everyone who visits your site will click on an affiliate link and complete the “call to action”. Getting a visitor to complete that “call to action” is called conversion. The number of visitors who act vs. the total number of visitors to your site is called your conversion rate or conversion ratio. This ties back to what we discussed earlier. You can have hundreds of thousands of visits to your site, but if your affiliate partners are not relevant to the content on your site, or if they are obnoxious and overwhelming your conversion rate will remain low. Translation, you will not make money. By adhering to the tips I have provided you, you will see that those conversion rates will climb. Watch your conversion rate and then if you feel its necessary, change your ad placement, change your affiliate program partners, and then watch the reaction to your conversion rate. The goal is to monitor that rate and constantly adjust your marketing to try and maximize it as much as possible.
8. Widgets Vs. Editing CSS/HTML Code – I think that WordPress is a great platform for affiliate programs and affiliate marketing. WordPress makes it very easy to set up a site that will make money through affiliate programs. One of the big advantages is the use of WordPress Plugins and WordPress widgets. These allow you to seamlessly integrate ads into your site and your site content. It eliminates the need for knowledge about editing CSS or HTML. If, however, you do have the knowledge required to edit CSS and HTML then you have a lot more freedom and flexibility in terms of ad placements, and rotation. It may be to your benefit to utilize some of the space on your site that is otherwise wasted when using a typical WordPress template.
So all of that sounds great but how do you get started? Well the first step is to think about what companies or products you think would most benefit your audience and them seek them out. Many of the large companies with an online presence already participate in affiliate programs, the trick is finding them. Once you have done that, the process is relatively simple. You find the affiliate site they are associated with, sign up and then connect with the company. Often times they will have you fill out a short application for their program and once you are approved they will provide you with the code that you need to place their advertisements on your site. The great news they have done all the design and coding for you already. All you have to do is cut and paste.
Bryan Curry is the author of PodcastingTips.com [http://podcastingtips.com/] an ‘How To’ resource for podcasters. Starting a podcast, website design, making money and search engine optimization are covered on one site. The best part, it’s all free. There is no ebook to buy or subscription membership.
Bryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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