The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Affiliate Programs for Bloggers
The internet has transformed just about every aspect of our daily lives and continues to do so. Without a doubt, one of the best things about this is that it brought about a revolution in how we do business and even how we make our income.
In the early days of the internet, bloggers were just enthusiasts with few real opportunities to monetize the amount of effort they put into their content. Those days are long gone and now any blogger who wants to be compensated for their hard work has ample opportunities to do so. Just as well given how popular blogging has become, with some estimates suggesting there are over 600 million blogs out there.
Affiliate programs for bloggers have become a potentially life-changing way of monetizing their content and becoming a pro. Are you a blogger who’s interested in learning more about affiliate marketing? Then read on because this article will give you more than just the basics. You’ll find out how to get started with affiliate programs for bloggers but also some key insights along the way.
Before you get started, you’re going to need a crash course in how affiliate marketing works.
Affiliate Marketing 101: How Does It Work?
The world of digital marketing is vast and it can seem a bit daunting getting to grips with it. The key thing to remember is that the main principles of marketing have remained the same for decades. If you can get your head around those, understanding the changes brought about by the digital revolution will go a lot easier.
The main players in any kind of marketing venture are more or less the same. The affiliate (publisher) or the marketer is the person or company that promotes the products or services of a 3rd party and is paid a commission for delivering results. In short, if you are a blogger interested in generating revenue from your blog, this could be you.
The merchant or the retailer is the provider of the product or service and utilizes the affiliate’s services to promote their offering. In affiliate marketing, they may have good strategies or other suggestions on how to promote their products or they might even provide the affiliate program with promotional materials for the affiliates to use.
The merchant is hoping to expand its marketing reach through a broad base of affiliates. In affiliate marketing, the consumer is who the affiliate has to understand as well as possible because it is their purchases or other actions that will earn the affiliate their commission. What’s more, understanding the consumers will make it easier to attract the right kind of traffic to your blog.
Finally, in affiliate marketing, there is another important player, the affiliate network or program. The affiliate network is the key to the whole chain of interactions because this is what links (acts as an intermediary) between the merchant and the affiliates. Through this platform, the affiliate can choose from a range of merchants to work with and the various offers or promotions to utilize in their marketing efforts. The network relieves the affiliate from having to contact merchants directly and also takes care of all of the associated tasks.
Affiliate Programs vs. Affiliate Networks
Before this starts to get confusing for bloggers who are at the start of their journey to getting involved in affiliate marketing, we need to clear something up.
So what exactly is the difference between affiliate programs and affiliate networks?
As you have by now learned, the affiliate does not deal directly with the merchant. There are many advantages to this, but you still have to decide whether connecting with a merchant through an affiliate network or program is the best option for you.
An affiliate network has the advantage of bringing together a large number of different merchants, often from a range of sectors, that affiliates can choose from. A perfect example of how an affiliate network operates is what we do here at ATraffic. We have sourced a broad network of merchants who are looking to expand their presence by connecting with affiliates. We then act as a bridge, empowering our affiliates to promote the merchants in the most effective ways possible. We also provide all the support that our affiliates need to do this, including handling payments.
An affiliate program is a narrower way of connecting to a merchant. Affiliate programs will often work with just one merchant and may even be owned or managed by them directly. This will allow you to promote that merchant’s products or services but, should you want to expand to working with more than one merchant, you will have to join multiple affiliate programs.
It is widely understood that networks are a better setting-off point for bloggers, mostly because they allow them to choose between merchants and sectors through one provider. Affiliate networks are also a better option if you are working with more than one merchant, since all of your key stats and metrics will be tracked in one place, making it easier for you to focus on what you do best. Another key benefit of working with a network is some networks will have a progressive commission scale or bonus payments when you achieve certain milestones, even if you are promoting many different merchants. This means that there is potential to earn more with the network than working with many individual programs.
How Do Affiliates Earn Commission?
There are a few different ways to earn commissions in affiliate marketing, which can be confusing to new bloggers but there is no need for anyone to get disorientated. The main thing to remember is that most of the commission models out there depend on the affiliate network or program tracking how prospective customers reach a merchant via an affiliate.
Cost per Action
Easily the most popular commission model and one employed by the majority of affiliate programs and networks, Cost per Action (CPA) requires the prospective customer to perform a certain action for the affiliate to earn a commission. In most cases, this action will be something like registering via an online form on the merchant’s website or similar. If the action required is a purchase, then the commission model is known as CPS (Cost per Sale).
The affiliate program or network will track the prospective customer’s activity through cookies and whenever they click a particular link, the tracking platform will keep an eye on whether they register with the relevant merchant or make a purchase.
Different merchants will offer different levels of commission and these will also depend on the action required. If the action is something simple, like entering a name and email address, the commission will usually be much lower than for a verified purchase. When joining an affiliate program for bloggers, you will want to evaluate what CPA is being offered and the qualifying criteria to get paid.
Cost per Lead
Cost per Lead or CPL is a closely related commission model, where rather than earning commission per sale, the affiliate is rewarded per lead generated with the merchant, regardless of whether it results in a sale or not. This model is confined mostly to some niches, such as dating apps, insurance, software trials, and more.
In all of these cases, the affiliate is paid a fixed commission whatever the outcome of the lead. It sounds good on paper but watch out for the criteria required for customer actions to be considered a lead. If customers only need to leave their contact details, then this is practically certain to generate more qualifying leads than if they have to fill out lengthy forms or download software.
Revenue sharing (also known as rev-share) means you will receive a percentage commission on revenue generated by consumers. The model is more common for sites offering online sports betting, online casino, online trading, software subscriptions, and more.
This can be interesting for affiliate bloggers if their readers go on to purchase subscriptions to the merchant’s services. This can result in ongoing revenue if the consumer continues to use the merchant over the long term but when they cancel their subscription or stop using the service, the affiliate will no longer receive a commission.
How to Choose the Best Affiliate Programs for Bloggers
If you’ve already decided that affiliate marketing is the way forward for your blog, you will still need answers to a few burning questions. The main one of these is how to choose the program or network that’s right for you. As with everything from the biggest life decisions to buying a new cellphone, the key is in the research you put in. That’s why we’ve made a brief guide to help lead you through the process.
What are the joining requirements?
Some affiliate programs and networks will set barriers to entry, requiring you to meet certain minimum requirements such as page views or other site metrics. Meanwhile, other affiliate networks will allow you to join simply by registering with your details. Being able to fulfill the necessary requirements is step one of deciding which program or network suits you best.
What are the commission models and rates?
As you’ve already had a chance to see, there are several commission models out there and you will have to decide which one works for you. Before you join a program or network, check that the commission model and rates meet your expectations. If you’re planning to join a network that offers a wide choice of merchants to work with, make sure you choose between them carefully so you can be sure of getting the best deal. Make sure you study the criteria that dictate what constitutes a commission-paying action.
What marketing materials and tools are available?
There is such a plethora of advertising material out there, all designed to improve your chances of success, but not all affiliate programs provide you with everything you need. Make sure you’re joining a program or network that will support you to generate the kind of traffic you need to meet your revenue expectations. For example, the best networks will provide attractive banners or widget builders that allow you to create the kinds of ads that will bring the clicks and conversions you need.
What support does the program offer?
Top-quality affiliate blogger networks like ATraffic are serious about supporting bloggers who are new to affiliate marketing. Being able to turn to an experienced affiliate manager every time you have any questions or need support is an invaluable part of the service, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
4 Tips for Becoming a Successful Affiliate Blogger
Being successful as an affiliate blogger takes more than just throwing a few links up on your blog and quitting your day job. Here are some tips to help you be successful:
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. The most successful affiliate bloggers know their readers and their merchants inside out. The best way to achieve this is to find a niche that you’re passionate about to focus on.
- Don’t limit yourself to just one product. Every niche will have a range of products that you can promote, so diversify a bit and cover a few at a time.
- While you’re diversifying your range of products, why not also expand how you promote them? Try using social media posts, email lists, and interactive ads to mix it up a little.
- Don’t lose sight of your audience. Understanding their wants and needs must remain central to your strategy. Create content that builds true relationships and provides your audience with value.
- Make sure you are tracking and evaluating data. The key to success when it comes to affiliate marketing is regularly looking at your data and making decisions based on analytics and not simply flying blind or based on a gut feeling. Being able to optimize your campaigns effectively can mean the difference between failing and succeeding.
Join ATraffic for The Best Affiliate Programs for Bloggers
Join ATraffic today to gain access to an expansive network of hundreds of merchants and a wide selection of products that will help you get started.
At ATraffic we know that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to becomes successful as an affiliate blogger, which is why we go out of our way to provide you just the kind of support and tools you need to achieve your goals.