There is nothing wrong with monetizing your blog provided you do it in a manner that benefits your readers and does not compromise you ethically.
IMHO, as long as you only recommend products and services you truly believe in and never add anything solely for the potential income, what you choose to offer enhances the content of your blog.
If you are a subject matter expert, your evaluations and reviews can be positive additions that enable your readers to make decisions.
The easiest way to start generating an income online is by adding affiliate links. I recommend starting with magazine subscriptions because they offer high commissions (30+%) and there are magazines related to almost any niche.
Our first step is to evaluate affiliate programs:
- Do they pay their affiliates promptly and frequently? (How frequently? – some only pay quarterly.)
- Are their retail prices competitive?
- What percentage do they pay their affiliates?
- Is there a minimum payout?
It won’t matter how high an affiliate program’s commission is if they don’t pay you. Before using an unknown program search for online reviews, complaints (try the program name and the word scam), or any other information you can locate. It may be better to go with programs known to pay consistently than to test an unknown.
Do not assume that higher commissions and higher retail prices will generate more income for you. Magazine prices are usually consistent and Internet users will shop around. You would do better to promote the best retail price to your readers rather than a higher price that will generate less sales.
Some companies offer their own affiliate programs and others work with one or more affiliate services. In all cases you join a program and they provide tracking links, images, banners and text links. You can use these as a start; however, the best results come from offering your own unique content.
Magazine subscriptions generated more affiliate sales for me than any other source. I featured a link from the home page to a page that offered an image of the cover plus a custom description of each magazine in my niche. I mentioned what the magazine covered and who would most benefit from reading it.
I sometimes ran inexpensive ppc (pay per click) ads using keyword phrases including the magazine names (where allowed – some may restrict their use) and any searches that might result in subscriptions. PPC advertising was once very dependable but is more dangerous now than it was when I recommended it.
While researching this post I found Magazines Affiliate which offers commissions higher than any I received from similar programs at Commission Junction (CJ). CJ is popular because they were one of the first major affiliate management companies and are known for collecting from their advertisers and paying their affiliates consistently.
I had hoped Affiliate Scout would have reviews of the affiliate programs I wanted to evaluate. While they are often listed most of the time there are no actual reviews. I will continue to seek out the most timely, accurate affiliate review sites and share them here. In the meantime, here are the major programs similar to Commission Junction:
- Clickbank – read the fine print; hard to get payout if you sell primarily on PayPal because you need credit card sales. They debit fees that can eat up all earnings.
- Commission Factory
- Commission Junction
- JV Zoo – often used by bloggers to sell info products
- ShareaSale – Highly recommended
- LinkConnector – Check out their new Naked Link Technology
MAGAZINE AFFILIATE PROGRAMS:
- Magazines.com (Linkshare – Recommended)
- MagMall.com (Not recommended – 20% commission only paid on immediate sales)
You may wish to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post that explains how affiliate sales are tracked. Affiliate programs are NOT created equally and you need to know how they differ to maximize your results.
AFFILIATE MARKETING RESOURCES:
- Good Overview of Affiliate Marketing: Learning the Ropes
- Top Ways to Increase Success with Affiliate Marketing
- How To Grow Traffic To Your Affiliate Website
Originally published 2/27/2009; updated 8/19/17 to remove Bridaluxe (out of business) and add new affiliate platforms.