If one of your goals for blogging, other than sharing your passion with the blogosphere, is to make money…
You’re not alone. It’s easy to witness the success of other bloggers, and not crave a piece of the pie.
You might want to earn enough to make a full time living, or perhaps just enough to buy a new pair of designer shoes. After all, it’s a lot easier to make money doing something you love. But, where to begin?
First of all, let’s dispel any affiliate marketing rumors that making money online, is simple and enjoyable. Nothing can be further from the truth. When we’re dealing with affiliate marketing, it’s definitely a lot of trial and error. Some programs will work for some people and not for others. If you want to get into affiliate marketing, please understand that it’s going to take a lot of work. You’re also going to have to keep a watchful eye on your analytics.
Affiliate programs versus affiliate networks
Second, there are a lot of affiliate programs out there: Shopzilla, Amazon, and Google Adsense are a few. But, what about affiliate networks? What’s the difference?
An affiliate program is a specialized program through a specific website that caters toward a niche market. Through these programs, you’re dealing directly with the advertiser and you can choose to place affiliate links or affiliate banners on your site. Typically, when people click, you make money. The con of affiliate programs? Although you may have a vested interest in the links or banners you have chosen, with affiliate programs, you’re usually on your own. Better check the FAQ’s or Help sections.
An affiliate network acts as a liaison between advertisers and you, the blogger. When you sign up for an affiliate network like Pepperjam or Hydra Network, for instance, you’re signing up with an affiliate manager who is going to help you find the best advertisements for your site. The con with affiliate networks? Some of the advertisements you can choose are low-quality, irrelevant to fashion bloggers, and some are downright SPAM.
As a side note, Commission Junction is possibly the largest affiliate network out there, linking arms with the top advertisers in the Web 2.0 space. This is perhaps my favorite route because, as a fashion and beauty blogger, I can apply to relevant to different merchants like Pink Mascara and Smashbox, to place ads on my site. However, because of the size of this network, it functions similarly to an affiliate program where you independently choose your advertisements, and you must apply to programs individually.
OK, so I want to sign up for an affiliate program or affiliate network? How do I get paid?
If you want to cash a paycheck, you’re going to have to know the lingo. Hopefully, you’re tracking your website stats through a program like Google Analytics. Often, affiliate programs and networks have their own tracking, so it’s good to be able to compare an contrast.
The first thing to understand are the different models of payment. Different programs pay differently.
Two of the most common are Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Action (CPA).
CPC usually ensures that you’ll get paid for each click to an ad, like Google AdWords. CPA, on the other hand, means that you’ll get paid once a customer has completed an action, such as placing an order. Many affiliate networks follow the CPA model. For other Affiliate Marketing related terms, click here!
So, which you decide to use is entirely up to you. If you’re new to affiliate marketing, it wouldn’t hurt to start with an affiliate program, and maybe link up with an affiliate network down the road. Either way, good luck earning that blogging cash!