I think its time that someone offers the blogging world, and those looking to enter it, a reality check about affiliate ads. For the uninitiated, here's a brief background on the process:
For instance, part of Googles Affiliate Network site states, ” As an advertiser using Google Affiliate Network, you'll discover pre-screened publishers who can refer consumer traffic to you. As a publisher, you can market your site to advertisers in the network; if selected to participate in an advertiser's program, you'll earn a percent of sales or a referral bounty.” Most other Networks have similar phrasing.
Translation by He
Ads are posted on your blog for free, and if a reader clicks on that ad and purchases a product from that store, you (the blogger) earn a percentage of that sale.
As a new or upcoming blogger, this probably sounds like a win-win: legitimate advertising companies want to use your blog as a platform to expand their brands. If the ads entice readers to click through and purchase, you make money. If the ads don't work, you lose some blog space and maybe some independent credibility, but it doesn't cost you anything.
The situation is much better for the advertisers than it is for you, and you're highly unlikely to make any material royalties from affiliate ads regardless of how many you can cram onto your blog. We all understand this – affiliate and banner ads are ugly, annoying and often unrelated to you or your interests – which is why hardly anyone clicks on them and even fewer purchases anything from the advertising site in that same session. The advertisers don't care because they get to put ads everywhere on the web for free whether they work or not, so even if they don't lead to tons of click-through sales their names/brands/faces/taglines are plastered all over the web and they get the extra exposure. Here's what your fellow bloggers have to say:
The Better Way
If you build and network a decent blog that actually has something to say, people will find it. More people means more referrals, likes, followers, and overall attention – often in the form of advertisers who are willing to pay for ad space up front. This is key – if they want ad space on your blog, make them pay you for it. You worked hard to create and cultivate the blog, so if you decide to use ads for legitimacy, money, exposure or all of the above – don't do it for free. You won't retire from paid ads… but two or three are likely to make you more than 2 years' worth of crossing your fingers for affiliate click-through sales. To prove my point even further, check out my stats from April:
The Bottom Line
If you're a smaller blog and decide to use ads, you can use affiliate ads and wait for the pennies to roll in, or you can make the smarter decision and seek out advertisers who value your space enough to pay for it (having a better blog helps). If your blog blows up, and you start getting a lot of traffic, you're more likely to make money from affiliate ads, but also more likely to get more offers for paid space – so it's your call. If you become the next “Big Blogger” you'll be able to do whatever the hell you want with your ad space, still make good money and when that happens don't forget that your old friend Fashion by He who showed you the way.
image by Jennine Jacob/ The Coveted instagram