As with just about anything in this world of blogging (and often the broader world in general), you can't get something for nothing. This is something many of our parents probably tried to instill within us as kids, and it will always hold true. I find that this little saying is especially true when discussing how to build a successful and perhaps even lucrative blog.
Affiliate marketing can be a rewarding, lucrative method of monetization on your site, but the bottom line is that you're going to have to work at it. A link here and there, a random tweet or two, those things aren't going to earn money for you. Using an affiliate network to it's fullest capability takes a bit more time, and a considerable amount of care and strategy. Be smart about how you use your links and where, how often you share them and which retailers you want to support.
To give you some real insight into using affiliate networks, IFB reached out to bloggers who are using them, to give you a first-hand account of their experience. As the author of these posts (and someone who uses an affiliate network on their site), I thought it would only be fair to share my personal experience as well:
I have played around with different affiliate links for years. I have to admit they don't always work. It's not always about linking everything either. Sometimes you only need to link items you love or items that you think people would want to buy. I like it because I am an online shopper and when I look at sites I want to shop what inspires me and I don't mind supporting the publisher. If they inspired me to buy something then I feel they deserve the credit. I think they are very effective when done right.
Jessie Artigue, Style & Pepper:
I share affiliate links that connect my readers to items I wear (or to something that is similar) in the notations of my outfit posts, and fully disclose this on the partnership page of my site. However, I have made the conscious decision NOT to have affiliate ads (the ones that look like sponsorship buttons) on my site, because I feel it is HIGHLY unfair to the small, independent companies who purchase fee-based ad space on Style & Pepper. Why should I let those larger retailers have valuable space on my site for just pennies, when there are brands out there willing to cultivate an actual relationship with me and support my content with various partnerships or monthly ads. I would hate to make my valued sponsors feel as though they are being unfairly treated, and can imagine that it would even deter certain companies from reaching out to me in the first place.
My experience with my personal blog, shut up, i love that shirt on you:
I just started including affiliate links on some of my posts about six months ago. Right from the get-go I thought it was a creative and content-loyal way to monetize my personal style site. I do not include them in every post, and I rarely include affiliate links in tweets. The lack of serious effort on my part has not allowed me to fully actualize the potential of my affiliate network. It's actually one of my 2012 blogging resolutions to dedicate myself to using affiliate marketing more thoroughly and thoughtfully on my site as well as my social networks. I know of many bloggers who have had great success with their efforts, and hope to emulate a little of that in the new year. This is a monetization method that takes time, dedication and effort – three of the most important ingredients when striving to succeed in any arena!
We have had such lively and informative conversations going in the comments for these posts each week, so let's keep it up! Please share your tips, success stories and questions below!