Those of us who have been in the affiliate space for a while know that the industry is predicted to grow to $4.5 billion by 2016. Meanwhile, did you know that there continues to be a steady rise in the amount of active bloggers? According to Nielsen data, there are 6.7 million people publishing blogs on blogging websites and another 12 million that are writing blogs using social networks.
Given the rise of bloggers and the anticipated growth of the affiliate industry, it stands to reason that more bloggers would get on board. However, it’s not that simple.
Monetization Doesn’t Mean Giving Up Control
For many bloggers — driven by either passion or paycheck – monetization is the goal. This is why many bloggers turn to options such as Google AdSense. Yet, a fair amount of feedback suggests this option leaves them disappointed partly because the blogger has no control over which ads appear on their site.
To the blogging community at large, take note: you can grow your readership and monetize without compromising the vision and mission of your blog using affiliate marketing.
While much of your success still depends on your ability to drive traffic to your blog, here are five non-negotiable criteria that bloggers should require before jumping into affiliate marketing.
1. Maintain Control Over Advertising
Be sure you have complete control over the ads that appear on your blog and that those ads align with the content on the page.
Along with the type of ads that appear, the blogger should also have complete control over the size and type of text, banners, video, and the like that appear in the ads. This way, the ads will complement the blog and not overshadow the content.
2. Brand Alignment
Make sure the brands you promote are aligned with your voice and your editorial content. Going beyond control over the ads, brand alignment elevates a blogger’s presence among the leading brands in his or her industry. This, in turn, helps drive additional traffic to the site and, more importantly, drives conversions, therefore expanding the blogger’s reach and the potential to be credited for the transactions resulting from that traffic.
For example, I recently participated in a panel at the Independent Fashion Blogger’s conference, where several hundred bloggers gathered to learn how to improve and monetize their blogs. One of the most common questions asked at the event was how to break into the inner circles of the top brands without appearing like a sell-out.
In response, I emphasized that it’s about creating a win-win situation. Bloggers and advertisers that are aligned from a branding perspective will find it easy to work together.
Affiliate marketing enables bloggers to monetize at the brand and product level while offering complete control over which products they feature in their blog. Remember, as long as the brands and products reflect the blogger’s editorial direction, readers won’t be distracted or turned off by the monetization elements.
3. Making Introductions And Partnership Support
While working independently is at the top of the list of perks of being a blogger, there’s also something to be said about having the support of the network to act as an independent third-party resource.
This is when the value of the network becomes either make-or-break to the blogger in terms of vetting qualified advertisers, facilitating introductions to those advertisers, and acting at the intermediary in lobbying for fair commissions.
4. Global Reach
Many bloggers today have readers from all over the world. Affiliate marketing networks with a global reach will allow bloggers to partner with local advertisers.
For example, lets say you are a blogger in the U.S. with a significant amount of traffic from the UK. An affiliate marketing network operating in the UK will enable you to partner with leading and emerging UK brands. Ads from these advertisers will be much more relevant to your UK audience and will be more likely to convert compared to ads from US advertisers.
5. Tools That Make It Easy
A fair concern among bloggers new to affiliate marketing is whether it will create more work for them. After all, keeping a steady stream of interesting and relevant content flowing is already time consuming. For affiliate marketing to appeal to new bloggers it must be fun, unobtrusive, and easy.
To ensure this, the network needs to provide easy access to reports that show relevant information such as sales and commission trends, without requiring extensive training. Many networks also now have tools that make finding, getting and publishing links easier than ever, including tools for Facebook and Twitter.
If you know bloggers that are still on the fence about affiliate marketing, why not share this post and/or encourage them to take a trial run?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.