Setting up an affiliate marketing site can be a simple or a very complex venture, depending upon the goals you wish to meet. The scope of the pros and cons needs to be understood before you embark on a commit to a project.
On the surface, setting up an affiliate marketing web site sounds simple. You create a web site, populate it with articles, reviews or content about each product, and provide links to merchants’ web sites. Any time a user clicks on a link to a merchant’s site, fills out a form or buys a product after clicking on a link to a merchant’s site, the affiliate marketer earns a commission. Badda bing, badda boom!
The reality is that an affiliate marketing web site can only succeed if you can drive a lot of traffic to the the site–and that is not always easy to do. In some cases, pay-per-click advertising can be used to drive traffic to a new site, but but that will quickly eat up any commissions earned through the vast majority of affiliate programs. It is therefore critical to use search engine optimization in the design and setup in order to take advantage of as much free traffic as you can over the long term.
In Part 1 of this affiliate marketing tutorial, we introduced the concept behind affiliate marketing. In this article, we will go over the pros and cons of using affiliate marketing to supplement your income.
- If a catalog or product-related site is designed properly, almost all of the cost is up-front and the site generates an ongoing annuity stream of income.
- The most successful affiliate marketing sites are built using unique content. This makes the concept very compatible with blogs and sites focused on providing information that users seek.
- If the site is strongly themed and draws in targeted traffic through the free organic search engine results pages, a web site can have very little in ongoing maintenance costs other than hosting fees.
- The use of ads from an advertising network is simple to implement on almost any web site, regardless of whether it is a new or existing site.
- Most affiliate networks pay out commissions within 30 days. There is usually a threshold that must be reached before commissions are sent, but that is typically only $25, $50 or $100. Payments can be made via direct transfer to your bank account.
- Requires ongoing promotion to drive traffic to a web site. Without targeted traffic–and lots of it–affiliate marketing does not earn commissions.
- Success usually requires many affiliate marketing sites in order to generate a substantial income. Most affiliate marketing professionals have hundreds of sites.
- The textual content for each page should ideally be unique. If data feeds are used, there is an ongoing problem with using the same content that may also be used on hundreds or thousands of other affiliate sites. This suppresses the ability of the site to rank well in search engines.
- A simple affiliate site that does not add value for a user will likely get flagged as a “thin affiliate” by Google, which means it will be penalized so that it does not rank well.
- Blog sites must usually continue to grow in order to retain good search engine results. “Build it and they will come” has not worked since the 1990s.
- Using pay-per-click advertising to drive traffic is generally not cost-effective.
In Affiliate Marketing 101 Part 3, we will cover issues related to how to get started with affiliate marketing.