How to monetise your website using Pay per lead-Pay per sale and contextual advertising
How to monetise your site using Affiliate programs.
The next thing I am going to do to monetise my site is to try to join some Affiliate programs. Affiliate Marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more Affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the Affiliate's marketing efforts. It is an application of crowdsourcing.
The Affiliate Marketing industry has four core players at its heart. The Merchant (also known informally as 'Retailer' or 'Brand'). The Network, the Publisher (also known informally as 'the Affiliate') and the Customer.
I have always been wary of Affiliate programs as there are so many of them out there. However, as I have already said, It is not my intention to spend any money. This means I will need to start looking for free Affiliate programs to join. If I can advertise some of their products then hopefully I can boost income from my websites.
Which ones to choose.
There are thousands of Affiliate programs out there offering infinite products to sell on your site. Depending on your niche market you will need to do some thorough research for suitable Affiliate programs first. This can be done easily by finding companies whose products fit your site. Next check them out to see whether or not they offer an Affiliate program. There are also a lot of Affiliate programs that offer both advertisers (Companies with products to sell) and publishers (People like us) opportunities to boost their online performances. They do this by offering a range of products and services and the chance for you to join their advertiser's programs.
Joining an Affiliate program.
Joining their programs will normally entail filling out an account application form with a link to your site. They then check your site out for suitability for their program. You will also be asked to read their terms of agreement, which can be a lengthy read. Note: Be wary of any site that offers you instant membership. In my experience, a lot of these companies are not trustworthy. Also, be mindful that not all companies will accept your application.
Researching Affiliate companies.
If you are unsure about an Affiliate program you can usually find out about it before joining by doing a general search on the program. People like to share their experiences and opinions online so there will usually be a forum or discussion board somewhere that may be able to give you an insight into what you could be signing up for. These are especially useful with regards to payments and customer service. I highly recommend you do this first before considering joining any programs.
Knowing I can find out a lot about companies in forums and discussion boards, over the years has been very useful in deciding whether or not to join a program.
Not all Affiliates programs are what they seem.
I was once with a company, who for legal reasons will remain nameless. At first, I thought they sounded excellent and signed up straight away. My site was earning on a daily basis and to be honest I thought I was onto a winner. That was until I reached my minimum payment target and tried to chase up my payment. I sent numerous emails and it wasn't until I did a little background check (being new to Affiliate marketing) that I found that the company in question never replied to emails and yes, you guessed it, seldom paid up. The only time I ever got a reply, which took over a month to arrive, was when I told them I was closing my account. I was then informed that by doing so I had lost all entitlement to any outstanding monies owed, lesson learned.
For this experiment, I am only going to join a few Affiliate programs just to test the water. I want to see if I can make money online buy advertising merchants products within the content of my pages. I will mainly be looking for Affiliate programs offering Contextual advertising, PPL, ( Pay Per Lead ) and PPS ( Pay per Sale )but will also join a few with other options. These being Product Links, Live Store-Windows, Virtual Stores, Banners, Search boxes and Text Links. That will provide Pay Per Lead or Pay per sale options also.
There is no guarantee.
Take my word for it, when Joining Affiliate programs it is not a guaranteed way to make money. It sounds great and you think that as long as you are getting a steady flow of traffic to your site, are getting hits on your links, then you are likely to make sales, trust me that is not the case.
You will not be the only one advertising products for your chosen companies. Getting hits is one thing, converting them to a sale is something completely different. You will constantly need to do product research and update your links, as its all about supply and demand. There's also the risk that the Affiliate program you have signed up to is not all it seems. You may make the odd sale but you might not actually receive the commission you are due.
This is why I tend to avoid programs that offer instant membership. Plus you have the fact that most, if not all Affiliate companies will only pay out once you have earned a set amount of money. What they like to call the payment threshold. This can vary from anything between £5-00 to £50-00 plus or $5-00 to $50-00 plus all depending on your target audience, and believe me it is harder to hit the targets than you think.
I have found that despite getting hits on my Affiliate links I do not always get a sale. No sale means no commission. Some of my Affiliate links have had several hits a week but seldom do they convert to a sale. Prices online are so competitive that people will always look for the cheapest option and the product you are selling may not be the cheapest one online.
I will be experimenting with different Affiliate programs, providing, of course, I meet my chosen merchants criteria to be able to sign up. This is also another factor that needs to be considered. A lot of merchants will not accept you as an Affiliate if, for example, your site does not meet their regional requirements. For example, this site is a .com site but is UK based. We advertise globally and most, at least 80% of the sites customers and traffic come from the USA, Canada, India and other foreign countries yet a lot of merchants will not accept us as a member of their program due to not meeting their regional requirements.
Another thing you will need to consider is Google. Google do not like websites that are low on content but promote a lot of advertising. In February 2011, they introduced the Panda algorithm which aimed to lower Page rank of low-quality sites and return higher-quality sites near the top of search results. This resulted in a noticeable increase in the Page rank of new sites and a decline in the page rank of sites containing little content and large amounts of advertising. In January 2012, they introduced a page layout algorithm that effectively targeted websites with little content above the fold. If you are thinking of building an Affiliate based website, for example using various affiliate shop windows etc to sell products this is something you may want to consider.
In January 2015 Google continued to improve it's algorithm updates. This has dramatically altered the web and search engine ranking for even some of the big names online. With this being an ongoing situation as Google are constantly trying to "improve" online user experience, some sites with limited resources and minimum SEO experience will struggle to compete with the better financed and designed websites who are their competition and this is something you must also bear in mind.
Since originally writing this article Google has made some huge updates to their algorithms. In 2018 they made three updates that impacted on the web sending some sites crashing while others traffic soared. With this in mind, I advise that you stay vigilant and ensure you keep your site up to date. To stay on top of them you will need to search Google Algorithm updates.
2020 Update: Since first writing this article Google has continued to fine tune their algorithms and stream line their products.