Increasing Your Website Revenue from Affiliate Programs
by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com
So you signed up for an affiliate program, and dreamt of untold riches that comes simply with having a website. Until you got your first cheque, that is.
Earning an income from advertising on your website is often proclaimed as The Dream To End All Dreams where you earn even while you sleep (which is true). All you have to do is to set up a website and the money starts flowing in, right? As many new web designers have found out, it doesn't work quite so smoothly. Very often, the reality check comes when you get your first month's cheque.
Here are some tips to help you increase your takings from your advertisements.
Before you jump out of that window, you have to realise that, like many things, these things take time. In general, for many webmasters starting out with their first affiliate program, their first month's income is usually rather pithy. This is normal. The income improves as you fine-tune your site and the advertisements and banners you use.
Targeting Your Advertisements
There's really no short cut to this. Unless you signed up for one of those programs that will rotate ads on your site automatically, you should try to fit the banners and links you display on your site to the audience that you expect your site to attract.
For example, if your site is about education, put up advertisements and banners that would interest people who come to your site. Think about it -- education sites would interest at least three types of people: kids, educators (teachers) and parents. Choose advertisements that would interest them. Note that this does not mean that you exclude all other types of advertisements. Some ads are general enough to appeal to many types of audience.
I know I mentioned this in my other article, "How to Make Money from Your Website" at http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/makemoney.shtml but taking the effort to do this can really make the difference between the success of your advertising and a miserable income each month. The trick of course is to figure out what your target audience will like. It's not as easy as it might seem.
Ads About Free Stuff Do Better
Let's face it. When we go to a physical shop to get something, we expect to pay money for the goods we obtain. But when we go to a website, we bring with us a different mindset. We expect information, goods and services free of charge.
Because of this, advertisements about things that your visitors can obtain free will usually fare better than those about things that they have to pay money for.
If your affiliate program has free stuff on offer, try them out on your site to see how it performs.
Traffic is Everything
No visitors, no money. To have people clicking on your banners and taking up the offers given there, you need to work on the traffic going through your site. There's no substitute for this. No amount of fine-tuning of your advertisements is going to help you if you have only a few visitors going to your site each day.
Remember that not every visitor is going to click on your banner. (When was the last time you clicked on a banner on another site?) So to earn any income at all, you must generate enough traffic.
If you want to learn more about promoting your site, you can check out my other articles on website promotion for more information.
Content is King
I have seen many sites whose webmasters obviously decided that they'll make a quick buck by loading up their site with affiliate program links. Their site contains nothing but advertising links, along with comments that these are "fantastic offers", "great offers", "best" and whatnot. I'm sure you've seen those sites too.
If your site is like this, you should be aware that aggressive promotion may get you many visitors, but those visitors are unlikely to bookmark your site and return for more. There will be some (if not more) that will be so fed up that they won't even look at what you have to say.
My suggestion - your website must have genuine content. Unending lists of advertising links may fool some people, but not for long.
Some advertisers tell you that you should personally recommend their products, and if you do so, the advertising link will do much better. True. But unless you yourself have used their product or service, and also agree that it is what *you* claim it to be, putting such a link can be counterproductive. There is a relationship of trust between you and your visitors. People start off generally believing what you say until you demonstrate that you're just a salesperson trying to make a quick buck. My recommendation is that if you don't really know much about a product, or have not tried it, do not pretend otherwise. Of course if you're using it yourself and think the world of it, by all means, recommend it.
Basically, just be honest. Believe it or not, honesty is the best business policy.
Text Links Vs Banners
You'll read on some sites that nowadays, text links fare better than banner links. Other sites claim that banners are coming into vogue again. I think that such blanket claims have to be qualified somewhat.
My experience is that text links that are part of the content of your site will generally do better than banners or other text links.
I used to think that text links that are not part of your site content need to be short and sharp in order to do well. However, I have seen some sites that have an elaborate long advertising copy for its link. The webmasters of such sites have apparently found that long stories like these work well for their type of audience. You may wish to do some testing on your own site to see which type of text advertising work for your audience.
As for banners, whether they work or not depends largely on the type of website you have, your audience and the design of the banners. Like all things, you'll just have to test them out on your site and examine the results after a few months.
Rotation and Weeding
If you don't use an advertising program that automatically puts the most relevant ads on your website, you will need to manually manage the advertisements that appear on your website.
Do this by monitoring your advertising statistics. If an advertisement does well initially, and its performance slowly drops over time, it is probably time to rotate that banner or button. If it remains too long on the page, people tend to stop seeing it. Sometimes you can prolong the life of the advertisement by simply using a different banner from the same advertiser (assuming they provide more than one banner).
Likewise, if an advertisement seldom has any takers, remove it. There are at least a couple of common reasons for this: the picture doesn't attract anyone to click on it (banners that are too wordy often have this deterrent effect); or your site's target audience is not interested in this type of service or product. Don't keep it around just because it has a high payout rate - what's the point of a high payout rate if no one ever takes it?
Above all, be patient. Keep working on improving your traffic and fine-tuning the ads that appear on your pages. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
Copyright 2000-2008 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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