Taking that carefully nurtured audience in a new direction by adding affiliate links can be tricky – even if you’ve already made a practice of reviewing products now and again. So how do you continue to grow your readership while also monetizing your site?
The first thing is this: you need to decide if you are comfortable monetizing your site at all.
I can remember the early days of blogging when it was considered poor form to monetize even with ads – something that is widely accepted today. Now as native advertising has grown (native advertising = sponsored posts), readers have become hypersensitive to being “sold” when they visit your blog.
You’ve curated your audience carefully, so you need to approach the addition of affiliate links with sensitivity. The last thing you want to do is haplessly push products on your readers. If you write about parenting and you’re suddenly promoting lawn gear, your affiliate marketing efforts are going to fail – as is your blog. Some things just don’t go together, like toothpaste and orange juice.
Authenticity Is Key
You’ve already grown your blog’s audience by being you – so the key to being successful with affiliate marketing is to maintain your authenticity while adding in the links. This means selecting affiliate programs and brands/products/services that work with your already established narrative.
Stay On Topic
Chances are you’ve selected a specific niche or tone for your blog – so you need to keep your affiliate links related to that tone or niche. This might seem daunting, but with research, you will be able to find affiliate programs that will work with your brand.
Trust me, going off topic might seem like the fast track to big paydays but will definitely end up costing you readership. Your readers trust you; you need to honor the faith they’ve put in you.
Affiliate Links Are Advertisements
Ads on blogs are usually very easy to spot. Typically, they are those rotating sidebar or banner header images that quite clearly are promoting a specific product. But affiliate links are far more subtle, which can be very appealing to bloggers.
However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t ads. Just like you wouldn’t want to watch a television show about Coca-Cola, no one wants to read blogs that read like an advertisement. You need to be prudent with your affiliate links on your blog; use them smartly and sparingly.
Of course, if you really want to go to town with affiliate links, you could always consider setting up a secondary blog that you can pack chock full of them.