Bloggers – 9 Things that STOP You From Making Money

With Q4 around the corner, I’m helping the thousands of bloggers and social media affiliates prepare their accounts and strategies for the biggest money making season of the year.  While going through these sites and building custom strategies, I’ve been keeping a list of the most common issues and solutions.  To help you check your own websites (or your affiliates if you manage programs), here are 9 the of most common mistakes I find with bloggers that may stop them from making as much money as they could with affiliate marketing.

  1. Promoting coupon sites and loyalty/cash back websites
  2. Placing banners on the top of your posts
  3. Using your sidebar and not your content
  4. Newsletters, Newsletters, Newsletters
  5. Test your ads
  6. Use calls to action
  7. Round ups with your products
  8. Forget yourself and know your readers
  9. “Complementing” yourself and not your content
By @Rukanoga / purchased from DepositPhotos.com
By @Rukanoga / purchased from DepositPhotos.com

How to Make Money as a Blogger With Affiliate Links

The following tips below will go through the biggest mistakes I’m seeing right now as we plan Q4 promotions and work with our blogger and social media partners.  Please read through each to see if you may be making them and then feel free to contact me here if you’d like to go over your own website and see if we can help you to make more money with your blog or social media accounts.

Promoting Coupon Sites and Loyalty/Cash Back Websites

Problem – There is nothing wrong with promoting a coupon or loyalty site if you don’t plan on using affiliate links.  Coupon and loyalty/cash back sites are awesome.  You can save money, get cash back when you shop and if it’s charity based, you feel good about helping others by shopping for products you were going to buy anyways.  The problem with promoting coupon and loyalty sites on your blog, or being in their affiliate programs, is that many of them are your competitors.

When your visitors click through your direct links, widgets, feeds or your affiliate links to visit the coupon site or loyalty site, your cookie may not be set yet so you won’t get a commission if the person shops.

Even if your tracking cookie is set, if they are an affiliate as well, your cookie may be overwritten as your reader clicks their affiliate link and you may now lose the commission if it is.  There’s one more large thing to think about.

If you’re sending your readers to get cash back, donate to charity or anything similar, and the loyalty site is an affiliate, you’ve now given your readers a place to shop and always get cash back.  By doing this your readers that may have clicked and shopped through your links might become “loyal” to the loyalty site and now instead of using your links so you earn commissions, they decide to go for cash back and you may no longer each money from some of your affiliate links since the loyalty site is using theirs.

Solution – The solution to this could be as simple as stopping promoting these sites.  But there is a better one.  If you’re sending clicks to these sites and think people are using their coupons and cash back, get a service like GoldenCan or PopShops which may be able to give you a copy and paste version of a coupon site.  Now you have a resource for your readers to shop through, other websites to link to too help boost your SEO and other bloggers to reference.  Your cookies may be better protected as well since you won’t be sending them to another potential affiliate’s website.

Placing Banners on the Top of Your Posts

Problem – If you’re monetizing on a CPM (cost per thousand impression basis) banners on the top of your blog posts are great.  You get the exposure and rack up your impressions.  However, your content hasn’t had a chance to sell the visitor yet.  Instead of placing affiliate banners or links on the top of the post, try somewhere lower once the reader trusts you.

Solution – The bottom of the post or in your author’s box.  On my old site design I had space for a few 125×125 banners.  (They will be coming back soon).  I also had text over the top that said these are all tools I use for my clients, websites and with my company.  My posts tend to be long so if the person makes it to the bottom, they really like what I’m writing and may trust me more.  I also haven’t send them off of my website during the middle of a post.

By reaching the bottom they have all of the information from the post, I have their trust or attention and can now sell them on products that I mention or use without having them leave the page without finishing the post.  Instead of distracting them with affiliate banners or links before I could sell them on how the product or service is a solution for their issues at the top of a post, try placing affiliate links as they’re relevant and at the bottom when you have your reader’s trust and they’re ready to shop and create the solution you provided them with.

Using Your Sidebar and Not Your Content

Problem – Your sidebar may get some clicks, but probably won’t make you rich with affiliate links or banners.  By having a random banner in your sidebar you haven’t had a chance to presell a product, company or service.  You also end up with visitors who have gone banner blind and block out normal ads.  These spaces are much better used to reinforce trust for brands or being sold on a CPM basis since they get a lot of impressions but not a lot of clicks.

Solution – Try using deep links and image links within your content.  Your content sells the products and provides solutions.  By using deep affiliate links to the products and services you talk about, that can be helpful or provide a solution for your readers, you’ve now started to presell why they should buy them and given them a way to do it.  If it is a visual item, see if the merchant will let you use their images and turn those into an affiliate link as well.  Now you have an image to get the attention of the visitor, show what the product or model looks like and provided a way for your reader to click through and shop.

Newsletters, Newsletters, Newsletters

Problem – Many bloggers and social media partners have newsletters, but they forget to use them to make money as well as bring visitors back to their blogs.

Solution – Read this post about how to make money with your newsletters.

Test Your Ads

Problem – One thing many of us do is get comfortable with what works and not test or change it.  By not testing new merchants, advertisements and channels for making money, you may be missing out.

Solution – Find a plugin that works for you.  There are tons of tools that are free to a reasonable fee that are built for bloggers.  AdRotate, AdMob, etc…  Some can change out affiliate banners, in content text links and even monitor what you make with each and rotate by the day or time of day so that they can help you to make the most of your content.  Feel free to write me by using the contact form and I can recommend a few to you or to some of the people who I go to to find out new ad testing plugins.

Use Calls to Action

Problem – Not telling someone what to do leaves it up to them to figure it out.  You cannot expect everyone to click through your links or to take an action on your website without telling them what to do.  Some visitors may click through, but other’s may not.  That’s why using a call to action is important.

Solution – There are a ton of ways you can use calls to action.  Some are in your face while some can be added in naturally.  Here are a few examples:

  • “Click Here To Buy” (under a product image or after a product name with a text link)
  • “You can shop for this specific product here” (after the mention of a product)
  • “Don’t forget to click the links at the bottom to find the products to be able to (insert solution the blog post provides) yourself”
  • Add in a shop now button below the images that takes the visitor to the product to purchase
  • Use words like “create this now by finding XYZ products here” (make the word “here” your affiliate link)

You can be subtle, direct, use words or images or however you think it may work best.  The thing to remember is to include a call to action to help encourage the person to shop through your links instead of hoping they will or worse, type the merchant’s name directly into the browser.

Round Ups With Your Products

Problem – Many bloggers forget to include them at the bottom of their posts.

Solution – Add a round up of products to help create the solution from your blog post.  It could be supplies for a craft or recipe, tools and products to fix something or even tickets and hotel deals for travel.  Whatever solution your blog post provides, if you have affiliate links to help provide a resource, include them at the bottom to help your readers know how to create the solution and so that they can use the resources you recommend through your affiliate links to create it.

Forget Yourself and Know Your Readers

Problem – Some bloggers assume their readers are exactly like them.  Although they may have the same personality traits, which is why your readers read your blog, they may not be exactly like you.  If you’re a weight loss blogger whose lost XY pounds, new readers may be just starting their weight loss programs and looking for your advice.  If you’re a fashion blogger and a size 2, chances are a lot of your readers are not size 2.  They could be a 0 or a 10 so posting thing only available in sizes 2 to 6 may prevent you from making more sales.

Solution – Provide solutions for your readers and not only yourself.  If you’re writing about fashion, find plus size and smaller alternatives for your readers, even if the size isn’t your own.  If you’re a fitness expert and talking about the marathon you’re running or training for, use products geared towards non professionals who read because you inspire them, but aren’t able to do what you do yet.

Remember, your blog is about you and what you like, those things might not apply to your readers so make sure to provide alternatives for them.  By giving them what they need to be successful or create the same solution you have you may be able to earn more since you’re solutions are now for a larger audience.  Doing this may also help you bond with your readers since you’re now catering to their needs and not only your own.

“Complementing Yourself and Not Your Content”

Problem – This is more of me having fun with words.  Some bloggers get stuck inside their box.  If you have posts about cooking with crock pots or a website dedicated to crock pot recipes and are only using affiliate links off of the crock pot style in a recipe post to about making XYZ, you might be missing out.  A person looking for recipes probably already has a crock pot, so you may not want to use an affiliate link in this spot, instead use a different type of link.

Solution – There are a few things to do here.  The first is to create a small store using popshops, amazon astores, share a sale make a page, etc…  Now when you mention the crock pots, use internal links to these pages help boost your SEO.  If the person does need a crock pot, they now have a selection of ones that you specifically like and point out or use yourself.  You can also do a detailed description of your favorites with multiple places to buy them and presell them to help increase click throughs and hopefully conversions.  The other thing is to use different affiliate links that complement your content or help provide the ways to create the recipes.

Complementary products would include funny crock pot t shirts, crock pot recipe books, aprons, or other things that would be relevant to someone who likes or uses crock pots.  They can also be combined with the products you talk about in the post to create a solution.  If you mention products like skewers, non stick sheets, specific knives, etc… use those affiliate links at the bottom or throughout the post since they are required for the recipe.  The complementary products could be fun impulse buys for the people who already have the tools you mention in the post and wouldn’t need to buy them.  This is how you can better complement your content and hopefully drive more revenue.

These are some of the things I see most often when helping bloggers make money with affiliate links.  I have this post with more reasons why affiliates don’t make money if you want to read more things to check for on your site.  If you’d like to add to this article, feel free to leave your own tip in the comments section. If you’d like me to help create a monetization strategy for you, your blog or your affiliates if you have a program, or if you want to work with my clients, please use the contact form on this page and I’ll be happy to help.

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