When some bloggers ask me about why they aren’t making more money from affiliate marketing through their blogs, the answer might not be bad programs that allow sites to rank for the merchant’s URL + coupons or use toolbars. Instead it could be something as simple as they don’t relate or cater to their readers and probably didn’t realize it.
The trick is to give alternate options to create solutions for the majority of people who will find your content. One reader might not have access to specific ingredients if they don’t live in your area. Other times they may not have the budget or be able to wear the same size clothing as you.
I tend to ramble a lot so I’m listing the sections here so you can reference if you want to come back or re-read something.
- Your Readers Are Not You
- Excluding Readers Based on Budget & Location
- Freebies, Giveaways & Contests
Three Ways You Could be Excluding Your Readers and Not Making Money
Your Readers Are Not You
My plus size lingerie affiliate program does very well for affiliates across the board. What a few of the top performers discovered was that their readers aren’t always them. A few of them talk about fashion, but they themselves are not plus size or they are plus size but don’t share smaller alternatives. They didn’t mean to discriminate and many talk about style and being body positive no matter what size or shape you are. The trick is knowing what the topic of the post is and if it is specific to you, or if it is something that can be used by others.
If your posts are about color combinations and trends, these don’t only apply to you. It could be about specific styles of shoes to make your legs look longer or how a specific color combination is what everyone will be wearing this (insert season). If your post is about a trend, product, style or color, share options for all sizes and body shapes. If you only share solutions for your personal body type, you’re eliminating new readers, potential newsletter subscribers and commissions by not providing something that new potential fans can use.
If your post is specifically about you and your own needs, then you can keep it about yourself (although that could be a missed opportunity as well). If it is generic in nature, make sure to add options for people with other needs. This applies to almost every niche.
If you have a recipe site, think about alternatives for a product that has a high allergy rate like Gluten and link to that through an affiliate link. If you have a tech blog and are providing a solution for a common computer issue, make sure to provide solutions for PCs if you have both MAC and PC sections and vice versa. If you talk about what length of black dress is appropriate for what type of cocktail party, give options for each length and style for plus size, slim, petite and tall people. By doing this you may also be able to create a resource instead of a blog post which can gain backlinks and also help boost your SEO.
Excluding Readers Based on Budget & Location
One thing that I find are bloggers who go to the wrong blogging shows and end up sharing a million coupons or only talk about locally available products. Not everyone cares about saving .20 on XY product. Others need to be more budget conscious. Sometimes you can also get stuck in your own local area because you love something that is produced and only available there. Because it’s in season, you may end up talking about it more.
Although sharing coupons and deals or locally produced products isn’t bad, on it’s own it can be really boring for a lot of readers who came to you for your solutions that do/don’t need to be frugal or who are not local and cannot access the same products as you. That’s why it’s important to provide options for people to discover the content they want easier.
Deals and Discounts
The first thing to do is to think about how to segment your blog for these two types of people. You can create categories, homepage navigation with images and also create newsletter opt in options for both. To take it a step further, have sections for local coupons and national or brand coupons. Now your local readers can find local deals and your non-local readers can find coupons and deals that they can use.
Now the people who want deals, discounts and coupons can access them while the people who want your content about how to find XYZ can go directly to that section. You don’t want to chase either of the groups off, but you do need to make sure they can easily access what they come to your website for. If you started by sharing how to make XYZ foods or plan XY events, but now share tons of coupons, you could have chased off your original fanbase. I’ll get to this in the next section. This also leads to one more common problem.
When you start sharing local deals, products (produce, goods or services), you now eliminate readers who are not in your area. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your friends new store around the corner or something that is produced locally that you love. Instead you may want to try to provide solutions for other budgets and locations when possible so that your readers can create the same.
Not Having Access to Your Local Products and Services
If you’re a cooking blogger and want to use something that is only locally available like a mix or powder created by a store in your neighborhood, let your readers know it won’t be the same but give them an ideas of how to make it or an alternative that they can purchase online.
If it’s a photography workshop about how to shoot XYZ, provide a solution to a site that offers equally good options and has a national presence. I live in DC where we can buy fresh blue crabs all summer. This isn’t easy in the midwest which is why I found a couple of retailers that can ship fresh blue crabs overnight to anywhere in the US making my recipes now available to them.
Think about the solutions you provide and how to make them accessible to everyone. If you decide to take the coupon and deals route, make sure to be able to separate your site and the deals for your different types of readers. Some may want the crafts and decor posts you started out posting before you fell for coupons & deals, share while others only want the posts featuring discounts. By letting them get newsletters or having a clear way to find the content they come to you for, you can now help to make your blog more relevant for them.
Freebies, Giveaways & Contests
This is a big killer for sites that once only created content that provided solutions. There are a ton of freebie, deal and coupon sites out there and the traffic you get by changing over is fairly useless if you want to keep your current reader base. I tested a couple of these on different blogs that I run (including this one) and what I found was that people create Facebook profiles, email addresses, etc… only to enter a ton of contests and giveaways.
When my real readers started seeing a bunch of giveaways and contests, although they were excited, they also started to unsubscribe and complain because I wasn’t giving them the content they signed up for.
Their comments got drowned out by “freebie readers” (I don’t consider them real since they only want freebies and to win contests, not my solutions and they almost never shopped through my links on real posts.). They also made my real readers felt alienated from me.
It doesn’t mean you should stop doing them, but make sure that when you do a giveaway or a freebie you always empower your loyal and real readers first. You also want to make sure that at least some of the contests are only open to your real readers and followers so that they can have a better chance at winning. It’s a way that you can reward them for their loyalty.
You can do this by having a membership section. By selling access to specific categories on your site and only entering them into the contest. You can also do it by seeing when they subscribed to your blog or newsletter and if possible, how many newsletters they’ve opened and comments they’ve left on non contest posts. As with any contest or subscription, I am not a lawyer or able to give legal advice, so you will need to contact a licensed attorney to verify if the above is legal for you to do or not with contests and giveaways.
The thing to learn from this post is about how to be more inclusive of all of your readers. If you’re doing a holiday gift guide, offer gifts across a price range and also don’t forget to include other major religions. If it’s a “holiday gift guide”, Hanukkah is a holiday as well. If you’re talking about fashions for Thanksgiving dinners, make sure to give an alternative for people with different body types. If you have locally produced foods that you use in your recipes, add in an alternative so that people who live in other parts of the country can create the same solutions that you talk about in your post.