Bloggers always ask me my opinion on whether they build their audience first and then monetize their blog, or monetize from the start.
While you may get different answers based on the reason why the blog was built, for me, the answer has always been clear — Monetize From The Start!
What Missy Ward??? R U 4 Realz?
Yeah, I am. And the reason for this may offend some bloggers out there, but truth be known, I've never built a site without the intent of making money from it long term.
Then again, I've never considered myself a blogger. I'm an affiliate marketer that utilizes blogging as a marketing channel.
Keeping that in mind, the last thing I would want to do is waste my time building out a blog that has a ton of readers, none of which take their credit cards out to buy the products or services I'm promoting.
That said, here are some tips for bloggers who have concentrated on building their audience first and are now beginning to implement affiliate marketing links into their content.
How introduce your audience to affiliate links and not drive them away in the process
So, you’ve picked your affiliate programs and you’ve figured out the products you want to promote. Now comes the tricky part!
Keep in mind that you’re introducing a new kind of advertisement into your content and you need to do it the right way from the get go. You have to find that perfect balance between promotion of a product or service via affiliate links and your regularly scheduled content. So how do you make it work?
This might seem obvious, but you have to be truthful with your readers – and not only because the FTC is requiring you to disclose your affiliate links. [I promise to put more on that out shortly]. You’ve built this relationship with your audience – probably over months or even years – and the only way to maintain the trust you have with your audience is to be honest about your connection with and promotion of affiliate programs.
Brian Clark of the well-known marketing blog Copyblogger, suggests the idea of “disclosing with confidence.” This means you understand that your audience respects you and you respect them, so you can be completely open about a product mention including an affiliate link.
As an example of a confident disclosure, Clark mentions how Chris Brogan, another well-known blogger uses “If you buy this from me, I get some beer money (not enough for a pony).”
While you might not want to be that kind of direct, being honest with your readers will help protect your brand and keep the trust you have with your readers.
Don’t Promote Products You Haven’t Tried (At Least Not At First)
This one can be tough – after all, we can’t always buy every product we’d like to write about. But when you are first introducing affiliate links to your readers, you’ll have more success promoting products you really know well, and your enthusiasm and passion for the product will be clear to your readers – making your promotion of it seem more sincere.
Once your readers have grown more comfortable with affiliate links, you can begin discussing products you’d like to try or have read about and include links out. Just don’t ever sell out your audience for an affiliate link.
This is simple: disclose the truth to your audience – and I’m not just talking about telling people about the affiliate link. You need to tell them how you got the product as well.
- Tell them if you purchased the product.
- Tell them if the product was given to you by the brand.
- Tell them if your opinion of the product changes over time.
- And whatever you do, never tell people you’ve used the product when you haven’t.
Always tell your readers the truth. They can tell when you don’t.