How to Diversify Your Business Website’s Income

Last post I recommended that business owners use affiliate sales instead of using Google AdSense on their sites. The question Jill immediately asked back was ‘What are affiliate links?’ Here’s a good primer.

What are Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are essentially kickbacks. And they have can be used ethically or unethically just the same. You direct viewers on your site to a particular good or service and get paid a referral fee if they purchase something.

Key Differences Between Ads and Affiliate Links

How On-line Ads Work

Step 1: You put an ad on your site.
Step 2: User clicks an ad.
Step 3: You earn literally pennies.

I did this with a bodybuilding site that I one ran. After 2 years of being in existence with thousands of page views I finally earned $100 for the thousands of visitors I sent away from my site, my products to someone else.

Let’s see a different example of this:

Ex. Photographer Puts AdWords on Her Web Site
Google AdSense may be able to read her site (or may not because of technology.) The people who visit her site may click on ads that show up. If she’s done a good job of search engine optimizing her site AdSense will display ads in context. This will usually be done in context so her “Charlotte Wedding Photography” page will show ads for other Charlotte Wedding Photographers!!! She gets paid $0.02 for sending a customer that pays several hundred dollars to her competitor.

I know several examples of small businesses doing this. I won’t link to them here. Not for fear of embarrassing them, but more for the fact that my link might ultimately generate sales for their competitors.

How Affiliate Links Work

Step 1: You put an affiliate link on your site. This is generally done in context of some sort of an explanation that you write yourself.
Step 2: User clicks the link and buys the product because you recommended it.
Step 3: You earn a good portion of that sale. (It’s important to note that the person buying the item does not have a higher price because they clicked your link.)

I have done this with several of my Web Hosting Review pages. I have honestly shared and reviewed my good and bad experiences with several web hosts and registrars. Sometimes people have asked me to review web hosts that I have never used before and I’ve scoured my network to get that kind of data. Several web hosts that I have reviewed do not have affiliate programs but I review them anyway. I’ve earned hundreds by simply being honest and sharing my examples.

Ex. Digital Photography Enthusiast Puts Affiliate links on His Web Site
I don’t need to spend a lot of time here. Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School has made Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars doing this on a great site. Check him out here. (that is not an affiliate link 😉 ) See how useful and tasteful his site is?

Why You Should Use Affiliate Links instead of Ads on Your Site

  • Newspapers and magazines have ads. Professionals don’t advertise on their site with good reason.
  • Ads show indiscriminately while you choose exactly what products to affiliate with.
  • You are paid per referred sale rather than per eyeball.
  • Affiliate links generally result in MUCH higher profits.
  • People are trained to ‘tune out ads.’

Affiliate Link Best Practices

  1. Don’t use affiliates just to use affiliates. Only recommend something you believe in.
  2. Tell your users when it’s an affiliate link!
  3. Stay in context of your business!

How to Find Affiliate Links to Use

The best part is that you already know where to look. Anything you use primarily or tangentially to do your job that are things your viewers might like to use are fair game. Just check around those company’s websites. If you still have trouble, let me know and I’ll help you find something.

Any questions? Ask them below in comments.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill March 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

Thanks for the info, Ted!


Ted Hessing March 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Any time, Jill. Keep asking the questions!


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