In Making Money Online with a Blog, several of the biggest names in blogging gave advice about starting affiliate marketing and whether you should use CPM advertising or go with direct sales advertising.
First, let me define a few things:
- What does CPM mean? CPM is cost per thousand (M is the Roman numeral for one thousand). So, for every thousand people that view your page, you receive a set amount of money. For instance, if you agree to a $4 CPM, for every thousand people that view your page, you receive $4. The more traffic you have to your site, or the more authority you have in a niche, the higher you can negotiate your CPM price.
- What is direct sales advertising? Instead of relying on a third-party (e.g., BlogAds) to find advertisers for you (and take part of your revenue as payment for that service), you find your own advertisers and negotiate payment.
- What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is when you agree to promote a product and are rewarded with a percentage of the sale. A popular example would be Amazon.com’s affiliate program. It’s easy to implement, but isn’t necessarily a top-earner as far as affiliate programs go.
Now, on to what I learned from the top bloggers.
- SEO: Track your search engine key words. Determine what key words are generating the most click-throughs to your site via search engines. Remember, though, that search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t necessarily end with return visitors; you must write content that will encourage readers to return.
- CPM: The CPM model isn’t necessarily working any more. You can usually make more money via direct advertising sales, especially if you are an authority in your niche. A note from Melanie: I have been happy with BlogHerAds. If you are just starting out, a CPM advertising model may be a good place to start. As you grow and establish authority, you can move on to direct sales or affiliate marketing.
- E-book: As mentioned in my previous post about this panel, e-books are an excellent way to encourage readers to complete a task (e.g., subscribe via RSS or e-mail, or subscribe to your newsletter). The main idea behind any product (like your e-book) is to make money in the long-run. One option is to find products that relate to the topic of your e-book and insert the affiliate link to those products within your e-book. While readers are learning your information, they may be more inclined to follow your advice by purchasing from or joining your affiliate.
- Selling: Repitition is key for being a successful affiliate marketer. You’ll need to write several posts (three to four at least) before you readers may decide to follow through. For instance, your first post may just be an introduction to the product. The second post can be an interview with the person who made the product. The third post can be a testimonial. The fourth post can be a full review of the product. The key is to educate your readers on how the product will improve their lives.
- Newsletter Ads: Selling ads in your newsletter is particularly attractive to advertisers because your newsletter is targeted to a specific audience. Of course, you want to ensure that the advertisers gel with your readers and are offering something that your readers want.