What Is Affiliate Advertising?

Learn how to earn money from your blog with affiliate advertising

Computer mouse overlaid with a one-hundred dollar bill
-Oxford-/E+/Getty Images

Affiliate advertising, or affiliate ads, is an online marketing channel, in which an advertiser pays a blogger to promote the advertiser’s products or services on the blogger’s site. If you're eager to find revenue streams to help monetize your blog, you can do it as soon as your blog is established and receiving some traffic.

What Is Affiliate Advertising?

There are three main types of affiliate ads: pay-per-click, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-sale. Each of these affiliate ad types has one thing in common. They are all performance based — you don’t earn money until your readers perform an action such as clicking on a link or clicking on a link and then purchasing the product on the page to which the link takes them.

Seeking advertisers one at a time is time consuming and discouraging work. Most bloggers go with one of the retail affiliates or an affiliate advertising network. These large and well-known companies offer affiliate programs that you can set up on your blog quickly, although some advertisers are reluctant to participate until your blog is established.

Retail Affiliate Advertising Programs

A couple of well-known retailers participate in affiliate advertising with bloggers: They are:

  • Amazon Associates: Choose from a wide variety of ads such as text links, banner ads and more. If you like, you can select the exact Amazon products you want to feature on your blog.
  • eBay Partner Network: Choose from eBay’s auctions and find the specific products you want to advertise on your site.

What Is an Affiliate Advertising Network?

Signing up to monetize your blog through an affiliate directory or network where many online merchants post their affiliate ad opportunities is usually the best approach for someone new to affiliate marketing. You review the ad opportunities and apply to host a specific ad on your blog.

Most advertisers on these sites have restrictions related to the blogs they work with. Typically those restrictions are related to how long the blog has been active and the amount of traffic the blog receives. For those reasons, an affiliate directory is most helpful if your blog is well established.

Take some time to research each affiliate directory to find the right one for you and your blog. Different affiliate programs offer different payments and credibility. Take your time and investigate your options before you jump into anything.

Popular Affiliate Advertising Networks

There are plenty of general affiliate advertising networks and some that focus only on specific markets. Among them are:

Factors to Consider When Selecting an Affiliate Advertising Program

  • Read all the details about the opportunity including the pay, the terms, etc.
  • Select affiliate program ads that are consistent with your blog’s content. Ads that don’t match your content will undoubtedly be clicked on less frequently (meaning less revenue for you) and can decrease the credibility of your blog because fewer readers will return to your blog if it's cluttered with irrelevant ads.
  • Don’t go overboard with affiliate ads. Too many ads not only make your blog look suspiciously like spam to readers, but search engines agree. Sites that are covered with affiliate ads and little additional original content are tagged as spam by Google and other search engines, which hurts your traffic and page rank overall.
  • Don’t expect big profits (at least not at first). While some bloggers generate a decent ancillary income from affiliate advertising, most bloggers can’t boast those kinds of results. Boosting your income through affiliate advertising takes time and practice. Don’t be afraid to test new ads, placement, and programs until you find the best mix to meet your goals for your blog.