Recently I’ve seen several crochet websites and blogs promote the virtues of affiliate programs. Affiliate programs have long been a staple component of the “Internet entrepreneur” or “make money online” or “niche marketing” businesses. But many crocheters may not have a clear idea of what affiliate programs are and whether or not they can be a reliable income stream.
Here are some things you need to know about affiliate programs and whether they might be beneficial for your website or blog.
1. Affiliate Programs Can Ruin Your Search Engine Rankings.
Yes, this is true. Here’s why. During 2012, Google seemed to be on a big push to remove a large number of “spammy” websites from appearing in their top search results. You know the type of site I mean. A site focused on something like “best tennis shoes,” that has minimal real information about tennis shoes but is plastered with links to different affiliate sites. Obviously, the main purpose of the site is NOT to provide information about tennis shoes but to generate site traffic, in the hope that visitors will click the affiliate links, make purchases, and the site owner can just sit back and rake in passive income, doing absolutely no work and providing no real service.
So Google introduced some changes to their ranking algorithms. They can now detect sites like the one described above, and either bury them deep in the search results on page 6 or 7 or lower or remove them from search engine results altogether. That’s certainly not something you want to happen to your website!
Despite the risk, a number of large crochet businesses do offer affiliate programs for their products which are probably of great interest to your site visitors. Companies like Annie’s, Craftsy, Leisure Arts, and Interweave all offer affiliate programs. Their ads are beautiful, too!
You may decide that you’d like to offer these affiliate ads on your website. Here are some suggestions on how to place these affiliate links on your website to avoid ranking penalties. I can’t make any guarantees as to how these practices might affect your search engine results. So do your own research before adding affiliate links to your website.
- Be judicious in the amount of affiliate links you place on your site.
- Let your content be the main focus.
- If you have a lot of affiliate links you think your site visitors will like and you want to include them all, consider using code to rotate them instead of showing 20 different affiliate banners all at the same time.
- Be sure to use the html tag “rel=nofollow” in your link code. This tells the Google bot not to follow that link, which is supposed to mean Google won’t use that link when ranking your site. (This tag should also be used in any paid ads you display.)
2. Affiliate Programs Are Not a Means to Get Rich Quick.
Most affiliate programs for the crochet-related products you’ll want to offer your site visitors are not going to have huge payout ratios. You’re not going to get a commission of 50% on every purchase made by someone who clicked your affiliate link.
For some, you may get a small commission whenever anyone clicks the ad. For others, you’ll get a percentage commission of any purchases made by the person who clicked the ad.
The only way to make money is by volume.
From DoubleClick for Advertisers, a cross section of regions, January and December 2009, Published July 2010, the average click-through rate for ads (percentage of page views that result in an actual ad click) is 0.10%.
From a study conducted by Business 2 Community, the average conversion rate (percentage of ad clicks that actually result in a purchase or in being counted as a lead) for the Home & Garden industry on Google Display Network is 3.43%.
From one affiliate program, Merchant 1’s average commission is $1.25 and Merchant 2’s average commission is $4.00. Let’s go with an average commission of $2.50.
Let’s see how much income you might make for every 10,000 page views on your site.
10,000 page views x .001 (0.10% click-thru rate) = 10 click throughs
10 click throughs x .0343 (3.43% conversion rate) = 0.343 purchases
0.343 purchases x $2.50 average commission = $0.86
So, you may make an average of 86 cents per 10,000 page views on your site.
Unless you have a very popular website/blog with lots and lots of page views each month, you may not make much money from affiliate program participation.
Remember, these numbers are based on industry averages. They do not represent a true reflection of what happens on any particular site. You may be blessed with site visitors who will purchase a lot of stuff through your affiliate links. On the other hand, you may have site visitors with an aversion to ads who will never even click on any of your affiliate links, much less actually purchase anything.
3. Are Affiliate Links Even a Good Fit for You?
You should also think about whether affiliate programs are a good fit for your website/blog.
If you’re in the business of selling patterns, you may not want to have ads for affiliates that also offer patterns, such as Annie’s, Leisure Arts, and Craftsy.
If you sell finished items, would your visitors even be interested in links to those sites? Maybe different affiliate programs would be better for you.
Actually, if you sell anything at all on your blog, do you want to show anything that might make your site visitor decide to purchase something OTHER THAN what you’re selling? You may prefer to keep your site visitors’ attention solely focused on what you’re selling.
4. Share Your Results
Do you have affiliate links on your site? If so, would you like to share your experiences?
It would be great for others to know how effective affiliate links have been for others.
For example, a site as large as Crochetville generates hundreds of thousands, if not well over a million, page views every month. Yet in 2012, we made less than $100 total for the entire year from the affiliate links that appeared to visitors at the bottom of our forum.
Granted, we just had small affiliate banner links placed. Larger ads placed above the fold likely would have resulted in a much higher payout rate.
If we had used some of the popular “passive income” techniques of creating a squeeze page for each affiliate and created threads pushing the affiliate products, we might have been able to increase our affiliate income. However, those techniques would not have gone over well on our site at all. They might work in other niches, but I don’t feel they will work well at all within the crochet industry. I know without a shadow of a doubt that they are not going to work at all for the members of Crochetville. They want their forum experience to be a pleasant one of friends sharing with each other. They don’t want to be bombarded with constant pushes to part them from their money.
So before employing techniques recommended in the current popular “make money online” segment on the Internet, think carefully about the impact those techniques might have on your site visitors. You don’t want to make people angry or drive them away from your site. You want them to keep returning, to develop a relationship with you, and end up purchasing your products.
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