Affiliate linking is one of the most reliable ways to generate income from a blog or popular website and therefore remains a popular monetization strategy. However, affiliate linking is far from perfect, and if you’re not careful, you could end up losing money due to poor affiliate link practices, even if you’re incredibly lucrative in the beginning.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up on affiliate linking completely or spend money on an alternative strategy. Instead, you need to plan carefully and reduce the risks of affiliate links.
What are Affiliate Links?
Let’s cover the basics of affiliate links if you’re not familiar with it. Essentially, in an affiliate link strategy you are serving as a marketer or advertiser of a particular product. You add a link to that product, often with a short step, in the hope that the person clicking that link will eventually purchase that product.
Through an affiliate program, you will have a distinctive signature link that monitors all the traffic your site generates specifically.
You will then receive a steady income for every sale you generate. For example, let’s say you drive traffic to a product page that sells a $50 product. You can earn $2 commission for every sale you generate, so if your 10,000 followers buy this product, you can earn $20,000.
Why Are Affiliate Links Valuable?
Affiliate links are invaluable as they are simple and easy to set up. No matter how many followers or how much experience you have, they are fully accessible to a wide range of creators.
Big players like Amazon have very intuitive affiliate link programs that require no initial cost and initial training, so even amateur bloggers can get involved.
On top of that, affiliate links have the potential to scale incredibly well. As your blog grows and reaches more people, your revenue will almost automatically double even if you don’t change your primary affiliate link strategy.
Risks Associated with Affiliate Connection
So, what are the issues with affiliate linking? If the affiliate link is very good, what’s wrong with it?
These are some of the biggest risks you have to deal with:
- Product addiction. Remember that most of your strategy will revolve around one or a set of products. If these products change, degrade in quality, are removed altogether, or something else happens to them, your entire strategy could be destroyed overnight. If the product is of poor quality or users are dissatisfied with the product, it may reflect badly on your reputation. And if you’ve built a brand to recommend a particular product and it’s no longer available, you’re going to have to deal with those losses.
- External platform dependency. Note that the affiliate link approach requires you to partner with some external platform over which you have little control. If you’re working with a large player, you probably won’t have room to negotiate commissions and you won’t have any say in how affiliate links are created or tracked. For the most part, it’s not a huge deal, but it can cause big problems if you have to compromise your values or if the external platform doesn’t give you everything you need.
- Terms and conditions. Some affiliate link providers will only pay you a Commission if you fully comply with their terms and conditions. Often times, these terms and conditions are reasonable, easy to understand, and even easier to follow. However, you may encounter extreme situations where normal blogging and web management behavior triggers a breach of terms and conditions. In other words, a single mistake can cost you your entire affiliate marketing account and your affiliate partner can leave you without resorting to any solution.
- Commission discount. You may also receive a commission reduction, as you are entirely at the mercy of your external partners. A business that doesn’t make a profit from its affiliate marketing company can reduce commissions so it can continue to operate as profitably as it wants. A business that has become too popular may anger some of its former affiliate marketers as they have a large number of new customers willing to accept lower commissions. In any case, you cannot count on the commission rate remaining the same.
- Conflicts and termination. There are many conflicts that can arise throughout the affiliate marketing relationship. Since you became an affiliate, you may have problems with the product name changing or the quality of the products decreasing. They may have issues with the changing nature of your blog or some of your personal decisions about managing it. These conflicts can escalate quickly if one or both parties are unwilling to compromise. As a result, you may lose your affiliate link strategy altogether or get into an unpleasant situation.
- Reputation dependencies. If your reputation falls or is questioned, you may lose all your affiliate links and all future income from them. If your blog falls into a domain that is considered inappropriate or doesn’t align with your affiliate partner’s brand values, they may leave you without warning. Obviously, if your reputation is completely trashed, you may also lose your traffic and all your brand, but the thing is, your affiliate marketing partnership is less likely to be salvageable.
- Traffic volume needs. Remember that the best way to monetize affiliate links is to have enough traffic backing them. Individual commissions are not very large; but when most of these commissions flow regularly, they become important enough to support you. If your traffic drops during the transition or if an affiliate link becomes your sole source of income, you may struggle to stay afloat.
Mitigate the Risks of Affiliate Connection
So what steps can you take to reduce the risks associated with affiliate linking?
- Diversify your affiliate link. For starters, diversify your affiliate link as much as possible. This means working with multiple different companies with multiple different affiliate link programs. It also means linking to a variety of different products. This will require a little more up-front work on your part so you can become familiar with these different products and different brands, but it’s well worth the investment.
- Create multiple fields. Creating multiple domains and multiple blogs can also be a good idea. You can share an audience between them and use them for different purposes. That way, if there is a reputation issue associated with a domain or you run into traffic issues with a domain, you’ll have plenty of other domains to turn to.
- Diversify your income sources. Monetize your blog in multiple ways. There are many strategies to monetize blog traffic, such as advertising, selling courses, offering subscriptions for premium content (like video series), and more. If you’re making money in more than one way, no event can make you bankrupt.
- Be prepared with backup options. Always have a backup plan if your primary affiliate link strategy fails in any way. How do you plan to recover?
Affiliate linking is definitely not a bad strategy. In fact, it is one of the easiest and simplest ways to make money if your blog is already generating traffic.
However, if you want to get the most out of this strategy and create a revenue stream that is both consistent and reliable, you cannot take affiliate link as a definitive.
Follow these strategies to reduce the risks of affiliate links and maximize your potential return.
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; pexel; Thank you