How To Monetize Your Blog: Most Popular Ways and Affiliate Options

Did you know that when it comes to blog monetization, affiliate marketing is second only to contextual ads type tools (see more in Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2011 report)? That’s quite a change from 2009; and if one includes Google AdSense into the “affiliate advertising links” category (as some affiliate marketers do), I’m certain it would then easily rank #1.

As the above chart shows, “affiliate advertising links” are neck-and-neck with “self serve tools” for nearly 55% of professional full time bloggers; and they are also being actively used by professional part time bloggers (over 50%), entrepreneur blogs (over 45%), and even corporate blogs (some 38%)

If you aren’t yet using affiliate links in your blog, it’s a high time to start playing with them. Here are just a few of the options that you have when it comes to “affiliate advertising links”:

Affiliate Banners

Once you’ve joined an affiliate program, you can start promoting merchants using their banners. Below you may see an example of how Fishgator blog does it:

Individual Products

Many online retailers also offer affiliates access to their product feeds. Below you may see how these look on Commission Junction affiliate network (when I’m searching for “iPad cases” in’s inventory), where you can either grab links to individual products (to feature them in your posts), or using these tools you may import them in batches.

Affiliate Widgets

There are affiliate networks that offer these (e.g. ShareASale, Google Affiliate Network), but my personal favorites are Amazon associates program widgets (mainly due to the high degree of customization that Amazon offers). Below you may see how Roger Dooley uses one on his blog:

Textual & Contextual Links

Here you have two options: (i) either link individual product/keyword mentions to the respective merchant pages (through affiliate-coded links) manually, or (ii) automate the process by using tools like VigLink or Skimlinks. Click on the image below to see a good recent article on how the latter two work:

Reviews, Lists, Comparisons

Finally, consumer advice type blog posts are greatly popular. They may be monetized using any of the above-described methods. Below you may find a screenshot of a popular “review” site that successfully monetizes through affiliate links:

Instead of Conclusion:

IMPORTANT: Whichever of the above you use, make sure you comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s rules regarding testimonials and endorsements which I covered extensively here (see also this recent article for a lawyer’s take on them). Good luck monetizing your blog(s)!!

10 thoughts on “How To Monetize Your Blog: Most Popular Ways and Affiliate Options”

      1. The traffic is targeted, but…
        1) The ads aren’t designed for conversion in the way a landing page would be. They are peripheral to the content.
        2) I’ve run enough ads for my book Brainfluence that my regular readers have either bought the book or probably won’t without some bigger stimulus.
        3) Amazon has some good features as an affiliate program, but suffers from a low payout percent and a low-priced product (at least in the books category). That means a conversion is worth just a buck or two at most, and, with many products (like lots of ebooks), even less.
        4) My blog content isn’t written to convert visitors into buyers. Many bloggers will write stuff like “Why This WordPress Theme Rocks” and include well placed links so that readers can visit the sales site. Nothing wrong with that (if they disclose their interest) but I almost never do that.

        1. Good analysis, Roger, and I agree with most of the above points (especially #1 and #4 which are right on the money).

          #3 is one that I don’t necessarily share. Yes, Amazon’s commission brackets aren’t making it realistic to earn more than 6%-7% a month (unless you’re selling downloadable “products” for which they pay 10%), but the merchant is very competitive considering their low prices. The latter help the conversion tremendously (very seldom are the instances when I, personally, find a better price anywhere but on Also, about a year ago I did a comparison of’s affiliate program versus’s one, and affiliates reported registering two to three times higher conversion rates with Amazon’s program over the Walmart’s one (with higher EPC, etc). I guess, in case with your blog, the facts that your “content isn’t written to convert visitors into buyers” and the ads ending up being “peripheral to the content” (coupled with the fact that most of your readers have the book(s) already) — these are the main reasons why you aren’t seeing many conversions.

          Once again, thank you for your comments here, Roger. Very valuable input.

  1. To Roger’s point, I think that more and more affiliates have to be DRIVING conversions, and not passively advertising products. The example you used from my Yak fishing blog is a good one, although it wouldn’t work for everyone. In fact, some affiliates wouldn’t have even promoted that banner in that essentially I was sending traffic to a merchant to sign up for a contest (uncompensated) as opposed to completing a sale.

    What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the relationship between affiliate and merchant has to go deep. I trust NRS. So I would do that for them. A new merchant? probably not… unless they were paying for the placement. Which now of course we have to disclose.

    More importantly though, the content was valuable to my readers. And that’s why they keep coming back to my site. I can then put products in front of people that trust me, and hopefully by association, trust the merchants that I’m sending them to for other products.

    1. Kevin, excellent points all around!

      Taking your comments and preceding Roger’s comments together, one can clearly see how exactly an affiliate has to approach things to make the above-quoted methods work. They won’t produce substantial incomes on their own. No matter how good this or that tool may be, they will work to maximum of their capacity only when married with passion and hard work (towards that conversion).

      Thank you for that great comment, Kevin.

  2. From monetizing my blog and helping others do the same, the main factors of success I’ve experienced are as follows:
    1) It’s not your main priority. Providing a valuable experience to your readers is first.
    2) The content is unique and relevant to the audience.
    3) The community is active and engaged.
    4) Traffic is last.

    Related to #2, I’ve noticed a significant difference with how posts are written. Those tailored towards reviews, evaluations, comparisons, gift ideas, tutorials (aka are product focused) tend to do a world of difference better in terms of converting to affiliate revenue. Being objective, writing in a list-format, capitalizing on the latest trends all play a factor as well.

    I discussed this and how I now make enough affiliate revenue from ONE blog post to cover my rent at WordCamp Philly –

  3. Great points, Yasmine (thank you for taking the time to contribute to what is already becoming a interesting discussion on blog monetization). I’ll watch your video a bit later too. Nice title there!

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