The most successful way to use affiliate programs is to only promote products, services, and offers that match the needs and wants of your audience.
What are you providing that they are looking for? Make sure the affiliate products you are promoting provide a solution to your audience's problems.
If you are writing about sports, don't put up affiliate ads for printer toner just because everyone has a printer and those programs have a high payout. The people who are coming to read commentary or get stats for their favorite teams aren't thinking about those things when they're on your site.
The more relevant the ads are to your readers, the more likely they will use them. An interesting way of looking at affiliate marketing is this: educating your audience about relevant products and services they may be interested in can be considered a value added form of content.
The bottom line here is to promote products that are directly relevant to the audience you are serving. The more relevant the offers; the more sales you'll generate.
Readers are savvy. They know an affiliate link when they see one. If you break their trust by promoting a product you don't believe in or take advantage of their visit with too many ads, they will leave and never come back.
It is your repeat visitors that will drive traffic. They are the ones who will give you linkbacks, spread the word, and recommend your site as the go-to place for valuable content. You need to build a relationship based on genuine content.
If your visitors don't think you're being honest or think that you are only recommended products and services due to a profit motive, they won't read anything else you have to say.
If you promote products and services that aren't high value, they'll lose trust in your recommendations and stop acting on them; costing you sales and profits.
Think of affiliate ads as additional resources that complement your content. Give value to your content by making it helpful, useful, and informative.
Don't put up a list of your favorite books, hoping people will click on the affiliate link, purchase the books (just because you listed them), so you can cash in on a sale.
Take some time to write a detailed review, and use affiliate ads to point them in the right direction if they decide to act on your information.
Even better, if you have a personal testimonial or case study to share; write a detailed post about it then include your recommendation with your affiliate link in your review.
That's what affiliate ads are for. If you write a great review recommending a book and readers buy the book because of it, you should get affiliate sales sales credit for that.
But just throwing out links to products with no rhyme or reason will result in a quick exit by visitors who don't take any action at all.
Remember the main idea: always provide valuable content that adds value to the visitor experience. The sales will follow.
Write Timeless Content
Your old content can still be valuable even though it's no longer on your front page. Take advantage of the long-term opportunities by making sure you provide timeless content.
If visitors come across your older content first and find that it offers dated information, they will leave right away. Of course, information moves forward, so relevant content changes quickly. You can make your content timeless simply by adding links to your updated articles on your old ones.
Many platforms allow you to show "most recent" or "most popular" or "related articles" on every page, so no matter how old the article is, it will always show access to your new ones. Your old content can make money for you indefinitely.
Although writing about new and up to date information can be beneficial, another strategy is to focus on writing about "evergreen" content - that is content that is timeless.
This will give you more mileage out of your content and drive traffic for years to come, and you can always change up the products you are promoting related to the content.
The name of the game here is to have content that is relevant, useful, and up-to-date.
Affiliate revenue grows and builds up with time. Remember that some programs offer lifetime payouts. If you refer a visitor, you may continue to make money from that one visitor even if he doesn't come back to your site. Also, as long as you have referral links still active in your old posts, they may still payout for you.
If you focus on promoting recurring billing / continuity type products (as mentioned above) you can continually earn commissions every month on the same products which can add up over time.
As an example, if you promoted a product or service that pays a R5 commission every month and referred 100 sales; you'd make R500 in that month. At the same rate and assuming all the sales stick; after just one year that would translate into a monthly recurring revenue of R6,000.
Affiliate programs aren't a get rich quick plan, but it provides an opportunity to make passive income from your website.
As you continue to add more content to your website, promote more products, drive more traffic to your website, and build your email marketing list, you'll continue to grow the affiliate marketing side of your business and make more money.
Keep up to date on the latest offerings of your affiliate programs. New ad units, advertisers, and tools are constantly being added to improve usability and be more visually appealing. Small changes go a long way in motivating action by readers. You may be left out in the dust by being complacent with your strategy.
Don't get lazy about monitoring trends and exploring new opportunities. For instance, if a certain diet or clothing trend is no longer popular you may want to remove that content and recommendation from your site; or update your post to acknowledge and reflect that.
Constantly be on the lookout for new products that are useful and relevant to your audience -- the more products your promote and the higher the relevance to your audience, the more money you'll make.
Content Comes First
Above all else, your content marketing strategy must be your highest priority.
Your content is your foundation, the life blood on which the site exists. Without valuable and helpful content, readers won't come. Focus on providing excellent content and the monetizing strategies will work out.
Once you start compromising your content to cater to the affiliate programs or any of the other ways to make money online, you will lose your readers. Once that happens, you will lose the opportunity to receive any earnings from any of your ads, be they CPM, CPC, or referral based.
It can't be stressed enough that the quality of your content will be the single biggest factor in the credibility of your website or business.