We talked about my five favorite affiliate networks in a recent post, but the networks don't tell the whole story.
That's mostly because applying to different affiliate networks shouldn't be your first step.
5 Reasons Why Nobody Clicks on Your Affiliate Links:
1. Not Enough Context
If you're writing about something, then all of a sudden link to an affiliate link, nobody will click it. I remember reading a blog that was talking about refinancing a home, and in the middle of a story included a link to a coupon site. I was jarred and felt cheated. As if the only reason for the story was to get me to go there and click an affiliate link. Don't be that guy.
2. No Call-to-Action
Did you tell them to click to buy something? Or did you just link a picture inside your post to something on Amazon, hoping people would click? Adding affiliate links to your images isn't bad, but it's not enough. You have to tell someone to click here or apply now, or some other action-centric phrase that encourages clicking.
3. You Haven't Answered the Magic Question
Your readers are constantly asking, “What's in it for me?” and if they can't quickly figure that out, not only will they not click your link, they won't even stick around long enough to read what you have to say. If you're linking to a discount, say that. If you think the product you're linking to is excellent and something someone else would benefit from, say that too. Give them their “why” and they'll click.
4. The Link is Out of Left Field
What niche are you writing in? Keep your links in that niche, or at least something related to that niche. If your niche is blogging, don't slip in an affiliate link to pool repair. Or, hey, it's your blog, you can do what you want… but that won't get you many conversions.
5. Not Enough Traffic
People are clicking your links, but if you don't have enough traffic, you won't see big results. Plain and simple. You're not doing anything wrong, and in fact, you should start adding affiliate links as soon as you can, because you never know what's going to hit, and if you have an awesome post that you want to promote, use this framework to promote it and make sure there are affiliate links so that when it does go viral, you'll see results.
How to Add Affiliate Links That People Will Click On
1. Add a Disclosure
Tell people when there are links that will make you money. Make it funny, make it zany, make it match your personality, but please, please, please, follow the rules and disclose affiliate relationships. When Anne and I wrote On Your Mark, Get Set, Blog! we wanted people to know there were a few affiliate links sprinkled throughout the book. So we told them, in the prologue, that if they clicked our links we would use the money we received for Thai food and sparkling wine.
2. Tell a Story
The point of each post shouldn't be about how to sneak in as many affiliate links as possible. The point should be to tell a good story, to teach people how to do things, to engage with your readers, to make them feel like they've learned something, or that they spent, however, much time it took to read your post wisely, and got something for their efforts. That is to say, don't think about how to incorporate affiliate links when you're telling a story.
3. Add Links at the End
Once you've told your story, though, go back through and see where you can add links. Did you talk about a store? Check to see if that store has an affiliate program (how to check: Google “company affiliate” — something should come up, and if it doesn't, oh well, link to the resource anyway!). This will ensure your posts are authentic, that you're only recommending things you know (not inserting cat litter links into your story about going on vacation to Puerto Rico!), and that the point isn't to sell something. Selling is always secondary to storytelling.
4. Track Your Links
Use a Pretty Link (that's an affiliate link, but I would have linked to it even if they didn't have a program!) for two reasons:
- To “cloak” your URLS. That means people will see yoururl.com/company when the affiliate link is typically really long and icky looking (which people can see when they hover over it, and seeing something weird might make them less inclined to click).
- To track your clicks! What's working? What are people always clicking on? What are they never clicking on?
Note: The free version of this plugin will work for you for a long time.
The Bottom Line
Give it time, sensei. If you're using your voice to tell good stories, the affiliate money will come. Maybe not by the truck full, but many trickles make a big impact.
Tell stories. Add links. Track results.
Rinse and repeat for as long as it takes.