Yes, you read the title correctly. A self-described Adsense junkie has decided to seek help. Step 1: Admitting you have a problem.
For me, that problem was having a sizable portion of my income come from one company. The problem was the constant worry of a click attack and getting booted without warning. The problem was no good backup plan to monetize (YPN? could make up maybe 20%). And the problem was not understanding the details of how and why I get paid how much I get paid (smart pricing).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I looooove Adsense. It’s by far the best way to monetize content on many niche topics. But, looking back, I should never have invested so much in business models that have the above problems.
The other option
Now, I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture. I’ll give it to you straight. Affiliate marketing is hard. And most blogs do not lend themselves to be monetized well with affiliate ads.
From my own tests in the past, I knew about these challenges in monetizing blogs with affiliate links. Affiliate links just didn’t fit most of my sites.
So I started from square one. What type of site would work well with affiliate monetization? The answer (and I’m not saying it’s the only answer, but it’s the answer I found) is to build sites around the buying cycle.
1) A blog about trends in VoIP, including security issues, industry news, regulatory news, etc.
2) A blog about VoIP products for consumers, including reviews of the latest VoIP wireless phones, headsets, routers, etc.
#1 is a dream for Adsensing. I get ads for VoIP, which pay well, and who cares if they ever convert? But if I put up affiliate links, the revenue is terrible. I don’t see conversions. Most of my visitors are enthusiasts or geeks who want news. They aren’t shopping.
At any given time, the vast majority (98%?) of people on the Web aren’t shopping for something. And getting a conversion out of those people is extremely hard, since you have to get them over the first step (“what is this product? do I even want it?”).
Now, if you can get a lot of traffic from the 2% — the shoppers — your job is easy; they know what it is; they know they want it; so show them their options, and let the merchant take care of the rest.
So let’s revisit the problems I had with Adsense:
1. having a sizable portion of my income come from one company.
2. the constant worry of a click attack and getting booted without warning.
3. no good backup plan to monetize
4. not understanding the details of how and why I get paid how much I get paid
With affiliate marketing, I get:
1. income coming from many different merchants
2. no worry about click fraud — no conversion, no revenue
3. plenty of backup plans (I won’t bother in a market if I can’t find multiple affiliate programs)
4. I understand how each and every affiliate relationship works. It’s spelled out in the contract terms and the payout is predictable.
Yes, it feels pretty sweet.
But it’s not for everyone. If you can’t (or don’t feel like) creating content that’s geared towards the buying cycle, you’re going to find it much harder to get conversions. And if you have an established, respected blog, the thought of starting a new one in ‘the buying cycle’ might make you tired just thinking about it. But if this stuff is feeding your family (or yourself), my advice to you is to get on it, and pronto!
p.s. Sorry I didn’t give more concrete examples of sites/niches, I normally like giving examples… I just didn’t want to reveal my niches 😉 But if you want some examples of blogs geared towards ‘the buying cycle’, you can check out Manolo’s Shoe Blog or Digital Photography Blog.
p.p.s. the alternate title for this blog entry was: “Affiliate dollars… they just taste sweeter”