Cover the costs of your small business website by using affiliate marketing

These days, most small business have a web presence, and the costs can soon mount up. From buying a domain to web hosting to paying for a web administrator to ensure content is kept up-to-date, running a business on the internet is certainly not free. However, many small businesses go some way to mitigating the costs of their website by selling advertising space. A few banners in a sidebar are unobtrusive, and if you have some decent traffic, then you can monetize your site and help cover the overheads by selling a fixed price for these banners. Another way to monetize your website is to use affiliate marketing, where you send visitors off to external sites for them to make a purchase or sign up with a service. This will be the focus of today’s article, and by the end of it, you should have a better idea of how affiliate marketing works, what the various options are, and you can decide if this might be an option for your business.

Selling products using Amazon

A popular and easy way to get into affiliate marketing is to sign up for the Amazon affiliate program. This allows you to set up a widget, or area, on your website, typically on your sidebar, which Amazon then uses to display adverts for products which the visitor may be interested in. If a visitor clicks on the link and purchases the product, then you as webmaster are paid a set percentage of the price. Many webmasters are now using the Amazon network to deliver useful, targeted content to visitors while also helping cover costs.

Use Google AdSense

Much like Amazon, Google’s own advertising network, known as AdSense, also allows you to display adverts on your site, for a wide range of products and services. However, the way you make money is slightly different. Instead of receiving a cut of the price of the product, you earn money for each click made on the advert. This method is known as Pay-per-click, or PPC, and is also used by plenty of other advertising networks, including Microsoft. The value of each click depends on how expensive the product is, and how competitive the market is for this advert.

Make a deal with websites directly

Apart from the two networks mentioned above, there is another way to monetize your site, and that is by signing a deal directly with other websites to send traffic their way. This makes sense when you and your partner are both in the same general niche, but your partner’s website is more heavily sales-focused. For example, let’s say you run a casino comparison website like netentcasino.com. Your site may already discuss how players can find the best bonuses, and develop winning strategies. You may then choose to sign affiliate deals with online casinos where the user can play, and places links directing the user to these casino sites. When it comes to deciding how you will be paid for sending traffic, there are two basic options. The first is Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) where you get a fixed sum whenever a user sent by you signs up. The second is known as Revenue Share, where you receive a lifetime cut of all profits for that user. Although this is a more complicated option, if you get it right, your website can be turned into a real money-spinner using the Revenue Share method.

Other points to consider

Integrating these advertising areas into your current website is normally easy. However, the easiest way possible to integrate such advertising on a new website is to base it on the WordPress platform, which is used to run 20% of the world’s websites. WordPress comes with many free or inexpensive plugins which extend the functionality of the website, including methods of adding affiliate adverts very quickly and painlessly.

In most cases, cookies are used to help display affiliate marketing to your visitors. These small text files are placed on the visitor’s browser and are used to save and pass on information about user behaviour. Cookies are perfectly legal, but in the EU, websites which take advantage of them must tell users that cookies are being used. There are plenty of methods of doing so, but again, WordPress offers some good cookie notification options via a plugin.

When it comes to the PPC model used by AdSense, there might be a temptation for you as a webmaster to click the affiliate links and generate a commission on your own. Beware of this temptation. Google is known to use complex algorithms to determine whether the same person clicked the link twice, and will only pay for the first click. Also, if Google suspects that you are the one doing the clicking on your own adverts, then you face a permanent ban from the platform.

We hope you have found this article useful. Affiliate marketing can be a good way for small business owners to cover the costs of their web presence, and some small business even have decided to go the whole hog and base their entire business model around linking to other sites. That said, this isn’t for everyone, and if you seek to gain serious authority in your niche, then it can be best to seek other ways of funding your web strategy. Have you embraced affiliate marketing in your business? Let us know in the comments and share the knowledge.