14 Oct 2019
How do you feel about bloggers? For some people, these are “people who could not find a normal job”, for others they are idols, whose life cannot be ignored. How do we feel about bloggers? Well, we’re kind of bloggers ourselves, so we’ll tell you how to build a business model by starting to manage your own blog, and make money on it with CPA programs.
It is unbelievable, but true: there are not as many high-quality Russian-language content on the Internet as we would like. Sometimes you have to read through several articles and watch a dozen videos until you’re able to collect all the necessary information, bit by bit. Particularly persistent people manage to get to the tenth page of search results and get the content by auto-translation from an unfamiliar language — just to find the necessary data. And if you have an opportunity (ability, talent) to generate really high-quality, meaningful, and most importantly, useful information — consider that half the job has already been done, and you have a competitive advantage.
If you already have a blog, integrating affiliate links into it will be quick and painless: you simply select programs for those products and brands that correspond with the nature of your blog and might appeal to your audience. Today we will discuss how to start your blog from scratch and in which direction you should move.
In this article, we will go over the content formats, that bloggers work with, popular websites, business models in CPA, blogging features (includes checking those from an affiliate point of view), useful tools, and also highlight the main points that you will encounter when developing your own blog.
The blogger’s task is to deliver the message to subscribers. There are several formats for this, and the main ones are video, photo and text.
As a platform for the so-called “vlog”, the vast majority of bloggers use YouTube. Of course, there are other services – Vimeo video hosting, IGTV (a new platform for long vertical videos on Instagram), Tik Tok (for short videos with music on the background). But YouTube always was the biggest full-fledged video platform, and it remains that way: with YouTube it’s possible to upload videos of almost any length (from minute jokes to hours of recordings of concerts and films), of any quality (from 144p for weak Internet and old device models to 4K and even 8K), make live broadcasts, create your own navigation (links to videos, playlists), upload the recorded video to third-party sites and social networks by using iFrame.
- Pros. The video makes it possible to make the content visual: show the clothes that were ordered on the Internet, talk about the use of an unusual gadget, show the walkthrough of a videogame. The face of blogger inside the video increases the loyalty to his blog: you must admit, if a person is willing to risk his own brand by connecting it with the product that he is talking about, this is surely increases confidence in the advertised product. More and more brands are using “humanization” — they’re not advertising through actors and singers that the whole country knows, but are going for “microblogging” instead: perhaps the face of famous actor or TV host will draw more attention to the new game release, but review or walkthrough from the streamer with a couple thousand subscribers will get you a much higher conversion in sales.
- Cons. Watching the video is not for everyone and it is not always convenient. To do this, you’ll need a good Internet connection and headphones, or the ability to turn on the sound in the speakers / dynamics of the mobile device. For some people, appearing on the screen and telling something to a lot of people can be psychologically difficult — not everyone is mentally prepared to become a “media person” and work on camera. Video content requires significant editing. Even if you record everything from the first take, you will need to get rid of extra frames: if this is a product unpacking, you will have to cut out a useless moments where you pull on jeans or try on a dress — although if it was fun, you can insert those into the “failed moments” in end of the video. Preview, main part, conclusion, announcement of the next video — make up your video piece by piece, make the content informationally “dense”.
- Platforms. The undisputed leader is certainly YouTube, this is by far the best platform for both beginners and advanced vloggers. After uploading the video to YouTube, you can post it on your own website or on social networks in just a couple of clicks. Vimeo — suitable for very high-quality video, targeted at the international market.
- How it works with CPA. The most successful formats in affiliate marketing that work in video blogs are unpacking goods from Chinese stores, videos about curated selection of unusual goods, video games walkthroughs, app reviewing, analyzing and comparing gadgets, beauty bloggers (mainly do makeup and cosmetics tests videos).
It’s rather difficult to make money with CPA programs only by posting photographs. Image itself, without adding any other information ain’t creating enough motivation to purchase anything.
- Pros. The main advantage of the photograph is its visualization. High-quality photography, plus a few filters and Photoshop — a good opportunity to catch the user’s attention and stand out. Even if there is no way to take a photo of the goods by yourself, you can always take it from the affiliate program and modify it: for example, make a collage.
- Cons. You won’t work with a photo only: usually a photo is accompanied by an advertising post, but it’s not its core. Without good description text or discount coupon or cashback, sale is unlikely to happen. Another problem — not all sites have the ability to attach an affiliate link to each post (for example, on Instagram you can add only one active link, and it’s in the profile description).
- Platforms. If we are talking purely about photos, then this is Pinterest and Instagram. The first one disables the ability to place affiliate links from time to time, so you shouldn’t rely solely on it — however, you can use your “boards” in this platform as an additional source of traffic for other sites (Pinterest is well indexed by search engines). Instagram can become a good showcase for products, especially after the introduction of a new tag mechanism with active links on images (with its help, you can mark products directly at the post, create mini-landings for each product on Instagram and lead traffic to the seller’s website from those). If this new tag tool doesn’t work yet, and you are already a well-known blogger, you should negotiate with advertisers individually and ask them to provide you with personalized or unique promotional codes, and they will help to track the traffic source. A new platform, which is getting more and more popular, is the Telegram channel. Its functionality is enough to create a post containing a picture with a short description, an active link and a reaction button.
- How it works with CPA. Product selections for programs that sell clothes, shoes and accessories: by color, fashion trend, product category (“best sunglasses of the month” or “polka dot dresses for the summer”). Travel category — photos of interesting places, beaches, as well as hotels where bloggers send users through affiliate links. The more photogenic “product” is there – the more purchases will there be. All this goes in conjunction with discounts: the price still rules, so this tool should not be neglected.
The simplest format in terms of content preparation. We write messages daily and leave comments, expressing our opinion— why not turn this into a way of making money? If you do not know how to write beautifully — write informatively (but highly artistic texts should be meaningful, do not forget). Reviews, comparisons, step-by-step instructions, experiments, impressions, and just a story about your life — there are readers for each of these formats.
- Pros. Webpage with the text is easily loaded even with weak Internet. The text is well indexed by search engines, and organic traffic brings one of the most grateful audiences, as those are users that ask a question in a search bar, and you give an answer to that with your text. It is also easier to search for information within the text: for example, if user wants to find out about a specific product feature, he will use the page search (which is easier than rewinding a video and looking for the right moment).
- Cons. With all your talent in the epistolary genre, you can’t be successful without visualization: you can describe beaches with white sand in three paragraphs of text, or you can attach one photo. Another problem is that younger users generation is reading less and less: they are closer to consuming video content. Audience targeting is important here: the more accurate it is, the higher conversion from views to clicks and purchases will there be.
- Platforms. Social media ( Facebook, Twitter), blogging platforms (Blogger.com, Medium), instant messengers (Telegram) and own sites are made for text content. What should you pay attention to if you are going to post on someone else’s site? The first and most important thing is whether it “cuts” affiliate links. Someone describes this in the site rules, someone is silent about it, in any case, before sending traffic to the post, it is worth checking the work and correctness of all links. Second one is the rules for writers: some blog platforms are free from any open advertising, and moderation is performed by the readers themselves, who can significantly downvote the post.
- How it works with CPA. Usually, text descriptions work in the format of reviews (test drive of a new gadget), beauty blogs (how to choose cosmetics, makeup options), style guides (clothing sets), travel diaries (travel stories and life hacks), portals with recipes and recommendations of how to build an arbor with your own hands / to build a garden / to grow radishes. The blogger’s task here is to tell clearly and in detail about something that a reader doesn’t have yet, but which he may like, or it might turn out to be useful for him.
There are a lot of formats, but with all the technological capabilities of online platforms, you should not be limited to just one thing: make a mix of a text descriptions with photos or videos.
To get started, you better understand the differences between blogging and developing other business models in affiliate marketing. Let’s take a look at the features of blogosphere life:
- Nativeness. As a blogger, you become an opinion leader and form a community of people that are united by common interests. The more your opinion is important this users, the more they will trust you in the choice of certain goods and services. Accordingly, you will not talk about the product as a “brand ambassador,” but as a consumer, just like your subscribers. “If he liked it, then I might like it too! He knows a lot about this, so the thing he talks about is worth buying”, — this subconscious thought motivates users to buy. And if it is supported by discounts, a special offer or cashback, a sale is inevitable.
- Long term strategy. You should become a blogger only if you are ready to do this on an ongoing basis for a long time. And we are not talking about how many hours a day you are willing to spend on preparing a post or recording a video. Now we are talking about how many months (years!) in a row you’ll be able to maintain your blog, and do it with pleasure (otherwise what is it for)? Depending on the platform and topics, promoting a blog and filling it with content may take months, or even years, and you better be prepared for this. So, before the start you should think about how you can develop a blog with a year perspective at least.
Actually, it is not so scary: if you take your own site as a platform, it will be better and better indexed by SEO over time, so you will receive a stream of targeted organic traffic, and you will no longer need to develop, but maintain a blog instead. It will turn into a passive source of income — you must agree, it’s nice to go into the affiliate network personal account and repeatedly find the money there, that literally appears by itself. Content is not a context advertising. High-quality content will be stored and will serve you for a long time — all that remains is to target proper traffic to it.
- SEO promotion is perhaps the cheapest way to get traffic. Yes, it’s a long one, but when combined with paid traffic sources, it will provide you with a constant stream of new visitors and subscribers.
- Any subject. The possibilities in terms of topics are practically unlimited. There is a lot to tell about each e-commerce segment, and if you’re quirky, you can combine several topics in one blog at once: garden and construction, travel and sports, browser games and mobile apps.
- Growth and development. A blog needs them for several reasons: firstly, your audience will grow with you. If at the age of 20 you are interested in computer games, then in a couple of years, interests can turn to automotive topics or sports. You should not be afraid of this: your target audience is similar to you, some of it will also be interested in a new topic, and even bring its friends to the channel. If you don’t want to go into another topic, you can always create a second platform — but then you will have to develop and fill it with content again. Secondly, you must constantly work on your presenting information skill: improve the quality of videos and photos, learn oratory for shooting videos, learn how to process images, read books on copywriting, check interesting ideas on other blogs. If your content becomes monotonous, after a while your subscribers may leave you.
- Stability. This is the key to success in content strategies: if you do not make videos / posts according to a schedule, but at the behest of your heart and muse, your blog will quickly collapse. Alas, without clear deadlines, procrastinating and postponing the content preparation for later can be endless. It’s better to adjust the timing with the audience activity: check at what days and hours users visit your site more or react more actively to your publications.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create your blog.
- Choose a topic. This is the very first step you, that you will begin with. Think in what area your opinion will be really useful and interesting to people? What fascinates you, what are you ready to share with a wide audience, what expertise and experience do you have? And most importantly, what are you ready to do the next few months (or even years) of your life? Do not decide because of affiliate programs, and their commission rates — if it’s not your topic, then you won’t be able to make money on it.
- Choose an audience. You must be sure that your audience will be wide enough to ultimately bring you income (of course, you can gather round a circle of people with a very narrow interests, but this is a story about creating a community, and not about monetization). Present your audience in more detail: what gender it is, average age, region of residence, where these people can work / study, what are they doing in their free time, what goals and desires they have, what specific “words” they use. The last point is especially important, because each social group has its own language, its own slang, and it should not be neglected — it can revive your story and prove that you are really “Mr Nice Guy” for this audience.
- Choose a business model. You should have one basic content format that you will promote. When your business model works, you can start experimenting with other ideas. In this case, by business model we mean a style of presenting information. Here are the formats that are popular on the market right now: 1) unpacking (you receive a package with a bunch of goods, and you talk about them in front of the camera) — they usually work on programs with Chinese goods, as well as with “beauty boxes” — cosmetics sets, where the selection is unknown before the purchase, 2) reviews of new or unusual products (a detailed story about a new product: how it looks, works, what specs it has and what do they mean, how it is different from old models and its competitors) — it is used with programs that sells gadgets and cosmetics, 3) DIY (do it yourself, and instructions on how to do something with your own hands using the goods from the programs) — blogs about construction, gardening, cooking, makeup, where the goods are connected with the main plot, 4) life style (blogs about travel, a health, motherhood, sports) — often a blogger combines several directions at once, for example, “A mother of two children talks about how she travels with babies” or “How to achieve your dream figure with the help of proper nutrition and sports.”
- Understand your USP (unique selling proposition). Your blog should be different from others. Think about what is missing in the internet blog space? Try narrowing the category: instead of reviewing all the games in a row, do only shooters, instead of unpacking any Chinese goods, make the selections like “goods that are cheaper than $5,” instead of just clothing go with “new collections of non-standard sizes”. This will make your search promotion much simpler and increase sales conversions.
- Choose content format. YouTube video? Or maybe your mini-magazine in Telegram with short text notes? Or a full scale website? Decide which format you are comfortable to work with and which one will make it easier and more visual to deliver the main idea of your blog. Do not forget about the quality of the material: if you have problems with literacy, it’s better to record a video, and vice versa: if you can’t make a more or less high-quality video and edit it, or if you can’t be proud of diction and charisma, it’s better to prepare texts and photos. But remember that you can always “cheat”: contact someone you know to edit the text, shoot video on a smartphone (the shooting quality of modern mobile devices can compete with semi-professional equipment), show only the advertised product and not yourself inside the screen, and do a voice-only gadget unpacking or review/walkthrough.
- Choose a platform. Pick a platform for your content format. For short reviews, a channel in Telegram is suitable, for long texts you can create your own blog site, YouTube is suitable for video. Do not forget that you still need to promote your “brainchild” — get it slowly indexed by the search engines, start context ads, exchange posts via barter with other bloggers, use targeting in social networks. You can try to duplicate content on several platforms at once: for example, “cross” a website blog, a social network account and a channel at the Messenger. And do not forget about mobile devices: your content should be reflected well even on small smartphone screens, so choose responsive platforms.
- Choose a program. When choosing a program from catalog, look at the image of the advertiser’s brand, allowed traffic types (and if there is your ad space among them), what program indicators are opened for public and if they’re good (cookie lifetime, EPC, CR, approval percentage), what promotion tools are available (discounts, promocodes, cashback), what are the terms regarding GEO, commission rate, order confirmation, average holdtime.
- Make a publication plan. Understand for yourself how much time you can devote to a content preparation, and then multiply this figure by 1.5-2 times (you’re going to need some extra time for placement, typesetting, promotion and procrastination). Make yourself a plan on topics for the week, month and year — in the process you can change it, but initially you need to focus on something, stick to something that will keep you within the borders. After all, it’s much easier to start the content preparation when you know in adva nce what it will be about, and not wait for the muse to come, or not hang for hours browsing Internet in search of inspiration.
- Plan goals. Set yourself goals that you will strive for. For example, “reach 100 people in the blog in the first month, 300 in the second, 600 in the third, 1000 in half a year and 5000 in a year”, “reach 90% of organic traffic”, “reach program CR 5%”, “get a minimum 5 reposts of each post in social networks”, “collect at least 300 likes under instagram photos”. Your goal should be quantifiable and time limited (the number of indicators for a time period). Set the indicator a little higher than expected (this will motivate you to try even harder), but be realistic: you won’t have a million subscribers without cheating in the first month, and “dead bot souls” may cause a block of your account and do not bring profit in CPA.
There are several tools to help you blogging. We already wrote about them in detail in the article “Useful tools for publishers”.
- Moneylink. Suitable for your own websites with text content. The principle of work is very simple: a code string is added to your website that will turn all outgoing links from the website into affiliate links, that is, every time a user clicks on a link on your website, he will automatically receive your cookies. Even if the link is left not by you, but by your subscribers in the post comments, it will become an affiliate one. This will be especially convenient if, in addition to the blog, there is also a forum on your site, then you can monetize all outgoing links.
- Coupons and discounts. Some advertisers offer publishers tools to attract an audience, and the most popular of them are coupons and discounts. The variety of coupons is very large: this is free delivery, and gifts, and discounts. There are publishers whose business model is based solely on discounts: they choose a product category (airline tickets, shoes, books) and make collections of goods with discounts exclusively on those. This and the following tools are all-purpose and will fit to all business models (not the blogs only).
- SubID. This is the tag that you add to the link in order to simplify the report analysis. In fact, this is the same as utm, only in the affiliate network — you expose them at your discretion. For example, if you have a banner and articles on your site, the first SubID will be “banner” and “article”, if you are writing about fashion, the second SubID will be shoes and skirt, the third may be by brand, the fourth by color, etc. In your publisher’s account at the affiliate’s network website, you can filter reports by SubID and analyze which placement formats and products are moving better.
- Deeplink. Another simple tool that helps you generate a link to a specific page on the advertiser’s website, for example, to a product card. Deeplink can be generated both through the Admitad website and through the Admitad Extension.
- Admitad Extension. This is a browser extension that shows affiliate stores on the search results page. When you go to the advertiser’s site, you can generate Deeplink in one click, apply for program connection and learn about available coupons. The tool will be useful not only for bloggers, but for any publisher.
- Bloggers exchanges. There are projects that unite bloggers and advertisers: here, advertisers are helped to integrate their products into the bloggers content and choose a channel that matches with their product / service theme. And the blogger himself can be added in the catalog and find a suitable CPA program to work with. An example of such exchange is the Epicstars service. When a blogger’s channel grows to 1000 subscribers (in case of Twitter and Telegram up to 500), he can safely register on the exchange and wait for advertising orders.
Instead of an afterword
In order to make your blog qualitative and popular, you need to have a good imagination, some kind of expertise, speak and/or write correctly, know the text and video editors, have an ability to take quality pictures (more or less), understand SEO and SMM. Is that a lot of? Obviously, yes. But the big advantage is that you can learn all this for free online. And even if you won’t succeed in monetizing the blog, do not be discouraged: all the knowledge gained in the process will still be useful to you in life, and you should (and need to) to start your own channel not for money, but for the soul in the first place.