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Survey: How Bloggers Monetize Blog Content

A recent survey asked small business owners — who are also bloggers — how they use affiliate marketing and performance marketing networks to monetize blog content.

In the introductory part of this series I shared some general observations of the survey responses that provided a snapshot of thinking and experiences from bloggers’ perspectives about the overall state of the performance marketing industry. Surprisingly, a high percentage of the bloggers who took the time to answer this survey are also small business owners with wide ranging experience across different industries.

They are social media savvy, early adopters of emerging technologies, and influential across all segments of the blogosphere. While the sampling was small, this audience was international, spanning at least four of our seven continents. With the exception of a very few, none would call themselves “affiliate marketers.”

Survey Responses

Now let’s take a closer look at the two important questions asked in the survey and the bloggers’ responses about how they use affiliate and performance marketing to monetize blog content.

  1. Best thing about performance marketing networks, PPC, and CPA networks?
  2. Worst thing about performance marketing networks, PPC, and CPA networks?

 

Best Features

Best ~ Worst ~ Further Reading ~ Thanks

The best thing [about performance marketing networks, PPC networks, CPA networks] is the opportunity to make money without having to have a product. — “Mitch” Mitchell, T.T. Mitchell Consulting

Quicker Than Creating A Product

The general consensus is that affiliate marketing and performance-based marketing provides an easy way to make money without having to spend your own time and money to create a product. Overwhelmingly, the bloggers participating in the survey used the larger affiliate networks from which to select products that complemented their niches and appealed to their readership.

The main appeal to bloggers for this type of monetization strategy was getting paid for every sale.

Getting Paid For Every Action

For those preferring CPA (click-per-action) or PPC (pay-per-click) networks, the “sale” is the culmination of “the action” at the end of which is a commission. Using these networks, bloggers agree you can quickly and easily generate an income. In theory, there are no ceilings or caps. In their own words:

  • The best thing about PPC networks is that you get paid for every click.
  • As for CPA, the best thing is that you can get paid quite well for referring people who complete a sale.
  • The traffic [can] make at least two hundred a month from AdSense alone.
  • PPC marketing is excellent for start-up businesses that need to have income generated fast and have not yet established themselves in the free search engines.
  • Some PPC and CPA networks also have dedicated affiliate managers to help with any promotions.

Control and Choices

Supplemental to the allure of easily earning an income is the attraction of having choices. Those choices include having control of the advertisers you work with and deciding for yourself who gets what space on your blog. Of course, that control can be somewhat erroded by the insistence of some CPA networks that their ads sit in the choicest spaces, above the fold. But, for the most part, these choices remain in the hands of the blog owners.

Small business, especially an online business blogger with global reach, can earn revenue in a variety of ways according — no matter what his niche. Networks with a worldwide presence give bloggers in remote, obscure locales the same opportunity as those operating in major cities. Thus, if they desire to use any of these blog monetizing strategies, they too have choices.

Worst Features

Best ~ Worst ~ Further Reading ~ Thanks

Heck, is it my fault they can’t produce a page that converts prospects into sales? — Peter Pelliccia, WassUp Blog

Whenever there is a “best dressed list” not far behind is a “worst dressed list.” The same holds true for our subject at hand. While the good things about the industry give them a means to monetize blog content, business bloggers also had much to say about the worst performing aspects of affiliate and performance-based marketing networks. They spoke about payments, creatives (banners and ads), niche relevance, ethics, and customer service.

Further down you will see some suggestions for improvements in a much longer checklist; for now, these are the absolute worst offenders.

Payment Levels and Threshholds

  • The worst thing about PPC is the amount you get paid is pitiful. The worst thing about CPA is getting nothing at all for sending all those people to their landing pages. Heck is it my fault they can’t produce a page that converts prospects into sales?
  • Sometimes the weasels don’t pay you, then won’t respond to your email.
  • My personal gripe is Google’s $100 payout minimum. I never collected. I’m stuck at $74.00.

Customer Service

The top pet peeve of a disproportionate number of bloggers was either the total lack of customer service or the glaring disregard for the customer. Respondents cited instances in which advertising networks don’t have contact phone numbers, pass the buck, give them the run-around, and blatantly treat them badly.

Such obvious inattentiveness to basic tenets of responsive customer service was considered almost unforgiveable.

Creative Control

The worst thing about these networks is the three-way tension between network, publisher and vendor. — Mitchell Allen

Creatives are advertisments, banners created by the advertisers for your use on your sites. They come in a variety of sizes and oftentimes you get text versions, too. Using some magical formula and a bit of conversion wizardry, advertisers have decided that the sizes that convert best have nothing to do with my sidebar, or your’s either.

While you might have a choice of where you will place them, Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs points out how you, as a publisher, “have no control over the creatives.” I understand what he means. As an example, I prefer 250×250 size banners because they fit perfectly in the space allotted by my WordPress theme for the sidebar. Unfortunately, if I want that size banner for most of the advertiser programs I work with, I’ll have to create it myself.

Niche Relevance

Either the super-networks are niche-challenged or they are so large small business owners and bloggers cannot find the products and services they want to promote to their website audiences. The search engines on these networks could use some algorhythm changes to make results more relevant.

Networks like ClickBank and Share-A-Sale mainly focus on ebooks, software, themes, and services. To ClickBank’s credit, it offers thousands of information products covering a broad market, so if you need information products, you’re covered. Or, if your audience includes business owners seeking software solutions or SaaS services, Share-A-Sale represents a large volume of advertisers who might have what they need.

As challenging as it can be to find quality products relevant to your customers, readers, and target market, affiliate marketer Ron Cripps highlights a hurdle that is specific to CPA marketing:

CPA Networks can encourage you to promote products and services that are not related to your niche as each month you receive a list of products to promote from your affiliate manager. — Ron Cripps, Affiliate X Files

What’s next in the worst dressed category?

Ethics, Standards, Corruption

Almost unanimously, those survey respondents who spoke on the issue agreed that ethics and standards were at issue. Bloggers like Gera (@sweetsfoods) are certain that a lack of “filters to sort out real proposals and scams” is the first place many networks fall short. Along the same lines, another business consultant alluded to the proliferation of offers that “mislead unsuspecting consumers.”

While the actual misdeeds are not so much the fault of the advertising networks and agencies that provide the means for bloggers to present these offers to their readers, the oversight certainly falls squarely upon their shoulders. (I’ve never seen a mechanism that asks for any feedback from a consumer who purchases or particpates in an offer managed by an advertising network.)

Many of the networks are riddled with crooks on both sides of the fence. — Gail Gardner, GrowMap.com

Strong opinions were expressed about the ethics, standards, and levels of corruption perceived to be in operation within the performance marketing industry. Listen in . . .

  • Many of the networks are riddled with crooks on both sides of the fence. There are affiliate marketers who use cookie-stuffing and toolbars to generate commissions for sales they did nothing to generate who steal from both the sellers and other affiliates.
  • There are offers being made that mislead unsuspecting consumers.
  • Networks without any type of filters to sort out real proposals and scams.
  • The corruption with the adware, theft and ripping off legit Affiliates and websites. Some of the network’s parent companies have begun buying Affiliate sites, including ones with adware. Not only are they competing with us, but certain applications have the ability to overwrite our cookies and steal our commissions.
  • You also sometimes don’t get paid if the merchant decides not to pay; there is no control if you will be kept in a program or removed. If you are removed you may end up having to change out thousands of links.

I mentioned in the first article of the series how one of my accounts was closed because the network decided my level of sales — on their behalf — was not up to snuff. That annoyed me to no end, but it was hardly as grievous as some of the situations reported by bloggers like Mitchell who had accounts closed and were never paid their earnings. This situation prompted him to blog about it, in Finish Line Steals My Money Then Cancels My Account.

Final Thoughts

The best and the worst, from bloggers’ perspectives, give us some food for thought. The good things are very good indeed. The not-so-good? It would be fair to say that every issue highlighted today can be satisfactorily addressed. Coming up in Part 3 are some suggestions for improvements in the affiliate marketing and performance marketing industry. And,we’ll see what bloggers had to say about which types of programs work best to monetize blog content.

If you missed Part 1: Established Methods to Monetize Blogs, you still have time to catch up before the next article!

Take the Survey

Are you a small business owner or blogger? Take the survey (it’s anonymous). Our collective voices could be the catalyst that effects a change for everyone’s betterment – especially the ability to earn a decent income from our blog content.

Please share your thoughts in the comment area below. Thanks for reading.

Further Reading

Special Thanks

Special thanks go out to the many bloggers who participated in the survey.

Peter Pelliccia, Small Business Owner “Blogging for fame and fortune”
Twitter: @AussieSire

Mitch Mitchell, Business Management Consultant, Writer
Twitter: @Mitch_M

Gera, Blogging Strategies
Twitter: @sweetsfoods

Mitchell Allen, Software Developer, Writer,
Twitter: @AnkleBuster

Gail Gardner, Small Business Social Media Marketing Advisor
Twitter: @GrowMap

Adam Riemer, Affiliate Management company, Washington DC Marketing Firm
Twitter: @RollerBlader

Alicia Jay, Transcription, Proofreading, Typing Services
Twitter: @TranscripESvcs

Ron Cripps, Affiliate Marketing
Twitter: @affiliatexfiles

Adrienne Smith, Achieve Success Online
Twitter: @AdrienneSmith40

And many, many thanks to all of our other small business blogging friends!

Take the Survey. Are you a small business owner or blogger? Take the survey (it’s anonymous). Our collective voices could be the catalyst that effects a change for everyone’s betterment.

Other Articles in this Series

Read Part 1, Established Methods to Monetize Blogs.

Read Part 3: Improvements Pave the Way to Monetize Blogs.

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Vernessa Taylor | CoachNotes Blog

As a Technology Consultant, Vernessa Taylor works with both online and offline business owners. She writes about small business systems such as project management and customer referral systems at CoachNotes Blog.

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61 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting post Vernessa. Thank you for taking the time to so the survey and learn how others are using these different networks. I appreciate being able to be a small part of this so thank you for thinking of me.

    Adrienne

    1. Adrienne, it was somewhat eye-opening to see the experiences of various business owners and bloggers.

      This article contrasted best and worst but since bloggers are a thoughtful group, they also offered suggestions for better experiences (coming next).

      Thanks for being taking part.

  2. Hi Vernessa!

    Great job again and it’s very useful to explore the minds of bloggers around these hot themes, like affiliate marketing – more how to improve for a win- win relationship of all the parts.

    Cheers,

    Gera

    1. Thanks, Gera!

      As I mentioned to Adrienne above, many bloggers are thinkers — always trying to figure out not only what works but also how to make it work better. It seems the huge field of performance marketing provides an opportunity for ethical, smart, thoughtful people to make it work well for their purposes.

      You know, there are lots of bloggers who don’t quite understand what this is all about. A fellow blogger wanted to send out the survey to his network. I realized a simpler survey was needed … So I’ve put together a short, multiple-choice entry level survey. I hope you’ll make bloggers in your network aware of it. I think it will give us even more insight and ideas on how to improve.

      Thanks Gera for all your comments and help!

  3. Vernessa, this series is even more fun to read than it was to participate! Hopefully, awareness will increase as you and others continue to shed light on the short-comings – and potential – of this industry.

    Thanks for linking to my article and for giving us some other links to check out!

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    1. Mitch, we all know too well how “power concedes nothing without a demand.” That being the case, voices raised in unison a help the squeaky wheel get a little grease. (All mixed metaphors and crossed-up puns intended. 🙂 )

      You like math? I like numbers. I’m thinking if bloggers embed the shorter survey into a page, and ask their peers to participate, we’ll get the numbers up a bit. I’ll share the code with anyone who wants it.

      Thanks for your participation and voicing your thoughts.

      1. Vernessa, by “page”, do you mean a permanent survey? I’ll be happy to embed code in a static page.
        Or, if this is a project with an end date, I’ll promote it in a blog post.

        Please email the code. 🙂

        Cheers,

        Mitch

        1. That would be great, Mitch! I’ll email the code … I suppose the surveys should have end dates but I’m thinking to let them run 60-90 days. I’ll leave it for you to decide whether it would be better to use a post or a page, based on how you would encourage engagement.

          I appreciate your help! 🙂

    1. Hello and thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, every “industry” that has lasted beyond the growing pains has then had to evaluate its processes. Oftentimes, peer review will get things moving in the right direction. But if not, some stronger measures often work wonders.

      We’re looking for whatever works, right?

  4. Hey Vernessa, I love the way you put all that information together. It would be good if those who supply us with the means to monetize our blogs were to read it, especially your followup post.

    I feel very fortunate to be a part of that and for that I thank you.

    1. Hey Sire – Performance Marketing Insider is one of those “industrial strength” publications and Pace mentioned (on the other post) how some of the issues that were raised were already in discussion in the Halls of Revenue-dom. 🙂

      Of course, action often follows statistics. (See my comment to Mitch, above.) I know your readers expect you to give them the low-down on affiliate marketing happenings. (I often stop by your blog to see what else you have to say on the subject.) So, give them an opportunity to weigh in. Those stats will help.

      As always, appreciate what you have to say and thanks for the compliment.

      1. Vernessa, it’s not like I’m an experienced affiliate marketer or anything. I just trial things and then I share the results with my readers in the hope that we all learn something from our interaction.

        As to your comment, do you mean a chance to weigh in on this discussion?

        1. Hey Sire – Weighing in on this discussion would be great. You can definitely send ’em over here! 🙂

          But actually I meant you could perhaps drop one of the surveys in a post or page OR ask those interested to drop by my site and take a survey. No more email surveys, I recreated it online and also created a mutiple choice version more suitable for beginners.

          The shorter multiple choice survey is here: Multiple Choice Survey: Do Bloggers Monetize (Focus is on beginner knowledge levels as opposed to how networks are being used)

          The longer survey, the one you answered is here: Affiliate Programs and Performance Marketing Survey (Focus is on the experiences and suggestions of bloggers who are using these networks)

          I’ll be happy to send you the code if you want to put it up on your site. Either way will get us a bit more information (a larger ‘sample’ as Gera points out).

  5. Interesting information Vernessa and I wasn’t aware of some of the issues. One question for you is how big was the survey and were the participants across different markets?

    1. Hi Susan,

      The survey was 7 questions; they were all free-form essay questions. (Bloggers have a lot to say!)

      The sampling itself was small, however the participants spanned 4 continents and represent a variety of niches, including business consulting (various targets including ecommerce, social media, healthcare consulting), foodlovers, restaurants, cooks, revenue generation (“making money”), dating, software development, marketing, etc.

      I would love to take this a few steps further and maybe developing a compelling report that could be used in a variety of ways. Let me know if you have other questions and thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi Vernessa, This is an eye opener for me because I didn’t realize that so many of my blogging friends were involved with monetization to this degree. I’m even more convinced now how “un-qualified” I am to respond to the questions on the survey.
    The thing I find most interesting it what Mitch Allen said about 3 way tension and what you said about the availability of banner sizes. I can see I’ve got some homework to do. Thanks for the encouragement and sharing everyone’s feedback.

    1. Hi Ileane – Your comments to me when I asked you to participate in the survey, along with a few others, prompted me to create a short, multiple choice survey that could be taken online. It hadn’t occured to me how many bloggers do not either understand the concept of performance marketing or don’t bother with engaging in it. So, thank you! 🙂 (You can indeed take this one because it gets at beginner knowledge levels as opposed to how networks are being used. Multiple Choice Survey: Do Bloggers Monetize)

      Mitch’s point is well-taken. For people with a double sidebar, unless they use the skyscrapers (600px long) or use the small 125×125, there usually aren’t many choices. Thanks for your comment and inspiration.

  7. I can completely identify with this post as I have recently gone through the struggles to monetize my diy blog. I was stuck on $74.00 with adsense for a long time too. This month my adsense revenue doubled just from targeting my ads. I’ve also been blocking low paying advertisers from bidding on my ad space on adsense. The only thing better than Adsense and Amazon is to sell your ad space privately at a per month rate. Best of luck to everyone and making a buck off their blogs.

    1. Hi Brigette – Is $74 some magic number with Adsense? 😀

      Ah, “blocking low paying advertisers” is a powerful strategy! I haven’t heard anyone else say that. It’s certainly not something I had considered (even though I know you can block advertisers like ones who have objectionable adverts).

      I’ve seen how some bloggers are taking the private ad route. Do you consider a network like BuySell a lucrative avenue?

      Thanks for sharing your insider info.

      1. If you have the traffic needed for BuySell, then by all means do it. You can get monthly income to handle some expenses for a blog, hosting etc. Make sure you have a look at a few Google heat maps to see how much you should position your ads and charge for space. I think I probably have a bit of a different niche than most of the readers here so I don’t really have enough traffic for Buysell…yet. I’ve always had luck just contacting potential advertisers (email, twitter) and partnering with businesses that offer innovative products I love and can write positively about.

        1. Bloggers are reportiing satisfactory results with BuySell Ads; I’ve also seen ads created by bloggers for their own products. Both you and Peter (below) talk about creating opportunities to sell private ad space. This seems an excellent idea. Hopefully others will chime in about their experiences in this arena.

  8. This was awesome sauce!! Thanks for this Vernessa, it will help me shore up my thoughts on a couple of things I’m currently working on (Ha, not like you don’t know already) 🙂 Seriously great info, shows me how far behind I am on this front. Look forward to your next feature in this series!

    1. Hi Rohan, we all start somewhere, right?

      What’s really juicy about this entire blog monetizing strategy is you already have a network of hungry (pun intended) bloggers who are seeking ways to add revenue the smart way. Because you are stirring the pot, looking for the choicest morsels in the “awesome sauce,” you are in a unique position to teach THEM how to do it right when they come out the gate.

      Thanks for agreeing to share the survey. (Did you take it yet?)

  9. Some of these networks can definitely give you the boot for any reason they feel. I for one got the boot from ebays aff program back in the day citing a bogus reason that the traffic was noT of the best quality… I called this bogus because the traffic that was being sent was generating lots of revenue for both them and me which I thought was the whole purpose of our affiliate arrangement ❗

    Just one more reason to never put all your eggs in one basket and as for locating more networks ive got a special aff search engine installed on my site filled w hundreds of em 😉

    1. Caleb, we are performance marketing. You get paid on a sale, and action. There is no such thing as “bad traffic” unless its fraudulent. 🙂

  10. Hi Vernessa,

    I see Ileane commented on this and I’m probably less aware of this than she is and she confessed to being ‘un-qualified’!

    I’ve never wanted to cheapen the look of my blog for just $100/month and I hate MLM type sites full of advertising and banners and flashing lights offering and guaranteeing the world. It’s not my thing. I’m NOT just being (typically British) a snob and sure, I could do with the income but I can wait.

    My blog is getting a lot of traffic now, it took a while but my Alexa ranking is not bad and I can wait until it’s good enough to approach 1 company and get (maybe) a good regular income from a single sponsorship.

    I feel this will be better for me and not put of my social media customers. If my blog was full of adverts it might put them off and they might think I was full of gimmicks??

    A great post Vernessa and PLEASE put me right if I’m being short sighted or misinformed as the additional income wouldn’t hurt a bit!!

    I’m so glad we finally got to communicate, thanks for your patience, blame the time zones, all the very best, Peter

    1. Hi Peter,

      It was so nice to finally connect!

      Your blog concept and your audience are precious assets. As such, you certainly should only do those things you believe best reflect your goals for them. Performance marketing, affiliate marketing are not for everyone. By the same token, they can be integrated into your process no matter what the niche or focus.

      Your idea for eventually monetizing your blog is excellent. It echoes what Brigette said above about following a “private ads” strategy. However you move forward, I think we’d be interested in your results.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insights today.

  11. Hi Vernessa,

    Wow there is so much information here I had to read it twice!! Thanks for picking the brains of the gurus and sharing with us both sides of the coin. The threshold is an issue as I have experienced myself. Funds stuck there because it hasn’t met the minimum payout and this is likely for someone just starting out.

    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Diana,

      With so many being affected by restrictive payout strategies, you would think the big networks would rethink the process. Even small, standalone affiliate programs have adopted these heinous methods. I hate you (and others) have been struck by this. I’ve got $$ locked down in OPVs (Other People’s Vaults), too.

      Thanks for hanging in there, reading twice. 🙂 Perhaps we’ll see some changes yet, eh?

  12. Hi Vernessa,

    I currently don’t have a site right now ( I know, it’s a bit weird but that’s how it is ) and from what I have read and heard about, one monetizing technique that can literally bring a LOT of cash is through CPA.

    I have heard a lot of urban stories about it, if they are true, I don’t know. For me, monetizing came in reviews, recommendations and tweets when I was into affiliate marketing.

    I don’t think I ever made a dime just by having a 125×125 box by my right side so those boxes are maybe a little bit too much these days.

    I believe I never did a cent either by just saying “yes I can help you for free as long as you use my affiliate links”.

    I know it SHOULD work, but there are a few ones out there that’d rather not advance before paying a small commission to someone willing to help them for free.

    I know this, because I have seen it.

    Another thing that you mention is very important, you send traffic to some sales page.

    Maybe it’s not with CJ or CB but maybe it’s just a couple of very cool gurus.

    I’ve sent loads and loads of traffic to a webinar training course that involved a “free” fully functional license of GoToWebinar. I did this tweeting, writing reviews and creating a little of “buzz” around it.

    I don’t know if people did actually bought the course through my link but from at least a few thousand hits, nobody bought anything.

    This is a little hard to believe as I sent like 3 or 4 tweets for a webinar training from a girl in the UK who is teaching how to make money online and snap…

    I made three sales just out of those 3 or 4 tweets.

    I’m not saying the webinar guys are doing something wrong here, I’m just saying that maybe focusing your promotion efforts on your own things may have a better ROI in the long run.

    Or at least you won’t have second thoughts about fishy procedures.

    At first I thought “I could create a blog an put affiliate links all over to the things I still don’t master…”

    Right now, I rather say something like “hey you know what, I may not be the master of “any micro niche related subject here” but I bust my butt off trying to deliver the best content out there just for your benefits, if you want to take it from me, go ahead and if not, it’s ok too and we still can be friends!”

    So really, why leave money on the table?

    Sergio

    1. Hi Sergiio,

      Some marketers absolutely swear by CPA and list it as one of the fastest, easiest methods for monetizing their blogs.

      Your experiences with sending loads of traffic to sites that in turn never seem to convert to sales is not unusual. Sad, but true. The opinions on why this is true seems to be divided into two camps: poor conversion ability on the part of the advertiser or corruption where your commissions are outright stolen (or discounted).

      I’m with you on not leaving money on the table. The way this has worked best for me is pretty much the same as how you initially monetized your blog content, through reviews and personal recommendations. Still, I get click-throughs and sales from banner ads that are related to specific content.

      Diversification is key; addressing some of the issues brought up in this article is the bulk of what’s left to make it worth the continued effort. Thanks for sharing your experiences Sergio.

  13. Some excellent information about how to monetize blog, I mostly use PPC networks because they payout is generally good for my traffic. But I guess it is a matter of testing out different methods and settling on something that pays best.

    1. Hi Nishadha,

      Thanks for your comment. Some bloggers indicated that PPC networks seem to work best for startups or blogs that haven’t really gained much traffic. Would you say that holds true across the board or does PPC work just as well for long-time establshed blogs?

  14. Confidence and self-belief are both vital ingredient for success. I have found inspiration from success stories in magazines and books. The Next Women Business Magazine and The Women’s History Press, Holo Books, Oxford are two places that I draw my inspiration from. Now, inspiration combined with these survey results will drive me forward. Great!

  15. Vernessa,

    Very interesting results, and sometimes (most of the time) you think it’s just you.

    I’m a little late to this party, so I just took the survey.

    I thought it was such a big deal to finally get accepted to the CPA companies, but I’m considering closing my accounts.

    Some people are very successful, or so it’s understood, with CPA, but it requires effort I’m just not willing to put into it. I’d rather put that same effort into developing a solution-product, that I can offer.

    There’s always risk in dealing with 3rd parties. I live in California and Amazon recently suspended all affiliate accounts here. The sites that I built around this vendor are now useless to me. I don’t want to take the time to refurbish them for new products from another vendor – once again I’d rather spend the time on developing something that’s in my control.

    I look for to your next article,
    Theresa

    1. Hey Theresa,

      You’re right on time, the party is still in full swing. 🙂 Thanks for taking the survey.

      In the words of various songsters, “You are not alone! ” There are lessons to be learned all around. You’ve just mentioned (twice) a very valuable one: create and control your own targeted product.

      I’m feeling you on the Amazon pull-out. They abandoned NC affiliates a year ago and I felt the sting strongly as did many others. Going into performance marketing, there are no guarantees, but all thngs being equal, a safety net of some sort would be welcome.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts today, Theresa.

  16. I have to say that monetizing your blog is not a problem… If you write quality and unique content on your blogs, adding adsense can be a bonus not a set back. I run several very successful blogs and all of them have adsense on them and it works a treat, but you must write quality content.

    1. I agree with you that it’s not a problem however it does require effective planning and goal setting. Creating quality content is a must but you also have to consider your traffic.

      1. Hi Brian – Good point about considering one’s traffic. Advertisers count on the fact that bloggers get traffic that is interested in their offers. But issues such as those raised in this article really discourage bloggers from wanting to promote products of advertisers who don’t also consider the needs of the bloggers. We’re looking for some balance such that bloggers have the basics they need and their opportunities to effectively earn is not compromised.

        Appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

    2. Hi hcgdrop – Yes, having quality content that is monetized with Google Adsense is one piece of the pie. Many small business bloggers also attempt to monetize their content using offerings from other performance marketing industry players. The issues brought up here occur despite having excellent, well-read content. Hopefully, some of them will be resolved going forward.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comment.

  17. Very interesting results! I’ve been in affiliate marketing for over 7 years now and I have to say that I was completely surprised by all of this!

    Although I work with CPA Networks, I work primarily on the CPS side with Shareasale, CJ, Linkshare, and GAN. I don’t promote any downloadable products, ebooks, software, etc. I like to focus on promoting products that I actually use myself (magazines, clothes, shoes, makeup, etc). I think that’s the key to success for most bloggers who value their audiences.

    As far as creative control, it’s totally acceptable to ask an affiliate manager to create a different sized banner for you. Sometimes they will even make them with a look that is customized to your site. They don’t always say “yes,” but the really good ones will at least try. And most networks allow you to “deep link” to whatever page or product you want and create your own text links.

    While there are certainly bad players in the industry, they are NOT the the norm nor the majority. Yes, you can have your cookies overwritten by toolbars but it doesn’t really happen all that often. And while there are misleading “offers” in the CPA networks, it’s easy to stay away from them if you promote CPS. As for merchants not paying, networks like Shareasale make the merchants pay in advance so that you are sure to get paid. The biggest danger is getting dropped from the program, which does happen sometimes. Or they lower your commission to a point that you may not go back and pull old links but you certainly won’t put up new ones.

    I would love to talk more about this with any bloggers who are interested. I wish that we could all sit around and have a cup of tea and talk through it all. But since we can’t, I am open to suggestions!

  18. Hi Tricia,

    Thanks for coming by to add your insights. Having been an affiliate manager, you have a perspective from both sides of the table. Two things you mentioned work more in theory than reality, at least within some networks.

    … most networks allow you to “deep link” to whatever page or product you want and create your own text links.

    Sometimes they (networks) offer the feature but merchants (advertisers) haven’t taken advantage of it, haven’t created data feeds, haven’t even turned the capability ON — leaving affiliates unable to use it within their content.

    Yes, Shareasale is one of the best networks. Some of the larger networks could take a lesson from them. My understanding is that many of the larger networks also require an advertiser to have escrow funds. Theoretically, that should take care of affiliates not getting paid; realistically, if payments are disputed, networks err on the side of advertisers, and the funds remain in the escrow account. Without proper fraud protection or a dispute settlement mechanism, affiliates simply never see those payouts.

    The issues raised by bloggers who attempt to monetize their content are real. Some networks are better than others, some affiliate managers are more involved in determining the needs of their affiliates. However, the things that need improvement truly are industry-wide.

    I’m looking forward to talking further. 🙂

  19. There seems to be a Wild West quality to internet sales. I’m by no means an expert but stable relationships don’t parallel real world agreements. The terms can change without notice.

  20. Two things you mentioned work more in theory than reality, at least within some networks. You have an important point.

  21. Some of these networks can definitely give you the boot for any reason they feel. This seems an excellent idea. I appreciate your help! Hopefully others will chime in about their experiences in this arena.

  22. No more email surveys, I recreated it online and also created a mutiple choice version more suitable for beginners. I wish that we could all sit around and have a cup of tea and talk through it all. I feel very fortunate to be a part of that and for that I thank you.

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