Business Idea: The Online Publisher
Do you have something to say that people will be entertained or informed by? Why not start a blog or resource site about your favourite topic? This basic business concept is like running a free magazine; you give away interesting content to get readers, and then advertisers pay you to access those readers with advertising and promotions.
What Kind of Publisher Should You Be?
This is all about building a regular audience and then selling access to that audience; knowing this, your options are vast. Here are a few ideas:
- You could create a WordPress blog and post regular articles about a topic you are knowledgeable about.
- How about starting a video blog hosted on YouTube, where you sell advertising and do paid product reviews?
- Like to talk a lot? How about starting a regular podcast where you talk about your topic and do regular guest interviews?
- Prefer taking photos? Why not build a following on Instagram and do paid promotions?
How Affiliate Programs Work
Browse any large ecommerce website, and chances are they will have an affiliate program advertised in the footer of their homepage. By joining affiliate programs you can make money by referring traffic to their online store; when a customer referred by you makes a purchase, you get paid a percentage of that sale. Simply sign up and agree the affiliate agreement terms, and receive their links to add to your content. Visitors to your content who click on that unique link will be tracked through to purchase, and an affiliate commission paid to you.
How much will you get paid? That depends on the site, but it is usually 5-8% of the value of the purchase made; if your referred visitor buys an item for $100, you’ll get between $5-8. Each affiliate program is different and it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worthwhile joining.
How will you get paid? Most affiliate sites use PayPal for online payments, and this is one of the easiest methods, as you can set up a PayPal account for free and link it easily to your bank account. Some US based affiliates will only pay by cheque, but this is becoming less and less popular as a method of payment. Either way, expect that you’ll have to refer over a certain threshold of business before the company will issue a payment; it may be US$100 or thereabouts, and this will vary from company to company.
How to Get The Best Results as an Affiliate
Firstly, you have to keep it relevant to your audience. If, for example, your blog is all about natural landscape photography, inserting ads and links for a fast-food chain is probably not the best match. In that case, talking about your photography gear, what you prefer to use, and where you shop for that product is a good fit. Travel companies who specialise in organising tours to the places you’ve photographed may also be relevant to your readers. People are following you for a reason; they want your advice in your field of specialisation, so go ahead and recommend the great products and services you use.
Secondly, be upfront about it. Let your readers know that you receive affiliate payments if they use certain links on your site. Yes, it may turn some users off, but those who love you and can’t get enough of your work will likely want to buy through your links to support what you’re doing. Some of the links throughout this blog earn OBA affiliate commissions when you purchase through that link – thanks in advance for your support!
Thirdly, make an effort to get your links out there. Placing a list of affiliate links on a hidden resource page somewhere on your site won’t get you much traction. Try to find interesting ways to work your links into your content so that it benefits both you and your readers; chances are your readers will be inspired to do what you are doing, and wondering where or how to get started. Give them the resources.
Joining An Affiliate Network
If you don’t fancy the idea of going to dozens of different sites and joining each of their affiliate programs separately, you may consider joining an affiliate network. Companies like CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) http://www.cj.com/, and Neverblue http://neverblue.com/ offer publishers the chance to join their global networks and manage their affiliates all on one place. The downside? You’ll have to agree to their affiliate payment rates, which are inevitably lower amounts than going direct.