What is affiliation? Affiliation is one of the oldest professions in the world, that of business referral. In practical terms, affiliation means you get paid when you bring a visitor to a site and they carry out a specific action (usually a purchase).
Unlike traditional advertising, which pays according to the number of displays (CPM) or clicks (CPC), affiliates are paid according to their performance, either as a percentage of the sale, or by paying a fixed amount. In a non-professional context, this is known as sponsorship, but in the context of a theme-based website, it's known as affiliation. With affiliation, you can be remunerated for various actions:
These are the 3 main revenue models, although others exist (see our article The different affiliate revenue models). To conclude this introduction, it's worth pointing out that affiliation offers an undeniable advantage over traditional advertising: it lets you maintain control over the ads displayed on your site. Indeed, with programmatic advertising, it's quick and easy to put a banner online, but the revenues are uncertain and you don't have the option of choosing the advertising content displayed on your site. With affiliation, on the other hand, you select your partners yourself, without running the risk of distorting your site or losing visitors with formats that are too intrusive or inappropriate.
To generate significant revenues through affiliation, it's first important to have a stable audience on your site (see our article on building an audience mattress). Then, optimization will be at the heart of your work. In addition to classic tips such as diversifying the products you write about on your site, it's essential to remain honest with your audience:don't distort reality in the hope of collecting commissions. Building an audience can take time, building loyalty takes effort, but losing it can happen very quickly. So be respectful of your audience, and watch out for products that offer high commissions. For example, the YouTube channel Vilebrequin preferred to buy a product to demonstrate its ineffectiveness, rather than earn money and promote it to its community. Frequently, "borderline" products are offered: gambling (regulated in France), dietary supplements and other miracle products, as well as training in the form of videos or ebooks. Many advertisers will try to seduce you with the lure of gain, so it's up to you to define your limits.
💡 Advertisers sometimes refuse certain types of site. If your site deals with adult-only or sensitive topics, such as online gaming, pornography or the sale of drugs, you're shutting yourself off from many advertisers. However, there are specialized platforms, and such content has a good chance of being monetized through affiliate programs offered by players in these sectors.
As an affiliate, you have the opportunity to work with an accountmanager, who may be employed by an affiliate platform or by the brand that runs the affiliate program. These people are your main points of contact and can help you set up a campaign, providing you with elements to publish on your site, finding an emailing kit or simply checking that the tracking is working properly. Don' t hesitate to ask them questions, and show your interest in advertisers' sales actions. You need to make yourself known to your account manager as an active affiliate.
By creating links, you can negotiate benefits such as pay rises, exclusive promo codes or early notification of upcoming sales operations. In the best-case scenario, and if your influence is sufficient, you can also set up special operations for this advertiser in exchange for fixed budgets.
Return on investment (ROI ) must be at the heart of your decisions to maximize your efficiency. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time.
If you work on a cost-per-action (CPA) basis, here's a simple mathematical subject: basket value. In affiliate marketing, sales volume is important, but basket value is even more so. If you sell 100 hand spinners for €5 and earn 5% commission, you'll only get back €25. If you sell 3 smartphones for €500 and earn 3% commission, you'll get back €45. When you're just starting out, you often have less of an audience than the big sites, so it's worth positioning yourself on higher-priced products.
What's more, in the case of hand spinners, their purchase is a harmless and inexpensive gesture. It's not as big a commitment as the purchase of a smartphone, which will be with you for several years. So there's no need to consult a website to find out about its specifications and technical features, to be sure you're making the right choice.
By highlighting articles on products worth more than €100, you help web users to make their choice and provoke a purchasing decision. All that's left to do is offer them a few well-placed links to buy the product. (see our article on How to optimize your affiliate CTAs)
When working with CPL or Optin, the remuneration offered for each lead can vary from a few cents to over €100. So, for programs offering low payouts, you'll need to generate a large volume of leads in order to earn a satisfactory income. What's more, on this type of program, you'll be competing with other affiliates who may have greater human resources or have started out before you. Their sites may therefore be better referenced by search engines and attract a wider audience, leaving you little chance of winning a share of the market.
If your resources are limited, it may make sense to turn to niche programs that target a smaller audience. These programs generally pay between €25 and €50 per lead. These are usually advertisers in the financial sector, such as banks, insurance companies and credit institutions. Other programs aimed at professionals can offer compensation of over €100 per lead. This more generous commission is explained by the fact that a professional is more likely to bring in a large-scale contract.
Business-to-business (B2B) programs are a dime a dozen. If you have professional expertise or advanced knowledge in a specific field (for example, auto mechanics, stock market investing or the manufacture of skincare products), it's worth trying to monetize your skills.
It's not enough to choose the programs offering the most attractive remuneration packages to earn thousands of euros. Ideally, you should take the time to think things through and ask yourself the right questions before placing your first links. What course of action are you going to take, what human and financial resources do you have to develop your audience, what areas of expertise can you draw on to increase your income? Once you've found the answers to these questions, act accordingly when choosing your advertisers and writing your next content.