Would you like some extra cash? Do you have a website or blog, or at least an idea for one? Do you have time to commit to updating that site with content?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you may want to consider becoming an affiliate advertiser.

Affiliate advertisers host ads for other companies’ products or services on their site. They are paid each time a particular action is taken relevant to one of the ads. For example, they may be paid each time someone sees the ad, each time someone clicks on the ad, or each time someone clicks on the ad and completes a conversion.

Revenues for affiliate advertising can range from a couple of cents per action to a couple hundred dollars per action. It depends on the value of the product or service for sale, as well as the particular affiliate program the company has in place.

Affiliate advertisers don’t need to be companies themselves. They can be regular people with simple and inexpensive websites.

If you’ve decided you’d like to try out affiliate advertising, here are some steps for getting started:

  1. If you don’t already have a website or blog, start one. This is a necessary step for becoming an affiliate advertiser. Some affiliate programs, including Google’s AdSense program, require publishers in certain locations to have owned their sites for at least six months before becoming an affiliate. You may want to base the theme of your new site on a particular product or service you’d like to advertise, though a better idea is probably writing about a topic you’re passionate about. This way you’re more likely to update your content regularly, get more traffic, and have people click your ads.
  2. Look for products and/or services to advertise. If you are new to affiliate advertising, you may want to start out with just one advertisement on your site. This way you can see if the revenue produced by the ad is worth the time you’ve invested in designing and updating your site for that ad’s success. You can search for products or services to advertise by joining an established affiliate network like Commission Junction, Amazon, eBay, ClickBank, or Google. Look for items that are highly relevant to your site, don’t have a lot of competition, and have a commission structure that fits your liking.
  3. Once you’ve found the product or service you’d like to advertise, review your site. Make sure that it is relevant enough to what you’d like to promote. If it’s not, users will be less interested in the ad. If they are visiting your site to read about innovative children’s toys, for example, they likely won’t click on an ad for an office cleaning business. If your site’s theme is very different from the product or service you’d like to promote, find a new product or service. If it’s just a little different, modify your site to make it more relevant. That may include adding particular keywords, rewriting your headlines, and renaming your images. Once you’ve made these improvements, you’re more likely to be approved to advertise the particular product or service.
  4. Next, apply for the affiliate program you’re interested in. Also, if required apply for the particular advertising program you’re interested in. Before applying, check out the affiliate program’s website to see if you fit the eligibility requirements. You will see that to be an affiliate advertiser for Amazon products, for example, you can’t be a resident of Colorado, North Carolina, or Rhode Island. Also, make sure that you have your bank account or PayPal information on hand, as many of the networks require this information in your application.
  5. Once you’re accepted into an affiliate/advertising program, create your ad. Affiliate networks generally provide tools that let you easily design your ad. Usually you can choose between a simple text ad or a banner image ad.  Some affiliate networks, like Google’s, allow for video, flash and mobile ads. You must make sure that the ad conforms to the affiliate and/or advertiser’s standards. eBay, for example, has special wording guidelines. Once your ad is complete, you will be provided with a code you must copy and paste onto your site. This code will make the ad appear, as well as track all traffic that is delivered from your site to a company’s landing page.
  6. Monitor your ad and site analytics once the ad is up and running. See how much traffic your site or blog is generating, and how much of that traffic is clicking on your ad. Also, monitor the percentage of clicks that are resulting in conversions. Conversions can either be lead-related actions, like white paper registrations or newsletter signups, or actual sales. If your traffic numbers are pretty low, then improving those figures should be your number one priority. Perhaps you could update your blog more often, or start promoting your articles on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
  7. If your traffic is high but your clicks are low, improve your ad. This could mean changing the ad type (banners instead of buttons, text instead of images), moving the ad to another location on your page, or simplifying the ad’s copy. Google offers a number of tips for improving your ad’s performance. Try to make just one change, and then see how that impacts your ad campaign. If it doesn’t make a positive difference, make a different change. Once you find the change or changes that work best, keep those in place. If none of your efforts improve your ad’s performance, you should consider picking a new product or service to advertise.
  8. Once you’re ready, put more ads on your site. Once you’ve gotten a feel for whether affiliate advertising is worth your time, consider branching out. Find more products or services to promote within your affiliate program, or join additional affiliate programs to potentially maximize your revenue. Make sure, though, your new ads conform to your site’s theme. As you experience more success with your affiliate advertising efforts, buzz may generate about your site. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself being contacted by companies wanting to advertise on your site.

About the Author

Article originally published on September 30, 2010 by Christine Laubenstein, a Marketing Associate at WordStream.