The Types of Affiliate Marketing Websites

The Types of Affiliate Marketing Websites

So, you have read blogs such as this one and many others, and decided to get into affiliate marketing. Good for you. Many people are able to earn a full-time living online, and with a little effort and time, you could be next. Deciding on a theme or niche for an affiliate website is an important step, but selecting the type of website is perhaps even more important because it will determine how you will lead your readers to merchants and hopefully turn them into customers. I know of five primary types of affiliate marketing websites, and I’m going to describe each one in this article and explain each type’s advantages and disadvantages. When reading this article, remember that you should never limit yourself by shoehorning your website into a specific type and staying within it. Although picking one type and doing it well can certainly bring you success, some of the best affiliate marketing ideas have come from combining multiple types and presenting them in a new and interesting way that provides value to visitors.

Informational Website or Blog

This type of website exists to provide information first, and sell products second. Many of the world’s most popular websites fall into this category, such as Tom’s Hardware Guide or AnandTech in the field of computer hardware. The Affluent Blogger is an informational website as well. This type of website benefits from the fact that there is very little setup and testing time needed before the website can be launched — simply pick a layout and start writing content. On the other hand, it can take a long time for an informational website to build a reader base, and longer still before it earns any money. The best informational websites have excellent affiliate tie-ins — for example, a weekly buyer’s guide that features the lowest prices found around the Web for products in your specific niche, using affiliate links wherever possible. Because informational websites tend to eventually build large reader bases, this type of website may eventually be able to secure an advertising deal that pays based on page views rather than ad clicks.

Advantages:

  • Easy to set up and update
  • Potential for a large number of regular readers
  • Potential for high PageRank

Disadvantages:

  • Does not “pre-sell” products
  • Without a good product tie-in, may generate few affiliate sales
  • Earns income slowly

Product Reviews or Comparisons

This type of website specializes in providing detailed reviews of products in a specific niche, or many different niches. Some websites specialize more in comparisons than reviews, providing a grid-based layout that briefly explains the strengths of several similar products. This type of website can achieve high conversion rates, because a glowing review “pre-sells” a product to a potential customer. Send them to the merchant, and let them close the deal. However, WordPress is not exactly built for product review websites, and maximizing your results depends on selecting the right theme. I have experienced great results with the InReview theme. With this type of website, honesty is very important; people can see through a website that gives every product a glowing review. Kayak is an example of a brilliantly executed comparison website in the travel niche. Another type of comparison website is the coupon website, which specializes in offering coupon codes for great deals regardless of the product niche.

Advantages:

  • Receives targeted traffic — visitors are in buying mode
  • Pre-sells products — high conversion rate if reviews are trusted

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to compete in some niches
  • Difficult to set up in WordPress without the right theme

Virtual Storefront

A virtual storefront is a website that looks like an eCommerce website but transfers the reader to a merchant’s website when they click the “Buy” button. This type of website can work well with a merchant that sells everything, such as Amazon. Amazon can be a difficult website to search because of the vast selection of products, and you can provide readers a valuable service by selecting the best items and presenting them in an easy-to-digest format. You could also aggregate products from multiple merchants. The potential downsides include difficulty finding the right theme — the eStore WordPress theme is excellent — and keeping prices and links updated. For example, the prices on Amazon change constantly. If you enter prices manually, updating them can be very tedious. Lastly, a reader who clicks the “Buy” button and gets transferred to Amazon may find the experience jarring and might not be inclined to visit your website again. Handling the purchase process yourself and coordinating with a drop-shipping service can prevent this problem.

Advantages:

  • Professional appearance — doesn’t look like affiliate marketing
  • Visitors are in buying mode

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to maintain
  • Transition to merchant’s website can be jarring
  • Difficult to find the right WordPress theme

Mini-Site

A mini-site is a very small website, usually consisting of around 5-10 total pages. This type of website provides information on an extremely narrow topic — think of battery-powered lamps or remote controls for Sony televisions, for example. Often, mini-sites are designed so that there is very little for a visitor to click other than a single ad unit or affiliate link. Mini-sites are so easy to set up that you could easily create a new one every day if you wanted to and had the spare money for domain registration fees. They tend to earn little income, so proponents of the mini-site business model advocate scaling up to many mini-sites covering dozens or hundreds of niches. The downside of mini-sites is that they often have little value for visitors, and some ad provides such as Google AdSense strongly dislike them. On the other hand, once you have set a mini-site up, you rarely need to touch it again.

Advantages:

  • Easy to set up, maintenance is negligible

Disadvantages:

  • May run afoul of some advertisers’ terms
  • Low traffic, high competition
  • Low income

Reward or Incentive Program

A reward website gives visitors an incentive to buy through affiliate links by giving them a portion of the proceeds in the form of points, discounts or other bonuses. Because visitors get something in the bargain, they may be more likely to buy through you instead of sidestepping your affiliate link and going directly to the merchant. However, affiliate commissions for many types of sales are small, and you may have to cut your commission significantly in order to offer visitors enough incentive to buy. Additionally, this type of website often requires custom coding, which can be expensive if you are not a coder yourself. Finally, many merchants require publishers who operate reward programs to complete special applications for acceptance into their affiliate programs, and some merchants do not allow reward programs at all. Another type of incentive program is one that promises to donate a certain percentage of all affiliate commissions to a charity.

Advantages:

  • Visitors have a strong incentive to buy through you

Disadvantages:

  • Reduces your affiliate commissions
  • Very difficult to set up and maintain
  • Some merchants do not allow this


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