Affiliate/referral programs for your blog or website....
If you have a blog or a website, you may be interested to know that you could actually earn money from it, and you don't have to shell out a single cent up front.
Of course, you'll be needing a computer and an internet connection. That's probably already taken care of, or you wouldn't be reading this right now. :-)
So how exactly do you make money? Though there are a lot of potential ways of generating revenue from your blog or website, by far the easiest and simplest way (to my mind) is through affiliate/referral programs.
So what exactly are affiliate/referral programs? These are programs sponsored by a number of internet-based companies in which registered members earn credits/commissions/points through referrals and subsequent registrations or transactions made to other websites, particularly other referral or internet advertising companies, or those offering specific products or services.
In other words, if you refer a visitor on your blog or website to another website offering some product or service, and he or she registers or completes some form of transaction with that website, you get something in return.
Of course, different affiliate/referral programs have their own terms and conditions regarding what constitutes a completed transaction qualified for receiving commissions, so you may need to read the fine print first so you'll know what you're getting into.
But that's the basic concept. Its something like a "finder's fee" for a potential client. And everything is done online.
So how exactly do you integrate affiliate/referral programs into your own personal blog or website?
There are actually only two steps you need to do. One is to register with a affiliate/referral program of your choice, and the second is for you to post ads related to that affiliate/referral program on your blog or website.
The first one is pretty straightforward. You log in the affiliate/referral program's website, enter a username, a password, some personal details such as your email address, and perhaps some information about your blog or website. Some affiliate/referral programs are quite picky regarding what kind of websites they want their ads posted on. Some couldn't care less.
After registering, all you need to do now is post their ads on your blog or website. Its not as difficult as you might think it is, even if you're a newb. You're hardly required to make HTML links, scripts, or graphical ads on your own. Virtually all referral/affiliate companies host their own ads. All you have to do is copy a couple of lines of code which you get from the referral/affiliate program's website, and paste them in appropriate places in your blog's template or your websites HTML source code. You then republish your blog or upload your updated HTML file to your host, and that's it.
Some working knowledge of HTML can be an advantage, or you might end up pasting the code for your ads in places you're not supposed to. Some affiliate/referral programs even provide options for you to customize certain ads, so that they will blend in better with your blog or website. If you're well versed in HTML or even CSS, you could probably do that yourself by hand, should you want to. But for all intents and purposes, as long as you paste the provided codes properly, they will always work. To be on the safe side, back up your template or HTML source file, just in case you make a mistake that you can't fix.
The ads supplied by an affiliate/referral program can consist of simple text links, or graphical links of various shapes and sizes. You'll have to decide for yourself which particular ones to use. You should consider what particular colors, styles and shapes best suit your blog or website, as well as proper placement so that visitors can easily see them.
Now that you're registered, and the ads are on your blog or website, what now? Well, you can choose to be active or passive about it. You can be aggressive about it and talk your your friends or colleagues into trying out some of the products or services offered by your affiliate/referral program. Or you could be passive, and just wait until one of your visitors decide to take the plunge and click on the ad on your blog or website. Personally, I'd rather rely on the latter strategy, since I'm not really much of a salesman, and I'd rather not annoy other people with sales pitches and stuff like that.
If you don't have a blog or website, you could also include the ad codes in your email signatures. That way you could implicitly advertise through the email you send.
It's important to take note that most affiliate/referral programs give commissions even when a visitor you refer doesn't actually buy something or pay for some service. Most give commissions even for visitors who sign up for free accounts. Sometimes even a simple download is enough. So if you think about it, its really not that difficult or impossible to earn a buck or two in the long run. And if you're lucky, you may even earn more.
In my case, it was only recently that I've started putting up ads on my own blog, and I've actually earned some loose change from them since then. Of course, I'm not anywhere near the league of some "A-list" pro-bloggers who actually make blogging their livelihood, but hey, its a start. I've been blogging for almost three years now, and more than anything, this is a just a hobby for me. But if I can get to earn a few quid now and then simply by posting ads, well, why not? I have tons of vacant real estate on my blog, might as well put them to good use.
You have to remember though, that earnings from affiliate/referral programs through blog or website advertising can be directly proportional with traffic that you get, so you'll have to make sure that your blog or website provides content that people would actually be interested in. Personally, I take it as challenge to come up with more interesting posts. Then again, I'm not really planning on quitting my day job anytime soon. :-)
If you're interested in signing up with some affiliate/referral programs so your blog or website can earn some extra income, here are a few to get you started. Don't worry, all of them are free:
Text Link Ads
I won't lie to you, if you decide to register through the links above, I'll be credited with a referral. Now that you know, I hope that you would still want to. Consider it a request. :-)
Here are other affiliate/referral programs that you may be interested in. Note that the following don't give credit for referring other affiliate members. The first one gives points for referring new Firefox users, the rest give varying forms of credit for item purchases or for availing of various services. Read the fine print to be sure:
Xoom Affiliate Program
Lest I forget, there's also what's perhaps the granddaddy of affiliate programs, Google AdSense. It also gives credits for member referrals, among others. If you want to be my referral, click on the link on my sidebar.
There are still others, but I have to sort out my bookmarks first. :-)
So make the most of the vacant spots in your blog or website, and earn some extra income. If you come across any other referral/affiliate sites, post ad links on your site and tell me. I'll be sure to come visit and click on your link. :-)