If you run a blog, whether it is tech, travel, or health, one of the best ways to monetize your valuable content is through affiliate income. With affiliate income, you can make money passively off various things, but getting started can sometimes feel difficult.

Do you just sign up for an affiliate network and call it a day, or do you reach out to individual companies that offer affiliate services? What features should you pay attention to?

There’s a reason so many people choose affiliate marketing when looking at their blogs, social profiles, and more. In fact, affiliate income is estimated to surpass $16 billion in 2021.

Marketers and bloggers have a variety of choices when choosing a topic to focus on. Gaming, dating, finance, and health & beauty are all on the rise, but after last year, the travel market is looking to dominate again in the coming months and years.

How to pick an affiliate partner

Once you decide to go the affiliate route, the next big decision is choosing what partners you want to work with. While you can often choose to work with more than one, starting with one and learning all of the ins-and-outs can be incredibly beneficial in the long run.

One of the main things you should do when picking an affiliate network or partner is finding one that fits your audience. If you run a travel blog, going with plane ticket offers, car rental services, and more should be where you look. If your content revolves around gaming, focus on ones that offer affiliate programs for purchasing games, merchandise, and gaming accessories. There are deeper insights for your audience that you learn along the way while building your visibility.

For example, we at Travelpayouts worked with an affiliate website that specialized in nudist tourism. This is a pretty niche market, and the founder told us that they were having issues with accommodations and conversions. He had resorted to manually checking beach-front hotels and was spending lots of time trying to figure out the market and looking at alternatives like RV and camping programs. Such insights are the most valuable for affiliate marketers.

After you realized what niche you are going to work in, you start browsing through affiliate programs. It comes down to looking at terms and payout schedules. Some might offer better percentages but have payout schedules that don’t work for you. Others might have great payout schedules but have less-than-stellar affiliate offerings.

It might seem like the solution is to always go with the highest payout, but that shouldn’t be the only thing you look at. If an affiliate, for example, pays 10% for selling insurance policies and 1.5% for airplane tickets, that’s great – unless your audience isn’t shopping for insurance policies.

That’s where AB testing comes in. Doing multiple tests can show what your audience is most interested in and you can use that data to make informed decisions and see what converts better.

When looking for an affiliate partner, it is also essential to know precisely what they will pay you for. Generally, a partner will pay you on a cost per click (CPC) basis or a cost per action (CPA) basis. When paid on a CPC basis, you can get paid for every click you generate, whereas CPA payments are received when an action, usually a purchase, is performed.

That being said, it is important to know how close your users are to the purchase. If you are confident that users will often be purchasing items directly from your link, CPA payments may be more appealing since payouts are higher.

It is also essential to ensure that your affiliate partner will pay for the traffic that comes from your website. Some of them only work within specific locales, like the United States, so it can be crucial to make sure that they fit your geographical needs as well. On that same note, do research on how long your links live on a person’s browser or smartphone. These are referred to as cookies, with some having a longer shelf life than others. If the cookie doesn’t remain for a long period of time, it could mean you miss out on a payment if the user decides to make a purchase after the initial click.

You also want to make sure your affiliate partner has a robust set of tools for you to do research. Does it have tools for filtering data and managing your profile? If not, that partner might not be a good fit as you grow and have more needs to optimize your affiliate links and traffic.

What’s the difference with an affiliate network?

Dedicating time to finding new monetization avenues can be costly because it means the focus is on something other than creation.

Affiliate networks like Travelpayouts, Amazon Associates, and others help with that legwork, giving bloggers and marketers a way to gain access to multiple affiliate programs in one place. This means less time scouring the internet for programs that may or may not work for them in the long run. As the pandemic has shown, some markets can be volatile, and it’s possible that links on your website are no longer relevant and, sometimes, stop working. Affiliate networks help you redirect links that may no longer be active, but they will still be relevant because they have many options in their networks.

Going with an affiliate network also means you get insights that can drive more traffic to your site or increase your conversion rates. For example, at Travelpayouts, we have large amounts of data that can be used to help clients find the right messaging for their site that helps drive conversions.

To summarize, once you decided to start working with affiliate partners, consider various things, not only the amount of commission they pay. Think about how often they proceed with payouts, how good their interface is and which tools they offer, how helpful their support is, and, of course, if their program or, in the case of networks, programs, fit your audience’s needs.