One of the first things you should learn as you become a blogger is that you need to expand your earnings horizons. If you depend solely on one income stream, you are asking to get burned. What happens if you accidentally break the rules and get booted from adsense? Poof. There goes your income.
What most will suggest is to add a smattering of affiliate links throughout your blog and allow the referrals to pile up and earn you nearly effortless money. The problem is when you are a low traffic blog, the number of referrals you send through won’t amount to much.
As you progress and your blog gets a little bit better and gets more and more traffic, you can push even more traffic through your links and make even more money through affiliates. In fact, as you get much bigger, you can make significantly more money through affiliates than you can with adsense.
A great example of a blog in the middle range, where adsense still outperforms most other forms of advertising is This Affiliate Marketing Path. Take a quick look at the June earnings for This Affiliate Marketing Path. Adsense accounts for well over 50% of the earnings. Link sales come in with a quick second and that is followed up by just under $200 in affiliate sales. Not exactly a glowing review for affiliate sales.
If we want a glowing review of affiliate sales, we need to look to a little bit bigger blog. Probably one of the most perfect examples is John Chow’s blog. His June earnings are quite a bit larger than This affiliate marketing path and in his case, the adsense earnings don’t even come close to the earnings from affiliate sales. Part of the reason for this is John’s Make Money page (you may see one of those here soon) where he gives examples of the income streams he uses and funnels the readers through via affiliate links for those income streams. For each new user he sends through to those services, he can receive anywhere from a couple of bucks to several hundred dollars. Impressive, no?
Bottom line is that using affiliate links is a must. Start early and often. It’s much easier to throw the links in now than to wait until you have 500 posts and have to dig back through your archives and add them. As your traffic increases, so will your traffic to your archives and those links you are adding now will really begin to pay off. It may take you a while to reach the levels of John Chow, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
Updated to add: Check out Building my Empire for a great example of someone just starting out on the journey and how Adsense and text link sales can really be make or break income streams for some.
Update 2 to add: Burt, of Oli, Dave & Burt has an excellent example of why affiliate links can really pay off. btw, if you’re looking for a site to add to your feed reader that has some great tips and ideas about making money online, you can’t go wrong with Oli, Dave & Burt.