The Affiliate Blogging Conundrum

Whilst I sat on my couch on a Sunday night watching Switzerland play France in their final Euro 2016 group game, I started pondering the future direction of this blog and some ideas I have for future articles.

I got inspired about writing a great blog post that showed how one blog post made me thousands of dollars in just one year. It would prove to be a great inspiration for aspiring bloggers and internet marketers and demonstrate how affiliate marketing can help increase blog income significantly.

There is a good chance the post would go viral and generate lots of traffic. More importantly, it would start offering something to readers that has been missing from this blog.

In the past I published income reports to show others how I had been doing. They were incredibly popular with readers and many people told me of their disappointment of me stopping them. The truth is that producing those reports became a real pain as it meant that I had to spend hours trailing through affiliate accounts to check stats and ensure everything was being tracked correctly. It was a chore and I was boring myself doing it.

I do, however, want to start sharing more in-depth knowledge about how I make money online and show others how they can do the same.

The problem is that it can be difficult to do this effectively without reducing my own income.

Allow me to explain.

Monkey See Monkey Do

There are thousands of affiliate blogs and make money online blogs that promise to show people how to make money online using affiliate marketing techniques.

Unfortunately, there are not many who deliver what they promise.

Affiliate bloggers say that they will show you the secrets to making money online and how they can make you an affiliate marketing superstar; yet their blogs mostly talk about affiliate news, funny and interesting stories about what has happened to them during their campaigns and at conferences, and income reports that simply say what they spent and what they earned.

They do not explain exactly how they make money.

So whilst you can argue the benefit of reading an affiliate blog to get an insight into how top affiliates live, you are unlikely to learn how to become a top affiliate yourself.

There is a reason why affiliate marketers are not so forthcoming with how they make money on the internet.

For every person an affiliate blogger inspires to become successful in their own way, there are countless others who will simply copy a successful campaign or successful project.

I have seen it happen many times over the years.

People do not always find inspiration from someone’s success, many simply try and duplicate it.

Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery.
Image Copyright: Russell Davies

One incident that always stays in mind was when a SitePoint Forums member called Nintendo shared a script that he had developed for creating Amazon affiliates websites. Myself, and hundreds (or thousands) of others, used the script to build small affiliate directories that led customers to Amazon.

Each directory generated thousands upon thousands of pages. This was around fifteen years ago and search engines were not prepared for scripts overwhelming them with so much data. Those of us who got in early managed to make a little money, but commissions slowly dropped as search engines lowered the rank of the websites that were built using these scripts.

The developer of the script had undoubtedly did a nice thing by donating his script to the community, but by doing so he had hurt his own affiliate income.

This is by no means a solitary story. You will find thousands of stories online about how website owners have lost money because others have duplicated their projects.

Are there good affiliate blogs online?

Of course there.

There are many affiliates blogs that you will enjoy reading, but unfortunately there are few that live up to their promise of showing readers how they can make money online.

The Inherent Risk of Sharing Inside Knowledge of Your Business

There are benefits to me showing others how I make money online.

Case studies are incredibly popular and provide more value to the reader than being vague and talking about things generally.

If I published an article that highlighted a blog post that generated thousands of dollars, it could generate lots of social media shares and lots of comments. It could bring me new subscribers and increase traffic to this blog.

The problem isn’t what publishing a blog post like that will bring me.

The problem is what publishing a blog post like that will cost me.

My hope for publishing an article about how one blog post has earned me thousands would be to show fellow bloggers how effective affiliate marketing can be. My hope is that it would inspire others.

Unfortunately, the article would also give everyone the template on how to make money using the same affiliate program and the same keywords. I would run a very high risk of others attempting to duplicate what I did and knock me down the rankings.

The question is: “Does the benefit of showing others how I make money online outweigh the risk of some people copying exactly what I did?”.

The Affiliate Blogging Conundrum

The best way for bloggers to become successful is to give value to readers in every article they publish. This can take the form of an entertaining blog post or providing a solution to a common problem.

Affiliate bloggers are placed in a difficult position in this regard.

In general, the more they help their readers, the more they are revealing about how they conduct business. This gives competitors, and potential competitors, an edge they did not have before.

One way around this is to create websites and campaigns specifically for showing others how those websites make money. This allows the blogger to demonstrate a particular technique without worrying about others copying them.

Pat Flynn has found success using this method in his income reports with niche websites such as FoodTruckr and SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.

In his last income report these niche websites represented less than 4% of his monthly income. This may suggest to some people that he should be focusing his energy on other projects that offer a better return, however the insight Pat has been able to provide to his readers through these niche websites is invaluable to his readers.

The main downside to this approach is time.

At the moment I am trying to focus my effort on this blog, maintaining Rise Forums, and launching a new website I am working on.

Creating a new niche website for case studies is a great idea, but it is a time-consuming affair that will take time to create and time to document. It also raises the question as to whether I would want to continue documenting the ins and outs of the case study website if it became successful as I would be showing others too many.

I truly believe that if you did not share everything about the project with your readers, you are not giving them value.

That is the conundrum that many bloggers like myself face.

What are your thoughts on this issue?


Featured Image Credit: Jared Cherup

I am an experienced blogger who has been working on the internet since 2000. On this blog, I talk about WordPress, internet marketing, YouTube, technology and travelling.
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