These are two terms that every blogger must be aware of. For those who are not aware of these two terms, Affiliate marketing and Adsense are two ways in which one can make money online through blogging. Once you have quality content in your blog, you can monetize your blog using either of these means. There comes the million dollar question – Affiliate Marketing or Google Adsense –
Which is more effective in making money? Let us start with a brief introduction about both.
Adsense is a Google program which helps bloggers to earn money by placing ads on their websites/blogs on a per-click basis while in affiliate marketing publisher/blogger will get paid only for the converted sales. In case of Adsense, Google acts as an intermediate helping you to generate revenues from third party companies while in affiliate marketing you are directly dealing with the merchants. Let’s have a comparison between these two content monetizing schemes for a blogger. As we all know by now, in Adsense the blogger gets paid when his reader clicks on the ads in the blog. So it’s much easier than affiliate marketing where you get paid only for a successful sale. And for this same reason Affiliate marketing pays more money than Adsense. For example, suppose you are affiliating a product worth 100$ offering an affiliate commission of say 20%. With every sale you could earn 20$ with affiliate marketing. At the same time Adsense normally pays the blogger 10-50 cents for one click. In short earning is faster with affiliate marketing than Adsense.
Apart from the basic difference, there are a few more distinctions between Adsense and Affiliate marketing. Let’s just go through those, before discussing on the prefer ability of both models. Registering with an affiliate network is much easier than getting an Adsense account approved by Google. In case of an Adsense account, Google decides what all ads are to be placed on your blog. Also since your account belongs to Google, it can shut your account anytime in case of policy violations. But in case of affiliate marketing you have more control over your promotions. Affiliate ads are more attractive and creative compared to the plain and dull ads added by Google in your blogs. Also there are no restrictions in the type of ads in case of affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is considered a more sustainable model, as in case of affiliate marketing you develop stronger business relations with companies than in case of Adsense where Google allots you ads. Amazon affiliate program is a good example where you can promote Amazon products through your content and you would be paid commission for each sale. While Adsense program is completely controlled by Google. Policy changes by Google or introduction of updates like the Panda updates can have significant impact on your income, making Adsense program a less reliable business model. Your income is heavily dependent on the search ranking algorithms of Google. But on a positive side, Google provides all the guidance and support for a required for an amateur to monetize his content.
We have seen Affiliate marketing makes more money than Adsense. Does that mean all bloggers should follow Affiliate marketing to monetize their content? Definitely No. Selecting the right mode depends on the type of content of the blog and the desired earning style of the blogger. As we have already seen, if you want to earn more money you should opt for affiliate marketing. While for a lesser but regular income you could select the Adsense option. If you have high quality content in your site, then you could affiliate yourself to products related to the content in your blog. But if you are concentrating more on SEO and has good traffic in your blog then Adsense is a better option where you can earn on a per-click basis. Adsense sites are suitable if you are running a blog which cannot be related to any product while if you own a niche website, you can affiliate your blog to companies selling products which are related to your blog. There is a high chance for your readers to buy those products.
In affiliate marketing, you can customize your ads according to the liking of your readers, whereas in Adsense full control rests with Google. In case of affiliate marketing, you exactly know how much you can earn from one sale. All the affiliate programs have a well defined commission rate structure. So planning your income is much easier with affiliate marketing than Adsense. Also payment is much faster and gets credited to your account instantly through Pay Pal. In case of Adsense, a lot evaluation has to be done regarding the number of clicks, country, check for suspicious clicking etc which would take more time for payment. To be successful in affiliate marketing, you need better marketing skills as here you need to really sell the product than getting a few clicks.
Next I would discuss about some of the risks associated with Adsense in detail. There are instances where Adsense banned accounts in large number. Once banned by Adsense, it’s almost impossible to reinstate your account. In 2011, Adsense banned more than 90% of Pakistani publishers as a result of indulging in click frauds. But in reality only 10% of them were involved in such activities. So if Adsense is your major source of income, then such unfortunate incidents will hit you hard. And that’s exactly the reason which makes online publishers look for better and reliable alternatives for Adsense. Adsense cannot be your regular and reliable income as this can be affected by lot of uncertainties. But still Adsense is one of the best content monetizing options for a newbie. Affiliate marketing is for someone who works in some niche topic with loyal readers who would make purchases according to your guidance.
There is a common misconception about affiliate marketing. What does your reader feels about affiliate marketing. Are they comfortable with the idea of affiliate marketing. I would say as long as you deliver quality information in an ethical way, you deserve to be rewarded. Affiliate marketing also can bring more readers for your blog/website. Google treats affiliate links in your blog as a part of your content. So if you apply SEO techniques on the posts in your website/blog you can attract new readers for your blog through the products mentioned in the affiliate ad links. Some important affiliate networks you can register are: shareasale, C J Affiliate, Linkshare, Amazon affiliates, Reward style etc.
Registering for affiliate marketing is different from that of Adsense. In case of Adsense you need to go Adsense page of Google, fill in the details and submit your application for approval. Google has strict guidelines regarding approval of Adsense account regarding your content and it may or may not approve your request. In case of affiliate marketing, you can directly sign up at the sites providing affiliate programs. Another important point to be kept in mind, while selecting your niche topic, make sure there are enough affiliate programs available in that niche.
So far, we were comparing the pros and cons of Affiliate marketing and Adsense. I guess by now it’s clear that the choice between Affiliate marketing and Adsense is completely based on your style of blogging. Both are like different business models which can be used as per the blogger’s convenience. But there arises another important question.
Can we use Affiliate marketing and Adsense side by side?
First of all, let me assure you placing affiliate ads along with your Adsense ads do not violate any of the Google Adsense policies. But there are some important things to be taken care of while using both Affiliate ads and Adsense ads together. If the number of affiliate links on your blog is more than your content, then Adsense might terminate your account for the poor user experience provided by you. Adsense treats your affiliate links as part of your blog’s content. So they should not have any content restricted as per Adsense policies e.g. Adult content. So with these guidelines in mind, you can use affiliate marketing along with Adsense. But this is not something which you should do as a beginner.
So what is the right strategy?
In fact there are many. It all depends on your convenience. I would suggest one strategy for generating good and sustainable income with your online content. Start with an Adsense account. When you are experienced enough, replace low performing Adsense ads with affiliate links. It would be better if these affiliate links are related to the content in your blog. Gradually you could add more affiliate links in your blog and start earning more. Inclusion of affiliate links has to be done carefully, as they can affect your SEO and thereby can reduce your earning through Adsense. So selecting the right affiliate products is critical in maximising your income through a combination of Affiliate marketing and Adsense.
So finally I would vote Affiliate marketing as the best for publishers looking for a sustainable and well paying model. Publishers who are in the entry level or who are planning to take online publishing as a part time engagement can opt for earning through Adsense. By doing both Adsense and Affiliate marketing, you can enjoy the benefits of both and having two sources of income at the same time. When you are equipped with all the tricks of the trade, it’s advisable to do so. In that case, a proper balance between the time and your web space divided between both will be crucial in achieving the best results. So think wisely and select the model of your choice.