Okay, maybe the title of this post is a bit grandiose, but whatever. Here we are.
Almost three months ago, I made a decision to remove affiliate banners from my site – not because they were bad, but because I wondered if they hurt my business credibility. For instance, would a potential lead come to my site and think about hiring me, but then see a bunch of affiliate banners and think “Wow, she’s clearly not making enough from client work if she needs to have advertisements all over the place. She must not be very good at what she does.”
I don’t know if that situation ever happened, but I thought it would be an interesting experiment to ditch the banners for a while and rely solely on affiliate links that I sprinkle into my content (when the link is relevant to the conversation at hand, of course).
I proposed that removing affiliate banners would not negatively impact income.
@cdils follow up post on your experiment?
— Jared Williams (@madebyjared) January 2, 2015
Read on, Jared, below are the results.
First, My Trends
Before I can make any meaningful interpretation of the last three months of data, I need to set it in the context of several things:
- Comparison relative to site traffic same period last year and previous quarter (presumably the more traffic, the more clicks)
- Comparison to income same period last year (January – March 2014)
- Comparison relative to income previous quarter (October – December 2014)
Get ready – I’m pulling back the curtain and showing you my traffic data. This is like letting you sit on my couch.
Same Period Last Year
Interestingly, my traffic this first quarter of the year isn’t much higher than my traffic for the same period last year – it’s roughly 9% higher. That’s a little depressing to note, but then, I’ve also published very little content so far this year (40% less than this period last year). Note to self: Write more.
Comparing the last three months of traffic with the previous three months, there’s a decent bump (almost 14%). That would excite me, except that the previous quarter was an overall flat quarter traffic-wise; Again, probably due to a decrease in writing.
In case you haven’t caught it yet, there’s a direct correlation between the amount of content you produce and the amount of traffic coming in.Want to get more people to your site? Write more. Click To Tweet
If sharing some traffic stats was like letting you sit on my couch, then sharing financial data is like letting you peek in my underwear drawer.
But I’m doing it anyway. That’s right – you won’t find Big Girl Panties in my underwear drawer, because I’m presently wearing them while writing this post.
Same Period Last Year
Now this is a fun one. Despite a modest increase in site traffic over the same period last year, I saw a 30% increase in affiliate income – $6,507 in Q1 2015 vs $4,814 in Q1 2014.
One contributing factor is that a couple of my affiliate partners increased their payouts, but that certainly doesn’t account for the full increase. Somehow I’ve converted extra clicks that weren’t necessarily due to traffic. I really don’t have a good explanation for that, though I’m sure a deeper dig into site analytics could reveal something.
Relative to Previous Quarter
Good grief. If last quarter’s traffic and affiliate income were lower than usual, the pendulum has swung in the other direction for this quarter – $6,507 in Q1 2015 vs $3,864 in Q4 2014.
If you’ve read this far in the post, then you already suspect the verdict: Removing affiliate banners from my site has not decreased income.Removing affiliate banners from my site did not decrease income. Click To Tweet
Now, arguably I could have made more if I was using banners in addition to links. The world will never know.
What I do know is that my site feels cleaner and less cluttered without the banners. Since this experiment showed no decrease in income as a consequence of ditching the banners, I’m going to leave them off.
One Last Thing
Stepping outside of this experiment, I did want to pontificate just a moment longer on the topic of affiliate marketing.
People read posts like this or listen to Pat Flynn’s podcast and think that affiliate marketing is some magical income source, where a fairy leaves deposits under the pillow every night. Now, I’m not talking about you here, because I know that you know better, but there are people out there that think that.
[The proverbial] you cannot buy a domain, throw up a website, stick a bunch of banners on like bumper stickers and expect the masses to come (and click your affiliate links). It doesn’t work that way, at least not for the majority of people.
It’s work. Writing content, earning the trust of an audience, building relationships — these are things that take time and effort. And you know what? I don’t do any of those things specifically for affiliate income. I do those things for my brand. Any affiliate income that occurs as a result is just gravy.