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Should Your Blog Be An Affiliate Blog?

What is the blogosphere, really?  It's a place where anyone-man, woman, child, or automated feed scraper-can slap up templates or build a site of their own and update it with useful(?) information or tales of their weekly shopping trips to their hearts content.  It's both a powerful tool utilized by businesses and websites on a daily (or more often) basis and a running personal diary put up online for all to see.  The blogosphere is filled with experts and novices, and people who think they are experts who are really novices.  It's a mixed-bag of content and expertise, or lack thereof.  It's a community experience that knows no real bounds.  Or boundaries.

As such, blogs can be a boon or a bust to your affiliate program.  Nevertheless, they are being touted as the fastest, easiest, most simplistic way to promote affiliate products and generate sales.  But are they?  Let's explore both sides of this issue.

The Bene's of Blogging
The up-side.  Let's take a look at what we've got; blogging is

" Easy to get started
" Cheap to get started
" An easy place to put up relevant information that can really have value for your readers
" A place where you can utilize the community aspects such as commenting to hold virtual conversations with your readers
" A place where you can potentially build long-term relationships with your readers, which in turn can boost return sales and add to the lifetime value of that customer
" A place where you can feature, in detail and in depth, any singular product you want
" A simple way to update content to get on the good side of search engines

That's quite a list of benefits in the argument for blogging.  Truthfully, blogging is-or can be, has the potential to be-all of these things and probably more.  A blog can be a very good way to sell an affiliate product.  But there are a lot of other things that blogs are, too, and many of these qualities do not fit into the grander scheme of affiliate websites.  So before we decide on whether to blog or not to blog, let's looks at the flip side of the coin.


Why Blogging Might be a Bust

Many of the very things that make blogging a 'natural' choice for affiliate promotions are what make blogging the wrong way to effectively market as an affiliate.

First of all, let's take on the very blogosphere itself.  It's a crowded place.  It is true that the blogosphere is filled with a variety of interests, and holds something for everyone, but in the midst of all that interest, it's increasingly hard to be found.  Even the best, most prolific, and most dedicated bloggers take months and years to build a solid following.  A blog is absolutely not the place to go for instant traffic. 

The community aspect of blogging can be great, but couldn't it also be a bust?  All that commenting and free-for-all outside commentary might work against you and discredit you.  And you need to think about how valuable that following is.  This will largely depend on your spectrum of product offerings.  If you have a variety of products that a customer might want to come back for, or an upgradeable product suite, staying in touch with buyers could be a great thing.  If your product is more of a one-time-only purchase, there's probably no recouping the time investment you will incur.

Content refreshment is one of the biggest recognized benefits of blogging.  You can post quickly and easily everyday and thereby please those search engines and hungry blog-followers with new content.  There's no denying that.  But you need to think this through-how much can you come up with to say about your products?  Can you keep your products upfront on a blog?  How many times can you spin it?  And most importantly, what happens when your well of topics dries up?  Those search engines and readers will be waiting for more, and you'll be grasping for new post ideas. 

It's easy to get a blog started and keep it running for a few months, but Big Dog kind of income demands that you construct a more long-term plan.  Theoretically a blog is a long-term prospect, but without something new to say, one can only live so long.

We also need to tackle the issue of being able to feature multiple products.  This flies right in the face of the discussion we just had in the last chapter, doesn't it?  By doing that, you're dividing your forces and taking the focus away from your top-seeded efforts.  You've created a marketplace of confusion, and you've made it hard to figure out what the right-simple-solution is.

We also need to talk about blogs from a structural standpoint.  Unless you can build your own blog (and even if you can this is tough…), blogs and templates do not allow for a high level of flexibility.  There is a basic structure, and it is very hard to add the buttons and features in the places you need them to be.  Consider, too, that sometimes the structure and design you've worked so hard for may be impacted (rearranged) by the length and amount of your postings.

Now it might sound like we're completely anti-blogging for affiliate programs, but that's not exactly the case.  Let's wrap this discussion up by looking at how a blog might still be a useful tool.

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