WordPress makes it easy for affiliates to earn a few extra dollars. All it really takes is a decently designed WP theme and the basic best practices of keyword research, link building, and blog posts about a product or a category of products and you’ll eventually see a few commissions come in. But if you’ve been around affiliate marketing for a while you know that while it’s easy to make a few extra dollars to make big money you need to improve your game significantly, and you do that by blogging about more products, and then blog about even more products. It gets monotonous very quickly.
Enter Affiliate Datafeeds
Datafeeds have been available to affiliates for a long time, and while not all are created equal, if you find a merchant with a good datafeed you can literally improve your affiliate game overnight. Two weeks ago I decided to experiment with a datafeed on one of my semi-retired blogs. It was a blog that I had actually written off as a failed project. I think the blog actually converted less than three times over the past four years, but since I installed this datafeed two weeks ago the blog has converted three times. The first conversion was for a $350 dollar item and the second two conversions were for items only in the $30 range, not big money but nonetheless they were items that I would have never considered blogging about and otherwise would have never converted.
Currently the datafeed contains only about 139 items that slowly drip in at a rate of three posts per day. I have only scratched the surface with this datafeed project as there are several hundred more items that can be included in various other datafeed categories. I see the potential for this once defunct blog to become a top earning blog.
Where to get your Datafeeds
Most affiliate merchants and networks will have datafeeds, some are easier to use than others and not all are up to date, so you need to be careful to choose a merchant who actively maintains their datafeed. In my experience Shareasale and Avantlink have some of the most reliable datafeeds in terms of updated feeds while Avantlink has the most compatible datafeeds. I haven’t used the datafeeds from other networks such as CJ and Linkshare.
There is a slight learning curve to using datafeeds, even with the use of WordPress and the datafeed Plugins. Some merchants construct their datafeeds as pipe, tab or comma delimited and usually can be managed in Excel. All of this has to be taken into consideration when creating, installing or editing your datafeed.
Potential Datafeed Issues
Despite the great earning potential of datafeeds they do have downfalls that could potantially cripple your Website. Duplicate content is one of those issues because there are hundreds if not thousands of affiliates using that very same datafeed. While there are several creative ways to get around the duplicate content issue none of them are easy. One method is to drill down into product categories consisting of a managable number of items and rewriting the product descriptions in your own words. Another suggestions of combating the duplicate content issue is to not rely on the datafeed as your total content and always include original content on the Website. It seems like a lot of extra work but in todays world of the search engines battle against spam and useless thin affiliate content there are no easy ways around it.
If you are a PHP guru then you could build your own datafeed Website but if you’re not a PHP guru then WordPress makes building datafeed Websites easy. Using the WP theme of your choice you will have choices of using several datafeed plugins. Three of the most popular are Datafeedr, DigitalQuill, and CSVPIG. I started with Digitalquill but now prefer the slightly more expensive CSVPIG for reasons I’ll discuss in another blog post.
As with any website design your WordPress theme will likely play an important role in how well your datafeed converts. Currently I’m using my own customized Thesis Theme designs but there are plenty of other options available. For a storefront website layout consider using one of the many E-Commerce themes that are available like Elegant Themes eStore WordPress theme.
Finally, I really like the idea of using an aged domain with existing content and a decent amount of inbound links for a new datafeed Website. You will stand a much better chance of showing in the SERPS and actually converting.