Making a site for yourself is great, but if no one comes to visit, what’s the point? *ahem*…*directing your attention away from my affiliate-less blog* To get visitors, you need people to link to you and people to link to…this is where the affiliate program comes from.
What is an Affiliate?
An affiliate is someone with a site on the same or a similar topic as yours, who has agreed to link to you in a special, privileged fashion (first-page or front-page display). To become affiliates with them, you have to offer them the same courtesy.
How to Get Affiliates
First, do a search for your site’s topic. For instance, if I wanted to find blogs about music, web design, Biblical interpretation, or gaming, I could easily search those topics and find sites about those through any of my favorite search engines.
But don’t limit yourself to just the specific subject match–look for sites whose webmasters seem worth getting to know, too, and link to them as well. One other way to begin getting affiliates is to send emails to webmasters whose sites you visit frequently and enjoy; if your site is along the same lines, they might be willing to give you affiliation, or if you’ve already made a friendship with them, that might help, too.
If you’re doing a search, you’ll next need to scan through the search results for sites that don’t sound spammy or created just for pay-per-click ads. There are a lot of fake blogs out there, and if you can skim through those or avoid them, you’ll save yourself some time. Telltale marks of a “fake” blog are overly-generic blog themes, with content that sounds either like it’s written just to advertise, or sounds like a bunch of non-sequiturs strung together.
Once you’ve come up with several sites that seem like they’re worth checking out from this initial search, thoroughly review each of them. Check content to see how theirs compare to yours; make sure they haven’t stolen any content or images, and that their site has been updated recently (within the last month at least).
Now, if you like what you see, contact the webmaster with a politely-phrased email, telling them your site’s name and topic, your Internet nickname, and your URL, and also sending them a link to your link button image if you wish. Ask if they are accepting affiliates, and say that if they are, you would be glad to be one.
Can’t Affiliate? Link-Exchange!
If they don’t want to affiliate, don’t despair! You can always link-exchange instead. Link-exchanges are often looked at as inferior to affiliation, but you’re both still putting each other’s link on your site–it’s just on a dedicated “Links” page rather than the front page. It’s second only to affiliation, and can still get your site name and URL out there for others to enjoy! Exchanging links with another site can be the opened door to affiliation sometime in the future, and meanwhile, you’re both helping each other with site recognition.
Linking to other similar sites is a great way to start building community with those who love the same content, as well as getting more recognition for your own work. This is where real Search Engine Optimization begins–with good ol’ keyboard-work and a little savvy networking.