The answer is always the same: TEST
[edited by: ergophobe at 5:35 pm (utc) on Jan. 14, 2008]
Then test some more.
And then some more after that.
Okay, to elaborate a bit...
You can look at EPC on Commission Junction. You can compare that to Network Earnings. You can see which gives the highest payout per action/sale. You can focus on free offers (CPA), expensive items, volume, high payouts with lots of competition, low payouts with little competition.
There are a million ways to slice and dice "highest paying" but ultimately unless you experiment, you can't know what is the highest paying for you.
Someone who is a genius at PPC and can get targetted traffic right at the moment they're ready to buy, will make a lot off big ticket items. I, personally, would likely LOSE a lot with that strategy because I don't know squat about PPC.
Start out with a product or service that makes sense for your site's visitors (how does the product relate to your site?). Once you decide on a general widget do some searching on your favorite search engine for "widget affiliate program" to find the major players.
You might want to do up a little spreadsheet to see at a glance all of the major factors for the various affiliate programs in your niche. List things like commission %, minimum payout amount, product price, etc. But also take into consideration the actual conversion rates for the product - something that is only really discovered through testing. Sometimes a lower commission % program will convert better than a higher % commission and you'll make more due to increased sales.
Also look at your site's logs - what is it that people are looking for when they arrive at your site? Are there any relevant affiliate programs out there that might be of interest?
As a final thought, put yourself in your visitor's shoes and ask yourself whether *you* would consider buying the product that is being endorsed on your site - it won't matter how much a program pays out if your audience has zero interest in it.
One thing that I've always used as a gauge is my spam inbox. If there's lots of spam about a product, chances are it makes good money for affiliates.
Guys, thanks a lot for taking time to reply!
First of all, what is the main "subject" of your blog. That would be a good starting point and go on from there.
target your audience, if you have adsense with google then Im assuming you are signed up with google analytics right? this way you can track your audience to see which products or service you might want to offer. and like the others say TEST! but in my opinion you need to know the audience , it's neat to know where your traffic comes from and ages etc.
set yourself up with this site too , its free and give some really good data
[edited by: jatar_k at 2:10 pm (utc) on Jan. 26, 2008]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]
it really depends on your target audience. who does your site speak to?
with that data in hand, others may be better suited to recommend relevant networks.
Something else to consider. A high-cost product might not be the best idea for you and your blog. I base this on personal experience. I have a site that gets a steady flow of people who both use computers and read books. If I targeted computers I would be lucky to get a sale every few months. I target books, and sell a couple hundred a month. It adds up.
Lots of an inexpensive product with a high conversion rate can do better than a few of an expensive product with a low conversion rate....
Cookie duration is also a metric to look out for.
Cookie duration is only meaningful if it affects the bottom line. Classic example--Amazon. People constantly complain that the Amazon "cookie" only lasts for 24 hours.
But I have found that even with the shorter cookie I do better with Amazon than with other bookstores with longer cookie durations. It converts better with my visitors.
Look into it. Don't reject a merchant just because they don't have long-lasting cookies.
This is going to sound overly simplistic, but promote programs that have high payouts - preferably $40-100+ per sale.
Since you are not an expert, the odds of you figuring out ways to get enough traffic to make decent money on stuff that needs high volume is low. There are plenty of good programs where you can average $50+ per sale. Methinks your odds of figuring out how to make 10 sales a day at $50 are far greater than 1000 sales at $5 unless you have plenty of time and cash on hand (I am using $500 a day arbitrarily but I figure that is what one would consider the start of significant money).
This week I am going to post "what makes a good affiliate program" because it has somehow been lost in the shuffle which is funny because the program itself is actually far more important than all the noise that surrounds the aff marketing world.
Note: To me a blog is just publishing software. If you are writing some sort of journal, you might wanna put up a sales page or two for earning purposes hosted there or elsewhere :)