If your website or blog has been generating decent traffic, you might be able to turn a fun hobby into a steady stream of passive income. Teaming up with a few quality vendors and adding some affiliate links to your website or blog could bring in enough money to pay some bills, or at least enough to pay for hosting the site.

When used properly, affiliate marketing is a win-win for all parties involved. Product sellers and manufacturers gain valuable exposure for the products and services they provide. Website owners and bloggers can turn their hard work and the resulting traffic into extra spending cash. Website visitors and faithful blog readers can learn about new and innovative products and try some for themselves.

When a website owner or blogger becomes an affiliate, the individual typically places an affiliate banner on the page. Everything about that banner, from its position on the page to its color and font, will have an impact on clickthrough rates and monetary return. That is why it is so important to review the research and use what you find to make your own affiliate banners more effective.

When you sign up for a new affiliate program, the company in question might provide you with a sample banner you can simply cut and paste on to your website or blog. That may be a nice gesture, but that sample banner will probably not provide optimal results. The sample banners provided by affiliates tend to be generic in nature, and they often blend into the background when visitors view your page.

If you want to achieve the best results from your affiliate banners, you will need to make them eye-catching while still leaving your visitors wanting more. It is important to make your affiliate banner attractive, but it also needs to be enticing enough to get visitors to click through and on to your chosen vendor.

It is best to avoid affiliate banners with too many fancy elements — things like animated characters, fancy fonts and unusual colors. Those add-ons may not render properly on some computers and mobile devices, and that will defeat the purpose of the banner. In addition, some viewers are turned off by busy banners, and they will be more likely to click away from your page than click through to your affiliate.

You do not have to be a professional graphic designer or even a good artist to create a winning affiliate banner. In fact, some of the most successful affiliate campaigns have been launched using easy-to-use and freely available tools like MS Paint. Do not feel compelled to buy an expensive graphic design package to build your affiliate banners. That will just cut into the profits you make.

In fact, a sleek and professionally designed affiliate banner may actually work against you and hurt sales in the long run. That kind of banner may look great on your site, but website visitors and blog readers may see it as part of the background. An affiliate link that looks more amateurish is more likely to stand out and get people to actually click through to your vendor.

Once you have designed your affiliate banner, you need to give it a headline that will get attention while piquing the curiosity of the viewer. You only get one chance at that first impression, so you need to make sure it is a good one.

A news headline can be quite effective for personal improvement projects like weight-loss potions and exercise equipment. Something like “Maryland mom drops 10 dress sizes” can be very effective at turning visitors into clickers.

An instructional banner can be effective for products that require a lot of explanation. Something like “How to save $300 this month”, or “How to cut your insurance costs in half” are sure to get attention, and that can be good for your bottom line.

You can also do some experimentation on your own to see which factors play the biggest role in your own results. If you own several blogs and other web properties, try placing the affiliate banners in a different place on each page. Change up the colors, the fonts and other graphical elements, then review your results. You can learn a lot on your own, building on your past successes while eliminating changes that did not work out the way you expected.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make some extra money, and many bloggers and website owners are already making a very good income selling products for other companies. As with everything else, what you get out of your affiliate marketing campaign depends on what you put in. The harder you work and the more time you devote to your affiliate marketing activities, the more successful you are likely to be.