So what is “Affiliate Marketing”, how can you get started, and will you actually make money from it? Those are the top three questions that I hear from bloggers who want to monetize their sites. Everyone would love to work from home and have a flexible work schedule, all while making enough money to pay their bills and support their family; yet few people know how to actually make that dream a reality.
Let me tell you a little secret; Affiliate Marketing is not hard. I repeat….Affiliate Marketing is not hard! Yes, there is definitely work involved, and yes it can take a lot of time (especially in the beginning), but it is not hard and you definitely don’t need to spend tons of money on courses and books to learn about it. While I know that many bloggers guard their money making secrets, I am happy to share what I know with you. Why you ask? Because I believe in community over competition and “a rising tide lifts all boats.” As bloggers, we need to build a community and support each other. We all have different blogs, different niches, and different target audiences, and there are plenty of Affiliate Marketing programs to go around. So let’s dive into the world of Affiliate Marketing…. This post may contain affiliate links; however I only promote products I love, from companies I trust.
So what exactly is Affiliate Marketing?
According to Wikipedia, “Affiliate Marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer. The market has grown in complexity, resulting in the emergence of a secondary tier of players, including affiliate management agencies, super-affiliates and specialized third party vendors.”
In simplified terms, Affiliate Marketing is when you recommend a product and if someone makes a purchase using your affiliate link or special referral code, you will earn a commission of the sale. You are rewarded (monetarily) for promoting various companies and products on your website and/or on your social media pages.
Affiliate Marketing truly is a win-win. You get to recommend products that you use, love and enjoy; your readers find something new and useful; and the company is happy to pay you a commission since you helped to facilitate the sale for them.
How much money can I make with Affiliate Marketing?
It’s impossible for me to predict how much money you will make with Affiliate Marketing, but let me tell you the sky is the limit! There are seasoned bloggers who make over $50,000 per month with Affiliate Marketing (yes, per MONTH!). On the other hand, there are other bloggers who make little to no money with Affiliate Marketing. You need to have a strategy and a plan in place to be successful with Affiliate Marketing. I hate to break it to you, but putting a couple banners on your website and a few text links in your blog posts is not going to make you rich (or even anywhere close). If you’re willing to come up with a strategy, and offer value and excellent content to your readers, then you will be on your way to success.
The key to being successful at Affiliate Marketing is to only recommend products that you have actually used yourself. Some people think that Affiliate Marketing is “spammy” or comes off too much like a used-car sales pitch, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you are authentic, real, and genuinely happy to recommend a great product to your readers it will come across like a great suggestion from a friend…and we all know that we take suggestions from friends pretty seriously, right? That’s why it’s important to build your loyal following and create a relationship with your readers. I honestly love to follow other bloggers who recommend their favorite blogging tools and products. It helps me get an honest review of something before I purchase it blindly on my own and hope it works. I believe the key to making money is by diversifying the products that you recommend, based on your niche.
You can promote the following type of products and services:
- Physical Products
- Subscription Services
How do I get started with Affiliate Marketing?
Almost every company has some sort of Affiliate Marketing program. Some companies host their own programs, and you apply directly on their website, and others go through Affiliate Marketing networks, such as Sharesale. Here is a breakdown on how YOU can get started with Affiliate Marketing (skip the steps you already have in place):
- Start your own blog: Check out Bluehost, SiteGround, or StudioPress for your web hosting services.
- Set up your blog: If you’re looking for a great WordPress theme, look at Restored 316 Designs and Elegant Themes.
- Customize your blog: Check out styled stock photos from Haute Chocolate (they’re my absolute favorite!)
- Start writing excellent content: It’s time to attract your target audience and gain a loyal following. Use Grammarly to make sure your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are accurate!
- Build up your social media presence: I pre-schedule all of my posts with Viraltag and Tailwind to save a TON of time each week.
- Build up your email list so you can reach out to your readers: Look into the amazing email marketing services provided by ConvertKit and Aweber.
Once you have the foundation of your blog and social media presence set up, make a list of your favorite tools, products, and services that you would like to recommend to your readers. Keep this list specific to your niche and think of items that would be beneficial to your audience. Once you have this list, start signing up for various Affiliate Marketing programs. Most will require some sort of “review” of your blog, which is why it’s important to have your blog set up BEFORE you reach out to companies. If you happen to get denied at first, try back in a couple months after your site has more content posted.
Some of the top Affiliate Marketing Networks are:
- Amazon Associates
- CJ (formerly Commission Junction)
- Ratuken Affiliate Network
- Affiliate Window
- Shop Style Collective
- ….and there are many, many more!!
Once you apply, and get accepted into your chosen Affiliate Marketing programs, they will provide you with a unique URL to use whenever you recommend that product or service, as well as images and banner ads to display on your website. I keep all of my Affiliate Marketing information neatly organized in Excel.
Keep in mind that every company has different Affiliate terms. Some pay a certain percentage of the sale, some pay a specific dollar amount per sale, some pay out on the 1st day of each month, some don’t pay out until you reach a $100 balance, some pay you by check, some pay you by PayPal, etc, etc, etc. Make sure you read through all of the details so you know what to expect.
Some of the terms that you may come across with Affiliate Marketing programs include:
- Pay Per Click – This means that you will get paid based on the number of visitors that click on your link or banner, which directs them off of your blog and to a seller’s website. This means you get paid just for the act of clicking, even if they do not make a purchase.
- Pay Per Sale – You will receive a percentage of the final sale after a purchase is made using your unique tracking link.
- Pay Per Lead – You receive a commission when a referred visitor fills out a form to provide contact information, such as an email address, to a third party site.
How should I promote my Affiliate Marketing links?
Once you have received your unique URL and tracking codes you can start promoting the products to your followers. Write a blog post and include a text link, write a product review, post about it on social media, send an email to your subscribers, make a YouTube video, put banner ads on your site, and create a Resource Page that includes all of your favorite products. Get creative and have fun with it, but remember to be genuine and offer value to your readers.
Keep in mind that per the FTC Guidelines, it is required that you disclose that you are using affiliate links whenever you post them. The disclosure must be posted BEFORE the affiliate link.
Other than Affiliate Marketing, how else can I make money blogging?
If Affiliate Marketing isn’t your thing, or you want to add a few different sources of income to your blog, you can always make money with the following:
- Sponsored Posts
- Sell your own eBooks or eCourses
- Sell your own physical products
Here’s a helpful post about five ways to make money blogging, that goes into more detail about the items mentioned above.
I’m ready to dive into blogging! Are there any other resources you recommend to learn everything I can?
There is always so much to learn about blogging, how to reach your ideal audience, and how to make money online. If you want to learn more, check out some of my favorite resources:
- Building A Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook
- 17 Strategies To Increase Your Page Views
- Simple eBook Creation
- Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing
- Alex Tooby’s Instagram Courses
If there’s anything else you would like to know about Affiliate Marketing, ask me about it in the comments below and I will address it in another (more advanced) post. Happy Blogging!