Are you using affiliate links on your blog? If you aren’t yet, read on – affiliate marketing can seem a bit confusing at first, but when you get down to it, it’s a very simple and easy way to monetize your blog.
Affiliate Marketing Explained
At its core, affiliate marketing is promoting the products/services of other companies. Your goal as an affiliate is to drive traffic to their websites and, if someone buys something through your affiliate link, you earn a commission (it varies between 1% – 75%+ depending on the program).
You first have to sign up with the affiliate program and you will be given a link that is uniquely associated with you so that your sales can be tracked. Here’s a cool graphic that outlines the basic process of affiliate marketing:
How this works in practice – you create the same awesome, quality content you would normally and, if you are talking about a product or a service, you drop your affiliate link to it.
Here’s an example:
“I love doing keyword research. I especially enjoyed testing out Long Tail Pro the other day. You should totally try it out – here’s a link to the $1 trial”
[Note – Affiliate Link Disclosure – You need to disclose affiliate links on each page of your site that uses them. Period. In fact, the more upfront you are about your links the better. This is a great article from Chrissy Watson of Bloggy Law giving examples of how to disclose.]
Is Affiliate Marketing a Legit Way to Monetize My Blog?
Affiliate marketing has a bit of a reputation on the interwebs.
Once upon a time all you needed to do to get to the top of Google mountain was choose your keywords well, get lots of backlinks and sit back and enjoy the money rolling in. Notice I didn’t mention anything about ‘quality content’ in there. Oh no. Any old slap dash, barely readable gunk would do.
Luckily, good old Google gave sites like this a spanking over a few years of updates and now… well, now you have to put in real effort to get anywhere online.
Which is great for the legitimate blogger.
How do you become an affiliate?
There are a lot of affiliate programs and networks out there. A few of the major players are:
- ShareASale (an affiliate network)
- Commission Junction (an affiliate network)
- LinkShare (an affiliate network)
An affiliate network basically has a huge collection of retailers you can apply to become an affiliate for. So you first have to apply to be a part of the network and then apply to relevant retailers through the network platform. (Its actually quite easy.)
Another way to find affiliate programs is to do a Google search for “your niche/product + affiliate”. Many businesses have their own individual affiliate program that they run in-house. You can apply to these directly through the business.
So, if you find a store online, and you think its awesome, scroll right down to the bottom – often you’ll see a link there titled ‘Affiliates’. Click on it – you’ve just found how to apply to their affiliate program! Win!
Things to Remember
Shop Around for the Best Deal.
Companies that run affiliate programs are often involved in more than one network, or may even have their own private affiliate network that you can join.
Make sure you shop around to get the best deal as you may find you get different commission rates depending on which program you are going through. Don’t forget to check the commission rate for the large department stores on affiliate networks – they could give you a better deal on a physical product!
Know your Terms of Service
I know, I know. I glaze over reading the terms of service too. That’s the main reason I did NOT become a lawyer.
But. It’s kind of a big deal.
The company you are affiliating with may have put some odd conditions in your terms, so make sure you read them. The biggest example of this is the Amazon Associate terms of service. Did you know you:
- Aren’t allowed to send Amazon affiliate links in your email newsletters?
- Aren’t allowed to include Amazon affiliate links in pdf downloads or ebooks?
- Aren’t allowed to pin products from Amazon with affiliate links?
- Have to disclose on your website that you are a member of the Amazon Associates program?
- Aren’t allowed to purchase items through your own affiliate links?
- And much, much more…
Ah, money. It brings out the best and the worst in people and makes them behave oddly. Just look at Survivor… A few pointers to preserve your reputation:
- Don’t use ads or affiliate links that don’t make sense with your niche (they won’t be very effective anyway)
- Don’t try to sell something shady (eg. dodgy info products…)
- Only use affiliate links for products that you believe in, have used yourself and would gladly recommend.
Honestly, best practice – if you wouldn’t sell it to your mom, don’t sell it to your readers.
Affiliate marketing best practice - if you wouldn't sell it to your mom, don't sell it.Click To Tweet
Effective ways to use Affiliate Links for Profit (more than 20 cents)
Just because you’re using affiliate links doesn’t mean anyone is going to buy through them. Sorry. Here are a couple of effective ways to work affiliate links into your content as recommended by some of the webs top bloggers:
- Melyssa Griffin recommends writing tutorial posts based around the product you want to promote. For example, you could write a post showing people how to use ConvertKit to collect emails and send content upgrades to your new subscribers.
- Ramsay at Blog Tyrant has used the comparison post to great effect. It works like this: you want someone to sign up for product X, let’s say its Aweber. You know that a lot of people will probably be using competitor product Feedburner (after all, it’s what you used in the past). So you write a post about why you moved from Feedburner to Aweber – especially works if you have some good negative points to bring up.
- Kyle of Wealthy Affiliate recommends in the Affiliate Bootcamp training to write reviews of products and offer your preferred product at the end as the better option. This kind of thing works fantastically well and allows you to capture all sorts of extra traffic via SEO for competitors products. You can work this both ways by having an affiliate link to your main offer and also the products you are reviewing against that offer.
Is it worth your time to be an affiliate?
You may have heard a lot of top bloggers (even those earning good money from affiliate links) talk about how ‘the money is in your own products, not others’. So does that mean that its not worth pursuing affiliate marketing as a way to monetize your blog?
How about we let the results speak for themselves?
Matthew Woodward – May 2016 – $21,588.76
Just a Girl and Her Blog – May 2016 – $11,266 (approx – affiliate income is not separated)
Melyssa Griffin – April 2016 – $7,710
Pinch of Yum – April 2016 – $7880.58 (approx – affiliate income is not separated)
Pat Flynn, Smart Passive Income – May 2016 – $89,592.77
By Regina – January 2015 – $2313
I don’t know about you, but I’d be extremely happy to be earning any of these amounts from affiliate links: no launch, webinar or hustle required!