Affiliate Marketing Basics Beginners Guide
For years, I struggled with making money from affiliate links on my blog.
I was confused and did not entirely understand what they were, or how I was supposed to actually make money.
This post may contain affiliate links.
I honestly believed that I could just slap a link within my blog post and - voila - I would make money.
After years of making this mistake, I realized it was time to figure out what I needed to change, in order to increase my income revenue with affiliate partners.
You probably already know that creating your own product or service is one of the best ways to monetize your blog. If you don't have a blog, use my free tutorials to get started.
But, I know that it isn't possible for everyone. It is difficult to find the time and the means to create an e-course or write a book.
This is where affiliate marketing comes in.
I know a lot of people get scared off when they hear the term 'affiliate marketing,' because they think of it as a spammy strategy. But, if it is done right you won't feel like a sleazy salesman.
It is all about having a plan and promoting products and services that have truly benefitted you.
Affiliate Marketing Basics Beginner’s Guide
Time and time again, I would try something new that I heard was working for other bloggers and then I would fail miserably.
This process repeated itself for years, until I got to the point where I decided I was not going to put in any effort because it was not worth my ROI.
I was just wasting my own time placing links in posts and then not doing anything at all with those posts.
I did not have a strategy.
I did not have a plan.
Yet, I expected to make money…
Yes, I threw in the towel. I was frustrated.
Thankfully, it is not really in me to give up. Making money with affiliate links was like this unattainable object that I NEEDED to conquer.
Before this point, I always felt slimy about inserting affiliate links into my blog posts. I felt like it was misleading, and I was just sending people to buy something so that I could make money.
This is one of the reasons why I was NOT making money from affiliate sales …. I was doing it ALL wrong!
I had to take a step back to realize that I needed to have certain strategies in place.
About eight months ago, I made a commitment to tackle affiliate marketing. I set a few goals that seemed to be a little bit ridiculous at the time, since I have rarely made any money with affiliate links.
By this I mean I hardly made even $50 per month from this revenue stream.
Whether you already work with affiliate partners or you are just getting started, you need to write down your income goals.
Start with an amount you would like to make per month. This will help you create the steps you need to take to reach that goal.
ACTION STEP: Write down your monthly income goal per affiliate that you use on your blog.
I am all about diversifying my income, and knew that there were ways that I could increase this monthly total.
My process is still a work in progress, but I can say that I have successfully increased my affiliate income from about $50 per month to over $4,000 per month.
Plus, I no longer feel like I am getting one over on my readers.
I am providing them with genuine products or services that I feel can help them. My goal is not making money, but providing value to their lives. Figuring out new tricks and applying them to my business model have helped me to increase this source of passive income on my blog.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
By definition, 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 simple terms, it means that you will be rewarded for helping businesses promote their products or services on your website.
You can receive a commission for driving the buyer to the seller’s site after they make a purchase.
Here is how it works:
Join an affiliate program -> Use unique tracking link in post -> Reader makes purchase = $
Product promotion can include text links, banner ads, email opt-in programs, and a few others. By law you need to disclose when you are making money on your blog, so be sure to read the FTC guidelines before you start with affiliate marketing.
Although affiliate marketing is a quick and somewhat inexpensive way to start making money online, it can be difficult to actually make money if you do not take the necessary steps.
Before I offer my advice on how you can get started, I wanted to share with you some tips on ethics.
You spend a TON of time growing your blog and building a loyal audience; you do not want to just forget all of this to make money.
You spend a lot of time building your audience, don't throw it all away to make a quick buck
ONLY recommend items that you use and honestly believe in.
Your readers will be able to see right through you when you are just trying to make a sale. In the past, I would link to anything that sort of related to my post, whether I used it or not.
This was WRONG.
I have now created my own affiliate marketing plan, and have my own policies and beliefs that I uphold.
Before I jumped back into trying to make money from affiliate programs, I sat down and created guidelines for myself. Here are two of my non-dispute policies:
I will NOT recommend a product or service that I have not used.
I will NOT link to anything that is not helpful to my audience .
ACTION STEP: Write down your own policies and rules for promoting affiliate links on your blog.
I honestly love when a blog I follow provides links to products and services that they personally use.
It takes out the guesswork and actually helps me. As their reader, they are providing me with something I will use.
Plus, I trust their opinion, so if they are recommending it, I value it much more, which increases my chances of purchasing it.
The products or services that you suggest need to be meaningful to your audience. Like anything else in blogging, you need to be providing value to your readers.
This also applies to affiliate marketing. You do not want to just recommend random items that have nothing to do with your blog’s focus.
Related: Finding your Blog Niche
To increase my income from affiliate sales, I made sure I was linking to relevant items naturally throughout my posts. I needed to provide products and services that would be helpful to my readers. You know your readers the best.
Just because you see another blogger rocking it with an affiliate program does not mean that you will have the same success.
You want to be selective when it comes to what you will, and will not, promote on your blog.
Even if your audience is similar to other blogs, you still need to hone in on your readers’ interests and show them how you can improve an aspect of their life.
The products and services that you put in front of your blog’s audience need to be something that they would actually use.
ACTION STEP: Make a list with the following items:
Tools or resources you use everyday.
Products or services you use to complete certain tasks in your blog or business.
Items you know your audience would be interested in.
Think of the products or services you have used that have helped you or you have seen amazing results with. By sharing your story and experiences you are providing value and can make a profit by using an affiliate link.
EXAMPLE: Krista Rae has a site that focuses on growing your business and attracting new clients by having an online presence. She took a course that helped her increase her Pinterest traffic by more than 2,000% so she shared her amazing results in a detailed blog post. This is the perfect example of finding the right affiliate offer to recommend to her audience.
Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing:
If you are ready to diversify your blog’s income with affiliate programs, then one of the first things you need to do is decide what you can promote and which company to use.
Once you have created the list from above, it is time to start looking for affiliate companies to join.
Some of the more popular networks include Amazon Affiliates, Commission Junction, FlexOffers, and Sharesale.
The next step would be deciding which company offers a program for the items you placed on your list.
ACTION STEP: Look for affiliate companies that contain items from your list. If the products and services you listed are not on an affiliate program site, then try to see if the brand offers a direct program to partner with them as an affiliate.
Some of the terms you may come across with affiliate programs include:
Pay Per Click - With this program, you will get paid on the number of visitors that click on your link or banner, which directs them off of your site and onto 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.
Be sure to read over all of their terms before you begin to promote it on your blog. Many companies have stipulations as to how and where you can promote the links.
You can also make money by becoming an affiliate for books, e-courses, e-books and other products that people in your niche sell.
I am an affiliate for a few different products that I have used in the past, or am currently using, when it comes to my blog and business.
This is a nice way to collaborate with other bloggers, while providing your readers with good resources.
Once you have gotten approved for an affiliate program, it is time to start adding your unique tracking link to your blog content. This link is specific to you, and it allows the affiliate company to track any sales coming from your site.
Not only do they provide you with unique links, but they offer banners that you can use to promote the product or service as well.
All you need to do is copy the html code and paste it into your blog. So, once someone clicks on your unique link and makes a purchase, you will receive a commission. You can then track your stats to see what works well with your audience.
If you use Wordpress you can use the free plugin Pretty Links. It makes it easy to insert links into your posts, they look nicer when someone clicks on it and you can easily edit all of the affiliate links in your blog posts if the company changes my unique URL.
Creating Content With Affiliate Links
One of the best types of posts that you can write to make money with affiliate programs is a tutorial. Show your readers how you use something or why you love it.
Here are a few types of posts you want to consider writing:
Write a post that shows your before and after results
List posts or roundups
You can’t just expect to sign up with these affiliates and then magically start earning a lot of money.
You need to have high-quality content posts that are providing value to your readers.
You need to focus on providing value first.
If your readers feel like you are genuinely helping them, which is what you should be doing, then they are more likely to trust you and purchase something from you.
Think of it in terms of how a friendship works.
I am more likely to go to a restaurant that one of my friends recommended because I trust their opinion. I have built a friendship with that person and I value what they say.
This is exactly what happens with your blog. You build a relationship with your readers and they value what you have to offer or recommend.
This all happens when you SHOW rather then TELL your audience why they should purchase the affiliate product or service through personal experience.
By solving your audience’s problems, or teaching them something new you are giving them value first before you are trying to sell them.
This will help to build their trust.
This needs to be done BEFORE you add an affiliate link into your post.
Once you have written some amazing posts that have your affiliate link within the content, it is time to promote those posts.
This is an important step in the process, and one thing that a lot of bloggers forget to do (including myself).
The promotion process is crucial; otherwise you will not make money from the amazing post you wrote.
One of the best ways to start getting traffic to your amazing posts that include affiliate links is using Pinterest.
Here are a few things you can consider doing:
Create a pinnable image for all of your affiliate posts.
Edit and update the images for your high traffic posts that you recently monetized and repin them.
Pin these images to any relevant group boards or personal boards.
Pin your images for your affiliate posts as frequently as you can.
I also recommend you make a resources page on your blog. You can read why this is the #1 way to increase your conversions and how to make one today.
I have found that in order to increase the amount of money I make from affiliate programs, I need to keep track of what works and doesn’t work with my readers. Every company that I use provides stats, including click through rates and conversion rates.
It is extremely useful to know how many people click on a link and complete the purchase, and how many people click on it and leave my site.
It helps me determine if I am presenting it correctly and if it is something my audience actually wants.
What tips or strategies do you have for making money with affiliate links on your blog?